Thursday, December 30, 2010

Housing Prices Can Only Go Down

Recent economic data has shown South Ogden housing sales have been going down each month. In the spirit of this, I recently read this article from CNBC where economist Nouriel Roubini explains how our housing markets will take a double dip in the current recession.  See Here: http://www.cnbc.com/id/40828545/

The causes: First, the tax credits that were offered actually hurt the economy.  It took tons of houses off the market that would have been spread out over time.  What we ended up with was a huge boost in home sales and then a 30% drop once the tax credits expired.  Second, the mortgage foreclosure issue.  With the mortgage documentation issues and suspension of foreclosures we are actually slowing the sales of homes.   Once this is fixed and all of this supply hits the market, demand will drop.  Increase Supply, Drop Demand.  Housing prices will continue to drop because of this.              

Now not all of the this will mean our economy will take a double dip, but it surly won’t help at all.  At the end of the article Roubini said the following regarding a double dip recession:

"The eurozone shock, long-term structural deficits, and state and local governments [operating near] bankruptcy."

And, if homeowners begin walking away from their properties en masse, those negative trends might well pick up steam:

"12 million households are already in negative equity and 8 million more have an LTV btw 95 and 100%. Thus even a 5% fall in home price will push an extra 8 million in negative equity with risk of millions walking away from their home—i.e. jingle mail,"
Just some things to think as we think about our homes and the future of South Ogden.  Selling your home is going to get more and more difficult and your homes could continue to lose value.

Comments welcome...do you feel we are on the way up or could we be going down. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Let's make our own gold coins?

Rep, John Dougall from Highland would like to see us all start using gold.  Sure using gold could be cool, but the idea of creating an entirely new monetary system that parallels our own is not only unconstitutional but a waste of time. According to a Salt Lake Tribune report, Dougall is working on an idea for Utah residents to mint their own gold and silver coins.  Gold could then be used in everyday transactions like buying groceries and even paying rent.  But what Mr. Dougall has not thought through is the enormous cost to bring on another monetary system, the cost of maintaining this new system and also the fact minting your own money is unconstitutional.

A few years back I lived in a foreign country.  During my time there the country decided to switch it’s national currency to the dollar (Yes it was stronger then).  I witnessed firsthand the absolute chaos that ensued from seeing local shop owners and grocery store clerks trying to calculate the exchange rate.  The government had to produce thousands of material and hold trainings to help people understand how the dollar worked.  The one thing they had going for them was the exchange rate was frozen so the countries original currency couldn’t go down.  Otherwise the constant fluctuation would have been a nightmare for merchants and consumers.  Since Mr. Dougall would have no ability to freeze the gold exchange without creating a Utah exchange rate, people would have to watch every day and see what their newly minted gold coins are worth.  Merchants would have to install sophisticated cash registers to weight gold coins and then tell you how much they are worth.  The cost to the state of Utah and the local economy would be enormous.

And to my second point…

Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution states:
The U.S. Congress has the power…"To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures"
So even if this legislation passed, it is unconstitutional and would be shut down in the court system.

I don’t mind legislators coming up with new ideas to improve our state or look at ways to improve the economy, but this is not it.  Sorry Rep. Dougall, I would run away from this one.  I think Alan Stephens, economic professor at USU, said it best in the article:
“The gold standard limits the growth of the economy, because you’re limited to the supply of gold that is available, which really is not all that much,” he said. Besides, he said, there is no prohibition on transacting in gold if the parties agree to it."
The moral of the story…let us please look for ways to balance our budget, fund education and improve our economy.

NM gov.-elect: Billy the Kid pardon waste of time - ksl.com

New Mexico's new Governor has it right - going through all the paper work, money and time to pardon Billy the Kid is a waste. Especially when there is so much work to be done. Governor-Elect Susana Martinez thinks the outgoing governor should be more focused on balancing the budget then wasting money on a pardon. Looks like Rep. Wimmer and Rep. Fisher could learn something from Gov. Martinez.

Also...anyone notice Rep. Wimmer loves positive feedback on twitter, but as soon as someone attacks his ideas he calls everyone a democrat or a gun hater. Just follow him on twitter to see more, he went the rounds again today. http://www.twitter.com/carlwimmer




Monday, December 27, 2010

Police watching for gang relocation | Standard-Examiner

Due to the Ogden's new ability to place restraining orders on gang members, gang members are now finding themselves without a place to hang out. What is the solution? Go to a neighboring city and get together to do your gang thing! The Standard Examiner reports (See Here) that due to this new law there is real potential for gangs to relocate to other cities, even South Ogden.

Standard reporter Michael McFall points out North Ogden has already seen an increase in gang violence ( injunction related or not) but South Ogden has yet to see anything. Are we next?
South Ogden police have actually seen a decrease in the number of known gang members living in their city during the past few months. But they are still stepping up their gang surveillance because the possibility of migration is something they are keeping an eye on, said South Ogden Officer Marci Edwards.
 Chief Val Shupe seems to be expecting the worse and preparing for it.  Especially after the gang related shooting down on Washington and 40th.  Know this, there is real potential for a problem because of this new law.  Unless each city adopts this new policy or the injunctions are extended county wide, South Ogden could become a haven for Ogden City gangs.

Comments welcome.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

More Waste! Time to fix 88-year-old mistake in Utah flag? | The Salt Lake Tribune

Rep. Julie Fisher (R-Fruit Heights) has joined the list of wasteful legislators with her new resolution to fix the State Flag. According to the Salt Lake Tribune (Time to fix 88-year-old mistake in Utah flag?) Rep. Fisher is frustrated because the "1847" on the flag doesn't conform to State Law and for 88 years we have ignored this horrible sin.  Now is the time to repent.
“It’s not the ugliness of the flag, it’s simply wrong,” says Fisher, who went back and read Utah state law about how the flag is supposed to look. “The ‘1847’ is supposed to be inside the shield. If you look at the state seal — which the flag is based on — it is inside the shield there"
Fisher has decided to have a little "fun" with the legislature and validate every one's State Flags.  In doing so she is now ignoring state problems like education, economic recessions and  immigration.  But we have ignored the State Flag too long!  Thousands of Utahn's have been breaking the law for 88 years and it is time we put this to an end before someone gets hurt.  Yes this resolution won't take long and will probably be cheaper than Rep. Wimmer's State Gun Bill.   But waste is waste and I am disappointed Rep. Fisher can't see the urgency of her job.

Sounds like Rep. Fisher and Rep. Wimmer need to get together and go bowling.  I am sure they could come up with some great wasteful ideas.

Comments welcome!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Memories, Traditions and thanks.

My children are hitting the age of understanding when it comes to Christmas.  My oldest especially has become sensitive to the power of Santa, Elves and gifts.  Each morning he gets more and more excited about the potential of Santa visiting and if he will bring what he has asked for. (He will Joseph, I have spoken to him)  As my wife and I prepare for tonights big event, I remember the many wonderful Christmas nights we had as a family growing up.

  My parents did an amazing job for us as kids.  Since we didn't live close to extended family, we almost always spent Christmas at home.  After dinner we would always gather around the tree and talk about Christmas and what we loved most about the season.  Each of us got a chance to share what we loved most and what we were thankful for.  My mom would pass out one gift for us to open that evening.  Opening this present always made us excited; even though we already knew what it was.  The present was always homemade pajamas by my mom.  One year we even got robes!  I remember one year trying to read the Christmas story out of the Bible, but we were to loud and so we didn't get very far.  My dad would always play the guitar and we would sing songs, our favorite was "Must be Santa."  I am sure we did lots of other things; however most of all I remember it was a magical night.

  Now being a parent I realize how much time and effort they put into my Christmas experience and I am so thankful for that.  It is hard and stressful to make this night so amazing.  I am blown away out how much time and effort goes into it.  I hope I can bring the same kind of magic into my own home and teach my kids like my parents taught me.  My memories are so wonderful and I pray my children have the same experience I did. My kids will open pajamas tonight and I will play the guitar, "Must Be Santa" will be sung. If we are lucky a little of that magic I felt will be here tonight.

Thanks Mom and Dad for everything!

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Standard Examiner Follow Up on South Ogden Budget Crisis

The Standard Examiner today had a long awaited follow up to their searing editorial of South Ogden City finances. Reporter Gentry Reinhart reported on an email sent by City Manager Matt Dixon and the December 7th City Council Meeting (even though he came late and left early from the meeting). Mr. Reinhart rehashed information my blog has already brought to light, but since not everyone in the world reads my blog this is good to hear from the Standard. Some of the highlights are the city is really not $700,000 in the hole, but really just over $300,000; also the city has cut its budget dramatically to bring the deficit to $83,000. Read the full article here.


What Reinhart failed to report on, because he left before the conversation was even over, was South Ogden City’s plan for a Sales Tax Increase in 2010-2011. South Ogden has the world’s most optimistic crystal ball. Also interesting to note is the dramatic cut in fleet services; essentially saying South Ogden will stop taking care of their vehicles. This in reality will be like mortgaging our future and will more than likely facilitate a need to buy new cars sooner rather than maintain them over the next few years.

Matt Dixon, city manager, is doing a great job trying to communicate the problems we are facing. This article is direct results of that and those who do not read my blog will have this great information. Even if Mr. Reinhart missed some great opportunities to really report the news.

Hopefully we see some sales tax increases in the coming months or will be likely having this same meeting again.

See Previous Posts:

http://www.fromwhereisitblog.com/2010/12/south-ogden-city-council-meeting-12-7.html
http://www.fromwhereisitblog.com/2010/11/standard-examiner-south-ogden-needs.html


I welcome your comments.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

How a bill becomes a law? Rep. Carl Wimmer Style.

In about a month and half the 2011 Legislative Session will begin here in Utah. Once again it will be that crazy political time where our elected officials come together to find ways to help our state to continue being the best. However at the same time, politics at its worst will also come forth in the form of bad message bills and back door favors. Though there are often message bills full of important content that may help the public be aware of the issues affecting our communities, state and even the nation; there are also many message bills that serve no purpose at all. These, no purpose, message bills are not only a waste of time, but a waste of money. After talking to a number of people who work at the legislature, we have determined it is hard to understand how much a bad message bill would cost. Therefore I have decided to break down how a bill becomes a law using Rep. Carl Wimmer’s Official State Gun Bill as an example.
  1. Rep. Carl Wimmer will submit his idea for the State Gun bill to the OLRGC (Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel).
  2. General Counsel’s office will then open a bill file.
  3. General Counsel assigns a legislative attorney or analyst to then draft the bill.
    1. We then pay someone to do some research and draft the bill, shouldn't be to hard for a State Gun.
  4. Someone is paid to then write an Approval Letter and then send the letter and draft of the bill to Rep. Wimmer.
  5. Rep. Wimmer then reviews the draft legislation, signs and returns the draft letter. Unless he has changes he will then contact the draft attorney and we will start over at Step 3. (I assume this will be an easy one so no changes will be made.)
  6. General Counsel will prepare the final draft which includes:
    1. Having someone numbering of the bill
    2. Having someone deliver a copy to Rep. Wimmer
    3. Having someone deliver a copy to the Docket Clerk in the House, the Billroom, and the Office of the Fiscal Analyst.
    4. Having someone post the bill on the internet and intranet.
  7. The bill is then introduced (read) by number and short title (which is short) and referred to the House Rules Committee.
  8. The Rules committee (9 people including Rep. Wimmer) will then meet and discuss the bill.
    1. They will ask the bill be printed with a fiscal note (I assume this will not have one).
    2. Then recommend which standing committee this bill will go to.
  9. The Speaker of the House then assigns this bill to the recommended standing committee.
  10. Standing Committee then meets (9 to 15 people give or take). Which one will take a State Gun Bill?
    1. A public meeting will be scheduled. (Hot item)
  11. A public meeting is held with the Standing Committee
    1. Rep. Wimmer will present the bill, committee members can ask questions (assuming there will be only a few) and then the public will ask questions (assuming no one cares, there will be none).
    2. At this time the bill can be amended, put on hold, tabled, substituted or make a favorable recommendation for the bill. (We will assume all will go well, who wants to make enemies with Mr. Wimmer, besides it is just a State Gun).
  12. The bill is then read for a second time in the House; so we must take up time again to read it about the State Gun.
    1. Nobody can amend or change the bill at this time.
  13. House staffers then place this on the calendar for the third reading.
  14. The bill is read for the third time. Blah Blah Blah State Gun Blah Blah Blah.
  15. Rep. Wimmer then presents his bill and gives a 15 to 20 minute oration as to how this gun saved America and why we are all wasting our time listening to this bill.
  16. Others will speak for it or against it. A few will speak for it and say what a great American Mr. Browning was and how this gun is awesome. They will thank Rep. Wimmer for bringing this bill forward. If we get lucky one or two people will say they are not sure but will vote for it anyways.
  17. If there no amendments or substitutions we can move on. If there are amendments then we have to go back a few steps. But let’s assume there isn’t (unless we designate a state bullet while we are at it).
  18. Then we vote!
    1. We need 38 yes votes for this to pass, the bell will chime and those who are out in the hall will come in and vote yes or no.
  19. Rep. Wimmer will then ask someone to be his Senate Floor Sponsor and notify the docket clerk in the House.
  20. The Senate will now do the all of the same things the House did. Starting with Step 7 through 18.
    1. There are few differences but essentially the same steps.
  21. We Vote!
    1. 15 yes votes is all this bill needs to move on.
  22. Assuming no amendments from the Senate, this bill does not need to go back to the House. If it does, then we start back at Step 7 again. If there are no changes we can move to step 23.
  23. Presiding Officers find a time to sign the bill
  24. The bill is sent back to the General Counsel for enrolling.
    1. The bill is then color coded (Blue for House and Yellow for Senate).
  25. The bill is then ordered to be printed and sent to the Governor’s office to be signed.
  26. The bill will then sit there for a few days (He has 20 days after the adjournment to sign it) until the Governor signs it.
  27. Then the new laws need to be published. We will then have people update the internet site, Utah Code and The Laws of Utah.
Some additional costs we have not considered is all of the IT and staffer time it will take to setup the rooms, turn on the microphones, clean the offices, set up chairs, and do other things to make sure everything is correct.  But it is hard to put a cost on all of that.

Well there you have it, 27 Shorts steps to a bill and then we are done! Shouldn’t take much money at all; so I wish Rep. Wimmer the best. All in all, this will probably be the cheapest bill the legislature sees all year.  In recession, I think we need to save money everywhere we can and this is a waste of money for something everyone will forget about it in less than a year, I mean does anyone remember that the state vegetable is the Spanish Sweet Onion.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Savings Saturday - New Products, Websites and Ideas

The more and more I blog, I am often asked by other companies, blogs and friends to review material or offer products.  Sometimes I am even given free items or gift cards.  For the most part I have refused these offers but from time to time I find one that looks interesting and would be of a benefit to others.  Therefore on Saturdays I will attempt to blog about some websites, deals or ideas that can save you some money.

This Saturday I will talk about a cool website called CSN Stores.  They sell just about everything at a huge discount.  They have over 200 online stores where can you buy just about everything from kids toys, sheets, leather briefcase, fitness equipment, and more.  They have given me $20 to spend on one of their websites and I will be buying a present for my kids.  I am leaning towards this race car set:

Yes this item is under $20.


I will review the quality and service I receive once it arrives to let you all know if this site is all that is says it is.  I am hoping it will be great!Look for the review and feel free to check back soon.


Friday, December 10, 2010

South Ogden Home Sales on the Decline

More bad economic news for South Ogden as reported by the Weber County Homes and Real Estate Blog.  Apparently we have been on a steady decline for some time.  October numbers are now in and we are looking at a 28.57% decrease in sales.  In fact sales of home have been down nearly every month this year and so are our home values.  Home values have dropped from an average $155,250 to $140,000 in just a year and down from $171,250 from September of 2009.

The blog gives a nice quick summary of the dilemma in the following paragraph:
Sales started to plunge in July at 53.85 percent, the second highest sales depreciation on the record this year. Then it was followed by August and September which respectively dropped by 33.33 percent and 56.52 percent, the highest so far this year. October real estate in South Ogden sales tallied a total of 15 homes sold, down 21.05 percent from 19 in October 2010, and 28.57 percent below September sales with 14 sold properties.
Below you can see from these graphs a visual display of how the real estate market is going in South Ogden.  Looks like we have a long ways to go to recover from the recession.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Carl Wimmer's State Gun Bill - A waste of time.

Yesterday I heard about Representative Carl Wimmer's legislation for naming a state gun.  KSL.com has a nice little article on this here. Realizing what a waste of time and money this would be, I quickly sent out a tweet to Mr. Wimmer to express my dissatifaction to this bill.


I tweeted:
Hey @ this is a waste of time and tax payer money, don't you have better things to do with your time! 
 His reply:
@  I suppose you expressed the same feelings when they designated the dutch oven, seagull and blue spruce official emblems?
From there following conversation began:
MEDid you just compare the state bird to a gun? RT @ Did you expressed same feelings when they designated the seagull?
Carl Wimmer: @  oh I see. So its not about the "waste of time" its about your anti-gun stance? I see.
ME: I own a gun dude! stp twisting words & find a real bill RT @ So its not abt "waste of time" its abt your anti-gun stance?
ME: @ Here is a nice pic of my Browning Pump, I can not believe you would stoop so low, you've just shown your true colors. 
Carl Wimmer: @ just trying to figure out why you don't think it appropriate to honor John Browning and his contributions to defending America...because the M1911 has done far more for Utah and the U.S than a dutch oven, blue spruce, elk, beehive or sego lily.
ME: @ because the economy sucks and we have more important things to worry about like saving money. Lets honor him later...and who cares! Lets save money and work Utahs real issues like education and the economy not whether the M1911 saved America.
Our conversation stimulated other tweets as well including:
 @'s "State Firearm" proposal is a pointless and purely symbolic waste of time. I say this as a lover of guns & the 1911 
@ It is now clear that @ is NOT a fiscal conservative. Prefers to waste taxpayer money with frivolous nonsense (state gun).

and... @ Perhaps I was harsh, but IMHO any money spent on a state gun in these hard economic times is frivolous waste.

@  @ Can we have a state jello & make vanilla our state ice cream?

@ @ The counter point, I think, is that govt.'s proper role is to secure the rights of its citizens, not honor people

Plus we can't forget Bagley's wonderful cartoon in today's Tribune: Bagley's Carl Wimmer Cartoon

In the end, I am terribly disappointed in Mr. Wimmer's attempt to not only waste our money but also to twist my words, his true self has come forward.  I hope he stops wasting our time with this pointless bill and moves on to fixing our real problems in Utah. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

South Ogden City Council Meeting 12-7-2010 - "Recession is Over???"

Tonight's meeting covered the major issues surround the 2010-2011 budget and brought to light even more issues of concern.  What we have learned is South Ogden has been planning this years budget under the assumption the recession and its ill effects are behind us.  In doing so they planned for a 2% sales tax revenue increase for this years budget.  However the exact opposite has occurred causing our city to plunge into a distressed situation.

Most of the issues regarding the $700,000 deficit were cleared up and I have posted Matt Dixon's response in the download section or it can be found here.  He shows we are not as bad as we have been hearing; yet being in debt is still not great.  Mr. Dixon's explanation and proposed cuts help us to see South Ogden really is doing a lot to balance its budget.  Interestingly some of the proposed cuts are to things like $12,500 in 401k matches, changes to insurance benefits, and reduction in staff.  Also of interest is the fact that if we didn't have a $23,000 bill for the gym facility, we could have saved some of those items.  Sorry employee benefits...the gym has priority. Big cuts are coming to our fleet services as well, which I think will hurt is in the long term; but a quick solution for now.

However the question remains, why are we so off?  I asked the city council and Steve Liebersbach, the city Finance Director, how South Ogden calculates its sales tax projections to help get a better understanding of how we became so off this year.  Steve went on to explain he uses historical data from the past five to seven years, he also takes into consideration trend analysis, monthly reports from the state tax commission, and of course he also looks at the local, state and national economic situations. So what has the past years data shown us and what did we estimate? Here is the answer:

The 2008-2009 budgeted sales tax revenues were down 4%. The 2009-2010 revenues were down 5.7%.  Based on this information, how would you budget? Would you project sales tax revenues to be up or down. Well Steve suggested because reports showed the recession had ended in 2009, South Ogden should project a 2% increase in sales tax revenue. Yes, you heard me right, South Ogden City projected for a 2% sales tax increase while during a recession (or in the aftermath of one).

Since we had a delay in the effects from the recession, it would only be safe to say we would have a delay in the recovery, don't you think? But we didn't plan that way, we decided to defy all expectations and expect increased revenue. 

The Result?

The following cuts and then some:
  1. Early retirement offers in early 2010
  2. Reductions in force
  3. Replacing one full-time position with a part-time position
  4. Elimination of the employee 401k match program
  5. Moving to a HDHP/HSA medical insurance plan
  6. Delaying certain capital equipment purchases
  7. Cuts in training and travel
  8. Reduction in overtime allocations
  9. Amending building cleaning contracts to 2 days and 3 days instead of 5 days per week
  10. Scaling back community and employee special events - no more Timbermine :(
My last question was how South Ogden would survive with revenues going down every year and not being able to cover expenditures. Remember revenue has gone done $360,000 in the past two years and expenditures have gone down only $160,000 in the same time frame.  I used the analogy, if my household failed to bring in enough revenue to cover expenditures I would lose my home.  Steve replied, 
"We can't make the comparison between a household budget and city budget.  A city has savings it can utilize to cover it's losses. The city doesn't operate like a household checkbook, and that is a good thing. Like all of the funds that come in and out of the city there are multiple checkbooks and it doesn't work like a house." 
Well I am sorry he sees it that way, but I disagree. The profit function is the same for everyone, Profit = Revenue - Cost. Tonights cuts are only a band-aid if sales tax revenue continues in a free fall.  But no worries...South Ogden has savings.

South Ogden's Budget Meeting Tonight

As a reminder, tonight's city council meeting will include a public hearing regarding South Ogden's budget and potential cuts. Our city manager, Matt Dixon, appears to have been working around the clock to put together comprehensive plan to help South Ogden emerge from our current situation. At the same time there appears to be some shock and confusion from our local officials at my concern to our budget crisis. I would ask them to remember my blog is titled "From Where I Sit" and so I am posting my opinion based on the limited information I receive regarding the issues, this includes newspapers, minutes, agendas and (when possible) attendance to city council meetings.   At the same time, the resident's of South Ogden can only do the same.   Therefore I am glad tonight we are having a public meeting to help set the record straight and help us all more fully understand the situation at hand.

Some points of interest that will be brought up:

  1. Our 2008-2009, 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 budgets have all be challenged with a city deficit. However each year we have made attempts to balance this but cutting back and using our general fund. 2008-2009 we had too much in our general fund and needed to use that money, however would have either way so you can't really use that as an excuse. We have used general funds to balance each year but not as much as we may have heard. In total it appears to be $148,147 has been used of general funds in the past two years.
  2. General Funds revenues have dropped nearly $360,000 and Expenditures have dropped $168,488 over the past two years. (Interesting expenditures have only dropped half of what our revenues are. If I did that in my home, I would lose my home!)
  3. Our current budget deficit is really $377,535 not as high as $700,000 as has been previously mentioned. The cuts planned should bring us down to $83,491. The city has a plan to help make this happen by some reductions in work force, elimination of the 401k match, cutting back in travel, etc.

This is not an easy job and I am sorry we have to go through this. Though it is next to impossible to compare us to other cities (since all have different revenue streams and structures). I am seeing a lot of cities who are not dealing with these same issues, for example like Plain City and Farr West who both made early adjustments to prepare for the drop in sales tax revenue.

In the end, I would really like our city to stop spending more than it has. I am glad we have an emergency fund and can cover our deficits. But for three years straight we have been in the hole, it appears (from where I sit) we've just kept spending and hoped it would all work. This is hard because we are counting on sales tax revenue to help us and the money hasn't come.

What I want to know is how do we estimate how much sales tax we will receive and how do we adjust the estimate for the current economy?

What do you want to know?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Becky Kelley - Where's the Line to See Jesus - OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO

I just haven't been able to get enough of this video. Makes me cry every time and appreciate my Savior Jesus Christ. I hope I can remember him this season better than I have done in the past.


Public Hearing for South Ogden Tomorrow - Cuts are Coming

Tomorrow, starting at 6 pm, South Ogden City will be having a public hearing to discuss proposed amendments to the 2010-2011 budget.  If you haven't seen past blog posts or the Standard Examiner articles, then you should know South Ogden City is in need of some cuts to break even this year.  Rumor has it around $300,000 will be cut from the budget.  It will be interesting to see where those cuts come from.  I have had a number of city council folks contact me since my first posts assuring me the stories in the Standard Examiner (See Here) are blown out of proportion and cuts do not need to be as severe.  I thank them for their communication and I look forward to the meeting on Tuesday.

Due to my schedule I am not able to attend most Tuesday meetings, but this is one I am hoping to attend.

Here is a previous post to refresh your memory of what has been happening: http://bit.ly/eSbkft 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

South Ogden City gets a "B" for Transparency

The Sutherland Institute recently released their Transparency in Government Website results.  This publication was created using a 10-point checklist of information any government website should have.  The cities of the state of Utah overall earned an average score of "C-", barely a passing grade.   However South Ogden is above average and has earned a "B" with only a handful of cities earning an "A-".
   The South Ogden website might not be the most aesthetically pleasing website, but it does have a ton of information on it.  Some of the information you can get includes council minutes, agendas, building permits, pay your utilities and budget info.     Overall it has been a very easy website to use and in comparison to many of the other city websites, we have a lot of things going for us.  It is really worth checking out at www.southogdencity.com.

To read more about the Transparency in Utah program and see how other cities scored, you can go to the Sutherland Institute website at: http://sutherlandinstitute.org/ or check out the scores at here.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Need New Glasses - Get some for Free on Thursday.

I am always on the look out for great deals.  After my last Black Friday success, I have really been searching for ways my family could save some more money.  One of the things we are always in the need of us a new pair of glasses.  I recently become aware of this amazing company called CostalContacts.com and learned that they often have a free glasses giveaway.  In fact they have given away over 20,000 pairs of glasses for free!

After emailing the company about their program, I learned they are going to be giving away another 1,000 pairs of glasses this Thursday, December 2nd.  And all 1,000 of these babies goes to Utah!  You can get a free pair of glasses for Christmas on December 2nd.  How do you do it you may ask, this is how:


    To get your free glasses simply enter your email address and click the ‘Sign Up’ button at our giveaway landing page: http://www.coastalcontacts.com/cutah.html  
·         You will then receive a confirmation email with details on how to get your free pair of glasses on the morning of Thursday, December 2, 2010.
·         We recommend picking out 3-5 frames on our website ahead of time so that you have your order all ready to go on Thursday - and so you don’t miss out on any of the 1,000 free pairs.
·         This giveaway differs from our previous giveaways in that you do not have to go to Facebook and ‘Like’ our Facebook page to enter the giveaway.

Terms and Conditions:
·         Valid until the first 1,000 coupons are entered. Standard lenses included. Shipping and handling charges will apply. All lens upgrades including progressives, coatings, transitions and tints extra. Some frames may not be eligible. Previous free glasses recipients are excluded from this offer. Limit one per household*. Web orders within Utah on December 2, 2010. *Please Note: Multiple orders placed from the same household will be canceled, even if the destination address is different.

Still not convinced! Check out this media segment on their previous giveaways:
http://www.myfoxaustin.com/dpp/good_day/Saving-with-Shellie-11-18-20101118-ktbcgd

Also here is their facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/CoastalContacts.com

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Local business claims Home Depot disparaged their Christmas trees | Standard-Examiner

F.O.X. Do you remember Fox Books? You've Got Mail was a romantic comedy starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Tom Hank's character was an owner of a large, big box, book retailer. Meg Ryan was a small, independently owned, book shop owner who had lived in the area for years. Fox books moved in and put them out of business. Home Depot appears to be trying to doing the same thing to Burch Trees. Burch Trees has been around for years selling Christmas trees, personally I have bought my last four trees from them and have loved them. However Home Depot managers at the Riverdale store, have decided the stiff competition from Burch Trees needs to be squashed and have now resorted to slander and dirty marketing to convince people to leave Burch Trees and come to Home Depot for the Christmas tree. They are claiming Burch Trees is selling sub-par trees that were picked months ago and kept in ponds, essentially making the trees worthless. The truth is the trees are cut fresh just before Thanksgiving and then shipped directly to Burch Trees making them fresh. I am amazed at how horrible Home Depot has handled this situation and they deserve to lose business.

The Standard Examiner has a nice article on this and I challenge all of us to go to Burch Trees this year and avoid Home Depot.

Local business claims Home Depot disparaged their Christmas trees | Standard-Examiner

Monday, November 29, 2010

Standard Examiner - South Ogden Needs a Trim

A nice editorial in the Standard Examiner today is eerily similar to what I mentioned in my blog post last week: See Here.  South Ogden is in desperate need of some financial counseling.  It is the classic tale of spending way more money than you have coming in.  Obviously we are in a tough economy but South Ogden at some point has forgotten this.  What is interesting, is this has been problem for some time and we are now just taking notice...or are we?

In 2008 we were headed in the same direction.  The Standard Examiner reported on December 8, 2008 that South Ogden was in the hole.  See Blog Post and Article here. Our former city manager, was even quoted as saying, "if sales taxes drop we will be in a lot of trouble."  However South Ogden just kept spending like sales taxes were still coming in.  I brought this to our attention also in November 2008 showing we were headed for a negative year to the tune of $300,000 (See Here).  Yet we were then all told that we are back on budget, which was due to using the "Rainy Day Fund." (See Here).  In 2009, once again Mr. Darrington cautioned we were going to maybe break even on the budget, but only if sale tax revenue held strong.  (See Line 322 Here).  But at this time were currently negative and hoping we would balance out.  Don't worry even if we were, South Ogden City balanced their budget with their "Rainy Day Fund."

In June of this year this South Ogden City Finance Manager, Steve Liebersbach, predicted we were headed for a $225,000 deficit, but our budget was balanced due to our so called "Rainy Day Fund".  Yet the city kept spending. (See Minutes Here) Council members called out for cuts and concerns to new hires and promotions; yet the spending continued until now we are headed for a number more like $700,000.

Where do we go from here?  First, I feel sorry Matt Dixon, our new city manager, has start his South Ogden career dealing with this problem; but serious cuts do need to take place.  More than just cutting back on the annual Christmas Dinner, but some serious cuts.  I am saddened by the constant lack of fiscal irresponsibility we have seen for nearly three years now.  Every year we have been negative and then balanced it with emergency funds.  When will we wake up?  If I ran my business or my house this way, I would be living on the streets.

I am eager to hear your feelings on this subject.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

South Ogden City - Too Much Spending? Standard Examiner Reports.

I have not been able to attend a city council meeting for sometime due to my schedule; however I wish I had attend this last meeting to have heard the explanation for our current situation.

According to the Standard Examiner and reporter Gentry Reinhart, South Ogden City has some budget issues. South Ogden City has spent a monster $700,000 with no revenue to match it. Brent Litz of Litz & Company, performed the audit and said,

"You're in a challenging position for the general fund. You haven't got a revenue stream that's going to support all of your cost structures you've got in the general fund, and so it's going to be a challenge for you to play that game of balancing revenues and balancing costs and making sure that you keep the equation appropriate."
Some points of concern - Maintaining Facilities and also paying for a new recreation center.  OH WAIT!  If you remember from our previous meetings, the City Council told us this isn't a recreation center it is a gym facility!  Which even back two years ago they predicted we would lose money and few people would use.  See My Posts Here: Gym Facility and Rec Center Meeting (Mayor Garwood admits he will never use it.) 

It will be intersting to hear the cost cutting ideas the city has and how we will get back on budget.  So far, the city has been dipping into their general fund to make things work.  But this is not an endless pool of cash.  We need some better budgeting skills and maybe reconsider how we are going take advantage of our $2.5 Million money pit of a gym facility that we all are paying higher taxes for.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Transitioning to a New Majority - The New GOP

Transition Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) discusses some interesting ideas of how the GOP will make the transition to the majority in the U.S. Congress.  This video is a summary of the GOP plans on how to do things differently this time.  I am encourage by his well crafted message, but results are everything.

Also, at the end he mentions a new website were we can submit ideas for more the transition team.  You can got to http://gopleader.gov/newmajority/.

Enjoy.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day - Tribute to My Brother Clint aka Sgt. Markland

For the longest time I have probably thought of this day as any other holiday.  I don't usually have to go to work, I get to spend time with my kids, etc.  But as the years have gone by this day has become more and more important to me.  You see, many of my extended family has served in the military and members of my extended family have even died while fighting for this country.  However since my brother joined the Army and has since served over in Iraq my understanding of what our soldiers do for us has changed.  I am amazed at my brothers courage and determination to serve this country.

My brother was in a horrible car accident a few years back.  A kid, high on drugs, had stolen a car and while running from police hit my brother head on, crushing his pelvis bone and causing many other injuries.  For awhile we were uncertain if he would be able to walk.  He had many surgeries and has seen many doctors and eventually began to walk with a cane.  When he was in the ICU one of the first questions he asked was if he could stay in the Military.  We didn't know the answer to that, but the Military quickly responded, "You only get out, if you want to get out."  He had not been in the Military very long, but I could see his commitment even then.

Sgt. Markland
He has dedicated his life to serving and I am so proud of all he has done for us.  When he heard his group was headed to Iraq, they told him couldn't go if he was still taking the heavy narcotics he required for the pain he had.  So he quit taking them.  He has learned (somehow) to control or block out the pain. When he left for Iraq, walking the required mileage for his fitness test was a challenge he fought to complete.  Upon his return from Iraq he was running triathlons.  What the Military has done for my brother and family has been amazing.  He has chosen to make a career out of the Military and I think it is a perfect fit.  I feel safer everyday knowing he is helping to keep this country protected. I am so proud to call him my brother and so thankful to have him in my life.

To my brother Clint and to all veterans, thank you!


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Utah's Top Blogger Lunch

Today I had the honor of participating in the Top Blogger Lunch that was put together by Nigel Swaby of SEO by Swaby and Janet Thaeler  aka NewspaperGrl.  I was one of the finalists in the Top Blogger Contest and so I was invited to the Lunch for the winners.  I was able to get to know a number of cool bloggers and people who love blogging.  Some of the bloggers I met were:
The great thing about this medium of communication is people from all walks of life can come together and discuss about amazing issues, blogging, and technology.  It was a fun event and I look forward to more events.  I felt a little out of place since there were so many amazing bloggers and interesting people there, but it was great to be part of the event. Update: Utah News Source Official Press Release: http://ht.ly/38UNR

We had a podcast after that I was able to participate in, you can listen to it here:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Utah's Top Blogger Finals


Well!

I received an email that I have made the finals.  I guess I am somewhere in the Top 10.  Thanks for the votes fellow bloggers and readers.  I will keep you posted.  Thanks again!

http://seobyswaby.wordpress.com/2010/11/08/utahs-top-blogger-wrap-up/

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The results are in

What a crazy night.  Philpot came within 150 votes at one point.  But the reality was obvious.  he was relying on Washington County, Iron County and Utah County Voters to overcome Salt Lake County voters.  That is a huge margin to overcome and has been the secret to Matheson Wins each time.  Those Salt Lake County voters love the man.

Dixon Pitcher and Randy Rounds ran a good campaign.  Dixon won by a larger margin then I thought he would, so I stand corrected.  Rounds is a great guy, I think his poor campaign literature and campaigning in September a little too early hurt him.  Dixon really ramped it up the last few weeks and brought it in for a home run. Congrats.

All other offices in Weber County (that had a Republican Challenger) were swept by the Republicans.  Not a big day for Democrats in Weber County. So Republicans, we are watching.  Make a difference for us.

All the constitutional amendments passed as expected.  It will be interesting to see how this ethics committee works out.

Great Job everyone on a well fought election cycle.  Now we get a small break for a few months before campaigning begins on the next one.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Results

This year I did no live blogging or tweets because I took the unique opportunity of running a polling location.  More to come about this later.  But things are looking good as of 10 pm for Dixon Pitcher, however I promise this one will come down to 200 votes or more.  Still very close.


  • Mike Lee - Was a no surprise. (crap)
  • Morgan Philpot - I was hoping would be a little closer.
  • Rob Bishop - Easy win.
  • Terry Thompson for Sherriff - Blow out, hope he doesn't have Hatch Act Issues.
  • and it looks like Republicans blew it out on all other Weber County races.


For more go here: http://electionresults.utah.gov/xmlData/main.html

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Morgan Philpot Commercials Rock

I think Morgan Philpot (@morganphilpot) has some of the best ads ever, not since the Nolan Karras campaign have I seen such creativity.

Utah's Top Bloggers 2010 - Thanks for the Nomination.


I found out this morning via Google Alerts that my name was posted to a website called SEO by Swaby, They are running a contest for the Top Bloggers of 2010.  I voted on this site a few days ago for Blogger Holly on the Hill. Well, someone has written my blog in as a nominee. (See Here).  Well I am pretty sure I have no chance of winning, but I thought I would put it out there and ask you all to vote. 


Vote Herehttp://seobyswaby.wordpress.com/utahs-top-bloggers/


Thanks to the readers of South Ogden and beyond for your support.  This has been a fun project and look forward to many more years of blogging.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ballot Issue Constitutional Amendment A - Secret Ballots

When the Utah State Constitution says, "All elections shall be by secret ballot" some are concerned this could be misinterpreted to mean only "sometimes."  This amendment adds new language language to the Utah State Constitution to ensure a secret ballot vote.

Republicans support this measure and state historical facts and potential future legislation as threats to our secret ballot laws. They claim the "Employee Free Choice Act" could trump our state constitution on secret ballot laws. Democrats claim this is simply a message bill that was pushed through the legislature to simply make a statement.

The amendment says, "All elections, including elections under state or federal law for public office, on an initiative or referendum or to designate or authorize employee representation shall be by secret ballot."

So when it said "ALL ELECTIONS," people started to panic it wasn't specific enough. In my opinion.  "Secret Ballots" haven't had a problem since Utah was founded and I am not a fan of messing with the constitution in any form.  I say leave it be and if a problem ever does come up, then we can discuss it.  It's not broken so why fix it.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hatch Act Violators...how many are there?

Standard Examiner reporter Scott Schwebke (aka @TheChalkOutline) shares with us another potential causality of the infamous Hatch Act (See Here).  Apparently someone has filed potential Hatch Act Violations against Terry Thompson and his competitor Greg Haws, whom are both running for Weber County Sheriff.  Though Mr. Haw's violations have since been dismissed, Terry Thompson's are still in process.  Haws is now bringing this to light because the OSC (U.S. Office of Special Council) is dragging their feet in the investigation.

Haws is quick to point out he isn't using this as a campaign tool against Thompson but instead wants things to be finalized and done with so he can beat Terry the right way.  I find this hard to believe.  But you can read the quote for yourself:
"This isn't a campaign ploy," he said. "I want to beat him (Thompson) on the merits of what I can bring to the table."
It is hard not to think Mr. Haws isn't feeling the heat and wants to this to destroy Terry's campaign.  Heck I would probably do the same thing if I were in his shoes.  But the real question now is, Does Terry Thompson manage any type of Federal Funds and is he now in violation of the Hatch Act?  I brought this same argument up back in March after the caucus meetings.  A number of inside sources had told me both Mr. Haws and Mr. Thompson managed some sort of organization that received Federal Funds.  Apparently Haws has been exonerated in the accusations, but Thompson's violations are still up for debate. 

Two things need to happen.  Either we need to find out who is violating this Hatch Act across the board and kick them out of office or we need to scrap this whole Hatch Act thing.  Too many people are using the Hatch Act as a convenient way to remove someone the don't agree with.  I am betting there are tons of elected officials that are using Federal Funds and are in violation of this act.  They just haven't ticked off the right people yet.

Do you know someone who is violating the Hatch Act or what do you think if this law, feel free to comment?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

U.S Senate Candidate Review

We have three candidates running for the U.S. Senate stemming from the "Anyone But Bob" campaign of this previous summer.  These three candidates are as follows:

  • Scott N. Bradley (C)
  • Mike Lee (R)
  • Sam F. Granato (D)

Scott N. Bradley - Mr. Bradley is a champion of the constitution with a PhD in constitutional law.  He is from North Logan and has been involved in management for a number of years. His campaign signs make him look like a mad scientists.  Someone tell him to comb that hair down just a little. Website: www.scottbradleyforsenate.com

Mike Lee - Another constitutional law expert and lawyer.  He clerked for Justice Alito (which could have been anything from making waffles to writing opinions). He is from Alpine and has signs everywhere.  He is a bit to radical for my tastes. Website: www.mikelee2010.com 

Sam F. Granato - Business owner and entrepreneur.  He is on a number of boards including IHC, Beehive Credit Union and Utah Dept of Alcoholic Beverages. I think he brings a well rounded resume to the picture but I would worry about special interests. Website: www.voteforgranato.com

Feel free to comment and share your feelings about the candidates.  As for endorsement, I haven't decided on this one.  Mike Lee is a little much for me but Granato doesn't make me jump either.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

U.S Congressional District 1 - Candidate Review

With only two weeks to go, it is time to review our candidates and start making some serious decisions.  Many may have already made up your minds and have already voted.  But for those in South Ogden (or elsewhere) that have not, I thought I would run through a little information about the candidates.

For the U.S. Congressional District 1 we have the following candidates:

  • Rob Bishop* (R)
  • Morgan Bown (D)
  • Kirk D. Pearson (C)
  • Jared Paul Stratton (L)

Rob Bishop our current Congressman. For those who don't know Congressman Bishop, he is from Davis County, born in Kaysville and is a former educator.  He has served us well as the * incumbent. Website: www.votebishop.com

Morgan Bowen lives in Hyde Park, is an LDS Seminary Teacher and was a CEO for 15 years of major agricultural company.  Brings some good credentials from the business and agricultural community. Love seeing business management on the ballot, however I haven't seen much campaign work from him. Website: www.votebowen.com

Kirk D. Pearson is from Lake Point, Utah and runs a construction company.  He is very committed to bring America back to what our Founding Fathers believed.  I like people who have started their own business from the ground up, kept it out of debt and are making things work.  Website: www.kirk4congress.com

Jared Paul Stratton is a Lab Tech at the University of Utah who appears to have thrown his hat in the ring simply to make a statement.  I mean, someone has to run for the Libertarians.  Website: www.stratton2010.com

I encourage you to comment on the candidates and check out their websites.  I will be endorsing Rob Bishop for another term in Congress.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dixon Found

Shortly after my last post, "Where is Dixon Pitcher?"  A number people emailed me to put me in my place regarding Mr. Pitcher and his campaign.  However I stand by my original assessment.  But the kicker was Dixon's phone call to me earlier this evening.  He was incredibly open to my suggestions and we talked a lot about the campaign.  I still think he needs a website and a few other things.  But I can tell he is busy.

Also, I received his first campaign mailer today, just in time for early voting.  I am sure this was his strategy.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Where is Dixon Pitcher?

With the election now only two weeks away, I can’t help to be concerned about our legislative district race between Dixon Pitcher and Randy Rounds. For the past few weeks we have seen a growing number of campaign signs for Randy Rounds, he has walked the streets and knocked on doors. I have received a number of mailers and spoken to him personally. But where is Dixon Pitcher? I know there is a lot of timing that goes into putting up your signage and sending out mailers. Therefore we should see more from him in the next week but I feel he has lost some real ground and is not connecting with voters.

This district has always been strong for the Democratic Party and because of Rep. Brent Wallis and his amazing, tireless campaign work; it was won by the Republicans. Dixon Pitcher has not shown me even a shred of the energy that Wallis showed us. Which leads me to believe this district will go back to the Democrats in 2011. I have had one phone call from Mr. Pitcher asking if I wanted some signs and if Randy had visited my neighborhood. But after that, I have seen nothing. By this point, Mr. Wallis had hit nearly every door in South Ogden. The first of October he had a huge campaign rally and had tons of us going door to door meeting with potential voters. We had maps, clipboards, email addresses, etc. We went to sponsored “meet the candidate” dinners at voters homes and really got to know Brent Wallis. He was out there changing people’s minds who had voted one way for 20+ years.

Many have accused Randy Rounds for poorly written campaign literature, but at least he has some! Mr. Rounds has a website, flyers, posters, signs and more. It hasn’t been updated since May, but it at least it is there. http://randyrounds.weberdemocrats.org/

Mr. Pitcher – Nothing. He is still using his info@jumping.com email as the way to contact him. But gathering more info is difficult.

Currently over 100 people have come to my blog searching for info regarding Dixon Pitcher and Randy Rounds. Randy Round’s readers are staying for over 5 minutes, Dixon pitchers only a few seconds. This either because my blog sucks or that there is nothing to say, we haven’t seen him.

In all fairness, maybe he just isn’t campaigning in my precinct because Randy Round grew up a block from my house and still has family here. However, aside from a few meet the candidate nights, as I have driven around and spoken with other people; they all have the same question:

Where is Dixon Pitcher?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Standard Examiner Editorial - Free Speech

The Standard Examiner Editorial Staff has lashed out at the Brigham City's new "Free Speech Zone" ordinances.  Calling them "Orwellian" at best and a crime against civil rights.  (See Here)  They attack the idea of setting up such zones since it will require approval to use them and 24 hour notice is needed.  They make the connection to possible protests for the upcoming LDS Temple.


I often cited this idea as a potential way around the Griener Gang Bill, but I have to agree with the editorial staff on this issue. My eyes are now open to the realities of what this does. As much as I do not want to see angry protesters at the temple dedication; restricting their rights and creating more government controls over this are wrong.  


The Standard brings they craziness of this new law to light with the following:


We love the irony of this quote from Councilman Bruce Christensen, which could have come directly from George Orwell's classic novel, "1984," that portrays a world of extreme government surveillance and the erosion of a citizen's rights:

"I applaud the mayor and the staff for bringing this forward. It hasn't been a problem in the past, but it could be in the future." (Yes, and little green men armed with guns that shoot poisoned whipped cream might also be a problem in the future.)
Actually, Christensen has blundered into a primary objection to the restrictions -- there's no problem with free speech! Brigham City leaders have an unreasonable fear. These "free speech zones" are just plain stupid and sinister.


Ouch!  What a blow!  I see how this restricts freedom and doesn't really create free speech, but instead restricts speech to those who can get through the application process.  What will stop them from denying ones  application?  This is just wrong.

Feel free to share your comments.