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Cave Creek residents offer opinions on Town Manager

MARC BUCKHOUT ~ MANAGING EDITOR~ 6/12/2013

At Monday’s specially called Cave Creek Town Council meeting the public had the opportunity to speak on the possible termination of Town Manager Usama Abujbarah. Here are some of the comments made by the public prior to the council voting by a 4-3 margin to terminate.

Comments in support of termination:

 “The town manager’s contract requires that the town manager be a member of the International City/County Management Association and states that he is “subject to the [twelve tenets] of the ICMA code of ethics”.  Tonight I’m going to talk about several instances in which the town manager’s professional conduct deviated from the mandates of this code.
Tenet seven of the ICMA code of ethics prohibits  “participation in the election of the members of the employing legislative body”.  And yet on March 21st of this year the Arizona Republic reported “Several hours after Esser had told The Republic he had withdrawn, Town Manager Usama Abujbarah called the Republic saying Esser wanted to re-enter the race.”
Tenet five of the ICMA code of ethics requires managers to “Submit policy proposals to elected officials” and “uphold and implement local government policies adopted by elected officials.” The council entered into a contract for maintenance and operation of the water company – the town manager terminated that contract to manage the water company in-house, creating 12 new staff positions at a cost exceeding a million dollars.  Both actions were the purview of the council, not the town manager.
A town water tank was built on land the town didn’t own. This action committed the town to a $1.2 million purchase after the fact, circumventing Arizona public acquisitions law as well as the ability of the people to weigh in during the public participation process.
All three of the instances I just described violated the ICMA code of ethics.  It is the council’s job to make sure that the checks and balances of good government are not dismantled. Now that they have been it is your job to see that they are restored.
The ICMA recognizes five forms of local government in the United States – council-manager, our form of government, is one of them.  Town manager form of government does not exist.  In the town-council town-manager form of government the council members are the leaders and policy makers. The town manager is hired to serve the council and carry out the council’s policies. When those dynamics change, as they did a while ago, it’s time to change town managers.
Being that you, the council, are tasked with the welfare of our town, it is your prerogative, and actually it is your responsibility, to partner future efforts with a town manager you can trust. Trust lies at the heart of the council-manager relationship, and as we all know, trust is earned.

Thank you for your time.
Grace Meeth, Cave Creek

Town Manager installed an Earth-quake resistant water tank, cost was 578 percent more than the cost of an equivalent steel tank. Wastewater plant not expected to break even in costs for 50 years. Town debt added $15 million. Do we have $15 million of usable improvements for the citizens?
Jennie Cure, Cave Creek

Per capita debt is largest in the state.  Estimate debt is about $59 million, amounting to $11,500 allocated debt per resident. We need an audit immediately to be sure of amount.  Past town councils have abrogated their obligations to the Town Manager.
George Ross, Cave Creek

Resident of Morningstar Road, supports position of Gerald Freeman.  Has cost $1,500 each to fight the town on the trail/road issues.  The town manager is a bully and he has to go.
Michael Baldwin, Carefree

Comments against termination:
Town Manager supported Spur Cross and Preservation.
Bob Cavanaugh, Cave Creek
The new regime will load up commissions with “toadies”.  The town manager has popular support.  “Usama has more value than you guys”
Bob Williams, Cave Creek
Usama was a brilliant government manager, and a planner with great vision.
Jay Williams, Cave Creek
Council needs time to connect with the good staff.
John Ford, Cave Creek 
Terminating the TM now, instead of August, is a waste of money, by paying double for town management with the interim manager.
Shelley Anderson, Cave Creek
Overall, the Town Manager did a good job. He should be given a chance with the new Council.
Todd Gilson, Cave Creek
New business plan is needed to help Council work with the TM.  It is a loss of institutional knowledge.
Susan Clancey, Cave Creek 
Usama got us Spur Cross and the State Land deal on the west end of town.
Terry Smith, Cave Creek
Seventy year resident of Cave Creek.  Thought the TM had made good improvements.  Helped get things in order when wells began to be contaminated.
Nancy Bayfield, Cave Creek
Tried to do the right thing.  In December, you’ll hear that again (reference to recall date possibilities).
Dick Esser, Cave Creek

What’s your opinion on the council’s decision? Send a letter to the editor at ffeditorial@hotmail.com.