Showdown in Quartzsite

CREATED Jul 13, 2011

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Reporter:  Jennifer Waddell

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The situation in Quartzsite is unfolding more and more like some showdown from the wild west.  Mayor Ed Foster claims he's still in office since the town council fired hime in what he calls a secret, illegal meeting.  And now members of the Quartzsite Police Department are calling out their own chief.

Foster told radio host Alex Jones that when you get to the root of the drama in his town, it's all about money.  He claims there's a lot of it missing and when he started digging it became man against the machine.    "When I got elected I thought I could go in the back room and look at the books but that don't happen cause they shut me down and took away the authority of the mayor right from the very beginning."  Foster went on to say, "they've shut me down, shut me down, shut me down but I kept after them. I used FOIA documents and I finally figured out there's 8 to 10 extra paychecks going out every period.  We're talking a quarter of a million dollars out of a 3 million dollar budget."

Foster is also calling out the police chief who was a part of the arrest of a constituent who had the floor at the June 28th town council meting.   "If you look at the video, the chief himself put himself in the middle of the business of the consul, he incited the audience and created the situation where mr ross? was arrested the meeting before and mrs jones arrested at the next meeting.  he's trying to institute these emergency procedures so that he can seize control of the town."

Even Chief Jeff Gilbert's officers have called him out.  Sgt. William Ponce alleges abuse of power, political involvement and misuse of procedures.

Not Chief Gilbert... the Town Manager Alex Taft, or Vice Mayor Barbara Cowell will return our calls for comment.  Someone from the Attorney General's office did talk to us to say they've officially launched an investigation into claims of open meeting law violations against the town council.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety also is formally investigating the police chief and department.  A lieutenant from the La Paz County Sheriff's office says they're staying out of it.

We'll keep on the elected officials in Quartzsite to get answers for the people who put them in office.