Most of you have heard or read something about the county's latest fiasco, brewing like cowboy coffee on an open fire pit. The issue specific is whether or not the county's assumed oral policy prohibiting the disbursement of brochures and pamphlets by the general public on county property is in violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It is an oral policy, not written and no one knows who or when they accepted it, since never written it was never officially adopted and is left up to the county officials to act upon based upon their individual interpretations of AZ Statute 11 Art 410 which states:
11-410. Use of county resources or employees to influence elections; prohibition
A. A county shall not use its personnel, equipment, materials, buildings or other resources for the purpose of influencing the outcomes of elections. Notwithstanding this section, a county may distribute informational reports on a proposed bond election as provided in section 35-454. Nothing in this section precludes a county from reporting on official actions of the county board of supervisors.
B. Employees of a county shall not use the authority of their positions to influence the vote or political activities of any subordinate employee.
C. Nothing contained in this section shall be construed as denying the civil and political liberties of any employee as guaranteed by the United States and Arizona Constitutions.
The salt added to the grounds of this brew is that a local resident, citizen and taxpayer was prohibited from dispersing his materials made that reflected the voting record of Senator John McCain prior and during the McCain Town Hall held in Kingman, Arizona, November 13, 2009, in the public owned county administration building. Luca Zanna was predominately ignored during the McCain Town Hall as he politely kept his hand raised for over 45 minutes in request to speak. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gOxD39_--g But Luca Zanna is not one to be ignored. He persisted until John McCain himself handed Mr. Zanna his microphone to address him with. Luca Zanna is very dynamic to be sure and can appear to be quite exuberant, but he is also one of the most respectful and sincere people I have known since living here. Impassioned sure, terrorist------NOT. As he and Buster Johnson have related to me, once he was asked to stop passing out his materials and told that he was in violation of the county rules, he politely and respectfully stopped. (Do you hear the striking of the match.)
As most of you know Buster Johnson is the county Board of Supervisor for District 3. What some of you may not know is that Buster Johnson is the Chairman of the Republican Central Committee. It was through his party affiliations and work as Chair that he was able to convince Senator John McCain and his staff that Mohave County should be the site of a scheduled Town Hall event and in doing so brought the event here as a public service opportunity we have been long denied. And it was as the Chair he was approached by one of Senator McCain's security guards paid for by our tax dollars, to tell Mr. Zanna and others to stop passing out their materials, "for security reasons" on the publicly owned property. And yes, he is the same security guard taking pictures of Luca Zanna during the McCain Town Hall in the video. (Just the back log for the campfire.)
In his quest for answers from the county as to just what is this policy, where is it posted, who does it apply to, are you sure it even exists......Mr. Zanna approached several county officials by phone call, email and in person. Yet his emails and questions were unanswered. Even when the county attorney revealed that they had just always fallen back on AZ 11art 410 and everyone had agreed that this is how they would do it, no one could explain or show Mr. Zanna where the county residents had ever participated in this decision. If it isn't written down, then how could they have approved it? If it isn't written down then how does anyone know when someone or party is in compliance or non-compliance? How do you know it is even in compliance with the State Statute itself? Since the county could not or would not answer his probes, he addressed the Board of Supervisors in an open meeting, yet still the same results. (Ignite the kindling now.)
What followed next was a production on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVhy0hlfdfM reflecting how Mr. Zanna was starting to feel about being ignored. And he submitted a couple of letters to the local media. BOS Tom Sockwell felt he was being personally attacked and responded with an article in the Daily Miner of his own, http://kingmandailyminer.com/main.asp?Search=1&ArticleID=35736&SectionID=36&SubSectionID=73&S=1 Mr. Zanna started getting attention, the issue was being brought out, still no answers though to some very relevant questions. (We got smoke!)
The economy is slow, news is slow. We don't have much going on in Mayberry these days. People are out of work, out of money and don't have much to do but read the paper and the Internet, watch TV and youtube and they have the time to get involved in local affairs. The Daily Miner and other media venues have picked up on Mr. Zanna's plight. Support for his stance is growing. And the fact that the government is responsible for people being out of work and out of money and out of answers and out of patience is making us all irritable. Now there is a recall petition for Mr. Sockwell and a possible complaint to the State Attorney General. (We got flames!)
Ron Walker decided it was time for him to join the name calling, http://kingmandailyminer.com/main.asp?SectionID=36&subsectionID=73&articleID=36024, which like Supervisor Sockwell's retort, just added more heat to the pot just starting to boil. Oh yeah right we were making coffee. The county still needs a written definition of how AZ Stat. 11 Art. 410 will be followed and the written guidelines there of printed out for the public. But who wants to work that out while we all are too busy fueling the fire? (Uh, Ron Walker is the County Manager who is in charge of directing staff to put such definitions and guidelines down on paper to be reviewed and adopted by public approval via the representation there of, our Board of Supervisors.)
Maybe if our county representatives and officials had taken the time they have had writing articles to openly degrade private citizens to sit down with Mr. Zanna and discuss his genuine concerns reasonably over a cup of coffee something would have been resolved by now. Instead we have a media frenzy that makes Mohave County politics shine like the Dukes of Hazzard on steroids. And we are still out of work and out of money and wondering why the developments that could change things for us locally are continuing to locate their projects to the southern counties of the State. What we need is a fresh pot of coffee!