Superior Town Councilman Gilbert Aguilar’s disclosure that he now works for Councilmen John Tameron’s Janitorial company makes it impossible for the Superior Town Council to convene a quorum regarding any issue regarding Resolution Copper. The council cannot vote without at least a quorum (four council members being present). Further, those present must not have a conflict of interest regarding the issue being called for a vote. Four of the seven council members have now disclosed a conflict of interest with regards to Resolution Copper.
If no quorum is possible on a particular issue there is a process described in the Arizona Open Meeting Law to free the Council from an impending decision paralysis. If all those conflicted disclose their specific conflict of interest on the official record (such as the meeting minutes and/or signed documents submitted to the Town Clerk/Town Manager), the law is satisfied and all seven council members are now free to vote their conscious on the preciously off-limits issue.
What is a conflict of Interest?
A conflict of interest or substantial interest means any financial or ownership interest, either direct or indirect (such as familial relationships).
Arizona Law requires a public officer that has a conflict of interest to disclose it to the public body and refrain from participating in any manner. Town Attorney Steve Cooper advised the council to state their conflict of interest during the meeting and the statements be entered into the meeting minutes. Town Manager, Margaret Gaston will make copies of the minutes from the April 3, 2014 Superior Town Council Meeting, attach them to the appropriate forms and have the council members sign them for the permanent records
Conflicts of Interest
As listed, the conflicts regarding Resolution Copper are:
• Mayor Jayme Valenzuela – a family member is employed
• Vice Mayor Olga Lopez – a family member is employed
• Councilman John Tameron – he is an owner of a firm that has a contract for Resolution Copper
• Councilman Gilbert Aguilar – he is employed by Councilman Tameron’s firm.
Fewer Conflicts of interest change everything
Should the number of council members with a conflict of interest regarding Resolution Copper decrease, then an unconflicted quorum can now be convened. Those with a conflict will be unable to vote on the Resolution Copper related business.
Recent Council Conflict of Interest History
Superior Town Councilman Hank Gutierrez resigned Oct. 3, 2012 from the Council after he was found guilty of violating state law for making a vote that was found to be a financial conflict of interest.
In Dec. 2010, Resolution Copper renegotiated the agreement with the Town, recognizing that the land exchange bill was taking longer than expected to be approved by Congress. The town council unanimously approved; Mr. Gutierrez was among those who voted for the agreement.
According to the indictment, Gutierrez “possessed a substantial interest” in the agreement between the Town and Resolution Copper. The court’s decision was that Mr. Gutierrez was guilty of a misdemeanor for failing to refrain from making a public vote in which he would benefit financially.
The Superior Town Council is holding a special meeting on April 10 at the Town Hall at 7 p.m.
As always the public is encouraged to attend!
• Arizona Attorney General Handbook: Relevant Sections: Chapter 7.11.1
• Arizona Revised Statues: Relevant sections: ARS 38-502, ARS 38-508B
• Original story from Former Council Gutierrez resignation: