If this situation is as described, Quartzite, AZ is one short step away from that final box no one with any sense wants to open.
“Emergency” declared in AZ town over allegations
The far western Arizona town of Quartzsite was in a state of upheaval Monday after the town council ousted the mayor from power and declared a state of emergency, all over an online video that shows a woman being arrested.
Mayor Ed Foster told The Associated Press on Monday that the town council held a last-minute meeting that was closed to the public Sunday night, declaring a state of emergency in the 3,600-person town just east of the California city of Blythe.
The council’s declaration put police Chief Jeff Gilbert in charge, making Foster the “deputy chief executive of nothing right now,” he said. It also allows the five-member council to meet without public notice and suspend all public comment at the meetings until they declare the state of emergency over.
Foster described the government and Gilbert as corrupt and abusive of their power, and said all their recent actions are frantic efforts to cover up millions of dollars of money from lining some of their pockets.
Foster said the council declared the emergency because they claim they’ve received threats from members of the public who saw a video posted on YouTube.
The video shows a woman identified as Jennifer Jones being arrested and hauled away from a council meeting after she said the council was violating open-meetings laws. Jones was speaking during a public comment period, and Foster is heard on the video telling other council members who ordered her removed that “the lady has the floor.”
“She’s exercising her First Amendment rights,” Foster says in the video before telling officers: “You are in violation of my rules of order.”
The officers remove her, anyway, and in the process injure her elbow, which is now in a sling, Foster said.
The mayor is alleging corruption in the town government
Foster was elected in May 2010 on a campaign promise to investigate corruption allegations in the town.
He said since being in office, he has discovered that every pay period, eight to 10 paychecks go to unnamed people and that he has been denied access to financial records to find out where the money goes at every turn.
He said that’s been happening since 1991 and amounts to $250,000 every year. “That’s literally millions of dollars,” he said.
Now, I’m going to take this with a huge grain of salt until I see some confirmation from other sources – I don’t trust the media to get it right, and he’s also claiming that the governor, the state Attorney General, and even the FBI are ignoring him. That’s just too many officials at too many different levels for me to not at least suspect that he may be… mistaken.
The removal and arrest of Jennifer Jade Jones, however, is supported by video evidence.
You see the chief of police himself arrest her in response to a vote taken out of order (and therefore void) and over the protests of the mayor, who I assume was acting as chair of the meeting since he was the one who granted her the floor at the beginning, and continually claims to be the one in control of the meeting. There is nothing in the video to clarify what rule she was supposedly violating, and you can hear the mayor flatly denying that she has violated any of the council’s rules of order.
Unfortunately, if the mayor’s allegations are true, I expect the local judges to side with the council and find her guilty of whatever she ends up being charged with.
Let’s revisit one part of the article that I’ve already quoted.
Mayor Ed Foster told The Associated Press on Monday that the town council held a last-minute meeting that was closed to the public Sunday night, declaring a state of emergency in the 3,600-person town just east of the California city of Blythe. […] The council’s declaration put police Chief Jeff Gilbert in charge […]. It also allows the five-member council to meet without public notice and suspend all public comment at the meetings until they declare the state of emergency over.
Note the portion I’ve emphasized there. The town council has effectively declared a dictatorship, with the council as it’s Quintumvirate. The people of Quartzsite have no say in the actions of the ruling council, and doesn’t even have to notified that the council is having a meeting.
This reminds me, tangentially, but very strongly, of the underlying factors behind The Battle of Athens – political corruption, and police harassment of citizens for political and possibly monetary gain. All it needs is citizens ready to stand up and risk everything for their rights and their freedom, and a spark. This situation is a good example of why we have a Second Amendment.
If I were a citizen of Quartzite, AZ, I would be very closely watching for the results of the mayor’s latest appeal to higher authority – and while I waited I’d be making sure my guns were clean and my Go Bag was stocked.
I’ll be trying to watch this anyway, as much as I can. I hope there’s a friendly blogger in AZ who could help out, and is in a better position to keep up with this.
Again, sources are limited and – except for the video – probably biased. If I find out that any of the facts I have printed here are verifiably wrong, I will gladly post an update saying so.
When the rights of the citizens to participate in their own government are suppressed, and all appeals are in vain, there is only one final recourse. It happened in McMinn County, Tennessee in 1946. Let us hope it’s not necessary in Quartzite, Arizona in 2011.
END OF LINE
[Source: AP article on Yahoo! News, retrieved 7/11/11]