Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis says "close" doesn't count in jail negotiations, either.
County Commissioner Michael Stewart was at the West Jordan City Council meeting Tuesday night, stumping for a plan that he said would solve the nagging problem of overcrowding in the Salt Lake County Jail.Stewart's campaigning came as a surprise to Salt Lake officials Wednesday morning. DePaulis said he thought he had a deal with Stewart not to talk about jail negotiations with anyone outside Salt Lake City until an agreement had been signed.
"We agreed nothing should really be said about our jail negotiations until we have an agreement and we're ready to ink it," DePaulis said. "As far as I'm concerned, we still have major hurdles left to overcome.
"I was very specific about not going out to other mayors and other jurisdictions characterizing we had a solution until we had one."
At the West Jordan meeting, Stewart said his plan would put to rest the legal squabbles over who should pay the costs of incarcerating misdemeanor offenders brought to the jail by municipal police departments in Salt Lake County. The county has wanted to bill cities for the offenders they bring in, while cities argue they pay county taxes to support the facility.
DePaulis said progress is being made in negotiation sessions he's held with Stewart to solve the jail problem.
"We've agreed in principle on two out of the three issues," DePaulis said. "The toughest one is the money itself. We have not agreed on that. And that's the heart of the issue."
But Stewart made a presentation to the West Jordan City Council Tuesday night detailing his plan to put the jail controversy to rest. At the meeting, Stewart told Mayor Bob Roberts and the entire City Council that news reporters had agreed to "sit on their hands" and not release information about the proposal until Friday.
But Deseret News reporter Jay Evensen, who covers county government, said Stewart had only told him there may be a press conference Friday. No agreement had been reached to keep Stewart's proposal confidential.
Stewart said he aimed to keep the proposal quiet, while still keeping politicians informed, because publicity had destroyed previous jail negotiations.
Stewart is seeking interlocal agreements with cities in Salt Lake County that would forever make the county the guardian and financier of jail operating and maintenance costs in exchange for a few favors from the cities.
Stewart reminded West Jordan's officials the county still believes it has the upper hand in the jail issue. "The law is on the county's side," he said. "The (Utah) Supreme Court said we can bill."
The county has wanted to charge cities for their prisoners, based on a Utah Supreme Court ruling in a Utah County case. The cities balked, led by Salt Lake City officials, who say they have a separate contract with the county.