The City Council adopted a stony code of silence Tuesday night regarding its former city manager and a possible investigation of city officials for shepherding development of a proposed shopping center.
Some city officials have said privately that former City Manager Andrew Hatton-Ward and Mayor Charles Hoffman are being investigated by the county attorney's office over unspecified allegations about impropriety in their relations with Raddon Bros. Construction.But City Attorney Hollis Hunt said at Tuesday's council meeting that the city has no official comment on the matter. According to standard policy, the county attorney's office has refused to say whether an investigation is even in progress.
Hatton-Ward, however, said last week he knows city employees and others associated with the Hidden Valley Shopping Center project have been interviewed. His remarks were confirmed by other city officials.
Hatton-Ward also maintained that no laws have been violated in connection with the project.
Marc Mascaro, an attorney for Ron Raddon, who heads Raddon Bros. Construction, said he called the county attorney's office Monday to find out whether they wanted to talk to his client.
"I told them I'd be happy to have him come down and be interviewed, take a lie-detector test. They said that when they needed to contact us they'd get hold of me."
Several citizens and county employees showed exasperation with the council for refusing to say why it has chosen not to retain Hatton-Ward as a consultant on the Hidden Valley project, which would be a major south Salt Lake Valley retail center if completed, with tenants that would include Albertson's, Kmart and Payless Drugs.
"People deserve to know the reason," said one Draper resident.
Hatton-Ward earlier this month announced he was resigning after eight years to pursue a private consulting career in urban development. He proposed remaining in Draper on a contractual basis to advise city officials on the Raddon project, which is the largest such development the small town has ever had. After questions were raised about a possible conflict of interest Hatton-Ward might have because of his interest in helping Raddon on other projects, Hatton-Ward said a clause would've been inserted in his contract prohibiting him from serving two masters.
Praise for Hatton-Ward was effusive Tuesday night, with testimony from a number of city officials and residents who gave him accolades for what they said were his professionalism and personable style.
The Raddon project has faced numerous obstacles, mostly from neighboring Sandy, where officials have objected to street alignments between the shopping center and Sandy. Engineers from Draper and Sandy have been meeting, however, to iron out differences.
A vocal group of Sandy homeowners who live on the north edge of the development earlier this year stirred up considerable controversy over the project, saying it would hurt their tranquil lifestyle. Those residents have reached an agreement with Raddon, however, in which the developer will sell them a strip of buffer land and has promised to pay for damage the extensive project work has caused their homes.