In recent days I have been approached by phone and in person regarding the upcoming election for the school board. With every contact I’ve made, the subject of the conversation is the same: Who should I vote for?
Proposition 204 (“Permanent Sales Tax Increase, Education & Transportation”) is NOT the same temporary tax that is in place now and that will expire in 2013. This is a whole new tax with many changes written into the initiative.
First I would like to thank Pete Aleshire for writing an article about our Democratic primary for U.S. House and spending a line or two establishing who I am as a person and a candidate.
As prosecutors we very much thank and stand firm with Governor Brewer in her denial of the shockingly lenient recommendation from the Board of Executive Clemency in the Robert Flibotte matter. Without even having served one year of his sentence, the Board recommended he serve only five years of a 90-year sentence in the Arizona Department of Corrections. Flibotte was convicted of 10 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, nine of which were designated as dangerous crimes against children because they involved young boys and girls under the age of 15 — one as young as 3 years old.
My name is Tommie Cline Martin and I am a county supervisor for Gila County, Arizona, and a member of the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) Stakeholder Group. Perhaps as important in this conversation, however, is my personal and professional background. My great-grandparents came by wagon into what is now the Payson-Star Valley area in the late 1800s, and my family has lived here from then until now. When they arrived, they found a healthy, functioning, productive land and, as a family, we have watched it deteriorate and die under federal direction and management ever since.
The Grand Canyon Trust has been a longstanding and strong supporter of landscape-scale forest restoration within northern Arizona. We have also been a strong supporter and founding member of the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) — an effort that has unprecedented potential to address the environmental needs of northern Arizona’s forests in a socially responsible and economically viable fashion. We have long awaited the choice by the Forest Service of a preferred contractor for implementing the 4FRI’s first, 10-year contract. From the outset of the 4FRI process, we have supported the bidding process as an open and competitive one, recognizing the importance of finding the best contractor to meet 4FRI’s needs over the coming years.
What does it take to make you cry? A poignant scene in a movie? A friend going through a tough time? A remembrance of a lost love? A tender song from your childhood? A yellowed photo of Mom or Dad, now gone and sorely missed? Tears can be brought to our eyes by all kinds of things. I promise that watching a video of a newborn in the throes of the seizures brought on by maternal/neonatal tetanus will bring tears to the eyes of any caring person. Check YouTube and type in “Eliminate Project” and see for yourself. The babies born to women who have contracted tetanus die within a week of their births, and that death is not a calm, peaceful sleep.
As summer 2012 begins, it is timely to personally update readers regarding the status of our plans to bring a university campus to Payson. First, I want to thank the citizens and businesses of our wonderful community for their support of this initiative. I have seen, heard and felt your enthusiasm at the many neighborhood and community forums held over the past year. Many of you raised valid questions and/or provided excellent ideas. Parents expressed their strong desires for their children to be able to earn college degrees, at a reasonable cost, while remaining close to home. Everyone has been enthusiastic about the much-needed financial benefits the campus will provide to our community, especially because of the long-term economic benefit to Rim Country for decades to come.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department pledges to continue its proven protective management program for bald eagles even though the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently decided that the species in Arizona is not a distinct population segment and does not warrant listing as an endangered species. “The Service’s recent decision has no bearing on Arizona’s bald eagle management program that has been in place for more than 30 years and has led to a more than 600 percent increase in the state’s population,” said Larry Riley, Game and Fish’s assistant director for wildlife management. “Arizona has a nationally-recognized bald eagle management program, that in conjunction with federal protection laws that already exist, will help the species continue to thrive.”
Every year, more than 10,000 children languish in Arizona’s foster care system due to parental abuse or neglect. In Gila County there are currently 80 children in foster care. The Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program is an advocacy organization that trains community volunteers to speak up for abused and neglected children in court. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and the CASA program wants to educate our community about the role child advocates play in making a difference for children in foster care.
The federal government is not doing its job in securing the border. Criminal aliens and drug cartels/gangs south of our border have turned Arizona into the gateway for drug shipping into the U.S. Fifty percent of the pot that comes into the U.S. comes through Arizona and, more recently, heroin smuggling has increased as Mexican drug growers expand their cultivation of poppy fields to make Mexico the No. 2 heroin producer in the world, second only to Afghanistan. If you don’t believe me, ask Tempe residents about the December 2011 raid that resulted in the arrest of 203 members of the Sinaloa drug cartel, which owns the Mexico/Arizona drug smuggling routes. Or how about the March 3 shooting in a club near Arizona State University in Tempe which left 16 people wounded? The shooting has been tied to rival gangs, traditionally the street distributors of the illegal drugs that come across our borders. Meanwhile, terrorists mingle with all these criminal elements and quietly slip across the border. Some have been captured and arrested, but many have not.
I wish to thank the Payson Roundup for this opportunity to respond to Senator Sylvia Allen’s guest column on her sponsored legislation, SB 1083, to create the Arizona Special Missions Unit (SMU). First, let us review what the bill would do. It appropriates $1.4 million each year from the Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission (GIITEM) fund. It establishes a “commander” of the unit to be appointed by the governor. It raises a force of about 300 volunteers. It compensates volunteers for five days of initial training, five annual days of training and one day per month of drill exercises.
I’m writing to finish my response to criticisms of the Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District in your letters section on March 20. As I pointed out on Friday, most of Mr. Schwalm’s points were incorrect or misleading. So here I offer a point-by-point response.
In response to Mr. Aleshire’s March 27 article that indicated the Payson Police Department is doing its job in arresting people but “the large problem remain[s] in seeming reluctance of Gila County prosecutors to file the cases submitted by police, resulting in officers returning to the same address over and over again ....” We agree that the Payson Police Department is working hard to combat all crimes occurring in Payson and particularly domestic violence (DV) offenses. The comment directed at prosecutors is, however, inaccurate and there is no “reluctance” to file DV offenses when charges are supported by sufficient facts to result in a conviction. Our 2011 annual report indicated just shy of 300 DV cases were prosecuted by this office and we take pride in ensuring these cases are handled appropriately.
Normally I avoid prolonged exposure to rightwing talking points lest they addle my brain, as has happened to so many over the years. But in the case of Rep. Paul Gosar’s guest column in the Payson Roundup I gave it a shot. After making my way all the way through, I had to admit it: this kind of writing is exactly why guys like Gosar, State Senator Ron Gould, and all their ilk must be defeated: even the Grandest of Canyons can only hold so much BS.