Decorum not Carefree Council's strong suit

By Linda Bentley | May 5, 2010

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david schwan and glenn millerMayor David Schwan (l) was unable to maintain decorum during Monday night’s council meeting as Vice Mayor Glenn Miller told Councilman Doug Stavoe, “Why don’t you just shut your mouth.” Schwan joined the melee when he told Stavoe, “Get your act together.”  Photo by Linda Bentley

‘Why don’t you just shut your mouth’
CAREFREE – During Monday night’s council meeting, Mayor David Schwan announced the town would be beginning its budget cycle with a budget workshop at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, May 11 and, if needed, a second budget workshop at 3 p.m. on Monday, May 17, since there is a special election on May 18.

Councilman Bob Coady expressed his thanks to Councilman Doug Stavoe for putting on the pancake breakfast and Town Administrator Gary Neiss and Assistant Planner DJ Stapley for their assistance in making the town’s first Earth Day Expo a success. He said the vendors were very happy and expressed interest in doing it again next year.

Schwan said the water company just approved its budget for next year and it includes a 1.8 percent increase in water rates only on the commodity cost of water.

Council unanimously approved the selection of Hinton Burdick Hall & Spilker out of St. George, Utah to perform the town’s audits for the next five years.

Town Clerk Betsy Wise said she sent out requests for proposals to ten firms and received seven responses with bids ranging from $22,000 to $36,150. After interviewing the lowest three bidders, she said Hinton Burdick, the only company with no offices in Arizona, was selected.

Council questioned if the cost of travel, hotel and meals was going to be an additional expense on top of the $22,000 bid.

Wise said it would not be. She also said the company has experience with auditing small towns and is familiar with the water company’s needs.

Wise said the selection of Hinton Burdick will save the town $10,000.

During a review of town’s March financials, Coady asked Town Accountant Jim Keen a few questions about specific revenue items.

Schwan then stated, “Mr. Coady has taken a micro approach to looking at the budget” and asked Keen for a “macro look.”

The decorum headed south from there with the next agenda item, discussion and possible action regarding payment of $3,375 for legal services to David Burnell Smith for representing Coady amidst allegations made by former Mayor Wayne Fulcher, for which Coady was subsequently exonerated.

Coady explained he hired Smith for consultation based on advice from Town Attorney Tom Chenal, who said he didn’t have any expertise in criminal law.

Chenal concurred, “That was the recommendation I made.”

Coady told council, “Failure to pay could result in another lawsuit.”

Vice Mayor Glenn Miller asked, “Why didn’t it come to council? Why didn’t it go to Betsy? Why should we pay it?”

Councilman Peter Koteas stated the allegations made by the former mayor were frivolous and this should be something of concern to all council members.

Stavoe said Coady followed the advice of the town attorney and stated, “I’m having a hard time seeing why we’re having this discussion. He followed the attorney’s advice.”

Miller asked, “How come council knew nothing about any of this?”

Coady stated, “I was just trying to clear my name and followed the town attorney’s advice.”

During public comment, Gary Hayward told council he thought it was important that council and citizens understand what this was about.

He said Coady “opened a bank account in his own name and had bank statements sent to his home address …”

Coady said what Hayward was saying was irrelevant.

Schwan said he’d preferred to let people speak.

Hayward continued talking about the subsequently closed recycling bank account and urged council not to pay the bill for legal fees.

Coady responded by reading an e-mail he received from Chenal that stated, “The money was not misused.”

Stavoe said, “This is highlighting the worst of Carefree. As a town, we should put this behind us and I move we approve this bill.”

Schwan said, “I have been advised this has happened in the past.”

Councilman Bob Gemmill pointed out the bill wasn’t itemized (it was a statement, not an invoice) it was just a single line item with a total.

Koteas said he agreed with Gemmill that there should be a better accounting. He also said the town code does not specifically mention criminal code, just civil proceedings.

Miller said, “I’m a stickler for the rules,” and asked if council approved it, “Is this going to happen again and again?”

Koteas responded, “No. I’m saying change the code.”

When Stavoe urged council to stop politicizing the issue and just put it behind them, Miller turned to Stavoe and said, “Why don’t you just shut your mouth.”

When Schwan again expressed concern because he had “been advised this had happened before,” Sue Coady took to the podium to explain the circumstances, which she said was based on a lawsuit and Coady didn’t vote the same way as the other six council members.

Stavoe’s motion to pay the legal bill failed by a vote of 3-4 with Councilwoman Susan Vanik, Gemmill, Miller and Schwan dissenting.

Miller then said he wanted to table the item until he could sit down by himself with David Burnell Smith and see all the paperwork, dates and time.

Completely ignoring the fact that council had already voted, Schwan said, “The way to do this is to move to continue this.”

Gemmill said he based his vote on town code, not on what may or may not be included in the bill detail.

Vanik said she agreed with Gemmill that they would not be playing by the rules.

Koteas said if they read the code, “It deals with civil actions not criminal actions.”

Miller’s motion to continue the item until after they had an opportunity to see an itemized bill passed by a vote of 5-2 with Gemmill and Vanik dissenting.

Before voting unanimously to approve street closures for upcoming Thunderbird Art and Wine Festivals, Stavoe wanted to ask Neiss one more question.

Schwan told Stavoe he should ask his questions when Schwan called for them and said, “Get your act together.”

When Stavoe tried to explain to Schwan that council has opportunities to ask questions per parliamentary procedures, Schwan responded, “I’m running this meeting, so I’d appreciate it if you’d get your act together and ask your questions when I ask for final questions.”

Council then voted 6-1, with Coady dissenting, to raise court fees from $18 to $30.

Council also voted unanimously in favor of a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for AT&T to allow installation of indoor wireless communication facility equipment within a tenant space at Pima Norte office condominiums.

It also voted in favor of five CUPs for NewPath Networks within the Boulders community for distributed antenna system (DAS) wireless communication facilities disguised as faux saguaros.

Neiss pointed out this was an agreement between NewPath and residents of the Boulders on private property and said any applications for DAS in public rights of way in Carefree would be reviewed on a case by case basis.