Guest Editorial: Rod de Szendeffy
Why David Schwan is being recalled

By Rod de Szendeffy | July 15, 2009

rod de szendeffyWhen a politician’s behavior crosses the line from unprofessional to unethical; when that elected official’s positions degrade from irresponsible to harmful and when the will of the people is blatantly ignored and doing nothing could jeopardize the well-being of the town and its residents, then it’s the right, no – it’s the duty – of citizens to mobilize and hold that office holder accountable.

It is for these aforementioned reasons why I, and the ever – growing number of volunteers who join me in this effort, will not rest until David Schwan is recalled from Carefree town council. Schwan – rather than explain his mistakes and apologize for his shortcomings and broken promises – joins his cronies in smearing detractors and distorting facts.

I am not saying David Schwan is a liar. He just has a hard time coming to terms with the truth.

Why? Schwan and his followers are running scared. They are trying to spin the attention off why the councilman's unfit for public office by giving false assertions for why I am recalling him. It's a political distract and deflect tactic.

I have a message for Schwan and his cronies: Stop with the character assassination, mud slinging and misrepresentation of the facts. It has no place in our small town. The people of Carefree are highly educated and intelligent. Do not insult them by assuming your dirty tactics and creative rewriting of Schwan’s documented positions and well-known past will go unnoticed.

Schwan can claim he has been neutral on whether or not people should directly elect their mayor, but then there is the TRUTH: Since 2007, Schwan has strongly campaigned against direct election of the mayor, absurdly claiming in an interview that it would “cost too much” and it wasn’t a concern of Carefree residents. This year, the direct election of the mayor initiative passed with a commanding 73 percent of the vote.

You would expect a responsible councilman to heed the will of the people. Schwan utterly ignores it. Despite coming in dead last out of 10 candidates in the primary, Schwan struck a deal with his councilmen buddies and had himself appointed mayor. Until then, never in the history of Carefree had a last place vote getter become mayor.

Schwan and his followers also claim he offered no opinion on the draconian effort to criminalize minor civil infractions. The TRUTH: On May 1, 2007, Schwan told Channel 12 News that despite not having even read the proposed amendment, he’d vote to allow the town to press criminal charges against people who committed minor infractions like having unauthorized garage sales or minors who stayed out past curfew. Penalties? Up to 6 months in jail and $2,500 fines!

This was a highly important moment for the town. The criminalization of civil code was a measure Schwan and the council tried to pass under the emergency clause. Changes to ordinances via the emergency clause ensure that such changes cannot be reversed via referendum to the voters.

This measure was swiftly tabled only after my associate, Ryan Ducharme, rallied the people of Carefree against it, bringing in News Channel 12 and 3 to document the absurd criminalization measures to be voted on. It was this pivotal moment when I first learned of Ryan Ducharme and his talented passion to protect people from the unscrupulous actions of an overreaching government. Having bewildered news crews document the outlandish criminalization ordinances proposed embarrassed the council – and rightfully so – and their plan to criminalize minor civil infractions were successfully quashed. Luckily, for the people of Carefree, the issue has not resurfaced.

Along with his incompetent leadership and negligent positions, Schwan has failed to live up to his promises. He promised to respect zoning ordinances then voted to change them to allow for the Ed Lewis monstrosity on Easy Street. He promised to listen to his constituents’ concerns, then voted to cut call to the public speaking times by 40 percent. Arrogantly, within 10 minutes of becoming mayor, Schwan chastised the audience, “You people are here to listen and observe … do not exert yourselves or make comments during our meeting.”
Recently, rather than lead with integrity and terminate the town gardener’s employment in a private meeting, Schwan told the gardener to attend a public town council meeting. There she was fired, embarrassingly, by vote in front of dozens of people.

This callous action epitomizes David Schwan’s tenure on council: weak, incompetent, and brimming with bad judgment. For the good of Carefree, help me recall him.

Guest Editorial: John Traynor
New fiscal year, new realities

By John Traynor | July 15, 2009

john traynorShortly after Carefree’s March Primary Election, three senior council incumbents who failed to win their seats declined to enter the runoff election. At the time it was a curious occurrence. Many people wondered what was going on. I’m sure bruised egos had something to do with their decisions but there had to be more to it. I believe there was substantially more.

Let’s take a look back at their actions prior to and after the elections.

• Combative mayor Fulcher refused Coady’s two requests in November to add ‘Direct Election of the Mayor’ to the Council Agenda for discussion.
• The 6-1 Council majority decided that, after 25 years, they needed four year terms, and voted to place the proposition on the March ballot.
• Gardner proposed, and the council agreed, that the town purchase a building as a refuge for the court. The deal for the now vacant building was concluded in just two weeks before year end. With the paying tenant gone, the town is losing $5,000 per month.
• After Coady succeeded in gaining voter support for his grass-roots initiative to get direct election of the mayor on the ballot, the 6-1 council majority staged a shameful character assassination of Coady at the January council meeting [audio recording available].
• The morally dysfunctional political action committees kicked into gear proclaiming their six incumbents and one hand picked Kiwanis president-elect, to be the right choice for Carefree. ‘Caring About Carefree’ was the misnomer of this decade. They care nothing about Carefree, only about their control over it and the council that does their bidding. Fulcher and his council buddies smugly, but quietly, accepted the support of the poison PACS; attacks on Coady continued.
• PAC soldier Hayward obtained the names of residents who signed the Coady initative from town records, and soon after those individuals received personal letters essentially criticizing them for doing so. Voter intimidation was at its ugliest in Carefree.
• For two weekends preceding the primary election, shock/hate mail was sent to voters stating Coady maintained a ‘secret’ recycle bank account, with the insulting implication he was ‘misusing’ donated money.
• Coady won the primary, with the most votes. Five incumbents failed to get the votes required to keep their seats. The proposition for four year terms was handily defeated.
• The mayor, vice mayor and senior councilman [budget lord] suddenly dropped out. With four year terms lost; they decided to depart, fully aware that budget issues would loom large in mind of voters.
• Outgoing council prepared their so-called bottom-up, balanced budget. Their budget was a shame, with more holes than Swiss cheese. They did nothing further on the budget, preferring to dump declining revenue and rising expenses on the new council.
• Two write-in candidates tried to give voters a real choice instead of a shoo-in election. The remaining four candidates vying for four seats was a joke, not an election.
• Misinformation by town officials regarding the election, and misuse of COINS demonstrated the void of leadership in town government. Questionable judgment, lack of character, and a value system at odds with residents permeated the 2009 election. Poorly handled requests for provisional ballots generated additional election complaints by some voters.
• Write-in candidates missed being elected, one by a mere 11 votes; 23 votes were disqualified for some reason, and 19 other ballots arrived after the 7 p.m. General Election eve deadline. Direct election of the mayor won by a 3 – 1 margin.
• Days before his single term as Mayor ended, Fulcher sent a political missile to the State Attorney General and the County Attorney, alleging impropriety by Coady over the supposed ‘secret’ account. He claimed he just discovered the issue, yet local papers dissected the accusations at the primary, months before.
• After heated public debate, the new council selected David Schwan (4 -3) as mayor. His selection, a setup by establishment evil in Carefree, clearly defied the will of the voters, and ignored tradition, wherein the highest primary vote getter is offered the position.
• Budget gaps were exposed by new councilmen Koteas and Stavoe. Expenses far out-striped declining revenue.

More pettiness transpired, and continues still. Gemmill betrayed a private conversation with Stavoe hoping to embarrass or silence a formidable opponent. Gemmill then complained he could not work with Stavoe on town marketing, so the mayor was forced to make a Solomon–like decision. Instead of cutting Gemmill in half, he decided to remove both Gemmill and Stavoe, substituting Koteas and Vanik. It is rumored the whiner crawled back to the mayor, requesting his job back; what must his wife have said?

When you connect all the dots, the emerging picture is not pleasant. Gardner knew town revenue was in serious decline and would not keep pace with the council’s free-spending habits. For the first time, difficult decisions would have to be made, or the council would have to propose a property tax, hence their desire for four year terms. As I’ve said before, voters tend to forget. With no four year term protection from voters, several savvy, independent new councilmen, and the will of voters staring them in the face, dropping out was the easy road. They took it.