DPS Brings Criminal Complaint Against Tony Ford

One of my sweet little birds told me some amazing news today. At long last, the Arizona Department of Public Safety has concluded its investigations into allegations that Tony Ford, a one-time tenant of Laura Bruto and recipient of copious ill-gotten funds from your tax dollars fellow Quartzsiters, and determined that Ford was, in fact and in deed, conducting a private investigation without a license.

Yep, the guy who vilified former Town employees Janet Brannon, her hubby and former assistant Town Manager Al Johnson for not cooperating with his investigations has now been charged with conducting an illegal investigations. That means the Brannons and Johnson would have been accomplices to his crime if they (like our illustrious police chief and our erstwhile acting police chief and physically disabled police sergeant) had facilitated his crimes.

What isn’t known yet is whether other accomplices to his criminal conduct (I’m looking at you Bruto) and the town council who paid him even after they should have known that his actions were unlicensed, and therefore illegal, will be charged as well.

We can only hope. 28 January, 2013 Color Document (1) – Copy

Crooks on the Town’s Personnel Advisory Board

Let me see if I understand this correctly: Judge Burke told the Town that Norma Crooks couldn’t serve on the Personnel Advisory Board because Crooks is on the Council, the duties of the Personnel Advisory Board are to “make recommendations to the Town Manager” about personnel decisions (Town Code Section 3-3-5) and “With regard to officers and employees appointed by the manager, neither the Council nor any of its members shall direct or request the appointment of any person to, or his removal or suspension from, such office by the manager or any of his subordinates, or in any manner take part in the appointment or removal of such officers and employees in the administrative services of the town.” (Town Code Section 3-2-1(F)).

Seems pretty straightforward. Crooks, as a council member can’t make recommendations regarding the appointment, removal or suspension of any employee of the town. Members of the personnel advisory board are required to make such recommendations. Crooks can either be a member of the council or she can serve on the advisory board. She cannot do both.

And yet, without seeking approval, guidance or permission from the town council, the town is appealing Burke’s obvious decision. And how much is this costing the town? Word on the street is that the tab is already more than $17,000.

Considering that it’s already cost the town more than $17,000, you just have to wonder why the interim town manager (the decision to appeal was made the day after Judge Burke ruled leaving no time at all to consult the council) wants Crooks on that Board so badly. One answer is so that she can be sure that Crooks bullies the other board members to toe the party line. After all, she was so certain of the outcome of Judge Kimberlin’s appeal that she advertised the position as vacant even before the Board had met.

If, like me, you think stacking the deck against employees by having Crooks on the Advisory Board is not only illegal, but not worth more than $17,000 of the town’s money to fight over while the town doesn’t even have a new insurer lined up, say something to the next Council Member you see. If they continue to let Bruno spend the town’s money like a drunken sailor on shore leave, we won’t have a town left.

The Empire Strikes Back

In a move that will chill the willingness of any municipal employee who is not a cop to report misconduct by municipal employees and officers, the State Personnel Board gave its blessing yesterday to Towns like Quartzsite to fire employees in retaliation for disclosing information of public importance evidencing illegal conduct, mismanagement, gross waste of money or abuse of authority.

If you work for a school district or the county, you are protected. Towns and Cities, however, are free to engage in illegal conduct, mismanagement, gross wastes of public money and abuses of authority and then fire anyone (other than a cop) who dares expose such misconduct with the blessing of the state of Arizona and it’s personnel board. Is this really what the legislature intended? The discouragement of public employees working for cities and towns from disclosing such misconduct and encouraging cities and towns to slap the piss out of employees who do? The state personnel board seems to.

If you don’t think its right for city and town employees to be abused just because they work for a city or town and not for a county or school board, ffs, tell your state rep or senator to fix this broken law. Or to replace the (strangely enough for an all-male) board with some people with the balls to do something about this sort of misconduct. In addition to being all male, the board was all white, too. Definitely representative of who has power in Arizona, but not at all representative of Arizona’s employee pool.

After School (not so) Special

So, a little birdie told me that the Word on the Street is that the Town lost its grant for an after school program because, even though Bruno promised it wouldn’t happen in the September 25, 2012 meeting, the Town and the Arizona Municipal Risk Retention Pool are parting ways.  Given the loss of the day care services provided by the Scholar’s Academy when it was taken over by Ed Options, this would be a major blow to the working parents who live in town now.  It’s an even bigger impediment for young people with families or who are contemplating starting a family moving to or staying in Quartzsite.  Given the geriatric median age Quartzsite already has, this will make the Town even more a place you move to die in rather than a place you move to live in.  Another nail in Quartzsite’s coffin?

Considering that the Town’s elected and appointed officers are required to be bonded, one must wonder whether there will be a town government come January 5th.

Hypotheses Wanted: Inquire Within

OK.

As I understand it, the Town kinda sorta won a little bit and lost a little bit in the Brannon/Yackley/Johnson v Quartzsite case.  Brannon’s husband was found qualified to represent his wife, Nora and Al.  The Town was permitted to move forward with the appeals they were claiming that Brannon, Yackley and Johnson were trying to prevent from happening but Norma Crooks couldn’t be on the personnel advisory board, whose job it is to advise the town manager whether to reinstate or uphold Brannon’s, Yackley’s and Johnson’s firing because she in on the Council and Town Code says that members of the Council are prohibited from directing or requesting personnel actions.

So, like Solomon, Burke sort of split the baby.  Brannon, Yackley and Johnson could keep Brannon’s husband as their attorney and the Town would have to give up Crooks as a board member.  There’s another Board Member who has already been appointed, so there’s no need for much delay, just contact her and get the party started.  Win-win, right?

Not so fast.  The Town has reportedly told Brannon, Yackley and Johnson that it will delay the hearings it claimed had to be held right away so that it can file a special appeal of Burke’s order.  Here’s where I need help.  Why?

Is it because of Brannon or because of Crooks?  What is the Town afraid of?  That the Board without Crooks lurking over them with the ability to appoint an “alternate” who is really a replacement, might not be the rubber stamp that Frau Blucher so desperately wants so that she doesn’t have to go against their recommendation like everyone is pretty sure she will do if they are dumb enough to go against her?  Or do they think that Brannon is the best lawyer who ever walked the earth and their hired guns from the big city will be no match for him?

Neither explanation makes much sense to me, so help me out here.  Why would the Town appeal Burke’s order?

Ass the Sphincters Tighten

Word onna street is that the sphincters at Town Hall and QPD are getting mighty tight these days.  January 9th is the big day when Anton Coetzee will find out whether a truly neutral hearing officer with no ties or stake in Quartzsite at all will decide that Coetzee had a right to complain about what he perceived as a hostile work environment, favoritism toward the currently in special ed class sergeants, disregard for his health and the creation of a quota system for the police department and, if he did have that right, whether the town fired him in retaliation for that claim.  If the Personnel Board decides that he was retaliated against, it can order Bruno and Gilbert to pay up to $15,000 in fines out of their own pockets and order the town to fire their (presumably) lily white asses.

In the meantime, the Town is losing left and right.  Janet Brannon, Al Johnson and Nora Yackley managed to get a restraining order against the town preventing them from replacing the personnel board and legal adviser with ringers.  There is a hearing on the 4th to decide whether Brannon, Johnson and Yackley can be represented by Brannon’s husband and former Town Attorney Martin Brannon.  Word is that the town is claiming that, like Schrödinger’s cat, who is both alive and dead in that little box, Brannon both was and wasn’t the town attorney when these three were fired. How weird is that.

Further word on the street is that the Town already violated the restraining order by hiring an attorney to advise the board that wasn’t named by the insurance pool.  ‘Course there’s always the outside chance that Bruno actually consulted the risk pool, but you couldn’t believe her if she said she had.  After all, she’s the one on tape telling the Council on September 25th that she’d fixed everything with the risk pool only to have the risk pool send a cancellation notice twelve days later.  Oh, well, why would we expect any different from Liara Bruno?  What has she told the truth about?  And why would we doubt that the Council would violate the restraining order.  Norma Crooks did so quite voluminously when she said that she’d have Al Johnson’s job if Johnson didn’t reinstate Gilbert even as the order restraining her from even attempting to influence the decision regarding Gilbert was in effect.  As our pal Early Cuyler <= might say.  Restraints are imposed, restraints are ignored, court dates is held, cycle repeats.

Speaking of the town being a laughing stock at the state level (we were, right?), Despite the Town’s best efforts to make a case that Johnson had misbehaved and even released a memo from Bruno to the Council saying as much, the Determination of the DES Deputy says otherwise.  Who wants to bet the Town will appeal Al getting a whopping $240 a week in unemployment?

And while that is happening, word is that Gilbert and Schultz are telling their officers to “take the fifth” when they are called to testify.  Cops taking the fifth.  Tsk tsk.