Carefree’s Call to the Public and newspaper bashing forum

By Linda Bentley | September 16, 2009

CAREFREE – The Sept. 9 council meeting started out as a Sonoran News bashing session in an apparent continuation from weeks gone by.

Greg Gardner began the foray during Call to the Public to correct some information in an article reporter Curtis Riggs had written three weeks earlier about the town’s fire rating going from a six to a three, although he acknowledged Riggs was no longer at Sonoran News.

Gardner explained how the ISO (Insurance Services Organization) determines its ratings and said it is based on components such as communication systems, fire department equipment and something the town has no control over – its water supply.

In the state of Arizona, Gardner said a rating of one is the best, but rarely achieved, and Carefree was rated in the top 5 percent.

matt dingmanMatt Dingman then took to the podium to say he sent a letter to Sonoran News a few weeks ago, but rather than publishing it, the editor chose to make it the subject of an editorial.
Dingman ranted, “If council has broken the law or decisions were made outside council chambers, the publisher should provide proof or he owes this town an apology.”

 It was then Hans Thiele’s turn. Thiele said, “About a week ago a young man came to my door to recall the mayor … we have a newspaper that tries to make Carefree look bad … we’re the laughing stock of Arizona.”

Lyn Hitchon said her comments were for Councilman Bob Coady, whom she claimed during the Aug. 25 council meeting said Chris Mellon didn’t have a contractor’s license. She waived a piece of paper in the air and stated Mellon did have a license, which Hitchon said she downloaded from the Registrar of Contractor’s website. She walked up to the dais and handed it to Coady. Before retaking her seat, she straightened out Mayor David Schwan’s name plaque.

Hitchon’s husband Herb then took to the podium with words for Coady, who apparently stated during a previous meeting it was ludicrous to expect citizens to abide by green design when the town does not, referencing the fire station.

Mr. Hitchon read a long list of items which he felt deemed the fire station “green” and said he would like to volunteer his services to work with Coady.

Coady’s wife Sue also took a turn at the podium and, directing her comments to Schwan, stated during an August Call to the Public, he allowed a citizen to rant about someone she and her husband invited to their home for Christmas dinner because that person was less fortunate than them, it had nothing to do with council business and was personal.
She said, “You owe me an apology.”

Schwan responded by saying he spoke to counsel about that and was told, while he can control decorum, he cannot control content.

Coady responded to Mr. Hitchon’s comments by stating there were things he thought could have been incorporated into the firehouse, including solar hot water and lower ceiling heights for heating and cooling efficiency.

Coady then said, “I’m not sure newspaper bashing is appropriate since it has nothing to do with town hall.”

Town Attorney Tom Chenal responded by saying, “If someone comes up and talks about water on Mars, I’d have to look into it,” meaning he’d have to look into whether or not that would be something the town could disallow during Call to the Public.

Under current events, Schwan said people should have received an invitation to the town’s 25th Anniversary Cocktail Party on Oct. 3 with their water bills.

He then announced there would be a special work study meeting at 3 p.m. on Sept. 15 to discuss NewPath Networks.

Although not mentioned and possibly added later, the Sept. 15 agenda also included a discussion of the town’s bid process and discussion and possible action with regard to a complaint filed against the town by David Schultz (CV2008-019772).

Barbara Metzger, on behalf of Daughters of the Revolution, accepted a proclamation signed by the mayor declaring Sept. 17 through 23 as Constitution Week.

Council nominated and voted to appoint Raymond Arnold and Thomas Cross from the field of four who expressed interest, to serve on the town’s Subdivision Committee.

Jo Gemmill did a final presentation to council on the 25th Anniversary Celebration and 50 Years of History.

During discussion of liquor licenses for various events, including the Thunderbird Wine and Art Festival, Councilman Peter Koteas questioned why the town would give outsiders the benefit of no taxes being collected while local establishments must add on 9.3 percent sales tax each time they sell a glass of wine.

Town Clerk Betsy Wise explained, “You buy a glass and you get so many tastes per glass,” and said Thunderbird splits the money with the Carefree/Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce.

Koteas asked how the town benefited if it doesn’t make any tax revenue on sales.

During public comment, Dingman stated Cave Creek had an event booked on the same day at Stagecoach Village, which he said “will seriously cut into” Carefree’s event.

Koteas stated, “I think we have a sales tax issue here.”

Vice Mayor Glenn Miller asked Koteas how he expected to get vendors to collect and pay sales tax.

Koteas said the town pays an auditor, who should be able to monitor those types of things.
Council voted 6-0, with Coady abstaining, on all the special event liquor licenses.

Council voted unanimously in favor of all other agenda items. However, during the item about a road closure along the south side of Cave Creek Road from Tom Darlington Drive to Scopa Trail for the Cactus Shadows High School (CSHS) Homecoming Parade, Koteas said, “Probably no one here can answer this,” and asked, “Why is Cave Creek only involved in Homecoming? Our kids go to CSHS too. Why aren’t we part of this?”

Rural/Metro Fire Chief John Kraetz said the Homecoming Parade has traditionally been held in Cave Creek beginning with staging at Harold’s and ending at Spur Cross Road, but the line up to begin the parade then backs up toward Tom Darlington.

A citizen claimed during public comment the reason Carefree didn’t want to be involved anymore was because the town didn’t want to clean up after the horses.

Photo by Linda Bentley