Guest Column: Council resolution on D-M denies citizens' rights, puts city at risk

2013-03-19T00:00:00Z Guest Column: Council resolution on D-M denies citizens' rights, puts city at riskLee Stanfield Special To The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Resolution 22006 states: "City of Tucson Mayor and Council hereby recognizes and supports ... the leadership of Davis-Monthan to make the appropriate decisions when balancing National Security and community needs when it comes to their existing and future military mission and assignments."

This resolution was passed at the Feb. 20 council meeting, with no previous public meetings addressing it. Because it became effective immediately, Tucsonans were denied any opportunity for further discussion.

There are serious concerns about a resolution giving blanket support for Davis-Monthan Air Force Base's decisions that greatly affect our community, and the mayor and council circumventing the normal 30 days for resolutions to take effect.

Already, the Air Force's publicly disclosed plans will double Operation Snowbird military over-flights of densely populated urban Tucson, increase number and types of louder, riskier aircraft, establish round-the-clock flyovers, include foreign pilots and foreign-made aircraft.

Though the latest decision was not to base the highly controversial F-35 here now, the Air Force retains options for future F-35 basing here. The next basing decision is December 2014.

Regardless of basing, the Air Force states the F-35 will replace all fighters, so it will fly over Tucson through Operation Snowbird.

Yet with no public voting, polling or adequate discussion, this resolution supports D-M's decisions and declares an "emergency," making it "necessary" that the resolution "become immediately effective ... for the preservation of the peace, health and safety of the city of Tucson."

Emergency? Responding to citizens' questions about the resolution, City Attorney Michael Rankin said, "The emergency clause is not equivalent to a declaration that the city of Tucson is in a state of emergency."

So, if there is no emergency, why declare one?

Rankin said City Charter and state law requires nonemergency resolutions to be published in the newspaper, and require a 30-day wait for public input before taking effect. The emergency clause circumvents this.

Rankin further states, "Most of our ordinances and resolutions are adopted with an emergency clause."

The reason he gives for this violation of citizen rights is that publishing is too "costly."

Soliciting citizen input is too "costly"?

Far more "costly" is this disregard for our rights - the right to have input into any document claiming to speak for us and the right to adequate public discussion, so everyone can know all the facts.

D-M's planned expansion puts three of Tucson's biggest revenue generators (University of Arizona, hospitality and ecotourism) at risk, sabotages attempts to attract new industries with high-paying jobs, and will decimate property values, especially in midtown.

In 1978, Tucson's second military jet crash narrowly missed the UA and Mansfeld Middle School, killing two UA students and injuring six others. Afterward, the Air Force stated flyovers would be cut back and limited to safer dual-engine aircraft.

Yet single-engine military jets still fly over the UA.

And our mayor and council are trusting D-M to make the right decisions for Tucson?

This issue must have public debate, with major media coverage of both sides. Tucson deserves no less.

Lee Stanfield, 70, is a retired social worker who moved to Tucson in 1976. She is a board member of Tucson Forward Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to the economic, scientific and technological development of Tucson to ensure a high quality of life for all Tucsonans. More information is available at tucsonforward.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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