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Quartzsite, Arizona

Friday, May 25, 2012

Quartzsite citizens seek investigation of Mayor Lizarraga for Civil Rights Violations, Assault, Abuse of Power

Concerned Residents of Quartzsite and the Quartzsite Fire District letter to:

United States Attorney District of Arizona
Two Renaissance Square 40 N Central Ave, Suite 1200, Phoenix, AZ 85004-4408
Special Agent-in-Charge Yuma Field Office
775 E 39th St., Yuma, AZ 85364-8011
Honorable Jan Brewer Governor of Arizona
Executive Tower1700 W Washington St Phoenix, AZ 85007-2812
Honorable Tom Horne Attorney General of Arizona
1275 W Washington StPhoenix, AZ 85007-2926
Director Robert Halliday Arizona Department of Public Safety
2102 W Encanto Blvd Phoenix, AZ 85009-2847

Dear Sirs and Mesdames:
We have remained silent for too long.  Our town has been overrun by miscreants, malcontents and “sovereign citizens” hell-bent on destruction.  We have reason to believe that they have exploited loopholes and outright violated state law to steal an election by influencing non-residents to vote in our local election and that they have engaged in an ongoing effort to intimidate the good and law-abiding citizens of the town of Quartzsite into avoiding any active participation in town government by creating repeated disturbances at town hall, the town police station and at town meetings and by engaging in aggressive behavior toward anyone with a view different from their own.

Things have escalated recently when this “outlaw faction” co-opted the town’s mayor and somehow got him to do their bidding by attempting to force the town to swear their leaders into office before the existing council could properly canvass the election and judge the qualifications of the council members-elect and mayor-elect as is the current council’s right and duty.  This has led to conduct that we have tolerated before but about which we can no longer remain silent.

1.    Civil Rights Violations
We have information and belief to suspect that Quartzsite Fire District Board Member John Prutch used his position as a member to influence Mayor Jose Lizarraga, a fire Captain whom Prutch, though his control of the Fire Board, has the ability to fire, to attempt to coerce the Town Council and the Town Administration into prematurely canvassing an election, foregoing the judgment of qualifications of those who were ostensibly elected and forcing the immediate cessation of terms of office of properly elected council members.  To accomplish this, we have information and belief that Lizarraga first attempted to bully Vice Mayor Cowell and Town Manager Taft into acquiescing to his demand that the canvass and swearing in of new officials be placed on the agenda without a draft resolution.  This bullying consisted of abrasive, abusive and untoward language directed at this female council member and female administrator which  Lizarraga is not known to direct toward male council members or staff.  In fact, we have information and belief that, when he addressed Town Attorney Brannan, who our information indicates was present during much of this brow-beating session, he toned down his commentary after Mr. Brannan did not retreat from his onslaught.  We also have information and belief that  Lizarraga “poked” Mr. Brannan when commenting about Brannan not having a draft ordinance, which  Lizarraga subsequently decided he didn’t want to present after it was created, ready the same day the  Lizarraga asked for it.  Our information and belief is that Mr. Brannan left the Town Manager’s office after this encounter.

Our information and belief indicates that  Lizarraga increased the tone of his invective during the period of time when Mr. Brannan had left the room.  We further have information and belief that Mr. Brannan took a seat further away from  Lizarraga in an apparent effort to avoid being physically contacted by  Lizarraga as the brow-beating continued.
We understand that after  Lizarraga concluded that he would not be getting his way, he left the room saying words to the effect that “after this morning I won’t have any friends.”  This preceded  Lizarraga wholly abandoning his duties as elected mayor and attempting to terminate a lawfully noticed and convened meeting of the Town Council.

We believe that this conduct, which we have information and belief is not an isolated event but rather is a continuation of the verbal abuse and belittling of female council and staff members, created a hostile work environment which infringed on the rights of the female council members and staff of the town of Quartzsite based on their gender.  Sex-based discrimination is intolerable to us.  We recognize that, as a firefighter, Lizarraga is part of a “boys will be boys” culture and may think that such conduct is acceptable because his firefighting subordinates accept it.  We suspect, however, that just as he chooses different words to try to influence other male council and staff members, he chooses to act differently around his male companions.

We are asking that you investigate Jose Lizarraga for violating the civil rights of the female council and staff of the town of Quartzsite.  We are also asking that you investigate Richard Oldham, Ed Foster, Mark Orgeron, Patricia Workman, John Prutch, Tony Carnevale, Jose Lizarraga, Jack Jones, Jennifer Jones, Douglas Gilford, Teri Gilford, Michael Roth and Dana Stadler for violating the civil rights of the citizens of Quartzsite to take part in municipal government by creating a hostile environment in council meetings, engaging in conduct intended to intimidate citizens with differing views – including verbally abusing and physically threatening residents, and for voter fraud through the intimidation of voters, the purchasing of votes for something of value and the encouragement of nonresidents to vote.

Additionally, we ask that you investigate the La Paz County Elections department whom we have information and belief permitted Teri Gilford to be part of the vote collection, collating and counting process even after being advised that Gilford posted a comment advising that those voting by mail need not be bona fide residents of the town and which we have information and belief has been unnecessarily and unreasonably been withholding the names of the voters at the May 15, 2012 election to delay an investigation into voter fraud until after the Council is statutorily required canvass of the vote on June 4, 2012; the La Paz County Attorney and La Paz County Sheriff, whom we have information and belief met with mayor-elect Ed Foster and may have conspired to, or have been solicited to, assist Foster in forcing the premature transfer of authority without a proper canvass or qualification proceeding.

2.    Assault
We have information and belief that Jose Lizarraga maliciously threatened and assaulted Town Attorney Martin Brannan and then made a false report against him with the intent to impede his ability to serve the town of Quartzsite.  On information and belief,  Lizarraga has a reputation as a person who “hates” lawyers and engineers, possibly because they have a command of skills which escape his grasp.  We have information and belief that  Lizarraga has stated this hatred publicly on multiple occasions and that, upon meeting Mr. Brannan in Ms. Taft’s office for the first time told Mr. Brannan that he (Lizarraga) didn’t like Mr. Brannan, but that was okay because he (Lizarraga) hated all lawyers.

We have information and belief that Lizarraga made no secret, following that initial meeting, that he considered Mr. Brannan anything other than an impediment to doing whatever he wanted as mayor.  Mr. Brannan serving as such an impediment apparently continued on the morning of May 22, 2012 when Mr. Brannan repeatedly defended Vice-Mayor Cowell and Ms. Taft from Lizarraga’s verbal abuse.

This appeared to continue after Lizarraga exceeded his authority and prematurely adjourned the May 22, 2012 council meeting when Lizarraga taunted Mr. Brannan by saying words to the effect, “what are you going to do Martin, arrest me?”  On information and belief, Mr. Brannan then left the council chambers to go to his office to research the illegality of Lizarraga’s actions and the Council’s options for proceeding.  As Mr. Brannan passed Lizarraga in the hallway, our information and belief is that Mr. Brannan said, “who the fuck do you think you are, Jose? You’re the mayor not a dictator,” at which time we believe that Lizarraga stepped into Mr. Brannan’s “personal space” causing Mr. Brannan to put his arm out to cease Lizarraga’s ingress.  We believe that this conduct was observed by Council Member Winslow.  We also believe that there is a video of the hallway where the incident took place that supports what we believe Mr. Winslow saw.

We believe that Lizarraga then falsely claimed to have been assaulted by Mr. Brannan and demanded that Quartzsite Police Sergeant Frausto and Quartzsite Police Chief Gilbert arrest Brannan for assault.  We understand that Lizarraga has since decided that there really was no assault and has said “the physical contact was not much and I told LPSO as much.”  If, as it would appear, Lizarraga now admits that he wasn’t assaulted, his statement to law enforcement that he was assaulted is a criminal act.  Further, if, as we believe Mr. Winslow observed, Lizarraga entered into Mr. Brannan’s “personal space” we believe that this is an assault.  Finally, Lizarraga’s claim that being asked “who the fuck [he] thought [he] was?” and being told that he is not a dictator constitutes a threat is ludicrous.  No reasonable person could ever find those statements, especially in light of Lizarraga’s attempt to dictate the actions of a majority of the Council (everyone except him) to be anything other than an inquiry that every member of the Council (and all of us) would like an answer to.

We are asking that you investigate Lizarraga for assault and for false reporting to law enforcement.  We also suspect that Lizarraga’s actions may constitute a crime of bias based on Mr. Brannan’s status as a service-connected disabled American veteran.

3.    Abuse of Power
Finally, we are asking that you investigate the Quartzsite Fire District Board.  On information and belief there has been conduct committed by that Board, including the use of Fire District property and personnel, to influence an election.

The Quartzsite Fire District Board consists of John Prutch and Tony Carnevale.  Prior to May 24, 2012, Larry Ekberg was also a member, but we have information and belief that he resigned in protest to the actions of Prutch and Carnevale.  John Prutch is a recent council candidate who is appealing his loss to the Arizona Court of Appeals.  He and Carnevale are purportedly supporters of Ed Foster, Patricia Workman and Mark Orgeron.  Shortly before May 15, 2012, we believe that Prutch used fire department property, reportedly a swamp cooler and a barbecue grill, to serve potential voters at a “rally” for Foster, Workman and Orgeron.  We further believe that Prutch used fire department personnel to transport the grill and cooler to and from the rally.  We also believe that Prutch has used this and other fire department equipment for his own personal purposes having no nexus to proper fire district business.  We suspect, but do not have substantial information that Carnevale was complicit in these actions.

We have additional information and belief that the fire district was scheduled to have a budget meeting on May 24, 2012 at 2:00 pm.  We believe Mr. Ekberg, who is currently away from Quartzsite drove a substantial distance to attend this meeting only to learn that Prutch and Carnevale, without having a public vote, cancelled the meeting in order to permit Lizarraga to appear at a hastily scheduled Town Council meeting intended to force a canvass of the election and swearing in of new officials against the will of a majority of the Common Council.  We have information and belief that when Mr. Ekberg directly confronted Prutch and Carnevale that they had cancelled the budget meeting without a vote for the purpose of forcing the town to name Ed Foster mayor, Prutch and Carnevale admitted that they had causing Mr. Ekberg to resign from the Board in disgust.

We also have information and belief that Mr. Ekberg was the primary stumbling block between firing current fire chief Kevin Hess and replacing him with Lizarraga.  If this information is accurate, it shows a pattern of abuse of authority which invites the attention of your agencies.  We respectfully request that such an investigation be conducted at the first opportunity.

We, the concerned citizens of Quartzsite, have stood by quietly long enough.  There are many who stand with but are reluctant to sign this letter in fear of retaliation.  Know that there are exponentially more concerned citizens who are unwilling to subject themselves to the wrath of those we ask you to investigate.

With respect and anticipation of your assistance,
Concerned Residents of Quartzsite and the Quartzsite Fire District


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