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Bisbee Wire/ City Update/fire not arson


The mayor has called for a special session tomorrow, Wednesday, to possibly offer the iCM a contract.  (Read the note below for info). Also see the report below on city hall fire. As mentioned in the last Wire, I actively support offering a contract to the interim CM, Robert Smith. This is not business as usual.  Sometimes decisions have to be made with insufficient time and/or information because of circumstances. Until last week this has been an ordinary and transparent process of selecting a C that was derailed  by a huge disruptive event. A vigorous (and rational) discussion on Bisbee Mayor Facebook page about this has ongoing. There are some people opposing offering a contract. Not so much on qualifications but process. I'm summarizing the arguments as I understood them.

They have opined that if the city is going to offer a larger amount for a CM, then the position should be re-advertised. This, they speculate, will attract more qualified people.

A second argument against offering a contract now is that this is a breech of public trust by a curtailed search process and that the selection process should continue as scheduled (there were two other candidates to be interviewed). This would validate the public's trust in the proceedings.

A third argument is that this is all too hasty.

And finally the fourth argument is financial-where is the dough going to come from?

My response to these arguments has been:There is no evidence that a higher amount of money offered will attract more qualified people to Bisbee. It might or it might not. A higher amount though would likely bring more flakes out.

The resumes of the two remaining candidates aren't nearly as strong as Mr. Smith. One person has never been a city manager.

Hasty or not, going through the at least 4 month advertising/winnowing/interviewing/negotiating/selection process and then a 6 month break-in period for a new CM is simply not a reasonable stance given that the city is in a precarious position.

And financial is certainly a concern. If any extra money is needed, for a larger salary that is not now in the CM budget, it will be found by shuffling money around from various departments. That is typical with funding shortfalls for specific items.  That is just the way it is going to have to be. Next budget will deal with it.This short list is why I don't think delaying hiring a CM onf gorunds of process is a good idea.

They have to get basic city services functioning, what to do about the city hall building-rebuild or tear down and build new, the potential problem with the AG/bag ban/charter city, the financial  problem of public safety pensions that threaten to bankrupt the city, decaying infrastructure that needs almost daily tending to, road repairs, tax base erosion, growing air b&b/VRBO problems in neighborhoods, to


***********************WEDNESDAY...SPECIAL SESSION

5:30  County Supe Room, Bldg G From Mayor Smith's post on Bisbee Mayor Facebook page... I have called a Special Session Meeting for Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in The Supervisor's Hearing Room (Building G, 1415 Melody Lane). The purpose is to discuss offering Robert Smith the position of City Manager, contingent on the successful negotiation of a compensation package. Robert has clearly demonstrated his leadership abilities in a time of great adversity, brought on by our city hall fire and the associated challenges to be faced in the many months before us. Of particular significance is the fact that I have received a letter from ALL department heads asking for this action, based on the performance of the last three managers, working with him for the last three months and his leadership in time of crisis.

*********************** UPDATES

City of Bisbee temporary numbers are: City Clerk (520-366-7769) General - 520-366-7769 Finance -520-366-7768 Public Works - 520-432-3737 ********************** The city can use volunteer help with document sorting, and other work.Please let call 520-405-2811 if you want to help. ********************* City of Bisbee payments.  Until the county location becomes operational, likely Wednesday,  the drop off box at the library and the police department (cash and check) may be used for city payments. <><><><><><>>><><><><>< BISBEE FIRE INVESTIGATION COMPLETE: NO EVIDENCE OF ARSON

The preliminary investigation into the fire which severely damaged the Bisbee City Hall in the early morning hours of October 11th has been completed. The investigation found no evidence of arson or other criminal activity.

The investigation team, which included structural and electrical engineers and an accelerant sniffing dog from the Gilbert (AZ) Police Department, began their four-day examination after it was determined the exterior walls were not in danger of collapsing.

Investigators, searching for the origin and cause of the blaze, were still hampered inside by the partial collapse of the roof and second floor. This collapse, and the potential for further collapse, created a substantial safety hazard for the investigators, but they were able to work around these obstacles to complete their examination.

The fire had been determined to have started on the second floor in an area containing an office which had been used as storage during a renovation project which was underway. The renovation project was mainly cosmetic, but did include electrical work. The investigation confirmed the electricians recent work had not yet been connected to the building’s electrical system, and thus, was not energized.

The building, built in 1909, had several alterations made to it over the last century and evidence of past electrical wiring was observed by investigators. These older wiring systems could not be ruled out as a cause for the fire due to the internal collapse of the structure.

Approximately two dozen people were interviewed, to include City Hall employees and non-employees who were conducting remodeling work on the second floor. Investigators also utilized recorded security camera footage from City Hall and local businesses in their investigation.

The Cochise County Sheriff’s Office led investigation was completed with exceptional assistance from the US Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the City of Bisbee’s Fire Department, Police Department and Public Works Department.

All personnel who participated in this event greatly appreciated the generous support given by the citizens and businesses of Bisbee.

Sheriff Mark Dannels said, “It is unfortunate that this incident claimed a valuable historical landmark, which was not only for the City of Bisbee but for all of Cochise County. Throughout the investigation, the kindness and generosity of our citizens and others who want to restore city government as quickly as possible was evident.

We are proud to recognize the hard work and dedication of our detectives, agents from ATF, Gilbert Police Department K-9 unit, our Sheriff’s Assist Team, the Bisbee Police Department, the Bisbee Fire Department, City of Bisbee employees, and Cochise County government for coming together so quickly to ensure the most comprehensive and professional investigation possible.”

City of Bisbee Releases Bisbee City Hall Fire Logistics Update

The City of Bisbee Mayor David Smith, Interim City Manager Robert Smith, City Clerk Ashley Coronado, Police Chief Albert Echave, and Fire Chief George Castillo want to extend their deepest appreciation to all agencies, businesses and volunteers who assisted in the response to, and investigation of the Bisbee City Hall Fire on Wednesday October 11, 2017.

Chief Echave said, “in the early morning hours on October 11, 2017, the Bisbee Police and Fire Departments responded to a report of smoke and fire at the Bisbee City Hall on Arizona Street. The Police Department assisted with traffic control and logistics so the Fire Department could focus on fighting the blaze utilizing more than one million gallons of water before conquering the blaze. As a result of the fire and firefighting efforts, there was significant damage to the roof and second floor of the building making it uninhabitable for the immediate future.”

Mayor Smith has voiced his sincere appreciation for the outpouring of assistance from Bisbee’s private citizens and business community, to include Southwest Gas, Freeport MacMoRan, APS and many of our local restaurants, among many. He added, “Bisbee always pulls together in times of crisis and it is truly a pleasure to teamwork and mutual respect in action”.

Chief Echave stressed today that all Police Department, Fire Department, EMS and Public Works services, duties and responsibilities have not changed and/or been interrupted.

Please note, however, that some City Government locations and contacts have moved to the Cochise County offices at 1415 Melody Lane: City Clerk (520-366-7769), City Personnel (520-366-7766), and City Finance (520-366-7768) have moved.

These new phone numbers are temporary, and as soon as possible, original departmental numbers in use prior to the fire will be restored. Notice of reversion to the original numbers will be provided to the public.

Sewer and garbage bills can be paid at the Bisbee Police Department, Monday through Thursday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, and at the drop box near the post office in old Bisbee.

Payments made at the Police Department may be in cash, check, or money order, and must be for the exact amount of the bill (change cannot be given). Payments made at the Police Department must be accompanied by a city bill showing the amount due, as utility billing systems are not yet fully functional.

If you have any questions about making a payment at the Police Department, please call the 432-2261.



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