"What we have here is a failure to communicate."
That's a classic line from the movie "Cool Hand Luke" starring Paul Newman, but it certainly could apply to the turmoil surrounding the West Jordan City Council.At issue are two things that need to be resolved quickly: Mayor Donna Evans' relationship with the City Council and city management; and an accurate accounting of funds regarding West Jordan's fleet-fund reserve.
Evans is new to the post, winning last November's mayoral election. To do the kind of job she was elected to do, she needs to have a good relationship with the City Council and city management, particularly with City Manager Dan Dahlgren. And yet, the debate between Evans and Dahlgren became so heated at last week's council meeting that Councilman David Plouzek called for a police officer to separate the two and made an unusual motion to "bring the meeting under control."
The City Council is upset with the mayor for the way she handled the alleged discrepancy in the city's fleet-fund reserve. Councilman Brian Pitts scolded Evans for acting "irresponsibly" and joined Councilman Jay Bowcutt in chiding the mayor for telling the press about the discrepancy instead of going through city channels. Councilman Gordon Haight accused the mayor of "an attack on personalities."
Dahlgren says the mayor's handling of the issue impugned his integrity, while Evans claims she doesn't always get straight answers from Dahlgren.
Enough already. We've seen what happens when rifts get out of hand - like the one between the Salt Lake County Commission and County Attorney Doug Short and the situation in American Fork last year.
Before the November elections took care of the problem in American Fork, the people were being represented by a city government that seemed more intent on resembling the World Wrestling Federation than a responsible government body.
Trust is imperative for a city to operate at its highest level. Before the damage becomes irreparable in West Jordan, the mayor, City Council and city manager need to take necessary steps to rebuild their relationships.
People make mistakes. The various parties need to recognize that all in part share some of the blame for the current problems. And they all need to be part of the solution. They all will be if they act now to restore trust. Failure to do so will result in sorry consequences for city and public officials and for the people they represent.