Guest editorial: Park City’s elected officials have questions to answer after city manager’s departure
This week, the Park City Municipal Corporation announced the departure of City Manager Diane Foster. Very little detail was provided as to the circumstances of her departure, after more than a decade with the city. Instead, the city released a boilerplate statement that might as well have said Ms. Foster wanted to spend more time with her family.
What we do know is that the move was unexpected to everyone, including Ms. Foster. The only people in the chain of information, once again, was the City Council. In a town the size of Park City, it is only a matter of time before the real reasons behind this “separation” come to light. When that occurs, Mayor Andy Beerman and the Council will have to explain themselves.
There very well might be legitimate and substantive reasons why Foster is no longer running the city. If they satisfy both claims, then the mayor and Council should dispense with the “personnel matter” fallacy that is now used far too often to keep details from public view.
Based on both Foster’s and the city’s statements, apparently everyone was impressed with the work she’d done and the pace of progress she’d helped shepherd into the city. That wasn’t enough to save her job, though.
Meanwhile traffic and an exploding population are the issues that the Council should focus on, and a steady hand on the tiller would seem to make sense. If Mayor Beerman and his counterparts simply wanted to move in a different direction, that’s within their purview, but they owe it to the public to be honest about their choices.
In their notice of Ms. Foster’s departure, they noted the Assistant City Manager Matt Dias will take over in the interim and there isn’t an external search planned to find a permanent replacement. Then why go through the charade of an “interim” appointment?
If Mr. Dias is their choice, they should be honest about why they believe he is the best candidate to lead the city’s operations into the next decade. Otherwise, it just looks like the Council got rid of someone they didn’t like.
Given the city and county’s growth, city leaders should recognize that their constituency is rapidly changing and less residents are in touch with their elected officials than ever. This is doubly concerning as City Hall appears to morphing into a fiefdom propelled only by the desire to keep Sundance happy and to spend more money on open space, regardless of the cost.
Election Day in Park City is just a few short weeks away. Before November, attend a City Council meeting, or a gathering where one or more members might be speaking. Remind them that they are your representatives — they work for you. Park City is not theirs to do with what they please.
Reed Galen is a political consultant. He and his family live in Willow Creek.
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Sundance Institute Managing Director Betsy Wallace says, “We believe the district will enrich the community as a whole and also serve as a valuable economic driver for years to come.”