Friday, September 3, 2004

Simon, Hall face off over right to vote

Mayor claims council president has conflict of interest

Express Staff Writer

In a legal maneuver that caught him by surprise, Ketchum City Council President Randy Hall was advised not to vote Tuesday evening on a routine city budget revision.

As the council met to certify an appropria-tion for the city?s 2004-2005 budget, Mayor Ed Simon and Hall got into a dispute over whether Hall must recuse himself from the budget vote.

Hall currently recuses himself from any legislative decisions involving the fire depart-ment because he is a paid, on call volunteer with the Ketchum Fire Department. But, at Tuesday?s meeting a question was raised as to whether or not Hall should also recuse himself from budget votes.

Hall said he hadn?t been informed of any legal problems regarding his administrative position with the city until late Tuesday. How-ever, Ketchum City Attorney Ben Worst said Hall had been sent a letter Aug. 5 about an Idaho Deputy Attorney General review of the issue, which said there could be a conflict of interest, and since Hall had failed to take any action on the matter, Worst recommended that Hall recuse himself. Worst said Simon asked him to seek an opinion on the issue.

?If the city attorney is right, and they?re going to single me out as some kind of conflict of interest deal, it?s going to send reverberations throughout the entire state,? Hall said. ?It is historic that (city leaders) often serve on vol-unteer fire departments.?

Hall said he did not understand why the issue was being raised at the last minute, but he deferred to Worst?s judgement and bowed out of the vote.

?It?s personal. It?s petty and now (Mayor Simon) has gotten the city attorney to do his dirty work for him,? Hall said.

The vote to approve the budget appropria-tion was unanimous.

The council had some questions about some minute changes to three projects to be included in the capital improvement fund, including a loan for skate park construction and a land trade with Wells Fargo.

Coucilwoman Terry Tracy reiterated that she does not support the land trade but was still prepared to approve the appropriation.

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