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Top Stories for July 1, 2009
Residents bring their concerns to Fredonia Town Council
More than 40 concerned residents packed into the Fredonia Town Hall on Tuesday, June 23 for the Town Council meeting. The council retained Town Attorney Steve Horton, via speakerphone, to listen to proceedings and offer legal advice.
The meeting began with a public comment by Jennifer Lukus, concerned she originally had been taken off of the agenda by Town Manager Tom Corrigan. She inquired of the council what procedure was in place to be put on the agenda.
According to Town Attorney Horton, “there are procedures for getting items on the agenda, for public asking for items to be put on the agenda, but it is not an entitlement...” He explained what other communities do, but did not specifically state the procedure for the Town of Fredonia. “Ordinarily,” he continued, “the way for citizens to address the council about a matter is first through either contact with the manager, contact with the elected officials or through the open call to the public.”
Lukus thanked him for that information and requested Fredonia’s procedure be looked into.
The agenda began with Jennifer Lukus addressing the council about the enforcement of town codes. She expressed her frustrations about a particular event where she had recently been bitten by a dog. Officers who responded were prepared to adhere to the town code requiring all biting dogs to be impounded and quarantined for no less than seven days, but this was not done.
According to Lukus, when officers contacted Town Manager Tom Corrigan, they were told the dog would not be quarantined because it had its shots. “…if you read your code,” stated Lukus, “it says all animals to be quarantined.” She also said the dog in question had received a dangerous animal charge and dog at large charge, which would bring into effect the town code requiring any dangerous or vicious animal at large to be immediately impounded.
Council member Brent Mackelprang asked Lukus if she agreed with the code in place. She replied affirmatively. It was a good code and should be enforced, that the officers tried to, but they were overridden. She explained she looked into similar codes from Page and Kanab and felt Fredonia’s were appropriate.
She reiterated her frustration was not with the code, but with the code not being enforced by the town manager. “I would ask you to consider that there may be a conflict of interest here,” pleaded Lukus. She then requested the council look into the codes and enforce them.
“Ordinances are there for a reason…the enforcement of ordinances that are on the books is a matter of discretion. But if an ordinance is there, it’s there for a reason and there needs to be a conscious evaluation if an ordinance is not being enforced…does the ordinance need to be changed or repealed,” stated Horton.
Council member Cody Judd asked, “Why have ordinances if we’re not going to follow them.”
“If you have an ordinance that serves a health and safety purpose, and it is on the books and it’s not enforced, it lends itself to some exposure for the town,” replied Horton.
“If I could,” Corrigan addressed the issue, “the statute was read by Judge Kalauli and also Ken Brendel, prosecuting attorney… [who have] already rendered these codes not pertaining to the situation. We have been working for two months to try to get a code that would apply for biting dogs. Ken has in his records from a previous case that this was not applicable.” Corrigan continued, “and, the officers were not overridden. I talked with the officers… and they said OK.”
Lukus requested the council look into the alleged officer’s agreement with the non-enforcement of the code.
A question regarding the wording of the code arose, “It says any dog,” expressed Lukus.
“It has already gone to the attorney…it has already gone to the judge…they both looked at it and they said you can not use this. We’ll have to write you a new one. They are both in the process of writing a new one and presenting it before council,” replied Corrigan “we think it’s an old code and you can’t enforce [it].”
“We don’t need new laws!. We need to enforce what we’ve got!” exclaimed Dirk Ballard, one of the residents in attendance.
Mayor Dixie Judd expressed the council will take a look at the codes and moved on to item number 2, Dirk Ballard.
Ballard was also in attendance to express his concerns regarding town codes, animal issues and a possible conflict of interest involving the town manager position. “I think that in our town, dogs have become more important than people,“ he exclaimed.
“Everyone says we just can’t do this without a town manager, and you know what, I don’t know Tom personally. I don’t know if he’s an angel, I don’t know if he’s a pedophile, so I’m not going to attack him personally…I question the validity of having a town manager.”
During Ballard’s agenda item, the discussion became quite heated with several audience members becoming involved in the discussion. More than half of the audience stood to drop tea bags in a bucket of water to express their frustration with the state of affairs in the community.
Discussion began again, with council member Greg Honey, “We talked about a town manager for a long time. We decided that it was in the best interest of the Town of Fredonia to have a town manager.”
Dirk Ballard became quite emotionally charged at this point and exclaimed, “He works for you, and if you don’t like what he’s doing, set him down!” He continued saying, “In fact, he works for me and you work for me. Our whole town right now is the perfect example of where the United States of America has gone.”
The mayor replied, “I would like to invite any one of you to come and sit on this council and if you can do better, boy, you’re welcome to it!”
“We’re just asking you to listen,” stated Lukus.
“We have respected your comments, we have listened to you and we are not going to go away not doing something about this. This is not the way we do things. But at the same time, I can’t believe that any of you can feel like you can sit and condemn while you have not been here,” continued Mayor Judd.
“We think the town council does things, does right,” explained concerned resident Lynette Jones, “that is why we are coming to town council because we need you to know our point of view. “
“We hear your comments and really appreciate them, but I’ve been on here for three years, and this is the second time since I’ve been here that I’ve seen more than three people here,” Cody Judd stated.
“We realize what you’re saying, we appreciate it and, you know what, we believe it…and with you coming forward, don’t think that we’re not going to do anything, we are…” explained the mayor.
The council went on to explain one of the best ways to address problems with the council is through written correspondence. They invited attendees to come and speak with them personally and write letters.
At this time, several attendees expressed concerns over possible retaliation for expressing their concerns. Council immediately replied they had hoped no one would ever have that fear. They encouraged residents to address letters specifically to council members and not just to the Town of Fredonia, insuring greater privacy. They assured attendees their concerns would be addressed.
After a brief review of open meeting law by attorney Horton, the council moved on to other agenda items.
One important issue discussed was the possible need for bond election in November. The election would replace the one held in March passing the bond for the Town of Fredonia water improvements.
Unfortunately, the bond counsel allowed the March election using outdated regulations. Bond elections, legally, must be held in November.
The next scheduled council meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 14, at 6:30 p.m. (AZ time).