Syracuse City Council attempt to grant Mayor "dictatorial powers" tabled

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At the last Syracuse City Council Meeting I brought up what I felt was a violation of the City to comply with Utah State Code 10-03-606 regarding their current “rules”.

Current Syracuse City Code essentially says meetings of the legislative body can be conducted however they want, and that they “may” reference Robert’s Rules of Order — the same rules that the State and Federal governments follow. “May” means they don’t have to, and I’ve never heard Robert’s Rules of Order referred to in any of their meetings that I have attended.

Last night I spoke against adopting Resolution R11-33. I used some pretty strong words, and inadvertently offended the people that created the document. (I’ve since apologized for any offense caused, it was unintended, but the concerns brought up are warranted.)

To be able to speak for more than 3 minutes I was asked by a member of the public in attendce at the meeting to form a “group” and act as their spokesman. Within minutes we had several members “join” our group.

The new group is called “Syracuse Citizens for Fair Rules in Public Meetings”.

I pointed out that the “rules” they were voting on last night had some serious problems, and that I only had 30 minutes to read through them and in that time came up with 24 problems — and was sure there was more.

I pointed out that one section in the “rules” redefines the powers and responsibilities of the Mayor to be the “chief legislative officer” and the “chief judicial officer”. Further, this City Council recently changed the Mayor’s role to empower her to call upon the residents to be her own private police force — making her the “chief law enforcement officer”, too. (She later commented that she only has those powers “in times of emergency”, which is incorrect. That restriction was removed with the recent change.)

When a single person holds all the powers of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government, that’s no longer a “Representative” government, that’s a Dictatorship.

I passed my 5 minutes before I could finish. The Mayor asked me to sit down. I didn’t. She told me to sit down. I asked the City Recorder to include that “verbatim” in the minutes, the Mayor told her not to.

The Mayor then asked the police chief to have me removed. I informed the chief that under Utah Law a member of the public could only be removed by a 2/3 vote of the legislative body, and that if he removed me he would be in violation of State Law, which he has sworn to uphold and defend.

I then turned to the Mayor and asked if she was making a motion to have me removed. She just stared at me.

Councilman Ocaña then moved that I be removed from the meeting. No one seconded the motion.

Councilman Clark stated that he felt I had made my point and asked if I, out of respect for the City Council, would please be seated. I appreciated his decorum, thanked him, and took my seat.

Later in the meeting the resolution was tabled, but according to an email I received this morning, staff still feels the proposed rules are “solid” and is recommending them for approval in their current form.

Would the current Mayor (or a future Mayor) actually wield those “dictatorial powers”?

I certainly hope not! But if not, why give the Mayor the power to do so? And if the current Mayor isn’t comfortable with her office being given those “dictatorial powers”, why isn’t she fighting tooth-and-nail to have those sections changed?

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