Sunday, December 26, 2010

This bears reposting!

 Quartzsite may be just a town, not yet a full fledged city, but this article predicts it's future if the current town council stays in control!

Posted Dec 21, 2010 06:06pm EST by Gus Lubin and Leah Goldman in Recession, Politics

Provided by the Business Insider, Dec. 21, 2010:

2011 will be the year of the municipal default. At least that's what analysts like Meredith Whitney predict, as do bond investors that have been fleeing the muni market.

There are many reasons to be worried. First, the expiration of Build America Bonds will make it harder for cities to raise funds.

Second, city revenues are crashing and keep getting worse. Property taxes haven't reflected the total damage from the housing crash. High joblessness is cutting into city revenues, while increasing costs for services.

The next default could be a major city like Detroit, or it could be one of hundreds of small cities that are on the brink. Did we leave off your ailing city? Let us know in the comments.

San Diego, Ca.

Deficit through June 2012 : $73 million

Budget in FY2011: $2.85 billion

Annualized gap: 1.7%

The city's official have tried curbing the deficit by increasing sales taxes, but residents of the city strongly oppose this and have voted it down.

San Diego already cut over $200 million over the past two years, so these cuts won't come easy.

New York, NY

Deficit through June 2012: $2 billion

Budget in FY2010: $63.1 billion

Annualized gap: 2.1%

Estimates of the NYC deficit range from $3.6 billion according to Comptroller John Liu to around $2 billion according to the Independent Budget Office. Everyone agrees that the deficit will be worse if New York state cuts aid as part of its own deficit reduction plan.

Mayor Bloomberg has already started to address the FY2012 deficit, calling for layoffs in all city agencies, closing 20 fire departments at night, and reducing services for seniors, libraries and cultural centers.

San Jose, Ca.

Deficit through June 2012: $90 million

Budget in FY2010: $2.7 billion

Annualized gap: 2.2%

After an audit of the San Jose police department, city officials found it to have too many high paid supervisors, costing the city too much money. The answer to this is converting some of those upper ranked officers to patrol positions. This could reduce the city's debt by $33 million.

Last year's deficit was $116 million, leading to brutal cuts including nearly 900 layoffs.

Cincinnati, Oh.

Deficit through December 2012: $60 million

Biennial budget FY2009/2010: $2.5 billion

Annualized gap: 2.4%

Helping the budget in Cincinnati depends largely on changes in the police and fire departments. The city can either get $20 million in concessions from the two unions, lay off 216 firefighters, or outsource the police force to neighboring city, Hamilton.

Honolulu, Hi.

Deficit through June 2012: $100 million

Budget in FY2011: $1.8 billion

Annualized gap: 3.7%

Mayor Peter Carlisle said police officers and fire fighters will be asked to make concessions in the upcoming budget and he will also end furloughs of two days per month for public workers. This will require the 2,900 officers to give back their 6% pay raises they have received in each of the past four years.

Last year Honolulu raised some property taxes to fill a huge $140 million deficit.

San Francisco, Ca.

Deficit through June 2012: $380 million

Budget in FY2011: $6.55 billion

Annualized gap: 3.9%

Mayor Gavin Newsom says this year's deficit is completely manageable. Last year's deficit approached $500 million and the city did not need to lay off any police or firemen. While Newsom's term is coming to an end, he says he and his colleagues will leave detailed options for the incoming mayor.

Last year's cuts were even larger, eliminating a $438 million deficit. The city is down to the bone.

Los Angeles, Ca.

Deficit through June 2012: $438 million

Budget in FY2011: $6.7 billion

Annualized gap: 4.4%

The Los Angeles City Administration Office plans to cut 225 civilian positions in the LAPD, reduce firefighting staffing, and eliminate a dozen positions in the City Attorney's Office and General Service Department. The deficit will only get worse unless an effort to privatize parking garages is approved. If not, the city will require more layoffs, furloughs, and curtailed hiring.

Last year's deficit was even larger, totalling nearly $700,000.

Washington, D.C.

Deficit through September 2012: $688 million

Budget in FY2011: $8.89 billion

Annualized gap: 4.4%

Council member Tommy Wells proposed tax rate increases which were voted down, but Wells says he will continue to push his proposal. Wells' proposal seems reasonable as residents making $100,000 a year would only pay $63 more in taxes per year. This is a small price to pay that would benefit the city immensely.

Newark, NJ

Deficit through December 2011: $30.5 million

Budget in FY2010: $677 million

Annualized gap: 4.5%

Newark's deficit was $83 million before Mayor Cory Booker initiated a plan to sell city-owned buildings, raise property taxes to 16 percent and decimate the police force. Nontheless, Moody's cut Newark's rating to A3 citing its $30.5 million remaining deficit.

Detroit, Mi

Deficit through June 2011: $85 million

Budget in FY2011: $3.1 billion

Annualized gap: 5.5%

Detroit's city government has cut costs with layoffs and by leaving currently vacant positions open. Mayor Bing's emergency fiscal plan includes demolishing houses and cutting police and trash services to 20% of the city.

Last year the city council pushed through severe cuts to fill an over $700 million deficit.

Reading, Pa

Deficit through December 2011: $7.5 million

Budget in FY2010: $120 million

Annualized gap: 6.3%

One of Pennsylvania's several distressed municipalities, which receive state aid, Reading has been running an operating deficit for years. In September the city council said their deficit was bigger than expected, soaring to $7.5 million for the current year, which means they will have to borrow around $17 million from the state to pay off total debts.

Joliet, Il

Deficit through December 2011: $21 million

Budget in FY2010: $274 million

Annualized gap: 7.7%

Last year, the city increased property tax by over 12 percent and hiked water and sewer rates by 45 percent over three years to help with the deficit. The city council also cut police and public sector jobs.

Camden, NJ

Deficit through December 2011: $26.5 million

Budget in FY2010: $178 million

Annualized gap: 15%

Despite holding title of second most dangerous city in America, Camden recently received approval to lay off half of its police force.

Hamtramck, Mi

Deficit through June 2012: $4.7 million

Budget in FY2011: $18 million

Annualized gap: 17%

City manager Bill Cooper was denied permission to declare bankruptcy. He says the city is owed millions of dollars in tax dollars from Detroit from a shared facility. The state offered the city a loan to stave off bankruptcy.

Cooper says he has already cut almost everything possible, going so far as to lay off the city's five crossing guards.

Hamtramck might avoid bankruptcy, but also-broke Michigan can't afford many of these deals. That's why Gov. Rick Snyder predicts "hundreds of jurisdictions" going bankrupt in the next four years.

Central Falls, RI

Deficit through June 2012: $7 million

Budget in FY2011: $21 million

Annualized gap: 22%

Central Falls has been put in state receivership due to critical budget problems. State-appointed receiver Mark Pfeiffer thinks the best solution is for Central Falls to be annexed by its neighboring city, Pawtucket.

Paterson, N.J.

Deficit through December 2011: $54 million

Budget for FY2010: $225 million

Annualized gap: 24%

As a "last resort," Paterson is considering laying off 30 percent of its police force, said councilman Steve Olimpio. This will put 150 police officers out of work.

BONUS: Chicago, Il

Deficit through December 2011: $654 million Closed

Budget in FY2010: $6.8 billion

Annualized gap: 9.6%

Mayor Richard Daley has balanced the budget, but absolutely ruined Chicago finances from here on.

His FY2011 plan uses up nearly the entire revenue from a long-term lease of the local parking system and airport, which he passed in 2008. The multi-billion lease deal was supposed to last for decades, but it only lasted two years. The best hope for the future is building a city-owned casino.

Friday, December 24, 2010

zoning revision proposed after "illegal" businesses exposed - be there Tuesday night at 7pm!

Merry Christmas to Quartzsite property owners!

Only three days after the following story about "illegal businesses made front page of the new DESERT FREEDOM PRESS, "Building Official" Al Johnson has submitted a replacement for several sections of the town zoning ordinance! Coincidence?

In addition to potential approval of a new vendor board where the only plausible members are Councilman Lukkasson's wife Michelle, Skip Gallup, Violet Kiss, and two of their most easily influenced friends, the agenda for the regular meeting of the Town Council includes the following items:

item 3 - repealing and replacing article IV "Establishment of Zoning Districts,  Zoning Map and Interpretation of District Boundaries"

item 4 - repealing and replacing Article V "Uses permitted in each Zoning District and Additional Requirements and Clarifications for Uses Permitted in each Zoning District"

item 5 - repealing and replacing article VI entitled "Density Schedule and Additional Requirements"

and Item 6 repealing and replacing article XI "Recreation Vehicle Parks" 

"Illegal" Businesses revealed!

    A recent open records request from Quartzsite Town hall has revealed that Dr. John Hadlock’s “Animal Clinic of Quartzsite” and all but one of the town’s pet grooming businesses are operating in violation of the town’s zoning ordinance.
    According to Zoning Article 5, “Uses Permitted in Each Zoning District”, paragraph 15 section CC “veterinary clinic including kennels and boarding” must be located in areas zoned for “light industrial”.  They may also be located in areas zoned for heavy industrial.
    Ironically, a quick check of the town website shows that the only parcel of “light industrial” in Quartzsite is Town Hall itself, according to the General Plan “existing zoning map”.
    The problem is, that under Zoning Article 3, section 2 paragraph 38, “kennel” is defined as “an establishment housing dogs, cats or other household pets and where grooming, breeding, training, raising, caring for or selling of animals is conducted as a business or pleasure and whether or not for profit.” Ok, now read that again slowly and think about how it might apply to you or someone you know. There is no separate definition for Veterinary clinic or veterinary hospital.
    Most Quartzsite businesses are located in “C2” commercial zoning areas, defined under paragraph 11 as “business uses serving the daily needs of the immediate neighborhood as well as community level needs”. Logically, this is where you would expect to find pet service businesses such as grooming, pet sitting and veterinarians.
    However, logic appears to have little to do with the constraints of the current zoning ordinance, or the man in charge of enforcing it. As defined under paragraph 15, “Light industrial” is primarily for “scientific research, manufacturing, compounding, assembling, processing…” and in Quartzsite this includes “bakery”, “commercial laundry”, “furniture upholstering”, “builders supply yard”, and “auction yard” among others.
    “Cindy’s Small Dog Grooming” is the only pet service business located in a residential neighborhood, and was granted a conditional use permit in 2006. However, according to the specific terms of the permit “Cindy’s” may not service more than three dogs a day, or they too will be in violation.
    Unfortunately for the town, “Building Official” Al Johnson does not seem capable of reading and understanding the ordinance he’s supposed to enforce. Johnson told both “Animal House” and “A Fur Salon” that they could groom, but no longer board animals, although both seasonal businesses have done boarding for years and have valid vendor permits.
    And that permit just may be the loophole that overrules Al Johnson and his suddenly zealous and seemingly arbitrary enforcement. Zoning Article 1, section 6 paragraph 2 states “This ordinance is not intended to interfere with any existing ordinance of the Town of Quartzsite” and Chapter 8 of the Town Code ‘business regulations“ may or may not be controlling, pending formal judicial review.
    Will it go that far? Maybe. Al Johnson cited the property owners where “A Fur Salon” is located and a legal protest was filed in response, and served on the Town November 23rd. “Animal House” has ceased boarding pets and may be able to sue for damages.
    It’s “business as usual” for the veterinary clinic and other pet grooming services. They are all currently operating without a conditional use permit, even though “Hollywood Pets” is located at an RV park owned by Town Councilman Jerry Lukkasson and his wife Michelle– who should definitely know better.

    On the web:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The DESERT FREEDOM PRESS newspaper hits Quartzsite!

"The DESERT FREEDOM PRESS - Local news you can actually use. Serving Quartzsite and La Paz County".

The town is buzzing!

As promised earlier this year, a new local newspaper made it's debut yesterday! Reportedly, thousands of copies have been circulated around La Paz County and reviews have been quite positive! Aside from a couple of formatting errors, the "premier edition" is off to a great start. Of note is the column written by Quartzsite Mayor Ed Foster, who had previously declined an offer to write for that other free publication apparently sponsored by his possibly brain damaged critics.

Those wishing to submit an ad or write a letter to the editor may mail it to:
Desert Freedom Press
PO box 542
Ehrenburg, AZ 85334

Ask for the current issue at the following locations:

The Big Market
Quartzsite Bakery
The Grubstake
Mountain Quail Cafe
The Gamblers
Flash Jordan Taxi
Crawford's Trailer Park
A Fur Salon
Trina's Burgers
Casa Del Sol RV Park
Western Wall Art & Discount Grocery (Rice Ranch)
Val-U-Gem (Prospector's Panorama)
Three Sister's Kettle Corn (Quartzsite Marketplace)
Shell Gas Station
Taco Mio
Todd's Computer Repair (Hi Ali)
White Buffalo Sage Emporium (Quartzsite Showgrounds)
Gold Miser
JJ's RV Parts

BEST Grooming
Coaches Corner family restaurant
Crozz Bonez

River Lagoon laundromat and mini mart

Salome Cafe

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

La Paz County Prosecutor Sam Vederman loses another...

Well, they say good help is hard to find. That's especially true if you are La Paz County Prosecutor Sam Vederman. This morning, at the pre trial conference for the Michael Roth "waste of tax dollars - round two", prosecutor Matt Elias announced his resignation from the La Paz County Prosecutor's office. 

It is unknown at this time if Sammy "the Bull-y" will personally see Roth's persecution, er, I mean prosecution for resisting Police Chief Gilbert's assault, er, I mean arrest through to a conclusion, or if Vederman will force yet another subordinate to do his dirty work.

Matt Elias' resignation follows those of Jessica Quickle and Tomas Jones. In a recent interview, Elias confided that he was "ordered" to take the Roth case and was not at all pleased at being the subject of Vederman's press release and subsequently,  the topic of lively internet discussion. 

Reportedly, Mike Roth shook hands with Matt Elias and wished him well. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Taxpayers foot bill for political persecution by Town Council and Police Chief

At the QIA "town  meeting" where 5 members of the Quartzsite Town Council held an illegal quorum  with several Town employees in attendance, it was revealed that the "ad hoc" attack on popular Mayor Ed Foster cost "$13,000" in legal fees alone. 

Yesterday, local patriot and critic of incumbent council members Mike Roth was sentenced to one year unsupervised probation for "disrupting a public meeting" that was actually in recess (but the jury wasn't properly instructed of that fact). The lower court had previously dismissed the charges "in the interest of justice" but somehow Quartzsite Police Chief Jeff Gilbert managed to convene a grand jury to try Roth in Superior Court. Roth is appealing the conviction and the jury was hung on the charge of "resisting arrest", which has been moved back to the lower court. Estimated cost so far is somewhere between $10,000 and 15,000 and climbing. 

When questioned about the sentencing,  Roth stated "If the good people of Quartzsite would like to really see justice served, disband the Quartzsite Police Department and elect a Constitutional Town Council that has the courage to fire Chief of Police Jeff Gilbert. The day will come when it will be revealed that this was nothing more than a sad attempt by an out of control police chief, and Town Council, at silencing someone who is merely questioning authority. Time to wake up people, this isn’t your Grandparents America anymore!" For in depth discussion, see:

Legal fees for Town Attorney Pam Walsma are so far over budget for the fiscal year that it is not unrealistic to predict her bills will eat up most, if not all of the monies in the general fund. Yet, the Town Council  just can't seem to stop themselves from digging a financial hole from which the town may not escape.

Last year, Mr Felton, owner of B10 campground on the west end of Main St.  protested action by then Mayor Wes Huntley and our current council. His attorney stated something to the effect "if you do this, we will sue". And sue they did. Currently, the case has been docketed for the Arizona Supreme Court.

A local businessman reached an out of court settlement for "police harassment" over the summer, but it was kept quiet.,

If Quartzsite loses it's insurance, it cannot keep it's incorporation. Currently, the town is in the "high risk" pool because of previous claims and the Arizona League of Cities and Towns provides coverage. Who is in charge of that? Why Mr. Simms, the nice man that came to the training session and warned the police chief about taking it upon himself to arrest people at Town Council meetings..."You might get sued!"

And speaking of getting sued, recent arrests of current candidate Jennifer Jones and husband John,  well as former candidate Russell Sias leave open the potential for additional legal fees far in excess of what the town can afford, and the citation against the Jones' landlord by "Building Official" Al Johnson opened the door for "Proposition 207, the Arizona Property Protection Act". This makes the town liable for ALL of Jim and Stephanie Aaron's legal fees regarding the property at 645 N. Central commonly known as "J & S Covers".

Outspoken critic of town officials Jerry Wilcox reports that charges against him which resulted in his arrest and the towing of his vehicle were dropped today. He is investigating the possibility of filing a claim against the Town for damages as well.

Former Mayor Richard Oldham reports that the Town appears to have retained an outside legal firm in the prop 207/eminent domain action against him, over his property located west of the "Main Event" on Main St. Oldham received a letter from this firm a couple of weeks ago.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Mayor receives death threats! Hate flyers posted around Quartzsite.

What sort of person would support our current council? Well, apparently the sort of person who would print and distribute this around town. Handwriting analysis anyone?

This particular example was retrieved from the Main Street Laundry owned by Councilman Jerry "dirty laundry" Lukkasson. Other copies have been posted on bulletin boards around town.

When Mayor Ed Foster was asked for a comment, he said "It looks like it may be the same person that's been sending me death threats." 


Yes. Mayor Foster stated that he has received two written death threats in the last few weeks, delivered by U.S. mail. The letters were turned over to the La Paz County Sheriff's Office for investigation and it is unknown what Don Lowery is doing to assure the safety of our mayor at this time. 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Councilwoman Pat Anderson puts foot in mouth over Parker, AZ libray.

If you were in attendance at the town meeting held this week at the QIA, then you might have heard Councilwoman Patricia Anderson's disparaging comments "you go to the public library in Parker, they don't have computers! They don't have near what we have here!". In truth, the library has 20 new computers. During the break, someone put a question in the basket asking Mrs. Anderson, why did you lie about the Parker library? When caught, all Anderson could say was "I stand corrected."

According to the Parker Pioneer,
the library "has been praised by national library publications as  one of the best in the nation for it's size" and will be featured in an upcoming edition of Parade Magazine. The story relates "In November 2009, Library Journal Magazine ranked the Parker Public Library the seventh busiest in the nation for libraries of it's size. They also gave the Parker library a 'five star' rating, it's highest award."

The moral of this story? Don't believe most of what you hear from our current council just because they seduce you with free coffee and cookies!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


By David Rookhuyzen
Cronkite News 

QUARTZSITE – Every winter, vendors descend on this remote patch of western Arizona desert. Right behind is a flock of RVs filled with retirees looking for a warm winter and good deals.
For the past few years the selling and buying has been a little subdued because of the down economy. But Mayor Ed Foster said this year, with the Great Recession officially over, the town is seeing a reversal.
“All the early indicators are that we are ahead this season,” Foster said.
Roughly 400,000 winter visitors come to camp around Quartzite, and around a million will pass through to shop at its dozen swap meets, Foster said. By February, RVs will cover the desert for 10 miles in every direction – filled with customers for what’s billed as the world’s largest swap meet. So far this fall, street traffic, vendor and visitor permits and event attendance have been high – all positive signs for the winter to come, Foster said.
First-time vendor Jean Allen said she’s optimistic that snowbirds will flock here in even larger numbers this year, buying her booths art, decorative boxes and homemade hula hoops.
“It makes me nervous; I have no idea what to expect with the economy,” Allen said, “But we were going to come anyway.”
Before making the trip, Allen said she received advice saying that having a variety of products and the right pricing are key to good business at the swap meets.
Larry Muhlhauser, a vendor who has come to sell his wares every winter for a decade, said he expects a good season, but mainly from knowing what to provide cash-strapped customers rather than a rebounding economy.
Muhlhauser once sold gold but dropped it and gravitated toward lower-dollar items such as key chains and earrings because that’s where the market shifted.
“We have to reinvent ourselves as vendors and try to meet what they can afford,” he said.
Since the majority of his customers are retired vacationers, Muhlhauser said expensive and big-ticket items no longer sell. In past years, he said, vendors tried to sell imported stained glass and jukeboxes but had little success with people living out of their RVs, he said.
Muhlhauser said vendors will be fine even if this year’s crowd isn’t as large as hoped.
“It’s kind of a hit and miss – a dance,” he said, “You know, if you miss it this year, you look forward to next year.”
CRONKITE NEWS video - click here!