Mayoral candidate Sherm Hislop announced Monday that he, his wife and his business partners will drop a lawsuit they filed against the city in 1987 if he wins the election and the suit has not been resolved before he takes office.
"We found that there are people concerned that a man running for mayor would be suing the city," Hislop said.Hislop maintains the suit has been used to question his motives for seeking office. He said that since announcing his candidacy the suit had been publicized "to make me appear as if I have done something wrong."
Hislop said he and his wife, Ginny, agreed to drop the suit if elected because it is "far more important to us than any recovery of our share of the financial losses incurred by the breach of contract . . . that integrity, ethics and morality be restored to the administration of our city government."
The Hislops and seven other plaintiffs filed suit June 2, 1987, alleging the city reneged on an agreement to sell them excess steam from the Provo Power Plant for use in the Liberty Square complex for central heating and for heating culinary hot water. The suit asks for $644,000 in damages plus court costs and attorney fees.
David Lambert, an attorney representing Provo, said the contract was invalid because it never was approved by the City Council. Mayor Joe Jenkins said the city built a district heating loop to serve Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, Provo Recreation Center and the Provo Senior Citizens Center with financial help from the federal government. Although the city wanted to extend district heating to other areas, no federal money was available, and in 1986 a study showed extension of the system was economically unsound.
Hislop said his attorneys offered the city a settlement proposal a year ago but never received a response. Lambert told the Deseret News that the proposal asked for $453,000 on behalf of the plaintiffs, but the city believed it could win the case in court and did not accept it. The suit is set for trial in April 1990.
Hislop said that by dropping the suit he would avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.
"I hope this commitment by us to the citizens of Provo will underscore to all my sincere desire to see a government for the people restored to our community," Hislop said.