David Rodeback's Blog

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Monday, January 2, 2006
The Peaceful Transfer of Power

In our democratic republic, we take for granted the peaceful transfer of power to duly elected leaders, as if it were the norm in world history. It's not. . . . Today I watched it in American Fork.

In our democratic republic, we take for granted the peaceful transfer of power to duly elected leaders, as if it were the norm in world history. It's not. And I don't just mean to suggest that we ought to be more impressed with the fledgling Iraqi democracy than we seem to be. I mean we ought to be impressed and grateful when it happens here in the US, including American Fork, Utah.

I attended today's ceremony in American Fork, at which our new mayor, Heber Thompson, was sworn in, as were three city councilors (two of them new). One of the latter is my wife, as you may know, so my presence at the event was inevitable. About 70 others attended; most I recognized as City staff or family members of the new leaders.

In case you're wondering how such events proceed, here's a quick synopsis.

First, the meeting has to be "noticed," like virtually every other public meeting where City business is conducted. Generally, this occurs several days in advance of the meeting. Notices are posted in the local newspaper(s) and at City Hall, on the City's Web site, and perhaps in other locations. The notice includes an agenda, which is sometimes amended and noticed again shortly before the meeting.

Held in the large conference room at the American Fork Library, the meeting was scheduled for noon. The outgoing, current, and incoming leaders arrived about half an hour early for photos and, in some cases, some official paperwork. The meeting itself began on time with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer. Mayor Barratt offered some remarks, as did outgoing council members Juel Belmont and Keith Blake.

Then City Recorder Dick Colborn swore in new Mayor Heber Thompson and new Council Members Heidi Rodeback, Jimmie Cates, and Dale Gunther. (Cates is an incumbent; incumbents are sworn in at the beginning of their new term, too.) The oath is to protect and defend the United States and Utah Constitutions and to discharge duties "with fidelity."

Then the new Council Members spoke briefly, after which the new Mayor spoke less briefly. The entire meaning took 45 minutes, which isn't bad.

The final item on the agenda was adjournment. They skipped it. There was no motion to adjourn; the meeting just ended. I don't suppose it matters in this case, and it will be much harder to miss in other meetings.

Refreshments, congratulations, and other predictable socializing followed.

The various leaders' remarks were predictable and not politically substantive; I am disinclined to report the substance of any of them, except for one personal insight Juel Belmont offered. In praising her husband's support over the years, she noted that often, as she walked out the door to go to a City meeting, he offered, "Give 'em hell, Harry!" (Harry Truman, of course.)

Coincidentally, I was at the Harry S. Truman "Little White House" Friday in hot, sunny Key West, Florida. There's some interesting history there from before, during, and after the Truman years. At the gift shop I bought my wife a magnet with this 1948 Truman quote: "I never gave anyone hell. I just told the truth and they thought it was hell." I'm presenting it to her in honor of her swearing-in.

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