Fire Board Takes Issue With Recall Claims


Monsoon rains may have cooled the Rim country, but the recall drive against the Christopher Kohl's Fire Board is heating up.

Discussing the reasons for the recall in a July 22 article in the Roundup, one of its organizers, Gregory Bownds said the recall is because of possible open meeting law violations, meetings conducted without public input and demeaning and condescending attitudes and actions toward the public and departmental personnel.

Both Mikey Marazza and Jerry Fisher, two of the three subjects of the recall, have written rebuttals to claims made by Bownds in the earlier story.

"There are two people on the committee to recall us and they are chairperson Ray Boehm and Greg Bownds, not a group of people," Marazza said.

She also contends that Bownds is not a firefighter as he contends, nor was he an EMT when interviewed.

" ... He just passed his test after taking it twice and he is not yet certified," she said.

Addressing the issue of public input, Marazza said, "We were elected by the taxpayers to make decisions. The budget was published and no open meeting law was violated.

"Saying that we never ask the chief (Kent Courtney) what he needs is a lie," she said. "When the budget came up, the only thing the chief wanted was his $20,000 raise and two full-time, paid EMTs. He did not ask for anything for the department."

Fisher also addressed the budget, "In the budget procedure that I was involved in, the chief submitted a proposed budget in which he requested monies for specific items. This was revised and discussed line by line with him in an open workshop. Mr. Bownds was not in attendance . . . I believe this to be the chief conveying to me his needs and wants."

Courtney said, "The budget is an issue of its own. I was allowed to offer input and asked to justify all my requests. Communication broke down. The board chose to do the budget the way it always has and disregard my input. It's their responsibility and they can approve anything they want."

Marazza also took issue with Bownds' statement about firing chiefs who opposed the board.

"We have not sent opposing chiefs down the road. Only one chief was sent down the road to speak of and that was because of breach of contract," she said.

Jim Oliver, a supporter of the board and a long-time resident of the area, backed up Marazza's statement in a call to the Roundup, saying of the three fire chiefs preceding Courtney, two resigned and only one was "sent down the road."

As for Courtney's involvement in the recall campaign. Bownds said he was not involved. And the chief reiterated this in the written statement he gave to the Roundup.

In an interview with the Roundup, CKFD Fire Chief Kent Courtney said he is not involved in the recall and did not initiate it.

"I don't like recalls. I've never seen one be successful," he said. "Recalls are bad for everyone. No one wins. They cause bad feelings . . . That's the downside. But recalls are still the right of every American. This process forces political accountability. That is the upside. If politicians haven't done anything wrong, they have nothing to worry about. If they have done something wrong, they must accept the consequences ..."

Marazza said she believed Courtney was involved in the process. "This kind of behavior has followed him just about everywhere he has worked and this is all public knowledge ..." Marazza said. Saying that the point (of the recall) is the department has been run by a board making unilateral decisions without public input, they don't want a board, which has been this chief's MO with several departments he has been employed with. Mr. Bownds is the mouthpiece for the chief."

Fire board president Power Webb agreed with Marazza's take on the situation.

"It seems too bad that this type of situation keeps following our fire chief around. First at Montezuma-Rimrock (in the Verde Valley), next at Mayer and now here."

Courtney said, "I won't tolerate anyone bring (my history with) past agencies (into this). It's an issue between the fire board and the coalition. My job is to mediate between the two . . . What disturbs me is there appears to be a movement on the board to blame the recall on me. It puts me in a bad position. I feel like my job is threatened and I'm being intimidated."

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