Want to Get Angry?

Come to a Wickenburg Town Council meeting.

If you’d like to see an example of the failure of democracy in this country, go to a Wickenburg Town Council meeting. That’s where you’ll see a Mayor and Council, with an agenda entirely different from the majority of the people they serve, ignore the will of the people and defend their agenda-serving policies. And if you’re as unlucky as we were yesterday, you’ll get to see the Mayor belittle and insult his constituents, too.

Yesterday’s meeting was a farce of epic proportions. The public input session lasted a full hour with about a dozen people coming forward with requests to reconsider the unfair rejection of a petition to bring a high-density housing project to a vote. (You can get the details on wickenburg-az.com‘s Opinion pages.)

The mayor punctuated the session with inappropriate comments addressed at his opponents. At one point, he made a comment to Ray Johns, the man who had submitted the petition, about the fact that he hadn’t been to a council meeting in three years (this is unconfirmed) but yet he submitted a petition. The comment was rudely delivered, obviously meant to belittle the man or at least insult him. Understand that Mr. Johns lived in Wickenburg for over 40 years when his house washed away during the February 2005 floods. He is now living in a trailer someone loaned him. As an elderly man and long-time resident, he deserves our respect; as a flood victim who lost everything he owned, he deserves our sympathy. It appears that the mayor isn’t compelled to respect or sympathize with anyone.

Each speaker was only given three minutes to talk. When one of the speakers, who is nearly deaf, asked the Town’s lawyer a question, she responded so quietly that most of the room didn’t hear her. When he asked her to repeat herself, it used up nearly a minute of his time. The buzzer rang and the mayor told the speaker to get off the podium. “Time’s up.” I guess the mayor has a new way to keep citizens from talking too long — just respond in a whisper or slowly so it eats up all the speaker’s time.

Another man told the assembled group that he had in his possession a copy of a letter from the developer’s lawyers addressed to the town telling the town exactly how to handle the petition that was subsequently rejected. The man made it clear what he thought about a developer’s lawyers directing the mayor and council.

I made a 2-minute speech about the First Amendment where I pointed out that Mr. Johns’ First Amendment right to petition the government for redress of grievances was violated by the unfair rejection of his petition. He had submitted it in good faith, I argued, using a format he knew to be successful in the past. The town should accept it. I think my big words were too big for the Mayor and council members. They obviously didn’t understand what I was saying. The audience did, though. I got a nice round of applause. But I may as well have been talking to a brick for all the impact it made on the town’s representatives.

At the end of the public session, the Mayor began his defense. During the course of his ramblings, he let it slip that he rejected the petition to avoid a lawsuit by the developer. He also tried to cloud the issue by telling us that he’d looked up the word cluster in the dictionary. Yeah? So what? Just another attempt to lead us off the main issue. It didn’t work.

The councilmen spoke, too. Most rubber-stamped what the mayor said. Dave Lane let slip in his mumbling, stumbling response that the development had been approved so the town could get more revenue from property taxes on all those new homes — a disclosure that got a murmer of disapproval from the audience. (Give Lane enough speaking time and he’ll talk his way into a noose.) Only John Cook was reasonable, siding with what is so obviously right. It’s nice to see that the mayor’s puppet strings can sometimes shake loose from council members.

Personally, I can’t believe the people of the town of Wickenburg would vote in a man like our current mayor. His attitude and complete lack of respect for anyone — including his constituents — makes him arrogant. Yet when he talks to you one-on-one, you can see that there’s nothing inside that head of his — nothing except plans to make himself look bigger and more important than he really is. He’s building an empire in Wickenburg, annexing land and approving zoning changes for high density housing without the infrastructure to support the new homes or the jobs for new residents within town limits. And the whole time, rumors are flying around town about payoffs and ulterior motives.

It’s a dark time here in Wickenburg; I can’t wait to see the light here in town again.

2 thoughts on “Want to Get Angry?

  1. Nice to see the Mayor has someone capable of stringing together a decent rebuttal for him.

    A few comments:

    A precendent was set by the town of Wickenburg back in 2004 to ACCEPT Mr. Johns petition. Mr. Johns submitted his recent petition IN GOOD FAITH using instructions provided by the town, based on the acceptance of a previous petition. If the town found a problem with the previous petition, it should have provided revised instuctions to Mr. John. It did not. Instead, it allowed him to submit a petition it could reject, without warning. THIS IS WRONG.

    I give respect to people who deserve it. The Mayor gave absolutely no respect to the people gathered yesterday to defend Mr. Johns and plead his case. People who don’t give respect don’t deserve it in return. Frankly, I was appalled by his behavior — although I hear he’s been worse in the past. It takes more than a title to earn respect.

    I have nothing against Mr. Ringwood or his desire to make money from his property. I didn’t even sign the petitions in question. I don’t even know for sure whether I’m a resident of Wickenburg — the Town Manager failed to answer my letter requesting clarification. I am, in general, against high-density housing and the destruction of desert landscape. I feel bad for the people who will soon be looking down on the roofs of homes where they once saw pristine desert.

    What I do have a problem with is the unfair treatment of Mr. Johns and the insulting behavior of the Mayor at a council meeting. THAT’s what this blog post is all about. You can read into it anything you like, but my view and opinion of the situation stands. There isn’t an ounce of untruth in it.

    As for rumors and misinformation, until someone comes up with the truth, that’s all we have.

    If your friend, the Mayor, would come down off his high horse and stop alienating the people with insults, perhaps we could see something more than what we now all believe.

  2. In defense of Maria Langer, I, too, object to the behavior of the mayor. In more examples than I would like to remember, he continuously belittles his constituents. There’s the Jan. 5th, 2006 council meeting (viewed by a number of people) where he actually grabbed and pinched town resident Donna Abbott’s arm when she simply asked him what it takes to be a council member in our town. After he pinched her, he stated that “your skin is not thick enough to be a council member!” There’s the example of the recent council meeting where the mayor made a rude criticism of Adrian Richards. There’s the example of the mayor roughly criticizing the performance of Town Clerk Donna Riffel at a council meeting. At the next meeting he stood and said something to the effect that his wife is making him give Donna some flowers because he was too rough on her. At no time did he, himself, accept accountability and apologize for his actions. I don’t think, that he is an acceptable role model and leader for our community. Does Mr. White think this behavior is an acceptable example of how a mayor should conduct himself?

    The previous referendum clearly demonstrated how the MAJORITY (not minority as Mr. White would have us believe) stated that they DID NOT wish high density in that area of our town. It was reported in the November 5th, 2004 Wickenburg Sun article, when asked how he felt about the Prop. 421 defeat, the mayor responded that “although he’s disappointed, he’s accepting of the vote. He said 55 per cent of the voters chose to slow down growth and protect the area’s density. He said the Town Council will have to keep this response in mind when considering future projects.”

    In the time since that statement, the mayor and council have voted unanimously to accept anything to do with the WCC issue. That’s listening to the majority’s response?

    I was of the belief that the mayor wanted to see the outcome of this new referendum to prove that we are indeed just an isolated group of malcontents. Is he getting cold feet now that he is realizing that the tide is changing? Is he finally realizing that a lot more people are becoming aware of what’s really happening in our town? If this town and its council are “a model example of “democracy in the real world“, then God have pity on us. Thankfully, I believe the populace is becoming aware that we need change in our town if we have any chance of preserving the lifestyle we have here. We will elect honest representatives with integrity. I truly have faith in my fellow residents. They are waking up to the cold hard fact that we are being let down by our mayor and council. This fall’s election will prove this out.

    As for Mr. Johns and his petition, what more does a responsible man have to do to get proper guidance in his pursuit to get an issue on the ballot? He simply followed the advice that the town gave him, and now this issue comes down to how much money are we going to waste over a staple? That’s it- pure and simple. Mr. White is incorrect in his assertion that there is legal precedent to support the denial of Mr. John’s referendum petition. This will be the first challenge in this state of what constitutes a proper “attachment method“. Unfortunately the town will hold to it’s hard-nose position and the taxpayers will have to pay for a town attorney to defend against something they obviously want on the ballot. Come on Mr. Mayor- allow this vote to happen. It will be the only way for us to see if Prop. 421 was or was not a fluke. What are you afraid of?

    Mr. White, it is folks like you who try to divert attention from the real issues. Real change is going to happen here and happen quickly. The word is getting out and people are beginning to see the forest through the trees irregardless of the smoke screen you try to throw up.

    « Previous | Next »

    Get Mail Create Mail Address Book  Reply Reply All Forward Delete

What do you think?