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Culture of Contempt at City Hall

Sedona AZ (October 2, 2012) – In a Letter to the SedonaEye.com Editor, Warren Woodward lambastes City of Sedona public employees and elected City of Sedona officials for “arrogance and contempt” toward City taxpayers and residents writing “I see an increasing culture of contempt at “beyond the pale” levels from City Hall for those of us who live here and question authority.” Woodward specifically addresses the “unprofessional manner” in which Sedona City Manager Tim Ernster responded to Sedona citizen Jean Jenks request for public information:

Dear SedonaEye.com Editor and public,

First there were the undeserved “atta-boys” that Assistant to the City (of Sedona) Manager, Nick Gioello, received for his lame response to my calling him out for disseminating APS propaganda. The “atta-boys” included the callous boast from Councilor Martinez that he’d have been sarcastic to me if it was him replying.

Then, Sedona resident Terrie Frankel was treated haughtily and rudely by Mayor Adams at a recent Council meeting. Her crime was presenting a viewpoint different from Adams.

Then, at a subsequent council meeting (on 9/25/12), Mayor Adams had the effrontery to open the meeting by saying “To those folks out in TV Land that are watching this meeting, get a life.”

Can you imagine?

This is a man who supposedly encourages citizen involvement, a man who voted to expend the funds necessary to televise the meetings, and now he is gratuitously insulting the people who watch the meetings, telling them to “get a life”?!

I have two words for “Adumbs” and they are not Thank You.

By the way, don’t bother looking for his snide remark in the meeting’s video minutes. It was conveniently edited out. How’s that for integrity?

But wait, there’s more!

To top it off, read the email exchanges (below) between Sedona resident Jean Jenks and City Manager Tim Ernster. Note that Ernster does not answer any of Jean’s valid points. Note that all he does is defend his staff while insulting Jean. Truth must hurt because here is a man obviously in pain. Lashing out is all he can do.

Note also how Ernster shamelessly guilt-trips Jean for not joining a board or commission. He says, “If you really cared, if you were really serious about this, you would join a board or commission….” So, the criteria for “caring” and “being really serious” in Ernster’s world is joining a City board or commission.

He might as well have told her to shut up. What a disgrace!

‘Caring’ and ‘being serious’ about City issues has zero to do with being on a board. Besides, there are many reasons why someone might not able to serve on a board even if they wanted to — time, health, work, transportation, and probably other reasons I cannot think of right now.

In addition, Ernster is nobody to be setting the standards of ‘caring’ or ‘being serious’ for the rest of us who pay his sky-high salary (roughly $200K, including the bennies). How dare he tell any one of us what to do!

Here is a man living at our expense.

Here is a man hired to serve us.

Where is his decorum?

I am disgusted.

I think it is time for Sedona to part company with Mr. Ernster. Under his “guidance” we have only had multiple fee increases (see Jean’s list below).

Despite having to pay him 6 months salary plus other incidentals to sever his employment, it would be worth it in the long run. Ultimately we cannot afford him or his bad and costly ideas. Certainly we should not tolerate his deplorable conduct.

Please forward this article. The exchange between Jean Jenks and Tim Ernster is public information. People need to know just what kind of arrogance and contempt there is at City Hall for those of us who live here and “question authority.” Read the email exchanges between Sedona resident Jean Jenks and City of Sedona Manager Tim Ernster below:

—– Original Message —–

From: “Tim Ernster” <TErnster@sedonaaz.gov> To: “Jean Jenks” and “Barbara Ashley” <BAshley@sedonaaz.gov>; “Karen Daines” <KDaines@sedonaaz.gov> Sent: Friday, September 28, 2012 9:36 AM

Subject: Re: Financial Integrity of City Hall At Risk

Hi Jean,

Obviously, the only person confused here is you.

And, I am very disappointed that you are unwilling to meet with the staff, which tells me you are not interested in the facts. It is just easier for you to lob out your nasty e-mails from home unfairly attacking the staff and the City with your inaccurate assumptions. Karen is an outstanding Assistant City Manager, and her strong financial background and credentials make her well-qualified to manage the City’s financial issues. I have complete confidence in both Karen and Barbara Ashley, and I trust their numbers and their analysis.

Their information is certainly more accurate and reliable than your flawed and twisted analysis. I think it is really sad that you don’t get involved beyond your inaccurate and offensive attacks on staff and the City.

If you really cared, if you were really serious about this, you would join a board or commission, or you would at least make the effort to meet with us to at least try to understand the numbers. We actually have a Budget Oversight Commission, and currently have a vacancy. You should apply.

Feel free to fill out a public records request form for the restricted reserves totals that you asked for. I’m sure we can accommodate the request.

Have a great weekend Jean.


“Jean Jenks” 9/28/2012 8:33 AM >>

Hello Tim,

Why would I want to read CDM’s Wastewater Rate Study again? Once was plenty.

Quite frankly, Tim, I think you may be confused. I suggest you review the “Summary Schedule of Estimated Revenues and Expenditures/Expenses,” published June 15 and 22, 2012 in the RED ROCK NEWS under the title of “PUBLIC NOTICE CITY OF SEDONA Budget Adoption – 2012-2013 Fiscal Year,” and familiarize yourself with Item 5, “Total Debt Service Funds.”

The City is fiscally irresponsible, overspending, and has an enormous bond debt. It is in dire need of setting up a Debt Service Fund account, maintaining a minimum balance of two year’s worth of debt service obligations due and owing. Interfund transfers from the General Fund to the Debt Service Fund would be the source of capital. Thank you for offering, but I have little interest in attending a meeting wherein I get fed rosy BS about City Hall’s financial position. Not to mention that I am not the party who needs help. And remember, I am requesting Karen Daines, a participant, to be given a pink slip.

To reiterate, the City of Sedona needs to have honest dialogue with the public. By taking $43.7 million, failing to deduct the funds Council budgeted to restrict for specific purposes/expenditures, and then stating the City’s reserves total $43.7 million, the City is deceiving the public in my opinion. And, as I stated before — listing several travesties — the City’s financial practices continue to be a shell game.

In addition, if City finances were in the great shape claimed by Council and staff, then how come our already highest-in-the-region sewer fee has been increased and is scheduled to increase yearly, ultimately doubling? How come businesses have to pay new “licensing fees?” How come there are now “court costs?” How come citizens have to pay an undemocratic $250 fee to get an opinion in the City’s voter Publicity Pamphlet? The proof is in the pudding, and ours has gotten expensive!

Have a good weekend,


P.S. I am still wanting to get the Restricted Reserves total for the FY ending June 30, 2012.

—– Original Message —– From: “Tim Ernster” <TErnster@sedonaaz.gov> To: “Jean Jenks”; “Karen Daines” <KDaines@sedonaaz.gov> Sent: Thursday, September 27, 2012 3:32 PM

Subject: Re: Financial Integrity of City Hall At Risk

Hi Jean,

Thanks for the email and input. I will discuss your email and its content with Karen and get back to you.

I don’t agree with you that the City is trying to “trick” the residents into thinking that the City is better off than it really is. I also don’t agree with you that the City’s financial integrity is at risk. Karen, Barbara and I would be happy to meet with you at your convenience to review the finances if you think it would help you.

I have copied Karen on this response. In the interim, I suggest you review the Wastewater Rate Study approved by the City Council in February 2010 for an explanation of how the wastewater reserves play into debt service and future wastewater capital projects.

Let us know if you would like to meet.

Have a great day Jean.

Tim >>>(end email exchange)

As I said above, let me say again in closing, “People need to know just what kind of arrogance and contempt there is at City Hall for those of us who live here and “question authority.”

Warren Woodward
Sedona AZ


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  1. Rick says:

    He said it best.

  2. david says:

    Arizona has a of history of terrible people running our government, at all levels, look no further then Tom Horne as a perfect example.

  3. E.S. Maddock says:

    As you are aware, Warren, I was so stunned when I read your remarks relating to Mayor Rob Adams’ opening words at the last City Council Meeting, I took it upon my self to contact him. The following comments were part of my ensuing e-mail exchange with him referring to the following specific made by the mayor, taken from your article: “To those folks out in TV Land that are watching this meeting, get a life.”

    “Gee whiz, Rob. Is it true? Did you open the meeting by advising the folks out in TV land watching the council meeting to get a life? ”

    Mayor’s response and subsequent e-mail exchange:

    Rob: Obviously, this comment was made tongue in cheek. Maybe I should have said “get a sense of humor”.

    Eddie: For the life of me I just don’t find it amusing to knock people who take the opportunity to follow council meetings via live TV. If that wasn’t the intent, why did the city pay to contract the service?

    Rob: It is ironic that members of the public can constantly make vitriolic and unsubstantiated comments regarding the city budget, the length of the council meetings or anything else that happens to be the complaint of the day, but the mayor cannot make a comment in jest.

    Eddie: The last I knew government’s primary purpose was to serve the people, both functionally insofar as providing what is required to benefit and maintain health, safety, and welfare for a community in general as well as being a vehicle whereby constituents, who made incorporation possible in the first place by voting approval, would have continued access to speak freely insofar as voicing their own opinions and concerns. Perhaps elected officials should not take an oath of office if they find public input offensive or turn it into a matter of mocking those who would dare question issues encompassing any or all activities at City Hall.

    Rob: As I said, I wasn’t “knocking” anyone. It was a comment made in jest, referring to the length of Council meetings. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have said it.

    Eddie: See, we both agree on that.

    Rob: I have been serving the people as a city councilor for almost seven years now. I have never objected to my constituents speaking freely. I do object to the uncivil behavior and language that I hear from some people.

    And guess what, we both agree on this as well.

    Warren, the dialog was parlayed into other subjects not directly pertaining to your submission which I perhaps will address at another time. At least and as always, Rob Adams responded for which I thank him.

  4. Warren says:

    @ Eddie:

    The person who relayed Rob’s “get a life” quote to me happened to be in “TV Land” watching at the time and was quite offended. She definitely did not think Rob was funny.

    So it looks like poor Rob still hasn’t learned. Here is what I told him 2 years ago when he thought he was being witty and clever with me: “Next time try dealing with the issues rather than making quips. Since you are not good at either, better to focus on the former before attempting the latter.”

  5. Time for a house cleaning, for those of you unfamiliar with the players, Karen Danes was the previous “Business Manager” for Sedona Fire during the time period their budget doubled. She is an expert at seeing that every taxpayer dime gets spent. She is known to send a proposed budget back to insure it was raised to spend all the funds.

    We, the citizens can vote to dissolve the city and go back to a volunteer fire department. It worked before.

  6. Mayor Rob Adams has a great sense of humor. I believe he meant his remark to be taken in a humorous way, not literally. Though I agree it was in poor taste… Regarding Rob’s refusal to grant me an extra 90 seconds in my Open Forum speech at the last City Council meeting, yes that was ‘over the top’, considering only two of us signed up to speak. Regarding our City Manager Tim Ernster, I suppose he feels no obligation to be courteous and respectful to a member of the public that helps pay his whopping $200,000 salary for managing 104 City Employees (while the Scottsdale City Manager makes $180,000 for managing 2,800 employees)… Tim Ernster’s disdain for those who question him does not end with the public he ‘serves’. If Tim can’t muster some respect for Jean Jenks, he should be told what he himself often tells his long time loyal City employees, “The door is over there….”

  7. Alarmed says:

    Richard Saunders…such a ridiculous comment, but on the odd chance that someone would believe your nonsense, Karen Daines oversaw the largest reduction in the budget of Sedona Fire District in its history. She also ensured that money was not spent and put into reserve funds.

  8. Teak Monkey says:

    Dear Mr. Saunders,

    I commend you on the thought of dissolving the city Fire Dept. Although, one can only wonder how the hell that will work? My father was a Capt. with the volunteer Fire Dept. here in the 60’s and 70’s and as well as I worked for a city Fire Dept. in the valley for many years.

    The problem with a Vol. Fire Dept. here again in Sedona is that in order to have a functioning well equipped department, it relies heavily on community funding and donations. Which we all know is a problem in this community, unless it is for more art crap! Maybe we can have the fire trucks painted with some vortex/meditation new age art work on the side and get the funding that way! LMAO

    Well maybe there should be more thought into this area before we” jump the gun”.

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