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8/30/2011 6:00:00 AM
Candidate says supervisors violated open meeting law

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - Board of Supervisors candidate Sharon Holmes filed an open meeting law violation complaint with the Arizona Attorney General's Office this month and filed additional paperwork with the Arizona Secretary of State's Office Monday.

Board Chairman Buster Johnson said he has not seen or heard of Holmes filing a complaint with the Attorney General or Secretary of State's Office.

It is unknown if the Attorney General's Office plans to investigate Holmes' claims. A call to the office was not returned by deadline.

In her complaint, Holmes alleges that during a town hall meeting for Sen. John McCain at the County Administration Building in 2009, County Supervisors Buster Johnson and Gary Watson broke open meeting laws when they both attended the town hall meeting and created a quorum of Board of Supervisors members.

She also alleges that Board members are denying residents' requests to have their issues added to the Board's agenda.

Board members repeatedly turned down requests from Golden Valley resident Luca Zanna to add the discussion of the county's policy of no politicking on county grounds to the Board's agenda, she said.

At the McCain town hall meeting, Zanna was asked to stop passing out flyers containing information about McCain's voting record on them. He spoke with each of the supervisors to find out more about the policy that prohibited gathering signatures and passing out political information on county property and asked them to put the issue on the Board's agenda. The item never made it to the agenda.

Holmes said she submitted a written tourism plan for the county to the Board and spoke with Supervisor Gary Watson about it, that item never made the agenda either. Watson was unavailable for comment.

Holmes also alleges that the Board of Supervisors removed the Call to the Public from its meetings. According to county records, the Board has not had a Call to the Public for several years. However, the County Planning and Zoning Commission did eliminate the Call to the Public from its agenda a few years ago.

In her complaint she also alleges that Board is discriminating against the public and limiting its participation in Board meetings by instituting a dress code and installing a metal detector and requiring people to check their weapons at the door.

Holmes calls the dress code discriminatory and ambiguous. She pointed to the requirement that hats must be removed while in the Board of Supervisors Auditorium. A number of veterans used to attend the Board meetings with their caps on, Holmes said. The veterans would remove their caps during the Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem and then return them to their heads. Since the implementation of the dress code, Holmes said she had not seen a veteran attend a Board meeting.

She also points to the first arrest of Kingman resident Mervin Fried for attempting to carry a pitchfork into the county building. Shortly after that event, County Manager Ron Walker instituted new security measures including the purchase of a metal detector and gun lockers, which was approved by the Board of Supervisors in an open meeting.

Those new security measures included taking down the serial number of guns and a copy of the gun owner's driver's license. That policy was changed after a public outcry and guns are now locked in lockers with the owner's driver's license.

Holmes alleges that county employees and Board members are not required to walk through the metal detector and that Board members are allowed to keep their concealed weapons on them during Board meetings.

County officials have denied similar allegations of discrimination and claim that all employees and Board members are required to check their weapons.

Holmes also alleges that the Board passed several polices and ordinances without any public input, including the updated security measures, the dress code and a restrictive animal ordinance. The animal ordinance is supposed to go to a vote of the people next year.

Holmes also alleges that the county has selectively edited sections of the video recordings of the Board's meeting. For example, a private party's video of the arrest of Golden Valley resident Jim Kanelos for wearing a hat inside the auditorium is more detailed than the video shot by the county, she said. The arrest is also not mentioned in the Board's meeting minutes, Holmes said.

Holmes also points to the fact that the minutes of July 18 meeting of the Board with the public on the issue of property taxes have not been posted yet and the video of that meeting has been edited to delete a confrontation between Golden Valley resident Al DiCicco and county security officers called to remove him from the room by County Manager Ron Walker. Supervisor Gary Watson intervened in the matter and DiCicco was not removed.

Holmes also claims that county employees, such as County Manager Ron Walker and County Finance Director John Timko, overstepped their authority during Board meetings. She lists several examples where Walker ordered that someone be removed from a meeting and claims that Walker does not have the authority to do so.

She said Timko "was given the floor to harangue the public for over 20 minutes," during a public meeting on the property tax issue. She also claims that Board members have repeatedly attempted to intimidate members of the public and dissuade them from making statements during meetings.

Board members and county officials have denied all of Holmes allegations.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, September 3, 2011
Article comment by: D K

@ Chuckle maybe you should read it again!
38-431.01. Meetings shall be open to the public
A. All meetings of any public body shall be public meetings and all persons so desiring shall be permitted to attend and listen to the deliberations and proceedings. All legal action of public bodies shall occur during a public meeting.
B. All public bodies shall provide for the taking of written minutes or a recording of all their meetings, including executive sessions. For meetings other than executive sessions, such minutes or recording shall include, but not be limited to:
1. The date, time and place of the meeting.
2. The members of the public body recorded as either present or absent.
3. A general description of the matters considered.
4. An accurate description of all legal actions proposed, discussed or taken, and the names of members who propose each motion. The minutes shall also include the names of the persons, as given, making statements or presenting material to the public body and a reference to the legal action about which they made statements or presented material.
C. Minutes of executive sessions shall include items set forth in subsection B, paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of this section, an accurate description of all instructions given pursuant to section 38-431.03, subsection A, paragraphs 4, 5 and 7 and such other matters as may be deemed appropriate by the public body.
D. The minutes or a recording of a meeting shall be available for public inspection three working days after the meeting except as otherwise specifically provided by this article.
E. A public body of a city or town with a population of more than two thousand five hundred persons shall:
1. Within three working days after a meeting, except for subcommittees and advisory committees, post on its website, if applicable, either:
(a) A statement describing the legal actions taken by the public body of the city or town during the meeting.
(b) Any recording of the meeting.
2. Within two working days following approval of the minutes, post approved minutes of city or town council meetings on its website, if applicable, except as otherwise specifically provided by this article.
3. Within ten working days after a subcommittee or advisory committee meeting, post on its website, if applicable, either:
(a) A statement describing legal action, if any.
(b) A recording of the meeting.
F. All or any part of a public meeting of a public body may be recorded by any person in attendance by means of a tape recorder or camera or any other means of sonic reproduction, provided that there is no active interference with the conduct of the meeting.
G. The secretary of state for state public bodies, the city or town clerk for municipal public bodies and the county clerk for all other local public bodies shall conspicuously post open meeting law materials prepared and approved by the attorney general on their website. A person elected or appointed to a public body shall review the open meeting law materials at least one day before the day that person takes office.
H. A public body may make an open call to the public during a public meeting, subject to reasonable time, place and manner restrictions, to allow individuals to address the public body on any issue within the jurisdiction of the public body. At the conclusion of an open call to the public, individual members of the public body may respond to criticism made by those who have addressed the public body, may ask staff to review a matter or may ask that a matter be put on a future agenda. However, members of the public body shall not discuss or take legal action on matters raised during an open call to the public unless the matters are properly noticed for discussion and legal action.
I. A member of a public body shall not knowingly direct any staff member to communicate in violation of this article.
J. Any posting required by subsection E of this section must remain on the applicable website for at least one year after the date of the posting.

@ Sharon Holmes
I hope You have the money and or backing to fight this foursome!
These cases usually end up in Mohave County Civil court.
With County attorney acting to defend against the complaint, a county elected judge who for the most part will do NOTHING even if the court finds for You!
So Good luck Lady!
Hopefully the paper will stay on top of this and write the real story especially if it gets covered up!

Posted: Thursday, September 1, 2011
Article comment by: Sharon Holmes

Some people get it, and some don't. First of all I did not write the article in the paper. It was taken from a very long and detailed Complaint to the Arizona Attorney General's office covering a period of two years. And if the AG determined that they have violated the Open Meeting law, they don't get fired, (only the people can do that at the polls) they pay a personal fine of $500 per person paid to the State. I have absolutely nothing to gain by putting a bullseye on my forehead, but anyone who attended the "OPEN MEETING" on July 18,2011, is well aware of what the final straw was. Unfortunately, you can't look at the Minutes of that meeting, because they have never been posted, but I transcribed them from the original video of that meeting, which has also disappeared from the County website. When residents have been arrested in the meetings, nothing ever appears in the Minutes, and if it weren't for people shooting private videos of what has gone on in those meetings, there would be no record at all, and if you don't attend the meetings, like Chuckle Chuckle obviously does not, you know that the city councilmen have nothing to do with the County Board of Supervisors meetings, and that if a Supervisor is not present at the meeting, they must be on the telephone during the meeting and cast their votes accordingly. If you want to watch the Good Old Boys in action, you may have to take a day off work, because their meetings are at 9:30am, when many people cannot attend, or you have to rely on modified video tapes.. The next one is on Monday, September 12. 2011. Or you can just let millions of taxpayer dollars go to a bunch of politicians that only care about their paycheck. They were elected to represent the people TO the County government, but instead they represent the Government and put it TO the people. The choice is yours.

Posted: Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Article comment by: Jim Consolato

Go Sharon!

I now suspect a lot of county cronies will be taking shots at you but I have watched all of this very closely for a few years and Sharon Holmes is right on target with her criticisms. Its all painfully true. Of course the Board member will continue to try to cover their dubious behavior. The bottom line is the County has a policy whereby they never ever admit guilt or wrong doing. In an ongoing court case this was made clear by county attorneys.

Throw the bums out asap but for sure in 2012.

Posted: Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Article comment by: The Real Common Sense

Good job, Sharon, get the scummy trio! I am so tired of these three and Lil Ronnie Walker thinking they are THE KINGS OF THE COUNTY! Hopefull the AG will follow up and fire them all.

Posted: Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Article comment by: Chuckle Chuckle

Just because there are two supervisors at a meeting, does not contemplate an open meeting violation. They have to actively be discussing County buisness. You can go online and research the open meeting laws and a discussion has to take place and a concensus of some kind or a decision has to take place. I'm not sure the city councilmembers even violated the law.

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