This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
It appears that Jeff Haaga, a member of the West Jordan City Council, has taken the concept of white privilege and blown it up beyond all recognition. It's enough for some of his fellow council members to call for his resignation.
That's exactly what Haaga should do. And right away.
Haaga was reported to have been involved in what to all appearances was a minor motor vehicle accident that occurred while the councilman was under the influence of a lunch that was heavy on alcohol.
In what's known these days as an abundance of caution, West Jordan wanted to avoid any hint of favoritism. So they sent officers from the South Jordan Police Department to Haaga's home to check out the allegation that he had backed into another car in the parking lot of a local bar and left the scene of the accident.
Body cam footage from the encounter shows Haaga to be somewhat disoriented, denying that he was drunk, claiming that he was the victim of assault when fellow bar patrons took away his keys earlier that day and, most damning of all, suggesting that his position as a council member immunized him from arrest or otherwise being held responsible for his actions.
The officers cited Haaga for leaving the scene of an accident.
Former West Jordan Mayor Melissa Johnson has called for Haaga to resign. So has the Alliance for a Better Utah. And council members, who do not have the power to remove Haaga from office, are eyeing a motion of censure to be voted on as soon at the Aug. 10 council meeting.
There will be some who might wonder if a black or Latino suspect would have been treated so patiently, and would have avoided, as Haaga did, a citation for driving under the influence. But police say the time that elapsed between the lunch, the accident (which occurred hours later, when Haaga went to retrieve his car) and the visit from the officers would make it difficult to establish cause-and-effect.
To the officers' credit, they did not flinch when Haaga told them, "You know I'm a councilman," apparently trying to evade responsibility by hiding behind his public office. And that is what lowers the councilman's apparent behavior from one of those things to an attempted abuse of power that his fellow office-holders are not sitting still for.
Johnson and the other council members are rightly concerned that if they do nothing about Haaga's attempted abuse of power they will be seen as complicit, as sharing his belief that laws are for the little people.
They aren't. And, to show that he recognizes that, Haaga should resign.