Only censured Mayor Ed Foster and one council member, Jose Lizarraga attended last night's special meeting called by Foster to discuss allegations of Quartzsite Chief of Police, Jeff Gilbert and Town Manager, Alex Taft. The only town staff present were Assistant Town Manager, Al Johnson and Town Clerk Karen Norris. Present in the standing room only crowd many QPD officers along with Chief Gilbert. Taft was reported to be on vacation.
Jennifer Jade Harris-Jones of The Desert Freedom Press, a local tabloid operating without a business license, issued a press release Tuesday. Reporters from Parker Pioneer and Arizona Republic were also present.
The press release details how nine QPD officers plus the clerk filed a complaint with the AZPOST and AZCOPS, announcing their vote of "no confidence" in Chief Gilbert. Allegations range from criminal accusations and ethical abuses.
After the roll call, Foster declared the meeting adjourned, due to a lack of a quorum. He then announced he will proceed with a Town Hall Meeting, allowing people to speak.
Gilbert spoke saying Foster is violating his rights to due process by allowing this meeting. Many people spoke on both sides of the issues, but no officers spoke. According to their press release, the officers plan on reading their complaint at the Tuesday, June 14th Town Council Meeting.
Foster called the council members cowards for not showing up to the meeting. Council member, Jerry Lukkasson had said, "I had to work at a special fundraising function at the restaurant. We were all advised not to discuss the investigation in any way." Council member Patricia Anderson stated she also had to work.
Past mayor Steve Bennett agreed that the council should not discuss the issues until the investigation is complete and that they should not have held this meeting. He stated the council should have shown up to the meeting anyway. Bennett also cautioned Foster about name calling and suggested listening to the advise of their attorney.
After 20 minutes of hearing people talk, Johnson announced he allowed enough time for the council to arrive. He said that since there is no council meeting and the town hall meeting was not publicized correctly, he declared the meeting over. Johnson said, " on the advise of our attorneys town hall is now closed", and that staff is going home. The crowd objected loudly, but began to leave the building. Foster said, "you heard it, no more public comments." Harris-Jones then took the microphone and announced, "I motion we continue this meeting outside on the steps of the town hall in the standard tradition."
The crowd mingled outside. People talked in small circles, while the reporter from Arizona Republic spoke with the officers and some of the crowd. People remained calm on the patio outside Town Hall.