Cave Creek ushers in a new era of citizen spying and secrecy

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reg monachino and gabe royerCAVE CREEK – On Wednesday, May 22, councilman-elect Reg Monachino (r-top) and Gabe Royer (r-bottom) spent three hours outside Cave Creek Town Hall, apparently observing who came and went.

On May 23, William J. Loughrige, Jr., a private investigator from Tempe, filed numerous public record requests, including one that asked for “Notes made during the meeting between the town manager and [Councilman] Steve LaMar on May 22, 2013 and any report made of that interview and a summary of the meeting if no notes exist.”

LaMar just happened to come and go during the period of time Durkin and Royer were observing.

Loughrige also filed a records request for “All sales tax paid by the Sonoran News publication for 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and all business or other town of Cave Creek fees for those years.”

According to Town Clerk Carrie Dyrek, there are no records responsive to Loughrige’s request regarding the town manager’s meeting with LaMar.

Additionally, sales tax information for individual businesses is protected by statute and not subject to public review. Unless there are 10 or more businesses in a particular category, even the category is protected by statute.

In another records request, Loughrige asked for payments made by the town to Don Sorchych and/or Sonoran News, “for any reason,” for fiscal years 2012 and 2013.

In yet another request, Loughrige wanted all reports, notes and instructions to town employees regarding Gerald Freeman and/or his address of 4856 E. Morning Star Rd. for 2012 and 2013, especially regarding the town vehicle at his gate May 22-23, 2013.

For those not familiar, the easement Freeman crosses to get to his property is on Sorchych’s property, so vehicles going to Sorchych’s property would use the same road. Freeman has been suing Sorchych for the better part of a decade over the rights of an easement Freeman feels is exclusively his, although it is on Sorchych’s property.

However, on those particular dates, the town building inspector was not there to visit Freeman or Freeman’s property but to sign off on some permitted electrical work on Sorchych’s property.

Another request was for any reports, notes or instructions to town employees regarding Pauline Smith at 7265 Continental Mountain Estates Dr., “especially visits by town staff, including the town marshal” in May to the property for 2012 and 2013.

Last he asked for any and all building permits issued for Cartwright’s and El Encanto restaurants.

All of Loughrige’s requests state they are for a commercial purpose, which means his requests will be charged for the time taken for staff to research and fulfill his requests in addition to the $0.50 per page charged for non-commercial purposes.

According to town staff, because Loughrige is getting paid by his client to make these records requests, it makes them commercial requests.

And, while it costs substantially more to make a records request for a commercial purpose, paying someone to make the requests for them serves primarily to protect the identities of the people seeking the information.

However, most of the requests appear to be tied to people involved with the slate of candidates; Mike Chutz, who supported the slate; Gerald Freeman, who sued to remove Councilman Dick Esser from the ballot; and others who donated money to slate candidates.

Considering the slate candidates all touted a need for open and transparent government, someone has hired a PI in order to be less than transparent about their agenda.

As the saying goes, follow the money.

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