Our View: Ultimatum politics fails

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 2:23 PM

Editorial Board, Standard-Examiner

What’s occurring in South Weber serves as an anecdote of what’s wrong in a lot of local politics. In South Weber, Mayor-elect Tammy Long has declared that she wants South Weber City Manager Rodger Worthen’s salary to be lowered or for Worthen to resign. Newly elected Councilwoman Marlene Poore, who happens to be Long’s sister, strongly agrees with the drop-your-salary-or-resign ultimatum to Worthen, who is negotiating a new contract.

Giving a public ultimatum to a city administrator — before even taking office — is foolish. It creates a hostile working environment before these elected officials even get into office. It is perfectly reasonable for a mayor-elect to sit down with a city employee and say, “Let’s take a look at things, I have concerns. I want to hear what you have to say. Let’s see if we can reach an agreement.” But to make these kinds of blanket declarations so early in the process displays poor judgment. It ultimately lowers the chances of getting things done in municipal government, and providing results for residents.

We’re not only picking on South Weber. We have seen in the past few election cycles a host of single-issue tiffs that can roil municipal governments and hamper effective leadership. Sometimes the singularity is a personality issue. Sometimes it involves public employees, or fears of a conspiracy between city leaders. Recent examples of these dysfunctions have occurred in North Ogden, Syracuse, Kaysville, Layton and other locations.

We are not opposed to residents who enter municipal politics with the intention of initiating reform. We appreciate their energy and desire to serve. But it’s a mistake to regard those of whom you will share power as the enemy, as someone in which to fight, rather than engage in discussions over how to best govern. And it’s ridiculous to throw out public ultimatums prior to meeting with city officials.

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