Flag Council To Reconsider RV/Boat Parking Restrictions

September 22, 2016 2 comments

By Elisha Dorfsmith

On February 16, 2016 the Flagstaff City Council voted unanimously to approve ordinance 2016-07 which contained sweeping changes to the Flagstaff Zoning Code. Among those changes were new restrictions on RV, boat and trailer parking which put major limitations on where you could park on your own property.

Much like Flagstaff’s recently passed Party Ordinance and rejected Property Maintenance Ordinance, residents were told that citations would only be issued on a complaint driven basis and only gross offenders would be targeted. What the City conveniently left out is the busybody element that always goes along with these types of laws.

We have one guy going around our neighborhood complaining about everyone.” Writes Susan McCullough, founder of the facebook group Flagstaff RV/Boat/Trailer Code Breakers & Friends, a group dedicated to making changes to the ordinance.

“You can park in your backyard or interior side yard (between houses, but not on the street side of your house). The front of the rig must be behind the front of your house. Even if you have a paved driveway specifically for your rig, you are not allowed to park it there.”

McCullough joined with concerned neighbors and other Flagstaff residents and was successful in getting a FAIR (Future Agenda Item Request) on the October 4th City Council agenda. At the October 4th meeting, at least four council members will need to support moving this request forward in order for the City to revisit the RV/Boat parking part of the City Code.

If you have an opinion on this ordinance, you can contact the entire Flagstaff City Council at council@flagstaffaz.gov

14344854_10108899403211444_5201988726932933201_n

An illegally parked RV in Flagstaff.

My Choices For The November 8th, 2016 General Election (Cheat Sheet)

September 15, 2016 Leave a comment

By Elisha Dorfsmith

Someone recently asked me for a condensed version (or cheat sheet) of my November 8th, 2016 general election recommendations that can be easily printed and taken to the polls. While I encourage everyone to research the candidates and issues on their own and come to their own conclusions, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to post my cut and dry recommendations for easy reference.

You can view my detailed take on the candidates here:

https://flagliberty.wordpress.com/2016/09/06/authoritarians-vs-representatives-my-take-on-the-2016-general-election-candidates/

And my detailed take on the propositions here:

https://flagliberty.wordpress.com/2016/09/07/do-it-for-the-children-my-take-on-the-2016-general-election-ballot-initiatives/

Here’s the quick overview:

Flagstaff Mayor — Jerry Nabours

Flagstaff City Council — Jeff Oravits, Charlie Odegaard, Karla Brewster

Coconino County Board District 3 — Christine Gannon

Coconino County Board District 4 — Janis Crosman

FUSD Board — Danielle Lawrence, Carole Gilmore

Coconino County Recorder — Write in “None of The Above”

Coconino County Assessor — Write in “None of The Above”

Coconino County Superintendent Of SchoolsWrite in “None of The Above”

Coconino County Treasurer — Write in “None of The Above”

Coconino County Attorney — Write in “None of The Above”

Coconino County Sheriff — Jim Driscoll

Judges — Write in “None of The Above”

State Senator Legislative District 6Nikki Bagley

State Representative Legislative District 6 — Write in “None of The Above”

Corporation CommissionWilliam Mundell

Congressional District 1Write in “None of The Above”

United States Senate — Write in “None of The Above”

President of the United States — Anybody But Hillary

Proposition 205 — YES

Proposition 206 — NO

Proposition 410 — NO

Proposition 411 — NO

Proposition 412 — NO

Proposition 413 — NO

Proposition 414 — NO

i-voted

 

Do It For The Children: My Take On The 2016 General Election Ballot Initiatives

September 7, 2016 2 comments

By Elisha Dorfsmith

(NOTE: This post is the second and final part in my November 8th, 2016 General Election recommendations. You can find my take on the candidates here: https://flagliberty.wordpress.com/2016/09/06/authoritarians-vs-representatives-my-take-on-the-2016-general-election-candidates/)

Every election year we are inundated with ballot initiatives and propositions. Often, the arguments in the ballot pamphlet plead with us to cast our vote one way or another because its for the kids. Putting “children” into the argument is a proven technique that helps special interest groups on all sides of the political spectrum tug at your heart strings in the hope that they can sway your vote and get you to react emotionally on election day.

The purpose of this post is to remind you not to fall for the “do it for the children” line while at the same time letting you know my recommendations for election day.

Proposition 205 (Recreational Marijuana)

Arizona State Senator Sylvia Allen has been sending out a lot of emails lately about Proposition 205. If this prop passes and things turn out the way she expects them to, your kids will be injecting themselves with heroin within days after passage. If for some reason the little ones don’t find the gateway to harder drugs right away, they will still be walking around stoned because they accidentally ate marijuana candy. In her view, we must vote against this because…THE CHILDREN.

While Allen’s fear mongering is laughable, I do have some very big concerns about this particular proposition. For one, I am a supporter of complete decriminalization of cannabis. If we are not free to put what they want into their own bodies, how can we claim to live in a free society? Unfortunately, this bill has major limits and excessive taxes attached to it and puts larger production in the hands of a select few. There is a lot of cronyism here.

For those who think this proposition will allow them to grow up to six plants of their own without being harassed by the police, just keep in mind that you’re walking a fine line. Seven plants will be a felony and if together they weigh over two pounds you’re looking at mandatory prison time. This bill also allows cities to put restrictions on recreational marijuana and leaves room for local bans if a council feels cannabis is detrimental to the community.

I certainly understand the argument from some marijuana activists who plan to vote no on this in the hope that a decent proposition makes the ballot at a future date. Still, I will be voting YES, partly because I believe that it will keep a few people out of prison but also because if it passes it will be eye opening to watch elected officials and law enforcement argue on the record that we must keep putting people with a few plants in prison.

Side note: I believe opponents of legal marijuana are on the losing side of history as one state after another practices nullification and guts federal drug laws. Eventually, cannabis will be legal everywhere.

Proposition 206 (Statewide Living Wage And Mandated Paid Sick Leave)

Proposition 206 will raise Arizona’s minimum wage to $12.00 an hour over the next couple years and will also require employers big and small to offer paid sick leave for all employees, including part time employees. While this may sound great on the surface, the unintended consequences of this proposition are far reaching. Entry level jobs will be impacted, costs will increase and many of the people this law is supposed to help will be impacted.

There are those out there who think all businesses, big and small, are greedy and evil and need to share the wealth. I would like to remind these people that many of their friends and neighbors who are business owners are struggling just to get by and forcing them to raise prices, lay off employees or shut down completely is not the answer.

As Flagstaff City Council Candidate Jamie Whelan said at a recent debate:

“I have to go off my personal experience,” Whelan, who co-owns the Old Town Creperie, said. “I’m a small business owner, and we employ four other people. We could not make it doing $15 an hour.”

Many many other business owners across Arizona won’t be able to make it on $12 an hour. I will be voting NO!

Proposition 414 ($15 Living Wage In Flagstaff)

A few Flagstaff activists worked hard to one up the state living wage initiative by proposing their own $15 an hour living wage proposition. The incredible thing about this proposal is that it delves deeply into uncharted territory by not including any exemptions whatsoever.

Entry level jobs, part time high school students, restaurant workers who get tips, all will be making $15 an hour if this is approved on election day. That is, if they still have jobs. No employer is going to hire a part time high school student for $15 an hour when they can hire someone with experience for the same position. This proposition prices many entry level employees right out of the workforce.

Flagstaff Needs A Raise, the group behind Prop 414, is really laying the “for the children” propaganda on thick. They have been posting various memes all over social media to drum up support. Here’s an example:
raise

How can I vote NO after seeing that? Do I even have a soul? I will be casting a “heartless” NO vote.

Proposition 413 (McMillan Mesa Open Space Initiative)

Trust me, I love open space as much as the next guy but there are some things you should know about proposition 413 also known as the McMillan Mesa Open Space Initiative. First, the people pushing hard for this live right up against the open space they want to protect. They want you to vote to ensure they have a bigger back yard. Secondly, proponents are using fear tactics and false information to sell their proposal by claiming it is part of Buffalo Park. Its working! I cannot count the number of people who have told me I have to vote for this to protect Buffalo Park. Even the Daily Sun ran an inaccurate letter saying the funds from this prop should not only be used to protect Buffalo Park but to improve it (thanks for making sure the facts are intact Randy Wilson).

The deception and misleading agenda behind this ballot measure ensures a giant NO vote from me. To the organizers of this proposition, next time you want something and you want my vote, try to be halfway honest when you advocate for it.

Proposition 412 (New City Courthouse)

The City had opportunity after opportunity to propose a much needed new courthouse near the police station off Sawmill. There were several pieces of land that were available. Instead, the City keeps insisting on building a new courthouse downtown where it is more expensive to build and less practical to use. Last time the City proposed a courthouse downtown it was voted down. I hope you will join me in voting NO once again since the City has a hard time getting the message sometimes.

Proposition 411 (NAIPTA Sales Tax Renewal)

Every government entity keeps knocking on my door asking for funding and this year NAIPTA is among them. While I appreciate the local bus service, I also feel they should look for funding sources outside of taxation. I would much rather see the bus service set up as a nonprofit accepting voluntary donations. Don’t force the taxes on everyone. I will be voting NO.

Proposition 410 (Coconino Community College Tax Hike)

A couple years ago Coconino Community College proposed a substantial property tax hike and voters gave it a resounding NO. At that time, even employees of the college cited waste and mismanagement as a reason for voting against it. This year CCC is at it again and it sounds like voters are leaning toward giving them the money. Of course, proponents say it will only raise your property taxes by a few dollars so you should pitch in “for the children” and “the veterans” and “the nurses” and probably the puppies. As I’m sure you guessed, I voted NO in 2013 and I will be voting NO this year as well.

Authoritarians Vs. Representatives: My Take On The 2016 General Election Candidates

September 6, 2016 4 comments

By Elisha Dorfsmith

The November 8th, 2016 General Election ballot promises to be one of the longest ballots in Flagstaff history as City candidates and local ballot measures are added for the first time to the already overflowing County, State and Federal ballot. The purpose of this post is to help guide voters through the maze of candidates and issues and offer my humble recommendations on as many races as possible.

This year you will not find many third party candidates on the ballot (except for in the presidential race). You can thank our local LD6 representatives for that, along with the rest of the Republicans in the state legislature. Their push for HB2608 made it extremely difficult, if not impossible for third party candidates to qualify for ballot access in Arizona.

With third party candidates pushed out, for many races you will see me recommend writing NOTA (None Of The Above) in the write in section of the ballot. These write in votes are counted in the generic “write in” section of the election results and are a great way to register your dissatisfaction with the choices (or lack of choices) for any particular race.

Below is an example I selected at random from the Coconino County Elections website. It shows that 15 people were not happy with the two choices they were given in the Democratic primary for BOS District 4. If write in votes are in the hundreds or thousands they can send a very strong message to the parties and the media that voters are unhappy.

write-in-votes

While the November ballot will likely start with the Presidential race and work down to local races, I feel local races are the most important and will focus on them first. Local politicians consistently impact our day to day lives with their decisions and they are the ones we have the best chance of reaching out to when making our concerns heard.

For the sake of space, I don’t plan to go too much into detail about where the candidates stand on specific issues. If you would like to know how the City and County candidates feel about the issues you care about, Flagstaff Liberty Alliance put out a great candidate survey and posted responses here:

http://flagstafflibertyalliance.com/2016-candidate-survey/

In past elections I framed my election suggestions in the context of who is the most libertarian minded. Since the term “Libertarian” seems to be objective and mean almost anything (or nothing) these days, I have decided to divide many of my choices between representatives and authoritarians.

I may not agree with the candidates I support on every issue but they are people who I feel are most likely to listen to and respond to my concerns. Authoritarians, on the other hand, believe they have the right to use the force of government to tell you how to run your life. Of course, other factors contributed to my decisions but representatives vs. authoritarians seems like an appropriate mindset we all should have when considering candidates this year.

Flagstaff Mayor

I may not agree with Mayor Jerry Nabours on all of his high profile votes but Nabours has a track record of consistently listening to my concerns and explaining the reasoning behind his votes when we disagree. When I contacted him with concerns about a police shooting that left an unarmed suspect dead earlier this year, he took my concerns directly to the City Manager and Chief of Police, got answers to my questions, and got back with me as quickly as he could. He is the perfect example of a representative.

His competitor, on the other hand, blocked me on facebook for simply letting her know that a law she was pushing was unnecessary because it was already on the books.

The choice for Flagstaff Mayor is very clear. I will be voting for Mayor Jerry Nabours.

Flagstaff City Council

There are three openings on the Flagstaff City Council this year and there are six candidates running for those three positions. I have had the opportunity to speak with all of the candidates who are running many times and am proud to cast my votes for Jeff Oravits, Charlie Odegaard and Karla Brewster. Oravits and Brewster have a long track record of standing up for the issues I care about and I believe Odegaard will join them in being a great representative of the people of Flagstaff!

Coconino County Board of Supervisors District 3

It is time for positive change on the Coconino County Board and that change carries the name Christine Gannon. Gannon is dedicated to freedom and liberty and representing the people in her district as well as countywide. I do not live in District 3 but if I did I would be casting my vote for Christine Gannon.

Coconino County Board of Supervisors District 4

My friend Josh Collier ran a great race in Coconino County District 4 but unfortunately, the GOP voters chose Jim Parks, a tax and spend candidate who is being funded and pushed by outside special interest groups. The Democratic candidate Janis Crosman is not running a campaign based on fiscal responsibility either but nobody really expects Democrats to be for cutting taxes or reducing spending. While Parks will be representing outside special interest groups, I believe Crosman has a better chance of listening to me. I will be voting for Janis Crosman on November 8th.

Flagstaff Unified School District Board

The Flagstaff Unified School District has three seats open and five candidates running including two incumbents. One of those incumbents is Paul Kulpinski who, when voters rejected a 10% tax override, pushed to put a 15% override on the ballot. That kind of disrespect for voters puts Kulpinski in the authoritarian category. Newcomers Carole Gilmore and Danielle Lawrence will be getting my votes because change is needed and they have personally reached out to me…especially Danielle Lawrence who asked for my thoughts on a variety of issues.

County Recorder

Only one candidate, a Democrat is on the ballot. I will be writing in NOTA.

County Assessor

Only one candidate, a Democrat is on the ballot. I will be writing in NOTA.

County Superintendent Of Schools

Only one candidate, a Democrat is on the ballot. I will be writing in NOTA.

County Treasurer

Only one candidate, a Democrat is on the ballot. I will be writing in NOTA.

Coconino County Attorney

The Coconino County Attorney race is a perfect example of how the Republicans in the legislature worked to limit your choices. We have Democrat Bill Ring running unopposed because Republicans didn’t run any candidates and Jonathan Apirion, the Libertarian in the race, faced impossible odds and failed to get his name on the ballot. Thanks for limiting my choices Bob Thorpe, Brenda Barton and Sylvia Allen. I will be writing in NOTA.

Coconino County Sheriff

In Coconino County we have the choice between an Independent who has spent most of his law enforcement career waging the war on drugs against citizens and a Democrat, Jim Driscoll, who is a bit more balanced and more responsive to community policing. As usual, Republicans didn’t run any candidates in this race. Jim Driscoll will be getting my vote.

Judges

All judges in Coconino County are running unopposed. Once in it is almost impossible to unseat a judge. In all of these races I will be writing in NOTA.

State Senator Legislative District 6

Time after time State Senator Sylvia Allen has been an embarrassment to residents in LD6. This campaign cycle she seems to be running as a one issue candidate against marijuana. Her anti marijuana emails have become so frequent that at one point my wife wrote her back and asked if there was anything else she cared about. Allen’s challenger this year is Nikki Bagley, a fiscally responsible pro gun Democrat. Bagley was at the Coconino County fair over the weekend and scored a lot of points with liberty minded friends who were there. The authoritarian vs. representative theme fits perfectly here. Nikki Bagley will get my vote.

State Representative Legislative District 6

State Representatives Brenda Barton and Bob Thorpe were a big part of the push to keep third party candidates from qualifying for the Arizona ballot. This is not the only issue where they showed authoritarian tendencies but it is one of the highest profile issues. Unfortunately, the Democrat in the race is also an authoritarian and I could never vote for him. To Thorpe’s credit, he worked recently to reform civil asset forfeiture laws but police unions and prosecuting organizations killed his bill. He may be the only chance we have of bringing the bill back in the next session so that is one good reason to vote for him. I personally will be voting NOTA.

Corporation Commission

All of the Republicans, including Bob Burns who pretends to be fighting for you are beholden to special interest groups. Democrat Tom Chabin is by far the worst representative I have ever known (he used to be my state representative). That leaves William Mundell who will be the only candidate I vote for in this race.

Congressional District 1

Democrats were dancing on primary night when they saw that Paul Babeu was the Republican choice for CD1. They have so much dirt on him that the GOP pretty much handed the Dems the seat. Babeu will be up against Tom O’Halleran and I cannot support either. Casting a big NOTA in this race.

United States Senate

John McCain vs. Ann Kirkpatrick? Both pushed to expand the Patriot Act, trample your Second Amendment rights and meddle in your personal life. I will vote NOTA.

President of the United States

I have heard good reasons to vote for Jill Stein. I have heard good reasons to vote for Gary Johnson. I have even heard good reasons to vote for Donald Trump. But I have not heard one good reason to vote for Hillary Clinton. So my suggestion this election cycle is vote for anyone but Hillary…even if that anyone is NOTA.

For my take on the ballot measures, please visit:

https://flagliberty.wordpress.com/2016/09/07/do-it-for-the-children-my-take-on-the-2016-general-election-ballot-initiatives/

Categories: Uncategorized

Parks For Special Interests, Collier For The People

August 9, 2016 1 comment

By Elisha Dorfsmith

As early voting begins in the August 30th primary, the difference between the two candidates vying for the Republican nomination for Coconino County Board of Supervisors District 4 is becoming abundantly clear. One is going all out for the lobbyists supporting his campaign and one is working hard to address local issues that local citizens are concerned about.

Here are some of the differences between the candidates that voters should keep in mind as they prepare to vote.

Jim Parks has thousands of dollars from outside special interest groups, including the mining industry, pouring money into the race on his behalf. When your campaign is funded by special interest groups, that means they own you. Josh Collier has, for the most part, only spent around $500 of his own money.

Jim Parks is not responding to any local candidate surveys. Josh Collier has responded to each and every local organization that reaches out to him. How you respond (or not respond) to your constituents during a campaign speaks volumes about how you will represent your constituents if you are elected.

While mailers from a mining industry PAC say Jim Parks is “fighting for Coconino County taxpayers”, Jim Parks supports raising County property taxes by the maximum allowed 2% each year. If Jim Parks is elected, his first priority is to build a taxpayer funded monument. Josh Collier is opposed to new tax increases and he will work hard to ensure the County approves a budget that spends taxpayer dollars in the most efficient and economical way possible.

parks-e1469374805760

Jim Parks did not respond to the Flagstaff Liberty Alliance candidate survey and so far has not responded to several other local organizations including Coconino Coalition For Children & Youth.

13412868_211004045960024_7635482110584712252_n

Josh Collier has laid out in clear detail his plan to represent and be accountable to the people of Coconino County.

Oravits Provides Facts To Prove Divided Council Myth Wrong

August 7, 2016 Leave a comment

By Elisha Dorfsmith

A big myth being perpetuated by critics of the Flagstaff City Council got some real push back in today’s edition of the Arizona Daily Sun. Is there a lack of consensus on council? Is the gridlock as bad as people say?

In less than 150 words Councilmember Jeff Oravits broke down the votes over the past year and showed that out out of 239 votes, only a handful of votes were split. Here are the facts that destroy the myth:

“To say Council has “seen many recent 4-3 votes” is inaccurate.

Of the 239 votes cast this year, ONLY 6%(18 votes) were 4-3, five being multiple reads of the same ordinance. 81% unanimous votes and 94% 5-2 or greater is a LOT of consensus.

The 13 4-3 items voted on: Eliminate specialty appointments, removing CUP requirement for student housing (unanimous vote later reversed this), recess into executive session, carbon tax resolution, request to rearrange agenda order, request to end lobbying efforts to change a state law, 1 board of adjustment appointment, HUB, Water rates, Budget & tax levy.

And it’s not the same three on the opposing side each time. Detailed info@ www.Jeff4Flagstaff.com.

I strive for consensus and collaboration and argue these numbers show a great deal of consensus amongst Council. We represent a constituency of nearly 70,000. Surely 70,000 people do not agree on everything.”

If the Daily Sun cared about accurate reporting they would write an editorial apologizing for helping perpetuate a myth with the wording of this week’s question…but I won’t hold my breath for that.

You can read the other candidate responses here:

http://azdailysun.com/news/opinion/columnists/candidate-question-should-there-more-consensus-on-the-city-council/article_7086da61-5c75-512f-acb6-9be117ee2034.html

13920901_10209799727887434_653782787561038474_n

My son and I getting ready to canvass a neighborhood for Councilman Jeff Oravits, Mayor Jerry Nabours, Councilmemeber Karla Brewster and City Council Candidate Charlie Odegaard. Oravits, Nabours, Brewster and Odegaard have my full support in this election.

 

Flag PD Has Double Standard On Body Camera Footage

July 15, 2016 2 comments

By Elisha Dorfsmith

THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED AT THE END

When Flagstaff Police officer Tyler Stewart was tragically shot and killed last year, some in the public raised concerns that the graphic body camera footage had been released and a Phoenix news station had put the unedited video on YouTube. The Los Angels Times explained that Arizona law requires the footage to be public:

“We have to abide by the Arizona state law when it comes to releasing public records information,” said Flagstaff Deputy Chief Walter Miller, who said officials sought legal advice before determining that they had to release the video under Arizona law.”

What a difference a year makes.

Last Wednesday’s shooting of an unarmed (although reportedly seen with a gun) suspect had the Flagstaff Police Department taking a different direction on the only body camera that actually worked during the incident. From today’s press release:

“Due to the graphic nature of the video and the privacy rights of the suspect and his family the complete video will not be released.”

So which is it? Arizona state law requires police to release the footage or police can pick and choose which footage they want the public to have access to? Body cameras work great to protect the public and the police if they are used properly but what happens when the police police their own footage and decide what we are allowed to see and what we are not? How do we know we are getting the whole story?

Arizona Central has a great article on the topic of public records and they say:

“A court case, meanwhile, has held that a record may only be withheld if a countervailing privacy or confidentiality interest or the “best interests of the state” outweigh the public’s right to know – and the burden is on the party trying to withhold documents to prove the harm that would follow release.”

The Flagstaff Police Department needs to tell us what the harm would be.

As for the other body cameras mentioned above that were at the scene of the shooting, they all failed to work properly. The same Flag PD press release stated:

“Due to technical issues no footage was recorded of the initial contact at the car; Ofc Syers’ camera malfunctioned due to a battery issue and Ofc Seay’s connector cable became detached prior to the incident. Due to the intensity of the moment, Cpl. Lavelle did not activate his camera prior to the shooting. After he fired his weapon, he realized his camera was not operating and immediately activated the camera.”

Really? for those of us who advocated for body cameras for Flagstaff’s police department this is a huge disappointment. We expect them to not only work but be used on the job…especially during high profile cases such as police shootings that leave suspects dead.

Even while taking Flag PD at their word, which many don’t in this case, this whole situation is an embarrassment that fosters distrust and a lack of faith in our local law enforcement.

UPDATE:

About 45 minutes ago The Flagstaff Police Department responded to concerns from citizens including some of the concerns posted in this blog. That response can be found here:

maxresdefault

%d bloggers like this: