Vote to censure West Jordan City Councilman involved in hit-and-run crash fails

Posted at 10:30 PM, Aug 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-11 00:30:28-04

WEST JORDAN, Utah -- Emotions ran high at a West Jordan City Council meeting Wednesday night over the possible censure of a council member who is accused of leaving the scene of a crash.

Jeff Haaga was also allegedly drunk, and he told officers who responded to his home that they didn’t have the authority to cite him. Bodycam video shows the July 19 argument between Haaga and officers.

The council on Wednesday mulled over a resolution to censure him. Yet the main subject of the meeting was not there.

A city representative said no one from the city or council has seen or heard from Haaga since July 19, despite efforts to reach out to him.

Still, they went forward with public comment and discussion.

“He’s a liar and a coward,” said one West Jordan citizen.

Another said, “I’m asking for his immediate resignation for councilman Haaga.”

But others didn’t feel resignation was appropriate.

“My heart goes out to Mr. Haaga,” said a local woman.

“This lynch mob mentality is wrong,” asserted another woman.

The council eventually took up the debate on whether to pass the resolution.

They noted that the censure was not for the impending misdemeanor charge of fleeing the scene of a crash, because Haaga is innocent until proven guilty. What they did focus on was the bodycam footage that showed his interaction with officers.

Mayor Kim Rolfe made little comment, but did say, “I believe as elected officials we are and should be held to a higher standard.”

Zach Jacob with Council District 3 said, “It’s a sad situation. It’s sad for Councilman Haaga.”

Ultimately, Mayor Rolfe and another council member did not vote on the censure, while three council members including Jacob voted for it.

Even with three yes votes and two abstaining votes, the censure did not pass, the council explained, because they require four votes to pass a resolution.

Mayor Rolfe read a statement early on in the meeting before the discussion, saying that Utah law only allows for one procedure in this kind of instance, and that’s for Haaga to resign himself from the council.

He asked the public for patience, and later said the case should be allowed to move through the legal process before he comments further.