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Richardson: Mesa, Tempe elected officials wasting taxpayer money

Bill Richardson

Want to know how to waste $56,000? Just ask the mayors and City Council members in Mesa and Tempe.

According to a July 25 Arizona Republic story, Mesa has already spent $36,000 on District 3 Mesa Councilmember Ryan Winkle DUI discipline: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/mesa/2017/07/25/winkle-dui-discipline-already-costing-mesa-more-than-36-000/507160001/. Mesa officials have spent $36,000 to date investigating the second DUI arrest of newly elected Winkle. Tempe police arrested Winkle in May for extreme DUI. Winkle had previously been arrested for extreme DUI in 2008 and pled guilty to the second time around for impaired driving.

Mesa hired a big-name Phoenix law firm to give legal advice on the matter. The Mesa city attorney is hired and fired by the mayor and council and needed to excuse himself from the matter.

But why hire a lawyer from Phoenix who gets over $300 an hour for legal advice when Mesa could’ve just as easily asked for help from another city for free? It happens all the time law enforcement.

And Tempe would’ve been the perfect city to ask for help as they were dealing with their own City Council indiscretions.

The continuing saga of Tempe City Council drama this time involves Kolby Granville who used the “S” word in an exchange with an assistant city attorney. I hate to tell you this boys and girls, lawyers, Granville is a lawyer, often uses the “S” word, and then some, and they are often not nice to each other in their adversarial system. After getting busted for his potty mouth, Granville then made what some thought was a disparaging remark about a community activist that some might describe as a community pain in the “A” word.

And just like Mesa, instead of asking another city for free help Tempe drops $20,000 to find out what any rookie cop could’ve ascertained in two questions to Granville: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/tempe/2017/07/25/taxpayers-pay-20-k-because-tempe-politician-called-constituent-names/505891001/.

Tempe and Mesa could’ve worked out an even exchange.

I don’t know if it sounds sexier to say you’ve hired outside counsel for legal advice and investigative help, if it’s a political payback or someone is pals with the outside counsel raking in taxpayer cash or if it amounts to city managers, mayors and City Councilmembers not having the “you know what” to act without someone covering their “you know what?”

In Mesa, the city rules are quite clear about conduct and a fifth-grader could’ve easily read and understood the Tempe police DUI report and the subsequent guilty plea.

In Tempe, Granville admitted that he did what they said he did. It sounds to me like there’s an abundance of thin skin at City Hall and what needed to be done was for Granville’s peers to tell him to knock it off in hyper sensitive Tempe.

At the end of the day $56,000 was wasted and Mesa and Tempe residents got to see firsthand what their elected councils and city management teams are made of when it comes to doing the occasional dirty work of being an elected leader.

– Bill Richardson is a retired Mesa police detective.

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