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Culp: Ethics claims against Councilmember Kalivianakis lack merit


Last month, after he was sanctioned for violating the Town’s Code of Ethics, Councilmember Skillicorn appeared in a video titled “Something Stinks in Fountain Hills.” In the video, Skillicorn brandished a one-page document he said described an improper “secret” communication between Councilmember Kalivianakis and a representative of Sandor, the developer of the Four Peaks Project.

Subsequently, Skillicorn’s followers weighed in through social media posts suggesting that providing a private email address to the developer was unethical and improper; the email exchange violated Arizona’s open meetings law; and the developer’s expressed desire to keep the documents it was sending “out of the public domain” signaled a corrupt motive.

These conclusions were unfounded. Councilmembers can and do share their personal email addresses. An email regarding official business cannot be made “secret” by sending it to a private email address. Direct communications between a public official and any person seeking information are not unethical, illegal or improper. 

For example, during the recent budget workshop, Skillicorn said that he would like to see Barnes Drive fixed. This request was made following a personal meeting with homeowners who lived on the street. Was this meeting unethical, illegal or improper? Is it reasonable to infer Skillicorn had a corrupt motive?

To date, three ethics charges have been filed against Councilmember Kalivianakis arising out of her effort to confirm, through a review of contracts, that Sandor could provide adequate parking. These charges have not been withdrawn despite the very reasonable explanation Councilmember Kalivianakis has provided and despite the detailed report of the underlying facts published by this newspaper: “Document controversy tied to ethics complaints explained.”  

Now that the facts are known, the ethics complaints should be withdrawn. Skillicorn should apologize to Councilmember Kalivianakis and delete the defamatory videos and posts.

Reader reactions, pro or con, are welcomed at AzOpinions@iniusa.org.