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Quartzsite, Arizona

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Quartzsite Town Council censures Mayor Ed Foster

Even before the meeting could begin, there was disruption at the Town Council meeting, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2010. As Mayor Ed Foster began to stand for the invocation, Council member Patricia Anderson, made a motion to have one of the local pastors deliver the invocation. Arguments pursued. Town Attorney, Pamela Walsma explained there was a motion on the floor and there should be a vote. Mayor Foster said he would not recognize Council member Anderson and continued with the invocation, while the some of the council continued to sit in their chairs.
After the roll call, Mayor Foster challenged the validity of the ad hoc Ethics Committee recommendations. He said the attorney had to approve it to form. Foster said, "We are actually in illegal territory, here." He then asked Walsma if she could find anywhere in The General Powers of the Common Council ARS 9.240 and "point out where a common council can take sanctions against one of its own members". Foster then asked if anyone wanted to go into executive session. Council member Bob Kelley explained there were many meetings, but the mayor refused to attend.

ARS 9.240 STATES: #29. To adopt ordinances for the government of the corporation, its officers and persons within its corporate limits needful for the good government and order of the municipalities, and to provide the manner of prosecution and define the punishment for the violation of such ordinance.

Council member Jose Lizzarraga made a motion that Vice Mayor Barbara Cowell take over the meeting. It was seconded, but the Mayor argued the legality of it. Resident Ron Burch stepped up to the podium and asked if he could interrupt the meeting, and he did just that. He stated the discussion should be tabled.
Agenda item 1: Discussion and possible action regarding the ad hoc Ethics Committee recommmendations concerning Mayor Foster's official conduct.
Council member Anderson read a Town Codes explaining the procedures of the ad hoc Ethics Committee and "how we got here today."
Vice Mayor Cowell read a prepared statement explaining how the ad hoc Ethics Committee concluded the actions of the mayor were not minor in nature, and the procedures they had to follow.

Cowell read the letter sent to Foster dated Sept. 1, 2010 listing the 8 recommendations.

1. Require additional elected official training for Mayor Foster and Council Members.

2. Refer possible criminal matters to the Arizona Attorney General’s office or the appropriate law enforcement agency for review.

3. Direct Mayor Foster to turn over all documents, correspondence and records pertaining to or purported to pertain to Town business to the Town Clerk.

4. The Mayor may not represent the Town on any official Town business until the above referenced matters have been resolved.

5. Withhold permission for Mayor Foster to attend committee meetings or contact outside agencies in his official capacity as Mayor until the above referenced matters have been resolved.

6. Require that Mayor Foster stop using his title of Mayor in the Mineshaft blog.

7. Require Mayor Foster to comply with the Town Code, Town Council Procedure Policy, and the Personnel Policy.

8. Censure Mayor Foster for acting outside his scope of office.

Council member Lizarraga spoke saying, "I don't believe it goes far enough. I do agree any possible criminal matters be referred for prosecution. I do believe the mayor should be censured!" He read a statement asking for a written apology from the mayor to staff, Town Manager, Chief of Police, the towns people, the council. He also asked for the Mayor's immediate resignation.
Foster tried to let the public talk, but there was much yelling with the a boisterous crowd! Ron Burch started yelling. During this time, Council members Kelley, Lukkasson and Winslow got up and left the room. Vice Mayor Cowell stood up to try and calm the crowd. Quartzsite Police Chief Jeff Gilbert stepped in and demanded "we will have order!"

Council member Lizarraga continued saying, "This community is at it's very lowest. We were told by our insurance that if we did not do something, we could be held liable."
Council member Kelley said, "I've done everything I can..."
Resident Dean Taylor spoke, "How terrible it looks from where I sit. We've had more mayors than Chicago! This town is being run by a vigilante group!" As he left the podium, he said, "Go to hell!"

After some discussion about content on his website, Foster said, "I publish the truth!"
Council member Jerry Lukkasson asked, "Who do you work for? Why are you here, if not for the town?"
Foster replied he works for the people that voted him into office.
Mayor Foster addressed Chief Gilbert as "Mr. Gilbert". Chief Gilbert told the mayor that he "has a responsibility to maintain order. Quartzsite is a good place, and you are good people" turning to the crowd. Addressing the mayor, Gilbert said, "you represent all of the people! The mayor has let this meeting get out of control!" Gilbert continued saying he was one of the people that lodged a complaint against the mayor. "I applaud the council and the ad hoc committee. They have taken the right steps, for once!"
The Quartzsite Town Council voted 6 to 1 to approve the action regarding the ad hoc Ethics Committee recommmendations concerning Mayor Foster's official conduct, which includes censuring.
On agenda item 2 the Quartzsite Town Council voted to take action to renounce and disclaim all of the actions and communications of Mayor Foster which have occured without the prior knowledge and approval of the Town Council and to declare that all such actions and communications are not the offical acts and communications of the Town of Quartzsite.
Item 3 was Mayor Foster's response to the actions taken by the council. He agreed with item 1, stating that Town Manager Alex Taft has resisted training from the League of Cities and Towns.
"I agree with item 2 that the Attorney General should be called into town to investigate allegations".
Foster said he had a problem with turning over documents, as the reports included of the ad hoc committee was without redaction.
Regarding item 4, Foster said, "The ad hoc Committee does not have any authority for the council to take sanctions on one of their members."
Item 5, he said, "the same"
Item 6. "To restrict my rights, my guarantee of free speech" he would not do. "I will continue to report in the Mineshaft as mayor!"
Item 7: "If I had not complied with any laws, I will correct my actions"
He continued with a prepared statement saying "Chief Gilbert was guilty of harrassing me". Foster said he tried to maintain a discrete presence regarding the allegations made to agencies. Foster said, "This is a political attack orchestrated by Chief Gilbert! I will continue to do the job of the people that voted me to do."
Residents spoke about their concerns for the future of Quartzsite. Violet Kiss told about the Coalition meeting she attended in early June of this year, shortly after Mayor Foster took office. She said, "You directed Jade (Jennifer Harris) to sue every person on the council! You're on your own agenda and I don't believe its for Quartzsite!"
Michelle Lukkasson said she expects many people to be ready to file recall papers on Nov. 25th. Foster said Nov. 25th is his birthday and he expects a great birthday present.
Foster said, "Censure means nothing to me! The council cannot take sanctions against me."


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