The Fight To Save Winslow From The Redistricting Scalpel Begins

An outburst of opposition from Council member Tom McCauley was flung in the direction of Navajo County District 3 Supervisor J.R. DeSpain when he approached the podium to speak about the recent supervisor redistricting proposal that was presented to the council at their meeting Tuesday, September 25.

The proposed redistricting draft will split Winslow in half, sending those residents whose polling places are Jefferson Elementary and Bonnie Brennan Elementary into the district to the North.

Residents who vote at Washington Elementary will stay in District 3 but will be joined by a number of people South of Winslow.

Council members made several comments on the unfairness of splitting the largest population in the county into parts, therefore diluting the Winslow vote.

Redistricting is required every ten years and uses the Census numbers to divide the county into equal voting districts based on population. DeSpain informed the council and those citizens in attendance that the “magic number” for the districts was 19,490 people. Each district is required to be at least within a 10 percent difference of the other districts.

McCauley made some suggestions of other ways district lines could be drawn in order to keep Winslow together. One such suggestion would add all three districts of Holbrook plus the district of Sun City to the district instead of adding the 5,000 Winslow residents into the district to the north. He stated this proposal will accomplish three things; it will keep Winslow together, it will not cause any further splitting in the Holbrook community, and will be within the 10 percent population rule.

DeSpain reminded the council and citizens that this was only a proposal and would be further considered before a decision is made. He also stated he would bring McCauley’s proposed change to the attention of the Board of Supervisors.

A public forum was scheduled for Monday, Oct. 3 at 9:30 a.m. at the Navajo County Courthouse in Holbrook. The Council informed DeSpain that the community of Winslow had not been told about the meeting and requested the meeting be rescheduled in Holbrook.

Dale Patton, City Attorney, said the proposed redistricting draft will not only dilute the Winslow vote, but will also dilute the Hispanic vote, an issue that is not taken lightly by the Justice Department. He advised that if the propose draft is approved that Winslow prepare a legal case and fight the redistricting in court.

The Council approved a resolution opposing the redistricting draft and sent DeSpain back to his colleagues with a sense of disapproval and unhappiness in Winslow.

Another controversy arose between Council member Bob Mansell and City staff about the way the City should support this weekend’s Standin’ on the Corner Celebration.

City Administrator John Roche had worked out a deal with Standin’ on the Corner Foundation Bert Peterson stating the City would give the foundation $2,500, plus $1,500 given earlier in the year, to cover out-of-pocket expenses. The foundation Vice-President Greg Hackler was present at the meeting to answer any questions. He pointed out that the foundation was happy about receiving the money from the City, but was concerned that expenses such as clean-up, Waste Management portable toilets and paying police, fire, emergency response teams and clean-up crew overtimes for working the nights of the events would go over the $2,500 given by the city.

Councilman Mansell pointed out he would vote, “No,” to the agenda item and added he would like to propose a new motion to give the foundation funds without a limit to cover the costs.

All but one of the council members voted against the original motion. When the discussion about Mansell’s new motion came up, City Finance Director Gina Reffner pointed out that by giving more than $2,500 the city would unbalance their budget.

After several minutes of discussion about the budget, Hackler reiterated his point that the Foundation was happy to receive any money and asked if they could just take the $2,500. Since the original motion had been killed, an amendment of a $2,500 cap was presented and approved and all council members, except Mansell, approved the new motion, which was identical to the original motion.

The council removed four items from the consent calendar and approved the remaining items:

• The check register and previous meeting minutes.

• Awarded a bid for application of asphalt preservative sealer to various city street to Hawker & Evans Asphalt Company of Mesa for $37,178.

• Waived the business licenses required for vendors participating in the Standin’ on the Corner Celebration.

• Payment of $239 to Brown & Brown for legal services concerning the City’s Water Rights.

• Adoption of the new utility rates and a new voucher payment standards for the Public Housing departments,

• Awarded a bid for two one-ton trucks to Ames Ford for the amount of $57,791 for both trucks.

• The purchase of a 24-port switch, two printers and a software package for the Winslow High School. The funds for the purchase are part of the Weed & Seed budget.

• The purchase of polymer for the wastewater plant from CalciQuest for the amount of $3,090.

• The purchase of a 6x12 enclosed trailer to hold the inmate crew’s equipment in the amount not to exceed $2,500.

• The lease purchase of a extendahoe (backhoe) for $70,400 from Empire Machinery. The company was also approved to repair of the city’s Catapillar Loader.

Three items removed from the consent calendar were the appointment of Charles Rawson the Airport Commission and Alicia Brankel and Bonnie Batala to the Winslow Committee on Disability Awareness Advisory Board.

The fourth item removed and separately approved is a phone survey of residents that will be used for future planning. Northern Arizona University’s Social Research Laboratory will survey around 400 residents to gather their opinions about the City’s long-range plans.

A resident asked why public forums were not held instead of paying someone to do a survey. Roche replied that public forums in the past were not effective because of low attendance and, by using the survey, a real representation of the opinions could be gathered.

The public is welcome to read the proposed questions and make comments at the City Hall. The survey will be done randomly with no names or address required and should start sometime in November.

The council approved a special events liquor license for the Hopi Homolovi Rodeo on September 28-30.

They issued a proclamation making October 7-13, 2001 Fire Prevention Week.

The council also approved two ordinances, Ordinances 865 and 866, allowing the purchase of 2.8 acres west of the Hubble Building from BNSF and the acquiring of Swire Coca-Cola Facility as a donation.

Beginning the downtown building stabilization program was also approved. The program will start with the building located at First Street and Kinsley Avenue. The inmate crew will go into the building and stabilize the structure, bringing it up to code.

Owners of Kinsley Avenue buildings that are not currently being used for anything can donate the building to the City, receive a tax break and then purchase the building back at fair market value once the stabilization is completed.

If a property owner does not donate their building to the city, they will be given one year to bring their property up to codes before being subject to fines and court action.

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