Residents hoping to learn more about why the Alpine City Council fired former Police Chief Brent Leseberg were disappointed Tuesday night.
Instead, the city and Leseberg worked out a compensation settlement and agreed to a resolution that prohibits Leseberg and any "city public official, appointed official, employee or agent" from making any reference or comment about allegations or issues surrounding Leseberg's firing except as required by law.While not specifically addressing allegations surrounding Leseberg's firing, the resolution states that all but one copy and all transcripts of a tape recording of "allegations of improper behavior against Leseberg" will be returned to him or destroyed.
Alpine Mayor Elaine Barnes fired Leseberg Oct. 31 and said in a council meeting Nov. 13 she would elaborate Tuesday on why Leseberg was fired.
A crowd of approximately 200 residents and interested onlookers gathered at Alpine Elementary School for a scheduled 8 p.m. public discussion on Leseberg's firing. Leseberg attended the meeting with his wife.
But at 8 p.m., council members told residents the city's and Leseberg's attorneys were meeting in another room negotiating an agreement between the two parties; they adjourned the council meeting until that process was completed. Residents waited 45 minutes while the attorneys finished their negotiations and the council reviewed the agreement in an executive session.
Howard Lemcke and George Brown, attorneys for Leseberg, and Lynn Lund, an attorney from the Utah League of Cities and Towns representing Alpine, presented the agreement, which states that:
- Leseberg acknowledges the city has a legal right to replace its police chief for any reason or no reason at all and that both parties "feel that an untenable working relationship would exist if a change were not made at this time."
- Leseberg will voluntarily resign as police chief with recognition from Alpine for his more than 12 years of service with the city. The city also recognizes Leseberg as a "competent and respected law officer and police administrator."
- Alpine will place Leseberg on administrative leave up to Jan. 1, 1991; will pay him one month's severance pay and will cover Leseberg and his family on medical and dental insurance for up to six months or until he is re-employed.
The city also agreed to pay Leseberg $762.50 for five days of accrued vacation pay and to pay him $1,601.25 for 105 hours of other time accrued while employed with the city.
The city's statement said it regrets that "events of the last several weeks have created stresses in the working environment between the city and Chief Leseberg. The resulting personality conflicts would make an untenable working relationship in the future. Rumors and innuendoes did not form the basis of any actions taken by the city."
At the council's Nov. 13 meeting, Barnes said she fired Leseberg after unsuccessfully trying to correct problems such as low morale in the police department, complaints about work assignments, concerns about accountability to the council and about Leseberg's judgment.
But many residents at the meeting expressed dissatisfaction with the resolution of Leseberg's firing - from the terms of the agreement to the way the matter was handled by the council and its refusal to elaborate on why Leseberg was let go.
However, other residents approached Barnes after the meeting and expressed support for her decision.
2 residents want vote on dismissal
While the Alpine City Council reviewed an agreement hammered out by its lawyer and lawyers representing fired Police Chief Brent Leseberg Tuesday night, residents John and Marilyn Anderson began circulating a referendum and petition requesting a special election on Leseberg's termination.
The documents request that the resolution passed by the council terminating Leseberg be put to a vote in a special election within 90 days. The petition also demands that Leseberg be employed on a contractual basis by the city until the Feb. 1 following the next mayoral election and that provision be made to prevent his being fired without good cause.
The Andersons need to collect 300 signatures in order for the requests to be considered by the County Commission, which has statutory authority to approve special elections and petitions.
Leseberg would not comment on the whether he would consider returning to his former position based on the outcome of the election.