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The City Journals

Sandy city council memo highlights dysfunction between the council and administration

Feb 25, 2019 11:23AM ● By Justin Adams

Sandy City Council Chair, Kris Coleman-Nicholl listens to a resident during its Feb. 19 meeting. (Justin Adams/The City Journals)

By Justin Adams | [email protected]

On the agenda for this week’s city council meeting is a report about “a recent action taken by the Administration that has disrupted communication between the City and the City Council.” A memorandum attached to the agenda item goes on to accuse the city administration of discriminating against city employees that work with the city council by removing them (and the city councilors themselves) from the city-wide email list.

“On February 20th we were informed by a reliable source that the Administration, some weeks ago, had directed that everyone within the Council and Council Office be removed from the ‘All Departments’ city email list,” reads the memo.

The memo, written by Pam Lehman, the city council office manager, and Dustin Fratto, a city council management analyst, alleges that due to their exclusion from the email list they have not been updated about important information, such as an Human Resources effort to change the city’s paid time off program.

“To us, it feels like we’re being discriminated against based solely on our connection to the City Council,” the memo reads.

Evelyn Everton, the city’s deputy mayor, told the Sandy Journal via text message that the city council members were taken off “a few weeks ago to not clog up inboxes,” and the city council office employees were inadvertently removed at that time. The administration “only just realized that city council staff had been taken off and have rectified the situation,” she said. 

This memo follows another memo by the council office posted last week that expressed concerns about recent hirings in the mayor’s office.

Friction between the city administration and city council has been growing ever since Mayor Kurt Bradburn took office last year. Division between the two branches of Sandy’s government is evidenced by the city council hiring its own outside legal counsel, who attended the city council meeting for the first time on Feb. 19.

During that same meeting, Council Chair Kris Coleman-Nicholl repeatedly forbid the mayor from speaking throughout the meeting. A visibly frustrated Mayor Bradburn was eventually allowed to speak only after multiple residents and other city council members said they’d like to hear what he had to say.

Some citizens took notice.

“You guys are shutting down the line of communication between yourselves, who we elected, and the mayor, who we also elected. I suggest you get together and figure it out,” one resident told the city council during the meeting.

One city councilor told the Sandy Journal last week that there has been a total breakdown of communication not only between the city council and the administration, but within the city council itself.

In a statement to the Sandy Journal, Mayor Bradburn said that "contention between certain members of the Council and the Mayor's Office doesn't serve anyone."

"I would like to have a professional and positive working relationship with the entire Council and I believe I've done everything I can to try to achieve that," he said. 

As the city enters its budget process, a collaboration between the administration and the city council, the question is how much these private and public feuds between the branches of Sandy’s government will impact the proceeding.

Both this memo and the memo about the mayor’s office hirings are scheduled to be discussed during the Feb. 26 city council meeting.