Fri, Feb. 21

Editorial: AG’s report an indictment against dirty politics in Sedona

A report issued last week by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office cleared the City of Sedona of any impropriety in its fiscal relationship with the Sedona Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau.

More importantly, it was a clear indictment against the dirty politics that were front and center during the 2018 Sedona municipal election.

What began as healthy debate last year over Sedona’s Home Rule measure quickly got out of hand and ugly. Seldom do you see election issues manipulated to such bizarre extremes as was Sedona’s Home Rule ballot measure.

Opponents peddled the concept that a rejection of home rule would cripple Sedona City Hall to the degree that the Chamber of Commerce would be cut off from any future municipal subsidies.

That, in turn, would prevent the chamber from any statewide and national tourism marketing, which, ultimately, would solve Sedona’s traffic problems.

Bizarre escalated into politics at its worst when a Phoenix lawmaker, Sen. Judy Burges, requested the AG investigate the city over its contractual and financial relationship with the Chamber of Commerce. It bears emphasis that Burges does not represent Northern Arizona, much less Sedona. In fact, the legislative district she represented included the cities of Glendale, Peoria and Surprise.

In the end, the AG found the complaints raised by Burges to be without merit.

Hopefully, the City of Sedona will now file a claim against Burges seeking reimbursement for the legal expenses the city incurred in defending itself against her frivolous allegations.

Further, this entire incident begs for some legislative scrutiny over the propriety of lawmakers using their positions in an attempt to manipulate an election process.

That is clearly what happened here. Sen. Burges’ complaint was filed just two weeks before early voting began in the Sedona 2018 primary. As stated at the time by Sedona City Attorney Robert Pickels, “the timing of this complaint in relation to the impending election (is) very curious and suspect.”

In the end, the results of that election combined with the determination by the Attorney General’s Office show that Sen. Bruges’ action was not only suspect, but clearly frivolous.

The voters saw right through it.

Elected officials, more than anyone else, should be above such political stunts. It should be illegal.

As stated above, the good part of this whole mess was that the voters were not fooled. They weren’t thrown off by the silly claims that the defeat of home rule would solve Sedona’s traffic congestion problem.

They weren’t dissuaded over a state senator’s political stunt — no doubt prompted by Sedona home rule opponents who found an out-of-district politician to do their dirty work for them.

While the wisdom of local voters prevailed, this entire process deserves a close look. Elected officials, especially those who do not represent the affected area, should not be allowed to engage in such political manipulation.

The system is flawed.

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