Perhaps it was inevitable, but big-city politics have finally found their way home to quaint but rapidly expanding Draper.
Allegations are flying from Mayor Elaine Redd and the City Council. Press releases fly. And before it's all over, a judge just may be called in to finally calm the flaming embers of ego, paranoia and the pursuit of justice in this once-quiet Point of the Mountain community.Is Redd off her rocker for suggesting the city's 6-year-old manager form of government is illegal? Does she have the best interests of the 14,000-member community at heart? Or is she a power-hungry politician who sees a chance to sparkle in the limelight?
Controversy boiled in Draper almost two weeks ago when the first-term mayor threatened to file a lawsuit on grounds that a 1989 ordinance illegally installed a city manager. Redd and her attorney, David Irvine, say Ordinance 84 stripped the mayor's office of its executive powers without the benefit of a vote by the people.
The council response, issued one week later with an opinion from City Attorney Michael Mazuran, is that the ordinance is perfectly legal - and that Ordinance 147, which Redd signed into effect in 1994, "clearly establishes that Draper City has a city manager who works under the direction of the governing body of the city."
But Redd also alleges the City Council is guilty of conducting secret meetings, invoking an esoteric and legally disputable "minute motion" in council meetings, evaluating City Manager Dave Campbell without her and subsequently approving a Campbell pay raise. Redd, 68, charges Campbell with clearly and unlawfully assuming duties she was elected to perform.
"The mayor's been a little bit frustrated with the limitations placed on the mayor by the ordinance. I do what the council directs," Campbell said.
According to Redd, that's exactly the problem. The city manager should take direction from both the mayor and the City Council.
"It's just backwards when the city manager is telling the mayor what to do. There's nothing for the mayor to do if he (the city manager) assumes all the responsibilities," Redd said. "He does not like me assuming anything. That is very clear."
Campbell points out that the mayor has plenty to do. But employee hiring, transfers, critiques and the minutiae of development plans should be handled by a professional manager. Campbell intimated that he was more comfortable working with former Mayor Richard Alsop because Alsop only came in to sign official proclamations. Redd, on the other hand, readily admits logging 45 to 50 hours in her City Hall office each week, talking to residents, developers and whoever else happens in during office hours.
In a manager form of government, like the one Draper has, a mayor functions as presiding officer at meetings of the council and its committees; casts tie-breaking votes; and functions as the city's ceremonial figurehead, city attorney Mazuran said. The strong mayor-council form of government Redd is seeking - or even a council-manager form, which many Draper residents think the city already has - would both require a vote of the electorate, as state statute deems them "optional" forms of government for third-class municipalities like Draper, Mazuran said.
"The answer (she asked for has) been given by the attorney. I have no idea what (she) and her attorney want to do. We hope they will find the findings valid," City Councilman Darrell Smith said.
It was the Committee for Better Government in Draper that started the skirmish. After reviewing resident complaints of unaccountability in City Hall, the 3-week-old group unearthed evidence that Draper's current form of government is illegal.
Led by former Mayor Glen Cannon, the dozen-strong committee is mostly comprised of former city administrators, Cannon said. Cannon, who was Draper's mayor from 1980-86, said the group expects to circulate a petition early this week to finally put the issue on the ballot.
But could Redd be all wrong? In an interview with the Deseret News last week, Redd admitted that during her mayoral campaign, maybe she "didn't read the duties (of office) carefully enough."
"I knew it was a manager-council form of government. Perhaps I assumed I would be working with the employees (day-to-day on evaluations, executive orders, etc.). An elected official should be working with the employees," Redd said.
To prove her point, the mayor and her attorney on Friday deemed "a friendly lawsuit imminent," since Mazuran and Irvine's conclusions on the form-of-government question "are totally at odds."
City Manager Campbell noted last week that the recent hoopla is "seriously affecting" employee morale.
"I think it's true. They spent some time trying to work around it in City Council meetings," said one city employee, who said tensions started rising late last year. "It's very apparent when you're around them. Now it's worse.
"Each employee makes the comment: `What's wrong with them? Are they crazy?' All of us say we don't want to be in the middle of it, but we are. You can't avoid being around either one of them (Campbell or Redd). Every employee interacts with both people."
Debby Wilson, an economic development coordinator, said the disputes haven't affected her work, but Wilson noted that she works mostly with "outside people," or developers. Before the council issued a 10-page press release Thursday, which it distributed to all 48 Draper city employees, Wilson said municipal workers kept up with the accusations and acerbic banter through hearsay - and the newspaper.
Redd has her share of supporters, though she has disappointed others who supported her mayoral bid. In 1992, Redd campaigned as a strong anti-growth candidate. Summer Pugh, who lost her own bid for City Council on the Stop The Madness platform in November, said Redd hasn't done all she could do in her limited role as mayor.
"She's a nice lady, but she hurt a lot of people in Draper by not listening to them with her vote when it counted," said Pugh, a three-year resident of Draper.
A second Redd administration is questionable. The mayor said last week that she hasn't yet decided if she will seek another term in November '97. "If I have something to offer, I will (run). I probably won't consider it seriously for another eight to 10 months," Redd said.
Other Draper residents appreciate the current volley for what it is, "a power struggle," but agree Redd should have more executive powers.
"I would like to see her be a strong mayor," said Rod Stucker, a resident of five years. "Maybe it took her this long to figure out what (the City Council is) trying to do with the position of mayor. In the last year she's seen the city manager is basically ignoring the citizens, and she's taking the heat for it."