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All I have done that
has caused me to be so soundly criticized is to request the records
-- due me as Mayor -- for review of the financial condition of the
Town of Quartzsite so that I can begin to ascertain what has brought
us to this level of insolvency -- and take steps to rectify this
situation so that we can all go forward.
Though I have been accused of continuing as Director of the Citizen's Coalition in Quartzsite, I am not. In fact, even before the Council Meeting during which Winslow requested I resign, Dean Taylor took over as the interim Director.
This small group of people initially gathered because the allegations of disenfranchisement on the part of Quartzsite's citizenry were so widespread as to actually create concern.
It's a small group of people who gathered regularly, the meetings are open, the people are friendly and community minded. To hear Winslow try to paint them as anything other than a group of concerned citizens is absurd.
Citizen Coalition meetings are taped -- all of them. The statements made pertinent to the Citizen's Coalition were not only unkind -- they were completely untrue. This is an organization that works to educate and inform, assist people in obtaining technologically useful tools [PCs, Laptops, Digital Cameras and Video units, etc.] and teaches them how to use them.
Besides making these items available at discount prices, it works as a clearinghouse for putting used equipment to good use: and it brings people -- particularly seniors -- into the technologically savvy age in which we live.
We need our older people -- people whose lives are rich with experience and historical information and ideas -- people with something constructive to offer -- to participate in our elective processes and to educate our young people.
Together we can build Quartzsite back into the unique and exciting tourist destination is was once known to be.
The councilmen's anger is almost tangible. I want them to know that I, too, am very disheartened that this situation is what it is. I rue the fact that I must continue to contact various officials, asking them to intervene and force these council people -- and Alex Taft -- to abide by the law.
This is not about 'two sides to every story' -- this is about the truth. Something has happened to Quartzsite's money and whatever has been going on, it must be brought out into the open.
If the council truly wants to put differences aside and work for the good of the town, they have only to 'put their cards on the table.' OPEN THE BOOKS and PROVE ME WRONG. If they will just PROVE that they have nothing to hide, I will quietly assume my Mayoral position and fight them no more.
The Recall efforts are already underway for those
councilmen involved in the decision to attempt to withdraw certain
Mayoral powers from newly elected Ed Foster. Those councilmen are:
Joe Winslow, Patricia Anderson, Jerry Lukkasson and Barbara Cowell.
Kelly voted against the measure and Lizarraga abstained.
"I have not encouraged recall efforts over the treatment I received Tuesday evening," Foster stated. "I have encouraged my constituents to allow the sitting council an opportunity to operate as a group... But I know there is a great deal of frustration on the part of those people because of how the situation was handled as well as the orchestration of the meeting that night. These recall efforts are a direct result of what happened that evening -- from people who feel they were disenfranchised."
Foster also acknowledged that he was aware of a recall effort against Councilman Joe Winslow and Vice Mayor Barbara Cowell that had been decided prior to Tuesday's meeting.
Councilman Joe Winslow is heard on the Town of Quartzsite's official March 23, 2010 meeting tape as the meeting prepares to open, in which he talks about 'machine gunning' five people in the front row -- most believe he was referring to several of those that would be the most outspoken -- among his critics.
Whatever the issue that prompted Winslow's comments, the statement was clearly improper and could be construed as serious enough to warrant his removal from office.
"I was stunned by his comments and feel that his actions may well have compromised his ability to lead," Foster stated. "We will have to see what happens from this point -- and what Mr. Winslow might do as the recall effort progresses."
Some of Quartzsite's more vocal citizens may have
stronger opinions on the topic:
"The comments made by Joe Winslow caught on tape just prior to the March 23, 2010 council meeting were embarrassing to all of us and apparently very indicative of just what Winslow thinks of his constituents," stated citizen and Citizen's Coalition Political Activist Dean Taylor. "He is obviously too quick with his words and doesn't think things through before he opens up on people. Not good leadership qualities."
It would seem to me to be a simple thing -- just
learn what should and should not be happening --
according to the rules -- and
then run the town according to the rules
as protocol directs public officials to
But in a move already proven to be ill-advised -- and clearly against the will of Quartzsite's citizens -- four of Quartzsite's councilmen voted to attempt to shut down certain Mayoral powers in a clear attempt to disempower a brand new Mayor.
I would criticize that move no matter who the new Mayor might be -- and no matter who orchestrated such an absurd event. After all, it's that position that the candidate ran for and that position to which that individual was elected. What's difficult to understand about that? How could anything else be done without illustrating a clear intent to circumvent or -- worse -- usurp the will of the people?
But in spite of strong and vocal opposition as well as avid indication that more recall petitions would be circulated against those that participated, four councilmen chose to do so.
And, of course, it was promptly learned by several individuals that what they had done was illegal, ill-advised and, finally ILLEGAL.
Steps will immediately be taken to prevent those that were a party to this incident from seeing this measure succeed -- the passage of which has been criticized as an attempt to prove themselves 'most powerful.' Ultimately-- they have damaged themselves, their reputations, and the already precarious effort to rebuild any semblance of professionalism and camaraderie that might have been established.
Why is this being allowed to continue? Who is making these ridiculous judgment calls? Why can't we put aside what can only be described as 'petty, personal grievances' and unite in a consolidated effort to rebuilt our community.
The voters are finally making themselves heard in Quartzsite -- and I am proud to listen to their voices. In fact, you will never see the day that I would refuse to listen to my constituents or stand in opposition to the will of those people for whom I was elected to speak.
And, even if there are officials that refuse to respond to them, it's going to be a brief matter of time before they're no longer there and true professionals are brought in to take their places. It's the voters that count and the voters that are demanding to -- finally -- be heard in Quartzsite.
We absolutely and unequivocally must show ourselves willing to listen to our constituents and to abide by their will. Anyone that doesn't understand why this is imperative should simply not be in office.
What happened at Tuesday's meeting only illustrated clearly and effectively what the residents of Quartzsite have known for too long -- that there is a force within the town's administration that stands in direct opposition to the town and its people.
Tuesday's council session was a disgrace and I am thankful that the citizens will -- under my watch -- never again have to shout to be heard.
Now, about those rules...
As the election approaches,local officials are rumored to be at the center of an attempt to bring down the 'Reform Slate Candidates Movement' with the flick of an enterprising pen -- but are citizens really so naive as to allow themselves to be so easily sidetracked?
There is still time for Quartzsite to revise and
restructure the many mistakes that have been made over the past 8-10
years. A weak council that simply allowed the things that
were done during this period was something Quartzsite could not
afford -- and the damage is now readily apparent. In the face of a
failing economy and with empty coffers as well as a tremendous debt
load, the town's people are carrying far more than they should have
to shoulder -- and it's a burden that they did not create.
Council people are expected to hold to a high standard of accountability, recognizing that their constituents -- the business people and the citizens they represent -- are their foremost responsibility. To see the council in Quartzsite criticize and condemn those that attempted to reign in an errant Mayor and, ultimately, an errant council has been incredibly unfortunate for the citizenry.
To see one unqualified 'insider' after another take their position at the head of that room, attempting to convince themselves and others that they were there simply because they could be -- has overshadowed the entire process and brought tremendous consternation on the part of the voting public.
Voters, in fact, criticized the people, the place, the methodology. And for those that dared to speak even somewhat openly, there was retribution and retaliation waiting.
Now, the tide is turning. People are meeting again in small groups throughout Quartzsite, talking about the political climate without fear. They are contacting friends and relatives, encouraging them to put together meetings where there aren't 'spies,' and more information pertinent to life in Quartzsite is being brought out than ever before.
And what started this entire matter? The stifling of public speech. The public humiliation of those who stood to ask questions or request more information. Decrying the means as well as the purpose, defenders have come forward to stop the overtaking of Quartzsite, to question those who have usurped the will of the people and run the town into a wall of dissention, mistrust, ill-will and poverty.
And the future of Quartzsite? That will be in the hands of those who display a willingness to actually listen to their constituents. Members of the community are finally talking to each other, sharing their concerns and ideas for redeveloping all that was lost during the days of discord.
With the opportunity to reorganize the town and
properly evaluate all that's transpired, there is a good chance that
Quartzsite can be salvaged before any more damage can be done.
It was once a strong community with good resources. We need a capable and sincere office staff, the makings of which already exist.
The police force is a viable part of the community and with simple modifications will remain the force for good that it was intended to be.
Quartzsite's citizens are ready for a good future where there there will be ways for the town -- and its residents -- to prosper again.
For a paper that initially indicated they wouldn't be publishing anything but good news, Quartzsite's 'other' paper is once again full of puff pieces from our illustrious incumbents -- while ignoring the actions and activities of those incumbents that brought our community to its current position -- FLAT BROKE.
Although you can't really blame people whose livelihoods depend upon advertising revenue for taking in 'advertising' -- no matter the source -- [which is why this publication has not taken advertising], clearly two factions exist in Quartzsite and, sooner or later, the ones that are preventing a public accounting of the monies that have been spent [and other things] are going to have to answer for their actions.
Attempting to justify what's happened in Quartzsite while treating this election as just another election with two differing opinions on the operation of the town is ludicrous. There are missing monies -- and not just minor amounts -- hundreds of thousands of them, escalating into many millions -- that Steve Bennett, once in office, expressed shock as well as concern over when he discovered that not only had this been happening, it was continuing to happen!
And what happened to Bennett? He was vilified -- humiliated -- driven from office. But from that point on, various people began to come forward with their own concerns and -- yes -- even then, many of them were employees of the Town of Quartzsite.
These people continue to come forward -- not to DAMAGE the town -- to PROTECT the town from whatever unscrupulous people have taken control. They are acting in the BEST interest of the community and are working behind the scenes, putting themselves and their positions on the line, in the hope that the VOTERS will see what's happening and put watchdogs in office specifically to stop the constant outflow of money and PREVENT the looting of this town from continuing to occur!
These people want to see the things that have been happening over the past 7-8 years stop happening. They want to see AN END to SELECTIVE AUDITS and CHARACTER DEFAMATION, to BACKROOM DEALS AND SECRET MEETINGS, HIDDEN BONUSES and UNETHICAL PRACTICES.
They want to see anend to the hiring of more relatives and friends that aren't hired for their skills but for the willingness to stand idly by and watch as the coffers are drained by incompetents, unable, unwilling and -- some -- unqualified to go earn an honest living.
ELECTING SEVERAL QUALIFIED CANDIDATES that are not dependent upon the town for their livings -- but who actually have decent pensions and other incomes they've earned in the past based upon their actual skills and talents will not be the ruination of this town.
These people aren't running for office because they have no place else to be or because they need the money.
They're running for office in the hope that they can save Quartzsite from what's been happening here that has rendered the town broke and on the verge of bankruptcy. They're hoping they can turn the tide and stop the reckless and unethical spending that's continuing to occur.
For all the grandstanding and manipulation of the facts that has been offered by the sitting council, none of them have acted to reign in the ridiculous spending but Mr. Jose Lizarraga -- and he needs a strong council that will endorse his brand of leadership: careful evaluation of spending and a fearless determination to see that Quartzsite succeeds as it faces a precarious future.
There is time torebuild our community and establish a new criteria for giving back control to the citizens of the town. It is not for a few people to decide that this community no longer needs nor wants vendors. It is That is for the community to determine.
If the water and sewer rates needed to be increased, why was the issue not reviewed or handled before it reached catastrophic proportions -- and why are we forcing the the Show, RV and Mobile Home Park owners to carry the entire burden, more than their share of the weight? This isn't a simple matter of increases -- these are tremendous amounts of money! To these park owners, these fees will amount to THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS PER MONTH! They will LITERALLY be FORCED out of BUSINESS! Ask yourself this, dear councilpeople -- when they are gone, on whom will the next, unequal burden by forced?
Could it be that they were UNDER-REPRESENTED because there are no show, RV or Mobile Home park owners that were appointed and not elected to the Quartzsite council that didn't get a special deal?lo;
Does this take you back to the ‘WHAT DID THEY KNOW and WHEN DID THEY KNOW IT?’ days of spiraling American government?
The vending businesses -- the mainstay of Quartzsite's financial base for many, many years, is collapsing. There is no national advertising for Quartzsite being done anywhere anymore and the vendors go where the crowds are -- so they're leaving Quartzsite behind for 'greener pastures.'
Thus, many of these show and park grounds -- which have a high overhead already and have fewer and fewer winter visitors to sustain them, are facing financial catastrophes of their own.
Their seasons -- which used to run six to seven months out of the year are now down to 30-45 days! This water and sewer legislation, an ill-conceived and ridiculous attempt to 'squeeze' revenue from our park and show owners will ultimately only serve to force them out of business even faster than the lack of crowds.
And what was the council's reaction?
Mr. Kelly cut a special deal for the residents of Q Mountain. Those people don't have to face the same burden as the rest of the mobile home park residents throughour the community.
But what happens when it's YOUR business on the line? Who will represent YOU? It's simple to see that when the parks are gone so too will be the snowbirds. And with them will go the few remaining businesses -- already cash-strapped and praying that Quartzsite will find a way to survive -- because it's growing increasingly doubtful that Quartzsite will make it through this downturn.
Instead of putting the blame for the town leadership's complete lack of foresight and accountability squarely on the backs of this small group of people. there needs to be an end to the dismal practice of allocating large chunks of money without proper accounting.
A comprehensive breakdown and analysis of Quartzsite's spending should be readily available for any citizen that wants to review it. No more should citizens be criticized or vilified for asking questions in public -- and if the citizenry determines that they want to speak before an issue comes to a vote, that should be their right.
Why should Quartzsite have a town manager that
doesn't answer the phone or return calls? Does the community
recognize that her salary alone is nearly $100,000.00 per year?
Yet just try to obtain information from her pertinent to the
finances of this community.
Under Arizona's Sunshine Laws secrecy is to be
Those running for office in Quartzsite have
established themselves as strong and capable people working to
create an open and transparent governing structure for the GOOD
OF ALL of QUARTZSITE'S CITIZENS, NOT JUST A SELECT FEW.
While the INCUMBENTS work to instill fear in the citizenry and indicate there will be 'PROBLEMS' should any of the REFORM SLATE CANDIDATES succeed in their efforts to join the council, this fear mongering is bordering on the absurd.
Council candidates are NOT in CHARGE of the council. They carry one vote each. But the incumbents know that with the inclusion of these individuals, there will be an end to DOUBLE DEALING, BACKROOM MANIPULATIONS, SECRET ENDORSEMENTS, CONSEALED FACTS and a BANKRUPT COMMUNITY.
Quartzsite's citizens did not create the dismal financial condition the community faces today, nor did they HIDE the fact that the community was INSOLVENT...
THEIR COUNCILMEN DID.
The Arizona Water Institute website indicates that that agency has closed due to budget cuts [LINK HERE] and a notation on the page states that the agency had lost its funding.
The concern then becomes this: When
funding cuts effect public safety, what is it that's continuing to
be funded -- and why?
Is there something more important on the agendas of community leaders than the safety of the public water supply?
Among the concerns in regard to Quartzsite's water are the known toxic plumes per ADEQ documents that have been an issue, the pharmaceuticals that -- until recently -- people have been advised to flush when dated, obsolete or no longer required, and the fluoride additive that is under fire around the world as people have discovered fluoride's devastating effects.■
Clean water is a necessity for public health. Without it, those consuming it -- animal or human -- become ill, sometimes irreversibly so. Why shouldn't this be an issue that's accessible to the public so they can vote on its importance in their lives? If the general public doesn't care about drinking water safety and standards, then it would quickly become a non-issue. But if they do, they should be able to simply vote to remove those 'less-concerned' officials out of public office.
After all, the leadership in this country is to represent the interests of the public -- the many, not the few.
Read more on this topic:
■ Group says Arizona water pollution exceeds legal limits - Phoenix Business Journal
■ Arizona Well Owner's Help
■ Arizona Water Resources
■ The Impact of Mining on the Aquifer
■ Peak Water: Drilling into Arizona's Aquifer has Caused Aquifers and Rivers to Run Dry
Do you have 'inside' information that would be appropriate for WIKILEAKS? Upload it without fear of reprisals HERE.
Pool Water Stirs Controversy
When STEVE BENNETT sent out this letter Friday evening, he was obviously concerned about the water flowing into his pool.
And when Bennett contacted the Quartzsite Town Hall Friday, it was more to ask a question than to lodge a complaint.
"What is that, anyway?"
According to Bennett, he had begun filling his pool only to discover a strange color and an even more unusual sight. He couldn't see through the murky water to the bottom of the pool.
Bennett, prior Mayor of Quartzsite [elected, not appointed] decided to allow anyone interested in the issue to visit his property and secure their own photographs. And he put the story of how this issue had happened into an e-mail and sent it out, indicating to recipients that they could forward it wherever they wished.
Fortunately, the issue wound up in the hands of ADEQ -- who has promised to arrive Monday to do an investigation.
Bill Moore has written extensively about this issue and is making the safety of Quartzsite's water a campaign issue.
Moore's photograph of this water in a beaker -- as well as a much discussed shot of a bottle filled with Bennett's pool water -- clearly depicts his concern over the safety of the town's water.
Is there a problem? If so, how widespread is it? Have other citizens complained about water issues without making their concerns public? Or have they not encountered any problems and can register their positive experiences with the town's water supply.
Bill Moore has been an elected official. [Elected, not appointed.] It would appear he may soon be elected again. Does he represent the concerns of the people?
[Click here for Moore's letter concerning this issue.]
Now that this issue is receiving media attention, we welcome citizen's comments concerning their thoughts.
If Quartzsite's citizens would like
to voice their opinions on this topic, we would like to hear them.
Write, call or e-mail, we'd like to know what you think.
Arizona Enacts Firearms 'Constitutional Carry'
PHOENIX -- Governor Jan Brewer's just signed the new "Constitutional Carry" firearm law, making Arizona the 'beacon state' for the entire nation on the gun-rights 'right-to-carry'issue.
Arizonans, who have always been free to carry firearms openly since the state acquired statehood in 1912, can now carry discreetly as well, without the issue of permits or other 'read tape.' Vermont, considered a low-crime area by virtually all standards, has enjoyed this freedom since Colonial days. While the permit system remains in place, it will no longer be a requirment for discreet carry.
Arizona's has very strict laws concerning the criminal misuse of
firearms -- and these laws will remain unaffected by what are
being touted as 'the new public freedoms,' although the penalty for
criminal use of firearms has been enhanced, and bringing widespread
support from law enforcement, and causing the legislation to be more
Alaska had enacted a Constitutional Carry law in 2003, while Texas passed a limited version intended primarily for use by travelers in 2007.
Montana's similar law has been on the books since 1991 on 99.4% of its land (that lying outside city limits). Interestingly, these states have experienced no increase in crime or accidents related to these expanded freedoms to discreetly bear arms in public. However that didn't prevent the expected dire warnings of "blood in the streets" that preceded the implementation of the new laws, all of which were ultimately proven false.
What many considered an 'intrusive government permit' system in Arizona was introduced in 1994. With it began an extensive array of paperwork, approvals, fingerprinting, criminal-database listings, required classes, two mandatory tests, taxation and expiration dates to exercise rights.
That option is still available but, ultimately required the use of extemsive police resources that most believe should be utilized to reduce crime instead of being diverted into a program of registering, regulating and tracking the innocent, with no history of abuse.
Essentially, only 3% of the public have signed up for what amounts to a plastic-coated permission slip, although an about 50% of the state's population maintains their right to keep and bear arms. Official sources admit they get millions of dollars per year from the resulting permit taxes now labeled 'fees.'
Dave Koppe, a lobbyist for the Arizona Citizens Defense League that promoted the new law states, "This new law brings rights restoration for the public, and an increase in freedom for law-abiding people."
"The people have the same right to bear arms discreetly that they have to bear arms openly, we are simply correcting statute to reflect that. If your jacket accidentally covers your sidearm, that no longer exposes you to criminal penalties. A woman will be able to put a handgun in her handbag, go about her business, and not be subject to arrest."
Conflict of Interest Charge Against Quartzsite's 'Acting Mayor' Wes HuntleyWhen WES HUNTLEY refused to recuse himself from a meeting on backflow devices Tuesday, April 13, 2010, it was a violation of the law.
You don't have to wait until The MINESHAFT goes to press! You can get the storylines as they become available by checking back here. As you already know, 'the world turns on a dime' in Quartzsite and there are always interesting things afoot. Don't be in the dark! Click here To Make The MINESHAFT Your Homepage!
Most of these investigations started with a handful of concerned citizens with evidence of wrongdoing on the part of officials.
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Edward L. Foster
Post Office Box 956
Quartzsite, Arizona 85346
Verifying the Facts:
In Quartzsite, when listening to complaints about the media, find out why they're complaining.
Then read whatever publication they've said they're reading and
make certain they are not misrepresenting the content. Compare facts
Then find out how they're related to the sitting town council or representatives of the sitting town council and ask them this:
Why are they afraid of The MINESHAFT?