Citizen Klahr, still fightin' the good fight, in a pic from a 2002 New Times profile of Klahr.
Whatever you may think of the oft-controversial and always colorful Gary Peter Klahr, civil libertarian and former Phoenix City Councilman, the lawsuit he recently filed against our Mayor Goober makes a superb and timely point.
Mayor Goober has ZERO power to coerce Chief Harris on Operations Order 1.4.3 or any other. Indeed, Goober might as well be the Mayor of Disneyland for all the power he has to influence the police chief. Phoenix has a council-manager form of government, and our chickenshit chief executive is little more than a figurehead with a vote on the city council.
Goober has a backbone of Jello and all the moral authority of fairground carny. Which is likely why he needed a four-man commission of elders to suggest changes in Operations Order 1.4.3, the police policy that keeps our boys in blue from rounding up every brown person they see on suspicion of being illegal. Otherwise, why would a man of Jack Harris' stature, a man with REAL authority pay any attention to Goober? Harris' boss is the city manager, and the city manager ultimately answers to the city council, of which Goober is but one member.
Indeed, the PHX City Charter specifically states,
Chapter III, Sec. 4. Council and Councilmen to deal with City officers and employees through the City Manager.
Neither the Council nor any of its Members shall direct or request the appointment of any person to, or his removal from, office by the City Manager or by any of his subordinates, or in any manner take part in the appointment or removal of officers and employees in the administrative service of the City. Except for the purpose of inquiry, the Council and its Members shall deal with the administrative service solely through the City Manager and neither the Council nor any Member thereof shall give orders to any subordinates of the City Manager, either publicly or privately.
Any Member of the Council violating the provisions of this section, or offering a resolution or ordinance in violation of this section, shall be removed from office as in this Charter elsewhere provided.
Uh, does that mean we can remove Goober's sorry fanny from office now? Certainly looks like Goober is trying to give orders to a subordinate of the City Manager to me.
On December 18, Harris told the Arizona Republic, regarding the attempt to make his officers de facto ICE agents, that,
"If you were in my position, would you take those very limited resources and divert them to go after landscapers and dishwashers because they're in the country illegally? Sorry. I've been a cop for 36 years. I disagree with that concept."
"I think the policy of the Police Department not getting involved in routine immigration is the appropriate one. And that will continue to be my recommendation to the mayor and the City Council and the city manager, is that routine immigration enforcement is not something that should be put into the hands ... of local law enforcement. It's a federal issue."
So why is Goober pushing a change, using this four-man panel of legal experts such as former County Attorney Rick Romley and former state Attorney General Grant Woods? Because Goober is bowing to local extremists and to DC wing-nut carpetbaggers like Judicial Watch, which has threatened Goober with a lawsuit and a recall. Goober's ready to bend over and spread 'em for JW. Harris, thankfully, is not, even though he recently played nice with Goober in a December 23 op-ed in the Repugnant , co-bylined by Goober and Harris, contending that they agree on many points regarding the po-po and immigration.
Goober wants to run for Governor some day and so is attempting to appease this reactionary element that wants all illegals to go home. Klahr's suit comes at the perfect time to make its intended point, even if it ultimately goes nowhere. Kudos to Klahr. You may not take him seriously, but this town could use a few more with his moxie.
Below is Klahr's press release on his suit, for your post-Xmas viewing pleasure:
(PHOENIX)-----Former City Councilman Gary Peter Klahr today filed a Superior Court suit seeking an injunction against Mayor Phil Gordon's plan to revise City Police immigration policies and/or to oust the Mayor from office for violating the City Charter.
Klahr, who practiced law for 34 years and won several appellate decisions against the City, said the suit was designed for two separate purposes---1) to torpedo the Mayor's proposal to allow police to question persons about their immigration status; and 2) to expose the hypocrisy of elected officials refusing to help citizens with their problems with city bureaucrats based on the Charter, but defying the same Charter provisions "when it is politically profitable to do so."
Klahr, 65, who made his first appearance before the Council as a teenager to protest a water-rate increase, served a record 9 years as a member of the Police Review Board and had close contact with former chiefs Ruben Ortega, Dennis Garrett and Harold Hurtt. He also served as Chairman both of the City Criminal Justice Commission and of the License Appeals Board which deals with massage-parlors and metal dealers. He received city appointments from former Mayors John Driggs, Terry Goddard and Paul Johnson.
Citing 1948 amendments to the Charter designed to prevent elected officials from influencing city administrative decisions, the suit says that the Charter allows only Police Chief Jack Harris or City Manager Frank Fairbanks to make decisions on administrative operational matters like the contested Operations Order 1.4. Last month, Gordon announced that he was mandating a change in the controversial so-called "sanctuary" policy and appointed a committee of 4 former prosecutors to decide on the details.
The suit cites a December 17 statement by Chief Harris opposing the policy change as endangering public safety. It notes that Klahr himself has been the victim of 20 felonies and claims "irreparable injury" if police officers are diverted into "catching cooks instead of crooks."
According to the complaint filed in court, Section 4 of Chapter III of the Charter bars the Mayor and Councilmen from giving "orders to any subordinates of the City Manager, either publicly or privately." The Section further provides that elected officials doing so "shall be removed from office."
Klahr's suit contends that even if the "policy" in question is subject to Council decision---which he denies because it is an administrative matter--the Council "can only act by formal recorded resolution or ordinance in open public session and not by 'orders' of the Mayor or even a majority of the Council acting otherwise." The suit notes that one reason for that rule is to allow city policies to be stopped by citizen referendum petitions.
Klahr asks that the Court enjoin the Mayor from trying to change the internal policy and/or remove him from office for violating the Charter. It does not seek monetary damages. But the suit asks that the City pay attorney fees if Klahr retains an outside attorney, which he hopes to do.
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Explaining the dual purpose of the suit, Klahr stated: "Although I support Chief Harris and not the Mayor on the immigration-policy issue, the main reason for the suit is to expose the hypocrisy of city officials under the Charter Government system enacted 60 years ago here. Supposedly, unlike almost every other big city, elected officials are supposed to stay out of city operation matters which are solely controlled by the Manager. But the reality is that whenever an issue is "hot" politically, the elected officials do step in and give the orders.
"Although the present Charter forbids what the Mayor is doing, I do not support that kind of system. In big cities, at least, there does need to be a way that elected officials can protect citizens from incorrect or unfair bureaucratic decisions. So I hope to inspire an amendment to the Charter to set up a Mayor-Administrator system whereby the elected Mayor would have the final say over the Executive branch like we do at the county, state and federal levels. On the Phoenix Union school board on which I served for 8 years, although we delegated most decisions to the Superintendent, us elected board members DID have the final say on all matters under state law. But until the Phoenix Charter is changed, the Mayor needs to obey it," Klahr explained.
Klahr added: " One of the reasons for this suit is my recent bad experience with city bureaucrats who violated my rights under the Americans with Disabilities law. The Mayor's office and my Councilman refused to be of much help ---mainly, they said, because the City Manager---not them---has the authority over such matters under the present Charter. So I figure that what is good for the goose is good for the gander, as the old saying goes."
"Either way this goes, I win," Klahr concluded. "Because if the Court lets the Mayor get away with this, the citizens will certainly demand that the Charter be changed so that ALL citizens can get their elected officials to intervene with the city administration as the Mayor has done in this case."