Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Town confidentiality memo - no longer confidential!

Town manager Alex Taft has often spoken about "transparency" in Quartzsite government. Those who live here know that reality is closer to opaque. Which begs the question, what on earth is going on at Town Hall that employees know about, yet cannot discuss - even with their spouse? Clearly this confidentiality memo is another in a trickle of "Qwiki leaks" and not exactly a well kept secret.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Scholar's Academy appeals Charter Board decision

Due to declining test scores, the Quartzsite Scholar's Academy has been denied a renewal of it's charter, with the State Charter School Board. According to Principal McClenning:

"Monday, January 23rd, The Scholars’ Academy went before The Arizona State Board for Charters seeking early renewal of its charter contract.  The original charter was for a term of 15 years, the renewal would be for twenty years.  That renewal request was denied.  The reason for denial was due to a trend of declining test scores over the past few years. 

The renewal request is now in the appeal process.  The Scholars’ Academy still has a year left on the original contract and will continue to operate and provide a quality educational choice to the children of this community.

As part of the appeal process, the school is required to submit a performance management plan that will highlight the areas in which action will be taken to improve the academic performance of students on the 10th grade AIMS test.  The faculty and staff have worked diligently to try and reverse the trend of declining test scores.  During this same time frame, the graduation rate has increased and the school continues to produce outstanding graduates.

The Arizona Board for Charter Schools does need to hear from the community about the impact the school has had on the community.   For further information about the renewal process and steps that can be taken to help The Scholars’ Academy in their appeal, please contact the school at 928-927-9420. "

Friday, January 27, 2012

Personnel Board member Gene Clark dies of cancer

Few people in Quartzsite don't know Gene Clark, 72, or his 1940 'Tweety Bird' Ford with which he won many local shows. His earthly journey ended early this morning following a battle with cancer. Gene's wife, Bernice, is requesting that people do not send flowers but instead give to their favorite charity. A memorial will be held in 3-4 weeks.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Prutch to run against Jewitt as write in

Former Quartzsite Town Manager and Building Official John Prutch has turned in papers to run an official write in campaign against incumbent Councilman Mike Jewitt. Prutch is well respected around town, and currently serves as a Fire District Board Member. It is believed that the recent termination of his daughter, Quartzsite Finance Director Heidi Turner was the motivation for his decision. This is shaping up to be a very interesting election.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Quartzsite election fraud scandal

    The town has decided that recently appointed Councilman Mike Jewitt will run officially unopposed for a two year term at the March 13th Primary Election, despite the fact that former Magistrate Judge and current Town Clerk Terry Frausto altered the candidate’s paperwork. Jewitt replaced Jose Lizarrga, who had to resign in order to run for mayor.
    Candidate Sean Austin wants to run against Jewitt, but all council candidates will now be forced to run against each other for the two seats currently held by Vice Mayor Barbara Cowell, and Councilman Joe Winslow, according to the ballot submitted by the town. La Paz County Election Board Director Donna Hale stated, “I do not believe the ballot is subject to change as it has been authorized to go to print by the Town Clerk, Terry Frausto.”
    After all of the candidate paperwork was officially received by the town in December, Frausto took the liberty of writing in the dates for the term of office instead of having the candidates themselves do it properly, prior to stamping the documents “received”. Frausto had called council candidates to ask whether they wanted to run for a two year or four year term.
    Candidate Jennifer Jones came in before Christmas to fill out the form, but was informed by Frausto that she had altered the document. When Jones exclaimed ”You know you’re not allowed do that!” Frausto replied “Well I did. I just wrote it in there...I did it for everybody.” For the custodial officer to alter a public record after it is stamped received is a class four felony under ARS 38-421 and a knowingly filing a forged document is a class six felony under ARS 39-161. Knowingly violating election law is a class 6 felony under ARS 16-1010.
    The town sent candidates a press release in January, calling the two year term a “special” election, but  no special election was advertised for and it is not listed as a special election on the sample ballot.     
    To make matters worse, the town failed to legally "call" for a special election, and only posted a notice on the town website for a "primary" election for "three (3) Council Seats and Mayor's Seat" with no mention of a special election. Interestingly, The "Public Notice" was not even signed and posted until November 30th, 2011 - over two weeks after the candidate packet distribution date, and after incumbents Barbara Cowell, Joe Winslow and Mike Jewitt, as well as incumbent supporter Starr Bearcat had pulled their packets. Many in the community are speculating that they were given personal notice.
    “After consultation with the Secretary of State’s Elections Department, the town discovered that, unless context made it otherwise clear - as in the case with incumbents and mayoral candidates, the nominating petitions would be the sole determining factor in determining whether a candidate was running for the regular council primary election or the special council primary election”, according to the press release prepared by controversial Town Attorney Martin Brannan. The town “relied solely on the contents of the nominating papers submitted in making that determination.”
    Nominating papers were anything but clear however, with Jewitt indicating he was running in the “Regular” election. Candidates had varied responses on the petitions; Orgeron, Jones, Austin and Workman wrote in “primary”, Bearcat and Winslow wrote “2012”, and Cowell wrote in “Quartzsite Town Hall & Senior Center”.
    Additionally, the Municipal Elections Manual from the Arizona League of Cities and Towns specifies that "a separate nomination petition must be prepared for a two year term in addition to the regular petitions for the four year terms". This was never done by the town and Jewitt filed a standard petition, for a four year term. Technically speaking, it doesn't appear he's running for his own seat.
    Inquiries to Secretary of State Elections Director Amy Chan received the response that the end result of her own advice is not any of her concern, When asked “if the nomination petition does not state it, and the Threshold Exemption Statement was altered by the custodial officer after the fact, how can it be determined who may run against whom?” Chan replied “this is a local matter that must be settled among the interested parties” So any  “interested parties” would have to file a civil suit in Superior Court.

Read this and other stories in the online version of the DESERT FREEDOM PRESS at:

Monday, January 9, 2012

Carol Kelley to replace late husband as Quartzsite councilperson

According to the addendum for tomorrow morning's town council meeting, Carol Kelley will replace her late husband Bob on the Quartzsite Town Council and be sworn in at the 9 am meeting.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Read the DESERT FREEDOM PRESS online archive 
has uploaded all back issues of the DFP in an easy read pdf format. Click the link above and catch up on any issues you may have missed!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Councilman Robert Kelly dies at age 77

Bob Kelley passed away on Saturday, December 31st. He had been admitted to  hospice only a couple of days earlier after being hospitalized at La Paz County Regional.