City officials: WJ councilman may not return to city hall for a couple of months

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WEST JORDAN — An embattled West Jordan city councilman may not return to city hall for another couple of months, KSL has learned.

City officials said Monday Jeff Haaga notified them that he would not attend last week’s council meeting as well as the next five meetings over the next two and a half months.

Meanwhile, city leaders were preparing to consider two alternate measures at the Sept. 7 council meeting that would toughen city rules on future “bad behavior” exhibited by elected officials.

City attorney David Brickey said those measures — a potential ordinance that changes the law and a potential resolution that alters city policy — would enact monetary and other penalties for misconduct such as theft, crimes of dishonesty, driving under the influence of alcohol and controlled substances, domestic violence, disorderly conduct, leaving the scene of an accident, failure to cooperate with law enforcement personnel and failure to attend city meetings.

“There’s one that has a greater consequence than the other,” Brickey said. “If it’s an ordinance, they’re in trouble.”

If the ordinance is approved, Brickey said the City Council could potentially refer future matters to a district judge to weigh the possibility of removal from office.

“I think the public should know that both the mayor and the City Council members do not tolerate bad behavior,” Brickey said. “They’re going to address it as best they can with the rules the Legislature has given them.”

Police and witnesses said Haaga was drinking on July 19 before he backed into a parked car and left a parking lot. Body camera video from South Jordan police officers who subsequently confronted Haaga at his home showed Haaga claiming he was “protected” because of his position with the city.

Haaga was cited for leaving the scene of an accident. He pleaded not guilty .

Brickey said Haaga’s situation was the “impetus” for the potential rules that would apply in the future to all elected officials in the city.


According to Brickey, discussions about the possible measures began prior to council members’ failed attempt to censure Haaga on Aug. 10.

Councilman Chad Nichols said he saw value in considering the measures.

“I think it’s really important that all council members do their best to attend every meeting, whether in person or electronically,” Nichols said. “Any absence makes a significant impact on council decisions.”

Councilman Zach Jacob described the discussion as “overdue.”

“The fact of the matter is the people have hired you to do a job,” Jacob said, noting there should be some repercussions if those duties aren’t performed.

Council members receive compensation for their service — approximately $1,500 per month plus access to city benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans, according to city spokeswoman Kim Wells.

“The draft talks about literally monetary impact of failing to attend meetings as well as potentially withholding pay until someone attends a meeting,” Brickey explained.

Haaga’s phone was recently disconnected, and KSL’s repeated efforts in recent weeks to reach him for comment have not resulted in a response. Additional attempts Monday to reach Haaga also did not immediately result in a response.

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