By Elisha Dorfsmith
Arizona has a very progressive constitution that allows citizens to sidestep their representatives and pass their own laws. Currently, the Republicans in the legislature are trying to put a stop to this (mainly because they are terrified of legal weed). There are good arguments on both sides of this issue and the question “should pure democracy be allowed in a representative form of government” is a legitimate question.
Interestingly, Flagstaff’s progressives take both sides in this issue. I was once chastised by former Mayor Sara Presler for saying I would start the referendum process if a Property Maintenance Ordinance became law. She told me that I needed to respect our representative form of government by supporting the laws council passed.
Tonight’s Flagstaff City Council Meeting also comes to mind. There is a process in place for citizens and groups to put their own laws on the ballot and sidestep their representatives. Flagstaff Needs A Raise did it last year and Elevate Flagstaff is doing it now. Unfortunately for Elevate Flagstaff, their effort is running into possible roadblocks set by representatives on Council.
Would this whole thing be avoided if we did away with the citizen initiative process? A lot to think about. For now, here’s what the State Legislature is doing:
By Elisha Dorfsmith
Is Coral Evans misleading when it comes to property taxes? Check out the latest video by Stephen Pelligrini and let me know what you think:
By Elisha Dorfsmith
I was happy to join the Oracle Inn Podcast tonight for a discussion on the many aspects of local food and urban farming. Topics covered included local rules and regulations, challenges to local food production, food education and competing with large corporations. You can watch the entire show here:
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 email@example.com
An illegally parked RV in Flagstaff.
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:
And my detailed take on the propositions here:
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 Schools — Write 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 6 — Nikki Bagley
State Representative Legislative District 6 — Write in “None of The Above”
Corporation Commission — William Mundell
Congressional District 1 — Write 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
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 proposition 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 proposition 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:
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.
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.
Josh Collier has laid out in clear detail his plan to represent and be accountable to the people of Coconino County.