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Rolly: Republican's email use didn't spur same questions in Draper

Published May 23, 2017 4:03 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

I wrote last week that the complaints lodged against Draper City Councilwoman Michele Weeks by Mayor Troy Walker and council colleagues were politically motivated because she had run for the Utah Senate as a Democrat.

The fact that she won a council seat in a nonpartisan race might be seen as an insult to leaders of a Republican stronghold such as Draper.

The mayor and council have since called on the city attorney to spend taxpayer money to hire an independent investigator to determine whether Weeks ­— who, incidentally, is running against Walker for mayor this year — improperly used city resources to send personal emails.

Sound familiar?

Well, it seems the Draper brain trust is not so concerned with how emails are being sent if the user is a fellow Republican.

Bill Colbert, who was part of the Republican club on Draper's council until he lost his re-election bid in 2015 and was replaced by Weeks, was subject to a complaint about emails in 2004.

When that occurred, nary a peep came from his council colleagues about any possible improprieties.

An Oct. 28, 2004, Deseret News story noted a complaint against Colbert, alleging that, as a councilman who also was running for the state School Board, he frequently sent emails regarding city business from his official state government site at the Department of Environmental Quality, where he worked as an environmental scientist.

The complaint was filed by his school board opponent, Mark Towner, who accused Colbert of double dipping because he was doing business for the city — for which he was modestly paid as a part-time council member — while on the clock and getting paid by the state for his DEQ gig.

Colbert denied any wrongdoing but said he would bring in his own computer equipment to write Draper business emails and would send them only on his lunch hour.

Colbert signed a conflict-of-interest statement when he was elected to the council in 1999, which stated: "Draper City business will not be conducted during Department of Environmental Quality approved work schedule" and "state-owned equipment will not be used under any circumstance to support Draper City."

Lining up TRAX? • Besides the audacity of winning a council seat after running for the Legislature as a Democrat, Weeks may have further irritated her colleagues by asking uncomfortable questions about an approved large development and its relationship to a homeless-shelter site initially offered by Mayor Walker.

The development, approved last September, was contingent on a TRAX station being built at that location.

The developer won permission to build 1,000 apartments with a hotel and four large office buildings, including retail.

One of the locations Walker offered to donate for a shelter was not far from the proposed development. Weeks surmised a shelter there would enhance the need for a TRAX extension, making it more likely stations would be built along the way. Walker sits on the Utah Transit Authority board.

Draper eventually withdrew its offer to donate land for the shelter because of backlash from its residents. Whether the offer had anything to do with the proposed development is only speculative.

But the fact that Weeks brought it up among constituents has not earned her any new friends on the council.







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