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Krieger accused of abusing mayor position
Mayor Al Krieger found himself under attack during Wednesday's Yuma City Council meeting, being accused of conflict of interest, violating the city charter and abusing his position.
During call to the public, Marilyn Young, a former Yuma mayor, stated her grievances with Krieger and called on the council to “take action to investigate and publicize those violations. Continued abuse of power will not be tolerated and will lead to either a request for his resignation or face a recall.”
Councilman Jerry Stuart responded that he's been hearing about all the things Young voiced “and more.” Calling them disturbing and distracting to the business of the city, he moved that the council discuss and take possible action during its next meeting on Jan. 18 in regards to a provision in the city charter that gives the council power to investigate.
A visibly stunned Krieger said he was blind-sided. “This is a surprise — very much a surprise.”
Initially, he voted against Stuart's motion, then changed his vote in the interest of transparency.
In her comments, Young said that conflict of interest laws, both city and state, have been violated at least twice. One issue, she said, was private property at the corner of Avenue 3-1/2E and 40th Street when there was consideration of extending Avenue 3-1/2E south to provide an alternative route around the Marine Corps Air Station Yuma main gate. Krieger owns property in that area.
Another incident was allowing contractor Troy Eckard additional time to present his concerns during a public hearing on the city's potential local preference to contractors within the city. Eckard's office is outside the city, but he argued that the policy would be unfair.
Young noted that Eckard had purchased Krieger's construction company and now employs Krieger and his son. Krieger responded that his role is a very minor consulting one.
Young went on to say that the city charter “expressly and specifically forbids the mayor and council from directing or ordering city staff,” noting that the city administrator alone is responsible for overseeing staff.
Yet, the mayor has repeatedly ordered the staff to perform tasks without going through the city administrator, Young said. In addition, she continued, he ordered the city administrator to fire several department heads and staff without seeking council approval to direct the administrator.
“These actions are in violation of the city charter and I request, Mayor Krieger, you cease and desist the abuse of your position on conflict of interest and to respect and observe the city charter as approved by the voters of the city of Yuma,” Young said.
In other business at Wednesday's meeting, the council voted unanimously and without comment to renew a contract with City Administrator Greg Wilkinson at an annual salary of $126,691.
At the last meeting, the mayor had sought to put an item on the agenda to discuss Wilkinson's performance. However, during a 6-1 vote, with Krieger casting the no vote, the council approved a motion by Councilman Cody Beeson to take such action only with the approval of at least four council members.
The council Wednesday also approved naming Councilman Paul Johnson as the deputy mayor for the year.
Joyce Lobeck can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6853. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/jlobeck or on Twitter at @YSJoyceLobeck.