Why is Mayor Gygi holding secret meetings about Councilman Crawley and using the city attorney to hide public records?
Cedar Hills Citizens for Responsible Government (CHCRG) discovered in newly requested emails that Councilman Crawley is the topic of the Mayor’s “Secret Meetings With Council Members”. This information was found within one-month’s worth of Mayor Gary Gygi’s emails with Council members, were made available last week.
Councilman Crawley’s email asks Mayor Gygi in an August 29th email, “I would like to know what was discussed at these meetings and why you felt it was necessary to hold these meetings with all council members besides me.” (see copy of the email below)
Apparently the Mayor refused to reply. Councilman Crawley writes to the rest of the Council asking their input, “Mayor Gygi has not responded to my email so I would ask other Council Members to let me know the answers to my questions below.” (see September 2, 2014 email below)
Usurping Power and Control
The lack of transparency has resulted in Councilmembers Trent Augustus and Daniel Zappala joining Crawley in asking questions during recorded City Council meetings of Mayor Gygi, which he refuses to answer. The Council Meeting audio recordings that are quite telling and demonstrate the Mayor’s apparent effort to inappropriately usurp control of the Council and city staff, hide its public records, require the Council to go through him to get the city attorney’s legal advice, and his refusal to respond to Council members emails, preferring “to talk”.
The audio documents Council members saying they haven’t been able to trust the Mayor to accurately remember the conversations and insist he document his responses via email.
Later that same day September 2nd, Councilman Crawley wrote a detailed letter to Mayor Gygi listing eleven concerns regarding the Mayor’s unwillingness to respond to the elected official’s emails.
“I would like to have had some good discussions via email regarding these issues and sorted through them, but you don’t respond to my emails. We may need to discuss some of these issues in public meetings to get to the bottom of them.”
Council Crawley’s September 2, 2014 email to Mayor Gygi also includes an transcription from the February 18th City Council Work Session audio recording (audio available at http://www.cedarhills.org/node/2659 ) :
“As a new council person on February 18th we were given a discourse on GRAMA from our attorney [Eric] Johnson which included this statement:
“So really you need to decide where your alliance and allegiance is. Most would say by virtue of being in this body. Here’s where your first alliance and allegiance lies And you would want to do nothing that would compromise that. Ok. and it isn’t that you’re not going to have other friends throughout the community but you would, you would use your discretion to make sure that you didn’t compromise your relationship here in order to foster another relationship elsewhere.” (sic)
In Councilman Crawley’s email item #10 highlights the attorney’s, “…faulty legal advice was given to the council to try to keep us from disclosing important details of city business and correspondence.” And, in item #11 adds his complaint, “…opinions in internal emails between city council members and then insists on keeping these internal emails private.”
If this information is true, CHCRG finds the news disturbing that a Mayor would actively work against an lawfully elected Councilman individually to withhold information from him, and actively work against him for selfish political purposes, while simultaneously working to hide the public record from Cedar Hills citizens with help of the city attorney.
Courageous Council members
CHCRG applauds Councilman Crawley’s efforts – and other courageous Council members – to seek the truth through emails, proper legal advice, and transparency with the public records.
Additionally, Councilman Crawley expresses in his September 2nd email concern regarding legal advice by the City Attorney Eric Johnson regarding how to create attorney-client privilege protection of emails by simply CC-ing him any email.
City Attorney Eric Johnson provided this questionable advice in his own voice at the 15:00 minute mark, speaking before the City Council in Work Session February 18, 2014. Click on link to listen…
CHCRG legal research and State Record Ombudsman Rosemary Cundiff provides evidence that suggests the Mayor and Council following this advice may be illegal.
CHCRG is concerned that their GRAMA request for Mayor Gygi’s emails may not be complete because of the city policy to withhold any email that is CC-ed to city attorney Eric Johnson as “attorney client privilege” and withhold the related emails.
This means that ALL previous GRAMA requests and the forthcoming GRAMA Request by the Daily Herald, talk show hosts Sam Bushman and Tim Alders, and 26 members of Cedar Hills Citizens for Responsible Government may indeed be INCOMPLETE.
This may require an Appeal be filed even before the new GRAMA requested information can even be reviewed.
The following are the actual email referenced above…
From: Rob Crawley
To: Gary Gygi; Trent Augustus; Jenney Rees; Mike Geddes; Daniel Zappala
Subject: Secret Meetings With Council Members
Date: Friday, August 29, 2014 8:34:11 AM
I have gotten wind that you have held semi-secret meetings with council members about me where you have described me as having gone “rogue”. When I say semi-secret at least they were meant to be secret from me. I wonder if they were meant to be secret from the residents also. I would like to know what was discussed at these meetings and why you felt it was necessary to hold these meetings with all council members besides me.
From: Rob Crawley
To: Gary Gygi; Trent Augustus; Jenney Rees; Mike Geddes; Daniel Zappala
Subject: RE: Secret Meetings With Council Members
Date: Tuesday, September 02, 2014 12:58:30 PM
Mayor Gygi has not responded to my email so I would ask other Council Members to let me know the answers to my questions below. Thanks,
From: Rob Crawley
To: Gary Gygi; Trent Augustus; Jenney Rees; Daniel Zappala; Mike Geddes
Subject: Complaints About Mayor Gygi
Date: Tuesday, September 02, 2014 5:28:55 PM
I have said many good things about you in the past and the job you have done as a mayor. However, lately things keep popping up that make me question your motives and your loyalty. We all have some desire to self-promote as human beings. However, it is our obligation as public servants to keep that desire last on our priorities. I would like to have had some good discussions via email regarding these issues and sorted through them, but you don’t respond to my emails. We may need to discuss some of these issues in public meetings to get to the bottom of them. Also, I may be wrong on some of my statements or assumptions below. But, how can I know if we can’t correspond regarding these issues?
As a new council person on February 18th we were given a discourse on GRAMA from our attorney Erik Johnson which included this statement:
So really you need to decide where your alliance and allegiance is. Most would say by virtue of being in this body. Here’s where your first alliance and allegiance lies And you would want to do nothing that would compromise that. Ok. and it isn’t that you’re not going to have other friends throughout the community but you would, you would use your discretion to make sure that you didn’t compromise your relationship here in order to foster another relationship elsewhere.
I asked [Eric] to clarify after the meeting because I couldn’t believe someone was suggesting that our loyalty should be to this body over the residents of the city or the city itself and he clarified that he would suggest that my loyalty be to the City Council over the city residents if I want to get anything done as a council member. I was shocked and couldn’t believe my ears. First of all, our loyalty should be to the betterment of the city. Secondly, if my relationship with the Mayor or other City Council Members is hurt by my loyalty to the residents of this city AS A WHOLE (of course it should not be loyalty to minority factions within the city), then that city official does not deserve my loyalty. I believe most of us are loyal to the city as a whole. However, there are things that make me question your loyalty to the city and your motives Mayor Gygi as follows:
1) Insisted on calling the city budget “the Mayors budget” and claimed that all other cities call it that. After several phone calls, I found that I didn’t find another city that called it “the Mayor’s budget”.
2) Despite the council consistently saying they are not interested in pursuing any agreement where the city has financial responsibility for SR-146 he continued to pursue that goal and despite my asking for information regarding his meetings, he continually withheld information about conversations and meetings he has held.
3) On the decisions survey there is a comment about several things the Mayor had done that someone has disagreed with including storing his personal storage on city property and creating a culture of fear between the staff and Mayor Gygi. This is just an opinion survey not a formal complaint, but the fact that I saw the Mayor and Council Member Rees discussing accusingly that this was probably an employee makes me concerned that they may try to find out which employee this was.
4) Mayor Gygi seems to be overly focused on how things make him look. I.e. there seems to be more emphasis at times on protecting his image than in doing what is best for the city.
5) After I expressed disagreement with him on his interpretation of the decisions survey results (as you can listen to from the August 5th meeting), he held secret meetings with all other city Council Members besides myself to plot against me and called me a “rogue” council member to Council Members in those meetings. I have asked him through email to verify why he did this with no response.
6) When he and I have had verbal agreements between each other he has not always kept his word.
7) He has stated many times that he does not like communicating through email, but then changes what he says during verbal conversations so I feel like I need to communicate through email with him to protect myself.
He seems to expect loyalty from employees and council members and plays political tactics when people don’t play the part of a “Yes Man”.
9) He dismisses those that disagree with him politically as the vocal minority and classifies myself and many others in that group so he can ignore their opinions.
10) He uses the city attorney to promote his agenda such as in the February 18th work session where faulty legal advice was given to the council to try to keep us from disclosing important details of city business and correspondence.
11) He states one opinion publicly and then other opinions in internal emails between city council members and then insists on keeping these internal emails private.
Mayor Gygi, I am concerned that your focus has gone from serving the city and doing only what is best for the city to trying to self-promote. I am concerned that your personal animosity towards some in the city and your personal desire to posture for future political positions drives much of your words and actions more than a sincere desire to serve the city. I respectfully suggest that you humbly and thoughtfully consider what your purpose for being Mayor is and make some changes. I sincerely like you and care about you, but I think you are on a path that is destructive to yourself and harmful to the city.
Cedar Hills City Council Member