NORTH OGDEN -- A city councilman on temporary leave while he is deployed to Afghanistan has been taken off the city's email list and is calling it political payback for his disagreements with some councilmen.
Brent Taylor said the decision was made in a closed-door meeting with Mayor Richard Harris and Councilmen Wade Bigler, Justin Fawson and Kent Bailey. The meeting was held Jan. 9, the day before Bailey and Fawson took office.
Taylor had been included in correspondence from the time he deployed in October. In December he noticed that Councilman Wade Bigler had stopped copying him on emails. At the end of January, Taylor tried to log in to his city account and couldn't get in.
"This was all done in private and out of the public eye. My email was closed without any notice to me and I found out when I tried to log in from Afghanistan to catch up on the city," Taylor said in an email to the Standard-Examiner.
Harris contacted Taylor and apologized for locking out his email without notice. Harris explained to Taylor that the three councilmen made several requests during the meeting, including that Taylor be removed from the email.
Taylor doesn't feel the request should have been granted until he had an opportunity to defend himself.
In a telephone interview, Harris said the request was made in the meeting and he consulted with City Attorney Dave Carlson before acting. The Standard-Examiner interview with Harris occurred before the city instituted its new email-only comment policy with the media.
Carlson, based on his reading applicable state law, advised keeping Taylor "in the loop" by sending him minutes and agendas of meetings, but the emails were not necessarily required.
Taylor said the state law is "flimsy" and cutting off his email is political payback because he has always stood up for what he believes is right and best for the city, and hasn't always agreed with the "new majority," which he said Bigler, Fawson and Bailey call themselves. There are five council members in North Ogden.
Dave Hulme was named to replace Taylor on the council while he is deployed.
Harris said once he talked with Carlson, he made the decision to remove Taylor from the email list. He didn't make the decision lightly and said that whether Taylor agrees or not is a moot point.
Harris knows the decision could cause a ripple effect because currently when someone is elected to office they are automatically added to the city email so they know things that are going on the city.
Taylor had decided he wasn't going to go public with the information until a story in the Standard-Examiner that mentioned the Jan. 9 meeting between the mayor and the councilmen.
He sent a letter to the mayor and council detailing his frustration with the decision and calling them out for holding the closed meeting.
He has filed a request under the Government Records Access and Management Act for the emails he has missed since being cut off, but doesn't feel that he, as a councilman on leave, should have to do that or pay for it.
Taylor said he believes the three council members are trying to shut him out because he spoke bluntly about their proposals in the past.
"I can honestly say that I would never try to cut them out of getting information were they in my shoes and serving our country at war. It is just disgraceful, and it upsets me that I am distracted from my mission in Afghanistan by petty politics back home," Taylor said.
Attempts to contact the three councilmen were made by email, following the guidelines of the city's newly adopted media policy.
Bigler said he wanted to see Taylor's emails to the Standard-Examiner before responding. That request was denied and he did not respond further.
Neither Fawson nor Bailey responded to the request for comment.