Citizen has heart attack after carping about ‘frivolous recall’

By Linda Bentley | April 7, 2010

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Carefree selects town marshal for reduction in force savings
CAREFREE – Tuesday’s council meeting was off to a slow start when the executive session that preceded the meeting bled over past its 5 p.m. scheduled start.

Mayor David Schwan then called for a five to eight minute break before convening the regular council meeting.

However, upon reconvening, there was further delay when Town Clerk Betsy Wise was unable to get the software that records the meetings to operate.

Jim Keen, the town’s accountant and Website administrator, was able to get it up and running so the meeting could commence.

Call to the Public began with Ned Doback reading a prepared statement about how the town was put through the trauma of an “unjustified recall” and said the three councilmen who publicly supported the recall should resign.

Without mentioning names, Doback blamed the recall on one disgruntled resident.

He stated the publisher of the “local rag” claimed an elected official could be recalled just because a person didn’t like the way he parted his hair. Doback insisted that is a “misuse of the recall process.”

He said the citizens of Carefree were waiting for a public apology over this “frivolous recall” that cost the town money and embarrassment.

Although Councilman Doug Stavoe, who supported the recall, asked to respond, Schwan told him he would have to wait until the end of Call to the Public.

Barbara Metzger thanked council and the previous council for building a bridge over the Dream Street Wash.

Lyn Hitchon congratulated Schwan on his “overwhelming victory.”

As John Traynor began to speak, a loud wheezing noise was heard in the audience and Doback appeared to be having a heart attack.

Rural/Metro Chief John Kraetz, who regularly attends council meetings, and Vice Mayor Glen Miller, a retired firefighter, immediately jumped to his aid with the town’s automated external defibrillator (AED), a computerized medical device that can check a person’s heart rhythm and recognize a rhythm that requires a shock.

The AED advised them to initiate shock, followed by verbal instructions to begin CPR.
As Kraetz was performing CPR Dobak grabbed Kraetz’s wrist.

Rural/Metro emergency medical technicians arrived and transported Dobak to Mayo Hospital.

Wednesday morning Kraetz said Dobak is doing fine and going home. He also said Dobak was extremely fortunate to have had his heart attack where and when he did.

Traynor said he would reserve his comments for another time.

Stavoe said he still wanted to respond to Dobak’s comments. He said the recall election is over and, while he had a sense everyone accepts the outcome, this could be an opportunity for some respite and for everyone to try to move forward in a positive fashion.

Council unanimously approved a recommendation for an interim permit and a new Hotel/Motel Liquor License for the Carefree Resort. Because the resort is under new ownership and the license is not transferrable, an application for a new license was required.

Keen presented the financials for March and said sales tax revenue was right in the range he predicted. The only thing down was interest on money in the bank.

Other than that, he said, “We’re tracking to get through the year about where I said.”
The next discussion/action item on the agenda was for a reduction in force (RIF) pertaining to Town Marshal Pat Farmer.

Schwan said Farmer had the option of holding the discussion in executive session but elected to do it in public.

Town Administrator Gary Neiss said RIF “is not easy and it’s not based on performance.”
He said the town currently has 14 employees who “wear many hats,” which he said was evidenced earlier by Keen being both town accountant and IT specialist.

According to Neiss, the impact of the RIF is “not to eliminate the position but to reallocate the workload.”

He said the job would essentially be performed “by committee,” with the workload redistributed to Deputy Court Clerk Kevin Stuckey, Executive Assistant Janeen Dutcher, Building Official Michael Tibbitt and Assistant Planner DJ Stapley.

Councilman Bob Coady said he had a problem with a court employee being town marshal as well as with “marshal by committee.”

Schwan said he spoke with Judge K.C. Scull and “Scull says we can make this work.”

Councilman Peter Koteas asked how they decided to pick the marshal for RIF, noting there are three people in the planning department.

Neiss said the town has general plan amendments coming up and could either hire consultants to do it for $100,000 or do it themselves, the more cost effective option, stating, “This made the most sense from an organizational standpoint.”

Stavoe suggested, rather than taking immediate action, tabling the item until the upcoming budget process so they can compare all their options, such as going to a four-day work week like Cave Creek has done or everyone taking a 20 percent cut instead of removing one position.

“I’d be hesitant to make this decision today,” said Stavoe.

Schwan said he and Neiss had already considered all those options.

Since there were only three more months in the fiscal year, Coady suggested keeping the marshal until they finished the budget.

Neiss said they decided to do this now since they would offer a severance package, which, with vacation pay, would take them through the end of the year and could start the new fiscal year clean.

Neiss also said a 20 percent cut would have a negative impact on services provided by the town, adding, “The town marshal job does not warrant a full time position.”

He said eliminating the town marshal would give them the “biggest bang for their buck” while maintaining the level of service.

Farmer said after considering the discussion that had taken place, he would be the least impacted by RIF and accepted the town’s decision.

Miller’s motion to RIF Farmer and reallocate his duties passed by a vote of 5-2 with Coady and Councilwoman Susan Vanik dissenting.

During current events, Koteas said he’s received numerous calls about a faux cactus cell tower having been installed in the town center.

Neiss explained it was not an equipped cell tower but was installed by NewPath Networks so people had an opportunity to see what the faux cactus cell towers would look like, as NewPath has an application pending for a conditional use permit for five sites within the Boulders.

Koteas suggested he put out a COINS release to that effect as soon as possible.

Council voted unanimously to approve a new traffic study to revisit the town’s speed limits and the various elements currently installed to “calm” the flow of traffic.

Schwan announced that the regularly scheduled July 6 council meeting would be moved to Tuesday July 13 due to the Fourth of July holiday, which will be celebrated on Monday July 5.