The West Jordan Divide: Personal Accountability
Jun 19, 2015 06:51PM
By Lewi Lewis
West Jordan - When the issue is clearly legality of action, is there any room for opinion?
The caustic landscape that has become synonymous with West Jordan government continues to unfold with Mayor Kim Rolfe’s May 27 public statement against last month’s article published by the City Journals.
Rolfe later said in an interview, “Now I don’t know if you got them wrong. I’m just saying that I’m … stating the facts.”
Rolfe’s allegations seem nothing more than an attempt to clutter an already cluttered situation, direct the eye of scrutiny elsewhere and veil the real issue, which is nothing more than the legality of actions.
In the specific case of Robinson, the question remains: was Mayor Rolfe overstepping his mayoral authority by directing Chief of Police Doug Diamond to take on the responsibility of temporary city manager and escort Robinson out of the building on April 20?
City Code [1-7D-9] states that in the event of the city manager being absent, the city manager can appoint delegation. But what defines being absent?
Rolfe alleges that acting city manager Bryce Haderlie was scheduled not to be in the building Monday or Tuesday of that week to do what the council directed him [mayor Rolfe]to do, so he did what he felt he needed to do. Rolfe later clarified that he meant to say that Haderlie was not in the building on April 20 at 9:15 a.m. when he put Jeff Robinson on administrative leave.
Haderlie agrees that he wasn’t in the building at precisely 9:15. “I was there from seven a.m. until 8:45.” Haderlie was on his way to a two-day seminar on city business, but says he was fully reachable.
Does this define being absent?
“I was only 45 minutes away. That isn’t far enough away to be leaving delegation to other people,” said Haderlie.
Why, then, wasn’t Haderlie in the building at precisely 9:15 a.m. if he knew he was suppose to carry out such a time-pressing directive given by the majority of the council?
Haderlie says he didn’t know that this specific action was going to take place on April 20.
“I don’t recall ever having a discussion about this having to be carried out on this date,” he said, and then offered some clarity:
“The mayor and I had conversations on April 13 and 14 about proposed changes to the legal department. I repeatedly asked for the opportunity to bring a plan back to the council on April 22, and at no time do I recall being told that I could not do that or that any changes had to be carried out by a specific date. In fact, what I discovered the week of the 13 through the 17 was that other members of the council did not agree with the changes the mayor was telling me to make, and that they expected a plan to be brought back for discussion.”
When Rolfe was asked why Haderlie wasn’t in the closed-door session when this directive was allegedly given, and why it was carried out when Haderlie just so happened to be out of the building, he said:
“We cannot discuss what happened in closed session,” referring to the April 17 meeting in which Haderlie was told by Rolfe not to attend.
The mayor is adamant that the truth will come out.
“Since April 8 continuing through the end of my term, all closed-door sessions will be recorded,” Rolfe said, adding that the transcripts are in the process of being released. But, what that process entails he didn’t know.
As to whether or not Chief Diamond was acting as temporary city manager on April 20, opinions differ.
“In no way, shape, or form,” Haderlie said.
Chief Diamond said, no, he was not acting as temporary city manager. “Nobody told me I was, the mayor didn’t say anything about it, that they temporarily appointed me. Nothing even close to it.”
“I guess it’s a matter of opinion,” Rolfe said.
If the council wrongly directed Rolfe to take action, should the mayor have refused?
If the mayor overstepped the bounds of his authority by instructing Chief Diamond to escort Robinson out of the building without the knowledge of the city manager, should Chief Diamond have refused?
When asked why he at least didn’t question the legality of Rolfe’s actions, per city code, Chief Diamond said, “The mayor said this was something the city council had authorized him to do, and to be honest, in the moment, I didn’t know what was going on. Knowing what I know now, I should have questioned it.”
The division within the council is no longer about the blade that caused the wound but the germ that is infecting it; until someone decides to take a step in the direction of truth, rather than half-steps toward half-truths, the sickness that has been plaguing the city for months will continue.
With the upcoming elections, and the majority of council seats up for grabs, it is unlikely any harmonious mending will be seen or even attempted in the coming months, but it is a chance for the citizens of West Jordan to become informed and engaged.
If the people do not get involved and take the helm of this wandering ship, it will continue on its wayward course.