Guest Editorial Chrystal Clear: Resident Chrystal Schoppmann Addresses 'Open Mic' Comments, STILO, And More

November 16, 2018

By Chrystal Schoppmann

 Let me first start by saying that the sentiments expressed today are exactly that – my own.  I am not currently clocked in with my employer and am here today as a concerned constituent of the Town of Tusayan.

I want to make it clear that I am pro-growth and progression and I believe that a certain level of that is desperately needed in this town, but is must be RESPONSIBLE growth and progression.  The totality of the STILO Development Group’s concept is so far out of the realm of what I, and many others, consider to be responsible growth and progression for Tusayan and the Grand Canyon National Park.  The Town of Tusayan is being used by the STILO group for no purpose other than getting their commercial development project moved forward and you are allowing it to happen!

As certain events have unfolded over the past month, I decided to do a little research on my own about the STILO Development Group and its involvement with the Town in the past 20 years.  The preponderance of evidence that leads to electoral fraud, win bonuses paid to council members (one of who currently sits on this council), and now a guide on how to concoct a false harassment claim against a federal employee.  Every one of these mentioned examples has been initiated by STILO!  As a constituent of Tusayan, I am saying enough is enough.  You are not doing yourselves any favors by being in this partnership.

As we are all aware, Tusayan has several Federal and State entities, varying Districts and local shareholders and that must be involved for growth or progression of any level to reach fruition.  I think it’s been made pretty clear that the majority of these groups have no plans of making things easy on you as long as you’re involved with STILO and their commercial development project.  Given the evidence that supports their shady business handlings, I can see why.

I would also like to address the “open mic” incident that became public in October.  As a constituent of Tusayan, I have certain expectations of my Council and the Town of Tusayan Staff; of these come the expectations of professionalism and the lawful representation and conduct of our government. The open mic incident has evidenced that there are certain members of our council and town staff that are incapable of these expectations; the level of disdain and contempt that was given in these recordings for Mrs. Vail was apparent.  The discussion by our town manager on possibly preventing the public from obtaining information that might be considered applicable under the Freedom of Information Act is something I hope this Council is taking very seriously!

The town manager’s conduct during the last month in both the “open mic” incident, as well as his conduct after the initial election results showed that the Home Rule didn’t pass, I find the to be conduct unbecoming of Town Staff, at the very least; possibly even illegal, or at a minimum, alluding to possible illegal activity.  His representation that he felt a particular group consorted to have the Home Rule fail were given in an open, public meeting while he was representing the town during this meeting. Being that the town manager serves at the will of the town council, I am asking council to review the manager’s conduct in both incidents. 

In my research, I came across a Town of Tusayan Ethics Policy.  The very first sentence in this policy states, “…to uphold, promote, and demand the highest standards of ethical behavior from its town officials…”  It also speaks to the demand of citizens for an open government.  A few members of this council and the town manager should be embarrassed by their behavior, yet I have heard of no offer of apology at this point; no offer to Mrs. Vail, the residents of Tusayan, or the federal employee that was discussed.  In fact, I’ve hard quite the opposite; I’ve heard a lot of the blame game, but no personal responsibility or accountability on what lead to a particular flyer being sent out to the residents.  I am here to tell you that Mrs. Vail, the constituents of Tusayan, and the Federal employee all deserve your apologies.

Now, I have a plea to the employers of Tusayan:  During the last several weeks I have personally spoken to well over 2 dozen residents of Tusayan, all from varying employers and/or sides, for lack of a better term.  I am here to tell you that a real fear exists by residents that if they have an opinion that differs from their employers in hot button issues, or even electoral views, that their jobs may be in jeopardy.  This fear is what prevents people from questioning this Council, or even voting, I found, in some circumstances. Again – this has come from all sides of the camp.  There is a real frustration from people in regard to this council; concern the direction the council is taking in regard to STILO, concern over the sheer amount of money that is being spent on particular projects.  I think it would go miles for all the employers in this town to convey the right for Free Agency to their employees.

I am asking this council to uphold yourselves to the demands of the Town of Tusayan Ethics Policy and find a way to, and I’m quoting from your ethics policy, “… employ a mindset of openness in conducting your affairs of the Town…” It’s going to take a lot of work on your part to mend some of the fences, but it’s not impossible. 

The residents of this town deserve better -we demand better!