Sunday, January 25, 2015
BIG WIN FOR ALL THREE
UNIVERSITY - ELEMENTARY SCHOOL – CITY
LIONS CLUB & CITY POLITICS
AWAITING VERDICT ON DETAILS OF SUN BOWL PRESERVATION
January 22nd City Council Meeting could not have begun on a more positive upbeat note, with the city receiving a tremendous THANK YOU from Justin Tubbs…..Who in effect was speaking on behalf of all Special Need’s recipients for the All Abilities Park. Justin, assisted by two Sisters, stood up, his leg in a brace, and with walking tools, made his way to the podium. Justin addressed the Mayor and Council and stated, “Thank you so much, for allowing a person like me to break ground at the All Abilities Park…..I think I’ll just live there.” Justin went on to state “I think I’m in St. George now, and it’s AWESOME!”
Justin, let all of us know, those present in the Council Chamber and the entire City of St. George……Just how very thankful he was and how AWESOME he thought the All Abilities Park to be. Justin got the Mayor to say the word AWESOME with him and soon the entire City Council joined in……Followed by the entire audience all loudly saying AAAAWE-SOME! Justin then turned, assisted by the Sisters and walked out of the Council Chambers still saying the word AWESOME. Folks, it was truly an inspiring moment for all of us to hear Justin speak and gain a better understanding of what it means, “To be in the service of your fellow being.” It makes you proud to be a member of this community and a citizen of St. George.
Agenda Item 6 G. Staff Reports: Take public comment on the sale of approximately 6.0 acres of City property located between 100 South Street and 200 South Street in the vicinity of existing Elks Baseball Field…..Folks, this in effect is about Selling Elks Baseball Field and adjoining acreage owned by City……To Washington County School District who wants to build a new Elementary School on this site so they can finish negotiations to sell the old/existing…..East Elementary School…..To Dixie State University…..Who needs and wants the property on which East Elementary School sits…..Located directly across the street from the University. It makes perfect sense to bring these 3 governmental agencies together to meet the needs of each entity. A declared; WIN, WIN, WIN for all involved…..One that would serve the best interest of the community.
On its face it doesn’t appear to be too complicated, does it? THE FLY IN THE OINTMENT is that the site of the New Elementary School / Current Elks Baseball Field is located next door to the Sun Bowl…..Home of Lions Club, Annual Rodeo Event site…..The Lions Club has asked the City to HELP them build a New Sun Bowl or help them renovate the Old Sun Bowl. In other words subsidize or give Tax Payer $$$ to the Lions Club to lessen their burden. After all the Lions Club gives a great portion of the money generated from the Rodeo to needy causes. Therefore, it is alright to spend Taxpayer $$$ so that the Lions Club can satisfy its goal of being an active civic organization giving its money to individuals or organizations the Lions Club determines to be deserving of support. Not a bad deal is it?
Attach yourself to City Government by annually asking for and receiving Taxpayer $$$ so that you can successfully operate. (Rodeo co-sponsored by City) As stated at this City Council meeting by representative (s) of City Government this could make it a Win, Win, Win, Win….The forth winner being the Lions Club. Of course as Councilwoman Randall would have you believe…..This is all done with absolute Transparency. Never mind the fact that all sales and purchases of property are done behind closed doors.....And of course Taxpayers should discount any appearance that Lions Club Members…..May be active politically…..In Municipal Elections…..Councilman Bowcutt is believed to be an active member of the Lions Club. (I don’t think you can get elected without support of Lions Club, as former mayor belatedly learned.)
If this is not enough to get you thinking about how Power and Authority Corrupts I will share with you what took place during the last election campaign in which candidates and supporters were present. The issue of the Sun Bowl was raised. Candidates Bowcutt and Randall were present as were Councilman Almquist, Pike, Hughes and then Mayor McArthur. Almquist and Hughes openly supported candidate Randall who supported the Lions Club and Sun Bowl…..Mayor McArthur was known to be courting the support of the Lions Club of which I believe he was a member. As a result of the political interest being voiced in support of keeping the Sun Bowl at its current site…..The then existing City Administration brokered an agreement with the Lions Club that the Sun Bowl would be kept at the existing site for 5 more years thereby insuring that the Rodeo would continue to be held at this location. On its face, it appears to me for the City to now represent that the Preservation of the Sun Bowl is only now to be decided is somewhat disingenuous…..as all the players involved (Save Mayor McArthur) currently serve in City Government…..And have openly declared their support of the Lions Club. The Lions Club has been the winner for the past year and remains in the Driver’s Seat. The only thing to be decided is whether to tear down and build a NEW Sun Bowl or to Renovate and how much Taxpayer $$$ will be spent on the project and where will the Taxpayer Money come from?
This City Council appears to have committed itself to supporting the Lions Club. One can only hope that they are not being described in Doctrine and Covenants section 121.39. “We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.” Public discussion and complete transparency is called for when deciding the fate of the Sun Bowl. Let it be known I am a flag waiver and I love anything cowboy. I would like to see a Rodeo in City…..Where we see American Flag fly. Those elected should act in best interest of City at all times. Thank you, ED BACA
Monday, January 19, 2015
A CHILDS HANDPRINT INBEDED IN CONCRETE MAY BECOME THE SYMBOL FOR WHAT IS MEANT WHEN YOU HEAR THE WORDS “TO BE IN THE SERVICE OF YOUR FELLOW BEINGS” WHEN LIVING IN THE CITY OF ST. GEORGE, Utah.
YOU ARE TO SEE CHILDREN PRESSING THEIR HANDS INTO CEMENT THAT BINDS, PARK AND US TOGETHER. THIS WILL IDENTIFY CHILDREN AS CONTRIBUTERS TO THE BUILDING OF A PARK DESIGNED TO BRING PEOPLE OF THE WORLD TOGETHER TO LAUGH AND PLAY IRRESPECTIVE OF THEIR PHYSICAL LIMITATIONS.
THE HEART AND SOUL OF THE CITY WAS PUT ON DISPLAY WITH THE GROUNDBREAKING OF “ALL ABILITIES PARK” THAT IS YET TO BE NAMED AND KNOWN TO HAVE BEEN INSPIRED BY THE ETERNAL LOVE A GRANDPARENT HAS FOR HIS GRANDCHILD.
January 15th City Council Meeting began at the All Abilities Park site, 1851 South Dixie Drive on a beautiful winter day that brought with it a spirit that is sure to warm the cockles of your heart and tickle your innards. Make no mistake. This endeavor has taken lots of time and energy and doesn’t come cheap. It has taken lots of money and is expected to cost a lot more. It is I believe, well worth every penny. This can’t be said for all civic expenditures. I believe it is safe to say, that far too, often it appears, taxpayer money, is spent for political expediency and maintaining of the status quo. However, at this time and for this cause, the City Council Got It Right. When you do the right thing for the right reason, regardless of cost, the good people of St. George will stand with you. The All ABILITIES Park is such a cause. Folks, it just makes you feel good and grateful for blessings received.
This day was underscored by Director of Parks & Leisure Services, Kent Perkins, informing us that in all the dedications and groundbreakings he has attended in his 32 years of service with the city…..This may be the Very Best. My friends, along with the many parents present with their special needs children…..Kent was unable to conceal his emotions as he looked upon the faces of special needs children facing him, surely associating them with those in his family. Mr. Perkins drew our attention to a banner which declared “We Are Able” and stated that this Park will allow children and adults to participate at a level in which…..They Are Able. This Park will enable us to show through words and deeds that as a community…..We can proudly stand and say “We Do Care.” Opening Day is expected to be this summer.
City Manager, Gary Esplin, who usually shy’s away from making public speeches took the podium and acknowledged with tears in his eyes, that he had been inspired by his deceased grandson “Shane” and that like Kent, going on his 39th year of service…..Has Not Ever been involved in a project such as this. Mr. Esplin expressed that he envisions the day when other cities in the USA desire to build an All Abilities Park they will choose to fly to St. George to see what we have accomplished. Mr. Esplin reported that the City has issued bonds and has sold property to finance building of this Park, acknowledging the many contributions and support received from the private sector. This truly is a community project.
Mayor Pike made brief remarks thanking City Staff, especially Mr. Perkins for contributions to this project. Mayor Pike stated “As we vote to spend dollars it is not done lightly.” “You put in as taxpayers to produce All Abilities Park.” “It is a park for Children of All Ages.”
St. George Exchange Club presented a Donation of $100,000 pledging an additional $30,000 which they have already collected for All Abilities Park. Terry Draper, representing Intermountain Healthcare stated they were pleased to lend support in amount of $25,000. Austin Anderson, for his Eagle Scout project Troop 518 conducted a fund raiser at local carwash for purchase and planting of trees at park. Austin’s brother, Nolan, now deceased would have enjoyed All Abilities Park. Austin donated $547.00. Mr. Perkins noted that children with Special Needs want to be part of the project and all donations will be gladly accepted including those from individuals present today in amount of $27.00, $1.38, $13.00, and $6.00. Special Needs participants wanting it known, “I Helped Build My Park” will be invited to leave their handprints at selected sites throughout Park. Upon conclusion of ceremonies the City Council returned to City Hall where remaining agenda items were heard.
AGENDA ITEM: Gary Sanders and Stefanie Bevans, representing Arts Commission reported that 6 pieces of Art are recommended for purchase, as part of the city’s collection. Thousands of dollars for Art has been included in this budget year. Council approved purchase. Kudos; to Stefanie Bevans, who contributes many hours on behalf of the Art Community and City.
AGENDA ITEM: Proposed Draft for Special Events Permit Process and Ordinance submitted by city staff. Folks, a young lady named Tiffany Barton sat quietly in attendance for this discussion that to some, would be nothing more…..Than the City going through the C Y A motions akin to following Standard Operating Procedures……Having been caught with their pants down when dealing with a Code Enforcement Issue. It turned out to be far more than that as surprisingly, city leaders (Mainly Mayor Pike and City Mgr. Esplin) seemed to do an about-face for the City…..In that they managed to present an impression of sincerity about wanting to correct the misconception that the city, (Police & Fire Dept.) had acted with malice or improperly….. When enforcing a City Ordinance…..That denied a Citizen….The right to dance. The Draft Proposal that I believe was given life by the verbally gifted Tiffany Barton…..Who in the aftermath of fiasco/hysteria referred to by City Mgr. Esplin, brought us to this moment…..The City carving out and identify its objective as being …..To Promote, yet Protect…..Struck a Positive Cord to move the Special Events Permit Process forward. The simple and expected things like…..Definition, Permit Requirements, Application Process, Appeals Process, Time Limits, Fee’s……And yes, new ground rules on who is authorized to approve permits and when and how direct appeals or request for waivers can be made directly to City Council. The BELL RANG LOUD…..When Councilman Bowcutt, unashamedly voiced his concerns as to the negative effects a too restrictive Ordinance might have in the support given to the Lions Club for the Rodeo Event. Councilman Bowcutt was straight forward with his concern for the Lions Club. I respect him for his honesty and openness and find it refreshing for a member of the City Council to do so. (Others quickly pointed out that when the City co-sponsors an event like the Rodeo, it provides an avenue for the Lions Club not to have to pay for Police or other services or materials provided by the City.) I believe it is legal and understood that the City may use public $$$ to subsidize or support EVENTS like the Rodeo…..When a profitable return can be realized that benefits the City/Community. It should NOT however be allowed to become an Annual Entitlement to Lions Club….Equal consideration should be given to other organizations. Note: Tiffany Barton was recognized by the mayor and invited to express her concerns as she had played an integral role in bringing this matter before the Council. Ms. Barton did so in a manner befitting a young lady of notable character and integrity. Council is to be prepared to act by next Tuesday. (Co-sponsorships and Entitlements warrant further public discussion. Who routinely gets Co-sponsorships/ taxpayer $$$ and why?) Thank you, ED BACA.
Monday, January 12, 2015
PRINCESS DECREE’S “THEY GOT TO GO” AND SO SHALL IT BE.
WITH A WAVE OF HER HAND “TERMITE TERRACE” SHALL BE NO MORE.
FOREORDAINED BY COUNCILWOMAN RANDALL APPEARING WITH ALL THE GRANDURE AND POMP OF A PRINCESS THAT SHE COULD MUSTER, CITY COUNCIL ACTS TO INSURE THAT “TERMINTE TERRACE” SHALL BE NO MORE.
January 8th City Council meeting got off to a slow start with the Mayor informing the audience that no one showed up for the Public Comment Segment of the agenda…..Save one person who resides in Washington City and thus did not meet the criteria for Public Comment as outlined only for St. George residents. However, the meeting moved forward in a very positive way with the Mayor declaring his appreciation to the entire City for making the celebration of Christmas and the Holiday Season a great success.
City Manager, Gary Esplin then took center stage to present the Bitter-Sweet honor of announcing the retirement of his close friend and confidant…..Phil Peterson, Financial Director and the appointment of his successor…..Deanna Brklacich to the newly created position of Administrative Services Director. My friends, being a close observer of city activities for the last twelve plus years I am able to share with you…..That I detected the genuinely sincere appreciation that Gary has for Phil…..No, appreciation is not the right word…..It, I believe would be correct to state…..The Love and Respect that he has for Mr. Peterson. Phil has not only worked for the City for the past 32 or 33 years……But they have known each other since grammar school. Gary, himself has been with the City for the past 38 years and as we all know…..No one person can take credit for building a great City. It takes a collective effort of a family of supportive City Employees. On the sweet side I can confirm/testify to you that Deanna has earned this new appointment…..Having been mentored by Phil for the past 20 years….. And from my close observations of her incredible job performance I can tell you that she is highly respected by her peers and those that have come to know her through her dedication to public service. Congratulations to all.
The Mayor having declared that the City is on good footing went on to appoint Mary Hatch, a non-resident to a four year term on the newly established Airport Board. (Non-residents are permitted to serve on the Airport Board in a limited number.) Mayor Pike continued to dazzle us with the ANNOUNCEMENT of the forthcoming State of the City Address which is to take place on February 4th at Noon. This event is to be Open to the Public and will be hosted by the Chamber of Commerce…..You will however have to pay for your lunch if you choose to attend. LOOK forward to public notice providing location and details. The mayor has committed to informing us of where we have been…..What we are doing…..And tease us with what the future holds. A giant step for transparency….. That hopefully will contain a Light at the end of the Tunnel for Code Enforcement Reform and Up Dating of City Ordinances.
Next Agenda Item: Consider awarding of bid for demolition of the West Cove Apartments affectionately known at “Termite Terrace”…..Built in 1942 at 100 South and 300 West. (New Mixed Use Commercial/Residential Development coming to neighborhood in near future.) This once desirable apartment complex has over the years deteriorated to an uninhabitable condition. City Manager Esplin, skillfully articulated efforts to find a workable solution to the now attractive nuisance which resulted in litigation now authorizing the city to entertain a bid of $90,000 to demolish the complex. NOT to be outdone, City Councilwoman Randall stated that as a candidate she had been contacted by residents living in proximity to the apartment complex asking that something be done. With the flare of a “True Princess”…..Towering above her minions…..Randall waved her hand in the air and stated “They Got To Go!” Well folks, that appeared to settle it…..Councilman Bowcutt who happens to live close to the apartment complex provided a second to the motion to approve…..Stating “A Very Strong Second”. My friends, it would take a man of steel to go against the “Princesses”…..In fact the entire Council voted in favor of the motion…… including the Iron Lady, Councilwoman Arial.
A little melancholy exists in all of us……Even for an Old Apartment Complex. While seated in my favorite Barbershop, a group of us were discussing the demolition of the apartments and a patron stated…..You know, that was the first place my wife and I lived when we were first married…..Maybe we should go back and sit on the porch one last time. Memories can be wonderful.
Last Item: Public Hearing to consider a General Plan amendment from Low Density Residential, Medium Density Residential and Commercial, to Commercial on property located between 3000 East Street and Mall Drive. My friends, as I previously reported to you this property borders the City of Washington and Signal Lights are soon to be installed at 3000 and Mall Drive. While residents of Washington expressed their concern with the now changing of 24 acres to Commercial, I believe it is safe to say that we can expect to see the larger 121 acres at this site to be established as a Commercial Shopping Center. It is anticipated that in the near future residents of Washington will find shopping closer to home…..Thus reducing the heavy traffic St. George is experiencing, on Riverside Drive, Mall Drive and Foremaster…..Extending to River Road. The City Council recognized this and approved the zone change.
We can all expect to see continued growth and development……Hopefully with a reduction in the number of Closed Sessions that deny public access and that will inspire greater public participation and transparency.
Thank you, ED BACA
Monday, January 5, 2015
OXYMORON EXISTS IN CITY POLITICS
WE HAVE ELECTED ALL MORMON COUNCIL TO GOVERN WHO APPEAR TO ENJOY SPENDING MONEY LIKE A DRUNKEN SAILOR
HOW CAN THIS BE? PLEASE SAY IT ISN’T SO…..OR IS IT?
There being no Council Meeting on the first Thursday in January 2015 I thought it might be fun to remind ourselves that all elected city officials and city manager are members of the LDS Church…..And therefore being members of the Church….. In good standing all are expected not to partake of alcoholic beverages. YET it appears that they are able to spend or commit TAXPAYER’S money …….As the old saying goes…..SPEND MONEY “Like A Drunken Sailor”…Free of any Conservative Inhibitions.
BEFORE, you get mad at me for insinuating that a comparison can be made let me first apologize to all sailors. Please know that I Googled. Asking for origin of the saying and received the following…... To spend a lot of money at any one time; taken from the fact that sailors, while on shore leave, used to spend all their money in red light districts and alcohol. Example: I stopped letting my wife use the credit card. Every time she goes to the mall she spends like a drunken sailor on shore leave. Folks, it was just an expression on a few observations I have made at past Council Meetings.
Allow me to share just a few thoughts…..Just to fill the void created by not having Council Meetings or perhaps when City Council goes into executive sessions in which the public is not allowed to enter. (Just a few weeks ago Councilman Almquist acted on our behalf asking City Attorney to publicly explain the law and authority given to the Council to move into Closed Sessions. We were to be comforted by the knowledge that the council is empowered to keep us in the dark legally. Thank you Councilman Almquist. Perhaps the public is better off not knowing how Council chose to spend taxpayer dollars.) Thus, avoiding appearance of spending money, like a “Drunken Sailor”. (“Abraham Lincoln” You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.)
How does this square with Mayor Pike’s statement….. His overall goal is to involve citizen’s…..To improve upon decision making process and make citizens a part of the process and move forward together. Mayor Pike announced he would seek interaction with representatives from other cities on issues like training programs and conferences to improve upon use of information, data and technology to address problems in more active efficient ways.
My friends I ask you….. Are we to follow Councilman Almquist in his move to have us better understand, the value of secrecy…..Or are we to place greater value in a more open city government expressed by Mayor Pike?
Getting back to the Oxymoron of a Mormon spending money like a “Drunken Sailor.” It is a figure of speech in which opposite or contradictory ideas or terms are combined.
Let us examine value issues at play. The first being the slow, subtle evolvement of City Government leading us to believe that the best use of city property on which the Sun Bowl -Lions Rodeo presently sits….. Is not only to provide the property…..But to spend a large amount of taxpayer money……As much as $2,000,000 has been mentioned to do the job right…..Does this serve the best interest of the Citizens of St. George…..More than it favors the Old Men at the Lions Club or those Council Members, holding tight, to their childhood dreams of what once was. This WITHOUT ANY public hearing or presentation (Like Vision Dixie Process put forward by the County or allowing the public to vote on a new library requiring the spending of millions of dollars)…..A blatant example of spending money like a “Drunken Sailor” …..ESPECIALLY when you take into consideration that Washington County has indicated….. A willingness to allow the Sun Bowl Rodeo to take place on County Fair Grounds where adequate parking and seating is already available……At NO COST to St. George taxpayers.
Fiduciary responsibilities would be better served by providing a 24/7 Fire Station in Little Valley where population growth presents increased concerns for Fire/Public Safety.…..Not to mention response time and emergency support to St. George Airport.
My friends it is time for our City Council to present the appearance of fiscal sobriety. After all it’s our money they are spending and we trust them to use $$$$$ wisely.
Thank you. ED BACA
Monday, December 29, 2014
A LOOK AT YEAR PAST 2014
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE 2015
My friends and neighbors I truly hope you enjoyed the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ as much as I did with my family. We can all be grateful for the bounty that our country and city provides and can honestly expect the year 2015 to be even better.
Next city council meeting was extended to January 8th due to the holidays. As this year draws to a close we can look back and appreciate the decline of the unemployment rate which hovered about 4.6 percent and saw an increase in new and returning Industrial Business in St. George City. The City is enjoying an upward climb in the issuance of building permits……We can hope to see improvement in the time lag experienced in getting permits and inspections processed. Completion of roads and transportation corridors has occurred with more on the horizon…..Three needed signal lights are scheduled to be placed at the most needed locations thus making travel more enjoyable with an increase in safety.( At River Road & St. James and River Road & Brigham Road. Mall Drive & 3000 where St. George and Washington City expect to see commercial development.) The concerns of Little Valley residence continue to be addressed and with the widening of bridge on River Road north of Brigham Road. (This should make Councilman Hughes look really good for this upcoming election year as he continues to tout and express his personal interest for Little Valley residents where he lives and owns property.)
Speaking of looking good it appears that the OLD BOYS who make up the Lions Club that put on the Sun Bowl Rodeo are sure to get the votes of the Council Members who they supported at the last election. (It only takes 3 votes to prevail and the Lions Club seems to have them in their pocket regardless of the cost.) We can expect a new and vibrant Sun Bowl right next door to a new Elementary School thus making it possible for the Old Boys to walk across the street from their office to the Sun Bowl site. (The Lions members may be old but they sure know how to count votes and how to influence desired results. To be fair the Lions Club contributes greatly to the community with the continued support of City Government.) Still…..wouldn’t it be nice to have public input on an expenditure that may cost tax payers millions of dollars…..Especially those that reside in close proximity to Sun Bowl and have the joy of hearing the magnificent speaker system modern technology has brought to us…..Not to mention the shutting down of a major intersection for 3 days……And let us not forget the beautiful aroma of horse and cow droppings accompanied by flies…..All of which local homeowners get to enjoy. Please forgive my feeble attempt at humor at the expense of a bunch of Old Men. Heck, I am old too even older that Councilman Bowcutt, who appears never to tire of reminding us he is a long time member and supporter of the Lions Club. Where else but in American can a simple citizen such as I have the freedom to speak with such candor?
As this year comes to a close ending Mayor Pike’s first year in office I find it timely to list his Key Campaign Promises. As I move about the community folks often approach me with the question…….How is our new Mayor doing? I will attempt to list HIS accomplishments in the manner and order Mayor Pike listed his promises to voters.
1. Establish Long Term Strategic Plan to help formalize city leader’s goals for future. Follow other cities plans. Outline basic values and vision. Do quickly- start working on plans first few months. Folks there is no question but that Mayor Pike has taken immediate action…..Having publicly addressed areas of greatest need. As mentioned progress has been made on roads etc. However, I have yet to see a written outline of defined long term plans. You and I can continue to monitor progress as mayor continues to work on this promise.
2. Request City Mgr. and Dept. Heads to present their forecast of plans …..What they are and pull them together so we can visualize what city is going to look like in next five years. The mayor has done this and verbal input has been provided and received by the mayor. You and I can look forward to seeing the written responses which we can reasonably conclude that by now have been provided.
3. Recruit Help…..Improve communications with public/citizens. Folks there can be no doubt that the mayor has kept his promise. In fact I believe this has become a Hallmark of his administration…..It stands out as a major accomplishment distinguishing him from his predecessor.
4. Improve/Regain lack of trust. There is ample proof that the mayor has acted on this promise as evident by the Animal Shelter accomplishments. Follow up methods to improve lack of awareness of problems have been addressed and this is expected to be an ongoing process. I continued to look forward with great anticipation as to when and how the City Manager will be held accountable in forwarding concerns of Dept. Heads and solutions to issues and concerns in public forum.
5. Address Property Rights advocacy group issues, lawsuits, code enforcement policies, 4th Amendment rights- entering private property to search for infractions.
Folks this continues to be the Big Gorilla in the room that no one in city government wishes to publicly address. There has been some important movement in this area and I have reason to believe the mayor is working on it and will continue to do so. The irony of this issue is that we the public will not have/see a clear level of accomplishment on this matter until the 5 City Council members decide to keep their word to reform Code Enforcement and to set in place a way for the public to see how the City Manager and City Attorney are to be held accountable for job performance and the doing away with Selective Enforcement that favors those of their choosing.
6. Promise to Create New Boards: Animal Shelter Advisory Board-Done. Veterans Board-Done. Airport Board-Done. Human Relations Commission-Yet to be done. Energy and Water Board-Yet to be done. Committee to analyze/review city’s code enforcement ordinances-Yet to be done.
Thank You and Happy New Year ED BACA
Sunday, December 14, 2014
CITY FACED WITH HARD QUESTIONS ACCEPTS REALITY AND ACTS RESPONSIBLY
ACTS IN PUBLICS INTEREST – PUBLIC SAFETY TO DOMINATE
YOU CAN’T DO WHAT YOU WANT WHENEVER YOU WANT APPLIES
TO DANCING AND EMPLOYEE CONDUCT
City Council Meeting of December 11th made known that the City’s primary responsibility is to protect the public……An act of tough love was taken in dealing with citizen and employee conduct that speaks directly to this issue. Awakening the youth of the city to this fact appears to require the use of KID GLOVES to appease and mollify them into awareness that PUBLIC SAFETY comes first….. Even when applied to DANCING as a form of Freedom of Speech. (You can’t yell FIRE in a theater simply to exercise freedom of speech). In a perfect world everyone would use common sense and comply with Health & Safety Regulations which is foundation for most laws……Driving a vehicle…..Building Occupancy……Managing large Outdoor Crowds….. Simple things like making sure responsible people have adequate number of toilets so they don’t find it necessary to use bushes, lawns, sides of buildings or expose their private parts to those utilizing the same space. We know the majority of people comply with laws……We couldn’t hire enough public safety officers to enforce the law if the majority of folks didn’t readily comply and agree to obey.
History and experience has shown us that a small number of folks will NOT comply…… Due to ignorance, immaturity or uninhibited behavior caused by consumption of alcohol or marijuana etc. which often times accompanies public events. Therefore, in order to protect the majority of us from the unwanted threats to our Health and Safety…..City Government MUST ACT to protect us and they do so by requiring PERMITS – SPECIAL EVENTS PROCESS…..That even apply to Public Dancing Events.
Displaying a sensitivity and genuine interest in permitting as much freedom of expression as possible, Mayor Pike opened the door for Tiffany Barton to speak to the Dance Issue…..Even though this meeting did NOT include a Public Hearing as part of the agenda. This I believe is in keeping with his election promise to…..Listen and to Hear and provide greater transparency in City government. Tiffany made her point…..What was touched upon tonight “Is not what we brought to the table.” Well, she was right. The Dance Interest Group was asking for the same thing many of us have been requesting……REFORM City Ordinance(s) and Enforcement Practices. The public is demanding City Government to CLEAN UP IT’S ACT when it comes to Selective Enforcement….Equal and fair treatment under the law in the way fines and waivers of penalties are applied. YES, the process has to be streamlined…..It is NOT necessary for all 214 request for Special Events made this year to have to come before the Council…..Anymore, than, those wanting to dance should be made to feel disenfranchised, when it comes to how they are treated or made to feel when seeking a Special Event Permit to dance. Folks this isn’t Rocket Science……It gets down to doing the right thing and treating people equally, fairly and with respect. It also means for those wanting Special Event Dance Permits to recognize Health & Safety Issues.
NEXT: Hearing for an employee (Fireman’s) appeal of the City Manager’s decision to uphold a department head’s recommendation for demotion…..Failure to comply with required safety-certification training. (Required to attend 75% of assigned training each year). Presented were circumstances and conditions, including supervisory adherence to accepted practices relating to employee-management interviews/counseling practices. My friends, the bottom line of all of this is that Fire Fighter’s Training is absolutely essential in providing for Public Safety. Having heard both sides of the issue Council voted to uphold the demotion.
Public Interest/Public Safety concerns prevailed on both issues presented to readers. As the title of this article stated the Council acted in a responsible manner. THERE IS HOWEVER…..A bigger issue that has been raised…..For some time now…..On how city government implements and administers City Ordinances and how it trains and supervises employee conduct and performance. The city council is charged with the responsibility of overseeing and supervising Department Heads that run the daily operation of all facets of city government. BEFORE these matters and issues reach the level of City Council action…..We seem to be forgetting that they first lay at the feet of the City Manager and to a lesser degree the City Attorney…..They work in harmony. It appears that NO ONE seems to hold the City Manager accountable…..I believe many of the issues concerning civil litigation, employee relations, city ordinances, enforcement practices, special event permits all at one time or another come before the preview of the City Manager……This includes how and which building permits are signed off as having been completed in compliance with city codes……Such as sewer lines, roadways, use of public easements, drainage issues….The list goes on.
My friends, the symptoms common to longevity that we see in U.S. Senate and House of Representatives appear to be present in our long time City Manager. We know that the City is not the same, as when Gary began his service almost 40 years ago. The standard of approval for signing off on building permits leading to Certificate of Occupancy has changed. The storage of equipment, Recreational Vehicles on private property has evolved with new and expensive housing. The laxity of uniform enforcement and issuance of fines has led to lawsuits…..The inoculation of the City Manager from accountability…..Has in my opinion led to pitting neighbor against neighbor. One wanting and expecting the City Ordinance preventing recreational vehicles from being stored in the front yard…..Being in conflict with a neighbor who is accustomed to doing just that….. Regardless of ordinance requirements…..Employees charged with enforcement of standards appear confused and follow the example set by their leaders…..Arbitrary or no enforcement becomes the norm. We should not only be telling the youth…..But telling ourselves….. There is a time and a place for everything. The time for reform is now within City Government.
Thomas Jefferson “I have ever deemed it more honorable and profitable, too, to set a good example than follow a bad one”. (The writings of Thomas Jefferson 1853-1854 edited by H.A. Washington)
Thank you, ED BACA
Sunday, December 7, 2014
TRY A LITTLE KINDNESS
THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT ST. GEORGE POLICE OFFICER
HECTOR DOMINGUEZ AND RUDY GRACIA DID WHEN MEETING WITH MEMBERS OF THE HISPANIC COMMUNITY
My friends and neighbors I began preparing for Thursdays December 4th city council meeting by going to Church on Tuesday….. In my efforts to monitor and report to you the application of city resources I found my way to the Catholic Church who was co-hosting with SGPD an, event entitled “Together United” intended to recognize the needs and concerns of The Hispanic Community…..And most importantly to provide a vehicle for ongoing communications between a minority group and city government…..In this case the Hispanic community of St. George and Washington County. (The first in a series of planned meetings)
It is important to note that while many of us may be inclined to conclude that this specific interaction between City Government and Hispanic’s is part and parcel of the long standing Immigration Issue confronting our nation…..For the purpose of limiting discussion to the extension of KINDNESS expressed and extended by members of SGPD to a segment of our population found to be in need……I will zero in on SGPD sanctioned and approved efforts to bring to you…..What is meant by the term…..To Protect and Serve…..And in doing so contrast what the Thin Blue Lines does here…..Thus providing a response to the loud outcry taking place in major U.S. cities condemning all Police Officers as profiling racists. This is simply not true…..Especially here in St. George, Utah.
To do this, I thought it important to ascertain the level of commitment being made by City Hall in acknowledging and understanding the complexity of responsibility we have for each human being that resides in St. George…..Irrespective of race, color or creed. For you see, there are, deep roots entwined in every facet of our daily lives involving a minority of one sort or another…..Those implanted years past and that continue to grow to this very day….. Creating the multi-colored facets of what we know to be The City of St. George.
Upon arrival at the Catholic Church I was not sure what to expect from City Government as I have grown weary in my expectations that one day, City Manager Esplin, would recognize the importance of establishing a formal structure…..Which I call a Human Relations Commission…..Designed to establish ongoing communications and interaction with all segments of the community that will of course include a place at the table for minorities.
This rainy night I expected to see and hear yet another Dog and Pony Show orchestrated by city government. I failed to see or recognize anyone representing the upper echelons from City Hall…..Instead I was met at the door by two smiling faces who identified themselves as Officer Hector Dominguez and Officer Rudy Gracia. I was warmly welcomed and spoken to in Spanish which caused me to be embarrassed as my Spanish language skills are lacking.
My friends, I have learned over the last twelve years of monitoring City Government that nothing takes place, unless and until, the City Manager endorses or approves of it. I was surprised and disappointed not to seeing anyone from City Hall signifying his stamp of approval. I asked of the officers if the hierarchy of the police department had arranged or approved of this meeting. I was informed that they had been encouraged and provided with resources to reach out to the Hispanic community. At the December 4th council meeting I had occasion to speak to Chief of Police Stratton on this matter and learned that this act of service was the brain child of these two officers. Chief Stratton stated that he was extremely proud of Officer Dominguez and Gracia. The character of these individual officers helps the community to know the quality of men and women who serve on SGPD.
I was pleased to learn that this meeting was a result of the innovative actions of two Kind and Caring Police Officers…..Who in the course of their duties identified a need…..And Chose to Act…..In the service of their fellow man. It was heartwarming to learn that these two officers had unselfishly given of their time by appearing on their day off from work to provide a service to those unable to speak fluent English…..And desired to assimilate into the main body of the community by better understanding laws that regulate accepted conduct. It put me in mind of the book “The Diary of Anne Frank”. It described a girl, who along with her family were forced to hide and remain out of the mainstream of society for fear of discovery by the Gestapo. Imagine the daily agony experienced.
As I looked upon the faces of nearly 200 men, women and children filling this meeting room I could not help but compare this gathering of minorities to that taking place in other parts of our nation in which police are castigated and attacked as uncaring predators intent on inflicting injury to minorities. This does not represent the City of St. George or the men and women of SGPD.
Having highlighted the role of the Catholic Church in this article I will leave you with a quote from President Thomas S. Monson, “It is impossible to stand upright when one plants his roots in shifting sands of popular opinion and approval… We will all face fear, experience ridicule, and meet opposition. Let us ----all of us ---- have the courage to stand for principle.” President Thomas S. Monson, Be Strong and of a Good Courage” Ensign, May 2014, 68-69.
Thank you, ED BACA