My View

By Don Sorchych | January 27, 2010

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Don SorchychThe Carefree recall • New attorneys for Cave Creek?

Recently, most of the local intrigue centered on Carefree where we are now waiting for the March 9 recall election. My fearless forecast is John Traynor will be the new Carefree councilman and Mayor David Schwan will join Kiwanis, as his predecessor Wayne Fulcher did.

Most, I think, who lived through the day by day intrigue would share that view. Why then did the Scottsdale Republic publish their article last weekend titled, “Carefree recall election is unwarranted, a sham.”

canfield cartoon
Because the collective wisdom of the unsigned diatribe is remote and uninformed. They have adopted the inaccurate moans of the GOBs, the good old boys. Where do the statutes say a recallee must be guilty of “malfeasance?” The Republic prints what people like Kiwanian Ned Dobek say when the statutes merely say the reasons must be less than 200 words long.

Maybe the editors remember their choices in the last election, where they suggested that the sitting council was appropriate. After they gave their opinion, Carefree voters spoke by reelecting Councilman Bob Coady with 800 votes, electing Peter Koteas with a ballot busting 830 votes and electing Doug Stavoe along with Coady on the primary ballot.

The will of Carefree voters spoke with such a loud voice that Mayor Wayne Fulcher, Vice Mayor Lloyd Meyer and long time Councilman Greg Gardner, all relegated to a runoff, resigned.

The election outcome was nothing like the status quo recommended by the Republic, which missed the dynamics completely. Now, at the last minute they try to rewrite history by keeping Schwan in office. The Carefree voters didn’t listen to their uninformed opinion before; why should they now?

Schwan is legitimately and legally under recall regulations otherwise Maricopa County Elections would have rejected their signed petitions, if not the application for recall.
The Republic editorial staff or Robert Leger also said. “There have been no allegations that the mayor engaged in illegal activity or abuse of power.” Actually he has done both, as we have reported extensively.

The Carefree administration, and therefore its CEO, Schwan, is under investigation for bid rigging and furthermore complaints have been filed, for investigation, because Schwan sycophant Councilwoman Susan Vanik tried to hinder recall petition activity, drew out completed petitions and called at least one signer.

Schwan’s abuses of power are legion. Tell me he wasn’t involved when Ryan Ducharme was hassled by town staff for signs while illegal signs flourished in town. Tell me why he didn’t intervene when the building owner, where his office resided, wouldn’t allow Ducharme to gather signatures and the Goldwater Institute had to weigh in. Ducharme’s first amendment rights were being violated and the petitioners prevailed in court.

More recently, Schwan treaded on town policies, state statutes and the town’s budget to give money to a non-profit where he sat on the board.

And tell me the town doesn’t have the authority to remove an official who embarrasses the town by having GOBs arrange his ascendancy to mayor when he got the fewest votes in the last primary election. Had the other three candidates not withdrawn their candidacies, Schwan would not have progressed beyond the primary.

Maybe, in spite of their financial difficulties, he can join Leger at the Republic.

Cave Creek’s law firm struggles

Cave Creek has, in executive session, reviewed bids from four law firms to become the town’s legal counsel. The council will choose one during the second meeting in February.
It seems deceased Town Attorney Bill Farrell has no replacement. Farrell served several communities until Mariscal Weeks hired him for Cave Creek after Cave Creek refused the service of Fredda Bisman, who had been a long service Scottsdale attorney.

Cave Creek’s ordinances reward their council with the choice of law firms in spite of the town manager form of government where the town manager is CEO.

When the financial meltdown began, Town Manager Usama Abujbarah notified Gary Birbaum of Mariscal Weeks that he was limiting their billings to $7,500 each month.

Their invoices continued at multiples of $7,500. Nonetheless invoices continued outside Abujbarah’s demands. When pressure was applied through town staff, Mariscal began sending invoices to the home of Mayor Vincent Francia.

Then Birnbaum called four council members, which of course is a majority and apparently pled his case. He called Mayor Francia, Ralph Mozilo, Dick Esser and freshman Adam Trenk.

Well, Francia and Mozilo think Birnbaum is the cat’s meow. Both incorrectly credit him with the preservation of Spur Cross Ranch. The list of people who contributed to that purchase is long and Birnbaum was one of many contributors, by how much is arguable.

They, I suppose, credit him with the water company purchase since he was the mediator. I share the common belief that we significantly overpaid at almost $20 million.

And we shouldn’t forget the writing of an ordinance meant to control illegal aliens, which was lost in court to ACLU and MALDEF.

Birnbaum has been a teacher to Trenk in law school. Trenk is a good biased target because he has neither a clue about the town’s history nor knowledge of the day to day frustration the town staff has in dealing with the chosen lawyers assigned to town issues.

Dick Esser confronted Birnbaum a couple of years ago about what he perceived as excessive billing to the town. Esser was promised it would be fixed but never got feedback.
It would seem to me the four who were called should recuse themselves from voting due to the unknown arm twisting by Birnbaum or Mariscal Weeks should be removed from the bid list.

It is timely to reconsider the ordinance and put legal under the town manager. Even now the day to day handling of lawyers is in his hands and there would still be issues which would require council approval.

The town’s counsel needs to know answers to questions without endless research and the involvement of other lawyers. We haven’t had that since Bill Farrell and never before his employment.

Watch for Linda Bentley’s article about the second council meeting in February; there are ethical issues to be decided.