Lessons Learned

The last 5 weeks have been full of lessons affirmed and learned for me. It should surprise no one that it has been a difficult time and I’m still not sure I’m 100% at peace with all if it.

I was taught by a pro, early in my first term to “tell it all, tell it fast and tell the truth.” I’ve always found this to be good advice but I struggled from the beginning on this one because of two incompatible principles: taking allegations seriously and believing that all are innocent until proven guilty. Although we all seem to agree innocence until proven guilty is an unalienable right, the reality is that making this type of allegation public can doom a reputation and a career before a careful look at the facts. This is complicated by the public’s feeling of a right-to-know everything.

As it pertains to last week’s situation I’ve pondered what I would do differently. Perhaps it would’ve been wise to immediately take the situation public. I have always valued transparency, and it greatly concerns me when citizens feel they’re being mislead or withheld from the truth. However, that means the burden of being a public figure requires that we be prepared for allegations to go public – guilty or not. I also struggle seeing unproven allegations go public–especially when it impacts those in the circle of family and friends. For example, I can’t imagine the impact on a teenage daughter going to school the day after it’s announced that her father is accused of a sexual assault.

As I look back I regret that I let the Chief tell the story of his departure. In hindsight that was problematic. At the time I only knew the accusations fell short of a criminal prosecution, and with the lack of information it seemed best to have him resign and move on. In asking for his resignation, I took the path of least resistance and it was a mistake. As the media started to investigate this situation, I was put in a position to come forward with more information. This has given the appearance that I mislead the press and my residents. For those of you who feel misled I apologize.

In truth I knew very little about what happened, but I knew enough to know the Chief could not stay. As a mayor, I have to be especially sensitive with those in positions of authority as we cannot tolerate any abuse of power. His actions were unbecoming of a person in a public office of trust.

There are some points from this experience I hope don’t get lost in all of the confusion. First, allegations of this nature against our law enforcement officers will be quickly turned over to someone without a conflict of interest. Second, city leaders in a position of trust will not keep their jobs if there is a breach of serious moral conduct. Third, as always we will work towards total transparency as we manage the complicated relationship between the public, the media and our Provo City employees.

As always, thank you for your support and interest in making Provo a safe and smart community. Every day I witness the goodness of our city from our Provo PD officers to the school kids I get to meet and greet in classrooms. And though this has been a difficult few weeks, I can confidently say that the future of our city is in good hands.

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  1. Jeremy King

    Thank you for this post. You’ve been a tremendous mayor, and have repeatedly shown us by example how much you value transparency and integrity, as you articulate here. I’m glad you were thoughtful and careful before making public any allegations that have such power to destroy life and reputation. You earned my trust a long time ago; the way you’ve handled this difficult situation only strengthens that trust.

    I wish you all the best, thank you for your service.

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