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
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.
By Elisha Dorfsmith
Today I had the opportunity to talk with LD6 Arizona State Representative Bob Thorpe about yesterday’s hearing in the Arizona House Government and Higher Education Committee on Civil Asset Forfeiture reform. I have endorsed his reform bill in previous posts on my blog and have been anxious for it to start moving forward.
Unfortunately, I learned today that committee chairs are still refusing to allow this bill to advance. This is largely due to push back by prosecutors and police groups who profit from confiscating property and cash from people who are not convicted or even charged with a crime.
Below is the entire video of yesterday’s hearing. It is very eye opening and worth listening to. After watching it, one thing is very clear to me, we need an even bigger push for these reforms next session. We need to get this bill passed and signed by the governor.
By Elisha Dorfsmith
During last year’s City Charter campaign I strongly argued against the option to have the Flagstaff City Council election on the same date as the state and national general election. While the alternative was not perfect (spring of odd-numbered years) I felt it was better than having City Council races on the same ballot as the President of the United States.
My biggest fear at the time was that having the City election on the same cycle and same day as other high profile races would turn the local non-partisan contests into partisan battles. Local candidates would be competing against congressional and state races for air time and press with some advertising going to the highest bidder. The cost of campaigning would be much higher for Council candidates than in past years.
This would lead to local candidates being forced to raise more money and piggyback on volunteers who are working on large scale campaigns for Democrats and Republicans. There would be a big incentive to turn what used to be local independent races that focused on local problems, into large scale campaigns that distract from the issues locals really care about. Additionally, political parties and outside dark money groups would certainly have a bigger influence in the City as they started pouring cash and resources into the local elections.
Unfortunately, the charter change to move the election date to November won by a landslide and it appears that my biggest concerns are now starting to come true. Last week former “independently minded” candidate Jim McCarthy announced he was running for City Council as a Democrat. His campaign signs even say “Democrat for Flagstaff Council”.
The days of local issues oriented, non-partisan Council races are no more and we are all worse off because of it. At a time when more and more voters are running away from the party system and shedding (R) and (D) labels, Flagstaff seems to be running in the opposite direction.
The above post by McCarthy was posted on Facebook a couple days ago.
By Elisha Dorfsmith
A bill introduced by Republican State Senator John Kavanagh seeking to regulate private drones easily sailed through the Senate Transportation Committee at the Arizona capital this afternoon. SB1449 should clear the Senate Judiciary Committee later this week and is quickly heading for a full vote in the State Senate in the coming days.
While there are some decent arguments on all sides of this bill, the biggest concern I have with it is that it exempts law enforcement from having to follow the same rules that drone hobbyists will have to obey.
The bill summary makes this very clear:
“Allows a law enforcement agency to operate an unmanned aircraft for an investigation or a search and rescue operation.”
Digging deeper into the details, this bill says that if you fly your drone over someone’s private property without permission you are committing a misdemeanor. If you film certain facilities (prisons, hospitals, water treatment plants etc.) without written permission you are committing a felony.
On the other hand, if law enforcement is flying over and filming your backyard (or any other place) for any reason, they get a free pass to do so.
Yesterday I was interviewed by Cronkite News (Arizona PBS) about this problem and today they published a paragraph about my concerns:
“It’s not just hobbyists who would feel the impact of new regulations. Elisha Dorfsmith, a Flagstaff resident and Flagstaff Liberty Alliance board member, said he opposes Kavanagh’s bill because it doesn’t explicitly prohibit law enforcement officers from using drones without a warrant.”
You can read the entire article here:
There are legitimate concerns that individuals may use drones to invade people’s privacy but many of these concerns are already covered under existing law. The bigger concern is passing laws that limit individual rights while exempting government from these same laws.
I would argue that government snooping is a bigger threat to my privacy than my neighbor flying his drone over my backyard.
By Elisha Dorfsmith
As Arizona’s next legislative session nears, we’re learning about some of the bills that will be proposed early next year…and many of them are very pro liberty.
I have already discussed a very important bill proposed by LD6 Representative Bob Thorpe calling for much needed Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform, which I strongly support.
Today we find a lot of press for another pro liberty bill that would allow Arizona students to grow and eat their own food in public schools. Currently you can grow food at a public school but the moment you cut it with a knife it becomes prepared food and has to be regulated.
This school food bill is receiving bipartisan support and the chances of passage at this early point seem very promising. You can read much more about it here:
Of course, the moment government regulation and power is threatened, there is strong push back from those who want to retain complete control.
Thorpe’s Civil Asset Forfeiture bill is already being attacked by police unions and prosecuting attorneys. Expect the school food bill to also be targeted (remember how Flagstaff’s local food resolution was killed by local control freaks).
It is our duty as Arizonans to let the legislature know that we want these liberty bills passed. I will be posting action alerts with contact information once these and other pro liberty bills are introduced.
Come January we will need hundreds of people sending emails and making phone calls so we can ensure our positions are heard.
By Elisha Dorfsmith
Flagstaff social media is buzzing with concern and disappointment that council voted 4-3 on Tuesday to change the number of council members it takes to move an item to the second stage from 3 to 4. Critics are saying that this change undermines democracy and will shut out public participation in the city process.
While I have been and remain neutral on this issue (if anything I lean toward one vote to move something to the next phase), I feel it is important to separate the facts from the fear.
The truth is, this rule change doesn’t really do much at all. Here is how things will work moving forward:
A council member or citizens with a petition will submit a request for a future agenda item. A few weeks later, that item will be put on an agenda as a FAIR (Future Agenda Item Request). At that point, the public has the opportunity to show up and speak for or against the item. After public participation, council will vote to see if they have enough interest to move the item forward. It will now take four votes instead of three if council wants to get staff involved and move the item to a regular agenda.
The key thing to remember here is that public participation is still intact. The democratic process is still intact. The only thing this rule change really changes is the staff time involved on items that ultimately don’t move forward.
Interestingly, there was a time not long ago when council required four votes to move something forward and also did NOT allow public participation on Future Agenda Item Requests.
Council recently, under the direction of Jeff Meilbeck, changed the rules to allow public participation on the FAIR section of the agenda. I was the ONLY member of the public who showed up to support allowing public comment on these items. The vote was unanimous. Unfortunately, council never received credit from the local paper or left leaning political groups for that positive change to improve the democratic process.
Critics of Tuesday’s rule change also mention that they are opposed to the new City Charter change that now requires 25 signatures on a citizen petition before council considers it. They said that this change was another blow to democracy.
What these people don’t seem to understand is that Flagstaff voters voted for that amendment. The majority of voters wanted to change the requirement from 1 to 25 signatures. I strongly opposed that change and voted against it but I was in the minority. This is democracy. On election night we saw the democratic process work.
Back to Tuesday’s meeting, in a final epic hypocritical move, Evans, Barotz, and Putzova joined the rest of council in voting to reject considering a citizen petition regarding parking. They voted against it even though the petition had over 100 signatures on it.
Councilmember Barotz said that these citizens and their petition got in the way of the City process. Evans and Putzova agreed. So, after complaining all night about rule changes that they felt hurt democracy, these three council members ended the session with the biggest slap in the face to the democratic process of the evening.
You really can’t make this stuff up.