Friday, January 31, 2014

Salt Lake Tribune: Cafeteria Manager Placed on Leave After Utah School Lunch Seizures - Updated

"Upper level" School Board Management remains inexplicably "unscathed," so far at least

Via BenJoe Markland
Just as we might have predicted, there's been immediate blowback to this week's Uintah Elementary School lunch room debacle, wherein "dozens of children at a Salt Lake City elementary school had their lunches seized" and tossed in the trash.  Seems a couple of Utah legislators marched straight on over to the school and held a press conference, and the cafeteria manager (low "man" on the administrative totem pole) has now been placed by the school district on "administrative leave":
Added bonus: Check out the Trib's embedded video, a true marvel of ex post facto public servant anxiety and angst.

We'll also put the spotlight on this great material from the ever-savvy Holly Mullen, who neatly frames the overall issues in this story, even at this still-early juncture:
Really. So Uintah Elementary starts with going after the "lunch lady?" I hope we use this mess to dig down deeply into Utah's "culture of mean." Policies of taking a child's lunch for lack of payment don't just pop up out of nowhere. Why don't we start looking at Utah policies based in general on the notion of "I got mine, now go get yours." It starts with changing a whole culture, people.
Needless to say, we'll continue to keep a close eye on this story as it develops, folks, whilst "responsible" Utah elected officials hastily scramble for political cover.

Special thanks to our online pal BenJoe Markland, over at the From Where I Sit - In The World blog, for the great graphic which we've shamelessly "incorporated" from yesterday's most excellent writeup on this topic.

Update 1/31/14 7:00 p.m.:  The Trib's Pat Bagley knocks it outta the park with this afternoon's "inspired wditorial cartoon":

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Oops! $30 Million of Further Ogden City Water Infrastructure Repairs Needed - Updated

Old projections now obsolete, yet council members seem unconcerned

By Dan Schroeder

Less than two years after they approved a comprehensive master plan for upgrading the city’s water infrastructure over the coming decade, Ogden City Council members were told Tuesday night that the plan needs major revisions. Water Department manager Kenton Moffett and consultant Cliff Linford of Sunrise Engineering stated that many of the city’s water pipelines are in worse condition than they had thought, and recommended adding more than $30 million of further repairs and upgrades to the ten-year plan.

Sunrise Engineering developed the current water master plan in cooperation with the city administration during 2011. The plan called for $26 million of infrastructure upgrades during the first five years, $19 million over the next five years, and about $4 million per year thereafter for the next 30 years.  The city council debated the plan for dozens of hours during many meetings in the winter and spring of 2012, finally approving the plan, with only minor modifications, in May 2012.

At the same time the council also approved a 10-year financial plan for its utility systems, developed by consultant Lewis Young Robertson Burningham (LYRB).  The financial plan included significant water rate increases for the first few years and more than $22 million in bonding to fund the most urgent water projects: the replacement of one of the city’s pipelines in Ogden Canyon and the replacement of the water treatment plant near Pineview Dam.

Now, however, it appears that the 10-year financial plan will need a major overhaul to include another $30 million of projects. There was no discussion on Tuesday of whether another water rate increase would be needed to pay for the projects, and there was only a passing mention, by Linford, of a possible additional bond. Council executive director Bill Cook stated that more information on the financial implications of the new master plan will be provided to the council in late February. However, he and his staff are pushing the council to approve the master plan itself (though not actually commit any funds to the projects) this coming Tuesday, February 4.

During the discussion Tuesday night, no council members expressed any alarm or unhappiness about the massive increase in planned expenditures, or asked who was responsible for the apparent $30 million error in the 2011 master plan and the resultant waste of everyone’s time. Moffett and Linford explained that the new revisions came out of a detailed analysis of recent leaks in the water system, and that they were unable to prioritize pipeline replacements two years ago because they hadn’t yet put the leak data into a convenient format. They did not comment, however, on their failure in 2011 to accurately estimate even the total cost of pipeline replacements that would be needed during the coming decade.

The good news is that, with careful planning, the city should be able to cover the additional $30 million in expenditures without any further bonding or rate increases. This is the conclusion of my own financial analysis, which incorporates the city’s newly released financial data from fiscal year 2013. As I predicted in 2012 and pointed out again last summer, the LYRB financial plan significantly under-estimated water revenue and over-estimated operating expenses. The rate increases approved in 2012 were higher than was needed to cover the infrastructure repairs planned at that time, but seem to be just enough to cover another $30 million by 2024. I predict, though, that “just enough” won’t be good enough for the city administration or LYRB, so they’ll be asking the council to approve yet another bond and rate increase in a few years.

The proposed master plan revision actually calls for a reduction in spending after 2024, because many of the pipe replacements formerly planned for after 2024 would instead be done sooner. Logically, you would think this would mean that Ogden residents can expect a water rate reduction at around that time, or that the city could accelerate its debt payments for a few years after 2024 and then reduce rates even more. However, there seems to be no way to predict when the administration will unveil yet another surprise in the form of more urgent water system repairs. Also, it seems to be a general rule that utility rates and public debt are on a ratchet that can go only up, not down.

Most of all, the lesson from this fiasco is that the city’s consultants and bureaucrats can make as many errors as they please, and nobody will hold them accountable. The city will keep hiring the same consultants, the bureaucrats will keep their jobs, and the council members themselves will continue to follow along like sheep, doing whatever they’re told, never even complaining about the hours they spend listening to excruciatingly detailed presentations of data that are often misleading and sometimes flat-out wrong.

Update 2/1/14 7:45 a.m.:  The master plan does not appear on the agenda  for this coming Tuesday's council meeting, so it appears that the council leaders and/or staff have changed their minds about the timing. This may or may not be a result of my communications to the council members. - Dan S.

Update 2/3/14 8:00 a.m.: Better late than never, the Standard carries its own Cathy McKitrick story on this topic this morning:
"I can't comprehend how the consultants could have missed as much as they did. Nor can I understand why the city administration and city council didn't insist on higher standards of accuracy," says Ogden City government watchdog Dan S., in the lower S-E comments section. 

So many questions... so few answers.

Thursday Morning Weber County Forum News Roundup

Once again, the Beehive State finds itself in the national spotlight, for all the wrong reasons

After extensive morning Googling, we've come up with a few interesting local news tidbits, just to whet our readers' ever insatiable red meat news appetites.  Feast your eyes on this morning's News Roundup, folks!

1) "After the review of more than 80 applications and in-depth interviews of a national base of candidates," Ogden City announces the new full-time manager of the Ogden-Hinckley Airport. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss:
Suffice it to say that nationally famous "double-dipper" Greiner remains "on an impressive roll," as he begins logging public service hours toward his fourth public service retirement plan.

2) As the 2014 Utah legislature kicks fully into gear,  the Provo Herald caries a morning story, highlighting the messed up priorities of of some of the "critters" within our Utah legislature:
C'mon, folks.  Do they really believe we're so confused that we don't know which bathrooms to use?

3) And here's a local story which is bound to put you off your feed, O Gentle Readers, as a  multiplicity of news sources, running from our humble home town newspaper to the mighty NBC News, "virally" report one of the most bone-headed public school system screw-ups we've witnessed in years. Seems "dozens of children at a Salt Lake City elementary school had their lunches seized" and tossed in the garbage by certain "financially tight-fisted" cafeteria "lunch ladies," earlier this week, "because they did not have enough money in their accounts."  In a heart-warming display of bureacratic generosity, however, these tender-aged "freeloaders" were mercifully provided "free" milk and fruit as a booby consolation prize, so they didn't have to go completely hungry.  Here's the Salt Lake Tribune's version of this mind-boggling story:
Once again, the Beehive State finds itself in the national spotlight, for all the wrong reasons.

We'll be following thiss story closely, folks, to find out whether any administrative heads will ultimately roll.

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

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wednesday Morning State of the Union Address Armchair Quarterback Special - Updated

Pat Bagley "nails it," as per usual

S-o-o-o... did everyone catch last night's State of the Union gab-fest?

A Weber County Forum Tip O' the Hat to Pat Bagley, of the Trib, who totally "nails it," as per usual.

Update 1/29/14 11:30 a.m.: For those hard-core WCF political wonks who'd like to keep up with "every danged" thing,  we've devoted some energy this morning to rounding up the text and video responses of each of the characters depicted in Mr. Bagley's brilliant above embedded carton.  Here goes, folks:
Fair warning: Don't forget to "pop" your trusty  No-doz, unless you're in need of sleep, of course.

Seriously though, the rampant GOP paranoia is something that ought to keep moderate Utah voters wondering where, exactly, the real moderate Utah "statesmen" are.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Utah Political Capitol: Flagged Bill: HB 78 – Marriage Defense Fund, Rep. Nelson

What'll come up next?  A tax form check-box to help out poor old John Swallow with his legal expenses?

Looks like some Utah legislators are going overboard with their LDS nitwittery, as the 2014 Utah Legislative session kicks off. Here's the lede from this morning's savvy Utah Political Capitol story:
When filling out their tax returns, Utahns are given the option of checking a box to voluntarily donate to organizations such as the Pamela Atkinson Homeless Account, the School District and Nonprofit School District Foundation, or the Youth Character Organization Account. Now, one lawmaker wants to add a box for Utahns to donate to the State’s fight against marriage equality.
Representative Merrill Nelson (Republican – Grantsville) is proposing HB 78, to establish a “Marriage Defense Fund.”
His HB 78 would, among other things, use these contributions from official state tax forms “to pay litigation and appellate expenses…for legal actions related to the defense and enforcement of Utah Constitution, Article I, Section 29, or any section of Utah Code, Title 30, Chapter 1, Marriage.”
In short, the fund would pay for any costs associated with defending the recently overturned Amendment 3, which barred Utahns in same-sex relationships from obtaining civil marriages.
Read up, O Gentle Weber County Forum readers:
Flagged Bill: HB 78 – Marriage Defense Fund, Rep. Nelson
Sorry, folks! What's wrong with exercising the power of the Utah Mormon State in raising litigation money from those neanderthal LDS "knuckle-dragger" people who still believe practicing their religion amounts to (weirdly enough) turning thousands of their fellow Utahns into Second Class Citizens, we ask?

So who'll be the first to advise Grantsville House Rep. Nelson that he's an irretrievable tool?

Here's Rep. Nelson's email addy, btw, folks, just in case you'd like to give hm a "piece of your mind":

What'll come up next?  A tax form check-box to help out poor old John Swallow with his legal expenses?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Charles Trentelman: Wrong Turn: More and More Expensive Roads

How much longer will our elected officials continue to squander the bulk of Utah transporation dollars toward "8-track tape energy source" technology?
Why is it politicians scream that things like FrontRunner need a "subsidy" to operate, but never talk about the subsidy that roads require? [...]
The normally fiscally conservative Utahns who hate teacher unions because they demands living wages for educators, decry waste from programs that feed the poor, and generally want pennies pinched en masse, have no problem blowing $70 million on a stretch of asphalt a piddling 3 miles long that will probably need resurfacing in ten years, or less and won't return a dime of revenue to anyone. [...]
... [R]oads don't need "subsidies." They just need millions of dollars in repairs every year.
Charles Trentelman - The Retired Rambler
Wrong Turn: More and more expensive roads
January 6, 2014
I still say, if employers in Utah had any brains they'd be pushing for alternatives for their workers to using cars. Cars are expensive, forcing employees to demand better pay and getting grumpy when they don't get it. If employees could avoid using their cars to get to work every day, they'd have more money to spend on fun stuff and be happier.
Charles Trentelman - The Retired Rambler
Wrong Turn: More and more expensive roads
January 6, 2014

Enough, already!
In the hope of  stimulating a little Weber County Forum discussion this Monday morning, we'll shine the spotlight on a top-notch blog post from veteran Ogden journalist Charles Trentelman, lodged on his "Retired Rambler" soapbox over the weekend.  Although Charlie labels it a "rant," it smacks of good old "measured common sense," as far as we're concerned.  Read up, folks:
Perfect lead-in, as our Utah Legislature kicks off the 2014 Utah General Legislative Session this morning, wethinks.

So what about it, O Gentle Ones?

Isn't it about time for our State Legislative Critters to reassess Utah's transportation funding priorities?

How much longer will our elected officials continue to squander the bulk of Utah transportation dollars toward what Charlie characterizes as "8-track tape energy source" technology?

"8-track tape energy source" technology

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sunday Funnies: In Remarkable Turnaround, Republicans Officially Denounce NSA Phone Surveillance

One of the most amazing flip-flops of the decade?

Holy cow! The Republican National Committee! Officially condemning a national security program that was designed by Republicans to fight terrorism!
This is truly remarkable. We are indeed living in Bizarro world these days.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Standard-Examiner: North Ogden Legislator Revives Utah 'Zion Curtain' Bill

Mormon Church lays down the law and sez: "No, no, no!"

Pat Bagley - Salt Lake Tribune
"The Utah Legislature is set  to open Monday with marching orders already in hand."

Weber County GOP House Rep Ryan Wilcox entered the 2014 legislative fray earlier this week with high hopes of reviving his 2013 bill to "normalize" Utah's "quirky" liquor laws, and serve his commercial constituents who bristle over Utah's bizarre "Zion's Curtain" provision:
Tough luck for this awesome and  plucky young Weber County legislator, however, as it appears that the Mormon Church, the fourth (and most important branch of Utah government), has now "laid down the law," and has no doubt cut Wilcox off at the pass:
If Wilcox plays his cards right, perhaps he'll be allowed to "keep" his temple recommend.

Needless to say, it'll be fascinating to see how this whole story plays out, no?

Hat tip to the Trib's Pat Bagley for the great graphic!

Bob Bernick's Notebook: Everybody Wants to Ditch the Caucuses...Except (Ultra) Conservatives

Don't let the "tail" continue to "wag"  the "dog," O Gentle Ones

As our latest installment on the Count My Vote citizens initiative topic, we'll put the spotlight on this morning's UtahPolicy.Com story, wherein Bob Bernick examines "[t]wo public opinion surveys [which] have been released over the last several weeks, both showing substantial support for the Count My Vote citizen initiative, which would end candidates being vetted by their own political party delegates and move Utah to a direct primary system."  "One poll was paid for by CMV. The other by the Olene Walker school of political science at Weber State University. Both were conducted by Dan Jones & Associates, Utah’s longest running private polling firm."  Interestingly, Mr. Bernick reports, with respect to both new surveys, "the numbers are with the direct primary switch" It's a pretty "chewy read," all-in-all:
Mr. Bernick also devotes a few paragraphs to explaining why Count My Vote-style election law revisions will never arrive via the Utah legislature, due to the current caucus/convention setup, which stacks the deck against any Utah politicos who might favor such legislative solutions.

So who is the tail wagging the dog, and dragging its feet on the implementation of sensible and democratically-based  Count My Vote political nomination reforms? "Respondents [who] identified themselves as 'very conservative,' or about 25 percent of the total sample," "a rather narrow slice of the Utah populace," that's who.

It's in that connection that we'll once again devote some electronic ink toward steering mainstream Utah lumpencitizens to the Utah locations where you can conveniently find a hard-copy Count My Vote petitions awaiting your signatures:
Don't allow a crazed "uber conservative" minority to maintain its continuing stranglehold on the Utah political nomination process, folks.  Amble on over to one of these convenient locations, peeps.  Let's put the grownups in charge of the Utah political nomination process, once and for all.

Don't let the "tail" continue to "wag" the "dog," O Gentle Ones.

Attention Mike Lee and John Swallow fans:  Please feel free to ignore this notice, since your "faves" are already the "poster-boys" for Utah political nomination procedure reform.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

WSU Hosts Air Quality Expert Panel Discussion - Updated

Via one sharp-eyed and alert Weber County Forum reader we're delighted to provide a quick heads up regarding today's campus event, which will appeal to folks who are concerned about improving and protecting the quality of Utah’s air:
OGDEN, Utah – Weber State University’s Engaged Learning Series will host the Utah Air Quality Expert Panel Discussion [today] Jan. 22 at 12:30 p.m. in the Shepherd Union Wildcat Theater.

The WSU Environmental Issues Committee and the Center for Community Engaged Learning are co-sponsoring the panel composed of four local air quality experts who represent diverse interests:
  • Matt Pacenza, policy director for HEAL Utah
  • Rep. Joel Briscoe, minority caucus manager for the Utah State Legislature
  • Susan Soleil, executive director of Utah Interfaith Power and Light
  • Carl Ingwell, director of the University of Utah’s Student Clean Air Network
Associate professor of geography Eric Ewert will moderate the event.
 Here's more information from the WSU site:
“We envison this panel as less about hand-wringing over the poor quality of our air, and more about what citizens and residents can do to fix it,” Ewert says. “While only scheduled for 50 minutes, the session will continue as long as there are questions, and we will give hands-on demonstration of websites, phone apps and ways to get involved right away.”

We're hoping at least a few of you will be able to juggle your calenders and be in attendance.

We've linked this morning's topical Standard-Examiner front page story, just to add to your motivation:
Update 1/22/14 10:29 a.m.:   Added bonus: With news that the Wasatch Front's air is the worst in the nation and comparable to Beijing, Utah Political Capitol provides you with a history of air pollution in the state:
Update 1/23/14 7:00 a.m.:  The Standard carries a Nancy Van Valkenburg story this morning, reporting on yesterday's WSU campus event:

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Standard-Examiner: Weber Invites State Lawmakers to 'Eat and Shoot' at Gun Range

Kinda has the flavor of one of those creepy and ubiquitous condominium time share promotions, dunnit?

This morning's Standard-Examiner provides a fascinating glimpse into the schizophrenic Utah Republican mindset, with this morning's front page story, reporting that our all-Republican Weber County Commission has has invited Utah Senate and House legislators to a "gala" "January 28 "dine-and-shoot event which aims to showcase the Swanson Tactical Training Center in Ogden's Industrial Park and opens with dinner at 6 p.m. followed by 7 p.m. target practice." Seems that at least a couple of our purportedly "tight fisted" Weber County Commissioners are keen on dropping a cool $3.8 million taxpayer dollars for the public acquisition of a financially troubled and currently privately owned facility which features, among other things, two indoor shooting ranges and (get this) a "mock urban environment," where Weber County gun fanciers can finely hone their "urban combat" tactics:
Kinda has the flavor of one of those creepy and ubiquitous condominium time share promotions, dunnit, where "prospects" are offered a free "rubber chicken dinner," in exchange for being subjected to a high-pressure sales pitch? Most condo promotions don't involve "free guns and ammo," along with the free dinner, of course.

Our Weber County Commission is of course merely "pitching" the the state legislature to throw state funding toward this numbskull project, so it won't detrimentally affect Weber County taxpayers, right?

We're scratching our heads wondering what happened to the hallowed GOP principle, i.e., that commercial projects such as this ought to be left to the "private" economic sector.  Plainly, in this instance, it's one which, if our Commission has its way, will be honored in the breach, rather than the observance.

We'll file this story under the WCF topic category "boondoggle" this morning folks, and invite all Weber County (and indeed Utah) voters to make a mental note, as more than half of our Utah state legislators and two out of our three Weber County Commissioners prepare to tout their "fiscal conservative" credentials (so-called) during the upcoming Utah 2014 General Election run-up.

We'll be standing by, eagerly awaiting our WCF readers' ever-savvy comments.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Martin Luther King Birthday Special

Something to chew on during today's Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday, folks:

Dovetails nicely with our own Weber County Forum philosophy, wethink.

Have a safe and sane holiday, O Gentle Ones.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Standard-Examiner Editorial: Our View: Clumsy Commission Power Play - Updated

 Weber County Commission politics... clumsy grade-school GOP Party drama at its very worst?

We'll put the spotlight on the strong editorial in this morning's Standard-Examiner, zeroing in on the still simmering Weber County Commission "leadership" controversy, wherein Republican Commissioners  Kerry Gibson and Matthew Bell ditched a 20-year County Commission tradition, and inexplicably nixed their GOP colleague Jan Zogmeister's normal "rotation" to her reasonably anticipated 2014 commission chairmanship slot.  Here's the SE Editorial Board lede:
Weber County is witnessing a bit of political comedy, a power play in the Weber County Commission that is more bumbling than Machiavellian.
Two commissioners, Chairman Kerry Gibson and Commissioner Matt Bell, have rejected the tradition of allowing the current vice chairperson, Jan Zogmaister, to be the next chairman. By a 2-1 vote, Gibson was retained as commission chairman.
There was nothing illegal in the procedure. A tradition is not a law. However, this political drama between Republicans has the appearance of being an effort by Gibson and Bell to push Zogmaister out of the commission....
Frankly, the power play seems to have backfired. Zogmaister has received lots of support from the community, and Gibson and Bell are receiving heavy criticism for their move, which broke the chair-rotation tradition.
 Read the full editorial here:
"[I]t was a ham-handed power play by Gibson and Bell, which frankly makes Zogmaister appear the most capable pol of the trio," opines the Standard-Examiner. Once again the Standard-Examiner "nails it."

Added bonus: Yes, as previously reported on Weber County Forum, veteran SE Cartoonist Cal Grondahl is back in harness, after a mercifully short hiatus, demonstrating the incalculable journalistic value of keeping our talented hometown graphic illustrator onboard to augment purely local SE stories and editorials.  This is the kind of hard-hitting "custom" material the SE editors definitely ain't gonna pluck off some national news-wire, folks:

Weber County Commission politics... clumsy grade-school GOP Party drama at its very worst?

Update 1/19/14 10:00 a.m.:  Even the Standard's boffo humor columnist is getting in on the act. "... if Weber County voters have a lick of sense, they'll see this Gibson-Bell gambit for what it is -- a cheap political power play -- and find a smart, capable woman to replace him this fall," says the suddenly saturnine Mark Saal:
Don't let the cat get your tongues, O Gentle Readers.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Robert Gehrke: One of the Top Capitol Reporters in the Nation

The Trib's Robert Gehrke: the Best of the Best

A Weber County Forum Tip O' The Hat to the Salt Lake Tribune's Robert Gehrke for making the WaPo list of best state capitol reporters in the nation!
Gehrke was the most prominent and widely read Utah journalist to unravel the John Swallow Three-ring Circus Mess, of course, as far as we're concerned.  Therefore we salute Mr.Gehrke for for his many journaliistic achievements and slam-dunks. And we thus whole-heartedly congratulate Mr. Gerhrke, for making this important WaPo list, of course.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

UtahPolicy.Com: Utah GOP: 'There Will Not be a Counter Initiative to Count My Vote'

 Utah GOP Chairman James Evans "finds himself between a rock and a hard place"

There's significant news concerning the Count my Vote citizens initiative petition drive this morning, as UtahPolicy.Com announces that the Utah GOP is throwing in the towel on its effort to launch its own previously announced preemptive petition-style counter-measure. Bob Bernick's lede provides the gist:
Despite being specifically authorized to run a pro-caucus/convention citizen petition this year, because of time and money constraints the State Republican Party will not go forward with its own citizen initiative drive.
GOP chairman James Evans told UtahPolicy this week that “I have to concentrate all my efforts” on preparing for the March 20 statewide GOP neighborhood caucuses, where county and state party delegates will be chosen.
Here's the full story, folks:
"Evans finds himself between a rock and a hard place," Mr. Bernick notes. It appears that the "moderate Republican" faction, "often local businessmen, who fund the Utah GOP operations," are fully aboard the Count My Vote bandwagon, and he's likely fearful that if the Utah GOP caters to party extremists and pursues the counter-initiative strategy, Utah GOP funding will dry up. Needless to say, "[a] bitter internal fight over CMV could tear apart the coalition that keeps the state Republican Party running smoothly," Mr. Bernick adds.

For those Weber County Forum readers who haven't yet signed the petition, here's where you can find a hard-copy Count My Vote petition awaiting your signature, by the way:
Don't sit on your thumbs, WCF readers.  Even though the CMV initiative drive is moving forward with a "full head of steam," having "raised more than $800,000 in 2013," the task of gathering "at least 102,000 signatures statewide, with 10 percent of the signees coming in 26 of the 29 state Senate districts," is a daunting one, indeed.  Everyone who'd like to pry the Utah political nominating process from the hands of the current pack of political extremists and party bosses who currently control the Utah election process obviously needs to pitch in and help out now.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Standard-Examiner: Weber Residents Prod for Motives Behind Commissioners' Power Play

Expect the fur to fly, folks, as we approach the 2014 General Election

Chewy morning story from the Standard-Examiner, concerning the arguably "bully-like" behavior of the "Good Ole Boy" faction of the Weber County Commission, as veteran reporter Cathy McKitrick digs in and reports how "[s]ome area residents took notice when Weber County Commissioners Matt Bell and Kerry Gibson bucked tradition last week and kept Gibson as chairman for one more year instead of giving Commissioner Jan Zogmaister her expected rotation." As always, Ms. McKitrick has done her homework:
Also, as per usual, Gentle reader Bob Becker provides a savvy nutshell overview of the current status of the political firestorm that's erupted in the wake of this unfortunate "boys will be boys" incident:
"Why, how DARE you suggest I voted on gender grounds! I won't dignify that by replying." --- Bell and Gibson. Yeah. Right. That'll work.
Added bonus:  Here's a thumbnail collection of irate letters which have already been lodged on the Standard-Examiner website, authored by some of the folks interviewed by Ms. McKitrick in advance of  her above-linked story.:
And we're getting a "psychic vibe" that this is merely the "tip o' the iceberg."

Yep. Expect the fur to fly, as we approach the 2014 General Election, folks, inasmuch as "neoCON" Gibson and Bell have apparently already hand-picked another "Good Ole'Boy" to "fill" Ms. Zogmaister's Commission slot next November.

Ironically, Gibson will also stand for re-election in November, thus raising the question whether his domineering strategy will backfire, particularly if he's faced with a female challenger.

We would have been entirely spared this current political unpleasantness, of course, if Ms. Zogmaister had meekly "done as she was told," [wink,wink].

Suffice it to say we haven't witnessed such disarray and excitement concerning Weber County Commission politics since... well... forever.

Comments anyone? Eh, Ferris?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Standard-Examiner: Political Candidates' Workshop Tonight at Weber State

For those Utah lumpencitizens who do NOT believe that "women should be at home raising children in righteousness, and not prancing about the state capitol providing a different point of view to the old white males in suits who know what's best for us," we'd call this a "must-attend" event

We're delighted to provide a quick heads-up about tonight's Weber State University campus event, wherein WSU's Walker institute will host Real Women Run, Tuesday from 7 to 9 pm at the Hurst Center for Lifelong Learning Dumke Legacy Hall. The event is open to women and men interested in politics:
Among tonight's featured guest panelists will be Weber County Commissioner Jan Zogmaister, who's recently been subjcected to serious bullying behavior from the Weber County Gimmint "Good Ole Boys" Club.

Here's more from the WSU website:
As we should all be painfully aware, elected female leadership is in dismally short supply in our laughably patriarchal Utah body politik.

For those Utah lumpencitizens who do NOT believe that "[w]omen should be at home raising children in righteousness, not prancing about the state capitol providing a different point of view to the old white males in suits who know what's best for us," we'd call this a "must-attend" event.

We urge you to mark your calenders, plan to attend, and begin the task of leveling the playing field, folks.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Breaking: At Least a Dozen Staffers Laid Off Friday at Ogden Standard-Examiner - Updated

Will our home town newspaper survive, now that it's been reduced to its current skeleton crew? 

We saw the massive layoffs happen at the Deseret News.  We witnessed it happening at the Salt Lake Tribune.  Via former Standard-Examiner reporter Scott Schwebke we learn that a "wildly popular editorial cartoonist [is] among at least [a] dozen staffers laid off Friday at Ogden Standard-Examiner."
    It's sad, but true O Gentle Weber County Forum Readers.  Cal Grondahl privately confirmed last evening that he's the "wildly popular editorial cartoonist" among the dozen or so Standard-Examiner staff employees who've received their "walking papers."

    Sodden question:  Will our our already short-staffed home town newspaper survive, now that it's been reduced to its current "skeleton crew"?

    Imagine if you will... a world without newspapers:
    Imagine a Standard-Examiner without Cal Grondahl...

    Update 1/13/14 5:25 p.m.:  Via Bob Becker in the comments section down below, we learn that the "Trib is now reporting the story the SE isn't":
    The Standard will attempt to lure Grondahl back under a new "no cut" contract, if they have a lick of sense; no doubt about it.

    Update 1/15/14 7:44 a.m.: Cal Grondahl informs us that he'll be returning to the Standard for a limited "freelance" gig. "I met with my editors at lunch today and told them I would do a Sat. Caption Cal Contest cartoon and a Sunday editorial cartoon on a local subject of their choosing," our intrepid  genius local cartoonist reported in yesterday's Facebook status message.  Smart move on the part of S-E management, wethink.

    Friday, January 10, 2014

    Salt Lake Tribune: Ogden Mayor Pledges to Stick to Two Wheels for Daily Commute - Updated

    Mayor Mike say's he's "far more afraid of automobiles and people distracted driving than anything the weather  will throw" his way

    Interesting local story from the Salt Lake Tribune. Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell (affectionately known around these parts as "Mayor ten-speed") loves bicycling, as everybody knows. This year however he's truly putting his money where his mouth is, bicycle-wise. Here's the lede:
    Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell says he’s going to ride his bike to work every day this year come rain, snow, shine or anything the Wasatch Front weather can throw at him.
    Caldwell made the commitment in an effort to encourage others to commute on bikes and embrace an active lifestyle. It is also a way to celebrate the nearly $100,000 grant the city received to implement active transportation corridors.
    The mayor said by riding his bike to work he is letting his actions speak louder than his words.
    Mayor Mike, Riding His Bike!
    Read up, folks... perfect story for a wintry Ogden slow news day like today, wethinks:
    "I think with some good, careful planning and some other things I should be able to make it work in just about any weather condition that confronts us," Calwell told SLTrib reporter Topher Webb. "I’m far more afraid of automobiles and people distracted driving than anything the weather will throw at me."

    We'll see... won't we?

    Update 1/10/13 4:45 p.m.: Well, looky here who picked up on our morning story... The Standard's Mitch Shaw, of all people:
    Better late than never, we suppose.

    Check out the extremely cool SE video!

    P.S: Mayor Mike readily "admits" he's "crazy," as if we needed his additional testimonial evidence of that obvious fact. [wink].

    Thursday, January 09, 2014

    Utah Lawmakers Quietly Roll Back Asset Forfeiture Reforms

    Just keep voting Republican, Utah dumbassess!!

    RICO-style Organized Crime is alive and well in the Utah legislature. And these are Utah Republicans who claim to believe in 'limited government,' but in truth want to pick your pocket (as per usual.) and impose a "Mormon Police State" in Utah.. Readup, Peeps:
    Just keep voting Republican, Utah sheeple.

    Wednesday, January 08, 2014

    Standard-Examiner: Weber County Breaks Tradition, Gibson Returns As Commission Chair

    Gotta love all things Republican in Utah

    By Ray

    Looks like the Weber County "Good Ol' Boys" are alive and well as they deny Commissioner Jan Zogmeister her rotation as chairperson of the Commission.
    That'll teach this "uppity" woman to try thinking for herself.

    The more things change in Utah the more they remain the same.

    Gotta love all things Republican in Utah.

    Tuesday, January 07, 2014

    Standard-Examiner: Ogden City Votes to Eliminate Private (Secret) Straw Polls

    Added bonus: Final 2013 Ogden City Municipal Election campaign finance disclosure tallies

    According to this morning's Standard-Examiner story, and as a followup to our earlier Weber County Forum writeup, "[s]ecret votes will no longer be a part of the Ogden City Council's officer election process. In a special meeting held Monday afternoon, the council voted unanimously to do away with a "straw poll" voting system it had been using when selecting the chair and vice chair positions on the council. The council put the new election process to use on Monday, nominating and electing council members Richard Hyer for chair and Caitlin Gochnour for vice chair:
    A Weber County Forum Tip O' the Hat to the Ogden City Council for finally getting around to doing what they ought to have done years ago.

      "Also at the meeting, Blair, Neil Garner, Doug Stephens and Marcia White were sworn in after winning their council races in November," Mitch Shaw further reports.

      Here are the official results, gleaned from the Ogden City website:
      Now that our 2014-16 Ogden City Council is sworn in, and Council "leadership" has been chosen, we think the timing is right to post the final 2013 campaign finance tallies, to wrap up our WCF  2013 Ogden Municipal Election coverage.  Here is a table, incorporating the Fourth Set of Campaign Finance Disclosure Statements, submitted by each Council candidate on or about December 5, 2013: 

      Municipal Ward 1
      Neil K. Garner $0$1,229$2,550$2,575
      Pamela Stevens* $0$0$0$25
      Municipal Ward 3
      Turner C. Bitton $550$0$10,355$9,696
      Doug Stephens $0$1,708$6,150$5,744
      At-Large "A"
      Stephen D. Thompson $39$183$2,445$2,442
      Marcia L. White $850$6,307$18,339$16,003
      At-Large "B"
      Bart Blair $0$1,209$1,875$1,338
      Courtney Jon White* $0$0$320$290
      * Disqualified

      Best wishes to our new Ogden City Council, which appears to be firing on all cylinders (at this point, at least).

      Monday, January 06, 2014

      Salt Lake Tribune: Supreme Court Halts Gay Marriage in Utah

      Great news for the "haters," we suppose

      Bad news for Utah civil libertarians, as the Salt Lake Tribune delivers this blockbuster news. Here's the lede:
      The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday put same-sex marriages in Utah on hold, granting the state’s request for a stay while it appeals a ruling that laws banning such marriages are unconstitutional.
      The court said the stay would be in place until the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver makes a decision on Utah’s appeal.
      Read the full story, folks:
      Even worse news for "[a]t least about 1,000 same sex couples have wed since Shelby’s ruling," whose marital statuses will now be thrown into legal limbo.

      Great news for the "haters," though we suppose.

      Sunday, January 05, 2014

      Standard-Examiner: Ogden Council May Dump Possibly Illegal Straw-poll Voting

      We'll be keeping out fingers crossed that Dr. Schroeder won't be compelled to file another remedial lawsuit, right?

      As the Ogden City Council dutifully prepares to swear in our newly-elected council members, and select council "leadership" for the upcoming two years, The Standard-Examiner reports that the Council will on Monday consider procedural amendments which would would ideally bring the council leadership nomination and selection process into compliance with requirements of Utah's Open and Public Meetings Act:
      OGDEN -- After being informed it may be in violation of Utah's Open and Public Meetings Act, the Ogden City Council will consider changing the way members nominate and elect council officers.
      In a special meeting Monday, the council will consider amending its "rules of procedure" to abandon a straw poll voting process it had been using when selecting the chair and vice chair positions on the council.
      Currently, the nomination and election of the two leadership positions takes place in a council study session, where council members indicate on a straw poll form whom they would like to nominate.
      Council members fold the forms and place them in a designated container that is given to council's executive director, who determines which council members have been nominated.
      After nominations have been made, voting takes place under the same straw poll format, and the individual responses are anonymous.
      When the straw poll results are finalized, they are ratified in the regular council meeting.
       Check out the full Mitch Shaw story here:
      "David Reymann, a Salt Lake City attorney who specializes in First Amendment and media litigation, including open records laws and access to court proceedings, recently sent the council [the below-linked] letter stating that its current practice violates the state's open and public meetings law," Mr. Shaw further reports. We've independently obtained a full copy of that letter, of course:
      We've been complaining about the Council's secret ballot council leadership nomination and election process since it was first initiated back in December of 2010; and the procedure has also caught editorial heat from the Standard-Examiner.

      A Weber County Forum Tip O' The Hat to Ogden City Watchdog Dan Schroeder for consulting with Attorney  Reymann and asking him to write the advisory letter.  Similar kudos to Council Chair Bart Blair for promptly placing the matter on Monday's special counsel meeting agenda.

      As the Standard Editorial Board opined in 2010, "it's never a good idea to try to reduce council animosity by taking away from the public decisions and rationales that they have a right to hear about. In other words, the secret straw polls should not be used as anger-management therapy."

      We'll be keeping out fingers crossed that Dr. Schroeder won't be compelled to file another remedial lawsuit, right?

      Update 1/6/131:30 p.m.: We now learn, however belatedly, that Perfessor Schroader is now "live blogging" from the Ogden City Council Chambers.  Be sure to tune in.  Sadly, your blogmeister is probably the last to learn about this, inasmuch as Dan S. never gave us a "heads up" about this. Nevertheless... Go Dr. Schroeder; GO!

      Saturday, January 04, 2014

      Standard-Examiner: Judge Reinstates Ousted Riverdale City Council Candidate Gary Griffiths

      Notwithstanding Friday's 2nd District Court setback, at least one Riverdale City official remains unrepentant

      Justice finally prevails in Riverdale City, despite City officials' 2013 municipal election blunder, according to this morning's Mark Saal story.  Here's the lede, folks:
      OGDEN -- It's official. We think.
      Barring an unlikely appeal by the city of Riverdale, Gary Griffiths will be sworn in Monday evening as the newest member of the Riverdale City Council.
      On Friday afternoon in an Ogden courtroom, 2nd District Judge W. Brent West ruled that Griffiths' financial disclosure statement was not filed late, and he declared Griffiths the winner of one of the two council seats up for grabs in November.
      Read up:
      Notwithstanding Friday's 2nd District setback, at least one Riverdale City official remains unrepentant: 
      Despite the decision, outgoing Mayor Bruce Burrows said he still feels "comfortable" with Herrick's decision on the deadline date.
      "I show support for, and an appreciation for, the job she did under a difficult situation," he said.
      Considering the fact that the City of Riverdale has been raking him over the coals for the past two months, Griffiths is handling it all in a spirit of good sportsmanship, wethinks:
      Griffiths says he harbors no ill feelings over the incident and looks forward to working with the council, as well as with the city recorder.
      "She's a perfectionist, and she wants to do the right thing," Griffiths said of Herrick. "She came up to me (after the hearing), shook my hand and said, 'It will be a pleasure serving with you.' That meant a lot to me. It was very classy of her."
      And, it's a good sign, Griffiths said.
      "Because she'll be administering the oath (of office) to me on Monday."
      Hmmm... a "classy" city bureaucrat, especially one who can't do simple arithmetic, would have offered an apology, don'tcha think?

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