Saturday, August 31, 2013

John Swallow News Roundup - Episode XLV: Utah House Committee Names Investigators for Swallow Probe

The association of Eden, Utah investigator Steve Clark adds to the "local" flavor.

"Slueths" "On the loose"
The Deseret News, KUTV2 and the Salt Lake Tribune report that two investigative firms have been chosen to gather evidence for the special House committee inquiry into allegations of misconduct by Utah Attorney General John Swallow. An evaluation committee selected the New York-based Mintz Group and Salt Lake City-based Lindquist & Associates to provide investigative services. The Mintz Group is also working with Steve Clark, based in Eden, Utah, which adds to the "local" flavor, we suppose.
Conflict of Interest?
Who the "heck" knows?
Interestingly, the Trib further reports that "Pamela Lindquist of Lindquist & Associates has done work for defense attorney Ron Yengich, who represents Jeremy Johnson, one of Swallow’s accusers. But Joe Pyrah, chief deputy of the House, said that Lindquist has worked for numerous lawyers and has never worked on Johnson’s case," nevertheless leaving the question open, whether Ms. Lindquist may have a potential conflict of interest, and further illustrating the difficulty of finding anyone in the local legal community who hasn't been somehow at least potentially touched by the intricate and labyrinthine John Swallow scandals.

Comments, please?  Pretty please with sugar on it.[wink]

    Friday, August 30, 2013

    Radley Balko 8/29/13 Event Post-mortem

    Standing by, awaiting firebrand libertarian Connor Boyack's "next move"

    This morning's Salt Lake Tribune reports on last night's blockbuster Salt Lake City Library public event, wherein anti-police violence whistle-blower Radley Balko presented the case for dialing back police militarization in Utah, and indeed all across the whole USA:
    And the D-News competently covers the post-speech public forum/panel angle:
    Be sure to read the generally brilliant reader comments posted in the comments sections beneath each above-linked story. It's encouraging to observe normally sheep-like Utahns actually perking up their ears regarding this issue, ainnit

    Mr. Balko also reports, by the way, that just as we predicted, last night's event played to a "full house":
    Regarding the Libertas Institute's presumed ongoing efforts to tackle the "police militarization problem", we'll be standing by, with abated breath, to watch their next move, as firebrand Connor Boyack and his "kick-ass" libertarian crew prepare to introduce corrective legislation in the 2014 Utah legislature.

    Thursday, August 29, 2013

    Standard-Examiner: $17M Powder Mountain Project Could Hit Taxpayers (For $Millions)

    Our apologies to our Gentle Readers for "slipping up" on this

    Kudos to the Standard-Examiner for putting the spotlight on this distressing news, which comes on the heels of the Weber County Commission's approval on Tuesday (8/20/13) of a $17 million bond that will enable Summit Mountain Holding Group to use loaned money for its planned road, water and sewer improvements to the Powder Mountain Ski Resort.  Although we'd been following this story here on Weber County Forum, we confess this "surprise" element does "throw us for a loop":
    OGDEN — Weber County and the Summit Group have made a great show of solidarity about the Powder Mountain project, but all of the positive implications of a new-and-improved ski resort may be hiding the heavy financial implications of the county borrowing $17 million and giving Summit 20 years to pay it back.
    According to Dan Olsen, comptroller of Weber County, Summit is supposed to pay back the bond over a 20-year period, but terms of the deal do not obligate Summit to even begin paying back any of that money until two years from now.
    “We borrowed enough money so that Weber County can make the bond payments for the first two years. Summit is actually on the hook for 18 years of the 20, which is how it works with a capitalized interest investment,” Olsen said. [Emphasis added].
    Read this morning's full Mikayla Beyer story here:
    That's right, folks. The very day we were obsessing over Ogden City water and sewer bonding, our Weber County Commission "quietly" slipped this shameless and grotesque exhibition of corporate welfare right past us. According to this morning''s story, "...the county, not Summit, will be making payments of just over $1.5 million for the next few years."

    Weber County Comptroller Dan Wilson blithely assures Weber County taxpayers "[that's] how it works with a capitalized interest investment,” a statement which is flat-out untrue. In truth, every dime of bond payment obligation could have been, and ought to have been passed straight through to the ultimate beneficiaries of Weber County corporate largesse, the Summit Group. Gotta hand it to these "sharp" Summit Group "operators," however, for quietly engineering this unbelievable "sweetheart deal."

    Our apologies to our Gentle Readers for slipping up on this. Henceforth we pledge to follow our heretofore financially-prudent Weber County Commission with a greatly renewed vigor.

    Nobody's perfect, we guess.  Not even us.

    Wednesday, August 28, 2013

    Salt Lake Tribune: Liquor Board to Allow Restaurants to Police Themselves

    Back to square one, idiotic law, idiotic board, entrapment police with "cart blanc" enforcement

    By Ray

    ("Utahrdian" Version)
    "Liquor Board to Allow Restaurants to Police Themselves" says article in the Salt Lake Tribune today:
    So let me get this straight:
    1. Legislature passes law to require food be ordered in order to get a alcoholic drink in a restaurants.
    2. DABC police set up "stings" to "bust" restaurants who don't comply.
    3. After much uproar over a poorly conceived/written/executed law DABC looks to "clarify" law.
    4. Months of study later board decides the subject is too muddied and decides individual restaurants will need to police and make up their own decisions on customers intent to order food.
    So we're back to square one, idiotic law, idiotic board, entrapment police with "cart blanc" enforcement.

    Ogden School District Releases Documents Pursuant to Weber County Democratic Education Caucus GRAMA Request

    So now that these documents are on the table, we invite our ever-savvy Weber County Forum political wonks to weigh in on "the meaning of all this."

    As a followup to our June 19 Weber County Forum story, wherein we announced that "two local groups that sprung up in reaction to controversial decisions by the Ogden School District are pledging to make their voices heard, on both the district and state levels," we'll direct our readers' attention to two recent Utah media stories, which describe the efforts of the efforts of the Weber County Democratic Education Caucus (WCDEC) to obtain "data from the Ogden School District on a wide range of topics, including end-of-level student test scores, how many teachers have left the district in recent years and the experience level of those who will teach this year."
    As interested readers will recall, WCDEC officials inititiated a focused inquiry, via the below original GRAMA document production request:
    It's been a bit of a slow moving project, but here's the Ogden School District's mid-August response:
    As set forth in this letter, here are the documents apparently produced to date:
    As an added bonus, we've embedded this video clip, depicting WCDEC member Ben Pales' related presentation at a recent Ogden School Board meeting:


    A Weber County Forum Tip O' The Hat to the Weber County Democratic Education Caucus for keeping the Ogden School District's feet to the fire in this matter.

    So now that these documents are on the table, we invite our ever-savvy Weber County Forum political wonks to "don the green eye shades" and weigh in on "the meaning of all this."

    Monday, August 26, 2013

    Heads-up on a Thursday's Blockbuster Event: Rise of the Warrior Cop with Author Radley Balko

    Get there early, as rumor has it that this event will be packed

    Heads up on a big upcoming event, O Gentle Readers, as Radley Balko, senior writer and investigative reporter for the Huffington Post, former senior editor at Reason Magazine and a policy analyst for the Cato Institute appears in Salt Lake City on Thursday to speak about how law enforcement has changed throughout history and what militarized police forces mean for citizens. His presentation will be followed by a Q&A.

    Here are the time/place coordinates:
    Date: Thursday, August 29, 2013
    Time: 7:00 p.m.
    Place: Salt Lake City Main Library Auditorium (Address/Map)
    For more information on Thursday's blockbuster event, check out the Salt Lake Library online poop-sheet:
    And yes. Of course. Last, but not least, Mr. Balko is also the author of the wildly popular book, "Rise of the Warrior Cop," an item which has been selling like hotcakes via the Amazon ad which we've displayed in our left sidebar for at least the past six months.

    Concerned about police militarization in Utah?

    Get there early, as rumor has it that this event will be packed to the rafters.

    Saturday, August 24, 2013

    John Swallow News Roundup - Episode XLIV: John Swallow To Be Cleared By Feds Next Week?

    Analysis: Swallow may not be off the hook just yet

    Fascinating development in the ever-enthralling  John Swallow Three-ring Circus, as Utah Political Capitol and the Salt Lake Tribune report the blockbuster "breaking" news that surprise of surprises, federal prosecutors may be soon "bailing out" on their investigation and prospective prosecution of our beleaguered Utah Attorney General.  That's what Swallow's lawyer says, at least:
    "Gobsmacked" is a word which immediately  leaps to mind, dunnit?

    As an added bonus, check out last night's  ABC4 video segment, wherein Utah Political Capitol's managing editor, Eric Ethington, discussed "The Meaning of All This," if the Department of Justice (DOJ) decides not to prosecute Utah Republican Attorney General John Swallow.:


    It gets interestinger and interestinger, NO?

    Friday, August 23, 2013

    Standard-Examiner: Smith’s Plans Expansion

    A duck is a duck is a duck....

    By: Smaatguy

    Well, well, well...looks like North Ogden is coughing money up to Smiths...you telling me they wouldn't have done that new store without the freebies from the City...
    And there is Matthew Godfrey right in the middle...acting as if HE made this happen... BS.... and now talking about RDA funds... gee, makes you wonder if there are some fees for him in that plan.... Smith's sees the opportunity and the $$$$ they will make in the project.... they would have done this without taxpayer dollars... to say they are not giving Smith's money is hogwash.... they are just basically taking the fees they would already get and using about half to build infrastructure... a duck is a duck is a duck...

    Thursday, August 22, 2013

    Adventures of Matthew Godfrey: Better Cities "Ups the Ante" On Morgan County - Updated

    Yep, Godfrey's an economic development wizard alright; and we'll all be standing by, to observe the Morgan County Council's next "move."

    Lost or Otherwise Misplaced
    Fascinating story in the morning's Standard, reporting on the latest efforts of Ogden City mayoral alumnus Matthew Godfrey, as he works his economic development magic on his new private sector clients, the lumpenitizens of Morgan County, specfically.  Seems that his Better Cities, Inc. crack team of industry professionals have run into a major log-jam in Morgan County.  Much to Godfrey's consternation, the "embarrassed city planners" of this quint little rural county have somehow lost or otherwise misplaced their water and sewer infrastructure maps:
    Here's Godfrey's  setup:
     “We had no idea, when we started, that nobody knew what the infrastructure was,” Godfrey said. “We came in and asked the planning department for the maps with the water, sewer, storm sewer, telephone, telecommunications, power. We asked for all that data and we were able to get the telecom and the power, but nobody knows where the water and sewer is.” 
    And here's the "kicker":
    Godfrey also said he wouldn’t be able to recruit businesses to Morgan County until the layout of the infrastructure was known.
    Morgan County Council:
    Totally Flummoxed
    No problemo, however folks, in the context of this morning's report that "Morgan County [has already] entered into a month-to-month agreement with Better City toward the beginning of this year and that payment to Better City is performance-based with a maximum payment of $3,500 per month." This whole problem can nevertheless be solved, Godfrey says, (menacingly), by simply "doubling down"
    “It would allow you to take the existing money that is already allocated for economic development, that’s paying us, and to double it”
    So what about it folks?  How would you characterize Godfrey's "closing" tactic in re this matter?
    Yep, Godfrey's an economic development wizard alright... for the benefit of  his private company's own economic development, that is.  And we'll all be standing by, with abated breath, of course, to observe the Morgan County Council's next "move," now that they've been deftly and craftily painted into the corner.

    Update 8/22/13 1:40 p.m: Here's a  screenshot of Godfrey's new "Porsche ride."  It's 1979-era water cooled 280Z knockoff,  which some Porsche fanciers say ain't a REAL Porsche at all.

    Godfrey's 924 Porsche

    We'll check in later, once that Godfrey has "cleaned out" his "urban leadership clients"sufficiently to buy some real exotic German Iron, of course:

    Porsche Boxter $

    Needless to say, we'll be following up on this aspect of today's WCF story with the utmost vigor.

    Wednesday, August 21, 2013

    Ogden Water and Sewer Bonding Update: Major Campaign Issue Delivered On a Silver Platter

    A Weber County Forum Tip 'O the Hat to Councilwoman Wicks, the sole current council member with a lick of common sense

    (Translation: Rubber-stamped)
    The Standard's Mitch Shaw reports on last night's 6-1 Council vote, whereby an extremely docile and administration-compliant Council majority basically rubber-stamped the Caldwell administration's recommended new top-dollar bonding, authorizing the issuance of  some $18 million in Water and Sewer Utility improvement bonds under the following specific parameters, with council member Amy Wicks being the lone dissenting vote:
    The first resolution authorizes the city to pay for a new water treatment plant at the top of Ogden Canyon by issuing $13.4 million in bonds and paying it off over 25 years. The second resolution pays for storm sewer improvements along Harrison Boulevard by issuing $4.7 million in bonds with a 20-year repayment period.
    Read Mr. Shaw's full writeup here:
    A Weber County Forum Tip 'O the Hat to Councilwoman Wicks, the sole current council member with a lick of common sense.

    Write this down...
    so you don't forget it!
    Congrats to council challengers Pamela Shupe Stevens, Turner C. Bitton, Stephen D. Thompson, Marcia L. White and Courtney Jon White, who've just had a major 2013 Ogden Municipal Election campaign issue delivered by the council incumbents on an engraved silver golden platter, and dropped onto their very laps.

    "Opportunity knocks," Ogden City Council challengers.

    Update 8/27/13 5:00 p.m.: Thanks to the helpful intercession of Ogden's own "Mayor Mike," the full August 21 Council meeting video is now available for viewing via Youtube:

    Tuesday, August 20, 2013

    Ogden City Water/Sewer Bonding Update: Live Blogging From the City Council Chambers Tonight

    Ogden Mayor Caldwell: $28 mil sitting in bank; wants to borrow $18 mil more

    Big doin's in the Ogden City Council Chambers tonight, as our Ogden City Council continues its consideration of  a "preferred" Caldwell administration proposal which could result in as much as $18 million in combined Water and Sewer Utility  bonding, including much-needed construction funding for a new water treatment plant for the Water Utility.  Tonight's the night that the council will hear public comments on the Mayor's preferred proposal, along with at least five other Council-requested options set forth below.  As an added bonus, O Weber County Forum political wonks, we're delighted to report that Ogden City watchdog Dan Schroeder has just now confirmed that he'll "be there and can provide some live coverage." For a brief overview of the various options on the Council table, we set forth the "essentials" below, gleaned from tonight's council packet:
    The Council will hold a public hearing to accept input on issuance of  bonds to fund the water treatment plant and various water distributions projects and various storm water projects, including the Harrison Boulevard project.

    Sewer and Water Revenue Bonds-Water Treatment Plant
    Bond Parameters Resolution 2013-19 set the parameters for funding the2013 Series Bonds. The parameters for the bonds are as follows:
    • Not to Exceed Amount: $15,500,000
    • Not to Exceed Interest Rate: 6%
    • Not to Exceed Term: 35 years
    • Not to Exceed Discount: 3%
    The Parameters Resolution set a cap on the amount, interest rate and term. However, LYRB estimates that actual bond amounts and interest rate will be much lower. The Administrative Transmittal set forth the Administration’s original recommendation. It set the actual approximate amounts as follows:
    • Actual Approximate Amount: $13,700,000
    • Actual Approximate Interest Rate: 4.7%
    • Actual Term: 30 years
    Approximate Issuance Costs: $360,000
    Repayment of the debt service of $850,000 annually would come from the water utility.

    At the Council’s request, the Administration provided other options for the Council’s consideration as follows:
    Click to enlarge image
    Storm Sewer Revenue Bonds – Harrison Boulevard Project
    Bond Parameters Resolution 2013-20 set the parameters for funding the 2013 Series Bonds. The parameters for the bonds are as follows:
    • Not to Exceed Amount: $5,500,000
    • Not to Exceed Interest Rate: 6%
    • Not to Exceed Term: 25 years
    • Not to Exceed Discount: 3%
    The Parameters Resolution set a cap on the amount, interest rate and term. However, LYRB estimates that actual bond amounts and interest rate will be much lower. The Administrative Transmittal indicates that actual bond issue will be as follows:
    • Actual Approximate Amount: $4,700,000
    • Actual Approximate Interest Rate: 4.12%
    • Actual Term: 20 years
    • Approximate Issuance Costs: $180,000
    Repayment of the debt service, which will be approximately $340,000 annually, will come from the sewer utility.
    Tonight's council meeting will kick off promptly at 6:00 p.m.  If you can't make it to the Council chambers tonight, do the next best thing, and tune into Weber County Forum for Dan Schroeder's ever-informative live blogging.

    With something like $28 million in city Water and Sewer funds drawing a measly 1% interest, will the City Council nevertheless simply rubber-stamp the Mayor's "Borrow to the Max" approach?  Or will the City Council, during the 2013 Municipal Election season, avoid the ire of the lumpentaxpayers, tap into the Mayor's ridiculously bloated $28 million "slush fund," and instead adopt a more fiscally-manageable "common sense" approach?

    We guess we'll find out tonight, eh, folks?

    Update 8/20/13 5:49 p.m.:  Eureka, WCF readers.  Dan S. has just now logged into Weber County Forum, and is now live-blogging from the City Council Chambers.  Click "comments" to read Dan's real-time posts!

    Saturday, August 17, 2013

    Salt Lake Tribune: Ogden Survey Seeks Feedback on Police Department

    You know what to do, folks. Do it on the net

    Odd that the Salt Lake Tribune scooped the Standard on this Ogden City-centered story; but, weirdly enough, they did.  "The Ogden Police Department is asking city residents to rate their performance, Cathy McKitrick reports." The online survey’s 20 questions range from "How safe do you feel when walking alone in your neighborhood after dark?" to "In the past year, would you say the overall quality of community living in your neighborhood has increased, decreased or stayed about the same?" and "Overall, how satisfied are you with the Ogden Police Department?"

    Read the full Trib story here:
    You can access the survey via this direct link:
    "Determine needed
    areas of concentration?"
    "In a statement Friday, Ogden Deputy Director of Support Services John Harvey said [ominously perhaps?] that the citizen responses would be "vital in helping us determine needed areas of concentration." [Emphasis added].

    If you'd like to submit your input anonymously, skip the last two "optional" questions. Smart phone users might also want to consider disabling your mobile device's GPS tracking function entirely, if you know what we mean; and we think you do.

    You know what to do, folks. Do it on the net.

    Friday, August 16, 2013

    Standard-Examiner: Ogden Council to Address Bonding for Water Treatment Facility

    Big Debt faces off versus Common Sense

    Mark your calenders, folks. As a followup to our most recent article on the subject, the Standard carries a story this morning, announcing to its print readership, in advance, Ogden City Council's previously set public August 20 public hearing, concerning the Caldwell administration's proposed $18 million water/sewer capital improvement bonding:
    Borrowing "to the Max"
    S-E reporter Mitch Shaw has even done some additional "sleuthing" on the subject, and reveals that despite calls for financing some portion of these repairs from some $28 million (not the mere $10 million which Mr. Shaw reports) which is sitting mostly idle in the Water and Sewer Uitility Funds' bank accounts,  the Caldwell administration remains steadfast in seeking to run up the city's prospect bond debt "to the max," at the highest possible principal loan amount, over the longest possible repayment term:
    “A lower bond amount or shorter term would save the city interest over time,” reads a letter issued Thursday by the city’s Public Services Department.
    “However, the benefits of such savings are currently outweighed by the capital needs of the water utility.”
    Because the full amount of the bond was planned for in the city’s financial sustainability plan, the mayor and the Public Services Department believe that increasing the number of projects to replace leaking pipes and addressing other projects identified in the master plan will actually provide a better return for the water utility than reducing any debt costs associated with the term or amount of the proposed water bond.
    The city council is also considering a $4.7 million storm sewer bond that would come with an interest rate of approximately 4 percent and would be paid out over 20 years.
    We'll sdd that we're delighted to observe the Standard finally getting ahead of this important story, for once, at least.

    Down in the lower SE comments section, we're also delighted to find that Ogden City Political Watchdog Dan Schroeder has already chimed in with his own views on this "thorny" subject:
    When the financial sustainability plan was put together last year, the city's consultants predicted lower revenues, higher expenses, and lower interest rates. Now we know better: higher revenues and lower operating expenses have allowed the water fund to accumulate more cash than expected. On the other hand, interest rates have increased so borrowing money is less affordable. The city would be foolish not to adjust its plan in light of these changed circumstances. That means spending the accumulated cash and borrowing less.
    Thus the stage is set; and the battle lines are drawn:

    Big Debt v. Common Sense
    Keep your eyes on Weber County Forum this coming Tuesday, where we'll devote a dedicated new article to the City Council arena bonding battle which is brewing between the lumpencitizen-driven forces of  Fiscal Common Sense vs. the bureaucratic advocates of Big Government Debt.

    And yes.  We do believe that the current council's treatment of this issue could become an important 2013 Ogden Municipal Election issue, depending on how the council incumbents handle it.

    Update 8/16/13 9:00 p.m.: Thanks to a tip from yet another sharp-eyed and alert WCF reader, we provide this online Question and Answer sheet, elaborately setting forth the Caldwell administration's surprisingly flimsy "rationale" concerning this matter:

    Wednesday, August 14, 2013

    John Swallow News Roundup - Episode XLIII: Still Getting the Ducks Lined Up

    First "non-sleazeball" Swallow accuser emerges from the woodwork

    Regarding the ever-entertaining John Swallow Three Ring Circus, here's the latest, folks:

    Now that the Utah House committee investigating Attorney General John Swallow has finalized its membership roster and selected a "blue ribbon"  legal team to assist in the ongoing investigation, the Salt Lake Tribune's Robert Gehrke reports that the committee "began its search Tuesday for investigators to dig into a series of allegations of misconduct against the state’s top cop":
    "Bids are due by Aug. 23. The contract is expected to be announced Aug. 30."

    "Again with the "Again with the "top cop" crap. He's not a policeman. Stop top cop!" sez one Trib reader.
      "I know about the former Attorney General. I definitely know there was a lot of money exchanged between the three of them," says Mr. Elie, among other things, in this eye-opening embedded video clip:


      Sounds like an episode from The Soprano Family TEEVEE series, dunnit?

      Utah Political Capitol reports that Utah GOP heavyweight Curtis S. Bramble may have become the most credible witness yet to Attorney General John Swallow’s pay-to-play fundraising tactics.  Bramble says he was surprised by the attitude of a corporate donor he encountered at a Swallow fundraiser last year. “There is nothing necessarily evil or untoward about having a fundraiser,” Bramble told UPC. “That’s part of our political landscape. It just surprised me that a company would be so cavalier about saying, ‘Well, if there is a problem with the law we go to the attorney general without going to the legislature.’”
      "Until now, allegations of influence peddling against Swallow have come from sources with checkered pasts," UPC reporter Lynn Packer aptly notes.

      That's it for now, folks. So who's ready to throw in their own $.02?

      Tuesday, August 13, 2013

      Primary Election Day Special: 2013 Ogden City Municipal Primary Real-time Tallies - Updated

      Yeah, we know...  the tension is unbearable

      As every red-blooded Weber County Forum political wonk is by now acutely aware, today is Ogden City Municipal Primary Election Day. The polls opened at 7:00 a.m., and will remain in business until 8:00 this evening at all Ogden City voter precinct polling places.

      We do hope you all took our dunning advice, visited your designated polling location, did your civic duty and cast your vote for the Ogden City Council At-large Seat "A" candidate of your choice.

      As is our eight year tradition at Weber County Forum, we're once again delighted to furnish a link to Ogden City's nifty online vote tally link. The real-time online utility is up and running right now. So if it isn't displaying on your computer, you probably  have some Flash Player updating to do:
      Yeah, we know.  The tension is unbearable. But although the polls close at  8:00 p.m., experience dictates that initial vote counts probably won't start rolling in until around 9:00 p.m. or later.  So exercise some patience, folks.

      And for those of you who might be inclined to offer your primary election day wisdom, the floor's now officially open for your ever-savvy comments.

      Update 8/13/13 8:55 p.m.:  The tote board has started to light up.  Thompson and White are neck-and-neck.

      Update 8/13/13 9:39 p.m.: Final (unofficial) tally, with 100% of precincts reporting:
      So what about it, O Gentle Ones? Does that make White the next Seat "A" council member, since she garnered over 50% of the vote?  Does the attainment of a majority rather that a mere plurality let her off the hook for a General Election race? Who wants to chime in on this? Anybody know the Utah rule on this off the top of their head? Ferris?

      Update 8/14/13 6:00 a.m.: Both The Standard and Tribune report that Thompson and White will indeed "face off" in the November general election. For sake of clarification, Ogden City Municipal primaries are "nominating elections," per Ogden City Code Section 1-7-1, dovetailing with applicable statutes in the Utah Elections Code, which distinguish, albeit clumsily, between "General" and "Primary" elections and lack "majority winner take all" nominating election provisions.

      Update 8/15/13 8:00 a.m.:  For archival purposes, here's a screenshot of Tuesday night's final vote tallies:

      Click to enlarge image

      6% Turnout? Shameful, No?

      Monday, August 12, 2013

      2013 Ogden Municipal Primary Election Reminder: Do Your Duty, Folks!

      Voting is not a mandatory civil duty but it is one of the most important ones in which an individual citizen can partake

      Breaking news for those WCF readers of you who may have forgotten that tomorrow is Ogden City Primary Municipal Election Day.  Assuming you're registered to vote, and that you haven't already availed yourself of "early voting," you can vote from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. tomorrow at the following Ogden City Council approved voter precinct polling places, as more specifically set forth in this PDF document which we obtained from the Ogden City Recorder's office this morning:
      Additionally, and according to the Ogden City Elections webpage you can also "take advantage of three new city-wide vote centers that service all registered voters regardless of their assigned polling location":
      • Ogden-Weber Applied Technology College located at 200 Washington Blvd.
      • Union Station located at 2501 Wall Ave
      • Dee Events Center located at 4450 Harrison Blvd
      Alternatively, and if all else fails, you can find your polling location via the vote.ut.gov website:
      There are three candidates vying for the Ogden City Council At-large "A" seat, the sole Ogden Council office which will be on the primary ballot.  To learn more about these candidates, click the links below to view each candidate's Weber County Forum profile page, where we've assembled all the available and relevant news, campaign web links and other information, obtained either from the candidates themselves, or through our own extensive "googling":
      You'll be able to cast your vote for one of the above.

      Click the link below for Utah's latest voter ID requirements:
      Yeah, we know.  This primary lacks some of the "excitement" we've witnessed in past Ogden City Municipal elections.  But do your civic duty anyway folks. Voting is not a mandatory civil duty but it is one of the most important ones in which an individual citizen can partake.

      Need we say it again?

      Do your duty, folks!

      Sunday, August 11, 2013

      Don Porter: You’re right, Mr. Osmond, Utahns Don’t Need No Stinking Education

      Nice counterpoint, wethink, to yesterday's misguided SLTrib guest commentary

      Top notch Standard-Examiner "Outtakes" column this morning, wherein veteran news journalist Don Porter inimitably weighs in on the currently raging "compulsory education kerfuffle":
      So what about it, O Gentle Weber County Forum readers? Did Mr. Porter knock this one outta the park (or what)?

      Nice counterpoint, wethink, to yesterday's SLTrib guest commentary, which should serve as a glaring example of what happens when wacked out Utah right wing ideology crashes headlong into common sense:
      (That's right folks.  We've been watching Major League Baseball all morning.)

      The floor's open, folks.

      Saturday, August 10, 2013

      John Swallow News Roundup - Episode XLII: Clinton Impeachment Defense Lawyer Will Lead House Swallow Probe

      A prudent choice, one designed to possibly err on the side of caution?

      There's a significant development in the John Swallow Three-ring Circus, as the Salt Lake Tribune's Robert Gehrke reports that the field of ten national law firms competing to serve as special counsel for the Utah House of Representatives investigative committee has been narrowed to one.  Here's the gist of last night's story:
      Team Leader
      A Democratic lawyer who played a key role in the House impeachment and Senate acquittal of then-President Bill Clinton will spearhead Utah’s historic inquiry into Attorney General John Swallow.
      Officials announced Friday the selection of New York-based Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP as the special counsel to the Utah House committee investigating the state’s embattled Republican attorney general.
      The Akin Gump team will be led by Steven Reich, who was deputy chief investigative counsel for the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee during Clinton’s 1998 impeachment and later served as counsel to Democrats in the Senate trial, where Clinton was cleared....
      Reich will be joined in the Swallow probe by Steven Ross, who was general counsel to the U.S. House and leads Akin Gump’s congressional investigations practice.[Links added].
      Read the full story here:
      Team leader Mr. Reich's area of specialty seems to be centered on the defense side of the bar, raising the reasonable question, we believe, whether his defense-honed legal skills will be adequate to building a case for impeachment against Swallow, if warranted. He's a Democrat, however, which might rankle our pro-Swallow Republican friends, of course.

      So what about it, O Gentle Ones?  Is the selection of a seemingly defense-oriented legal team to advise the House committee a prudent choice in this matter, one designed, on balance, to possibly err on the side of caution?  Or is "the fix already in" for the John Swallow "impeachment" investigation?

      Whaddaya say folks?

      Friday, August 09, 2013

      Deseret News: The Top 50 Elementary Schools in Utah According to the Utah Comprehensive Accountability System

      Approaching the 2014 Ogden School Board elections with a new resolve, as seven Ogden elementary schools again "finish" at the bottom of the heap

      Eye opening material provided this morning by another sharp-eyed and alert WCF reader:

      "The stats are in, and it doesn't look good for Ogden School District. According to an article in the Deseret News, Ogden School District is not doing nearly as well as represented at [recent] board meetings":
      Here's the nitty-gritty:

      "Ogden elementary schools that made the lost of 30 lowest in Utah for accountability":
      #10 Odyssey at 42% proficient
      #6 TO Smith at 42% proficient
      #2 Dee at 33% proficient
      #1 Madison at 31% proficient
      "Both Ogden high schools made the list of 50 lowest in Utah":
      #36 Ogden High School 75% below proficient
      #19 Ben Lomond 58% below proficient.
      "Ogden elementary schools that made the list of the lowest 30 in Utah
      for test scores":
      #47 Bonneville Elementary 58% below proficient
      # 33 Heritage Elementary 50% below proficient
      #13 Gramercy Elementary 42% below proficient
      Weber County Forum has attempted in the past to generate interest in Ogden School Board elections without much success. Last go-round, we even made candidate recommendations, which were (unfortunately) mostly ignored:
      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 ☝☝☝
      In view of these latest dismal scores, (which reflect,  we think, what happens when when non-educators are "given free Ogden School Board reign,") we're newly resolved, when Ogden School Board elections roll around again in 2014, to double down on our efforts to oust non-professional educators from positions of school board authority, and replace them with professional educators - you know - experts who actually have a clue what they're doing?

      Can we see by a show of hands how many of our gentle WCF readers will join us in this?

      And please -- pretty please with sugar on it -- don't let the cat get your tongue in re this pressing issue.

      Thursday, August 08, 2013

      John Swallow News Roundup - Episode XLI: New Allegations and More Procedural Nuts and Bolts

      Will additional lawsuits and charges be filed and lodged before applicable statutes of limitations run?

      As embattled Republican Attorney General John Swallow writhes in the public spotlight, new allegations are coming out of the woodwork:

      "Swallow may have let his lobbying license lapse after joining the Utah Attorney General’s office in 2009, but in early 2011 he [continued] to lobby State Senator Curt Bramble (Republican, Provo) to sponsor a bill proposed by the Utah company TEEMS, LLC, which was funded by Swallow’s former lobby client, George Evan Bybee":
      Some Utah investor's are grumbling about Swallow's involvement in a possible 2005 high-tech light bulb scam:
      Will additional lawsuits be filed in re this matter before the statute of limitations runs?

      And check out this blockbuster. An ex-con now says he raised thousands of dollars for Swallow’s campaign, but (surprise of surprises) that money cannot be found on any financial disclosure statements:
      In the ongoing media frenzy, there are several new stories reporting on the procedural nuts and bolts:

      It wasn’t enough for jailed businessman Marc Sessions Jenson to get Utah attorney general prosecutors off his case Monday in exchange for the acting Utah County attorney, who claims he has never spoken to, nor had any dealings with, embattled Attorney General John Swallow or his predecessor. Jenson’s lawyers also want the attorney general’s investigator dropped, a move that would further delay the 2-year-old case from going to trial and force newly appointed prosecutor Tim Taylor to start from scratch:
      Contemplating the estimated $3 million. price tag for the pending House investigation, "Swallow, speaking Tuesday on KSL’s Doug Wright Show, said he is disappointed at the cost and bewildered how he found himself in the current situation":
      The committee investigating Swallow wants to reach out to other entities conducting investigations into the embattled Attorney General:
      How much cooperation can the House investigation expect from county a federal prosecutors who are conducting parallel investigations?  Not much, we'll guess.

      Wednesday, August 07, 2013

      Hot Off the Press: 2013 Ogden City Election Candidate Financial Disclosure Statements (First Set) - Updated

      Money isn't everything in municipal politics... but a fat campaign warchest helps a heckuva lot

      With the 2013 Ogden City Municipal Primary looming a little under six days hence, we're delighted to provide a glimpse of the first set of campaign financial disclosure statements of our nine Ogden City Council candidate hopefuls, which were duly filed with the Ogden City Recorder's Office by 5:00 p.m. yesterday, pursuant to applicable provisions of Ogden City's Campaign Financing Disclosure ordinances, which arrived on the heels of the Ogden City Council's 2009 campaign finance reform.  

      "Cash is King" in politics, as the old saying goes; so click the highlighted links below to discover which candidates are Ogden City's fund-raising "royalty," at least at this juncture:

      Candidate ContributionsExpenses
      Municipal Ward 1
      Neil K. Garner $0$25
      Pamela  Stevens$0$25
      Municipal Ward 3
      Turner C. Bitton$4,698$3,734
      Doug Stephens$3,800$2,312
      At-Large "A"
      Sheri Morreale$1,000$997
      Stephen D. Thompson$1,868$568
      Marcia L. White$10,015$3,384
      At-Large "B"
      Bart Blair$0$25
      Courtney Jon White$80$32

      Our compliments to candidates Marcia White, Turner Bitton and Doug Stephens, who've already put together particularly impressive "ground games."  Money isn't everything in politics, of course, but as we've learned the hard way in Ogden City municipal politics, and  looking at the the "big picture," a fat campaign warchest  helps a heckuva lot

      Special thanks to Ogden City Recorder Tracy Hansen, a model of helpfulness and efficiency, who worked late, graciously furnishing the above reports early yesterday evening.

      Plow through these reports, O Weber County Forum political wonks; and whatever you do, please don't keep your cranky opinions and comments to yourselves.

      Update 8/8/13 10:00 a.m.:  Interesting discussion developing over at the Ogden Ethics Blog, where blogmeister Dan Schroeder questions the propriety of Mayor Caldwell's $500 donation to the Marcia White campaign. So whatddaya think, O Gentle Ones?  Even though such a donation is completely lawful, is it ethical?  And even assuming it is ethical, is it politically proper?

      Tuesday, August 06, 2013

      Ogden Council Set to Discuss $18 Million Utility Project Bonding at Tonight's Work Session - Updated

      Ogden City Administration continues to push for bond financing of the "whole $18,921,773 enchilada" even on the eve of the 2013 Municipal Election

      As a followup to our July 29 and July 31 WCF articles, wherein Dan Schroeder reported on the inexorable progress of the Ogden City Administration toward $18 million in new water and sewer infrastructure bonding, we'll provide a quick heads-up regarding tonight's Ogden City Council work session, where the council will "Discuss Various Options Proposed for Bonding," as more particularly set forth as the last item in tonight's Council Packet. Here's a screenshot of the series of water utility "options" which will be discussed tonight, with the Administration's preference prominently highlighted in yellow, presumably to keep our City Council on the legislative "straight and narrow," we suppose:


      And here are the Administration's suggested parameters for the sewer bonding:


      So amidst all the talk about financing some portion of our water and sewer utility improvement expenses from the $28 or so million we have sitting in the bank, drawing a measly 1% interest, the Administration continues to push for bonding the "whole $18,921,773 enchilada," at an interest rate which even our esteemed "financial advisor," Lewis, Young, Robertson, and Burningham, "estimates" could be as high as 6%.

      Although these proposed bonding matters have indeed been set for additional public discussion for August 20, having observed the council's aggravating pattern of making their decisions at the "work session level," we do express our concern that a council majority will already have their minds made up even before Ogden lumpencitizens have enjoyed the "formal" opportunity to chime in on the issue.

      There's no word whether Dan S. will be available for live blogging tonight; but we'll be keeping a close eye on the results of tonight's work session in any event, particularly in view of the ongoing 2013 election, wherein we have the strong sense that the financial prudence of these current bonding proposals could very well develop into an important campaign issue.

      Update 8/6/13 5:59 p.m.:  Dan Schroeder is now live-blogging from tonight's Ogden City Council Work Session! Click "Comments" to read Dan's real-time posts.

      Update 8/7/13 6:30 a.m.:  A public hearing on the bonds has been set by the City Council for August 20.

      Standard-Examiner Editorial: Our View: Review Police Raids

      Some people "get it;" and some apparently don't

      Yep. The Standard "gets it." Hopefully our state legislature will "get it" too. It's all about reducing the level of potential violence and keeping everyone as "safe" as possible:
      What's wrong with our "macho" local police administrations, we ask?

      Maybe they need to lay off the Viagra, no?

      Monday, August 05, 2013

      Alternate Editorial Viewpoint: Nassim Taleb Talks Antifragile, Libertarianism, and Capitalism's Genius for Failure

      A breath of fresh libertarian air, wethinks

      Click to enlarge image
      "Chewy" interview, to say the least, which first came to your blogmeister's attention via the Utah Libertarian Party Facebook page this morning. Nassim Taleb's approach, arriving via the viewpoint of an essayist, scholar, and stunningly successful equity options trading pro, exhibits a perspective where he prefers to consider the mathematical probabilities, rather than to simply adhere to the usual "top-down libertarian" political ideology; and his philosphy dovetails nicely with your blogmeister's own non-doctrinaire libertarian philosophy (please note the "lower case "l"). It's a breath of fresh air, wethinks, for anyone who might believe that all libertarians think like Rand Paul. Play and enjoy the video, Peeps. Find out why Mr. Taleb believes that the economy is more like a "cat," and less like a "washing machine." For some odd reason, btw, this video kicks in at 13:34.  So if you want to view the whole shebang, rewind it to the start:

      Nassim Taleb Talks Antifragile, Libertarianism, 
      and Capitalism's Genius for Failure

      If you find Mr. Taleb's points to be interesting, we'd suggest that you order his new book, (via a handy link for which purpose we've also added to our left sidebar):
      That's us! Weber County Forum: Presenting non-mainstream editorial viewpoints since 2005.

      Comments, anyone?

      Standard-Examiner: Utah’s GRAMA Can Be a Blessing and a Curse for News Agencies

      Sodden reminder: If you just lay down like a whipped dog following a bad-faith GRAMA request denial, you merely encourage more government misbehavior

      At risk of coming off as "late to the party," we'll shine the spotlight on Saturday's "Behind the Headlines" column, in which the Standard's new managing editor Mark Shenefelt, in the wake of Roy city officials' recent denial of a Standard-Examiner Government Records and Management Act (GRAMA)  request "to release the details of the investigation that apparently led to Roy Police Chief Greg Whinham’s sudden resignation July 17," devotes some irate ink to grousing about "innumerable loopholes with which to delay, deny and wear down even committed requestors, especially those without the wherewithal to engage legal services to keep fighting at the end of standard appeals":
      Regular Weber County Forum readers can of course fully empathize with the Standard's plight. What WCF reader can forget our own WCF regular contributor Dan Schroeder's overly-prolonged (but for the most part successful)  or GRAMA battles, for instance?

      Down in the Standard's comments section however, the battle-hardened Professor Schroeder offers the Standard a little bit of sage advice (paraphrased for general application and brevity):
      "... if the government is using [GRAMA loopholes] to deny a request outright, you should appeal and, if necessary, take them to court. Needless to say, government officials have no incentive to comply with the GRAMA statute if they don't think they'll suffer any consequences from their noncompliance."
      Come on, Standard-Examiner. You didn't think these secretive government bureaucrats would just meekly hand over these materials without a fight, did ya's?

      Sodden remember.  If you just lay down like a whipped dog following an erroneous and/or bad-faith GRAMA request denial, Mr. Shenenfelt, you merely encourage more government misbehavior.

      That's our take; and we're stickin' with it.

       So what say our Gentle WCF Readers about all this?

      Saturday, August 03, 2013

      Proposition: Concept of "Limited Government" Is Right-Wing Bunk

      Yes. This will be on the test

      "Chewy"and intriguing political perspective from political commentary "up and comer" Jada Thacker. This is for "thinkers" only... and NOT for sappy ideologues.

      The author's premise:  "The Constitution was never intended to 'provide limited government,' and furthermore it did not do so."

      See if you can find any "holes" in this guy's argument:
      Yes. This will be on the test.

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