Update: Council Without Restraint
Aug 25, 2015 05:56PM ● Published by Bryan Scott
Matheson Court House
First up was Tyler Ayres, the attorney for Mayor Rolfe. Ayres first made a case that was very similar to the argument made within the petition, stating that the mayor was voted in as a full-time mayor, and his wage and duties should not be changed by the council. Judge Harris' initial question to Ayres was simple; why can a judge take action on this, why can't the council make this decision?
Ayres simply did not have any answer to this. The judge seemed to remind Ayres that even in the documents that he presented as articles to his petition, he demonstrated that in 2013 the council decided to change the mayor's responsibilities to full time and to raise the wage. They could effectively make further changes, even reversing the change made in 2013. The judge further asked Ayres if he had any provision, law or constitutional provision that would stop them from doing such. Ayres responded that he did not.
Ayres then seemed to change tactics, claiming that Rolfe's complaint was not with the fact that it was on the agenda but rather the process. "Ultimately it is the process," Ayres said. He stated that the discussion in question was added one day prior to the meeting. After reminding Ayres that the petition filed stated nothing about the process, the judge asked if there is a process that they should have used, and if there is a law or ordinance that states that period should be longer. Ayres again said not that he knew of.
Ayres stated that the city council has tried to expedite this process, so that the public would not be informed about it. The judge gestured towards the court room and said "by the looks of my court room, I would say the word has gotten out." Ayres responded that the only reason that the public knew was because Mayor Rolfe had informed them. We have made several phones calls to Mayor Rolfe and his attorney and were unable to reach them; our messages were not returned.
The judge, who almost seemed to be offering Ayres a lifeline to come up with something with substance, explained to Ayres that he did not see anything cited or otherwise that would prevent the council from taking such action. Ayres stated, "I admit my deficiencies."
An attorney representing the City Council of West Jordan followed up with proclaiming that the city followed the legal process required by law, which states that agendas must be posted 24 hours prior to the meeting. Not only did they follow the legal process, they exceeded it by actually posting the schedule last Thursday -- which was a contradiction to Ayres claim of one day posting. Upon further inspection, when Journal staff checked the archives, we found that the agenda was posted last week.
The West Jordan attorney also stated that in their opinion, this is strictly a political issue, and should be handled in the political process. Discussion of the issue was most proper in the political forum, which is city council.
After thanking everyone for coming to the court on such late notice, the judge said that he was ready to make a decision. "I'm comfortable making a decision on this matter," he said. He then denied the restraining order. "I'm going to respectfully deny the request."
Judge Harris validated that this is a political matter, and that a court should not strain to become involved in a political issue. His first reasoning for the denial was that he agreed that it seemed that the council has the right to make modification to the mayors duties and salary, just as they did in 2013. He also took issue with the merits of the case presented by Rolfe; that the mayor and his council were unable to demonstrate a reasonable likelihood to win the argument.
With the denial of the temporary restraining order today, the council seems to be free to discuss the issues that are on the agenda.