Saturday, November 29, 2008

City Leaders and Blogs

Buried deep into this mornings copy of the Standard Examiner, I found a simple and interesting article about cities and blogging. (See Here)

Apparently Centerville city leaders have paid consultants to help them find ways to improve their website and communication with the public. The suggestion is a blog. Antone Clark reports:

"...The Summit Group, said the city leaders could make a real connection with the public if the are willing to venture into the blogosphere. For now, it appears city officials may let the idea pass."

Mayor Ron Russell didn't think this was such a hot idea. In fact he stated, "That's just what I need, another thing to do."

Now I am not here to criticize Centerville, but rather the fact the city isn't considering a blog and surprised the Summit Group even considered a blog.

I am impressed with City Manager, Scott Darringinton's blog (See Here). But he doesn't have the biggest readership; however his posts are very informational and helpful. I am sure it will pick up in time. But his blog is a perfect example of city officials reaching out to the public.

Though the problem with city officials blogging is a blog can become dormant very quickly. Just look at diggity Mayor Godfrey's blog (See Here). The last time he posted was January 11, 2008. My rule of thumb, if you don't have anything to blog about, don't blog.  Otherwise it will your blog posts become lame.  But to start a blog just to say you have a blog can turn out to bite you in the end. Centerville and their consultants will have to weigh all of these things when and if they decide to blog.

I hope South Ogden continues it's blogging and maybe even we will see it expand to city council members, similar to how Rep. Steve Urquhart (or should I say Senator Urquhart) blogs during the legislative sessions. (See Here)

Centerville, best of luck and I hope you didn't pay too much money.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

South Ogden - Recession Proof?

Join the Glorious Revolution!: Thank you KSL!

Another local blogger, Kirk from Ogden, has recognized that South Ogden appears to be left untouched by the current economic crisis that is sweaping through Weber and Davis county. In his blog post about KSL and their ability to manipulate the news, he opines:

"Maybe KSL should do a news story about how there seems to be no recession or slow-down in spending in an isolated area of South Ogden Utah."

(See full post here:)

Though his post wasn't specifically about South Ogden, he does point out how amazing this is--if it is true.

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Being the Chef has its Rewards

Thanksgiving.  This strange and factually incorrect holiday of eating and football brings mixed emotions to my home each year.  My family loves spending time together, or I should say my wife does.  I am somewhat of a self-proclaimed scrooge around the holidays.  The comforts of my own home, TV, games and food have always appealed to me; however each year I give in to the desires of my family and we visit relatives near and far. 

 The past couple of years I have attempted to increase my peppiness during holidays by overshadowing the obnoxious elements of the thanksgiving with things I enjoy.  For instance, for years I have grown weary of meaningless small talk among distant relatives I only see once a year.  People ask you what you are doing, where you live and say things like, “we should get together,” but there is no desire to do so.  In the end, you leave tired, full and sometimes with a headache.  I have found that if make myself a cooking assignment for the day; I tend to delay such conversations, at least until after dinner is served.  This could give one 4 to 24 hours delay.  The conversations are inevitable, but can be postponed (if you’re lucky) until near the time you leave.  

One suggestion, is to offer to cook the turkey; yes you heard me correctly, the turkey.   The huge responsibility in cooking this awkward fowl can not only help you avoid all the awkwardness and craziness of the “holiday of thanks”, it can make you the hero of the day.  The women in the family will stand impressed and comment on your amazing craftiness, the men will stand in awe and ask you how you did it.  A perfectly cooked turkey will be talked about for years.  People will remark, “Remember last year when you cooked that turkey?”  Eventually it will be expected, “BenJoe is cooking the turkey this year.”  For those of you considering this same tactic here are some tips.  Each one I have learned by trial and error.
  1. Thaw the turkey ahead of time.  Do not wait until the day of to thaw that blasted bird.  IT IS HUGE!  If you must thaw it in four hours time. COLD WATER (NOT HOT) and the fridge are your best allies in this emergency. Hot water can cause food born bacteria to form.  So avoid the hot water.  You may get lucky.  I usually thaw mine two days before!  I stick it in five gallons of cold water, in a cooler then stick it in the garage (this will make sense with the next step). Thawing is a must!  

  2. BRINE!  If you have never heard of brining, you are not alone.  The first time I brined a turkey, I almost laughed at it.  Brining adds flavor and SUPER JUICINESS to your turkey. DO IT!  I didn’t even follow the instructions completely the firs t time and the turkey still turned out AMAZING! Here is how I brine:

     a. Remember that cooler, well put about five gallons of water in the cooler.  

    b. Put in four cups of Kosher salt (table will work fine).  
    c. ½ cup of brown sugar
    d. 1 Tablespoon of Garlic Powder
    e. 1 Tablespoon of Rosemary
    f. 1 Tablespoon of Coriander Seeds
    g. 5 Bay Leaves
    h. 1 Thawed Turkey
    i. Leave it in the cold water, in the cooler, in the garage, for about 8-10 hours.  Rotate it half way through.  Do not let it sit for 24 hours.
    j. Rinse out the turkey and start cooking.

  3. Garlic!  I use garlic two ways. 

    a. First I take a big whole piece or bunch of garlic.  Peal it, leave all the cloves stuck together.  Then slice the whole thing in half.  Shove that sucker inside the turkey. Both halves.  Then fill it with your stuffing or vegetables of choice.  This will roast the garlic inside the turkey giving it a great flavor.

    b. Garlic butter.  Roast some freshly pressed garlic in a sauce pan with a stick of butter or margarine.  Add other seasonings to taste.  Pour into a bowl and stick it in the freezer.  Once it is hardened, slice the butter into little slices.  Cut the skin of the turkey back just a little bit and slide peaces all over the turkey.  The butter will melt right into the meat.

  4. DO NOT TRUST THE POP-UP TURKEY TIMER.  That thing is not a thermometer.  It is glue that is designed to melt at a 185 Degrees.  But when the glue melts, the rest of the bird will be 200 degrees, hence over cooked and dry.  Use a meat thermometer.  Check it regularly.  When it hits 185, regardless of the turkey timer has popped, get that bird out.

  5. Perfectly Carve the Turkey.  If everything else has not made you king, this will.  Alton Brown does the best job; so I follow his recipe for carving before everyone else’s.  Every time I have done this people have said, “WOW! You carve like an expert chef.” See the video here:

Well there you have it, how to make your thanksgiving more meaningful and fun.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and I enjoy being with them, they are really not bad at all.  I love my wife’s family and mine, but from where I sit—being the chef has it is rewards.

Happy Thanksgiving South Ogden.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Audit Committee Revealed

In doing some research I was able to track down some information about the South Ogden City Audit Committee. Thanks to Scott Darrington, city manager, for helping me gather the information needed.

Essentially the Audit Committee meets twice year. Usually in July (at the beginning of the fiscal year) and again in December (half way through). This committee is comprised of the following:

The Mayor and two Council Members, also the city manager and finance director attend in a supervisory capacity.

Since the committee meets only a couple of times a year and the fact the city hired a new auditor, the schedule has been a little different. Scott Darrington explained with all the changes and limited amount of meeting times, they didn't give it much thought and just recently decided to appoint Mr. Smith for the upcoming meeting. In part I can understand the confusion; however I am still concerned they waited over a year to fill a hole in the committee. This committee has met two times with out all of its members.

What happened to make them realize? Were they sitting there one day in an audit committee meeting and someone said, "Hey! We have an empty chair! Who is missing? Oh....Shannon no longer is on the council...oops!" Or did they have a vote and when Shannon didn't answer they realized they needed a new person.

Then there is the really scary question: Have they even met since then?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Weber County Forum: Final, Final Weber County Official Election Results

Weber County Forum: Final, Final Weber County Official Election Results

The Weber County Forum had its annual election prediction contest this year. Each person enters their prediction for the races that effect Weber County. The winner gets bragging rights. There is an overall winner and an individual race winner. I was happy to participate and did horribly in most races. To my surprise and excitement I won the House District 10 prediction race. (See Here) In fact I missed it by .12 percent. I guess living in District 10 helps, not to mention my multiple posts about Ed Allen and Brent Wallis. Well, since the winner gets bragging rights, I decided to post about it. Thanks WCF for the great contest!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Audit Committee - Did we forget?

At the City Council Meeting on Tuesday, one thing happened that I forgot to mention. Looks like the City Council forgot too.

I am not sure how often the Audit Committee meets, but it was announced that Wayne Smith would be filling the vacancy on the committee. This needed to be ratified by the council, so it came to a vote. Of course the vote was unanimous, but the vote wasn't what was interesting. The interesting part was the announcement that Mr. Smith would be replacing Shannon Sebahar on the committee.

Wait a minute? Wasn't Shannon Sebahar ousted nearly a year ago? We are just getting around to replacing her on the committee. Does this committee not meet? How can you honestly go a year without replacing her? As soon as Shannon lost the election, all of her committee assignments should have been filled--immediately.

From where I sit, this is kind of sad.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

City Council - 11/18/2008 - Are we in money trouble?

Our local city council meeting this week was very interesting. There was a larger than normal crowd and lots of great topics discussed. My post will center around the budget amendments; however I will mention a little about the number of young kids that attend the meeting.

The unusual amount of young kids at the meeting puzzled me. I quickly realized they were there to hear the city council's discussion on a proposed ordinance to eliminate skateboarders from the city streets. The ordinance would make it a Class C Misdemeanor to skate on a city road. This could be a maximum fine of $750 and 90 days in jail (similar to those who point a laser pointer at cops - See Here). Kids will now be limited to skating only on sidewalks. Councilwoman Sallee Orr spoke up stating we should find something or somewhere for the kids to skate. The mayor agreed and mentioned he has looked into skate parks (During his Orlando Trip/Conference). Interestingly enough, as soon as the kids left he said, "This is just a fad," almost to suggest there was no real intention to help the kids who want to skateboard. -- Interesting.

The second issue of note was the discussion of the 2008-2009 budget. Most of the amendments were simple and easy to understand. But as the evening went on, we came to understand the city is nearly $300,000 in the negative for the fiscal year. City Manager, Scott Darrington made sure we all knew sales tax revenue was doing fine, this is not why we are in the negative. Yet it was because of other revenue problems and the slow economy.

Mr. Darrington said, "Expenditures are right on and we are not over spending. If sales tax revenue went down, things would be much worse. But if I had a crystal ball, I would say the city will be ok."

Then why are we in the negative!?! He even said all new projects are on hold because of the economy. Is it comforting to know each year about this time we a little behind or even, but this year we are $300,000 behind--NO!

Don't worry, there is light at the end of the tunnel; we have roll over funds from the Capital Funds project accounts. We have a total of $230,000 to be exact. Thank goodness! We are saved, we found some money to help out in this economy.

So what should we do with the money? Balance the budget, pay off the debts we owe? No, instead we are going to spend the money on the next phase of the nature park (so we can enjoy it this winter), a cement walkway between Friendship Park and the new library (so we can walk on it during the winter) and AC units (to cool us down in the winter).

Now don't get me wrong, I know these things are important, but sales tax revenue has a high probability of dropping lower than expected this next quarter; so why isn't this money instead spent to prepare for a potential shortfall. Did I mention we are $300,000 in the negative? We have $230,000 that could help! In addition, why did Mayor Garwood and Councilwoman Vicki Mattson go to Orlando for a conference if our city budget is in the negative? Should we not slow our spending when the economy starts slowing?

Are we reading the news? Do we know there is economic crisis?
Is South Ogden exempt from all the problems every surrounding city is experiencing?

I am worried about our city budget. Maybe I don't need to be, but I tend to think if we are in the negative or in debt, we should slow down the spending, conferences and retreats (Oh, the council is going on a retreat in January). We should start using our money wisely!

January is our next budget meeting; this will also tell us how our revenues are doing.

On a lighter note, I was very impressed with Sallee Orr's attention to detail. She caught nearly five inconsistencies or grammar errors in the ordinances, amendments or contracts. She was really on top of things.

Also Jon Andersen was great to follow up on my sprinklers and we are working things out.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Agenda Found

What a pleasant surprise! This morning in the Standard Examiner was the South Ogden City Council Agenda. Better late than never.

See Article Here

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Missing Agenda! - UPDATE

In doing some research, I spoke to two people about the agenda problems with South Ogden City Council Meetings.  

First I emailed Dana Pollard, city recorder, she said the following, "It was sent, they just don't always put it in there.  Try the city website, there is one there also."  I remember she mentioned the Standard Examiner didn't print her agenda for the last meeting I attended.

Thinking this was odd, since the Standard Examiner has been so kind to publish agendas from Fruit Hieghts and 17 other cities, I decided to investigate.  I attempted to answer the following questions:

  • Did the Standard Examiner just decide not to print the South Ogden agenda, but print nearly 18 other cities meeting agendas? 
  • Is South Ogden City on the crap list with the Local Paper?  

To answer these questions I called Charile Pomerleau, Government and Education team leader at the Standard Examiner, I assumed he would know what is going on.  

Charlie Pomerleau said,  "We post every agenda that is submitted,  but we never see an agenda from South Ogden City.  We post every agenda we receive for City Council and Planning Commission meetings."

I asked if he was the person to send them to, he said, "Yes."

He then mentioned, "There has been some concern with the city offices and the value they put in giving information.  For example there was an accident this weekend in South Ogden.  The local police in South Ogden gave us a five word statement and said we could have the rest on Monday. We are daily newspaper, our readers need that information now."  

So...who is to blame here?  I think it is obvious South Ogden City has either not been sending agendas or they have been sending them to the wrong person. 

To help remedy the situation, since it could be just a mere oversite, I have forwarded the contact information on to Dana Pollard; therefore she can make sure the agendas get to the right person.  But apparently this has been happening for sometime.  I am growing concerned that South Ogden City is not doing well in the area of communication.  I personally have emailed our City Council members a number of times and received only communication back from the Mayor. In addition two of the email address are wrong on the city council elected officials page (See Here) they are still set to go to their predecesors, so good luck emailing Sallee Orr or Wayne Smith. 

(How much do we pay for the website again?)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

South Ogden City Council Agenda - Missing - Violation of Utah Code?

In reading the Standard this morning, I was looking forward to seeing the full agenda of this Tuesday's meeting.  I was surprised to see there was no agenda posted, (See Here.)  It looks as though every major city, including Fruit Heights has posted their agenda in the Standard except our fair South Ogden City.  Did the city council forget the Utah Code regarding public meetings?

According to the "Utah Open and Public Meetings Act", South Ogden city has to post an agenda and announcement of a public meetinig with in 24 hours of the meeting.  (See Utah Code here)

The Utah Code states:

3) (a) Public notice shall be satisfied by:
     (i) posting written notice:
     (A) at the principal office of the public body, or if no principal office exists, at the building where the meeting is to be held; and
     (B) beginning October 1, 2008 and except as provided in Subsection (3)(b), on the Utah Public Notice Website created under Section 
63F-1-701; and
     (ii) providing notice to:
     (A) at least one newspaper of general circulation within the geographic jurisdiction of the public body; or
     (B) a local media correspondent.

In addition it states:

(6) (a) A public notice that is required to include an agenda under Subsection (1) shall provide reasonable specificity to notify the public as to the topics to be considered at the meeting. Each topic shall be listed under an agenda item on the meeting agenda.

So where is our agenda?  Well it has been posted to the Utah Public Notice Website, (See Agenda Here), but how many of us check this site. That is why it should be posted in a newspaper.  Granted the meeting in on Tuesday; therefore South Ogden City Council needs to have this agenda in tomorrows paper to be in compliance with Utah State Code.  

Thursday, November 13, 2008

City Manager and Sales Tax

City Manager, Scott Darrington, answered some questions I posted to his blog (See Here) about Sales Tax.  I asked these questions in preperation for our upcoming budget meeting.

BenJoe: Does the city anticipate or see a downward trend in Sales Tax this quarter and into next year because of the slowing economy? Will this affect the budget process for next year for parks and other services?

In other words, what happens to services, parks, etc. if there is a sudden drop in Sales Tax?

Mr. Darrington: Yes, the city has anticipated a downturn in sales tax this year. In the past six years the City has seen an increase in sales tax.

When we budgeted this year, we budgeted on the assumption that the sales tax would stay flat. So far our projection has been right on. We made some cuts on this year's budget up front so that we wouldn't get into trouble later in the year.

Also part of the drop in sales tax means that we have to put off some capital projects that we would have liked to have this year.

At this point services won't change. The reduction in sales tax is not affecting those budgets.


Sounds like they have done fairly well in budgeting this year.  I wonder what capital projects will now be put on hold?  We shall see.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Retail Sales and Budget Meeting

South Ogden is not immune to the affects of our current economy, I am sure we will begin hearing about it soon.  If all goes well, South Ogden will be just fine; however I am worried tough financial times for our city are approaching.  
  City Manager - Scott Darringinton, in a recent post on his South Ogden City Managers blog, explained why Sales Tax is important to the budget process.  (See Here)  With the recent Ogden Sales Tax Revenue news, as reported in the Standard Examiner (See Here), I can't help but wonder were South Ogden sits. 
   There is an important budget meeting on the 18th where many of these things will be discussed. My concern lies in the recent talks of a Recreation Center that will be clearly unprofitable and limited in use. (See Here)  What other projects are in the works?  What will need to be cut? What should be cut? Are retail sales down in Ogden? I recommend we all attend!

The budget meeting will be on the 18th of November at 6 pm in the City Council Chambers.  

Thursday, November 6, 2008

BURNED: American flag, family's feelings / Black South Ogden residents say fire dampens joy over Obama's win

BURNED: American flag, family's feelings / Black South Ogden residents say fire dampens joy over Obama's win

I am so disappointed to read this happened in our city of South Ogden.  This family raised their American Flag in honor of the elections and Presidenti-Elect Obama's win.  Before they knew it, someone in South Ogden went and started their flag on fire.

My wife and I have talked much about the significance of Obama being President of the United States. Even though I didn't vote for him, I can't help but recognize the value of his presidency. I feel racial discrimination that has existed will begin to change dramatically for the better. 

However, I was happy to hear about the outpooring of support for this family and how South Ogden and many others came to their side. In the end they received 13 flags from around Ogden.  They have said that their pride has been restored.

What a happy ending to a terrible situation.

Budget Hearing - South Ogden City Council 11/18/2008

November 18th is our next City Council meeting here in South Ogden.  This is a special meeting as we will discuss the budget for the upcoming year. I welcome all to attend this meeting to learn more about where your tax payer money is going.  However I will be blogging the meeting.

They have canceled a few meetings as of late so for those who do not frequent the South Ogden City Website there have been some updates to when is the next city council meeting:

South Ogden City Council Meeting Changes
The South Ogden City Council Meetings for October 21, November 4, December 16, 2008 have been cancelled. The next City Council Meeting will be November 18, 2008 at 6:00 p.m. in the City Council Chambers located at 3950 Adams Ave., South Ogden, Utah

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Results

I have had a few people ask me about election results.  There are a number of places to go.  I spent most of my time last night between two websites:


Here are some people of note that won.  Ryan Wilcox, whom I posted about back in June (See Here), had a great win!  Congrats Ryan. 

Also as I posted last night, Brent Wallis upset Edger Allen for District 10.  What a crazy night of elections.

I felt the Gage Froerer machup was closer than I would have expected.  His term will be interesting to watch in the coming months.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Wallis Wins

I spent this evening glued to the computer refreshing the election website every 10 seconds. I saw Brent go from 10 percent down to WIN the election!

What an upset! I am sure Ed Allen broke out in a rash from all his sweating. I know a good doctor who can help him if he needs one.

Congrats Brent! What an amazing man. District 10 has been held by the Democratic party for 18 years. But no longer. Here comes Brent Wallis.

Why I support Brent Wallis?

Each political season I go in with the most open mind possible. I know what my core values and beliefs are. Each time I look for a candidate, I try to find one that fits my values. Sometimes this is Republican, sometimes it is not. In a post from many months ago (See Here) I didn't know Brent Wallis, but had heard of Ed Allen. I wasn't sure who to vote for.

I met Ed Allen and Brent Wallis months later (See Here). Within minutes I knew that Brent Wallis was a different sort of man. As time has gone on I have had a number of conversations with him about his ambitions and goals. I have grown to really admire and respect him.

What is it about Brent? Is it his experience in education? Sure that is a big thing for me. I have kids, I want them to have a great educations system. Someone with 36 years experience in the education system is important to me. But that is not it. Is it his fiscal knowledge? Sure the fact he managed million dollar budgets at the ATC and thousand dollar budgets at the Ogden Country Club are important. But that is not it. Is it his business connections and experience? Sure his experience with business leaders and being named to the chamber of commerce hall of fame is important. But that is not it.

One day, talking to Brent, he said, "Every person who has ever worked for me; went on to run their own ATC." I realized Brent is not only a leader; but more importantly--a mentor. He would love to serve in the House, but in the end he hopes to inspire and mentor others to do the same. I have met a number of great leaders, but this was very inspiring, he is an educator at heart and I am excited to have such a person in the House of Representatives to represent our district.

Still don't know whom to vote for? Read what I have posted about Ed Allen and Brent Wallis. I think it is very clear. Vote for a true leader, a mentor, and educator, a businessman; vote for Brent Wallis for District 10.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Ogden Weber ATC

I had an interesting experience on Saturday.  I was talking to a neighbor about how things were going.  I knew the economy would be a concern for him; he normally lives paycheck to paycheck and has struggled in the past to put food on his table.  He told me today things are going pretty well.  He took a job at the local Deseret Industries and through the LDS Church they got him into classes at the Ogden-Weber ATC.  He now has learned HVAC systems and is doing very well in heating and air conditioning.  What an amazing program!  He was very thankful for the ATC and all it has done for him.

  This brings me to an interesting point.  I received Ed Allen's brochure in the mail on Friday.  His first paragraph mentions how supportive he is of the ATC and how amazing it is.  I am sure as a member of the LDS church he has seen this first hand.  He probably had similar experiences of sending people to work at Deseret Industries for a food order; whom later were given training at the Ogden Weber ATC. 

 The most interesting part about his statement of ATC-ism support, is the contridiction his statements make with what he has said verbally to everyone else.  On my own door step, on August 28th, 2008 (See Here), he told me that the ATC was a waste.  He mentioned a number of times he didn't think the ATC was all that great.  I have also heard him say these same things to other people as well. At the Chamber of Commerce "Meet the Candidate Night" he said the same and tried to discredit the ATC.

 Why is he saying these things?  Because his republican challenger - Brent Wallis was president of the Ogden-Weber ATC for 36 years.  This has been a pathetic attempt at discrediting Brent Wallis and all he has done for Weber County.

This is a classic example of a person, who wants to be a career politician, saying what he has to say to get elected.  Ed Allen came out against the ATC thinking he would win with voters.  Once he realized the popularity of the ATC and people love what it does, he had to back off and send a mailer and pledge his love to the ATC gods.  In a sense, he lied to people to win votes and now has changed his position.  We call this a "Flip-Flop" in the politcal world.

Ed Allen is a career politician wanna-be.  I am sorry but he is!  He lost his senate seat and couldn't get re-elected.  Now his running for the house.  He is dying to get back in so bad he will say anything to win.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


The Weber County Forum, whom I mentioned in my last post -(See Here) recently posted a link to my blog and added me to their blog roll.  Whether you are a democrat or a republican it always great to hear all sides of the argument.  That is why I read the Weber County Forum.

Plus they are tons of fun!

Thanks Rudi