Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Breaking news in re the 1/4/12 Ogden Shootings story from the Standard-Examiner! Weber County's cockeyed, loose cannon county attorney Dee Smith, whose goose-stepping prosecutorial minions are even now urging presiding Judge Hyde to issue a gag order, nevertheless is talking out of both sides of his face, and is now, inexplicably, preparing to further taint the Weber County jury pool, with yet another friggin' press conference. Seeing is believing, fair-minded WCF Readers. Read up:
Weber County Commission appointed prosecutor Dee Smith needs to be quickly ushered off the public stage, when he comes up for election two Novembers from now.
And what say you, O Gentle Ones?
As a followup to our February 19, 2012 writeup, "Ogden Valley Forum: Rumors Abound Over Possible Sale of Powder Mountain," the Standard-Examiner reports this morning that the scuttlebutt suggesting that Powder Mountain ownership is entertaining a well-heeled acquisition suitor has advanced beyond the mere rumor stage:
Ogden Valley and Weber County in general who fought tooth and nail for a number of years to prevent the commercial pillage of Ogden Valley, the arrival of a more environmentally responsible and restrained prospective resort owner would be nothing less than a Godsend, wethinks.
As we said before... we'll be crossing our fingers... and our toes...
Update 3/1/12 10:00 a.m.: Our friends at Ogden Valley Forum are all over this story too:
The Standard provides more information in the 1/4/12 Ogden Shootout story this morning, with this Tim Gurrister writeup, which puts the focus upon several pending defense motions:
“One of the most basic notions in the body of law dealing with indigent defense is that an indigent defendant is not automatically entitled to whatever expert or resource he chooses, regardless of the expense,” Deputy Weber County Attorney Chris Allred wrote in his motion opposing Richards’ request for the additional investigator.Putting it all in perspective, we'll refer via the lower link to one page on the defendant's "Help Matthew Stewart" support website, which, includes, among other things, the side-embedded graphic image which helpfully characterizes the shocking current disparity between the resources of the prosecution and defense teams, respectively. Here's the pertinent page link, which provides further information:
“Rather, the United States Supreme Court has held that an indigent defendant is only entitled to the ‘basic tools of an adequate defense’ … the state is not required to purchase for the indigent defendant all the assistance that his wealthier counterpart might buy.”
"asking for the moon," it seems to us. Looking at the graphic, or examining the more detailed information contained on the website, it becomes painfully apparent that Matthew Stewart's defense won't even come close to "leveling the playing field" with the addition of one single additional defense investigator. Nor will the additional investigator's measly $10 thousand fee break the Weber County bank.
Why the prosecution continues to stonewall Mr. Stewart's lawyers remains a mystery to us. At present, it's obvious that Mssrs. Richards, Bushell and Albright seek merely the "basic defense tools...," and very definitely NOT an extravagant "Cadillac Defense."
Here's another sodden question, folks: "How exactly do these Weber County prosecutors sleep at night?" In a circumstance where Mr. Stewart is fighting for his very life, the stonewalling county prosecutors treat this matter as some kind of sick parlor game... or so it seems to us.
How 'bout a little more professional courtesy and a little less mindless "sparring" from the legal representatives of the people of the State of Utah (the prosecution) we ask?
The floor's open, O Gentle Ones.
Who'll be the first to toss in their own 2¢?
Update 2/29/11 8:06 a.m.: There's a new story up on the SL-Trib site, reporting that according to a recent court filing, prosecutors seized "16 plants" at Defendant Matthew Stewart's home. So much then for the spurious rumors that Stewart was operating a commercial "grow operation." Additionally, the Trib reports that the "Weber County Attorney’s Office made the claim Tuesday in paperwork seeking to permanently seize Stewart’s home...":
SL-Trib reader commented:
SIXTEEN, that's SIXTEEN plants !!!!!!!!! One dead, six (including Stewart) injured, FOR WHAT ? TWELVE hyped up troopers to seize SIXTEEN plants??Here's another:
The War on Drugs causes more harm to society than the drug use they are trying to control.Sheesh, folks... this story gets ever crazier by the minute, dunnit?
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
When it comes to public lands, I consider it a badge of honor to have a constitutional note.
Utah House panel OKs bill to let cities seize fed land
February 16, 2012
Entering into such a court fight is ridiculous, especially at a time when budgets are flat and economic concerns linger. The resulting lawsuit could cost "millions and millions of dollars" to argue claims that will almost surely be lost.
"Our legislative counsel isn’t here to make a ruling on whether something is constitutional," King said. "They’re just trying to keep us out of trouble ... and it’s highly probable this whole argument will go down in flames."
Counties could seize federal land under proposed Utah law
February 27, 2012
Googled, just to find out how many of our Weber County-based Utah House Representatives gulped the Koolaid, and voted for this knuckle-headed legislation which is sure to cost Utah taxpayers millions of dollars before it goes down in flames, the first time it's tested in Federal Court. Checking yesterday's vote tally we find, sadly, that ALL Weber County State House legislators gave it their thumbs-up.
That's right, folks. House Representatives Brad Dee, Gage Froerer, Richard Greenwood, Brad Galvez, Jeremy Peterson, Dixon Pitcher and Ryan Wilcox ALL fell into line on this madness. Maybe they think it'd be a good idea to condemn that dastardly federal boondoggle, Hill Air Force base, we dunno. The way things are developing however, HAFB looks likely to fall into state hands one way or the other anyway, regardless of happens with HB511, we suppose. Maybe thewy decided it would be wise to get into the base closure and land transfer early on.
Something of which to make note, O Gentle Weber County Readers and voters, come November, when these folks are standing for re-election and touting their "fiscal prudence," in an election year when each and every GOP candidate, locally and nationally, also seems simultaneously hell-bent to prove that he or she is the craziest of them all.
Update 2/28/12 12:00 p.m: Trentelman again chimes in on the issue this morning, in the wake of his earlier Wasatch Rambler column, which was fairly "scathing," in re Utah House Rep. Mike Noel. Here's Trentelman's latest pro-Noel puffpiece, however, wherein he cuts Rep. Noel what we at WCF consider to be undesereved political slack:
"cut Mike Noel a pass," with his most recent journalistic "effort," so-called?
Sunday, February 26, 2012
There's more breaking news in the 1/4/12 Ogden Shootings case, as the Salt Lake Tribune confirms last night's reader comment and reports that supporters of the defendent Matthew Stewart have "temporarily disabled donation functionality" on their recently established Help Matthew Stewart website. Here's the lede:
Fundraising efforts on a website dedicated to help Matthew David Stewart, who is accused of killing an officer and wounding five others in January, were stopped after his family learned they may be violating state law.Check out the full SL-Trib story here:
Stewart’s father, Michael Stewart, told The Salt Lake Tribune on Saturday he was surprised to receive a letter on Thursday from the Utah Division of Consumer Protection saying the family had to register for a permit with the state as a charity under the Charitable Solicitations Act. He said he didn’t know the family had been doing anything wrong.
“We don’t want to break the law,” Michael Stewart said, so the family took down the donation feature on their website — www.helpmatthewstewart.org — and submitted an application for a permit on Friday, which cost him $100. He will also have to inform contributors their donations will not be tax-deductible.
highly prejudicial misinformation leaks early in the case and from the discourteous treatment that their private attorney has received from the Weber County Attorney's prosecution team in recent weeks, understandably suspect the worst of government motives, as the latest wrinkle in this case now unfolds:
Family members previously planned to hold a yard sale and another was going to do photography to raise money for Matthew Stewart, but now Michael Stewart says he doesn’t know what the family can do without unknowingly violating some law.So what about it, O Gentle Ones? Is this latest defense obstacle merely another illustration of an overly officious government bureau inadvertently and automatically set into robotic action by random citizen complainants? Or does it spell an intentional effort on the part of Utah government officials to throw another wrench into Matthew Stewart's defense, as some supporters of the herein defendant are beginning to suggest?
“Does my sister need a permit for a garage sale to sell her junk to help my son?” he asked. “We’d like people to see outrage at the way things are being done here in Utah; it is not right. They are attacking us every way they can.”
Update 2/27/12 6:00 a.m.: The Standard-Examiner is now carrying the story too:
Saturday, February 25, 2012
If Utah state Rep. Bill Wright, R-Holden, and 44 of his House colleagues have a problem dealing with sex, can't they find counseling for their hang ups? We don't care what they do to themselves, but why do they have to inflict their dysfunctions on Utah teens in public schools?
OUR VIEW: Pols' sexual hang ups
February 24, 2021
What Wright and his cronies don't get is that responsible parents talk about sexual issues with their children. These parents will continue to talk with their children even if Wright's inane HB363 becomes law. Public schools, through sex education classes, educate many students who would otherwise never learn the facts of life, or worse, learn it from bad influences in the streets.
OUR VIEW: Pols' sexual hang ups
February 24, 2021
"Victorian Era" conversations, twelve years into the 21st century?
The Standard knocked this one clean outta the park, wethinks.
Shame on Weber County's House Reps. Brad Dee, Brad Galvez, Jeremy Peterson, Dixon Pitcher and Ryan Wilcox, who cast "aye" votes on this idiotic bill, and thereby knuckled under to the wackos of the Eagle Forum and their ilk, who continue to feverishly do their level best to drag Utah's already backward culture even further rearward toward the prudish, head-in-the-sand "virtue" of their 19th century, self-delusional "glory days."
Thursday, February 23, 2012
"We’ve been culturally watered down to think we have to teach about sex, about having sex and how to get away with it, which is intellectually dishonest." "Why don’t we just be honest with them upfront that sex outside marriage is devastating?"
Utah House passes bill to allow schools to skip sex ed
February 23, 2012
"You cannot speak of abstinence without talking to students about methods of birth control that are not certain, about protecting oneself from [sexually transmitted diseases] and all the things that can happen in a negative sense to a young person who engages in sex." "It’s really immoral not to teach kids about what the consequences are."
Utah House passes bill to allow schools to skip sex ed
February 23, 1012
Brad Dee, Brad Galvez, Jeremy Peterson, Dixon Pitcher and Ryan Wilcox fall into the camp of those whose views of morality seem to center on the philosophy that ignorance is bliss, and that it's just fine for students in Utah public schools to run the risk of unwanted teen pregnancies and STDs, without the benefits of any formal instruction whatsoever regarding such matters.
A Weber County Forum Tip O' the Hat to Utah House grownups Gage Froerer and Richard Greenwood on the other hand, who plainly recognize that the real immorality is failing "to teach kids about what [the facts and] consequences are."
With the 2012 General Election coming up fast, we hope all WCF readers will write this all down so they don't forget it.
Don't let the cat get your tongues...
There are two more 1/4/12 1/4/12 Ogden Shootout story-topical items in this morning's Standard-Examiner print and online editions.
First, the S-E reports on yesterday's Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force officer tribute in the State Legislature. Here's the lede:
Standard reports that "The Weber County Sheriff's Office has produced a 21-minute video tribute to the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force and six officers involved in a Jan. 4 fatal shootout."
SALT LAKE CITY — Weber County representatives and senators each took a turn to express gratitude to law enforcement officers involved in the Jan. 4 shootout in Ogden.
Legislators then gave standing ovations to the officers and their families who attended the legislative session Wednesday:
Read Scott Schwebke's story here:
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Ogden Water Consultants Recommend $20 Million in New Bonds and a 60% Rate Increase Over the Next 10 Years - Updated
To kickstart this morning's WCF discussion, we'll put the focus on last night's Ogden City Council Work Session, where issues relating to Ogden City's water system were broadly reviewed. Briefly, we've excised the following segment from last night's council packet, which describes the range of last night's council discussion. Not only did the Council discuss the currently pending water rates study, but it examined the City's water system projected infrastructure needs well into the future:
DISCUSSION REGARDING THE STATUS OF THE 2012 UTILITY RATES STUDYUpon our earlier examination in advance of last night's meeting, we'd expected this meeting to be something of a "snoozer." Unfortunately this was not the case at all, as we learned last night in one of our lower comments sections, wherein one alert WCF Reader (who else but Dan Schroeder?) who'd sat in on last night's meeting, provided this sobering heads up:
PURPOSE OF WORK SESSION:
- To review status of the Utility Rates Study
- To review the financial obligations of maintaining a quality water utility system
BackgroundThe purpose of the work session is to provide a status update regarding the Utility Rates Study and to begin the discussion of what will be required financially to maintain a quality water utility system as the City moves forward. The discussion will include reviewing financial implications of the major capital projects identified in the Capital Improvements Plan and the City’s master plans, to review the financial conditions necessary for potential future bonding and to maintain the highest bond rating, and to review requirements for operation and maintenance of the utility system.
Laura Lewis and Cody Deeter from Lewis, Young, Robertson and Burningham will be leading the discussion and will be presenting the information to the Council. Ms. Lewis and Mr. Deeter will be presenting several financial scenarios to allow the Council to better understand the financial obligations the City may have and to review the potential options for funding a quality water utility system. The focus of the discussion will not be on changes to the rates structure but rather on the financial obligations of maintaining the level of service the Council feels is appropriate. Discussion on specific rates and how the costs may be shared among users will be the focus of future meetings beginning with the March 6, 2012 fact finding work session.[Emphasis added].
Breaking news: Water consultants are telling city council to issue additional bonds for capital improvements and repay the debt with significant rate increases in coming years. The scenario that's being shown now would involve $20 million in new bonds and a 60% rate increase over the next 10 years. Keep in mind that Ogden's water rates are already higher than those of virtually all other northern Utah cities.Gentle reader Dan is right, of course. As we reported on WCF last week, Ogden's water rates are already higher than those of virtually all other northern Utah cities.
...Slight correction: Looks like the eventual rate increase would be only 55%.
Hoping that the Standard-Examiner would flesh out a few more facts on this topic, we checked out this morning's S-E article, which was unfortunately no help at all on this new water rates issue:
As a consequence, we've done a little additional fact gathering this morning, and here's some additional info, obtained through reliable sources close to city hall, although the underlying facts still remain a trifle thin:
The $20M new bonding for water system improvements, repaid by increasing rates about 55% over the next 10 years, would consist of improvements which would be mostly for the water treatment plant and flow/pressure upgrades.
That's right, folks, despite the last wave of water system bonding, ($49.1 million, to be exact, which occurred only in 2008), our local bureaucrats already seem to be getting in gear to pile on more public debt, with a new scheme to hit the rate payers with higher and higher fees.
We dunno, folks. Wouldn't it make more sense to start tapping the Business Depot Ogden Cash Cow to fund these incessant infrastructure improvements? Wasn't it the original intent of Glen Mechem's mayoral administration in obtaining the BDO federal "land grant" to use the revenues derived therefrom to fund Ogden City's infrastructure needs?
Under Boss Godfrey's administration we got into the bad habit of allowing Godfrey's "A" Team to use BDO revenue to fund every half-baked Boss Godfrey plan, scam or money-losing project under the sun.
It's time for the Caldwell Administration to do an abrupt about-face, no?
If further water infrastructure needs remain unaddressed, they should be funded from BDO revenues, wethinks.
One thing's definitely sure... we'll be turning our attention to council developments for the upcoming "March 6, 2012 meeting", where the council will further "discuss and review the implications of the financial approach determined on February 21, 2012 on the base rate and tiered structure."
Update 2/23/12 8:00 a.m.: One of readers has transmitted to us the following spreadsheet and graphs, showing what the consultants proposed to the council on Tuesday night:
- Water Utility Fund - Comprehensive Financial Sustainability Plan Spreadsheet
- Water Utility Fund - Comprehensive Financial Sustainability Plan Graphs
- $13.13 million for the water treatment plant
- $1.05 million for storage projects
- $12.26 million for distribution fire flow and pressure projects
- $2.5 million for pipe replacement
- $9 million for canyon pipeline rehab project
- $3.03 million for meter replacement
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
To kick off the morning discussion we'll refer to a story which appeared in yesterday's Standard-Examiner, reporting that, in addition to getting into the student scholarship business, Ogden City Big Government Planners are also setting the stage to get into the loan business. Here's the lede:
Read the full story here:
OGDEN -- The city is proposing a change to its five-year plan that includes an amendment to help new small-business owners.
The city's five-year consolidated plan includes a proposal to create a Community Development Block Grant-funded "loan loss" program aimed at promoting business development by leveraging grants to secure loans from larger loan pools that could then be given to small businesses.
City officials say the loan program is needed to provide otherwise viable small businesses with loan options when traditional loan and investment opportunities aren't available.
Ogden taxpayers are pinching their pennies to manage their own personal expenses, the BIG SPENDING SCHEMERS at Ogden City Hall are now forming up a whole new raft of shell entities and unleashing a brand new wave of "leveraged" public borrowing:
Yesiree, folks, although the ever-energetic Big Government schemer Boss Godfrey is now gone, it appears that the spirit of aggressive Big Government intervention in all endeavors (those which do NOT fit within the framework of the "proper role" of municipal government) remains alive and well, probably due, at least in part, to the continuing influence of Godfrey's Business Development Department "A" Team, who are obviously still ramming Godfrey's old programs forward.
The new program would use block grant loans to secure loans that would be issued by Ogden Reinvestment Corporation. An initial amount of $305,000 would come from the sale of six CDBG-funded small-business loans.
The funds would be used to provide a 10 percent security backing for loans issued by ORC to small businesses. The loan pool available to ORC contains $3 million and comes from the Ogden Industrial Development Corporation.
The goal of the program is to take the $305,000 initial investment and leverage that money to secure $3 million in loans that would then be available to the business community.
It would also be interesting to know where newly elected Mayor Mike Caldwell stands on all this. So far however he's saying nada, zero, and zip. While his laid-back style does definitely differ considerably from Godfrey's annoyingly flamboyant approach, it is beginning to become clear wethinks, reading between the lines, that with respect to the aggressive accumulation of public debt, and the subsidizing of the private business sector, Caldwell's doing nothing to apply the brakes.
So what about it, O gentle Ones? Is your blogmeister the only one who's troubled that even under a new mayoral administration, Ogden City Government continues to lurch at top speed upon the course of unrestrained Godfreyite borrowing and spending?
Is it possible that the below-linked tune soon will become Ogden taxpayers' new theme song?
As a followup to Saturday's story, the Standard-Examiner reports this morning that defense lawyer Randy Richards has filed additional moving papers in the 1/14/12 shooting matter, i.e., papers opposing the prosecution's motion for a gag order in the case:
“While defense counsel recognizes the importance of not trying this case in the press, there are some concerns regarding a blanket gag order, given the magnitude of the case and some of the misinformation that has already been disseminated to the press,” Randy Richards wrote in the motion.This is of course the very type of argument that justice-minded lumpencitizens should expect of a zealous defense attorney in a case of this magnitude, especially in a public atmosphere where the local jury pool may already have been tainted by the publication of substantial misinformation which prejudices (and may preclude) a fair trial in this matter.
In the motion, Richards wrote he opposes the gag order as it would hinder “correcting erroneous or adverse publicity.”
As it only would apply to the lawyers involved, “other individuals may release information to the press that could potentially be contrary to the goal of a fair and impartial jury.”
The motion also claims that information has already been released about Stewart that is “potentially misleading and factually prejudicial,” but gave no examples.
“Furthermore, due to the often confusing nature of legal filings, arguments, and orders, occasionally the press gets it wrong,” Richards wrote.
Mr. Richards is Stewart's originally retained private attorney in this case, who is now apparently working pro bono publico in this matter, notwithstanding the prosecution's earlier request that Richards withdraw from the case.
Sodden question: Where are the prosecution's appointed "public" defense council, Ryan Bushell and William Albright with respect to this issue? Will they be joining Mr. Richards in his opposition to a gag order, or will they continue to remain silent throughout this important early pre-trial phase?
Supplementary question: If you or a loved one were charged with a serious crime in Utah, who would you prefer to have defending your interests? The obviously zealous Mr. Richards, or the prosecution's own personally selected public defense lawyers?
Monday, February 20, 2012
In honor of the 2012 President's Day Holiday, we'll offer our WCF readers a little something special for your holiday celebration, linked from that constant source of merriment and mirth, the Huffington Post.
Here's the setup:
In honor of Presidents Day, we decided to take a look at the funniest president impressions of all time. There were the obvious choices of Ferrell, Carvey, and Hammond, but we also couldn't forget about great impersonations from the likes of Harry Shearer, Trey Parker, and Jon Stewart.Click the link below to navigate and rate the videos in sequence (Caution: a couple of these are a mite "salty," language-wise):
So in order for you to commemorate George Washington's birthday this weekend, be sure to watch some amazing and hilarious impressions of America's leaders.
Chalk it up to a sl-o-o-o-w news day, folks, although most of this material IS pretty danged funny..
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Interesting scuttlebutt circulating around Ogden Valley this week, concerning the possible sale of Powder Mountain Resort to a group of "young (under 30), wealthy entrepreneurs are interested in purchasing Powder Mountain as a site for a retreat":
Here are a few tantalizing tidbits from our friends at Ogden Valley Forum:
The word on the street is that a group of young (under 30), wealthy entrepreneurs are interested in purchasing Powder Mountain as a site for a retreat. A place where they can gather, share ideas, and do great things. Apparently these investors care about communities, give millions to charity and believe in partnering to do good things to protect the environment.Read the interesting and newly-updated Ogden Valley Forum writeup here:
The rumor goes on to state that the group has been in the valley the past few weeks and have put down a very large sum of money on the property and has submitted a letter of intent to purchase the property. Supposedly, their desire is to build a few homes (substantially less than the 5,000 or so that was approved), construct a retreat or convention center, and keep the rest of the mountain relatively status quo. In other words, preserve the land.
This sounds like a potential win for Ogden Valley, and we are crossing our fingers (and a couple of toes) in hopes that at least part of the rumor is true - especially the part about preserving the land.
OVF reader lodged this commentary in the OVF article comments section:
If these rumors are true, it is a victory for the Valley citizens that stood up against the phony town. Large homes are an improvement [over] a turkey town and a resort that would add at least 5,000 to our density numbers. Thanks to all that stood firm long enough to change the results. This is a big defeat for the spineless County Commissioners as well.Having devoted endless hours and "electronic ink" toward battling the greed-head current Powder Mountain developers over the course of several years ourselves, we gotta say that we at Weber County Forum couldn't be more in agreement.
Keep your fingers (and toes) crossed too, folks.
Saturday, February 18, 2012
By: Bob Becker
The SE has interesting column up this morning by Andy Howell discussing how reporters at the SE are using social media to both gather information, tips, etc. and to publicize and spread, in fact, to market their own stories. He offers Mr. Schwebke as an example of a full-on "pojo" --- print on line journalist ---[Mr. Howell really likes that term, but then, he insisted on re-dubbing the Newsroom at the SE the "Content Center" so maybe his judgment on naming things is not as sound as one might hope.]
Andy Howell's column is here:
Things have indeed changed. Jon Talton [long time reporter, columnist for the Phoenix Sun and now the Settle Times] and crime novelist recently published "Deadline Man," a mystery with an old time print guy working for a dying Seattle daily as its protagonist. Kind of interesting how the novel describes the newspaper biz these days. From Talton's novel:
Newsrooms are quiet now. It gives me the creeps. If typewriters and teletypes are long gone, so are most of the loud, profane, eccentric characters that used them, yelled 'copy!' to summon the gofer copy boys and girls, and didn't necessarily play well with others, particularly their bosses. The best of them had high-octane talent and taught me much. As a young reporter, I missed deadline by eleven minutes, prompting a screaming tirade from the city editor, who somehow was able to accomplish this bit of mentoring without ever removing the cigar from his mouth. I never missed deadline again. Now shouting is frowned upon,much less smoking. Shout and they'll send you to HR for a talking-to, or maybe they'll Meyers-Briggs you, so you know what an inappropriate, extroverted, cynical bastard you really are, and how it's offensive, especially to women.It's not a particularly good mystery, but is interesting for its protagonist's asides about newspapers, their decline and the reasons therefor. Mostly, he said, in cost cutting the papers abandoned quality [by which he means abandoned investigative reporting and went instead with simply rephrasing press releases.] Since we talk a lot about the SE at WCF, thought some might find Talton's novelistic grumbling interesting.
The Deseret News is front and center in reporting on the 1/4/12 Ogden Shootout Story again this morning, with an Emily Morgan writeup, delivering the news that the family of Defendant Matthew Stewart has established a defense support and informational website seeking donations to be applied to Mr. Stewart's defense, among other things. Here's the lede:
OGDEN — The family of a man charged with killing an Ogden police officer is asking for help in raising $70,000 that they feel is needed to mount a defense.Read the full D-News story here:
The family of Matthew David Stewart has set up a website, www.helpmatthewstewart.org, where they are asking for donations. On the website, they say prosecutors are refusing to turn evidence over to Matthew Stewart's defense attorney.
Standard-Examiner also carries a similar story this morning, too:
Weber County Forum readers are already aware, WCF "broke" this story earlier this week; but it's nice to see the Utah print media however belatedly following suit.
Remember folks, according to yesterdays D-News story, Stewart's defense team is already operating at a mind-numbing disadvantage in this matter:
Richards is also asking that private investigator Kris Cantil be appointed to the case, pointing out that prosecutors have 52 investigating police officers, two private county attorney investigators, state and county crime scene investigators and several other agencies "providing investigation of this case for prosecution and potential execution of Matthew Stewart."Regardless of how you may feel about the merits of the case, O Gentle Ones, fair-minded lumpencitizens who'd like to help level the playing field a little bit just might want to navigate on over to Mr. Stewart's support website and cough up a few bucks... or so it seems to us.
Prosecutors would not appoint Cantil, saying instead that they would only appoint an investigator to assist their "selected defense indigent counsel" and decided on Carl Hurst.
For those folks who'd like to know a little more about Mr. Stewart's website, and the possible implications and repurcussions of sending a generous donation, please check this out:
Friday, February 17, 2012
The Deseret News is all over the 1/4/12 Ogden Shootings story this morning, with a brand new article, expanding on the material we published yesterday on this topic:
The prosecution continues to ignore defense counsel of choice's repeated requests for discovery material based on the fact that they do not recognize Randall W. Richards as the defendant's privately retained counsel," Richards wrote. "This refusal to recognize counsel of choice is hampering defense efforts and may cause a reversible prejudice to the defense's case.Richards suggests that County prosecutors are already seriously bungling this case; and we believe Mr. Richards is right.
Ask yourselves, people. Why is the prosecution adamant about refusing to acknowledge Mr. Richards' legal representation in this case?
And where are appointed counsel Ryan Bushell and William Albright? Have they filed any motions on their own? Have they requested their own discovery? Are they coordinating whatever efforts they're expending with their co-counsel, Mr. Richards? Have they even so much as opened up their own case files in this matter?
Sadly, the facts surrounding this case are plainly swirling into the realm of the surreal and bizarre. This folks, is a public prosecution that's spinning completely out of control, wethinks, all to the legal detriment of the party who has the highest stakes in this matter... the Defendant Matthew Stewart, that is.
So what "thinks" our Gentle WCF Readers about all this?
The floor's open for your ever-savvy comments, folks.
We'll highlight four more interesting items we stumbled upon this morning whilst Googling:
1) Top notch editorial in this morning's Standard-Examiner, giving a strong thumbs-up to Gov. Gary Herbert's effort to support the Legislature in providing $500,000 to the Utah Defense Alliance, to advocate Hill Air Force Bases's "importance for U.S. defense in the 21st century" as the latest BRAC base closing process moves forward:
Utah taxpayers will be forced to cough up the funds to save HAFB during the current round of U.S. defense cutbacks, the economic stakes for Utah are direly important, and despite HAFB's obvious logistical "defense-related advantages over other states" you can bet your boots that other competing states will be investing boatloads of cash to save their own federal military boondoggles. That's just how the system operates, folks.
2) Despite our earlier warning that "[p]ickin' a court fight with the feds on this issue is an expensive battle that Utah taxpayers are bound to lose," the Salt Lake Tribune reports this morning that "Utah lawmakers gave a quick green light to a bill proposing to let cities and counties take over federal land, despite strong warnings from legislative attorneys that it is almost certainly unconstitutional." Specifically, "[t]he Legislature’s lawyers said that cities and counties have no standing to exercise eminent domain over federal land and the law would violate a string of Supreme Court precedents and the Property Clause of the Constitution":
"When it comes to public lands, I consider it a badge of honor to have a constitutional note," said [constitutional scofflaw] Rep. Ken Sumsion, R-American Fork, referring to the note from lawyers cautioning about the bill’s legality."
Notably Rep. Sumison will be running for governor this year. Mindless pre-election message bill, anyone?
3) The Tribune reports positive news on the federal regulatory front this morning, with the following story reporting that "[t]he National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Thursday proposed voluntary guidelines for manufacturers, including a recommendation that they design dashboards so that distracting devices are automatically disabled unless the vehicle is stopped and the transmission is in park":
dangers of texting while driving, regulations which would prevent drivers from fiddling with their dash-mounted GPS mapping devices seems to us to be a sensible approach. Our only reservation... will mere voluntary guidelines be sufficient to stop the "technology race" between auto manufacturers, who've been scrambling to one-up each other to plant high tech gizmos under the noses of auto buyers who are enthralled by 24-7, nonstop electronic input? Somehow we don't think so.
4) Yesterday's Standard-Examiner carried another guest commentary from Ogden Captain Of Industry Alan Hall, touting the advantages of a well laid out business plan in achieving success in a startup business venture. Lo and behold, here's a real-life case study, illustrating how a carefully and finely tuned business planning and execution can intricately enmesh:
That's it for now, O Gentle Ones.
Feel free to chime in and address any of the above topics, or start up a discussion topic all your own.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
1) According to Mr. Gurrister, three motions "will be 'aired' at the next status conference, set for March 19 before Judge Hyde."
Translation: That's when all pending motions will be "argued."
And here are the motions which will be reportedly argued on that date:
a) Richards Defense Motion: Renewed motion for a restraining order "to prevent destruction of evidence" by the prosecution;
b) Richards Defense Motion: Third discovery motion complaining that discovery materials have not been supplied to Stewart's Attorney of Record, and also alleging that prosecutors would release them only to his newly-appointed public defender team;
c) Prosecution Motion: the earlier-discussed "gag order" remains pending.
2) Here's the essential fact timeline to date:
- Within a few short days of the tragic 1/4/12 Ogden Shooting incident, the Stewart family retains Mr. Richards to defend Defendant Matthew Stewart;
- Between 1/4/12 and February 11, 2012 Attorney Richards files a series of discovery motions.
- Attorney Richards files a notice of indigency on behalf of defendant Stewart, declaring that his client's funds are "depleted," and requests appointment as a Rule 8 public defender to defend.
- Deputy Weber County Attorney Chris Allred, a non-prosecutor who oversees the county's contracts for public defenders (and yet also works for the same Weber County Attorney's office which employs the prosecution team), tells Judge Hyde, the 2d District Court Judge assigned to this case, that "We will not be offering a contract to Mr. Richards." Notably, no explanation is offered by Mr. Allred in re why The Weber County Attorney's Office would like to suddenly "boot" the heretore defense attorney (Richards) in this case.
- Judge Hyde appoints a couple of "nobodies," Ryan Bushell and William Albright, to defend Stewart, despite the fact that Attorney Richards is URCP Rule 8 qualified and regularly serves as a public defender in Weber County public defender cases.
- Somebody (Mr. Gurrister's story doesn't tell us "who") asks Attorney Richards to withdraw from the case.
"Randy [Richards] made a comment several years ago about how he is against the death penalty and is going to do all in his power to make it expensive for the county ... the county was steamed about that," said one official close to the proceedings. The comment was reported in the media, he said, and made relations hostile."
"The same prosecutors and Richards butted heads over Riqo Perea and Jacob Ethridge, from 2007 through 2010, both potential death penalty cases where Richards strung things out with voluminous motions."
"Perea and Ethridge were both accused of double homicide, and the cases featured motions from Richards for a year or more before trial. Prosecutors eventually dropped the execution option without comment for both, in Perea's case on the eve of trial."
"Smith and Richard were law partners before Smith became county attorney."
Read between the lines, folks.
What should be obvious here is that there's been some kind of underlying beef simmering between Weber County Attorney Dee Smith's office and Ogden's possibly most zealous and successful criminal defense attorney (Randy Richards), which raises some all-to-obvious questions:
Has the Weber County Attorney's Office used its misguided power to appoint "prosecution friendly" public defender defense counsel in this case? Is Dee Smith still reeling from attorney Randy Richards' successes in the Riqo Perea and Jacob Ethridge cases? Is the deck already stacked? Has the prosecutor leaked the incriminating "facts" to the media and yet refused to let the defense know the exculpatory "facts"? Is there any way that Matthew Stewart will get a fair trial in Weber County? Are there unresolved issues between Dee Smith and his former private law firm which might operate to explain his "bloodthisty tactics" in this case? Did Dee Smith leave a lucrative position in his former private law firm to "serve the Weber County Community"? Or was he just another lawyer who tuned to the public sector for steady, well paid employment, "when he couldn't quite 'cut it' in private practice as a private attorney"? Is attorney Richards far too effective to be appointed to battle Dee Smith's "weak" prosecution drones? Is Dee Smith promoting his career, rather than seeking a true "just" outcome in this matter?
So many questions... so few answers.
Inquiring minds need to know.
Deseret News: Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins Rails Against Property Tax Exemption for Utah Soldiers
"Soldiers know what they're getting into when they enlist and already receive lots and lots and lots of advantages.
We give them all kinds of breaks. We pay for their clothing. We allow them to shop at the PX. And now you're forcing me, your bleeding heart is saying, 'OK, Sen. Jenkins, we want you now to pay for their taxes.' Well, I'm saying enough."
Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins rails against property tax exemption for Utah soldiers
February 15, 2012
"Hill Air Force Base is adjacent to Jenkins’ district. These men and women are his constituents.
Sen. Jenkins talked about our soldiers like they’re gaming the system. It was an attack on our American heroes, who protect our freedoms, day in and day out, on battlefields around the world."
Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins rails against property tax exemption for Utah soldiers
February 15, 2012
The Deseret News reports on a fascinating squabble which broke out on Utah's Capitol Hill yesterday, as Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins reportedly "went off for the second day in a row over a proposed property tax exemption for members of the military called to active duty, saying they don't need any more breaks."
D-News also carries this Youtube video, documenting Jenkins' Senate argument in opposition to legislation which, if enacted, would add a whopping $1.o3 to the average Utah residential property owner's annual property tax bill:
Notwithstanding Jenkins' strenuous opposition, the Senate on Wednesday ultimately voted 24-4 in favor of both a bill, SB116, and a resolution to allow the tax waiver. The resolution, SJR8, calls for an amendment to the state constitution for the exemption, which voters would have to approve in November, according to the Deseret News.
On Wednesday, retired Army general (and 2012 Utah gubernatorial candidate) Peter S. Cooke also called on Gov. Gary Herbert as commander-in-chief of the Utah National Guard to denounce Jenkins' "shocking diatribe," the Deseret News also reports.
So what about it, Weber County Forum readers, does Weber County's own fiscally uber-tight-fisted State Senator Jenkins deserve a stern gubernatorial rebuke, as retired Army general Cooke suggests; or should Jenkins instead be entitled to a pat on the back for keeping a close eye on the Utah public purse, right down to the very last taxpayer buck?
Update 2/16/12 5:54 a.m.: We just now learn that the Standard-Examiner is also carrying its own version of this story too, along its own link to the above-embedded video:
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
To kick start this morning's discussion we'll highlight three interesting items from this morning's Standard-Examiner:
1) Here's a fine editorial from the SE editorial board, panning Ogden City Council policy analyst Janene Eller-Smith's Big Government Idea to "implement an opt-out utility bill round up increase to fund scholarships for local high school students":
"The bigger question is why is a business unit of the city involved in social programs at all? Their goal should be to provide customers the best quality lowest cost possible product, not fund scholarships."
2) Although the story linked below speaks of gender neutrality, we'll chalk this up as a major step in the right direction for men's parental rights:
Weber County Forum Tip O' the Hat goes out to Rep. Ryan Wilcox, R-Ogden, who sponsored this bill and ushered it through the State House. We'll be keeping our fingers crossed that Rep. Wilcox can muster up similar juice in the State Senate.
3) And speaking of awards, here's a heads-up about a bill which deserves our newly-minted Weber County Forum Don Quixote Tilting at Windmills Prize, about which Republican Rep. Ken Sumsion of American Fork says "could have a committee hearing this week would allow counties and cities to condemn federal lands through eminent domain":
Utah taxpayers are bound to lose, we believe, which is something for our gentle readers to deeply contemplate the next time somebody mentions that Utah is the best managed state in the nation, if you know what we mean, and we think you do.
"Utah baby, where logic goes to die."
That's it for now, O Gentle Ones.
Who'll be the first to chime in on these riveting issues?
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
We've been out of the office all day; and lacking any real red-meat news in today's snoozer of a news cycle, we'd like to alert our readers to a brand new feature which we've added to the blog. We've been following, and will continue to follow developments in the still fast developing 1/4/12 Ogden Shootings case, in which connection we'll make note of our new "People v Stewart" sidebar module which so far includes these links:
WCF stories, and those which will arise as this case develops. We anticipate that this will be one of the biggest local stories of the decade; so we want all important developments in this story to be right there, at our readers' fingertips.
Facebook "support" page, other interesting info designed to humanize the defendant in this case and also a link to a PayPal donation button, for those fair minded readers who'd like to kick in a few bucks, just to make sure that Mr. Stewart gets a fair trial in this case. We invite our readers to wade in and check it out.
We'd like to also solicit our readers to submit their own links for this module. We anticipate that this story will be a major discussion item for some significant time in the future, so please, O Gentle Ones... submit your links.
Have at it, WCF political wonks.
Monday, February 13, 2012
Sheriff Terry Thompson: A Plan to Improve Fairness and Eficiency in Weber County Sheriff's Office Contract Services
By: Terry Thompson,
Weber County Sheriff
Early in 2011, subsequent to my election as the new sheriff, I met with the Weber County Commission and the Weber County Attorney’s office in a cooperative effort to re-evaluate our existing city contracts. We had several concerns regarding the structure of the current city contracts, including the rationale and legalities of the contracts. We were also very concerned about the ethical responsibility to provide openness and transparency in county operations and negotiations.
We embarked on a detailed study and review of the Weber County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) budget, its abilities and the scope of its services. This included a review of the unincorporated areas of the county as well as the contractual relationships with the eight cities where the Sheriff’s Office provides contractual law enforcement services. This effort was in response to several factors. First, the legality regarding Weber County citizens who live in cities with municipal police departments, paying in part for county law enforcement services with minimal benefit from those services. Second, the county has recently experienced financial challenges, primarily due to economic factors that are out of our control. This has created a need to look carefully at the WCSO organization and operations. Third, each city contract is uniquely crafted and negotiated between the county and that city. There is concern among some contract city officials regarding the equity and fairness of one city’s contract when compared to another. Ultimately, my goal is to make whatever changes are needed to treat all taxpayers fairly while managing a more efficient and effective law enforcement agency.
We determined that the proper approach to find a reasonable solution was to bring all of the stake holders together to form a board to discuss and attempt to find a resolution. We met together researching and evaluating various criteria. Representatives of each contract city would continue to serve on this law enforcement services board in the future to provide on-going input between the Sheriff’s Office and the cities.
At the board’s initial meeting we developed the following objectives:
1) Identify ethical and equitable law enforcement contract services criteria across the board - services criteria that are reasonable, rational, sound, justifiable, consistent, and legal;
2) Develop flexible (buildable) services to meet the individual needs of each city;
3) Conduct open and transparent contracts for services among all cities;
4) Define rationale for the deputy unit cost.
After months of meetings with representatives from each city and many hundreds of hours of studies, analysis and discussion, several primary conclusions have emerged:
- Fair and Equitable – All property tax payers pay a county property tax. That tax is divided up among several county departments to provide county-wide services to all residents of the county. Currently those taxpayers who live in cities that have their own police departments also help to fund the WCSO Law Enforcement Division. This is because they pay both a county tax and city tax. County (unincorporated) tax payers and those in one of our eight contract cities only pay for WCSO law enforcement services. In short, some taxpayers pay for two police departments – one they use frequently (their city PD) and another (the WCSO) that they use much less, – while other taxpayers pay only for WCSO law enforcement services which is their only police department. This is not equitable and probably not legal. Under state law, only those services that the WCSO provides to all residents should be paid for by all taxpayers. Patrol and detective services that are used primarily by only a portion of the county residents MUST be paid for by those county residents (unincorporated areas and cities that contract with the county) that are the primary consumers of those services.
- Efficient and Effective – Over the last couple of years the WCSO has downsized through attrition by ten-percent (10%) – 41 positions! Every staff position, every program and every service is under constant scrutiny as to its cost and benefit. So far, the WCSO has been able to maintain, and in some aspects even increase its quality and volume of services, through these critical and on-going evaluations. This has helped to maintain public safety while becoming more fiscally responsible yet continuing to provide a premium service.
- More local control – One of the concerns for cities who must choose between contracting for a municipal service (county or other) and/or employing that service themselves, is the issue of local control. Under the current precinct plan, commanders and deputies are assigned to a specific area and answer not only to the WCSO but also to the contracting city. This is similar to private business contracts in which contractors and employees answer to clients as well as to their employer. By shifting the financial burden for law enforcement services from the county as a whole to the contract cities, the contract cities should, and will, gain more control over how their money is spent.
- Analysis of Budget – The current WCSO law enforcement annual budget amount is about $9.5 million. This amount funds all law enforcement operations to include patrol, detectives and other related and support services. This amount does not include jail, civil process and court operations which are county wide services. A detailed analysis report is available but in short, the communities that the WCSO serves (including contract cities) consume roughly half of the WCSO law enforcement services and resources (patrol and investigations primarily) while providing only a quarter of the funding. In relation to individual communities, the ratio varies with some communities paying a larger portion than others on a per taxpayer or per-capita basis. The objective of this reevaluation is to reapportion the costs so that those same communities pay roughly half of the law enforcement costs and that the per-capita amounts would be comparable from one community to the next.
- Proposal of Cost Formula -- Based on the recommendations made by contract city officials, a costing formula has been developed that is based on each community’s population and history of police calls. In this way each city is treated the same. This provides a basis for all contract negotiations and makes the process more objective and equitable when comparing one city to another. Each city must decide whether to contract with the WCSO or to make other arrangements by March 31, 2012 as all current contracts with the WCSO are re-negotiated each fiscal year.
- Implementation of Shift in Taxes – It would not make sense for the county to pass on more of the costs of WCSO law enforcement to contract cities and unincorporated communities, while maintaining the current tax rates and collecting the same amount of revenue from all county residents. As the burden of these costs is passed on to contract cities and unincorporated communities, the burden to the county and the general fund is lessened. Part of this proposal is that the contract cities and unincorporated county will be required to pay more for law enforcement services, and as a result the county will take less in property taxes from these cities and all county residents. This offset “tax shift” will mean that some taxpayers will see both an increase in local or city taxes and an offsetting decrease in county property taxes. On the other hand, other county taxpayers, since they live in cities that already have a city police department, will see a reduction in the county property tax and a net decrease in taxes overall. This cost formula will result in a “tax shift” to those who primarily benefit from the sheriff’s office law enforcement services making contracts fair, equitable, and legal.
- Evaluation of Law Enforcement Services – One of the hallmarks of our current sheriff’s office administration is that nothing is beyond scrutiny and everything is subject to a cost v. benefit analysis. Public money is at a premium and we want to do as much as possible with as few dollars as possible. These contracts are no exception. Under this proposal, contract law enforcement remains flexible and tailorable to the community’s desires and needs. Regular evaluation by WCSO officials, county officials, and contract city officials will be required to ensure that law enforcement services continue to be both efficient and effective.
The impact of these changes will be felt by every tax payer. Some will experience an overall reduction in taxes. Others will see a reduction in one area and a likely increase in another area with a potential increase in a city tax or municipal fund assessment. The coordination and cooperation of county and city officials means that the overall impact will be kept to a minimum for those who may have to pay a little more overall. The ultimate goal is that communities become more self-reliant and taxpayers only pay for those municipal services that they benefit from and not be taxed inequitably for services they do not receive.
Contracting with the Sheriff’s Office indemnifies a city from liability stemming from a law enforcement incident. Moreover, city insurance is lessened due to the indemnity for further cost savings to the city.
Doing the right thing for the right reasons is seldom the easy thing to do – entering into ethical city contracts that are reasonable, rational, sound, justifiable, consistent, legal, and transparent is the right thing to do.
Editor's Note. This article submission comes in response to Sunday's 2/12/12 Standard-Examiner story, wherein Mr. Schwebke reported that "Officials in eight Weber County cities have until March 31 to decide if they will pay more to the Weber County Sheriff's Office for police services or find an alternative."
Update 2/13/12 11:24 a.m.: The Standard also has Sheriff Thompson's above linked article posted to its SE-Live site, for the benefit of those who'd like to mosey on over and lodge a comment:
O Gentle Ones.