County engineer resigns, requests recall petitions

During the call to the public at the April 18 meeting of the Navajo County Board of Supervisors, public works engineer Anthony Bowler tendered his resignation and requested a recall petition packet.

He later indicated that he would be taking the petition against District III Supervisor J.R. DeSpain, and had secured promises for petitions against District IV Supervisor David Tenney and District V Supervisors Jerry Brownlow. Bowler added that there was no support for a petition against District I Supervisor Percy Deal, and that since District II Supervisor Jesse Thompson had been the most responsive, a petition would not be filed against him.

“I stand before you today in order to express my personal dissatisfaction with the process with which you have treated all of your public works personnel and Navajo County citizens,” Bowler said.

He went on to address each supervisor by name, saying, “through your actions and lack of action endangered the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of this county whom you have sworn to protect,” in regards to road work throughout the county.

“Before road work can be commenced a risk assessment needs to be performed on said road in order to justify the expenditure of HURF (Highway User Revenue Funds) money,” he said. “Each of you has been made aware of road work that has been performed without those said assurances and which appears to have been done for political favors of the county manager.”

One of the roads involved is the Pinedale Wash Road in the Pinedale area, for which the supervisors approved spending $30,000 for improvements.

Last year, former public works director Bill Cox asked the supervisors to approve a list of roads that had been researched by the department and were felt to be roads on which maintenance and improvements were warranted.

“This misappropriation of funds has left a myriad of roads without the quality improvement you had ordered to be done,” Bowler said.

“This board has responsibilities and obligations that cannot be ignored. Each of you has sworn to protect the people of Navajo County. Continuing to bury your head in the sand and not take action when 30 people in this department have demonstrated to you violations that have occurred is simply incomprehensible,” he said.

Bowler said that by taking no action, the supervisors have brought on an atmosphere that included constructive discharge, as three public works employees have resigned since the onset of the Whistleblower situation in March.

“My only hope is that this board will start to listen to professional and legal counsel, perform an investigation, and put a stop to the harassment before this department loses more qualified personnel and finds themselves with a possible lawsuit, and then needing to turn around and raise citizens’ taxes because of your mismanagement,” Bowler said.

Bowler asked how many families would need to lose a loved one before the board members woke up and realized the seriousness of their duties.

“The past two months have brought about such demoralizing conditions, and now coupled with one hydrologist (Tom Hieb), two licensed engineers (Carl Erikson and Bowler) and an office manager (Wade Carlisle) leaving, the department is left with a bare skeleton and cannot complete the tasks it has been asked to perform, and the busy summer season is just beginning,” Bowler said.

“Your actions in this case imply that the Board of Supervisors is afraid of the county manager (James Jayne) and is willing to ignore the citizens of this county. Just like I am accountable to a higher licensing power so are you accountable for your actions, or lack thereof,” said Bowler. “If this board does not stop endangering the health and welfare and safety of its citizens and staff, then the citizens will be forced into providing recall petitions so that new leadership can be found which will take seriously the responsibilities that each of you have sworn to uphold.

“I do, therefore, request the proper forms and information to do a recall petition, in compliance with the Freedom of Information Act,” Bowler said. “This information was already requested previously, however, since the current county manager has seen fit to inflict his style of mismanagement upon the elections department, they are apparently no longer able to fulfill such a simple request.”

Since Bowler spoke during the call to the public, the supervisors could not respond to any of his charges or comments.

Later Monday morning, the supervisors entered into an executive session concerning Jayne and the issues raised in the March 30 whistleblower complaint filed with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.

Upon returning to regular session, no action was taken.

A second executive session scheduled with Interim Public Works Director Dusty Parsons was continued to a special meeting at 10 a.m. on Monday, April 25.

In other action April 18, the board:

* Approved an amendment changing the language of a contract with the Arizona Department of Health Services for Sexually Transmitted Diseases to indicate that the contract is changed from a fixed price contract to a cost reimbursement one.

* Approved the purchasing an electronic document imaging system by the clerk of the courts office, utilizing $77,679 in local Judicial Collection Enforcement Funds.

* Reauthorized the Sutter Drive Improvement District to advertise for bids for proposed improvements in the district.

* Approved by resolution establishing the Mogollon Domestic Wastewater Improvement District in the Heber/Overgaard area.

* Accepted by resolution an update to the Bison Ranch master development site plan. Bison Ranch is located in the Overgaard area.

* Approved spending up to $35,000 for traffic signal modifications at the intersection of Woodland Road and State Route 260.

* Approved a $75,852.08 contract with Gannet Flemings for the Chevlon Creek Rehabilitation Project.

* Approved spending an additional $12,400 for the Buckskin and Black Canyon Wash Watershed Protections Project, utilizing flood control contingency funds.

* Approved the elections department advertising and scheduling a public hearing for 10 a.m. on Monday, May 16, regarding setting a fee schedule for election services.

* Authorized Management Information Systems Director Bob Heming to sign technical agreements relating to replacement of the core switch, and implementation of software and equipment.

* Approved a $2,850 contract with Wright Engineering for an electrical engineering plan for the back-up power system at the sheriff’s office, with funding to come from the Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Grant.

* Approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Arizona Division of Emergency Management for fiscal year 2005-06 Homeland Security funds in the amount of $339,010.

* Approved payment of $5,000 in expert witness fees for the public defender’s office regarding the State of Arizona v. Torrence Hawley.

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