TUCSON — Pima County Supervisors Ally Miller and Christy withdrew their appointees Tuesday from the Community Law Enforcement Partnership Committee.
The decision to end their participation came only after months of watching their appointees being verbally abused by other members.
In their joint statement, the supervisors noted that they “initially opposed the Committee’s formation and over time have come to the conclusion that it is not serving the community’s best interest.”
“We will be withdrawing any participation on this committee effective immediately,” stated both Supervisors Miller and Christy. “It is time to end the unfounded attacks on the law enforcement community.”
“I’m not willing to legitimize a committee made up of individuals who continually toss out baseless accusations against our law enforcement personnel,” stated Miller. “I can’t, in good conscience, empower a group with members who have an agenda to incite hatred and possibly violence against our first responders who put their lives on the line for us each and every day.”
According to the supervisors, the committee has attempted to function without a clear scope and purpose for the last several months, but “has been unable to serve the needs of the community while providing anti-law enforcement community activists a taxpayer-funded soapbox.”
Supervisors Miller and Christy said they “believe that the voices of the public are vital to their decision-making,” but argued that the public has ample opportunity to address Board members.
Example of the attacks on Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier and other officers
They specifically pointed to the Call to the Audience portion of every Board of Supervisors meeting which “provides an excellent opportunity for supervisors and the public to hear diverse opinions.”
The supervisors made it clear that they do not believe the commission is serving them or the Pima County Sheriff’s Office. As an example, the supervisors cited a bizarre statement made by Commission member Isable Garcia during this week’s meeting, in which she stated that she regretted voting for a grant that provides basic equipment including ear protection because it could lead to officers “dropping bombs.”
“The hyperbolic nature of comments and accusations espoused by some members of the committee has turned what might have been an interesting opportunity for public discourse into a weapon to be used against our law enforcement community,” concluded Miller and Christy’s statement.
The withdrawal of the committee members will likely bring the commission to a stall. The committee members had to delay the start of the February 11 meeting due to a lack of a quorum.
Because so few committee members actually attend the meetings, the members voted on bylaws Tuesday that included the ability to seek a replacement to the committee for any member who fails to attend three consecutive members.
The ADI reported in December 2018:
The Committee was created on February 20, 2018 as one of five conditions set by the supervisors for the Pima County Sheriff’s Office in order to accept Operation Stonegarden funds for Federal Fiscal Year 2017.
When supervisors Ramon Valadez, Sharon Bronson, and Richard Elias voted to reject the Stonegarden funds as part of the “Resistance Movement,” the Committee lost its original purpose, but was given new life with an expansion of its oversight role.
That expanded role is clearly not enough for committee member Isabel Garcia. At their December 3, 2018 meeting, Garcia, a former public defender and illegal immigrant advocate, had what some members characterized as a temper tantrum. During a discussion of the group’s bylaws,Garcia questioned the mission of the Committee and demand that it be expanded to include oversight of all grants accepted by the Pima County Sheriff’s Office and what “disproportionate impact they (the grants) would have on people of color.”
Garcia’s tirade spurred a heated discussion among Committee members in which more accusations were made about law enforcement officers:
In September 2018, Supervisor Sharon Bronson called for the Committee’s scope to expand. From the ADI:
Bronson’s demand requires a closer look at the Community Law Enforcement Partnership Committee. The Committee was “created on February 20, 2018 as one of five conditions to accept Operation Stonegarden funds for Federal Fiscal Year 2017.”
The Committee is supposed to be made up of “ten (10) voting members (two (2) appointed by each Supervisor) and one (1) ex-officio non-voting from Sheriff’s Department (appointed by the Sheriff).
Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier is currently listed as the Sheriff’s Department appointee.
The Committee’s Program Manager, Terrance Cheung, the life-partner of Tucson Chief of Police Chris Magnus, also serves as the County’s Director of Justice Reform Initiatives. Before relocating to southern Arizona with Magnus, Cheung served as the Chief of Staff for Richmond, California Mayor Tom Butt. Before that, Cheung served as Chief of Staff for Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia. Cheug has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from San Francisco University. According to Cheung’s LinkedIn profile, there is no apparent work experience in the area of criminal justice reform.
On June 11, 2018, Committee members, in a 6-1 vote, elected Kristen Landrum as vice-chair, Zaira Livier Serrato as chair.
In June 2017, Landrum formed Indivisible Arizona, LLC. According to the organization’s website: “We are a group of citizens inspired by the Indivisible Guide, who take action against the extremist Trump Agenda. We organize to take on Trump and his ideas at the local, state and federal level. Our Members of Congress need reminded they represent ALL of their constituents, not just the ones they agree with politically. #Indivisible Against Hatred #Indivisible For Health Care #Indivisible For Reproductive Rights #Indivisible for LGBT Equality.”
Zaira Livier Serrato, formerly of Latinas for Bernie, is a force to be reckoned with. She was instrumental in the effort to force a small Tucson restaurant, Cup It Up, to close its doors after one of the owners made comments in support of President Trump in a Facebook post.