Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Standard-Examiner: Ogden District Won't Lose Accreditation Over Librarian Cuts, Says Official

Meanwhile, back at local level, some local School District mouthpieces don't seem quite so sure about that

Click to enlarge
The Standard-Examiner is back at us with a followup to Weber County's Forum's 4/28/13 story this morning, now reporting that Ogden School District Superintendent Brad Smith's mass Ogden School District librarian/media specialist layoffs aren't half as bad as they appeared to be, from the perspective of Western Association of Schools and Colleges accreditation, at least:

"While many secondary schools in Utah have licensed teachers as media specialists, it is not a requirement by the state," said Tiffany Hall, K-12 literacy coordinator for the Utah State Office of Education. “It is one of the accreditation assurances, especially at the secondary level,” Hall said. “But it isn’t enough that the school would lose accreditation,” S-E reporter Rachel J. Trotter encouragingly reports in the full story linked below:
Meanwhile, back at local  level, some of the local School District mouthpieces don't seem quite so sure about that:

“We knew it would affect [accreditation assurances with the media specialists], but we didn’t know exactly how,” Ogden School Board President Shane Story readily admits.

“We will make sure the high schools make their accreditation requirements,” the same initially clueless School Board member nevertheless faithfully assures us.

Okay. We get it: The Ogden School District is facing a funding crisis, a situation that we can blame not only on our ridiculously tight-fisted Utah Legislature, but also onto the Ogden School Board's gross financial mismanagement itself.

Yes. There's a chance that among the other multiplicity of factors influencing the granting of accreditation, the fact that Ogden Schools officials decided to apply the meat cleaver to media-specialized school librarians might get ultimately lost in the accreditation shuffle. And yes: The situation is clear; hard choices need to be made. Despite an ample amount of "blame" to spread all around, the Schools Superintendent and the Board of Education need to seriously cut some deadwood somewhere; but why throw under the bus the leading edge, technologically-savvy librarian/media specialists, we ask?

And speakin' of deadwood, check this out.  There are no fewer than forty-one (count'em 41) Ogden School District administrators who annually pull down salaries in excess of six figures, according to the wonderfully ever-informative utahsright.com website:
OSD Administrator Payday
Hell's bells, people, Ogden Schools Superintendent Smith, whose accumulated Utah classroom teaching experience doesn't encompass even one single day of his pitiful and pathetic professional life, banks an annual Utah taxpayer paycheck (with perqs) is that is even in excess of the salary of our esteemed Utah Governor Herbert, ferchripesakes.  So go figure.

Something to think about when we consider Ogden City Schools budget cuts, wethinks.

And what say you, O Gentle Ones?

Monday, April 29, 2013

Salt Lake Tribune: Powder Mountain Buyer Riles Eden Residents

Youthful think tank plants headquarters in rural town to some neighbors’ frustration

The Salt Lake Tribune's Cathy McKitrick provides an eye-opening WCF-topical story this morning on the latest dust-up in the never-dull Ogden Valley.  At center stage in this pending flap we find the Summit Series group, the youthful and internet wunderkind investor group, who arrived in the Valley last year with their acquisition of Powder Mountain Resort, amidst considerable public media fanfare. Unlike their Powder Mountain ownership predecessor, Western American Holdings, who'd put Ogden Valley residents through five years of legal grief, with battles raging from Utah Courts, coursing through the State Legislature and pouring into the Weber County Commission chambers, Summit Series had billed itself as environmentally and citizen-friendly, and were thus welcomed by Valley residents more or less with open arms. Despite the fact however that the Summit Series Group has in many ways put its best foot forward to win over the full support of sorely gun-shy Ogden Valley lumpencitizens, that still isn't happening, as Ms. McKitrick reports:
And perhaps troublingly, we learn via a story provided by yet another sharp-eyed Weber County Forum reader, that "annoying-your-neighbor-wise," this ain't exactly Summit Series' "first rodeo":
So what about it folks?  Will Weber County code enforcement officials ultimately succeed in toning down Summit Series' "rock star-style" corporate culture and bring this unorthodox (shall we say?)  ski resort investor and management group's behavior into closer alignment with Ogden Valley's heretofore "udderly" bucolic lifestyle?

Or, in the alternative, will the forces of BIG MONEY and prospects of an increased Weber County property tax base lead our Weber County Commission and code enforcement authorities to turn a blind eye toward Summit Series' Eden Party Mansion, and treat Eden residents such as Eric Sontag as "nosy neighbors with a little too much time on their hands"?

Added bonus questions:

1) Ms. McKitrick reports that "Summit is poised to finalize its Powder Mountain transaction by the end of April and could pay up to $40 million in funds gathered from investors," raising the sodden question of what happens to Weber County's recently approved $22.5 million bonding application in the event that Summit somehow manages to fail in closing its property acquisition escrow?

2) Hello, people.  Are we the only ones who'd been previously led to believe that the Powder Mountain acquisition was already a done deal?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Weber County Forum Sunday Funnies - "Cheers and Jeers"

One would-be Standard-Examiner page editor throws in his own 2¢

By Bob Becker

Since the Standard-Examiner is the source for most of what this thread discusses, maybe this is a good opportunity for a list of recent "Cheers and Jeers" for the SE.

Cheer: The SE's fact checking Superintendent Smith's claim that his school district is the only one left in Utah with paid professional librarians in its schools. The SE updated story establishes clearly that Superintendent Smith didn't know what the hell he was talking about. [The only other possibility is that he was being duplicitous. Not encouraging when an Ogden public official's best defense against a charge of duplicity is that he was being incompetent instead.] Good work, SE.

Jeer: running a shorter story on the firings first, which included Smith's claim, unchecked, and not providing readers with any hint that the short story was [in Dan S.'s term] a "placeholder" for a longer story being prepared. I know in the now Twitterpated world of news, it's important to get something up fast. But give readers some indication that what you have up is merely a teaser, that more is coming. Readers had no way to know that the shorter story leaving Smith's statement un-checked wasn't going to be the end of the reporting.

Jeer: Today's [Sunday's] front page of the SE is.... well, let's be delicate and say "thin" of substantive content for the front page of an urban daily on what it's editors tell me is its most-read daily edition. The lead story, with the biggest headline, taking up half the page, is about a decline in beauty pageant entrants in Utah of late. Much more than half the space devoted to this story is taken up by two pictures of last year's Miss Utah pageant winner. More pic than text. This is Utah local news, but not front page news. Second [of three] front page stories is about DNA testing of the beavers rescued from the latest Chevron pipeline spill. OK, it's an interesting local story. But front page? And front page when the Life section of the paper today devotes 3/4 of its front page, plus another entire page, to another story about those same beavers ["Beavers on the Rebound"]. That story runs nine pictures, which take up considerably more space than the text of the story. Can't help wondering then what the Beaver DNA story was doing on the front page at all, and can't help wondering if the SE is now running more and more pix in order to cut down on the actual text of stories and news? Is this the first hint of publisher changes with the new guy on board? More pictures, less text [and so fewer stories' or shorter ones, to make room for more pictures?], Last year's beauty queen filling nearly all the space above the fold on the front page, Sunday edition? Let us hope not.

Cheer: Becky Cairns "Beaver on the Rebound" story. It's a good features story. Well written and interesting. Not sure nine pictures served much purpose, but the story was a plus.

Jeer: Caption on one of the two pix on the front page running with the Pageant story: It reads as follows: "Kara Arnold of Bountiful, squats so she can be draped with the sash proclaiming her winner of the Miss Utah 2012 pageant." "Squats"? Ah, no. Beauty pageant winners do not "squat" on stage. Dips or bends, perhaps, if some description of her movement is thought absolutely necessary [actually, none was necessary for the picture]. But definitely not "squats." An inelegant choice. Reminds me of the story about a reporter describing Joan Crawford as "sweating" under the klieg lights. Someone, I forget who, corrected him: "Men sweat. Women perspire. Miss Crawford glows."

Cheer: WAPO wire service story on Cedar Mesa. Off beat, not expected, interesting read.

Cheer: J. Lampro's front page story on alcoholism. The only one of the three front page stories that belonged there this morning.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Ogden City School District Gives Ogden School Librarians the Ax

Notwithstanding the mountain of additional evidence linking high-quality school library/media programs with heightened student achievement, it seems that the Ogden School Board stands hellbent to move full speed ahead

Bad news for Ogden City school-kids this morning, as both the Standard and the Tribune report this morning the latest bone-headed Ogden School District cost cutting action, whereby "[t]wenty media specialists/librarians were told Friday morning they would not have jobs with the Ogden School District next year," in a move which will reportedly save the OSD $930,000 per year.
Fox 13 News is all over this story too, with this short video vignette:

Interestingly, despite the reported evidence that "[t]hree [other] Top of Utah school districts contacted Friday say they use licensed teachers in their secondary schools," Ogden District Superintendent Brad Smith nevertheless steadfastly maintains that  "the Ogden School District is the only remaining district on the Wasatch Front to employee licensed teachers as media specialists in their libraries,"according to the above Standard-Examiner story.

And notwithstanding the mountain of research data linking high-quality school library/media programs with heightened student achievement, it seems that the Ogden School Board stands hellbent to adopt ODS Superintendent Smith's strict austerity approach. “We need to look at how we can least negatively affect student achievement,” OSB member Shane Story says.

Keep in mind folks, these Ogden School District bureaucrats who are now cutting OSD school library staffs to the bone are also the very same folks who turned down between $496 and $686 thousand in projected annual tax increment dollars, when they boarded the Boss Godfrey bandwagon, and willfully (if not eagerly) participated in the the 2009 Ogden Council bailout of the financially-failing Ogden Junction project. Needless to say, we're accordingly a mite skeptical of their financial acumen in matters such as this, to say the least. Moreover, we don't believe it is unfair to suggest that the current cash-flow dilemma amounts to one of the School Board's own making.

Unhappy with the way this matter is being rolled out?  Encouraged by School Board President Shane Story's hint that "there is always a chance things can change before June"? You can contact your Ogden City School Board officials through the OSD page linked below:
Don't let the cat get your tongues, whatever you do, as in dire circumstances such as this, "silence" is definitely not "golden."

Friday, April 26, 2013

Daily Show with Jon Stewart: "Weak Constitution" Episode

Once the shredding of the Constitution gets started it's difficult to stop
Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
Benjamin Franklin
Historical Review of Pennsylvania
And that's why how we andle Boston Marathon suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is so important; for the strength of our system lies in how durable it is, even for our most heinous citizens.
John Stewart
The Daily Show/Weak Constitution
April 26, 2013

In yesterday's Daily Show "Weak Constitution" segment, Comedy Central funny-man Jon Stewart observes how, in the wake of the Boston bombing,  some "freedom loving" right wing pundits would "jettison Constitutional amendments like Han Solo dumping his cargo at the first sign of an Imperial cruiser":

The Daily Show with Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Weak Constitution
Daily Show Full EpisodesIndecision Political HumorThe Daily Show on Facebook

Food for thought, no?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Utah Political Capitol: Utah’s Air Gets “F” Grade From American Lung Association Report - Updated

Breathe much? In Utah, you do so entirely at your own risk

Whee! Looks like Utah, America's "best-managed" state, has made its way to the very apex of yet another intra-state comparative list. On Wednesday, the American Lung Association released its annual State of the Air report; and several counties in Utah (including our own Weber County) received “F” grades, according to this morning's Utah Political Capitol story:
Breathe much?

In Utah, of course, you do so entirely at your own risk.

Perhaps it's time for Mayor Mike to aggressively jump aboard the clean air bandwagon again?

Update 4/25/13 1146 a.m.: In a possibly related story, The Standard reports this morning that Utah residents are among the nation's most stressed out, according to a Gallup poll published this week:
This of course prompts at least one WCF reader to privately comment, "Must give "props" to ranking as 6th most Stressed Out state in the nation as well Rudi...suppose there's any connection?"

While we'll venture that the data isn't in to necessarily confirm that connection, there's one apparent correlation that we can observe for sure, as Utah also reportedly tops the nation in the usage of anti-depressant medication:
Can't breath? What's to worry about, we ask...?

Utah: Prozac Capitol of the Whole Danged Planet
 Don't let the cat get your tongues, O Gentle Ones...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Standard-Examiner: Major West Ogden Development Project Back On Track

Nice to see the Caldwell Administration and the City Council devoting their energy to reviving the worst-dilapidated Ogden area of them all

Uplifting Ogden City economic development story in this morning's Standard-Examiner, as S-E reporter Mitch Shaw reports on one of the outcomes of  last night's Ogden City Council meeting. It's out with the old and in with the new, Mr. Shaw reports, as the Ogden City Council replaces the moribund Golden Spike Redevelopment Area, which has been sitting idle for (and no, we are not making this up) 25 years, with the new and improved Trackline Economic Development Area Project.  Waiting in the wings to build out this 122 acre plot is the newly formed "Central Spur LK100, LLC, a company out of Corona Del Mar, Calif.," which expects "to  to develop a light-manufacturing, industrial and business park in the area," and to "tap" up to $13 million in tax increment dollars over the projected 20-year life of this project, Mr. Shaw duly reports:
Unlike certain other RDAs which Ogden City has attempted to finagle in the recent past, this West Ogden project would facially appear to fulfill the Utah statutory foundational definition of blight, wethinks, if only because that oft-neglected region of Ogden City might be reasonably considered for all intents and purposes as blighted per se, right?

"Typical" property a few blocks south

Nice to see the Caldwell Administration and the City Council devoting their energy to reviving the worst-dilapidated Ogden area of them all.

Added bonus? "No eminent domain [will be] involved,[and] any homes or businesses will be purchased by a developer from willing sellers," this morning's S-E story reports, which ought to be reassuring news for those libertarian-minded property rights advocates among us.

Looks like a win-win for everyone, right?

If not, why not?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Standard-Examiner: Your View May Be Our View: Readers Can Apply for Board

Perhaps YOU can help the Standard win that coveted (and long overdue) Pulitzer Prize

Thanks to a tip from one of our sharp-eyed Weber County Forum readers, we'll direct your attention this morning to a tantalizing Standard-Examiner April 19 "Behind the Headlines" column, in which S-E editor Andy Howell announces a fundamental shift in the composition of the S-E editorial board, the advisory body which forms the editorial opinions which are expressed daily on the S-E editorial page.

Following the lead of other great newspapers such as the Pulitzer Prize-winning Glens Falls Post-Star, the Standard is aiming to "open up membership on the board to the community" and is accordingly looking for an "opinionated reader from our circulation area" to fill a currently vacant editorial board "rotating" membership slot:
"So, if you find yourself complaining about our editorials on a regular basis, here’s your chance to change that. Then, your neighbors can complain to you about the editorials," says Editor Andy, with a tempting come-hither glint in his eye.

So what are you waiting for O Gentle Ones? Now's your chance to roll up your sleeves, and if nothing else, help the Standard-Examiner avoid occasional editorial blunders such as this:
Here's Mr. Howell's contact info for those readers who'd like to submit their essay and application, plucked straight form Friday's Andy Howell column:
Andy Howell is executive editor. He can be reached at 801-625-4210 or ahowell@standard.net. Mailing address is P.O. Box 12790, Ogden, UT 84412-2790.
Why not give it a go?  Can't hurt; might help. Who knows?  Perhaps YOU can help the Standard win that coveted (and long-overdue) Pulitzer Prize.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Ogden City Friday News Roundup

Ya gotta admire Mike's raw enthusiasm, don'tcha think?

A coupla Ogden City-related news items worthy of note this morning as we approach the weekend.

1) The boyz over in the Ogden City Business Development Department are whoopin' it up as they breathlessly announce, via their trusty Standard-Examiner mouthpiece, an encouraging new residential development project in Ogden. Here's the the nutsell nitty-gritty via S-E reporter Mitch Shaw:
OGDEN — Work will start this week on a housing development that city officials say will help change the face of the east-central area of downtown Ogden.
The project, dubbed Lincoln Cottages, sits on an undeveloped, vacant 2.5-acre lot at 27th Street and Lincoln Avenue and will feature fourteen 1,200-square-foot homes with three bedrooms and two bathrooms...
The entire project is expected to cost about $1.4 million, with the anticipated selling price for each home around $117,000.
And the beleaguered Ogden City lumpentaxpayers also have something to cheer about, we suppose inasmuch as we learn that not only will this project spruce up a badly dilapidated part of Ogden's Central City, but also that the bulk of project is to be financed on somebody else's dime:
Sponsored by Ogden city, the Utah Non-Profit Housing Corporation and Habitat for Humanity, the city will contribute $225,000 to the project, while UNHC, which owns much of the land and is acquiring more, will cover the balance.
We'll helpfully provide Mr. Shaw's full writeup here:
And nope. We checked. Neither the project contractor,  Stacey Enterprises itself, nor any of the contractor's key personnel appear on Mayor Mike's 2011 campaign donor "friends" lists. Happily, Mayor Mike seems to have ushered in a whole new (non-crony capitalist style) way of doing business in Ogden, we guess.

2) And as a followup to our earlier Weber County  Forum reporting on Mayor Mike's recent China Junket, we'll embed for your edification and viewing pleasure this informative video story obtained via ABC4 News, wherein our globe-trotting Ogden City mayor devotes almost seven minutes to explaining his trip motives, strategies and hopeful expectations:

Ya gotta admire Mike's raw enthusiasm, don'tcha think?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

More Discussion Concerning Utah's Wacky and Weird "Zion's Curtain" Liquor Law Provision - Updated

Fascinating information concerning the battle royal being waged between Utah liquor law reformers and the highly moralistic throwbacks of the Sutherland Institute

"Pay No Attention to That Woman
Behind The Curtain"
Perhaps the timing's a mite off now that the Utah legislature's out of session, but the frantic discussion of Utah's wacky and weird "Zion's Curtain" liquor law provision continues unabated in the Utah webosphere, with dang near as much intensity as if our Utah legislative critters were even now making their mischief up on Utah's Capitol Hill.

Just to keep the discussion going, we'll accordingly link a couple of interesting editorial pieces appearing on the web over the past couple of days, one from Utah Political Capitol and another from the Salt Lake Tribunes' Paul Rolly:
Sutherland Institute
The Sutherland Institute blog post referenced in both above editorial items also deserves a link, we suppose:
Fascinating information concerning the battle royal being waged between Utah liquor law reformers and the highly moralistic throwbacks of the Sutherland Institute, don'tcha think?

So who will be the first to throw in their own 2¢?

Update 4/18/13 9:20 a.m.: More rubbish from the nanny-state scolds of the Sutherland Institute:
And the beat goes on...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Utah A. G. John Swallow-topical WCF Podcast Special: Maryann Martindale Interview

A Weber County Forum Tip O' The Hat to the folks at Utah Political Capitol, for making this audio material available online

"Honest" John Swallow
In connection of our ongoing WCF article series concerning the ethical and legal troubles of Utah Attorney General John Swallow, we'll put the spotlight on an item appearing yesterday on the Utah Political Capitol website, featuring, among other things, the audio track of a recent 15-munite interview with the Alliance for a Better Utah's Maryann Martindale, who is one of the two complainants in a legal battle against Attorney General John Swallow.

We believe that our readers with a little extra time on their hands will find this will find the full podcast to be most interesting, inasmuch as it broaches a broad array of topics which are always of interest to our Weber County Forum readers, if you know what we mean (and we think you do):
For those readers however who'd just like to cut to the chase, we've taken the liberty of editing it all down to a brief twelve minutes.  So for the listening pleasure of our ever-gentle WCF readers, here's UPC's complete Martindale interview segment, which clearly sets forth, wethinks, the facts, issues, rationale and motivation behind ALB's pending legal action:

Certainly welcome relief from yesterday's heart-rending story, innit?

A Weber County Forum Tip O' The Hat to the folks at Utah Political Capitol, for making this audio material available online.

Don't forget to throw in your own 2¢.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Breaking: Explosions and Injuries Reported at the Boston Marathon Finish Line - Updated

Three reported killed; one-hundred or more injured

Via Fox News13 2:26 p.m.: "We have live streaming coverage of the incident at the Boston Marathon, where 2 explosions rocked the finish line" (Updated):
The Standard is already front-and-center with this 2:24 p.m. Associated Press story:
Update 7:30 p.m.: The Boston Globe is all over this story, of course, since this is all occurring in the Globe's own backyard.  Here's the Globe's  Boston.Com online front page, which presents their own ever-growing and home-grown series of text, photo and video pieces:
What a messed-up world we live in, eh?

Official story "unravelling"
Update 4/16/13 10:00 a.m.: As per normal, the usual government conspiracy theorists are coming out of the woodwork:
Just because you're a paranoid crackpot, it doesn't mean they're not out to getcha, right?

Also, there's relevant and interesting coverage of the "local angle" this morning from the Standard-Examiner:
That's it for now, folks.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Standard-Examiner: Officials Peddle Ogden As New Cycling Center

When it comes to adding the slightly less pompous tout-phrase "North American cycling cluster" to our Ogden City resume, we ask: "So why the hell not?"

Just like clockwork, and as a followup to our March 22, 2013 WCF story reporting that "our beloved Mayor Mike was 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," in the interest of "developing a 'sister city' [relationship] with Ogden and establishing it as the North American cycling cluster," we find  the inevitable post-mayoral junket puff piece plastered right up there on the top of the Standard-Examiner front page this morning:
Aerospace Industry View
Mayor Mike sez "the city’s aim is to turn Ogden into a North American cycling cluster, bringing an interconnected concentration of cycling businesses to the city — similar to the thriving Northern Utah aerospace industry," which has something of a eerie and familiar ring to it, dunnit?

In point of fact, the beleaguered citizens of Ogden City have heard variations of this tired old theme song many times before, come to think of it, in circumstances which, sadly, never even came close to living up to the public relations-hype.

It'll be fascinating to stand back and watch how this all pans out down the road, once it's been subjected to a proper cost/benefit analysis, don'tcha think?

And we'll all be keeping our collective lumpentaxpayer fingers crossed; right, O Gentle Ones?

As for the minor detail of Mayor Mike's proposed  "North American Cycling Cluster" motto, we'll pose a question to you all:

Why, we're already the "High-advenure Recreation Capital" of the whole danged planet after all, not to mention the "Disneyland for Adrenalized Adults." So when it comes to adding the slightly less pompous tout-phrase "North American Cycling Cluster" to our Ogden City resume, we ask, "Why the hell not?"

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Top of Utah Courthouse News Roundup

Serial scammer Wayne Ogden "rolls over" and Utah A.G. John Swallow shows Alliance for a Better Utah "who's boss"

Just to provoke a little bit of online discussion, we'll highlight a couple of interesting news court-related news stories this morning, which dovetail nicely with topics previously discussed here at Weber County Forum, which items we'll now submit to our readers in no particular order of importance:

1) As a followup to our last article on the subject, and true to our earlier prediction, it seems that "serial scammer" Wayne Ogden will soon indeed be enjoying an extended meet-up with his soon-to-be new cellmate "Bubba," as the Salt Lake Tribune reports that Ogden City's second most-notorious home-boy con man (Val Southwick being the first) has voluntary "taken a fall" in his latest "ponzi" rip-off criminal case, entering a guilty plea to "two charges of wire and securities fraud, as part of a plea deal with the U.S. attorney’s office." In exchange for rolling over on the federal charges, Wayne will serve an agreed 10-year prison sentence, along with taking on another multi-million dollar restitution order, Trib reporter Tom Harvey reports:
Sad outcome for this once-promising "former South Ogden Eagle Scout," wethinks.  Looking at the bright side, however, Ogden's forthcoming 10-year "hard-time" stretch will no doubt afford plenty of time for Wayne to brush up on his Boy Scout Oath, we suppose, a chore which Wayne has plainly neglected in recent years, que no?

"Honest" John Swallow
2) On the civil litigation front, the Standard-Examiner reports on the latest development concerning ethically-challenged Utah Attorney General John Swallow, whose high-priced defense attorneys have filed a routine "Motion for Dismissal" in Swallow's pending election fraud civil case:
For those readers who may be unfamiliar with this ubiquitous procedural device, which some legal scholars characterize as a "reaction of some litigators to make a motion to dismiss in virtually every case," amounting to "a bad habit".  Such such motions do generally serve three chief tactical purposes nevertheless:
  1. Resolving a case on its own legal merits;
  2. Demonstrating to the opposition that they're in for a long and expensive fight; and,
  3. Running up everybody's legal bill, thereby promoting a full-employment economy for "Big Time" civil "litigation mills."
We'll take a wild guess at this point and guess that that the motivation behind Swallow's counsels' motion lies behind doors number 2 and 3, folks, but we''l have to wait to see what the District Court has to say about this, we suppose.

Needless to say, we'll be closely following future developments in both cases as they progress...

So who'd like to throw in their own 2¢?

Standard-Examiner Housekeeping Notes: Charlie Trentelman’s Departure Opens Way for Two New Columnists

Added bonus: A little bit of consolation for devoted  Charlie Trentelman fans who are "going cold turkey" after Charlie's "retirement"

Standard-Examiner managing editor Andy Howell provides an interesting column this morning concerning certain "readjustments" which S-E management is making upon the departure of the "irreplaceable" "Wasatch Rambler" warhorse Charles Trentelman from the Standard's "blue ribbon" journalistic stable.

Here's the new S-E player roster, in bullet-point form:
  • Beginning next week, Mark Saal will take over Charlie's slot; and his new column will run on Tuesdays and Sundays in the Top of Utah/Davis local section, where his contributions will no longer be confined to his trademark gut-busting humor.
  • The venerable former Editorial Page Editor Don Porter will be dragged out of  retirement to replace Saul with a Sunday feature column in the Life section, although it's unclear from the story whether he'll be trying his hand at Saal-style boffo humor.
Here's Andy's full column, for those who'd like to read up:
Andy says that "Mark has built his reputation on his humorous take on subjects, but he won’t be limited to that approach." It'll be therefore interesting, wethinks, to see if Saul, who's even funnier than Dave Berry, wethinks, will succeed at "straight" journalism... even once. 

As for Mr. Porter, who's publicly demonstrated little in the way of rib-tickling humor over the years, your blogmeister, (just like all the rest of those faithful S-E readers who pore over the Standard-Examiner every day from the front page to the back every morning) will be sitting on the edge of  his seat eagerly awaiting a first glimpse of the style and tone of Mr. Porter's upcoming S-E columns. And howbout you?

Added bonus: And here's the part the Standard left out... a little bit of consolation for the many devoted  Charlie Trentelman fans who are surely  "going cold turkey" after Charlie's newspaper "game changing" retirement:  Charlie hasn't put himself out to pasture; nor will he spend his "golden" retirement years tilting back and forth in a squeaky rocking chair.  In that connection, we're pleased to publicly announce that Charlie has just this week entered the field of post-retirement citizen journalism with a nifty new blog, where he's been posting in something of a frenzy over the past day or two, in classic Trentelman form:
For our readers" convenience, by the way, we've also added a  link to Charlie's blog within our right sidebar.

That's it for now, O Gentle Ones.

We'll soon find out, whether these housekeeping moves on the S-E's part represent a stabilization or improvement in the S-E's existing journalistic product, or merely amount to "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic," we guess.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Standard-Examiner: Ogden Transit Project Talk Revving Up - Updated

The city needs to step forward and commit. That’s an important move.” - Council Director Bill Cook

In the aftermath of this encouraging 3/15/13 Standard-Examiner story, and notwithstanding the Standard's nay-saying 3/27/13 thumbs-down, the Standard again carries another timely Ogden Streetcar project-related story which might rekindle the time-dimmed hopes of Ogden City street car advocates, on the heels of  Tuesday's (4/9/13) Ogden City Council work session:

"After a long period of inactivity, discussion on the possible Ogden streetcar is heating up again. Officials from Utah Transit Authority, Wasatch Front Regional Council and Utah Department of Transportation participated in an Ogden City Council work session Tuesday night, discussing the future of the Ogden Transit Project," reports S-E reporter Mitch Shaw, in yesterday's online story.
$745,000 Study
Despite the daunting estimated $745,000 cost of yet another UTA-sponsored study, which would intricately delve into projected cost, ridership, alignment and mode parameters, we're hearing noises from some in Ogden City government that it's time to get moving on this project:

“The city needs to step forward and commit. That’s an important move,” says Council Director Bill Cook.

"Whatever the outcome may be, the need to develop a transit corridor to WSU is not just an Ogden city need, it’s a regional need." “There so many people tied to Weber State,“and they aren’t all just living in Ogden," says Ogden Mayor mike Caldwell, who also hedges a bit, street-car-wise, with the cautionary proviso that "the city is [also] looking to find out the cost-per-mile difference between a streetcar and a modified Bus Rapid Transit system, which has also been discussed as a potential outcome."

Cook adds that "a joint resolution between the city administration and the council, indicating the city’s intention to move forward with the study, would need to be adopted by May 21," in which connection we'll be keeping a close eye out in the event that such a proposed resolution agenda item does suddenly pop up.

Meanwhile, Mr. Cook and others will be apparently doing some frantic deep dredging of possible "Ogden Streetcar White-Knight donors," such as the Wasatch Front Regional Council, the Utah Department of Transportation and the ever-cash-flush Weber Area Council of Governments (WACOG), to find out who might be willing to help raise another measly 745 thousand bucks, we guess.

Update 4/12/13 12:10 p.m.: There's more on this story from ABC Channel 4, emphasizing Weber State University student passenger demand:

Don't let the cat get your tongues..

Dan Schroeder Files Appeal in His Ongoing GRAMA Water Utilities Record Production Request

Grab some Orville Redenbackers and pull up your barcaloungers, folks, as Ogden's numero uno Ogden City government watchdog is unleashed upon bumbling Ogden City bureaucrats once again

Unleashed once again
In the wake of all the hoopla over Dan Schroeder's interim success in obtaining Ogden City's line item budget through his Ogden Budget/Water Utility GRAMA Requests, we'll reveal this morning that Ogden's most tireless Ogden City government watchdog now gears up for battle in a second leg of his ongoing government transparency quest.

As Weber County Forum readers who are following this story will recall, Ogden City officials had initially  refused to grant Dan access to two collections of city records: 1) Ogden City’s line-item budget, and the 2) the City’s utility customers' water use data. Upon receiving these materials according to terms of a stipulated agreement with Chief Deputy City Attorney Mara Brown, Dr. Schroeder has now however carefully examined these materials and found that while the City's line item budget record record production apparently conformed to the parties' "settlement" agreement, production of the City's utility customers' water use data did not.  In this connection we'll link a copy of a letter transmitted to Ogden City Recorder Tracy Hansen yesterday, enumerating the defects in Ogden City's utility customers' water use data record production, and formally appealing  the "city’s inadequate response" to his "records request dated 10 January 2013":
Grab some Orville Redenbackers and pull up your barcaloungers, folks, as Ogden's numero uno Ogden City government watchdog is unleashed upon bumbling Ogden City bureaucrats once again.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Salt Lake Tribune Editorial: Lawyer up

What about a centralized State of Utah Public Defender's Office?

Top-notch editorial in yesterday's Salt Lake Tribune, applauding the prospective efforts of a judicial task force as it attempts to dodge the threat of an expensive lawsuit and initiates examination of the state’s patchwork system for providing attorneys to poor accused of crimes. The Utah Judicial Council’s committee — composed of 25 lawmakers, lawyers, judges and experts — will begin to gather data from across the state as soon as June. Hopefully their "corrective" recommendations will come soon thereafter.

"Utah is one of only two states in the country that provides neither funding nor oversight to counties charged with organizing and implementing a system for defending poor people in criminal court.
What results is a 'disastrously inconsistent system' that may take aggressive action to remedy," says Aric Cramer, who lives in Washington County and sits on the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) board of directors.

"If Utah doesn’t start doing a better job of providing legal defense to poor people, the state could have a lawsuit on its hands" according to local and national experts.

Here's the lede from yesterday's opinion piece, which provides the editorial gist:
It is very much to the credit of the Utah judicial system that court administrators are not just sitting around waiting to be sued over the deficiencies in our state’s approach to providing defense attorneys for people who cannot afford to pay for their own, but gathering information about the best way to improve the system.
And it is very much to the credit of the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers that those two groups stand ready to sue the state if those efforts fall short.
Because spending money to help people who are not only poor, but also stand accused of crimes, is not always something the Utah political system would be eager to do without the incentive of a lawsuit breathing down its neck.
Check out the full editorial here:
"Spending money to help people who are not only poor, but also stand accused of crimes, is not always something the Utah political system would be eager to do without the incentive of a lawsuit breathing down its neck," the Trib editorial board wisely intones.

Northern Utah civil libertarians of course caught a painful glimpse into the sheer dysfunction of the existing Utah public defender "system" during the past year, as indigent defendant Matthew Stewart was forced to jump through hoops to engage competent trial counsel in his pending death penalty homicide case.

Utah's public defender system clearly needs to be fixed, to eliminate, at the very least, the conflict of interest-laden problem which allows public defenders to be appointed by the County Attorney's Office, the very same office which which prosecutes any given indigent defendant.

One savvy Salt Lake Tribune reader proposes a system wherein the constitutionally-mandated public defender function would be run through a centralized State Public defender's Office, which would not only avoid the above-noted conflict of interest problem, but also more efficiently and effectively distribute specialized public defense resources among Utah counties according to their varying needs:
Due to the never, or barely rising incomes for so many years more and more people will qualify for public defenders should the need arise...
Rural counties with small populations have smaller tax bases and likely fewer cases. A full time defender probably isn't needed. Whereas the more populated counties tend to be understaffed due to case load and budget restraints.
What about a state Public Defender's department? The PD office would establish uniform policies and standards, reporting requirements , set the qualifications and salaries of Defenders, and etc. Each county courthouse would have the Defender's offices within the courthouse..
The state Defender's office would attorneys and staff and assign them to the various counties. Because some counties have larger populations and thus more cases needing a PD and some counties use part time contract attorneys. By having a centralized "distribution" system for attorneys some could be floaters sent to a county when needed or to counties with high case loads.
Rural counties usually can't afford to provide all the resources a PD needs. As a state department that problem would be eliminated.
I'm just brainstorming here.
With little bit of luck, once the Judicial Council's select committee emerges from its investigation and deliberations, a new Utah public defender system reform proposal will look something like the above, wethinks.

So whadda do youthinks, O Gentle Ones?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cuts Ground Blue Angels, Hill Air Force Base Squadron, Other Navy, Air Force Aircraft

"You get what you're willing to pay for," as the old saying goes

Troubling news this morning from both the Standard-Examiner and Salt Lake Tribune, whose below-linked stories both painfully demonstrate that civil aviation buffs at Ogden-Hinkley Field aren't the only Utah airport devotees whose interests are threatened by impending, meat cleaver-style 2013 federal sequestration budget cuts"The U.S. Air Force plans to ground about a third of its active-duty force of combat planes — including a squadron based at Hill Air Force Base — and the U.S. Navy cancelled the rest of the popular Blue Angels’ aerobatic team’s season because of automatic federal budget cuts," according to the Tribune's AP wire story.
Bad news for our nation's air combat capability, and even worse news for the wildly popular Hill AFB-situated Utah Air Show, for sure.

"For affected units, the Air Force says it will shift its focus to ground training," according to yesterday's Trib story.

"You get what you're willing to pay for," as the old saying goes.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

SLC-Weekly: Activist Talks About Bringing Ogden Budget Out of the Shadows

Sodden question: When (if ever) will our home-town newspaper, the Standard-Examiner, get off its derriere and devote some ink to this story?

We have more news this morning concerning Ogden City political watchdog Dan Schroeder's herculean effort to pry Ogden City's line-item budget by means of Utah's Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) statutes this morning, as Salt Lake City Weekly provides additional public information about the details of Schroeders' several months-long government transparency quest:
For the first time during the public reporting of this story, SL-Weekly reporter Eric Peterson sheds light upon the question of why Ogden City at first refused to provide an electronic PDF copy (or alternatively an original database data file) of the originally-requested document, but then later "insisted on printing out the document and charging Schroeder 25 cents a page, for $169 in total printing costs," even though such an electronic copy could have been easily generated from the electronic "source" of the "printed" text version which was already "maintained by a city comptroller":
Ogden city administrator and spokesman Mark Johnson, however, said that the city resisted releasing the budget at first because they were unaware that there was a complete, printed-out version of the line-item budget in their possession. In researching the appeal, they discovered there was one maintained by a city comptroller. Johnson says the city was still reviewing the legality of the document when Schroeder sought to bring in the state records ombudsman to the discussion and so they decided not to participate in mediation.

As for why they chose to print the record out and charge $169, Johnson writes via e-mail that that decision was made “so that the city could keep track of the record provided and reduce the chance that the document could be manipulated.”
That's right, folks, Ogden City Administrator Mark Johnson's level of paranoia has ascended to the point where he (says he) believes (with a perfectly straight face) that Dan Schroeder, the very founder of the Ogden Ethics Project (and we are not making this up), might be capable of unethically "jiggering" the data.

Professor Schroeder has his own views on the city's ham-handed document production strategy, of course:
“I think it’s important if you are requesting documents from the government not to take up inordinate amounts of public employees’ time,” Schroeder says. “But when they insist on doing extra work so as to charge extra for it, that’s when I think something’s wrong.”
Notably, this story, which has all the makings of a David v. Goliath allegory, has been reported not once, but twice by the Salt Lake Tribune, and now, of course by SLC-Weekly.  Likewise, we've covered this story in depth on Weber County Forum from nearly day one. There's been not a peep, however from the Standard-Examiner, even though this locally-important story has been unfolding, as it were, right under the Standard's very journalistic nose.

It's in this context that we ask the sodden question:

When (if ever) will our home-town newspaper, the Standard-Examiner (which has been creepily silent on this story), get off its derriere and devote some ink to this story?

Given the Standard's careful inattention to this story, a cynic would conclude that the Standard (and Ogden City) may still have something to hide, yes?

Added Bonus Query: Ainnit about time that Ogden City issued Dan a full refund, along with a contrite mea culpa apology?

Monday, April 08, 2013

Salt Lake Tribune Guest Commentary: Van Dam: Utah’s Land Grab Ripoff

Are there any armchair "legal eagles" out there in Weber County Forum Land who can produce some legal authority to refute Mr. Van Dam sensible admonition?
Early Utahns accepted this deal with the disclaimer clearly stated twice in the Enabling Act, in Section 3 and again in Section 12. The latter specifically gave Utah over a million acres, and then again stated, "The said State of Utah shall not be entitled to any further or other grants of land for any purpose than as expressly provided in the Act."
Salt Lake Tribune - Paul Van Dam
Van Dam: Utah’s land grab ripoff
April 6, 2013
Section 3. "...the people inhabiting said proposed State [Utah] do agree and declare that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within the boundaries thereof; and to all lands lying within said limits owned or held by any Indian or Indian tribes; and that until the title thereto shall have been extinguished by the United States, the same shall be and remain subject to the disposition of the United States..."
Section 12. "The said State of Utah shall not be entitled to any further or other grants of land for any purpose than as expressly provided in this act; and the lands granted by this section shall be held, appropriated, and disposed of exclusively for the purposes herein mentioned, in such manner as the Legislature of the State may provide."
Utah Government Archives
Statehood Enabling Act
July 16, 1894

We'd like to belatedly put the spotlight on Saturday's most-excellent Salt Lake Tribune guest editorial, in which Utah's former State Attorney General makes mincemeat of the persistent but knuckle-headed argument of some in Utah State and Federal Government, who assert at the top of their lungs that the State of Utah has some legitimate claim of right, title or interest to some 20 million acres of federal lands which were retained and withheld from Utah state ownership by the federal government as a condition for  Utah statehood, pursuant to terms of the Utah Territorial Government's 1894 Enabling Act:
Read The Act yourselves, O Gentle Ones, and you be the judge of whether it contains any promises to convey to Utah these retained federal lands, either express or implied (or written in tea leaves):
2012 Sagebrush Rebellion
During the 2012 General Session the state legislature passed Rep. Ken Ivory's "2012 Sagebrush Rebellion-style" H.B. 148, which, among other things, sets a drop-dead federal deadline, "requiring" "the United States to extinguish title to public lands and transfer title to  those public lands to the state on or before December 31, 2014." Presumably, assuming that this isn't merely "idle talk," this would possibly trigger the filing of a lawsuit at some future date, once the federal government predictably ignores this childish, frivolous and (yes) idiotic and Utah legislatively-imposed "crisis point."

As Mr. Van Dam says, "Utah taxpayers have just been scammed, and a lot of money is about to be wasted."

So what about it, WCF readers?  Are there any armchair "legal eagles" out there in Weber County Forum Land who can produce some legal authority to refute Mr. Van Dam fact-based and sensible admonition?

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Standard-Examiner: Ogden Airport Tower Closure Delayed

Airport Manager Royal Eccles: "Believe me, we’re doing everything we can to keep it open"

Worry much?
The tension builds among Ogden-Hinkley Airport boosters in re the simmering airport tower closure cliff-hanger, as the Standard-Examiner reports this morning that "Officials at the Ogden-Hinckley Airport now have a little more time to plead their case for keeping their air traffic control tower open."

Looks like the fates, along with a a flurry of old fashioned federal lawsuits,  have delivered our harried O-H Airport officials a little much-needed breathing room, according to this morning's Mitch Shaw story:
The Federal Aviation Administration announced Friday that it will delay the closure of 149 federal contract air traffic control towers until June 15. The Ogden-Hinckley tower was set to close on May 5.

“This just gives us more time,” said Airport Manager Royal Eccles said. “Our senators and congressman now have some additional time to interface with the FAA to try and keep our tower open. Believe me, we’re doing everything we can to keep it open.” 
For our readers' edification, here's the full S-E story:
Meanwhile back in Washington, "members of Congress are preparing to push legislation that could overtake the lawsuits. Sens. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., are expected next week to file a bill that prohibits closing or slashing funding to any of the towers on the closure list," according to this morning's S-E story.

For some added background, here's an informative press release from the good Kansas Senator Moran's website, explaining in greater detail the tactics behind these eleventh hour federal legislative maneuverings:
Call your Congresscritters
O-H Airport Manager Royal Eccles "said area citizens who are concerned about Ogden’s tower [not to mention Eccles's cushy six-figure featherbed job] should contact their legislators," of course.

Here's a handy "Congresscritter contact link," for Utah residents who'd like to "obey" Airport Manager Eccles and do just that:
And here's a useful congressional contact online utility, for WCF readers residing outside of the Beehive State:
The scuttlebutt among the macho A-H Airport civil aviation crowd, by the way?  The Ogden City Council is standing by to toss out a $260k/year life raft... if all else fails, which is all the more reason for Ogden City residents to contact your Senators and House Representatives immediately, no?

Friday, April 05, 2013

Friday Morning News Northern Utah News Roundup - Updated

Four local news items, plus a "treasure" hunt

In our never ending effort to keep our readers abreast of danged near everything of importance in our Northern Utah journalistic bailiwick, we once again present a few more local news items to provoke  a little typically-spirited lumpenicitizen dialogue. These folks, are a few choice selected stories which we stumbled upon this morning whilst Googling:

Ogden "Hood" Infill Project
1) Central City Infill Project. We learn from the Standard-Examiner this morning that the Ogden City Residential Development Company, formerly know as the Ogden City Council, on Tuesday embarked on another ambitious real estate development project, i.e., the construction 23 new $170,00 single-family homes in the central part of Ogden City, affectionately know around these parts as "the hood"
Although the subject no-man's land "target area" is "currently populated with homes around its perimeter but is virtually vacant through the center," City Council real estate development expert "Neil Garner said similar council-approved housing projects in Ogden have done well." So this economically suspect project is now "off and running," we guess, in which connection we'll invite any WCF readers who might question the wisdom of plopping down a couple of dozen $170,000 "Arts and Crafts style spec homes" in the heart of Ogden's Central City to helpfully utilize our handy lower comments section to "chime in" with their own views on this subject.

2) Wall Avenue Crosswalk. In an notable exception to the usual bureaucratic dawdling, and in the wake of at least one tragic Wall Avenue auto-pedestrian fatality, "tear-jerking public protests, together with a plaintive plea from the Ogden City Council, it seems that Utah's vaunted state-level Utah Roads Bureaucracy has quickly arrived at a "no-brainer" decision which, frankly, ought to have been made long ago:
We won't be holding our breaths however to see this much-need project to reach early fruition however, as it'll no doubt take a few more months for UDOT to requisition the paint and schedule the crews to "paint" a couple of crosswalk stripes. Moreover, this project will at least be temporarily put on further hold, while UDOT bureaucrats confer with Ogden City bureaucrats to decide, as Fox 13 News reports, 1) exactly where the crosswalk will be painted, and 2) which of these government entities will pick up the tab. But what's whats the hurry? UDOT's immune from road defect related legal liabilty, in any event, right?

3) Ogden Community Pools. Big decisions are looming for Ogdenites, as the Standard announces that "the Ogden School Board on Thursday voted unanimously to stop subsidizing the maintenance and operation of pools at Ogden and Ben Lomond high schools"

"A June 25 election will let Ogden voters decide if they’ll approve a property tax increase, amounting to $24 annually on an average home valued at $120,200, that would fund repairs and maintenance to save the pools," the Standard further reports:
Cooling off the old-fashioned way
So what about it folks?  If faced with a $24 annual property tax increase what would you choose?
  • Cough up the dough to provide Ogden City's High School swimmers proper training facilities and Ogden lumpencitizens convenient local swimming venues, or:
  • Go along with the School Board decision, send the high school swimmers packing and cool off in the summer the old fashioned way.
What would be your choices, people?
4) Star Noodle Dragon Treasure Hunt. Long time Ogdenites will of course fondly remember the old Star Noodle "Dragon," the iconic Ogden architectural sign which adorned Ogden's 25th Street landmark Star Noodle Parlor, until a political "Friend of Matt Godfrey"Thaine Fischer, acquired that property and thereafter unsuccessfully attempted to develop it. We won't go into a long historical narrative on this subject, but we do believe that those Ogden residents who do still fondly remember this eye-popping downtown steel/porcelain,neon work of art sorely missed it, once Mr. Fischer removed it from the building, and "disposed" of it in a manner that's still a mystery to many.  Having said that, we're pleased to announce an effort by a group of devoted Ogden citizens to locate and "save" this remarkable downtown Ogden icon.  Check out their "headquarters," which are lodged on Facebook, (of all places):
In that connection, these nice folks of the SOD Facebook Community have enlisted WCF's support.  So we'll accordingly start with first things first, and pose this question to our relatively broad WCF reading audience:

Click to enlarge
Is there anybody out there in Weber County Forum-land who's recently seen, or otherwise knows the present whereabouts of the sign displayed to the immediate right side of this page? 

The "Save the Dragon Group" references various "sightings" in recent years; and the differing theories of its present location and condition abound. In the final analysis however, nobody seems to know where the sign is at the present time; so were asking our Gentle Readers to give us the word publicly in our lower comments section or privately via our WCF blog email. And if you don't know where the Star Noodle Dragon is right now, we hope you'll all take a vow to keep your "eyes peeled" and blow the whistle if you do stumble upon it.

It'd be great to see this wonderful Ogden sign-art piece back onto the road to full restoration, don'tcha think?

Thanks in advance, folks.

5) WNIT Championship Tournament. Attention Utah Utes basketball fans and hard-core college basketball fans in general. Looks like WSU's not the only B-ball squad who will have had a crack at a national tournament championship this year, as the Standard provides the news that the University of Utah Women's Basketball Team has risen to the top of a field of 64 teams and qualified to play in the 2013 Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT), the single-elimination tournament of 64 NCAA Division I teams that were not selected to participate in the 2013 Women's NCAA Tournament:
The Utes will square off against the Drexel University Dragons in a game scheduled for 3:00 p.m. ET, tomorrow (Saturday, April 6).  You can catch live audio and video broadcasts at ESPN 700 and the CBS Sports Network, so we're sure you'll all want to join us in cheering on our Utah Utes.

That's it for today, folks, barring any late-breaking red meat news.

The world-wide webosphere eagerly awaits your ever-savvy utterances, of course.

Update 4/5/13 1:15 pm.: Looks like we can already call off the dogs on the "Dragon treasure hunt," in view of this item, just now received via the "Save the Dragon Group":
from Thaine Fischer:
Bryan J. Smith with Only In Ogden notified me people were inquiring about the Star Noodle neon dragon sign. The sign is safe and in storage. Upon the restoration of the Star Noodle builiding the sign will be reinstalled. Thank you for your interest.
That, folks, is what we call results!

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