A spat between some Salt Lake City Council members and Mayor Palmer DePaulis reared its head again at a council meeting Thursday when Councilman W.M. "Willie" Stoler fought for control over a mayoral appointment.
Stoler asked the council to respond to a request he made to City Attorney Roger Cutler to address the feasibility of legislation giving the council powers of advice and consent over financial adviser appointments by the mayor.Stoler, who accused Mayor Palmer DePaulis in September of "cronyism" for DePaulis' financial advisor appointment, could only garner the support of his ally, Councilwoman Florence Bittner.
They argued for "narrowly tailored" legislation giving the council advice and consent over the mayor's financial adviser appointments, giving them the ability to say no to the mayor's selections for the post.
"If the mayor says yes, he's got a reason," Bittner said, "and that's my reason for saying no."
Financial advisers handle millions in bond issuances. Since the council gives final approval on bond issuance, it is imperative they have consent over financial adviser appointments, Bittner and Stoler said.
"The buck stops with us when it comes to the bucks," Bittner said.
Council Chairman Tom Godfrey called Stoler's request an issue of "power," questioning whether Stoler had the background to judge such appointments and whether Stoler would have a just cause.
"You can bet your sweet cheeks if I turn down a financial adviser I'll have a good reason," Stoler fumed.
DePaulis' chief of staff, Mike Zuhl, speaking for an absent mayor, said DePaulis would oppose the legislation on the state level. "It's clear that we would be at odds over this in front of the Legislature," he said.
Stoler and Bittner were the minority voices over the issue. Council members Godfrey, Sydney Fonnesbeck, Alan Hardman, Roselyn Kirk and Wayne Horrocks were in favor of working with DePaulis to hammer out a city policy on the matter.
"It's not a big enough deal to get in a real conflict with the administration again," Kirk said. "We'd waste too much energy."
Past mayoral appointments have pitted the council against the mayor.
This fall, the council majority voting bloc, the Gang of Four - composed of Stoler, Bittner, Horrocks and Hardman - stalled mayoral appointments to the Salt Palace Advisory Board for months.
The council agreed to meet with DePaulis' staff to begin to draft a policy giving the council some input into selecting a financial adviser.