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Just when it seemed West Jordan City had calmed the government infighting, lawsuits and allegations that had ripped the municipality apart for years, the turmoil is back in full force.
Monday, the city placed City Attorney Jeff Robinson on leave and Police Chief Doug Diamond escorted him off the premises. The same day, Mayor Kim Rolfe turned over documents to the Salt Lake County district attorney's office to determine whether any laws were broken in the recent appointment of then-City Councilman Justin Stoker as deputy director of the city's public-works department.
Meanwhile, the city has approved hiring an attorney for Justice Court Judge Ronald Kunz, to assist him in expected questioning by the Davis County attorney's office in what may be a criminal investigation of City Hall.
"We have some major problems," Councilman Jeff Haaga said in an interview Tuesday.
Haaga and Rolfe also have hired personal attorneys. The mayor and councilman said in separate interviews that it was upon their attorneys' advice that the mayor turned over to the D.A. information on Stoker's move from part-time council member to full-time employee.
Haaga said the concerns had to do with "cronyism." Rolfe wouldn't characterize the matter beyond saying it involved the timeline of Stoker's new job and his, as the mayor sees it, belated resignation from the council, after he had accepted the city job.
Stoker denied any wrongdoing, saying his actions all have been aboveboard.
"I can't imagine what kind of documentation might be there regarding anything inappropriate," Stoker said. "I don't have anything to hide on this."
Rolfe and Haaga both declined to say whether Robinson's departure is related to the Stoker concerns, saying they were legally constricted because it was a personnel matter. Both noted, though, that the city attorney was part of the evaluation panel that selected from among 19 applicants for the public-works post.
Haaga also pointed to a connection between the city attorney being placed on leave and Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings' looking into Robinson's involvement in an ongoing federal lawsuit by a former West Jordan police officer who accused the city of illegally retaliating for a sexual harassment/hostile workplace case he'd brought.
Rawlings declined comment Tuesday.
A call to Kunz was returned by his attorney, Keith Stoney, who confirmed he has been hired to "represent [the judge] in any kind of investigative capacity," and acknowledged the questions are coming from the Davis County attorney's office. "At this point in time, I'm not sure what the questions involve or what it's about."
Attorney April Hollingsworth, who represents former West Jordan police officer Aaron Jensen in his $1 million federal civil-rights lawsuit against the city, believes the Robinson suspension is related to the Davis County probe.
"I know that Troy Rawlings has been looking into Jeff Robinson, I think about his conduct in this case and others. I think Rawlings' investigation is wider than just this case, but I know he was concerned about Jeff's conduct with respect to Mr. Jensen and with respect to some of the witnesses in this case," Hollingsworth said.
She filed a motion six weeks ago still pending asking that Robinson be added as a defendant in the lawsuit.
Robinson, who has been city attorney since 2008, was one of the defendants in previous civil-rights lawsuits filed by Kunz and the Justice Court clerk supervisor.
The city paid $117,000 in legal fees to settle those suits.
Another defendant in those claims, former city manager Richard Davis, resigned abruptly and without explanation in August, within days of a Tribune report on the internal feud that had raged for three years. Davis was given a severance package worth an estimated $200,000.
Jennifer Dobner contributed to this report.