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Naming Names at Public Forums

Dear Sedona Eye Editor,

 

During regular business meetings of the Sedona Fire District Governing Board, as every Public Forum Session is about to commence, Chairman Dave Blauert warns, “No personal attacks will be tolerated.” It seems to me there is a colossal lack of understanding between members of that Board and the public with regard to what constitutes a personal attack.

 

The five currently seated members of the governing Board are Ty Montgomery, Charles Christensen, Dave Blauert, Phyllis Erick and Craig Dible. Placed before each of them is a small placard bearing their names. As those placards are facing members of the public in attendance at the meetings, it stands to reason they exist for the sole purpose of identification.

 

When members of the public speak during Public Forum and reference statements of fact regarding business conducted by members of this Board on behalf of the people or in some cases — in spite of the people — or reference direct quotes from prior meeting minutes, it is NOT, as Charles Christensen asserted during the January 25, 2012 meeting “unacceptable” to use the names of Board members. Neither does referencing his or any other Board member’s name in that context during the Public Forum session constitute a personal attack nor provide cause for Dave Blauert to bang his Chairman’s gavel.

 

Throughout the course of SFD Governing Board meetings, recorded blunder upon blunder upon blunder do, in fact, reflect VERY negatively on the individual performances of members Dave Blauert, Charles Christensen and Phyllis Erick – each now the subject of recall election. It is understandable they might like to distance themselves from any and all personal responsibility – instead, preferring to indict the entire Board for any wrongdoing.

 

However, when, as a matter of record  Board member Phyllis Erick — autonomously and without prior Board consent — commits taxpayer funds, after which all the members of the Board must come together to either approve an already paid invoice or ratify the expense of long previously utilized legal services, she must, by name, be held accountable before the people.

 

When Board Chairman, Dave Blauert repeatedly fails to call for a vote after a motion has been made and seconded, and frequently forgets the verbiage of or incorrectly restates motions before him, he too, must by name, be held accountable before the people.

 

And when Board Clerk, Charles Christensen, in the face of documented facts, many of which he himself has called for, says, “I just don’t buy it!” then he, as well, must be held accountable, by name, before the people for his frequently erroneous, but doggedly held opinions.

 

These are public meetings. Board members are public servants — not dieties. Like most people under most circumstances, those Board members are treated with the respect they have earned and accordingly, their days on this Governing Board are coming to a close. Citizens, taxpayers, voters who once believed the fallacies these incompetent people continue to put forth as fact, are now ashamed and embarrassed to have placed them in office.

Wendy Tanzer
VOC
 

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5 Comments

  1. Outraged Voter says:

    The Tale of The Mystery Video

    The regular business meeting of the Sedona Fire District Governing Board was held on February 22, 2012. On February 24, 2012, I watched the video of that meeting at http://www.sedonafire.org. On February 25, 2012, I asked my husband to view the meeting because Business Manager Karen Daines and Interim Fire Chief Terry Keller had provided a wonderful audio – video presentation of SFD Staff’s response to the RSM McGladrey audit results.

    But the video had disappeared. It simply was no longer on the SFD website. Where did it go? Any why? No explanation of its sudden removal provided.

    Staff’s response to the McGladrey audit illustrated in great depth (far greater than the McGladrey team bothered to delve) how superficially compiled this $190,000 audit actually was. Subsequent comments by Board member Ty Montgomery further substantiated that fact.

    It is NOT in the best interest of the current Board majority – each of the three now subject to the recall election – to have those facts available to the public. But they do want the taxpayer to foot the bill for a full page ad in the Red Rock News to publish the few sentences contained in the audit report supporting their faulty at best, positions. Again attempting to wantonly squander public funds to further their own agendas.

    Shameful! People have the right to see the entire audit report AND to see all perspectives pertinent to its interpretation – not just those put forth by Board members desperate to justify an overwhelmingly expensive and completely unnecessary audit!

    The recall election cannot arrive fast enough.

    These contemptible acts must be stopped and sanity must be restored to the Sedona Fire District Governing Board sooner rather than later. Demand disclosure of all meeting videos. Facts are facts! Let the people decide who has been trying to play them!

  2. Tom Longo says:

    Wendy and Outraged Voter, you are both right!

    People who are elected to office need to own up and take responsibility for their actions. They also need to realize that when SFD taxpayers mention their names, they are not personally attacking these individuals…they are just making them accountable for their actions.

    As those board members who are being recalled have discovered, the truth hurts and that’s why they are trying to hide the facts by pulling some of the critical SFD meeting videos of the SFD meetings from its website, preventing taxpayers from speaking up by eliminating the Public Forum section of the Agenda and having many of their meetings in executive session.

    In this upcoming recall election, it is critical that the voters be well informed on all of the facts being presented to them by those who are being recalled. Voters need to do their due-diligence.

    Beware of false information being circulated!

    A case in point: During the last SFD election Joe Demme and his slate insisted that there was a need for a “forensic audit” to uncover financial irregularities within the SFD. After a lengthy and very expensive fishing expedition by McGladrey, those allegations were proven totally unfounded. Obviously, that misinformation was circulated to shed a negative light on SFD staff and get Demme and his slate elected under false pretenses.

    This time around, we, as responsible and informed voters, need to make sure that we do not succumb to false allegations and misinformation. Let’s analyze everything carefully before we accept them as “facts.”

    It’s high time to bring sanity and integrity back to the SFD board by replacing the recalled members of the SFD board. Our lives depend on it!

    Tom Longo
    Sedona, AZ

  3. Concerned SFD Taxpayer says:

    We are blessed by having the best and most professional fire/EMS service in Arizona. They are the envy of many other jurisdictions. Yet, the recalled members of the SFD board fail to recognize this fact and keep trying to disassemble this well-tuned organization. None of these board members even have a clue on what it takes to run such a crucial 24/7 operation.

    It’s a fact that our firefighters are NOT the highest paid in our area.

    Their salaries and benefits are based on salary surveys being done on a regular basis.

    In addition, the SFD operation is NOT more expensive than the one for the Flagstaff Fire Department as insinuated by some recent information being circulated on the internet.

    One needs to add its Capital Improvement Program (CIP) costs (fire stations, fire trucks, ambulances etc.,) that are part of the regular city CIP budget and excluded from the Fire Department budget. In addition, in Flagstaff, the administrative functions (Personnel, Finance, etc.,) are centralized in the regular city budget, while they are part of the SFD budget.

    Once you do that, you get the TRUE cost for running the department. It should also be noted here that the SFD covers an area of 168 square miles, while the Flagstaff Fire Department is responsible for only 63.6 square miles. DON’T BE MISLED BY MISINFORMATION. You owe it to yourself to check the facts BEFORE you accept them as the truth.

    In the upcoming May recall election, it’s critical that we make sure that their seats are filled by individuals who truly believe in open government and not back room politics. It is also crucial that these individuals are completely honest and fiscally responsible, while still maintaining the quality of services that the SFD’s residential/business community is accustomed to and expects.

    It’s up to us to elect individuals with the caliber and professionalism sorely needed on the board. Take the time out and visit http://sedonaeye.com/sfd-recall-election-candidate-biographies .

  4. Jackie says:

    get those expensive sfd lawyers we’re paying for and demand that all the videos go back up. damn it all whose paying those salaries and why can’t we watch publicly the videos that we paid for?!@! i might not have had much of a problem with the board in its early days but now i do. arrogance? we elect you and you get arrogant? bad enough to see social graces of the lower classes displayed by board members from pornography to outbursts unbecoming elected officials but it is time for a change and let this district move on and conduct business as it should.

  5. Wendy Tanzer says:

    Dear Sedona Fire District Residents,

    Among the biggest perceived problems in the upcoming presidential election is the ever-widening chasm between the haves and the have-nots. A very real issue is people with vast holdings being able to contribute great sums of money — either directly or through super PACs — to those candidates who most closely align with their agendas.

    Please don’t be fooled; local elections are funded in exactly the same way. So often the “old guard” means “old money” — and plenty of it! Did you know there is NO LIMIT to the amount of money individual candidates for the Sedona Fire District Governing Board can contribute to their own campaign?

    Being opposition candidates facing those obstacles can feel overwhelming — perhaps even insurmountable. Like so many of the questionable decisions the current Board majority has made, it can appear as if the “fix is in.” But it doesn’t have to be that way. Together WE can turn the tide against those who believe the size of their bank accounts equals a guaranteed recall victory.

    What has always beaten the elite is strength in numbers. What WE, the majority of voters, lack in “vast holdings” we are able to make up for in sheer volume. Don’t wait on the sidelines to see what happens. And don’t think a small donation won’t make a difference. EVERY DOLLAR MAKES A DIFFERENCE! Don’t hesitate. Make your checks payable to:

    Committee to Elect Diane Schoen
    Committee to Elect Nazih Hazime
    Committee to Elect Corrie Cooperman

    Then mail to:
    Wendy Tanzer, Treasurer
    35 High Sky Drive
    Sedona, AZ 86351

    Your donation will help support every avenue we pursue toward ultimate election success. Join your friends and neighbors and be part of our winning team. Thank you!

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