Perhaps West Jordan City officials should wear helmets at all future meetings. Perhaps they ought to be separated by wire cages. Or perhaps they just ought to start acting like mature grown-ups and confront their problems peaceably.
It's doubtful even the White House could put a smiley-faced spin on what happened at last week's City Council meeting. A resident stood to ask about rumors the city was having problems. Next thing anyone knew the meeting degenerated into a Three Stooges revival, complete with verbal eye gouging and face slaps.Here are the lowlights: City Manager Dan Dahlgren admitted to electronically bugging Mayor Donna Evans' office, saying, "I don't trust you, mayor;" Evans accused council members of ignoring problems she has told them about; and Councilwoman Margaret Grochocki accused the mayor of coming into office "with an attitude there is something wrong with the city."
This would be noteworthy even if it were an isolated outburst. Unfortunately, harsh words and hot allegations have become commonplace at West Jordan City Council meetings. Four months ago, a council member called for a police officer to separate Evans and Dahlgren. In July, a $1.6 million discrepancy in the city's fleet fund led to more discord, especially after an internal document related to the matter was quoted in a newspaper.
Meanwhile, a group of residents has started a petition drive seeking an independent audit of city financial records. At the heart of the move is an allegation the city improperly funded construction of soccer fields by failing to call for competitive bids.
Obviously, something is indeed wrong with the city.
Plenty of people seem willing to point to where the problems lie. No one seems willing to cooperate on finding a solution. Frankly, West Jordan residents ought to be disgusted.
Here is a reality that can't be avoided: The people elected Evans to serve as mayor. She has a right to function in that office and to watch out for the city's welfare. She has a right to get answers to her questions and to operate without having to check the plants in her office for microphones.
Here is a solution: open the city to scrutiny. Contracts let for the construction of soccer fields are public record. Let reporters and the public scrutinize them. Voluntarily hire an outside auditor to lay questions to rest.
Until answers are found, the fighting will continue, and that would be a travesty. The government belongs to West Jordan residents, not politicians or city administrators, and the public is not being served.