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A letter from newly elected Salt Lake City Council Chairman Alan Hardman to Mayor Palmer DePaulis about separation of powers in city government was unnecessary and acrimonious, DePaulis said Thursday.

Hardman, however, denied the letter was written with a bitter pen and said he intended only to set a cooperative tone for the coming year."I wish the guy Merry Christmas and everything; I don't think the letter was harsh at all," Hardman said.

Hardman sent the letter to DePaulis Dec. 13 after winning a 4-3 vote to the council chairmanship, a one-year, mostly ceremonial position.

"While I am willing to work with you in an effort to achieve consensus on major issues, I will also work to maintain the independence of the Council and the separation of powers which now exists in Salt Lake City government," the letter read.

"I am looking forward to a great year. Best wishes during the holiday season," he said.

DePaulis said he was surprised by the letter.

"I thought it was still raising an issue that doesn't need to be raised anymore," DePaulis told reporters Thursday.

DePaulis has often complained of contention between the council and the mayor's office. Much of the friction was found between DePaulis and Council members W.M. Stoler and Florence Bittner - ideological colleagues of Hardman.

"Clearly, I understand that I will continue to assert those issues (of separation of powers) . . . I think clearly those issues are on the table," DePaulis said. "I was a little surprised that he raised that kind of animosity.

"I thought the letter was very conciliatory," Hardman said. "The main point of the letter was that I was in fact proposing to the mayor that . . . I meet with him on a formal basis. I just wanted to make sure that in saying that, that the message was also not that we were giving up some of that independence of the council."

Hardman said since his election the council has had a healthy relationship with the city's administrative branch.

"I think that up to when (Councilman) Wayne Horrocks and I were elected to the council that things were far too cozy. There was not a viable separation of powers in the city," Hardman said.

"I don't like contentiousness more than anyone else, but if you have to keep your mouth shut in order to achieve harmony, I don't think that's right," he said.