September 19, 2023 - Council Meeting
Friends and Neighbors,
You may have read Mayor Heidi Franco’s recent commentary in the Wasatch Wave. In summary, it was an unjustified critique of our last meeting, where she claimed two members acted “inappropriately” during our discussion about the renaming of the public safety building.
Her martyrdom was on full display as she repeatedly apologized to residents and the police department for “derogatory comments” that were made. In addition to coming across as unbridled and melodramatic, her categorization of the commentary that night is false.
Let me be clear: I stated that we should defer the decision for a few weeks to give the Council ample time to decide whether this is how we’d like to proceed. We don’t currently have any buildings named after people, so it would set a new precedent. These items deserve close attention.
Fast forward to this week’s meeting, where the Mayor brought forward an action item concerning an initiative known as "Disagree Better.” It categorizes people based on their interactions with one another on a scale that runs from one extreme where two parties are completely opposed to and want to hurt each other—all the way to two parties who have the utmost mutual respect.
After enduring 20 minutes of this lecture, Councilwoman Rachel Kahler asked to make a comment. Predictably, the Mayor wouldn’t allow her to speak and told her to “get her own agenda item” if she wanted to elaborate on the topic. Later in the meeting, Rachel read a prepared statement pleading with the Mayor to stop her attacks and mischaracterizations. She ultimately begged for the Mayor to be more open to working together, but as expected, she was met with the banging of Mayor Franco’s gavel in an attempt to adjourn the meeting. Mayor Franco even went as far as to say the following: “If you want to do my job, you need to run for mayor and you need to win, okay?”
Unfortunately, none of this should come as a surprise if you’ve been following along. As I mentioned during the meeting, we are approaching the anniversary of the Arbinger Training we completed as a Council. This was a team-building exercise to help improve our dynamic and interactions. Overall, it was incredibly helpful, but I’ll never forget one specific moment: At the end of the full day of training, we were sharing our closing statements and reflecting on what we learned. As I recall, Mayor Franco said something to the effect of, “This training is great for all of you, but I know why I was elected, and I’m going to just keep doing what I'm doing.”
Friends, I don’t say all this to continue an endless cycle of back-and-forth bickering. I’m just as tired as everyone else of the hours-long contentious meetings. I say this because I’d like to remind you that elections have consequences.
While the Mayor is still only halfway into her term, we have important decisions to make in November about two open seats. I encourage and urge you to thoughtfully consider who you’d like to see on the Heber City Council. Visit their websites, engage in meaningful conversations, and cast an informed ballot.
Let’s elect leaders who are tirelessly committed to collaboration and respectful dialogue.
D. Scott Phillips
Agenda Item Updates
Chief Booth’s Retirement
We were able to come together as a Council to decide how best to recognize retiring Police Chief David Booth, and his valuable contributions to our community over the past 11 years. But first, I would like to personally thank Chief Booth.
Dave, thank you for your unwavering dedication to your job and to every resident of this community. You came into a very difficult department and completely transformed it. The public safety building would not have happened without your vision and determination, and you are leaving the department much better than you found it 11 years ago. Our officers are equipped with the best training and equipment, and we as Heber City residents look up to and admire the officers in the department. Thank you for all that you have done!
I’m happy to report that the City Council unanimously supported the commission of a commemorative plaque to recognize Chief Booth and his contributions to the Heber Police Department and the community. The plaque will be displayed in a prominent location at the public safety building.
We had an extensive discussion concerning the road construction that has been so prevalent all over town this summer, and I want to thank all our neighbors for their patience as the construction season winds down.
Our engineers are constantly doing studies and making recommendations on how to deal with increasing traffic all over Heber. The transportation master plan was brought up during public comment when someone asked why certain things were not being included. The simple answer is this: We did not know of those proposed developments when the study and master plan were completed.
I am confident that the master plan will be updated with the most accurate and timely information when it is reviewed by the Council in the future.
Heber City Logo
We discussed and accepted a new logo and marketing campaign for Heber City.
As we decided in this meeting to move forward with a new logo, we also clarified that we are not going to rebrand everything all at once. This will happen over time as uniforms, trucks, and police cars end their useful life and need to be replaced. It’s best to take this approach in order to avoid incurring any extra costs to do this rebrand.
9/11 Day of Service Update
Our 9/11 Day of Service, which was on Saturday, September 9, was wonderful and impactful. I’m happy to share that there were six projects completed around Heber—thanks to more than 300 volunteers. Thank you to everyone in our community for showing up to serve one another! Your efforts are appreciated.