El Mirage Officials Throw Up Roadblocks for Councilman Who Wants to Host Meet-and-Greet With City Residents

Categories: Wild, Wild West

El Mirage Councilman Jim McPhetres
El Mirage Councilman Jim McPhetres wants to hang out at the city-owned El Mirage Senior Center once a month, invite residents to stop by and chat about city issues.

But, city officials are not making it easy -- even though it is pretty standard for elected officials to set up tables, typically in public buildings, in hopes that constituents stop by with questions, concerns, gripes, and maybe even a compliment or two.

Instead, City Manager Spencer Isom is telling him that he can try to get approval from the City Council or pony up the fees, which include a $200 deposit and as much as $50 per hour. Odd way for a city to operate.

In neighboring Surprise, council members, without having to jump through such hoops, routinely host "meet and greet" events with residents inside City Hall or city-owned recreation center.

It's the same story in Peoria -- elected officials can use city facilities to meet with residents as long as they don't use them for political campaigning or fundraising. No hoops to jump through.

We suspect that McPhetres is facing these unnecessary challenges because he is often the lone voice on the City Council questioning city expenses, opposing tax increases and failing to vote in lock-step with Mayor Lana Mook and the rest of the El Mirage City Council.

Ain't it a kick in the pants? They may be making it harder for McPhetres, but it's really the resident who suffer from by not having easy access to their elected official.

It started on September 7, when McPhetres sent an e-mail to City Manager Spencer Isom informing him that he'd like to reserve about 90 minutes one evening each month at the senior center "as part of my effort to connect with the constituents in our wonderful city ... to hear from the residents and for them to talk to me and share the good things the city is doing and to hear what they have to say."

McPhetres tells Isom that he prefers Thursdays, but is flexible, and that he's reviewed state law and doesn't think his "meet and greet" will violate any Open Meeting Laws.

He also tells Isom that he'll "gladly share all information with you so that you can utilize the feedback received and share at your pleasure with others. I will not require any time from staff or yourself at these gatherings so compensation should not be an issue," McPhetres writes. "Your assistance is greatly appreciated and if you like I can work directly with staff if you prefer, just let me know.  I would like to start this month."

Three days later, City Manager Isom replies to McPhetres, telling him that he should put his request on the city council agenda so the council can decide whether he can use the city building. He also tells him he's forwarded his request to Robert Hall, the city's interim attorney for review because McPhetres' request "has policy implications," but doesn't say what they are.

For a quick refresher on why El Mirage has Hall, a probate and estate planning attorney from New Mexico as their city attorney, read El Mirage Officials Hire Political Pals; Refuse to Answer Questions, June 2011.

McPhetres writes back, the same day, telling him that he isn't going to ask for approval from his colleagues to meet with the people he represents.

"I am not looking for approval by council and frankly do not need approval to connect and support the residents of El Mirage, this is what they hired me to do," he writes.

After 12 days, the city attorney's response mirrors Isom e-mail -- telling McPhetres that the "city council and staff need the benefit of review, discussion and clarification of this issue. It may be appropriate to put this item on the agenda."

A defiant McPhetres writes back on September 25:

"I am again asking for the use of the Senior Center as asked previously requested to make myself available to the [constituency] of El Mirage. This is not a request that needs
council for approval and I do not think it is appropriate to do so."

On September 28, Isom tells McPhetres that if wants to use the city facilities -- he can fill out a permit application and pay the associate fee "the same as any other resident and according to the City's fee schedule."

Isom doesn't stop there.

"Although, the facility use permit application indicates I have the authority to waive fees, I would not be inclined to waive fees for Council members conducting an activity that has not been approved by the Mayor or Council as a whole," he writes. "If I were to receive such a request, I would request Council first establish its policy regarding waivers for Councilmembers desiring to meet for non-approved activities. Approved activities do not require a permit and fees do not apply."

In what world would an elected official meeting with constituents fall under a "non-approved activity"?

Oh, that's right. In El Mirage's world.

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To answer who is erlesser. According to the Maricopa County Recorder there is a Elma Lesser listed on a deed of trust with a Lana Mook dated 9/3/2010, recording number 20100766653. The address is 12817 W. Evens Drive in El Mirage Arizona 85335. Also according to the white pages there is a E.R. Lesser related to a Lana Mook at the same address. Now I am not saying that this is the same erlesser but the name is not common and there is only one E.R. listed in the United States that is related to a person named Lana Mook, also not a common name. This erlesser has shown up before in the Arizona Republic using the email as erlesser and the name on the blog Rustygirl who says just about the same thing about  McPhetres. Now I think that it is strange that (according to the white pages) a woman close to 90 years old would be on a blog who happens to have the same name as the mother of a Lana Mook. I just put it out there  for all of you to think about.

ExpertShot topcommenter

Ms. Alonso writes:

On September 28, Isom tells McPhetres that is wants to use the city facilities -- he can fill out a permit application and pay the associate fee "the same as any other resident and according to the City's fee schedule."

Did Isom tell McPhetres that ". . . is wants to use. . ."  Really?  Hmmm.


As a non-political resident of El Mirage, I find the request of McPhetres, a city employee (voted in, city employee) reasonable. I would love to know who "erlesser" and "badnewsinem" are. Why are they hiding behind crazy tag names? I will gladly let you know who I am, but I also don't have an agenda. 

What exactly are the other members of city council so concerned about? Why would it be a burden to El Mirage to have voices heard? Gee, as usual, people who are in some level of political power have agendas and a misguided sense of self-importance. That IS disgusting and shameful. Here is what I have to say to all of you on city council....I WON'T VOTE FOR ONE OF YOU AGAIN! Try me on election day, I will tell you to your face why I wouldn't vote for you, even if you paid me, or for another bond! How much more money does this city want to misappropriate? This city is ran worse than a damn circus, better yet...you are all the clowns!  


Tamara Lies


WAAA, WAAA, WAAA- Monica, do you also burp Councilmember McPhetres and change his dirty diaper? Disgusting "journalism".


 @ExpertShotHe is a councilman that wants to meet with the residents which is different than being an ordinary citizen wanting to use the facilities.  Doesn't the mayor and her cronies meet with citizens whenever they want in the conference room at city hall?  If so, why don't they let him?  They also used to meet with all the HOA people (citizens) in the conference room after hours as well.  Sounds like they want the citizens of El Mirage to remain clueless so they keep their mouths shut when people try to speak up about what they are really doing.




 You all either need to vote out Shapera on Tuesday or vote down home rule.  If home rule goes through, they can declare an emergency with a 6-1 vote anytime they want to spend money REGARDLESS of whether or not the revenue exists to cover the spending.  They have that vote locked up unless you vote Shapera out and make some 5-2 votes. You all do realize that the way they make the revenue to cover execessive spending is with property tax hikes and fees don't you?  If home rule goes through they can raise the property tax levy well over the 2% (or so) cap placed on it by the state and we can do nothing to stop them.  Wake up people of El Mirage before it is too late.

ExpertShot topcommenter

 @TALIES I have found in my 20 years of involvement in governmental and semi-government agency circles that when one group of politicians are trying to block other politicians from engaging in legal activity, there is some illegal activity going on that the party of the first part wishes to keep quiet.  Look deeper Ms. Alonzo


LANA, LANA,LANA or mayor and or one of her cronies? what are you afraid of? could it be the TRUTH about why your spending all of the cities TAX DOLLARS on? Like the different union Henchmen you pay off? or could it be someone who HIDES in those Lowly Dark Shadows? like your friends the TWINS cArnalies or cArmalies are they female or man or both? hard to disDistinguish between them 2! other wise known as probond and msg usarf ret also know as a disgraceful idiot!


@ExpertShot @TALIES Good bet.

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