SEPTEMBER 29, 2010
Clandestine meeting in Carefree
State laws are specific about the conduct of elected officials. For example open meeting laws dictate meetings of town, city, county or state be conducted in public. There are some items like personnel matters, contracts and such can be in executive sessions, which are required to be secret. Even then, what they will be discussing must be disclosed in a public notice in sufficient specificity so the public will know what is being discussed without disclosing the discussions themselves.
Whenever four or more councilmen meet, the town has an obligation to “post” the meeting.
The town of Carefree is notorious for holding illicit meetings and we have disclosed this.
So, when I received a call that three current councilmen and three ex-councilmen were seen walking up the steps to the second story of the water company building while the manager of the water company, Stan Francom was on vacation, I reached for my camera.
When I arrived at the location I took pictures of the license plates, which were in the immediate area. Waiting wasn’t bad in an air conditioned truck with the radio to entertain.
Finally, at about 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 22 the six ambled down the steps and into the parking lot.
Why the secrecy? Although any town attorney worth their pay would advise that appearance is sometimes as important as law and suggest that less than three council members meeting, especially clandestinely, should be the rule to be safe of criticism.
Linda Bentley e-mailed Carefree town hall only to find Town Clerk Betsey Wise on vacation.
We called Mayor David Schwan and Vice Mayor Glenn Miller and got their answering machines.
But Miller answered a later call:
Sorchych: Hello, is this Glenn?
Sorchych: Hi, Don Sorchych at Sonoran News.
Sorchych: Why are you giggling?
Sorchych: Why are you giggling?
Miller: I know it’s you, Joe.
Sorchych: What am I going to ask you?
Miller: What’s up?
Sorchych: What was the subject of the meeting you guys had yesterday?
Miller: Ok, now I can hear you.
Sorchych: I said, “What was the subject of the meeting you guys had yesterday, no not yesterday, it was Wednesday?”
Miller: You mean with ah – who?
Sorchych: The one you guys had up in the second story of the water building.
Miller: Who is this again?
Sorchych: Don Sorchych.
Miller: Why would you be callin’ me at home?
Sorchych: You’re the vice mayor.
Sorchych:You’re the vice mayor.
Sorchych: Betsy’s on vacation. We left a message for Schwan and we have not heard from him.
Sorchych: I say, we left a message for Schwan and we have not heard from him and you’re the vice mayor.
Miller: This is Don Sorchych?
Miller: You sound like somebody I know who is just trying to play a prank
Sorchych: No. No prank, it’s me.
Miller: And why would you call me at home?
Sorchych: I just told you why.
Miller: You’ve never called me. You’ve never asked me for my opinions on anything.
Sorchych: I’m asking you now.
Miller: You know what, Don? I don’t have nothing to say to you. You don’t do anything for this town, but throw mud at it for 12 years. I tried to stay neutral and all you do is throw mud at this town. I don’t appreciate it.
Sorchych: You think the meeting you had on Wednesday was proper?
Miller: I don’t know what you’re talking about Don so have a good one. Good-bye.
While waiting for Investigative Reporter Linda Bentley to connect with Schwan, let’s speculate.
We believe three current council members were in the meeting. Schwan, Miller and Bob Gimmell. There were also three losers who quit rather than face a runoff in 2009. They were ex-Mayor Wayne Fulcher, ex-Vice Mayor Lloyd Meyer and ex-council member Greg Gardner.
The question is why the entire council was not involved after appropriate notice to the town.
Were they trying to figure out if they could all be elected in 2011? As GOBs (Good ‘ol Boys) are they trying to figure out how to kill the direct vote for mayor? It would have been illegal had Councilwoman Susan Vanik been there, so was she connected in telephonically, which would have been equally illegal? Where does she fit in their political plans? Did they have early information that Jim Peirce was going to present an initiative on Monday, Sept. 27 to require a supermajority vote for any property tax?
That meeting suggests Carefree is being governed by a shadow government, not the council they legally elected.
Schwan’s phone conversation finally took place in mid morning Monday, Sept. 27.
Schwan spent inordinate time whining that Sonoran News was not fair to him. Bentley argued she never received any communication complaining about her coverage of Carefree Town Hall. Schwan was insistent that he had sent us letters which were never published.
He then had a tirade that Councilman Doug Stavoe made changes to his restaurant which were not reported to the town. The question is if that is true, why didn’t they prosecute him? Stavoe said he doesn’t know what Schwan was talking about and he didn’t appreciate the allegations since this is the first time he heard about it.
He also complained Councilman Bob Coady was responsible for the town spending $10,000 to protect his records. That is not true since an outside council represented the town on that matter and the question is why was $10,000 spent when Schwan had pledged $1,500?
Coady said he would make a request for financial records since he had never heard that number and didn’t know what Schwan was talking about.
Bentley continued to ask the questions about the meeting, while Schwan continued to say he didn’t have his calendar in front of him and couldn’t say. He said he met with many people to understand the town history. He denied a memory of the meeting. When Schwan mentioned that Councilman Peter Koteas had suggested the financial accounting of the Carefree Water Company be improved, Bentley asked if that was what the meeting was about. Schwan couldn’t remember, and said he couldn’t remember what he had for breakfast.
And so the CEO of Carefree can’t remember – anything!
We will make a transcript of the discussion available in future issues. In the meanwhile we are seeking information from the town under current law.