Yuma City Council to reconsider vote on mayor investigation
The Yuma City Council will hold a special session Wednesday to reconsider its vote not to investigate alleged misconduct by Mayor Al Krieger.
The special session will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the City Hall Council Chambers, One City Plaza.
“There is only one item on the agenda and it will be to put the item back on the agenda,” said City Administrator Greg Wilkinson. “The council could decide to discuss the issue further or they could just take a vote to place it on a future agenda.”
The item in question is Yuma City Charter Article VII, Section 10. It authorizes the council to investigate the “affairs of the City and the conduct of any City department, office or agency.”
It also grants the council the authority to “subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, take testimony and require the production of evidence” during its investigation.
Failure to obey is a misdemeanor offense.
At the Jan. 18 city council meeting, a vote to investigate Krieger failed 4-3 with the mayor presiding over the proceedings and casting a no vote on his behalf.
Some believed the mayor's actions during the discussion constituted a conflict of interest in and of itself.
Councilman Paul Johnson said in a previous Yuma Sun article that Krieger's not abstaining “astounded me. His running the meeting and casting the deciding vote on a motion on whether to conduct an investigation of his alleged misconduct is like a criminal casting the deciding vote on a grand jury that is indicting him for his crime.”
In his defense, Krieger said he didn't view his participation in the meeting as a conflict of interest.
“I chaired the meeting. If there was a problem, the city attorney didn't say anything,” he said in a previous Sun article. “He's there to advise the council on legal matters.”
For the council to revisit an item, one of the members who cast a prevailing vote has to make a motion to reconsider.
Council members Ed Thomas, Leslie McClendon and Bobbi Brooks joined Krieger in voting down the measure.
Allegations of malfeasance were first leveled against the mayor at a Jan. 4 council meeting when former mayor Marilyn Young accused Krieger of a conflict of interest, violations of the city charter and abuse of his position.
In her comments, Young said that conflict of interest laws, both city and state, had been violated at least twice.
One issue 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 adjacent to the proposed expansion.
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.
In another charge, Young said 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, Young said, the mayor has repeatedly ordered the staff to perform tasks without going through the city administrator. In addition, she continued, he ordered the city administrator to fire several department heads and staff without seeking council approval to direct the administrator.
After Young finished, Councilman Jerry Stuart moved that the council discuss the charges and take possible action at the next council meeting. The motion passed 7-0.
Staff writer Joyce Lobeck contributed to this report. Darren DaRonco can be reached at 539-6857 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @YSDarrend or on Facebook at www.faceboook.com/YSDarrenD.