By Elisha Dorfsmith
I had a great time guest co-hosting the Jeff Oravits show on 97.1 FM The Big Talker today. We discussed this week’s Flagstaff City Council Meeting, the border wall, robots in the workplace and much much more. Check out the full audio of the show here:
On the show it was mentioned that I live tweet the Flagstaff City Council meetings. You can follow those tweets at:
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:
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.
By Elisha Dorfsmith
Many election cycles voters are forced to choose between the lesser of two evils or write in “None of the Above”. I am happy to say that this election year Coconino County residents will have some real liberty choices on the ballot that we can be proud to support. More liberty candidates may be announcing in the coming weeks but for now, in no particular order, here are some of the great choices you should see on your ballot in November:
Jonathan Apirion For Coconino County Attorney
Flagstaff Liberty Alliance member Jonathan Apirion has announced a run for Coconino County Attorney as a Libertarian. Today’s edition of the AZ Daily Sun has a great article covering his campaign HERE.
Apirion’s website has a long list of issues with well thought out perspective in the context of libertarian minded policy. Check it out and support his campaign. His website address is: apirion.org
Josh Collier For Coconino County Supervisor District 4
Flagstaff Liberty Alliance treasurer Josh Collier has announced a run as a Republican for Coconino County Supervisor District 4 which will be vacated by Mandy Metzger at the end of the year. Collier is a true liberty candidate with a focus on transparency and fiscal responsibility. Getting more citizen involvement in County issues is a priority:
“I am running for Coconino County Board of Supervisors District 4. One of the main issues I see is lack of transparency within government, and I don’t feel as though the county has made any effort to increase transparency through video and audio recording of meetings. As County session meetings are often held midday on Tuesdays, many citizens are not able to attend. For this reason, I believe increasing access to that information may increase citizen participation. The Flagstaff City Council meetings, as well as the city commission meetings, are all video recorded and I see no reason why the county should not do the same.”
Collier’s facebook page can be found HERE. Check it out and support his campaign.
Christine Gannon For Coconino County Supervisor District 3
Former Flagstaff Liberty Alliance President Christine Gannon has announced a run as a Republican for Coconino County Supervisor District 3. She will be running against four term Democrat Matt Ryan. Gannon’s campaign is also focusing on transparency as well as getting back to the basic functions of government:
“I believe that it’s time for new faces and new ideas on the County Board of Supervisors. The County needs to refocus its efforts and get back to the roots of government – road maintenance, utilities & services improvement, and creating an atmosphere that allows for sustainable economic growth.”
Gannon’s website can be found HERE. Check it out and support her campaign.
Re-elect Jeff Oravits For Flagstaff City Council
Since he was elected to the Flagstaff City Council four years ago, Councilman Jeff Oravits has worked tirelessly to ensure that issues and concerns relating to liberty are addressed. His lone vote against Flagstaff’s overreaching party ordinance is just one example of the many times he has been the single liberty voice on council.
Regarding other issues that you have read about in my blog, Oravits was the driving force at the council level for changes to the Animal Keeping ordinance that encourage and legalize urban farming in Flagstaff. He also advocated for streaming and posting all public city meetings including budget and commission meetings.
Oravits is a strong proponent for government transparency and publishes all of his council votes on his blog so the public can see how he and other council members voted. You can find his blog HERE. Check it out and support his re-election campaign.
Meet The Candidates
The candidates mentioned above, along with other candidates for local and statewide races, will be in attendance at a legislative update event hosted by Flagstaff City Councilman Jeff Oravits.
When: Monday, May 16th from 5:30 PM -7:00 PM
Where: 2501 N. 4th Street in Flagstaff
Legislative RECAP from Speaker of the House David Gowan. City update from Mayor Jerry Nabours.
FREE event, includes pizza and soft drinks.
Legislative Recap: Speaker of the House David Gowan
City Update: Mayor Jerry Nabours
Brief introduction of City Council & County Board of Supervisors Candidates by Jeff Oravits.
Flagstaff City Councilman Jeff Oravits (second from left) takes time for a picture with Flagstaff Liberty Alliance at the Coconino County Fair.
By Elisha Dorfsmith
Frequent readers of my blog know that I have long advocated for changes to existing City laws that discourage urban farming and keeping animals for food in Flagstaff.
Flagstaff Liberty Alliance and other groups I work with have put forward ordinances and resolutions and creative solutions but we have always faced a lot of opposition from various groups in town and from some council members.
This year things were different and supporters of urban farming finally succeeded with the Flagstaff City Council approving very positive changes to the animal keeping part of the City Code by a 7-0 vote.
These changes go above and beyond anything we ever hoped for and even include the legalization of small animal slaughter and beekeeping.
Today these changes are highlighted in an excellent article in the Daily Sun which is linked below.
Thanks to everyone who got involved to make this happen and special thanks to Councilmember Jeff Oravits for being the driving force on council to get these changes approved!
You can read the Daily Sun article here:
By Elisha Dorfsmith
I was in attendance at last night’s Flagstaff City Council meeting where Flagstaff Liberty Alliance showed up to oppose the second reading of the City’s overreaching party ordinance.
Thanks so much to Councilman Jeff Oravits for his lone NO vote. Unfortunately it passed 6-1.
At the meeting, Flagstaff City Councilmember Celia Barotz dismissed FLA’s concerns and insisted that this language in the ordinance would only apply to trouble makers at a gathering. Interestingly, the Daily Sun interpreted the ordinance the same way Flagstaff Liberty Alliance did.
“If the amendments are approved any and all of the persons at the nuisance party could be cited and fined individually for the offense.”
Barotz and Flag PD insisted that the offenses in the ordinance that say “including but not limited to” would apply only to noise disturbances. Flagstaff Liberty Alliance was concerned that the “not limited to” language would give police unlimited reasons to cite event attendees. I strongly question Flagstaff PD’s argument. If this really is strictly about noise, then how can they list littering as one of the possible offenses? Last I checked, throwing plastic cups on the ground was not excessively noisy.
The Flagstaff Police Department also told attendees to trust them to use their judgement to enforce the law properly and only go after the bad guys. It reminded me of when the Flagstaff Police Department showed up to my house a few years ago because of a barking dog complaint. They knocked on my door and the dog barked from inside the house. They left us a warning saying that when they knocked the dog barked and if it happened again we would get a fine. How do you like that judgement? We had to get rid of our dog because you can’t keep a dog from barking inside your home when a cop knocks loudly.
The City who created the original ordinance that Flagstaff’s ordinance was crafted from was sued and the ordinance tied up in court. I expect the ACLU and others to push back against the City of Flagstaff on this one. Some of the language in the ordinance seems like it could infringe on people’s right to assemble.
Josh Collier of Flagstaff Liberty Alliance speaks against the Party Ordinance at last night’s meeting.
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?
Thanks for your support!
Councilman Jeff Oravits”
If you have an opinion on this, you can contact the entire Flagstaff City Council at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Elisha Dorfsmith
A food freedom resolution created by Flagstaff Liberty Alliance cleared a major hurdle last night when the Flagstaff City Council voted to officially place it on a future agenda. Councilmember Oravits, Councilmember Brewster and Mayor Nabours provided the three required votes needed to move it forward.
Next, City staff will review the resolution and it will be placed on a work session agenda in October. Since the resolution is now officially an agenda item, members of the public will be able to speak in support at the October meeting. I will update my blog when I confirm the exact date.
One of the biggest challenges to the food resolution is the abundance of misinformation surrounding it. Councilmember Overton said he was contacted by Flagstaff residents who told him they believe this resolution is an attempt to legalize the cultivation of marijuana. I’m not sure what would give people that impression but rumors do get started and this seems to be a rumor that is circulating around town.
As one of the writers of the resolution, I can speak to its clear purpose and intent. It is a non-binding resolution saying that the City of Flagstaff supports local gardens and the rights of people to raise food for “themselves and their families”. It does not apply to retail or the sale or preparation of food. It will not impact or conflict with any current laws (see paragraph 4). It is simply a statement and a confirmation that Flagstaff supports and encourages people to grow their own food.
Councilmember Barotz (who surprised a lot of people by fiercely opposing the resolution) contributed her own misinformation to the council, arguing at one point that the 300+ signatures presented to council supporting the resolution were actually in support of an ordinance and should not be considered.
Barotz is right that when we started circulating the petitions we were pushing a draft ordinance but what she failed to explain is that the petition we circulated NEVER mentioned the words “ordinance” or “resolution”. We made sure to make it broad enough to cover either. The petition was signed by people who wanted action by local government to protect and support local food freedom. Nobody cared if it was by ordinance or by resolution.
When Barotz realized that there was enough support to move the proposed resolution forward, she asked City Manager Kevin Burke if she could submit a document for council to review. Councilmember Evans alluded to this document earlier in the meeting saying that her understanding was that there are several resolutions out there and the best one should be picked.
What Barotz was attempting to do was submit her own resolution (more on this below) but thankfully Burke shut her down and explained that the only resolution that should be considered is the one Flagstaff Liberty Alliance presented to the Council.
A Little History
Months ago Flagstaff Liberty Alliance put together a draft ordinance that would have had teeth to back it up and would have covered everything from protecting home gardens to easing restrictions on the sale of local food. The group’s Food Freedom Committee reached out to Councilmember Barotz thinking that she would be the perfect councilmember to successfully introduce and rally support for the ordinance.
I did not attend the first meeting Flagstaff Liberty Alliance had with Barotz but she convinced the committee that a resolution making a non-binding strong statement would be much easier to get approved than an ordinance (which is very true). She explained that an ordinance would take a massive amount of staff time and would have to be checked and double checked to make sure it was in compliance with City, State and Federal laws.
After meeting with Councilmember Barotz a draft resolution was written (much of it was borrowed from resolutions that have been successfully passed around the country) by myself with the help of several others. Flagstaff Liberty Alliance had a booth at the annual Earth Day event at City Hall and Barotz stopped by and told us that she was looking forward to working with us on our resolution. Everything seemed to be going as planned. By this time Councilman Oravits had also shown an interest in the resolution and there was talk about Oravits and Barotz introducing the resolution together.
FLA Chair Cindy Dorfsmith had another meeting with Barotz shortly after Earth Day and Barotz once again confirmed that she was in support of the resolution but had a few suggested changes (which she forgot to bring to the meeting). That evening she sent a completely different resolution to us saying:
“Hi Cindy, I’m sorry I forgot to bring this to the meeting this afternoon. My mistake. Here it is for your consideration. Revise as you see fit. Celia”
The Flagstaff Liberty Alliance board was willing to go with Celia’s completely re-written and extremely watered down version with a couple minor changes. Cindy replied:
“Hi Celia, the FLA board members suggested a couple minor changes to the revision you sent. Please take a look and let me know if you are ok with the changes. We would like to present the resolution to the Sustainability Commission on Wednesday if possible. Thanks! Cindy”
“Hi Cindy, Thanks for the track changes to the document. My feeling is that the added language doesn’t add anything meaningful so I would prefer it be taken out. But it’s your resolution so if you want to keep it in and see if Jeff will bring it forward, then please do that. I just don’t think that the added language is necessary. Just let me know what you want to do. Celia”
Cindy asked if Barotz would still support the resolution if Oravits introduced it. Barotz said:
“I’m not sure. Let me think about it. I just think the language sets up an adversarial tone. I will get back to you in a day or so. Celia”
A few days later Barotz wrote:
“Hi Cindy, I gave this some thought last night and I am not sure I will support the resolution with the language your board added back in. I’m not comfortable bringing it forward as it is currently written, so you might want to tell Jeff that he can bring it forward and try to get it on the agenda without me.
I am disappointed since I have put work into re-writing your original draft and overall support the general values statement the resolution is attempting to make. Also, Jeff and I had hoped to bring this forward together.
Please know that if the draft you are now proposing does make it onto the agenda, during the discussion before the vote I might ask the council to take the language you added back out.
Please let me know what you want to do. Thanks, Celia”
By now we were all very frustrated and Cindy replied:
“Celia, I really wish you felt differently. I feel that we have tried to work with you and even accepted 99 percent of the resolution you wrote. You asked me to revise as we felt necessary, yet when we bring a slight change you refuse it. It seems to me that you will only accept your version of this resolution. We had already compromised much of our original resolution in an attempt to gain your support. Honestly I’m not sure what is so bad about the added language. I don’t see it as being adversarial as you said. Cindy”
The discussion concluded with Barotz saying:
“Hi Cindy, If you feel the way you described below, please ask Jeff to bring forward your original resolution rather than what I wrote. In fact, that is probably a better way to go now. Celia”
Of course, Barotz fully expected our resolution to fail and when three Council members supported it at last night’s meeting she went into panic mode and desperately tried to introduce her “my way or the highway” resolution. City Manager Burke wouldn’t let that happen so for now, our resolution stands.
You can read the full resolution Flagstaff Liberty Alliance proposed here:
If you support this resolution, please contact the Flagstaff City Council and let them know. We have to win over at least one more Council member before a final vote is taken. You can contact the Flagstaff City Council here:
We will also be asking people to speak in support of the resolution at the October Flagstaff City Council worksession (I’ll write more about this once a date is confirmed).