Gilbert’s Legal Counsel Under Fire by Gilbert Citizen!

Remember back in November 2009, the Citizens Budget Committee recommended to the Council that they go to a Fall Even Year election, to coincide with the state, county and federal elections? This would save the taxpayers $232k for the Council’s off-cycle Gilbert only elections. Due to State Law, a municipality is required to go to the Fall when they reach 175k in population. The 2010 Census will likely show over 200k population. Five Council members (Abbott, Crozier, Presmyk, Sentz, and Urie) resisted going to Even Years, so debates, research, opinions, and more debates ensued over the next 10 months, costing taxpayers many thousands of dollars. Most citizens who have spoken out about the issue have favored Fall Even.

There was another sticking point. What happens to the term lengths of existing Council Members? If they have to go from Spring to Fall, they will be forced to either shorten their terms by 6 months, or lengthen them by 6 months.

Most citizens agreed with John Lewis and Jenn Daniels that in the interest of the Gilbert citizens, they had no problem shortening their terms, nor did they have a problem going with Even Year elections.

Council members Abbott, Crozier, Presmyk, Sentz, and Urie favored lengthening their terms.

More research ensued. Among the research items was a request by Council that Susan Goodwin, the Town’s Attorney, obtain an outside legal opinion from Perkins and Coie, which she did on 1/23/2010.

On 2/9/2010, Susan shared with the Council in a closed Executive Session the contents of that outside opinion. Due to “client attorney privilege,” that opinion was refused to the general public.

On 3/2/2010, General Counsel opined that shortening terms of office is not legal. Of course, those five Council members wanted to “be completely legal,” and shortening terms was summarily abandoned.

At last night’s 8/19/2010 Council Meeting, Gilbert citizen Eddie Cook noticed, buried in the 14-page Council Communication which traced the history of the research done on the Council Elections debate, the Perkins Coie opinion!

Eddie Cook spoke out to the Council stating and showing the documentation, while the Town Attorney stated on 3/2/2010, “shortening terms of office is not legal,” the legal opinion of Perkins Coie which was shared with Council on 2/9/2010 went like this:

“…Perkins Coie believes there may be opportunity to shorten terms, however there is less legal risk with extending terms by six months.”

Gilbert citizens know the difference between "shortening terms of office is not legal," versus "there may be opportunity to shorten terms."

PLEASE NOTE: There will be a Final Spring Election (before going to the Fall) for Gilbert Council Members on: Primary: 3/8/2011. General: 5/11/2011.

Council Members seeking reelection are: Linda Abbott, Ben Cooper, Dave Crozier, and Les Presmyk.

Challengers are invited to get ready to campaign!!!!!