Congress, Ariz. school district sues taxpayers to stop questions

By   /   March 10, 2010  /   News  /   1 Comment

State finds repeated violations of government transparency laws

The Goldwater Institute Watchdog Report is a periodic publication intended to identify government corruption and waste and to hold politicians and public agencies accountable to taxpayers.

A handful of taxpayers in a small community north of Wickenburg, Arizona are being targeted by the local school district in a lawsuit that asks a judge to declare they have no right to request public records, sue the district, or complain to outside agencies.

The Congress Elementary School District claims that past efforts by these residents to obtain documents such as minutes of board meetings and spending reports amount to harassment that should not have to be tolerated.

But Jean Warren, one of the four defendants named in the lawsuit filed January 28, 2010, said the complaint is an illegal attempt to silence citizens who have questioned the district’s policies and spending practices.

“The whole thing is based on trying to shut us down so that nobody has any rights,” Warren said. “Just because you live in a small area does not mean you don’t have rights. Everything I believe about the Constitution and what it means to be a citizen of the USA is being shot down.”

The school district has a history of violating state laws mandating government transparency, according to investigations dating to 2002 done by the Arizona attorney general and state ombudsman. In 2002 and again in 2007, the district was found to be in violation of the state’s open meeting law by the Attorney General’s Office. In June 2009, the state ombudsman’s office admonished the district for its slow response to public records requests.

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  • Congress Citizen

    I’m not sure where that old saying, “my rights end where yours begin” came from, but it is useful, I think, in asking some important questions of our own Congress community. I’ve run into several articles on the Internet now about our school district suing four people. The school is asking the judge to keep these four people from bogging the school staff and budget down with massive requests. It seems there are a lot of people out there who disagree with any limit on such requests.
    It seems that several conservative watchdog groups have grabbed a hold of this and used it as an example of government trying to take away the rights of the people. The Goldwater Institute did such a good job of spreading this fearful propaganda that, if I didn’t live in this community, I would’ve jumped on the “better watch out for your rights” bandwagon as well. I would’ve been angry.
    I would’ve, but you see, I’m a conservative that actually lives here, and I see a whole other side of this. So, I’m angry for a different reason. I’m angry because no one is considering my “rights” or the “rights” of all of us Congress tax payers who are proud of our school and want it to do well.
    We have a “right” to have our tax money, that is set aside for the education of our children, go to just that, educating our children. We should not have to pay for the negative habits of three or four people who have nothing better to do. We should not have to pay for their destructive entertainment.
    Has anyone else wondered how it is that these people have so much time on their hands? Why aren’t they working? Is Gene Warren on disability? She certainly shouldn’t be, she gets around well enough to stir up all kinds of trouble for everyone around here. Is that couple that records every board meeting on welfare? How is it that they never have to go to work? What about the other lady who was taking pictures of our kids to try to prove that some of them were not dressed according to the dress code? Does she work? What gives her the right to take pictures of our kids? Where does she find the time? Are we taxpayers supporting them? I want to know if I’m not only footing the bill for their habitual requests, but if I’m also supporting them so that they don’t have to work, so that they have all day long to invent new requests.
    What about the rights of the rest of us who are responsible, decent, hardworking, productive citizens? What about us? Don’t we get a say? What about our board members who are successful contributing citizens who, God bless them, are volunteering their time? Why should we have to sit back and allow our good people to be harassed? People who don’t live here haven’t heard half of what these people are doing to harass our board members. We don’t want that! We like our volunteers. We want them to give to our community. We don’t agree with what they are doing.
    Those bitter people don’t represent us nor the wellbeing of our children. They don’t care about us or the kids. They don’t care about the preservation of rights either. They only care about having something to hate on, having something to do with their miserable lives. It makes me angry that they do this on my dime, and at the expense of our kids education.
    I for one, say good for Congress School! They definitely speak for me as a taxpayer and someone who cares about the true betterment of our community when they shout, “Enough is Enough!” We don’t want our school’s time spent pacifying hateful people who have no purpose. We want our school’s time to be spent educating our children. The school is a real source of pride for our community because they are doing a great job. If it takes a court decision to keep those losers from trying to rob our kids, from trying to rob us of our “rights,” then so be it.