MT. PLEASANT—The Mt. Pleasant City Council has overturned Mayor Mike Olsen’s firing of Councilman Lynn Beesley from his job in the Public Works Department and restored his pay and benefits.
Beesley was fired in July after what Kevin Daniels, the city attorney, and Jeanne Tajada, the city recorder who also heads up human resources, described as a long termination process. The grounds were “insubordination.”
Beesley, who had openly criticized his supervisor, Public Works Superintendent Colter Allen, in council meetings appealed the termination. An open appeal hearing was held during a city council meeting on Aug. 23.
Following the hearing, at Daniels’ direction, the council voted by secret ballot. Five sealed envelopes were submitted, indicating that all five council members, including Beesley himself, voted on the question. By law, the council had 15 days to open and count the ballots.
Under state law, a city council member, such as Beesley, can legally vote on an issue where he or she has a conflict of interest so long as the council member discloses the conflict before voting. During the appeal hearing, Beesley acknowledged he had a conflict of interest.
The announcement that ballots had been opened and counted came as a surprise at the end of the Mt. Pleasant council meeting Wednesday, Sept. 14.
The last item on the agenda was the mayor’s report. It was then that city recorder, Jeanne Tajada, revealed that the ballots from Beesley’s appeal hearing had been opened and counted at the city offices earlier in the day.
That contradicted a resolution passed at the end of Beesley’s appeal hearing when the public was told the ballots would be opened and counted publicly at a city council meeting. The vote was 3-2.
Two council members voted for unconditional reinstatement and one for reinstatement with conditions. Two other council members voted to allow the termination to stand.
Between the time of the appeal hearing and when city council ballots were opened, a formal ethics complaint was filed with the Political Subdivisions Ethics
Commission, a state panel that reviews and makes recommendations on ethics issues arising in local government in Utah.
A spokeswoman for the ethics com- mission said it takes at least two months— sometimes longer—for the commission to hear and decide a case. The commission findings are recommendations only. The commission does not have power to change a city council decision.
By counting the ballots and reinstating Beesley, the city council showed it had chosen to go forward without waiting on the ethics commission decision.