For the second time in less than a year, Bountiful City Councilwoman Renee Coon has used the word "corrupt" in comments about a proposed interstate natural gas pipeline.
And for the second time in less than a year, Bountiful Mayor Bob Linnell has launched defensive missiles against her choice of words.Linnell wrote a letter to Coon last week, telling her, basically, to put up or be quiet.
"Renee, I'm not trying to embarrass you, but. . .it's time you start backing up the accusations and innuendos or quit making them," wrote the mayor in a Jan. 30 letter that was also signed by the other four members of the City Council.
The latest flap over the word "corrupt" occurred following the U.S. Forest Service's decision two weeks ago to uphold an earlier decision that allowed for a giant pipeline to pass through forest land above Bountiful.
Coon has been at the forefront of the fight against the pipeline, which would carry gas from Wyoming to Southern California. She has often criticized officials for publicly opposing the pipeline while privately supporting it.
Responding to the Forest Service decision, Coon told the Deseret News, "It doesn't surprise me, you know, with the way this has been handled so corruptly through all levels."
Though Linnell was offended by that statement, he was more affected by what appeared in the Davis County Clipper, which quoted Coon as saying there had been corruption "at all levels of government beginning at the local level."
Coon was also quoted as saying that more information about the corruption accusation would be forthcoming.
So Linnell, in his letter, invited Coon to take a few minutes in last week's council meeting to "identify the person or persons" she thinks are corrupt or to apologize to her fellow elected officials for placing them under a "cloud."
During the meeting, Coon said she felt the corruption occurred throughout "all levels of the process," meaning hearings and negotiations, and did not identify anyone specifically.
"Once again, Mr. Linnell is. . .stirring this council up against me for his presumptions that are based only on his animosity toward me."
Coon also balked at the demand for an apology. "I will not apologize for speaking the truth."
She also indicated that she knew some facts that hadn't been made public but said she would "not be intimidated by anyone to disclose these things until I deem appropriate."
The last time Coon used the word "corrupt" was in a June 5, 1990, special meeting on the pipeline issue. In that meeting, she said she was sick of the "corruption" surrounding the issue and accused government officials of compromising their integrity.
Linnell, who was at the meeting, didn't think much of her statements until they appeared in the Deseret News, at which time he called Coon and asked her to clarify her remarks in the next council meeting.