At an Aug. 12 civic group gathering in Dove Mountain, an opponent of the Marana Regional Landfill was called a Communist, and council members sparred over the format.
Councilwoman Carol McGorray, a Dove Mountain resident who cast the lone vote against annexation of land for the landfill, conducts periodic meetings with constituents at Heritage Highlands. The landfill was the subject Aug. 12.
At that meeting, Michael Racy, representing applicant DKL Holdings, called Picture Rocks resident and vocal opponent Albert Vetere Lannon a member of the Communist Party.
On Tuesday, Aug. 17, before a packed council chambers and the council itself, Racy withdrew the assertion of Lannon's political affiliation, and apologized.
"I made a reference to Mr. Lannon as a member of a political party," Racy acknowledged. "I should not have done that. I offended him." And it was not true. Lannon's late father Al was a member of the Communist Party in the 1950s, and Albert Vetere Lannon has written a book about him.
Racy said he found information about Lannon's purported political affiliation on the Internet. "That underscores the risk of getting information from the Internet," said Racy, who suggested landfill opponents — including Lannon — have used information retrieved from the Web without context nor verification in their arguments against the project.
"Having said that, I made a remark that was inflammatory toward Mr. Lannon. I apologize, and ask for his forgiveness."
Steve Storzer, a Silverbell West resident and landfill opponent who attended the Dove Mountain meeting, called Racy's comments "deplorable," and "a 1950s tactic used during the McCarthy era. It's called Red-baiting. … It was a well-planned personal attack on someone he feared." Storzer urged DKL Holdings to fire Racy.
Later in the meeting, Lannon took the podium, wearing a red T-shirt with the words "The Red Menace Returns" in its back.
"You have a momentous decision to make," Lannon told the council. He said the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality "will allow risks to be taken. It will not face the standard up front to protect the public health. It is up to you. Just say 'no'."
Councilwoman Roxanne Ziegler rejected an assertion that she and other members of the council, as well as DKL Holdings and its representatives, crashed the Dove Mountain meeting.
"We have always been invited to that meeting," Ziegler said. "We've always been told that was a public meeting. We did not crash the meeting, we were not rude. I learned a lot at that meeting, as I always do."