My View

By Don Sorchych | January 6, 2010

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Don SorchychThe mayor’s neighbor

Small town politicians, unlike professional ones, usually are pretty straight and honest. If they aren’t, it is quickly discerned.

Then there is the setup; get as much as possible on a candidate before the next election or enough to use subtle blackmail.

A collection of e-mails makes my point.

canfield cartoon
I published a letter last week by Carefree citizen Joseph Intenzo. In that letter Intenzo complained about anonymous messages (Your View) in Sonoran News. He also mentioned Carefree’s Mayor David Schwan presided over a town which has no property tax, yet has a fire department and water company. First of all Schwan had little or nothing to do with those assets. Both are controversial and the fire station is the town’s biggest expense and is paid for by a one percent sales tax, which didn’t help local businesses since it was sold by arguing non-Carefree people would pay for it. Those sales taxpayers would have to be customers of Carefree businesses.

Intenzo then uses Cave Creek as a negative example as does every Good Old Boy (GOB). He writes Cave Creek has a property tax, pays high water rates and has a subscription service for fire with Rural/Metro.

Both Carefree and Cave Creek pay a three percent sales tax. Cave Creek bought Spur Cross Ranch (SCR) by their 80 percent vote for a property tax, which will be paid off in 2012 and another .5 percent to maintain the preserve. Cave Creek added another .5 percent to sales tax when the recession hit, but will revisit it in the two years from the date it was established. Carefree citizens benefit from access to SCR as do the Cave Creek people that pay for it. In Carefree a full one percent was approved for fire services.

Both towns have high water rates. Carefree had the high rates well before Cave Creek was forced to raise water rates due to the recession.

Yes, fire rates are a work in process in Cave Creek, but I for one would rather pay voluntarily to avoid a property tax. And Cave Creek, with a three percent tax, can’t afford to burden sales tax rates any further.

The towns are very different and that is what politics are for; to satisfy the majority of voters.

But an interesting series of e-mails from Intenzo to Councilman Doug Stavoe reveals the GOB nature of Intenzo. Fortunately Stavoe routed his answers through Town Clerk Betsy Wise thereby making the e-mails public records.

The e-mail series paints Intenzo as a GOB and it appears he is trying to get Stavoe out on a limb.

In each e-mail he pressed the issues of what Stavoe would do about Carefree’s finances. At one point Stavoe laid out what he learned in a recent council meeting: Fire Services $1,400,000, Salaries $1,145,000, Traffic Enforcement $564,000, Legal $230,000 and Administration $215,000.

Intenzo pushed Stavoe, claiming Stavoe had said in a council meeting that he had spoken of budget cuts in the above categories. Stavoe denied he had said anything of the kind and he referred Intenzo to Betsy Wise to read the council minutes.

Then Stavoe wrote, “By definition, the mayor is CEO of the town and has the responsibility to manage the town’s actual expenses and cash outlays. Clearly, he is responsible to implement sensible spending solutions and operate the town in a solvent matter. In his financial review at the December 1 meeting, David Schwan estimated the current town deficit to be $600,000 under his leadership. This is of great concern.”

Then on Dec. 22, Intenzo got personal, disregarding what Stavoe had said about Schwan’s responsibility and demanded to know what Stavoe had done. Along the way he gave left handed compliments to Cave Creek for their revenue enhancement plans, i.e. Walmart, festivals and fee adjustments.

Stavoe, exercising infinite patience responded:
“Since I was asked to be the council liaison for Financial Matters you can imagine how surprised I was to see the “Financial Status Report” item appear on the Dec. agenda without my knowledge, since neither David Schwan nor any member of the town staff had contacted me for input, perspective, or participation in preparing this report.

“Regarding your “what have I done” question I am still hopeful that the council will establish the “Economic security and Marketing Committee” in a form I proposed last summer shortly after our council term began. As you may recall, David Schwan requested this item be pulled from the agenda and to date has not put it to a council vote (even though other council members have also requested it). You may also recall after asking me to serve as one of two Marketing Liaisons, David Schwan unilaterally removed me from that position after Councilman Bob Gimmell refused to work together even for the good of the town.

“The most effective short term action/event which could enhance revenue and ensure adequate town services is the upcoming March election. I am a strong believer in individual rights, and I encourage every citizen to exercise his/her rights to vote.”

Then comes the bomb:
“Since you asked me, let me ask you what our council leadership proposed to address your important questions. I only know two things Schwan has proposed: 1) spend the town’s reserve to maintain current spending levels, and 2) he suggested to me that the town institute a property tax.”

On Dec. 27 Intenzo wrote yet another e-mail to Stavoe. In this one he asked the questions one would have of a CEO, not a council member, and it smacked of “when will you stop beating your wife?” It is so priceless I will publish it another day.

Backing up for a moment, on Dec. 23, Schwan sent an e-mail to Intenzo, where Schwan says, “Councilman Stavoe misstates several facts in his recent e-mail to you.”
Hmmm, how did Schwan know?

Schwan continues: “In my Dec. Financial Report to Town Council on page three, I identified specific items to address any sales tax shortfall. These savings fall into two broad categories:

“Reducing current expenses and not incurring some optional expenses in 2009 and 2010.
“I have NOT suggested implementing a property tax to Councilman Stavoe. This is a misstatement of fact.”

Schwan can bold, capitialize and underline all he wants. I believe Stavoe, who has a record of telling the truth. How many times has Schwan claimed others have misstated facts?

Schwan continued, “I have extended an open invitation to Councilman Stavoe to meet with me and the town staff to review financial data. Both the staff and I are available at his convenience. I look forward to the councilman using this open invitation to participate in the financial matters of Carefree.”

What took so long? After all, Schwan made the appointment. Is it because a GOB named Intenzo e-mailed him?