People walking in to the the fire district board meetings on Monday evening were welcomed with a new notice. Copies were taped to the door, the table and even the podium where those responding to the Call to the Public stand to speak. It looked like this:
Frequently, when things like this are posted, nobody even sees it or realizes it’s there. But this one was read, and those in attendance murmured about it while waiting for the meeting to start.
During the Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority (CAFMA) meeting, nobody spoke during the call to the public. That may be because as soon as the meeting started, Director Matt Zurcher asked that the Call to the Public be moved to before the Presentations. He didn’t give a reason why, but the agenda rearrangement was approved anyway.
Larry Jacobs, husband to Central Yavapai Fire District (CYFD) Board Director ViciLee Jacobs, often speaks during the Call to the Public at both the CAFMA and the CYFD meetings. But this time, he was running a bit late, and had not yet arrived by the end of the pledge. By the time he did arrive, the Call to the Public opportunity had come and gone.
The CAFMA meeting proceeded through it’s agenda and concluded without any unwanted comments from the public. The meeting ended a little after 6 PM, delaying the start of the meeting scheduled next.
Next up: Central Yavapai Fire District Board Meeting
During the CYFD meeting, the Call to the Public remained as agenda item #4, heard after the presentations were made. Before commencing with the Call to the Public, the second paragraph of the standard statement was read:
Quick back-in-time moment here: During the February meeting, a new policy was created by Board Attorney Nicolas Cornelius, seemingly out of thin air, when Larry Jacobs was about to speak.
As Jacobs was handing out documents to the Board to follow along with what he wanted to say, Cornelius interjected and said, "Madam Chairman, it looks to me like these are related to allegations of potential criminal misconduct, my advice to the Board is that those not be considered at this time."
Packard immediately responded, "Mr. Jacobs, we will not be hearing from you today."
Jacobs questioned this. "Is that right? This is a public response. This is a new forged check that I planned to bring forward. This isn’t anything about the $50,000 check."
Cornelius replied, "Sir, to the extent that you’re talking about potential criminal matters, you should take those up with the appropriate investigative authorities, and I would suggest that you would."
Watch that entire exchange at this YouTube video, starting about 30:52 seconds in: CYFD Board Meeting, February 26, 2018
Fast forward, back to the March 26, 2018 meeting.
Larry Jacobs, as expected, got up to speak during the Call to the Public. He spoke for 15 seconds, when all of a sudden, a gavel was banged. "Mr. Jacobs," Board Chair Darlene Packard said sternly. "We will not be entertaining…"
Jacobs tried to explain that he was not talking about the forged checks he wanted to discuss at the previous month’s meeting, he was talking about Mr. Cornelius’ response to the forged checks.
Packard allowed him to say a few more words, then the gavel banged again. "You are out of order."
Jacobs answered, "I am not out of order."
Packard replied, "I say you are."
Jacobs tried to continue. Packard was having none of that. "Mr. Jacobs. That is a legal matter."
Jacobs tried again to explain. Packard responded, "We don’t know what you’re talking about. And again, you are out of order."
"How am I out of order?" Jacobs asked.
"That is a legal issue," Packard said. The rest of the Board members were looking uncomfortable.
Finally, after a couple more exchanges, Jacobs sits down. The next person to speak is Chris Kuknyo.
Kuknyo noted the police presence, and then said, "Um, we need independent, legal counsel to represent CYFD…" BANG! The gavel again.
Kuknyo looked exasperated and frustrated. "Ma’am, this is an agendized item you’re speaking to later on. This is not…"
Packard stated, "You’ve already addressed that. Many times."
"Well? I can’t finish what I’m saying?" Kuknyo asked. "You’re stopping this from happening right now. Cutting into my precious three minutes…"
Board Director ViciLee Jacobs entered the conversation. "Madam Chair, you, by not allowing the public to address in the Call to the Public, by not allowing the Public to address their issues of concern to this Board, which is our responsibility to hear them out, we don’t necessarily have to respond to them. But it is their 1st Amendment right to do so. You are violating the 1st Amendment right today, by not allowing these individuals to bring their concerns. That’s all they’re doing."
Packard responded, "Conflicts of Interest is on the agenda. You have brought it many times before. It is a legal issue."
Kuknyo replied, "It’s not a legal… Madam Chair, it is on the agenda. We are speaking to something on your agenda."
Packard seemed to relent. "Alright, go ahead."
Kuknyo resumed, "We need an independent legal counsel." He starts to use an example comparing the Prescott and Chino Valley legal counsels.
"Mr. Kuknyo, you have made that point many times. We don’t have to listen…" Packard interrupted.
And at that point, Kuknyo goes off script. He even mentions Attorney Cornelius and his choice of ties.
Watch the entire Call to the Public here. It’s not long, but it is revealing.