Friday, May 31, 2013

Time for Candidates to Declare in Utah Municipal Elections

Still plenty of time for Ogden City Lumpencitizens to carefully think it over and then get your council candidacy papers on file

Click to enlarge image
We'll let this morning's Davis County-oriented Salt Lake Tribune story serve as a reminder to the citizens of Ogden concerning one of the most important biennial events once again coming up on the Utah political calender in 2013. "If you’re interested in running for a city office, it’s almost time to throw your hat in the ring. The candidate filing period for potential [Utah] mayors and council members is June 1-7. Because city halls are closed on weekends, candidate have just five days — June 3-7 during business hours — to submit a declaration of candidacy in person," reports the Salt Lake Tribune.

As per normal, we've heard a fair amount of grousing about Ogden City politics over the course of the two years since the last Ogden Municipal election of course. So if you're a civic-minded citizen who'd like to roll up your sleeves and step up to "set things right," from the vantage-point of an Ogden City Council seat, now's the time to file your Declaration of Candidacy papers.

For the particulars concerning Ogden City candidate filings, we'll helpfully include this informational section, gleaned straight from the Ogden City Municipal Elections page, which we've slightly modified to include the names and linked profiles of those sitting Ogden City Council incumbents whose seats are "up for grabs" this year:
Positions to be voted upon in 2013 Municipal Elections:
All positions are for a four-year term.

Candidate Filing period begins June 3, 2013 and ends June 7, 2013.  Declaration of Candidacy must be filed in person at the Ogden City Recorder’s Office located at 2549 Washington Boulevard, Suite 210 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Now? Or later never?
Whatever you may think about Utah's weirdly-shortened Declaration of Candidacy filing "opportunity window," with a full week remaining before next Friday's filing deadline, there's still plenty of time for conscientious, civically-dedicated (and possibly disgruntled) Ogden City lumpencitizens to carefully think it over and then get your candidacy papers on file.

That's it for now folks; but we will inquire of our gentle readers:  Is there anyone in particular whom any of you would like to see throw their hat into the ring? Professor Schroeder perhaps [grin]? Howbout WCF "leading lights" Bob Becker, Blackrulon, Danny or Smaatguy?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Deseret News: Dan Liljenquist: More ReasonsWhy Utah's AG Should Be Removed

However belatedly, former Utah GOP "apologists" miraculously start "coming outta the woodwork" and suddenly "launch" into Utah GOP damage control mode

Well, we asked:
And we'd wondered, we confess, when (if ever) the "good people" within the Utah GOP "leadership apparatus" (we presume that there at least a few) would finally speak up. 
Finalists in the
2013 Utah GOP
"Lyin' & Grinnin'
Jackass Contest"
And Lo and Behold, via the sometimes trustworthy Deseret News editorial opinion page, we now learn that hardcore tea-party Republican Dan Liljenquist has now "bravely" stepped up to the plate, and issued what amounts to bullet point accusations which will probably set Our Beloved Utah GOP into "protected mode":
"Et tu brute?" is probably what poor old John Swallow is thinkin' right now, as formerly tongue-tied Utah Republicans start emerging outta the woodwork and launch into full damage control mode. 

A WCF Hat Tip to former Utah State Senator Dan Liljenquist, by the way, who even now normally behaves as the proverbial "blind squirrel," and occasionally even finds an "acorn every now and then."

Your ever-cranky comments are now cordially invited as always, O Gentle Ones.

Standard-Examiner: Ogden OKs Transit System Study From Intermodal Hub to WSU to McKay-Dee

Dare we ask the question? Is an Ogden Streetcar system finally in our future?

At risk of coming off as a mite late to the party, we'll shine the spotlight on a story from yesterday's Standard-Examiner, reporting on the result of one agenda item on Tuesday night's Ogden City Council calender, representing what we believe to be a most significant and too-long-coming milestone in Ogden City public transit advocates' effort to establish a high-quality transit system between Ogden’s downtown corridor and the campuses of WSU and the Dee-McKay Hospital.  Here's the gist:
OGDEN — The once-stalled Ogden streetcar project is now gaining some major forward momentum.
The city council adopted a joint resolution Tuesday night, authorizing a study for a transit system connecting the Utah Transit Authority Intermodal Hub, Weber State University and McKay-Dee Hospital.
Officials said that, ideally, the study will result in a high-quality transit system between Ogden’s downtown corridor and the campuses of WSU and the hospital.
“Ultimately, we want to identify a project that can be taken to construction and built,” said Hal Johnson, UTA manager of project development.
Read the full story here, folks:
Yes, it's been a long haul. Except for one dismal and knuckle-headed distraction which took this project off-track for at least half a decade, Ogden City lumpencitizens and Northern Utah commuters might have been otherwise on the verge of enjoying the comfort and convenience of a cross-town public transit system amenity years ago.

We've sat on our collective thumbs here in Ogden for years, whilst our more aggressive and better-focused neighbors to the south now put the finishing touches on their own cross-town, high-quality transit system project, even as we speak.

A Weber County Forum Tip "O the Hat to the Ogden City Council for at last placing this project on the front burner, where it clearly belongs.

Dare we ask the question?  Is an Ogden Streetcar System finally in our future?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Standard-Examiner: Mug Shot Website Suing Salt Lake Sheriff Over Access to Booking Photos

Yes; this blooming web-based mug-shot blackmail industry has opened up a whole can of legal worms, one which we'll be closely watching as these cases progress, of course

Intriguing development on the Utah civil liberties front, as the Standard-Examiner reports this morning that "The owner of a website that publishes inmate booking photos is suing a Utah sheriff for denying a public records request for more than a thousand mug shots." And the first interesting twist to this story? Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder takes the "novel" position that the denial of such bulk request for these admittedly "public records" is legally justifiable because the Sheriff's Office "holds copyright control over the images," while the plaintiff, Kyle Prall, who runs the website bustedmugshots.com, contends that "if the court doesn’t overturn the Sheriff’s 'wrong and selective denial,' it would set a 'dangerous precedent' beyond mug shots into broader rights of public access to government records," thereby denying that the Salt Lake Sheriff's office enjoys any such "copyright" protection: 
Mr. Prall may have a troubling but arguable point, wethinks.  Imagine, for instance, the further difficulties Ogden City government watchdog Dan Schroeder might have suffered in his ultimately successful effort to dislodge Ogden City water utility and budget records, in the event that the Ogden City administration had successfully asserted "precedented" copyright protection for those long-sought public documents. Having said that, we do support any reasonable efforts to shut down this blood-sucking web-based industry, while ever keeping in mind the old legal axiom: "hard cases make bad law."
 
The bustedmugshots.com website is of course one of dozens of similar websites which obtain "publicly available" jail booking photos "for free," plaster them up on the web, and then "extort" fees, sometimes in the "hundreds of dollars," for removal of these "embarrasing" images from public view.

For some recent historical background on the development of this story, here's an earlier write-up from the Salt Lake Tribune:
 
And here's another recent article more broadly examining the thorny Utah legal dilemma:
This last article of course also cites the 2013 legislature's recently enacted  HB 408, which provides "prohibits county sheriffs from providing a copy of a booking photograph to a person if the photograph will be placed in a publication or posted on a website that requires a  payment in order to remove the photograph; requires a person requesting a copy of a booking photograph to sign a statement that the photograph will not be placed in a publication or on a website that requires payment in order to remove the photograph; and provides a criminal penalty for a false statement." So in a nutshell, the enactment of this Utah statutory provision would provide further "legal ammo" for Sheriff Winder's booking photo request denial, beyond the original assertion of "copyright protection."  
 

And further complicating the murky issues surrounding this pending Utah matter may be another lawsuit in Ohio, involving circumstances where government authorities have attempted to deny similar image production requests on so-called First Amendment "right of publicity" grounds:
It would come as no surprise to us to see this issue also arise in the pending Utah matter, of course.

Yesiree, folks.  This blooming web-based mug-shot blackmail  industry has opened up a major legal can of worms, one which we'll be closely watching as these cases progress. "That" you can take straight to the bank, as you probably already know.

With that, what say our gentle readers about all this? 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Weber County Forum "Puff-Piece" Update: The Most Porn-Loving Religious Cities In The Country

Hey Gentle WCF Readers! You already  know how we LOVE Ogden City "Puff-Pieces." Oh yes, regular WCF readers, we surely do.

Kevin "Hot-tub" Garn*
Thusly, here's your blogmeister's  latest "pick" on that subject, submitted by another sharp-eyed WCF reader, of course.  And so we therefore put this "up front," for our gentle readers' un-ending amusement:
This one hits it pretty much outta the ballpark, don'tcha thinks?

Figures in Utah politics, dunnit?
_____________________
* Former Utah House Majority Leader Kevin "Hot-tub" Garn

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day 2013

Remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces


And...

Sunday, May 26, 2013

John Swallow Political Corruption Update

Utah A.G.'s Office employees report "Morale Issues;" and Utah GOP House Rep. Paul Ray becomes a "Chorus of [Exactly] One"
I really never thought it could possibly get this bad. Morale is the lowest I’ve ever seen it.
Un-named Utah A.G. Office employee, Salt Lake Tribune
Utah attorney general’s office: high work, low morale
May 25, 2013
It’s to the point he needs to step down. He needs to resign. I think the evidence is overwhelming from the stories we’ve seen and similar stories from different individuals. He’s pretty much put the state in the position where we’re frozen in the attorney general’s office.
Rep. Paul Ray, Salt Lake Tribune
A first: GOP lawmaker calls for Utah A.G. John Swallow to resign
May 24, 2013

A couple of Salt Lake Tribune news items as a rising tide of unabated investigations and criminal/ethical accusations which continue to engulf beleagured Utah Attorney General John Swallow.

1) There's been considerable speculation of how Attorney General Swallow's legal difficulties are affecting  the day-to-day operations of  "Utah’s top law enforcement agency." In an exhibition of great journalistic timing, yesterday's  Marissa Lang story, portraying an atmosphere of "embarrassment, fear and frustration," which "have taken their toll on the morale of the office’s rank and file," to the extent that some dedicated career A.G. Office employees can barely bring themselves to "get up and go to work and feel good about it," now sheds some much-needed light on that hanging question, of course:
Sadly, "Some believe the agency’s image has been irreparably harmed. For the first time in their careers, they’re ashamed to say they work at the attorney general’s office," Ms. Lang adds.

Rep. Paul Ray (R)
2) And we'd wondered, we confess, when (if ever) the "good people" within the Utah GOP "leadership apparatus" (we presume that there at least a few) would finally speak up. Well... they still aren't exactly falling out of the woodwork, but encouragingly, we think, Trib columnist heavyweight Rober Gehrke appears to have tracked down, after considerable gumshoe-style sleuthing we'll suppose, at least one specimen of this rare breed of political animal, at least:
A Weber County Forum Tip O' the Hat to Representative Paul Ray (R) Clearfield for saying what needed to be said.  So where do the rest of Rep. Ray's GOP compadres stand on this pressing issue, we ask?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Shurtleff May Have Intervened in Envision Ogden Investigation

Email documents mysterious phone call to investigator.

By Dan Schroeder

Now that we have pretty clear proof that former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff didn't always maintain the highest level of ethical integrity in carrying out his official duties, I thought it might be a good time to dredge up another little incident from the past.

It's just a tidbit, really. A hint. Not enough even to justify a newspaper article, much less hold up in a court of law. But intriguing, nonetheless.

The date was May 20, 2009. At the request of then-representative Neil Hansen, the Attorney General's office had agreed the previous month to look into possible criminal activity by Envision Ogden, a political organization that had helped Mayor Godfrey and two city council candidates (Blain Johnson and Royal Eccles) in the 2007 election, but that had concealed its political purpose from contributors. Scott Reed, head of the AG Criminal Justice Division, would be the main attorney on the case.

Reed didn't initially handle the investigation himself. He passed the job along to the State Bureau of Investigation, which assigned the case to a senior investigator named Jim Vaughn. He in turn delegated most of the work to Special Agent Scott Hansen (no relation to Neil), who interviewed several of Envision Ogden's corporate contributors between May 12 and May 26.

But on the evening of May 20, after most of these interviews had taken place, Hansen received a phone call from someone named Mark that prompted him to email Reed's boss, Deputy AG Kirk Torgensen, the next morning:
From: Scott Hansen
Subject: Envision Ogden
Date: May 21, 2009 7:15:27 AM MDT
To: Kirk Torgensen

I received a phone call from Mark last night inquiring about Envision Ogden. He had received an email or a phone call from someone regarding it. He said he was going to send the information to you. He asked that I get with you about this case.

I told him we had received it from Scott Reed. Maybe you, Scott and myself can get together and strategize on this.

I am open anytime today and next Tuesday looks good too. Just let me know.
So there you have it. Although no last name is mentioned, we can safely conclude that "Mark" refers to Torgensen's immediate boss, Attorney General Shurtleff. But we'll probably never know what Shurtleff said to Hansen during that evening phone call, or which of Envision Ogden's members or contributors contacted Shurtleff, or whether the proposed follow-up meeting between Hansen, Torgensen, and Reed ever took place.

Hansen wound up his interviews five days later, without ever attempting to interview Godfrey, Johnson, or Eccles. Reed decided to close the investigation at the end of June. He re-opened the investigation in September (at the request of Rep. Hansen and myself), but very little further investigating took place before the case was permanently closed in March 2011. By then Vaughn had retired from the SBI and Scott Hansen had also left the agency.

Utah Political Corruption Investigation Update

The Swallow-sleaze now oozes out in the direction of the former Utah Attorney General

It's been a couple of weeks since our last "John Swallow Government Corruption Update,"  so here are the latest developments since we last spoke out on that topic, which for present and soon to be obvious reasons, we've broadened and expanded that topic headline "just a mite." So here goes.  Hang in there, O Gentle Ones, as we've saved the very "best" for last, of course. 

1) John Swallow (Alleged) Corruption:

Back on May 12, we listed three basic categories of then-pending investigations of our wonderful Utah Attorney General, i.e., 1) Ongoing Federal Criminal Bribery Investigation, 2) Utah State Bar Complaint, 3) Utah Elections Office Campaign Disclosure Violation. As of this morning we can now add a fourth: 4) County Attorney State-law bribery investigations.  Read up, on the latest John Swallow developments, folks:

On May 15, Utah Political Capitol reported that "The FBI, the Utah Bar Association, and the Lieutenant Governor’s special counsel aren’t the only ones investigating Attorney General John Swallow. According to information obtained by Utah Political Capitol, a parallel investigation is being run out of the Salt Lake County District Attorney and Davis County Attorney’s offices":
And in this May 16 news item, the Deseret News revealed more detail about the possible state law grounds for these 'expanded" pending county prosecutors' probes:
"Neither [Sim] Gill nor [Troy] Rawlings would disclose the targets of the investigation or what specific laws they're looking at. However, it likely would involve Utah's Public Officers' and Employees' Ethics Act, which prohibits accepting gifts and compensation that would improperly influence the impartial discharge of one's duties," the D-News' Dennis Romboy reported.

Here's the full statutory text (Utah Code Title 67 Chapter 16), for those readers who'd like to take a closer look:
Bullcrap Redux
Meanwhile, back in the Utah A.G.'s office, we hear from Mr. Swallow the familiar refrain of hopelessly besieged elected officials (GOP officials, mind you) who are up to their eyeballs in potentially devastating "official" investigations:
That "old saw" certainly has a "familiar ring" to it, doesn't it?

And there's more; oh yes, so much more:

Here's a fine Fox13 News video update, for those of you who'd like to just kick back in your easy-chairs, and just watch and listen up:


2) Pending Mark Shurtleff Investigation. And that ain't all folks.  Back on May 12, we said this: "It thus appears that even former Attorney General Mark Shurtleff might quite possibly be drawn into Swallow's mess, which might explain why Shurtleff is now scrambling to distance himself from Mr. Swallow." And lo and behold, "prophetic" as we plainly were, check out the latest news about former GOP State Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, who seems to be inexorably (and possibly for "good reason") drawn into the John Swallow investigation net, whilst now, the ever-creepy Mark Shurtleff gets "publicly hammered" (once again):
Thus, the Swallow sleaze now oozes out in the direction of the former Utah Attorney General.

Sadly, people, your blogmeister is old enough to remember the halcyon days when some Republican elected officials were actually world-wide respected heros.

Unfortunately however, those "heady" days are now long-gone, we guess.

Comments anyone? Especially my GOP friends?

Breaking: Matthew David Stewart Returns to The Hands of His Creator - Updated

So much unnecessary pain and sorrow, all due to our society's idiotic preoccupation with a relatively innocuous God-given herb 

Heart-breaking announcement just received via email from the family of defendant Matthew Stewart:
Free at last...
Our family regrets to announce that our son Matthew David Stewart is in the hands of his creator after a long and courageous battle with a corrupt and arrogant judicial system. He was supposed to be considered innocent until he was proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Unfortunately this system has become so perverted that those people that are in power are able to lie, justify their actions after purposely violating someone's civil rights and the rights we are supposed to be protected by the Constitution of the United States of America. After the obtaining an illegal search warrant by providing false information, an assault on his home by a gang of thugs and his inhumane treatment at the Weber County Correctional Institute, along with the recent loss of an unfair and unjust ruling by the court claiming they were “harmless errors”, Matthew gave up hope of his ever getting justice in his case.

Our hearts go out to all of those who believed in Matthew and appreciate both their financial and unwavering support by all of those who knew him and those who did not have the pleasure to know what a free and loving spirit he had. It is another devastation to all of us that comes with the territory in trying to fight the tyranny of a one sided corrupt system of government where those in power will cover up their mistakes and justify their actions at any cost. Even when they know the truth of their deceit they will cover it up and protect those who are responsible in an effort to preserve this system that they have created.

Matthew is not in any more physical and emotional pain and free from this world of hurt and unfairness. May those who were responsible for the terrible actions of January 4, 2012, have it on their consciences and it is hoped that they will be continually reminded and that someday they will answer for their crimes against humanity.

The Michael Stewart Family
Our most sincere and deeply-felt condolences to family, friends and supporters of Matthew Stewart.

So much unnecessary pain and sorrow, all due to our society's idiotic preoccupation with a relatively innocuous God-given herb.

So long Matthew... another life needlessly lost in the Failed War on Drugs.

Another life lost in the
Failed War on Drugs

Update 5/24/13 9:00 a.m.:  The Standard-Examiner is now the first of the Utah print media to provide at least some meager coverage of the latest sad development in this tragic story:
Update 5:24/13 9:31 a.m.:  The Tribune is now all over the story too:

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Both the D-News and the Standard Offer Their Editorial Blessings to Utah Political Candidate Nomination Reform

It's great to know that both the D-News and the Standard will beating the drum right alongside us, innit?
No one is arguing that a candidate shouldn’t have a right to get nominated at a state convention, but it needs to be with an overwhelming majority of state delegates. Sixty percent is not an overwhelming majority. A generation ago, state Republicans required 70 percent of delegates’ support to avoid a primary. It’s a pity that GOP delegates couldn’t move the nominating bar closer to that percentage. In an ironic twist, it may soon require voters to correct that.
Standard-Examiner Editorial
Our View: Caucus reform moves closer
May 21, 2013
At the convention, one delegate summed up the opposition to caucus reform by saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." His opinion seems to reflect that of the delegate majority, who wield a tremendous amount of power in selecting GOP candidates. Apparently, they feel a system that grants them such influence at the expense of the input of thousands of primary voters is one that needs to be protected rather than fixed.
Deseret News Editorial
In our opinion: Reforms are needed
May 23, 2013

Not so easy as you might think.
As a follow-up to our Sunday Weber County Forum article, in which we discussed the dissapointing results of Saturday's Utah State Republican Party Convention, during which "a staunch 55% of 'nearly 2600' Utah GOP convention delegates among other things, drew a line in the sand, refused to 'cave to threats,' and 'passed up' the golden opportunity to usher the Utah GOP's nominating process (albeit kicking and screaming), straight into the the 21st Century," we'll note that it appears the political battle lines are already being drawn a short five days post-convention, as both the Standard-Examiner and the Deseret News have carried strong editorials over the past several days, offering their editorial blessings to the percipient Count My Vote Utah petition drive, which aims to wrest control of the Utah political nominating process from Utah's often extremist caucus-elected convention delegates and re-deliver it to Utah's presently disenfranchised "thousands of primary voters" (where it actually belongs, we'll add). It's also significant, we believe, that we're already witnessing two of Northern Utah's more politically conservative news organizations lining up on the side of voter-driven Utah political nomination process reform:
We'll be standing by awaiting word on where and how Utah Lumpenitizens can participate in the Count My Vote Utah political reform movement, by passing around petitions and/or "affixing your signatures thereto."

In the meantime, however, it's great to know that both the D-News and the Standard will beating the drum right alongside us, innit?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Not Quite "Breaking" News: Weber County Hires Consultant to Explore Tax Funding for Powder Mountain Development

Tax increment "pro-corporatist" funding redux; or a good idea?

At the gentle urging of yet another sharp-eyed WCF reader who, as an added bonus, actually resides in Ogden Valley, we'll shine the spotlight on a possibly troubling Salt Lake Tribune story that's now been simmering on our discussion-queue "back-burner" for the past week or so.  On the heels of the Weber County Commission's March 26 decision to issue a $22.5 million assessment bond to fund public road, water and sewer improvements in and around the Summit Group's 1500 acre Powder Mountain property, and in the wake of recently "touchy" relations between that invester/developer group and certain Eden residents stemming from "a little too much alleged hard partying" in a formerly quiet Eden residential neighborhood, here's the 5/10/13 Cathy McKitrick story that's providing our Gentle Reader (and a few other Ogden Valley residents) the most recent added heartburn:
Welfare for the Rich
In short, the wonderful  Ms. McKitrick reports that The Weber County Commission "hired" a private consultant on or about May 7 of this year, to look into the prospect of establishing a Community Development Area (CDA), floating a possible bond, and then (of course) flooding the Powder Mountain area with millions of taxpayer dollars to be directed toward additional development capital, all to be repaid via former Ogden Mayor Boss Godfrey's bestest friend,  tax-increment finance funding.

Although Ogden City residents have again become very recently familiar with the the inherent perils of even at least ostensibly well-intended tax increment financing schemes, here's a fairly decent Wikipedia mini-treatise for those WCF readers who might not be suitably "edumacated" on the subject:
That's it for now, folks.  Suffice it to say we'll be checking up on this weirdly and potentially cronycapitalist story as it develops.

So what about you, O Gentle Ones? Insofar as this story has developed, do you see any "red" flags?

Or alternatively... is this a good idea?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Deseret News: Salt Lake City School Board Considering Property Tax Increase

Howbout a probably modest tax increase that would inure to the benefit of ALL Ogden City school-kids? 

Impeccable logic
Interesting story from the Deseret News, reporting that "the Salt Lake City School Board is considering (horror of horrors) a property tax increase that would cost homeowners an additional $12.65 per year on a $100,000 home. District business administrator Janet Roberts presented the proposal to members of the board during its meeting last week. The tax increase would raise $3.6 million for the district," according to  D-News reporter Benjamin Wood's 5/17/13 writeup, wherein the financial difficulties of our own Ogden City schools are also mentioned:
Faced with a variety of projected revenue reductions and looming budget shortfalls, the Salt Lake City School Board appears to be approaching its budgetary problems in a straightforward and "mature" manner, or so it seems to us. There's a good reason that Utah law vests school districts with taxing authority. The "grownups" of our Ogden City School District's southerly-situated Salt Lake City counterpart seem be at least willing to consider using it. So what's up with the Ogden School Board, we ask?

All gold @ OHS ('cept for the paint)
The Ogden School District is already poised to gauge pubic interest in a tax increase to continue the "education-mission inessential" operation of the Ben Lomond and Ogden High pools. So rather than taking the drastic step of simply "gutting" "essential educational resources" in our Ogden City Schools, why hasn't our local school board put a similar tax-increase measure on the table to ensure continuation of the highest possible continued educational opportunities for Ogden school-kids?  Has anyone within the Ogden School District even bothered to "run" the numbers on such a measure?  Has our Ogden School District's arguably gross and incompetent past financial mismanagement so deeply "dug in" within our Ogden school system as to create an irretrievable circumstance whereby the OSD's problems can't be cured even by a Salt Lake School District-style tax rate fix?

So how about it folks?  We already know that Ogden City lumpencitizens will "dig deep" in the support of gold-plated auditoriums, so what would you say about "chipping in" to a probably modest tax increase that would inure to the benefit of ALL Ogden City school-kids? 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Salt Lake Tribune: Utah GOP Again Rejects Reforms to Nomination Process

Thousands of Republican faithful reject candidate-selection reforms, install first "loan shark" leader in history

The Salt Lake Tribune this morning provides the latest news regarding the results of Saturday's Utah State Republican Party Convention, where a staunch 55% of "nearly 2600" Utah GOP convention delegates among other things, drew a line in the sand, refused to "cave to threats," and "passed up" the golden opportunity to usher the Utah GOP's nominating process (albeit kicking and screaming), straight into the the 21st Century:
The Utah Republican Party again rejected a series of reforms to the party’s nominating process in a move that could trigger a threatened ballot initiative to overhaul the system for picking candidates.
Count My Vote, a group made up of several prominent Republicans, including former Gov. Mike Leavitt, argued the current system puts too much power in the hands of a small group of delegates, depresses turnout and leads to radicalization of Utah politics.
The group had said if changes weren’t made, it would push for a ballot initiative — likely by gathering signatures on a petition — that would give candidates an alternative to going through the delegate process to get into a primary election.
At the Utah Republican Party State Convention on Saturday, GOP loyalists once again rejected any reform proposals, in particular a measure that would have required a candidate to get more than two-thirds of the delegate vote to avoid a primary.
Read up, folks:
Looks like Count My Vote is already geared-up to move forward  with their threatened citizen initiative petition drive. "Count My Vote leaders will meet Monday to discuss their next step," says CMV spokesman Rich McKeown. For more information on this Utah GOP-insurgent group, check out their website, which is already up and running:
And as a possible indicator of just how "serious" this battle has become, check out this Count My Vote Utah "spoof" website:
Yep.  Utah GOP nominating process reform opponents are "pulling out all the stops."

We'll be standing by awaiting news of the inevitable petition drive of course, folks.  When the petitions are available for distribution and your eager signatures, our ever-gentle WCF Readers will certainly be the first to know.

Utah's new "State Fish?"
In another mind-boggling 2013 convention wrinkle, Saturday's assembled Utah GOP delegate throng also took the unprecedented step of handing over the reins of Utah's ruling political party (no we are not making this up) to a prominent Utah loan shark.  Yup.  That's right.  Not only is newly-elected Utah GOP State Party Chair James Evans "the first African-American to serve in the position," but he's also the proud owner and proprietor of Utah's "Checkline chain of payday lending stores," thereby prompting one sharp and alert Trib reader/commenter to query whether "republicans [might] want to make [the] loanshark the state fish."

Those were the convention "high-points," O Gentle Ones.

Or perhaps we should label them the low-points? 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Big Meetin' Tonite - Save Our Librarians! - Updated

If you can't make the meeting, at least call your School Board Reps

Important notice concerning the ongoing Ogden School District media specialist/librarian "massacre", which we received just a couple of minutes ago via the Weber County Democrats:
Save our Librarians! Come to the open board meeting of the Ogden City School Board tonight! Details below...

The school board meeting will be held at the district offices on Monroe tonight (Thursday 5/16/13) at 6 p.m. Everyone is invited to attend and wear our stickers that say "The library is a classroom."

Please call your School Board Representative and share with them your concerns. They are the ones who can change the outcome of this by rejecting the proposed budget. Steve Marker is the only one so far who has committed to doing that.

Here are their phone numbers:
Precinct 1 - Don Belnap - 801-392-7002
Precinct 2 - Steve Marker - 801-510-1946 (has already agreed to vote no)
Precinct 3 - Jennifer Zundel - 801-782-1918
Precinct 4 - Jeffrey Heiner - 801-621-8426
Precinct 5 - Shane Story - 801-621-0018
Precinct 6 - Jeff Harris - 801-394-2161
Precinct 7 - Joyce Wilson - 801-394-3267
Show up in force, folks; but please... remember to mind your "manners."


We don't wanna see any of tonight's meeting attendees have to be forced to make an "emergency" call to our old buddy "Eddie" after all... if you know what we mean, and we think you do...


Comments anyone?

Feelin' the Heat
Update 5/17/13 8:00 a.m.:   Yep.  Just like clockwork, the Standard's Nancy Van Valkenburg is front and center this morning with a post meeting story, reporting about how a standing-room only crowd hammered our OSD Board and District Superintendent over the  Ogden School District Media Specialist/librarian "Massacre" the Adult Education Program "Friday Surprise," and the "OSD Reading Coach kill-off". Adding fuel to the fire, Ms. Van Valkenburg further reports that, surprize of surprizes, there were even a "few" steely-eyed Ogden City lumpencitizens calling for Superintendent Smith's head... on a plate:
Imagine that.

As an added bonus the Standard provides this butt-kickin' video "special," "capturing the moment in time" for posterity:

Standard.net Video Player

Gotta hand it to the Standard. When they're good, they're very good pretty danged excellent!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Happy Birthday to All of Us: 8-Year WCF Anniversary Party

It's party time at Weber County Forum!

Strap on your party hats and crank up the music folks...

(56 in "Dog" Years)
We're happy to announce that Weber County Forum celebrates its Eighth Birthday today, O Gentle Ones. And upon reaching that mind-boggling milestone, we'd like to reach out to our entire WCF community to thank everyone for their support and contributions over the years.  Without your unflagging online participation since our initial post in 2005, we couldn't have become what we are today... the most robust community blog in the whole danged blogosphere!

During the course of our existence we've definitely made our mark.  We've spoken truth to power. We've knocked down harebrained schemes and budget-busting projects one after another.  We've covered local and state elections at a depth, pace and level of irreverence un-exceeded by anyone. We've deeply dissected issues and stories that even our own home-town newspaper tiptoed around, inexplicably ignored or wouldn't even touch with a ten-foot pole. Heck... we've even reunited lost dogs with their owners. And in the process we've also had plenty of fun, of course... and yet we've done so much more.  All-in-all, it's been a pretty great ride so far.

But we're certainly not yet done. As we now embark upon our ninth year of stirring the political pot,  there's still plenty of government corruption, bureaucratic malfeasance and plain old-fashioned incompetence left to be exposed and discussed. And yes; knowing more than a little bit about Utah politics, as we do, we also have a funny "sinking" feeling that there's much more to come.

So once again we'd like to offer our ever-humble thanks to each and every one of  you whose loyal support, readership and contributions of ALL kinds we've enjoyed over these past eight years. And as we look forward to the future, we'll thank you in advance for continuing to stick with us.

Time to break out the "bubbly," O Gentle Ones.

Happy birthday, every one of you.

Yes. It's party time at Weber County Forum!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Salt Lake Tribune: Feds Block Utah Law Over Police Power on Public Lands

Something to think about the next time our Weber County legislative "critters" are out campaigning under the "government frugality" banner, no?

For openers this morning, we'd like to direct our readers' attention to an eye-opening story in this morning's Salt Lake Tribune, reporting on the latest blowback from the 2013 Utah legislative session, wherein our Sage Brush Rebellion "cowboy" legislature, in a fit of Utah-style, anti-federal government sentiment,  gleefully passed Rep. Mike Noel's HB155, among other wonderful things.  This bill, which was "narrowly" drafted to limit the law-enforcement authority of employees of federal land-management agencies, has now landed in federal court in what has to be record time, a mere 36 days after the adjournment of the 2013 session. HB 155 was of course just one of a series of 2013 legislative bills designed to "curb" federal government clout, (translation: get in the federal government's face.) Read up folks about what we expect to be the first of several federal injunctions coming up over the next few months:
Referring to the U.S. attorney's 2-count complaint, we find allegations which are just what we might have expected, i.e., that federal government attornies seek to "preliminarily and permanently enjoin enforcement of Sections 53-13-106.5 and 76-8-512(4) of the Utah Code, as amended by Utah House Bill (“HB”) 155 (2013), because these provisions are preempted by federal law and therefore violate the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution":

Utah Cowboy Caucus
Curious about which of your Weber County-based legislators bought into this lawsuit by voting yea on this bill?  For your future reference we've helpfully assembled these details here.  Yep.  Mostly "The Usual Suspects," folks:
Within the "prayer" of the U.S. attorney's complaint we find this standard "boilerplate" provision:
WHEREFORE, the United States respectfully requests the following relief:.. 3. That this Court award the United States its costs in this action...
Something for Weber County voters to think about after the court grants its inevitable permanent injunction and assesses costs in this matter... you know, the next time these legislative "critters" are out campaigning under the shop-worn "government-spending frugality" banner, no?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Weber County Forum Question of the Day: Is It Time For An Ogden/Weber School District Merger?

Theoretically, at least, the consolidation of these two districts could save Weber County taxpayers millions of dollars

More interesting over-the-weekend news concerning Ogden School District Superintendent Brad Smith's Adult Education Program "Friday Surprise," wherein Nancy Van Valkenburg expands upon her earlier story on this topic and reports that officials of the Weber County School District, upon learning of the OSD's "decision to eliminate its adult education program Thursday morning," and being asked by the Utah State Office of Education “to assume full responsibilities,” cheerfully and immediately rolled out the welcome mat to the Ogden District's "booted" AEP students, with open arms, more or less:
This noble gesture of course invites the question, folks:  "Is it time for the citizens of Weber County to put the question of a "complete" Weber County School District/Ogden School District merger back on the table?"

WCF readers with long memories will of course recall a 1989 proposal to consolidate these administratively-redundant school districts, a measure which actually appeared on Weber County ballots in November of that year. Weber County voters however then "muffed" the chance to drastically improve these geographically-overlapping districts' inefficient government services redundancy, succumbing instead to the pleas of vested interests within both school districts, who beat the bush "door-to-door," warning of "dropped jobs" and "loss of local (Ogden) school district autonomy."

Perhaps it's time for Weber County lumpencitizens to revisit this issue again, we'll suggest.  Looking at this issue solely from the a "bean counter" point of view, the consolidation of these two districts, and the elimination of the redundancies of the dual tiers of "fat cat" existing school system administrators alone could save Weber County taxpayers millions of dollars:
Throwin' in the Towel?
Additional sodden questions:
  1. Taking into account the OSD's recent "nuclear" attacks on the very foundations of the Ogden School System, is it possible that OSD officials are actually and intentionally operating with a hidden agenda, an agenda designed to once again force Weber County voters' hands on this issue?
  2. Are OSD officials in reality owning up to their managerial malperfomance and gross financial incompetence, and essentially throwing in the towel?
So what do you think, O Gentle Ones?

Would the consolidation of the separate Ogden and Weber School Districts into a single "lean and mean" Ogden/Weber School District "educational machine" be the kind of idea whose time has at long last come?

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

Sunday, May 12, 2013

John Swallow Ethics Investigation Update

The latest on John Swallow, displayed by category, in the hope that you'll be able to keep our beleaguered Utah A.G.'s various staggering and pending "cans of worms" at least somewhat straight

Local Red Meat News is a mite slow on this bright Sunday afternoon, so we thought we might devote a little electronic ink to a developing Utah story (or series of stories) which haven't caught much of our Weber County Forum editorial attention recently.  So here's the latest on poor old Utah Attorney General John Swallow, whose legal problems have continued to fester and multiply on the pages of the Standard, the Trib and other trusted Northern Utah news sources, even while your ever-overworked WCF blogmeister has most recently focused upon the pressing crisis in our Ogden School System. Here's the latest on John Swallow, folks, with an array of the most recent news, displayed by category (more or less), in the hope that you'll be able to keep our beleaguered Utah A.G.'s staggering and pending various "cans of worms" at least somewhat straight:

1) Ongoing Federal Criminal Bribery Investigation. This category of John Swallow "legal problems" stems originally from an alleged 2010 congressional bribery scheme, in which connection federal authorities confirmed on 1/12/13 that Swallow is the "subject of an ongoing investigation by the Department of Justice and the FBI."
By way of update, although the Standard-Examiner had published a 5/6/13 Associated Press story seemingly reporting that the U.S. Attorney's Office had "dropped" its investigation in this matter, a couple of later-published SL Trib storie clarified this development, reporting that although the Utah-based U.S.Attorney's Office had been indeed "bumped" from the case, federal authorites were nevertheless moving forward with their investigation and possible prosecution, through the Public Integrity Section of the U.S. Department of Justice:
Yes, gentle WCF readers, this federal investigation remains "open;" and by "some" reliable indicators, it now seems to have been considerably "broadened" in scope.  And frankly speaking, or it seems to us,  no other Utah official has been in so much federal hot water as poor ole Attorney General Swallow's in, since the time President Buchanan dispatched U.S. troops to Utah in 1857, dunnit?

2) Utah State Bar Complaint. In this recently developing John Swallow can of worms, Utah A.G. Swallow is now compelled to defend his legal license:
Sodden question: Since we already have a Utah State Auditor (John Dougall) serving in that lofty state office without any formal CPA certification at all, is it possible that John Swallow could likewise "soldier on," and continue "serving" as Utah Attorney General, in the event that the Utah State Bar ultimately "yanks" his law license?

3) Utah Elections Office Campaign Disclosure Violation Complaint. This investigation comes in response to an alleged election law complaint filed with the Utah Lieutenant Governor's Office in March by the progressive group Alliance for a Better Utah.
 "The sad thing is that if an election were held today," remarks one gentle Trib reader, "enough Utahns would still vote for him to win the same office." Yep.  Sad AND (probably) painfully true.

Still grinnin' ???
4) Other Interesting "Stuff". We'll reel off these story "outliers," none of which neatly "fits into any of the other above topic categories, although you can bet your boots that some of this, at least, is bound to be of keen interest to state and federal prosecutors.
That's it for now, folks.  Hope this "catches" you all up. Gotta wonder how Swallow "keeps it all straight" himself.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Sea of Troubles Continues to Boil in the Ogden School District This Morning

The plot sickens; 250 "reading coaches" tossed overboard

OSD "Captain" Smith
The "sea of troubles" continues to boil in and around the Ogden City School District this morning, in the wakes of Ogden School Superintendent Brad Smith's Ogden School District Media Specialist/librarian Massacre and his Adult Education Program "Friday Surprise," as the Standard-Examiner runs a couple of new items this morning demonstrating that our seemingly desperate and suddenly pinch-penny OSD Captain Smith is apparently nowhere near done with cutting the Ogden City Schools' budget clean down to the water line.

Check out this morning's Nancy Van Valkenburg's story, folks, which reports that Ogden City school-kids will be suddenly doing without the services of 250 "reading coaches" who'll be tossed overboard very soon:
And here's an eye-opening Standard-Examiner video piece showing the reaction to this news from the reading coach "crew":


"Who's gonna help the kids read?" one short-timer reading coach asks.

"Will the The Captain" "go down" with the apparently sinking OSD ship?" That's our sodden question, Peeps.

We'll close up Ms. Van Valkenburg's morning OSD article series with a story about the online petition we wrote about and linked a couple of days ago:
Here's another quick link to the petition, by the way... just in case you "forgot" to sign it [wink-wink]:
And please don't let the cat get yer tongues (whatever you do).

Friday, May 10, 2013

Standard-Examiner: Ogden District to Discontinue Adult Education Program

Perhaps everyone will be a mite more attentive the next (2014) Ogden School Board election go-round, no, assuming the Ogden School District isn't bankrupt and entirely dissolved by then?

More disheartening Ogden School District (OSD) news this morning, as the Standard-Examiner reports the latest public education-unfriendly act of OSD Superintendant Brad Smith, affectionately known around these parts as the author of the "Ogden School District media specialist/librarian massacre",  once again furthering his self-appointed quest to drive the OSD into the ground, this time giving the ax to the OSD's "Adult Education program, which serves more than 250 late teen and adult students completing studies to earn high school diplomas":
"Smith said he made his decision to close the Adult Education program because it required too much time and focus from Sarah Roberts, George Washington High School principal," leaving us all to wonder what other back-breaking hoops Ms. Roberts is actually expected to jump through to justify her very generous six-figure compensation package. Adult education, which helps struggling students to obtain high school diplomas, "simply [isn't] compatible with the mission of George Washington High,” adds Smith, with a completely straight face.

We'll also make special note of a particularly savvy comment posted by one gentle S-E reader in the Disqus section beneath this morning's story, for those who my still be wondering why Supervisor Smith still serves at the administrative helm of the rapidly-dwindling Ogden School System:

"It was abundantly clear in the last school board election that the people of Ogden prefer to sustain the current leadership rather than have change. They are getting exactly what they have asked for with their votes," Gentle Reader Monotreme sagely remarks.

Mono is of course exactly right.  And please, O Gentle Ones, don't complain you weren't warned:
Yep.  Way back in 2012 we warned that the Ogden School Board needed a good house cleaning.  As a matter of fact, here were our recos for the last Ogden School Board election, if only to provide a little trip down memory lane:
Ogden School Board District Precinct 1:
Don Belnap ☠☠☠
David Tanner ☝
Allen Smith ☝

Ogden School Board District Precinct 5:
 Shane Story ☠☠☠
 J. Scott Handy ☝☝
Clark Hogan
Jim Hutchins ☝☝☝
Perhaps everyone will be a mite more attentive the next (2014) Ogden School Board election go-round, no?  ....Assuming the Ogden School District isn't entirely dismantled and dissolved by then?

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Angry Parents Confront Ogden Superintendent Over Media Specialist Jobs

Ogden School District Superintendent/Lumpencitizen meetups:  A helpful tactic; or just another exercise in futility?

As a followup to Tuesday's WCF writeup, wherein we announced that Ogden School District Superintendent Brad Smith had issued "upset local school library-excellence lumpencitizen proponents 'command performance invitations' for additional "in-office" browbeatings," the Standard carries a story this morning reporting that "[c]lose to 140 angry parents and community members showed up Wednesday morning for a meeting with Ogden School District Superintendent Brad Smith, to urge him and district officials to reconsider the decision that, if approved in June, will cost the district’s 20 certified media specialists their jobs." Superintendent Smith caught a three-hour ear-full, according to Nancy Van Valkenberg's post-meeting story:
As an added bonus for those who are closely following developments in this riveting Ogden School District media specialist/librarian "massacre" flap, the Standard also provides this "companion" video story:


So what about it, folks?  Does it appear, based upon this morning's reportorial evidence, that  Superindendant Smith has in any manner "budged" from his decision to give our Ogden school librarians the ax? Or will yesterday's meeting, and this morning's Heather Turner meetup, amount to just another couple of more exercises in futility?

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