EDITORIAL FOR October, 2012
Iím CAVE MANager Paul Lotsof. When you think of politics youíre probably thinking about whether our nation will be led by Barack Obama or by Mitt Romney but Iíve got news for you. If you live in Arizona it makes no difference because Arizonaís electoral votes will almost certainly go to Romney. So letís worry less about the Presidential race and devote a little attention to something a little closer to homeĖlike the Benson City Council. Well, you might say, ďWho cares about the city council? The primary election doesnít happen until next March and thatís five months offĒ. It would be nice if it were that simple but as luck would have it, we have a goofy law in Arizona that says that the nominating process starts 120 days before the March election and that means that the nominating process starts in the middle of November, which is next month, not next year. The state law goes on to say that the nominating process ends in mid December. So, you see, the time to get moving is right now. If weíre going to make any difference in the way the city does business we must find some candidates who are willing to challenge the incumbents.
Okay, you ask. But whatís so wrong with the way the council is running the cityís affairs? It would take hours to go into details but for starters lets say that the majority of the council members seem to think that they are the kings of the castle and weíre the dirty rascals. To put it another way, although they are supposed to be our public servants, they see themselves as our rulers and they donít care what we think. Iíll give you an example. Near the start of each council meeting thereís an agenda item known as the Call to the Public. Any citizen can address the council for five minutes. Typically several people speak to the council but nearly every comment or suggestion they make goes in one ear and out the other. They pay no attention to anyone, myself included. Iíve made several suggestions but every one has been ignored and itís just like talking to the wall. If you donít believe it, try it yourself.
In particular, our community leaders have nothing but contempt for the rights of property owners. All indications are that they are about to pass a comprehensive new zoning code that throws property rights to the wind. This is especially true of grandfather rights. You may have heard about the man who tried to replace a window in his house and the city wouldnít let him. I want to replace an old 1964 model mobile home with a newer one and the city says no.
The city wastes money like itís going out of style. City staff members make vastly more money than they could ever make working anywhere else. We have a City Manager on well over $2,000 a week plus a generous benefit package including use of a city owned car. The City Clerk makes well over $1,000 a week and so does the building official and several other staffers.
City officials live high on the hog while most of us taxpayers struggle to make ends meet. But ridiculous salaries are only the start of the waste.
The city just bought a cement plant from the former City Attorney and before that they bought a house that they donít have any use for. They bought the house because the realtor for the seller used to be the mayor. The city acquired a golf course and a restaurant from an out of state owner who was so anxious to get rid of the property that he offered the city $25,000 a month if the city would take it off his hands. That subsidy ends next year and very likely weíll all be stuck paying the losses on the golf course and restaurant with our tax dollars.
The city spends $40,000 a year on advertising, much of it overpriced and ineffective. The city has been spending hundreds of dollars each year on jewelry and in August they bought over a thousand dollars worth of toy firemenís hats and Halloween bags. The list goes on and on. Meanwhile we pay sales tax on our food, a tax that many cities donít collect. And we pay top dollar for water, gas and sewer fees.
Two of our council members have terrible conflicts of interest because they have family members who work for the city. Another member of the council hasnít been elected since 1999.
Thereís only one way to end this waste and indifference to our needs: We need to find some decent people who will run against the incumbents and we need to locate some good men and women as soon as possible. Maybe you know such a person. The person needs to be very intelligent, well educated, and live in Benson. School teachers often make good candidates. So do AEPCO employees and well known business owners. If you know someone who might be a good city council candidate maybe this would be a good time to talk to that person. Remember that nominating papers become available in mid November. Wait until mid December and weíll be stuck with the same collection of turkeys for two more years.
Iím CAVE MANager Paul Lotsof and the opinions youíve just heard are mine and not necessarily anyone elseís. If youíd like a copy of this editorial or youíd like to express your opinions, go to the CAVE web site. Weíre at CAVEFM. Com. Thatís CAVEFM.com.