After much dithering, the City Council decided Wednesday to let Justice Court Judge Harry Rodabough keep his job.
"This won't take long," Mayor Jerry Larrabee said at the start of the meeting.Famous last words. After three hours of closed-session discussion by themselves and with Rodabough, the council members finally voted to reappoint him to another four-year term. Lise Tuttle was the sole opposing vote.
Larrabee and some council members were concerned about Rodabough's perceived loose administration of the court, his backlog of cases and inconsistency in his sentencing.
Exemplifying the latter, some complained, were Rodabough's varying fines on non-handicapped students who parked in the handicapped spaces at Woods Cross High School.
Mainly, however, the concerns were about Rodabough's communication with his court clerk, Kathy Sanborn, and other staffers. Rodabough has groused about Sanborn going to city administrator Gary Uresk with personnel changes instead of to him, and he said she has made other important decisions on her own.
"I was out of the loop," he said.
On the other hand, Rodabough admitted he has been "a little lax" in taking the reins of leadership.
"The whole thing boils down to communication," Uresk said. "There were just some issues that needed to be discussed."
Some police officers had also complained that after all the work they went through to get bad guys to court, Rodabough treated them too leniently.
But Rodabough said his job is justice, not vengeance. Having been a police officer himself, "I know how it feels" to have a judge dismiss a citation you've worked hard on, he said.
In any case, the long discussion appears to have cleared the air.
"The flavor of the conversation and the answers that were given and the leadership shown was the difference," Councilman Darin Hicks said.
"I think we have a good conclusion to this," Larrabee added.
The action comes more than two weeks past the statutory deadline for reappointment. Rodabough has complained that the council left him in limbo, with no previous indication of how it viewed his performance.
"He hasn't slept for weeks - weeks," said Karyl Lee Rod-a-bough, the judge's wife.
Larrabee conceded the deadline "crept up on us" but said he was satisfied the process was fair. Better to take a little more time and make the right decision, he said.
"I have to hand it to (the council members). They did take the time to get into some difficult issues and make a difficult decision," he said.