Tag Archives: Municipal Government

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.)

Courage at Twilight: Bulk Pick-Up

Sandy, Utah, where Mom, Dad, and I live, offers fall bulk garbage pickup days in November. On these days, the city’s whole population, it seems, puts their junk on the curb for the city crews to haul away.  Looking up the street before the pickup day, I saw grills, wheelbarrows, mattresses, bed frames, bicycles, benches, logs, pipes, boxes, bins, water heaters, microwave ovens, and most anything else you can imagine.  Mom and Dad do not accumulate much junk, so the items I placed on the curb comprised only six iron T-posts.  Metal scrappers scoured the city in their beat-up pick-up trucks, picking out metal items from the piles.  I went to sleep, with huge piles on the street, and awoke to find all the metal gone—only the plastic and wood items remained for the city to haul off.  A good result, I suppose, with the metals being recycled instead of dumped in the landfill. One neighbor removed dozens of rotting railroad ties from his landscaping and mounded them on the street.  I was appalled at the enormous pile, but the city’s front-end-loader made quick work of it.  While amazed at the waste of numerous seemingly good items being thrown away, still I appreciated the city for helping people de-junk and de-clutter and otherwise clean up their properties, contributing to the community’s aesthetic and reducing public nuisances.  I admire a local government that encourages its residents to be clean and tidy, following up with heavy equipment and trucks—lots of them.

(Photo from Sandy City, Utah, website.)