PAST MEETINGS

A vote at the April 7, 2009, county Board Of Supervisors meeting gave rise to the following reflection:

    On the agenda of the meeting was "Item 8.  Approve Demands and budget amendments for operating transfers."
    You can't tell from that what any of the "budget amendments" or "operating transfers" were.  Such amendments or transfers are the subject of a lot of discussion, as our hard economic times get harder.
    That item was on the "Consent Agenda," which is a list of items that are to be voted on without any comment by the supervisors.  So the meeting didn't result in any more information about the "budget amendments" or "operating transfers."
    "Consent Agendas," and the amount of information that should be contained in items on them, are discussed in Arizona's Agency Handbook, the state attorney general's legal guide for public officials.  Section 7.7.5 says "Consent agendas are typically used as a time-saving device when there are certain items on the agenda which are unlikely to generate controversy and are ministerial in nature.  Some examples are approval of travel requests and approval of minutes....  [P]ublic bodies should fully describe the matters on the agenda and inform the public where more information can be obtained....  Public bodies should take caution when using consent agendas.  The Arizona Supreme Court has held that taking legal action ... must be preceded by a disclosure of 'that amount of information sufficient to apprise the public in attendance of the basic subject matter of the action so that the public may scrutinize the action taken during the meeting ....'  The court also specifically condemned the practice of voting on matters designated only by number, thereby effectively hiding actions from public examination...."
    Do you think the item "Approve Demands and budget amendments for operating transfers" carried out the intent of the law?  Is it possible that changes to the budget might generate controversy?  Can you tell from the agenda for "Item 8" where to look for more information?

At the regular BOS meeting at 9 am on March 24, 2009, the Board increased fees for copying documents when people make Public Records requests.
    It's okay for the county to cover the costs of copies, but it's not okay for the county to charge fees for items you didn't order, and the county has been doing that.  Three times now, the county has automatically made copies of documents that I only requested to see.  That causes extra work for the county, and runs up a bill that I didn't owe.  Here's a response I emailed to the March 25 article in the SVHerald about the Tuesday Board meeting:
    "Don't let the increased cost of copies keep you from making Public Records requests for county documents.  State law distinguishes asking to see a document, from asking for a copy.  The law lets the county charge fees only if you order copies.  When you make a Public Records request, add language that isn't on the county's printed form:  state that you wish to see documents, and after you see them, you will decide what copies you want.  Don't let the county charge you for copies you told them not to make."
    For more about requesting documents from the county, go to
http://littlebigdog.net/DocsFromCounty.htm

From January 27, 2009:
On January 27, the Board Of Supervisors denied the billboard company's appeal from the P&Z Commission's denial of a permit for two billboards in Whetstone.  That denial made it more likely that a different application for billboards in Whetstone won't be pursued any more at all.  And at 10:27 Thursday morning, January 29, the application for billboards in Whetstone was in fact withdrawn.  The email, from John Calkins (jkcalkins@jonesoutdoor.com) to the Planning Department, stated "In view of the degree of community resistance, and the staff recommendation of denial, we believe that the pursuit of these Special Use Permits is futile. Therefore, we wish to withdraw these applications...."  Congratulations to all the citizens who spoke up loudly, alone and in groups, against what the Huachuca Astronomy Club called "litter on a stick."

At the January 13 meeting of the county supervisors, they approved fees that the Planning Department may charge when office workers actually have to do something.  You've already paid the taxes for them to stay warm & dry all day, and now if you disturb them, you must pay again.  Double payment for being governed -- badly -- once.  Details of the argument against are posted at
http://littlebigdog.net/illegalfees.htm
Most notably, a deputy county attorney gave the BOS the amazingly stupid "advice" that they were in compliance with the governing statute -- even though the statute requires 15 days' public notice of such a vote, yet the BOS only gave 4 days' notice.  There's been no public indication that any supervisor gives a hoot what the law says, if obeying the law would stand in the way of picking citizens' pockets.


As to the BOS meetings on July 8, 2008:

YOUR TAXES WON'T BE STOLEN
When the BOS was sitting as the Library and Flood Control boards, County Administrator Mike Ortega announced that the budget he had prepared was no longer recommending that money be taken from the Library and Flood Control accounts and placed into the General Fund.  In other words, money raised by special assessments for the library, and for flood control, won't be diverted to purposes that it wasn't raised for.
    During the regular BOS meeting, Ortega re-confirmed this, and supervisor Paul Newman's comments confirmed what was reported last week, that some Library and Flood Control money might have ended up as part of a $275,000 fund to give county employees a second bonus this year (more about the bonus later).  In other words, special assessments for libraries and flood control were going to be spent on employee bonuses, but not now.
THE "TED STEVENS GATE FROM NOTHING" APPROVED -- ?
    One item was dropped from the budget, construction of a gate which would, in a perfect world, limit access into county property at night.  This world being imperfect, however, there is already an informal vehicle track that bypasses the gate, so the gate would protect . . . nothing.  This $31,000 item was deleted.-- no, that's what I thought I heard at the meeting, but I've been corrected by two people, Supervisor Searle & County Administrator Ortega, so I have to believe I misheard and the $31,000 item was included in the budget.  So we WILL build the Ted Stevens Memorial Gate From Nowhere -- ?

* * * * *

Ending some pickpocketing permits

On April 17, 2007, the county Board approved ending the need to pay for permits to make 20 specific repairs to your own home.  Making you pay Planning & Zoning for permission to fix up your own home is nothing but a slick way for government to reach into your pocket, but at least this proposal stops the pocketpicking a little.

Members of the Cochise County Coalition did a lot of work for months to do away with the pocketpicking.  The P&Z Commission was somewhat responsive, and came up with 20 types of permit that are not needed.  The P&Z Department, on the other hand, fought every step, and when Department head Judy Anderson presented the Commission's list to the Board on April 17, she even argued with it while presenting it.  When asked how the list originated, she answered that it originated with the Commission -- that is, she tried to write the citizen work out of history -- not nearly the only time that the Department has misled its nominal superiors.  The Cochise County Coalition, to which CCIPRA belongs, deserves praise for all the work its members did.

Incidentally, here's part of a statement by Cochise County citizen Bill Jakobek before the vote on this item:
   
"I'm here today to encourage the Cochise County Supervisors to act positively to shrink bureaucracy and to free the citizens from P&Z's expensive and useless meddling. ...
   
"This brings relief to the homeowner who wishes to maintain his biggest investment.  It frees him to build on his dreams....  and for those who look only at the purse, a nicer home equals higher property taxes.
    "Others need relief though too.  When a farmer comes in seeking a permit, and learns that the cost of that paper approaches 30 or 40% of the material cost, it's not unusual to see him back away in disgust and horror.  His proposed pole barn will not be built.  The cement and tin will not be bought, no sales tax gained.  The forage that would have been stored there will not be grown, the revenue from its sale will never be realized.  The seed to grow, the gas to operate, the beef fed by it, will never generate revenue for the county.  The clothes and shoes, the good that might have been done with those earnings, will never gladden any hearts.
   
"A good role model [for P&Z] is that of the County Health Department.  It is results-oriented.  It instructs the food handler on what is expected.  It tests for comprehension.  It checks for compliance, and works to remedy deficiencies.  The people benefit and wellness is maintained.
   
"If an avowed rationale for the existence of a building inspection department is safety, where is the proactive component?  When has this department ever shown anyone how to make a safe electrical installation or anchor a load bearing wall?  I'm sure they are handy at penalizing the hapless offender should they fail.  The fines buy more inspectors, who can levy more fines.  Does anyone smell a bureaucratic apparatus at work?
   
"Perhaps whittling P&Z down to size will save the taxpayers money.  Its first best home is in the pockets of those who earned it.  But if not there, the money could be better spent by those who see clearly their purpose in life is to better this county."


* * * * *

At the Board Of Supervisors meeting on May 1, 2007, there was conflict among supervisors, according to a Sierra Vista Herald/Review article.  Here's a link to it:

http://www.svherald.com/articles/2007/05/02/news/doc463833b175ed5423264594.txt

Here are some of the nuggets in the article.

1:  Supervisor Searle, current Chair, cut off the meeting to make a personal appearance at a "Law Day" event -- not really official business.  Searle is a hard-working supervisor, but in this particular case, cutting off public business did not show the best judgment.

2:  Supervisor Newman was upset at the time limits set by Searle; Newman "lost it" and Searle cut off the meeting; when the meeting resumed, "Newman was apologetic and contrite."  He should be.  He knew the time available, but wasted time by rambling thus:  "This could be the most contested liquor license situation that we have encountered in quite a while.  The petition doesn’t necessarily relate to the issue today, but it could relate to the future.  It’s confusing to me … But now we’re having this early recess and I just don’t know if we can fully, uh . . . ."  (As a matter of courtesy, reporters usually omit "uh"s etc. from quotations, but when dithering is part of the story, "uh"s should be left in, and a kudos to reporter Shar Porier for leaving in this one.)  When asked to get to his questions, "Newman replied he had questions, but that he was under the clock, and it made him very nervous.  'I don't know if I can do this.'"  Things descended into bickering.  Newman must bear the responsibility.  When Searle set time limits, Newman should have stated his qualms right then; and Newman's rambling should have been saved for the discussion period.  In short, Newman wasted time that he knew was limited.

3, the Planning & Zoning Department didn't do its job on this item.  According to the article, when the meeting resumed after Searle's "Law Day" appearance, "Deputy County Administrator Jim Vlahovich gave the board a report from a quick meeting he had had with planning and zoning.  It turns out the tavern would not be grandfathered in since it had been closed for more than 12 months. . . .  Planning and zoning staff assumed the tavern was still in operation."  Why did the P&Z Department not know the bar had been closed for over a year?  How did the Department learn it so suddenly?  Whether the Department's ignorance was intentional or accidental, it looks bad.  You might compare the Department's incredible sloppiness on this issue -- which the Department evidently favors -- to the Department's incredible nitpicking against the Mahans (see the P&Z Horrors Mahan story above), including send 3 employees to wander around the Mahan property for 3 to 4 hours each.  The selective, sometimes vindictive, behavior of the Department's Code Nazis is an embarrassment to the county.

4, the Planning & Zoning process is dysfunctional.  Pirtleville residents oppose a particular bar.  The article gave "some" reasons, including "littering of cans and bottles in the area, that it is an illegal immigrant pick-up site, there is loud music late at night, parking on the streets instead of in the parking lot, and there is public urination."  If the residents are correct, the bar is being used for criminal activity.  However, the clerk said that under the existing process, "none of those reasons were enough to deny the person-to-person transfer of the license."  Well, the Planning & Zoning Department is famous for interfering with ordinary people and charging them fees for silly permits, but here the Department was useless at actually improving the quality of life.  Worse, supervisors Call and Newman voted, according to the article, to allow transfer of the license.  That's hard to understand, because supervisors are allowed to consider factors that the P&Z Department can't.  As to this bar, the whole process just doesn't smell right.




Bill Jakobek's report on the July 10 meeting of the Board O'Supes:

Tuesdays' Cochise County Board of Supervisors meeting was full of small surprises. And none were more surprised than the Supervisors' themselves. Item 12 was yet another attempt by outside developers to get a high density subdivision underway in Cochise County.
 
The short list of surprises?
 
Naturally, there exists another list of observable behavior; one of (not) surprises.
 One last surprise drawn from many left unmentioned in this writing-
- true and  commendable-
was that Supervisors Call and Searle chose to reflect the known will of the people, and decided against forthright approval. Instead, they tabled it until such time as Supervisor Newman would be present.  That this was done with no position speaker from the public is  awesome on their part. Is this a welcome sign? Has the message has gotten across that the public has spoken and does not want  any tract shack style unplanned development in the deserts of Cochise County?
 
It may be important that opposition be present when this matter is again brought up,as it will be in August. And, in closing,  it would be a generous act on everyone's part to commend Call and Searle for their actions. 




County Board Of Supervisors Meetings On May 22

1.  At the 9:00 regular meeting, Item 2 in the Consent Agenda (meaning, no discussion allowed by anyone) was "Adopt Resolution 07-43, to establish the POLICY FOR SOLICITATION OF INTERNAL ANNOUNCEMENTS TO COUNTY EMPLOYEES, effective May 22, 2007."
 That description makes it look like Item 2 might affect communications to county employees, but the public can't tell.  However, a Board vote "'must be preceded by a disclosure of 'that amount of information sufficient to apprise the public in attendance of the basic subject matter of the action so that the public may scrutinize the action taken during the meeting' [court citation omitted].  The [same] court also specifically condemned the practice of voting on matters designated only by number, thereby effectively hiding actions from public examination" (Arizona Attorney General's Agency Handbook, Sec. 7.7.5).  Also, if in fact Item 2 would limit communications to county employees, then it would impinge on the Constitutional right of free speech.  No local government should give the appearance of taking such an action in less than full public view.  Therefore, isn't it especially important to remove Item 2 from the Consent Agenda and discuss it publicly before voting?  I emailed that question to Supervisor Searle the weekend before the meeting; his answer explained what Item 2 is about -- but explained it only to me, not to the public.  The public still doesn't know what Item 2 is about.  What is so important about government secrecy that the Board prefers to keep the public ignorant?

2.  At the 10:45 special meeting, Item 1 is "DISCUSSION OR CONSULTATION WITH THE ATTORNEYS OF THE PUBLIC BODY IN ORDER TO CONSIDER ITS POSITION, OBTAIN LEGAL ADVICE AND INSTRUCT ITS ATTORNEYS IN PENDING OR CONTEMPLATED LITIGATION OR IN SETTLEMENT DISCUSSIONS REGARDING PENDING LITIGATION.  PURSUANT TO ARS 38-431.03(A)3 AND ARS 38-431.03(A)4, THE BOARD MAY VOTE TO GO INTO EXECUTIVE SESSION TO OBTAIN LEGAL ADVICE AND TO DISCUSS ITS POSITION REGARDING PENDING LITIGATION."  If the litigation is pending, is there some reason why the actual case cannot be named?  And, if there is no particular reason not to name the case, does Item 2 violate the Open Meeting Law?  I emailed that question to Supervisor Searle the weekend before the meeting; he made no answer.

The P&Z Commission meeting at 4 pm on May 9

One item on the agenda was the Whetstone community plan.  Everyone complimented everyone about how much work went into this -- but many people were unhappy about the specifics of the work, and many people also noted apparent failures in giving the required legal notices.  No county attorney attended the meeting.  This left the Commission without legal guidance on the "notice" issue.  Largely for that reason, the community plan had to be tabled for several months.  The failure of a county attorney to attend a P&Z Commission meeting is inexcusable.

Also on the agenda was an application for a Special Use to legitimize an existing feedlot holding 3000 heifers next to, and "affiliated with," the Faria Dairy on Kansas Settlement Rd. in Willcox on 40 acres zoned RU-4, adjacent to the Faria Dairy.
 It appears that Mr. & Mrs. Faria began a personally-owned feedlot next to the corporate dairy, and began the feedlot without getting county permission.  This may set off alarm bells, about why the Farias did not follow the law to begin with, and how they will operate the feedlot.  According to many neighbors, there have been other violations of law on and around the dairy, and the people of the area are very unhappy with how they have been treated.  The meeting was a good example of what the people can accomplish when they are motivated.  The Commission voted 5-0 (4 members didn't show up!) to deny the permit.  The Farias can appeal.

A little more about the Faria item.  The Farias used two attorneys from out of county to make their case to the Commission.  Both attorneys wore suits, though with the coats off.  The younger of the two snappy dressers mentioned that the Farias had immigrated to the US in 1974, and come to Cochise County in 2004; he did not mention anything that happened in between.  Later, however, he complained that the P&Z Department staff had mentioned "a history" of prior code violations without having the specifics in mind.  Later yet, when the public got to speak on the Farias' application, I tried to fill in the gap a little.

The Farias' attorney, by bringing up family history as early as 1974 and complaining about not having specifics of prior violations, opened the door to more family history including violations.  
On January 24, 2000, the FDA wrote a warning letter (their reference number - DEN- 00-10) to Sebastiao Faria, concerning dairy farm operations located at Rt. #1, Box 741, Lovington, NM, and stating in part:  "you offered animals for sale for slaughter as food, in violation of sections 402(a)(2)(C)(ii) and 402(a)(4) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act).  Specifically, you sold a cow on August 6, 1999 at [location redacted] which was subsequently slaughtered for food and found to contain illegal levels of drug residues by USDA testing.  These incidents were recorded under USDA case # 99-0672-NM:  August 9, 1999 USDA analysis of tissue samples collected from your animal (USDA Sample #400008) identified the presence of a Gentamicin residue of [amount redacted] ppm in the kidney.  No tolerance has been established for residues of Gentamicin in the edible tissues of dairy cattle in Title 21 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 556.300 (21 CFR 556.300).  * * *   [Y]ou hold animals under conditions which are so inadequate that diseased and/or medicated animals bearing potentially harmful drug residues may enter the food supply.  For example, you lack an adequate system for assuring that animals medicated by you or under your direction have been withheld from slaughter for appropriate periods of time to permit depletion of potentially hazardous residues from edible tissues."

There is a noticeable similarity between the charges in that FDA letter, and complaints from citizens about flies and stink near the Faria Dairy, and the charges of having an unlicensed dump on the Faria land containing chemicals.  Certainly, such charges about a dairy in New Mexico, combined with the complaints about the local Faria Dairy, would make a reasonable citizen wonder how the local dairy is being run.

My statement at the meeting referred to the above letter, but didn't give such detail.  The same was true of my mention of several other FDA complaints about dairy farms in California also run by people named Faria.

I mentioned one Frank Faria.  O
n April 15, 1997, the FDA wrote a warning letter (their reference number 29-53368) to Frank Faria, 13182 Robinson Road, Escalon CA 95320, concerning a dairy.  The letter stated "On December 27, 1996, you consigned a cow (identified by USDA laboratory report number 382878) for slaughter as human food.  This cow was delivered for introduction into interstate commerce by your firm and was adulterated by the presence of illegal drug residues.  USDA analysis of tissues from this cow revealed tetracycline in the kidney at 25.00 parts per million (ppm).  Presently, the tolerance levels for tetracycline in the uncooked edible tissues of cattle has been established at 2 ppm in the muscle, 6 ppm in the liver, and 12 ppm in fat and kidney tissues.
* * *
  "1. You lack an adequate system for assuring that animals to which you administer medication have been withheld from slaughter for appropriate periods of time to deplete potentially hazardous residues of drugs.
  "2. You lack an adequate system for assuring that drugs are used in a manner not contrary to the directions contained in their labeling.
  "3. You lack an adequate system for assuring animals have been treated only with drugs which have been approved for use in their class of animal or species.
  "4. You lack an adequate system for determining that quantities of drugs are being accounted for to prevent the possible overdosing of animals at your dairy.
  "You are adulterating the drug Durvet Duramycin-324 brand tetracycline hydrochloride . . . .  Your practice of using tetracycline hydrochloride powder mixed with water to create a uterine infusion to medicate your dairy cows is an unapproved use for which safety and efficacy has not been proven. . . .
  "Your firm has a history of offering animals for sale for human food use which have been found to be adulterated with antibiotic drug residues.  According to USDA reports, your dairies have delivered other cull dairy cattle which were found by USDA analysis to contain violative levels of antibiotics.  As a result, an inspection was conducted of your dairy on December 7, 1992.  During the inspection you were warned that it is illegal to market cull dairy cattle with illegal levels of antibiotics in tissue residues.  A warning letter, dated February 9, 1993, was sent to you as a result of the violations found during the inspection.  Also, the U.S. Department of Agriculture sent you a letter for each instance in which their analysis found violative levels of drug residues.  You have failed to take adequate corrective action."

On November 11, 1998, the FDA wrote Frank Faria another warning letter (their reference 29-50777) about the same dairy, stating in pertinent part:
  "On August 27, 1998, you consigned a dairy cow (identified by USDA laboratory report number 208909) for slaughter as human food.  This cow was delivered for introduction into interstate commerce by your firm and was adulterated by the presence of illegal antibiotic drug residues.  USDA analysis of tissues from this animal revealed the presence of penicillin in the liver at 0.57 parts per million (ppm).  The tolerance level for penicillin in the edible tissues of cattle has been established at 0.05 ppm.
* * *
  "1. You lack an adequate system for determining the medication status of animals you offer for slaughter.
  "2. You lack an adequate system for assuring that animals to which you administer have been withheld from slaughter for appropriate periods of time to deplete potentially hazardous residues of drugs.
  "3. You lack an adequate system for assuring that drugs are used in a manner not contrary to the directions contained in their labeling.
  "The Quartermaster brand of penicillin and dihydrostreptomycin that you use to treat your cows is adulterated under Section 501(a) (5) of the Act, in that it is a new animal drug within the meaning of Section 201(v) and is unsafe within the meaning of Section 512(a) (1) (B) since it is not being used in conformance with its approved labeling.  Labeling for Quartermaster prescribes a sixty-day withdrawal period prior to selling a treated animal for slaughter for food use.  Failure to adhere to the prescribed withdrawal time is likely the cause of the presence of violative levels of penicillin in the tissue of the animals you sold for food use.
  "You are using the drug penicillin G procaine in a manner not in conformance with its approved labeling.  Labeling for penicillin G procaine specifies it is to be administered at 1 milliliter (ml) per 100 pounds of body weight.  Your practice of administering dosages of 20 ml per animal results in a dosage in excess of that allowed by the labeling." . . .
  "Your firm has established a history of offering animals for sale for human food use which have been found to be adulterated with drug residues.  According to USDA analytical reports, during the period of June 4, 1992, through December 27, 1996, your firm sold five other dairy cows and calf which contained violative levels of penicillin and tetracycline.  An inspection of your dairy was conducted on December 7 and 8, 1992.  During this inspection, you were warned that it is illegal to market animals containing violative levels of antibiotics in their edible tissues.  A warning letter, dated February 9, 1993, was sent to you as a result of the violations found during that inspection.  Another inspection was conducted at Faria Dairy #2 from February 4 and 7, 1997.  A warning letter, dated April 15, 1997, was sent to you as a result of that inspection.  Also, the USDA sent you a letter for each instance in which their analysis found violative levels of drug residues in your cull dairy cows.  You have failed to take adequate corrective action."

I also mentioned Manuel, Daniel, and Ricardo Faria.  On December 9, 1999, the FDA wrote a warning letter (their reference 29-52335) concerning Faria Farms, Inc., 13927 Road 136, Tipton CA 93272-9718, and stating "On September 29, 1999, you consigned a cow (identified by USDA laboratory report number 347728) to be slaughtered for human food.  This cow was delivered for introduction into interstate commerce by your firm and was adulterated by the presence of illegal drug residues.  USDA analysis of tissues from this cow revealed sulfadimethoxine in the liver at 10.00 parts per million (ppm) and in the muscle at 6.70 ppm.  Presently, the tolerance level for sulfadimethoxine in the uncooked edible tissues of cattle is 0.10 ppm. . . .
  "1. You lack an adequate system for determining the medication status of animals you offer for slaughter.
  "2. You lack an adequate system for assuring that animals to which you administer medication have been withheld from slaughter for appropriate periods of time to deplete potentially hazardous residues of drugs.
  "3. You lack an adequate system for assuring that drugs are used in a manner consistent with the directions contained in their labeling.
  "4. You lack an adequate system for assuring that animals are treated with drugs which have been approved for use in their class of animal or species.
  "5. You lack an adequate inventory system for determining the quantities of drugs used to medicate your cows and calves.
  "You are adulterating the drug SULFASOL brand of sulfadimethoxine within the meaning of Section 501(a)(5) of the Act, in that it is a new animal drug within the meaning of Section 201(v) and is unsafe within the meaning of Section 510 since it is not being used in conformance with approved labeling. . . .
  "You are adulterating the drug Agri-Cillin brand of penicillin G procaine within the meaning of Section 501(a)(5) of the Act, in that it is a new animal drug within the meaning of Section 201(v) and is unsafe within the meaning of Section 510 since it is not being used in conformance with approved labeling. . . .
  "You are adulterating the drug OXY-TET 100 brand of oxytetracycline hydrochloride within the meaning of Section 501(a)(5) of the Act, in that it is a new animal drug within the meaning of Section 201(v) and is unsafe within the meaning of Section 512(a)(l)(B) since it is not being used in conformance with approved labeling. . . .
  "You are adulterating the drug Nolvasan Cap-Tabs brand of chlorhexidine hydrochloride within the meaning of Section 501(a)(5) of the Act, in that it is a new animal drug within the meaning of Section 201(v) and is unsafe within the meaning of Section 510 since it is not being used in conformance with approved labeling. . .
  "Your firm has established a history of offering cull cows for sale for human food use which have been found to be adulterated with violative levels of drug residues.  According to USDA analytical reports, during the period of February 2, 1990, through September 29, 1999, you sold six cull cows for food use which were found to contain illegal drug residues.  An inspection was conducted of your dairy on May 30 through June 2, 1995.  During the inspection you were warned that it is illegal to market animals with illegal levels of antibiotics.  A Warning Letter, dated August 7, 1995, was sent to you as a result of the violations found during the inspection.  Also, USDA sent you a letter for each instance in which their analysis found violative levels of drug residues.  You have failed to take adequate corrective action."

I am absolutely not suggesting any kind of guilt by association, but if any of these other Farias do in fact have an ownership or management role in the new dairy at Kansas Settlement, members of the public could be justifiably concerned.  I suggested to the Commission that inquiry along these lines was appropriate.

As it turned out, no Commissioner followed up on my suggestion.  However, the younger attorney, who had brought up the Faria family history since 1974, complained about my reference to the FDA warning letter from 2000.  Also, one of Sebastiao Faria's sons stated that some of the other Farias were not related to him; he did not, however, state which ones.  The net result is, the public still does not know if any of the Farias, other than Sebastiao, who have been the subject of FDA warning letters, are involved in managing the local Faria Dairy.

The Faria uninformativeness on that point probably did not help their case; nor, probably, did the older attorney when he emphasized "There are no flies."  This statement by a suit-wearing attorney was somewhat at odds with what boot-wearing neighbor after boot-wearing neighbor said:  the flies were thick.  The Commissioners seemed to believe that flies were probably there, no matter what the attorney said.  In fact, the Chair, Karen Corey, noted at one point that many of the citizens speaking belonged to families who had been farming and ranching for generations, and were used to the normal incidents of cattle, and were unlikely to complain unless conditions near the dairy were really bad.

Nor did any of the Commissioners appear to believe an argument made by the Faria attorneys, that the Farias did not realize that they had to apply for a permit to build the feedlot.  The Commissioners appeared not to believe that the Farias -- quite successful in business -- were so naive.

The Farias may appeal the Commission's recommendation against their feedlot.  If so, these matters will probably be explored further.


The Board Of Supervisors meeting at 9 am on May 8:


Item 5, to "rezone approximately 4 acres of the 41.5-acre subject parcel from RU-4 to Heavy Industry for purposes of establishing a 3,731 square foot furniture manufacturing facility approximately 10 miles northeast of the City of Douglas at the terminus of N. Torreros Lane, approximately 1/2 mile south of Highway 80," passed.  The Planning & Zoning Department had a hard time with this item, apparently because the Department has a problem with crossing the "t"s and dotting the "i"s -- but as far as the real world is concerned, this item was a good one.  This guy wants to have a small furniture factory on a big piece of land.  This would provide a few real jobs in southeast Cochise County -- a rarity.

FIREWORKS on Item 8, 
"Discussion and possible direction to the Deputy County Administrator and Planning Department staff to select a consultant to assist staff and the Board in evaluating the request to master plan and rezone properties in the Bowie area for the purpose of establishing a 600 MW IGCC coal-fueled electricity generating station and attendant facilities submitted by the Southwestern Power Group II, LLC and provide direction on the next steps in the hearing process."  It was Newman v. Searle all the way, with each interrupting the other a lot.  Newman showed a lot more feistiness than we have been used to seeing over the last couple of years, & Searle showed himself not yet grown into Chairman's shoes.  Advice to Newman:  when you ask a question, ASK THE QUESTION -- don't open by explaining why you're going to ask the question, don't follow the question by explaining why you asked it, and don't close by restating what you asked but changing its wording as you do.  Advice to Searle:  when Newman raises a point of order, he is in fact allowed to speak as a matter of rules, not as a matter of grace, so don't feel as though you are being tolerant in letting him speak -- BUT when he begins to speak, and opens by explaining why he is raising his point of order, require him to simply state the point of order -- then when he resumes speaking, if he does not simply cut to the point of order, you are allowed to cut him off because he isn't raising a point of order.  EVERY SUPERVISOR SHOULD BE HEARD.  Newman wants to make his points, and Searle wants Newman to make his points quicker.  They can both win by following the above advice.  Parliamentary procedure is a dance, and all the Supervisors need to know the step.

The meeting tested Searle's growth since becoming Chair.  Call sat silent during most of the interaction between Newman and Searle, but at least Call's head was up -- he wasn't watching his computer screen, as he does for most of most meetings.  Call may have been wondering if he has any chance of returning to the Chairmanship after Searle's present term as chair runs out at the end of the year.  Let's hope the answer to that question remains No.  The county needed a new Board Chair after Call hogged the job for so many years, and for Call to become Chair again, without Newman getting a turn, would be a disaster.  Searle was named chair because he supported himself and Call wouldn't support Newman.  No chair has yet been named for 2008.  It was implicit when Searle took over from Call that Newman would be chair for 2008, but later Searle began balking.  Searle perhaps feels that he is doing a better job than Newman could.  The May 8 meeting shows that Searle is not that good a chair yet; but by now, Searle is probably as good at being chair as he will ever be.  Newman's turn is next; let him have it.


The county Planning & Zoning Commission meeting on April 11 at 4 pm:

1, The proposed Mexican-truck stop north of Douglas was pulled from the agenda.  It will be back in May.  22 citizens left the meeting after this item was pulled; judging by their get-together in the lobby as they left, they were all there in opposition.  They seemed unhappy at having had their time wasted at this meeting -- and highly motivated to come back for the next meeting.

2, The Commission discussion about revising its Bylaws did not allow public input.  This particular citizen had emailed some suggestions to the Commissioners via the P&Z Department beforehand (this procedure is necessary because P&Z says it does not know how to provide the Commissioners with email accounts that the public could write directly to).  One Commissioner said the email had been received, which is nice; too bad the Department gets to see all email communications with Commissioners, though.
    The work session agreed on a few changes, which were very hard to hear because the county sound system doesn't work.  Every sound generates static; speak loudly into the microphones, and you generate loud static.  The Commissioners can hear each other because they are behind the speakers; the speakers aim the static directly at the public, though, so in effect the county is jamming its own meetings, the way the USSR used to jam the Voice Of America.
    This writer THINKS that one or two of the points on the following list were discussed favorably (though without any mention of their being on the list).  Most of the points on the list were not mentioned, though.

-- Bylaw II.3 says "Advice of legal counsel shall be received ... before disposition of any ... matter requiring legal interpretation or advice."  But county attorneys have often "advised" that they felt "comfortable" with a procedure.  That isn't legal advice, that's a guess at the odds of winning at trial.  And some laws, like the Open Meeting Law, must be strictly followed, without having its limits tested.  The Commission should insist on actual legal advice.  Bylaw II.3 could say "Advice of legal counsel, including quoting and discussing the applicable statutes, shall be received" etc.

-- Bylaw III.5 says "Docket packets shall be furnished to each member at least 48 hours in advance of any meeting."  But Commissioners often don't have time to read a packet, and at least once the Department has presented phony numbers which the Commissioners needed time to catch.  48 hours isn't enough.

-- Bylaw III.9 says "After ... the commission has reached a decision, the Commission shall not reconsider ... until ... a subsequent regular meeting," and a few months ago a county attorney said that "once an item is voted on, it's dead" and can't be revived.  Still, after the new building codes in 3 phases were voted down, the public left, and the Commission voted on it again, with a different outcome.  Bylaw III.9 could say "After the Commission has voted on a matter, the Commission shall not reconsider its vote, nor take another vote on the same item, until a subsequent regular meeting."

-- Bylaw III.10.B.2 says that for dockets initiated by the Commission, a tie vote means "The docket dies ... and is not to be forwarded to the Board."  But ARS 11-804.A.4 says the Commission must forward everything to the Board, "regardless of vote."  To comply with state law, the Bylaw could say "The docket dies at this level, and shall be forwarded to the Board with a report of the tie vote and a statement that this means the docket failed though it was introduced by the Commission."

-- Bylaw III.11 says the Commission uses "Parliamentary Procedure at a Glance by O. Garfield Jones," but one county attorney keeps citing different rules.  This Bylaw can be in
boldface.


The county Board Of Supervisors meeting on April 10 at 9 am:

The regular meeting did not include any items where public input is allowed; and the Call To the Public remains moved to the end of the meeting, after all voting is done.  This was especially important this week because Action item 12 was "Approve Revised Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Membership in the Upper San Pedro Partnership."  The Upper San Pedro Partnership pretends there is a water emergency in the western part of the county (which has a 2000-year water supply), and proposes to solve the imaginary emergency by requiring builders to plan giant subdivisions which plan for triple the water usage that people actually use.  Apparently the members of the Partnership think they are still fooling people.  This is one more example of the Sierra Vista tail wagging the County dog.  The people in the rural parts of the county gain nothing from this nonsense, but the welfare of the county is obviously not the goal of the Partnership charade.


The County Board Of Supervisors meeting on March 13

Passed:  "Resolution No. 07-15, authorizing the creation of three new types of risk-based categories of permits: Food Vendor I, II and III and adopt new fees for each category, for vendors who wish to participate in farmers markets and temporary events only, not intended for those who wish to retail their products at other venues such as grocery stores."

Appointed:  two Planning & Zoning Commissioners, without any discussion or public input, via the Consent Aenda.  However, since P&Z has managed to get the whole county up in arms, appointments to the Commission are controversial, and matters of great public concern -- which means that appointments shouldn't be on the Consent Agenda, but should be out in the open, where they can be discussed and the public can give input.


The county Planning & Zoning Commission meeting on February 14

Item 7 was of special interest for Sunsites folk: " . . . to rezone approximately 307 acres in Sunsites from RU-4 (Rural, minimum lot size four acres) to MR-1 (Multiple-Household Residential, minimum lot size 3,600 square feet) for the purpose of developing a residential subdivision with 800 dwelling units on lots ranging in size from 4,950 to 20,000 square feet."

And "Team Sunsites" won, for the second time!  An earlier version of the same plan was rejected a while back, in the face of massive resistance from the locals.  After that, one group of people tried to negotiate a deal, which is what came up Wednesday afternoon; but enough Sunsitizens stuck together that the Commission didn't buy the reworked deal either.  The vote was tight, 4-3 against the development, but one or two of the votes for the development were made "with reluctance."


THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETINGS ON TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 13

First, there was a regular meeting at 9 am. Item 2 in the Consent Agenda was "AUTHORIZE PAYMENT ABOVE MIDPOINT OF THE SALARY RANGE FOR AN ATTORNEY III POSITION IN THE COCHISE COUNTY ATTORNEY’S OFFICE."  We hoped that some supervisor would ask for that to be removed from the consent agenda, because consent agendas are for items that aren't controversial, but at the present time, any proposal to increase the pay of any of County Attorney Rheinheimer's staff is likely to generate controvery.  Rheinheimer's decisions about whom to criminally prosecute, and his high praise of deputy Britt Hanson despite Hanson's apparent ignorance of state statutes and county bylaws that an attorney in his job should know, and erratic advice such as letting a wrong bylaw be followed, then advising fixing the problem by following the same wrong bylaw again.  But no supervisor stepped up and asked to remove this item from the consent agenda.

Second, there was a special meeting at 10 am, and things went better at that meeting.  Under its original agenda, the Board Of Supervisors was, once again, trying to illegally conduct public business in private, in violation of the Open Meeting Law.
 -- Agenda Item 2 ("DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION REGARDING A NEW POSITION OF SOLID WASTE MANAGER") didn't name a statute, wanted to discuss a subject that no statute covered, and contemplated action during an executive session.  County Administrator Jody Klein, and the Board, did the right thing:  they discussed this item in public.
 -- Item 3 also originally violated the Open Meeting Law, but County Administrator Jody Klein and the Board again did the right thing, changed Item 3 to comply with the Open Meeting Law, and held a public discussion on this issue:  searching for Klein's replacement as County Administrator.  The discussion revealed that the search has been proceeding, but too slowly for comfort, so the Board wanted the search to be faster, and the Board may resort to hiring a headhunter.  The quoted costs for headhunters ranged from $8000 to $29,500.  If the new County Administrator held the job for 10 years, an $8000 fee would work out to about $67 per month, and a $29,500 fee would work out to over $245 per month, over the salary actually being paid -- not a significant extra expense, when the salary will be in the area of $9000 to $10,000 per month.  The cost of the homegrown advertising campaign -- ads in Phoenix, Tucson, on a website, with the County Managers Association, and others -- was reported to be about $1700 per week, so after three weeks of this, the bill is already over $5000.
 -- A "screening committee" -- an unofficial designation -- consisting of Ken Wallace (human resources), Katie Holmes (Board secretary), Jim Vlahovich (Deputy County Administrator), and Jody Klein himself, has been working away, but Jody will leave in July, and the time available for training his replacement is getting short, so the Board wanted faster action.  Supervisor Call, in particular, ordered Ken Wallace to report to him weekly on the progress of the search.  It was a little odd to see Call acting as if he were chairman.  Call must be careful, because the Board will eventually vote to determine the successful candidate, and Call's judgment may be clouded if he is asked to vote on candidates that he also initially screened.


* * * * *

COUNTY WORK SESSION, FEBRUARY 5

In reporting about the county government's February 5 work session, the Sierra Vista Herald says deputy county attorney Britt Hanson thinks the Planning & Zoning Commission should report every vote, pass or fail, to the Board Of Supervisors.  Four other people were quoted; evidently this discussion went on a while.  What's to discussARS 11-804.A.4 saysa P&Z "commission shall . . . Transmit all of its recommendations, decisions, findings, reports and official actions, regardless of vote, to the board of supervisors."  Hanson could have avoided wasting a lot of highly-paid time by just citing the statute -- which he's paid to know.  And now that the county is aware of the law, what happens to all the measures which the Commission rejected during past years, without forwarding notice to the Board?

Apparently Hanson also wants the Commission to stop using Robert's Rules Of Order.  But the Commission doesn't use Robert's, it uses Jones's Parliamentary Procedure at a Glance.  See Commission bylaw III.11 -- which Hanson is paid to know.

Hanson has previously had bylaw problems.  For instance, last year, when the Commission voted on extending building codes into rural areas, the vote was a tie, and the Chairman said the item was "being forwarded to the Board of Supervisors."  The Chairman was following the wrong Commission bylaw, but Hanson said nothing.  The public all left.  Then the Chairman asked Hanson how to fix the problem caused by following the wrong bylaw.  Hanson advised "reopen [the item] just for the purpose of tabling it for another day" -- advice which followed the very same wrong bylaw again, and possibly violated Arizona's Open Meeting Law.

A hearty welcome to the Commission's new legal advisor, Terry Barrett.


* * * * *

SUPERVISORS WORK SESSION, 2:30 on January 9

The meeting discussed three possible changes in Board procedures --
-- letting a supervisor set work sessions without majority permission
-- a sixteen month rotation system for Board chairmanship

-- having some evening Board meetings

Supervisor Newman, of District 2, requested the work session and was in favor of the changes. Chairman Searle and Supervisor Call, of the other two districts, opposed the first two suggestions, but were open to more discussion of the last. Work sessions are for discussion only, so no vote was taken. Chairman Searle is now the pivotal vote on the Board; he has been reasonable, much more than his predecessor in the chair, and one can hope that he will change his position over time.

The requirement for prior majority approval of a work session was aimed specifically at squelching Newman, during the previous chair's extended reign.  The requirement has disenfranchised the residents of Newman's district, in violation of the "one person, one vote" rule embodied in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. As things are, Newman's constituents can only get their concerns discussed by the Board if a Supervisor representing another district allows it. Eliminating the requirement would give the citizens in each district equal weight on the Board -- as the Fourteenth Amendment requires.
    Deputy County Attorney Hanson advised the Board.  He had a letter approving the requirement, from former deputy county attorney Irwin, in front of him, and said that he agreed with it. A member of the public (the author of this note) addressed the actual contents of Irwin's letter, noting that Irwin both cited cases which did not apply and ignored the Fourteenth Amendment requirements of the cases which do apply. Maybe Hanson wasn't actually familiar with the cases he said he agreed with, or maybe he was familiar with them and knew that they do not support the requirement; either way, when the actual content of the cases was brought out, Hanson said nothing.
    The two supervisors in favor of keeping the present rule did not press Hanson about what the cases actually said. The two supervisors apparently are content with the way things are. If political alliances on the Board change, whichever supervisor is then left out in the cold will probably see, as if by magic, how unfair this rule is.


Rotating the chair every 16 months would make each Supervisor chair for 1/3 of a term; this would have prevented the harm caused by the previous chair's extended reign.
    State statute requires the supervisors to elect their own chair. This does not prohibit their agreeing to rotate the chair. Supervisor Newman noted that Supervisor Call, who was chair for years before Supervisor Searle recently took the position, agreed when he became chair to rotating the office, but then broke his agreement. Searle said that being chair took leadership qualities, so that automatic rotation would be inappropriate; however, the arrangement made when Searle became chair is that his term will end at the end of 2007, so there may be some inconsistencies to adjust. In any event, no supervisor considered the effect of playing politics about the chairmanship instead of attending to the public's work, nor how citizens feel when the supervisor they elected is disenfranchised by the other supervisors.

* * * * *

December 5: the Supervisors unanimously diss the law

The Board passed the "Sierra Vista Subwatershed Overlay District" which the Planning & Zoning Commission improperly considered on November 8.  For the events of November 8, see the narrative down the page a little, entitled "County Planning & Zoning Meeting Wednesday November 8:  Trampling On the Public And the Law"

Deputy county attorney Hanson, who often advises the Board, revealed some gaps in his knowledge.
    Hanson repeatedly said that Planning & Zoning Commission follows Robert's Rules Of Order.  Wrong.  I was at the meeting when the new rulebook came in and free copies were made available to county personnel.  It's O. Garfield Jones, not Robert's.

   Hanson said a motion to reconsider must be made at the same meeting as the original vote.  Wrong again.  For some committees, motions to reconsider can be made at the next meeting, and the P&Z Commission is the kind of "standing committee" where that's okay.  At the P&Z meeting, Commissioner Basnar moved to "re-initiate" a matter -- there is no such motion -- and Hanson treated it as a motion to reconsider, which meant that Basnar, who voted on the losing side, could not make it.  When asked about this, Hanson talked about a lot of things, but didn't answer the question.
    Hanson revealed problems with his view of Arizona's Open Meeting Law.  He sounded certain that substitution of one item for another at a P&Z meeting, without prior notice to the public, did not violate the Open Meeting Law.
    However, Arizona Revised Statute 11-431.02.H (in the Open Meeting Law) says "Agendas . . . shall list the specific matters to be discussed . . . .  The public body may discuss, consider or make decisions only on matters listed on the agenda and other matters related thereto."  At P&Z's meeting, the "matter" was not districts in general, it was Judy Anderson's illegal application, designated as R-06-06.  P&Z's substitution of an old item, for Anderson's application, was prohibited.
    The Attorney General's Agency Handbook says:  "7.7.6  The public body may discuss . . . only those matters listed on the agenda and 'other matters related thereto.' . . . The 'other matters' must in some reasonable manner be 'related' to an item specifically listed on the agenda. . . .  If a matter not specifically listed . . . is brought up . . . the better practice . . . is to defer discussion and decision . . . until a later meeting so that the item can be 'specifically' listed on the agenda. . . ."  Prudence would have followed that procedure; impatience rushed ahead, with Hanson's blessing.
    Also in the Agency Handbook:  "If there is a doubt, all questions should be resolved in favor of greater disclosure of information."  When the Open Meeting Law is involved, prudence precludes impatience.

    Hanson's advice on December 5 was not the most prudent advice ever given.

The Board's deference toward Hanson can be annoying.  CCIPRA people prepare good questions yet the Board lets Hanson dodge them in a flood of words.  CCIPRA will keep trying for better results.


November 21 County Board Of Supervisors' Meeting:
County P&Z Department Takes a Thumpin'

    For one solid year, L.S. and Kay Mahan, who have property on the north side of I-10 near San Simon, tried to put up a billboard, with one side being a free ad for Cochise County tourism.  The county Planning & Zoning Department fought all the way.  The fight finally ended in a way that made P&Z look ridiculous.
    At the end of a year of obstruction, the Department could give only three specific objections -- which they admitted they hadn't tried to resolve before the meeting.
    1, the Department complained that the billboard would be only 600', not 660', from another billboard on the Mahan property.  The Mahans volunteered to move the billboard another 60'.

    2, the Department recommended against the billboard because it would be over 35' high.  The Mahans volunteered to put the billboard as low as 22'.
    3, the Department recommended against the billboard because it would only be set back 10' from the north edge of I-10.  Of course, the I-10 driving lane doesn't begin until about 40' south of the boundary line, so the billboard was really set back about 50' from traffic.
    The Supervisors resolved the matter so quickly that P&Z looked idiotic.
    To try and save face, the Department invented another objection:  its own policy. The Supervisors responded that setting policy was for the Board, not the Department.  The Supervisors voted, 2-1, to allow the billboard (the No vote was Newman).
    The Mahans noted that while the Department was hounding them, it was allowing one major signage company to put up illegal billboards all over the county; so maybe the Department's persecution of the Mahans was just part of the well-established Departmental policy of favoring outside money over local residents.
    But also, there have been personality clashes between the Mahans and Departmental employees, so maybe the Department's persecution of the Mahans was a way for the bureaucrats to show mere citizens who was boss.
    Whatever the reasons that the Department persecuted the Mahans, it's ironic that at the same time, Department head Judy Anderson was, whenever she wanted, ignoring the regulations and law that apply to her.
    Where do we find people like Anderson?  And how can we lose them?

* * * * *

County Planning & Zoning Meeting Wednesday November 8:
Trampling On the Public And the Law

On November 2, a CCIPRA officer emailed a letter to every Commissioner, and to the Department.  Department staffer Mark Apel had solicited such a letter and promised to respond in detail.  The letter distilled the concerns of many citizens.
    Here's the letter:
        On October 11, the Commission’s tie vote defeated Docket number R-06-06, the proposed Sierra Vista Subwatershed Overlay District.  Docket R-06-06 is dead, according to the Bylaws.  But Judy Anderson put  Docket R-06-06 back on the Commission agenda for November 8.  This time, Anderson, not the Commission, is the applicant.  Anderson has revived the dead item without following the regulations that govern all applications, by anyone. 
        The County's Comprehensive Plan requires an applicant to “complete the public participation process . . . before any amendment is presented to the Board."  A Citizen Review Process, along with a long list of other required procedures, is in Zoning Regulations Article 22, which Mark Apel says is the legal authority that Anderson is following.  The Citizen Review Process is supposed to "ensure that the citizens . . . have an adequate opportunity to learn about applications that may affect them."  At the October 11 meeting, Commission confusion and public uneasiness about the Overlay were apparent.  The Department has clearly not explained the Overlay to anyone's satisfaction; late in the meeting, two Commissioners even said that Docket R-06-06 is only a plan, though Mark Apel says it is not a plan, but is regulatory.  One Commissioner suggested delaying a vote until January to get more public input.  Yet Anderson has rushed ahead, in violation of her own regulations, and with no plans for more meetings with the public.
        There is no good cause for such a rush by the Department.  The permanent harm caused by ignoring the law must far outweigh any temporary good from any particular regulations.  Docket R-06-06 will apply to all development within the SV Subwatershed, and affect the “60% of County residents [who] live in this subwatershed” -- good reasons to take the necessary time to let the Commissioners and the public understand the item. 
        For now, it is important that the Commission keep the Department inside the law. 
        If and when Docket R-06-06 legally comes before the Commission, several questions should finally be openly and fully answered.  Probably every citizen who looks at the measure will have additional questions -- it took me several days to read all information about the docket -- so my list of questions is not complete.  But here are the biggest issues that this one citizen sees:
        Our Comprehensive Plan says that all subdivisions, multi-family residential, and manufactured home park developments of one acre or larger, "shall . . . minimize overall water use through . . . drought-tolerant landscaping, low-flow fixtures, re-use, water harvesting, deed restrictions and other water conservation methods."  Our Subdivision Regulations recommend that water conservation measures be included in CC&Rs (covenants, conditions, and restrictions), shown on plats, and enforced by homeowners' associations and by the P&Z Department, when it issues permits.  Also, our Subdivision Regulations require drought tolerant plants, timers on irrigation, rainwater harvesting and reuse, and minimal turf; and, in common-use buildings, gray water diversion, re-circulating hot water pipes, water efficient washing machines, and hot water pipe insulation.  Almost every item on the Overlay docket is already in the regulations, so why is an Overlay District necessary?  Minor changes to present regulations would accomplish everything of substance, without imposing another whole set of rules on Cochise County citizens. 
        Our Comprehensive Plan says the County will try to "decrease water use through incentives, education, and various zoning mechanisms."  One citizen asked “Can incentives be implemented?" and suggested reduced building permit fees or reduced taxes.  But the proposed Overlay has nothing but regulations -- no incentives or education.  The County cares enough about education to distribute Water Wise pamphlets, so why is education left out of the Overlay?
        The Department's slide show said "Gray water plumbing in new residential construction (not applicable to factory-built or MH)."  However, no ”factory-built or MH” exception appears anywhere else in the Department's notices.  Would the District exempt these structures from the gray-water plumbing requirement, or not?  Shouldn't the Overlay proposal be clear, here and elsewhere?
        The District would favor rezoning "if a private voluntary transfer of development rights is affected."  If a developer purchases 1000 acres with no water, and trades it for higher density development where there is water, how does that conserve water?
        The District would require "new Subdivisions to have a water provider in lieu of individual wells."  However, what is good for water companies is not necessarily good for water conservation.  As citizens have often pointed out, using a water company has not been shown to result in less water use.  In the public input before October 11, a citizen noted that "just the opposite has actually been shown:  households on individual wells in RU-4 zoning use far less water, even with large amounts of livestock, than more densely-populated subdivisions served by a water company.  Fewer households per acre = less water use.  This needs much more discussion before becoming the Law of the Land."  Another citizen noted that "the requirements will use more power, and somewhere in the production of electricity, water is used."  Another citizen noted that a water company adds millions to development costs, which encourages high-density developments to get enough consumers to repay the costs.  When citizens have such concerns, why doesn't the Department respond, instead of rushing ahead?
        People must spend a lot of money to meet the requirements proposed by Docket R-06-06.  A gray water system costs $500-$2000.  Hot water on demand costs $400.  Each rain sensor costs $20-$30.  A two-stage evaporative cooler costs $3500, about $2500 to $2800 more than a prohibited old-fashioned cooler.  The extra requirements add at least $3420 to the cost of a house.  It's understandable that businesses want people to have to buy the extras, but people may not have the money to buy what the businesses want to sell.  Don't the people matter?
        Another citizen noted that "Fort Huachuca will not be closed because of how much water it uses. . . .The fort is much too valuable an asset to the US Govt for something like water usage to be the number one reason for closure.  The community and its leaders need accurate and up to date facts before passing judgment on any institution, installation, or individual."  Is the Department using the 'Fort-Huachuca-might-close' threat to impose regulations that will generate more fees and fines - and control - for the Department's benefit?
        Our Comprehensive Plan says "overlay districts are a way, with community support, to tailor site development standards to meet an area's needs," and "Effective public involvement may increase the length of the process but can yield more widely accepted proposals with fewer objections."  Why should these considerations be forgotten?
        Please take the time to do this right -- to make the Department follow its own Bylaws and regulations, and give  the public and the Commission time to get their concerns addressed, before you vote on the Overlay -- if it comes to you again legally. 

At the meeting on November 8, each Commissioner had a copy of that letter.  Then the strangest thing happened.
    During the 4:00 work session, Mark Apel brought up that letter and said he wanted to respond to it.  Chairman Martzke stopped him as being out of order, and said that the responding to the letter would be in order at the regular 5:00 meeting.
    But during the 5:00 meeting, the letter was never addressed.  It's one more example of the Department breaking its promises and failing in its duties, and the Commission allowing that to happen.  Must every citizen go to the Board Of Supervisors to get decent treatment from the lower levels of government?

Also, the agenda included Items 15 and 16, to grant water franchises to Northern Sunrise Water Company and Southern Sunrise Water Company.  Both companies are linked to Judy Gignac, Pat Call's biggest contributor and campaign manager, so Call has a conflict of interest, and should neither discuss nor vote on these items.  Under the law, Call doesn't get to balance his self-interest against his public duty, he simply must not discuss or vote on these items.  But he did.  One of the items was approved, the other was tabled for a future date.

* * * * *

The September 13 County Planning & Zoning Commission meeting

The Commissioners discussed having separate email addresses so that the public could send messages which the P&Z Department would not see.  This issue was raised by a CCIPRA member.  The members of the Commission seemed favorable, but it appears that the bureaucrats at the Department are stalling on this.  As of this update, no progress.



The May 20, 2008, Tuesday meeting of the Board Of Supervisors
considered the Planning Department's
proposed changes to county zoning regulations.


A report on some citizen concerns about the proposed changes is posted here:
        http://littlebigdog.net/reportonzoning.htm

Many people came and spoke up at the meeting -- and because everyone worked together
THE PEOPLE WON!
On items the Board consented to talk about, almost all of the suggestions that people made were adopted!  Offhand, only two weren't adopted, and that's probably because nobody spoke about them during the public comments.

And almost all of the suggestions that the Board didn't consent to talk about amounted to items where the Department faced overwhelming opposition, and thought better of trying to push them through.  Offhand, the only item the Board didn't consider that it should have was Zoning Regulation 307, the "whatever isn't permitted is prohibited" regulation.  The Board could have considered 307 if it had wanted to; a deputy county attorney's opinion yesterday would have let the Board take up 307 even though the P&Z Commission hadn't formally considered it; however, the Board used the attorney's opinion selectively.

But winning all but three of the issues that were considered is great!  And if the Board ever gets to the issues that weren't considered today, Cochise County citizens will be ready to rock and roll again!

Because today, the people DID rock and roll!  About 45 people showed up to be heard on the proposed regulations, and over 20 people spoke -- every one of them against the proposed changes!  What a great afternoon.

There was even applause, until Chairman Searle ordered it to stop.  Here's the speech, by Kelly Savage, President of CCIPRA, that started the applause going:
    "This document [the proposed changes] is un-American.  It is full of dictatorial language and is totalitarian in essence.  It is full of Old Testament-style 'thou shalt nots or thou shall be punished by the omnipotent' rhetoric.  However, it complies perfectly with the first plank of the Communist Manifesto, which calls for the abolition of private property.  Highly restrictive zoning regulations and land use regulations are tools the Communists use to erode private property rights.
    At public hearings, citizens tried to tell the Planning and Zoning Department we did not like the regulations as written, and in the two full day work sessions, we repeated the statement, but were told, 'This is only a tweak, not a re-write.'
    "In reality, two-thirds of this document could easily be pared, starting with Section 307 which states, in short, 'ANY use not PERMITTED... is SPECIFICALLY PROHIBITED.'  Even the Ten Commandments didn't include that one!
    Section 1704.02 is full of 'thou shall nots' punishable by the Great Planning and Zoning Department (PAZ, pronounced POZZ).  It repeatedly tells the reader ANY violation will be considered a public nuisance.  Under this Section you can't even MAINTAIN or RE-construct anything.
    Section 1704.01 tells us we can't ALTER or USE any structure without a permit, and then pretends that the Great PAZ will allow us to make some repairs or improvements on our own land if we keep it under $1,000.  But then it states this $1,000 is to include 'market value labor' as well as the cost of materials.  So if you do the work yourself you have to charge yourself licensed contractor's wages.  What a person does on their own time is FREE.  Do you charge yourself professional golfer's salaries when you hit a golf ball with a club?  Do you charge yourself mechanic's wages when you change your automobile oil?  Why should we charge ourselves licensed contractor's wages when we hit a nail with a hammer?  To FORCE us to charge ourselves labor for one thing and not another is discrimination. The words 'market value labor' need to be deleted or else it sets a precedent and we are all going to have to gift ourselves the wages we earn being chauffeurs, cooks, housekeepers, landscapers, etc. on our own time.  Our FREE time.  And if we gift these wages to ourselves, we will have to pay income taxes on them.
    "Ultimately, this document is all about taxation.  When you charge someone a fee or a fine, you are actually imposing an User Tax.  When the person hasn't had a chance to vote for the tax (as we haven't), you get taxation without representation. Ask England how Americans feel about that.  It's unconstitutional in fact.  This document is not only unAmerican it's unconstitutional.
    "This document has major changes as well as tweaks.  Section 1714.02 contains a HUGE change that isn't in your summary.  It wasn't in the summary to the P&Z Commission either, and it was never discussed as it wasn't in their PowerPoint presentation.  What the Department has done is crossed off one little word but that word is critically important.  It makes it illegal for residents to do ANYTHING on their property that involves a hammer and nail, instead of only making them have to get a permit for 'SUBSTANTIAL construction.'  You put in a footer, you are in VIOLATION.  You start a fence, you are in VIOLATION.  The word 'substantial' is too lax for this totalitarian document.   
    "This document is trying via oppressive regulation, to eliminate the stupidity of a few by robbing the freedom of the many.  But no matter how many laws are passed, 'You can't change stupid!'
    Gentlemen, regardless of what the Great PAZ has told you, you do not have to vote approval of this document today.  This is a dynamic document and its dictatorial language and totalitarian tone can be changed.  You have the power today to tell the P&Z Department you want a total rewrite with input from the citizens in the unincorporated sections of Cochise County.  You have a chance to do the right thing and begin to restore to your constituents our federal constitutional rights of 'privacy and quiet enjoyment' of our property.
    "America is at a crossroads with Freedom at risk.  Here, today, you can begin to restore the dream our forefathers fought and died for."

If anyone thinks today wasn't a great win for the rural people of Cochise County, just look at what rural people did.  For nigh onto a year, rural people have injected themselves into processes that the Planning Department used to totally dominate.  Citizens, alone and in organizations, insisted on serious conversations with the Department, the P&Z Commission, and the Supervisors.

And the work paid off.  Every one of the regulations has been gone over with a fine-tooth comb by ordinary citizens, who don't see regulations as a way to put bread on their table.  Lots of minor changes got made during the citizen meetings with the Department.  The Department withdrew large chunks of changes from being considered at all.  The Board voted right about 90% of the time today.  And the Board learned more about Planning Department duplicity toward the Board and the Commission.

In about six months, 2 or 3 new Supervisors will be elected.  If the "rural revolt" keeps the heat up, the new Board will be much more sympathetic to rural concerns.  Maybe the Board will, before the election, consider some of the items it wouldn't consider today, and make more changes favoring the "rural revolt."  Today, a bunch of rural people finished a hard job well, and they look ready for more.

CONGRATULATIONS TO EVERYONE ON OUR TEAM!