Herald editorial: Farewell, forgotten Utah County commissioner

This article originally appeared in the Daily Herald. Read it in its entirety here.

We couldn’t let the year come to an end without bidding the county’s most controversial current commissioner farewell, lest he think we forgot all about him in the midst of the holiday commotion.

Three hundred and seventy-four days have passed since Utah County Commissioner Greg Graves should have resigned from office. Only dozens of leaders across Utah asked that he do so. But, in five days he will finally exit office.

These demands for resignation followed the release of two records by his fellow commissioners: the first, a sexual harassment complaint filed against Graves by a female county employee; and the second, an investigative report into that sexual harassment complaint. The investigative report didn’t confirm the sexual harassment allegations, but it easily defined Graves as a workplace bully.

The report stated that nearly all witnesses viewed him as “‘dishonest,’ ‘demeaning,’ ‘intimidating,’ … .”

But, we all underestimated perhaps one of his most notable skills outside of being “explosive” or “someone with whom personal interaction is to be avoided as much as possible”: a keen ability to ignore fellow elected officials, superior politicians, one’s own party, and ultimately an entire community.

Instead, he has spent the latter part of his public service, for which we hope voters will never approve of again, representing himself and his financial stability more than the people. But who would want to give up $166,103 annually?

Graves took phoning it in quite literally. For more than a month and a half after the report was released the end of 2017, Graves didn’t show up to meetings and public appearances. He decided he could frequently work from home. After all, who was going to stop him? The voters are his boss, and it’s nearly impossible to extricate an elected official who’s decided they’d rather hang loose half of the time and collect a paycheck. (It should be noted that in May 2017, Graves and Commissioner Bill Lee voted to exempt elected officials from turning in a time card like the rest of the county staff.) Congratulations Utah Caucus, you definitely got this selection right.

Fortunately for incoming Commissioner Tanner Ainge, the bar is set quite low so that any polite and professional behavior, with regular meeting attendance, will already impress.

We echo sentiments expressed nearly a year ago that still ring true today.

“Perhaps Commissioner Graves believes this scandal is something that will merely blow over, and that everyone will eventually overlook his actions,” said Katie Matheson, communications director for Alliance for a Better Utah, at a commission meeting. “We are here to remind Commissioner Graves that we have not forgotten, and that the public will no longer tolerate workplace harassment from our elected officials.”

To the rest of Utah County, a very happy New Year (of public servants) to us

This article originally appeared in the Daily Herald. Read it in its entirety here.

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