Most of the assertions against Darin Taylor wont be released until Wednesday, but the new Middleton mayor readily acknowledges claims that surfaced Tuesday.
Correct. Yep, Taylor said when a reporter asked if he consulted an attorney and an engineer before he took office, then hired them for the city and paid them for the earlier work.
My city tax dollars paid for that, said Denae Pearson, who chairs the recall effort. Those are not my bills to pay. Theyre Darin Taylors bills to pay.
Taylor disagrees, saying that since he intended to appoint a new attorney and engineer after he took office, it was important to get them up to speed on city issues before he recommended the City Council approve the appointments.
I recognize how that could seem backwards or wrong to some people, said Taylor, an attorney. But I dont feel that paying those expenses was incorrect. It was not only justified but inherently responsible to have those folks ready to go.
If the council had not approved the appointments, Taylor said, the city would not have been billed for the work. He estimated the cost at about $10,000.
Pearson and about 20 other Middleton residents who hope to get a mayoral recall on Novembers ballot say Taylors actions as mayor have been illegal and/or unethical. They plan a public event Wednesday to release a 100-page report that documents findings from their six-month investigation.
Theres a lot of people who are extremely upset right now, Pearson said. Hes been secretly holding meetings and negotiating contracts.
Taylor, who took office in January, said Tuesday his administration has broken no laws and committed no ethical breaches. But he did almost immediately replace key city staff, including the city clerk and public works director, he said, which sparked some protest and concern.
Pearson contends Taylor hired a public works director who is unqualified and unlicensed, and Taylor agrees that the new director, unlike his fired predecessor, is not licensed to operate the city wastewater treatment plant.
But Im not looking for that in a public works superintendent, he said. Im looking for a department head with supervisory experience and knowledge of finance and administration. We have other people licensed to operate the plant.
Taylor said all of his initiatives, including various changes in city regulations, were part of striving to change Middletons reputation of being difficult to work with and very expensive.
The goal, he said, is to make Middleton more inviting for new residents and businesses, which will help the small city population 5,524 in the 2010 census grow and spread the tax burden among more people. Several new businesses have opened in the city this year, he said.
Steps so far include removing the requirement that residents get a building permit before repairing or replacing a fence, outlawing fireworks after midnight in accordance with the city noise ordinance and streamlining the design-review process for construction, he said.
I feel like the majority of the residents of Middleton support the new direction and the changes that have been made, Taylor said.
But Pearson sees things differently.
I dont think people are very happy, Pearson said. And if they knew more of what is going on, theyd be more unhappy.
Recall advocates plan to bring their findings to the Canyon County prosecutor and the Idaho Attorney General this week and ask for investigation into Taylors actions as mayor.
I welcome any investigation that anyone sees fit to do and we will cooperate completely, Taylor said.
Kristin Rodine: 377-6447