The Glendale city council held its regular voting meeting on September 13, 2016. Sammy Chavira was absent again…gasp. He did participate telephonically. In a Hillary Clinton-esque move he claimed he has pneumonia. If he is ill, I wish him a speedy recovery. Yet, one can’t help but wonder. Pneumonia seems to be the current rage in illnesses since presidential candidate Clinton’s diagnosis.
All items but two were on the Consent Agenda and were voted upon in one motion, quickly. The next agenda item was a land planning issue and was also quickly dealt with. The last agenda item was the Canvass of Votes, a formality without legal standing which directs the City Clerk to record the results of the election, those results having already been approved by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors (which does have legal standing).
The backdrop to this agenda item was Sammy’s request to the entire city council requesting that they vote to delay acceptance of the Canvass of Votes. In a September 13, 2016 story entitled Chavira asks council to delay canvass of votes by Darrell Jackson of the Glendale Star, he reported, “Yucca District Councilmember Samuel Chavira is attempting to get other councilmembers and the mayor to stop the canvass of votes at the Sept. 13 council meeting after losing his seat in the Aug. 30 primary. Chavira, who lost his seat on the council to former councilmember Joyce Clark by 46 votes, sent an email to fellow councilmembers obtained by The Glendale Star asking them to ‘delay official canvassing of the election results’.” Here is the link to Jackson’s story: http://www.glendalestar.com/news/article_55d713b0-79d5-11e6-8a39-5f815c2ea5eb.html .
Jackson goes on to say, “Chavira also may have violated Arizona State Statues on open meeting violations by sending the email as the statute states that councilmembers ‘may not send or verbally communicate with (any) councilmembers requesting their assent on a council meeting agenda action item’.”
The Arizona Attorney General’s Office in its handbook on the Open Meeting Law states the following:
“7.5.2 Circumventing the Open Meeting Law. Discussions and deliberations (in person or otherwise) between less than a majority of the members of a governing body, violate the Open Meeting Law when used to circumvent the purposes of the Open Meeting Law. See Ariz. Att’y Gen. Op. 75-8; Town of Palm Beach v. Gradison, 296 So. 2d 473 (Fla. 1974). Public officials may not circumvent public discussion by splintering the quorum and having separate or serial discussions with a majority of the public body members. Splintering the quorum can be done by meeting in person, by telephone, electronically, or through other means to discuss a topic that has been or later may be presented to the public body for a decision. Public officials should refrain from any activities that may undermine public confidence in the public decision making process established in the Open Meeting Law, including actions that may appear to remove discussions and decisions from public view.
For example, Board members cannot use email to circumvent the Open Meeting Law requirements. See Ariz. Att’y Gen. Op. I05-004 at 2. “[E]ven if communications on a particular subject between members of a public body do not take place at the same time or place, the communications can nonetheless constitute a ‘meeting.’” See Del Papa v. Bd. of Regents of Univ. and Cmty. Coll. Sys. Of Nev., 114 Nev. 388, 393, 956 P.2d 770, 774 (1998) (rejecting the argument that a meeting did not occur because the board members were not together at the same time and place). Additionally, “[w]hen members of the public body are parties to an exchange of e-mail communications that involve discussions, deliberations, or taking legal action by a quorum of the public body concerning a matter that may foreseeably come before the public body for action, the communications constitute a meeting through technical devices under the [Open Meeting Law].” See Ariz. Att’y Gen. Op. I05-004 at 1. This may be true even if none of the members of the public body respond to the email. Id. at 2-3. If the one-way communication proposes legal action, then it would violate the Open Meeting Law. Id. However, other one-way communications, with no further exchanges, are not per se violations, and further examination of the facts and circumstances would be necessary to determine if a violation occurred. Id. at 3.”
If you believe, as I do, that Sammy has clearly violated the Arizona Open Meeting Law, you may go to the State Attorney General’s website and file a complaint. Any citizen can do so. Here is the link to the site which contains the Complaint Form: https://www.azag.gov/sgo .
The Canvass of Votes was approved unanimously by the city council but it was not without comment. In the same Darrell Jackson article cited above, he reported that Councilmember Bart Turner prior to the council meeting said, “I have concerns about several irregularities about the election and I feel that by canvassing the votes, we are just accepting the numbers presented by the county and not confirming them,” Turner said by phone. “By canvassing and passing the vote, that, then opens the door for any candidate to challenge the procedure. Our duty is to be sure that to the best of our ability, the election was fully fair and respects the manner of all voters,” Turner said. “If I were to challenge the canvass, it wouldn’t be for one candidate of the other, but on policy and procedures that may not have been completely followed. As far as challenging results, that is the responsibility of the candidates.” His rhetoric was virtually parroted word for word by Councilmembers Tolmachoff and Aldama.
The “irregularities” to which Turner referred were: 1. Delayed opening of the voting location at Glendale High School and 2. The “missing” voter data discovered at Mensendick Elementary School. In his illegal email letter to all councilmembers Chavira asked the County Recorder to provide evidence that the voter data was not tampered with. Here is the response from the County Recorder’s Office regarding both issues that was sent per the Glendale City Clerk’s request and distributed to all councilmembers the day before their evening voting meeting. The first incident did not occur at a Yucca district polling site:
“Subject: Timeline of events at Glendale High School poll site on Primary election day 8/30/2016
Primary election day 8/30/2016
Sometime after 6:30am I was sent to 51 avenue and Maryland to pick up the equipment of a troubleshooter who was rear ended in a car accident. While moving supplies/equipment from the troubleshooter to my truck, I received a call at 6:51am directing me to go the Glendale High School poll site ( one of the rear ended troubleshooters polling places) and assist the inspector who was by himself, in a wheelchair with limited mobility to open the poll site.
Upon arrival, I saw his wife, whom he called, putting out the vote here sign. Myself and another troubleshooter who arrived just after myself, assisted in putting the rest of the signage. I saw no voters waiting around, just kids and parents dropping the kids off.
Around 7:30am a gentleman in a walker came in, signed the e-poll book and voted a ballot. 7:58am call send me to another poll site to swap out equipment.”
“Primary Election August 30, 2016 – Affidavit re: Precinct 0513
Polling Location: Don Mensendick School – 67th Ave & Missouri
Election Night – MPS Site reported no black bag no memory pack received
The first call made was to the Inspector Pat Burgett. She let me know that all materials were taken to the MPS truck by John Bowen, the Inspector for the co-located precinct 0045 Bethany Park
I then called John Bowen at approximately 1030pm.
He advised that he along with another board member, turned in all of the materials for both precincts and that he had a receipts. In our conversation I asked specifically about the memory packs to which he advised that both packs were sealed in their designated pink bubble bag and then those were sealed inside their individual black bags for each precinct.
We then waited for the MPS truck to arrive at MCTEC.
I did not know that the MPS site did not have the black bag for precinct 0513 until they arrived and we unloaded the truck.
After searching the truck and finding that the black bag was not in house, I volunteered to go first thing on Wed morning to the school.
I first called John Bowen at approx. 715am on Wed to let him know that we did not receive the black back with the memory pack and advised for him to please check his vehicle. He checked and called me back to let me know it was not in the vehicle. But he did have the receipts from the MPS site. I advised to bring them to the school to meet me so that we could retrieve the bag.
We agreed to meet at the school at 8am to gain access to the room where the equipment/supplies remained. (band room)
John arrived a few minutes before me, he had a school representative escort him to unlock the room and retrieved the bag as I was walking up to the room. He called me as I was approaching the school to advise that the bag was indeed in the room and that it was completely intact and that the seal was not broken.
John had his receipts. I confirmed that the receipt for 0513 did not have the top 2 items checked off (black bag & memory pack) All other items were marked. I wrote in Green ink pen on the receipt for 0513, the number to the seal that was on the black bag. I broke the seal with John there to verify that the pink memory pack bag was inside the black bag.
I then picked up a coworker (Jaime Sumner) at 8:35am from her home (approximately 2 blocks across the street from the school) and we drove together to the office with the black bag/memory pack.
We arrived with the black bag at approximately 9:15am.”
As Councilmember Ray Malnar said at the council meeting, the people who work the polls are volunteers and human. He felt that while some mistakes had occurred, none had risen to the level of voter fraud or vote tampering. I concur with his assessment. Originally I expressed concern regarding the “missing” votes at Mensendick School but after reading the above Affidavit I am satisfied that there was no vote tampering.
Apparently these answers from the County Recorder’s Office are not good enough for Chavira, Turner, Tolmachoff and Aldama. Yet they accepted the County Recorder’s and Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Official Canvass of Votes. If they were really concerned about Glendale’s election results, why did they vote to accept those very same results? Turner made one interesting remark when he said, “As far as challenging results, that is the responsibility of the candidates.” The only one who can contest the results is Sammy.
In another Glendale Star story also posted on September 13, 2016 by Darrell Jackson entitled Weiers wins, Clark reclaims Yucca seat, Chavira’s campaign manager, Ben Scheel, said, “At this point, we are following very closely and we will keep all our options open,” Scheel said. “We have spoken to an attorney, but are not calling for anything at this point. We just want to make sure all the votes are counted and after the final votes are posted, we will examine everything closely and make our decision.” Here is the link to this story: http://www.glendalestar.com/news/article_36fc4d94-79c0-11e6-92fd-7f16a95eaf36.html .
Mayor Weiers stated in response to the possibility of a challenge, “Challenge what? The fact is the machine was still sealed and verified and based on any other voting machine, there was no discrepancy. I believe it is fruitless (to challenge) and there is a point where you have to understand that it is time to do what is right for the city.”
Will Sammy contest the results? At this point, I simply don’t care what he does. Mathematically, any action by him will not change the final outcome – quite simply, I won. The margin of my win could change incrementally but the outcome remains the same. Sammy has a steep financial hill to climb in filing a contest to the election. He has to pay for an attorney and he has to pay for any recount should such an action be approved by a judge. The only two grounds, by state statute, that would allow for a recount are voter fraud and vote tampering. He has no proof of either and the burden of proof rests with him. His court adversaries would not be me but the attorneys representing the County Recorder’s Office. That office has clearly and unequivocally stated that all seals on the bags containing the voter data were intact.
It’s time for Burdick and Chavira to publicly concede. Their sound and fury signify nothing but sour grapes and at this point we are seeing not only sour grapes but grapes that have become moldy and rotten. While we are at it…Sammy take your campaign signs down. All signs belonging to losing primary candidates need to be down 15 days after the polls close. That’s Wednesday, September 14, 2016…today.
© Joyce Clark, 2016
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