Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Guest View: Don Bristow ~ The Great “Bond” Caper (Part 3)

Last week on LOVE, “The Great ‘Bond’ Caper (Parts 1 and 2)” revealed the biased treatment of Call to Audience speakers based on whether their presentation concurred or not with the Council’s wishes. Unfortunately, censoring the first speaker (Ms. Stratman) while taking no action against the second speaker (Mr. Baker) were not the only biased acts of the council that evening.

As a preamble to Call to Audience, Mayor Hiremath read the following statement:
“At this time, any member of the public is allowed to address the Mayor and Town Council on any issue not listed on today’s agenda. Pursuant to the Arizona Open Meeting Law, individual Council Members may ask Town Staff to review the matter, ask that the matter be placed on a future agenda, or respond to criticism made by speakers. However, the Mayor and Council may not discuss or take legal action on matters raised during Call to Audience. In order to speak during Call to Audience please specify what you wish to discuss when completing the blue speaker card.”

As noted in last week’s LOVE article, Attorney Gary Verburg reiterated the above protocol during the meeting.

Protocol Schmotocol
Therefore, at that point in the meeting, the mayor, council, and town staff had TWICE heard the protocol that they must follow regarding a Call to Audience speaker. In fact, they are reminded of this protocol at every meeting. Despite this, Councilmember Solomon made the following comment upon completion of the first speaker’s presentation:

Solomon: “Mr. Mayor, there was an implication [in Ms. Stratman’s speech] that Oro Valley has a problem with their budget somehow…I’d like to ask our financial director [Stacey Lemos] to give us a brief summary of whether we are in trouble financially or not…”

Solomon initiated a financial discussion with Stacey Lemos with the intent of countering Ms. Stratman’s comments. Neither Attorney Verburg nor any councilmember objected to Solomon’s action which was out-of-order and a violation of Arizona Open Meeting Law.

Later, after the discussion on Regular Agenda Item 2 (the bond issue) had ended, Mayor Hiremath also responded to Ms. Stratman’s earlier golf course comments in his typical manner of lecturing and criticizing. As we’ve witnessed many times, anyone who questions or disagrees with the mayor and council is painted as negative and misinformed.

The fact that he delayed his lecture until after the bond issue had been discussed still did not make it allowable. He, too, violated Arizona Open Meeting Law without anyone objecting.

Recap: It’s a Matter of Ethics
  • Point of Order called against Ms. Stratman for speaking on the bond issue.
  • No Point of Order called against Mr. Baker for speaking on the bond issue.
  • No Point of Order called against Councilmember Solomon for discussing an issue brought up during the Call to Audience.
  • No Point of Order called against Mayor Hiremath for discussing an issue brought up during the Call to Audience.

With no member of Council or Attorney Verburg raising a Point of Order on any of the above prohibited actions, it calls their ethics into question.

Anyone interested in hearing all of the Mayor’s comments can go to the Town’s website and view the video of the April 5, 2017 Town Council Meeting.