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Archive for April, 2015

Proposed Charter Changes: My Thoughts On The May 19, 2015 Flagstaff Special Election

April 23, 2015 1 comment

By Elisha Dorfsmith

As information pamphlets for the May 19, 2015 City of Flagstaff special election arrive in mailboxes, I have been contacted by several people asking my thoughts on the 12 proposed amendments to the City Charter.

As I posted a while back on my blog, the City recently created a Charter Review committee to come up with recommendations for possible changes and updates to the city’s occasionally outdated guiding document. The committee came up with dozens of potential amendments and the Flagstaff City Council chose twelve for a special May election. Additional changes are scheduled to appear on a fall ballot.

The May 19th election focuses mainly on common sense updates and adjustments to the Charter that either give the City flexibility to deal with future state laws or bring the City into compliance with existing laws. When mayoral and council terms begin, filling council vacancies and how to appoint the City clerk and treasurer are just a few of the items addressed.

Of the 12 issues on the ballot, I either strongly support them or am neutral. There are none that I am really opposed to. For the most part, these are needed to keep the City running smoothly and legally.

The fall election will be a completely different story and I will have much stronger opinions when that ballot arrives. The City is saving the controversial changes for last and depending on what the council decides to send to the voters, I will probably be checking NO on many of those.  Stay tuned as that election gets closer.

4-25-2015 UPDATE

After further considering and talking to others about Question 8, I have decided to vote NO. This change would take the vote on a second read of a City ordinance on the same day from unanimous to 3/4. If Council does not have unanimous support for a same day second reading it is probably a controversial issue and the public should have the opportunity for more input.

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Flagstaff Deputy City Manager Jerene Watson and Flagstaff City Clerk Liz Burke speak to Flagstaff Liberty Alliance about proposed changes to the City Charter.

Flagstaff City Council Set To Raise Property Tax

April 20, 2015 1 comment

By Elisha Dorfsmith

Rumors of a possible Flagstaff property tax increase of anywhere from 2-8% have been circulating around Flagstaff for quite some time. Now it sounds like the Flagstaff City Council is getting ready to act and they just might have the votes to move it forward.

The most recent push for an increase is a very real threat and was confirmed moments ago when Flagstaff City Councilman Jeff Oravits posted the following on his facebook page:

“PROPERTY TAX INCREASE?
For 3 years I’ve led the charge to keep the city portion of your property tax bill flat. That’s at risk at tomorrow’s City Council budget hearing.

Want to keep your property taxes from increasing?
Email council@flagstaffaz.gov

Thanks for your support!
Councilman Jeff Oravits”

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

GOP Bully Tactics Make “NOTA” The Only Real Option In Arizona

April 13, 2015 1 comment

By Elisha Dorfsmith

With the help of our very own elected LD6 officials (Brenda, Bob and Sylvia), Arizona Republicans moved this session to make it much more difficult for third party candidates to qualify for ballot access. Republicans have been pushing for this type of legislation for several years because they feel Libertarian candidates steal votes that rightfully belong to the GOP.

This year’s push was unfortunately successful. The Republican sponsored bill HB2608 sailed through the Arizona House and Senate along party lines and early Monday morning the Governor signed it.

While some third party candidates may still meet the high signature threshold that the new law requires, most third party candidates will not. We will undoubtedly see far fewer third party candidates on the Arizona ballot in coming years. This sadly limits voter choice and representation and we are all worse off because of it.

When similar legislation (HB2305) was introduced in the last legislative session, Republicans included several sections that directly impacted and infuriated Democrats. With Libertarians and Democrats both upset, they banded together to fight the bill and to the GOP’s surprise, received enough signatures to put the bill on the ballot to permanently repeal the language. The legislature, knowing that they had lost the battle, quickly repealed the bill on their own before it could go to voters so they could bring it back at a later date.

This session the Republicans got smart. Each section of HB2305 was introduced separately. That increased the chances of passage and kept the Libertarians and Democrats from working together. The Democrats were successful in killing most of the voting bills that they didn’t like in the Senate but Libertarians were not so lucky. Even if the Democrats agree that HB2608 is a stupid bill, it doesn’t directly hurt them and they will not commit the time and financial resources that they did in the massive push against HB2305. In other words, third parties are screwed and Republicans are secretly rejoicing.

With the prospect of less choice on the ballot becoming a big reality, what options do independently minded individuals have to push back against this? The first choice is to not vote at all and I know some friends who have decided to stop voting altogether. That choice doesn’t work for me because I strongly value the idea of a protest vote and like to officially register my complaint. This leaves one option…write in NONE OF THE ABOVE.

While None of the Above is not a qualified write in candidate, every write in vote is tabulated and included in the generic “write in” tally on election day. Having a large percentage of write in votes counted sends a very strong message to our elected officials that voters are sick and tired of the status quo and have no interest in settling for one of the two major party candidates. If a large percentage of write in votes are cast, it will strike real fear into the two major parties knowing that these people have the numbers and power to swing an election one way or another if they wanted to.

Republicans are predicting that liberty minded people like you and I will vote for their candidates when our options on the ballot are limited. It is time to prove them wrong and write in “None Of The Above” every time there is not a candidate we can truly support on the ballot.

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