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15 Questions for the Moab City Manager …by Jim Stiles

On January 11, the Canyon Country Zephyr sent a list of questions to the Moab City Administrator, Rebecca Davidson, and the Mayor and City Council regarding the issues discussed in the accompanying article, “What’s Past is Prologue.” Ms. Davidson did not reply. However, on January 25, the Zephyr received an email from Moab City Attorney Chris McAnaney, who advised us that “in lieu of further communication” from Davidson, he would respond to some of those questions. Below are the 15 questions submitted to Davidson and McAnaney’s response:

(with copies to the Mayor and Moab City Council)
January 11, 2016

Ms. Davidson,

A number of residents, both in Moab and in your old home town of Kemmerer, Wyoming, have contacted my publication, as well as the Moab Sun News, re: your work in both communities as the city administrator. In an effort to gather as much information as I can, from all perspectives, I’ve assembled a list of questions, based on input from various sources. If you can help clarify or correct any of these questions, I will then publish your responses as part of a story I’m writing in an upcoming issue of The Zephyr.

Here are the questions…

1.Ken Davey and David Olsen were dismissed from their Moab City jobs on September 23, 2015, the day after a unanimous vote to restructure city staff. Had either of them been given any specific warning  that they were about to lose their jobs? If so, was it in writing?

2. Both Davey and Olsen say they were given a couple hours, at most, to vacate their offices, clean out their desks and leave the building. Has this always been standard operating procedure for you, in dismissing employees in other communities where you served as city manager?

3. Did the mayor and city council members know, in advance, that you were dismissing Davey and Olsen on September 23?

3A. Related to the council, the results of The Zephyr’s GRAMA search failed to produce even one email, or any written correspondence,  between you and the five members of the City Council, re: discussions and plans to terminate Davey and Olsen and to restructure the entire city administration’s organizational structure.

How and when did the council manage to discuss the issue of restructuring, with its profound long term consequences, without once putting anything in writing?

4. Before you came to Moab, you were the city manager in Kemmerer, WY. News reports and social media suggest that your tenure there was somewhat controversial, and during your three years, a significant number of city employees left their jobs. From numerous sources there, I have compiled a list of employees that left their positions while you were its city manager. I’d like to be able to report accurately of the circumstances that led to their departure.

Would you identify the way in which each of the following Kemmerer City staff left their employment? And if I have misidentified a name or title, your help in getting it right would be appreciated:

[Out of respect for the privacy of these individuals, we’ve removed the names that were listed originally next to each job title]

Director Building Inspector and Parks Maintenance
Director of Public Works
Chief of Police
Events Center Director
Parks & Rec Director
Events Center Assistant
4 Events Center Desk Attendants
3 Events Center Attendants
Seasonal Park Tech
Lead Park Tech
Front Desk Attendant Rec. Center
3 Street Department Employees
Program Coordinator-Rec Center
Police Department Secretary
Contract Employee


5. According to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) you made allegations against two of the employees listed in #4, Jennifer Lasik and Darwin Parker. At your urging, DCI spent weeks and months investigating allegations of credit card misuse, travel expense irregularities, theft, fraud, and previous unethical or illegal conduct re:Lasik, and an allegation of unauthorized access to city computers by Parker. In both instances, after subsequent investigations by DCI, the Lincoln County attorney declined to prosecuteand the cases were closed.

Do you agree with their conclusions?

6. Had it been your opinion, before the DCI investigation,  that Parker was somehow involved in the massive crash of the Kemmerer City computer systems on November 17, 2014?

7. According to the documents obtained by the GRAMA search, a contract to offer you the position of Moab’s city administrator was approved on March 18. I’ve received information that a Kemmerer City employee, April Corwin, was placed on leave by you on March 10, and that she was fired on March 18. Subsequently, the Kemmerer City Council passed a resolution that prohibited you from firing any more employees before you ended your service there and moved to Moab.

Did you fire Ms. Corwin after you had decided to take the Moab job, and was the resolution by the Kemmerer City Council in response to your actions re: Corwin?

8. You hired Tara Smelt as Kemmerer’s  South Lincoln Training and Event Center director in March 2014 and then promoted her in August 2014 to be Director of Communications and Events. In that new role, was she considered the city’s IT specialist or was someone else utilized to provide those services, before Smelt hired Darwin Parker as a contract employee from the county? What was Smelt’s background in IT security?

9. What was your previous work experience with Niyo Pearson and Erika Goodman? How were they referred to you in Kemmerer?

10. In 2015, when Moab City Recorder Rachel Stenta explained the need for Niyo Pearson’s services to deal with possible IT security issues, she referred to the Kemmerer incident and wrote that you  “recommended an IT consultant that she had utilized previously to help with a government system had been hacked into by China.” How was it determined that China was responsible?

11. In the Moab City Council agenda summary for September 22, 2015, it states, “”A few months ago, we identified some critical security and legal compliance issues in our IT infrastructure. The security issues were very high risk and required immediate action to protect the city.” Subsequently, you asked for an additional $110,000 for the city’s IT budget for 2015-16.

Can you itemize these costs?

12.  Rachel Stenta, in an email to Ershadi, noted that, “Tayo Inc. charges an hourly rate that is $30 less than ComputerWise.” But in the Tayo, Inc contract with the city, from June 3, 2015, it states that, “in consideration of services specified in Section 1.2, Customer shall pay on a monthly basis a support fee…the Monthly Support Fee shall be $1200.”

With the support fee, is the work by Tayo still cheaper than the previous IT provider?

13. It also notes that the contract will “automatically renew,” subject to 30 days cancellation by the city council. But Stenta also noted that  she hoped to make the IT work subject to competitive bidding soon.

What was the point in having an “auto renew” provision in the contract if the city’s plan is to open the IT contract work to competition?

14. County Councilman Chris Baird raised the issue of Tara Smelt and your years-long personal connection, in an email to Councilwoman Ershadi. He wrote, in part, “An ongoing ‘conspiracy theory’ is that Rebecca is making room for her friends and colleagues in the City organization by eliminating locals. I don’t have an opinion on things like that one way or the other. But, when a local loses out, and a friend of Rebecca’s moves in, it doesn’t help alieve (sic) that concern.
I’m sure you realize that Tara’s involvement can’t be played off as a mere coincidence.”

Smelt worked for you in Kemmerer, of course, came to Moab in 2015, and just a month after you assumed your responsibilities as city manager, the City approved an open-ended contract with Tayo, Inc. on June 4, 2015. Smelt is listed as the agent for the corporation, which was established in Utah, June 30, 2015, almost four weeks after the agreement. Does this contract constitute a conflict of interest in any way?

15. RE: Tayo, Inc. It has been difficult to find any information about this company. Using an email address I obtained from The Zephyr’s GRAMA request, I contacted Mr. Niyo Pearson. But the following day, I received a short email from his attorney, who informed me my questions were about “non-public information,” and thus, the company was in no way obligated to reply.From its web site, I determined that Tayo, Inc has a Colorado phone number, and from my GRAMA search, Stenta provided a Tulsa, Oklahoma street address as its office (in addition to the street address in Moab that lists Smelt as the corporate agent). When I asked Pearson’s attorney just what information about Tayo, Inc WAS public, she advised me to ask MY attorney.

Do you think the citizens of Moab have the right to full disclosure from this company Tayo, Inc, considering the citizens of Moab are paying Tayo, Inc tens of thousands of dollars for IT security measures?


Ms. Davidson, these are my questions for now and I would appreciate your taking the time to respond. If you could send me your replies by January 21, 2016, ten days from now, I’d greatly appreciate it. Likewise, if you don’t plan to reply, a brief email to that effect would also be a help. And, in any case, if I do not hear from you by the afternoon of January 21, I will assume you have chosen not to respond at all.

Thanks for your time,
Jim Stiles, publisher

The Canyon Country Zephyr


Email Response from Moab City Attorney Chris McAnany

Dear Mr Stiles

I write in response to your email of January 12, 2016, in which you asked several questions pertaining to the City of Moab. Apparently you asked similar questions of the City Manager, Rebecca Davidson; this response is in lieu of any further response from Ms. Davidson. As I indicated in my previous communications to you, because of my role as the City Attorney I am unable to provide you with legal advice, as suggested by several of your questions.

You asked about the process by which communications from City Council members were assembled by the City Recorder in response to your GRAMA request (your requests are paraphrased in italics). The City Recorder made an initial determination as to those documents which were responsive to your request, and subject to production under the law. In doing so she asked that all City Council members produce all responsive records for her to review.

When the City Council voted on September 22, 2015 to restructure the organizational chart of the City, it clearly involved a massive amount of work. The total lack of written correspondence is odd at best. The City Council met with the City Manager in several executive session meetings to discuss personnel matters and reorganization of departments. Those meetings are held in a closed session as allowed by Utah law because they involve personnel questions and matters touching on the privacy interests of affected employees. The City does not comment publicly on employment status of individual employees, but I can tell you that all matters with the employees affected by the Council decision have been settled to the satisfaction of the parties. The lack of written public documents detailing these personnel questions is not unusual, and is entirely consistent with protecting the privacy of the individuals involved.

How did [Rachel] Stenta determine which of those emails sent to/from private email addresses were relevant? As stated above, Ms. Stenta asked all of the City Council members to produce responsive emails. Since that GRAMA request, the City has requested that Council members all use their official City email addresses for City business.

Is there a conflict of interest [with respect to the contract entered into by the City and Tayo, Inc.] and can a municipality enter into a contract with a company that does not exist? On or about June 4, 2015 the City entered into a time and materials contract for specific information technology services with an individual, Niyo Pearson. The contract was executed on an emergency basis because of the discovery of a serious computer security issue in the City’s systems. Ms. Davidson worked with Mr. Pearson in her past employment, and the City Council was satisfied that Mr. Pearson had the skills to do the work needed by the City. Subsequent to the decision, Mr. Pearson formed a business entity known as Tayo, Inc., with Tamara Smelt, and the City paid Tayo for the balance of the work which was owing. The City is satisfied with the work performed, which was within purchasing limits for a project of this type. It is not required that a business dealing with the City be any particular kind of business entity, and we are not aware of any conflict of interest as to this project.

Finally, the tone of your inquiry suggests that you believe that Moab officials, and Ms. Davidson in particular, are engaged in unethical or corrupt conduct. When Ms. Davidson was hired the City Council gave specific direction as to a number of priorities and changes that it wanted to implement. Inevitably, changes in priorities may result in painful personnel decisions. But, those changes were undertaken for the overall good of the organization. Local governments make these decisions as to the allocation of resources every day. Whatever bad things are being said by the critics of Ms. Davidson, the fact is that she was carrying out the express direction given to her by the elected leaders on the City Council.



Christopher G. McAnany


xc: Rebecca Davidson, David Sakrison


Posted in Uncategorized.

13 Responses

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  1. Marilyn Costanza Dominy said

    Thoughtful questions. The answers not so much

  2. Janie Tuft said

    Very good questions, but I don’t feel like the answers are adequate.

  3. Ryan Talbot said

    What a joke, the management of Moab City makes me want to vomit! Great job Jim, it’s nice to see there are still some people that give a shit about the people in this community.

  4. MaryLou Lopez said

    Jim, Thank you for all you are doing for the Moab community. I’m trying to lift my jaw off the ground. This has BS written all over it. I hope you can force the city to be held accountable for this crap!

Continuing the Discussion

  1. (REDUX) ‘WHAT’S PAST IS PROLOGUE: CITY MANAGER REBECCA DAVIDSON, part 1 of 9 – The Zephyr linked to this post on May 22, 2016

    […] January 11, we sent 15 questions to city manager Rebecca Davidson, in an effort to “clarify and resolve” issues raised in this […]

  2. (REDUX) ‘WHAT’S PAST IS PROLOGUE: CITY MANAGER REBECCA DAVIDSON, part 2 of 9 – The Zephyr linked to this post on May 29, 2016

    […] January 11, we sent 15 questions to city manager Rebecca Davidson, in an effort to “clarify and resolve” issues raised in this […]

  3. (REDUX) ‘WHAT’S PAST IS PROLOGUE: CITY MANAGER REBECCA DAVIDSON, part 3 of 9 – The Zephyr linked to this post on May 30, 2016

    […] January 11, we sent 15 questions to city manager Rebecca Davidson, in an effort to “clarify and resolve” issues raised in this […]

  4. (REDUX) ‘WHAT’S PAST IS PROLOGUE: CITY MANAGER REBECCA DAVIDSON, part 4 of 9 – The Zephyr linked to this post on May 31, 2016

    […] January 11, we sent 15 questions to city manager Rebecca Davidson, in an effort to “clarify and resolve” issues raised in this […]

  5. (REDUX) ‘WHAT’S PAST IS PROLOGUE: CITY MANAGER REBECCA DAVIDSON, part 5 of 9 – The Zephyr linked to this post on June 1, 2016

    […] January 11, we sent 15 questions to city manager Rebecca Davidson, in an effort to “clarify and resolve” issues raised in this […]

  6. (REDUX) ‘WHAT’S PAST IS PROLOGUE: CITY MANAGER REBECCA DAVIDSON, part 6 of 9 – The Zephyr linked to this post on June 2, 2016

    […] January 11, we sent 15 questions to city manager Rebecca Davidson, in an effort to “clarify and resolve” issues raised in this […]

  7. (REDUX) ‘WHAT’S PAST IS PROLOGUE: CITY MANAGER REBECCA DAVIDSON, part 7 of 9 – The Zephyr linked to this post on June 3, 2016

    […] January 11, we sent 15 questions to city manager Rebecca Davidson, in an effort to “clarify and resolve” issues raised in this […]

  8. (REDUX) ‘WHAT’S PAST IS PROLOGUE: CITY MANAGER REBECCA DAVIDSON, part 8 of 9 – The Zephyr linked to this post on June 4, 2016

    […] January 11, we sent 15 questions to city manager Rebecca Davidson, in an effort to “clarify and resolve” issues raised in this […]

  9. (REDUX) ‘WHAT’S PAST IS PROLOGUE: CITY MANAGER REBECCA DAVIDSON, part 9 of 9 – The Zephyr linked to this post on June 5, 2016

    […] January 11, we sent 15 questions to city manager Rebecca Davidson, in an effort to “clarify and resolve” issues raised in this […]

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