An infallible city manager
Ryan Summerlin February 15, 2013
The big news this week was the Pope packing it in. For the first time since 1297, a Pope has resigned before expiring. Nobody knows quite what to do about it. There really is no established protocol. So he gave two weeks’ notice.
That seems OK for a kid working at Burger King. Normally, when looking at CEO-level jobs (and I think being the emissary of God probably puts it right up there with head of Goldman Sachs, or at least close), two weeks seems a little abrupt. Big corporations put a lot of time and energy into succession planning, and retirements at the top are carefully orchestrated. So it seems quite strange that the Pope will just punch out at the end of work, clean out his locker, and move on.
There was lots of speculation about why he would resign from a pretty cushy job from which he couldn’t be fired. Since it hasn’t happened for 700 years or so, the pension plan is a mess. Will his health insurance continue? And then there’s that whole wardrobe issue. In an organization that is big on costuming, nobody ever had to design the uniform for a retired pope before. Can he keep the hat? Does he have to trade in the Popemobile for a Fiat 500? It’s all very confusing.
Once he leaves office, does he become fallible again? That would be hard, after years of always being right. Suddenly he’ll start making mistakes, putting the red cloaks in the same wash as the whites and making a real mess of things. It won’t be an easy adjustment.
I’ve got inside sources on this, and was able to get some information that has not generally been in the press. It turns out the resignation was prompted by the discovery that he was ineligible to be pope. He lives in the city limits of the Vatican City, and the ordinance setting the office up says he has to be a resident of the county planning district. So even though popes have been residing in the Vatican and serving in office for centuries, the lawyers have now decided that he can’t be pope if he lives in the city.
No, wait. That’s the county planning commission members who can’t live in an incorporated city and be on the county planning commission, even though residents of the city are also residents of the county, the state, and the nation.
The Park City Council, which has been unable to hire a new city manager for some reason, has dispatched its ninja search team to Rome to see if it can recruit the ex-pope for the city manager job. You know the philosophy around here — always go for the very best. And even though the ex-pope is old and tired, you’ve got to admit that answering that job interview question, "What is your greatest strength?" with "infallibility" makes a pretty impressive interview.
The legislature is in session. That’s kind of the polar opposite of infallibility. So far they haven’t launched themselves into outer craziness, but the session is young. My favorite bill so far is from Rep. Brian Greene from Pleasant Grove. Greene has proposed legislation that our local county sheriffs should have the authority to arrest all those federal agents who are in Utah to seize our guns. It’s not clear if this is going to apply to an FBI agent trying to disarm a bank robber. Greene is part of the paranoid fringe that believes that the federal guvmint is going to send in the black helicopters and seize the private arsenals of law-abiding citizens.
This is an important bit of legislation because, well, you know, this happens all the time: federal agents storming the country to seize weapons. Why just the other day it happened in, well, I don’t remember, but you just know it’s happening all the time, somewhere, or else we wouldn’t need to set up our county sheriffs as the first line of defense. And our own county sheriff has authored a letter to the president saying that he is not about to help enforce any federal gun legislation — even though nothing new has been adopted and he has no idea what future legislation might look like.
There are about 2,400 agents in the entire federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. That’s for the whole nation. There are about 300 million guns out there (nobody knows, really). So it seems like each of the federal agents would have to be able to carry a rather heavy load, with the local sheriff in hot pursuit. Never mind that the feds have the technology to put a remote-control missile down the barrel of your musket anytime they want.
We can all rest easier knowing that, with the blessing of the legislature, the county sheriff will be there to stop them.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.