By Elisha Dorfsmith
This school year children starting 6th grade will be asked to get two new immunizations before they are allowed to attend classes. The new immunizations “required” by state law are a meningitis vaccine and Tdap booster.
What many parents in Arizona don’t realize is that they have the right to opt out of any immunizations for any reason simply by filling out a form and returning it to their child’s school.
You can find the Arizona Immunization Opt Out form here:
Don’t expect the Flagstaff Unified School District to inform you of your right as a parent to opt out. They have a tendency to do everything they can to keep parents in the dark about their rights. I have had members of the FUSD board get very angry at me for sharing this opt out information in the past.
Of course I would never want to tell parents what I think they should do with their children’s health decisions and immunization choices. I simply believe that all parents deserve to know their rights and the options available.
Do lots of research and make an educated decision.
By Elisha Dorfsmith
Each year the City of Flagstaff gives $20,000 of your tax dollars to SEDI, the The Northern Arizona Sustainable Economic Development Initiative.
How does SEDI use those tax dollars? Well, according to the Daily Sun, SEDI likes to give away no strings attached checks for $1,000 each to teachers who implement their goals in the classroom.
Is this how you want your tax dollars spent?
Someone with detailed knowledge of SEDI’s finances may point out that the money given away comes from other sponsors or revenue sources. Well that’s fine but if SEDI has funds to give away with no strings attached why do they still need our tax dollars?
By Elisha Dorfsmith
On January 8, 2013 the Flagstaff City Council decided not to move forward with a proposed Property Maintenance Ordinance. The previous council had unanimously supported a PMO but with new members and new information available, it was decided a PMO was no longer needed. The public, who overwhelmingly opposed the PMO, believed the issue had been put to rest for good.
Jump forward to March 28, 2013 and the release of the Flagstaff Regional Plan. At 338 pages the plan is intimidating to the average Flagstaff Resident. Very few people will read the whole thing before the public comment period ends on May 31, 2013. Flagstaff residents would be wise to take some time to scan through the plan and pay special attention to Appendix B which shows the strategies for implementing the goals and policies. Mentioned among these strategies several times is implementation of a “Property Maintenance Ordinance”.
The concept behind a PMO seems to be reinforced again (page 329) in a reference to CPTED in the Police strategies section. CPTED stands for Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. Part of the CPTED philosophy says that broken windows, peeling paint or a nuisance, if not taken care of, will lead to crime and will eventually destroy an entire neighborhood.
When concerned Flagstaff residents joined together last year to oppose a PMO, one major concern was City officials being allowed to go on private property and inspect it for PMO violations without a warrant. Now I’m sensing that the line between your average City official and a police officer is being blurred. CPTED says that police have in interest in well maintained properties. Will police be enforcing the PMO?
Increased police presence is a very big part of the regional plan and reading through that section (pages 328 and 329) throws up a red flag for those of us concerned about the growing police state in America. Neighborhood police substations are encouraged, an effective, visible police presence in the community is called for and the plan also asks for law abiding citizens to step up and help the police with crime prevention. I read this and see an Orwellian vision where neighbors turn in neighbors for the slightest infractions and are rewarded.
The City of Flagstaff legal department has explained to Council that existing laws already apply to health hazards and the worst unmaintained properties. The City can take action in these situations without a PMO in place. Flagstaff does NOT need a PMO.
One other major concern for people in the region:
On page 7 the plan says who it is for. In addition to Flagstaff it mentions Bellemont, Winona, Kachina Village and Mountainaire as well as the San Francisco peaks. It also says the plan is for County departments. Only Flagstaff residents will be allowed to vote on this plan in 2014. The plan does not explain why County residents don’t get to vote on the plan even though the plan will impact them. In fact, the plan doesn’t even let County residents know they won’t get to vote.
Growing Smarter Statutes adopted by Arizona in 1998 and 2000 require that a plan of some kind be adopted and updated every 10 years. It’s important that all who will be impacted by this plan provide feedback during the public comment period.
The text of the Regional plan can be found here:
The previous version of the PMO actually called for “weather tight” window screens.
By Elisha Dorfsmith
A bill requiring teachers and health workers to report “potentially dangerous students” to police was approved by a 4-3 vote in the AZ House Public Safety, Military and Regulatory Affairs Committee yesterday.
HB2555 would require teachers and health workers who have reasonable cause to believe a client or student is a danger to themselves or others to report that person to the police. Once the police are called, they will get to decide if the child is a danger to self or others and if they think he/ she has any mental health issues.
Arrested students could be court-ordered into treatment.
Critics of the bill argued that it could require teachers to report students for throwing rocks or fighting on the playground. Representative Eddie Farnsworth of Gilbert said the committee was opening Pandora’s box.
The Department of Health Services will distribute an informational pamphlet to teachers and health workers on what to look out for but ultimately it will be up to the teacher/ health worker to use their own judgement. Since the law requires that a call be made, most teachers and health workers will error on the side of caution because they won’t want anything coming back on them if they somehow miss a dangerous child. Expect the police hotline to be buzzing!
The committee also approved HB2618 which would train police officers to recognize mental illness and potentially violent persons before they actually commit a crime.
Both bills will be scheduled for a full vote soon.
Insane bills like these are just more proof that politicians are potentially dangerous and may have “mental health” issues. Maybe we need a bill that requires teachers and health workers to report potentially dangerous politicians to the police?
By Elisha Dorfsmith
Longtime readers of my blog will remember when I spent a full year railing against the potential problems of mobile health vans at Flagstaff schools. FUSD board members and North Country Healthcare employees were a bit irritated at my constant questions and went out of their way to assure me and the public that parental permission would be secured before any child was treated. Turns out, their idea of permission was a blanket permission slip filled out for each child at the beginning of the school year.
Now it seems others are realizing that there is a problem with mobile health and in particular mobile dental units. State Rep. Doris Goodale of Kingman has proposed a bill (HB2426) which would guarantee parental notification for “irreversible” procedures such as root canals or crowns.
The fact that they need a bill to address this problem only validates the concerns I had in all of my articles protesting the mobile health van at FUSD schools. Verified permission should already be common policy for districts and should be required for more than just dental work.
For further reading see:
By Elisha Dorfsmith
The Flagstaff City Council will be holding a special budget retreat on Monday, February 4th to discuss the $1,000,000 plus dollars the City donates each year to local charities. This meeting will be held at City Hall in the Council Chambers starting at 4:00 pm. Presentations from various local charities will kick the meeting off. Public participation will begin around 6:00 pm.
As many of my readers know, I have written extensively about this topic over the past few years. There are many many problems with the City giving our tax dollars to the general funds of the charities of their choice…and expecting no accountability in return. Even worse, some Council Members have a major conflict of interest here because charities they manage are receiving city funds.
Here is a list of articles I have written on taxpayer funded non-profits:
If you have an opinion on taxpayer funded non-profits, contact the Flagstaff City Council and let them know how you feel:
The Arizona Daily Sun recently reported that Vice Mayor Coral Evans receives $40,000 each year as executive director of the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association. A portion of that money comes from the general fund of United Way. The City of Flagstaff currently donates about $300,000 to the general fund of United Way. This is clearly a conflict of interest and must be stopped.
By Elisha Dorfsmith
For years I have been complaining about the hundreds of thousands of tax dollars the City of Flagstaff gives to the general fund of the United Way of Northern Arizona. The City insists that we must offer up this money because United Way provides core services that the City cannot provide. I guess one of those “core services” is supporting unnecessary school bonds.
The Flagstaff Unified School District Bond informational pamphlet contains the following quote from Kerry Blume, President & CEO of United Way of Northern Arizona:
“United Way of Northern Arizona (UWNA) believes education is a cornerstone of individual and community success. The benefits of education are fundamental to our community’s long-term prosperity and will provide our children with higher earning potential as adults.
Flagstaff Unified School District currently needs your support with a bond election on November 6, 2012. By voting Yes you will help ensure FUSD has the books, technology, facilities and support it needs to make sure each student is successful.
The UWNA Board of Directors is strongly committed to sustaining and improving the quality of education in our region. We urge you to vote YES on the Flagstaff Unified School District Bond.”
I find it unacceptable that a private charity that gets $300,000 a year from the City of Flagstaff publicly takes positions on ballot questions.
It’s time to stop sending our tax dollars to United Way!!!
By Elisha Dorfsmith
Parents of children at several local district Schools are receiving phone calls from their child’s school reminding them to register to vote before the October 9th deadline. The calls also tell parents that there are several very important education issues on the ballot and to pay very close attention to those issues. While these calls do not encourage people to vote a certain way, they do cross into a legal gray area when it comes to campaign laws and restrictions.
This is not the first time schools in the district have decided to get political. A couple years ago when FUSD was pushing for a tax override, the PAC supporting the override was caught handing out signs and bumper stickers on school property. A concerned parent reported the campaign effort to the County elections office and the district received a slap on the wrist.
This year, a newly formed PAC called YES for FUSD also ran into trouble with the County elections office when it was discovered that their website and signs did not comply with state law to include the required “Paid For By” disclaimer.
The district and political action committees are campaigning very aggressively for the following items on the November 6 election ballot:
A $21 million dollar “capital improvements” bond for buses, technology and investment into facilities.
Supporters say that this bond is essential to maintaining quality education in Flagstaff.
Opponents point to mismanagement in the past of district funds including transferring equipment/maintenance money to support salaries of administrators. They also say that huge drops in enrollment have paved the way for school closures that should be saving the district money in the “capital improvement” category.
Prop 204 which will permanently extend the 1 cent sales tax that Governor Jan Brewer promoted and encouraged voters to approve in 2010.
Supporters say that this tax extension is critical for education in Arizona.
Opponents point out that the money is earmarked for many things that are not education related including giving one hundred million dollars a year to the “state infrastructure fund”.
By Elisha Dorfsmith
Flagstaff Unified School District is preparing for yet another tax override vote and that means voters should start preparing for another round of scare tactics and fear mongering from the district.
Today’s edition of the Arizona Daily Sun lays out the details of the plan in an article titled FUSD readies return to voters. In addition to an override vote next year, there are plans for several bond measures to be on the ballot.
As some of you know, I helped lead the charge against the last override and even though it ended up passing, those of us who took a stand were able to educate voters about the waste and irresponsible spending in the district. Now, more than ever, people are watching the district closely and questioning their mismanagement.
As we head into the 2012 election cycle, please keep the following in mind:
A few months ago, a friend of mine who is a teacher in the district posted the following in a public forum:
“The Director of Budget also mentioned that another override would again be voted on in 2012. After trying to pump up faculty and staff to get more community members registered to vote so it passes easily, I asked him if the district was prepared to push to get the override on the ballot again as soon as possible (like was done last time around) if it were to be voted down in 2012. He laughed off the suggestion and said Flagstaff historically passes overrides. Last time around people just weren’t paying attention.”
FUSD is working hard behind the scenes to make sure voters pass this override and that means we will have to fight even harder to make sure it fails. As the election gets closer I will be reviving my PAC against the override, encouraging voters to write the paper explaining why they are opposed to another override, and going door to door asking voters to vote no. I hope you will join me.
In the meantime, please consider joining the Flagstaff Residents Against the FUSD Override Facebook Page.
02-16-2012 UPDATE: Today’s edition of the Arizona Daily Sun shows that FUSD lost 622 more students this year. With enrollment way down, staff reduced, and schools closed, why does the district need another tax override?
People are leaving the district because FUSD is spending money on distractions rather than education. Why should we reward them with more money to mismanage?
03-01-2012 UPDATE: FUSD is really going overboard with the fear mongering in today’s edition of the Arizona Daily Sun. This would be hilarious if it wasn’t so pathetic and predictable.
By Elisha Dorfsmith
Yesterday I was killing some time at the Old Town Shops in downtown Flagstaff. While I was sitting there I started flipping through the current edition of the Lumberjack and came across another article on the recent free speech incident at NAU.
This seems to be a story that won’t go away. Hardly a day goes by where there is not at least some mention of it in the AZ Daily Sun or other local media. Yesterday’s paper was no exception as a letter to the editor was published supporting the students. While I take some exception to the author labeling them as tea party students (I have no idea if these students consider themselves to be part of the tea party or not) I do appreciate his thoughts.
One thing that all of the articles, letters, editorials and of course the youtube video have in common is lots and lots of comments from people (many of them leaders in local education and government) saying that rules are rules that must be followed even if we disagree with them. Some have even said that we should not question rules because even if we don’t understand them they are there for a reason and exist with our best interests in mind.
As I was sitting in the Old Town Shops reading the Lumberjack article, “Save The Peaks” activists walked through leaving a trail of anti Snowbowl leaflets.
This got me to thinking. I read lots of local political blogs, message boards and facebook pages and some of the most vocal critics of the NAU students are strongly supporting the Save The Peaks activists who are going way beyond questioning rules and are actually breaking countless laws and vandalizing public and private property to get their message across.
Furthermore, many of those critical of the free speech incident at NAU (including teachers) encouraged and even facilitated civil disobedience by staging a massive walkout of middle and high school students to protest SB1070 in front of Flagstaff City Hall. Many rules were broken and leaders at NAU and Flagstaff Unified School District (not to mention several local activist groups who are now attacking conservative NAU students) applauded these kids for taking a stand and questioning the law.
In addition to local issues, some of the same groups who are attacking the free speech defenders at NAU for possibly “blocking hall traffic” or “violating fire codes” held solidarity protests at Flagstaff City Hall supporting the Wisconsin union protests. Protests that included teachers illegally pulling kids out of school and breaking into the capital building. Apparently, damaging and breaking into a public building and violating every fire code on the books qualifies as an appropriate “time, place and manner” if it’s for the right cause.
Please keep in mind that there were only three (3) NAU students standing against a wall on 9/11 handing out flags. Keep in mind that the students were NOT being disruptive or disturbing studies. Keep in mind that the video of the incident clearly shows plenty of room as foot traffic flows smoothly through the hall. The fire hazard claim by NAU staff does not hold up and no matter how you look at it, spontaneous free speech was suppressed.
NAU Dean of students, Rick Brandel, is quoted in the Lumberjack article as saying:
“In this case, it sort of became the issue of free speech, my right for that, versus does the university have the right to say, ok here’s where we would like you to facilitate that free speech.”
That statement alone throws up all kinds of red flags for me. I am very thankful that some NAU students are taking a stand and questioning policy that restrict free expression on a public campus paid for with my tax dollars.
Regardless of how you feel about any of the above examples of rules being questioned and laws being broken, you have to admit that there is a massive double standard. Those who are complaining the loudest about conservative NAU students defending their rights often encourage and support the breaking of rules and policy when it comes to promoting their own agenda.