Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Employee Evaluations and Congress

Starting Friday I will begin a new year in my life. Along with that new year will come my annual employee evaluation at work. Each January I sit down with my boss and we evaluate my work from the previous year. There are certain criteria that I have to excel in to get this raise. These include goals, performance, character, etc. Each one is graded using a rating system of one to five. The points are then averaged out and I am given a raise based on my average score. During the past four years of my career I have had some great raises and some ok raises. My not "ok" raises have been directly related to me not excelling enough in the areas required of me. I only have myself to blame. Either way, I try to learn from my mistakes and push forward to have a great evaluation for the next year.

The Standard Examiner today had an editorial about the upcoming pay increase for Congress. They are urging Congress to block this raise. They state a number of good points as to why and you can read the full editorial here: (See Here)

"Unless nothing is done to stop it, the group with the lowest approval rating of any legal organization in our nation is poised to up its average pay $4,700, or to $174,000 a year. "

According to, which aggregates all the polling numbers from every major source, congress has an approval rating of around 20 percent. If I had an approval rating of 20 percent, I guarantee that I would not be getting a raise this year. Why on earth are we giving a raise to people who are not doing their job. I agree with the editorial that Congress doesn't deserve a raise and Rep. Bishop should join Rep. Matheson in pushing for vote to block this year's raise.

I think it was said best in the editorial: "The logic to reject a pay raise is clear — Congress simply hasn't earned it."

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Thanks due to Ogden City Worker

For those who do not know, we have had a number of problems lately on Adams Ave up to Kiwana Drive, mainly from a road collapse. Yesterday there was a great little letter to the editor about the South Ogden City crew that has been working in that area.

See Link Here -

I love hearing great things about South Ogden.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Standard Re-Examiner catches up to the D-News: Garwood to chair a committee

The Standard Examiner finally catches up to what we already know. (See Here) Mayor Garwood will be heading up a National Committee.  The Deseret News ran this same story three days ago (See Here), but now we get to here "the rest of the story."  Thanks to our Re-Examiner reporter Jamie Lampros we now have of some more information as to Mayor Garwood's agenda. He will not be pushing issues like, outlawing skateboarding in your town and how to building a rec. center gym facility. Instead Mayor Garwood says the following:

"I would like to focus on revitalizing older neighborhoods as far as housing and keeping ownership and history in those homes," Garwood said. "I would also like to look at ways cities can help create more jobs and influence the job market and bring in new businesses."

NLC president Kathleen M. Novak said:

"I will look to George's leadership on this important committee to help define our expectations and sharpen our message on behalf of cities and towns."

Mayor Garwood has a lot on his plate now; though I do think he could do a great job on the committee, I just hope he can "sharpen his message" when it comes to things around here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

South Ogden Mayor Garwood to Lead a National Panel

The Deseret News has scooped the Standard Examiner (or maybe not since their online site was not updated early this morning) with a great article about our very own South Ogden mayor. (See Here)

Mayor Garwood, who is very politically active in other organizations, was called to be the chairman for a national committee with National League of Cities. Essentially his committee, Congress of Cities Programs Committee, will determine the major topics discussed at their 2009 convention. I am wondering what will be on the agenda.

  • How to effectivly outlaw skateboarding.
  • Raising taxes to build a rec. center gym facility.
  • How to build a Nature Park with a kewl splash pad!

Either way, I think Mayor Garwood will do a good job on the committee and I hope his involvement only improves our city.

Good Luck Mr. Mayor.

Monday, December 22, 2008

South Ogden feeling like North Ogden

The Standard Examiner had a nice article today (See Here) about how North Ogden is miffed when it comes to the Central Weber Sewer District's rate hike. In fact they are seeing a 120 percent rate hike just from the district. Whereas we will only be getting 100 percent. Either way I am sure we can sympathize.

They will be looking at a $5.50 plus rate increase. We can expect similar numbers along with the 83 percent rate increase from the city government.

We should start seeing these increases next month. I hope this news doesn't spoil your Christmas.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Your Utility Bill Is Going Up

In our last city council meeting there was a lengthy conversation regarding the Central Weber Sewer District. You see when we flush the toilet it has to go somewhere and someone has to take care of it, this is where the Central Weber Sewer District comes in. The Central Weber Sewer District is raising it rates starting in January. In fact they will be increasing their fees 100 percent and then have a scheduled increase for the next few years. To add to this, South Ogden City is considering increasing your base fee for sewer usage by 83 percent. After all of the increases we will pay 240 percent more in fees.  For 2009 you are looking at an increase of 183 percent. Unfortunately the city has little choice in this matter; the council is doing everything it can but maybe they could do something to lessen the blow.

Here is my suggestion. There are two types of fees that South Ogden charges:

  1. A Base Fee
  2. A Usage Fee

Everyone pays the base fee and this is the fee that is going up 83 percent, which will be about $4.50 per person. For someone on a fixed income this could hurt when you add the 100 percent increase from the sewer district. So instead of increasing the base fee, why not increase the usage fee with a variable rate. For example if your usage goes up, so goes up your rate. If the usage goes down, the then your rate goes down. Then your fees only go up if you use it. This might help the average senior citizen who doesn't use much water or the sewage system.

I personally know a few people that a $5.00 to $10.00 increase in fees would be tough, they are already donating plasma each month just to make ends meet. These are tough times we are moving into, I hope South Ogden residents are saving their money and preparing for such tough times. I think a tax increase for a rec. center gym facility only adds to this.

A meeting is set up for January 20th to get more public opinion and to address the issues with the Central Weber Sewer District.  Come and let your voice be heard or sound off here on the blog and let us know what you are thinking.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"Don't Call it a Rec Center, it's a Gym Facility!" City Council Meeting 12-16-2008

At the beginning of every city council meeting there is a chance for public comment on any concerns about South Ogden City.  I took this opportunity to mention my concern about the upcoming potential for a property tax increase for a new rec. center in connection with the new South Ogden Junior High. If you don't remember you can see the following posts:

Then I began mentioning a survey done by South Ogden City Council where 65 percent of residents have said they would not like to see a tax increase for a rec. center.  For more info, see my post on November 15, 2007 (See Here). 

As we continued with our reasonable discussion about the tax increase, Mayor Garwood interrupted me to say the following:

"We are not building a rec. center, it's a gym facility. Why are people calling me about a rec. center. We were never building a rec. center.  This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to build a gym facility for your kids. Your kids won't be around for 60 more years to see such a great opportunity."
Don't get me wrong, I like the idea of a nice recreation center gym facility with a pool and other features.  But I am not for a rec. center gym facility that has very limited use, is not open until after 5 pm and is raising property taxes during a recession. (Have we not heard of counter cyclical economic policy - lowering taxes in a recession).

A few minutes later the financial advisor for the city council came forward to speak about the bond for the new rec center gym facility.  He said, "We will need to change the wording in the documents to not say rec. center."  

Throughout the night this was the case, any time someone said rec. center, they were told to change it to gym facility.  Finally councilman Wayne Smith made a motion to set a public hearing for the proposed rec center gym facility.  He too called it a rec. center (while shaking his head in confusion) and was politely told to change it to gym facility.

What is the difference between a gym facility and rec. center?  According to Mayor Garwood--gym equipment.  Since there is no gym equipment this is not a rec. center.  

Come on people!  I have been in all the same meetings as you Mr. Mayor!  The city council has been calling this a rec. center for months! See the minutes from September 2, (See Here), it was called a recreation facility.  You all called it a rec. center at least a dozen times in your conversations.  Now people are questioning the rec. center; so we are now calling it a gym facility. Does this seem right?  

We all took the same survey and said we didn't want a tax increase for a rec. center. But we are fine with a tax increase for a gym facility?

Personally I am disappointed in how this is playing out.  I did not appreciate the response from the Mayor and it was VERY OBVIOUS the council, the lawyers, the financial advisers, and EVERYONE else was calling it a rec. center.  Also did I mention tax payers will being paying on a $3 Million bond for a rec center gym facility with limited use.  

For even more information about the rec. center gym facility, check out the press release on Scott Darrington's blog, (See Here)

Once Again - No Agenda -

Yes, South Ogden City Council will be having a meeting tonight; even though their agenda is not in the paper again.  Maybe this is kind of nit picky, but tonight they are discussing a resolution to begin a bond of $3,000,000 for a rec enter.  Tonight is an important meeting.  So wouldn't we want an agenda.

To see the agenda you can go to the Public Meeting Notices website (See Here)

To learn about the law that requires South Ogden to post it's agenda in the paper, (See Here).

I will be blogging tonight about the council meeting; in addition I will be speaking about the rec center and my feelings.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

From Where I Sit Podcast #1 - South Ogden Old Fashion Holiday

I am pleased to announce the first From Where I Sit - In South Ogden, Utah PODCAST! I have wanted to record a podcast for sometime but have been afraid to make the jump. But at last here it is. I will make future podcasts with interviews of politicians, business leaders and reviews of events.

For my inaugural podcast we have live review of the South Ogden Old Fashion Holiday event.

Every year South Ogden holds a Neighborhood Christmas party. Using non-Senator Buttars lingo, it is called the South Ogden Old Fashion Holiday. Each year it is held at the 40th street park. There is free food, entertainment, tree lighting and of course Santa Clause. I took my family had tons of fun.

I podcasted the event and have it ready for download. You can download or listen below.

icon for podbean

This Podcast features:
  1. Mayor Garwood Tree Lighting 00.18
  2. Interview with Marcie Edwards from South Ogden Police Department 01:08
  3. Interview with Frederick and Misty Stone 03:14
  4. Shout out to Sen. Chris Buttars 03:58
  5. Wasatch Christian School Choir 04:01

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Councilman Bradley Responds to his "On Budget" Statement

This morning I received a great reply from Councilman Bradley with regards to his statement we are "on budget." (See Here) I thank him for responding and helping us shed some light on my budget questions regarding South Ogden. Open communication with the council is crucial to our success.

Here is his email:

Thanks for your question. I went back through the newsletter to see what could have been inaccurate. The only thing I can see which might have cause your question is the final sentence which says something to the effect that currently the city is on budget and is not looking at a shortfall or a tax increase. Actually, that statement is absolutely accurate. Keep in mind, however, that I am looking at the budget overall and not just the last report. Perhaps it could have been clearer, but space limitations left me with what I have. Why is is accurate? In the October 7th meeting it was explained. The budget as it stands today shows a deficit. However, the budget always shows a deficit at this time of the year. In fact it will show a deficit until about March. This is because we have yet to recieve certain revenues from the state (namley franchise tax) and some property tax from the County. What Scott explained was that, while it shows that we are in a deficit, we are actually on track. As long as sales tax remains at least flat, we should come in on budget but not have an excess. What I was attempting to point out (perhaps inartfully) is that many other cities are projecting a deficit long term. We are still on track to meet our budget.

I have replied with the following two questions:

  1. The city manager explained in our city council meeting that we are normally a little behind or right on at this time. However due to the bad economy we are lower than normal. $300,000 to be exact. Doesn't that imply we are not on budget?
  2. Now that sales tax is no longer flat, what is the next step for South Ogden City?

Is he right? I am wrong? I could be wrong, it wouldn't be the first time. However, I will admit it still seams to appear we are not on budget, at least not any more.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Newsletter contradicts Council Meeting

We received our monthly South Ogden Newsletter today. I usually get an electronic version, but it arrives at different times each month; so I am relying on the mailed version. This month's has an interesting article written by our own city councilman John W. Bradley. He spends most of his time talking about the skateboarders and the potential of a skate park. We can discuss this in more detail later. The last paragraph is where I want to focus my attention. Councilman Bradley discuss the South Ogden City Budget and says something very interesting.

He prefaces his comments with fact the city budget is based on projections. Which we understand; however this still doesn't explain his final comment:

"Currently, the city is on budget and is not looking at a shortfall or a tax increase"

During the November 18th City council meeting, which he attended, (See Here) Scott Darrington explained we are $300,000 behind. Our expenditures are on budget but our revenue is behind. With our new sales tax numbers we are even further behind. Therefore his statement that we are "on budget" is in contradiction of what was really said at the council meeting.

Was he asleep? Did he miss that information? I mean I was there, I took notes, how did he miss a $300,000 hole in the budget?

Yesterday's Standard Article (see here) reports they [South Ogden City Government] have known since October that sales tax was taking a drop. Another contradiction from the meeting. What is going?

I have sent an email to Councilman Bradley for a reply; unfortunately I have never received a response to ANY emails I have ever received from him. To date I have sent six emails over the last year and half and he never replies. So we will see if he answers our request to explain the budget in more detail.

Monday, December 8, 2008

South Ogden City in the hole!

Interesting article today in the Standard Examiner about sales tax revenue for our fair city. (See Here) Sales tax revenue has begun taking a nose dive. South Ogden is not recession proof after all! This is something we have been saying for weeks and now it is here!

In the article South Ogden Finance Director Steven Liebersbach said, "It was October when city officials noticed sales tax had taken a nose dive, That’s when people started restricting their spending.”

What did he say? If you remember from my post on November 18th (See Here) South Ogden was not reporting a problem with sales tax and decided to continue spending. In fact Mr. Darrington said at the meeting, "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."

Well time to get a new crystal ball.

October we dropped. November we dropped. In total, South Ogden has not seen the biggest drop in taxes; which is the good news; however South Ogden has seen a decrease of $2,716 in sales taxes, November year to date. But what will December show? According to the article: Grocery spending is up. But the rest of the sales taxes are down. How will South Ogden be affected? How could we have better prepared for this? Remember we had a surprlus of funds that could have been saved to help balance our budget.

Scott Darrington, our city manager, was kind enough to answer some sale tax related questions a few weeks ago. (See Here) He explains the council has been watching this. However, the contradictions in information are interesting. First we are told we are not affected but are planning on a drop, then Mr. Darrington told the council we are good to go, then they report we have seen drops for the past two months. Sounds like a cloudy crystal ball to me.

From where I sit this all concerns me and tells me the worst is yet to come.

What do you think?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Attention Commuters

I recently have begun reading an intersting blog about a Northern Utah Commuter.  You can see his blog here:

Straphanger, the blogger, keeps you upto date on all the changes, experiences and happenings with regards to frontrunner and UTA.  Also I see i have made his blogroll.  I am not a commuter. Personally I work in South Ogden, however I have a number of neighbors that enjoy the comforts of the frontrunner.  Checkout Straphanger and his blog, I think it is pretty interesting.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Which is worse in South Ogden: Skateboarding or....?

During a previous city council meeting (See Here), South Ogden City Council created a new ordinance to outlaw skateboarding on city streets. It is now a Class C Misdemeanor to skateboard on the road.

As a pubic service to all South Ogden residents I thought it would be interesting to see everything that could be considered worse than skateboarding on a city street. Below are just a few laws I have discovered in the South Ogden City Code.
  1. 3-2-13 Selling Beer without a license
  2. 3-6-7 Being a Junk seller, second hand seller, or a pawn shop without a license
  3. 3-9A-3 Door to Door Sales [soliciting] without a permit
  4. 3-9B-11 Improper Use as a Sidewalk Vendor
  5. 3-10-14 Improper use of a Commercial Entertainment Business
  6. 4-1-2 Improper Disposal of Dead Animals or meat,
  7. 4-1-2 Improper use of a Soap Factory
  8. 5-2-3 Pursue, chase, harass, capture, possess, injure, or kill any kind of animal with a handgun, rifle muzzle loader, pellet gun, BB gun, dart gun, blow gun, bow and arrow, crossbow, slingshot, or any other device.
  9. 5-2-9 Public Indecency
  10. 5-2-10 Fleeing from a police officer
  11. 5-4-3 Organizing an event with out a permit
  12. 6-1-5 blocking or parking on a street with intention to block the street
  13. 7-2-10 Interfering with anyone from the Parks Department
  14. 7-3-9 Failure to follow the direction of the city engineer or operations manager
Would you consider the above to be worse than skateboarding on the street? Well some are, some are not. But each of these are only Class B Misdemeanor. That is right, killing animals, public indecency, selling beer and fleeing from cops are all lesser crimes than skateboarding on city streets.

What is equal to skateboarding on city streets:

  1. 3-8-21 Violation of rules regarding sexually oriented business
  2. 5-2-7 Placing or displaying tobacco products in reach of minors
  3. 6-1-11 Violation of the Uniform Traffic Code
  4. 10-1-15 Violation of Zoning Ordinances
  5. 10-14-19 Failure to landscape or maintain landscaping of a residential property
  6. 10-21A-5 Violation of Outdoor Sign Code

That is right, running a sexually oriented business, putting tobacco in the hands of minors, and not mowing your lawn are all considered equal violations to that of skateboarding on city streets.

At our last city council meeting, Chief Shupe has now asked the city council to ban skateboarding from the nature park. Since skateboarding is now outlawed on city streets and skateboarders will be prosecuted next to people who improperly run sexually oriented businesses; skateboarders are now flocking to the nature park. Soon they will be kicked out of the park too.

I understand what the council is trying to do, but we have gone too far. Skateboarding isn't just a fad, it will continue for as long as we live here. The current law is way too harsh and we need to provide somewhere for kids to skate and soon.

From where I sit, this law is too harsh and wrong.

What do you think?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

What is up with the Audit Committee?

Remember the Audit Committee we have talked about in the past few weeks?

See my previous posts:

Well, all the talk about adding Councilman Smith to the committee after a year vacancy was for nothing. He is going on vacation next week and will miss the last meeting of the year. Mr. Smith will have to wait until June to participate in the Audit Committee. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing wrong with him going on vacation. I just find it funny the committee has been missing a member for over a year and now will still be missing a member.

Since we have gone a year now with out him, what is six more months. I am sure they will get along just fine.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

City Council Meeting 12/2/2008 -- Ogden Metro SWAT vs Weber County SWAT

Our local city council had a short and sweet meeting tonight. I would tell you more about the agenda but they forgot to put out the agendas, minutes, etc.

In the short 30 minutes we had for this weeks meeting, a couple of interesting topics arose. I will leave the audit committee, rec center, and skateboarding for another post and head right into the topic of choice. The Ogden City SWAT vs. Weber County SWAT.

Police Chief Val Shupe spoke on a resolution for South Ogden City to enter into an aggreement to work only with the Ogden Metro SWAT. With some disdain he explained how Weber County has formed it's own SWAT, originally to work with the jail, and has expanded into the rest of the county. "I don't know why they have [expanded]," Chief Shupe added. Apparently South Ogden would prefer to work with Ogden Metro SWAT since they have committed men (a total of two) to the eight member team; in addition they know how the Ogden Metro works and their procedures.

Here is my question, why do we have two SWAT teams? Do we need two? Are tax payers in South Ogden, Ogden, and everyone else in Weber County paying for two SWAT teams? Ogden Metro SWAT doesn't even use the Weber County SWAT as a backup, instead they have an agreement to use Layton City SWAT.

Needless to say the city council voted unanimously to enter into the agreement with Ogden Metro SWAT.

The comments after the meeting all revolved around how frustrating it was that Weber County has a SWAT and took members from the Ogden Metro SWAT. Both Chief Shupe and Councilman Wayne Smith talked for a few minutes after about the SWAT predicament and clearly showed their frustration.

Sounds like South Ogden is drawing a line in the sand on who they will work with. It also sounds like everyone in Weber County is paying twice for a SWAT team. From where I sit this doesn't sound right.

What do you all think?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Senator Jon Greiner - The Gang Bill

Picture the future. About 20 friends get together and decide to hang out at the local park. Maybe they are all talking about books, knives, laser pointers, etc. Just then, South Ogden police show up. They say, "Sorry guys, this is a gang-free zone, you will need to leave." "But we are not a gang," someone replies. The police respond, "Sorry but this is a gang-free zone and you appear to be a gang." Just then certain members of our gang "surgically" removed from the group. Who was removed? Well the police have received special training to decide who is a gang member and who is not. We are now told to leave the area and if we return within eight hours we will be charged with a Class B misdemeanor.

This is a possible scenario related to Senator Jon Greiner's "Prohibited Activities of Gang Members" bill for the 2009 legislative session. The bill failed to pass last session, but is coming back in the 2009 session. Sen. Greiner, whom represents our city, among others, is attempting to restrict or eliminate the civil liberty we all have to assemble. I truly foresee future gross miss-uses of this bill, if passed. Gang free zones can be determined by legislative bodies like are own city council. Any time a legislative body doesn't want people to protest, they can just call it a gang-free zone. Then know one can assemble in the area. Hello! 1st Amendment!

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

To read last years bill (which is rumored to be very similar) See Here

Sen. Greiner, Ogden's Police Chief, really needs to make some progress in this next session. Since his election all I have heard is controversy. Controversy and attacks of civil liberty are not going to help him in the next election cycle. His idea has merit, he wants to help with our growing gang problem. But this is not the way.

We hope to analyze and discuss this bill in more detail in the coming weeks. Please feel free to leave your comments.

From where I sit, this bill is bad news.

Note: Skateboarding on South Ogden City Streets is now a Class C Misdemeanor. A much stiffer penalty. (See Here) Those dang Skateboarder gangs!


The Weber County Forum has a great post related to the Standard Examiner's editoral, and this subject, on Sunday.  Weber County Forum: The Standard-Examiner Nixes Senator Greiner's "Gang Bill"