Candidate says supervisors violated open meeting law

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.