Speakers admonish council to settle conflict with mayor
The Yuma City Council got quite a tongue lashing over its investigation into allegations of misconduct by the mayor, an investigation that ended with the Arizona Attorney's General Office declining last week to prosecute.
The investigation that began nearly two years ago with allegations of conflict of interest leveled against Mayor Al Krieger are an embarrassment to the community and needs to go away, Dennis Franklin told the council during call to the public at the conclusion of Wednesday's meeting.
"I'm embarrassed," he said. "I'm appalled. Customers tell me how embarrassed they are. It's very troubling."
With the much more critical issue of the community's current 34.5 percent unemployment rate facing the community, he said it is disturbing that the council instead is focused on political issues.
Franklin also expressed concern about the cost to the city's taxpayers of the investigation, a cost he said he's heard is approaching $150,000.
"Whatever happened, you need to find a solution and make this disappear," Franklin admonished the council members. "Whatever the cost, do whatever has to be done. Whatever action, do it and get this behind us. We have a new mayor and council members coming in and they don't need this. It has to go away but go away in the right way."
Franklin was followed by others who also criticized the council for its action in the investigation.
"The fat lady has sung," said Mitchell Dunn. He noted that 17 allegations were forwarded to the attorney general's office.
"How many did the attorney gneral decide to move forward on?" he asked. "Zero, that's how many. Not one charge. I think the first thing you need to do is apologize to the mayor and to the citizens of Yuma."
Gilbert Hernandez added his appeal to the council to settle the issue and "restore dignity to the city and council."
Mayor Krieger wasn't present at the meeting to hear those who came to his defense. Deputy Mayor Leslie McLendon, who chaired the meeting, simply announced that the mayor was unable to attend.
In other business, the council voted to delay action until its Oct. 2 meeting on a proposed development agreement between the city and Yuma Regional Medical Center. The agreement outlines various easements and land exchanges between the city and hospital to facilitate projects by both entities that will culminate in a new Emergency Department for the hospital and an expanded Smucker Park for the city. The agreement also outlines proposed traffic flow improvements in the vicinity of 24th Street and Avenue A where the hospital is located.
Saying he's heard a number of questions from residents about the development agreement, Councilman Jerry Stuart made the motion to delay action on it to provide more time for public input. The motion passed unanimously.
The council also heard from William Stewart, who spoke on behalf of Jazz of Yuma. He said the dance company had booked the Historic Yuma Theatre for a show Oct. 25-26, only to find out that the HOG Motorcycle Rally would be held downtown the same weekend. This will result in street closures, limiting access to the theater for dancers and patrons, safety concerns for the children and noise conflicts from the rally.
As a result, Stewart said, the dance company had to change its venue to Kofa High School and has incurred additional expenses, costs for which he believes the city should compensate Jazz of Yuma.
"We tried to come up with a solution to this unfortunate event," responded City Administrator Greg Wilkinson, indicating he's waiting for a final tally before determining what the city will reimburse the dance company.