CCIPRA
the Cochise County, Arizona,
Individual & Property Rights Association

editor:  Mike Jackson, at mpj@vtc.net
last edited July 14, 2015


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:
http://littlebigdog.net/mohammedpix.jpg
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.  There is no excuse for killing others merely for what they say.  If we let anyone scare us into giving up free speech, we lose.  A superb column about the weak-brained weakening of free speech by America's own press is at this link.

And hooray for Norway, which values free speech more than America does.  See this link.


Speaking of free speech, post your comments here:

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.

-- 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.
-- For dispassionately grinding out the real numbers about Cochise County, I know of no better source than Robert Carreira's CER site here.

The four parts of this site, with links underlined and blue and with new items or major rewrites in red, are --
-- a quick guide to local government is at the bottom of this site including the most important things to keep track of:  Board Of Supervisors meetings, and Planning & Zoning Commission meetings.  Links to those meetings are in this section.  You should check those links regularly for items that concern you.
-- current events are here including  Federal courts differ about Constitutional rights, in cases certain to go to the Supreme Court  /Double Pay Pat Call's real motive about water exposed 
/Stubborn ignorance by Cochise County Supervisors
-- lagniappe is here including  Southrons being more disgusting than usual 
/An attack on Hillar is an attack on Pat Call  /The clash of civilizations in a lawsuit arising in Bisbee  /
A look at old LIFE magazines 10/16/44


-- substantial issues are here including Dump the county Building Code  /Should every county have five Supervisors?  /Abuse by helipad


CURRENT EVENTS


Federal courts differ about Constitutional rights, in cases 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 has ruled that yes, American Constitutional rights do extend to Mexicans in Mexico.  The cases are about Border Patrol agents shooting south across the border, and killing people.  Life along the border can be brutal.  As everyone living on the border knows, the Border Patrol has the right to enter your property without a warrant, except for your main residence.  That's a clear violation of the Constitution's Fourth Amendment, which didn't stop Congress from passing the law allowing it.  And the Patrol 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 the ACLU was wrong in calling this a common-sense approach:

-- Common sense says that America has its constitution, and Mexico has a constitution, and each constitution applies inside its own country's boundary.  Mexican territory has always been constitution-free, as far as American's constitution is concerned.  And 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.  I don't know that it's completely fair to let Mexicans pick and choose between claiming that our Constitution extends into their country, and rejecting any influence of our government.

-- If the ACLU wants to start fighting the existence of a constitution-free zone on the border, how about 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 cases are certain to go the (American) Supreme Court, and when that happens, perhaps the ACLU can litigate the entire matter of the territory where the Fourth Amendment is supposed to apply.


Double Pay Pat Call's real motives about water exposed

Three articles appeared online on June 7, about the water situation around Willcox in eastern Cochise County, and water problems that are on the way.  These articles give good background for the discussion below.  The Arizona Republic has this article, which includes some actual local reporting.  From the New York Times, here is an article about what's happening in California and can easily happen in Arizona.  And from Reveal, here is an article about the incredible subsidence of farmland in California because of water use.

People on the east of Cochise County are working hard to fix a river gets little attention from the backroom boys who run the County.  A good update by reporter Carol Broeder is here.  It includes results from the Arizona Department of Water Resources that are scary:  in the Willcox Basin, groundwater levels are typically declining at least 2' per year, and sometimes over 5'.   Results for the Douglas Basin (which includes Douglas, Bisbee, and McNeal) and the San Simon sub-basin (including Bowie and San Simon) will be published later this year.
  Meanwhile, 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.  Is the eastern side of the county to become populated by commercial operations, but emptied of families?  This is a problem that local people have known about, and tried to solve, for years.  The Arizona Department Of Water Resources played games with water requirements to allow the giant Tribute housing project -- until Tricia Gerrodette and Robin Silver sued and won to make the ADWR "get real."  Elsewhere in the county, people like Randy Redhawk and Charles Tidd work hard to solve water problems that the Sierra Vista clique has let slide.  For more information you can email Tricia Gerrodette here and Randy Redhawk here.

Add to the above the thorough, almost scholarly, reporting of Carol Broeder in the Willcox Range News at this article.  And there's another Carol Broeder report, dated May 27, at this link, highlighting a basic split between people who oppose new regulations because there is no present disaster and because new regulations would decrease the price of land, and people who want new regulations because the present regulations will allow uncontrolled growth which will be a disaster and make the land uninhabitable and essentially worthless.


On June 8, the Sierra Vista Herald printed an article here which was headlined "Arizona water outlook not as dire as neighboring California," but whose text made clear that the headline was wrong:  Arizona's present situation is not as bad as California's, but Arizona's outlook is just as dire as California's.

On June 9, the Benson News Sun compensated a bit for the Herald's flackery by posting, at this link, an article which closes with an obvious, indisputable truth stated by Tricia Gerrodette:  "Creating a water-intensive Tuscany in the drought-stricken desert raises a red flag for the future of the nearby San Pedro River."

And there's more simple truth from Gerrodette in a fact-filled opinion piece in the SV Herald at this link.

It could be almost fun, if the public interest weren't being so mangled, to watch Doublepay Pat Call weep and moan about conserving the San Pedro near Fort Huachuca, in order to keep the fort from shutting down and letting Sierra Vista revert to its natural state -- a cluster of bars, pawn shops, and hook shops near the fort's gate -- while encouraging a giant house tract 35 miles away, on the same San Pedro River, which won't influence any decision about closing down the fort.  The goal of Doublepay Pat's crowd isn't to save water, just to suck the big bucks into a narrow corridor in the west side of the county, and keep the double paychecks coming.


Stubborn ignorance by Cochise County Supervisors

Introduction

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):
http://www.azleg.gov/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/ars/11/00253.htm&Title=11&DocType=ARS
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.


More will happen in this story

An illegal subpoena for snooping into people's emails -- illegal stonewalling of a public records request -- a Supervisor's ignorance of her basic job -- the BOS asking for legal advice from people who have committed the illegal acts being investigated -- and whatever new issues County officials generate.  If just one Supervisor would stand up in favor of honesty and obeying the law, wouldn't it be wonderful?  Until that happens, new information is bound to come out.  For instance, journalist Morgan was on the Forrest Carr radio show, 1210 am, on Thursday December 30, 2014.  Carr has posted a description of the scandal, and a recording of the interview, here.  And Morgan has a pretty active Facebook page at this link, which you need Facebook to see.



To return to the top of this site, click here.



LAGNIAPPE


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.



An attack on Hillary is an attack on Pat Call

TIME magazine, for June 1, 2015, has an article "Ready For Speaking Fees:  Hillary Clinton made millions from groups she could help if elected".  It reports that Hillary "agreed to answer questions onstage" at events from groups "looking to shape policy on issues as varied as taxes, trade policy, financial regulation[,] and health care" who paid her $4.6 million dollars in 2014.  Hillary will doubtless face attack from almost every Republican, and from other Democrats too, for taking money from groups whose programs she may promote if elected to President.

Compare that to Cochise County Supervisor Pat Call's $75,833 for one year's work, halftime, for The Cochise Water Project -- whose programs Call gets to vote for at Supervisor meetings.  Here's a link -- follow me -- to the newest available salary figures for Call at The Cochise Water Project.  That $76 thousand is in addition to his pay as a County Supervisor.  Call's pal Tim Cervantes, whom Call designated for the county Planning & Zoning Commission, made $65,000 from The Cochise Water Project that year.

Question, how does a private citizen's making money by speaking at company events compare to a public official making money by working for a private company whose projects come up at official meetings?  Anyone who doesn't think much of Hillary had better take a close look at Pat Call.

Stories about conflicts of interest by County officials (see this wrapup), or the Supervisors refusal to supervise other elected officers (see Current Events near the start of this page), 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.


The clash of civilizations in a lawsuit arising in Bisbee

A lawsuit filed recently in Bisbee inclines me to post my premature musings on why human beings were around so long before we developed science.  Basically, lying around doing as little as possible, with your main mental activity being gossiping about your neighbors, is a very attractive life.  I call that village living.  Technology requires a very different kind of thinking, which couldn't develop until hundreds of thousands of years of village living had accumulated a few useful facts.  Eventually, technology improved enough so that just a few more discoveries would lead to a different kind of thinking, scientific thinking, and that threshold was met just a few hundred years ago.  The technology which resulted made scientific thinking very attractive, and elite thinkers in non-technological fields adopted it.  And here we are today.

The number of people who want the benefit of technology far exceeds the number of people with brainpower and training enough to develop technology.  Most people can piggyback on the work of smart people, but their goal is still to lie around gossiping about their neighbors.  Hence, the content of most new publications in any media, and especially the gossip magazines at supermarket checkout lines.  The consumers of mass-market crap far outnumber the producers of anything useful.

The scientific way of living is gradually making progress, but it involves dropping the ancient nonsense that appeals to village gossips.  Often the two kinds of living get along well -- for instance, the attacks on science by fundamentalism seem capable of lasting for thousands of years, because they're fun for village gossips, and they're only minor fleabites to the scientifically educated -- but sometimes the village lifestyle really scrapes up against the lifestyle that science has made possible, and that seems to be what's happening in the Bisbee lawsuit.  When gossip results in a lawsuit that depends on gossip being transmitted by modern technology, the process is going to be ugly.  Without regard to the merits of either side of the case, and with regard only for the rationalistic process the combatants are now in:  the combatants will be sorry.




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.



Maps

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.



In Cochise County

On the morning of December 19, I saw a piece of racism circulating from a Cochise County group.  Now, I believe racism is buried in everyone, and the director of the FBI says so too, in this article; and I know that in me, it's as deep as language, because I learned speech and racism at the same time, 70 years ago.  I've largely, but not perfectly, outgrown it.  I also believe that every non-white person in this country has ingrained expectations of, and reactions to, white racism.  Complications ensue.  It's a sick country, and all we can do is try to heal ourselves and not pass on the sickness to our children.



If THEY talked to US the way WE talk to THEM

Black/white here
Black women/white men here
Latino/white here
Asian/white here
Lesbians/straights here
Geek girls/geek guys here
and on every one of those Youtube pages, the recommendations down the right edge of the page are good too.

The same idea in another context:  according to the anti-immigrant right, Mexicans have no respect for our laws, because we don't really respect our own laws:  witness our "catch and release" policy for illegal immigrants.  What a disgrace our policy is!  But there was a time in American history when we loved a "catch and release" policy.  When we white folks discovered gold in the Black Hills, over 10,000 Americans rushed into the Hills in violation of our treaty with the Lakota.  "The army was directed to expel trespassers, but ... [s]ince the punishment was usually no more than expulsion, many of the miners escorted from the Black Hills merely turned around and headed back.  The soldiers sympathized with the prospectors, and some of Custer's men ... even deserted to join them."  That's from page 33 of "A Terrible Glory:  Custer And the Little Bighorn," by James Donovan, 2008.  So let's not criticize our "catch and release" policy as to Mexicans; we loved it when it was our policy as to Americans.




Four Stories About Border Life are here.


Writing

American English is changing, and here's a great example:  a table of gender neutral pronouns.  Follow this link.  My favorite choice is the top line, giving e/ey, em, eir, eirs, and eirself to replace he/she, him/her, his/her, his/hers, and himself/herself.  The new words are easy to say, and they sound vaguely Irish, not a bad thing to be.  While benighted parts of the world are killing anyone with the wrong shape of earlobe, the American people are busily including everybody in our national community.  It may be slow, but the tide of history has been running that way for 60 years, and the old ark's a-moverin.

Here are clever analogies to help your writing not be as bad as, like, whatever ....

Plagiarism:  Don't do it!  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?



Comments on LIFE magazine from 10/16/1944

All my earlier notes about old LIFEs are here.  Here, from October 16, 1944:

. cover story, the new acting sensation, Lauren Bacall.  She was 20 years old when she made the cover.  She was at the top of show biz for 70 more years, until she died, in 2014.  The story begins on p. 77.
. by this issue, we were pretty sure that we would soon war (as we did ten months later).  The issue is full of stories and ads about what happens when "our boys come home."
. p 6, a rather racy cartoon that was used to decorate a B-26.  Fodder for Amy Schumer.
. p 7, an ad for Stromberg-Carlson radios, showing how good music made the the crew of a battered bomber feel as they returned to base.
. p 27 begins the lead story, of Americans on the home front who have made big money during the war and are spending it wildly
. p 43 the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, and Constitution had been hidden away after Pearl Harbor.  On October 1, 1944, they were returned to public view.
. p 61 a childhood mystery explained.  We always pounded our beef with a tenderizing hammer, and now I learn that was because it was grade C beef, which was from free-range cows who had fed only on wild grass.  Poverty, it turns out, has its points.
. p 67, a long story on William Penn's 300th birthday.  This was apparently long before the singing commercial that said William Penn cigars were a friend that was never fickle, for only a nickel.
. p 85, an ad for airplanes showing an injured pilot being carried back to civilization by a "primitive brown man."  No colonialists we.
. p 89, a long story "How Will Negroes Vote?"  The answer appeared to be, over great opposition and obstruction by "the people," i.e. the white people, of the South.



Some math you have to know when reading medical and social predictive tests

Let's start with medical tests.  Even if you take the best test available, and test positive for a disease, you may not have it; and the rarer the disease, the more likely you don't have it.  Here's why:  every medical test sometimes finds a disease that really isn't there.  Let's say you have a very accurate test:  only once in a thousand times does it say you have a disease when you don't have it.  Then, if you test a million people, the test will tell a thousand people who don't have the disease that they do have it.

Let's look at the consequences of such an accurate test.  Say a disease occurs in one in a thousand people.  Out of a million people, a thousand will have the disease.  The test will find them all, but will also find a thousand people who don't have the disease.  A thousand right tests, a thousand wrong tests -- if you test positive, it's even money that you don't have the disease.

Now say a disease is really rare, one in a million people.  When a million people are tested, the test will find the one person who does have it, but will also tell a thousand people who don't have it that they do have it.  So if you test positive, the odds are still a thousand to one that you don't have it.  That's why you get a second or third test, especially with really rare diseases.

Social tests follow the same rule.  Here is a Manchester Guardian article which includes "[Here's] what would happen if someone could create an algorithm the correctly identified a terrorist from their communications 99.9% of the time -- far, far more accurate than any real algorithm -- with the assumption that there were 100 terrorists in the [United Kingdom].  The algorithm would correctly identify the 100 terrorists.  But it would also misidentify [60,000] non-terrorists as terrorists ...."  So it would be 600 to 1 against an "identified person" being a terrorist.  Mathematical illiterates -- "innumerates" -- shouldn't be allowed to set up programs than are bound to ruin innocent people's lives.

As a sort of lagniappe upon lagniappe, here's an inside story about a hoax that mocked the scientific process and was accepted unquestioningly by a lazy press and ignorant readers.  It doesn't take much math to make you astoundingly smarter than most products of modern education.



For me, education on current issues --

-- includes daily reading of these two legal websites, and following their links:
http://howappealing.abovethelaw.com/
and
http://www.loweringthebar.net/

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
http://www.snopes.com/
or
http://www.truthorfiction.com/
or
http://www.factcheck.org/


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, and here are a bunch of very short reviews of books I've read.


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SUBSTANTIAL ISSUES

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?



Abuse By Helipad

If you want more background on the County's abuse of some citizens living near a helipad on the south end of St. David, Anna Lands is the single best source of information.  Here's her email.

County Supervisor Richard Searle is in the middle of this fight between the abused citizens and the Planning Department.  It's his position that what happened to the citizens was wrong, but that it happened because County Zoning Regulation 2002.02C was ambiguous, and that the best the County can do is see that the abuse never happens again, by amending 2002.02C.

However, contrary to Searle's position, old 2002.02C was not ambiguous.  Here's what it said:  "Essential governmental services of public agencies (local, state and federal) and special districts such as drainage, flood control, irrigation, fire, school and sanitation, and including facilities, attendant appurtenances and accessories used by such agencies.  Shared uses by public agencies and private parties shall not be exempt unless determined by the Zoning Inspector that the proposed use by a public agency meets the intent of an essential governmental service."

New 2002.02C, as amended by the Supervisors on December 2, 2014, says:  "Essential governmental services of public agencies (local, state and federal) including schools and special districts such as drainage, flood control, irrigation, fire, and sanitation, and including facilities, attendant appurtenances and accessories used by such agencies. Shared uses by public agencies and private parties shall not be exempt unless determined by the County Zoning Inspector that the proposed use by a public agency meets the intent of an essential governmental service. Only public agencies shall be deemed essential government services. The building code does apply to this class of uses."

The first sentence (really just a phrase) in each version is merely a list of the subjects of the regulation.  All the new version does is move "school districts" to a different place in the list, a change which has nothing to do with the St. David situation.  There is no difference in the meaning of the two versions.

In substance, each version is the same.  The new version says "Shared uses by public agencies and private parties shall not be exempt unless determined by the County Zoning Inspector that the proposed use by a public agency meets the intent of an essential governmental service."  The old version is identical, except that it omits the word County in front of Zoning Inspector.  This makes it clear that the use that mattered was by a public agency, and that the use by a public agency had to "meet the intent of an essential governmental service."  If the use by a public agency didn't meet those criteria, it didn't matter what the use by a private party was.  There is nothing unclear or vague in this wording.

The new version adds two sentences to the end of 2002.02C:  "Only public agencies shall be deemed essential government services. The building code does apply to this class of uses."  But those two sentences add no substance.  The old wording made it clear that the proposed use was by a public agency, and that the public agency's use must meet the intent of an essential government service, and the new wording's two additional sentences add absolutely nothing to that.  The new additional sentences merely restate what was already clear.  And when a sentence is already clear to a normal person, it doesn't become ambiguous or vague merely because a careless reader chooses to read it sloppily.

In short, the rewrite of 2002.02C is eyewash.  To what end?  The only reasons I can see are to come up with a plausible-sounding excuse for the injustice, and to divert argument away from the injustice to the pointless rewrite of 2002.02C.

How I wish Searle would one day just stand up on his hind legs and honor his office, not just enjoy its status.  He seems to so love with "triangulating" between opposing viewpoints that he will never get out in front on any issue and fight for it -- but what a force he could be if he would just change!


Bearcat BS

A private foundation, the Howard G. Buffett foundation, has made gifts of about a million dollars, maybe more, to a few local public entities, including the Sheriff's Department.  I believe the sheriff money went for a helicopter and a Bearcat.  A Bearcat is the armored vehicle shown in pictures from Ferguson, Missouri, with a policeman on top holding a fully automatic weapon aimed at citizens.  The Bearcat's presence made the situation worse in every way.  It's not clear why the Buffett foundation would help militarize Cochise County law enforcement.  The foundation's website says it's "working to improve the standard of living and quality of life for the world's most impoverished and marginalized populations."  Buying a Bearcat for Cochise County doesn't seem to fit those words.  Perhaps something is going on behind the scenes, out of public view.

(Incidentally, if you go here you'll see an article about the Department of Defense's finally releasing information about its giving military weapons to local law enforcement.  The article includes a searchable list by state, and if you look up Cochise County, here's what you'll find about the value of weapons giveaways to our police departments and the sheriff:  $2,824 to the Willcox police; $2,994 to Benson; $65,070 to Douglas; $83,214 to Huachuca City; $121,450 to Sierra Vista; $447,267 to Tombstone; and $1,412,938 to the sheriff.

Bearcats, like any shiny military toy, encourage mission creep.  Here's an article from Lowering The Bar about a sheriff who is finding novel uses for his Bearcat.  In short, a Wisconsin sheriff sent 24 armed officers plus a Bearcat to collect on a civil judgment that an old man owed to the county.  The old man wouldn't come out of his house, but when the Bearcat arrived, he did, you betcha.  The sheriff said that while the old man "was never considered dangerous, he was known to be argumentative."  The article notes that if the sheriff is "saying that cops need an armored vehicle so than can intimidate even people they do not consider dangerous, well, that seems like a good reason they shouldn't be allowed to have one at all."  And in Columbus, Ohio, when a thousand fans celebrating the Buckeyes' national championship left the student union at once when it shut down at 1 a.m., but the police hadn't been told that this would happen, the police basically panicked, treated the fans as terrorists, tear-gassed them, and mobilized a Bearcat on High Street to intimidate them.  Long municipal discussions have ensued, to see how military toys can be used on civilians without making the civilians feel like occupied natives.  Answer, they can't; but people who wear uniforms and have shiny toys will argue forever to justify, at least in their own minds, mission creep.


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QUICK GUIDE TO LOCAL GOVERNMENT

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.

THAT CALENDAR IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PAGE IN ORDER TO PROTECT YOURSELF!

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 mpj@vtc.net


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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