This article is the active post on this subject at Parker Live. Further news on the subject will be added in the form of updates at the bottom.
“I believe that we are being blocked by the Town administration from having our special meeting. This is our only recourse.” – Mark Orgeron
The Quartzsite Town Council adjourned every item on the regular agenda today after Councilman Mark Orgeron motioned that the business should be pushed off until after a special meeting called for tomorrow.
A request for a special meeting, signed by three Quartzsite council members, was originally filed with the Town early on Friday afternoon for a meeting on Saturday, August 25th at 4 p.m. The Desert Messenger reports that the council members posted the announcement of the meeting well in advance of the 24 hours required by law, and that somebody later removed it from Town Hall.
A warning was issued late on Friday afternoon on the Town’s website, stating that council members going ahead with the next day’s meeting would violate open meeting laws. The press release said:
“Three members of the Common Council of the Town of Quartzsite, Mark Orgeron, Carol Kelley and Norma Crooks, in contravention to the advice of the Town Attorney have stated an intent to hold a Council Meeting on Saturday, August 24, 2012 at 4:00 p.m. As of 4:20 p.m. on Friday, August 24, 2012 notices of this meeting had not been posted in all of the pysical locations required by Town Code and no notice of the meeting had been posted on the Town’s website. Additionally, not all members of the Common Council had received personal notice of the meeting as required by law.”
An article at the Desert Messenger disagrees with this analysis, saying:
“Council members obviously did their job, following Arizona statutes to make a reasonable and practical effort to notify the public. Sources report that all eight posting sites in Quartzsite had the required agenda posted before 4:00pm yesterday afternoon.
Town Hall videos will prove exactly when two council members arrived at Town Hall between 1:30-2:00pm to deliver the letter, when the agenda was posted at Town Hall before 4pm, and who removed it before 4:30pm. Videos will prove when the agenda was posted at QPD before 4pm and who removed the posting before 4:30pm.
Desert Messenger was handed (in person) a copy of the letter for publication at approximately 2:30pm. Desert Messenger published the meeting announcement online at QuartzsiteBlog.com at 3:13pm, posting also to Facebook to over 300 fans and to almost 800 Twitter followers, including multiple media outlets.
According to multiple sources, by 3pm yesterday all Quartzsite council members had been notified of the meeting and items on the agenda to be discussed.”
Orgeron says on the basis of Brannan’s statement, they decided to wait until Monday’s regular meeting to request their special meeting for the next day.
The two items on the agenda for the special meeting, called for by Orgeron, Norma Crooks and Carol Kelley, read:
…discussion and possible action on the services of Town Manager Alexandria Taft; and discussion and possible reinstatement of Police Chief Jeff Gilbert.
The meeting, now requested for Tuesday at 3 p.m., is due to be posted to the Town website and other required locations today.
UPDATE 1:18pm– Also on tomorrow’s agenda: discussion and possible action on the services of Al Johnson. The Town Attorney has apparently issued another warning to the council members about tomorrow’s meeting, attached to the meeting’s agenda. The notice, which says the Town Attorney “disapproves” the agenda, says that they will be breaking the law to discuss personnel issues directly relating to Taft, Johnson and Gilbert in tomorrow’s public meeting. The notice says the only non-violating action would be to terminate Taft without cause or discussion.
UPDATE 5:40pm– Parker Live has received emerging reports that the entire Quartzsite Council have been individually served with temporary injunctions from Judge Burke at La Paz Superior Court barring tomorrow’s special meeting. Ed Foster says the news is progressing with an unusual pace this week, and expectations change by the hour. “Crazy goings-on in Quartzsite, Arizona,” he remarked. Foster’s court action requesting a writ of mandamus seating him as the Town’s mayor is also in the hands of Burke.
UPDATE 8/28 8:52am– Contrary to previous reports, there is no active temporary restraining order (TRO) in effect prohibiting today’s meeting or any action of the council regarding the items on the agenda. La Paz County Superior Court confirms that the judge has not issued any order despite the motion sent out yesterday.
UPDATE 11:00am– A court summons, signed restraining order and other legal papers were served to councilwoman Pat Workman by a Quartzsite police officer this morning. The TRO now appears to be legal and enforceable.
UPDATE 1:12pm– La Paz County Superior Court says the judge has STILL not issued an order regarding today’s meeting. Apparently Quartzsite Police Department officers were dispatched by Town Hall to ‘serve’ the council members with unsigned paperwork. But today’s meeting may still not proceed, as councilwoman Carol Kelley is reportedly in hospital for an unknown medical reason (going first to La Paz Regional Hospital and then to Lake Havasu City). More information as we have it.
UPDATE 2:49pm– Town Hall appears to be open for today’s meeting. No confirmation on who will be in attendance.
UPDATE 3:42pm– Town Hall is packed for this meeting. Town Attorney advised the council that it could not take the action on the agenda. Councilman Orgeron exchanged words with Brannan on the legality of placing Town Manager Alex Taft on administrative leave. The council then voted to go into executive session minus Taft, for counsel with Brannan.
UPDATE 4:17pm– Taft placed on administrative leave. Council could not give public reasons. She is to remain on the payroll and must check in from home each day.
Restraining order was finally signed by the judgeswitch less than 2 hours to go.