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Quartzsite, Arizona

Friday, June 25, 2010

Council meeting: too many headlines to pick one!

2010-2011 Budget Approved
Sparks and Accusations Fly during
2.5 hour Council Meeting
Calls for Mayor's Resignation,
Election Corruption in Quartzsite,
Mayor Distrusts Town Manager,
Conflicts Rise Between Mayor and Council,
Women Use No-Bullying Signs to Express Themselves, 
Water Issue Finally Addressed,
New Subdivison Approved,
and more!

At the regular meeting of the Quartzsite Town Council on June 22, 2010, Mayor Ed Foster called the meeting to order at 7:00pm and asked for the roll call. Foster then said, “Oh, I have to do the invocation” and proceeded with the Invocation, Pledge of Allegiance, and then the Roll Call. Historically, Reports and Announcements are held to those who have something to announce or report. Citizen’s comments are to be held until the end of the agenda. Keeping with his campaign promise of allowing citizens to speak freely, Mayor Foster allowed over an hour of public comments, reports and announcements. [Editor’s note: the order in which people spoke may not be exact. This is an overview.]

Hal Davidson was the first person to the podium announcing the progress of the recall efforts of the newly elected council members.

Starr BearCat announced that October is National Bullying Awareness Month and to save the date of Oct. 20, 2010 for a project to raise awareness of bullying in communities. “I am addressing the elephant in the room. This elephant uses offensive conduct and behaviors (including nonverbal) which are threatening, humiliating or intimidating. Bantering, personal attacks, spreading rumors, aggressive behavior, teasing, screaming, blaming others, harassment, manipulation, micro managing, cyber attacks, sabotage, blackmail, violence, and criminal assault. The elephant repeats the behavior, is deliberate and disrespectful.” The crowd held their breath as she stated, “Now, this elephant has a Name and that Name is ……….BULLY.” BearCat continued to describe the behaviors of a bully and the effects of the targets and witnesses of bullying. She asked the council to declare October as National Bullying Awareness Month.

Mary Huntley thanked the organizers, Cub Scouts and attendees of the Flag Retirement Ceremony held on June 12, 2010.

Anita Carlson of Operation Hero Comfort presented a plaque to the Town of Quartzsite for their support of the 2nd Annual Flag Retirement. Town Manager, Alex Taft, also received a grommet from one of the retired flags. Carlson reported that grommets will be presented to the two Quartzsite Firemen who participated and the remaining grommets will be sent oversees to the troops serving our country. Carlson explained that receiving a grommet is an honor and will bring good luck to the bearer.

PJ Bettmann, from the Senior Center, explained the progress of the kitchen remodel. Carol Kelley also asked for signatures in support of a grant for a new generator. This would allow air conditioning at the center during emergencies when power is disrupted. The council approved, allowing a signatures to be gathered at that time.

Pastor Jeff Jones, of the Alliance Church announced that “I support Foster, Council, and Police 100%”, spoke about how divisive our community has become, asking Christians in the audience “to show some integrity” while up at the microphone, and “act like it when you are up here!”

Shanana Rain Golden-Bear reported on the Arizona Centennial Committee of Quartzsite, announcing, “As of midnight tonight, we stand at 600 days from the Arizona Centennial Celebration.” After reading a statement from the State of Arizona on why the Centennial is important, she invited the community to the next board meeting of Wed. June 23, 2010 @ 10am.

Council member Jerry Lukkasson explained he had written three letters to Mayor Foster, “trying to bring him [Foster] to order and to follow the rules” and provided copies for the public to view for themselves.

Council member Patricia Anderson made a statement regarding discussions about a possible prison near town with James Parkey, of Corplan Corrections in March, 2010. Anderson said, “The issue was never put on the council agenda, there was no further action on it. There will not be a prison built in the Quartzsite town limits.”

Dean Taylor spoke calling Lukkasson “being untruthful” to which many members of the audience held up no bullying signs. At one point Taylor said, “I’m wish I was big enough to be a bully, but I’m not.”

Council member Joe Winslow apologized to the audience for having to read his long letter stating that there were at least 14 violations of state statutes, town code, during the last council meeting of June 8, 2010. Winslow asked for the resignation of Mayor Ed Foster, for “continuing to align himself with the Reform Coalition group, whose members are engaged in ongoing conspiracy to commit sedition”. The crowd responded loudly. Winslow continued to explain that members of this group and the mayor have brought lawsuits, “costing the town many of thousands of dollars.”

Mayor Foster responded, with “These are outright lies! I have a stack of papers that were part of a part of a criminal investigation to discredit the reform slate candidates, I did not sue this town; I took the town to court to ask them to obey the law!” He continued to tell the public that an investigation had began on Friday, June 18, 2010 against Quartzsite Police Chief Jeff Gilbert with the Attorney General’s office, public corruption division. I have no intentions of resigning!”

Longtime resident, Joyce Snider, asked the people to “hold your piece until I’m finished!” She reminded the audience that when she first arrived everyone got along, and residents held a party when the winter visitors left town to say, “Hey, we done a dang good job, didn’t we!” She continued, “These are our elected officials…we elected them! Recall them… why? Stop these stupid recalls!” “It’s time we all start getting along!” She told the council, “Get along!”

Police Chief Gilbert, spoke to the audience, saying he was aware of the investigation and will speak truthfully when questioned. “I was hired to protect and serve each and every one of you and I will continue to do that!” Gilbert said the mayor misrepresented the facts and that the county has many concerns about voter fraud in the recent elections. Gilbert stated, “I truly believe our election was corrupt.” “When I’m accused of criminal acts, as a chief of police, I will challenge them.” Gilbert announced that Foster “attempted to supersede a separate investigation that was ongoing”. “I cannot bow down to political pressure!” He also asked the public to “seek out your own answers,” and to “seek the truth.”

Jerry Wilcox explained he tried to open a swap meet years ago, told the council if you spend just a little bit of time building up what you don’t have instead of tearing down what you have, it would be better for the community. “Mr. Winslow, you’re wrong.”

The consent agenda was finally addressed at 8:15pm.

Council member Jerry Lukkasson combined the consent agenda and New Business Item 1. into one motion. Foster expressed his disagreement, discussion pursued between Foster and Town Attorney Stadler. Foster wanted Taft to explain “4 checks who seem to be the largest wage earners in our community and I want to know who they are.” Taft told the mayor, “we can get those tomorrow”, and the council voted to approve the motion, with Foster being the only to say, “Nay”. Foster did not announce, “Motion carried” or “Motion Passed” as required by Robert’s Rules of Order.

Item 2 on the agenda pertained to the corrected canvass the vote of the Town of Quartzsite General Election. Foster did not ask for discussion after the motion was made and seconded, but moved directly for the vote. Foster also did not announce, “Motion carried”.

Item 3 was the possible approval of Tentative Budget for the Town of Quartzsite fiscal year 2010/2011. Foster announced he scheduled a meeting for Tuesday afternoon, but was “forced to quickly have a meeting to discuss this budget.” I have several questions, but they are obviously not going to be answered and the council going to approve Ms. Taft’s budget.” Winslow called for point of order saying, “Sir, that is not Ms. Taft’s budget, it is the town’s budget, it is our budget”. Motion carried, with Foster saying “nay”, but Foster again did not announce “motion carried”.

Item 4 pertained to direct Vice Mayor Cowell to sign Ordinance NO. 10-07 as passed at the Regular Council Meeting of May 25, 2010. During the discussion, Foster said, “I want people to know why I did not sign this law into order. In between the time I was elected, and the time I was sworn in as mayor, Al Johnson was observed removing boxes of documents from town hall”. Winslow called for point of order, saying this is not on the agenda. Foster continued arguing this is why he would not sign the order. Foster said, “I do not trust Alex Taft to be the supervisor of people [inaudible] as the crowd responded loudly and Winslow called point of order saying, “She is a member of the staff. We have a council administrative government.” Foster continued, “Ms. Taft was guilty of removing documents from this town hall.” Foster would not recognize Winslow. Kelley explained that a previous mayor changed the law, and “all we are doing is going back to what was originally the town code”. The motion carried, with Foster saying, “no”, but again Foster did not follow procedure by announcing motion carried.

Item 5 was the possible approval of Ordinance No. 10-09, regarding a subdivision and rezone for Jim McGovern. There was much discussion, and it came to light that two complaints had just been received after hours that day. Al Johnson, explained the complaints. After much discussion, the council approved the motion with stipulations that other areas of the land be cleaned up and an old septic be taken care of. Kelley voted nay.

Item 6 was possible approval of Ordinance No. 10-10 regarding a conditional use permit for Tracy Phoenix, of American Custom Tire. After much discussion, the motion carried. Foster did announce, “Motion passed.”

Item 7 was discussion only regarding water report given by Mayor during the last council meeting on June 8, 2010. Council member Barbara Cowell read a report detailing her personal experience on April 16 – 17, 2010. Debra Ireland was at the podium before Cowell finished her statement and said that Cowell misrepresented her comments. She contacted Ms. Cowell “and advised her to cease and dissest” As she left the podium she said, “you’ll be hearing from my attorneys.”

Violet Kiss explained her conversation with Steve Bennett about how he opened up the roof and there was metal shavings in the pool. Kiss announced that she and her husband attended the meeting of the Citizens’ Coalition meeting on June 7, 2010, and advised the mayor not to bring the baby bottle and this item to the council. She also said, “…he was still the director of the coalition….”

Dean Taylor announced he had copies of the water analysis report available for the public. He argued that ADEQ did not test the water.

Chief Gilbert announced there is a police report on file on the matter of the water at the police department.

Council member Bob Kelley spoke as a representative of Q Mountain Estates subdivision, explaining how the subdivision pays “$220 every month to have the city water to be tested again because we are considered a separate water company by the Arizona Corporation Commission and the ADEQ”, even though the water comes from the town. He continued they “back up what the city does” with their testing process. Cowell said the sodium content is high because “this whole area was an ocean at one time, and you can still find fossilized shells in the desert”.

Mayor Foster explained he had over 50 photos of the second filling of Bennett’s pool. Kiss responded with clarification, saying the photos of pool, it was not full, but was a shallow puddle, in reaction to sediments and metal shavings.

Starr BearCat explained her discussions with Debra Ireland, then candidate, Ed Foster, then Mayor Wes Huntley. She produced two samples of water taken from Bennett’s pool intake and one directly across the street. BearCat asked, “when does personal responsibility come into play? If you can afford your cigarettes and your booze, then you can afford a filter!” Applause and laughter from the audience….

Communications/petitions & citizen comments: …….

The meeting finally adjourned at 9:27pm.


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