Thursday, September 22, 2011

No mayor for Quartzsite?


This morning, something happened in the La Paz County Superior Court that few expected. Mayor Elect Jose' Lizarraga was determined to be "unqualified" if he failed to obtain and file a bond prior to taking office, as required by Quartzsite Town Code.This was only one of several allegations made against him by third place mayoral candidate Jennifer Jones, who contested Lizarraga's eligibility for office.

Lizarraga had not filed the required response to the contest of the August 30th mayoral election, and did not show up to court today. Contestant Jones motioned for a default judgment, but Judge Michael Burke stated the law allowed for the hearing to proceed "ex parte".

No one was present to legally represent the interests of the town, after Judge Burke had granted them intervention for relief, in the event that Lizarraga was found ineligible under the law. However, Jones argued that:
     "The arguments listed in the town’s motion to intervene were based on false premise. First, election contests were not known at common law and therefore they are purely statutory and are special proceedings, not actions at law or suits in equity.  Harless v. Lockwood, 85 Ariz. 97, 32 P.2d 887 (1958);  Brown v. Superior Court in and for Santa Cruz County, 81 Ariz. 236, 303 P.2d 990 (1956).
     This means the procedure is strictly in accordance with ARS §16-671 through 16-678.  Nowhere in these statutes is there a right of intervention and the parties are limited to contestor and contestee under ARS §16-673, 16-674.B, and 16-675.  The Town of Quartzsite is not a party under these statutes." 

Jones also asserted that Town Attorney Martin Brannan had erred in his claim that the town council has an “absolute right” bestowed upon it to appoint a mayor, to fill a vacant position, and that the mayor's seat must be filled by election, under state law and town code. Judge Burke grudgingly concurred. 

The town of Quartzsite will apparently not have a mayor, until the next election, in the spring of 2012. Because Arizona law states: "In case of the absence of the mayor the council may appoint one of their number to act in his stead.", Vice mayor Barbara Cowell is expected to chair the meetings, approve the minutes, and perform other mayor duties, but cannot assume the title or stipend of the position. 

A written ruling in the case is expected within five days.


  1. I was at the trial. Two points:

    1) The town of Quartzsite didn't send an attorney to represent it. It didn't need to. It had the judge acting as its attorney.

    This is deplorable. Judges are supposed to be neutral. Judge Burke was anything but. It didn't take long into the trial before it was obvious Judge Burke was a shill for the town. Instead of immediately announcing a forfeit/default (since the town waived its right to challenge), he instead took on the role of town attorney, actively arguing against Jennifer. And, of course, ruling in favor of his own arguments! (I wonder if he and the town had talked behind doors, it was that bad.)

    Nevertheless, Jennifer soldiered on, corrected a couple of the judge's 'misunderstandings' of the law, and finally hit upon a law Judge Burke could not twist or overrule. Good job Jennifer! She finally got Justice, but it shouldn't have been that hard.

    2) Judge Burke began the show by announcing there were to be no video recordings. Didn't want this to become a youtube sensation. Said he wanted to maintain the "dignity of the court."

    HEY, JUDGE BURKE! There is only ONE person who can maintain the dignity of the court. And that's YOU! Acting as a shill for the town was totally undignified and YOU single-handedly reduced the court to nothing more than a joke. You should be ashamed, and I suspect you knew you would be if you made it on youtube. What's wrong? Afraid of a little light? (So are cockroaches.)

    We can tape the police. We can tape public meetings. Why do cameras frighten judges so? If you're not doing anything wrong, transparency shouldn't bother you.

    Oh, wait. I just answered my own question.

  2. How refreshing, a Trial Judge that believes that even members of Government must obey the “Laws of the Land”! Could we be seeing the future of Quartzsite, Arizona from the Bench of Judge Burke where Elected Public Officials, Town Governments, and Town Employees must follow the law or be removed?

    Just how many additional challenges in our County, Arizona State, and Federal Courts are waiting in the wings for the Town of Quartzsite with Judge Burke’s rulings? I bet that the members of the League of Cities and Towns were up late last night burning the midnight oil in the Liability Insurance Offices!

    IMHO, Jose Lizarraga is nothing more than a “Puppet on a string.” If I had been challenged over my post as Mayor or even Councilman for the Town of Quartzsite I would have been there in the La Paz Superior Court to have my side of the story placed on the record and make my adversary prove every point of their accusations against me!

    Who is behind the Quartzsite Government? What are their motivations behind the slow death of not only the Government but also the Town of Quartzsite itself? Should not the members of the Council, Vice-Mayor Barbara Cowell, and Town Manager Alex Taft be forced to reimburse the taxpayers of Quartzsite for the legal fees incurred in their “Intervention” of Mrs. Jones challenge to insure that Jose Lizarraga obey the law?

    From my observations of Jose Lizarraga over the years and now his NOT showing up in a Court of Law to defend himself only shows the kind of (IMHO) spineless coward he would be as a leader for the citizens and Town of Quartzsite. Just another paid in full rubber stamp for the true head of state in the Kingdom of Quartzsite, Arizona…

  3. To Anonymous:

    In many cases like this, if a person doesn't show to court the judge or clerk-magistrate acts as the "opposing" council. This is in order to make sure that any ruling they provide is not meritless. In small claims court this is less common and a summary judgment is issued. However, in a case like this the judge wanted to be sure Mrs. Jones could prove her case.

    Second, many courts do not allow recording except through the court transcript. I know in Massachusetts, unless you are with the press video recording isn't allowed in a courtroom, and recording the session on voice recording is against state law.

  4. if he gets the bond,can lizzarga be mayor?

  5. No, it must be done BEFORE taking office!
    Section 2-1-7 Bond

    Prior to taking office, every Council Member shall execute and file an official bond, enforceable against the principal and his sureties, conditioned on the due and faithful performance of his official duties, payable to the state and to and for the use and benefit of the town or any person who may be injured or aggrieved by the wrongful act or default of such officer in his official capacity. A person so injured or aggrieved may bring suit on such bond under provisions identical to those contained in A.R.S. § 38-260. Bonds shall be in such sum as shall be provided by resolution, and the premium for such bonds shall be paid by the town.

  6. Saw your comments on Ed Fosters support page, does this mean that since there is a blanket bond, NO one on the Council has any right to be there? Anotherwords, that the City has no rightful elected offical?

  7. I believe so, but more investigation must be done

  8. Look at what you did!!!
    Bonds, Grants, Loans, that the city or county needs for construction, maintenance, education and services are written on a line of absolute.
    100 percent all affect the rights of everybody, they also, when are found delinquent are handle in matters of fraud can take any of the people who live in that area property rights and freedom.
    "THE CITY", If You hire a lawyer and go to court, If you lose your case, the lawyer still gets paid their fee and "YOU LOSE".
    When the city gets in trouble it's called, the city is in trouble, but, the people are the ones who pays and are the ones who are in trouble, basically, YOU ARE THE CITY!!!!
    Why we can't see this amazes me, What really is stupid is the whole country is is getting like this fast.
    What causes this"? Greed, flesh, and theft from the constitution and God,
    People should make a choice, to either retire and draw SSI or stay at work.
    If they draw SSI and work anything over 22 hours a week or 88 hours a month of work that person gets no tax deductions and not tax refund at all of any kind.
    Under 22 hours they will be tax on the general standard of taxes.
    It seems like the things are gone in what we once trusted to assure our faith in this world,
    Remember when we looked up to our elders for guidance and direction? It seems like more and more each day I hear our elders say I do all this for free and don't get nothing for it. Sorry, when there in new cars and nice homes and clothing, etc. Gift, found, what ever you want to call it, we all know who it belongs to, I've seen so much of this, it makes me sick!!!
    Have you went to the store lately?
    They don't give much away there, and prices are way too high. People have been given money to get right with the bills they have and still they blow it, we all do it!
    I believe in paying taxes and my bills.
    I also believe those hired to be responsible for the use of our taxes should be put on the end of a rope when found guilty of fraud and theft of it.
    I want people who examine them self Who wants to be a light for every one to see what you do when you do wrong and overcome it the right way, to know me and my desires.
    From the Moon mountain road exit, to scaddan wash, from the city dumping station to south La posa, Is a city that as small as it is, has one of the evilest demonic auras of anywhere I've been in my life.
    It is so crafted you can't even see it till you are overcome by it,
    I hear people say by the blood, saved by grace,
    People, If you turn your heart from Him the door or way out you will not see it and not know what it is.
    Worse thing is, YOU could be trusted and destroy the little that someone is holding on too.
    All the reasons don't help when the truth is you could be killing a long and great ministry for some one!
    All the young couples need this goodness for their babies, their spouse, themselves, their home, Their family, Their community.