It Isn’t the Wolves you have to Worry About

by Steve Miller

Back in the 18th century, flintlock firearms had a ‘cock’, or striker mechanism, which when discharged would make a spark to ‘fire’ the gun. These could also be set at half-cock, so that the gun was in a safe state, or at full-cock, when it is ready to be fired. A gun would only ‘go off at half-cock’ by mistake.

half cockWe now commonly use ‘going off half-cocked’ to mean ‘speak or act impulsively and without proper preparation’.   There are a small group of individuals with a large amount of time on their hands who have gone off half-cocked, armed with misinformation, and are trying to stop any progress from being made on Palo Verde Regional Park.

In today’s world, it doesn’t take much effort to spread misinformation.  All you need is a little paint and a few sheets of plywood and the propensity to cry wolf when none are present.  It’s true that sometimes fiction is much easier to believe than fact.

The truth is that there is no government conspiracy to take our land.  Rather, government, through the Pinal County Open Spaces and Trails Master Plan, is trying to plan recreational areas for our future.  Arizona comprises almost 73 million acres of land, much of it managed by the Bureau of Land Management.  Pinal County lays claim to 3.4 million acres of this land and is the third most populous county in the state.  It would stand to reason that county government would plan for public recreation on some of this land.  No conspiracy there.

The conspiracy theorists would have you believe that the county intends to put a fence around the area and charge admission to anyone who wants to enter.  While there will be day use fees for certain activities, like camping or use of the rifle range, there will also be areas where people can enter and use the trails free of charge.

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I don’t see a fence or toll booth in this picture.  Do you?

There has been more transparency in the master plan than anything I’ve seen a government agency do in recent history.  Despite the fact that there have been meetings, notices, publications, and an extensive web site with maps, pictures, and videos, the is still the insinuation by a misguided few that there’s some secret plan.   Now the untruth being spread is that the park master plan is a precursor to annexation of the Hidden Valley and Thunderbird Farms areas.

The problem with that theory is that annexation of the rural area surrounding Maricopa would have to be initiated by the residents, not the city as it was attempted in the failed and mistaken 2008 attempt.  Second, annexation would be into a city whereas the park is being planned by the county.  It’s really easy to write an interesting story when you’re unencumbered by the facts.

The fear of annexation would only be a factor for those in the unincorporated areas.  What about the tens of thousands of residents living in Maricopa, Stanfield, or Goodyear?  Do they have a say in the matter?

Another untruth is that taxes would be raised if the park were to be established.  The tax money concerned here has already been collected, or will be collected, and generally involves impact fees for new development.   Parks will be built regardless – the only question is where.  There are multiple sites throughout Pinal County that have been identified by the Trails and Open Space Committee.  If a park isn’t developed here, it will be developed elsewhere and somebody else will get the economic, ecological, and recreational benefit.

I’m still curious about why someone would go to the time and expense to try to side rail the plans for a managed open space.  The first question in mind is: What’s in it for them?  Could it be just the unwillingness to pay a nominal day use fee for the services that require such a fee?  Perhaps being able to have target practice anywhere and know that there’s very little regulation or oversight to prevent destruction and an abundance of trash as a result.    Maybe cutting their own trails through environmentally sensitive desert land unencumbered by park patrols is the reason.  Whatever it is, you can be sure that those reasons are to benefit the few, not the many.

Feedback FormThere are four options under consideration.  Option “A” leaves things pretty much the way they are.  The other three options add increasingly more development and recreational opportunity.  If you haven’t done so yet, visit this site and make your voice heard. Be heard.  Oh, and we don’t have wolves in this area.  It’s the coyotes you need to be worried about.  They make a lot of noise but there is very little worthwhile information.

Here are some links to the truth about Palo Verde Regional Park.

http://pinalcountyaz.gov/OpenSpaceTrails/Documents/PaloVerdeMasterPlan-FAQ.pdf

MCSO: Bail Out the American Flag

by Steve Miller

The American flag is a centuries-old, globally recognized symbol of freedom and justice for everyone.  It stands for freedom, not incarceration.  It has no place on county jail inmate uniforms.  That is exactly where our flag would end up if Sheriff Joe Arpaio were to succeed in his latest quest for media attention.  Yes, Joe wants to sew the American flag on inmate uniforms to “teach them to respect it.”

The American flag is something worn by heros and those in service to their country, not inmates.  Many of those held are immigrants, legal or otherwise, from other countries.  They’re not American citizens and to make them wear our flag is a misuse of the flag.  Unless they’ve been convicted and sentenced, they’re being held for trial to determine if they’re guilty.  As such, making them wear the flag of a country to which they bear no allegiance is not only wrong, it’s a denial of their due process.

I wonder how long it would take the State Department to protest if US Citizens being held a foreign jail were forced to wear that countries flag while in custody?

In the past, Arpiao had the American flag painted inside the cells in his jails.  He then dared any inmate to deface it, threatening them with charges of an crime if they did.

As a veteran, I am offended by this flagrant disrespect for our symbol of freedom.  Arpaio may think the flag is just another tool for him to get media attention, but men have died defending that flag and what it stands for.  Every veterans group in Arizona should call on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to do whatever is necessary to keep this disrespect of our flag from happening. Continue reading

Palo Verde Regional Park: Say Yes!

by Steve Miller

I have been a resident and property owner in Hidden Valley since 2004.  I am an avid off road enthusiast and I have spent a considerable amount of time on state land and BLM land throughout Arizona.

I support development of Palo Verde Regional Park and I believe it’s completely selfish to deny everyone the use of a regional park just because of the opposition of a few nearby residents.   Everyone has an equal entitlement to the use of that area and when the county makes improvements and enhancements to that area it benefits us all – especially those who live nearby.

Regional Park

Regional Parks are for the enjoyment of everyone.

Neighboring parks enhance property values.  Absence of a regional park in this area does not protect the open space or our freedom to use it.  Most of this is BLM land and the Bureau of Land Management can close or restrict access to this area any time they see fit.  A good example of this is the Butterfield Pass/Mormon Trail area north of Highway 238 between Mobile and Gila Bend.  This area was closed in 2008 because BLM felt that off road vehicles and ATVs were damaging the area.

Continue reading

Arizona, Get Ready for the Secret Police

by Steve Miller

Arizona State Senators John Kavanagh and Steve Smith would like very much to see the police in our state operate in complete secrecy.  No accountability.  No publicity.  After all, police work is much more efficient and effective when it is not encumbered by the United States Constitution.

A proposal by Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, would make it against the law to shoot video within 20 feet of any “law enforcement activity” unless the officer first gave permission. A first offense would carry a $300 fine, with subsequent violations potentially sending someone to jail for up to six months.
police brutality 1

John Kavanagh, a Republican who is also a retired cop, said such a law is necessary for officer safety.  What are we supposed to do, get out a tape measure before turning on the camcorder?

He said he does not see a problem that such a law would make it illegal for citizens to record their own interactions with police, stressing that citizens do not have that right, despite the numerous court rulings that disagree.  Sounds to me like it’s to hell with protecting citizens, we need to be protecting cops. Continue reading

Should Individuals on the No Fly List be Able to Buy Guns?

by Steve Miller

Should those individuals suspected of being terrorists who are placed on the No Fly List be able to buy guns? Of course, they shouldn’t but only because most of them shouldn’t be in the US to start with. However, for those who are American citizens, being on the list shouldn’t automatically restrict gun ownership because there isn’t any due process of law.

Hillary and a number of other Progressive Democrats, including our President, are calling for expansion of gun purchase prohibition to include those on the No Fly List. They make it sound like a compelling argument, however, it’s just another attempt to restrict gun ownership.

Obama-No-Fly-ListOh sure, it sounds plausible on the surface. Why should terrorists be able to buy guns in the United States? If these individuals really are terrorists, then they shouldn’t be walking the streets. If they’ve done something criminal, than they should be arrested, charged, and locked up. If they are not citizens, then they should be deported. Those actions would make us safer. However, taking away their right to buy a gun doesn’t make anyone any safer. Continue reading

Should Syrian Refugees be Allowed to Come into the United States?

by Steve Miller

Engraved on a bronze plaque inside the Statue of Liberty are the words,

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

History-of-statue-of-liberty-1Much more than poetic words, the promise of refuge is what made America so different than any other society in world history. Along with the Bill of Rights, the freedoms of thought, speech, and the promise of personal liberty made our country the most successful endeavors since the beginning of time. Given the opportunity for a new beginning, many started with nothing.  Through hard work and ingenuity, they prospered. Collectively, they created the richest country ever.

Back to the poetic sonnet known as The New Collosus. Less known is the sentence right before the more widely recognized words, which reads:

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she with silent lips.”

Almost clairvoyant are these words, written in 1883 during a period of mass immigration to the United States from countries in Europe. It wouldn’t be until over a century later that “ancient lands” could refer to the biblical countries of Syria and Iraq.

On November 13, 2015, a vicious, brutal attack was carried out in Paris by Islamic extremists. Muslims who had immigrated to France carried out random acts of murder, one after the other, shooting into crowds of defenseless civilians. Then, in a final act of cowardly desperation, most of them blew themselves up avoiding the pain and punishment they were certainly entitled to. Continue reading

Former Deputy Ben Fields: Not a Role Model

by Steve Miller

Unless you’ve been vacationing on one of the outer planets of our solar system, you’ve seen the video of the South Carolina school resource officer brutally handling a 16-year-old girl. In case you haven’t, here’s a link.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/sc-officer-fired-classroom-confrontation-video/story?id=34792908

You will find no disagreement from parents or teachers that teenagers can be insolent, rude, bratty, rebellious, and defiant. Some of them know just what buttons to push to bring out the worst in anyone in authority. I get that. However, in this situation someone needs to be the adult – and it certainly wasn’t Deputy Ben Fields of the Richland County Sheriff’s Department. Not by a mile.

images There were a series of mistakes made in this situation starting with the placement of school resource officers at schools in the first place. This program started in inner-city high schools where gang violence was a chronic problem. Perhaps their presence was warranted in that situation but now we see cops in suburban elementary schools. Perhaps the PR is good for police departments, but those officers could be much better utilized out on the streets. Continue reading

Return Fairness to American Justice

by Steve Miller

This is the land of the free. However, as I write this, a large percentage of the population in America is behind bars. Over six million people are locked up – more than there were in Joseph Stalan’s Gulag. We lead the world in the number of citizens incarcerated. The United States has become a police state.

“Mass incarceration on a scale almost unexampled in human history is a fundamental fact of our country today,” writes the New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik.

states-private-prisonsThis is a relatively new phenomenon fueled by two legislative mistakes: The war on drugs and mandatory minimum sentencing. How many times have we heard a judge say, “I know this sentence is unfair but my hands are tied in this matter. I have no choice.” Unfair sentences should NEVER be a part of the American justice system. Continue reading

Gay or Straight, a Bigot is a Bigot

by Steve Miller

Before last June, Kim Davis of Rowan County, Kentucky, was simply a 44-year-old three-time divorced woman with two children out-of-wedlock. She was hardly a candidate for true north indicator on the moral compass of America, especially by Christian standards. Through the miracle of divine intervention and forgiveness, today that’s changed.

Kim is an elected official who refuses to do her job. Nothing new there. Congress has let the government grind to a halt many times while refusing to vote on a budget. Congress is guilty of political posturing in trying to get one special interest bill or the other passed in order to forward a budget. Kim neglects her duty because God told her to.

Kim Davis, Rowan County 's personal Ayatollah .

Kim Davis, Rowan County ‘s personal Ayatollah .

Kim Davis, however, invoked “God’s authority” as she defied a series of federal court orders and continued to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In fact, she denied marriage licenses to everyone in a clever attempt to appear non-discriminatory. She also knew that by not issuing marriage licenses at all, she would draw maximum attention to her misguided cause.

This lady has the Lord on speed dial. According to her, he talks directly to her and has told her what is right for the citizens she was elected to serve — regardless of what the law says.

She is known for wearing dresses down to her ankles.  That’s probably the only public service she provides. Continue reading

Shut Up and Give Me More Money!

by Steve Miller

Last month I wrote about the fifteen dollar minimum wage being demanded by fast food workers everywhere. It seemed strange to me that a burger flipper in Manhattan is asking for the same $15 that a worker in Norman, Oklahoma, where the cost of living is about twenty-five percent lower. I don’t expect these guys to be economists. I don’t even expect them to be good at arithmetic. In fact, I don’t expect them to be good at anything except for menial and closely supervised tasks.  That’s why fast food workers have pictures of the food item on cash register keys.

While we may not expect them to be capable of doing anything else, that doesn’t mean that’s all the typical minimum wage earner is capable of.  Most are capable of much more and their minimum wage job is a stepping stone to bigger and better things.  Students and others with full-time commitments use these jobs to either earn extra income or bridge the time until they’re qualified and ready for more rewarding employment.  Many of today’s executives started behind the counter of a fast food restaurant.  These jobs were never intended to be a career or to provide a living wage for a family of six. Some folks never got that message.

15-now-on-a-roll-minimum-wage-debate-flares-a-L-rgReExIt seems that the Progressives were listening carefully to the cry for more money from the masses. Now, the Democratic Party platform calls for a $15 per hour national minimum wage for all hourly workers. (Note that I blatantly bolded some key words. We’ll get to those in a minute). Based upon a 30 hour week, that would put flippers, lawn mowers, car washers, and Wal-Mart greeters at over $31,200 per year based upon a 40-hour work week. But wait, there’s more.

Here’s why I bolded a few words in the previous paragraph: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average non-supervisory hourly employee works over four hours of overtime per week. That’s an additional $4,680 per year, which brings our minimum wage earner up to a minimum of $35,880 per year. Continue reading