Monday, July 18, 2011

Quartzsite, AZ Is at War!

Quartzsite AZ caught my attention a week or two ago when I saw the following YouTube video from a City Council meeting.  The lady, Jennifer Jade being arrested at the microphone is a local news publisher.  The person repeatly demanding that the police desist is the town's Mayor.  You can see how much influence he has:

Sunday, the Arizona Republic published its take on the disaster in little Quartzsite.  Apparently, the insanity in Maricopa and Phoenix is metastasizing. This is from Dennis Wagner's story at AZCentral: 

There may be debate as to who is right or which side is winning. But it's undisputed that municipal business has become a sideshow to infighting that disrupts nearly every town department and meeting.

Mayor Ed Foster, newspaper publisher Jennifer "Jade" Jones and most of the police officers in Quartzsite say the Town Council and police chief ignore Arizona's public-records law and misuse police power to silence their critics.

"There's a cabal running Quartzsite," Foster said, "and I'm about to take it down."

Council members and the police chief, in turn, say their critics are simply a bunch of agitators trying to stir up trouble.

By last Sunday, six days after the video was posted on YouTube, the political firestorm was so heated that council members announced plans to conduct future meetings without public notice and to prohibit comments from citizens.

Foster said that decision was made in violation of Arizona law. "I refused to be a part of an illegal meeting behind closed doors," he said. "I announced the meeting was canceled, but they went right ahead."

The incident is just the latest in a circus act that for years has paralyzed the town: dysfunction and distrust fueled by a historical feud, recall attempts and allegations of public malfeasance, abuse of power and government secrets.

In the past three years alone, Quartzsite has been through five mayors and a trio of recall elections. (Foster, who has been mayor since 2010, is facing a recall vote next month.) The municipal government is buried in costly lawsuits.

And at least 10 Quartzsite activists, including the mayor and four past council members or candidates, said they were charged with petty crimes after criticizing the Town Council and Police Chief Jeff Gilbert.
On second thought, maybe the municipal cancer began with a Quartzsite-tumor.  

According to media reports the Mayor and others have been, vainly, begging the Arizona attorney general to investigate.  Of course, in Arizona the state government is too busy with defending anti-immigration laws, enacting restrictive abortion legislation and (yeehaw!) protecting whack-job rights to guns to bother with a little something like free speech, the right to assembly and municipal governance.


  1. Hell of a video. Hard to believe that anyone in public office thinks it's okey to treat someone like they treated the publisher. Freedom of speech is dead in that little town or burg.

  2. Nice post, on an important topic. This sort of thing happens in a lot of communities around the country, although this town is an extreme example.