With the passing of Quartzsite “Acting Mayor” Charles [Chuck] Busby, a firestorm was created for Quartzsite’s Town Council as a newly formed Citizens’ Coalition pressed for an opportunity to vote in a Mayor for a second time.
Ed Foster, candidate for Mayor, has reviewed the moves since the election and has demanded the council review the situation as well.
Vice Mayor Charles Busby filled the position of Mayor following Steve Bennett’s resignation on August 27, 2008. However, the legality of his assumption of that role of Mayor is now being challenged. Did Busby have the authority to simply step into the position of Mayor without an election?
In a review of the laws implemented in 1991, Quartzsite’s citizenry demanded the right to elect a Mayor, and the rules were changed to support that move, under the new protocol for vying for the position of Mayor those wishing to run were required to vacate their seat and subsequently run for the Mayor’s seat.
“Has the sitting council simply utilized Busby’s tact to circumvent the will of the people?” Foster asks, “Or are we simply going to ignore the laws already put into place and go forward as though we are not accountable to the people?”
The office was once again unfilled following Busby’s death. When Hal Davidson was appointed the position of Vice Mayor and then unceremoniously dismissed and replaced by Carolyn Guthrie, now part of the focus of recall efforts, Davidson publicly denigrated the move.
In much the same fashion as Busby became Mayor, sitting Mayor Wesley Huntley has also assumed the seat. In fact, two new councilmen were also appointed and, according to Foster, those positions are also in question.
“Whose position did they fill?” Foster asked, “and why wasn’t the transition handled properly?”
Citing concern that the people of Quartzsite are not being properly represented, detractors again requested changes in the way the town is managed — the most disconcerting charge being the council’s willful refusal to allow an independent audit of the town’s books.
Now, with the public admission that the town is essentially out of money, detractors are stating that they suspected as much, and the recall efforts are gaining steam with Pro Tem Mayor Walter Akin being added to the list of officials being targeted for recall.
Ed Foster, who gained prominence as a guest speaker at the Citizen’s Coalition meetings, has challenged the town’s handling of several matters. Among them:
1. The formation of an Ethics Committee to oversee and, where necessary, to intervene;
2. A change in policy concerning holding retreats so far away that residents can not attend nor participate;
3. The lackluster performance of council people who win positions only to vacate them for other interests, staying on the payroll while often simply phoning in to council meetings instead of attending in person;
4. The necessity of openly handling the financial matters of the town — allowing independent audits to prove the proper handling of same.
[The Citizens Coalition, at that time only recently formed, has rapidly gained a prominent foothold in an area where a long history of political battles have failed to bring about a positive atmosphere of sharing. However, members indicate that they are constantly in fear of reprisals for their involvement, and requests for obtaining information over the phone or via e-mail are constantly an issue.]
Dinner meetings are routinely scheduled for the Monday evening prior to the regularly scheduled Tuesday meetings of the Town Council, the second and fourth Tuesday of each month, and include an open forum for discussion of the topics the group is currently addressing.
While a brilliant young architect with a wonderful reputation for state-of-the-art designs is already being consulted for this latest project, the medical center is hoping to hear from community minded people with Quartzsite in mind.