Carefree councilmen openly back John Traynor in recall election

By Linda Bentley | January 20, 2010

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peter koteas and doug stavoeCarefree councilmen Peter Koteas and Doug Stavoe have announced publicly their support for John Traynor for council in the upcoming recall election of Mayor David Schwan.
Photo by Linda Bentley

CAREFREE – Upon Sonoran News’ invitation, councilmen Peter Koteas and Doug Stavoe were more than happy to openly express their support for John Traynor in the March 9 recall election of Mayor David Schwan.

For clarification, Schwan is being recalled as a council member, not as mayor, since the direct election of mayor will not take place until next year’s regular council election cycle.
Following the recall election, the seven-member council will, once again, nominate and vote for a council member to become the town’s mayor for the remainder of the term.

Koteas said he decided to run for council because after living in Carefree and paying attention for the past 15 years, he didn’t like the direction council had taken and mused, “Twenty-five years after incorporation, they’re still having conversations about ‘what do we want to be?’”

Stavoe said Traynor will bring financial discipline to council, which he said has a “culture of conflict imbedded” under its current leadership.

Both Stavoe and Koteas said they were stunned when they received a copy of a Dec. 23 letter from Foothills Caring Corps Executive Director Debbra Determan thanking Schwan for “the recent contribution of $7,305.09, which represents 2010 LTAF II Grant funds contributed through the town of Carefree.”

Determan goes on to say the funds are a “critical source of financial support for our program …”

Stavoe pointed out why he and Koteas were taken aback by Determan’s letter.

He said, for starters, last year Councilwoman Susan Vanik made a motion, which was approved by council, to suspend all charitable contributions for the year.

Second, he said the amount of the disbursement is over $4,000, which requires council approval, noting the expenditure was never brought before council for consideration.

Third, Schwan is, or at least was at the time the disbursement was made, a member of the Foothills Caring Corps board of directors, which would make his authorization of the payment a conflict of interest.

Fourth, the grant requires matching town funds of 20 percent where none were budgeted.
Fifth, it’s against the law.

According to A.R.S. § 42-17106(A)(B), a town may not spend money for a purpose that is not included in its budget and may only transfer monies between budget items if the monies are available, the transfer is in the public interest and based on a demonstrated need, the transfer does not result in a violation of the limitations of Arizona’s Constitution, and a majority of council votes affirmatively on the transfer at a public meeting.

The adopted FY 2009/2010 budget reflects zero LATF fund contribution revenue.

Additionally, since the LATF Grant funds require a matching contribution of 20 percent, the disbursement is over the $4,000 limit and not budgeted, it would need to come before council for approval.

Citing Schwan acts autonomously, Stavoe said “He’s acting in a vacuum. He won’t even share with us how he’s spending the town’s money,” pointing out they only learned about the Foothills Caring Corps expenditure upon receiving a copy of Determan’s thank you letter.

Koteas agreed with Stavoe adding, “This election is about Carefree tomorrow and Carefree yesterday … We are not prepared and there is no sustainable plan in place to grow Carefree,” which is landlocked and cannot grow in size through further annexation.
He said the methodology used to arrive at decisions is flawed and called Schwan’s autonomous actions “pure arrogance” that ignores the rest of the elected council as “irrelevant.”