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New council


New councilmembers’ zeal is clear, but their understanding of process isn’t. I attended the Jan. 3 council meeting to see how they view their role, and regardless of Town attorney warnings, they have already stepped into “uncharted territory,” to use their words.

Fountain Hills’ sign ordinance was repealed, making our community the only municipality in Arizona without a sign ordinance. New councilpersons wanted no part of opportunities to modify, and even though the Chamber CEO supported the policy with suggested modifications, Councilperson Toth (a chamber employee) still voted to repeal. That sounds like an employment discussion. And Councilperson Friedel, who voted for it in 2021 after months of hearings, voted “no,” too. Go figure. BTW, it was approved as part of a formal ordinance hearing. Hence, the attorney warnings.

The new councilpersons also decided a prayer is mandatory to start council meetings. After a parade of pro/con “testimony” and email input, new councilpersons cared little; one speaker suggested if you didn’t like it, wait outside until it’s over before coming in! What’s the problem with a little “Christian” prayer? Ask a non-Christian.

Oh, and group homes? Can’t wait to see what new councilpersons believe is the better version. The on-the-books version met the federal and state law. But the new councilpersons seem to know better.

And along with all of that, Councilman Skillicorn seemed to think he knows better Town process than anyone, and Councilperson Kalivianakis wanted to tell the Town attorney her version of municipal law and rules of order.

Since existing Councilperson Friedel joined the new councilmembers on every issue brought forward, does that make you wonder about open meeting law violations?

All in all, congrats for voting for these new councilpersons. Funny how smart they are with little local history. They’re off to an auspicious start!