On the heels of a crisis over contaminated water, the city spent more than two hours discussing the administration’s removal of the council and its employees from a city email list — which staff argues had shut down dialogue on a number of important topics in recent weeks — and a memo asserting that Mayor Kurt Bradburn’s hiring practices have hurt employee morale.

The Utah Department of Environmental Quality has cited the city for the high fluoride levels and is determining if Sandy appropriately reported elevated levels of lead and copper. The Sandy City Council has also taken steps toward conducting an independent investigation into the city administration’s response to the issue.

The city public utilities director has stepped away from his duties during that investigation, the scope of which the council is scheduled to consider Tuesday.

“Here I sit, 23 years of being on the City Council, and I don’t think there’s ever been a time when I have ever seen anything like this,” said Councilwoman Linda Saville-Martinez, who advocated for better communication among the branches following a particularly tense portion of the meeting. “… There’s no communication going on. And in the past, we were a whole. Everybody worked together.”

During the meeting, Bradburn apologized for the email oversight, defended his hiring practices and agreed that there have been communication challenges — responsibility for which he argued rests with both council and administration and could have been handled differently.

“In terms of matters of improving communication going forward, this feels like something that could have been handled relatively easy with just a phone call instead of an agenda item,” he said. “So I think we can — maybe we can all acknowledge that there maybe was a less intrusive way to handle this.”

Council Office Director Mike Applegarth, who penned an interoffice memo on two new administration employees that he believes were hired outside of the city’s normal hiring procedures, argued that the two issues the council considered on Tuesday are “symptoms” of a larger problem.

“There’s not great communication between administration and the City Council, and to be fair to the administration, the council doesn’t always do a good job of handling the information it receives,” Applegarth told The Salt Lake Tribune on Monday.

During public comment, residents expressed frustration at what they viewed as continued efforts by some council members to undermine the administration.

“I just want to remind you, and like it or not, that our city elected our current mayor,” said Sandy resident Dea Theodore, who argued there were more important conversations that should take up council time, like water contamination. “He was elected to do this job. People elected him. They trusted him to make decisions on behalf of our city, including who he hires.”

*Original article online at https://www.sltrib.com/news/politics/2019/02/26/sandy-city-council/

** See all reports on the Sandy, Utah, event