By Don Sorchych | September 3, 2008
• Draconian enforcement
In the recent retreat held by Cave Creek council, the subject of town ordinances and their affect on local businesses was discussed. It is evident based on the recent draconian treatment of husband and wife business owners that not only should ordinances affecting business and home owners be reviewed, but enforcement tactics need to be reined in.
Gary and Jeri Rust, owners of the Tumbleweed Hotel and Spur Cross Gallery, recently emptied Spur Cross Gallery and put it up for sale, by owner. They placed two large signs in front of the gallery and instantly received interest from several potential buyers.
Activist and Realtor Anna Marsolo, who lives on a county island east of Cave Creek, visited them and according to the Rusts, said that although she loved them, she would have to file a complaint because the signs were larger than town ordinances allowed.
After a heated exchange, where the Rusts said Marsolo was abusive and used profanity, Marsolo left the scene. In an email exchange Marsolo denied using profanity.
Marsolo did file a complaint, and subsequently Deputy Town Marshal Bobby Hernandez visited and told them to take the signs down.
They didn’t and Hernandez returned with the town building official and began to cut the signs from the posts to which they were attached.
Gary told him he would take them down and Hernandez allegedly said, “They are mine now.”
Further detail is in Linda Bentley’s front page article about the incident.
You will see in Linda’s article they were booked on four misdemeanor counts including, “causing fear of physical injury and disorderly conduct – noise.”
Now that is really throwing the book!
It is true Hernandez is a little guy and Gary is big. But why is there fear when Hernandez has a gun, a taser, a club and no doubt was wearing body armor while Gary was unarmed?
Hernandez could have given the Rusts a citation without grabbing the sign.
About the noise; the town ordinance for noise is 70 decibels. It is doubtful that Gary could scream that loud. And where was the decibel meter?
And why did it take four MCSO deputies to arrest this couple? According to the Rusts, they were manhandled and Jeri Rust had to beg and cry to have cuffs removed so she could call a relative to go to their home and take care of their children.
Gary Rust begged for hours to have his cuffs loosened, since his hands were beginning to swell and he was in considerable pain. The day after the arrest his wrists were still abraded and swollen from the handcuffs.
All because of a sign to sell a business.
Thanks Anna. Thanks Bobby. Thanks MCSO.
Additional odor is added to the arrests from a past incident. The Rust’s spent $2,200 to line their property with ash trees. A neighbor filed a complaint stating ash trees were not allowed under town ordinances and further the trees were planted in the 12-foot setback required under desert rural zoning.
Hernandez and Town Arborist Glenn Fahringer responded and said the trees would have to go. There were a number of discussions between the town and the Rusts about compromises.
Hernandez appeared again and threatened Gary. Gary went to the garage, got his chain saw and cut the trees down.
Another citizen was planning a bathroom alteration. A town building official saw a roll-off container in the front yard and had Hernandez visit and ask to see what they were doing. The homeowner declined to let him in the house so he said he would get a search warrant. The homeowner reluctantly let him in.
There was no violation by the homeowner, but I believe that was a constitutional violation by Hernandez.
Further, the building official had no right under existing ordinances to send law enforcement on such a mission. It is supposed to be by written complaint and zoning officials aren’t supposed to be sneaking around citizen’s yards.
Town Manager Usama Abujbarah was having a meeting in his office with Councilwoman Kim Brennan and Hernandez barged in, uninvited, to advise Brennan her car license had expired, but he was giving her a warning, although Hernandez said MCSO would cite her if they saw it.
He further advised her she had a non-conforming sign at Big Earl’s Greasy Eats and he would pick it up if she didn’t remove it.
Obviously Abujbarah was upset and called Town Marshal Adam Stein to ask him what the hell was going on. Stein investigated and said Hernandez was just kidding.
Any similar experiences out there? Give me a jingle.
The Arizona Republic took a cheap shot at Mayor Vincent Francia in an article by reporter Beth Duckett headlined, “Profiling in Cave Creek?” with the sub headline, “Mayor: Wife a victim of racial prejudice.”
First of all what Duckett left for the last paragraph was this, quoting Vince’s wife, Amelia, “Vincent is concerned it might have been profiling. I think it is a possibility, but a very minimum possibility.”
Someone called MCSO about a car with a faded license plate, and MCSO followed up. Later Amelia saw the same truck sitting near their house and the truck left when Vincent went out to investigate.
But the Arizona Republic had to weave in the town ordinance, defeated in federal Court by ACLU and MALDEF, sticking it to Vince.
Cave Creek Town Marshal Adam Stein turned a lit match into a bonfire by opining the person who called about a defective license plate was probably profiling. When I asked, he said the quote was not quite what he said, but he did believe the person was profiling because he saw a person with brown skin.
Seems to me the only rational person in this overstated mess is the person they are trying to make a victim, namely Francia’s wife, Amelia.
Amelia said, “… I don’t ‘want to think’ of myself as a victim of racial prejudice, especially in Cave Creek.”
“She (Amelia) said she believes the driver who followed her may have been someone who thought he was ‘doing good.’”
Vincent is one lucky guy!