Guest editorial: Thanks anyway, Chris Hague has a life |

Guest editorial: Thanks anyway, Chris Hague has a life

Chris Hague, Park CityI want to thank Don Sargent for his interesting letter published in Saturday's Park Record. He is a reminder of what bad government is and what persistence by an informed citizenry can change.

First, we need to understand where Sargent is coming from. As he correctly points out, he is the former Community Development Director. That position is one of the most important in county government. If either the director or the staff member reviewing a development application has an agenda say to favor a friend or apply a political philosophy, they can skew the staff report, ignoring the unfavorable aspects of the project and recommend approval.

That is what Sargent was all too willing to do. An empirical example will prove my point, e.g., the Boyer Tech Center project. The fact was it did not meet the criteria for approval if the General Plan and Development Code were properly applied or correct application of the Development Agreement between the county and Boyer. Sargent recommended approval of the project to the Planning Commission. Keep in mind that Sargent was married by Dave Allen, Boyer’s project manager. Allen was also Sargent’s boss when he was the county’s Community Development Director. Councilman Chris Robinson and Dave Allen were former business partners. Allen and Dave Thomas, the county’s Deputy Attorney who negotiated the agreement, had written into the county’s Development Agreement for the Boyer site a provision that gave the Community Development Director the power to overrule any recommendation of the Planning Commission.

Such a provision had never before been put in a county agreement! Sure enough, the Planning Commission for numerous good reasons recommended denial of the Boyer application. Sargent overruled them and approved it. Today it is Boyer’s monstrosity known as Building A.

Finally, Sargent was investigated by the County Attorney for alleged criminal activity involving improper construction on his property without the required county permits and then attempting to intimidate two employees under him to claim that what he did was common practice. The Cache County Attorney, to whom the case had been referred, found that Sargent’s activities were criminal but because the statute of limitations had run, Sargent could not be prosecuted. He recommended that Sargent be fired. Despite that recommendation, the County Council and Bob Jasper, the County Manager, refused to fire him. It took constant prodding from me for two years to keep alive the issue to fire Sargent and the election of Roger Armstrong and Kim Carson to finally cause Sargent to "resign." The end result, of which I am very proud, is that Sargent is gone and we now have a respected new Community Development Director in Pat Putt.

This all takes time and a lot of persistence. And, yes, it took criticism of the County Council for not firing Sargent for cause in a timely manner. I have also criticized the council on numerous other matters.

Their last planning commission appointment over me was a person who probably had never attended a Planning Commission meeting and who resigned when he learned he would have to attend several meetings a month. His main qualification was that he is an active Republican. Way to go council. With egg on their respective faces, they now are advertising again to fill the position. I am seriously considering applying again so they can have another chance to reject me despite the fact I have attended hundreds of Planning Commission and Council meetings and testified concerning both the General Plan and Development Code.

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Yes, Mr. Sargent, it would be nice if the subtle approach to getting rid of corruption in our county government would work. The softer approach you would have me take no longer works in this county. But I do enjoy this life and don’t need to get a new one.