OPINION – Last week, St. George News reported that city council member Gil Almquist upended a negotiation with attorney Aaron Prisbrey over a pending federal lawsuit pertaining to city ordinance enforcement violations.
After what all accounts indicated to be a successful negotiation on Thursday, Almquist, in an apparent knee jerk reaction, claimed to have visited Prisbrey’s office to speak to his tenant who works for Prisbrey.
Almquist engaged in what was tantamount to sophomoric banter in what appeared to be an attempt to bait Prisbrey into filing the suit. He told St. George News that Prisbrey could, “bring it on.”
Apparently, it worked.
Prisbrey filed the suit Friday thus escalating something that can be mitigated, one where a remedy that was in the best interest of both parties was being attempted, to a potentially lengthy and expensive lawsuit at the taxpayers’ expense.
Pride besets the fall comes to mind.
Prisbrey had notified city attorney Shawn Guzman weeks earlier of his intent to file suit were a settlement not to be reached in the matter. And according to accounts of the correspondence with the city on the CAITS Institute Facebook page, the city appears to have been less than forthright or eager to resolve the situation. They claimed “technical issues” and “not in the office.” They insisted they had not received time stamped correspondence in the form of emails.
In other words, they appeared to be giving Prisbrey the run around.
Prisbrey worked with the city making known to them the seriousness of not only the merits of the suit, but his intent not to let it go.
Finally, the mayor and city manager along with the city attorney met with Prisbrey and assured him they would take the matter before city council for a vote.
It was looking like things were progressing until Almquist mislead Prisbrey into thinking the city was not acting in good faith.
The question as to just exactly what Almquist was attempting to do is almost too painful to ask.
And the answer may be that a guilty conscience needs no accuser.
CAITS Institute reported on their page this week that they had done some “investigating” into Almquist’s business dealings and learned that he uses a rental property in town to run a portion of his landscape business. The property is not zoned for commercial use and he does not have a conditional use permit from the city.
If this proves to be the case, Almquist is in violation of ordinance 3-7-1 which is a Class B Misdemeanor subject to fine and possible jail time.
This suggests that Almquist, a currently seated member of city council and staunch advocate for code enforcement, willfully violates the very codes he endorses and exacts upon citizens.
This also supports the assertion made by Prisbrey, as well as many of the subjects the codes, that code enforcement is in fact selective in the city. This is to say that it targets some people and demographics over others and that elected officials are exempt.
I called Almquist to ask for a statement and he has not returned my call.
To be frank, I would hide if I were him too.
At the risk of going on a rant here, this is precisely the kind of thing that the collective voting populous is fed up with.
Elected officials nationally and locally have completely lost sight of their roles in our society and more and more, their jobs become instruments of economic advantage over governments instituted among men to preserve life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.
If justice is to the advantage of the strong, or in this case the elected, what chance do we have regardless of political or ideological bent, of having representation in our elected that is above reproach?
If Almquist does in fact engage in the application of selective enforcement of codes, if in fact his position as a council member grants him immunity from the laws he votes in to effect and exacts upon the community, he should be swiftly and systematically stripped of the privilege to serve. Period.
See you out there.
Dallas Hyland is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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