BY DON SORCHYCH | SEPTEMBER 18, 2013
Sept. 16 council meeting
It appears the Sept. 16 council meeting will be representative of how quickly the town is being sunk by the slate, the interim town manager and other accommodating council members.
I examined the agenda for the Sept.16 council meeting. For a council that continues to preach “transparency” they are going to great lengths to keep the public in the dark.
There are five items listed for executive sessions but only two pass muster for executive sessions. The qualified ones are Gerald Freeman’s TRO and Usama Abujbarah’s lawsuit against Cave Creek. The others should be heard in open council meetings.
One that should be public is contract discussion regarding a possible merger of Carefree Municipal Court with Cave Creek. This deserves considerable public discussion since Carefree is proposing a ten year contract. The issue has been discussed ad nauseum by past council members and rejected. Although I normally stand with council making the tough decisions this one should go to a public vote if Cave Creek Town Council is in favor.
The second executive session agenda item that deserves public discussion is one regarding contract negotiations with the Arizona State Land Department concerning state land within the town boundaries.
The third is concerning the hiring of a permanent town manager. Not only should it be public but the slate should explain why they created the problem by firing a highly competent town manager who is now suing the socks off the town and those who created the crisis.
The consent agenda is just as bad or maybe worse. The entire agenda was developed by Interim Town Manager Rodney Glassman and Town Attorney Fredda Bisman. If this was Hollywood comedy it would be titled, dumb and dumber.
Any council member can insist any item on the consent agenda be removed and placed on the regular agenda. I hope at least one council member has the chutzpah to do it on several of the items. Knowing the council majority has little or no prior knowledge, most, if not all, items should not be on the consent agenda.
The first is a second reading regarding flood issues and should be discussed. The second about town code issues should also be discussed. It is about bathhouses, massage parlors and therapy centers. Tighter or looser, the public has a right to know.
The third concerns a restaurant liquor license that is routine.
The fourth should absolutely be removed and discussed. Furthermore it represents a conflict of interest since Fredda Bisman is employed by Dickinson Wright, formerly the notorious Mariscal Weeks, and she helped write the consent agenda. Awarding a contract without bidding it? This smells of backroom dealing, since both Mayor Vincent Francia and Vice-Mayor Adam Trenk are big buddies with the firm and Gary Birnbaum.
Item five which should be discussed is an attempt to put rookie Glassman in charge of negotiating a reduction of long term legal fees with Dickinson Wright/Mariscal Weeks.
I remember when, in 2009, the town objected to at least one bill from Mariscal Weeks where they charged $26,000 to research a claim against the town for $25,000. There were also other overcharges and an agreement was reached whereas the town would pay a maximum each month of $7,500 and would pay $2,500 each month until the withheld payments were paid up. I can’t imagine much, if anything, is still owed but we will make a public records request and hope it will be answered someday. Transparency is not the long suit of this administration.
Item six is way disturbing. The slate promised cost reductions but now photovoltaic systems on town hall and the waste water treatment plant? Why? It definitely needs public discussion.
The body of the agenda shows the ignorance of the writers of it.
A resolution from the town challenging the City of Scottsdale for its registered trademark “West’s most western town” at Wild West Days. Scottsdale registered the phrase in 2005. Some think “town” versus “city” is significant. I don’t.
Here is another unnecessary expense. They want to spend $70,810 for a contract to have a firm prepare a pavement management plan. Is this the first step to privatize road repair? Wall Street mail room attendant Reg Monachino bragged that their engineer (Mike Durkin) was studying road repair. Is this his new toy? Durkin is an electrical engineer. What does he know about roads? Nothing obviously because he wants the town to pay for knowledge he doesn’t have. I know the road crew and they are perfectly capable of taking care of our roads. The council is supposed to make policy, not interfere with existing expertise.
The next is disturbing and big brother all the way through. Clearly Glassman came up with this stupid idea since they cite two Tucson ordinances passed while he was a councilman there. He wants to require gray water plumbing and solar water heaters by ordinance. As one councilman, not a slate member, told me, “I agree with the principle and have done it in my home but I don’t want government telling me to do it.” This disgusting invasion of property rights should be thrown out.
The next is a discussion and possible settlement of the Freeman TRO against the town, Cahava Springs and me. The town and Cahava Springs should continue litigation until the judge makes a decision. Since Freeman was a financial supporter of the slate, did he buy their votes? This is definitely a property rights issue on the side of Cahava Springs. Freeman, like me, only has an easement although I own the property at the west end of the road which Freeman is trying to take away from me in another lawsuit.
The last item is council granting Glassman direction for finding a new town manager. Exactly how can he do that without the least knowledge of what the job is all about? This once again underscores Adam Trenk’s obsession to eliminate Abujbarah no matter the consequences. Glassman is a consequence!
Read Linda Bentley’s article for coverage of the Sept. 16 council meeting.