Cochise County
Individual & Property Rights
Association (CCIPRA)

Useful Contacts

Keeping an eye on Cochise County government, especially our County Supervisors, who do have a tendency to go rogue.  The place to start looking for County gummint info is Cochise County's official website, at
That leads to pages for the Board Of Supervisors ("BOS"), the Planning (aka Community Development) Department, and much more.

AGENDAS for BOS meetings are at
General info about the Supes is at
The Supes have the final word about most County matters, though if they violate the law, a citizen can sue (a lawsuit undid a golf tax district in Sunsites) or try for a referendum (a referendum undid a vote to allow a huge "bedroom community" house tract near Benson).

The Planning Department's general page is at
http://cochise.az.gov/cochise_planning_zoning.aspx?id=302
Department personnel are County employees.  The Planning & Zoning Commission is nine citizens, serving without pay, three named by each Supervisor, to advise them about policies, proposed new regulations, applications for variances, etc.

* * * * *
Three public figures ruin their own reputations
Three Cochise County gummint figures -- Pat Call, Liza Weissler, and Tim Cervantes -- have ruined their own reputations.  They took money from private groups pushing a water program, then at government meetings -- the Board Of Supervisors for Call, and the Planning & Zoning Commission for Weissler and Cervantes -- they voted for the program the private groups wanted.  The appearance is that they delivered what they were paid for -- and in conflict of interest situations, it's the appearance that the law is concerned with.  If this doesn't wake up Cochise County voters to the risk of their government being for sale, nothing will.  I've posted a collection of writeups and links at

Update to the scandal:  last week, Robert Weissler, Liza's husband, sent out an email addressed to "Dear Friends of the San Pedro River" and stating that "During a meeting of the Executive Committee of FSPR last Friday, May 23, 2014, I gave notice of my intent to step down from the position of Executive Director of FSPR at the end of the second week in June.  After a couple years focused on the FSPR mission, I am interested in having more time for other pursuits.  Nevertheless, I plan to continue to volunteer with the Friends as so many of you do.  Volunteers are at the heart of what makes the Friends a lasting fixture of education and interpretation of the natural and cultural resources along the San Pedro River and a steadfast advocate for its protection.  As I said to several Board Members of the Friends, it has been my privilege to serve you and all friends of the San Pedro River these past two years.  I know that FSPR is positioned well to continue its mission with an energetic Board and its many other dedicated volunteers."  Both what the message says, and what it doesn't mention, are interesting.
* * * * *
On October 22, 2013, the Board Of Supervisors
passed changes to the County Zoning Ordinance

Here's the core of what the October 24 CCIPRA email update reported:
    At [October 22]'s BOS meeting, most of the draft Zoning Ordinance was approved.  A longer writeup will follow after I hear the recording; many thanks to everyone who offered me a copy!
    ... the abominable Regulation 307 was changed.  [It used to say "Any use not permitted in a district, either as a permitted use or as a special use, is specifically prohibited from a zoning district.  A use shall be permitted only if it reasonably fits under the generic category of uses and is not otherwise excepted ...."  On October 22, the middle of the reg was cut out, and Reg 307 now says:  "Any use not permitted in a district, either as a permitted use or as a special use, shall be permitted only if it reasonably fits under the generic category of uses and is not otherwise excepted therefrom."  So "specifically prohibited" is gone.  That's not perfect, but it's an improvement.]
    [... the Ignorance Ordinance was approved, so statute numbers will be deleted from the zoning ordinance.  Act fast to copy the
draft ordinance (showing statute numbers) from the County website before it's deleted.]  The Ignorance Ordinance may backfire on the County.  Citizens may object to using tax dollars to pay a trained chimp to orally give out info that should be printed and posted. Traffic may increase at sites, like littlebigdog.net, that provide statute numbers.  Citizens may start answering "Arizona Revised Statutes" when County forms want statute numbers, because what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

The leadup to this whole issue is now stored at this link:
http://littlebigdog.net/ZoningChangesLastBigWriteup.htm
* * * * *
Our building code Advisory Board train wreck
    AT LAST, on June 25, 2013, the County Supervisors created the building code Advisory Board that state law required to be formed when the county building code was passed in December 2004.
    The vote was 2-1.  The No vote was by Supervisor Searle, who wanted to create an Advisory Board without combining it with an Appeals Board.  Supervisors English and Call voted in favor of creating the Advisory Board (required by state law) but combining it with the Appeals Board (required by the county building code).
    The vote was an admission by the Supes that state law requires an Advisory Board.  The Supes can now be questioned more pointedly their about criminal liability for not creating an Advisory Board when the building code was passed, and about the County's obligation to refund fees and fines collected under a building code which never took legal effect because it contradicted state law.
    The vote was a victory for the citizens who've been working for five years to get the Supes to create an Advisory Board.  The Supes got the details wrong on June 25, but there's hope for getting them right later.
    After the meeting, Searle said the regulations implementing the ordinance must come to the Supervisors for approval.  Citizens should look forward to seeing what contortions the County tries in order to draft regulations where state law requires something which contradicts the building code.  For instance, state law requires a 7-member board, but the county code requires 5 members; and state law says one Advisory Board member must be an ordinary citizen, to represent the public, while the code says every member of the Appeals Board must be a building professional, to supply expertise in his specialty.


The back story is so long that it deserves a page of its own.  All the material that used to be on this main page has now been moved to a page of its own, at
AdvisoryBoardTrainWreck.htm

* * * * *
CCIPRA DISCUSSIONS
 * * * * *
"Constitutional Sheriffs" v. the Constitution
The "constitutional sheriff" movement often cites Printz v. US, a 1997 Supreme Court case, for the idea that a sheriff is some kind of supreme authority.  The Printz opinion ruled on two cases, one brought by Sheriff Jay Printz in Montana, the other brought by Sheriff Richard Mack, in Graham County, Arizona.  The opinion was a victory for state sovereignty, but it does NOT acknowledge sheriffs as any kind of supreme authority, nor say that sheriffs may ignore federal law.  For the subtleties, you'll have to actually read the majority opinion in Printz; here's all of it:
.   http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/95-1478.ZO.html
Meanwhile, you can see a digest of the opinion at
.   ConstitutionalSheriffsVConstitution.htm
.

IN 2012, COCHISE COUNTY TAXPAYERS POINTLESSLY PAID ALMOST $42K
BECAUSE SUPERVISORS CALL AND SEARLE VIOLATED THE LAW
-- AND ARE STICKING THE TAXPAYERS WITH THE BILL
http://littlebigdog.net/StickingTheTaxpayers.htm
.
Animal Control Ordinance
http://littlebigdog.net/AnimalControlOrdinanceChanges.htm
.
The SB 1070 Case
http://littlebigdog.net/SB1070Case.htm
.

Problems with New Tribes as a neighbor
New Tribes airport in McNeal, Arizona, has a history of problematic behavior; and a report about New Tribes child abuse at boarding schools abroad is out.  See

http://littlebigdog.net/New%20Tribes%20In%20McNeal%20Arizona%20Can%20Reform%20Itself.htm
.
Four stories about border life,

all from CCIPRA's update of 8/15/10:
See
http://littlebigdog.net/RangeOfReality.htm
.

Supervisor Searle thinks illegal aliens aren't a big problem

In 2005, all three Cochise County Supervisors declared a local emergency because of the border crisis.  The declaration of emergency is still in effect.  Now Searle says he never intended to use the emergency powers.  People are being assaulted and murdered while Searle blows smoke.  Will Searle ever consider doing anything?  See

Supervisor English wants to keep all County workers
on the County payroll --

-- or, damn the taxpayers!  See

Cochise County's "Envisioning 2020" project

was a wasteful boondoggle

That truth is inconvenient to the people who liked the boondoggle, so they make sneak attacks, and run away from defending them.  See the facts at

Cochise County's "Owner Builder Opt Out" (OBOO)

 program seems to be safe for a while.
For a basic history up to the last attack on OBOO, see
http://littlebigdog.net/OBOO.htm
.
Some older running sores with County government, including the Open Meeting Law

http://littlebigdog.net/OML&OtherCountyRunningSores.htm

Public inspection of county documents just became easier
Citizens now are guaranteed access to public electronic records, such as email and files on computers, including "metadata"

A recent Arizona Supreme Court case guarantees citizens access to "metadata" in electronic documents, and suggests that the easiest way for counties to provide this information is to provide a requestor with a copy of the record in its native format.  The case is Lake v. Phoenix, and the full opinion is online at
    http://littlebigdog.net/MetadataRecordsRequest.pdf
The metadata in an electronic document is part of the document; it does not stand on its own; it is as much a part of the document as the words on the page.  So when a public entity maintains a public record in an electronic format, the electronic version of the record, including any embedded metadata, is subject to disclosure under our public records law.

Here's a fuller discussion about getting public records:
    http://littlebigdog.net/DocsFromCounty.htm

The lesson for citizens' public records requests is clear:  when you request electronic documents, you should specify that you are also requesting all metadata.  Here's an example of a public records request incorporating that lesson:
    http://littlebigdog.net/DocRQ3.txt


The openness of different Arizona county governments
can be examined at
    http://sunshinereview.org/index.php/Evaluation_of_Arizona_county_websites

Cochise County shows up sucky as to audits, contracts, lobbying, and public records in general.  By far the best county is Pinal; the worst is La Paz.
    Every county is good with information about meetings, but bad with information about lobbying.  More openness about lobbying would make Cochise County a standout.
    Next to lobbying, counties do worst on contracts.  Only Pima and Pinal do well on contracts.  More openness here would make Cochise County stand out.
    One thing for the Supes to consider:  making gummint more open is a lot easier than fighting to keep the old "back room" system.
.
MORE ABOUT COUNTY GOVERNMENT IN GENERAL


Much of the work of P&Z, both the Department and the Commission, is about variances from zoning requirements.  Arizona's Commerce Department puts out a "Planning & Zoning Handbook," whose Chapter 8 concerns zoning.  See
    http://www.commerce.state.az.us/doclib/smartgrowth/handbook/p&zchapter8.pdf

"Purposes And Objectives Of Zoning" is the beginning of Chapter 8.  It includes:
    "... Overall, zoning seeks to preserve the planned character of a neighborhood by excluding uses and structures inappropriate to the area and eliminating non-conforming uses....
    "Zoning should not be used to
        "Provide economic opportunity or advantage to one parcel of property without extending that opportunity to all property similarly situated
        "Artificially increase the value of land ...."

Variances in particular are discussed in section 4 of chapter 8, "Legal Uses."  Here's that section:
    "In Arizona, variances from the terms of the zoning ordinance are heard and granted by a board of adjustment.  Variances are to be granted only if special circumstances exist relative to the property's size, shape, topography, location or if the strict application of the zoning ordinance would deprive the property owner of privileges enjoyed by other property of the same classification in the same zoning district.
    "Statutes require that any variance granted is subject to such conditions as will ensure that the adjustment authorized shall not constitute a grant of special privileges inconsistent with the limitations upon other properties in the vicinity and zone in which such property is located.  Variances may be granted when the property owner demonstrates that the application of the zoning ordinance to the property will create a special property hardship.  Both Arizona case law (Nicola v. Board of Adjustment, 101 P.2d 199 [1940]), and the present statute, A.R.S. [Section] 9-462.06(H)(1), prohibit the granting of "use variances" because they are, in effect, rezonings.  (See Chapter 5 for a discussion on the role and responsibility of the board of adjustment).
    "... the statutory and case law in Arizona have established these standards:
        "1, A variance may be granted only where there are special circumstances applicable to the property.
        "2, Any hardship that would justify the granting of a variance must relate to the use of the land as opposed to the owner.  A personal hardship does not justify a variance.
        "3, A hardship which [h]as been ... intentionally created does not justify a variance.
        "4, Need for an 'adequate financial return' is not a legitimate basis for a variance.
    "... the four standards listed above have been solidly established across the country and it is likely that the actions of county boards of adjustment would be subject to them if taken to court.  Requests for variances that do not meet all these standards should be denied."

This writer has been to many County meetings about variances, but has never heard those standards considered in the discussion.


*  *  *  *  *
A link to a page with legal notices from different County departments, including items for meetings weeks away:
    http://www.co.cochise.az.us/ccwebsite/LegalNotices.asp

A link about speaking at a Call To the Public:
    http://littlebigdog.net/calltopublic.htm

The "CODE OF THE WEST" about life in no-man's-land is on the Cochise County website at
    http://cochise.az.gov/Default.aspx?id=4104
Good to read before trying to lay city rules on rural areas.

The County Supervisors Association's webpage at
    http://www.countysupervisors.org
is always worth a look.



On General Principles:
Here's a link to the Danish cartoons of Mohammed that caused all the commotion a few years ago:
http://littlebigdog.net/mohammedpix.jpg
Click on that image and it will get much bigger.

CCIPRA EXISTS
to oppose realtors, developers, and their government enablers, who want to take away your rights.  For example, in our county Zoning Regulations, Article 3 Section 307 says "Any use not permitted  ... is specifically prohibited ...."  When officeholders say that everything is prohibited unless they allow it, they should be yanked away from the public trough, and the harm they've done should be undone.

BIG REAL ESTATE
developers, and officeholders who side with them, often act like they can't be stopped -- like they represent "progress" and you are making a fool of yourself by standing in their way.

THEY'RE WRONG.

CITIZENS
undid the County Supervisors' approval of the giant Smith Ranch in 2006, and since then the Anthem project near Benson, the Bachmann Springs project, and grandiose plans for Sunsites have dried up.  Turning Cochise County into bedrooms for Tucson is not unstoppable.

RURAL PEOPLE
can defend ourselves if we organize to fight back.