Friday, March 29, 2013

March 26 Ogden City Council Meeting: Part Deux

Bonus video: A most interesting Council session from start to finish

In the interest of wrapping up our discussion of  last Tuesday's Ogden City Council meeting, wherein the council considered, among other things,  the Paris Cafe Zoning/Conditional Use Permit matter and the un-calendered "Not Going Away! Group Talk-in," we're delighted to discover that the full council video has now popped up on the City Council website, providing a particularly interesting glimpse into the Council's treatment of these and other matters. It's an interesting video from start to finish, wethinks, kicking off with a heart-warming ceremony at 01:08 in which Councilwoman Wicks read a special Council resolution honoring Ogden Homeboy and Mountain Climbing World Legend Jeff Lowe, and Mayor Mike awarded your blogmeister's old high school chum a much-coveted and richly-deserved key to Ogden City.

Following this and a prolonged discussion of amendments to the City's Capital Improvement Plan, the video gets down to the WCF-topical nitty gritty at 1:14:24, with the Paris Cafe discussion, where, following another laborious "background" presentation and discussion, the Council finally gets around to approving Mr. McKown's subject "social hall definition amendment" by a 6-1 vote, where a very curmudgeonly Councilman Stephens can be observed to be visibly scowling,  whilst casting the single Council "nay" vote over in the right corner of the video player screen.

From there, interested readers can skip the intervening "Infill Project" discussion and fast forward to 1:47:45, which commences what you've all been waiting for, i.e., the "Not Going Away! Group Talk-in," wherein no fewer than sixteen steely-eyed, concerned citizens bent the Council's ear for over forty minutes about the growing evils of police militarization, door-busting warrant service tactics, police violence in general and a law enforcement-fearful citizenry in particular.  It works out to be a pretty effective presentation, we believe, inasmuch as not only Mayor Mike but also Councilmembers GarnerHyer, Stephens and Van Hooser practically leap out of their chairs to thank the "Not Going Away! Group" upon the end of their extended and inspirational presentation, but also to further attempt to reassure these dedicated citizen activists to the effect that they're "taking their issues seriously," and working quietly (but feverishly) behind the scenes to solve these obvious problems.

We got the impression that the Council were quite favorably impressed by the NGA! group's ad seriatim, mostly highly-articulate and touching presentation.  But why take our word for that, when you can view the video evidence yourselves:

So what say you, O Gentle Ones?
  • Does it appear that Paris Cafe proprietor Mr. Mckown is finally making progress; or is it evident that he's merely getting the usual City Council "Big Government" runaround even now? 
  • Did the "Not Going Away! Group" "get through" to the Ogden City Council to a degree sufficient to precipitate any actual action to solve the all-to-obvious and troubling "Ogden police violence" problem? 
  • Was it overly "tacky" for Councilman Garner to recite the text of the Ogden Council's "Standards of Civility" prior to opening the floor for the "Not Going Away!" group's public comments?
  • Wasn't it great to see Jeff Lowe get some public recognition beyond his earlier and unfortunate association with Boss Godfrey's failed Ice Climbing Tower, (otherwise "affectionately" known around these parts as the "The Fortress of Mayoral Ego")?
 Let's hear your ever-savvy analysis and commentary, folks!

Deseret News: Filing Window for Municipal Candidates Cut in Half

We're hoping that a whole fresh wave of Council candidates will throw their hats into the ring for the 2013 Election, to inject a little new blood into an Ogden City Council which has in many respects been the "dullest" Ogden City legislative body in years

More news showcasing the slavish law-making efforts of the 2013 Utah Legislature  this morning, as the Deseret News puts the spotlight on GOP Rep. Curt Webb's HB403, which "passed the state Legislature earlier this month as the 2013 lawmaking session was winding down."

The lead paragraphs provide the gist:
SALT LAKE CITY — Municipal candidates in Utah will have a smaller window in order to get their names on the ballot, thanks to a new piece of legislation that goes into effect this spring.
Residents can now submit their candidacy for mayoral and city council positions between June 1 and June 7, which is eight days fewer than they were afforded in previous years. The compressed timeframe is a result of HB403, which was introduced by Rep. Curt Webb, R-Logan, and passed the state Legislature earlier this month as the 2013 lawmaking session was winding down.
Check out the full Jeffrey D. Allred story here:
In view of this latest legislative development, we'll also accordingly take the opportunity to let this story serve as a reminder, O Gentle Ones, of our own upcoming Ogden City Municipal Elections, which are virtually right our the doorstep, with Primaries set for August 13, 2013, and  Municipal Elections scheduled for November 5 of this year. We're already hearing encouraging murmurings via private channels of new "council candidate challenger slates,"  and "council house-cleanings" and such, so we'll encourage all 2013 Ogden Council hopefuls to "circle" the dates June 1 and June 7, and to actively begin the process of getting your ducks lined up. The clock's ticking; the opportunity window is narrow; and "snoozers will be losers," of course.

In that connection, council hopefuls, we'll post this list of all Ogden City Council seats which are "up for grabs" this year:
Over the course of the eight years during which we've covered Ogden Municipal Elections, we've rigorously vetted all Council candidates and sliced, diced and Ginsu-knifed all election issues, in addition to providing plenty of plain old-fashioned fun.  So get ready folks, for the same kind of robust, grass-roots WCF citizen journalism this year.

In that same connection we're hoping that a whole fresh wave of Council candidates will throw their hats into the ring for the 2013 Election, to inject a little new blood into an Ogden City Council which has in many respects been the most "dull" and "lumpencitizen unfriendly" Ogden City legislative body in years.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Standard-Examiner: Weber County to Back $22.5M Bond to Improve Powder Mountain

Keeping our fingers crossed that our Weber County Commissioners will yield to the highest principles of open government in the future

With reference to the discussion we've been having over the past couple of days concerning the County's proposal to issue an assessment bond to fund public road, water and sewer improvements within and around the Summit Group's Powder Mountain 1500 acre property, we'll shine the spotlight on this morning's Standard-Examiner story, reporting that the Weber County Commission "cranked up the throttle to full speed ahead" and voted yesterday morning to approve such bonding for a 20-year term, in an amount of $22.5 million :
"The commission will also hold a public hearing during its regular April 9 meeting regarding a conditional-use permit for" [the related] "Summit at Powder Mountain Phase 1, which consists of a 154-unit residential development," the Standard-Examiner story also inexplicably reports, possibly in part to placate any irate Weber County citizens who might still feel miffed about being cut out of the discussion on the bonding matter.

As a whole however, the S-E's Jesus Lopez, Jr. hits all the major points and  provides his S-E readership with an efficient, informative and reassuring writeup, which also dovetails nicely with our own earlier WCF Nutshell Summary, wethinks.

We remain unhappy with the Commission's troubling lapses regarding a troubling lack of pre-vote public information and comment, which launched some Weber County citizens off in a tizzy over the past few days. Nevertheless,  as we've previously said, we regard this bond measure as benign to Weber County taxpayer interests. So at this late date we'll somewhat begrudgingly resolve to "chalk it all up," by invoking the old, tried-and-true sports axiom: "No harm; no foul," we suppose.

Having said that of course, we're still hoping that the Commissioners will yield to the highest principles of open government from this point on, and invite the lumpencitizens of Weber County into the information loop, well prior to putting its next multi-million dollar bonding deal on the table.

Hopefully Commissioners Bell, Gibson and Zogmaister will "write this latter advice down so they don't forget it," in the interest of avoiding any similar future bouts of painful Weber County taxpayer heartburn, if you know what we mean; and we think you do....

And what say YOU about all this, folks?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

City Council Heads-up: Big Doin's at Tonight's "Not So Regular" Ogden City Council Session - Updated

We encourage all you couch potatoes out there to mosey on down to the council chamber tonight, to join in on all the fun!

For those Weber County Forum readers who might be interested in tonight's Ogden City Council happenings, we've scoured tonight's Council meeting agenda and packet, along with other online sources, and find at least two 3/26/13 Council items which neatly fit our own WCF topical discussion agenda which we'd like to bring to our Gentle Readers' attention, concerning tonight's Regular Council Session:

1) Paris Cafe Permit/Zoning Matter.  First, the Paris Cafe special use permit & zoning matter, which we've been eagerly following since our first WCF story on this topic on March 9, once again rises to the surface as item 7a on tonight's agenda. WCF readers will remember of course that during the last council go-round it appeared that Mr. Earnie McKown's carefully-engineered zoning amendment redefinitions and conditional use permit might might have scored an easy Council slam-dunk, but for Councilwoman Gochnour's last-minute obsession about ignoring the Ogden Planning Commissions own recommendation, and instead micromanaging the precise hours during which Mr. McKown may be allowed to keep his business open and feature the "live music" events which permission he has requested.  Now that the Council has had the additional two weeks to stew over these trivial details, we'll be looking forward to the council's "waking up" as the Standard-Examiner suggests, thus providing Mr. McKown a much needed thumbs up to operate his business in a manner which will not only breathe new life into the dilapidated Harrison Plaza shopping center, but also allow his very economic survival.

Here's a link to tonight's Council packet, for those readers who'd like to dig a little bit deeper:
2) "Not Going Away! "Group" Talk-in".  Here's another interesting item which unfortunately is not technically included in tonight's agenda, but which we can reasonably expect to dominate the council's attention once the agenda turns to item 9, Public Comments, nonetheless.  By way of background, the Standard offered a slightly tangential preview story on this subject last week, wherein it reported that "[Matthew] Stewart’s family and friends are lobbying the Ogden City Council on issues from the [Stewrt] case," among other things:
Upon a little more internet digging, we find that tonight's planned appearance falls a little more broadly than the Matthew Stewart matter alone however, and that members of the activist "Not Going Away!" group's council chamber assembled-membership actually plans to lobby the council tonight, and additionally address a full range of "police militarization" issues similar to those embraced both in Tim Gurrister's most informative March 24 S-E front-page story and those also set forth in our own WCF on March 7 writeup, in which we described the ACLU's recently announced  nationwide police militarization investigation.  For our readers' convenience, and to provide a little "background," we link accordingly each of these articles below:
And here's a link to the "Not Going Away!" group's Facebook page, for those readers who'd like to learn a little more about the objectives of this recently emerged citizen activist group, which plans to address the Council tonight:
We've learned privately, by the way, that this group's had resistance in getting this matter formally calendered for tonight's session, so they're adopting an alternative tactic of stepping up to the council mik and getting their message across, ad seriatim, during the council's regularly-allotted three-minute segments instead. We've coined in the headline the term "talk-in," which is our term and not theirs, although we do believe it captures the "gist" of tonight's "group" political action tactic.

Needless to say, tonight's Council Session stands to be informative and possibly quite lively.  Perhaps tonight might prove to be the kind of event you won't want to miss; so we encourage all you couch potatoes out there to heed our advice and mosey on down to the council chamber this evening, to join in on all the fun!

Big Meetin' Tonight!

Update 3/27/13 5:15 a.m.: The Standard carries a Mitch Shaw post-meeting story this morning, reporting that the Council finally got around to approving the zoning ordinance amendments which Mr. McKown has been ever so patiently awaiting, although now he faces further city red tape. There's a "catch," Mr Shaw reports, inasmuch as Mr. McKown will now be compelled to trot right back back over to the Planning Commission, to apply for a conditional use permit to get the city’s approval for live music, thus beginning another Big Government process which could conceivably chew up at least another couple of weeks:
Something to carefully ponder, wethinks, the next time one of the local print media rolls out one of those infernal puff pieces touting Ogden City as a "great place to do business," No?

Strangely enough however, there's not even a peep from the Standard concerning last night's Not Going Away! Talk-in, although we do learn from the group's Facebook page that there were apparently "many good comments and statements" and a "pretty good turn out." Elsewhere on Facebook, one rally attendee also hinted that the Mayor and Council gave the group's presentation what we'd characterize as a "cool reception," for what that's worth. So we suppose we'll have to wait for the release of last night's council video, which should provide a glimpse of  the group's public comment segment, in order to wrap up last night's Council session story and determine how it all worked out.

John "Pureheart" Patterson Ogden Alum Career Update

Tough luck for "Pureheart John," we'll observe... It'll be interesting to find out whether he'll be soon carrying out another "city manager job search"

In our never ending quest to follow the careers of our most favorite Ogden City government alumnus, we're pleased to bring to you the latest news concerning John "Pureheart" Patterson, former Ogden CAO, who in 2011 bolted to Casper, Wyoming in search of "greener pastures,"  landing a plush six-figure job as as Casper's City Manager. The last time we discussed Patterson, he'd found himself in "hot water", when somebody in Casper discovered (by googling, we'll guess) that his hand-selected "development coordinator" (none other than fellow Ogden government alum Boss Godfrey)  "is a former mayor of Ogden, Utah, who was reprimanded by that state’s auditor for failing to comply with city and state laws."

Despite this embarrassing setback, Patterson had moved forward on his latest croney capitalist grand scheme nevertheless, i.e., the bulldozing of a portion of downtown Casper and the proposed construction of a multimillion-dollar convention center, complete with (what else?) an adjacent multi-million dollar downtown hotel. After a spirited intra-city discussion however, it turns out that Patterson's conference center/hotel brainchild,  highly reminiscent of Patterson schemes in his Ogden heyday,  is sadly not to become a Casper reality, due to the efforts of a seeming horde of Casper lumpencitizen "obstructionists" and the election of a "non visionary" new city council who appear to be a "mite tighter" with Casper lumpencitizens' public money than were their council predecessors, those who hired Patterson in the first place: 
"I was never in favor of the large amounts of public money that were going to be a part of this proposal," newly-elected Councilmember Keith Goodenough said Thursday.

Patterson called the council's mixed enthusiasm for the city-sponsored conference center a "worst case for a city manager."

Tough luck for "Pureheart John," we'll observe. It'll be interesting to find out whether he'll be soon carrying out another "city manager" job search. For whatever he does in the future however, we of course wish our old crony-capitalist buddy the very best, of course.

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Nutshell Summary of The Pending $17 Million Powder Mountain Bond Proposal

Weber County Forum gives the County Commission's new Powder Mountain bond proposal an unequivocal and unprecedented thumbs-up

In preparation for tomorrow's Weber County Commission session, about which we've had some discussion concerning the pending $17 million bonding issue which is item #8 on tomorrow's Commission agenda, we've done a little footwork today, interviewing Commissioner Jan Zogmaister and government finance wonk and County Assessor John Bond, each of whom, along with many other Weber County officials and staff, have expended substantial effort on this measure over the course of the past few months, to carefully help formulate a plan to achieve significant upgrades to existing Powder Mountain infrastructure.  All of the effort which has been expended, we've learned, was undertaken with an overriding goal of avoiding the imposition of additional burdens on the beleaguered Weber County taxpayer, through the use of  a special form of revenue source-funded bonding, a proposed municipal assessment bond. In the interest of shedding more light on this proposed project, we'll submit the brief nutshell summary below.

According to Commissioner Zogmaister and County Assessor Bond,  the funds derived from this bonding will be applied to three elements of Powder Mountain infrastructure improvements:
  1. A new publicly-dedicated (county) road, designed, among other things, to serve a new 103-unit Planned Residential Unit Development (PRUD),
  2. Culinary water improvements, including exploitation of a new water source and construction of additional storage tanks,
  3. Sewage treatment improvements, also designed to serve the above-mentioned PRUD project.
 In short, and in order to facilitate the proposal, the County Commission and Summit Group will enter into a special "Memorandum of Agreement" setting forth a legal arrangement whereby Weber County will obtain these funds under currently favorable municipal bond interest rates (which are considerably better than commercial bank rates), and apply them to these public infrastructure improvements listed above.  On the other side of the contract equation, the Summit Group, owner of the 1500 acres of property adjoining property which will primarily enjoy the benefit of these improvements, will in exchange agree to bear the full obligation for bond repayment. In order to qualify for the issuance of the assessment bonds contemplated by this proposed arrangement, the County proposes to designate by ordinance a special assessment district to be described by the  boundaries comprising Summit's 1500 acres, imposing an additional assessment on these "revenue source" properties, in an amount equal to the cost of bond debt service, plus fees and commissions. Consequently, the plan, as conceived, will not impose any additional tax obligation on any Weber County taxpayer, other than Summit Group itself, (and those individuals who may later purchase lots in Summit's planned PRUD). In the event of default, Weber County will have the remedy to immediately take these assessment-burdened properties by foreclosure, as well as the option to exercise numerous other other expedited remedies, rather than being forced to defer enforcement for five years, as is the case for property tax payment defaults.

As Gentle Reader Drew commented in response to yesterday's WCF article on this subject, "I see this as just a standard county-developer bond issue, I have seen it with other developers when a public road is created, this really seems much adu (sic) about nothing," in which regard wethinks he gets it pretty much right. Aside from the fact that Tuesday's Commission proposal involves culinary water and sewage treatment elements which go beyond the mere public road construction aspect, we'll agree in substance with Drew that this project is for all intents and purposes identical to hundreds of other such "mundane" public infrastructure improvement projects which are carried out successfully and without fanfare all over the country every year.

Accordingly, and subject to any negative information which might emerge from tonight's Summit Group-sponsored Town Hall Meeting, we'll give the Commission's pending Powder Mountain bond proposal an unequivocal thumbs-up.  Just as Summit Group, like any other developer who'll build out their property under Weber County zoning constraints have a right to the kinds of infrastructure improvements which will provide the availability of suitable public road, water and sewer amenities to their properties, Weber County has a corresponding duty to help out with reasonable mechanisms to bring those features into place.

Regarding tomorrow morning's meeting however, we'll stick with our earlier recommendation that our County Commission voluntarily set this matter forward for hearing which would include a public information/comment segment at least a few weeks hence.  Despite their formidable behind-the-scenes preparation, the Commission seriously dropped the ball public information-wise in this matter, thus sparking a fear-driven public reaction which could have been easily avoided had the Commission issued even so much as an informational press release, something which the Standard would have no doubt eagerly gobbled up. Regardless of the legalities regarding public notice in the realm of revenue bond issuance, the Commission's "minimalist tactics" ham-handedly created an unnecessary crisis of public confidence which was entirely unnecessary... a crisis which sorely needs to be corrected, or at least mitigated to the greatest possible extent wethinks.

This one's a no-brainer folks.

That's it people.  So who wants to throw in their own 2¢?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Ogden Valley Forum: Weber County Commissioners Make Plans to Carry $17 Million Bond for Pow Mow Private Developers Summit Group - Updated

Serious public blowback could result if Weber County Lumpencitizens perceive this proposed exercise of corporate welfare as a measure being arrogantly shoved down their throats

Click to enlarge
Just to get things rolling this morning, we'll shine the spotlight on a "blockbuster scoop" coming from our sharp-eyed friends at Ogden Valley Forum, concerning an immediately upcoming (and so-far below the public radar) proposed Weber County Commission action, about which all Weber County taxpayers ought to be deeply concerned. According to yesterday's Shanna Francis OVF guest post, over the past few months our County Commissioners have been secretly meeting with principals and legal representatives of the Summit Group, the Powder Mountain Ski Resort investors who acquired that popular eastern Weber County ski venue in December of 2012. During the course of those closed door discussions, the Commission has worked out for these Summit investors what appears to be a truly sweetheart deal, namely a $17 million publicly bonded loan, to be quietly "floated" for the benefit of the new Powder Mountain developers by the ever-generous lumpencitizens of Weber County.

In that connection we'll cut straight to the chase, and incorporate Ms. Francis' eye-opening prefatory lead paragraphs. Read up, folks:
Please read the attached. I was troubled to learn yesterday that the Weber County Commissioners are wrapping up negotiations with Summit to float a $17 million bond to pay for water and road infrastructure for Summit. They have been proceeding with these plans during closed door meetings.
I would ask the county put these plans on hold until the details can be viewed and discussed publically, though, legally, from what Commissioner Zogmaister reported to me, there is no requirement for the county to consider public input.
Please help in stopping these plans until they can be adequately aired and analyzed.
I am hoping that adequate public calls and clamor for a hold on these plans would be effective in derailing the bond agreement between Summit and the County, again, at least until details can be publically scrutinized, since the tax payers are ultimately liable for the repayment of the $17 million.
- Shanna
You can dive into OVF's full expose' "attachment"  here:
What the Summit people and our County Commissioners seem to have "quietly" cobbled together is a plan for the issuance of a revenue bond, (procedurally distinguishable from a general obligation [GO] bond ), in which former circumstance, and unlike a GO Bond transaction,  the County Commission would neither be legally obligated to hold any public hearings nor to put the question to a public vote, as Ms. Zogmaister less than skillfully tried to explain in Ms. Francis' article above.

While we don't yet know enough about this proposed action to reasonably conclude that this proposal would necessarily be a bad deal for Weber County taxpayers, we are concerned about the speed and stealth by which our elected Weber County Commission representatives are ushering this matter to the Commission front-burner, without even so much as a murmur of public input. Therefore we're going to go along with Ms. Francis' reasonable suggestion, and will strongly urge our Weber County Forum readers to contact our County Commissioners, to politely request that they voluntarily schedule at least one formal public information session in the Commission Chamber, and to accordingly put the ultimate decision on this matter over on the Commission calender for at least a few more weeks.

Bell, Zogmaister & Gibson
Whether they're awre of it or not, our Weber County Commission could experience serous public blowback if Weber County Lumpencitizens perceive this proposed exercise of apparent corporate welfare as a measure arrogantly shoved down their throats.  Thus, if they're smart, the Commission would ideally invite the general public into the information loop... although given the present Commission posture, the question "smartness" is a VERY BIG "IF," at this point, or so it would seem.

"Sunshine is the best disinfectant for the infection of secretive Big Government," as the old saying goes; so we strongly urge our readers to contact Commissioners Bell, Gibson and Zogmeister and ask that they peel back the commission cloak of secrecy and arrogance and do what in their hearts they have to know is right, i.e., "let the cleansing sunshine in."

In that connection, here's our handy-dandy County Commission contact link:
Please don't dally on this, O Gentle Readers, as this matter comes up on the Commission agenda for 10:00 a.m. this coming Tuesday, March 26:
Why not click the link, compose a [polite] note and press "send," folks?  Can't hurt; might even help.

P.S.:  A Weber County Forum Tip O' The Hat to Ogden Valley Forum for flushing out and single-handedly bringing this story right out in the open.

Update 3/24/13 5:05 p.m.: There's more information breaking in this fast-developing story, whereby Ogden Vally Forum an hour ago provided some interesting new information about the exact nature of the proposed  new bonding, along with an announcement that the Summit owner/developer group has now scheduled a public Town Meeting, at Pineview Lodge for 7 p.m. tomorrow, Monday, March 25:
By way of overview, it turns out that the proposed bonding will involve assessment bonds, a subset of the general term revenue bonds, which we discussed above.

We won't speculate as to whether the purpose of this meeting is to merely clarify bonding proposal details, apply a last-minute citizen sales pitch, something in-between, or "all of the above."  But one thing's for certain: we'd love to find out what does transpire at that meeting. So we'll accordingly offer our invitation to anyone who sits in on this public event, to visit WCF after adjournment, and chime in with the full lowdown.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Breaking: Utah Governor Vetoes Bill to Allow Carrying Concealed Gun Without Permit

Herbert’s rejection of the so-called constitutional carry measure sets up clumsy override fight

Informative news from the Salt Lake Tribune, as Lee Davidson reports that Governor Gary Herbert, at his first practical opportunity since adjournment of the 2013 Utah General Legislative session, has predictably applied his gubernatorial power to wield his mighty veto pen, tentatively blotting out at least one highly controversial piece of 2013 legislation in one fell stroke
In that connection, the Governor accompanied yesterday's veto with this brief and helpful explanatory statement, which we've gleaned from Herbert's Facebook page:
Today I vetoed H.B. 76. I cherish the Second Amendment and the right of self defense which it protects. I also support Utah's current set of laws and regulations governing firearms. Utah's permitting system has been in place for decades, and in its current form for more than 15 years. In that time, it has become a national model. 
As a gun owner and concealed firearm permit holder, I understand the value of the permit, both to firearm owners and to the public at large. As a State, we must exercise extreme care that we not impose undue burdens on the right to bear arms, but I have yet to receive any credible evidence that Utah's current permit process constitutes a hardship.
So yes; just as we predicted here at Weber County Forum just about this time last week, Rep. John G. Mathis's HB 76 is toast, for the time being at least, as a result of Herbert's executive intervention.  So long as our uppity, gun-loving state legislature doesn't suffer the inconvenient fate of getting dragged back to the now-abandoned Utah House and Senate legislative chambers for a post-session veto override vote, Herbert's veto will stand.

That latter legislative option is by no means inevitable of course, due to a variety of tricky obstacles which Mr. Davidson's story further sets forth:
Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, said legislative leaders will wait until after April 3 —the deadline for Herbert to sign bills — to see how many other bills could face attempts at a veto override. Then they will poll members about how many want an override session.
"I know HB76 passed both houses with a two-thirds vote," Niederhauser said. "But I really don’t know how hard or how soft that vote is. We won’t know until we do our polling."
House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, said House members would be "thoughtful and methodical and evaluate whether or not they want to go into override. It’s a pretty serious thing."
While [Senate sponsor Allen] Christensen said he and others will push for a veto override, he does not know how strong of an appetite lawmakers have for that.
"When it comes to pushing back that strongly, there are a lot of those votes that were not emphatic. They were ‘yes’ votes for the bill — but will they hold up? I would certainly like to see the override happen, and I will be pushing for it. I would hesitate to try to guess at the results of an override session," Christensen said. [Links added].
So at this juncture, the future of this bill can be fairly characterized as stuck in limbo, we suppose, with Utah's legislative leadership evidencing something of a disarray, wondering on the one hand whether they can muster either the legislative political will and/or votes to both call the legislature back into session to again duplicate the intra-session 2/3 House and Senate majorities which would be necessary to shove HB 76 back down Herbert's throat.  Meanwhile, Governor Herbert, on the other hand, remains highly visible on Capitol Hil and keeps repeating the refrain "It ain't broke; so don't fix it" over and over again, every time some Utah news reporter sticks a microphone or notepad in his grill.

Needless to say, we'll be following developments regarding this bill with the an Eye of an Eagle, whilst the internecine bickering concerning the ultimate fate of  HB76 continues to play out.

And please don't neglect to throw in your own savvy 2¢, Gentle Readers, in our WCF comments section below.

Update 3/23/13 11:30 a.m.:

Friday, March 22, 2013

Breaking: FAA: Ogden-Hinckley Airport Tower Will Close

Distraught Ogden-Hinkley Airport manager:  “We have no clue what’s going to happen next”

In a still-developing story, The Standard-Examiner breaks the worst possible news for Ogden-Hinkley Airport boosters, as it announces the highly-disappointing information that despite the desperate efforts of Ogden Airport officials and GOP Congressman-for-Life Rob Bishop to gain a reprieve, federal funding for the airport's main control tower is about to get the budget sequestration ax.

Ogden-Hinkley Control Tower
According to this afternoon's Mitch Shaw story, "[t]he FAA notified Airport Manager Royal Eccles through an email that the Ogden-Hinckley tower is one of 173 across the country that will close as part of an FAA effort to reduce expenditures by more than $600 million for the remainder of the 2013 fiscal year":
“I assumed they would just close all of them. So I was prepared for the worst, but it’s still tough to take. We don’t really know what’s going to happen now,” said the thoroughly distraught Airport Manager Royal Eccles.

"The airport will remain open, but pilots will be responsible for their own safety by talking to each other, instead of the tower. The federal funding paid for contracted air traffic controllers," according to this morning's S-E story.

This of course appears "on its face" to be a severe blow to Ogden-Hinkley commercial operations, insmuch as "[a]irlines (like Allegiant Air) have yet to say whether they will continue offering service to airports that lose tower staff."

So, will commercial carriers like Allegiant continue operations at Ogden-Hinkley in the absence of a functioning air traffic control operation, we ask? Weirdly enough, some regional carriers don't seem to have necessarily ruled out that contingency at all, if we're to believe at least one Oregon-based news source, speaking of similar control tower closures in the Pacific Northwest:
According to an airport industry association, control towers at 14 small to medium sized airports around the Northwest will close on April 1 in response to automatic federal budget cuts: Four in Idaho and five each in Oregon and Washington. But regional airlines intend to keep flying to those cities they now serve.
Read that astonishing full story below.  Seeing is believing, right?
Wing and a Prayer Arrival
So what about it, O Gentle Ones?  Will our newly-arrived Alliant Air pilots be henceforth flying in and out of Ogden "by the seat of their pants," under the trusty protection of an old-style "wing and a prayer?" Or do Ogden City Lumpencitizens need to brace themselves, and hold tightly onto their wallets, for what may well turn out to be a quite hefty Ogden City Council emergency air traffic control funding request coming up VERY soon?  Would it be hopelessly tacky inelegant sophomoric to summarize by saying that despite disappointing recent developments, the future of Ogden-Hinkley Airport is still "up in the air"? Would it be overkill to predict that Ogden-Hinkley's insurance costs may very well "soar sky high" in the event that Alliance does elect to continue commercial operations under these risk-heightened circumstances?

Needless to say, we'll remain poised at the keyboard awaiting any further news on this story which might meander our way.

Take it away for now however, O Gentle Ones.

Ogden Mayor Visits Taiwan to Attract Cycling Suppliers - Updated

I'd like to see more big players in the cycling world call Ogden home," sez Ogden's "Travelin' Mayor Mike"

Interesting article we stumbled upon yesterday on the Ogden City Business Development Department website, revealing that "Mayor Mike" Caldwell is apparently reviving a recent and "cherished" Ogden mayoral tradition, namely, "globetrotting" to distant points all over the planet on the Ogden taxpayer's dime, ostensibly to gather information and rustle up new international business. An identical companion story on the Ogden City "official" website is datelined March 21, 2013 , so evidently we can fairly conclude that our beloved  Mayor Mike is enjoying the gracious hospitality of Taiwan bicycle factory owners and bike manufacturers, together with the the cheerful camaraderie of other fellow Taipei Cycle Show attendees even as we speak:
"As an avid cyclist and ambassador for Ogden, I'd like to see more big players in the cycling world call Ogden home," said Mayor Mike Caldwell. "I hope my visit here will convince a few more brands to join our already burgeoning bike industry."

There's even talk of "the possibility of developing a 'sister city' [relationship] with Ogden and establishing it as the North American cycling cluster," the OCBD story additionally reports.

Sister City "sister?"
Hopefully upon "Ogden Ambassador" Mayor Mike's imminent return, the beleaguered Ogden lumpentaxpayers will receive a full and proper briefing on the itinerary and projected results of this trip, along with a complete detailed report on exactly how much we paid for it, of course. (So please be sure to save all your receipts, Mike!)

Sadly, looking back at the outcomes of our previous Ogden mayor's numerous interstate and international travel junkets, those ill-executed trips clearly yielded exactly zero positive results, insofar as we can determine. Perhaps however this trip will produce a more favorable payoff, when we factor in  Mayor Mike's demonstrable enthusiasm and "winning" charm, que no?

Here's an added bonus question which we'll throw out for discussion:  
Under what circumstances (if any at all) is it ethically proper, fiscally prudent or even marginally sensible for any city government to deploy a three-man, taxpayer-funded, expense-paid blue ribbon Mayoral Administration Trade Delegation to travel halfway around the world to increase the supply of bicycles in a place like Ogden, Utah?
Please don't feel bad if you're completely stumped by that last question, folks...

Update 3/12/13 6:02 a.m.:  The Standard-Examiner furnishes additional details on the Mayor Mike's globetrotting adventures this morning, starting out with the startling and heretofore unknown headline revelation that Japan has apparently annexed the Republic of China:
Helpful hint for the S-E weekend skeleton crew: Check out this handy Eastern Pacific map:

Geography 101: Republic of China (Taiwan) v Japan


Update 3/23/13 11:41 a.m.:  OK, the erroneous S-E headline has now been fixed. Fun though, while it lasted.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Standard-Examiner: Ogden Control Tower’s Future in Limbo After FAA Postpones Decision

Standing by awaiting the next installment in this gripping Ogden City airport economic development disaster drama; but first, a few pertinent and probing questions

For those Weber County Forum readers sitting on the edges of their seats, breathlessly awaiting news about whether the Federal Aviation Administration will follow through with its federal budget sequester-propelled decision to shut down airport towers at 189 U.S. airports, including Ogden's own recently bustling "Ogden-Hinkley Field", the Standard-Examiner informs us that due to the frantic efforts of Ogden City airport officials (and at least one federal legislator), Ogden-Hinkley's projected tower closure has been postponed, at least for another couple of days:
Mitch Shaw's March 21 story reports that Ogden-Hinkley Airport Manager Royal Eccles has been feverishly burning the midnight oil and has prepared and submitted a "detailed, nearly 2,000-word response to the FAA, answering the question of why an Ogden tower closure would adversely affect the national interest."

Rep. Bishop "weighs in"
Not to be outdone by the "local yokels," Congressional District 1 Dynamo Rob Bishop also took a little time off from his normal and pressing congressional duties (hammering President Obama), and encouragingly added his considerable political weight to to Eccles's "national security" argument, by firing off a stern letter to the FAA, adopting, cut-and-paste-style we presume,  most of Eccles' desperate and frenzied talking points, Mr. Shaw further reports.

We'll be be standing by awaiting the next installment in this gripping Ogden City airport economic development disaster drama of course; but in the meantime we'll open the WCF floor for discussion with a few pertinent and probing questions:

So what say our Gentle WCF Readers about all this?  Will Mr. Eccles' "personal job security interests" be ultimately protected right along with our America's "national security interests," with a last-minute reversal of the FAA's Ogden-Hinkley airport control tower closure plan? Will the FAA back down now that Congressman Bishop's taken to throwing his whopping political weight around? Will Ogden-Hinkley Airport survive long enough to ignore the airport tower closure kerfuffle, follow the Provo Airport's lead, adopt Provo's "full speed ahead approach" and commence commercial air service to more exotic travel destinations (such as Oakland, California) some time soon?

So many questions... so few answers... right?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

3/20/13 WCF Back Burner Cleanup: Ogden City Puff Pieces, Hit Pieces and More

Refreshing to observe an Ogden City Mayor going out of his way to demonstrate actual and seemingly genuine support for underprivileged Ogden City schoolchildren, don'tcha think?

Over the course of the past week or so, various northern Utah (and national) news organizations have published a particularly notable variety of Ogden City-related news stories, some positive, and some not so flattering. Just to keep our ever news hungry readers abreast of what the media are saying about Ogden City (good and bad,) and in honor of yet another Ogden City S-l-o-o-o-w news day, we'll clear out our back-burner backlog and dutifully reel off  the below story links, arrayed under the rough general categories below:

Ogden City-related Puff Pieces
The top three above stories fit clearly and neatly into the "college town" meme which has recently been the hot topic in and round Ogden, wethinks, and we'll additionally volunteer that it's great to observe the recently completed $9 million Ogden High School renovation project drawing some well-deserved electronic ink, of course. So what say our gentle Weber County Forum readers about all this?

Ogden City-related Hit Pieces
 "Women making 40 percent of what men are paid in Ogden-Clearfield"?  Ouch! Perhaps now's the time for beleaguered Ogden-Clearfield women to stage a righteous protest walkout, an ever-useful and proven tactic in male-dominated societies going back to the times of the ancient Greeks. Sadly however, we won't lay money on betting that'll happen in Utah any time soon, if you know what we mean, and we think you do. Utah, we do LOVE thee! Really.

Ogden City Schoolchildren schmoozing with"Mayor Mike"

Early this month the Standard carried an uplifting Nancy Van Valkenburg story, reporting that on or about March 1, "more than three dozen other sixth-graders from Ogden’s Dee Elementary School... not one with any previous ski experience, were invited to Wolf Mountain ski resort Thursday for hours of fun, first in ski school, then trying their skills on snowboards and skis down a beginners’ slope":
One encouraging wrinkle in this story was the reported personal appearance of Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell, who "showed up to congratulate students and cheer on their efforts." “Dee has made some huge strides in the last few years, due to hard work by the teachers and the students,”  Caldwell said. “This is a great gesture from Wolf Mountain, to give the kids this opportunity.”

In this connection, we've obtained, straight from the Ogden City website, this heart-warming video, visually corroborating Ms. Van Valkenburg's touching March 1 writeup:

It's refreshing to observe an Ogden City mayor going out of his way to demonstrate actual and seemingly genuine support for underprivileged (and voter non-registered) Ogden City schoolchildren, don'tcha think, unlike some Utah politicians who won't even consider making a public appearance without the prospect of immediate receipt of a hefty campaign contribution check or some other slimy political favor. Yes?

With that, we'll throw the floor over to you, O Gentle Ones.

Let's hear some noise from our comments section. It's been a mite quiet around these parts of late.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Weber County Forum Housekeeping Note: Info Our New Disqus Comments System "Upgrade"

Added Bonus: Alternate browser download links for users of obsolete Internet Explorer versions

For the information of all of our Weber County Forum readers, we'll refer to yesterday's Salt Lake Tribune story, reporting on this week's global  "Disqus Comments System upgrade," which not only effects Tribune and Weber County Forum readers, but over 700 million other people on hundreds of thousands of websites worldwide.  The Trib helpfully provides a good overview, which touches upon most of the important points; so we invite you to take a look:
For Internet Explorer browser users, we learned yesterday that there's one additional glitch; namely that the new Disqus is apparently incompatible with IE Explorer version 8 and below. We've tested it with versions 9 and 10 and it works just fine, but for the 10% of our readers still using older (and therefore technically obsolete) IE versions, unfortunately, comments-wise you'll be left out in the cold. We've already contacted Disqus support to find out whether there's an easy fix; but here's what those are not using the latest Internet Explorer versions can do in the meantime:
  1. Load WCF in another more Disqus-friendly browser which is already loaded to your hard-drive; Chrome, Firefox and Safari already work just fine; or,
  2. Download and use ether of these browsers, each of which we believe to be head and shoulders over Bill Gates' IE product on all counts. Both of these are free and take just a few minutes to install, upon clicking the snazzy blue buttons below:

Frankly, once you've made the switch, we're confident you'll never go back. For your blogmeister's own part, "he" hasn't used Internet Explorer as his "default" browser in years.

And we'll once again reiterate that in recommending these alternative browser downloads, we're addressing an issue which will only effect a limited number of our WCF readers.  Nevertheless, we'd like everyone to enjoy a seamless WCF experience.

That's it, folks. Your comments and other remarks are cheerfully invited, of course.

Monday, March 18, 2013

2013 Utah Legislative Update: Key Things That Did Not Happen in the 2013 Legislative Session

Special congratulations and thanks to the many WCF readers who responded to our opposition rants and contacted their "legislative critters" to urge a thumbs-down on the citizen-unfriendly SB66

In our ever-obessive effort to wrap up our coverage of the now adjourned 2013 Utah General Legislative Session, we'll shine the WCF spotlight on this morning's standard-Examiner story, reporting on a hand-full of bills which didn't survive the legislative gauntlet, and "expired" without bein enacted into law, "Not all the big stories from the 2013 legislative session involving the Top of Utah involved legislation that passed. In many ways the session was also highlighted by what didn’t happen," reports the Standard's Antone Clark in his opening lede:
Mr. Clark reels off a list of six failed bills, one of which deserves special  note:
No less dramatic was a confrontation involving members of a coalition that blocked potential development of the West Layton Village via two land referendums last November, and the Utah League of Cities of Towns, of which Layton is a member.
In response to the Layton initiative and referendum issues in Orem and Lindon, UCLT sponsored legislation to tighten up the rules for a referendum. The bill sailed through the Senate. However, in the House, some Davis County residents lobbied against it, suggesting it was retaliation from Layton for having taken on City Hall. The bill made it to the floor of the House late Wednesday night, but was circled, or tabled, and then was never brought up for consideration again. It was one of only five bills left on the House calendar when the gavel came down on the session Thursday night.
Mr. Clark's story of course refers to the much criticized "citizen's referendum reform bill" (SB66), sponsored by Ogden's own District 18 State Senator Stuart Reid (R). As regular readers are no doubt aware, we took special interest in this citizen-unfriendly bill, and posted several articles on the topic.

In that connection, we'll offer our congratulations and thanks to the many WCF readers  which responded to our cranky opposition rants (our web stats software tells the happy tale), and contacted their "legislative critters" to urge a thumbs down on this bill.

"Democracy works when people claim it as their own," as media sage Bill Moyers once remarked, and in this circumstance it appears that it was Utah League of Cities and Towns lapdog Senator Reid who ultimately got "owned" by the steely-eyed Lumpencitizens of the State of Utah.

Standard-Examiner: Amid His Latest Fraud Cases, Wayne Ogden’s Lawyer Withdraws

Looks like that cushy "parole and restitution" jig's probably up for Mr. Ogden, with or without Ms. Corporon's capable counsel

More bad news for serial scammer Wayne Ogden, local poster boy for the meme, "Ogden City homeboys gone wrong."  In the wake of his last conviction, and on the eve of his next federal trial on Ogden’s latest alleged Ponzi scheme, the Standard-Examiner reports this morning that his public defender, Mary Corporon, has given Wayne the old heave ho:
Ms. Corporon's done a yeoman's job over the past six years, keeping Wayne out of the slam for the most part, wethinks. So Ms. Corporon's sudden departure must be giving him some understandable heartburn. With prior 1998 and 2013 state and federal convictions on similar charges under his belt however, and a sentencing hearing looming on his last conviction which could net 20 years in federal prison, in addition to his upcoming April trial, it looks like that cushy "parole and restitution jig's probably up" for Mr. Ogden, with or without Ms. Corporon's capable continuing representation.

As for Ms. Corporon, a few words of consolation:
“Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.” -Ann Landers
And for poor old Wayne Ogden, who's been dealt far more than his fair share of "second chances" during his previous judicial proceedings:
“Wayne, meet your new cellmate Bubba.” -Rudizink
That's it folks. The floor's open for anyone who'd care to pile on.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

2013 Utah Legislative Session Wrap-up: Herbert Says It’s Likely He’ll Use Veto Pen

Reader-interaction Bonus Question: Governor Herbert is likely to veto one of the 524 bills that were passed in the State Legislature this year; so what about the 523 others?

In the interest of jump-starting another Weber County Forum discussion, now that the 2013 Utah legislative general session has drawn to a close, and as Utah "legislator critters" now find themselves wending their ways back to their own home towns and remote Utah farmsteads, we'll shine the spotlight on this morning's Standard-Examiner front page story,  reporting that Governor Gary Herbert now embarks upon another Utah legislative session tradition, i.e., deciding which "legislatively passed" bills to which he'll affix his signature, and which ones he'll give the ax.  Read up, folks:
"One candidate for a veto this year is HB 76, which would amend the state law on concealed carry weapons. The governor has staunchly maintained he thinks the state’s firearms laws are adequate and has hinted at a veto, but has never definitely said yes or no on the matter," S-E reporter Antone Clark duly reports.

This legislation, would of course render Utah's highly-popular concealed weapons permits superfluous, if not obsolete, and spell the death knell for Utah's booming Concealed Weapons Permit Training industry. Besides, creating a situation where every man jack with an itchy trigger finger could legally carry a weapon without a permit, whether concealed or not concealed, is an statutory outcome that even the most rabid Utah gun nuts would properly tremble to contemplate, wethinks.

Inasmuch as Governor Herbert says he's not changed his "if it ain't broke don't fix it"  position on the state’s existing gun laws, our bet that HB76 will wind up in Herbert's trash-can soon after the bill arriives on his desk, even though he's hedged a mite by saying (reassuringly, we suppose,) that it is [best] to be "thoughtful and methodical in the review process." It's thus to be the gubernatorial "kiss of death" for GOP Rep. John G. Mathis's HB76, wethinks.

OK, folks; now that we've taken our turn "at bat" and dealt with the surely doomed HB76, what about the other bills that are headed for signature on the governor's desk?  "Utah lawmakers passed 524 bills in the 45-day [2013] legislative session," according to the Standard-Examiner; so what about the other 523?

In that connection we've compiled a list, gleaned from the pages of our Northern Utah media over the past few days since the gavel came down ending Utah General Legislative Session 2013. We'll accordingly invite you to plow through these recently prominent 2013 legislative stories, and make your own predictions.
So which bills among this admittedly abbreviated list do you predict that Governor Herbert with strike with his trusty veto pen?  Better yet, which of these (or any other 2013 bill that you may come up with) would you "give the ax" if you stood in the shoes of Governor Herbert?

Time for a little reader-interactive weekend fun, we do believe. So don't let the cat get your tongues.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Standard-Examiner Editorial: Our View: Get Music at Ogden Cafe

Added bonus video:  A prime example of true self-absorbed, hand-wringing, business-unfriendly bureaucracy in action

Tiptop editorial in the Standard-Examiner this morning, embracing most of the arguments we've mustered  over the past several weeks on Weber County Forum in favor of the granting to Paris Cafe owner Earnie McKown the zoning amendment redefinitions and conditional use permit he's been slaving to squeeze out of Ogden City bureaucrats since at least October of 2012. The Standard scores an editorial bull's-eye concerning the extended bureaucratic "drama" to which Mr. McKown has been subjected in his efforts to add live music to his east Ogden business repertoire, and strongly urges our Ogden City Council to get moving on action which ought to have been completed months ago. Here's the brief and straight-to-the-point lead paragraph excerpt:
The Ogden City Council needs to end a several-months-long drama and allow live music and dancing at an Ogden cafe. The city’s planning commission has already OK’d a proposal that would allow the Paris Cafe, located in the Harrison Plaza shopping center, 3155 Harrison Blvd., to be classified as a social hall with live music.
On Tuesday, the council tabled a vote on the approval until March 26. At that time, it is the responsibility of Ogden’s council to approve a conditional use permit allowing live music at the cafe, as well as to apply several conditions, which include determining exactly what time the business will close and making sure a ban on alcohol is in place.
Frankly, this should have been done some time ago. In January, the planning commission approved changes that would allow the Paris Cafe to have live music. Any further delays beyond March 26 are inexcusable, in our opinion. [Link added].
Check out the Standard's entire and spot-on editorial via this link:
As an added bonus, and for an eye-opening glimpse of a City Council tediously and unnecessarily laboring over an issue which should have been resolved with a quick up/down vote, feast your eyes on the below-embedded 3/12/13 council video, where you'll see a prime example of true self-absorbed, hand-wringing, business-unfriendly bureaucracy in action, as some folks on our esteemed Ogden City Council essentially ignore not only the entirely positive "testimony" of the parade of lumpencitizens who spoke in favor of  Mr. McKown's requested code amendments, but also the carefully crafted recommendations of Ogden City's own planning commission.  The most-illuminating Paris Cafe discussion "kicks in" at 8:17, folks:  

The solution to this unnecessarily complicated issue is what we'd call a no-brainer, folks. Instead of "inexcusably" obsessing over available code enforcement mechanisms and "exactly what time Mr. McKown business will close," the Council should simply adopt the planning commission's recommendation, and do so without further delay, as the Standard-Examiner editorial board strongly urges.  If Ogden City wishes to portray itself as an up-and-coming business friendly town, we need a level-headed City Council who will "act the part," and not a preening troupe of "zoning code drama queens," or so it seems to us.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

2013 Utah Legislative Update: Two 2013 Bills (One Bad, One Good) "Completely Gutted"

Getting manhandled by oafs like Sen. John Valentine after you've invested so much hard work's gotta REALLY hurt, we'll boldly conjecture

In the interest of kick-starting yet another morning discussion, we'll pursue a novel reportorial angle and put the spotlight on a couple of 2013 Utah legislative bills (one good, one bad) which oppositional state legislative "leaders" didn't have the "guts" to kill outright, but which were so heavily amended during the legislative "process" that they emerged in forms which rendered them virtually unrecognizable to their original sponsors. Curiously, in neither case, did either of these bill's sponsors utter even no much as a murmur of complaint however, when their bills were effectively "gutted" by their "ever-helpful" Utah legislative colleagues.

1) The Bad:  Following up on yesterday's Salt Lake Tribune story, reporting that  Utah House Rep. Jake Anderegg's  bone-headed  HB391 "message bill," was likely to be "killed" in the State Senate, we find that the bill has nevertheless survived, "zombie-like," with a final "lurch" to "passage" yesterday in the that same upper state legislative body where it was prematurely pronounced dead.  Turns out however that contrary to that the bill's original intent, i.e., to "summarily "shut off the possibility of tapping into federal funding for expanding Medicaid to cover an estimated 131,000 uninsured, low-income Utahns," and additionally [to] thwart Governor Herbert's better-reasoned approach of carefully studying the Affordable Care Act's true fiscal impact by means of an already-commissioned cost/benefits study," those objectionable prohibitive operative provisions have now been completely "stripped" from the the final amended bill, and Governor Herbert's reason-based decision making authority has been left mostly intact, as this morning's Kirsten Stewart story's lead paragraphs set forth:
A bill prohibiting Utah’s governor from opting into Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion passed through both the House and Senate late Wednesday — after senators stripped it of the prohibition.
A substitute version of HB391 represents a 180-degree turn from its predecessor, which Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, feared would have prematurely cut off debate on one of the most important policy decisions of the year.
"One of the lessons I hope we’ve learned is bringing out a brand new bill at the end of session and limiting public comment is probably not a good idea," said Weiler, referring to a controversial attempt two years ago to overhaul Utah’s open-records law.
Weiler’s amendments would free the governor to decide whether to stretch Medicaid to cover up to 131,000 poor and uninsured Utahns, but only after public release of a twice-delayed cost study and "thorough analysis" of charity care alternatives by the legislative Health Reform Task Force. Should Gov. Gary Herbert opt into the expansion, he would have to seek funding approval from the Legislature.
The substitute bill passed unanimously, 27-0, and then passed the House with the sponsor’s blessing, 51-23.
Read the full story, folks:
In essence, through Senator Todd Weiler's "fail safe" amendments, which he'd "kept in his pocket" "just in case" this knuckleheaded bill "somehow [might] make its way" to the Senate floor for a vote (which it did), the bill has been "completely gutted" of its original intent, which does represent a victory of sorts for reason and logic, we suppose.
    2) The Good: And while we're speaking of 2013 bills that have been "completely gutted," we'll refer to a story appearing yesterday on the Standard-Examiner website, reporting on the "progress" of North Ogden homeboy Rep. Ryan Wilcox's HB 228, which would have mercifully eliminated from Utah liquor-licensed restaurants Utah's "weird" and "comical" Zion Curtains. Seems that this aspect the "Big Gummint Nanny State" will persist in Utah restaurants for at least another year, and that victorian era throwback Senator John Valentine was of course creepily true to his word, when he predicted that "[HB228] has little chance to pass the Senate in its current format. He said he will work with Wilcox and other House leaders to find a potential compromise." The S-E's lead paragraphs provide the gist of reporter Antone Clark's disappointing 3/14/13 story:
    SALT LAKE CITY — The Zion Curtains will stay, but fines for serving minors will go down in a compromise bill crafted by House and Senate leaders Tuesday.
    Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, introduced an amended version of HB 228, which includes portions of three separate bills, as proposed changes to the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Act.
    Valentine said he met with House leaders, including Rep. Ryan Wilcox, R-North Ogden, to find common ground on the compromise, avoiding a rush on the last day of the session.
    Here's the full above-referenced S-E writeup:
    Although Senator Valentine still refers to his "bill gutting" amendments as finding "common ground and compromise," it doesn't take a rocket scientist to "cut through the crap" and recognize it for what it really is (to the extent that Wilcox may have gone along with Valentine)... good old fashioned Utah legislative capitulation... inasmuch as Wilcox's reason-based HB 228 has now been "stripped" of it's key component, elimination of Utah's ridiculous Zion Curtains. In this case, unlike the "health care" matter referenced above however, we'll chalk this up as a bitter "reason and logic" defeat.

    We'll nevertheless offer this morning a Weber County Forum Tip O' The Hat to North Ogden "homeboy" Rep. Ryan Wilcox for aggressively pushing this rational (and sane) Utah liquor law reform legislation; and we'll likewise cheer him on when he brings his bill back in 2014, and 2015 and every other legislative session after that, if necessary.

    Yesiree, we do believe that Rep Wilcox is a smart, intellectually honest, clear-thinking and persistent Utah legislative up-and-comer, and that sooner or later he'll outlast retrogressive and senescent legislative antiques like Valentine.

    Additional kudos to Wilcox for his gentlemanly "tactfulness,"  by the way, in pretending that this so-called "compromise" was a "good thing," on balance. Getting manhandled by oafs like Valentine after you've invested so much hard work's gotta REALLY hurt, we'll boldly conjecture; so Wilcox should be congratulated, wethinks, for ever-so-politely "biting his lip."

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