I must comment on the movement to join eastern Santa Cruz County with Cochise County. The catalyst for this movement was the closure of Justice of the Peace Precinct 2/Sonoita Justice Court by the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors. This was the final straw for residents who for years have watched our county services being reduced while our taxes keep increasing. I have watched this happen for the 35-plus years I’ve lived here.
“I’m mad and I’m going to leave and take my ball,” appears to be the direction of some in eastern Santa Cruz County. I don’t believe this is the way to resolve the real issue, which is the lack of representation on the board of supervisors. After the actions/votes by Supervisor Bruce Bracker in the last year, it is painfully obvious that he doesn’t represent the residents who elected him. We sure won’t do it again.
The board found a way to come up with $250,000 for cold storage rooms for the produce industry at the border, but neither the county manager or the board even looked at options to keep JP2 open for its constituents. They shut it down with no plan on how to deal with their action. Draw your own conclusions about the board’s priorities, actions and motivation. Ignorance, special interests, cronyism, corruption?
First we should confront the board on their actions. For example, make them give a complete and accurate accounting at the end of the year detailing how much money was spent for Justice of the Peace Precinct 1 to assume the load from the precinct they dissolved. The board should also make public the increase in salary for the justice of the peace in JP 1 as a result of the case load increase from the consolidation.
The county manager who suggested the closure of JP2 is a close friend of that JP1 incumbent. Draw your own conclusions. Politics in Santa Cruz County are an embarrassment to the residents. What happened to ethics and morals in our county?
Second, we should present facts on the tax load/assessment on eastern residents versus the rest of the county, not gut feeling. Facts should be gathered on the actions of the board and make them defend them. If they can’t defend them, our next step should be take the evidence of wrongdoing and taxation without representation to the proper state authorities and demand an investigation.
We should be looking at the tax rate in Cochise County. Common sense will tell us that for Cochise to take control of the area, they would have to spend quite a sum of money to be able to cover services for us. If I were a Cochise County supervisor, I cannot imagine why I would want to assume that burden. It would be fiscally irresponsible.
In short, let’s keep our ball in the game here first. If we must play hardball by going to the state with our substantiated grievances and ask for an investigation and showcase to everyone how the county works, then so be it.
Let’s repair how Santa Cruz County’s government functions so we can be proud of it instead of embarrassed.
(Bahti is a resident of Patagonia.)