By: Jim Moss
Globe is not becoming a ‘Prison Town’ any time soon.
The ‘official’ word is that Emerald Co. failed to secure state land for their prison proposal. Does this mean that Emerald Co., the EDC, Globe’s Mayor and majority Council, and Gila County Supervisors —- did not perform the required due-diligence? It is tempting to explain the news by declaring Local Officials incompetent.
But, we must give credit where credit is due — PEOPLE POWER prevailed.
It is likely that Emerald’s fate was sealed when the new Request For Proposal (RFP) was issued in January by AZDOC. The new RFP added very specific language about state lands available for prison projects. That restrictive new language was inserted into the updated RFP due to the powerful voices expressed by thousands of Globe area residents. On November 16, 2010, a group of Globe residents met with State Officials and shared 2,500 petition signatures. State Officials listened and respected the ‘will of the people’. This crucial meeting was arranged and attended by Councilman Terry Wheeler. His firm commitment and action for this Cause deserves respect and appreciation from the entire community. Thank you, Mr. Wheeler.
Although we felt confident after meeting with State Officials, we understood that the money and power behind the private prison industry is immense. And, we learned (if we had any doubts) at the January 24, 2011 Globe City Council Meeting, that Local Officials would say or do most anything to discredit our efforts, in order to bring a big private prison to Globe.
In the homestretch, it was decided that we should take nothing for granted, so we launched the Ballot Initiative Campaign on June 3. Fifty volunteers gathered 1000 signatures in just 10 days! We kept State Representatives and DOC Officials apprised of our progress. In our haste to get this Initiative Campaign off the ground quickly, a few clerical errors were made on the forms submitted to City Hall. I would have no qualms accepting full responsibility for these ‘technical’ errors, except for the fact that I specifically asked if there were any issues/concerns with the paperwork filed. Instead of acting in good faith, as a citizen would expect from public servants — City Hall, under the direction of City Manager/Attorney Graves, and under the leadership of Mayor Shipley, chose to treat constituents as adversaries. This has been their attitude and posture during this entire prison debate. They chose to play a game of ‘gotcha’ to advance their political agenda, rather than serve the citizens that pay their salary or elected them to office.
Naturally, I share the disappointment and frustration over the petition paperwork glitch. I apologize to all of the volunteers and citizens who placed confidence in my leadership, for allowing Mr. Graves and Mr. Shipley to sabotage our honest endeavors. We could legally challenge the City of Globe, and win, on grounds that our paper work was in “substantial compliance” with the law. To do so would cost the City and private citizens thousands of dollars to litigate. There are better options.
Still, opportunity knocks. There is a city election next March. A change of leadership is the best solution to safeguard our community from future attempts to bring a private prison to Globe, and to restore good government to our community.
I salute every volunteer and petition signer for speaking out and standing up for our town.
Jim Moss, Globe Resident and Business Owner