El Mirage Mayor Laments That Complaining Residents are Uninformed, but Doesn't Inform Them about City Presentations Offered to, Um, Inform Them

Categories: Westside

Thumbnail image for mook.jpg
El Mirage Mayor Lana Mook
El Mirage Mayor Lana Mook bemoans that residents in her community are lodging fact-starved concerns and complaints with the city.

Her solution?

She gets city employees to address these oft-complained-about topics with PowerPoint presentations and handouts at a public meeting, but she doesn't bother letting the public know that these presentations are going to take place.


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"During the past few meetings I've become acutely aware that some of our residents really do need to be informed or educated regarding their concerns or complaints," she told the audience during that October 2 City Council meeting. "They've brought forward some things that were void or very lacking of factual information."

Then, Mook devotes about one-third of the session to presenting information about city's water rates, property taxes, a regional roadway, and a new police station -- without putting any information about those presentations on the agenda.

We asked Mook and City Manager Spencer Isom for an explanation but haven't heard back from either.

Mook's complaining that citizens are uninformed, and then not informing them about a meeting that might inform them, is beyond ironic. It's possible that the City of El Mirage has run afoul of Arizona's Open Meeting Law.

The Arizona Ombudsman's Office, a state agency that aims to make government more responsive and accessible to Arizona citizens, points us both to state law and the Arizona Agency Handbook published by the Attorney General's Office.

State law dictates that a public meeting agenda "shall list the specific matters to be discussed, considered, or decided at the meeting." A.R.S. 38-431.02 (K)

And while it allows "the chief administrator, presiding officer or a member of a public body" to present a "brief summary of current events without listing in the agenda," the law is clear that no discussion is allowed.

The presentations weren't brief, and we're not sure the city employees presenting could be considered "the chief administrator, presiding officer, or a member of a public body."

SpencerIsom1.jpg
City Manager Spencer Isom
The presentations did take place during the portion of the meeting designated for Isom, the mayor and City Council members to offer a summary of current events.

But instead of Isom speaking, he invites up Police Chief Steve Campbell, who provides an in-depth update on the proposed police station. When it is Mook's turn, she invites up Public Works Director Larry Dobrosky for a presentation on water rates and bills. And she asks him a question in the middle of his presentation. She also asks Finance Director Robert Nilles to give a presentation on property taxes. And she reads a handout about the city's role in Northern Parkway, a regional project to expand Northern Avenue.

Mook solicits questions and comments after the various presentations conclude -- even though the city clerk twice says (prior to the presentations) that the council can't discuss matters presented during officials' summaries.

What makes this even more of a head-scratcher is that Mook and her colleagues just attended a refresher course on the state's Open Meeting Law in August at a League of Arizona Cities and Towns conference.

Usually, city attorneys make sure that elected officials don't veer off track in this manner. But, we're not sure where Interim City Attorney Robert Hall -- an estate planning and probate attorney based in New Mexico -- was during all of this.

The AG's Agency Handbook further clarifies that "public bodies should limit the use of [current event summaries] to appropriate situations and should strive to provide as much advance information as possible to the public."

The situation just begs the question: Since Mook and Isom obviously planned those presentations, why not just list them on the agenda?

As Mook herself noted, some members of the community are already complaining about the way that the city is doing business, scrutinizing elected officials' behavior. Why give them one more reason to feel disenfranchised or be suspicious of city officials?

When you consider this mis-step -- along with the fact that city officials are putting up roadblocks for a councilman who wants to use a city building to meet and speak with constituents -- it helps explain why residents might be complaining in the first place.



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17 comments
shauna
shauna

At least the citizens got informed enough to vote down the home rule option it looks like it passed with the unofficial counts posted on the recorder website. Now they can not tax (property) and spend us to death as they are limited to state mandated levels unless the voters approve differently.  I wonder now i this hypocritcal group will ask for a recount since it is within 10 votes.  If I remember right, they did not request one when the bond passed by only three (i think) because it came out in their favor. It looks like the mayor and their cronies are losing their control over the people that were blindly following them.  Keep it up people and lets make some real changes and take our city back from this group. Maybe in the next election we can vote them all out.

goodnewsinem
goodnewsinem

Yes she is calling anyone who dares to question her stupid and uninformed. The truth be told she is throwing that at them because deep down that is all she can do because the facts are the facts and the people who question her have the hard facts in the form of e mails and contracts etc. These are all their words, not the people questioning them. A liar needs a secretary and it seems that the mayor and city manager don't have a good one. Why didn't the mayor show up at the Halloween party to meet and greet her public. It was an event that was planned well in advance. Her spokespeople said she had another pressing engagement. It sure seems funny that the LEADER and great spinner of all that is TRUE in the city would not be at an event that was, as she says something that shows the wonderful progress of our city. Is it because she really can't defend her actions and wants to have total control (council meeting) when going before the public. Come on mayor stop hiding behind your locked door and come out and meet and greet your public. Maybe you could do this by shopping at Wal Mart and not Fry's (by the way please leave the handicapped spaces for those of us who truly need them). Again the facts are the facts and the mayors show at the council meeting was not on the agenda. Thank you Monica for getting the word out to the people, it is the job of the media to inform the people. Maybe if the mayor or city manager would return calls their side would also be heard. Remember silence is not always golden.

Shauna
Shauna

So now the mayor is calling the residents she is supposed to be serving stupid in a nice politically correct way.  That means all you people that supported this council are also in this group of misinformed people. Class act you have there.

isitmesc
isitmesc

After being a resident of El Mirage for the past 10 years and based on my interactions and experiences with this City's representatives, I'm sad to say that the patronizing and smug attitude attributed to the mayor and her staff is warranted. For example, I've had nothing but frustration and irritation every time I've had to deal with the water department. The inept and Stepford- wife- like approach to problem solving offered by this agency only reinforced every negative stereotype professed throughout the ages regarding government agencies. Likewise, I am sickened by the fact that this city 's government officials have never been held accountable for their role in Joe's disgusting lack of action when he and his representatives knew that children in this community were being sexually molested. And the fact that the public has let that go to the point where Joe shows no shame in running for another term truly enrages and baffles me. I won't even get into the overkill on photo radar cars in such a small community or the fact that they're still using the the photo radar cameras for people who are speeding or...well, you get my point. But since you can't fight City Hall, I am proud to say that Monday is moving day. So, farewell El Mirage (and by the way, isn't that an ironic name when you think about it?) I DID know ye...in fact, that's the problem!

goodnewsinem
goodnewsinem

The problem is that if the mayor and city manager was so bent on informing citizens about all the "mis-information" that they say is out there then why didn't they put it on the agenda? That would make it an honest attempt to tell their side. This was not an off the cuff, last minute idea. Staff was told to make a presentation, this took time and effort. I am so sorry that you have such a bad self image as to say you have a fat a**. I hope you can talk to someone about your poor self image. You seem so angry, cheer up the world will keep on spinning, the sun will come out again and this administration will not be in office forever so you will not have to raise your blood pressure. It seems funny to me that you blame the media for reporting the news. Have you ever called Monica and spoke to her, given her your view, I bet you haven't. Maybe you should, you might feel better. Remember everyone has the right to their views, you and the rest of us included. Remember the mayor DID NOT POST the information that was going to be discussed at the meeting, so you say you look in all the places it is POSTED but where should we have looked for this it was never POSTED anywhere. We the citizens of El Mirage are not mind readers. You say why don't people come to the meeting and voice their opinion? Anyone who has in the last few months are reamed a new one by the mayor and taken to the wood shed because how dare they question the mayor and city manager who know what is best for the rest of the citizens. To wrap it up the article is about the information NOT being on the agenda and not giving the "uninformed " (as you say ) citizens the chance to hear the information. This is why there are Open Meeting Laws.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

Well the schedule of the presentations have been on file in the basement of City Hall in a file cabinet marked Presentations located in the disused bathroom behind the air conditioning system and are available for public inspection on alternate Fridays each month beginning after the second Tuesday of each month between 1 PM and 2:30PM except when the date is an odd number ...

 

I can't be bothered if you don't want to take an active part in your government ...

robert_graham
robert_graham

In other words, stop your bitching about supposed sex crimes in El Mirage you say have not been investigated because they were investigated longs ago and most cleared up.  Besides, you really have no room to complain about any sex crimes when the majority of you support the New Times' backpage.com that is a haven for sex crimes such as prostitution and human smuggling.  You should stop and think that the same supposed sex crimes in El Mirage just might have happened because of backpage.com. I just cannot understand why you don't release a public outrage over that.

Eleanor_Holguin
Eleanor_Holguin

City politicians too big for their own britches. Check your egos at the door when you do the work of "The People".

Shauna
Shauna

 @goodnewsinem

 Why not post it on the city website for all to see then?  They only post what they have to or want us to have.  Kind of like when they stalled putting out the traffic accident data that showed that intersection is not nearly as dangerous as the mayor stated. 

danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

 @JoeArpaioFan probably because with backpage.com nobody has come forward and asked the police for help and reported a crime, just to be ignored like Arpaio did with the El Mirage sex crimes. 

david_saint01
david_saint01 topcommenter

 @JoeArpaioFan lol nice spin move, what was that..a 3 1/2 gainer with a twist? no one buys your bullshit dude, just fade away into the night like your hero joe is soon to do. 

danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

 @Eleanor_Holguin there used to be a time when politicians were there for the people, now....who knows what their motivation is. nothing they do anymore seems to be in our best interest

buggaboo26
buggaboo26

@badnewsinem @isitmesc Lana...is that you?

isitmesc
isitmesc

Ahhh...from your lips to God's ear!

mitchellwachtel
mitchellwachtel

 @danzigsdaddy  @Eleanor_Holguin It's hilarious to see the same garbage in Arizona municipalities that are in Texas town (my major interest is a particular election, but this was too delicious to pass up).  The party does not matter. The "conservativism" or "liberalism" does not matter.  The dirtballs are all the same.  Here's one excuse to watch for. A member of our esteemed city council said the most important thing was not to discuss things on email, but simply to convey information.  Ain't that grand? A good way to keep people who might care, such as voters, from knowing about dirty deals.  Do keep up the fight.  These people tend to be afraid of the FBI. The more you discuss them, the more likely they are to reveal something incriminating.

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