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Don Sorchych

Council miscues

In last week's article about the council meeting, Linda Bentley wrote, "Interim Town Manager Rodney Glassman said the former town manager refused to maintain Morning Star Road (MSR)." I deleted that statement because what Glassman said wasn't true and required editorial discussion. She writes what actually happens, as she should.  I drive Morning Star Road every day, so I know when the town resurfaces it. I have written previously about meetings former Town Manager Usama Abujbarah had with Morning Star residents. 

There was also discussion at the council meeting about a commitment in the annexation agreement that the town agreed to road maintenance four times each year. There is no such specificity in the agreement. The town agreed they would maintain MSR as per the policy used for other roads, which was at the time four times each year. However, when the recession hit the town had to reduce the frequency of maintenance to twice per year, which remains the current practice. The fact is, heavy rain would reduce MSR to the bumpy pot holed mess it has been. Currently, in the absence of heavy rains, the problem is blinding dust from every vehicle that drives it. I can see why Bruce Arlen held a meeting to resolve road issues at his home since it is frequently bathed in dust clouds from traffic.  One woman from who lived on Honda Bow said she was a signatory on the annexation agreement and she was a sure NO vote to pave it. However, Honda Bow is partially paved, has limited traffic and not subject to dust clouds. 

bil canfield editorial cartoon
In the past meetings the town held with MSR residents, it was pointed out measurements proved there was enough traffic on MSR to justify paving under PM-10 guidelines.  So the question to the mayorless council is does PM-10 or the annexation agreement legally prevail? 

My understanding of the results of the MSR residents meeting was the town could make MSR into a two lane paved road if the signers of the annexation agreement unanimously agreed. Only one negative vote could defeat paving unless the town invoked PM-10.  The Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) settlement discussions held on Jan. 21 prove the town will fold like a cheap suit if the citizens sue. 

Speaking of the TRO, which Gerald Freeman invoked against the town, Cahava Springs and, inexplicably, me, all three defendants were called to a settlement conference on Jan. 21.  Rodney Glassman appeared with Gerald Freeman and his wife. The town's insurance attorney Jeff Murray was there as was Cave Creek Planning Director Ian Cordwell and Freeman's attorney Steve Mahaffy. 

Representing Cahava Springs was Mark Stapp and his attorney, George Winney.  We were separated and I remained with Stapp and Winney, while the others went to their own conference room. 

Later the mediator came with an offer which Stapp ruled out of hand and left to discuss the issues with his attorney.  

Council meeting
On Monday, Jan. 27, the council heard from 16 people regarding a possible settlement regarding the Morning Star trail TRO. All but one favored continuing the lawsuit. Nonetheless, the slate was supportive of the settlement which would have delayed the trail until Gerald and Janice were living at their home less than half time.  Remember, the town’s citizens put the trail system in the General Plan, by PUBLIC VOTE! 

To effectively kill the important trail, Freeman demanded the trail be delayed until he and his wife live where they are less than half time. Since Freeman is about 70 that means no trail for 15 to 30 years.  To Mayor Vincent Francia's credit, after citizens spoke (over 90 percent against settling the lawsuit) he said he was not in favor of the settlement. 

Freeman was the last to speak and denied public assertions like the one where he plowed into a mule (on my property) but claimed they were trespassing. Terry Smith and his friends had permission to be there.  Then Freeman blustered it was all about the relationship between me and former Town Manager Usama Abujbarah, a deceitful falsehood slate members are fond of. Abujbarah is a friend and although I never supported all of his activities, I still maintain he is the best town manager the town has ever had. 

The one person who spoke in favor of the settlement is the same woman who said she would vote no on paving of MSR because she was a signatory, but she lives on Honda Bow, which is paved and without dust issues like those that plague MSR.  But because the woman claimed the annexation agreement forbid crossing the creek, Durkin asked that the issue be continued until the council meeting on Feb. 3 even though Ian Cordwell said the TRO settlement agreement did not interfere with stipulations in the annexation agreement. 

As I wrote previously, you can't fix stupid so vote them out. Anyone who votes yes on the proposed settlement should be recalled.  Apparently the town's argument to the mediator was the town was broke and couldn't afford the lawsuit. That simply isn't true. The town has an $8 million surplus and the debt interest the slate keeps harping about is covered by Walmart's taxes paid to the town. 

Secondly, the law is on the side of the town and Cahava Springs. 

Thirdly, the case is being handled by the town's insurance carrier. 

Fourthly, legal fees would likely be paid by the plaintiff when they lost. 

Fifth, if the town lost they likely would spend less than the $80,000 the slate wasted to "take politics out of road maintenance," a silly assertion. 

We don't need gutless, foolish or stupid councilmen or mayor.  Of course we know the slate has paid about $90,000 for Glassman's presence when Town Clerk Carrie Dyrek agreed to serve temporarily at little or no additional cost. Then there are the two metal horses bracing the town. So the slate could spend about $200,000 on nonsense but won’t combat a weak lawsuit that sets an awful precedent? 

Since the lawsuit settlement is at the Feb. 3 council meeting, I hope the council chambers are full of 10 gallon hats, bikers and hikers. Beat the settlement and continue the lawsuit.

Vote the yes voters out!