Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sloppy Work Or An Open Meeting Law Violation?

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Yesterday, Don Bristow wrote an incisive analysis of the Council's January 16 discussion of the non reappointment of citizen Gil Alexander to the CDRB.

Don questioned whether a letter sent by the Mayor claiming that the Council had decided not to reappoint Mr. Alexander and the "block vote" denying this appointment by the Mayor and his three council allies, Council Members Waters, Snider and Hornat, constituted a violation of the Arizona Open Meeting law.

The Arizona open meeting law is intended to keep the governance of the State's cities and towns in front of the residents. Essentially, as it relates to Oro Valley, the Oro Valley Town Council can not make decisions unless these are made in front of the public.  Council Members are not allowed to meet in small groups to discuss issues on which decisions will be made . They are not allowed to poll each other.  Decisions must be made at public council meetings.

Any representation that the Council made a decision upon which all council members did not opine or vote at a council meeting is a violation of the open meeting law. That, in essence, is the letter sent to Mr. Alexander.

The letter sent by the Mayor sent to  Mr. Alexander is signed by Mayor Hiremath. It is dated November 21, 2012.  The first sentence of the second paragraph reads:
"While we acknowledge and appreciate your service, the Council has decided not to reappoint you to the Conceptual Design Review Board at this time."
The Mayor "explained" at the January 16 council meeting that the word "Council" should have included the work "Liaison."  Thus, to the Mayor, the statement in the letter was a simple mistake. It was an oversight. So, really, in his mind he is guilty of nothing other than perhaps sloppy work.




We've excerpted portions of this exchange between the Mayor and Council Member Garner.  Watch the video. You be the judge.

In the video, the Mayor is seen taking offense to further exploratory questions posed by fellow Council Member Bill Garner regarding the supposed "violations" alleged to Mr. Alexander.  The Mayor says the specific violations were in the council packet, which they were not.  Clearly 'winging it', the Mayor then asks a rather off-point question on what is the plural of the word council?  The question was so off-point that all Council Members sat in stark silence. Finally, clearly unwilling to enter into an fortright dialogue, th Mayor bangs the gavel and calls the on Vice Mayor Waters, the CDRB Council Liaison, to "bail him out."   Clearly, the Mayor had no substantive reason to not reappoint Mr. Alexander; unless one concludes that there is someone waiting to take the position, some "groomed" for the job, as noted by Vice Mayor Waters.

If the words in the letter are simply a mistake, then the letter itself is an example of  truly slopply work on the part of the Mayor.  Perhaps the Mayor should read what he signs! If, on the other hand, it is an open meeting law violation then the Attorney Generals' office should follow up.  We suspect they will. If someone is groomed and 'waiting in the wings" then identify them now. Clear up the mystery. Come our of the shadows, Mr. Mayor.
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9 comments:

Cares for OV said...

Having sent the questionable letter to Mr. Alexander, why was the Mayor allowed to make the motion to deny the reappointment? If indeed, the letter should have stated Council Liaison, instead of Council, why was the Vice Mayor, the Council Liaison, allowed to second the motion?

Obviously these two men should have recused themselves.

Faveaunts said...

Very concerned with the possible violation of open meeting laws. Doesn't anyone in local, state or federal government follow the law anymore? Whatever happened to honesty & integrity?

Victorian Cowgirl said...

In the Mayor's letter to Mr. Alexander, the Mayor claims that the sentence that reads...

..."the Council has decided not to reappoint you..."

Should have read:

..."the Council Liaison has decided not to reappoint you..."

First of all, it's not the job of the Council Liaison to make that decision, so even it that's what it was supposed to say, there is still a problem with this statement.

Second, there is another sentence in the same paragraph that reads:

"...it is the preference of the Council to invite others to participate on this advisory board."

The word liaison is conspicuously absent again. It says "Council" not "Council Liaison." Are we to believe that Hiremath left this word out TWICE?

And why wasn't the letter cc'd to ANYONE? It's bad enough that the Council wasn't copied on this, but Hiremath claims that many people were involved in this decision from the Town Attorney to the Director to the CDRB Liaison, yet not one of these people was cc'd in the letter either.

Deliberate? Or another example of bad management?

Victorian Cowgirl said...

And speaking of things that are "conspicuously absent" I can't help but notice that the Hiremath Fan Club is conspicuously absent from this discussion. You know it's bad when even your friends have abandoned you.

OV Objective Thinker said...

Board and Commission serve at the "pleasure" of the Council.

The majority of the Council chose not to re-appoint Mr. Alexander.

What is difficult to understand?

Last August an item was brought before the P&Z and the staff presented it as being referred from "The Council". In fact it was referred by Messrs. Garner and Zinkin. Why didn't anyone gritch when that little incident occured? Because it's really not important.

The Council liaison's have a GREAT deal of influence in selecting with stays and who goes.

Cares for OV said...

OVOT
We all know that Board and Commission members serve at the "pleasure" of the Council. The key word in that statement is COUNCIL.

We were concerned with the letter sent by the Mayor (or Council Liaison. In the past, appointments and denials were made during a Council Meeting. Hopefully, that will happen in the future.

Also, the Council's Liaison does not have a GREAT deal of influence in the selection and reappointment process. The liaison is merely a link between the Board or Commission and Council, and has no more influence than any other Councilmember. That should not be difficult to understand.

Nombe Watanabe said...

I see in that OV is looking for a sub-contractor style town lawyer.

I HOPE HE IS WELL VERSED IN THE OPEN MEETING LAW!

Because someday, someone will sue the town and the tax payers will end up paying.

Victorian Cowgirl said...

OVOT,

(1) An item being brought before the P&Z because it was "referred" by two members of the council, is not the same as an item being VOTED ON or DECIDED ON. It's the same as an item being placed on the Town Council agenda because it was requested by two council members.

(2) The job of the Council Liaison to the CDRB is not to influence or decide who stays and who goes. The job is to meet with members of the CDRB and answer questions regarding town policy issues. The Council Liaison also reports back to the Council regarding his interactions with the CDRB.

(3) As for your statement..."The majority of the Council chose not to re-appoint Mr. Alexander. What is difficult to understand?"

Well let's see...

It's difficult to understand why the same 4 members voted to reappoint YOU to the P&Z despite the town attorney stating that YOU had violated the rules of that board but the same 4 members wouldn't vote to reappoint Mr. Alexander even though the so-called violations he supposedly committed are laughable compared to what you did. One set of rules for their buddies, another set of rules for everyone else. How professional and ethical of them!

Victorian Cowgirl said...

"Council" means a quorum of council members. In the case of the Oro Valley Town Council, that would be 4 members.

If I saw the Mayor and Joe Hornat at a restaurant, I would say, "There's the Mayor and a council member" or "There's Hiremath and Hornat." I would not say, "There's the Mayor and Council." Joe Hornat is not the council. He is a MEMBER of the council.