An end to the dispute between Alpine City and its former police chief may be at hand, although residents sponsoring a petition to reinstate the chief are not giving up their efforts.
Alpine Mayor Elaine Barnes signed a settlement agreement Friday that was negotiated between the city and former chief Brent Leseberg about three weeks ago. That document, which allows Leseberg to resign rather than be fired from his position, and a check for one month's severance pay, accrued vacation and overtime pay - totaling about $5,000 - will be given to Leseberg in a meeting scheduled Tuesday.Because the City Council passed the resolution in a public meeting Nov. 27, signing it is a formality, according to Lynn Lund, an attorney representing Alpine. Still, Lund withheld final action on the agreement following the Nov. 27 meeting because he believed Leseberg was working with residents sponsoring the reinstatement petition. Leseberg has denied being part of the petition efforts.
The city decided to go ahead and sign the document "in light of the city attorney's opinion that it (Leseberg's termination) is an administrative decision not subject to referendum," Lund said.
The city gave Leseberg the original copy and transcripts of a tape recording of "allegations of improper behavior against Leseberg" in a meeting last Wednesday. However, copies of the tape have been leaked to the media, including the Deseret News. The agreement between Leseberg and city officials prohibits both parties and city employees from talking about the contents of the recording.
On the tape, Lynn Fautin, a female officer with Alpine, tells another Alpine officer about an incident involving Leseberg that occurred last March. Fautin was apparently unaware the conversation was being recorded.
George Brown, Leseberg's attorney, would not comment on the tape.
Neither would Lund. In fact, Lund said the tape did not play a role in the city's decision to terminate Leseberg - although the city had "two of the nation's top experts listen to the tape and give us a certification it is a single tape from start to finish."
Lund did elaborate on the reasons behind Leseberg's termination, however. The action resulted in part from favoritism Leseberg allegedly showed Fautin by giving her preferred assignments, overtime, a new car and daytime shifts, which caused "tremendous morale problems in the department," Lund said.
"Before the rumors and innuendos there were a number of complaints about favoritism relative to this particular officer," Lund said. "That is what made the mayor make the first inquiries into whether we have problems or not."
Explanations aside, some Alpine residents don't believe Leseberg has done anything wrong and will continue to press for his reinstatement.
John Anderson, who is spearheading the reinstatement effort, will present a letter to the Utah Supreme Court this week asking it to rule on whether Leseberg's termination can be petitioned.