Hello Mayor Foster and Council Member Workman,
First of all, I'd like you know I have also included Jennifer Jones in this email, since I feel this might be interesting news for her that she may wish to publish in her newspaper.
I was just reading the agenda for the Tuesday, Feb. 26th council meeting. In the check register, there is three separate charges from the law firm of Curtis, Goodwin, Sullivan as follows-
Check number 35206- 3 invoices for J.Brannan v. Town of Quartzsite. The total amount of these invoices is $9,298.17.
That amount is in addition to the $17,240.50 in legal fees they accumulated on this case as of Dec. 12th. I don't have the check numbers, but that was what Kelly Schwab told Judge Burke, in a legal brief, that the Town had spent so far (as of 12-12) when she asked that the Town be reimbursed for their costs. Judge Burke denied their request (he also denied the request we made that the Town pay our fees.)
The total amount as of now- $26,538.67
As you may know, since according to Interim Town Manager Bruno she shares everything with the council members (she made that recorded claim at the Feb. 14th Town Hall meeting) the Town has decided to file an appeal of Judge Burke's Dec. 3rd ruling in the Court of Appeals on the case that Al Johnson, Nora Yackley and I filed. What Judge Burke ordered, is that my husband could represent us, since there was no conflict of interest, and that Norma Crooks cannot be on the Personnel Advisory Board since she is a Town Council member. Town Code prohibits council members from acting on or being involved in employee personnel matters, which certainly is part of the Personnel Advisory Boards responsibilities.
Rather than accept Judge Burke's decision and let us proceed with our hearings in front of the board without Norma Crooks sitting in judgement, the Town has decided to file a costly and lengthy appeal. What they are arguing, is that Norma Crooks should be allowed to stay on the Personnel Advisory Board in direct contradiction to Town Code. The Town has four members on the board, and they need three to have a hearing. They could easily proceed without Crooks, who should have been removed as soon as she was appointed to the Town Council. But for some reason, Bruno really wants Crooks on that board.
What this means, is that while the case is pending in the Court of Appeals, we cannot move forward and have our case heard in front of the Town's Personnel Advisory Board. While that may not be an issue for you, it ought to bother you how much money is being spent to keep Crooks on the Personnel Advisory Board. When Attorney Dave Ward asked Ms. Bruno why she is so insistent on wasting money filing this appeal, her response to him was "it will teach them a lesson."
What that says to me, is that Ms. Bruno is using Town money to punish former employees. It's not coming out of her pocket, it's the Town's money she is wasting. She is not looking at this situation in a rational way, she is using this in a personal vendetta against us.
If the Personnel Advisory Board had any kind of authority to reverse Ms. Bruno's decision to fire us, I could see why she would actively try to prevent us from getting a fair hearing in front of the board. But because the way the Town's Personnel Policy and Town code is set up, the board can only make a recommendation that the employee should or should not have been fired. The Town Manager still has the final say. I don't know about you, but that is a lot of money to spend fighting a case in the Court of Appeals which will almost certainly rule that Crooks cannot be on the Town Council and the Personnel Advisory Board. Town code prevents that from happening. If they don't like that policy, well then they should change it. But while it is a current policy, they need to follow it.
As Ms. Bruno said in the recording I watched of the Feb. 14th Town Hall meeting, she informs the council members of everything that is happening, what I am saying here should not be a surprise to you. What I would like to know, does the council approve of spending a hefty sum of money to teach former employee's a lesson? Is that financially responsible to the citizens of this Town? Does Ms. Bruno, who has stated time and time again that she runs the Town like a business, think that spending money to, in her words, "teach them a lesson" is a smart business decision? Is the "lesson" she wants Town employees to learn is that they should never complain about their supervisor, especially if the supervisor is a friend of Ms. Bruno's? I think that is exactly what she wants us to learn. Don't mess with Chief Gilbert or you will be punished.
In addition, even though we were fired by the Town while the risk pool coverage was still in place, Ms. Bruno chose not to use their legal services and instead, chose a firm of her own (or Jerry Lukkeson's) liking. This means the risk pool will not pay for the legal bills accumulated on this case. That burden lies solely on the Town.
I hope that this matter is of concern to you and you can answer my questions on the Council's responsibility for these financial expenditures. If you need any documentation to clarify any of the issues I raised here, I will be happy to provide you with the Superior Court documents, as well as the Court of Appeals Documents and correspondence from the law firm of Curtis, Goodwin, Sullivan, Udall, and Schwab.
Thank you in advance for your time,