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.

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