Courage at Twilight: A Questionable Vote

I managed to keep my job today.  A subdivision plat came before the City Council for its approval.  Dissatisfied with the particulars, the Council voted against it.  This plat comprised one piece of a larger development plan already approved by the City, and was simply the first platted phase.  But the Council thought the first phase should contain some of the master plan’s promised amenities instead of consisting only of residential lots.  “Did the Council just deny approval?” I whispered to the Mayor.  The Council had, she confirmed.  Even as the frantic developer raised his hand to object, I gently intervened to express my sympathy for their concerns, but reminded the Council of their prior approval of the development master plan, and of the law in Utah that requires approval of subdivision plats if they comply with City ordinances (which this plat did), and that the Council, actually, was required to approve this plat.  I explained that their rejection of the plat certainly would be challenged by the developer, and that the City would lose the challenge.  I walked the Council through the proper parliamentary procedure to approve a motion to reconsider the prior rejection, then to present a motion to approve the plat.  All of this I said with a sort of frozen apologetic smile.  Actually, I was tensely walking a long legal tightrope: in general, elected officials do not appreciate being told in public that their vote is questionable, or that they are required to vote contrary to their inclinations.  What’s worse, this whole exchange was broadcast to the world on Facebook Live.  To my great and immediate relief, all the Council members thanked me for helping them understand the law and for walking them through the corrective process.  Driving my hour-long commute late that night, listening to the Chernow’s Hamilton, I felt so grateful to be working with reasonable, intelligent, ethical people—and to have kept my job.  Mom and Dad were equally grateful, and relieved, when I recounted to them the event.

(Pictured above: 1844 Town Plat of Nauvoo, Illinois, by Joseph Smith, Jr.  Source: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Used pursuant to the Fair Use doctrine.)

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