Phoenix council member accused of violations

PHOENIX — Council members on Monday will discuss allegations by the mayor that Councilman Stan Bartell has committed two city charter violations.

An unnamed former city employee complained in an email to Mayor Carlos DeBritto that Bartell contacted the employee to discuss city business after the person left employment with the city. DeBritto said that Bartell also had violated the charter in attempting to call an executive session to discuss alleged problems with the city's finance department.

The city's charter says elected council members are not permitted to "attempt to coerce" the city manager to hire or fire any employee and are not allowed to lobby for or against "administrative decisions regarding city property or contracts."

DeBritto initially declined to provide a copy of the email, which identified Bartell. City Attorney Kurt Knudsen provided a copy of the former employee's email, with the name and address removed, in response to a public records request from the Mail Tribune.

In the letter, the former employee stated Bartell called on May 31 to ask why the person left his job at the city and asked his opinion on Public Works Management, a private company the city contracts with on public works matters.

In an email to a reporter, Bartell denied that he had done anything in violation of the city charter.

"I can tell you what the conversation was," he wrote. "I made the call on May 31st, on speaker phone. Carolyn (Bartell, his wife, who is also a council member) was in the room, she took notes. I introduced myself, asked how he was, said I appreciated his service here, told him he did a good job for us. Asked if he would share with me why he left employment here, he said no. I said thank you for talking with me, good luck, & again thanked him for your service here. End of conversation."

In his statement to the council, DeBritto said Bartell, whom he did not name, also had requested closed or executive sessions for topics that did not meet executive session criteria. DeBritto said when questioned about one request, Bartell responded that "he (Bartell) and another council member were asking for an executive session regarding the deficiencies of the finance department."

DeBritto said both the conversation with the former employee and the topic of the executive session request were clear violations of the city charter and "grounds for removal from office" by a majority of the council at a public hearing.

The issue will be discussed at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the city's Public Works office, 1000 S. B St. The meeting is listed as a public hearing, but DeBritto said a decision would not be made Monday.

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at

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