Tuesday, June 14, 2016
VOTEYOU may not…..Then again, maybe you do agree with me. We live in a land blessed by our creator called the United States of America. We have been given something called the Constitution….Freedom of Speech and Religion.
Is there a price to pay? For those who don’t agree you may accept the aforementioned freedoms as part and parcel of living in this great country, or as an entitlement. It just comes with the territory.
For those of you who do agree recognize there is a price to pay. You simply exercise your agency and keep your commandments. You pay by fulfilling your Civic Responsibility…..You follow the laws of your country and you participate in selecting our leaders by VOTING as your conscious dictates. No one tells you which political party to attach yourself to or who to vote for. It’s your choice.
Whichever camp you are in, YOU have an opportunity to fulfill your Civic Responsibility. On JUNE 28th you have the opportunity to VOTE in the Primary and on NOVEMBER 8th THE GENERAL ELECTION.
If for example you have an interest in our SCHOOLS and have a concern about Common Core and its impact on our children you may wish to vote for a member of the School Board…..Who has clearly addressed and not danced around this issue.
If you have an interest in who serves as your State Representative you may wish to vote for Brooks or Kemp. Which of the two for example, will work with the State Legislature to ensure Zoning Laws concerning Short Term Leasing or related matters will be respected within your city.
If you have an interest on who will best serve the 3rd position on the County Commission you may wish to vote on who should be on the General Election Ballot…..Either Gil Almquist or Dean Cox. Folks, this is where the rubber meets the road on issues that will impact your daily life. It is a BIG DEAL. They are both qualified…..but there is a difference. Which one will best compliment the other two Commission Members and who will work best with elected city officials within Washington County. Who do YOU think will perform and work to meet the standards you have placed upon yourself?
It’s your call. Please fulfill your civic duty…..Study the issues and Study the Candidate. Talk with your friends and neighbors and VOTE. When elected into office, “They become our servants. That is the spirit of the Constitution.” (David O. McKay 1952).
Thank you. ED BACA (Available for public contact each Thursday between the hours of 9AM to 11AM at SG City Hall.)
Friday, May 27, 2016
BUDGET TIME – CHOICES TO BE MADE
Each year Utah State Law requires that a tentative budget be submitted by the first City Council meeting in May with the final adoption to be made by June 22nd.
As the May 12th Council Meeting approached the weight of this great responsibility caused me to ponder how best to represent the City’s interest as I reviewed City Manager’s tentative budget. As I struggled to organize my thoughts on how best to recognize and come to a decision on “Priority Choices” I came upon the Ensign-May 2016 General Conference Address. On page 86, I found President Monson’s message entitled CHOICES.
“THE CHOICES WE MAKE DETERMINE OUR DESTINY”
My friends I decided to act on this message and determined that I would present a brief outline of the budget process for those in attendance at this public meeting including members of the press who are expected to keep the public informed on what is taking place within the walls of City Hall. I delivered the following statement.
“I can find no better words to lead us into the Budget Process that we are about to enter into than those uttered by one of our prominent citizens.
Our Republic opens the door to a democratic process not only to satisfy state law concerning a Balanced Annual Budget for the city, but more importantly it serves as a time when elected officials make known to the public that fiduciary responsibilities are met.
It is a non-adversarial discussion and review of the proposed budget submitted by the city manager which affords elected officials an opportunity to establish priorities that are a reflection of the public’s desires as they know them to be.
It then becomes the responsibility of the city manager to develop a budget, giving due consideration to input from the Mayor and City Council. A budget that meets expectations that, are in keeping with state law. The city manager is entrusted with the responsibility of executing the approved budget.
It might be said that this is where the rubber meets the road concerning public service. It also informs our dedicated public employees that the means to perform their duties are being provided and that their service is appreciated and respected.” I believe this budget process to be a highlight of transparency in city government.
Please note that I mentioned that this budget process was to be a non-adversarial discussion. My friends, about three quarters of my way into this statement……I was interrupted by Councilwoman Betty Arial…..Who drowned out my remarks by stating “Get on with it, we all agree with it.” Now, I haven’t yet decided if this was merely a continued display of poor manners or an intentional act to stop my communicating with the public.
Perhaps it’s just a sign of our times. When you don’t like what someone is saying or how they go about saying it, just, shout them down. Interrupt them, take over the podium. If this doesn’t work take the microphone away from them. Disinvite them from speaking at a public venue like major university or block the door so the speaker can’t enter. The worst case scenario becomes a riot in the streets to deny freedom of speech. Where and when do we take a stand?
I do know that this is not the first outburst I have been subjected to at the hands of Councilwoman Arial in which a demeaning or disrespectful tone has been sounded. I want the public to know that I am trying very hard to apply the admonition given in the referred to article. “May we ever choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.” I replied to Councilwoman Arial that I appreciated her support and that my message was intended for the public and press who were present. The meeting continued without further interruptions in a cordial manner.
2016-2017 OUTLOOK: City continues to see growth in population around 2.5% to 3.0% over last year. Current estimate for sales tax revenue for current fiscal year reflects a healthy 7% growth. This budget is based on a conservative growth rate of 3% in sales tax revenues and a 3% increase in property tax estimates for new growth for the next fiscal year. Based on current major projects and forecasts from local and state officials, next year should again see steady growth in all areas.
The recommended general fund budget is $64,917,009. The expenditures are broken down in the following categories: Personnel Services at $41,419,398, Materials and Supplies at $$16,863,643, and Capital Outlay for $6,633,968. The General Fund is comprised of the following departments: General Government, Public Safety, Economic Development, Public Works, and Leisure Services.
My friends it appeared to me that the big issues discussed dealt with changes in the Tentative Budget that had to do with an increase in personnel for the Police Department. Growing concerns for roads: giving special consideration to the new High School that is to be built at the city limits of SG City and Washington City that also includes a section of County Road. A Water Rates adjustment caused by an increase in rates being implemented by the Washington County Water Conservation District and growing demands to improve infrastructure. Building the Little Valley Fire Station now appears two years away.
Further discussions are to take place in which “Priority Choices” are to be made. I will endeavor to keep the public informed. Thank you.
Monday, April 11, 2016
PULLING THE CART TO THE TOP OF THE HILL IN WASHINGTON COUNTY ENVISIONED BY A COUNTY COMMISSION ACTING WITH INTEGRITY, WISDOM AND HONESTY
Two years will have past when a new member of the County Commission takes his/her seat as the third member of the commission. As candidates step forward displaying their wares it is time for us to remember who we are…… And to contemplate the foundation we will chose to build our values upon as it relates to the interaction that takes place between county and established municipal governments.
My friends, the success or failure of inter-agency activity intended to benefit residents throughout Washington County requires dedicated attention to detail and a measurement of accomplishments. The race to elect a new commissioner announces that the time has come to evaluate performance of established practices between County and Incorporated Cities. A public report on accomplishments and perhaps, areas that can be improved upon.
I do not believe it is possible to over emphasis the importance of the need to have a close working relationship between the 3 County Commissioners and those elected to represent Incorporated Cities. For example a great amount of publicity has recently been given to areas controlled by the BLM in which we are all concerned about. It impacts water rights, power lines, and a transportation corridor, not to mention public access to recreation land.
A County Animal Shelter that will not only serve the county but will bring relief to cities that have carried the burden of caring for our pets and valued animals. It is time to have a County Animal Shelter.
A need to expand Bus Service to unincorporated areas that will reach tourist destination points such as Zion National Park.
My friends, the list identifying our common interests is far greater than those I have lightly touched upon. My goal is to increase awareness of the benefits to be gained by having a County Commission that is willing, ready and able to work effectively with city government. The time is now to be engaged. Please make an effort to meet candidates and following up by contacting delegates in your precinct and let them know who you want to be placed on the ballot.
I have met with County Commissioner Victor Iverson and Zachary Renstrom and have been favorably impressed with the direction they are taking the County in the coming years. Upon the retirement of Commissioner Alan Gardner one of the 5 candidates will succeed him. I thank Commissioner Gardner for his years of service. Please take the time to consider each candidate and cast your vote. In the interest of full disclosure I admit that I am seeking a county commissioner that will add to the status of our County Commission as it is presently constituted. The City of St. George is the County Seat and comprises more than half of the county population. I have evaluated each candidate and have made my decision on who I believe will bring to the table those qualities and experience needed to enhance the working relationship between agencies. I have no doubt that the person I succeeded on the St. George City Council will provide the expertise needed to move the county forward in harmony with the need of cities. Thank you. ED BACA
Friday, March 11, 2016
My friends, as we move towards the conclusion of this effort to bring you on board with who is at the helm of city government and ultimately accountable for both the good…….and yes, on those occasions when city government fails to toe the line or simply does not meet expectations, please allow me to remind you…… using sage baseball percentage jargon…… NO ONE bats 1000! Not even in our prime years.
CITY MANAGER :
1-7A-6: POWERS AND DUTIES:
F. Attendance At Council Meetings: It shall be the duty of the city manager to attend all meetings of the city council, unless at his request he is excused therefrom by the mayor or the city council, except when his removal is under consideration.
G. Financial Reports: It shall be the duty of the city manager to keep the mayor and the city council at all times fully advised as to the financial condition and needs of the city.
H. Budget: It shall be the duty of the city manager to prepare and submit the proposed annual budget and the proposed annual salary plan to the mayor and city council for its approval. (Ord. 1978-24, 6-15-1978, eff. 9-1-1978)
I. Expenditure Control And Purchasing: It shall be the duty of the city manager to see that no expenditures shall be submitted or recommended to the mayor and city council except on approval of the city manager or his authorized representative. (Ord. 1978-24, 6-15-1978, eff. 9-1-1978; amd. 2003 Code)
My friends, in light of the class action law suit filed against the city (still in litigation) this next item may understandably peek your interest and provide you with a better understanding and appreciation of how difficult issues are to be managed.
J. Investigations and Complaints: It shall be the duty of the city manager to make investigations into the affairs of the city and any department or division thereof, and any contract or the proper performance of any obligations of the city. Further, it shall be the duty of the city manager to investigate all complaints in relation to matters concerning the administration of the city government.
Although details of matters still in litigation may be withheld from the public you may find solace in knowing that adherence to city ordinances describing the Powers and Duties of the City Manager, do in fact serve as the vehicle intended to assure that action, deemed to be in the best interest of the city is undertaken. The mayor and city council are accountable to You at all times for oversight of the city manager. When we all do our job things workout pretty well. Too bad our Federal Government doesn’t do as well.
K. Public Buildings: It shall be the duty of the city manager to exercise general supervision over all public buildings, public parks and all other public property which are under the control and jurisdiction of the mayor and city council. (Ord. 1978-24, 6-15-1978, eff. 9-1-1978)
L. Additional Duties: It shall be the duty of the city manager to perform such other duties and exercise such other powers as may lawfully be delegated to him from time to time by ordinance or resolution or other official action of the mayor and city council. (Ord. 1978-24, 6-15-1978, eff. 9-1-1978; amd. 2003 Code)
1-7A-7: REMOVAL FROM OFFICE:
- Procedure: The removal of the city manager shall be effected only by a majority vote of the whole city council as then constituted, convened in a regular council meeting, subject to the provisions of the next succeeding subsections. In case of his intended removal by the city council, the city manager shall be furnished with a written notice stating the city council’s intention to remove him, at least thirty (30) days before the effective date of his removal. If the city manager so requests, the city council shall provide in writing reasons for the intended removal, which shall be provided the city manager within (7) days after the receipt of such request from the city manager.
- Hearing: Within seven (7) days after the delivery to the city manager of such notice of intention to remove, he may, by written notification to the city recorder, request a hearing before the city council. Thereafter the city council shall fix a time for the hearing which shall be held at its usual meeting place, at which time the city manager may appear and be heard with or without counsel.
- Suspension Pending Hearing: After furnishing the city manager with written notice of intended removal, the city council may suspend him from duty, but his compensation shall continue until his removal by action of the city council passed subsequent to the aforesaid hearing.
- Discretion Of Council: In removing the city manager, the city council shall use its uncontrolled discretion, and its action shall be final and shall not depend upon any particular showing of cause or degree of proof at the hearing, the purpose of which is to allow the city manager to present to the city council his grounds of opposition to his removal prior to its action. (Ord. 1978-24, 6-15-1978, eff. 9-1-1978; amd. 2003 Code)
1-7A-8; AGREEMENTS ON EMPLOYMENT: Nothing in this article shall be construed as a limitation on the power and authority of the governing body to enter into any supplemental agreement with the city manager delineating additional terms and conditions of employment not inconsistent with any provisions of this article. (Ord. 1978-24, 6-15-1978, eff. 9-1-1978; amd. 2003 Code)
My friends, you may find it interesting to know that our city manager, Gary Esplin was employed by the City of St. George in 1975 as a management intern. He then served as the assistant to the mayor of Riverton City in 1975 and 1976, and returned to the City of St. George as the assistant to the city coordinator in 1976. He became city manager in 1977, and has served as such to the present day. In baseball terms Gary may be said to have maintained a 400 batting average. Not too Bad for a small town boy, huh? St. George City has a stellar reputation among the cities of our great nation. Thank you, ED BACA
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
WHO’S ACCOUNTABLE ?
As promised, the continuation of a series of articles identifying by city ordinance, Who Is Accountable? In the Realm of City Government many have come to believe without question that the most powerful man in the city and for that matter the county….. Is none other than the City Manager of the City of St. George. If this be the case it becomes increasingly important for the public be to be able to trace by statute where such power and authority emulates. NOW approaching 4 decades, the current City Manager has held the reins of power. Please follow me as I attempt to provide a word picture of this very important position.
CITY MANAGER…..Powers and Duties.
1-7A-1: OFFICE CREATED: The office of city manager is hereby created and established. (Ord. 1978-24, 6-15-1978, eff. 9-1-1978)
1-7A-2: Appointment: The city manager shall be appointed by the governing body. The city manager’s term of office shall be for an indefinite period. (Ord. 1978-24, 6-15-1978, eff. 9-1-1978; amd. 2003 Code)
1-7A-5: Compensation: The city manager shall receive such compensation as the City Council SHALL, from time to time, determine. In addition, the City Manager SHALL be reimbursed for all actual and necessary expenses incurred by him in the performance of his official duties. (Ord. 1978-24, 6-15-1978, eff. 9-1-1978)
Folks, please note as I reference the Duties and Powers of The City Manager the inclusion of wording that includes the duties and responsibilities assigned directly to the City Council and Mayor. The very important word, Shall, should be given special consideration. Thank you.
1-7A-6: POWERS AND DUTIES: The city manager shall be the administrative head of the government of the city under the direction and control of the mayor and city council, except as otherwise provided in this article. Folks, I take this to mean that it is incumbent upon the Mayor and City Council to at all times be attentive as to how the City Manager is performing and permitting city government to be conducted. Knowing, what is taking place within City Government is part of the job description of the Mayor and City Council and in this way all are answerable to the public.
- Law Enforcement: It shall be the duty of the city manager to enforce all laws and ordinances of the city.
- Authority Over Employees: It shall be the duty of the city manager, and he shall have the authority, to control, order and give directions to all heads of departments and to subordinate officers and employees of the city under his jurisdiction through their department heads. (Ord. 1978-24, 6-15-1978, eff. 9-1-1978)
- Power Of Appointment And Removal: It shall be the duty of the city manager to appoint, remove, promote and demote any and all officers and employees of the city, subject to all applicable personnel ordinances, rules and regulations, except the city recorder, city treasurer, city attorney, police chief, fire chief, director of finance, director of public works, director of leisure services, director of water services, director of energy services, and director of administrative services. The city manager’s recommendations on the appointment or removal of said department heads will be considered on the basis of merit by (Mayor and City Council) the governing body. (Ord. 1978-24, 6-15-1978, eff. 9-1-1978; amd. 2003 Code)
- Administrative Reorganization Of Offices: It shall be the duty and responsibility of the city manager to conduct studies and effect such administrative reorganization of offices, positions or units under his direction as may be indicated in the interest of efficient, effective and economical conduct of the city’s business.
- Ordinances: The city manager shall recommend to the mayor and city council for adoption such measures and ordinances as he deems necessary.
My friends, as you can see. Checks and balances are clearly in place and subject to public scrutiny. This of course requires the Council and Mayor to be present and actively involved as issues are brought to light.
REVIEW: The City Manager shall supervise ALL department heads. They in turn are responsible for supervision of all subordinates assigned to their respective departments. The city manager has authority to hire and fire city employees with the exception of department heads listed above. Compliance with city ordinance regulating such matters, are to be complied with. The mayor and city council are responsible for oversight and supervision of the City Manager. By extension the Public/Voters, are responsible for oversight and supervision of the Mayor and City Council. The need for transparency becomes evident to all.
Senior Sampler Readers, due to the length of this article it will be necessary to conclude the description of Powers and Authority of the city manager in next week’s issue. Part 4 to follow. Thank You. ED BACA
Sunday, February 21, 2016
WHO’S ACCOUNTABLE ? PART 1
Having found myself within the walls of City Hall I thought it best to confirm what I thought to be, the legal description of a council persons duties….. Demands and Limits….. Public Expectations that are to guide the conduct of all of those placed in a position of trust. I am of course referring not only to each Council Person …… But, if I may be permitted to simply state, The Stars of City Government …… The Mayor ……. City Manager…… Who sit at the TOP of City Administrative Echelon . Those upon whose shoulders rest the responsibilities of not only long term planning….. Recently outlined by the Mayors State of the City Address ….. But, I believe more importantly…… by statute……Are charged to oversee the daily operation of the city.
My fellow citizens so that WE may all have a better understanding of the Power and Authority of those elected or appointed to direct the matters of the City I will present portions of the St. George City Code. I will begin with Title 1 Administration----Chapter 1 Official City Code.
1-1-1: TITLE: Upon the adoption by the city council, this city code is hereby declared to be and shall hereafter constitute the official city code of the city of St. George. This city code of ordinances shall be known and cited as the St. George City Code and is hereby published by authority of the city council and shall be supplemented to incorporate the most recent legislation of the city as provided in section 1-1-3 of this chapter.
Chapter 6 MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL. 1-6-1: LEGISLATIVE AND GOVERNING BODY:
The mayor and city council shall be the legislative and governing body of this city and privileges and authority conferred by law upon the city, and SHALL perform all duties required of them by this code or other as such shall have, exercise and discharge all the rights, powers, laws of the city.
1-6-3: POWER AND DUTIES: A. General Duties: The council shall perform such other duties as are or may be prescribed by the statutes of this state or by the provisions of this code, and shall perform such other acts and take such other measures, not inconsistent with law, as may be necessary for the efficient government of the city.
1-6-4:MAYOR: A. General Duties: The mayor SHALL perform all duties which are or may be prescribed by law, or the provisions of this code, and SHALL SEE THAT THE LAWS ARE FAITHFULLY EXECUTED.
B. Presiding Officer; Voting: It shall be the duty of the mayor to preside at all meetings of the council, but he shall not vote, except in case of a tie vote of the council or in the appointment or dismissal of a City Manager.
C. Mayor Pro Tem: In case of the temporary absence of the mayor from the city, or in case of his temporary inability to perform the duties of his office, it SHALL be his duty to communicate such fact to the members of the council; whereupon. It SHALL become the duty of the council to elect some member of the governing body to act as mayor pro tem, and during such time that council member is so acting in the capacity of mayor pro tem, he shall have power to exercise all the functions and duties of the mayor.
F. General, Specific Duties:
1. The Mayor Shall:
a. Keep the peace and enforce the laws of the city.
b. Remit fines and forfeitures;
c. Report remittances under subsection F1b of this section to the council at its next regular session; d. Perform all duties prescribed by law, resolution or ordinance;
e. Ensure that all the laws, ordinances and resolutions are faithfully executed and observed;
f. Report to the council condition of the city and recommend for council consideration any measures that the mayor considers to be in the best interest of the city;
g. When necessary, call on the residents of the city over age of twenty one (21) years to assist in enforcing the laws of the state and ordinances of the municipality;
h. Appoint, with the advice and consent of the council, persons to fill municipal offices or vacancies on commissions or committees of the municipality; and
i. Report to the council any release granted under subsection F2b of this section. Subsection F1h does not apply to the appointment of a manager under section 1-7-2 of this title.
2. The Mayor May:
a. At any reasonable time, examine and inspect the official books, papers, records or documents of the city or of any officer, employee or agent of the city; and
b. Release any person imprisoned for violation of any municipal ordinance.
G. May Limit Use of Water: In the event of scarcity of water, the mayor may, by proclamation, limit the use of water for any purpose other than domestic purposes to such extent as may be required for the public good in the judgement of the council.
H. Revision of Ordinances: The mayor may appoint by and with the advice and consent of the council, one or more competent persons to prepare and submit to the council for the adoption or rejection, a revision of the ordinances of the city, and for the government of the city, and the compensation of such revisors shall be determined and fixed by the council and paid out of the treasury.
My friends, I have provide an overview of City Ordinances that I hope lend a feeling of transparency as it relates to the Power and Authority given by statute to the Mayor and City Council members. Clearly specific duties rest heavily upon the Mayors shoulders. While it may sound overwhelming relief is available in the form of Boards and Commissions and City Departments in which the Mayor may invite Council Members to attend proceedings and/or interact with employees.
City Department Water & Energy Animal Shelter Flood Control Housing Authority Local Homeless Coordinating Committee.
MPO-Dixie Transportation Executive Committee Solid Waste Board St. George Golf Club Task Force Cat Team Area 6 & 8.
COUNCILWOMAN RANDALL: City Department Police & Fire Lower Virgin River Fuels & Fire Board Shade Tree Board Solid Waste Board Veterans Advisory Board Doctors Volunteer Clinic Cat Team Area 2 & 4.
COUNCILMAN BOWCUTT: City Department Public Works Red Hills Golf Course Clubhouse Ad Hoc Committee Drainage Board Planning Commission Snow Canyon Joint Management Commission Solid Waste Board Airport Board Cat Team Area 1 & 3.
City Department Arts Art Around the Corner Arts Commission Art Museum Board Historic Preservation Commission Dixie Center Board – WCIA Board MPO –Dixie Solid Waste Board Children’s Museum Board Cat Team Area 5 & 7.
COUNCILMAN BACA: City Department Leisure Services Air Quality Task Force Dinosaur Track Advisory Board Flood Control Hillside Review Board Mosquito Abatement Cat Team Area 9 & 10.
Folks, please note that City of St. George does not have Council Districts. Each council member serves At Large, meaning the entire city. Citizens should feel free to contact any individual member of council or all of them as they may elect to do. I have established office hours at City Hall making myself available to the public each Thursday between the hours of 9AM to 11AM. Public may phone City Hall Receptionist 627-4000 to schedule appointment or leave message.
As I close my second month on the council I can report to you that I have met often with the Mayor who has initiated contact or when I have availed myself to the open door invitation he has extended to me. As a new member of the city council I am still seeking to learn and develop the best course of action to communicate and exchange information/thoughts and ideas with fellow council members. It appears that most communication is done by e-mail or texting and in a limited form during and after council meetings. It is my hope to expand on this.
I can tell you that I have been very impressed with the demeanor and high caliber of city employees who have been most helpful and friendly. The Mayor has led in this favorable impression as I have watched how he appears to work tirelessly to serve the citizens of St. George. I have found that while we may not agree on every single issue, the Mayor is a good and willing communicator open to thoughts and ideas of others.
For those of you who may not have heard the State of the City Address given by the mayor, I will attempt to pass on his words to the citizens of St. George. Mission statement for city…..We provide services that focus on people and advance a thriving community. Vision statement ….. We are an active community, rich in culture, with a diverse and vibrant economy that supports people doing great things. Values ….. Integrity – We are honest in our actions and communications. Innovation and efficiency – We encourage new ideas and solve challenges in ways that create value for our citizens. Professional and Personable Service – We value those we serve and treat them with respect. Teamwork – We approach opportunities and challenges as a team and find ways to help each other succeed. Excellence – We believe success is achieved by defining and exceeding the expectations of our citizens. The mayor closed with the statement…..MORE HAPPENING AHEAD! The heartbeat of the City of St. George can be found in its committed employees. Men and women engaged in a cause far larger than any single individual. We honor those who tirelessly strive to serve, teach, protect and enhance our community.
My friends, part two of this Senior Sample Article will soon follow and will contain an outline of the City Ordinance pertaining to ARTICLE A. CITY MANAGER. 1-7A-1. I intend to provide you with an understanding of the City Managers POWERS AND DUTIES…..With comments on my observations.
Thank You. ED BACA, Councilman, City of St. George.
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
JOURNEY TO CITY HALL
OUTSIDE LOOKING IN, TO INSIDE LOOKING OUT
THE VIEW MAY HAVE CHANGED BUT VALUES REMAIN STEADFAST
As many of you know my journey to city hall has taken a dozen years to complete. I’d like to share with you some of my initial experiences since being elected. It is my hope that over the course of the next four years you will journey with me as I share my view from inside City Hall. After all without YOU and your support it would not have been possible to successfully reach the steps of city hall.
As many of you know, I ran on a platform that included TRANSPARENCY as an integral part of city government. Upon being elected the view began to gradually change with the stark realization that following the fanfare and kind words of congratulations it was time to prepare to serve. Two months remained before the official oath of office was to take place. A time to gather and organize materials, tools necessary to serve. This was made easier when the City of St. George hosted a Training Session on December 10th for those newly elected from throughout the county. This included city staff, in a position to oversee and be part of Public Meetings. Prominent attorney (David Church) enlightened those present on the provisions of Utah Code Annotated title 52, chapter 4, relating to open and public meetings. As expected this included a discussion of regulations governing Closed Meetings.
Folks, as mentioned I had committed to the citizens of St. George that I would do all I could within the law to bring forth greater transparency within city government. The scheduling of this training session was unexpected and unsolicited. I could not help but think The Lord works in mysterious ways as Mr. Church covered the topic of Deliberations and Decisions. I took note that a Closed Meeting as described under section 52-4-204 may only be held for: (1) (c) Strategy sessions to discuss pending or reasonable litigation; (e) Strategy sessions to discuss the sale of real property, including any form of a water rights or water shares, if: (i) Public discussion of the transaction would: (A) disclose the appraisal or estimated value of the property under consideration; or (B) prevent the public body from completing the transaction on the best possible terms. The scheduling of this training session prior to the new council taking the oath of office was, I believe, intended to show the level of importance given to understanding and complying with the rule of law as it relates to Public Meetings and the application of Closed Sessions. (Only a small portion of statute has been listed to give public a glimpse of restrictions placed on city government.)
On January 4th as prescribed by law the Oath of Office was administered by City Recorder Christine Fernandez. “I DO SOLEMNLY SWEAR THAT I WILL SUPPORT, OBEY AND DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES, AND THAT I WILL DISCHARGE THE DUTIES OF MY OFFICE WITH FIDELITY.”
THE CHALLENGE IS TO ACT WITHIN STATE AND LOCAL STATUTES THAT REGULATE CONDUCT OF ELECTED OFFICIALS AS THEY GO ABOUT DOING THE PUBLICS BUSINESS.
IT WILL REQUIRE DISCIPLINE TO ACT WITHIN STATED GUIDELINES AND YET SATISFY THE PUBLICS RIGHT TO KNOW.
On January 7, 2016 the newly elected council was called to order by Mayor Pike to begin the first City Council Meeting of the year. Immediately following the Flag Salute and Invocation, Mayor Pike announced his intention to issue a Proclamation……A new event starting this year. Memorial’s for Departed Love One’s. To be known as “Annual Remembrance Ceremonies”. Nina Heck came forward and articulated the reasons and justifications for submitting a request for the proclamation. The mayor proceeded to read The Proclamation. Upon completion the council approved a motion to approve the mayor to sign said proclamation. Comments were made reflecting the value of remembering the departed and those who provide service during the last days. Ms. Heck expressed her appreciation and in doing so mentioned that the first year ceremonies would be held at Hughes Mortuary. This prompted a comment by the Mayor as to a conflict of interest bringing to mind that this was Councilman Hughes Mortuary Business. To which Ms. Heck acted to dismiss and dispel any thoughts of conflict of interest by informing one and all that this being the first event arrangements had been made with Hughes Mortuary to host the first event. It was clearly announced that a rotation list would be established with other mortuaries to host future yearly events. Venues other than mortuaries are to be entertained. This put to rest any thoughts of conflict of interest. In the interest of full disclosure Nina Heck is an Independent Contractor providing service as Oh My Heck Marketing and is well known for community service and volunteer work.
My friends, serving as your new city councilman I look forward to meeting with you and listening to your issues of concern. As time permits and with approval of the Senior Sampler I will submit articles that you may find of interest in an effort to keep you well informed. Mayor Pike has acted to provide office space at City Hall that is now available for you to come and meet with members of the city council. Initially I will be available each Thursday between the hours of 9 and 11 A.M. Please call City Hall Phone 627-4007 to schedule appointment. Thank you. ED BACA