County Attorney and Tim Carter remain mum when asked to explain the basis for sudden revision of residency requirement that allowed Connie Harris to be appointed to College Governing Board; Public left in the dark
The question being asked by citizens in Yavapai County of Yavapai County Attorney and Yavapai County School superintendent Tim Carter is this: “What was the basis for changing the long-standing residency eligibility requirement for anyone seeking to sit on the College District Governing Board?”
Recall that for years the requirement was a one-year residency in the District. Applicant Connie Harris did not meet that residency requirement and the County Attorney and Carter changed it in December 2016. Carter said the state statute setting out requirements to sit on a school board did not apply. However, he did not explain how the current requirements were reached.
In response to a request from the Blog for an explanation for the changed residency requirement, the Yavapai County Attorney claimed attorney/client privilege, saying the following:
“Thank you for contacting the Yavapai County Attorney’s Office. No. Any legal advice we may have given to an elected official is covered by the attorney/client privilege.
Penny Cramer, Administrative Assistant to:
Sheila Polk, Yavapai County Attorney
Dennis McGrane, Chief Deputy Yavapai County Attorney
255 E. Gurley Street
Prescott, AZ 86301”
Here is the history of this issue. Recall that in the fall 2016 Mr. Carter posted an announcement of the opening on the Governing Board following the resignation of Mr. Al Filardo. As originally posted, the requirements were stated as follows:
To be eligible to hold this seat a person must be a registered voter in Yavapai County, be a citizen of the United States of America, be at least 18 years of age, possess their civil rights, have continually resided within the school district for at least one year immediately preceding taking office, and the candidate or their spouse cannot be employed by the district. [You may view the original posting by clicking here.]
When it was learned that applicant Connie Harris did not meet the one-year residency requirement, Carter contacted the County Attorney. According to Carter, he was advised by the County Attorney that there was no one-year residency requirement for the Board position.
Carter stated in the announcement eliminating the residency requirement that “It has now come to Superintendent Carter’s attention, and has been verified by the Yavapai County Attorney’s Office, that this [residency] requirement only applies to `School District Governing Boards’ and NOT to `Community College Governing Boards’”. He stated, “I am the responsible party for the posting and apologize for this error. As a result, I feel it is my obligation to re-post this position, so no resident is disenfranchised in any way. The integrity and fairness of the ultimate appointment is critical.” [You may view the revised posting by clicking here.]
The revised residency criteria then read:
To be eligible to hold the seat, a person must be a registered voter in Yavapai College District 3, a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years of age and possess their civil rights. The candidate and spouse may not be employed by Yavapai College. You may view the revised posting by clicking here.
The problem is that neither the County Attorney nor Mr. Carter will explain the statutory basis for the revised criteria, if one exists. How was this revised criteria reached? As noted above, the County Attorney refuses to disclose the criteria claiming attorney/client privilege. Mr. Carter has not responded to an email request for an explanation.
So, citizens in the County can only guess at how the revised criteria was arrived at. Why won’t the County public officials thoroughly explain the basis for the sudden change? Your guess is as good as mine.