February 3, 2005
Mesa Mayor Keno Hawker is accusing a City Council member of making unfounded accusations about illegal council meetings and the conducting of city business in private.
But Councilwoman Janie Thom denies the claims and said Hawker is trying to intimidate her by continuing his "systematic policy of harassment."
Hawker filed an official public records request last week with Mesa that asks for Thom’s calendar and all email related to city business sent to or received from her home computer in the past 30 days, including an unredacted copy of a Thom e-mail cited in a complaint accusing Mesa of violating Open Meetings and public records laws.
Hawker followed that request Tuesday with a letter to Thom asking for a formal apology for the "damaging aspersions you have cast."
"(Thom’s) e-mail implicated myself and other council member of having secret, illegal meetings, and I didn’t like it," Hawker said Wednesday.
Thom’s Jan. 19 e-mail to an undisclosed friend states: "I can absolutely tell you, the courts, or anyone else that the ‘deal’ was discussed in secret meetings several times." A portion of that email was used in a complaint filed Jan. 21 with the Arizona attorney general and Maricopa County attorney on behalf of a group opposing a planned development project.
The "deal" Thom is referring to is an $80 million incentive package for the Riverview at Dobson developers. A referendum effort was launched against the project planned at Loop 202 and Dobson Road, and a special election has been set for May 17.
Thom would not disclose who the e-mail was sent to or reveal what was redacted, but said she is not conducting city business on her private account. Thom said she refers to executive sessions as secret meetings as a joke, and it does not imply the city violated the law.
The day before Hawker’s request, Jeff Gross, an attorney representing Riverview’s Kimco Developers and De Rito Partners Development, made a request for the same e-mail.