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Candidate Harassment Part of Wickenburg's Political Process

I was warned that as election day approached, the opposition (in this case the old guard, good-old-boy network) would increase the pressure by attempting to begin a smear campaign against me.

On Friday, October 27, at 10 AM there was a knock at my front door and it was Lyle Murdock, the Wickenburg Building Inspector. Since he has been involved in an ROC case against a couple of contractors who bungled a job in our back yard, he has been over here numerous times in the last 2 years, and I thought this was just a follow-up visit in conjunction with that project. Instead, it turned out to be a surprise inspection initiated by the Town of Wickenburg in reference to a complaint against me by an “anonymous party”. My initial reaction was to press Lyle for a warrant of some sort because I was appalled to think the town could just walk into my home without prior notice and without producing a copy of the complaint or a search warrant or anything that resembled reasonable proof that this was a legitimate complaint and not just a nuisance, harassment kind of complaint. However, since I like Mr. Murdock and I have dealt with him before, I allowed him free access to my guest house to look for an “unauthorized stove”. When we built the guest house 3 years ago, we were aware that we could not put an oven or a cooktop in it. The building inspector at the time was also aware of this building code and, being law-abiding citizens, we adhered to the code. Now, however, an anonymous person had filed a complaint. All the town had to do was look at the previous paperwork and they would have seen that there was no oven in this guest house. I told Mr. Murdock that this was an example of harassment and he commented, “I know.”

He completed his inspection and noted that, indeed, no oven existed. He took a number of photos and then stated that he had to go so he could file his report and that the Wickenburg Sun was waiting for his findings. At that point I knew this was more than just a neighbor with a gripe against me-why was the Wickenburg Sun suddenly interested in my guest house kitchen? Mr. Murdock didn’t know the answer to that question, so my wife and I went to Town Hall to ascertain just what was going on.

We spoke with the Town Planner, Miles Johnson, who was evasive, to say the very least. (Before we went to talk to him, I spoke with the previous Building Inspector who told me that once a complaint is submitted to the town, it becomes a matter of public record and therefore should be available for my wife and me to view. He also said that it was his practice to only investigate complaints that had a signed name on it. He did not investigate “anonymous” complaints.) To make a long story short, Mr. Johnson did not produce any paperwork for us. I told him that we expected that paperwork by Monday or I would speak to my attorney. I told him that I really would like to avoid that in order to avoid attorney’s fees for me and for the town. We will see what he comes up with.

Then we went to the Wickenburg Sun, but since it was 2:45 on a Friday afternoon, there was no one available to speak with. We called Janet DelTufo, the Wickenburg Sun reporter, and she told us that she didn’t know anything other than that Kevin Cloe had told her to follow up on this because the Sun was trying to confirm facts for an ad that was being placed. I cannot believe that the Wickenburg Sun would be that interested in my guest house. This whole matter stinks of complicity between the town and the Sun. This is an example of the smear campaign that my opposition is attempting to mount against me.

Mr. Murdock also mentioned that there had been several other inquiries by anonymous parties into other projects concerning my ROC complaint. They wanted to know whether Mr. Murdock was aware of what was going on in our back yard and whether or not we had permits for everything, which, of course we had.

My reaction to this whole episode is to realize that I am making an impact on Wickenburg politics and the other side is scared. It’s a sad commentary that they have to resort to such tactics in an attempt to counter the information I uncovered about my opponents, all of which is supported by facts and figures. It’s also interesting to note that a number of my political signs have been torn down or are missing.

Last 5 posts by Jim Ferman

2 comments to Candidate Harassment Part of Wickenburg's Political Process

  • It’s the disappearing signs that show how scared they are. They pulled the same bull with Prop 421 — and they still lost that one.

  • Sheryl Overbay

    Sad to say, but it’s like that just about everywhere when it comes to politics. Stay strong and don’t let them force you into doing anything you wouldn’t do otherwise. And stay after them! Don’t let them get away with this. Run an article in the “Wickenburg Sun” that states just exactly what they are trying to pull. Show the town what is really going on with your opponent.