the Cochise County, Arizona,
Individual & Property Rights Association

editor:  Mike Jackson, at
last edited July 30, 2016

CCIPRA exists to oppose the forces which would take away your rights.  CCIPRA began by focusing on realtors, developers, and their government enablers, but now the focus is broader.  Ordinary citizens working together can protect themselves.

Don't feel too good when maps show a big area of the U.S. as Republican --

-- because those maps only show area, not population.  Republicans may sweep the area from the Sierra Nevadas to the Mississippi River, but that area doesn't have a big percentage of the U.S. population.  Here are two links that demonstrate this idea.

Here's a link to a map with states resized to show their population:

And here's a link to a map with state outlines in regular size, but black areas inside the outlines to show the actual population:

Looking at those maps will cure lots of wrong ideas about who should win the elections.

A valuable dissent from a horrible decision

In a US Supreme Court case decided on June 20, 2016, Justice Sotomayor's dissent says "this case tells everyone, white and black, guilty and innocent, that an officer can verify your legal status at any time. It says that your body is subject to invasion while courts excuse the violation of your rights. It implies that you are not a citizen of a democracy but the subject of a carceral state, just waiting to be cataloged."

Clearly the case is worth thinking about. The case is Utah v. Strieff, and here's a little about it.

A narcotics officer got an anonymous tip that drug sales were going on at a house. Over a week of surveillance, he saw lots of people go in and out of the house, and suspected that the tip was correct. At a nearby parking lot, he stopped a man who had just left the house, identified himself, and asked the man what he was doing there. A radio call found that the man had an outstanding traffic warrant. The cop arrested the man on that warrant, searched him right there, and found drugs and paraphernalia on him. The man moved to exclude those items from trial, on the ground that the initial stop was unlawful. Lower state courts let the evidence in, but the state supreme court reversed that and kept it out. The US Supreme Court reversed the state supreme court and let the evidence in.

The Supreme Court found a "loophole" in a famous case from 41 years ago, Brown v. Illinois. A pair of cops arrested a man illegally as part of investigating a murder. They read him his Miranda rights after he was in an interrogation room. He made a voluntary confession, without any threats or muscle by the police. At trial, he moved to keep his confession out of evidence, on the ground that his arrest and interrogation were illegal. The Court said that the main point was whether a confession was voluntary, and that being Mirandized did not prove a confession was voluntary. The Court found the confession inadmissible at trial.

In the Brown case, the Court talked about "attenuating factors" which might soften the effect of an illegal arrest, but didn't do so in that case. In Monday's Strieff case, the Court's majority (5-3) found "attenuating factors" so big that the illegality of the arrest did not matter. The majority found that the officer's initial stop was illegal, but his discovering an outstanding traffic warrant, entirely unrelated to the stop, "broke the causal chain" between the stop and the discovery of evidence, so the evidence could come in at trial.

The majority also noted that the officer's stop was not random, but was part of the investigation of a suspected drug house, and the opinion also notes that if police made a practice of such stops in "dragnet" fashion, the outcome might be different.

The above has been in legal language, simplified but still dry. But Justice Sotomayor wrote an eloquent dissent, which includes "This case allows the police to stop you on the street, demand your identification, and check it for outstanding traffic warrants -- even if you are doing nothing wrong. If the officer discovers a warrant for a fine you forgot to pay, courts will now excuse his illegal stop and will admit into evidence anything he happens to find by searching you after arresting you on the warrant. Because the Fourth Amendment should prohibit, not permit, such misconduct, I dissent."

If you want to read for yourself, here's a link to the Court's opinion -- -- and here's a link to an article about the case, emphasizing Sotomayor's dissent:…/f1f7d0d2-36f9-11e6-8f7c-d4…

Why give ignorant, racist, and hate-filled candidates an edge in presidential races?

An issue with local ramifications, tho at first glance it looks national: the setting of early primaries in all of the old Confederate states. Those states, which have never stopped resenting  being beaten soundly in their fight for white supremacy in the Civil War, can give an ignorant, racist, and hate-filled candidate a lot of "momentum" for later primaries. Imagine how much different the present presidential race would be if primaries in northern states had taken place early enough to prevent old rebel states from setting the tone of the election. Just before the Arizona primary, I heard a lot of people in Cochise County quite emboldened by how well their candidate was doing in our one-sided primary system. If we set primaries so that at any time a fair sample of the nation had voted in them, then ignorant, racist, and hate-filled candidates wouldn't get a gift of momentum.

As the election season speeds up, let's think about fascism.

On the subject of fascism, t's interesting to read a piece written in the middle of World War II by the then-Vice President. Here are a few parts: "A fascist is one whose lust for money or power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends.... The symptoms of fascist thinking ... always and everywhere can be identified by their appeal to prejudice and by the desire to play upon the fears and vanities of different groups in order to gain power.... American fascists ... claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution." The whole piece is at this link:
I would add that a major feature of a fascist ruling class is ignoring written laws for itself, while enforcing laws harshly against ordinary citizens, and using thuggery on them when they complain -- or sometimes, just for fun, when they don't.

CCIPRA will have very few new local stories for a while.  It's a health thing.

However, there are plenty of other groups and people to keep up the fight against irresponsible wasters of land and water, in Cochise County and elsewhere in Arizona:
-- In Apache County, ACIPRA, CCIPRA's cousin, is very active.  See its Facebook page here.
-- In Cochise County, David Morgan works hard to stay on top of our secretive and slippery government.  His Facebook page is here, and here is his email.
-- Another valuable source of local info is Chuck Alton, at websites including this.
-- Also see the invaluable work of Paul Lotsof, at websites including this.
-- And Cochise County has strong, smart, tough individual fighters for our communities.  I won't list their names here, because I'd be bound to leave out people who deserve to be named, but you will see their names in the writeups starting with Current Events below.

Some of the information on this page is designed to stay current for years without maintenance.  For instance, the most important step in dealing with Cochise County's government is to know who your Supervisor is, and what the Supes will be meeting about soon.
  You can see the Supes and their districts by following the "Interactive Map Of Districts" link on this page, and you can see the month's scheduled meetings via this page.  For more basic info, go to the quick guide to local government at the bottom of this site.  Other parts of this site, with more ephemeral information, with links underlined and blue and new items or major rewrites in red, are:
-- current events are here including 
County dead tree media keep attacking citizen right to see public records, but citizens keep fighting the good fight, hard  /  Conflict of interest, Vigneto promoter shouldn't go off script, special thanks to Anna Lands, Tricia Gerrodette, and Paul Lotsof  /Saying Ni! to the Constitution  /Stubborn ignorance by Cochise County Supervisors
-- lagniappe is here including  Sanctuary cities, Constitutional sheriffs, and the Constitution-free border zone  /Lawsuits about extending our Constitution into Mexico are sure to go to the Supreme Court  /The Danish cartoons that fundamentalist Moslems kill for  /Plagiarism:  Don't Do It!  /Southrons being more disgusting than usual

-- long-time substantial issues are here including  Dump the county Building Code  /Should every county have five Supervisors?


County attorney's office keeps attacking citizens' right to see public records,
but citizens keep fighting back hard

First, an update from December 16; then, the story as it stood in September.

FROM DECEMBER 16:  Deputy county attorney Britt Hanson is again trying to make the public pay more to see public records.  (By the way, if you take your own camera and make your own photos of whatever the County produces when you request to see public records, the County can't charge you a thing -- not one red cent.)

Hanson's proposal went to the Board Of Supervisors at the regular meeting on December 15, but the Supes promptly voted to table the proposal until their first January meeting.  The Supes, I believe, understand what a hot potato Hanson had tossed to them.
  If the Supes hadn't understood, several citizens informed them.

I'll give my own contribution first, but mine was by no means the most important input.  After my input, I'll give two others, both of which are remarkable.  I'm not informed of everything anybody says, and I apologize to anyone whose contribution I missed.

MY CONTRIBUTION:  I emailed a writeup much like the following to several people in and out of government at the county and state level.
1.  A proposal is set to come before the Cochise County Supervisors' meeting at 10 a.m. this coming Tuesday "to charge costs of providing copies and electronic media in response to public records requests."  The proposal is Item 8 on the County agenda posted at
and journalist David Morgan has also posted it online at
and posted the financial calculations used in the proposal at
2.  The County may not legally do what the proposal proposes.  The law is stated plainly in the Arizona Attorney General's December 2013 Opinion entitled "Charging Copying Fees Under Arizona's Public Records Law."  The Opinion is at
All quotations in this writeup are from the Opinion.
3.  The county may not charge a fee merely for inspecting public records.  The Attorney General says "Although a public body may charge a fee to copy and mail public records when that action is requested, the statute does not expressly permit charging a fee when the requesting party wants merely to inspect public records," and "
If, for whatever reason, the public body must make a copy of a public record to properly provide the record to the requesting party for inspection, then charging a copying fee is not appropriate," and "Arizona's public records law ... does not condition the right to inspect records on the payment of a fee either.  A public body in Arizona therefore cannot charge copying fees to recoup the cost of copies made internally to allow a member of the public to inspect the records."
4.  The County may not charge a person
who photographs what the County provides.  The Attorney General says "In the event that a member of the public seeks to inspect public records and make copies using his or her own personal device, Arizona's public records law does not allow a public body to charge a fee."
5.  If the County can't charge a person merely for inspecting records, and can't force a person to pay fees if the County decides on its own to make copies, and can't charge a person for making her own photographs of items, then what can the County charge for?  The Attorney General says "Arizona's public records law allows a public body to impose copying fees ... to offset copying costs only when a requesting party asks the public body to furnish copies of records."  The present proposal would charge fees which the law does not allow.
6.  To sum up, any person can examine public records free, and the proposal is an ill-considered slap in the face to anyone who wants open government.

NEXT, I have to thank David Morgan for first alerting me to the problem.  His work deserves the attention and praise it gets.

CHUCK ALTON'S CONTRIBUTION:  Here's an editorial which Chuck posted and sent around:

    Today, there is no excuse for public records to cost anyone much of anything. And accessing those records should be as easy as logging on to a web page.

    Public records are just that, records that document the activity of the pubic’s government, which of course, the public finances. The public pays for the activities of its government through taxes, and the government is required by law to document and maintain archives of those documents, and finally, to provide such information as may be requested by anyone in a reasonable time frame at nominal cost to the requester.

    Chief Civil Deputy County Attorney Britt Hanson has a fixation, about to be publicly exercised for a second time this year before the County Board of County Supervisors (BOS) Tuesday, December 15 at the regular BOS meeting. (Agenda item: Adopt Ordinance 48-15 amending fee schedules to provide for a standardized cost of copying and electronic media for purposes of public records requests.) 

    Hanson is blaming requestors of large amounts of information for somehow costing the County money it doesn’t have. He complains that it is especially painful when large amounts of information are requested, gathered by a government employee, scrutinized by an attorney for necessary redaction, and then upon review, the requestor decides not to take any of the documents. 

    So this Tuesday, Mr. Hanson will ask the BOS to approve a scheme whereby a requestor is liable for as much as 55 cents per page of documents requested, and rates for scanned documents set at one page scanned per minute! We can be sure that there is much more to this move than money, though.
    Clearly, this rate scheme, cleverly disguised as an emergency austerity plan, is designed to reduce the number and kind of requests made in Cochise County for public information relative to the activities of our government. Last time Hanson raised the issue at a work session in the summer time, all three BOS members, in the presence of reporters from numerous local publications, said they would be happy to talk more about “transparency”, another obvious code word, but not about charging for the time it takes to gather public information, which circumvents the letter of the law that prohibits charging for an employee’s time . Perhaps the Supervisors were thinking, Britt, we’re already paying people to do the work, so what’s the problem?

    Or could they have been thinking, what if we had our public records on line giving the public immediate access electronically saving a lot of employee time, paper, and wear and tear on our machines?

    Could they have been wondering if Hanson had noticed that the FBI, upon receiving a request under the Freedom Of Information Act, automatically assumes there must be others who will be interested in this same information, so they make sure the information is posted on line to make it easy to get to, and, so they don’t have to handle this request again.


    Mr Hanson is not only not thinking outside the box to find a win-win solution to cost cutting, it doesn’t look too much like he’s thinking inside the box either. Or is this second request another sinister attempt to keep information out of the hands of low income local residents who may not like what they learn from it?

    Suggestion: consult the Clerk of the City of Los Angeles and find out how they did it… putting all those millions of records on line so people could access it for free. Or does that run the danger of creating just a little too much transparency Mr. Hanson?

    PS: Mr Hanson is also the Bisbee City Attorney, so whatever is implemented for the County is likely to be put into place in Bisbee. We’ve seen that duplication of Hanson inspired heavy handedness cross over to Bisbee administration already this year, like banning County and City public employees from participating in the Homeless Task Force in Bisbee. And how did that come about? Members of a subcommittee asked too many questions about County policy. See a trend here?


JAN WILSON'S CONTRIBUTION:  I don't know Ms. Wilson from Adam, but I'm glad she exists.  When the Sierra Vista Herald ran its article about tabling consideration of Hanson's proposal, the article reported some statements by Jan Wilson at the meeting.  To quote the article, 
"'You are supposed to work for us, to satisfy our concerns.' ...  Her comments criticized the county for its handling of public records ....  'What do I know?  I know that Phoenix charges 20 cents for copies and I know the federal government makes it as easy as going online for lots of their records.'  She said county employees are there to serve the public and the records are the property of the public.  'This isn't supposed to be something that's done to make a profit.'"  Simply, hooray for Jan Wilson and I wish there were more like her.

THE STORY AS IT STOOD IN SEPTEMBER.  Deputy attorney Hanson had just again accused the public of abusing its right to see government documents.  Here's the writeup dated September 25:

I have to admire, for persistence at least, our local newspaper chain's repetition, in different papers, most recently in the Willcox Range News on September 2, of the news story promoting the accusations from deputy county attorney Britt Hanson that the public is abusing the Public Records Law.  The story tries to make Hanson look good, by means including leaving out what he actually said when he tried to get the County Supervisors to go along with his scheme to increase the secrecy of local government.  When the story first ran at this link, it quoted Hanson thus:  "I am sure that those members of the public who frequently make requests will howl ... [especially] the self-appointed watchdogs ...."  But in the later versions, Hanson's inflammatory language has been reported as merely "Hanson said he knew the proposal -- which supervisors decided not to endorse -- would stir a public outcry."  Hanson's insult to citizen watchdogs having backfired on him, the dead-tree media are backing away from reporting what he actually said.

The newspaper stories strongly imply that Hanson's proposition is sensible.  Actually, his proposition was idiotic.  Arizona has strongly favored open access to public records since 1901. 
Ideas like Hanson's were rejected by the legislature in 2014 (see this article) and in 2015 (see this article).  Existing laws already protect local governments from actual abuse of the discovery process. 

Also, Hanson's complaint about records requests flubbed the facts.  Hanson did not provide numbers to back up his complaining.  He used innuendo to attack three attorneys:  Nancy Bourke, whose bitter divorce proceedings against one of Hanson's co-workers led the co-worker to sue -- and lose -- to prevent release of public records about him; an unnamed attorney for reporter Beau Hodai; and an unnamed attorney doing research for a scholarly article.  Hanson also complained about citizens who "watchdog" local government; but Hanson didn't mention how often citizen watchdogs have uncovered incompetence and malice in local gummint.  The real story is the ineptness of the County Attorney's Office, but the local paper has been ignoring that story for ten years, and will probably continue in that failure of reporting.

Finally, Hanson acted carelessly in inviting old coals to be raked up.  For instance, just about the first thing that Hanson's new boss did was issue a subpoena which violated state law.  The violation was obvious; the subpoena cited the very statute that said such a subpoena was improper.  But Hanson's boss has never, to my knowledge, explained why he signed an illegal subpoena.  Did he not notice that it cited a particular statute?  Did he see the citation, but ignore what the statute said?  In my opinion, it makes a lot more sense for the County to confess its errors and try to do better in the future, than to let a minion continue the old office policy of trying to prevent incompetent or malicious acts from being exposed.

As a sidelight on keeping government secret from the people who pay for it, thanks to Tricia Gerrodette for sending this link to a Sierra Vista Herald article which reports that "Sierra Vista Mayor Rick Mueller took the opportunity to thank [state senator David] Gowan for his part in reforming the state's Military Affairs Commission, which ... created a public records exemption for Base Realignment and Closure discussions ... 'so that, should we get into a serious BRAC, we're not having to share all of our discussions with those who are fighting with us to try to take missions from the fort'."  Isn't that cozy?  Conversations about the number of troops stationed at Fort Huachuca are now secret from anyone who disagrees with the present in-group.  An in-group which cuts itself off from differing opinions is cutting its own throat.

In Cochise County, to combat the overfed suits working for counties and state agencies who work nonstop to set up walls behind which citizens cannot see, two journalists are now at the forefront of the fight for citizens' rights.  At this link you can see the latest filing in a lawsuit brought by Beau Hodai (you remember he was mentioned above, as a person that our inept County Attorney's Office wishes would go away).  The filing was written by the ACLU -- an organization I'm proud to be a life member of.  And here are excerpts from a newsletter from by David Morgan, whose Facebook group "Cochise County Courts, Crime, Justice & Jail Reports" has lots of hot and important news that local dead tree media are afraid of:
.  "Sierra Vista ... has a copy of an FBI report on the investigations done by Cochise County Sheriffs Office and Sierra Vista Police Department on an officer involved [in a] fatal shooting (April 2013) of an unarmed civilian, Lauro Avechuco.
...  The SVPD officer, Justin Dannels, is the (now) 26-yr old son of Sheriff Mark Dannels....  The report is likely no more than 15-20 pages, and probably already in electronic (.pdf) form.
.  "The City's stated position (in writing) is that because they did not create the report, they are under no obligation to produce a copy....  Arizona case law has established that documents that are acquired in the course of an AZ govt agency's lawful operations are public documents, regardless of source/creator, unless by some specific law or decree they are declared to be not subject to public release.  I suspect that Sierra Vista City Attorney Nathan Williams will concede that point without the necessity of a Special Action ....  If he invites me to go to court for a determination, after having been reminded of the law and case law, the City will likely lose in Superior Court and [an] award of attorneys fees should be applicable....
.  "There is a lot of public records law litigation to be done, especially (my guess) in counties that have no strong local media....  Special Actions are regularly heard by Superior Courts within 30-45 days of the initial filings....  AZ law allows for criminal penalties ... for persons who 'tamper with' public records, and the legal definition of 'tampering' includes 'impairs the availability of.'  But, as you might guess, the County ... is not very interested [in] prosecuting local government employees who are just doing what they've been instructed to do, as has been done for decades.  So, well-publicized legal actions that result in payments of attorneys fees (and delivery of requested documents) is one of the best tools available to convince local officials and employees of the importance of compliance with Arizona Public Records law."

Conflict of interest, Vigneto promoter shouldn't go off script,
special thanks to Anna Lands, Tricia Gerrodette, and Paul Lotsof

The heat is on some Arizona Corporation Commissioners for conflicts of interest; that is, for earning money from groups they are regulating.  So, will some County officials, such as the Supervisors and the County Attorney's office, keep pretending not to know about County Supervisor Pat "Doublepay" Call's conflict of interest on water issues
?  Doublepay Pat makes $75,833 for one year's work, halftime, for The Cochise Water Project -- whose programs Call gets to vote for at Supervisor meetings.  But stories about conflicts of interest by County officials (see this wrapup) are rarely or never discussed by any of the local dead-tree newspapers.  A British publication reports, in the article headlined "Peter Oborne blows the whistle on the Telegraph," that a newspaper "commits 'a form of fraud on its readers' by suppressing or downplaying stories, such as [a] tax avoidance scandal."  See the story here.

While Doublepay Pat keeps raking in the big bucks for focusing on the San Pedro near Fort Huachuca, the
promoters of the Villages at Vigneto, up north near Benson, keep presenting their promotion everywhere they can, but when the promoters dare to go off script, they don't sound so shiny.  The newspaper story at this link reports that at a Benson city council meeting "Paul Lotsof, manager of CAVE 97.7 radio in Benson, [mentioned an] Oregon ... a lawsuit against Reinbold and other defendants in a $50 million bond deal....  The case ...dragged on for 10 years ....  Reinbold [responded] 'Oregon courts have ruled in my favor....  These cases are settled and dismissed. There is nothing there,' [and added] that if Lotsof had spent time learning about the case, then he would have uncovered much more about its history ....  'On that front, that issue is closed and we have successfully moved forward and past that point'."  Reinbold's hot-seat response poked some holes in the slick picture that his promotional material paints.
-- That the case lasted ten years implies that some conduct created reasonable cause for litigation.
-- That the case was settled indicates that after all preliminary rulings, some issues remained which would have been tried if they had not been settled.
-- That Reinbold has "successfully moved forward and past" the point of settlement implies that the settlement was a setback which had to be overcome.
-- Reinbold implied that Lotsof had not spent time learning about the case.  Actually, before Lotsof mentioned the case, he went to Oregon to learn about it.  Reinbold may be surprised at further questions Lotsof may ask -- and Reinbold, having claimed that Lotsof is ignorant, will be in no position to refuse to answer when Lotsof shows what he knows.
-- There are plenty of people in Cochise County who may not want us made into more of a bedroom suburb for Tucson, and who may not be pushovers for Reinbold's slick pitch -- especially when they see how Reinbold digs holes for himself when he goes off script.

Special thanks to Anna Lands, Tricia Gerrodette, and Paul Lotsof for presenting the issue at the city council meeting.  It takes courage to stand up to a hostile crowd.

Meanwhile, people far away from Sierra Vista are working on their local water problems.  The Arizona Department of Water Resources says that in the Willcox Basin, groundwater levels are typically declining at least 2' per year, and sometimes over 5'.   Thanks to the Pearce/Sunsites Chamber Of Commerce for passing on the December 2014 ADWR Well Report; I've posted it online here -- and its scariest page, showing the water level dropping 300' in 60 years, is on this page.  That kind of drop in the water level can make water too expensive to reach for many people, but 14 new agricultural wells have recently been permitted.

The recent problems with Bowie's wells actually drying up are a spectacular example of what'll happen in the northeast part of the county, for everyplace except large farms.
  There's been no word that any of the surrounding wells for agriculture -- deep, private wells -- have stopped working.  Expect to see all the rationalizations in the world about how a water shortage could never, never occur in Willcox, or Sunsites, or Benson -- even though everybody in those parts could see the situation coming.  An email dated July 20 from Murray McClelland included:
.  "Since the Pearce/Sunsites Chamber of Commerce hosted a Community Meeting on September 23, 2014 ... ADWR has issued approximately an additional 80 new Ag Well Permissions while another approximately 15 additional Domestic Wells have run dry bringing the total [of dry wells] close to 35, leaving families, pets and children without water.  There were 4 wells that went dry in one week in Richland alone approximately 3 weeks ago.  Several families protested 3 new Ag Wells on Dragoon Rd at the September 23rd meeting, clearly stating to our Legislatures and ADWR that after 8 years of drought, their Domestic Wells were in perilous dangers of going dry once the new Ag Wells became operational.
.  "It seems to me that the playing field needs to be leveled....  For more information ... reply to [] and [Murray] will give you chapter and verse."  I don't know if Murray's suggestion is the best possible one in the whole world, but almost anything has got to be better than drying up Domestic Wells.

Sanctimoniously saying Ni! to the Constitution

A local paper says that seven preachers in or around Benson will refuse to perform same-sex weddings.  But the preachers are grousing about a phony issue, since the Supreme Court says ministers are NOT required to perform same-sex weddings.  Disgracefully, the ministers are repeating many of the arguments that were used 50 years ago to justify discrimination against black people -- arguments that are now as offensive, and worn out, as the swastika or the confederate battle flag.  Also, the ministers say that people should disobey the Constitution.
  Since the preachers reject the Constitution, perhaps they'll stop taking advantage of the tax exemption they get from laws passed under the Constitution.
Meanwhile, that clerk who is disobeying the Supreme Court -- and finally got sent to the clink for contempt -- says she is doing so "under God's authority."  But her god didn't put her in that job, the laws did -- and when sworn in, she personally swore to her god to obey the Constitution.  By disobeying the Constitution, she's breaking her personal promise to her god.  Her position is confused in another way too; apparently she's been married four times (twice to her present husband).  Some parts of the Bible call such a woman an adultress -- but the clerk apparently doesn't care about her own disobedience of those parts of the Bible, she only wants to make other people obey parts of the Bible that don't apply to her.  And the question has arisen, did she appoint her son as a deputy clerk, an act of apparent nepotism, in obedience to the Bible too?

Fundamentalists are bound to be intellectually dishonest, of course.  They claim to enforce Biblical standards, but actually they ignore any Biblical standards that don't fit their ideas -- which only go back about a hundred years.  A good example of this is the billboard placed in the clerk's home town that says "the fact that you can't sell your daughter for three goats and a cow means we've already redefined marriage" from what ancient goatherders meant.  For the news story, see this link.

Meanwhile, some Republican fundamentalists rushed to give their base the red meat it wants.  Here are some quotes from this article in the New York Times, followed by comments by yrs trly:
-- "Senator Ted Cruz of Texas ... called on 'every Believer, every Constitutionalist, every lover of liberty to stand with Kim Davis.'"  Explain, ya idjit, how somebody who has sworn to God to obey the Constitution is serving God by breaking her personal promise to God.
-- "Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky told CNN, 'I think it’s absurd to put someone in jail for exercising their religious liberty.'"  Explain, ya idjit, how the clerk's own religious liberty includes making other grownups follow her religion.  Don't they have liberty of religion -- their own religion, not hers?
-- "Former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas said ... 'We must end the criminalization of Christianity!'"  Explain, ya idjit, what criminal law you think is involved in the case, and how it criminalizes Christianity by not letting you force your cult on your neighbor.
-- "Rick Santorum ... called for passage of federal and state laws to shield people in similar positions."  Explain, ya idjit, why laws should shield people who refuse to do the job they've sworn to do.
-- "Bobby Jindal ... linked the case ... to the cases of florists and bakers who [refuse] their services for gay weddings."  Explain, ya idjit, whether you understand that florists and bakers aren't on the public payroll, and why this fundamentalist bigot chose to take public money but not do the job she's paid for.  (On the other hand, I have to give props to Jindal for describing Donald Trump as a raving narcissist.  Right on, Bobby!)

Stubborn ignorance by Cochise County Supervisors


A Board Of Supervisors has strong jaws and sharp teeth.  A BOS can require any elected county officer to report under oath about anything connected with his job, and post a performance bond; and if the officer won't make the report or post the bond, the BOS can fire him and appoint a replacement.  See ARS 11-253.

But in Cochise County, those jaws have turned into jowls, those teeth lie soaking in the denture glass, and the BOS gums along to "duh dumb, duh dumb, dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb."  Our Supervisors won't supervise elected officers.

Part of the problem is built into some of the Supervisors.  One Supervisor, Pat Call, is in thrall to people who want to build giant house tracts.  Another Supervisor, Ann English, has a do-nothing and learn-nothing reputation.  Call and English take full pay regardless.  Citizens should ridicule such well-paid public disservice, and if Call and English don't like being ridiculed, they should start representing taxpaying citizens, and stop representing special interests or their own vanity.  There's an old saying, "Every saint has a past, every sinner has a future."  Why, oh why, do our County Supervisors insist on wallowing in political sin, and refuse to lift their snouts out of the muck and trot toward a better future?  I've been to lots of BOS meetings, and a lot of times they looked like this tv show, where overpaid talent doesn't know anything about the subject.

Another part of the problem is resistance to being supervised, even by county officers who should know that being supervised is part of the job.  On January 20, 2015, I emailed open letters to two County employees:  Sheriff Dannels and County Attorney McIntyre.  Both letters are posted here.  Here's a discussion of them.

Sheriff Dannels

The letter to Sheriff Dannels asked if he acknowledged that he is subject to ARS 11-253 -- that is, if he acknowledges that the County Supervisors can supervise his department.  It seems strange to ask a public officer if he acknowledges state law, but I was following up a hearsay allegation that Dannels emphatically said the Supervisors had no authority over his office except for the budget.

On January 21, Dannels' office mailed a response.  One word -- "Yes" or "No" -- would have sufficed.  I got a 446-word gas leak, consisting of two paragraphs
from the Sheriff's homepage here and the "To All" paragraph from this page, which said nice things about motherhood and apple pie, but didn't come anywhere near to answering my question.  I tried three more times (January 21, January 22, and February 13) to get an answer, but all I got was "Per Sheriff Dannels, the answer to the first question was previously provided".

What to conclude?  Well, anyone willing to answer Yes would do so; Sheriff Dannels won't do so; therefore, his answer must be No, he doesn't acknowledge that he's subject to ARS 11-253.  That's worrisome, and some "dog whistle" language in his 446 words engenders more worries.  The "dog whistle" is his saying "constitutionally elected office."  That echoes the "constitutional sheriff" movement, which is pseudo-legal gobbledygook designed to let crazy sheriffs feel good about seceding from the Union.  When I see our sheriff anywhere near that path, I want our Supervisors to step in and prevent the County from starting down a long, expensive, and embarrassing path of litigation.

I think there's an obvious lesson here for elected officers:  you insult citizens and lose votes when you dodge questions, especially when you pretend not to be dodging.  But if you answer questions in a plain and forthright way, while you may lose some votes on a particular issue, you will gain votes for being honest in general.  As to Sheriff Dannels in particular, I think everyone in Cochise County wants him to be so good that we vote for him another five or ten times.  So when he gets off-track a little, as he did with answering my question, we want to see him get back on track.  And if we don't tell him what we want, we can't complain if he doesn't deliver it

County Attorney McIntyre

My other January 21 email was to County Attorney Brian McIntyre.  His system instantly replied "sender denied," and he has never answered my email -- I guess my taxes don't contribute to his salary.  I emailed McIntyre because he signed an illegal subpoena to get a journalist's emails, supposedly in an investigation.  The subpoena's two pages are here and here.  The subpoena cites a law which says a subpoena may NOT be used to get emails.  Did McIntyre read what he signed?  Citizens need to know if their County Attorney intends to follow the law.  My email to McIntyre suggested that the County could avoid spending huge amounts of time and money if he would simply withdraw the illegal subpoena.  But McIntyre clammed up.

McIntyre inherited a dysfunctional department from his predecessor Ed Rheinheimer, and the Supervisors languidly accepted bad legal work.  For instance, a deputy attorney once told the BOS that they had been violating an important law for eight years, but he wasn't losing sleep over it -- after which the Supervisors kept on disobeying the law while they tried to get the legislature to change it; and when that effort failed, they didn't start obeying the law for over a year.  That kind of thing gave both the CAO and the BOS a bad name.  Now, McIntyre has missed a chance to improve the department's reputation by clearing up his "illegal subpoena" scandal, and the BOS seems to be coddling him the same way it babied Rheinheimer.

David Morgan, the journalist whose emails were subpoenaed, sent a Public Records Request to the County for documents from the alleged investigation.  A deputy attorney answered "there are no available public records responsive to your request."  That's playing with words, and it violates the Public Records Law.  A recent case says "reports of ongoing police investigations are not generally exempt from our public records law, [so] it was incumbent upon [a county attorney] to specifically demonstrate how production of the documents would violate rights of privacy or confidentiality, or would be 'detrimental to the best interests of the state.'"  You can see the case here and you can see the Public Records Law here.

Remember that ARS 11-253 lets County Supervisors supervise other elected officers.  When a Supervisor asked McIntyre about that, the answer ignored ARS 11-253, and merely asserted that ARS 11-251 doesn't let Supervisors supervise other elected officers.  Wrong; ARS 11-251 says a BOS's first power is to "Supervise the official conduct of all county officers and officers of all districts and other subdivisions of the county charged with assessing, collecting, safekeeping, managing or disbursing the public revenues, see that such officers faithfully perform their duties and direct prosecutions for delinquencies, and, when necessary, require the officers to renew their official bonds, make reports and present their books and accounts for inspection."

I've heard a Supervisor argue that ARS 11-251 only lets a BOS check county officers' finance records.  That's nonsense; just because a statute lets the BOS do one thing, it doesn't prohibit them from doing anything else.  And the Arizona Supreme Court has affirmed that a BOS's "powers include supervising county officers ... levying taxes ... maintaining and controlling public roads, ferries and bridges ... providing for county hospitals ... erecting jails and courthouses ... '[making] and enforc[ing] all local, police, sanitary and other regulations not in conflict with general law' ... purchasing real property ... [and] to '[d]irect and control the prosecution and defense of all actions to which the county is a party, and compromise them....  the board of supervisors has general supervisory powers and policy-making responsibility for the county;" see the Falcon case here.

The answer also misread the leading Arizona case, Hounshell, which says "the legislature has, in some limited circumstances, specifically granted the county boards of supervisors the authority to supervise and/or discipline county officers....  the Arizona legislature knows how to expressly grant a board of supervisors the power to supervise and impose discipline when it wishes to do so."  In Santa Cruz County in 2005, the BOS ordered school superintendent Robert Canchola to post bond.

I've also heard a Supervisor argue that a Board can supervise an elected county officer, but not an employee hired by an officer.  So what?  When a county officer does a lousy job of running his department, the BOS can fire him.  But I've never seen the CAO remind a Supervisor that if he "neglects or refuses to perform any duty imposed on him without just cause, or who wilfully violates any law ... relating to the office of supervisor, or fraudulently or corruptly performs any duty imposed upon him by law, or wilfully, fraudulently or corruptly attempts to perform an act as supervisor unauthorized by law," then besides other penalties, he "shall forfeit to the county five hundred dollars for every such act ... and is further liable on his official bond to any person injured thereby for all damages sustained."  See ARS 11-223.  Nor have I seen the CAO mention the law -- ARS 38-341 to 38-345, available via this link -- that lets a grand jury take the initiative and accuse county officers of "wilful or corrupt misconduct in office."

McIntyre is off to a bad start in another way, too.  He just lost an appeal in a case he should never have pursued.  Arizona law lets a person with a debilitating medical condition use medical marijuana, but a person on probation was forbidden to use medical marijuana.  McIntyre preferred to see the probationer in constant pain, rather than take medicine that state law specifically allows -- and in that bad cause, McIntyre made bad legal arguments, which you can read in the case at this link.  McIntyre's work here, added to his stonewalling about his issuance of an illegal subpoena, and violating the law in the mock "search" for a new County Administrator, make us wonder if the Supervisors made a bad choice in picking this unelected County Attorney.

Sometimes Supervisors -- Ann English, for instance -- seem to want to be misled

I have years of reasons for using Ann English as my exemplar of laziness, ignorance, and contempt for the public.  My experience is well summarized in this cartoon, and this one too.

For example, here are emails about the County Attorney's illegal subpoena. 
I made them extra-clear for English:  "Here, Ann, just for you:  state law lets you supervise and even fire elected county officers  /  The Board can haul any elected county officer in, put him under oath, question him about anything related to his job, make him put up a bond, and fire him if he won't.  That's ARS 11-253, which gives a Board sharp teeth when it supervises other County officers.  Here's a link to 11-253(A):
It says:  'The board may require any county officer to make reports under oath on any matter connected with the duties of his office, and may require the officer to give such bonds or further bonds as may be necessary for the faithful performance of his respective duties.  An officer who neglects or refuses to make the report, or to give the bond within ten days after being so required, may be removed from office by the board and the office declared vacant.  The board may then fill the vacancy.'"

No answer, no apparent change in English's position, so no doing the tough part of her job.  On the bright side, she once ran a contest for a new County flag!  That solved our problems, all right.

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Lawsuits about extending our Constitution into Mexico are certain to go to the Supreme Court

A while back a federal court in Texas ruled that American Constitutional rights do not extend to Mexicans in Mexico; now an Arizona federal court says Constitutional rights do extend to Mexicans in Mexico.

Common sense says that America has its constitution, and Mexico has a constitution, and each constitution applies inside its own country's boundary.  (Actually, common sense now says that "Mexico" is a failed state, but that's a different discussion.)  If America's constitution extends into Mexico, does Mexico's constitution extend into America?  If so, I'll have to start studying up on my Mexican rights, and suing for them in American courts.  And, as of July 14, after the escape of "El Chapo," it's become very obvious -- follow this link -- how the Mexican "government" strictly refuses to extend any American influence into Mexico, when it suits the central "government's" purposes.

The cases are about Border Patrol agents shooting south across the border, and killing people.  As everybody along the border knows, the Border Patrol already has too much power over Americans.  The BP can enter your property without a warrant, except for your main residence.  And the BP can stop and question all drivers for no reason.  The result is often called the "Constitution-free zone" along our southern border; here is an ACLU writeup about it.  So it was funny to see an article, at this link, quote an ACLU officer as saying "The court adopted a common-sense approach and correctly held that there can be no constitution-free zone on the border."  Now, I'm a life member of the ACLU, and proud of it, but it gets harder.

If the ACLU wants to start fighting the existence of a constitution-free zone on the border, how about also fighting for the rights of the 200 million Americans who live in the zone where the Border Patrol says it can override the Fourth Amendment?  The ACLU doesn't (unfortunately) have infinite resources, and to the extent that the ACLU is using its limited resources to fight for Fourth Amendment rights of Mexicans in Mexico, but not using its resources to fight for the Fourth Amendment rights of Americans inside America, the ACLU's priorities are out of whack.

The conflicting cases are certain to go the (American) Supreme Court, and perhaps then the ACLU can litigate the entire subject of where the Fourth Amendment is supposed to apply.

Sanctuary cities, constitutional sheriffs, and the Constitution-free border zone

I see petitions that oppose "sanctuary cities," which defy federal immigration law.  I hope those petitions succeed.  And because I want federal law applied uniformly everywhere, I also oppose the "constitutional sheriff" movement, which, despite its name, defies the Constitution.  The Constitution ought to apply to everyone in Amercia -- to sanctuary cities, to "constitutional sheriffs," and to the 100-mile-deep border zone where the feds ignore the Fourth Amendment.  Opposing only one of these violations of the Constitution is impossible to justify.

Here are some Danish cartoons of Mohammed
that fundamentalist Moslems kill people for.  I think every American with a website should post them, because the only argument that has a chance of working with those people is to prove to them that killing achieves the opposite of what they want.  Here's my posting:
Click on the image you get, and it will expand to full size.

Americans have free speech, with as few limits as possible.  The recent creation of categories like "hate speech" and "hate crimes" is stupid; our basic rule is to punish acts, not words or thoughts.  If we let anyone scare us into giving up free speech, we lose.  A superb column about weak-brained reporting by America's press is at this link.  And while America sinks into fear, Norway sticks to free speech; see this link.

Plagiarism:  Don't Do It

An Arizona history prof was academically demoted, and lost a contract worth $268K, after two incidents of plagiarism.  Here's a link to the story.

I have a page about local plagiarism here, and here is an article with example after example of Tea Party poser Allen West getting caught with his plagiarizing pants down.  Remember, plagiarism is both theft and fraud -- stealing other people's work, and lying about your stealing.  If you had West to tea, his first lie would be "hello," and you would count your spoons after he left.  Why take him, or any plagiarist, seriously in politics?

Southrons being more disgusting than usual

In 1789, the Constitution said "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."  The state can't make you follow your neighbor's religion, nor make your neighbor follow yours.  Easy.

In 1858, Abraham Lincoln called slavery the "spirit that says, you toil and work and earn bread and I'll eat it.... whether from the mouth of a king ... or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle."  Lincoln understood the Southron sense of entitlement.

In 1883, Mark Twain wrote about Southrons' love affair "with decayed and swinish forms of religion; with decayed and degraded systems of government; with the sillinesses and emptinesses ... of a brainless and worthless long-vanished society.... but in our South they flourish pretty forcefully still."  Eye witness.

In 1917, H. L. Mencken wrote that Virginia politics "are cheap, ignorant, parochial, idiotic ... a Washington or a Jefferson, dumped there by some act of God, would be denounced as a scoundrel and jailed overnight."  And Virginia was a bright spot compared to places like Georgia, "little removed from savagery....  the home of the cotton-mill sweat[shop], of the Methodist parson turned Savonarola and of the lynching bee."  Eye witness.

In 1956, after the Supreme Court outlawed racial segregation in public schools, many Southron politicians signed a "Manifesto" attacking "the Supreme Court's encroachment on the rights reserved to the States and to the people, contrary to established law, and to the Constitution."  Southron entitlement again.

Now, in 2015, most Americans are moving ahead.  Many evangelicals have abandoned racism, and some are ending gay-bashing.  Last week many Americans protested a racist murder in South Carolina, and celebrated the Supreme Court's allowing gay marriage everywhere.  The best of the local Christians forgave the killer, and the best Americans everywhere showed revulsion at Southrons' sick racism and fascination with the sex lives of others.

But the worst Southrons, even some candidates for president, are fanatically clinging to their sense of entitlement, and promising to disobey the Supreme Court about gay marriage.  Louisiana's Jindal said the decision "tramples on states' rights," and Arkansas's Huckabee said "I will not acquiesce to an imperial court" -- as Southrons shout every time common decency is imposed on them.  Oh, shut it.

How can local citizen journalists better replace dead tree media?

For citizen journalists, here's a link to the newest online Arizona Reporter's Handbook On Media Law -- FREE! -- which covers --
-- Access to the news, including media access to court proceedings, public records, governmental meetings and facilities, and private property;
-- Interference with the news gathering process, such as subpoenas, search warrants and gag orders;
-- Limitations on the content of communications, including prior restraints and the laws of defamation and privacy;
-- Promises of confidentiality to sources; and
-- Copyright and trademark law.
This has already been a bad year for public access to information in Arizona.  I wonder what politicians would do if citizens started exercising their own rights to information, instead of relying on dead trees like the SV Herald.
  Using the FREE Handbook On Media Law is a good way to scare the backroom gangs.


Here's a page that can give you some very interesting, very customizable maps of the states, ranked on scales that you hand-pick.  It's amazing what you can learn if you play with all the choices on this page.  The site leans toward conservatism, but it lets you learn what's what, state by state, even if you don't like their slant in presenting it.

A map of America's loud & quiet areas, with the louder areas brighter, is here.

This map shows how many men in their "prime age" are not working.  In a big census tract east of Bisbee and north of Douglas, there are 5010 men between 25 and 54, and 94% (!) of them are not working.  I asked Cochise County demographics guru Robert Carrerira, the Director of the Center For Economic Research at Cochise College, what he thought.  He answered that "'not working' ... is a broad category.  Counted in this number would be proprietors of business, to include farms.  I suspect the large number of independent farmers/ranchers and independent business owners would be heavily influencing the numbers (since they're not counted as 'working' because they're not technically 'employees').  Could also be considerable undocumented work.  Also, census margins of error are calculated at only 90% confidence so could be some statistical errors, as well."  Thanks a lot to Carreira for his input, which does a lot to explain a number which simply cannot be correct.

Other maps I've posted include
where people around the country support Democrats
where the people living in each state were born
how hard it is to live in each county in the US

Heading Off Prejudice

People constantly surprise us with their goodness

Every day, people we may be predisposed to think badly of will astound us with their goodness.  For instance, this news story from Norway about Moslems protecting Jews, headlined "More Than A Thousand Muslims Form Human Shield Around Norwegian Synagogue After Copenhagen Attacks".  And from America, this news story entitled "Millennial Evangelicals push for full inclusion of LGBT Christians" -- not all Evangelicals, but a movement.  It's very hard for most people to change their beliefs about the world, no matter how much the world changes.  But modifying our old beliefs by incorporating new information is worth the effort:  it makes life easier, and keeps us from fighting in already-lost crusades.  One could say that modifying our beliefs by incorporating new information is being precisely opposite to ISIS.

The lynching belt (Southwest)

A scholar writes about decades of lynchings of Mexican-Americans in this article.  I do not know how the scars from this kind of thing can ever heal, except by realizing that the world isn't "Us v. Them," it's "Some of us v. Others of us."

The lynching belt (Southeast)

The "lynching belt" of the old south is chock full of monuments to Southrons, but a new group, the Equal Justice Initiative, wants to put up memorials to some black folk lynched by Southrons.  On this part of the EJI website, you can read about "3959 racial terror lynchings of African Americans in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia between 1877 and 1950....  African Americans who were never accused of any crime were tortured and murdered in front of picnicking spectators (including elected officials and prominent citizens) for bumping into a white person, or wearing their military uniforms after World War I, or not using the appropriate title when addressing a white person.  People who participated in lynchings were celebrated and acted with impunity....  No prominent public memorial or monument commemorates the thousands of African Americans who were lynched in America....  'We cannot heal the deep wounds inflicted during the era of racial terrorism until we tell the truth about it,' said EJI Director Bryan Stevenson."

Some white folks say that black folk were content until liberal Democrats got them all riled up.  Clearly, that viewpoint is not susceptible to disproof by mere facts.  But I hope that viewpoint will disappear naturally, if only because of the growth of interracial marriage.  As old racists die off, and more family trees include somebody killed for "living while black," families will probably not accept that it was right to lynch great-great-grandfather for living while dark.

For me, education on current issues --

-- includes daily reading of these two legal websites, and following their links:

Here's a new site that looks promising, as of 2/12/15:  click on this link.  Feedback welcome.

If you are bombarded with the kind of emails that appeal to prejudice, and finish by telling you "if you agree, pass it on" -- but never asking for negative feedback -- some ways to fact-check them are at

The world is more interesting than lies about it

All kinds of mass emailings purport to !expose! lies by the mass media.  Usually, the exposure is the lie.  For instance, on 2/18/15 I got an email purporting to expose lies about the Social Security system.  It turned out that the email was a mass of lies that was first detected back in 2005.  That's an example of the "hall of mirrors" effect of the internet; entertaining lies to the gullible never stop circulating.  There's an old saying (ascribed to a variety of scientists) that "the universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it's stranger than we CAN imagine."  The world itself is more interesting than even the most entertaining lie about it.  So I've never understood why people don't do their own fact-checking, to learn things more entertaining than lies.

Here's a bunch of new essays plus old essays I wrote for Charles Tidd's lamented Sunsites Sun website.

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Some of these discussions, especially if they're very old, may have links to subsidiary pages that I've taken down.  If you want to see a page and I've already taken it down, email me and I'll put it back up for you.

Dump the County Building Code

Cartoons about bureaucrats and the County Building Code

Here's a Dilbert cartoonthat is especially applicable to the bureaucrats who administer the County's excrescential Building Code.  More Dilbert cartoons point out, as if by magic, flaws with Cochise County Supervisors, here and here and here; here's a cartoon about our bloated Planning Department (under whatever "friendlier" name it's cooked up now); and here is a Savage Chickens cartoon showing how silly Sierra Vista-style regulations look to people who live on a few acres of their own.

Objective reasons to dump the Code

The Sierra Vista Herald recently ran this editorial concluding "Get ready to see fewer county employees providing fewer county services."  I violated the commandments of my religion to email in this comment to the editorial:  "Good -- and the place to start is at the Planning Department, by repealing the Building Code.  It wasn't passed until just over 10 years ago; we got along fine without it until then, and we can get along fine without it again.  It was passed as a way for the County to leech money off of a housing boom in an expanding economy.  It never made money, the idea of a housing boom is a joke, and the economy is shrinking.  It was never administered properly or competently, from the Supervisors down to inspectors who acted like thugs in rural areas, so the Code's "needless nannyism" generated dislike among people in rural areas.  Getting rid of the Building Code's salaried drones has always been a good idea.  Why wait?  Just do it now."  Here's an expansion of those thoughts.

The Code was pushed through in 2004 by a small clique of County officials led by Pat Call, the Supervisor from Sierra Vista.  The county had got along fine without it.  Call's main helpers were James Vlahovich, at that time boss of the Planning Department (the Department's name keeps changing to something that sounds friendlier; I just call it by its original name), and a Department employee who's gone now.

The clique, using two years of data, predicted a real estate boom from Sierra Vista to Benson.  But the real estate market collapsed soon after the Code was passed.  County population continues to fall; here is Robert Carreira's latest piece about County population.

The clique made false promises to get the Code passed.  They promised evaluations of the Code's delivery of benefits (increased home safety, lower home insurance rates, and so on) and promised that the Code would make money for the County.  The evaluations have never happened (Supervisor Searle, whose district includes Benson, even told me after the Code took effect that the evaluations never would happen), the promised benefits haven't happened, and the Code has always been a money-losing drag on the County budget.

Also, the Code has been administered poorly by the Planning Department, from thuggish inspectors on the ground, to incompetent and dishonest administration at the top.  The Code has been used to suppress small businesses in rural areas.  The Code has made County officials into criminals:  the Supervisors knowingly violated state law for almost 10 years rather than obey state law and form an advisory board, and the County Attorney's Office knew and didn't care.  A lawyer might well decide to sue the County, and demand a refund of all fines and fees that county residents paid during the ten years before the County followed the applicable state law.

No wonder ordinary citizens -- not big builders or people whose job depends on big housing projects -- have always been unhappy with the Code.

The Code should be repealed, but County functionaries love their tiny empires, paid for by squeezing more money out of ordinary citizens who need neither the Code nor the empire builders.

A handy site from 2009 for background info is here, some more recent history is here, and here's an eloquent email from 2014, to all three Supervisors from excellent citizen Will Jakobek:
.  "soon, you will go through the formality of ... transferring more money from citizens to county government.  You will increase Building Code fees.  It won't take much time, because the fact-finding that is needed to make an informed decision won't be done.  You won't adequately represent your constituents.  You draw a paycheck regardless....
.  "Lately, inflation has been negligible, demands for services could not have increased, and a fee increase won't very  much affect the deficit that administering the Building Code causes.  How many millions is it behind being self sustaining?  I've previously addressed the inadvisability of  maintaining a department like this on the backs of the county taxpayers, and I know you are tired of my insistence that the Code should be eradicated as just one more bad idea....
.  "Here's a true story.  I was in the permit line, waiting to talk with the official at the window....  A lanky, hard man laid out his plans for a pole barn, nothing exciting, just a place to store his bales so his hard work would not lose value.  A few phone calls, and the rep airily quoted him a permit cost:  about half of his building labor and materials cost.  Imagine that.  Two years earlier, he could have built that pole barn with less interference and at 2/3 of the cost.  He looked shocked at first, then he turned away shaking his head in disgust.  His wife at his side looked sad, took his arm, and they walked away.
.  "Then more things happened, invisibly.  The man didn't buy materials or hire help to build a pole barn.  He didn't buy more fuel and plow up more ground, or use more electricity to run the pump to water a thirsty patch of alfalfa.  Seeds were not bought and fertilizer didn't get applied, so suppliers made no money.  No crop was ever harvested, so no profits were ever made,  that would have been spent on shoes, or groceries, or dental work....  The foolish cost of a permit found many silent ways into everyone's pockets.  And less taxes were paid.
.  "County government has bean counters who could calculate the damages produced by this permit requirement....  Why not do the right thing and shut down this money sucking valueless entity? ...
.  "Soon we'll be a one horse county, beholden to Fort Huachuca, which already pretty much calls the tune.  You will have driven every other industry out.  But nobody will blame you in the end ... because nobody will remember you.  And it will cost you nothing to accomplish this."

Should every county have 5 Supervisors?

Concurrent Resolution 2032, at this link (thanks to a friend for emailing it), is about making every county have five Supervisors and ten Planning & Zoning Commissioners.  If the Resolution passes, citizens can vote on this in the 2016 general election.  Supervisors would have a two-consecutive-term limit, plus a little allowance for incumbents.  (One question about timing:  Resolution paragraph 1 section 6 says "a county that is governed by an existing board of supervisors consisting of three members shall elect two additional supervisors at the 2016 general election" -- but what if the election went against switching to five supervisors?)

Right now, seven of Arizona's fifteen counties have three Supervisors:  Apache, Cochise, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, La Paz, and Santa Cruz counties.  For those counties, the law would double the taxpayer burden for paying supervisors.  In 3-Supe counties, each supe now makes $63,800 a year, plus benefits.  In 5-Supe counties, the pay is $76,600 plus benefits.  So the total burden on the taxpayers would double, from $191,400 to $383,000, plus benefits.  In Cochise County, the pay is already too much:  the Supes are half-time employees, who have two general meetings a month

Also, instead of the present practice of each supervisor naming three Planning & Zoning Commissioners, each supervisor would name two.  If all ten Commissioners attended a meeting, passing an item would require 6 votes out of 10, not 5 out of 9, as is presently the case.  I have no problem with that.

However, the law would also do away with the requirement that a majority of Commissioners live outside of cities -- that is, live inside areas regulated by the Commission.  Under present law, each Supervisor may appoint only one Commissioner who resides in an "incorporated municipality" -- a city, but the proposed law would let every Commissioner live in a city.  It seems to me that there should be a limit to city residents on the Commission.  The limit for each Supervisor could be "only one commissioner from a city" or "no commissioner from a city."  I'd prefer "no commissioner from a city," because P&Z Commissions only have jurisdiction outside of cities, and I think Commissioners should live in the areas affected by their vote.

The Resolution also weakens the Open Meeting Law.  The OML allows less than a quorum of Supervisors to discuss public business outside of a public meeting.  In a 3-Supe county, this means that two Supes can never discuss public business in private.  But in a 5-Supe county, two Supes can discuss public business in private.  So converting 3-Supe counties to 5-Supe counties would weaken the OML in those counties.  This problem could be solved with legislation that did not let less than a quorum of a public body discuss public business in private.  Getting rid of the "less than a quorum" loophole might be a good change to the OML anyway.

As to Cochise County in particular, if the voters approve the Resolution, we would likely have four Republican supervisors and one Democrat.  Sierra Vista would probably be split into two safe Republican districts (that's my guess; I've heard three), leaving Benson, Willcox, Tombstone, Bisbee, and Douglas to be distributed in two or three districts.  My preference is for honest, competent public servants, but neither party has lately set a good example on that scale, so even though I'm a lifelong FDR Democrat, I can't get very excited about a Democratic supervisor being outnumbered 4-1.  Besides, the lone Democratic supervisor is already outnumbered 2-1.

I'd be happy to see a term limit placed on supervisors.  I'm sure there'll be people who approve the Resolution just to get the term limit.  As to me, even though I have a very low opinion of some of our present public "servants," I don't think it's a good idea to re-shape our government just to get rid of people whom I consider bad apples; my motivation is just, I like term limits.

There's another major part to the Resolution, Section 5, about the board of directors of a regional public transportation authority.  The change seems to be a minor matter, but I'm open to being educated.

In fact, I'd like to hear from anybody with opinions about this Resolution.  It's hard to argue that the people should not be allowed to vote for themselves on a matter like this -- but by the same token, it's hard to argue that if the people of a county are happy with three supervisors, a state law should override local wishes.  Whose business is it how many supervisors a county has, except the people of that county?

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The Cochise County gummint homepage is here and local gummint has several pages on Facebook.  If you want the local government to mail you notices of many (but not all) public meetings, go here.

1, Here's a little about local ordinances.  To see state law, drop down the page a little.

a, the Board Of Supervisors.  Cochise County has 3 supervisors, each representing a separate district.  The Supes hire a County Administrator to handle administrative matters.  You can see the Supes and their districts by following the "Interactive Map Of Districts" link, on this page and you can see the month's scheduled meetings via this page.


The Supes have the final word about most matters of County government (because even if a county official is elected to be the head of some other department, the Supes set most departmental budgets -- pay the piper, call the tune!), and the Supes tend to favor big money from outside the county, at the expense of the quality of life for people who already live here.  However, citizen action, by lawsuit or referendum, has undone some of the things that the Supes have approved, such as the giant Smith Ranch project near Benson, the Bachmann Springs project near Tombstone, a tax district to support a golf course in Sunsites, and the huge Tribute house tract near Sierra Vista.  Citizens have worked hard, and are still working, to keep the Supes from selling the county out.

b, the Planning & Zoning Commission.  Each Supervisor appoints three members; they're volunteers whose job is to make recommendations to the Supes when people request zoning variances, when the Planning Department (see section iii below) wants changes to County codes, and so on.  The Commission members are listed here and the Commission's meeting information, agendas and minutes, are available by following the links on this page.

c, the Planning Department (whose name changes every now and then, for public relations purposes).  Its employees are paid, and their job is to advise the Supervisors and the Planning & Zoning Commission.  The Department is there to help the Commission, not the other way around, though the arrangement of the County's website implies the opposite.  The Department tends to be under the thumb of the "sell out the citizens" faction on the Board Of Supervisors.  The Department's page is here.

Much of the work of the Department is about variances from zoning requirements.  The zoning ordinances were massively changed in 2013; see this document, and Arizona's Commerce Department puts out a "Planning & Zoning Handbook" whose Chapter 8 concerns zoning; see this document.  Variances are discussed in section 4 of chapter 8.  I've been to many county Planning Department meetings, but have never heard that material mentioned.

The Department also spends a lot of time administering the county building code -- which ought to be dumped.  Here's a basic writeup from 2009 and here's an update from 2013.

d, The County Attorney's Office (CAO) gives advice to the Supervisors and other public officials who ask for it.  The advice is supposed to be legal, but during the reign of Ed Rheinheimer as elected County Attorney, CAO attorneys got into the bad habit of sticking politics into their advice.  I think that tainted the reputation of anyone working for Rheinheimer.  Rheinheimer resigned just after serving half his latest term, so the Supes got to pick his successor (instead of the public getting to vote).  His successor is Brian McIntyre.  He has a chance to rebuild our disgraced CAO, if only he would take it.

e, Meetings of public bodies in Cochise County generally have three kinds of items to vote on:  Consent, Action, and Public Hearing items.  Consent items are supposed to be so noncontroversial that nobody, including Supervisors or Commissioners, needs to discuss them before approving them.  At Action items, Supervisors or Commissioners may speak, but not members of the public.  During Public Hearing items, members of the public may speak.  However, no matter what the agenda of a meeting says, our Supervisors or Commissioners often move a Consent item to the Action item so that they can talk about it, or move an Action item to the Public Hearing even though the general public didn't come to the meeting because the agenda said they wouldn't be allowed to speak.  Such actions may be violations of the Open Meeting Law, and in any case they obviously tend to chill the free speech rights of citizens, but local gummint will pull such stunts if they think they can get away with it.  Citizens can protect themselves only by watching public officials closely.

f, County meetings also generally include a Call To the Public (C2P).  Here's a link about speaking at a C2P.  There are always people on public bodies who are so unAmericanly anal that they will interrupt and try to muzzle any citizen who uses a C2P to criticize a member of the body.  Well, the law says citizens can use the C2P to criticize board members.  Read the Open Meeting Law, discussed in Section 2.c a few inches below, and you'll see that a board member who objects to being criticized during a C2P has the right to answer the criticism -- after the speaker has finished.  Of course, tantrums are disfavored, and if you commit slander you may have to answer for it outside the meeting, but in a C2P, honest criticism is allowed, and no petty bully has the right to stop you from merely criticizing a board member.

g, Obviously there's more to County government, and I'll be adding details.

h, No matter what's on this site, you should dig dig dig into all the original material you can find.  If you think I might have some old material you need, you can email me at

2, State laws affect local gummint too.  You can see every state law here.

a, Here are the general laws governing counties, but other state laws can affect county government too, of course.

b, Arizona's Attorney General, and Ombudsman, publish an incredible amount of good solid guidance about state laws.  You can access it all by going through the Ombudsman's page here.

c, The Open Meeting Law, or OML, is the single most important protection for Arizona citizens who want honest government.  It begins at ARS 38-431 in this set of statutes.

Little, or petty, bureaucrats, hate the OML.  Cochise County gummint has been incredibly resistant to the OML.  For instance, it took a huge amount of work just to get the Supervisors to post minutes of all their public meetings, including work sessions.  But hard work in this area can pay off.  I hope you will love the OML and make it your own.

d, Another important protection you have is the Public Records Law, the PRL.  You have the right to see every public record, and if you can't afford to pay for copies, you can take your own photos of documents (the County tried to charge for taking your own photos, but they backed down on that one pretty fast!)  You have the right to see more than paper records, you also have the right to see electronic records, like email and files on computers, including "metadata."

Added on May 10, 2015:  Amazingly, an employee in the Attorney General's office itself refused to let reporters take their own photos of public records!  The employee, one Terry Harrison, wouldn't follow the law until the reporters phoned their attorney, who presumably phoned the Attorney General, who presumably used appropriate language to make Harrison stop embarrassing his employer.  See the story here.

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