The West Jordan Divide: Jeff Robinson
May 20, 2015 07:57PM
● By Lewi Lewis
West Jordan - The noxious disorder that has created an emotional division between members of the West Jordan City Council continues to flourish; its principle element: a bloom of axiomatic suppositions.
But what will you find when trying to understand the elements of a twisted web that has ensnared the reputations of all involved? Whether you take all the names, Rick Davis, Jeff Robinson, Justin Stoker, and according to some of the councilmembers, acting city manager Bryce Haderlie, as individual roads or as a single problem-entity, the elements are the same: conflicting memories, clashing personalities, confusion and unknown agendas.
Jeff Robinson and the brass tacks:
Fact: On April 20 former City Attorney Jeff Robinson was escorted from City Hall and his office was sealed.
Question: who gave the directive to have Jeff Robinson escorted out of the building and was he placed on paid administrative leave and who had the authority to do so?
“ … [I] have no authority to let him go or even put him on administrative leave. OK? I put him, I asked him to be escorted out of his office by the chief of police and we sealed his office, and I did so what I [thought] was based on what I was instructed by the council,” Mayor Kim Rolfe said during an interview on Friday.
But Chief of Police Doug Diamond remembers it differently.
“We went into Robinson’s office. The Mayor started talking to Robinson and told him that he was going to be escorted from the building. The Mayor further explained that the council had decided to accept his resignation and that he was putting Robinson on paid administrative leave,” he said.
Find: other than opinion and speculation, what Rolfe was “instructed” to do by the council cannot be clarified; it was reportedly given during a closed door session in which the city manager was not present; councilmembers are not allowed to disclose what is discussed in a closed door meeting.
Fact: according to city and state code under the manager-council form of government, any directive given by the majority council can only be carried out by the city manager.
Question: why was acting city manager Bryce Haderlie not present in the closed door meeting on Friday, April 17 where it was “decided” that Robinson would be placed on paid administrative leave?
“There was a meeting on Friday before Jeff was escorted out of the building,” Haderlie said in a phone interview on Sunday. “I was told [by Rolfe] I wasn’t needed at that meeting.”
Rolfe agreed when asked if it was true that Haderlie was not invited to the meeting. “Yes, that’s correct. He was not invited to the meeting.”
It is unclear as to why Haderlie was not invited.
“I was available but for some reason I wasn’t invited,” he said.
Councilmember Chad Nichols says the law is clear. “State law dictates the City Manager shall, "attend all meetings of the council and take part in its discussions and deliberations."”
When Rolfe was asked if this was indeed law, he said, “I don’t think so.”
Question: Haderlie wasn’t present on April 20 either, or was he?
“The city manager was not there. On Monday or Tuesday that week to do what the council directed,” Rolfe said, defending his decision to take initiative.
“I have four pages of notes just for that day,” Haderlie said when asked why he wasn’t in the building the day Robinson was escorted out.
Chief Diamond aligns with Haderlie. “While going to the [Robinson’s] office I asked if Haderlie was in the building,” he said. “The Mayor said that Haderlie was upstairs but he refused to do this (meaning escorting Robinson out of the building).”
Question: if the city manager, in fact, is not present or refuses to carry out a directive of the majority of council, is authority up for grabs?
“It’s kind of hard for me to do something if I never had a conversation with the Mayor about it,” Haderlie said.
Explaining his role, Haderlie says, “State law says that I’m the chief executive officer of the city and no member of the council has legal authority to do anything with personnel.”
Councilman Southworth points out when given a hypothetical, “Even if a City Council inappropriately directs one of its members to take on an executive role … that individual is under zero obligation to comply and has every right to refuse.”
When Rolfe was asked if his actions on Monday, April 20 went against the grain of state and city code, he said, “I don’t know … all I know is that it was at the will of the majority of the council.”
Fact: The legislative body, of a manager-council form of government, appoints a city manager to oversee the administrative operations, implement its policies, and advise it. The position of “Mayor” present in this type of legislative body is a largely ceremonial title, and may be selected by the council from among its members or elected as an at-large council member with no executive functions.
To pull fact from opinion is iffy at best, prejudicial at worst. It is no secret that the fight unfolding between the seven councilmembers is emotional, animated and even personal (the audio of the April 29 council meeting alone is enough to prove this. You can listen to it on our website and hear for yourself (posted below).
So what then?
Jeff Robinson is just one of the effects of a much deeper, inherent cause that exists somewhere within City Hall.
Decide for yourself. Attend Council meetings; meet your representatives. Get involved.
Because when the waters begin to recede, what will be exposed: an empty basin of personal grudges and dramatization or a treasure trove of malicious intent at the feet of all who are involved?
Audio of the April 29 council meeting.