Thursday, May 31, 2012

Salt Lake Tribune: Defendant in Ogden Officer Slaying Case Swaps Attorneys

Hanging Question: Will private donations be sufficient to make sure that Stewart gets a fair trial in a system which is already heavily stacked against him?

According to this afternoon's Salt Lake Tribune story, and just as we earlier predicted here on WCF, Second District Court Judge Hyde this afternoon cut loose Matthew Stewart's "do-nothing" appointed public defenders, and installed Utah criminal defense heavyweights Bernard Allen, Jonathon Grimes and Michael Studebaker to join Stewart’s defense team as counsel of record, "low bono or pro bono," in the 1/4/12 Ogden Shootings case :
No doubt about it, Weber County District Attorney (and politically ambitious 2012  general election Utah Attorney General candidate) Dee Smith finally has a genuine fight on his hands, with the assembly of one of the most competent criminal defense teams we've seen in Utah within memory.

The hanging questions? How will Stewart's all-star defense counsel marshal the necessary resources to put together a proper investigatory and expert witness support team to match its obvious new legal firepower?  Will private donations be sufficient to make sure that Stewart gets a fair trial in a system which is already heavily stacked against him?

Time will tell, we suppose.

A Weber County Forum Tip O' the Hat to messrs Allen, Grimes, Richards and Studebaker, by the way, for stepping up the the plate, and honoring their professional ethical obligations to dive in and devote themselves to what will ultimately prove to be some seriously grueling  pro bono work. These fellas, through their actions, are a true credit to the oft-maligned legal profession, we do believe.

Update 5/31/12 7:43 p.m.: The Standard-Examiner is all over this story, too:

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Emerald City 5/30/12 News Roundup

A couple of Ogden City-related news items which we're linking, just so you won't think we were "goofing off" all morning

 Sorry folks, but we've been bogged down with personal business this morning, but have now found a couple of Ogden City related news items which we're linking, just so you won't think we were "goofing off" all morning:

1) Ogden City's Crack Economic Development Team scores BIG with yet another portion of a federal grant:
We'll suppose that Ogden City officials won't be weeping tears about that old GOP meme: "Get the federal government off our backs."

2) The Ogden City Council ain't all that bad, we say, despite their chickenshit stance in the recent Ogden City water rates debacle.

In that same vein, here's something from the Standard, reporting on something that's been a long time coming, as the Ogden Fire Department sat through Godfrey Administration stinginess (reign of terror) for twelve grueling years:
We'll be keeping our fingers crossed that the Ogden City Council will remember one of its prime objectives: Making our public safety a top flight priority.

The neglect of the Ogden City Fire Department has gone on for far too long, wethinks.

And what say you, O Gentle Ones?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Monday Morning Weber County Forum News Roundup

Time to clear out the post-holiday cobwebs, wethinks

Now that we've gotten Memorial Day out of the way, we'll try to kick start some discussion with a series of thought provocative items uncovered this morning whilst feverishly Googling:

1) Ultra right-wing Utah conservatives are griping that too many political moderates showed up at the March Utah GOP caucuses, resulting in a situation where the state’s most conservative politicians this year "have been outright defeated in convention or forced into primaries."  Oh, the horror of this revolting development:
So what about it, WCF readers?  Is the Utah GOP pendulum finally swinging back to some degree of  normalcy, as Brigham Young University professor Kelly Patterson suggests; or is Rep. Craig Frank  correct in arguing that this is this "merely a temporary setback" for the Utah GOP "wingnut faction"?

2) Interesting Salt Lake Trib story this morning, reporting that a national sportsman's advocacy group, Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development (SFED), is squaring off (more or less) against energy development advocates in an effort to tout the value of preserving fish and wildlife populations and natural/scenic areas to help drive long-term economic growth in the Rocky Mountains:
"This is not meant to be a one-versus-the-other scenario," said Rob Southwick, of Southwick Associates, which compiled the report which provoked this morning's Trib story. That doesn't necessarily seem to be however what SFED's website actually says, however:
Here's the full SFED document in PDF format:
3) And here's a real eye popper. Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman is listed here, right along with the likes of George Clooney, Antonio Banderas, Denzel Washington, Jon Bon Jovi, Samuel L. Jackson, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Liam Neeson, and George Strait:
First time we've ever seen the word "sexy" and the name of a politician (with the exception of Ben Franklin) connected in the same sentence, we do believe.

4) Last but not least,  Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne observes that  conservative GOP values have recently suffered some serious mission creep:
Yeah.  We know that Dionne is a known liberal.  Weirdly enough however, this go-round, this life-long warhorse conservative (your blogmeister) agrees with dang near every word Dionne says, (in today's column, at least).

That's it for now, O Gentle Ones.

Chime in on any of the above suggested topics, or fire up a conversation all your own.

Time to clear out the post-holiday cobwebs, wethinks.

Monday, May 28, 2012

2012 Memorial Day Special

Interesting Veterans Statistics off the Vietnam Memorial Wall... A little history most people will never know

As we set forth to celebrate today's Memorial Day 2012, the U.S. federal holiday designated as a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces, here's a little something to contemplate, submitted by one of our Vietnam Era Veteran WCF readers, via The Veterans Resource Network, with the preface, "Here’s a few facts on this Memorial Day concerning my generation’s war":
Interesting Veterans Statistics off the Vietnam Memorial Wall. A little history most people will never know.

There are 58,267 names now listed on that polished black wall, including those added in 2010.

The names are arranged in the order in which they were taken from us by date and within each date the names are alphabetized. It is hard to believe it is 36 years since the last casualties.

The first known casualty was Richard B. Fitzgibbon, of North Weymouth , Mass. Listed by the U.S.Department of Defense as having been killed on June 8, 1956. His name is listed on the Wall with that of his son, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Richard B. Fitzgibbon III, who was killed on Sept. 7, 1965.

There are three sets of fathers and sons on the Wall.

39,996 on the Wall were just 22 or younger.

8,283 were just 19 years old.

The largest age group, 33,103 were 18 years old.

12 soldiers on the Wall were 17 years old.

5 soldiers on the Wall were 16 years old.

One soldier, PFC Dan Bullock was 15 years old.

997 soldiers were killed on their first day in Vietnam ...

1,448 soldiers were killed on their last day in Vietnam ...

31 sets of brothers are on the Wall.

Thirty one sets of parents lost two of their sons.

54 soldiers attended Thomas Edison High School in Philadelphia . I wonder why so many from one school.

8 Women are on the Wall. Nursing the wounded.

244 soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War; 153 of them are on the Wall.

Beallsville, Ohio with a population of 475 lost 6 of her sons.

West Virginia had the highest casualty rate per capita in the nation. There are 711 West Virginians on the Wall.

The Marines of Morenci - They led some of the scrappiest high school football and basketball teams that the little Arizona copper town of Morenci (pop. 5,058) had ever known and cheered. They enjoyed roaring beer busts. In quieter moments, they rode horses along the Coronado Trail, stalked deer in the Apache National Forest. And in the patriotic camaraderie typical of Morenci's mining families, the nine graduates of Morenci High enlisted as a group in the Marine Corps. Their service began on Independence Day, 1966. Only 3 returned home.

The Buddies of Midvale - LeRoy Tafoya, Jimmy Martinez, Tom Gonzales were all boyhood friends and lived on three consecutive streets in Midvale, Utah on Fifth, Sixth and Seventh avenues. They lived only a few yards apart. They played ball at the adjacent sandlot ball field. And they all went toVietnam. In a span of 16 dark days in late 1967, all three would be killed. LeRoy was killed on Wednesday, Nov. 22, the fourth anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination. Jimmy died less than 24 hours later on Thanksgiving Day. Tom was shot dead assaulting the enemy on Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

The most casualty deaths for a single day was on January 31, 1968 ~ 245 deaths.

The most casualty deaths for a single month was May 1968 - 2,415 casualties were incurred.

For most Americans who read this they will only see the numbers that the Vietnam War created. To those of us who survived the war, and to the families of those who did not, we see the faces, we feel the pain that these numbers created. We are, until we too pass away, haunted with these numbers, because they were our friends, fathers, husbands, wives, sons and daughters. There are no noble wars, just noble warriors.
Have a great holiday folks; but let's not overlook the real reason we celebrate this holiday...

Via J.M. Bell

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Salt Lake Tribune: Officials Worry Dirty Air Threatens Fed Road Funds

Right wing nut case hypocrisy, anyone?

By: Val Holley

This is side-splitting: Utah's goose-stepping. GOP, Tea Party-elected municipal officials are terrified their federal funds will be yanked!
With apologies to the Trib's Lee Davidson, the headline OUGHT to read, "Utah Officials Turn Up Noses at Federal Money: We'll Build Our Roads Ourselves."

Editor's Addendum: We believe that long-time WCF reader VH makes a valid and not-too-subtle point.

What about vous?

Fox 13 News: Ogden Lawmaker Proposes Sex Ed Class for Parents

It'll also be interesting to see whether House Rep. Wright's HB 363 arises from the legislative dustbin again in the 2013 legislative session, with Senator Reid's possible new "companion legislation" in tow

In the wake of Governor Herbert's veto of Utah House Rep. Bill Wright's HB363, the knucklehead sex ed bill which "would have prohibited Utah teachers from instructing students about contraceptives, premarital sex or homosexuality," and ultimately provoked irate Utah citizens by the thousands to storm the gates of the Governor's office and demand the Herbert drive a stake through that ill-conceived legislation's heart, there's more legislative activity on the sex-ed front, as one local  "Capitol Hill Critter," Ogden's own Senator Stuart Reid, announces new legislation designed to teach parents of school aged children about the "birds and the bees."  No, we are not making this up. Click the link for the full story, which includes a dandy bonus video clip:
Yesiree... we agree... it would be great if there was a formal way that parents out there in the Utah backwoods could "learn where them babies come from."

In this connection, we'll also link this additional online story, where Martha Kempner, columnist for the Reproductive Health Reality Check website gives Senator Reid's proposed new bill the once over:
Ms. Kempner's summary paragraphs provide the "drift." It's a savvy take, as far as we're concerned:
Many in the state opposed the bill, noting that the law already required schools to stress abstinence and arguing that such a law usurped parental authority. Thousands of residents wrote letters to the governor, 40,000 signed a petition asking him to veto the bill, and hundreds protested the bill at the state Capitol. Ultimately, Governor Gary Herbert vetoed the legislation, saying in a tweet: “I cannot sign a bill that deprives parents of their choice.”
Not only did parents in Utah rally against stricter sex education rules, nearly 95 percent of parents choose to send their children to sex education programs despite the administrative hurdle posed by the state's opt-in policy.  While one might assume this means that parents in the state (like parents around the country) want their children to receive sexuality education courses from trained professionals in schools, Reid’s take away is that parents are simply scared to do it themselves: “I think often the parents choose not to opt out for their children out of sex ed in the schools because they’re uncomfortable providing that training.”
Personally, I’m fascinated by Reid’s new approach.  There is not a sexuality educator I know who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ensure that parents had accurate information about sexuality and provide them with strategies for talking with their kids about sex.  Most of them would probably agree with Reid that many parents avoid discussing sex with their kids, “either because they don’t know how to do it or it’s sensitive, or they need training how best to approach that with their children.”
Of course, our hope as sexuality educators would be that once parents had this training, they would not only be more comfortable having conversations about sex with their kids at home but they would be eager for their kids to learn more about such important topics from trained professionals in school.
If Reid’s bill manages to pass, it will be interesting what happens after parents attend the sexuality education seminars.
Yes,  that'll be interesting indeed.

It'll also be fascinating to see whether House Rep. Wright's HB 363 arises from the legislative dustbin again in the 2013 legislative session, with Senator Reid's possible companion legislation in tow.

Remember, folks, the right wing puritan faction in the state legislature never gives up.  We'll therefor be watching closely to see whether HB 363 will "enjoy" a reprise, once the pesky 2012 election is out of the way, and elected Utah government officials can once again "safely" put their Utah constituents back on "ignore."

Don't let the cat get your tongues, folks.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Ogden's Helena Hotel Artifacts Go Up for Auction Tomorrow

Folks who plan to stroll Two-five Drive early tomorrow should take note, and bring along their checkbooks and pickemup trucks

Thanks to a tip from yet another sharp-eyed and alert Weber County Forum reader, here's an alert for restaurateurs, antique aficionados and plain Old Junk "pickers."

And here's our heads-up for tomorrow's auction event that's coming up, which ought to be of interest to Ogden City folks who might be looking for a few lo-price Ogden History Mementos.  Apparently former Helena Hotel owner and  former former Boss Godfrey antagonist Bruce Edwards forgot to move ALL of his valuable artifact collection, after he was evicted.

Here's the link concerning tomorrow's scheduled auction:
Folks who plan to stroll Two-Five Drive early tomorrow should take note, and bring along their checkbooks and trusty pickemup trucks, wethinks.

Current Utah Liquor License "Bottleneck" Reaches Crisis Proportions From the Point of View of Some Utah Restaurant Entrepreneurs

The State Legislature "deigns" to look into the problem 

In the midst of a lull in Ogden City red meat political news, we'll start out by putting the focus on a couple of strong editorials appearing in the Standard-Examiner and Salt Lake Tribune respectively, urging a "loosening" of Utah's tight, population based liquor license quotas:
According to yesterday's Trib story, Governor Herbert's in basic agreement with the S-E and Trib editorial boards, although we'll observe that he's not exactly "champing at the bit" to solve the problem:
The Utah churchislature legislature, in its infinite wisdom, is deigning to look at the problem too:
The current license "bottleneck" has clearly reached crisis proportions from the point of view of some Utah restaurant entreprenuers, as the Trib's Paul Rolley reports that some license applicants who've been left out in the cold have even been observed "weeping while explaining they will go out of business without a license":
Utah politicians regularly and proudly Utah as the "best managed state in the nation":
We'll be watching this issue closely in the days to come, to find out whether that happy little meme actually proves true in this instance.

So what about it O Gentle Ones?  Should our Utah governor and legislature address this problem immediately by calling a special legislative session?  Or should government officials leave distraught liquor license applicants hanging until the next Utah legislative session convenes in January of 2013? Should our right-wing, "pro business" legislature abandon Utah's population-tied quota concept altogether?

Update 5/25/12 10:07 a.m.:  Grondahl nails it!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Standard-Examiner: Stewart Wants to Fire His Public Defenders

Looks like a wise move on Stewart's part

Fascinating development in the Matthew Stewart shootout case.  Both the Standard-Examiner and Salt Lake Tribune are reporting that defendant Stewart wants to discharge his court-appointed public defenders, and replace them with local legal hotshots Bernie L. Allen and Jonathan Grimes:
The Standard reports that "Second District Judge Noel S. Hyde on Tuesday ordered a May 31 hearing to consider Stewart's request." Inasmuch as a defendant's right to select his own preferred counsel is legally regarded as fundamental to exercise of his Constitutional Sixth Amendment rights, we'll go out on a limb and predict that Stewart's request will be a quick slam dunk, more or less.

Looks like a wise move on Stewart's part.  Our only question? What the hell took him so long to decide that Bushell and Albright weren't cutting the mustard?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Final, Final Chance to Offer Your Comments On Ogden's Proposed Water Rates Ripoff - Updated

Time to "put your foot down" once and for all

As a followup to Friday's Weber County Forum article, here's another quick reminder of tonight's regular Ogden City Council meeting, where among other things, the Council will make its final decision regarding the much discussed Ogden City Water Utility Rate Ordinance proposal, which we've been fretting about here at Weber County Forum over the course of the past several months.

If you still haven't contacted the city council about your preferences regarding this proposal, check out our May 18, 2012 article where we provide handy issues cribsheets and council contact info:
If you're opposed to the current plan, which boils down to a highly "complex system of rates that no one can understand, rewards wasteful users, punishes those with secondary water and only serves as a smokescreen to 'raise' money for the city general fund," it's time to "put your foot down" once and for all. If you don't all speak up now, we're all likely to "get soaked."

We'll dedicate this thread to coverage of tonight's important Water Rates Topic, and cordially invite anyone who'd like to comment before, during or after tonight's meeting to do so.

Don't let the cat get your tongues, O Gentle Ones.

Update 5/22/12 5:35 p.m.:  Attention everyone.  Dan Schroeder is now live blogging from the City Council chambers.

Update 5/23/12 6:50 a.m.:  Here's this morning's Mitch Shaw story:

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Standard-Examiner: Website Allows Residents to Track Crime in Their Neighorhoods

Why not let residents see whats going on easily...what's there to hide?

By Smaatguy

Interesting article in the Standard about communities being able to make available to residents the locations of crimes in their neighborhoods.  Apparently Ogden opted out... saying the Crime Control Center has it covered... as if residents can just pop in and see whats going on:
Why not let residents see whats going on easily...what's there to hide?

Update 5/20/12 9:58 p.m.:  Here's a link to the privately operated website which is mentioned in this morning's S-E story.  Click the link and enter your home address to contemplate how handy this site would be, if  your city provided complete official police data regarding all reported crimes in your neighborhood:
Currently, Ogden City information is limited to registered sex offenders; and there thus appears no data whatsoever for Ogden City crimes, because Ogden City has opted out.  Perhaps Ogden City and other neighboring municipalities should be a little less stingy with their crime data, no?

What say our WCF readers about this?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Post Mortem on Yesterday's Keep The Peace Rally

No apparent word yet on whether rally organizers will be labeling the rally a success

The Northern Utah news media are all over yesterday's Keep the Peace rally, which began at the Ogden Municipal Building and wound up at the Weber County Center:
Although protester attendance was  surprisingly meager, Northern Utah journalists certainly showed up in force.

There's no apparent word yet on whether rally organizers will be labeling the rally a success.

Friday, May 18, 2012

City Council Solicits Further Citizen Input Regarding Council Consideration of the Proposed Culinary and Storm Water Master Plans, FY2013-17 Capital Improvement Plan and Utility Rate Ordinance

Time to put on the full court press, wethinks

Here's quick heads up for Ogden City citizens who are concerned by the pending Ogden Water rates citizen rip-off.

We received a cordial invitation this morning from Amy Sue Mabey, Communications Coordinator for the Ogden City Council:
Thursday, May 17, 2012 4:39 PM

On Tuesday, May 15, 2012, the Ogden City Council held a public hearing regarding the proposed Culinary and Storm Water Master Plans, FY2013-17 Capital Improvement Plan and Utility Rate Ordinance. At the close of this public hearing, the City Council decided to continue Council deliberations to May 22, 2012.

The Council will make its decision on May 22, 2012. If you wish to provide additional input, please do so prior to the May 22nd meeting. Input can be provided via: e-mail —; phone—(801)629-8153; or mail—2549 Washington Boulevard, Suite 320, Ogden, Utah 84401.

Thank you,

Amy Sue Mabey, MPA
Communications Coordinator
Ogden City Council
Thrifty and water conservation oriented Ogden water users dodged a bullet last Tuesday, when the Council wisely tabled this matter for an additional  week of further deliberation. Obviously the council is sitting on the fence on this. Don't sit on your own thumbs, folks; let's not let Ms. Mabey and the Council down.

Short of words?  Here's a link to our handy WCF talking points crib-sheet:
And here's another one, for good measure:
You know what to do, Ogden City water rate-payers.

Time to put on the full court press, wethinks:

Ogden Lumpencitizens Rally to Oppose Water Rates Rip-off

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Salt Lake Tribune: Utah Chief Poster Child for Hatch Act Problem

Regular Weber County Forum readers will recall Former Ogden Police Chief Jon Greiner's valiant Hatch Act fight, and how after years of gruelingly expensive litigation, the whole situation didn't work out so well, either for Jon Greiner, or for the beleaguered citizens of Ogden City either.

Well, the Hatch Act fight ain't over folks, according to this morning's Salt Lake Tribune story:
So how would you characterize Jon Greiner at this point, Weber County Forum readers?
  • Arrogant Godfrey Administration scofflaw? or,
  • Brave Civil rights freedom fighter?
Vote in our poll, which we've also conveniently placed in our WCF right sidebar:

Is Greiner a hero... or a zero?

Don't let the cat get yer tongues, folks.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Standard-Examiner: Weber Commission Chambers Designated as Gathering Site for Rally in Support of Matthew David Stewart - Updated

Weber County officials take steps to guard against the possibility of finding "unsightly" protesters under foot
 “It’s good to be living in the United States of America.”
Commissioner Jan Zogmaister - Standard-Examiner
Weber County provides space for protesters
May 16, 2012

The Standard-Examiner reports this morning on an interesting peripheral development in connection with the Matthew Stewart shootout case. As several other news media sources have previously reported, supporters of defendant Matthew Stewart are planning a May 18 rally for Stewart, which will begin at noon on the front steps of the Ogden Municipal Building, 2549 Washington Blvd.  "After the speakers’ remarks, the group will cross Washington Boulevard and head to the Weber Center, where another presentation will take place."

Here's the latest development: In the interest of  not jamming up the small reception area within County Attorney Dee Smith's office, our Weber County Commissioners have "graciously" provided access to the County Commission Chambers as a "designated protest area," which will remain open  to protesters from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Check out the free online Jesus Lopez story:
Read S-E reporter Lopez's expanded Digital Edition story here:
Putting it all in context, we'll note that these uniquely "American-style," specially designated "free speech zones", (which are sometimes "lovingly" referred to by civil libertarians as "free speech cages,") are the latest rage amongst government bureaucrats to guard against the possibility of finding "unsightly" protesters under foot.

Several Sodden Queries for our Gentle WCF readership:
  • Will the shuffling off of Friday's protesters to a Weber County Center "back room" amount to an abridgment of these folks' First Amendment rights?
  • If the second leg of Friday's rally is held in the County Commission Chambers, will County Attorney Dee Smith or anyone else in the Weber County government "leadership loop" even notice that a public demonstration is going on?
  • Will these arrangements ultimately prove acceptable to the protesters themselves?
  • Will Friday's protesters be content to remain confined within the "designated protest area"?
  • According to this morning's story "Protesters will be allowed to remain in the area as long as they do not endanger anyone’s health, safety or welfare," raising the additional question: Do Weber County authorities expect acts of civil disobedience?
  • Will Friday's rally provoke another "unsightly" Dee Smith press conference?
So many questions... so few answers...

We'll be keeping a close eye on this one folks.

Ain't America great?

Update 5/16/12 10:00 a.m.:  More info on Friday's rally, via the Help Matthew Stewart website:
Update 5/16/12 10:30 a.m.: Well Lo and Behold, rally supporters have transmitted to us a press release, filling in a few more details concerning Friday's rally:
It's dated 5/15/12. Note to self: "Check out your WCF email inbox a little more frequently."

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Last Chance to Stop the Convoluted and Ill-conceived Ogden City Water Rates Ordinance Revision Dead In Its Tracks

Speak up today, Ogden City Citizens... or forever hold your peace!

Tonight's the night for final public input (6 p.m. - Ogden City Council Chambers) on the water rate revision proposals  which we've been discussing here on Weber County Forum for the past several months.  Check out tonight's full council packet here:
Despite relatively robust and well-reasoned public objections to the current proposals, which if enacted would essentially ignore water conservation and even reward those water users who use the greatest volumes of water with volume use discounts, as well as unfairly penalize those Ogden rate payers who have the benefit of secondary water and thereby reduce the demands on the Ogden water supply system, the council seems hell bent to blindly ram this plan down our throats.  For the benefit of those who might attend tonight's meeting to lodge their final protests, we provide our chief objections below in summary form:
Tonight's our last chance to stop this overly convoluted and ill-conceived ordinance dead in its tracks.  While we'd hope that all steely-eyed Ogden residents will make a point of attending tonight's meeting to forcefully lodge their protests, we'll also encourage all Ogden City water users to formally register their objections via the Ogden City Council contact link below:
Speak up today, Ogden City Citizens... or forever hold your peace!

Keep your eyes on this article folks, as we anticipate that Dan Schroeder will be live blogging from the Council Chambers tonight, for which community minded effort we'll thank him in advance.

In the meantime, we'll dedicate our lower comments section to those WCF readers who'd like to offer their own remarks before, during or after tonight's regular council session.

Update 5/15/12 5:34 p.m.:  Attention, everyone.  Dan Schroeder is now live-blogging from the City Council Chambers. Click "comments" to monitor his real-time posts.

Update 5/15/12 9:32 p.m.:  In one of Dan's real-time comments, he refers to a "slideshow," presented by Dan during the public comments segment of tonight's meeting.  Having received this document by email and uploaded it to our WCF storage site, we're happy to provide the link:
Update 5/16/12 7:00 a.m.:  The Standard-Examiner provides this morning's post-meeting Mitch Shaw  story:

Happy Birthday to Us

Thanks, Weber County Forum readers!

Why it seems like only yesterday that we were introducing Weber County Forum to the lumpencitizens of northern Utah, and whaddaya know, we celebrate WCF's seventh anniversary today.

Happy Birthday To Us!

We'll offer our heartfelt thanks to the political wonks who've given us their enthusiastic support over these past seven years.  We believe that all-in-all, our little home-town blog has proven to be a great and unique community resource.

We couldn't have reached this important milestone, and accomplished the many significant things which we've achieved without the robust contributions of all of you who've stuck with us since our initial founding on May 15, 2005.

Thanks, Weber County Forum readers!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Salt Lake Tribune: Accused Cop Killer’s Family Plans Ogden Rally ‘for’ Police

As a followup to our last Ogden 1/4/12 Shootum-up story, the below-linked Salt Lake Tribune story offers one lame new reference to developments in the case:
Here's the sole useful reference in this weak story as to what happened in court this morning:
In 2nd District Court on Monday, attorneys set a May 22 hearing to determine whether the defense’s request for funding for a private investigator should be heard in open court or during closed proceedings.
The details of that interesting nuance?  Trib reporter Aaron Falk launches off into a peripheral facts and leaves discussion of this main issue entirely out of his story.

We heard yesterday from the Standard-Examiner that the Tribune had laid off a few newsroom employees

With today's lame Trib article, perhaps that newsroom "culling" is already "starting to show."

Your blogmeister would have given you the full inside skinny on this after this morning's continued Status Conference,  by the way. Unfortunately he was locked out of Judge Hyde's courtroom, along with at least another Press Reporter, when he arrived at the locked courtroom door at 9:26 a.m., a full four minutes before today's court proceeding was set to begin.

Judicial tyranny In Ogden's 2d District Courtt at the expense of the First Amendment?

You be the judge.

Update 5/14/12:8:00 p.m.: Tim Gurristers' post-hearing story is now up on the S-E website, where the intrepid veteran S-E court reporter doesn't even bother to mention what happened at today's hearing, but nevertheless waxes on about the May 18 sideshow:
Welcome to the brave new world of print journalism folks, where even local S-E journalists won't report anything that won't sell newspapers.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Standard-Examiner: Should States Be In The Liquor Business?

Upshot seems quite clear: States have no business running a booze monopoly business

By: Bob Becker

On a subject that's been discussed in these parts now and then:  The  SE has up this morning an interesting article headlined "Should States Be In the Liquor Business?"  Uses Pennsylvania's experience as its example... Pennsylvania whose liquor control board came up with Looney Toons ideas fully worthy of the Utah liquor control commission.  Like putting state owned wine-bottle vending machines in supermarkets. But you couldn't get a bottle until you breathed into a tube that analyzed the alcoholic content of your breath/blood, and a state agent in a central office signaled the machine that it was OK to sell you the bottle.   And of course, the Pa Liquor Commission decreed that the machines must be locked down on Sundays.... the biggest sales day for most supermarkets in the state.   Naturally, the machines lost money... over a million in their first year of operation... and are now history.   Upshot of the story seems clear: States have no business running a booze monopoly business.  Link here:
Comments, anyone?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Ogden Water Rate Increase Higher Than Claimed

If you don't speak up, you're bound to get "soaked"

As we approach Tuesday's upcoming (5/15/12) Ogden City Council session, at which time Ogden City citizens will have one final opportunity to offer their public comments on the proposed Ogden City water rates revisions which have been a topic of Weber Count Forum discussion over the past several months, a couple of news items have arisen this morning, which once again place the water rates topic back on the WCF front burner.

First, the Standard-Examiner carries this Mitch Shaw story, reporting that Ogden City political activist and WCF contributer Dan Schroeder warns that "Ogden’s upcoming water rate increase could be higher than advertised":
Secondly, we'll link to the news release below, which was transmitted by Dan Schroeder to SE Reporter Shaw earlier in the week, and graciously re-transmitted to us as a courtesy this morning. This is the original document which provoked Mr. Shaw's morning article, according to Dr. Schroeder.  As professor Schroeder opines in a comment beneath this article, "The situation is much worse than this article would lead you to believe..."; and that's no exaggeration, wethinks:
Even upon a cursory reading it appears that, for reasons unknown, Dr. Schroeder's warnings have been soft-pedaled by the Standard. Between the bad assumptions, data calculations, the so-called "experts," Lewis, Young, Robertson, and Burningham (LYRB),  have made quite a mess of the water rates revision process, in our view. It's no wonder, we'll suggest, that our Ogden City Council seems to be having their eyes glaze over. We'll leave it to our readers to make their own contrasts and comparisons, of course.

For our readers' convenience we'll also link the original consultant's report and appendices, which are referenced in both Mr. Shaw's story and Dan's news release:
Have at it O Gentle Ones; and don't forget to mark your calenders for Tuesday's critical Council Meeting.

And whatever you do... don't neglect to throw in your own 2¢.

If you don't speak up, you're bound to get "soaked."

Friday, May 11, 2012

Financially Ailing Wolf Creek Resort Headed for the Auction Block

Although some chirpy optimists are claiming the recession is over, we say "tell that to the current Wolf Creek Resort owners, folks" 

While our friends at Ogden Valley Forum were the first local news source to break the story yesterday, both the Standard-Examiner and Deseret News are bringing up the rear and reporting this morning that Ogden Valley's Wolf Creek Utah Resort becomes the latest Utah casualty of the 2008-12 Great Recession:
Although some chirpy optimists are claiming the recession is over, we say: Tell that to the current Wolf Creek resort owners, who've been struggling without success to effectuate a voluntary "creditor workout" since their original 2010 Chapter 11 Bankruptcy filing.

While Wolf Creek insiders say this property is worth "somewhere between $27 million and $34 million,” it'll be interesting to find out whether it'll fetch anything close to that at auction, as the U.S. remains gripped by a continuing recessionary economy.

We'll be keeping a close eye on this folks, as this forced sale ought to provide a telling barometer of the current bedrock economic health of Utah's tourist industry... and that of the local and U.S. economies as well.

Comments, anyone?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

May 1, 2012 Ogden City Water Rates Council Presentation/Discussion Video

Last chance, folks... this matter has now been scheduled to May 15, 2012 for final public comment, prior to the Council's council vote on this "water conservation unfriendly," bass-ackwards ordinance

As a followup to the May 1, 2012 City Council regular meeting, where various city staff and outside consultants presented data supporting the still pending water rate ordinance revision recommendations, we'll embed for our readers' enlightenment the full council video from the 5/1/12 meeting, which has now been uploaded to the Ogden City website.  Fast forward to 1:32:47 to view the entire utility rates presentation and discussion:

Don't miss out on Dan Schroeder's public remarks at 3:08:19, where he proficiently presents to the Council the same informative charts, graphs and analysis furnished in the WCF article linked above. His gentle "dig" at water hog Council Member Hyer will put a smile on your face too, we're sure.

Remember, folks, this matter has now been scheduled to May 15, 2012 for final public comment, prior to the Council's vote on this "water conservation unfriendly," bass-ackwards ordinance. That'll be your last chance to publicly register your objections, folks.

We'll also note that the water rates topic was an agenda item in last night's council work session, in which connection we'll invite any readers who sat in on last night's meeting to jump aboard the lower comments section to flesh out what aspects of this new water rates plan the council most recently discussed.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Ogden City Council Takes First Crack at the Caldwell Administration's Proposed 2012-13 Fiscal Year Budget - Updated

We'll dedicate the lower comments section to those readers who'd like to slice, dice and ginsu-knife any of the provisions contained in this new budget document.

Tonight's the night that the Ogden City Council will take its first crack at the Caldwell Administration's proposed 2012-13 Fiscal Year budget. Read the respective council packets for tonight's budget oriented council meeting agendas here and  here.

Here's the overall budget story in a nutshell:
Our General Fund revenue is projected to increase 1.2% to $51,212,375 from the FY2012 council adopted budget. Ogden City Corporation’s overall budget is projected to increase 8.37%to $141,484,250. This is due primarily to budgeting the CIP projects and the miscellaneous grants fund. The Redevelopment Agency is projected to increase 2.94% to $21,470,225. The projected budget for the Municipal Building Authority will decrease 0.07% to $644,550.Combining the totals from Ogden City Corporation, the Redevelopment Agency, and the Municipal Building Authority, we recommend a total municipal budget of $163,599,025 which is a 7.59% increase over the previous year.
Here's the big picture in graphic form:

Click to Enlarge Image

Numbers-cruncher wonks can read the complete proposed budget here:
Bolt on your green eyeshades and don't let your eyes glaze over, WCF readers.

We'll dedicate the lower comments section to those readers who'd like to slice, dice and ginsu-knife any of the provisions contained in this new budget document.

Have at it folks!

Update 5/9/12 7:30 a.m.:  The Standard-Examiner Digital Edition carries a Mitch Shaw story this morning, highlighting a few key aspects of Mayor Caldwell's proposed budget:

Monday, May 07, 2012

Standard-Examiner: Sex Ed a Must From Parents, Teachers

Shame on the Standard for not publishing this on the MAIN editorial page.

Top-notch Op-ed piece in today's Standard-Examiner, which we're falling over ourselves to highlight.  Oddly, it only appeared in the SE TX section today, although in our view, due to it's overriding logic, wisdom and articulate expression, it ought to have been showcased on the main SE editorial page.  Check out this great guest editorial from somebody who's learned Utah's life lessons the hard way, and clearly knows what she's talking about, based on life experience:
Wisdom from the "mouths of babes" who've been forced to grow up way too fast.

Shame on the Standard for not publishing this on the MAIN editorial page.

Salt Lake Tribune: Stephen Sandstrom: From Immigration Hard-liner to Compassionate Conservative

If the Utah Legislature will continue be dominated by crackpot Utah Republicans, it'd be nice to find at least one of them who has a heart, NO?  

Interesting Utah political story from The Salt Lake Tribune, about how at least one of the Utah legislator "fab five" hardliners actually re-evaluted his "immigrant enforcement only" position and learned that three-year-olds who are sneaked over our Southern U.S. border and thereafter completely assimilate into American culture need more than a little break:
Too bad he's not still in the Utah Legislature, wethinks.

If the Utah Legislature will continue to be dominated by crackpot Utah Republicans, it'd be nice to find at least one of them who has a heart, NO?

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Science Saturday Special: 'Supermoon' Alert - Biggest Full Moon of 2012 Occurs Tonight

The moon will swing in 221,802 miles (356,955 kilometers) from our planet, offering skywatchers a spectacular view of an extra-big, extra-bright moon, nicknamed a supermoon

a Space.Com:
Skywatchers take note: The biggest full moon of the year is due to arrive this weekend.
The moon will officially become full Saturday (May 5) at 11:35 p.m. EDT. And because this month's full moon coincides with the moon's perigee — its closest approach to Earth — it will also be the year's biggest.
The moon will swing in 221,802 miles (356,955 kilometers) from our planet, offering skywatchers a spectacular view of an extra-big, extra-bright moon, nicknamed a supermoon
Check out the informative Science@NASA video:

The local (Ogden, Utah) weather report appears to be favorable for moon viewing:
Tonight: Mainly clear skies. Low 36F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph.
Happy sky watching, Weber County Forum astronomy buffs.

Update 5/6/12 9:00 a.m.: WCF reader and Ogden Valley Forum blogmeister Larry Zini provides a couple of photos of last night's supermoon event, shot from Ogden Valley:

Friday, May 04, 2012

2012 Utah General Election News Roundup

GOP Senate candidate's finance chair quits campaign under federal civil charges; and  the Utah Governor's race starts to heat up

Several interesting Salt Lake Tribune news stories today, impacting the upcoming 2012 Utah General Election:

1) U.S. Senate candidate Dan Liljenquist's GOP primary campaign has suffered a major disaster. His campaign finance chairman "resigned Thursday, a day after he was sued by federal regulators over impropriety at a hedge fund he manages"  The gravamen of the "impropriety?" He's accused by SEC regulators of defrauding his own investors:
While we're no fans of the incumbent GOP Senator-for-Life Orrin Hatch; it seems to us that Utah citizens would be jumping out of the frying pan into the fire with this Liljenquist guy. Liljenquist's obvious failure to properly "vet" one of his most important campaign aides doesn't speak well for his political judgement, does it?

Perhaps it's time to consider somebody from the other side of the political aisle, folks. Just a thought.

2) The Utah Governor's race is starting to heat up, according to this morning's SL-Trib story. "Peter Cooke, the Democratic candidate for governor, says it is time for Gov. Gary Herbert to take charge of lingering problems at the Utah Department of Transportation by firing Director John Njord and repaying a wrongly terminated employee the legal fees spent getting her job back" :
Cooke also adds that "the attorney general 'needs to investigate this full-force,' or else an independent investigation should look at how UDOT handled the botched Interstate 15 bid two years ago, why the state paid $13 million to the losing bidder."

Scandal-wise, it would appear that the Gary Herbert campaign is up to its eyeballs with corruption problems, dunnit? That taint from the Governor's office should make for a very interesting 2012 race for sure.

3) And speaking of the Utah Governor's race, the Trib also reports that "Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has named Cody Stewart, a former congressional staffer and lobbyist for the oil and gas industry, as his new energy adviser," which elicits for us images of the fox watching over the henhouse:
As a seasoned political wonk with over forty years' political experience under his belt, your humble blogmeister can't imagine how this ill-timed gubernatorial appointment can possibly fail to emerge as a major campaign issue.

That's it for now, O Gentle Ones.

We'll stand by for your ever-savvy comments.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Wall Street Journal - What's Your Workout: Running (Biking and Skiing) for Mayor

We'll express our sympathies to poor ol' Mayor Caldwell, who's trying to balance his political duties with his grueling workouts, and propose that we all cut him a little slack

In the midst of another S-L-O-W Northern Utah political news day, we'll spring something from the back burner just to give our readers at least some opportunity to dive into a new discussion. A coupla days ago one of our sharp-eyed readers sent us this eye-opening Wall Street Journal item, profiling our "triathlete and former competitive mountain biker" Mayor Caldwell, who "made a campaign promise to himself that workouts would be part of his job, sharing priority with political duties":
The scuttlebutt around City Hall is that Mayor Caldwell has been ducking out of important recent City Council meetings and that his proposed first draft 2012-13 fiscal year budget was filed with the City Council just a mite late.

Mike Caldwell - Dedicated Jock
Having perused the WSJ story, we'll express our sympathies to poor ol' Mayor Caldwell, who's trying to balance his political duties with his grueling workouts, and propose that we all cut him a little slack.  By the time city council meetings roll around, we suspect that he's gotta be already "plumb tuckered out".

Certain "concessions" are appropriate, we believe, when your mayor is a dedicated jock.


Tuesday, May 01, 2012

New Utility Rate Ordinance Released - Updated

Rates will go down for the biggest users, up for everyone else.

By Dan Schroeder

The Ogden City Council has a busy agenda for tonight’s meeting, much of it in preparation for the start of a new fiscal year on July 1. And looming large on the agenda is the presentation of the new proposed water rate ordinance and related reports and documents.

The full agenda packet weighs in at 38 megabytes, so I’ve extracted three manageable excerpts for the convenience of those who are following the water rates issue:
There’s a wealth of fascinating information in these documents, at least for numbers geeks like me. I’ll write about more of these details in a future article. For now, though, let’s just cut straight to the “bottom line” and answer the most obvious question: What’s going to happen to your water bill?

The nominal (proposed) water rate increase for the first year (effective this July 1) is 7.8%, composed of a 5% real increase plus 2.8% for inflation. This will be followed by another 5% increase next year, and a 3% increase the year after next, plus cost-of-living increases (tentatively set at 2.5%) every year.

But the initial 7.8% increase is accompanied by a major restructuring (and simplification) of the water rate system, and any major restructuring inevitably produces winners and losers. Who are the winners, and who are the losers? That is, whose rates will initially increase by more than the nominal 7.8%, and whose will increase less?

The answers are on page 19 (pdf page 20) of the consultants’ report, where you’ll find a table of percentage increases arranged by type of customer and amount of monthly water use. For those who (like me) prefer a more visual representation, I’ve produced this graph of percentage changes for residential customers (click for a larger version):

I apologize for this graph’s complexity, much of which is due to the complexity of the old water rate system. To figure your rate increase, you need to know whether your property is also served by secondary water; if so, look at the purple lines. Otherwise you should look at the blue lines, except during summer (May through October) if your monthly use is above 12,000 gallons; then look at the green lines. Finally, you should choose the dashed line if you’re one of the 7% of residents who has an extra-large one-inch connection, but look at the solid line if you’re among the other 93% of us with 5/8 or 3/4 inch connections. Whew!

The graph’s horizontal axis shows the amount of monthly use. Notice that the scale of this axis becomes more and more compressed as you go to the right. The grid lines go by hundreds up to 1000 gallons, then by thousands up to 10,000, and so on. The median residential indoor use is about 4,000 gallons, while the median use during the summer for those who irrigate with culinary water is about 10,000 gallons.

And now you can see that the “losers” include everyone whose water use is below these median levels, and quite a few of those above. This is because the “base rate,” which you pay even if you use no water at all, is rising by 17% (or almost 20% if you have a 1-inch connection). The “winners,” on the other hand, include those who use a lot of water for summer irrigation, as well as the few whose monthly usage is truly enormous—hundreds of thousands of gallons. Most of these customers will actually see their bills decrease by about 5%.

Don’t pay too much attention to the big purple and blue spikes near the middle of the graph. While these large increases will affect certain customers, they are the results of eliminating some unfair discounts that these customers were getting under the old water rate system.

I’ve also produced a similar graph for commercial water customers, with larger connections (click for a larger version):

Again, you can see that this proposal would shift some of the revenue from the few who use a lot of water onto the many who use less. There are some interesting differences among the various connection sizes, but I won’t take the time to explain them in detail here.

It’s unclear to me whether the selection of “winners” and “losers” in this rate restructuring was mostly accidental or mostly intentional. Nothing in the report indicates that anyone was trying to shift the burden from large water users to small ones, and I never heard anyone state such a goal explicitly during the many meetings I attended. However, the consultants have consistently expressed a preference for higher base rates, in order to produce a more stable revenue stream. And some city council members have pushed for a bigger discount for those who irrigate with culinary water during the summer. That sentiment seemed to drive the council's informal decision, on April 10, among the options put before them.

On the other hand, almost everyone involved in this process has expressed at least some desire to discourage wasteful water use and encourage conservation. That's the fiscally prudent approach for the long term, because it lessens the need to develop new water sources and expand the system. Besides, it only seems fair to charge customers based on their actual water use. The new rate structure would be a step backward in this respect.

Update 5/1/12 7:03 p.m.:  Dan S. is now live-blogging from the City Council Chambers. Click "comments" to follow his real time posts.

Update 5/2/12 7:00 a.m.:  The Standard carries a short Mitch Shaw story this morning, briefly summarizing the probable outcome of last night's meeting:
Comments, anyone?

Update 5/10/12 9:00 a.m.:  For the benefit of those WCF readers attentively following the water rates revision issue, here's a link to the 5/1/12 Ogden City Council Regular meeting, where the supporting data for the proposed new utility rate ordinance were discussed in minute detail:

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