Tuesday, July 30, 2013

City Council Meeting Special: Live Blogging From the City Council Chambers Tonight - Updated

$18 million water infrastructure bonding proposal on the agenda

We just received some good news from Dan Schroeder a couple of minutes ago, regarding tonight's Ogden City Council Meeting, wherein the Ogden City Administration's $18 million water infrastructure bonding proposal, which was the subject of  Dan's WCF writeup of yesterday, will be discussed and put to a Council vote.

Just to get you all into the spirit, here's a (slightly generic) video lead, which we nevertheless believe to be a highly suitable prelude for a council meeting of such importance as tonight's Ogden City "legislative branch" meetup:

Pull up your Barcaloungers and pop up your Oville Reddenbacher's folks...

Meeting kicks of at 6 p.m. sharp!

Look to our comments section, to read Dan's realtime posts.

Happy day! We have Dan's live blogging from the Ogden City Council Chambers tonight.

Update 7/31/13 6:30 a.m.:  The Standard's Mitch Shaw provides a morning report of last night's meeting, noting, among other things, that "... for the water plant bond, both the total amount of the bond and the number of years it will be repaid could change before the bond issuance is finalized after an Aug. 20 public hearing on the matter":
Thus there's still one more chance to lobby your council members to minimize the total debt to be bonded and interest to be accrued, people:
And with November's 2013 Municipal Election polling fast approaching, Ward 3 council challenger Turner C. Bitton demonstrates his attention to important Ogden City issues and chimes in with last evening's water infrastructure bonding-topical press release:
Additional thanks to Dan Schroeder for his dogged gavel-to-gavel coverage of last night's meeting.

Update 8/4/13 2:00 p.m.:  The full Council video is now available for viewing:

Ogden Crime Beat Video: Ogden Police Department Needs Your Help

Looks like Ogden City's "curfew" ain't working out so hot!

Via: Ogden City Police Department

Ogden investigators are asking for assistance in the identification of four suspects who forced their way into the State Liquor Store at 1156 Patterson during the early morning hours on June 23 2013. The break-in was over in less than a minute, but images of the burglary were recorded by a number of interior surveillance cameras. If you recognize any or all of the suspects, please contact Detective Ziegler at (801)629-8430.

Shouldn't these burglars of "tender years" have been home in bed?

Whoa. Looks like Ogden City's "curfew" ain't working out so hot!

Update 8/1/31 6:18 a/m.: Better late than never, the Standard has picked up on the story too:

Monday, July 29, 2013

Standard-Examiner: Three Candidates Competing for Ogden’s At-large Seat "A" in Election - Updated

Certainly an interesting race to watch as it develops, indeed

Better late than never
To our great delight, we're pleased to observe that the Standard, with a short 14 or so days left until the 2013 Ogden Municipal Election Primary, better late than never, is finally devoting at least a little bit of electronic ink to the one, single pending Ogden Municipal Primary race, i.e.,  the Ogden City At-Large Seat "A" contest:
Gotta admit that we were gobsmacked when council candidate Stephen Thompson was qouted in this morning's S-E story thusly:
I think the biggest issue Ogden is facing in the immediate future is our water infrastructure and what that means for our water rates,” Thompson said. “We need all of these different infrastructure improvements, but it’s a huge challenge because of the costs associated with it."...
"I understand the logic behind not using all the reserve cash to pay for it, but I don’t think we should bond for it either,” he said. “I think we should work toward sensible reductions in spending, so we don’t have to bond for so much.
Stephen D. Thompson
The Real Deal?
It's absolutely uncanny, wethink, that candidate Thompson zeroed in, during a beforehand S-E interview, on the same issue which we featured in Dan Schroeder's lead article this morning, don't you think, whilst meanwhile, Mr. Thompson's Seat "A" opponents were spouting relative generalities and all-purpose political slogans?

Savvy grasp of the most important Ogden issues; or mere good luck, we ask?

Could it be that this Thompson guy is the REAL DEAL? 

Needless to say we'll be keeping a particularly close eye on Mr.  Thompson's campaign, as we move forward to the August 13 primary, along with those of his opponents,  Sheri Morreale and Marcia L. White, (of course).

No doubt about it. This will certainly be an interesting race to watch as it develops, indeed.

Update 7/30/13 11:00 a.m.:  In answer to a private inquiry from one of our gentle Weber County Forum readers... No.  Our above reference to Mr. Thompson's impressive and timely recognition of what we consider to be one of Ogden City's most important pending issues, i.e., tonight's prospective water infrastructure bonding decision,  should not be interpreted at this time as an early endorsement of his candidacy.  If indeed we do endorse anyone in the At-large Seat "A" race in the future, that's something which will happen, if at all, w-a-a-a-y down the road, after the 2013 campaign season has run its course, and ALL the evidence is there on the table.  

Ogden Council Poised to Borrow $18 Million for Utility Projects

Sole purpose of new debt is to maintain even larger cash balance in case of “emergency”

By Dan Schroeder

The Ogden City Council will vote this Tuesday on the proposed bonds that were discussed at its July 9 work session. The bonds are intended to fund a new water filter plant below Pineview Dam ($11.6 million), some smaller water infrastructure projects ($1.8 million), and a series of storm drain improvements to alleviate storm water hazards on Harrison Blvd. ($4.7 million). These bonds would add to the utility funds’ existing debt of approximately $60 million.

Nobody is questioning the importance of these utility infrastructure projects. But at the July 9 work session, several council members wisely questioned the idea of paying for them with borrowed money, when the utility funds have more than enough cash already sitting in the bank. City treasurer Mike Goodwin stated on July 9 that the water fund balance was currently at approximately $11 million, while the sewer and storm drain fund was at approximately $17 million. He further stated that these cash reserves are held in a variety of investments that earn from 0.5% to 1.25% interest.

Thus, the city administration is proposing to borrow approximately $18 million at 4 or 5% interest, for the sole purpose of maintaining an even larger cash balance that’s earning approximately 1% interest.

The council’s agenda packet for this Tuesday (relevant pages excerpted here) shows a few further details and minor changes to the proposal.

First, to partially address the council’s concerns, the staff are now offering four different borrowing options for the water portion of the bonds (see Council Staff Review, page 3). The three new options would reduce the water bond amount from $13.4 million to $11.6 million, or reduce the repayment period from 30 years to 20, or both. Making both changes would reduce the total interest payments from about $11 million to only $6 million (not including the interest on the storm drain bonds).

Second, staff have provided some updated numbers for the current financial position of the water fund (see pdf page 9, numbered 4 on the page). Apparently the water fund balance stood at $10.2 million at the end of June, somewhat less than Goodwin had informally indicated on July 9. Furthermore, the city is making an emergency expenditure of $1.4 million to replace the pipeline that recently ruptured near the mouth of Ogden Canyon and temporarily closed Highway 39. (I’m not sure why this long-overdue pipeline replacement wasn’t already in the city’s near-term plans.)

On the other hand, the water fund had an operating surplus of $3.2 million for the most recent year, and another rate increase of 7%, approved in May of last year, just took effect this month. So by the time the bills for the filter plant come due in 2015, the fund should have accumulated several million dollars more.

(The council packet does not include any updated information on the cash balance of the sewer and storm drain fund—only budget projections that are now out of date.)

So again, why would the city borrow money at 4 or 5% interest, just to maintain an even larger cash balance earning only 1%?

The council actually adopted a resolution last year that endorsed the concept of maintaining large cash balances. At that time, the justification provided by the city’s financial consultant (Laura Lewis of Lewis, Young, Robertson, and Burningham) was that large cash reserves look good to investors, making it possible for the city to borrow money at lower interest rates. In other words, the reason to borrow the money, rather than paying for the projects with cash, is so the city can get a lower interest rate when it borrows the money.

Lewis did not repeat this line of circular reasoning on July 9. Instead she pointed out that if the city uses up all its cash reserves and then an emergency repair needs to be made, the interest rate on an emergency loan or bond would be relatively high. Nobody in the room gave an example of what sort of emergency expenditure they thought the city might expect to make.

Even if the city forgoes the bond and pays for the filter plant and other projects with cash, the total balance in the utility funds should should never drop below $10 million. And the city’s utility infrastructure is widely dispersed, so it’s hard to imagine an emergency that would cost more than a couple million dollars in the short term. (The $1.4 million pipeline replacement near the mouth of Ogden Canyon is an excellent example.)

I recently asked a couple of council members what sort of disaster they have in mind that might cost the city more than $10 million in emergency repairs. The only scenario they’ve mentioned is the potential failure of Pineview Dam, perhaps due to a major earthquake. Geologists estimate that major earthquakes on the Wasatch Fault occur on average every 300-400 years. In such an unlikely event, it is highly probable that Ogden’s utility systems would be eligible for federal grants that would cover at least 75% of the cost of replacement.

Lewis, Young, et al.,
Taxpayer Leeches
"Financial Consultants"
So I’m still at a loss to understand the motivation behind these proposed bonds, which would ultimately cost the city about $10 million in net interest payments (plus or minus a few million, depending on the option chosen and the actual interest rates obtained). That’s $10 million that the city could instead spend on other needed infrastructure upgrades in coming years—or refund to the citizens in the form of lower utility rates.

But it’s quite clear that the Caldwell administration is behind this bonding proposal—as is its consultant, Laura Lewis. Lewis’s firm would presumably act as the city’s “financial advisor” on the bonds, and (according to the final page of the packet excerpt) receive a fee of 0.4% of the amount borrowed, or about $70,000.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Boss Godfrey Post-Public Sector Retirement Update

Great to see that Godfrey is letting no grass grow under his feet

By: Fly on the Wall

Looks like former Mayor Matthew "Boss" Godfrey , who set up shop in the private sector in 2012, has been busy with a project in Price City, the county seat of Utah's Carbon County:
Expanding his reach to locations outside of Utah, and leaving no stone unturned, Godfrey appears to be likewise bending the eager ears of city planners in East Liverpool, Ohio, of all places:

At the helm for 15 years?
Over a period of 15 years, with Godfrey at the helm, [Ogden] was revitalized and when he decided to rejoin the private sector, officials from other communities began asking Godfrey for his expertise in revitalizing their towns, leading to formation of Better City, LLC.
An Ogden Restaurant that employs 750 people?
Another blighted building was transformed into a restaurant that now employs 750 people, and an area that Godfrey said once was "the place you went of you were homeless, looking for a prostitute or a fight" is now filled with boutiques, restaurants and residences:
A concept with a familiar ring: "What you need is a fieldhouse":
"It is the direction of successful, innovative education around the nation," Godfrey said. "That's why the federal government is funding it so heavily." "In addition to gaining what he says could be a model school in the region, the district would gain an attractive venue to draw sporting events and other productions. The fieldhouse, when not in use by the school or hosting an event, could also be open to members of the greater community as a practice field or for league sports," he said:
"Partnering" with local educational institutions:
Specifically, Godfrey said, he wants to build upon an education "cluster" that already exists in the city, with Kent State University, the active high school alumni association, the online school and another post-secondary school looking at locating downtown:
Great to see that Godfrey is exploiting the "expertise" he developed during three terms of office at the "helm of Ogden City government," touting his legendary "job creation skills", and letting "no grass grow under his feet," no?

So who'll be the first to lodge an ever-savvy comment?


Friday, July 26, 2013

John Swallow News Roundup - Episode XXXVIII: Tying Up a Few More Loose Ends

A feeding frenzy in the U.S. legal community; and Becky Lockhart reshuffles the deck

Here are the latest reported developments in the John Swallow Three-ring Circus, folks. It definitely gets "interestinger and interestinger":

Responding to harsh criticism of the potential conflict of intererest of Rep. Lowry SnowHouse Speaker Becky Lockhart on Thursday removed Snow from the committee investigating John Swallow, replacing him as Chairman with current committee member Rep. Jim Dunnigan, and filling Snow's now-vacated slot with new committee member Rep. Francis Gibson:
There's no word on whether Lockhart will be forced to further re-shuffle the investigative committee deck, as the above Utah Political Capital story reveals that "[although] Gibson made no contributions to Swallow, however he did lend his name as a “Leader for Swallow” on Swallow’s campaign website."

It looks like a feeding frenzy in the U.S. legal community as "[m]ore than 60 law firms from across the country — from national powerhouses with hundreds of lawyers to small Utah outfits — are vying to serve as legal counsel to the House committee investigating Republican Attorney General John Swallow":
"Thursday marked the deadline for bids, which will be scored and the selection made Aug. 9," the Salt Lake Tribune's Robert Gehrke reports.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

John Swallow News Roundup - Episode XXXVII: Post-holiday Tidbits

 Political dynamite? You bet!

It's a slow post-Pioneer Day news day, so why not?  While you were all slacking off yesterday and sleeping late this morning, we were busy scouring the net for the latest news in the ever-enthralling John Swallow Saga.  So here are a couple of new tidbits to digest whilst you clear out those post-holiday cobwebs:

1) Citizen-activist and Utah Political Capitol reader Matt McCarty offers a sound argument that "[i]n order to maintain the integrity investigation and the public trust, Speaker Lockhart must find another House investigative committee chair, one who doesn’t have connections with any of Mr. Swallow’s accusers and who hasn’t contributed to the Swallow campaign fund":
2) In the below-linked blockbuster Salt Lake Tribune "tattle-tell" guest commentary, Salt Lake attorney Greg Skordos, who represented convicted fraudster and Swallow bribery accuser Marc Jenson as recently as 2012, reveals that former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff (along with everyone else in the Utah A.G.'s Office) was well aware of the close connections between Jenson, Shurtleff and Shurtleff's then-chief assistant Swallow, but willfully ignored his own staff attornies' recommendations to withdraw from the still-pending Jenson prosecution matters, and to rather remain on the case despite the clear conflicts of interest, ostensibly in order to shield his hand-picked successor, Swallow, from political blowback in the run-up to Swallow's 2012 GOP convention nomination.  Here's the gist:
Sadly, as early as the spring of 2012, discussions were held in the A.G.’s office with then-candidate Swallow about the wisdom of that office prosecuting Jenson when the relationship between Swallow, then the A.G.’s chief deputy, and Johnson was already known.
It was no secret that Swallow and his boss at the time, Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, had spent considerable time with Jenson at a luxury resort and had solicited and received campaign contributions, either directly or indirectly, from Jenson, all while Jenson was under investigation on one matter and was serving a plea in abeyance on another.
Over the objection of staff in the A.G.’s office, the order came down to continue that prosecution, not because it was sound legal strategy, but because Swallow was facing a tough opponent from his own party at the upcoming Republican state convention and that the information about Jenson could damage Swallow’s chances.
One can easily imagine how that convention would have turned out had the delegates known what we all know now.
Check out the full Greg Skordos guest commentary here:
Political dynamite?  You bet!

That's it for now, folks.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Pioneer Day 2013 Special Edition

Have a safe and sane one!

And for those of you who might be tempted to detonate loud explosive devices late into the night... pretty please with sugar on it,  show some kind consideration for our "furry friends":

Have a safe and sane one, Utah Lumpencitizens!

The Solution: Officers of the Peace - Updated

Citizen Call to Action: Roll up your sleeves and get involved!

Encouraging new 2014 Utah legislation proposed by the Libertas Institute, tackling the "police militarization problem" which we've addressed here at Weber County Forum in recent months:

The solution: officers of the peace

Legislation will be presented in the 2014 general session (beginning in January) to restrict the instances in which forcible entry may be authorized. Suspects and police officers alike should only be placed into dangerous, high-risk circumstances when absolutely necessary, such as when a violent crime is suspected. This procedural roadblock will help protect the lives of police officers by requiring them to employ force only in cases where somebody's life or property needs protection. Such a restraint will also divorce Utah from the nationwide trend of innocent people being harmed and killed in home invasions because of drugs or other non-violent crimes.
What can you do?
Share this page on Facebook, Twitter, and your email list. Stay updated on this legislation as it moves forward by providing your email address. Talk to your friends and help them understand the need to reform how warrants are served in Utah.
Utah needs officers of the peace, not heavily armed "law enforcement officials" that put innocent lives at risk. It's as simple as that.
Click this link if you'd like to roll up your sleeves and get involved:
Needless to say, we'll be closely following this proposed legislation, as we stand poised for the opening gavel of the 2014 Utah legislative general session, which kicks off a mere 5-1/2 months hence.

Update 7/27/13 9:00 p.m.:  The Standard is all over this story too:

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

John Swallow News Roundup - Episode XXXVI: Weeding Out the Conflicts and Threats - Updated

Odd that Committee Chairman Snow failed to inform Speaker Lockhart of his potential conflict, No?

Here's the latest from the John Swallow Three-ring Circus, folks:

The ever-savvy Utah political blogger Daniel Burton wonders: "Could Utah Attorney General John Swallow be preparing to sue the state for civil rights violations if he is impeached?":
The Tribune fleshes out the profiles of the nine committee members who'll conduct the the Swallow investigation:
The above investigative committee roster may not be "chiseled in granite" however, as the Trib reports that "House Speaker Becky Lockhart met Monday with [Committee Chairman] Rep. Lowry Snow, but said she hasn’t decided whether legal work he did for a key player in the John Swallow scandal will prompt her to replace the St. George lawmaker as head of the House committee investigating Utah’s top law-enforcement officer":
Careful and prudent lawyers routinely resort to extreme measures to detect potential conflicts of interest in their own law practices.  Odd that Rep. Snow failed to inform Speaker Lockhart of this potential problem prior to his appointment, No?

Update 7/23/13 11:29 a.m.: Breaking: We've just learned from Utah Political Capitol that "[t]he Lieutenant Governor's office has announced they have hired the huge lawfirm Snell & Wilmer to investigate Alliance for a Better UTAH's elections-fraud complaints against Attorney General John Swallow. According to UPC's initial search of the lawfirm's 200+ partners, there were 0 direct donations made to Swallow's election campaign."

Update 7/23/13 12:28 p.m.:  Great graphic:

Update 7/24/13 5:00 a.m.: The Standard confirms the above-referenced UPC report, which first broke the story concerning the retention of the Snell & Wilmer law firm:

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Standard-Examiner Editorial - Our View: Keep Education Compulsory - Updated

"Making education for children an elective is dumb public policy," says the Standard-Examiner.

As a followup to our min-rant of July 14, wherein we slammed certain "right wing Utah hippie fruitcakes," who've been recently floating the idea of  "making Utah schools voluntary rather than compulsory," the Standard-Examiner carries a strong editorial in this morning's hard-copy edition, giving this knuckle-headed idea a no-nonsense thumbs-down
Coincidentally and parenthetically, The Salt Lake Tribune also chimes in this morning with a similar take:
Of course in our view, the Standard and the Trib editorial boards get it pretty much exactly right.

As Ogden City Council candidate Stephen Thompson succinctly opined during last Wednesday night 's Meet the Candidates event, abandoning compulsory education would be a sure-fire way to turn the U.S.A. into a "third world country," a sentiment with which we also heartily agree.

As an added bonus, here's a rippingly-good Youtube video, provided by yet another sharp-eyed and alert WCF reader, who helpfully furnishes this introduction: "Best argument for compulsory education yet. Every student returning to school should watch this motivating video, along with every tax payer that is paying for that education. Thanks John Green. Not only a great author, but a philosopher and poet as well":

"Making education for children an elective is one of those ideas that is great fodder for a several-hour bull session with other political junkies. But it’s dumb public policy, and we trust that the vast majority of Utah Legislature are wise enough to deflate this balloon," says the Standard-Examiner.

We couldn't be more in agreement.

So what about it, O Gentle Readers?  Is Utah Senator Aaron Osmond simply "batshit crazy," or is he merely trying to start an intelligent discussion, as the Trib half-heartedly suggests?

Update 7/22/13 8:43 a.m.:  Another humdinger of a story from the Trib this morning. Senator Osmond, "like his predecessor Chris Buttars, he has become a tool for the Utah Eagle Forum and like-minded extremists," reports blue-chip columnist Paul Rolly:
A Weber Count Forum Tip O' The Hat to the ever-savvy WCF Reader Lisa, who made the inititial call.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Bait & Switch Bonding Part Deux: "What Will Be Done With That Extra $700,000 of Pool Bonding Dough?"

As taxpayer rip-offs go, we're labeling this a “two-fer"

In our haste to showcase yesterday's Gentle Reader Smaatguy's very legitimate Weber County Library bonding gripe, there's another  nerve-jangling Standard-Examiner story which we did (unfortunately) leave on the back-burner yesterday. It's therefore time to play "catch-up" wethinks, now that we move into the pre-24th of July sometimes "Red Meat Lean" news cycle week-end. And what better time to do that when most of the other Utah journalists are slackin' off and enjoying the summer weather?

Here's the full text of yesterday's SE' companion"Ogden City Schools Pool Bonding" story, "peeps" wherein SE reporter Rachel Trotter asks the question: "What will be done with that extra $700,000" of taxpayer-extracted pool repair bonding dough?":
“If it is earmarked for educational purposes, why didn’t they just call it that instead of masking it in this pool bond? Ogden School District needs to be more accountable to the taxpayers of Ogden,” says Ogden resident Simon Post.

We already learned earlier that the Ogden City Redevelopment Agency was also quietly taking it's own "pound of taxpayer flesh," of course.

Therefore, as taxpayer rip-offs go, we'll go along with Mr. Post, and furthermore label this a "two-fer,"  with zero amount of hesitation.

And howbout YOU?

John Swallow News Roundup - Episode XXXV: Getting The Show On The Road

Let's pull up our Barclaloungers and break out the Orville Redenbachers, folks!

As the long-awaited House investigation finally moves forward, (despite a few possible remaining hiccups) here's the latest news on the John Swallow Three-ring circus, via the Deseret News, the Standard and the Tribune:

Coming to a legislature
near you
"The St. George attorney and legislator tapped to head the special House committee investigating Utah Attorney General John Swallow has links in several lawsuits to Jeremy Johnson, the businessman at the center of the controversy engulfing the state’s top cop. Rep. V. Lowry Snow said Thursday he doesn’t believe his role in the cases would impede his objectivity, but he plans to meet with House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, and is willing to step down if she believes it creates a conflict of interest":
"The nine-member [investigative] committee composed of part-time legislators could face a host of obstacles, from scheduling meetings to dealing with reluctant witnesses and extracting information from other criminal or civil investigations":
"Legislative leaders continue to insist most of the meetings of a special committee investigating the alleged wrongdoings of Attorney John Swallow will be held in the open. Their assurances come despite a bill approved this week adjusting some of the rules of the Government Records Access and Management Act and some amendments to the Open Meetings Law":
Let's pull up our Barclaloungers and break out the Orville Redenbachers, folks!

Update 7/20/13 10:25 a.m.:  Added bonus via the Trib's inimitable Pat Bagley:

Friday, July 19, 2013

Salt Lake Tribune: Legislature Repeals Bill to Limit Feds’ Law Powers

"There are better ways to resolve these issues than to pass a [message] bill that we will have to repeal and litigate in court later on." - Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek

Gotta admit we were a mite surprised at how this story ended with a whimper.  We were sure that Utah's nutjob "Cowboy State Representative from Kanab" would bravely insist on taking this issue all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, rather than to weasel out with his tail between his legs:

"Faced with a likely legal defeat over a bill’s constitutionality, the Utah Legislature on Wednesday repealed a measure limiting federal land agencies’ law enforcement powers. HB155 sponsor Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab sought the repeal "on advice of counsel" after U.S. District Judge David Nuffer issued" in quick succession (slam-dunk style) a temporary restraining order and a "preliminary injunction blocking the law’s implementation." Coincidentally, this is the same "advice of counsel" which  Noel ignored when he somehow managed to "snooker" our entire Weber County legislative delegation (among others) and rammed this knuckle-headed bill through the legislature at the outset.
"We need to learn from this experience so we won’t make this mistake in the future," said Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, one of the few [level-headed] House members who had voted against the bill earlier this year. "There are better ways to resolve these issues than to pass a [message] bill that we will have to repeal and litigate in court later on."

Sadly, that'll never work in our tea-party-owned and controlled Utah State Legislature, where thumbing their legislative noses at the federal government is job #1, and the cost of defending facially unconstitutional legislation in federal court is no object (well almost).

Standard-Examiner: Weber County Library Bond May Not Cover All items Approved by Voters

Bait and switch? Ogden and North Ogden branches have a lot of unknowns

By: Smaatguy

Surprise, surprise... talk about bait and switch... all that info for the bond election and now they say two of the projects have "unknowns"!!!

Here's the lede...
OGDEN — When Weber County voters passed the $45 million library bond in June, they were given a detailed description of how the money would be spent for each planned addition and alteration to the libraries that applied. However, some of those plans might be scaled back if any of the first plans scheduled to go forward exceed the budget originally set for them.

“I do not think that we need to spend quite a bit less than the bond specified. We need to make sure we are going to have the funds to deliver the product and resources that all of the libraries need, and since the Ogden and North Ogden branches have a lot of unknowns as far as what’s needed, I want to make sure we have the budget taken care of,” Commissioner Matthew Bell said.
And here's the full S-E story...
This just chaps my hide... how'bout you?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Standard-Examiner: Roy Police Chief Whinham Quits Amid Controversies

Ex-Police Roy City Police Chief Greg Whinham: Head and shoulders (ethics-wise) above "Dennis" and "John"

We still don't know what happened; and frankly, at this point... "we" really don't care. What's important, wethinks, is that Roy Police Chief Greg Whinham did "the right" thing by tendering his resignation, rather than subjecting the folks of Roy City (and himself) to an endless stream of gossip, innuendo, mindless speculation and other nasty stuff:
Sadly, so ends an otherwise illustrious 29 year law enforcement career. 

Take note though, political sleazeballs like Brigham City's Mayor Dennis "Barney" Fife and "Honest" John Swallow, our "erstwhile" Utah Attorney General, [wink.. wink].

"We" believe that ex-Police Chief Greg Whinham is head and shoulders (ethics-wise) above you self-obsessed people, Dennis and John, specifically, if you know what we mean, and we think you do.

Write it down... so you don't forget it, OK, Boyz?

And what say our ever-savvy and curious Weber County Forum readers about all this?

John Swallow News Roundup - Episode XXXIV: Post-Special Session Wrap-up

The latest news concerning the ever-entertaining John Swallow Three-ring Circus

In the aftermath of yesterday's Utah legislative special session, here's a wrap-up of the latest news concerning the ever-entertaining John Swallow Three-ring Circus:

"The House committee investigating Attorney General John Swallow will include a former Utah State Bar president, a cop and House leaders from both parties. House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, appointed the nine-member panel Wednesday, launching the unprecedented investigation that ultimately could pave the way for impeachment of the state’s top cop":
For a concise overview of the happenings in yesterday's special legislative session, check out this ABC4 video, wherein Eric Ethington of UtahPoliticalCapitol.com talks about what happened yesterday at the Capitol regarding the investigation into alleged wrongdoings by Utah Attorney General John Swallow:

Fascinating developments in a couple of the the John Swallow Three Ring Circus "sideshows":

Citing "appearance of impropriety" which "could compromise the entire case," the Attorney General’s office announced yesterday that they are stepping aside in the prosecution of convicted fraudster Mark Sessions Jenson who has leveled numerous allegations against Attorney General John Swallow:
"Scandals involving Attorney General John Swallow produced an interesting side effect Wednesday." Surprise of surprises, "[t]he Legislature had a serious committee discussion about limiting campaign donations in Utah, one of only four states with no such caps":
That's it, for now, folks...

Update 7/18/13 5:00 p.m.: The Standard leads off with the local angle:

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Meet the Candidates Night Reminder

A political event that no self-respecting Ogden political wonk will want to miss

Just a quick and friendly reminder of tonight's "Meet the Ogden Council Candidates" 2013 Municipal election special event:

Once again, here are the time/place coordinates:
Event: Education caucus plans to question Ogden council candidates
Date: Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Time: 6:00 P.M.
Place: Weber County Library Main Branch, 2464 Jefferson Avenue, Ogden
Here's a little more from the Weber County Democratic Education Caucus host's Facebook page:
This is of course an event that no self-respecting Ogden political wonk will want to miss.

For those readers who'd like to bone up prior to tonight's big meet-up, here's a link to our handy candidate roster, which is already starting to shape up nicely.  You can't tell the players without a program, right?
Hopin' to see all your smiling faces over at the library tonight.

John Swallow News Roundup - - Episode XXXVIII: Dotting the I's, Crossing the T's and Other Swallow-related Scuttlebutt - Updated

Special Legislative Session
There's of course more live action a-plenty in the John Swallow Three-ring Circus this morning, as the Utah Legislature "meets in a special session today to clarify the powers of a special House committee investigating Attorney General John Swallow and create exemptions allowing some of the panel’s work to be done [surprise of surprises] behind closed doors":
Journalistic heavyweight Bob Bernick expounds upon the mind-boggling technical legal intricacies, as Utah lawmakers huddle up in special session this morning:
Even whilst labelling John Swallow "the poster child symptom of a cancer on our body politic," former Utah House Rep. David Irvine, in this too good to miss Trib op-ed, nevertheless argues that the pending Swallow "impeachment inquiry looks like a $3 million dry hole":
Lisa Riley Roche and Dennis Romboy dive in with both feet with an examination of the competing interests of public "openness and transparency," vis-a-vis the "practical reality" that certain aspects of these proceeding will be unavoidably conducted "behind closed doors":
Robert Gehrke observes that "[m]embers of the House investigative committee will engage in a high-wire act, of sorts, as they probe allegations of misconduct by Attorney General John Swallow":
Former Utah House Rep Fred Cox wonders whether it's a good idea for John Swallow's attorneys to be "flipping off the House," and then goes on to anwser his own question with a resounding YES!
Utah blogger and all-around political gadfly Daniel Burton goes off on Mr. Cox's "flipping off the House" tangent, but arrives at an opposite conclusion, i.e., that whatever Swallow's lawyers are "intending to do," it’s "not winning Swallow friends in the legislature and seems calculated to push and shove, not persuade and entice":
Adding to the excitement, sideshow-style, "the expanding scrutiny of Swallow will take major steps on two fronts this week: First, House Speaker Becky Lockhart is expected to appoint members of a special House committee to investigate the state’s top cop, and second, The lieutenant governor plans to name a special counsel to probe questions surrounding Swallow’s campaign-financial disclosures":
We'll be standing by with updates of today's House proceedings folks.  So be sure to check back for any updates which may roll in.

Update 7/17/13 3:31 p.m.:  Utah Policy's Bob Bernick reports that "[b]y the hair of his chinny-chin-chin Utah House Majority Leader Brad Dee got the critical bill of Wednesday’s special legislative session out of a hearing committee this morning, so that a special investigation of GOP Attorney General John Swallow can go forward without more delays":
Looks like regular Chinese Fire Drill up there on The Hill, dunnit???

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Notice: Critically Important Wasatch Front Regional Council Open Houses Coming Up

Don't neglect to throw in your own 2¢

Thanks to tip from yet another sharp-eyed and alert Weber County Forum reader, we'll fulfill one of our primary functions as Weber County's most prominent community blog, and alert you to an important series of upcoming public meetings which will be conducted by the Wasatch Front Regional Council, concerning broad transportation planning issues which will have broad repercussions for all Wasatch Front residents for the next thirty years.  Rather than reel off slice, dice and ginsu-knife the myriad of issues which will be discussed at these public meetings, we'll simply incorporate the full body of the flier which we received by email this morning.  Here goes: 


What YOU Think Matters!

Come and let your voice be heard at three open houses sponsored by the  to display and receive comment on:

1. The Draft 2014-2019 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP)
2. Four Proposed Amendments to the current Regional Transportation Plan 2011-2040 (RTP)
3. Four Growth and Transportation Scenarios proposed in preparation for the update to the RTP due in 2015
4. The Draft Wasatch Mobility Plan for the transportation disadvantaged

The corresponding air quality conformity analyses (Air Quality Memoranda 29 and 29a) will also be available for the RTP amendments and the Draft TIP.
These plans, programs, and projects are subject to public review and comment prior to consideration and possible adoption by the Regional Council. The public review and comment period for the Draft TIP and proposed amendments to the RTP began on June 29, 2013 and will run through August 3, 2013. The comment period for the Wasatch Mobility Plan will run from July 13, 2013 through August 13, 2013. Additionally, much of this information for the current Wasatch Choice for 2040 Vision / RTP is available in our new brochure. The three open houses will be held at the following times and locations:

Thursday, July 18, 2013
Farmington Library Conference Room
133 South Main Street, Farmington
3:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Monday, July 22, 2013 
Weber County Commission Breakout Room
Weber County Government Center
2380 South Washington Blvd., Ogden
3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Thursday, August 1, 2013 
Salt Lake County Government Center, North Building Atrium
2001 South State Street, Salt Lake City
3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Further information is available on the Regional Council’s NEW, more user friendly website at www.wfrc.org or at (801) 363-4250. Comments may also be given to Sam Klemm at sam@wfrc.org or mailed to WFRC, 295 North Jimmy Doolittle Road, Salt Lake City, UT 84116. Comments on the Mobility Management Plan may be given to Ali Oliver at aoliver@wfrc.org or at the telephone number or mailing address as noted above.

To assure full participation at the open houses, accommodations for effective communication such as sign language interpreters or printed materials in alternate format must be requested at least five (5) working days prior to the date of the scheduled event(s). Requests for accommodations should be directed to the Wasatch Front Regional Council Public Information Officer during business hours at (801) 363-4250, ext. 1116 or for deaf/hearing impaired persons, dial 711 to make a relay call.

Para recibir esta informacion en Espanol, envie un correo electronico a Sam Klemm a sam@wfrc.org.


That's it, O Gentle Ones.

Hopefully you'll be able plan your calenders accordingly, folks.

And  whatever you do...

Standard-Examiner: Paris Cafe on 32nd St. Alive with Music on Weekends

"All's well that ends well;" right, folks?

Belated congratulations to Ogden entrepreneur Earnie McKown, who, "after [six] months of battling it out with Ogden city over whether live music should be allowed at his Paris Cafe social hall," has now succeeded in obtaining all "necessary" permits and licenses, and is now packing the house with live music acts each weekend, according to yesterday's encouraging Standard-Examiner story:
 “It’s been quite the process, but we’ve finally got live acts coming in here consistently,”  sez Mr. McKown, with a possibly audible sigh of relief, we'll suppose.

"Quite the process?"  Mr. McKown is a true a master of under-statement, wethinks, as we look back on his six-month Ogden City "Bout with Bureaucracy," which should serve as a lesson in entrepreneurial persistence, to say the very least:
“I always wanted a place like this, but it never really existed.” “It brings people in (to Ogden) from other places. I live in Kaysville, but I’ll drive up here to see my friends play. It’s a really cool and positive environment.” “A lot of teenagers aren’t the sporty type; so kids can go to the cafe and learn guitar, enjoy the live music, do some painting — just do something different,” say a pair of  happy, random Paris Cafe patrons.

We're thus delighted to close this particular chapter in the "Business-Friendly" Ogden Economic Development Saga by invoking the "old ax":

"All's well that ends well;" right, folks?

Monday, July 15, 2013

A UEG Call to Citizen Action: Support Campaign Finance Limitations This Week

Now is the time to support campaign finance limits

Via: Utahns for Ethical Government

Dear Friends:

This coming Wednesday, July 17, the Legislature's Interim Government Operations Committee will be hearing a proposal to limit campaign contributions. The proposal is sponsored by Republican Representative Kraig Powell and Democratic Representative Brian King.

Utah desperately needs such reform. We are only one of four states not to have some limitations. As friends of Utahns for Ethical Government, you know that we have long advocated and worked for such rules. A nonpartisan committee appointed by Governor Huntsman proposed such a solution. Current news in Utah demonstrates loudly the need for such reform.

We encourage you to act! Attend the meeting if you are able. Contact your legislators and tell them that you are supportive of the Huntsman Commission recommendations. Don't let the next few days pass without taking some action!

Government Operations Committee:
Wednesday, July 17, 9 a.m.
Room 445, State Capitol

For more information and specifics about the proposal, read the Salt Lake Tribune op-ed by Powell and King that appears today, Sunday, July 14, on p. 4 of the Opinion Section:
WE URGE YOU TO ACT THIS WEEK and hope for an overflow crowd at the committee meeting to show how much the public cares about campaign funding limits.


Utahns for Ethical Government Executive Committee
July 14, 2013

(Links added.)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Standard-Examiner Guest Commentary: Seven Reasons for Making Schools Voluntary Rather Than Compulsory

"Why should our spoiled little darlings be compelled to do anything they don't wanna do," we ask?

Hey! Here's another great idea straight from the Utah wing-nut fringe. Check out this morning's eye-popping Standard-Examiner guest commentary, folks:
The ever-wacked-out Sutherland Institute floated this concept just yesterday, we also discover:
And whatever you do... don't miss this stirring YouTube video:

So what do you think, liberty-loving Utah lumpenfolke?

"Why should our spoiled little darlings be compelled to do anything they don't wanna do," we ask [wink-wink]?

Knock yourselves out, O Gentle Ones... 

Update 7/15/13 7:56 a.m.:  Oh Goody!  Here's another one:
These right wing Utah hippie fruitcakes are breeding like rabbits, we swear!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

John Swallow News Roundup - - Episode XXXVII: Utah GOP House Majority Lurches Forward At Its Usual Frenzied Pace

With any kind of luck the legislature can drag this out until 2016, when Swallow will decide not to seek reelection so he can "spend more time with his family"

Lurching forward
More news on the John Swallow impeachment investigation this morning, as House Speaker Becky Lockhart's Utah GOP House majority lurches forward at its usual frenzied pace:

1) "The Utah Legislature will meet in a special session Wednesday to clarify the powers of a special House committee investigating Attorney General John Swallow and create exemptions allowing some of the panel’s work to be done behind closed doors. Gov. Gary Herbert issued the call for the special session Friday evening to resolve potential confusion about the House investigation’s subpoena powers and the applicability of open-meetings and records laws to the committee’s work." GOP legislators are concerned about political blow-back, and, surprise of surprises, are contemplating conducting portions of the upcoming proceedings "behind closed doors":
As one politically semi-alert Trib reader snarkily remarks, "With any kind of luck the legislature can drag this out until [2016], when Swallow will decide not to seek reelection so he can spend more time with his family."

Detritus may stick this time
2) Chewy op-ed from Utah Policy's Bryan Schott, who reels off a list of past Utah GOP scandals and  speculates that "[t]here’s one very big reason House Republicans are moving forward with the investigation of Attorney General John Swallow: 2016. The political shrapnel from the Swallow circus could hit a number of Republican legislators, particularly in Salt Lake County, and open a wound that would be difficult to treat":
"Any embarrassing information that should surface during the course of this investigation has the potential to splatter Republicans. More importantly, that detritus may stick this time," sez Mr. Schott.

Update 7/13/13 11:25 a.m.:  More from Bryan Schott:
"Shurtleff, Swallow and Winder/Burwash. Kinda has a nice ring to it, dunnit?"

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Standard-Examiner: Ogden Officials Shocked by Tree Removal by Moron Contractor

Mature sycamores are what we had on Ogden's Laurel Drive up until recently; and that's what we should have in the near future, don'tcha thinks...?

ICO Construction
Particularly aggravating story on the Front page of the Standard-Examiner today, reporting that another greedy brain-dead local developer, namely ICO Construction, made an "off the cuff" "judgment call" to "remove" a stand of 60-year old Sycamores in the vicinity of old St. Benedicts' Hospital site, which according to the most recent Ogden City planning idiocy, is destined to become, if the developer has its way, Ogden's newest "Elderly-housing Facility," LOL. .

Read up, folks:
Just to put in all in perspective, here's a Google Earth photo, showing by overhead view, what the subject site looked like before the greed-head ICO culprits marched into the area with their chainsaws:

And here are some ground-level photos, squeezed out by your blogmeister just today, showing this formerly lush and green, former nuns' quarters', formerly sycamore-lined curbside terrain, in the aftermath:

According to todays S-E story, Ogden City Planner Rick Grover says that the city will soon meet with ICO to discuss ways to remedy the situation. “We are going to be meeting with the contractor to see what can be done to possibly make a small dent into what has happened,” he said. “It would take close to 60 to 70 years before those trees get back to where they were (if the same type of tree were replanted,” Grover says.

That's nice, we guess. But here's what we think Ogden City ought to insist on doing about this.
Hopefully Mayor Mike and his all-star staff will hammer these ICO jacknapes hard.

Mature sycamores are what we had at the intersection of Ogden's Laurel Drive and Polk Avenue until recently.  That's what we should have in the near future; and that's what ICO Construction should pay for, don'tcha thinks...?

John Swallow News Roundup - Episode XXXVI - State Auditors (And Others) Get Into the Act

Never a dull moment in the life of our ethically challenged Utah A.G., no?

Just so's you won't think we've been asleep at the switch, here's the latest since our last John Swallow Political Corruption "episode":

 1) As if poor old Attorney General John Swallow's mountain of legal troubles weren't already complicated enough, it now appears that hordes of  green eye-shaded Utah bean-counters will be soon crawling all over Swallow's "digs," "look[ing] at "high-risk areas" of the The Utah Attorney General's office":
"[The] proposed audit of the Utah Attorney General's office isn't supposed to be aimed at embattled Attorney General John Swallow, but it is still expected to tie the recently elected leader to any problems found":
"State Auditor John Dougall said Wednesday he's [also] considering launching a performance audit of embattled Attorney General John Swallow's office, but for now will monitor the Legislature's efforts":
2) The Standard-Examiner chimes in with a strong editorial, opining that "'protest(s)" over House Speaker Becky  Lockhart being in charge of picking committee members seems far more “political” than the House’s commendable effort to begin a probe of the attorney general":
3) Alliance for a Better UTAH Executive Director Maryann Martindale and Utah League of Women Voters Co-president Jenn Gonnelly offer a soothing guest commentary "pitching" the view that investigating Swallow is a chance to restore public trust in Utah’s elected officials:
It looks like it'll be a full-employment economy for Salt Lake legal eagles as The House begins the process of retaining attorneys for the John Swallow investigation:
4) And in the Marc Sessions Jenson sideshow, "Attorneys for [the] jailed businessman, who has made headline-grabbing allegations against Utah Attorney General John Swallow and his predecessor, Mark Shurtleff, failed to persuade a judge on Monday to issue a protective order against state prosecutors":
Never a dull moment in the life of our ethically challenged Utah A.G., no?

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