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Sun, Feb. 23

Letter: The majority doesn’t feel process was very democratic

Editor:

I am so glad that the Cottonwood City Council is impartial in the issue of the possible annexation of Verde Santa Fe. It boggles the mind to consider what they might do if they were actually in favor!

The letter circulated to homeowners prior to the Oct. 6 required formal public hearing indicated “If the City Council decides to proceed with the annexation process after considering the public’s input, the next step is a petition process that will allow each property owner to either sign the petition in support of the City annexing Verde Santa Fe; or not signing the petition, which will indicate that the property owner does not support the annexation”. It was quite clear at the hearing that “considering the public’s input” was not part of the agenda. Mayor Joens stated several times that she had someplace else she would rather be and that we needed to hurry through so she could get to it.

It was reported that the e-mails to City Council members had been strongly against annexation, until “today,” when most of the ones received were in favor (no count provided). Of the speakers, 37 were in favor of remaining in Cornville; one was neutral; and five favored annexation (this count is from the official minutes). Hardly a mandate to move forward, but every council member reiterated that “the democratic process must proceed” and made it seem that they had no other option. Speaking on behalf of those whose voices were NOT heard – the majority – it doesn’t feel very democratic! It was more than clear that this meeting was held because it was required, not because anyone cared about public opinion.

At the meeting Mr. Gehlert stated that mailing of petitions to those out of the area would be done by the group in favor of annexation; that there would be no cost to the City. Yet the next week Mr. Gehlert was quoted in the Verde Independent stating the petitions will be mailed by the City. Further, a meeting would be held with the pro-annexation group to train the folks who will be going door to door trying to collect signatures. This is impartial?

The next assault on our credibility comes via the Cottonwood Police. There have been several reports of Cottonwood Police patrolling the streets of Verde Santa Fe. A police car was sitting in front of a house for quite some time when a neighbor went to see why. 

The policeman said, “Nothing, we are just getting to know the streets and neighborhoods here. When asked again why he was sitting there so long he said “I am kind of playing hide and seek with another patrolman to see how long it takes him to find me.” The neighbor asked why they were doing this and he said “well, when we take over the VSF area we need to be familiar with the streets.”

On another occasion an officer requested access to one of our gated communities and indicated that the Chief of Police had instructed officers to become familiar with the neighborhood for “when they take over.”This feels like coercion. Are they trying to prove that there are already enough officers on staff, as Mr. Bartosh has stated, to cover Verde Santa Fe? Or, are they trying to convince residents that it’s a “done deal?” Whatever the motive, this is NOT a show of impartiality.

If I were a current resident of Cottonwood, I would be wondering why patrol officers have enough time to be patrolling and playing games outside their jurisdiction. Don’t they have real work to do? I would wonder why the City is already paying for more staff than needed for the current City boundary.

At the April 7, 2011 City Council Special Meeting, Bartosh explained that annexing Verde Santa Fe would not cost the city much because “they don’t require many services.” So, how many services are you expecting?

The City is NOT impartial in the effort to annex Verde Santa Fe. They are working side by side with the annexation effort, supporting and furthering their cause. Do not let them convince you that this is inevitable. Stand firm and DON’T SIGN. Please remember to toss the petition in the recycle bin where it belongs.

Deborah Segall

Verde Santa Fe, Cornville

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