Guest Editorial

BY JOHN G. FORD | MAY 14, 2014

My home is Cave Creek and I am proud but sad!

Proud Citizen of Cave Creek
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john fordGood day Don and my long time friends in Cave Creek.

I have been a little out of touch over the last few weeks with a job change after 34 years and a medical issue which required my full attention. I am back and stronger than ever and it’s way past time for me to speak out. I want to take a strong stance on issues I have seen as shameful and downright wrong.

I have lived in our beautiful home town of Cave Creek from the days when I was a young boy in 1969. I have been lucky to have the best family you could ever ask for and very amazing friends. Some we have lost including my Dad in 1971 and my Mom who passed in 2006. I consider myself lucky as my mother Lois Ford was very involved in our community from her membership in the Cave Creek Mothers Club to her time working side by side with another of our town’s gems, Martha Arnold, at Dr. Marty Chattman's Desert Foothills Medical Clinic next to Frontier Town which ultimately moved to a spot on Black Mountain.  

I was in the last graduating 8th grade class of our original school – yes, CAVE CREEK SCHOOL right in our historic core, as we have come to know it today. I went to Paradise Valley High School by bus from home because we were that sleepy, amazing place then known as the Cave Creek-Carefree area. We all were so proud of that time! We all supported Carefree when they became The Town of Carefree. We also knew our town needed to incorporate or we would be a community of Cave Creek that really would have been a part of the City of Phoenix instead of having control of our own future and life style. 

As a town, we were so lucky to have some very amazing leaders such as Jackie Davis, Steve Lamar, oh, and that great gem Martha Arnold. 

There were so many others during that time I could never begin to mention them all so as not to miss any I will just say visionaries.

I have shared a little of my history and my true love of the town I have called home for 45 years; I plan on Cave Creek being my home for as many years as the Good Lord allows me to enjoy. I’d love it if it were 40 more but that we never know so I will not stand by and ignore what I have had to watch over the last year and more so over the last few months.

I was beyond angry when I heard and then saw in writing lies and unacceptable comments against Steve Lamar, who not only helped our town incorporate but also served several terms as one of our elected council members. He gave nothing but his total commitment to Cave Creek citizens while also serving our state in the Arizona State Attorney General's Office. The level of filth in which a certain group of (I use this almost with sadness) so called Cave Creek town folk will wallow is outrageous and unacceptable personally, and I would hope most of my fellow Cave Creek citizens would find it intolerable. 

I stayed silent but these stories and what I see happening each day in our town have made me fully understand that our town is not ours any longer. The depth of this filth has gone lower than even I ever thought was possible.

I have had the pleasure of working in our community for many years in emergency services and in the last four years as a member of our Cave Creek Planning Commission. Giving back to a community that has given so much to me has been enjoyable.

I have watched a town I love take a turn recently in a direction that saddens me and out right angers me. I have watched a group of people who only use hate and fake stories to make them look like they are telling the truth when we are all being lied to or treated with disrespect and false information. It’s time we as citizens open our eyes and see what is really happening under the direction of a council that wants power without doing what we elected them to do: direct our town to become stronger not weaker, as I am seeing now. I guess by hiding and starting false stories their campaign platform of “transparency” is well hidden behind a curtain.

I didn't get hit over the head by a window and end up in the wonderful Land of Oz. I live in and love my town! Cave Creek, Arizona – not Oz and the Scarecrow. It's time we all wake up and see the truth that so called transparency is not truth, but hidden agendas and king maker moves. We are going to have a recall and as citizens we need to look at everything, not just a magic wand a few elected officials try to use to fool us and confuse us. We need to have a town as described in the Arizona Constitution, a Town Manager-Council type of town, not a Mayor-Manager town like our neighbors in Carefree.

Carefree decided they preferred the Mayor-Manager form and that has worked well for them with an excellent Town Manager in Gary Neiss and a good mayor and council. In Cave Creek our founders decided on a Manager-Council form so we are required to conform and it has worked well for nearly 30 years. Well, that is until recently anyway. Lately we have had a silent mayor who I respect, but whom has not been leading strongly as he did during most of the years he served as Mayor. Now he remains almost silent while others on our council really seem to be running the show. That saddens me but I can’t deny it even if I wanted to.

First, right or wrong, they fire a town manager on the first night of their new council term. No discussion, no chance to discuss issues with the town manager, yet they say it’s transparent. Name a new town manger that very night without public notice and little comment. I was in attendance that night and spoke, but was ignored. The only change was offered by Mayor Vince Francia to go ahead with termination but wait a few short days to "interview candidates" for possible alternate interim managers. Well there were three and the one picked was the name brought forth on the first meeting night. While being a nice enough guy, he had no qualification for the job and was already interviewing that night before it was even publicized to identify other candidates. Transparency? I think not! Council meetings become a waste of an evening as in most cases council had already made up their mind. It was just a way to put on a show like PT Barnum. Transparency? I think not!  

A great way to stabilize the situation would have been to name Carrie Dyrek, our long time Town Clerk, as interim town manager while new town manager candidates were vetted. No. Council had to do it the Ringling Brothers way and waste more of our money by naming and paying an unneeded and unwarranted interim town manager. This money could have been used in many ways to improve our town – such as roads, lower water bills or any form of improvement. Transparency? Not even close.

I ask all that as you make your choices, consider the lies and wasted money. The direction in which this council is taking the town is very troubling at the least.

Let’s honor what we as Cave Creek citizens want – an amazing town with great history with no one stooping so low as to create lies and stories which only help those with a hidden agenda. We are not blind. The present group is not transparent. I ask for Transparency! That is what I expect and hope you all do too.

I am very proud. In more than 40 years I have lived in this amazing place, I was lucky to witness first Cave Creek-Carefree and then the Town of Cave Creek and our good neighbors, the Town of Carefree. We need to show our personal right to have the town we want and not one that is hiding behind a Land of Oz curtain! I speak in front of that hidden curtain that must be opened for us all! So I have decided to run for a council seat in November.