At its May 19 meeting, the Maricopa City Council thumbed its nose at common sense, accountability and its own written policy in one fell swoop. Six council members either don’t know the difference between right and wrong, or just don’t have the backbone to condemn one of their own. Either way, it renders the Code of Ethics meaningless.
The complaint I filed against Councilmember Julia Gusse for violating the City’s Code of Ethics was on the agenda. With Councilmember Vincent Manfredi recusing himself from the discussion and vote, the council unanimously passed a motion to toss out the complaint and “move forward.”
Despite merely being the Complainant who brought an issue to the council to help it police itself (or not, as it turned out), the discussion followed Gusse’s strategy of seemingly putting me on trial. When not defending myself for letting the council know it had a rogue member harassing a local business, I found myself defending the city attorney and the council’s very own code and process.
Lobbying to remove the code’s ambiguity that allows “third parties” (i.e. non-council members) to file complaints, Mayor Christian Price said there is “no way for us to sit as judges” – even though that’s what the City of Phoenix’s City Council does, for 20 times the number of residents.
I left the meeting thinking I’d file a new complaint – I recently received another egregious email penned by Gusse – in part to prove to five council members their mistake of voting on the premise of what they want the code to say, versus what it actually says.
But the reality is, faced with the obligation – though many would say opportunity – of addressing Gusse spitefully telling local businesses owners to cancel their advertising agreements with InMaricopa, or her emailing the mayor, “My recommendation is to NOT advertise one dime of our City’s advertising budget in this publication” and that she “will fight for the discontinued financial support of his organization,” the council proved May 19 they would again look the other way.
What the council should do is end the charade and rescind the Code of Ethics. Council members do not care about holding themselves accountable, so stop wasting taxpayer resources pretending.
The mayor wants citizens to have only two recourses (see YouTube video) for holding our elected officials accountable for unethical behavior – recall them, which would take about 1,000 voter signatures and $30,000 of taxpayer money to stage a special election, or wait up to four years for the next election.
Through its own admission, Maricopa City Council’s Code of Ethics is not worth the paper it’s written on. And I received it electronically.