Transcript Of Legislators Forum - Part Iv

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Local Citizen No. 3:

"I'd like to make a comment to that--"

Brewer:

"I'd like to make a rebutt to Mr. Edwards' comments.

"We are not stealing anybody's water.

"The water belongs to George Randall and Roy Haught and Mike Horton who is buying the wells. Horton is paying for the pipe to come into town with his own money. The town currently does not have any money invested in this at all. The water belongs to those gentlemen and they're not doing it to increase density in the town.

"We have a land use plan. It's part of our growing smarter that we all ready went through and made to meet the plan. And so following that land use plan, we have forest service land that comes out of forest service land trusts two, three and four. Those land holdings are (R175?) zoning. Then we go by the land use plan and the corporate strategic plan from there out. And we are not using it to increase density on land that is all ready zoned properly.

"The other thing I want to talk about is prop 301. The Arizona town hall that recommenced prop 301 to the legislature and I was very disappointed to find out that the monies did not go to the classroom. And we lost a lot of our local kids that were teachers in schools here to other states because they pay so much more. That money went to construction, painting, parking lots, landscaping. It didn't go into the classroom as it was intended to and that really disheartens me, to work so hard to prepare a bill for the legislature and have them adopt it and the voters approve it, prop 301, thinking all that money was going to go to the classroom and then it didn't. (unintelligible) I'd like to know where that money went and how it was being used?"

"Is that a district administration problem? Because that is what I understood, is that that money was to go into the classroom," Flake said.

Local citizen No. 3:

"And it was fighting within the teacher's association within themselves, just like we have the fighting within our college here. You can't solve it for us even though that proposition was passed and I worked hard to get it passed. It was originally to be designed with a base salary for teachers in the state of Arizona to go to a standard higher than we were anyway (unintelligible) there were questions, (unintelligible) what about longevity and it got mired there.

Konopnicki:

"Let me just say that it is easy to ask for somebody else to solve your problems. But when I think about the federal government, I am very pleased that I don't get all the government I pay for."

(laughter)

Konopnicki:

"The state of Arizona has a lot of people who would like to solve all your problems. The thing I have learned in my short tenure there is that in rural Arizona we don't want them to solve our problems and if the issue becomes big enough then the state would have to step in. But if you can solve it yourself between the municipalities you'll be much better off, because you know what needs to be done, rather than them. If it were the three of us you'd have a shot a doing it. But remember there's 87 more that we have to convince and they want one thing. They don't want Payson to build. They want the water to come down there so that they can build. (unintelligible)

"You wanted to have a rebuttal to that, and then Ron Christensen."

Edwards:

"You misunderstood what I was saying. I don't want the state legislature to solve this problem. I'm saying that you folks, who have a vital interest here, can play a big role as a legislature, as legislators in mediating to solve this problem. As I think can Tommie, and Tommie I think has already shown some interest and Shirley has too.

"What I'm saying is that you are not going to get this problem resolved because the fiefdoms here don't want to give up their kingdoms, OK. And when a town is allowed to go out into, and the Mayor says they are not stealing the water, the proof out there thus far, the evidence out there thus far, say that when that well goes into play giving water that the shallow wells out there will dry up. That just somehow doesn't seem right to me.

"I think you can play a big role in that. I've seen it done before with legislators and I think if we did again we'd all be pleased in the end. Thank you."

Christensen:

"I just want to talk about solving our own problems here to whatever degree we can. We have to remember the real numbers in Gila county are only about three percent privately owned. And up here in the end of the county it's one half of one percent.

"Now there sits out here this huge federally managed property, supposedly public lands. And I served on the public lands at the national level for a long time and we tried very had to get these opened up for exploration for water. To actually harvest out here, instead of burning down the forest and actually harvest it and get rid of some of this and put in some of the electrical generation plants for other types of use. And I'm still working on that with the Goldwater foundation.

"But we do need all the influence that we can at the state level to address the department of agriculture, department of interior, BLM and all the other land, the tribal sovereignty issues and all the rest of the things that go on out here.

"Blue Ridge is not the only answer to our problems out here. "We have vast areas that have never been explored, never been looked at in terms of water. It is the biggest watershed in the state. I know that Maricopa looks at it and wants it and takes it and has been taking it for a long time. But we gotta find solutions and I do understand and we have to work together.

"It concerns me about the sunset that is coming up on provisional colleges as well. We will have to, together, solve that dilemma with the writing of a bill for the structure on how we preserve the provisional or how we improve it in some way, in which we eliminate the difficulties that we are now facing in rural arizona. If we fail to do that I think we've done a great disservice to the taxpayers in Arizona."

Brown:

"You don't change water law in Arizona overnight. If you want to see any changes on the state level it is going to take a long time and long study. We've got some studies going now of things that might be changed. But water law in Arizona is one of the slowest things in the world to change. (unintelligible) I think we need to work together (unintelligible) and keep the lines of communication open."

Konopnicki:

"We'll do whatever we can to try to get the federal folks to allow us some exploration for water.

"Just thinning the trees would produce a tremendous amount, much more water.

"There's are lots of things that are within our grasp.

"The problem that we have in Arizona, about Maricopa County wagging the tail for the rest of the state, is extenuated into the United States with eastern folks who have no idea what we deal with at all, who pass these laws and force us to live with them. That doesn't make it easier.

"There's a question in the back?"

Judy Baker, director of Mogollon Health Alliance:

"(unintelligible) The thing about the college is that we have a program, it's called Max3. It's located in one of our local gyms. The program has been going on since 1998 and the fact that the college has FTSEs that are going out to this wellness program, recreational credits if you will, and it's greatly impacting my program in the community.

"It concerns me a little bit because the program that I have, in order to get into the program you have to have a doctor's prescription and uh, people are taking those doctor's prescriptions and they are bringing them to the college and they are using the center at the college because they get in free.

"So, I just thought you should be aware that it has a great impact. And it can have a liability impact on the instructors who are taking those prescriptions in. I just wanted to share that with you.

"I'm on an advisory board at the University of Arizona. The fire classes and the firewise people are studying this area concerning fires and the next one we are going to get. They are predicting this summer that Creekside is going to go up. It's going to go up in flames.

"We've got the Dude fire on one end, the Rodeo Chedeski burn out. There's been no fire management in that area whatsoever in over a hundred years. The wooded area is just phenomenal.

"I have a lot of those figures and these studies. (If any of you would like copies, they all did, she said would be happy to provide them.)

Flake:

"I'd be happy to have a copy of it, but I have lived it. I've run cattle on the Tonto Forest and over by Young and the Apache- Sitgreaves all of my life. It's just been 70 years, but I've watched just what you're saying.

"I've watched the loggers go in. Were they always good to the forests, no, sometimes they weren't. Sometimes they left their dead trees they didn't want and the (unintelligible) loggers were the same. Certainly when that stopped, all harvesting of the forest stopped. So mother nature started to harvest it and she does it through fire."

"We're about down to just the last few questions, Scott?" Konopnicki said.

Scott:

"Just a point of clarification. You talked about the sunsetting on the provisional college legislation, however if what happens last year happens this year and we are unsuccessful in defeating it, that the sunset doesn't mean anything to us because we won't have a provisional district to sunset, is that correct?"

Konopnicki:

"Yes.

"It's very important that everybody understands that we are not the enemy. We are part of the team. We've got to work together because we don't want to be in that position.

"The other thing is that there are some advantages and disadvantages to being this close (to the Valley). We have legislators who watch what happens up here and use that against us down there.

"All I'm saying to you, as best we can, there are some very legitimate concerns that aught to be addressed, aught to have answers to them but don't make us be the enemy. We need to work together as a team so that we can solve problems.

"Keeping this college alive is very very important to this county, to this community. We agree with that. I don't think there's anybody here who doesn't.

"Question, yes?"

Karen Benjamin:

"I was just wondering what the frame is for Blue Ridge? Is there any federal help? What are we looking at?"

Brown:

"There's no time frame yet, it's studies, it's not too long back. Studies are being made, and people are trying to figure them out and how to get it done, one of the ways we are going to get it done is all work together to try to get funding from the federal government, if the federal government will consider the funding, plus whatever we might have to do on the local level. A long term bond? It's just something that they are looking at and gotta see.

"I guess the town of Payson is one that really has to look it over and kind of do the preliminary, the basic thing of what they want to see happen."

"Can you also look at options regarding maybe some type of a lake as a reservoir. Not for recreation but for--" said Benjamin

"You're joking," someone in the audience said.

"I'm sure that can be looked at," Brown said.

"Are there any other options besides the pipeline?" Benjamin said.

Brown:

"It hasn't been decided, I just know that they are studying the best method to make it work."

Konopnicki:

"(unintelligible) I know a lot about water but nothing compared to what these guys (Jake and Jack) know. I don't think you are going to have a lake as an option."

Flake:

"I think it's got to be part of the Indian settlements. You've got an Indian tribe right here in your town. And uh, right now we are just trying to solve the Gila River Indian settlement. That's three wells on the (unintelligible) completely yet to do. And actually the Gila River Indians are going to own half of the water of the CAP and the watershed. We are getting quite a lot through that. They were actually the original owners of this water you know, and so I think if we can play it into the Indian settlements it's the best way to get grants from the federal government to bring that pipeline, get the money for that pipeline. Coz you know the state don't have that kind of dollars. The county don't have that kind of dollars. The city don't have that kind of dollars. I think we've got to get some grants from the federal government in order to do it.

"Jake, do you want to make some closing comments?" Konopnicki said.

"You have some controversial issues and when you have controversial issues it's easy to start pointing fingers and say why aren't you doing this and why aren't you doing that? (unintelligible)

"I think everybody in this room wants the same end results. In education, we want our kids educated the best way possible. For our quality of life, we want water in order to grow, or in order to sustain ourselves even if we don't grow. We want our forest clean so we aren't always in danger of burning up. I think we're all after the same aims.

"We've got to put aside some of our fingerpointing, why don't you do this, you do that and start working together toward these aims.

"I think you have a good town council. I think you have a good board of supervisors. I think you've got three pretty good legislators here to represent you and that care about you (unintelligible)

"We've got a nice Indian tribe right here in this town. We've got three in our district, three apache Indian tribes in our district. "I think we've got to get our heads together and say how can we solve our problems. And I think we'll get a long way if we just learn to do that."

Brown:

"I just appreciate being here. I just appreciate having such a nice audience and discussion (unintelligible) My office is open and my phone lines and my whatevers. I don't use that email, my secretary might once in a while, but I'm from the old school (unintelligible). Thank you for coming (unintelligible)"

Konopnicki:

"(unintelligible) We can only do our jobs if we hear from you and it's very important. There are several of you here that are not shy at all about letting us know how you feel. We can only represent you if we know what's on your mind. (unintelligible) If we work together we can do almost anything. If we work against each other we'll defeat ourselves and somebody else will decide for us. (unintelligible)"

(scattered applause)

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