Thorpe Questions Flagstaff City Council’s Rejection Of Citizens’ Petitions

Front row, Left to Right: Councilmember Celia Barotz, Mayor Coral Evans and Vice Mayor Jamie Whelan Back row, Left to Right: Councilmembers Jim McCarthy, Charlie Odegaard, Eva Putzova and Scott Overton

Representative Bob Thorpe questioned a 5-2 vote of Flagstaff’s City Council to reject the will of thousands of petition signers seeking an early special election in response to the new $15 minimum wage. The Council denied voters the right to democratically cast their ballots until November 2018.

The November 2016 ballot proposition 414 passed only by a narrow margin, amending city ordinances to increase minimum wages from $8.05 to $12 an hour by July 1st, and then to $15 by 2021, which will be one of the highest minimum wages in the nation, even higher than New York City. Thorpe stated, “Nowhere within the Arizona or the United States Constitution does government have the authority to set employee wages for private businesses.”

In January, KAFF News reported that opponents of the minimum wage needed around 4,400 valid signatures to appear on the ballot this summer. According to the KAFF News report, “Monica Attridge, CEO of the Hozhoni Foundation said if 414 isn’t amended, the non-profit will have to close and around 800 people will lose their jobs. Another owner said they too will close and 100 people could lose their jobs by the time the wage goes up in Flagstaff to 12-dollars an hour in July.”

“The Flagstaff City Council demonstrated how detached they are from city business owners, taxpayers, and hardworking citizens who are already suffering under the labor union-inspired minimum wage increase,” said Thorpe. “Businesses are closing and workers are losing their jobs, and yet the City Council denied its citizens the right to quickly correct this mistake at the voting booth. Those negatively impacted by the dramatic minimum wage increase also include FUSD, disabled individuals, and the organizations that help them, as well as the working poor, charitable organizations, and all of the families who will be forced to pay much higher prices.”

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