With a current crop of revelations regarding Heber City administration, would it be unreasonable to expect some action on the part of the Heber City Council?
The current issues, mixed with some from the past, behooves the council to act with all speed to bring back the confidence of the people in their duly elected government.
The Citizen voices on the street, suggests, not only are they tired of shadow government, but they have seen and heard enough.
The money issues, remember the City has lost nearly three million dollars and no amount of a carnival shell game is going to restore it. Employee problems have become a great concern. Morale is at an all time low. There is a lack of confidence by members of the Council in the administration. There have even been certain acts of insubordination and no broom action by the Mayor will allow that to be swept under the rug as much as he would like to see it. Justifications for past acts and current ones, by the administration, just are simply not there.
When changes are suggested in Council meetings, there are those who would argue the timing is not right or they are still trying to make up their mind. However, this lack of backbone or the failure to remember the promises when running for office, does not and will not wipe the slate clean and allow officials to sit and do nothing. That has already been tried and it does not work no matter how hard officials pray that it will.
Revelations in the last six months involving the Mayor, the City Manager and the Police Chief, along with some department heads, shows there is a need to do some spring cleaning.
Complaints from employees, threats and intimidations seem to be the subject of discussions, but events of little, if any, action.
The issue of the Train, the Chief of Police, the Heber City Manager and the Mayor, demonstrates a total lack of regard for the safety of the City or even a caring for the money provided by the taxpayers. Added upon this, is the total disregard for any common sense, the rule of law, the checks and balances found in government and just the uncaring attitude for others, than “ yourself or your special friends”.
The good book makes a very good point for those individuals mentioned. “to him that knowth good and doeth not, to him it is sin”. A blatant disregard for citizens, an attitude of “don’t you know who I am?” has all come together and produced a government in Heber City, by the selected few for the selected few.
With all this disruption, callous disregard for law and policy, and the use of ones office to intimidate, threaten and put pressure to justify certain actions, to produce certain outcomes, now comes suggestions for solving the problems now and in the future.
1. The Mayor can not be fired by the Council (the law is strange that way), but the Mayor owes the citizens of Heber City an apology for mishandling the issue of the Train, the Police and the City Manager. He knowingly applied pressure that allowed an outcome that was illegal and placed the City in jeopardy. His actions cannot be excused by “I did not know” or “I had no idea”. There is a little statement of supreme importance: “If in doubt, find out”.
2. The City Manager should be demoted and his salary cut and a letter placed in his personnel file. If he disagrees and makes a problem for the City, then terminate him forthwith.
3. The Chief of Police should be given the opportunity to retire with a letter in his personnel file. If he does not agree, then terminate him forthwith.
This may sound pretty harsh for the Chief of Police, since in Heber City, the City Manager Micro manages the Police Department as he does others, but this would have been a golden opportunity to stand fast on a principle the Chief should have known of and followed.
There are members of the City Council that feel that it is time to take action. The problem is, there are other members of the Council, that would prefer to sweep the problems of the past and the current ones under the rug. They have done so before by their inaction, so doing the same thing with the aforementioned problems should come as no surprise. They will wait for the Mayor to wink or nod and they will come to life fighting for the privilege to man the brooms. It is an amazing transformation. Do not be too disappointed. They promised to do certain things, but found out it was safe to do nothing.
Here are the letters that were read by Mr. Horner and Mr. McDonald during the Thursday meeting of May 5, 2011.
After reading the findings of our city attorney it became very clear to me that there were multiple policies, laws, ethical violations made.
Officers used public equipment cars gas guns computers etc. for personal gain. To me this is considered misappropriation of funds. However, they did this under the direction of the Chief of Police and the City Manager. Both the Officers and the Chief of Police should have known better. It is the responsibility however of the City Manager to make sure that everyone in the city follows policy and upholds the law.
It is a great concern that nobody is willing to admit any wrong doing. In not admitting anything is wrong then there are no assurances that this will not happen again in the future. In fact they want approval to do it again right here tonight.
It really bothers me that the City Manager allowed the breaking of policy's and state laws. He does not have authority to authorize action without the consent of the council, such actions are harmful to the city.
The Police Department is held to a higher standard in order to build public trust. I have been told that the Officers take an oath to uphold and enforce the law. I find that this situation is contrary to this oath. The Public's trust has definitely been jeopardized by these actions. Every police officer needs to understand the seriousness of these actions and work hard to rebuild the public's trust.
I feel it is a higher offense for the Chief of Police who is the leader and administrator of the officers in this situation. He is responsible to follow all policies and laws and to keep his officers in compliance at all times.
I also feel it is the City Manager's Job to oversee the Chief of Police and to see that the City and all agencies in it are in compliance at all times of the state statues and city policies. It has been brought to our attention that he did approve this particular event. Which means, it came to him and he failed to have the officers and chief of police follow the laws and policies in place at the state and the city. The city Manager is responsible to conduct the city business in an ethical manner, I do not feel that the city was represented in an ethical manner by our Manager.
The severity of these evens leaves’ me no other options than to recommend disciplinary actions for the City Manager and Chief of Police.
PRIDE SECURITY MEETING SUMMARY
A few thoughts and points on the Pride Security Investigation
1-There is a city police department policy in place that requires each officer to have a secondary employment agreement form signed when employed as a security guard or an officer of the peace with another entity or agency that is not associated with the city. The policy describes the powers, duties and requirements of the officer and their employer and it has strict rules and regulations that must be followed by the officer and his non-city employer. This policy also provides a legal document that helps gives immunity to the city from any lawsuits and claims that may occur from the officer's secondary employment. Was the policy of the city
carried out to have this agreement in place? Unfortunately the answer is no. Both the C.M. & C of P. have openly admitted that they failed to follow city policy. I ask you then, what is the consequence for not following city policy? Should there be accountability for not following policy? Who are the city employees that are responsible for making sure that the paper work is done? When those in charge of an operation purposefully do not follow through with what is in the city's policy, should there be reprimands? The reason I am asking you to consider these question, is because the city was put in a position of a high liability risk. They should have never been placed in such a dangerous position. I believe this is a serious offense. If one of the officers would have been injured, whose workman’s compensation would have been used? If an incident had happened, whose liability policy would have been used to cover the lawsuit? I tell you that there is no question concerning this matter, the responsibility would have all fallen on the city. The city's insurance policies were used without permission and we were lucky that a claim or lawsuit was not filed. This Policy was not kept and the policy was broken by the Chief and the C.M. by not having this agreement signed.
2- A security guard is not the same as a peace officer of the city. As an officer of the city, he has all the state and city authority to act. A security guard is limited to what he can do when it comes to his duties and authority of employment. So once a Heber officer is not employed by the city as a peace officer of Heber City, his authority to act is limited because he is not employed as an on duty officer of the city. If you are not under city employment and are doing part time security work, you can only wear the hat of permitted authority that you are employed under. One cannot assume the rights, privileges, and duties of both positions at the same time, which will cause in entanglement of what authority the officers have. This applies even when one is wearing the color blue of the city during the secondary employment from the city. This may have been the one of the problems in the case with the train. There was a misconception to the public that officers who were employed as security guards by the train, where on duty peace officers and they were not, but hired as private security guards. Technically this is impersonating a police officer and isn't this against the law?
3-On city policy's- it has been stated that no policy was broken because there was not one in place. When there is not policy in place does it allow anyone then to action and set new policy? Whom has the authority to write or approve of any policy of the city? It is the city council. If there is no policy in effect, than you cannot do it. You must have the city council's approved authority before you can act, when there is no policy in effect or in place. Since the actions taken by the Chief and the C.M. did not have a city police policy in place, they should not have taken any action and by doing so they broke city policy by creating their own policy, without the council's approval. They should come to the council and asked for permission to override any city policy in place and not take it upon themself to a create new one.
4- We can they conclude that with no contract or agreement in place with the city, that the officers were acting on their own accord and as a private sector business. The officers were using public equipment and services to aid themselves in their personal business and for their own personal gain, creating unfair advantage over the other private sector businesses. It is very apparent that they were acting on their own because they were seeking secondary employment from their city employment and this cannot be classified as public services for following reasons.
a- their security services for the train were not performed under the city nor did the city proclaim this to be a public service. When money was given to them personally it no longer, could be called a public service, nor did they or the person in charge have the authority to proclaim it as a public service. Public service is paid by tax payer's money which needs the city councils authorization.
b- the officers received outside monetary compensation for performing their work. If what they did was a public service they would not have received compensation or when the compensation was paid out directly to them, it would have gone through the city's payroll. The city was not involved in the compensation pay out, so this was not a public service provided by the city nor was the city employed to perform the service asked by train. This is a complete separation of the city , from the officer's secondary employment with the train.
5- The officers when contracting for employment must be like every other citizen and must be licensed with the Federal, State and Local governments. If they were under employment of the city, then the exemptions and immunity would apply but they were not under the city but acting on their own. Someone needed to have a license according to state law 58-63-304. If the chief was registered or licensed, than all the rest would fall under his employment and would receive the exemption from having a state license. Since the chief does not have a licensed Security Company, then each individual officer was performing as a separate business and each one of them needed to be licensed separately. The fact is none of them are or have ever been licensed to perform security work as a business outside their city employment. They were not employees of the train either or they would have received W-2 forms. So what is the penalty or consequences for not following the state law? The state law 58-63-301 says a license is required to engage in the practice of a contract security company and a peace officer must be employed by a licensed contractor. The State exemptions of 58-63-304 do not apply or give them any immunity from not being licensed. So what does the council do when they know the state law was broken? Should we report this to the State?
6-The police officers were engaged in the use of city equipment, vehicles and officers uniform while off duty. It is clear that this issue with the train was not a city operation or was the city employed or contracted to perform the duties requested by the train. Therefore, if it was not a city sanctioned action, then who was it that used the city's resources and who give permission to do so? The city never was reimbursed for its resources? We do know that there is policy of the city that says the city will be reimbursed $ 100 per day fee for each vehicle used, so who is the party responsible to pay for it? The city needs to be reimbursed for its resources. The city policy on use of Vehicles says: employees assigned city vehicles shall use the vehicles for city business. The City and the state also have a policy that public equipment should not be used for private gain or profit. Both of these city policies were broken. Someone needs to pay a penalty for this or risk termination like the officer in S.L.C. did.
Summary of City policies broken by the City Manager and Chief of Police:
1- The Police Department's current policy between an officer and their secondary employment was broken. This is the responsibility of City Managers & Chief of Police to make sure city policies are carried out to the fullest extent. If the C.M. & the C of P are not required to up hold and follow city policies, how can their subordinates be expected to do the same? The C.M. & C of P are positions of trust and are held to the highest standard of accountability, perhaps more so than any other position in the city. As such, the consequences for violation of these polices are greater and need to be enforced.
2- Misuse of public funds and endangering the city by making it vulnerable to lawsuits have been exhibited by actions taken by the C.M. & C of P. These things they acted on their own part without approval of the city council to use city Insurance policies for autos, liability, workmen's comp. This has proved to be a very poor business decision by C.M. and put the city in a very precarious situation. This is no small matter. Should the city have fallen victim to lawsuits and claims, it would have induced a great and needless loss for our community.
3- Using public and city resources were used for personal gain and profit without permission of the City Council breaks city policy. These actions were incredibly unethical. The officers were paid directly by the train and received a personal gain for using city resources such as vehicles, uniforms, and other security equipment, which is in violation of city policy.
4- The city policy stating the approved use of city vehicles has been broken. Use of a city vehicle in accordance with non-city business is the misuse of public property.
5- Acting without the city council's authority by waiving city policy fees for reimbursement during use of city resources for non-city business is the misuse of authority and public funds.
6- Without proper authority or council approval, the C.M. & C of P over stepped their bounds as employees' of the city by implementing their own policies. Granted, the policies currently in affect are admittedly inefficient, and provide loop holes left to personal interpretation. However, despite these flaws, before a course of action is taken concerning such an issue, it MUST be brought before the city council for approval. If there is no policy in place or you have questions, concerns, or there exists uncertainty concerning any of the current policies in state or not; it is inappropriate to proceed on your own discretion. These actions are well outside of the authority of the C.M. & C of P to do so.
7- The Chief of Police has been operating a personal business without a City Business license. City policy on how a business is to operate was broken. Nowhere does it state in city policy that the Chief of Police is exempt from having a city business license.
8- State Law was broken by the Chief of Police for lacking proper registration and licensing for a security company and being engaged in private security work. The fine for such an offense is an upwards amount of 10K for no current license in place.
9- There are possibilities of State and Federal laws broken on how compensation was recorded for income.
Course of Disciplinary Action: The excuses or reasoning used by the C.M. and the C of P. that I forgot to do it or it was not intentional done or other cities are doing it, or we could not find a city policy in place are not legitimate, justified reasons for their course of action and to override the poor management decisions that lead to misuse of public funds, misuse of insurance policies and not following city policies. Common sense
and a basic amount of ethical and moral values would have told anyone that this was not right.
1- Verbal reprimand for both the C of P and C.M. for their actions taken. From what has been said tonight should be sufficient for the verbal reprimand. And as part of this reprimand, the council would like to know out how many days that city equipment was used for this operation and how much it cost the city for not being reimbursed for it. I would also like to know the total amount each officer was paid and how the train filed their compensation payment with the state and Fed's,
2- Written letter that will go into the C.M. permanent files, that states every city polices that was broken under his management of the city , along with the note that he allowed public resources used for personal gain and use.
Probation for 1 year for the C.M. for giving authorization to the C of P. to proceed, for putting the city in harm's way, not following city policy and over extending his bond to wave fees. If there is any other incident during his probation period it could lead to termination of employment.
It is very clear that our City Policy on Secondary employment with an officer needs to be cleared up and new policies need to be put into force. We need to write an Inter- local agreement and it must be signed and put into place with each entity or agency we work with. The Mayor, Council, City Manager, City Attorney and Chief all need to be involved with this to make it work . The recommendations given by our City Attorney are an excellent starts, along with adopting the recommendations by Utah Chiefs of Police.