the Cochise County, Arizona,
Individual & Property Rights Association
editor: Mike Jackson,
last edited March 20, 2017
CCIPRA exists to
oppose the forces which would take away your
rights. CCIPRA began by focusing on local gummint corruption and stupidity, but now the focus is broader. Ordinary
citizens working together can still protect themselves.
A valuable dissent from a horrible decision
In a US Supreme Court case decided on June 20, 2016,
Justice Sotomayor wrote a fine dissent. Dissents don't state the
law, they state why a minority of justices think the majority was wrong
about the law in deciding a case. 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.
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
If you want to read for yourself, here's a link to the Court's opinion -- http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/15pdf/14-1373_83i7.pdf -- and here's a link to an article about the case, emphasizing Sotomayor's dissent: https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/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, it'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
-- 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
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,
-- 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,
First, an update from December 16; then, the story as it stood in September.
but citizens keep fighting back hard
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,"
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
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:
START OF EDITORIAL
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.
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
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.)
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.
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?
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?
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.
TUESDAY’S MEETING OR WRITE A LETTER
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?
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 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?
END OF EDITORIAL
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
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.
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
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
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
. "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
the Telegraph," that a newspaper "commits 'a form of fraud on its
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
-- 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
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 [email@example.com] 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
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
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
-- 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
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
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
-- "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
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.
But in Cochise County, those jaws have turned into jowls, those teeth
the denture glass, and the BOS gums along to "duh dumb, duh dumb, dumb
dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb." Our Supervisors won't supervise
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.
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
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.
The letter to Sheriff Dannels asked if he acknowledged that he is
subject to ARS
-- 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
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
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
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
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
predecessor Ed Rheinheimer, and the Supervisors languidly accepted bad
legal work. For instance, a
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
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
scandal, and the BOS seems to be coddling him the same way it babied
David Morgan, the journalist whose emails were subpoenaed,
sent a Public Records Request to the County for documents from the
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
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;
11-251 says a BOS's first power is to "Supervise the
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
I've heard a Supervisor argue that ARS 11-251 only lets a BOS
check county officers' finance records. That's nonsense; just
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
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
-- 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
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
-- 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
For example, here
are emails about the County Attorney's illegal subpoena.
I made them extra-clear for English: "Here, Ann, just for
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.
are some Danish cartoons of Mohammed
that fundamentalist Moslems kill people for. I think
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
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
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
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
-- 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.
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
Other maps I've posted include
people around the country support Democrats
the people living in each state were born
hard it is to live in each county in the US
Heading Off Prejudice
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
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
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
A scholar writes about decades of lynchings of Mexican-Americans
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
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
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.
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
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.
a bunch of new essays plus old essays I wrote for Charles Tidd's
lamented Sunsites Sun website.
To return to the top of this page, go here .
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
bureaucrats and the County Building Code
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
and here and
here; here's a
cartoon about our bloated Planning Department (under whatever
"friendlier" name it's cooked up now); and here
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
religion to email in this comment to the editorial: "Good -- and
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
without it until then, and we can get along fine without 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
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
of the Building Code's salaried drones has always been a good
Why wait? Just do it now." Here's an expansion of those
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
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
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
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."
county have 5 Supervisors?
Concurrent Resolution 2032, at this
(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
(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
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
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
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
of that county?
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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
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
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
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
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
f, County meetings also generally include a Call To the Public
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
2, State laws affect local gummint too. You can see every state
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
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