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Keep Wickenburg Working…for Special Interests?

I was rather outraged (again) today when I learned that the Wickenburg Sun refused to print a rebuttal letter written by Mayoral Candidate Jeannie Tirpack in response to Recall Candidate Ron Badowski’s “Editorial” in the Sun. Outraged, but not really surprised. After all, the Sun has made it quite clear which candidates it supports. Ms. Tirpack isn’t one of them.

I admire Ms. Tirpack for stepping forward to offer us a viable candidate for Mayor when the people’s recall petition was approved. As I know firsthand, there are many power-hungry people in Wickenburg, people who feel threatened when someone challenges their decisions and offers alternatives to their normal way of doing business. They do what they can to throw roadblocks in front of the people they don’t like while leaving a clear path for their friends and supporters. They vote on issues despite potential conflicts of interest, they reject petitions submitted in good faith by honest citizens, they blacklist businesses whose owners speak the truth — if that truth doesn’t make them look good. By doing this, they manage to keep the people of Wickenburg in fear — few people speak out because they’re afraid of what might happen to them or their businesses the next time they need a building permit or zoning change.

They’re the members of the Good Old Boy Network of Wickenburg and they’re selling out Wickenburg to profit themselves and their friends and family members. You’ll find them in Town Hall and at the Chamber of Commerce. And yes, perhaps at the Wickenburg Sun.

Fortunately, there’s more than one outlet for news and information in Wickenburg. WickenburgNews.com and wickenburg-az.com are proud to offer the public — including candidates — an opportunity to speak up about what they think is right or wrong in Wickenburg. The following is Ms. Tirpack’s rejected letter to the Sun, as printed on WickenburgNews.com:

Rebuttal to Badowski Opinion Piece

by Jeannie Corio Tirpack, Candidate for Mayor

I want to try, in this column, to summarize the issues that are facing Wickenburg as we enter the final days before we vote in the November Election. I have met the requirements to face Ron Badowski in the recall election that will be on the ballot, along with a recall of Vice Mayor Jim Girard , and the six candidates who will run for the three other council seats. That means that five new council members could be elected in November. This gives the community an opportunity to make a change in how things are being run in Wickenburg.

Do we need a change? My take is yes! A change of attitude, a correction of ethical conduct, a lessening of influence of special interests. A more careful approach to how and where we spend the taxpayer’s money. Sensitivity to the public’s interest over private interests.

The current Mayor, in his opinion page, lists his extensive associations that he has made in the community, and considers that as an endorsement for his being continued in his office. While impressive, it is no more than hundreds of others in our Town’s History, and many others have served with more humility.

The problem is not his connections, but the fact that he has accepted campaign contributions from several developers, and then has voted for zoning changes that have greatly increased the value of his friends’ property. (Bill Green, Myron Dieble, Jerry Diddy and Ring Ringwood all contributed to his mayoral campaign two years ago and since had zoning changes passed by the Mayor and Council.) The new slogan supporting the Mayor is “Keep Wickenburg Working.” Pundits now say, yes..”Keep Wickenburg Working…for special interests!”

I have long been an advocate for the people’s right to petition and participate. Here is a big difference between the current Mayor and me. He has instituted the famous “three-minute” rule to stifle debate when it turned against his agenda. He has mandated to the Town Clerk to return a petition from Ray Johns that attempted to refer a council action back to the voters. His attitude as expressed is “let them sue us” rather than allow the people to vote. Of course when they do vote, the vote doesn’t go his way.

The Wickenburg Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors voted to endorse a slate of candidates including Mayor Badowski. Mr. Badowski, Candidates Kristi Hensen and Scott Stewart all serve on the board. Please tell me that they didn’t vote to endorse themselves. But worse. The Town of Wickenburg makes an annual contribution to the Chamber amounting to many thousands of dollars. We then have the scenario of the Mayor voting to give money to the chamber from the Town’s coffers, and then allow the Chamber to endorse him and spend money on his behalf to retain his seat. And then people question why there is a call for an ethics policy for elected officials.

Mr. Badowski claims to be a conservative. Yet every budget that he has been involved with goes higher. And now he is leading the call for bonds!

On a lighter note. Both the Mayor and I have appeared on calendars this year. I posed in a patriotic posture for the May Hospital Calendar that was used as a charity fund raising event. The Mayor appeared in the Town’s Calendar, paid for by the Town. As the cover of the Women of Wickenburg Calendar states: “This calendar features outstanding women selected by the community for their contributions to the unique way of life ‘Out Wickenburg Way'” It has been a pleasure to be a part of the community for the past 44 years!

And this caveat. If elected I promise that I will not come back to the Council and ask to be placed in a paid position, as former Mayor Lon McDermott has done. Will the Mayor make the same pledge?

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Last 5 posts by Maria Langer

2 comments to Keep Wickenburg Working…for Special Interests?

  • Leona Henry

    There is no water under the bridge, there is no fair shake, there is no rhyme or reason why our council members so quickly succumb to their hostile surroundings. I can’t even tell the number of times that locals have told me that I just have to wait and earn my stripes to be counted as somebody whatever in the heck that means…maybe the network of GOBs. I don’t want that at all. I just want Wickenburg to wakeup and look at all the (hypothetical) morning after faces that they have been sleeping their way up the the ladder with (grimmace); sicking to think that anybody would sink to that level actually for fame in Wickenburg, really?? Wakeup! There is no such thing as fame, just big fish, little pond syndrome. The air is stiffling with arrogance and injustice. Potential business owners come up with a great business idea or plan present it to the town in the form of a permit application and if its really good, their permit gets denied and the town does it instead. The Town feels like our competetor not supporter; honestly I have never seen such oppressive means of doing business in my life…sad really. They should rename Planning and Zoning Plotting and Killing. I hear the words ‘blackball’ a lot. This term is used to categorize business owners who refuse to keep quiet and go along peacefully. There are stories of using the “N” word, different rules depending for those whom give the town public praise on their billboards, the hostility towards outspoken women is prick-like to say the least. They say that nearly every plant in the desert has some type of thorny defense mechanism and trust me so does Wickenburg. Manage’a trois is the only phrase that accurately describes the Town of Wickenburg, The Chamber and the Sun. This three headed beast holds the local business power, the Sun controls the highly biased and censored media and the Chamber is controlled by one of the most narcisistic individuals I have ever met. None are proficient in their supposed fields of expertise yet they still manage to hang on to their positions of power. Why? I would like to think that shallow minds just tend to think alike but it is all coming to a screaching halt with the blows of the economy. The Airport gig has got to be sucking their dry, the round-a-bout; newest illegitimate child to be birthed to the town is turning out to be a bigger challenge than anyone could imagine and last but not least, antiquated vs. progressive thinking could be the straw that broke the jackass’ back. The one ideal that Wickenburg has always held onto was that fact that they CHOSE to remain small. The truth is that T.of W. simply has no vision or creativity and we all know if you don’t have that then you just aren’t growing and if you aren’t growing then eventually you will just dye off and be forgotten. Until we vote these idots out like Hensen, Stewart, and plenty of others then Wickenburg will continue to die, locals will continue to spend the bulk of their money in other towns like they already do but no one talks about that and last but not least until somebody realizes that a small percentage of individuals move to Wickenburg to own a horse, good God I am so tired of hearing that Wickenburg is only for horse people. Can you say delusional? Please vote for Chris Band for Council member in Nov. 2010 or you’ll just keep getting what you’ve always got…horse manure.
    Just my two cents worth and I know that 75% of the other business owners in Wickenburg feel the same and they are not joining the chamber, so have your hay day Julie “B”. Ps just a word of advise, we notice when you promote hispanic events, you alter your name from Brooks to Macias, then when the event is non-hispanic, you drop the Hispanic name. Decide who you are and stick with it like everyone else and do Wickenburg a favor and step down so someone else can try to actually help the merchants instead of…you know and so do we.

  • Maria Langer

    I hear you, Leona. It’s been four years since I wrote that post here and although we did manage to get Badowski out of the mayor’s office, things in town haven’t gotten much better. I blame the Chamber of Commerce and special interests in town. They all hopped on the real estate boat to grow Wickenburg, and look where it got them? Real estate is in the toilet and there’s a glut of unwanted housing here. Why unwanted? Simply because there are no jobs here and the seniors they’ve relied on for years have decided they can’t afford that second home in Arizona anymore — or they’d rather have it closer to WalMart.

    I moved my business out of Wickenburg last year around this time and have pretty much moved myself out, too. It’s no fun living in a dead town, watching a handful of local “power brokers” squabble over slim pickings. They killed the Wickenburg I moved into 13 years ago and although I miss it, I know it’s gone for good. As soon as the real estate values recover a bit, I’m selling. In the meantime, we’ve got a condo in Phoenix that’s got a lot more to offer than Wickenburg ever will again. I’ve begun my search for a town that’s like what Wickenburg was; when I find it, that’s where you’ll find me.