Cave Creek Council continues business as usual after recall lawsuit on Monday.
(Tara Alatorre photo)
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Countersuit to recall petition filed
Tara Alatorre~ 6/4/2014
A judge threw out two of four petitions filed for the recall elections of Cave Creek Town Council members on Monday, after three councilmen filed a counter lawsuit against the recall petitions filed against them early this April.
Vice Mayor Adam Trenk and Councilmen Charles Spitzer and Reg Monachino filed a countersuit citing that the petition forms were not in compliance with the law, and therefore not valid. Although Councilman Mike Durkin is included in the recall effort, he did not join the lawsuit with his fellow council members.
“I’m afraid even if we stopped it [recall] with the court it’s just going to come back, so I just want to get it over with,” said Durkin.
The Superior Court Judge ruled against throwing out all four recall attempts based on the grounds that certain language required by law was omitted from petition sheets. However, he did agree attestations made by petition circulators in the recall of Trenk and Monachino were false, making many signatures invalid. That means the minimum 293 signatures required to move the recall election forward failed for Trenk and Monachino, and now only Durkin and Spitzer face a recall election.
“These results speak for themselves, but more must be done, “said Vice Mayor Trenk in a statement after the ruling in court on Monday. “I will continue to be a champion and protector of our community, but in order to remain effective, I ask for your continued support of Councilmen Spitzer and Durkin.”
The recall petition was filed by a political committee called the Cave Creek Caring Citizens, chaired by resident Susan Clancy, against Trenk, Monachino, Spitzer, and Durkin.
The organization cited fiscal irresponsibility and misrepresentation of the public as the motivation for the recall. In April, they filed the petition with the Town Clerk Carrie Dyrek and Maricopa County Recorder’s Office, which determined there were enough valid signatures this May.
Clancy had no comment when contacted at the time about this story.
Trenk says he filed the suit not only to save thousands of taxpayer dollars, but to end ongoing personal attacks against the current Cave Creek Town Council fueled by political retribution from the “old guard,” which was recalled in 2013.
“They ignore facts, make accusations to undercut the legitimacy of the sitting council, and tout recall as salvation,” said Trenk. “I could not sit idly by. If the recall election is held, it will cost the taxpayers untold thousands.”
The four council members heard grumblings of their recall before they even officially took office, after replacing recalled council members, and then firing longtime town manager Usama Abujbarah in 2013, according to Spitzer.
“It’s just retribution,” said Spitzer.
While still serving as manager of Cave Creek, Abujbarah was spending public funds to pay Don Sorchych, publisher of the Sonoran News, for running legal announcements. Since then Sorchych and Abujbarah have fueled the fire for retribution recalls, according to Trenk and Spitzer.
“Well, they didn’t like we replaced their good friend, the town paid his tabloid a lot of money,” said Spitzer in a phone interview.
The soonest possible date for recall elections for Cave Creek will be in November, and the town must cover the costs of the election, which could cost almost $7,000, plus the legal costs incurred for Monday’s lawsuit.
Both Durkin and Spitzer feel confident they will keep their council seats in the recall election.