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Bluffdale calls hiring illegal

Council OKs ordinance saying Hogue isn’t member of city staff

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Dave Hogue

Dave Hogue

BLUFFDALE — The Bluffdale City Council has added some muscle to its opposition to former state Rep. Dave Hogue serving as a city administrator.

In a move called "unusual" by city attorney Todd Weiler, the City Council on Saturday unanimously passed an ordinance stating that Hogue was illegally hired by Mayor Claudia Anderson and therefore is not a city employee.

Under the ordinance, Hogue's salary and benefits are not to be paid with city funds, and Bluffdale employees are directed not to accept instructions from Hogue or recognize him as a member of the staff.

"We want it fully understood that he is not a member of staff," Councilman Bill Maxwell said.

The ordinance comes on the heels of a resolution passed by the City Council on Jan. 23 stating that it "has not consented and will not consent to the appointment of David Hogue as administrative services director."

A week earlier, Anderson issued a letter of termination to Brent Bluth, who had served as the city's administrative services director since June 2003. The mayor then appointed Hogue to the position on an interim basis.

The council contends Anderson did not have the authority to unilaterally terminate Bluth or appoint Hogue as an interim replacement. In the ordinance passed Saturday, the council cites three sections of the state code that state such action requires "advice and consent of the council."

Despite the council's action, Hogue said he will not step down until he's instructed to do so by "a court of law or the mayor."

"I'm sure there will be a lawsuit filed for this, and that's unfortunate," he said.

Anderson was out of town on business and did not attend the rare Saturday afternoon City Council meeting. In a statement from the mayor read by Hogue at the start of the meeting, Anderson challenged the legality of the meeting, saying she did not receive proper notice of it. The City Council refuted that allegation, saying the meeting was properly noticed Friday.

Attorney Karra Porter attended the meeting at Anderson's direction, but the council denied her request for public comment on the ordinance.

"This is bizarre," Porter said after the meeting. "(Members of the City Council) have a hurry-up meeting on a Saturday when they know the mayor can't be here. ... They don't allow public comment. They don't allow me to make any responses on behalf of the mayor, even when they're talking about the law. I've never seen anything like this."

Porter said state law gives the mayor the authority to hire "her deputies or assistants," which she says makes Anderson's appointment of Hogue legal and within the mayor's right at the city's CEO.

Whether the city's administrative services director qualifies as a mayor's deputy or assistant is the crux of what appears headed for a legal battle.

Weiler said the ordinance is odd because it names an individual.

"An ordinance is a law," he said. "You're making a law about David Hogue, and I think that's a little unusual."

Weiler, who didn't see a copy of the ordinance until Saturday, said he also thought it was strange for the City Council to attempt to direct city staff through the ordinance.

"You're placing staff in a very awkward position," he said. "They're going to have to declare their loyalty to the council or the mayor, and I frankly don't think that's fair."

E-mail: jpage@desnews.com