Sunday, December 05, 2010

Naivete: Thy Name Is Santa Cruz County Board Of Supervisors

From the Nogales International -
The county government is sending letters to its six representatives in the new state Legislature, both to congratulate them on their general election victories and to urge them to stop passing the state’s financial responsibilities on to Arizona’s counties.

The letters, approved by the board of supervisors on Wednesday, express confidence in the legislators’ leadership while at the same time criticizing the previous Legislature’s efforts to balance the budget “not by cutting state spending but by shifting state responsibilities to counties.”
The letters can be found here, starting at page 9 of the .pdf download.

Not to sound *too* pessimistic here (OK, that's foreshadowing - I'm going to be REALLY pessimistic), but the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors are going to be disappointed.

The few Rs at the lege who would even consider placing the interests of their districts ahead of staying in lockstep with extreme GOP ideology (Carolyn Allen, Tibshraeny, Konopnicki) are no longer there, and none of those had districts that covered Santa Cruz County.

Even with those members in the last session of the legislature, the Rs running the show on West Washington had no problem with shifting burdens onto municipalities and counties while at the same time restricting the ability of those municipalities and counties to adapt to the higher level of responsibility.

Santa Cruz County is so overwhelmingly Democratic that only one Republican candidate for state office, State Sen. Frank Antenori, won a majority of votes in the part of his district that includes Santa Cruz County (and even then, his margin there was only 88 votes).  Just because of basic partisanship, they're not going to feel any love for Santa Cruz County to begin with.

Add in the fact that the population demographic in Santa Cruz County is 80% Hispanic and the overwhelming majority of the R candidates in the state in 2010 ran on a campaign platform that could best be summarized as "I'm a bigot."

Arizona counties in general are going to be screwed in 2011, but Santa Cruz County should expect to be targeted for "special" treatment.

Maybe it'll be a Jack Harper-sponsored toxic waste dump in Patagonia, maybe it will be a Russell Pearce-sponsored concentration "undocumented immigrant detention" camp in downtown Nogales, maybe it will be some other even more creative bit of nastiness, but the Santa Cruz County Supervisors should spend less time crafting meaningless letters and more time filling sandbags.

They've got a deluge coming.


Thane Eichenauer said...

In your scoreboard I may well count as naive as well. Even though the counties are far less independent entities today than they were years ago they still retain some small portion of their authority if they exercise it (rather like the states do today in the United States). Exercise not being an effort free task it remains to be seen how many mandates the counties accept.

Tom Prezelski said...

I think you are being a bit unfair to Santa Cruz County here.

Counties and local governments make these kind of policy statements all the time. I am sure that if you took the time to look, you would see that Pima County and even Maricopa County have passed similar resolutions. Santa Cruz County, like all 15 counties in Arizona, has intergovernmental relations professionals working both on staff and under contract who were doubtless consulted in drafting this. I worked with a lot of rural county supervisors, including folks from Santa Cruz County, when I was in the legislature, and they knew exactly what they were up against and what the stakes were. To dismiss them as "naive" is unfounded.

The truth is that they need to pass such policy statements in order to give direction to the folks who lobby for counties on this and other issues. Otherwise, they would have no voice at the capitol on these issues, and the fight would be lost before it even begins.

I think the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors is more than capable of understanding what is going on even without the help of a blogger from the big city.

cpmaz said...

Thane - Perhaps you are correct, however almost all legal authority in this state is funnelled through the legislature in this state. Folks like Pearce and Melvin and the rest may talk a good game re: small government but they always look to accrue power to themselves.

Tom - While both Pima and Maricopa counties have legislators who will actually work for their constituents, some of the smaller counties that are totally "represented" by Rs are totally "screwed."

I don't think I was being unfair to Santa Cruz County so much as using their (projected) plight as a way to point out that municipalities and counties are going to be on the receiving end of legislative vindictiveness for at least two more years.

P.S. - While I have an ego that loves being right, I hope I'm wrong here.