Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis, lashing out at the City Council's majority voting block, said Thursday he will work this election season to persuade voters to send him a City Council with whom he can work.
Stressing he doesn't want to appear to be "hand- picking" candidates for this fall's election to fill four council seats, DePaulis said he will be more vocal on issues that have sometimes pitted him against the council."The biggest issue that seems to come up all the time is the contentiousness. I think what's been a disappointment to me is to face very insignificant issues . . . (that) are not issues that move the city forward," he told reporters.
"This term that has been thrown around about . . . this conservative Gang of Four. I really have trouble trying to understand how these folks are so conservative when all the contentiousness has been over their efforts to expand their salaries, expand their benefits, expand their personal office space, expand their play into the administrative part of government," he said.
What has become known as the Gang of Four, consisting of council members W.M. "Willie" Stoler, Florence Bittner, Alan Hardman and Wayne Horrocks, often rallies against DePaulis in critical 4-3 votes on the seven-member City Council.
Stoler and Bittner face re-election this year as does Tom Godfrey. Councilwoman Sydney Fonnesbeck has said she will not seek re-election this fall. Stoler and Bittner said Thursday the legislative branch of city government should not be a "rubber stamp" for the mayor's office and that the give and take between branches makes for effective government.
"The people are better served when you have less than a guaranteed unanimous vote on important issues," Bittner said.
"If he (DePaulis) decides he wants to speak out on those issues," Stoler said, "that also opens the door for others to speak out on issues."
During budget negotiations last year when the city struggled with tight fiscal constraints, DePaulis vetoed a budget crafted largely by the Gang of Four.
Thursday he criticized them for trying to give city employees raises in an austere season and said such action is contrary to their conservative label.
"I think it's confused the public. I think the contentiousness has been a bad symbol and it doesn't do any good for our form of government."
"And that isn't healthy and that's the part that I think I'm going to be speaking to," DePaulis said.