Why would the Pima County Board of Supervisors need to create a commission to advise them on the acceptability of the federal funds provided through the Operation Stonegarden grant when those grant funds have been accepted annually for over a decade? The answer is simple – they wanted political cover.
The Operation Stonegarden grant has provided millions of dollars to the Pima County Sheriff’s Office and other surrounding jurisdictions for the sole purpose of public safety. The funds have been used to pay overtime pay for deputies and other staff as well as buy equipment. The funds benefit everyone in Pima County and beyond by providing much needed money to areas struggling with cross-border criminal organizations.
Nothing has changed in the federal government’s requirements for how the money will be used. Nothing has changed in the local government’s fiscal situation that would make the money unnecessary or unwarranted. So what changed? Leadership on the federal and local level.
On the national level, President Trump is in office and the “Resistance” dictates that anything from the Trump administration is to be rejected. On the local level, the members of the Board of Supervisors, with the exception of Supervisor Ally Miller, have one finger in the air at all times testing the political winds.
Three supervisors, Sharon Bronson, Richard Elias, and Ramon Valadez created the Community Law Enforcement Partnership Commission to provide political cover and interfere with the work of our duly elected Sheriff Mark Napier.
After the Commission was formed, all of the supervisors appointed their representatives.
After video showing the abusive antics by anti-law enforcement commissioners was made public, Miller and Christy pulled their members off the off the commission. Or that was what the public was led to believe. In fact, Christy only temporarily pulled his representatives off the Commission.
Sheriff Napier has bent over backward to accommodate the commission in a feudal attempt to gain their support for the grant. When he supposedly asked Christy to send his commissioners back, Christy unwisely accommodated the request rather than convince Napier that his effort was futile.
As expected, the commission voted against approving the Stonegarden grant for the second year in a row. Had Miller sent her commissioner back, the outcome would not have changed, but she would have played a part in legitimizing this illegitimate group.
The supervisors may find that the commission no longer provides cover and will move them under the Sheriff’s purview or make them obsolete altogether. Who knows?
What we do know, is that whatever decision is made will be a political one that appeases the well-connected or vocal groups.
If Sheriff Napier feels he needs or wants a commission, he and only he should appoint one to serve. However, it is counter-productive to attempt to work with a group so filled with hatred towards law enforcement and perhaps laws in general.
The Board of Supervisors must do the right thing and approve the Stonegarden grant as it helps provides a basic service people expect – public safety. Supervisors – the people are watching to see if you are going to continue to neglect the needs and wants of the general public and pander to the special interest to which you owe your office.