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Saturday, October 27, 2007


Blogmeister Note: Here is a Rebuttal to the Powder Mountain/OVPC conflict of interest situation, submitted by Frank Cumberland

How appropriate at Halloween that some folks in the Valley angrily roam the Ogden Valley Utah Forum Blog and (I am guessing) the Letters section of the Ogden Valley News like the crowd chasing Frankenstein’s monster, only this time the mob is chasing Ogden Valley Planning Commissioner Jamie Lythgoe for her alleged conflict of interest.

I am a member of the Valley Citizens for Responsible Development, but I disagree with the various accusations that Commissioner Lythgoe is somehow arrogantly—and dishonestly--refusing to recuse herself from debate and decision on the Powder Mountain rezone. I practiced law for twenty-five years and for each of those years volunteered my time to prosecute lawyers for infractions of the Code of Professional Responsibility, the majority of which infractions involved conflicts of interest. I also co-authored, with two other persons, the first Code of Ethics for the City of Olmsted Falls, Ohio, the nucleus of which was a conflict of interest provision which called for removal from office for its violation. It is fair to say that I recognize conflicts as well as anyone I know, and I dislike them as much as anyone I know.

Some things to consider:


Anonymous said...

Frank, thanks for contributing your perspective and more importantly sharing you expert opinions.

I will follow your lead on this issue.

Ron Gleason

Anonymous said...

As conflicts of interest go among Utah legislators, the one involving republican representatives Aaron Tilton of Springville and Mike Noel of Kanab is among the most egregious that has come to the public's attention in recent memory.

Rep. Tilton's company, Transition Power Development, is directly involved in seeking water rights and licensing for a proposed nuclear power plant in Southern Utah. Rep. Noel works for the Kane County Water Conservancy District, which stands to reap millions once the plant comes on line.

The conflict is obvious - Rep. Noel chairs the legislative committee that is considering the matter, and Rep. Tilton sits on the committee. And can you believe that at the committee's last meeting, Rep. Tilton literally moved from his committee seat to the witness chair to shamelessly and with a straight face testify before that very committee on his firm's proposal!

Sadly, their flagrant and very public conflict of interest is symptomatic of broader ethics issues among the 104 part-time lawmakers. In far too many instances, legislators' day jobs come into direct conflict with the work they are doing on Capitol Hill.

In KSL's view, the Tilton-Noel mess validates the need for much clearer and enforceable conflict of interest rules among lawmakers. The taxpayers of Utah should no longer be hoodwinked by such questionable dealings.

See any parallels Frank?

Anonymous said...

This was a comment posted on 10/25, on 10/28 the same person did a complete flip flop on his position, is this guy a Lemming?

Ms Lythgoe just do the sensible and common sense action; recuse yourself from this issue.

Ron Gleason

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, I'm sorry because I am not an legal expert on all of this nor am I a published author of anything. What I am is a simple memeber of the community. But, I have dealt with ethics for over 20 years in my career and I totally disagree with your statement. The density levels approved in the rezone and the required support systems that would come with them will most likely drive up values of property in that area. Is that not why we are all being hit with such huge increases throughout the valley? So, will not Jamie Lythgoe see and increase in her adjacent property and is this then not a personal benefit from the rezone? You state words to the effect of not giving in to the naysayers which make it sound like this is a matter of pride to you instead of a matter of ethics and responsibility to the community by a public service. Why is it so important that Ms. Lythgoe vote on this matter? What is the harm in having her show respect for the community she is supposed to be serving by reclusing herself from what is obviously being understood by the public as a conflict in interest? I am sorry but there definetly seems to be a double standard being applied her if Commissioner Lythgoe and the rest of the commission continue to state that there is no conflict of interest.

Ron Gleason said...

I have been called many things but lemming has never been one of them. I changed my opinion based on what Frank wrote concerning his legal view of the situation. The county legal representative could not and did not explain the situation like Frank did.

IMO the power of this forum is the ability to learn from people that have expertise from all different areas.

I am not a legal expert but I do have respect and regard for the law as ambiguous as it may be at times.

The challenge we all have in dealing with the county, and the issue of managed growth in the valley, is understanding the process and the existing ordinances. We cannot win on emotions, only on facts by experts and eventually changing the rules and process.

I encourage the continued exchange of facts and opinions. I hope people have the fortitude to identify themselves and sign their posts and comments

Ron Gleason

Jamie Lythgoe said...

Please address concerns over these planning issues to

Commission Office
Attention: Sherri Sillito,
Planning department
2380 Washington Blvd.
Ogden, UT 84401

Sherri Sillito 801-399-8791

Jamie Lythgoe

Richard Webb said...

If we are truly to understand a potential conflict, I suggest that Jamie Lythgoe disclose the terms of the sale of Powder Mountain to the new developers. I would suspect that the seller did not receive all cash for the sale. If not then there will be interest (possably millions) that will be paid to the sellers estate. Also the ability of the developers to pay the note may very much depend on a zoning change. Does the sale price change predicated on a zoning change? All of these issues should be answered, with evidence, by Jamie Lythgoe if she is to claim no interest in the development. Failure to disclose the above is in my judgment evidence enough that there is a major conflict of interest.

Anonymous said...

Frank - I am not sure where you got your figures from but if my understanding is correct the amount of land owned in the rezone area is around $40 acres, correct? Now, the less than one acre lot behind my house in the valley is selling for over $200,000 just for the land. But, conservately thinking 40 acres at say just $25,000 comes out to a $1,000,000. Now maybe that is not much to you but to us "regular" folks, that's a chunk of change. That does not even take into consideration the then increased value of the adjacent 200 acres. So, tell me how again how this 1/2 of 1% is not significant because I just don't see it. Oh yeah and if you can find me some land in the valley at $25000 and acre I'd love to see it. Because I sure could not find anything that cheap when I was looking for property.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that there may be a smoking gun involving the lien status for Powder Mountain and the Cobabe family? If the Cobabe family are holders of any of the liens described by the Cache County Attorney, the public should be informed.

Anonymous said...

Frank, the issue of Commissioner Lythgoe adamantly denying any familiy interest or involvement until the story broke a couple of weeks ago is still overhanging. If there was no conflict, then why didn't she disclose any of this information, no matter how large or small. And why does she insist on no recusal?

Do the right thing, Ms. Lythgoe. No matter the outcome of the rezone request, your vote will always be clouded!