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Three Phoenix City Council members resign

PHOENIX — Three City Council members resigned Monday, with two saying they wanted to spare the city an investigation into allegations they violated the city charter while a third resigned in protest.

Faced with an investigation that could have taken several months and cost the city $5,000 to $10,000, council members Stan Bartell and Chris Luz tendered their resignations Monday following a brief closed executive session. Bartell's wife, Councilwoman Carolyn Bartell, also resigned.

The resignations took place after weeks of discussion stemming from a June 27 meeting, during which Mayor Carlos DeBritto said Bartell had contacted a former employee to discuss city business and that both Bartell and Luz had interfered with City Manager Jane Turner's management of City Hall.

The two council members, according to Turner's attorney Sydnee Dreyer, subjected Turner to a hostile work environment and "a great deal of stress "… in addition to discrimination on the basis of her age."

The City Council previously voted to attempt mediation betweenthe council members and Turner if all parties were willing.

When Turner declined, the council directed city attorney Kurt Knudsen to recruit an investigator for a process he estimated would cost between $5,000 and $10,000.

Monday, Luz read a simple statement announcing his resignation and said that he looked forward "to serving the city of Phoenix in other capacities."

Bartell read portions of his letter stating he had done nothing wrong and noting that while his "first reaction is to fight," the conflict had been stressful for his wife.

Also reading a prepared statement, Carolyn Bartell announced she, too, would resign and criticized DeBritto's handling of the situation.

She said DeBritto "failed to act as a neutral party" and that 42 days had passed since allegations were made against her husband without him being given "written details of the charges against him."

"The mayor failed in his duties to represent the best interest of the city and actively bring the parties together to resolve this matter," she said.

"Because of the actions of our mayor, I cannot serve under his term of office."

As both Bartells stood to leave, Stan Bartell told the mayor, "It looks like you got everything you wanted, Carlos."

DeBritto responded, "Believe me, it's not what I wanted, but if I had to do it again, I would do the same thing because I need to protect the city from lawsuits."

"There are really no winners in this situation," DeBritto said.

The city will advertise the three vacancies and the council will appoint city residents to serve the remainder of each term.

With only three council members and a mayor, DeBritto will be required to vote in some instances until the three positions are filled. The mayor typically votes only in the case of a tie vote or a lack of a quorum.

DeBritto declined further comment on the resignations Tuesday. Turner has declined comment on the issue at the advice of her attorney.

For information on the three available seats, call City Hall at 541-535-1955.

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at buffyp76@yahoo.com