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Embarrassed employee: Salt Lake City not 'bloated' or 'corrupt'

Published August 5, 2014 3:14 pm

Politics • West Jordan official contrite in letter to Mayor Ralph Becker.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Salt Lake City Hall is not "bloated" or "corrupt" and neither is Mayor Ralph Becker.

That's what West Jordan City Councilman Justin Stoker said in a letter of apology to Becker this week in response to an Aug. 2 story in The Salt Lake Tribune. He told the mayor that the story was unfair and took his statements out of context.

Stoker also works for Salt Lake City's Department of Public Utilities.

"The article suggested that I think that Salt Lake City government is corrupt and full of problems," the letter states. "Again, I said nothing of the sort."

The report centered on a West Jordan City Council debate on whether that city should adopt a "strong mayor" form of government. The Tribune has an audio recording of the meeting.

The story quoted Stoker as saying, among other things, that such forms of government lead to "bloatedness" and "corruption."

"I don't mean to single out Salt Lake City," Stoker told the West Jordan Council, "but the current mayor of Salt Lake City spends more of his attention on environmental issues and bicycles than he does on the needs of the residents because it was environmentalists that got him elected and he's got a half million dollars in his campaign account from environmentalists."

In his letter addressed to Jeff Niermeyer, director of public utilities, Stoker said he was sorry for making the statement: "For this, I apologize," he said. "I meant no slight to Mayor Becker, but meant it as part of a larger discussion pertaining to core issues surrounding West Jordan."

Further, Stoker said that he supports many of Becker's environmental initiatives.

"As perhaps the most liberal member of the West Jordan City Council," Stoker said, "I continually drive for water and energy conservation, environmental protection, and for advocacy events in and around West Jordan."

In an interview Tuesday, Stoker said the Tribune story "ran me into the ground" while building up another West Jordan city councilman. Nonetheless, the letter was sent to the mayor as an apology, Stoker said.

"I am deeply sorry for any embarrassment or hurt that this situation may have caused," the letter said.

Becker's spokesman Art Raymond said Tuesday that everyone in city government is entitled to voice an opinion.

However, allegations of bloat and corruption within Salt Lake City government "are unsubstantiated," Raymond said. "That is unfounded."

csmart@sltrib.com