Lehi Mayor Guy Cash should consider stepping down from office for the good of his community.
The Utah County attorney's office filed one count of receiving unlawful compensation as an elected official, a third-degree felony, against Cash in 4th Circuit Court May 2. The charge stems from the sale of a city-owned lot in the Cedar Hollow subdivision.Cash signed off on the sale agreement as mayor and acted as the real estate agent in the deal, receiving a commission.
Only the courts can determine Cash's guilt or innocence. At this point, the cloud over the community is more urgent than the one over Cash and it needs to be banished quickly. Meanwhile, Utahns should be aware of the following considerations in this unhappy case:
- Lehi has never hired a real estate agent to represent it in the sale of city property before. Why should it? That's an added expense for the city.
- Though no specific city or state statutes require the mayor to notify the council before land transactions, that procedure has always been followed in the past - including the sale of lot No. 2 in the Cedar Hollow subdivision in August 1989. At that time Cash served as a council member.
- The Utah League of Cities and Towns recommends in its policy and guidebook for elected officials that all land sales be approved by a city council - advice based on case law.
- The argument that Cash was not aware of the conflict of interest involved is hard to accept in light of his role as a council member in approving the sale of lot No. 2. To proclaim ignorance of a conflict of interest is also not a mark of competence.
While Cash remains in office it is needlessly difficult for the Lehi Council to perform effectively. Council members are at odds with each other because of varying opinions on the matter. They are surrounded by controversy and suspicion, hardly a good working atmosphere.
Cash must realize the effect his remaining in office has on current city officials.
If Cash is found not guilty, he could always run again for his office, probably as early as this November - and a lot of people would owe him an apology. However, if he is found guilty, his prolonged stay in office will have given Lehi some bad publicity that it ought to be spared.