Editor's note: On Dec. 15, John Robert Holiday and Jim White filed a petition to the Arizona Superior Court asking it to look into possible Open Meeting Law violations by the 19 task forces created by Payson Mayor Bob Edwards.
During Thursday night's Payson Town Council meeting, Edwards addressed the dais and audience with this response prior to the council directing the town attorney to fight the lawsuit.
I can't let this lawsuit go without comment.
During the last election I promised to invite citizens to become involved in planning Payson's future ... over 100 have responded with immense effort and talents and all on a volunteer basis.
But from the start, we have had a group of naysayers who have made a concentrated effort to stop this volunteerism and hold back Payson's Progress.
To this point, I have ignored them, because they were not doing any real damage, but now, with this ridiculous lawsuit, the naysayers will begin to cost the taxpayers of Payson.
They complain that we have not released the names of the task force members, but if the principals of this lawsuit spent less time hiring investigators and more time reading the real newspapers in town, they would have seen the names, or they could simply go to Payson's Progress Web site, or, as I have said in the past, call me and I will give them names.
Legally the names don't need to be released ... but we have never tried to hide them.
They also contend these task forces are the same status as town committees and thus are subject to open meetings law... that is not the case. These task forces are not created by the town, do not have any powers and are simply doing research and review.
But to put the naysayers minds to rest we asked for an opinion of the Town Attorney's office. That opinion very clearly states that these volunteers are not subject to open meetings law. These highly talented individuals serve in the same way as consultants on Town issues and we are getting their services for free!
The principals in this lawsuit (one of whom claims he lives in Pine) also complain that some of the task force members are from out of town ... my answer is "isn't that great ... that people from the area care enough about Payson that they would come forward and freely give of their talents."
We did invite the naysayers to join but they did not come forward ... the naysayers prefer to just throw darts at the volunteers.
As Teddy Roosevelt said,"It is not the critic who counts. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, who does actually strive to do the deed, who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly."
Winston Churchill's words also apply to these people who are giving these great volunteer efforts, when Churchill said, "History will be kind to me for I intend to write it."
I invite the critics to grab a piece of the workload and write some Payson history.