Story contributed by Quartzsite Outsider
Today Quartzsite Assistant Town Manager Al Johnson threatened Quartzsite Councilwoman Patricia Workman with trespass if she came to Town hall unannounced or “any administrative area of the town government . . .”
According to Mr. Johnson, Councilwoman Workman now has to make appointments to see HIM prior to performing her public service. And she is not allowed to speak to anyone in Town administration other than Mr. Johnson or she’ll be arrested for trespass!
The way the letter reads, she cannot even file legal papers or inspect the record in the Municipal Court without being arrested!
Ignoring the blatant constitutional violations here, this is a Councilwoman we’re talking about. A public servant. As such, Mr. Johnson’s threat is arguably a violation of the spirit, if not the letter of A.R.S. Section 13-2402, which says,
A. A person commits obstructing governmental operations if, by using or threatening to use violence or physical force, such person knowingly obstructs, impairs or hinders:
1. The performance of a governmental function by a public servant acting under color of his official authority.
Such a violation is a Class 1 misdemeanor for every count. http://www.azleg.state.az.us/ars/13/02402.htm
(Given the history in Quartzsite, it’s doubtful Chief Gilbert, or his officers—who days ago admitted to arresting a citizen without probable cause after a phone call from Al Johnson—will arrest his boss. Gilbert’s number is 928-927-4644. Nor will the La Paz County Sheriff, Don Lowery, get involved. (Lowery wrongly claims he doesn’t have jurisdiction in Quartzsite. Even though he sent a deputy to investigate when former Mayor Lizarraga was allegedly assaulted by the Town Attorney, Martin Brannan. 928-669-6141))
The Assistant Town Manager, who seems to be acting on his own without legal authority or advice (since there is no cc: to the Town’s Attorney, Martin Brannan), claims that one reason for his threat is because Councilwoman Workman cannot be trusted with documents marked “Confidential.”
In a bizarre “Animal House” double-secret probation twist, Johnson talks about two documents the Town had made, a secret one for itself and one for Councilwoman Workman, the latter it distributed only to the Councilwoman. Johnson says Councilwoman Workman cannot be trusted because she released the “confidential” letter to the public. And so he is threatening her with trespass! (An additional implication is that she cannot see any official Town documents Mr. Johnson doesn’t want her to see, confidential or otherwise. Like unauthorized checks?) We don’t know if the letter Al Johnson sent to Councilwoman Workman is also different from an “official” one he wrote for the Town!
But Councilwoman Workman did not violate any law by making Mr. Johnson’s first letter to her public. A phone call to Kathryn Marquoit, Assistant Ombudsman for Public Access (602.285.9136) confirms what Mr. Johnson should know. According to Marquoit, “stamping a letter ‘Confidential’ means nothing.” Marquoit said such a letter would still be available through an Open Record Law request. (Marquoit also offered that “they have some interesting interpretations over there [in Quartzsite].”
Besides, if the Councilwoman had violated a law, the proper remedy would be to report her to the authorities. Not threaten her with trespass. Further, in his letter Johnson libels Councilwoman Workman with unsubstantiated claims of “abusive behavior” from “multiple town employees.” We wonder if that refers to Councilman Workman exposing the unauthorized check for $11,000 signed by town employee Alex Taft and “employee” Vice Mayor Cowell, as reported two days ago? http://qtown.us/blog/2012/07/17/quartzsite-embezzlement-smoking-gun-found/
So a lowly ASSISTANTTownManager is threatening a Town Councilwoman. This is like a staffer at the Arizona Senate telling a State Senator they couldn’t come to the Senate building! Or that a State Senator could only do public business with the staffer. In any other place, that staffer would be fired for insubordination. Unfortunately, that’s not likely to happen in Quartzsite until the incumbents are out of power.. That’s why a majority of the voters voted the incumbents out of office in May. But even so, the incumbents refuse to leave! It’s taking a federal and state action to force them out. No wonder Mr. Johnson is so brazen. And ridiculous.