While Democrats were busy last month asking. "Where was George?" the Utah County Council of Governments continues asking itself where the mayors are when it's time to discuss issues that affect the entire county.

No doubt the plethora of rural responsibilities abounding in metropolises like Cedar Fork, Woodland Hills and Salem can take their toll on time. But when only six of 20 local mayors showed up for COG's latest confabulation, the need to reclaim the lost sheep became obvious.It's not as though mayors don't know about the meetings and the issues that need countywide attention. They get a monthly invitation and agenda. Not to mention the lure of soft drinks and donuts following deliberations.

"We even built them a new building to meet in, for heck sake," said Commissioner Brent Morris.

Still, mayors stay away in droves. For the rec-ord, Alpine Mayor Ronald W. Rasmussen made it to the last meeting, along with Lehi Mayor George Tripp, Mapleton Mayor Everet Predmore, Orem Mayor Blaine Willes, Provo Mayor Joe Jenkins and Santaquin Mayor Lynn Crook. To their credit, Elk Ridge Mayor Randy Lindstrom and Lindon Mayor Kenneth McMillan were represented by city councilmen.

So where were the rest of the mayors during COG's last meeting? "The what meeting?" replied Cedar Fort Mayor John Balle. As a part-time mayor, he said after being reminded of COG's existence, "Most meetings like that I don't have time to attend."

Goshen Mayor Randy Staheli has the same problem. Because of his work schedule, he said, "I've never attended one."

Woodland Hills Mayor Dennis Johnson thinks COG's a good idea, but feels a small community benefits less from COG than larger cities. "Once in awhile I find the time" to attend a meeting, he said.

Cedar Hills Mayor Gregory Harris typically has council meetings the same night COG meets. "I think it's a big help even if we don't accomplish anything," he said of COG.

As for Salem Mayor Allen Woodhouse, "It's not one of those important things on my list. They're arguing over something now (countywide implementation of an enhanced 911 system) I thought we settled 2.5 years ago."

Payson Mayor Curtis Arrington, who usually attends, said he feels little urgency to attend recent COG meetings because discussions are stuck on E911 and a proposed countywide landfill. Besides, "Payson's not going to tell them what to do."

Genola Mayor Brent Laker feels the same way about his town's input. He said he might attend COG meetings, but they conflict with Genola Town Board meetings.

"Sometimes it's a little difficult to make all the meetings we're scheduled to attend," said American Fork Mayor Kent Evans.

Springville Mayor Ken Creer, Spanish Fork Mayor Merrill Hallam and Pleasant Grove Mayor David Holdaway often attend COG meetings, but were unavailable for comment. Highland Mayor Larry Miller said he usually attends as well. Miller called COG "the only forum we have to work things out among all the cities in the county."

That would be true if all the cities were represented and all mayors accepted what Commission Chairman Malcolm Beck calls the responsibility of incorporation.

But until they do, it's likely just a handful of the county's larger cities will continue making decisions that affect everyone in the county.

And it's just as likely smaller cities will complain about not having any input into those decisions.