Canfield cartoon

Here comes the baloney

March election season is upon us so let’s begin to take a peek at the laughable claims that are about to come to you in mailers, flyers, robo calls and the like – compliments of Trenk, Monachino, Durkin and Spitzer.

• We (I) saved the taxpayers over $1 million in budgeted expenditures! You will hear this one a lot. Actually, they kicked almost $1 million in debt payments budgeted for this year down the road – debt that has to be paid sometime. You can bet that you won’t hear a word about the crushing legal expenses they caused that are now around $200,000 and increasing every day .

• The Slate’s firing of the town manager and its defense of endless executive sessions spawned two major lawsuits.

• And you won’t hear a word about the thousands of dollars they wasted on the unqualified Mr. Glassman, his unlimited expense account, his unnecessary assistant , shiny horses, road maintenance software, public relations stunts, taxpayer funded, full color campaign newsletters, and so forth.

• We (I) identified and repaired long neglected problems with our water system! Actually, they did not clean the pump screens on schedule and discovered it only when some expensive equipment failed. Then they got caught by not cleaning the screens on schedule again and had no one to blame but themselves for that expensive problem. You heard not a peep about that costly error. The Utilities Department has a dedicated staff but no competent management.

• We (I) standardized public records requests! Maybe so, but their clever process made the records either impossible to get or to take so long as to be of diminished value.

• We (I) have been proactive in maintaining our infrastructure! Spur Cross Road has become a dangerous joke and nothing has improved anywhere else. The utilities and roads need competent management.

Ben Burgoon
Cave Creek


No leadership in Cave Creek

The Trenk Slate (Trenk, Spitzer, Monachino, Durkin) was in full bloom during its pep rally at Town Hall Thursday night Feb. 12. Among their many patently dishonest and bizarre pronouncements, we learned that:

1. The town has no responsibility for the road closures they approve to support the big box bars at the detriment of all other town core businesses – that it is really a responsibility of the businesses, and

2. The residents of Whispering Hills affected by the APS power line routing are on their own – not a town issue.

Number 1 above is clearly a municipal responsibility. There is no other way to say it or to spin it. It is just that simple. The town reported 30 Special Events in 2014 or about three every month or nearly one per week. How special is that? Road closures are sufficient reason alone to send the Trenk Slate packing as they have been a continual disaster and admittedly will continue to be in the future. There is no leadership in Cave Creek.

With regard to number 2 above, I wonder if the Trenk Slate, which has now thrown the residents of Whispering Hills under the bus, has thoroughly explored an Improvement District to accomplish the neighborhood’s goals in this matter. This is also the responsibility of the local municipality (as opposed to the County) and was, and is, the solution to the bank erosion protection problems along Cave Creek Wash, which the town has also turned its back on. Given the Trenk Slate’s appalling approach to public safety and its indifference to its responsibilities toward residents and neighborhoods, it would cost the town nothing except leadership and, hopefully, a little legal support. But, there is no leadership in Cave Creek.

These issues make you wonder who is in charge in this town. Unfortunately, the Trenk Slate is now managing even the minutest issues in detail and they don’t understand municipal responsibilities. Where does the town manager fit in? Where does the mayor fit in? With this Slate, they don’t fit in and the Slate moves ever closer to abdicating any meaningful responsibilities. There is simply no leadership in Cave Creek and that is sad because Town Council does not know what to do and Cave Creek is dangerously adrift. Cave Creek cannot vote the Trenk Slate out fast enough.

Melanie Williams
Cave Creek


Let me set the record straight

Consistent with the ongoing appalling conduct of Trenk/Spitzer and the recalled slate, they turn again to their anonymous hate bloggers to spread lies, filth, threats and half truths as part of their desperate attempt to cling to office in the face of being recalled by the citizens of Cave Creek. The latest is yet another attack on Steve LaMar who is running against Charles Spitzer. Here is the truth.

Steve represented Maricopa County in the several extremely high profile lawsuits filed in Federal District Court against Maricopa County and various elected officials which dominated the news in 2010. Several separate law firms represented the individual defendants. During the course of two years work, Steve settled four of these seven figure complaints through vigorous negotiation for less than $200,000 each which was considered nuisance value given the enormous cost of defense being incurred defending all individual defendants. These settlements were applauded by all as significant victories.

Steve also represented Maricopa County challenging a very high profile, high dollar settlement negotiated without his participation, with every appropriate defense supported by Arizona law, but would not argue positions unsupported by the law and refused to be less than candid with the Court in response to questions put to him about the status of existing law. Every lawyer in Arizona is an officer of the Court and has the ethical obligation to be candid with the Court, and to never make arguments unsupported by the law. Steve LaMar did what the law and his ethics required of him in the face of enormous political pressure from elected officials to take positions that were politically convenient but not supported by the law. As a result he was publicly criticized by an uneducated and unsophisticated reporter after being replaced as the attorney for the County. The legal position taken by Steve LaMar was thoroughly researched and adopted by the Federal District Court, and his position was vindicated by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in affirming the District Court’s ruling. After his replacement, the remaining pending County cases were each settled for high six figure or seven figure settlements (many times more than the nuisance value settlements successfully negotiated by Steve LaMar).

There are good reasons Steve LaMar was evaluated AV Preeminent in his field; the highest possible rating in both legal ability and ethical standards reflecting the confidential opinions of members of the bar and Judiciary, and was voted by his peers to the prestigious American Board of Trial Advocates.

Given that the present Cave Creek leadership has no obvious ethical standards and have been recalled by its citizens for violating election laws, open meeting laws, and public notice laws, Steve LaMar should be viewed as just what the doctor ordered for Cave Creek.

Bob Williams
Cave Creek


Proposed Carefree Cultural Center – ASU/Butte Project

To the Citizens of Carefree,

While I am in general support of the Butte Project and a Carefree Cultural Center that can serve ASU, and applaud Mr. Lewis’ efforts in bringing ASU to Carefree, I also am in support of the Desert Foothills Theater, Sonoran Arts League and other local non-profits to shared utilization of such a facility. In addition, as proposed by Mr. Lewis, a multi-purpose room could be used by the town for council chambers and meetings, relieving us of our ongoing rent burden in our current location.

I also have the following expressions and concerns:

I share everyone's concern for the future of Carefree town core (Easy Street). I want to do what is best to add many thousands of dollars to our sales tax income.

The 'town center' of Carefree, today, is at Ho/Hum, Carefree Drive and Easy Street. That is the "hub" if you will, of our present concerns. For over 50 years the Sundial has been our trademark. I think we should consider (an)other location option(s) around the Sundial.

As a commercial broker, I am totally aware of the huge economic problem we have faced (like many other cities and towns) since 2006 and slow recovery with substantial sums invested and no real way to proceed.

As a council member I must put the welfare of the town and its residents first and foremost. We have a fiduciary responsibility as the guardians of reserves and debt obligations.

Short of Ed Lewis (Butte Company) donating the land component on his property, I strongly agree with other council members that this matter should be put to the residents for a vote. Yes, that might cause the development schedule to be delayed, but there is no other way to get the type of community support everyone says is needed.

Substantial taxpayer dollars of approximately $4 – 5 million dollars are anticipated for 100 percent of the land acquisition and construction (subject to a land appraisal and competitive bidding of construction costs). Understand, as proposed, Mr. Lewis has stated he will not donate the land. Mr. Lewis also stands to benefit substantially in that taxpayer funds will be used to compensate him for his development costs of off-site and onsite improvements for approximately 25 percent of his total land area of approx. two acres in Phase 1, which also includes shared parking and common areas, etc.. Mr. Lewis stated he will build the cultural center at his costs, and there will be economies of scale. To be clear, Mr. Lewis is a developer and has hired a construction company, architects, engineers, etc., to build the Carefree Cultural Center. They are not building at their costs, as they will have profit embedded in their costs and fees.

I am also open to a 'performance based' incentive plan wherein Mr. Lewis receives funding for 50 percent of the aforementioned costs paid upon completion of his 1st Phase and the balance upon completion of his 2nd Phase – subject to all due diligence and agreed upon deliverables in a negotiated development agreement, which is openly shared in a public announcement and town hall public meeting.

Unfortunately, at this time, Mr. Lewis has made it clear he will not commit to ever finish completion of his Phase 2, and his waiver of confidence in this project has me wavering in confidence on this whole endeavor as well.

In addition, ASU has made it clear by public expression that they are open to any location in Carefree and I believe those options should be explored and debated as well 'before' the town commits to Mr. Lewis and his proposal to locate the cultural center on his property (Phase 1 only).

Additionally, my greatest concerns are the inherent risks involved that I have publicly shared and the limited 5 year commitment by ASU. If the 20 year revenue assumptions expressed by Mr. Lewis do not materialize, or ASU withdraws its commitment, then our community may have to face a property tax just to fund the debt burden and/or loss of treasury reserves. The risks are high to our small community, as we have seen in other communities throughout the country.

Michael E. Farrar
Councilman, Town of Carefree


Carefree: "Who is on first?"

After observing the past several meetings of the Carefree Town Council one might ask, "Who’s on first?" A sharp divide, as big as the Grand Canyon, exists which is a stumbling block inhibiting any progress toward 'Economic Development' and ways to jump start a sleepy Town Core. Ed Lewis says "he is done" and maybe he is. Developers have a way of promising and bluffing that only the experts really understand. The Heard walked away and the Phoenix Art Museum is on the back burner (if in the picture at all). Traffic on Easy Street fluctuates greatly by day of the week (Sunday is often like a 'ghost town') yet at other times there are crowds coming to the festivals. The Vice Mayor reports the festival traffic is about 100,000 per year. Those folks walk down Easy Street in front of our present merchants.

At the February 10 meeting we had a 3 to 3 vote (which means the vote failed) by the council to appoint an acting mayor to fill the vacancy created when David Schwan developed a serious illness and resigned. The next step seems to be to solicit interested parties to fill a vacancy on the council. Candidates must apply to the town and then undergo interviews, selection, and a vote. Given the 3/3 vote last week it could happen that 'both sides' would only vote for a candidate that pledged to support either Ms. Price or Mr. Peterson to fill the mayor’s spot... hold on, that would result in more 3/3 votes. Given this possible impasse the idea to LET THE CITIZENS VOTE might be the only solution to filling the council with seven participating bodies. During such a critical time in Carefree history we cannot afford to operate without a complete council. It is very unfortunate that Chapter 2 of the Town code was not properly updated after Direct Election of the Mayor was approved by voters several years ago. This current mess could have been completely avoided if proper attention and care had been employed at that time.

As the council members wrestle with all of the above I hope they consider the idea of looking for the 2nd and 3rd right answers regarding a location for the potential of an ASU Center. Doing a 'right sized' facility centrally located on Easy Street, across from the gardens and amphitheater, might be a great idea. It would be more financially acceptable and it could be done in a matter of months instead of years. Three or four Council members seem to be interested in considering such options. I think the public would support this idea too... and it fits right in with the 'Village' concept being discussed.

The next 3 or 4 weeks will have a long lasting effect on our town. We all need to put 'politics' aside and solve problems. After some recent procedural corrections were implemented you can now access the entire council with one email by addressing email to Council@Carefree.Org. The problem I raised at the last meeting has been fixed. Tell them what you think, folks.

Along with the excellent reporting done by Linda Bentley of Sonoran News, our new newsletter will go out after each meeting. It will be a factual and unbiased report of what was said and what the council did. Many of you are already on the list to receive this newsletter. If you wish to be added now please send an email to: and type "Subscribe" in the Subject line. We will not publish a bunch of replies ... the intent is only to report the facts.

Carefree Citizens: please stay alert and concerned. Carefree is your town and your money is in the reserves.

Jim Van Allen
A concerned Carefree resident


"Unemployment report amounts to a Big Lie"

The unemployment numbers got weird in January as they jumped dramatically across the board. The household data for January 2015 was revised, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, to "reflect updated population estimates."

In a nutshell, the underlying assumptions the government uses in the survey of approximately 50,000 households were changed due to a recalibration of how many people are in the total population, what age groups they are in, along with other considerations.

Here is how it works: The survey makes assumptions based on Census data about how many people are in the overall population and the workforce, and over time those assumptions get adjusted based upon new data. These changes adjust the gender, racial and age composition of those answering questions about their employment status. Even very modest changes in what percentage of different population groups get asked questions can create seemingly incoherent shifts in the data when compared to the previous, unadjusted months and years.

Eventually, BLS adjusts the previous months based upon a statistical formula to allow for apples-to-apples comparisons on month-to-month data.

On top of the statistical adjustments made to January's survey data, BLS also uses its normal seasonal adjustment formulas which attempt to level out the data to eliminate the glaring impacts of kids going to school and leaving the workforce in September, or the normal elimination of temporary Christmas employees once the decorations are down.

With all of those considerations in mind, it is almost impossible to draw any conclusions from the January unemploy-ment report, as the December to January data that is presented use different sampling criteria.

With all the statistical changes in the data, it gives particular pause to read Gallup Organization CEO Jim Clifton's column on the unemployment rate and its methodology where he writes, "There's no other way to say this. The official unemployment rate, which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie."

In deriding the official unemployment rate, Clifton points to the fact that those who have left the workforce even if they are of working age are not counted as unemployed. He points to the unfair categorization of a person trained to be an engineer working as a fry cook as being employed rather than underemployed.

He alarmingly notes that only 44 percent of the adult population 18 years old and older have full-time jobs (more than 30 hours a week) asserting, "We need that to be 50 percent and a bare minimum of 10 million new, good jobs to replenish America's middle class."

As President Obama asserts that happy days are here again and is urging Congress to amp up the federal government spending machine by 7 percent this year, perhaps the House and Senate Committees that oversee the Labor Department should call Mr. Clifton as a witness to tell them the truth about why people continue to feel they are running in place, working harder and harder but not getting ahead.

His insights into what the real employment situation is in America would be far more enlightening than the hodgepodge of data presented from the Labor Department that, without insider knowledge, is difficult to put into context.

Rick Manning, President
Americans for Limited Government


Truth or

Brian Williams lied about events during his tour in the theater of war in Iraq, and was released [suspended] from his post at the NBC News anchor desk.

President Obama has lied about nearly everything and was reelected to the highest office in the land. One paid the consequences, the other has not. And still no truth.

Randy Edwards
Cave Creek


Please respect private property

Please remind your readers that although the Cave Creek area is beautiful, especially around the Cave Creek wash, that nearly all of the land is privately owned. So, to all of the horsemen and women, hikers and folks with ATV's ... please respect the "No Trespassing" and "Private Road/Property" signs. Tearing the signs down and tossing them aside doesn't change the fact that it's still private property. The land owners don't owe you an explanation as to why they don't want you on their land. They shouldn't have to put up a fence to keep you out. Be fair. Be considerate. And if one of us wants to talk to you, at least have the courtesy to stop and listen. You probably don't want people wandering around on your property, either, am I correct? And to the Town of Cave Creek ... or perhaps the Chamber, or whoever ... please stop telling people to go see, or hike, or picnic at "the Creek." Most of the roads to it are private. Not maintained by the Town, but by the land owners. The surrounding land is private. The Town doesn't come pick up the trash people leave behind. Please ... respect Privacy, Peace and Quiet. That's all we're asking. Thank you.

Stacey Driscoll Stenson
Cave Creek