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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of Nov 27 - Dec 3, 2002


Council denies Lindley’s return bid

McBryant appointed Hailey mayor

Express Staff Writer

Hailey City Council members Monday unanimously voted to deny a request by former mayor Al Lindley to withdraw his Nov. 8 resignation and return to office, and swiftly appointed Council President Susan McBryant as the city’s new mayor.

The deliberate set of actions came during a special meeting Monday called by McBryant after Lindley had withdrawn his resignation Nov. 18 just 90 minutes before the council had been scheduled to appoint a new mayor.

Susan McBryant, former president of the Hailey City Council, smiled Monday night after she was asked to be the city’s new mayor. Upon accepting the position, she said her "circumstances are much different than they were a year ago," when she decided not to contest former mayor Al Lindley’s campaign. Express photo by David N. Seelig

Supporting a motion by Councilwoman Martha Burke, council members first voted 3-0 to deny Lindley’s bid to return to the mayor’s office. The panel then voted 3-0 to appoint McBryant, who was immediately sworn into office as the city’s chief administrator.

"So that’s that," McBryant said after a round of applause from the audience. She then adjourned the meeting and called it back to order as the city’s mayor.

Presiding over the meeting as acting mayor, McBryant did not cast a vote in either decision.

Before calling for any action Monday, council members listened to and reviewed a detailed 11-page legal opinion from City Attorney Ned Williamson on whether the council should return Lindley to the mayor’s office.

The document provided a detailed account of the proceedings involving Lindley’s status with the city since he submitted a letter of resignation to council members Nov. 8. The summary noted that Lindley on Nov. 8 told city staff members he is "outa here," and in days to follow cleaned out his office at Hailey City Hall and returned his city-issued keys and credit card.

The document concluded that Lindley had no legal authority to assume the mayor’s office, that his resignation was deemed effective on Nov. 8, and that the Hailey City Council had no legal authority to reinstate the mayor based on his Nov. 18 resignation withdrawal.

"Therefore, I think you should conclude the resignation was effective on Nov. 8, 2002," Williamson told council members.

Former mayor Al Lindley smiled in dismay and prepared to leave Monday’s Hailey City Council meeting after watching Councilwoman Susan McBryant be sworn in as the new mayor. Lindley upon his exit suggested he may try to regain the office in the next city election. Express photo by David N. Seelig

The attorney listed four options council members could pursue to resolve the matter. However, he advised that the most efficient and appropriate action would be to deny Lindley’s request to be reinstated and appoint a new mayor.

Williamson said the only other option that would follow state law might be for the city to seek a "declatory judgment action" from a district court, a process that could last for several months.

Council members agreed they needed to act quickly.

"I’m just not ready to lead this ship without a captain," Burke said.

Former mayor Brad Siemer—joined in the audience by fellow former mayors Keith Roark and Steve Kearns—offered words of support to the new mayor. Siemer said he thought the council made a "good decision" by appointing McBryant.

"You do have challenges in front of you," he noted, suggesting that city officials will have to "ferret out" certain problems caused by Lindley’s tenure.

Lindley attended Monday’s proceedings, but did not make a public comment. Upon his exit after McBryant was sworn in, he suggested to reporters that he may run for the mayor’s office in the November 2003 election.

Lindley Tuesday morning could not be reached for comment on whether he would challenge the council’s decision in court, a move he suggested last week was a possibility.

Three days after resigning, Lindley said he left office because of grievances filed against him by two city employees for alleged verbal sexual harassment.

City officials have declined to comment on the grievances because of legal constraints mandating confidentiality. However, council members have issued two non-binding votes of no confidence in Lindley in recent weeks because of an alleged pattern of actions deemed outside the scope of his job.

Council members alleged last week that Lindley signed two city contracts without seeking proper approval from the council, but declined to elaborate on other actions by the former mayor that prompted their no-confidence votes.

In a poignant moment Monday, Hailey resident Willi Huxford asked council members to reveal their reasons for issuing the votes questioning Lindley’s job performance.

Burke promptly spoke out, saying that the council since January—when Lindley was sworn into office—has been concerned about various "personnel issues, administration issues and legal issues" associated with Lindley’s public service.

"He left exactly the way he served as mayor," she said. "With inconsistent actions and words that have no value."

Burke added that she did not want to "drag out any dirty laundry and wave it around in public," and preferred to put the matter to rest.

"We need to heal, we need to move on, and let this man live in the community," she said. "I am terribly sorry the city faces the confusion it has been in. To drag this out any further will not benefit the city of Hailey."

After being sworn in as mayor, McBryant as her first order of business appointed and swore in City Clerk/Treasurer Heather Dawson and City Attorney Ned Williamson to their respective positions. Idaho Code mandates that a new mayor must make the appointments.

As the appointed mayor, McBryant will serve at least through next November, when an official election will be conducted to determine who will take the office.

McBryant in the coming weeks will be asked to nominate a candidate to fill her council seat. "We’ll deal with that soon," she said Monday.

The three remaining council members will make a final determination as to who is appointed to fill the empty seat on the panel.



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