Kanab City Council meeting interrupted when local tour guide refuses to give up the last word

Stock image, St. George News

KANAB — A recent Kanab City Council meeting was interrupted with schoolyard antics, flashing lights and handcuffs after two men refused to give up the right to be the last one heard.

Kanab City Skyline, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Kanab City, St. George News

According to court records, local tour guide William Thomas James, 40, was arrested and booked into the Kane County Jail for one class B misdemeanor charge of disrupting a meeting or procession and one class C misdemeanor charge for disorderly conduct after officers made a request to stop. 

The meeting, held July 9 at the Kanab City Library, was convened to hear comments on the city’s plan to vote on a water service agreement with Red Sands LLC, a mining company with plans to extract sand from nearby state trust lands and ship it to northeastern Utah oil fields to be used in hydraulic fracking operations. The topic has been controversial among locals and extra security was on-site just in case things got heated.

Court records show that as the public comment portion of the meeting was about to draw to a close, and only a few citizens were left in line, Kanab City police officer Clinton Brinkerhoff observed two men near the back who kept trying to stand behind each other, “in what appeared to be an attempt to be the last to speak.”

When the conversation between the men began to get quite loud, Brinkerhoff walked over to see if he could calm the situation down. 

“While I was heading in their direction one man became very loud. In doing this he stopped the meeting and everyone was looking at him,” Brinkerhoff said in a probable cause statement. He then requested both men leave the building as they had caused such a disruption that the person in front of them attempting to speak with the city council was not being heard.

The second man, former Utah State Rep. Mike Noel, who is the current head of the Kane County Water Conservancy District and supporter of the project, began to exit the building immediately, records show. However, James refused to leave and asked if Brinkerhoff was going to take him to jail. 

“I told him if he did not leave then I would take him to jail. He said fine,” Brinkerhoff said, adding that he was later informed by Kanab City Police Chief Tom Cram that James has a history of disruptive conduct during public meetings and had received multiple warnings in the past.

Due to the severe disruption to the meeting, and his refusal to comply with police commands, Brinkerhoff said he had no choice but to book James for what he called, “intentionally being a public nuisance.” 

James allegedly told Brinkerhoff he didn’t care and was proud of the charges.

Bail was set at $1,030. James was released the next day.

In response to the conflict at the meeting, and alleged harassment relating to the project by James against Noel and his wife Lydia, a temporary civil stalking injunction was filed in Kane County and granted by Judge Marvin D. Bagley on July 12.

James is now barred from making any contact with the couple in any way for the next three years.

St. George News attempted to reach James for comment but was unable to reach him by the time of this publication.

Ed. note: This report has been corrected to indicate that the city was in fact voting on a water service agreement and that the meeting did no end after James’ dismissal. 

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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