Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The following questions have been asked of citizens regarding the August 9, 2012, Wasatch County Planning Commission. 1. Is there a requirement on how many commission members must participate in order to have a quorum and how many does it take to make a motion and vote? Wasatch County Code 2.02.08, item E, number 2; “Quorum: Four (4) members of the planning commission shall constitute a quorum. The vote of four (4) commission members shall be required to render any decision or take any action. 2. Why does a planning commission lose control of their meeting to such an extent, they end up embarrassing themselves and fighting with citizens and among each other? It requires a chairperson, who understands why they are there and what laws will apply. It also requires that commission members understand the codes, having read them and have a desire to be honest, open and above board. They should know that citizens have a right to speak and even if the citizens cannot control themselves, the commission should be able to control themselves. In this case, the chair in order to gain control should have taken a break. Citizens as well as commission members have a right to be heard, but a commission should go out of the way, to make sure citizens are heard. In the case of Smith v Skaget County, the Washington State Supreme Court concluded the following: “The right to be heard implies a reasonable hope of being heeded. The right to be heard in a public hearing contemplates that, although the legislative body may, in finally deciding the matter, draw upon all kinds of sources of information including the opinions of experts, the hearing must be conducted as to be free from bias and prejudice; it must not only be open-minded and fair, but must have the appearance of being so.” On item number 2 of the commission agenda, the planning commission admits on the audio they have a conflict of interest by their talk, but they do nothing to correct the situation and in fact actually brag they have an improper connection to the proposal. 3. What happens when a formal complaint is filed with the proper authorities alleging improprieties? What is the proper order? Wasatch County Code 2.02.08: Planning Commission, item “D” Removal and Vacancies: “The County manager may, with the advice and consent of the county legislative body, remove any member of the planning commission for cause if written charges are filed against the member with the manager. The manager shall provide the charged member with a public hearing if the member requests such a hearing. The manager, with the advice and consent of the county legislative body, shall fill any vacancy on the commission. The person appointed to fill the vacancy shall serve for the unexpired term of the member whose office is vacant.” The formal complaint , is dated August 15, 2012. It is addressed to the County Manager Mike Davis, with a copy to each County Councilmember. As of October 31, 2012, no return notice had been received by those who filled the complaint. 4. Does a planning commission have a set of rules they operate under? Are they trained in the performance of their particular calling or appointment so there is no conflict of interest in their deliberations? In a training manual, used to provide information and train planning commission members, we find the following: “A planning commissioner to who some private benefit may be derived as the result of a planning commission action should not be a participant in the action. The private benefit may be direct or indirect, create material personal gain or provide an advantage to relatives’ friends or groups and associations which hold some share of a person’s loyalty. A planning commissioner experiencing a conflict of interest, should declare personal interests publicly, abstain from voting on the action and excuse him/herself from the room during consideration of the action. The commissioner should not discuss the matter privately with any other commissioner. The vote of a planning commissioner with a conflict of interest who failed to disqualify him or herself should be disallowed. (Planning and Zoning Administration in Utah, Center for Public Policy and Administration, University of Utah, Third Edition) By-Laws of Planning Commissions call for complete adherence to the codes or laws in place and speak of removal for those who violate the law. In the case of Buell v City of Bremerton, the Supreme Court of the State of Washington said the following regarding Planning Commissions: “Members of commissions with the role of conducting fair and impartial fact finding hearings must, as far as practicable, be open-minded, objective, impartial, free of entangling influences and capable of hearing the weak voices as well as the strong. The importance of the appearance of fairness has resulted in the recognition that it is necessary only to show an interest which might have influenced a member of the commission and not that it actually so affected him” 5. When a planning commission oversteps their bound who addresses the problem? Elected leaders, when asked about out of control commissions, say they can do nothing. Citizens have expressed their outrage to elected and appointed officials, but said officials repeat they can do nothing. 2.02.08: Planning Commission (Wasatch County Code), item D. Removal and Vacancies: The county manager may, with the advice and consent of the county legislative body, remove any member of the planning commission for cause if written charges are filed against the member with the manager. The manager shall provide the charged member with a public hearing if the member requests such a hearing. The manager, with the advice and consent of the county legislative body, shall fill any vacancy on the commission. 6. If the manager fails to remedy the problem? Can the Council intervene? 2.01.02: County Legislative Body: Number 3. Pursuant to the terms of the optional plan, the county legislative body shall supervise the conduct of the county manager. `2.01.03: County Manager: item C. Term of Office: The term of office of the county manager is not fixed. The office of county manager is an “at will” position. 7. Why has the County Manage, not called for a hearing on this matter as outlined in his duties and responsibilities? The County Manager may have a conflict of interest in this matter. When dealing with friends and family on commissions, wise leaders seek others to assist. In this case, the County Council should intervene in this matter and make sure it comes to a resolution. 8. The county planning commission made a motion that did not meet the requirements of law. How should the issue be addressed? The current law in Wasatch County allows the County Manager and eventually the County Council to step in and resolve the problem. Planning Commissions for a number of years have been out of control as to how they meet with the public and how they react to issues they really do not want to deal with. Not knowing the laws and the procedures is not an excuse. But it has been allowed, by those who should not only know better, but have the power to correct it. The motion made as it appeared in the minutes of the August 9, 2012 meeting: Commissioner Duke made a motion that we approve to RA-5 residential agricultural five-acre lots for Paul Smith as directed by the Wasatch County Planning “Staff and go in accordance with the staff’s analysis and recommendations and forward it to the Wasatch County Council for the August 15, 2012 meeting. Commissioner Probst seconded the motion. The motion carries with the following vote: AYE: Robert Gappmayer, Spencer Duke, Paul Probst. NAY: Liz Lewis, Gerald Hayward. Notice that only three (3) voted to move the matter forward. 9. And why would such a proposal be forwarded to the County, when the law is clear, that such matters are only taken up in November? A change in this requirement has been discussed and voted upon and the code has a word added that mentions “by November”. 10. Why is the County Council allowing themselves to be embarrassed by actions of committees that violate codes and ordinances? When dealing with friends and relatives, people are willing to take a lot of punishment and to offer a treasure trove of excuses to cover.. Those who have the power need to address issues based on law and order. It has been said: “If in doubt, find out”.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Every once in a while, some elected official, or an appointed official and in this case, a board member, does or says something so blatantly self-serving, that for those of us who are pessimists it becomes unbelievable. The Letter published in the local paper is one of those unbelievable items.

THE LETTER AND THE COMMENTS

In a letter published in the WAVE, February 29, 2012, The chairman of the Board of Heber Power and Light, David Philips, wrote: “At its meeting of the February 22, 2012, the board of Directors of Heber Light & Power voted to terminate the Health Benefits program for Board members.”

FACT: Yes, they did vote to terminate a program, but it was not a Health Benefits program for the Board. It was never intended to be a health benefit, but it was all about receiving the money. The money benefit was terminated because the people of the valley knew they had been hoodwinked and made their dissatisfaction known. There were no findings. The reason given for the termination was simply this: “If the public is going to be this upset we need to terminate it.”

The letter continues: “Over the last several weeks, we have had extensive discussion in our community and in the media concerning compensation for the Board of Directors of the Heber Light & Power. The Board Members, themselves, have heard from many of you in Board meetings or in personal conversations.

FACT: The board is trying to confuse the issue. At first they call it Health Benefits and now they call it “compensation for the Board of Directors of Heber Light and Power.” A play on words does not change what was proposed and done. To suggest that board members have heard from the public is an understatement. To suggest the chairman heard from the public, is a misdirection of the facts. He was out of town, when other board members were taking the heat.

The letter goes on: “The Board welcomes this input and appreciates the time and effort our customers expended in presenting their views. The Board acknowledges the sincerity and conviction of those who spoke. While not always agreeing with the views expressed, the Board chose to listen, rather than to respond to the comments. The time, however, now seems right for the Board to briefly talk to its customers on this issue.”

FACT: There were people who wanted to get on the agenda and they were denied until the last meeting of February. What else could they do? The press was there and a number of people from the community as well. The Board made no comments since it is impossible to defend their actions. At a prior meeting, while the Board chairman was out of town, Mrs. Tatton, a board member became the chair and she made the announcement in the board meeting there would be no discussion regarding this issue. So did the board listen, of course not. Did they respond to a large newspaper in Salt Lake, or did they respond to a large TV station seeking information? No they even refused telephone contact and e-mail contact from the media as well as the public? The board has done everything in their power to silence the public on this issue, all wishing this would all go away. The chairman is quoted by people in his neighborhood, as saying in the beginning: “if we hold out, it will die down.”

The next statement: “In July of 2011, the Personnel Committee of the Board along with senior staff initiated a review of the current Benefits programs. The review encompassed all current benefits, statutory holidays provided, vacation allowances and other leave provisions. During this review, expansion of the Health Care program to include Board Members was also discussed. Research confirmed that Health Care benefits could be provided to Board members under the current Public Employees Health Program (PEHP) guidelines. Primarily due to the nature of Board members’ length of service along with associated waiting periods required by PEHP, it was decided to offer the in-lieu of program so as to provide an equal benefit to all Board Members. As a result of this research and review, the Personnel Committee presented it recommendations at the regular Board Meeting in November which were subsequently approved by the Board.”

FACT: According to an e-mail sent by Mrs. Tatton to one of the citizens of Midway, they had been planning this farce for more than two years. Here are her exact words: “ Over the last two years Heber light and Power undertook a comprehensive review of all the benefits offered to its staff and Board members. This had nothing to do with employees, but board staff and Board members. So for two years they planned and conspired as to how they could get the money and still look good before the public. Board members who served during the two-year period, seem to have a memory lapse, since no one could remember seeing the study or having a conversation concerning the issue. So was it the board that undertook the study or the personnel committee that undertook the study? Keep in mind, but the personnel Committee is made up of Philips, Tatton, and Whiting. The question must be asked, where and when, did the conversations take place? And if this had to do with Health benefits, how do you make health benefit retroactive for six months prior to the vote.

Friedrich Metzsche said it best: “I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”

Which is it? Were you looking for a health benefit or more compensation? In listening to the meeting for the approval of the “deal,” there was 15 seconds of discussion before the vote. And the Board waited until two members were absent to take care of the vote. Was this the plan all a long?

The letter goes on: “Heber Light & Power has long been a respected entity in the Heber Valley and the Board’s goal is to maintain that respect from its customers. With this in mind the Board’s decision to terminate this benefit was in keeping with maintaining that respect.

FACT: Yes, Heber Light & Power has been and is a respected entity, but the public is wise enough to know, there is a difference between Heber Light & Power and the Heber Light & Power Board. The workers know the difference. Those who pay power bills know the difference. It is disgusting to see the Board trying to connect to the company. It is safe to say, Heber Light & Power works, not because of the Board, but in spite of the board. The real reason they terminated the money benefit, was as the Chairman pointed out: “If the public is going to be this upset we need to terminate it.” When boards make decisions, if they know what they are doing, their decisions are made with findings of fact. So was this decision to take money made with findings of fact, and if so, would not the findings of fact support keeping it in spite of the public clamor? There was no respect here for the public, the citizens were looked upon as cash cows, and the board had only one thing on their mind, making more money.

More of the letter: “Some have suggested that the Board’s decision to provide additional benefits violated the Company’s Organization Agreement or Utah law. This is not true. The statutes referenced by these individuals apply to local districts or municipal governments, not to interlocal entities, such as Heber Light & Power. In addition, the board complied with the notice requirement of the open meeting laws.

FACT: The decision to take more money, in essence to steal from the ratepayers, did in fact violate laws of the State of Utah. The Board is still trying to hide behind the law that is called: “Interlocal Cooperation Act.” They believe this protects them from everything, but they forget, that criminal activity, if proven as well as conspiracy laws, trump the Interlocal Cooperation Act. There seems to be at least 13 laws that would apply to what the board did. They violated all 13. They may deny it, but this is what judge and juries do, decide facts. And a fact is not a fact of law, just because some attorney says it is or some board believes it is. Time will tell. The Board now takes issue with those who complain they did not fulfill all the requirements of the open meeting act. The Interlocal Cooperation Act, says they will comply with the open meeting’s act of 52-4-201 and so forth. Amazing, some board members cannot remember an item on the agenda to discuss this issue of board pay or as they would suggest “health benefits” over the last two or so years. And of course, no one in the public can find an agenda with that on it or a notice in the local paper. Is this another one of those, “if we do not like the law, we ignore it, but if our actions get caught, we hide behind it?”

The letter continues: “Most know that a Board members’s role is much more than simply attending monthly meetings. The responsibility level of overseeing a $40 million organization demands a high level of commitment and knowledge. Board Members are required to meet with Management outside of the regular monthly meeting to discuss and provide direction on strategic matters including pending State and Federal legislation, Power Resources and supporting entities such as Utah Association of Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS). This is a critical part of their role so they can make decisions in the best interests of the company and the customers. Although Board Members are not full-time employees, their commitment requires much more than the small amount of time portrayed by recent comments regarding the length of the formal Board meetings.

FACT: Here is more evidence of mis-speak and an effort in justification. At Heber Light & Power, the following people are employed to do what the letter purports the board is doing. Heber Light & Power has a superintendent. This position requires some knowledge of what is going on and he reports what he did to the Board. Heber Light and Power have hired consultants to assist with projects, delivery of power, relationship with suppliers and so forth. To suggest this is the role of the board is ridiculous. Heber Light and Power have an attorney hired to work with contracts, to make sure the law as it is related to the company is fulfilled. He provides information to the Superintendent and others related to day to day activities. For the Board to suggest they are involved, is a scary proposition. The board does not have knowledge about power and if you talk to the workers, they will tell you they don’t. The board’s role is one of public relations and going to dinners with counter parts in other areas of the State. As far as working with UAMPS, HL&P has people in the company who work with this group and the power grids associated with it. Consider this for one moment; the board would have you believed they are gods in the power world, but could the power company operate without the board? Yes, they can. Can the board operate without the workers and others in the power company? NO, they cannot. What does the writer of this letter, to customers, seeking justification mean? As you review what they say they do, and need to do, you will find, they have a goal of being micro managers. Some board members go to the plant and pretend, they are there to give direction, truth is, you must know something of the direction you propose to give. As one lineman said, “they impede the work when they show up.” If the board is doing all they say they are doing, and they know all they say they know, then we have way to many people on the payroll at the power company.

The closing part of the letter: “In closing, the Board of Directors of Heber Light & Power is committed to ensure its customers that your concerns have been heard and we will endeavor to maintain competitive rates for electricity and the level of service and integrity you have become accustomed to for many years.

Sincerely

Power Board

Board of Directors.

FACT: If the board is concerned about competitive rates, then why did they vote to spend 150,000 dollars over some years time for their so called “health benefits” which they finally confessed is a “money benefit.” They claim they are committed to customers’ concerns. But are they? Customers want the money the board received, paid back. So far, Dave Philips, Connie Tatton, John Whiting and Robert Patterson have refused to even consider it. Dave Philips said it is a personal thing. Connie Tatton will not answer the question about giving it back. The same with John Whiting. Robert Patterson has told various ones “earned it, it is mine and I am not giving it back.” So much for customer concerns. And now, we have another wrinkle, there are some customers who want the resignations of those involved. Of course if they are so dishonest and will not pay the money back, can anyone be surprised if they do not resign? Contrary to the wishes of board members, this issue is not going quietly as they desired. They have been caught, therefore, everything they do, everything they say, will be suspect and as long as they stay in office, whether they resign or through legal action. The people will know them and they will not be able to hide. The following, according to current information, have paid back the money: Mike Kohler, Alan McDonald, Benny Murgest, Eric Straddeck, and Nile Horner. The following have every intention of keeping the Money: Dave Philips, Connie Tatton, John Whiting and Robert Patterson.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

MEASURING ACTIONS BY THE LAW

Recent action by the Heber Power and Light board, to increase their take for their one meeting each month has raised a number of questions on how to rescind the action they have taken or even how to remove the offending parties from their elected position. The State of Utah does not have laws related to recalling offending parities, but they do have in place laws related to ethics and making decisions behind closed doors or in meetings that were improperly advertised. The following is from the State of Utah Code. MUNICIPAL OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES ETHICS ACT Title 10, Chapter 3, Part 13, Utah Code SECTIONS: 10-3-1301. Short Title. 10-3-1302. Purpose. 10-3-1303. Definitions. 10-3-1304. Use of Office for Personal Benefit Prohibited. 10-3-1305. Compensation for Assistance in Transaction Involving Municipality --Public Disclosure and Filing Required. 10-3-1306. Interest in Business Entity Regulated by Municipality --Disclosure Statement Required. 10-3-1307. Interest in Business Entity Doing Business with Municipality -- Disclosure. 10-3-1308. Investment Creating Conflict of Interest with Duties -- Disclosure. 10-3-1309. Inducing Officer or Employee to Violate Part Prohibited. 10-3-1310. Penalties for Violation -- Dismissal from Employment or Removal from Office. 10-3-1311. Complaints Charging Violations -- Procedure. 10-3-1312. Violation of Disclosure Requirements --Penalties --Rescission of Prohibited Transaction. 10-3-1301. SHORT TITLE. This part is known as the "Municipal Officers' and Employees' Ethics Act." 10-3-1302. PURPOSE. The purposes of this part are to establish standards of conduct for municipal officers and employees and to require these persons to disclose actual or potential conflicts of interest between their public duties and their personal interests. 10-3-1303. DEFINITIONS. As used in this part: (1) "Appointed officer" means any person appointed to any statutory office or position or any other person appointed to any position of employment with a city or with a community development and renewal agency under Title 17C, Limited Purpose Local Government Entities Community Development and Renewal Agencies Act. Appointed officers include, but are not limited to, persons serving on special, regular, or full-time committees, agencies, or boards whether or not such persons are compensated for their services. The use of the word "officer" in this part is not intended to make appointed persons or employees "officers" of the municipality. (2) "Assist" means to act, or offer or agree to act, in such a way as to help, represent, aid, advise, furnish information to, or otherwise provide assistance to a person or business entity, believing that such action is of help, aid, advice, or assistance to such person or business entity and with the intent to assist such person or business entity. (3) "Business entity" means a sole proprietorship, partnership, association, joint venture, corporation, firm, trust, foundation, or other organization or entity used in carrying on a business. (4) "Compensation" means anything of economic value, howeverdesignated, which is paid, loaned, granted, given, donated, or transferred to any person or business entity by anyone other than the governmental employer for or in consideration of personal services, materials, property, or any other thing whatsoever. (5) "Elected officer" means a person: (a) elected or appointed to the office of mayor, commissioner, or council member; or (b) who is considered to be elected to the office of mayor, commissioner, or council member by a municipal legislative body in accordance with Section 20A-1-206. (6) "Improper disclosure" means disclosure of private, controlled, or protected information to any person who does not have both the right and the need to receive the information. (7) "Municipal employee" means a person who is not an elected or appointed officer who is employed on a full or part-time basis by a municipality or by a community development and renewal agency under Title 17C, Limited Purpose Local Government Entities -Community Development and Renewal Agencies Act. (8) "Private, controlled, or protected information" means information classified as private, controlled, or protected under Title 63G, Chapter2,Government Records Access and Management Act or other applicable provision of law. (9) "Substantial interest" means the ownership, either legally or equitably, by an individual, the individual's spouse, or the individual's minor children, of at least 10% of the outstanding shares of a corporation or 10% interest in any other business entity. 10-3-1304. USE OF OFFICE FOR PERSONAL BENEFIT PROHIBITED. (1) As used in this section, "economic benefit tantamount to a gift" includes: (a) a loan at an interest rate that is substantially lower than the commercial rate then currently prevalent for similar loans; and (b) compensation received for private services rendered at a rate substantially exceeding the fair market value of the services. (2) It is an offense for an elected or appointed officer or municipal employee, under circumstances not amounting to a violation of Section 63G-6-1001 or 76-8-105, to: (a) disclose or improperly use private,controlled, orprotected information acquired by reason of the officer's or employee's official position or in the course of official duties in order to further substantially the officer's or employee's personal economic interest or to secure special privileges or exemptions for the officer or employee or for others; (b) use or attempt to use the officer's or employee's official position to: (i) further substantially the officer's or employee's personal economic interest; or (ii) secure special privileges for the officer or employee or for others; or (c) knowingly receive, accept, take, seek, or solicit, directly or indirectly, for the officer or employee or for another, a gift of substantial value or a substantial economic benefit tantamount to a gift that: (i) would tend improperly to influence a reasonable person in the person's position to depart from the faithful and impartial discharge of the person's public duties; or (ii) the person knows or that a reasonable person in that position should know under the circumstances is primarily for the purpose of rewarding the person for official action taken. (3) Subsection (2)(c) does not apply to: (a) an occasional nonpecuniary gift having a value of less than $50; (b) an award publicly presented in recognition of public services; (c) any bona fide loan made in the ordinary course of business; or (d) a political campaign contribution. 10-3-1305. COMPENSATION FOR ASSISTANCE IN TRANSACTION INVOLVING MUNICIPALITY -PUBLIC DISCLOSURE AND FILING REQUIRED. (1) As used in this section, "municipal body" means any public board, commission, committee, or other public group organized to make public policy decisions or to advise persons who make public policy decisions. (2) It is an offense for an elected officer, or appointed officer, who is a member of a public body, under circumstances not amounting to a violation of Section 63G-6-1001 or 76-8-105, to receive or agree to receive compensation for assisting any person or business entity in any transaction involving the municipality in which the member is an officer unless the member: (a) files with the mayor a sworn statement giving the information required by this section; and (b) discloses the information required by Subsection (5) in an open meeting to the members of the body of which the officer is a member immediately before the discussion. (3) It is an offense for an appointed officer who is not a member of a public body or a municipal employee to receive or agree to receive compensation for assisting any person or business entity in any transaction involving the municipality by which the person is employed unless the officer or employee: (a) files with the mayor a sworn statement giving the information required by this section; and (b) discloses the information required by Subsection (5) to: (i) the officer or employee's immediate supervisor; and (ii) any other municipal officer or employee who may rely upon the employee's representations in evaluating or approving the transaction. (4) (a) The officer or employee shall file the statement required to be filed by this section 10 days before the date of any agreement between the elected or appointed officer or municipal employee and the person or business entity being assisted or 10 days before the receipt of compensation by the officer or employee, whichever is earlier. (b) The statement is public information and shall be available for examination by the public. (5) The statement and disclosure shall contain: (a) the name and address of the officer or municipal employee; (b) the name and address of the person or business entity being or to be assisted or in which the appointed or elected official or municipal employee has a substantial interest; and (c) a brief description of the transaction as to which service is rendered or is to be rendered and of the nature of the service performed or to be performed. 10-3-1306. INTEREST IN BUSINESS ENTITY REGULATED BY MUNICIPALITY --DISCLOSURE STATEMENT REQUIRED. (1) Every appointed or elected officer or municipal employee who is an officer, director, agent, or employee or the owner of a substantial interest in any business entity which is subject to the regulation of the municipality in which he is an elected or appointed officer or municipal employee shall disclose the position held and the nature and value of his interest upon first becoming appointed, elected, or employed by the municipality, and again at any time thereafter if the elected or appointed officer's or municipal employee's position in the business entity has changed significantly or if the value of his interest in the entity has increased significantly since the last disclosure. (2) The disclosure shall be made in a sworn statement filed with the mayor. The mayor shall report the substance of all such disclosure statements to the members of the governing body, or may provide to the members of the governing body copies of the disclosure statement within 30 days after the statement is received by him. (3) This section does not apply to instances where the value of the interest does not exceed $2,000. Life insurance policies and annuities may not be considered in determining the value of any such interest. 10-3-1307. INTEREST IN BUSINESS ENTITY DOING BUSINESS WITH MUNICIPALITY --DISCLOSURE. (1) Every appointed or elected officer or municipal employee who is an officer, director, agent, employee, or owner of a substantial interest in any business entity which does or anticipates doing business with the municipality in which he is an appointed or elected officer or municipal employee, shall publicly disclose to the members of the body of which he is a member or by which he is employed immediately prior to any discussion by such body concerning matters relating to such business entity, the nature of his interest in that business entity. (2) The disclosure statement shall be entered in the minutes of the meeting. (3) Disclosure by a municipal employee under this section is satisfied if the employee makes the disclosure in the manner required by Sections 10-3-1305 and 10-3-1306. 10-3-1308. INVESTMENT CREATING CONFLICT OF INTEREST WITH DUTIES -- DISCLOSURE. Any personal interest or investment by a municipal employee or by any elected or appointed official of a municipality which creates a conflict between the employee's or official's personal interests and his public duties shall be disclosed in open meeting to the members of the body in the manner required by Section 10-3-1306. 10-3-1309. INDUCING OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE TO VIOLATE PART PROHIBITED. It is a class A misdemeanor for any person to induce or seek to induce any appointed or elected officer or municipal employee to violate any of the provisions of this part. 10-3-1310. PENALTIES FOR VIOLATION -- DISMISSAL FROM EMPLOYMENT OR REMOVAL FROM OFFICE. In addition to any penalty contained in any other provision of law, any person who knowingly and intentionally violates this part, with the exception of Sections 10-3-1306, 10-3-1307, 10-3-1308, and 10-3-1309, shall be dismissed from employment or removed from office and is guilty of: (1) a felony of the second degree if the total value of the compensation, conflict of interest, or assistance exceeds $1,000; (2) a felony of the third degree if: (a) the total value of the compensation, conflict of interest, or assistance is more than $250 but not more than $1,000; or (b) the elected or appointed officer or municipal employee has been twice before convicted of violation of this chapter and the value of the conflict of interest, compensation, or assistance was $250 or less; (3) a class A misdemeanor if the value of the compensation or assistance was more than $100 but does not exceed $250; or (4) a class B misdemeanor if the value of the compensation or assistance was $100 or less. 10-3-1311. COMPLAINTS CHARGING VIOLATIONS -- PROCEDURE. (1) Any complaint against a person who is under the merit system, charging that person with a violation of this part, shall be filed and processed in accordance with the provisions of the merit system. (2) If the person charged with the violation is not under any merit system, then the complaint shall be filed with the mayor or city manager. The mayor or city manager shall investigate the complaint and shall give the person an opportunity to be heard. A written report of the findings and the recommendation of the mayor or city manager shall be filed with the governing body. If the governing body finds that the person has violated this part, it may dismiss, suspend, or take such other appropriate action with respect to the person. 10-3-1312. VIOLATION OF DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS --PENALTIES --RESCISSION OF PROHIBITED TRANSACTION. If any transaction is entered into in connection with a violation of Section 10-3-1305, 10-3-1306, 10-3-1307, or 10-3-1308, the municipality: (1) shall dismiss or remove the appointed or elected officer or municipal employee who knowingly and intentionally violates this part from employment or office; and (2) may rescind or void any contract or subcontract entered into pursuant to that transaction without returning any part of the consideration received by the municipality. UTAH PUBLIC OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES ETHICS ACT 67-16-1. Short title. This chapter is known as the "Utah Public Officers' and Employees' Ethics Act." 67-16-2. Purpose of chapter. The purpose of this chapter is to set forth standards of conduct for officers and employees of the state of Utah and its political subdivisions in areas where there are actual or potential conflicts of interest between their public duties and their private interests. In this manner the Legislature intends to promote the public interest and strengthen the faith and confidence of the people of Utah in the integrity of their government. It does not intend to deny any public officer or employee the opportunities available to all other citizens of the state to acquire private economic or other interests so long as this does not interfere with his full and faithful discharge of his public duties. 67-16-3. Definitions. As used in this chapter: (1) "Agency" means any department, division, agency, commission, board, council, committee, authority, or any other institution of the state or any of its political subdivisions. (2) "Agency head" means the chief executive or administrative officer of any agency. (3) "Assist" means to act, or offer or agree to act, in such a way as to help, represent, aid, advise, furnish information to, or otherwise provide assistance to a person or business entity, believing that such action is of help, aid, advice, or assistance to such person or business entity and with the intent to assist such person or business entity. (4) "Business entity" means a sole proprietorship, partnership, association, joint venture, corporation, firm, trust, foundation, or other organization or entity used in carrying on a business. (5) "Compensation" means anything of economic value, however designated, which is paid, loaned, granted, given, donated, or transferred to any person or business entity by anyone other than the governmental employer for or in consideration of personal services, materials, property, or any other thing whatsoever. (6) "Controlled, private, or protected information" means information classified as controlled, private, or protected in Title 63G, Chapter 2, Government Records Access and Management Act, or other applicable provision of law. (7) "Governmental action" means any action on the part of the state, a political subdivision, or an agency, including: (a) any decision, determination, finding, ruling, or order; and (b) any grant, payment, award, license, contract, subcontract, transaction, decision, sanction, or approval, or the denial thereof, or the failure to act in respect to. (8) "Improper disclosure" means disclosure of controlled, private, or protected information to any person who does not have the right to receive the information. (9) "Legislative employee" means any officer or employee of the Legislature, or any committee of the Legislature, who is appointed or employed to serve, either with or without compensation, for an aggregate of less than 800 hours during any period of 365 days. "Legislative employee" does not include legislators. (10) "Legislator" means a member or member-elect of either house of the Legislature of the state of Utah. (11) "Political subdivision" means a district, county, school district, or any other political subdivision of the state that is not an agency, but does not include municipalities. (12) "Public employee" means a person who is not a public officer who is employed on a full-time, part-time, or contract basis by the state or any of its political subdivisions. "Public employee" does not include legislators or legislative employees. (13) "Public officer" means all elected or appointed officers of the state or any of its political subdivisions who occupy policymaking posts. "Public officer" does not include legislators or legislative employees. (14) "State" means the state of Utah. (15) "Substantial interest" means the ownership, either legally or equitably, by an individual, the individual's spouse, or the individual's minor children, of at least 10% of the outstanding capital stock of a corporation or a 10% interest in any other business entity. 67-16-4. Improperly disclosing or using private, controlled, or protected information -- Using position to secure privileges or exemptions -- Accepting employment which would impair independence of judgment or ethical performance -- Exceptions. (1) Except as provided in Subsection (3), it is an offense for a public officer, public employee, or legislator, under circumstances not amounting to a violation of Section 63G-6-1001 or 76-8-105, to: (a) accept employment or engage in any business or professional activity that he might reasonably expect would require or induce him to improperly disclose controlled information that he has gained by reason of his official position; (b) disclose or improperly use controlled, private, or protected information acquired by reason of his official position or in the course of official duties in order to further substantially the officer's or employee's personal economic interest or to secure special privileges or exemptions for himself or others; (c) use or attempt to use his official position to: (i) further substantially the officer's or employee's personal economic interest; or (ii) secure special privileges or exemptions for himself or others; (d) accept other employment that he might expect would impair his independence of judgment in the performance of his public duties; or (e) accept other employment that he might expect would interfere with the ethical performance of his public duties. (2) (a) Subsection (1) does not apply to the provision of education-related services to public school students by public education employees acting outside their regular employment. (b) The conduct referred to in Subsection (2)(a) is subject to Section 53A-1-402.5. (3) A county legislative body member who does not participate in the process of selecting a mental health or substance abuse service provider does not commit an offense under Subsection (1)(a) or (b) by: (a) serving also as a member of the governing board of the provider of mental health or substance abuse services under contract with the county; or (b) discharging, in good faith, the duties and responsibilities of each position. 67-16-5. Accepting gift, compensation, or loan -- When prohibited. (1) As used in this section, "economic benefit tantamount to a gift" includes: (a) a loan at an interest rate that is substantially lower than the commercial rate then currently prevalent for similar loans; and (b) compensation received for private services rendered at a rate substantially exceeding the fair market value of the services. (2) It is an offense for a public officer or public employee, under circumstances not amounting to a violation of Section 63G-6-1001 or 76-8-105, to knowingly receive, accept, take, seek, or solicit, directly or indirectly for himself or another a gift of substantial value or a substantial economic benefit tantamount to a gift: (a) that would tend improperly to influence a reasonable person in the person's position to depart from the faithful and impartial discharge of the person's public duties; (b) that the public officer or public employee knows or that a reasonable person in that position should know under the circumstances is primarily for the purpose of rewarding the public officer or public employee for official action taken; or (c) if the public officer or public employee recently has been, is now, or in the near future may be involved in any governmental action directly affecting the donor or lender, unless a disclosure of the gift, compensation, or loan and other relevant information has been made in the manner provided in Section 67-16-6. (3) Subsection (2) does not apply to: (a) an occasional nonpecuniary gift, having a value of not in excess of $50; (b) an award publicly presented in recognition of public services; (c) any bona fide loan made in the ordinary course of business; or (d) a political campaign contribution. 67-16-5.3. Requiring donation, payment, or service to government agency in exchange for approval -- When prohibited. (1) It is an offense for a public officer, public employee, or legislator, under circumstances not amounting to a violation of Section 63G-6-1001 or 76-8-105, to demand from any person as a condition of granting any application or request for a permit, approval, or other authorization, that the person donate personal property, money, or services to any agency. (2) (a) Subsection (1) does not apply to any donation of property, funds, or services to an agency that is: (i) expressly required by statute, ordinance, or agency rule; (ii) mutually agreed to between the applicant and the entity issuing the permit, approval, or other authorization; (iii) made voluntarily by the applicant; or (iv) a condition of a consent decree, settlement agreement, or other binding instrument entered into to resolve, in whole or in part, an actual or threatened agency enforcement action. (b) If a person donates property, funds, or services to an agency, the agency shall, as part of the permit or other written authorization: (i) identify that a donation has been made; (ii) describe the donation; (iii) certify, in writing, that the donation was voluntary; and (iv) place that information in its files. 67-16-5.6. Offering donation, payment, or service to government agency in exchange for approval -- When prohibited. (1) It is an offense for any person, under circumstances not amounting to a violation of Section 76-8-103, to donate or offer to donate personal property, money, or services to any agency on the condition that the agency or any other agency approve any application or request for a permit, approval, or other authorization. (2) (a) Subsection (1) does not apply to any donation of property, funds, or services to an agency that is: (i) otherwise expressly required by statute, ordinance, or agency rule; (ii) mutually agreed to between the applicant and the entity issuing the permit, approval, or other authorization; (iii) a condition of a consent decree, settlement agreement, or other binding instrument entered into to resolve, in whole or in part, an actual or threatened agency enforcement action; or (iv) made without condition. (b) The person making the donation of property, funds, or services shall include with the donation a signed written statement certifying that the donation is made without condition. (c) The agency receiving the donation shall place the signed written statement in its files. 67-16-6. Receiving compensation for assistance in transaction involving an agency -- Filing sworn statement. (1) It is an offense for a public officer or public employee, under circumstances not amounting to a violation of Section 63G-6-1001 or 76-8-105, to receive or agree to receive compensation for assisting any person or business entity in any transaction involving an agency unless the public officer or public employee files a sworn, written statement containing the information required by Subsection (2) with: (a) the head of the officer or employee's own agency; (b) the agency head of the agency with which the transaction is being conducted; and (c) the state attorney general. (2) The statement shall contain: (a) the name and address of the public officer or public employee involved; (b) the name of the public officer's or public employee's agency; (c) the name and address of the person or business entity being or to be assisted; and (d) a brief description of: (i) the transaction as to which service is rendered or is to be rendered; and (ii) the nature of the service performed or to be performed. (3) The statement required to be filed under Subsection (1) shall be filed within 10 days after the date of any agreement between the public officer or public employee and the person or business entity being assisted or the receipt of compensation, whichever is earlier. (4) The statement is public information and shall be available for examination by the public. 67-16-7. Disclosure of substantial interest in regulated business. (1) Every public officer or public employee who is an officer, director, agent, employee, or the owner of a substantial interest in any business entity which is subject to the regulation of the agency by which the officer or employee is employed, shall disclose any such position held and the precise nature and value of the public officer's or public employee's interest upon first becoming a public officer or public employee, and again whenever the public officer's or public employee's position in the business entity changes significantly or if the value of his interest in the entity is significantly increased. (2) The disclosure required under Subsection (1) shall be made in a sworn statement filed with: (a) the state attorney general in the case of public officers and public employees of the state; (b) the chief governing body of the political subdivision in the case of public officers and public employees of a political subdivision; (c) the head of the agency with which the public officer or public employee is affiliated; and (d) in the case of a public employee, with the immediate supervisor of the public employee. (3) This section does not apply to instances where the total value of the interest does not exceed $2,000. Life insurance policies and annuities shall not be considered in determining the value of any such interest. (4) Disclosures made under this section are public information and shall be available for examination by the public. 67-16-8. Participation in transaction involving business as to which public officer or employee has interest -- Exceptions. (1) No public officer or public employee shall participate in his official capacity or receive compensation in respect to any transaction between the state or any of its agencies and any business entity as to which such public officer or public employee is also an officer, director, or employee or owns a substantial interest, unless disclosure has been made as provided under Section 67-16-7. (2) A concession contract between an agency, political subdivision, or the state and a certified professional golf association member who is a public employee or officer does not violate the provisions of Subsection (1) or Title 10, Chapter 3, Part 13. 67-16-9. Conflict of interests prohibited. No public officer or public employee shall have personal investments in any business entity which will create a substantial conflict between his private interests and his public duties. 67-16-10. Inducing others to violate chapter. No person shall induce or seek to induce any public officer or public employee to violate any of the provisions of this chapter. 67-16-11. Applicability of provisions. The provisions of this chapter apply to all public officers and public employees. 67-16-12. Penalties for violation -- Removal from office or dismissal from employment. In addition to any penalty contained in any other provision of law: (1) any public officer or public employee who knowingly and intentionally violates this chapter, with the exception of Sections 67-16-6 and 67-16-7, shall be dismissed from employment or removed from office as provided by law, rule, or policy within the agency; and (2) any public officer, public employee, or person who knowingly and intentionally violates this chapter, with the exception of Sections 67-16-6 and 67-16-7, shall be punished as follows: (a) as a felony of the second degree if the total value of the compensation, conflict of interest, or assistance exceeds $1,000; (b) as a felony of the third degree if: (i) the total value of the compensation, conflict of interest, or assistance is more than $250 but not more than $1,000; or (ii) the public officer or public employee has been twice before convicted of violation of this chapter and the value of the conflict of interest, compensation, or assistance was $250 or less; (c) as a class A misdemeanor if the value of the compensation or assistance was more than $100 but does not exceed $250; or (d) as a class B misdemeanor if the value of the compensation or assistance was $100 or less. 67-16-14. Unethical transactions -- Duty to dismiss officer or employee -- Right to rescind or void contract. If any transaction is entered into in violation of Section 67-16-6, 67-16-7, or 67-16-8, the state, political subdivision, or agency involved: (1) shall dismiss the public officer or public employee who knowingly and intentionally violates this chapter from employment or office as provided by law; and (2) may rescind or void any contract or subcontract entered into in respect to such transaction without returning any part of the consideration that the state, political subdivision, or agency has received.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

WINNERS AND LOSERS

It has been said if one; "can not reward himself or his friends during his service, it is not worth serving". Mayors for a number of years, have used the plum board assignments to reward those who support "the party line" and vote as the Mayor would like to see the vote. Looking at the Board assignments for 2012, which Councilmen have been rewarded and which ones have been cast aside. There are board assignments that pay better than others. This site will provide that information in the coming weeks. HEBER CITY COUNCIL BOARD ASSIGNMENTS JANUARY 2012

Airport Advisory Board -Alan McDonald- Erik Rowland

Animal Control Board -Benny Mergist

Chamber of Commerce Representative- David Philips

Wasatch County Health Board -Alan McDonald- Jeff Bradshaw

Heber Valley Railroad Board- David Philips

Historic Preservation Board- Benny Mergist

Heber Light and Power Board -David Philips -Robert Patterson- Jeff Bradshaw

Industrial Park Board -Robert Patterson

Personnel Committee- Erik Rowland- Robert Patterson

Park/Recreation Board -Alan McDonald

Heber Valley SSD Board -David Philips- Robert Patterson- Jeff Bradshaw

Wasatch Area Economic Development- Erik Rowland

Wasatch County Housing Authority- Alan McDonald- Jeff Bradshaw

Wasatch Irrigation- Benny Mergist- Jeff Bradshaw

Weed Control Board- Benny Mergist

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

THE LORD GIVETH, THE BOARD TAKETH

In our community things are happening that should give everyone pause, as well as alarm. For many years, elected and appointed officials were happy to serve the citizens of this community for the sheer joy of providing civic service. They did this with the knowledge that public service was never meant to be a source of countable income or used to acquire riches. It sometimes required long hours and in many cases some degree of personal cost. It was soon discovered the joy of giving back through civic service out weighed all the negatives. In the last few years we have seen people, either elected or appointed whose idea seems to be, if you want some type of service from me, it is going to cost you. Instead of the position seeking the right man or woman, we are now seeing a man or a woman seeking a specific position, knowing that somewhere or some how, it will open a door so one can take advantage of the service. The hope being, this service would be a means to make money and if done carefully, not even citizens would know how much they have been taken advantage of. Recently, we have seen a grab for money in the form of board compensation. It was hoped by those who voted for this unearned income, that it would have passed with little fanfare and if discovered, this raid on the public coffers could be justified with flowery words and misdirection if necessary, or course no one thought this scam would be exposed, but it was. When interviewed by citizens and even the media, they have misspoke, misdirected and sought justification by any means possible. This theft of funds from Heber Light and Power, which of course is really from rate payers, can not be justified regardless of the spin. People are finding out more and more what exactly is going on. Here is the latest: Currently board members for Heber Light and Power are receiving $466.00 per month. This is for the single meeting that is held each month that lasts 40 minutes or less. Not being satisfied with just one abuse, they have carefully calculated and planned the latest raid of the treasury of the power company and voted to give themselves more. This latest vote was under the guise they would receive some insurance benefit and if they did not need the benefit, they would take the money. No one should be surprised they took the money. The new benefit is $1,687.00 per month, making a total of $2,153.00 per month. Still not being satisfied with this rip off, they have also figured they needed a Christmas bonus of $565.00 at the end of the year. The totals per year for each board member is $25,836.00 plus the bonus of $565.00. $26,401.00, not bad for public service. The board chairman receives $596.00 plus $1687.00 for a total each month of $2,283.00 or $27,396.00 plus Christmas bonus of $700.00 plus, for a total of $28,096.00 per year for attending a 40 minute meeting each month and the chairman does not even make the agenda. Adding further insult to the rate payers of the power company, this same group of money hungry, so called public servants, also serve on the sewer district at $350.00 per month for one meeting a month or $4,200.00 per year. If you are the mayor of Heber City, which makes you a chairman of Heber Light and Power and serve in the same capacity in the sewer district, you can reward yourself to the tune of $32,296.00 plus and this does not include what is received as an elected official. If you are one of the selected few councilmen, the Mayor wants on his team, you can receive $30,601.00 and that does not include what is received as a councilman. Keep in mind, they receive this benefit whether they attend a monthly meeting or not. One of the councilmen two years ago, received his money and he only attended 70 percent of the time. This is the same group, that voted for a power rate increase and desires to raise the rates again in the near future. They will eventually need the increase to fund the greed. Now the big question is, if they are willing to take from citizens who struggle to pay their power and sewer rates, and have now been found out, how much more have they taken that citizens have not yet found out about? We can only hope they will rescind this callous action, or even better yet, resign, thereby giving the citizens a break from such distasteful and disgusting behavior. The creed for some is this simple phase: “If I can not benefit myself, my family or friends with my service, then it is not worth serving”. Contact the board members, let them know you will not stand still for this fleecing and demand a change.