Are you tired of it yet, Supervisors Elias and Bronson? Because we are.

Five of the supervisors’ appointees to a county panel that makes recommendations on law enforcement grants voted Monday to turn down $5,000 for seat belt and child car-seat enforcement.

Who could oppose a grant that ensures people wear seat belts and put their kids in car seats?

In an odd 13-minute meeting, five of the nine members of the Community Law Enforcement Partnership Commission said no without telling us why. But it’s not hard to figure out. They don’t want to do anything that remotely supports law enforcement, even if it means sending a few babies through windshields.

Unfortunately, we’ve seen this sorry act before. This is the same commission that last year recommended turning down federal Operation Stonegarden money that goes toward overtime and equipment for the Sheriff’s Department. The grant encourages collaboration among agencies in border regions, and much of the equipment ensures officer safety. And, once again, we should point out that Pima County had accepted Stonegarden grants for well over a decade.

The Board of Supervisors, despite full knowledge that a majority of the CLEPC members are loudly and very publicly anti-law enforcement, followed the recommendation and turned down the money in September. Supervisor Steve Christy was on the losing end of that vote; Supervisor Ally Miller wasn’t at the meeting but would have sided with Christy.

Then it ramped up again this year as the citizens panel, which quickly became a laughingstock, took aim at this year’s Stonegarden grants — about $1.8 million. In response, Christy and Miller pulled their representatives from the CLEPC commission — nobody likes to send their appointees off in a clown car.

Who’s making these bad decisions? Most of the Democratic appointees from Bronson, Elias and Ramon Valadez.

Valadez appointee Gabriel Ruiz of Tucson, a former sheriff’s deputy, was so disgusted with CLEPC that he resigned in February, charging the panel has taken a stance that “anything that supports law enforcement is something to be opposed.”

“Almost all of the anti-law enforcement members of the commission have family members who have suffered the consequences of their illegal behaviors and blame the ‘system’ for them having a consequence to their criminality,” he wrote in his resignation letter.

Ruiz’s exit didn’t leave much to work with. Let’s take a look at two of the voices steering the commission into irrelevancy.

Isabel Garcia is a retired county legal defender who apparently believes activism is more about revenge than change. Her questioning throughout several CLEPC meetings has been puzzling, incoherent and off-topic.

Throughout her career, her facts-be-damned approach to making her point has sent intelligent activists running the other way. Garcia, a lifelong immigrants-rights activist, has chosen a worthy cause but flawed tactics. She puts on a good show but accomplishes little. She is divisive and unreasonable. A county commission is too important and serious a position for her.

Jessica Rodriguez is a self-described illegal immigrant who sat through the Pledge of Allegiance texting on her phone at a recent CLEPC meeting. She’s also a Garcia mini-me, but she can speak for herself. From her Facebook page:

April 27: “...ALL officers should be jobless.”

April 16: “... Millionairess (sic) shouldn’t exist.”

April 16: “... White churches are symbols of genocide, colonization, abuses, and many horrific acts. The older they are, ‘the more history’ the worse it gets on their abuses. (sic)”

April 1: “Everyday, the presence of law enforcement threatens the existence of Black, brown, indigenous, queer and trans, refugee and undocumented communities. The discomfort and fear we face at the sight of Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) is overwhelming.” (Statement from DACA students at UA.)

March 15: (From a post on love and hate): “I want to see you abolishing the police, the sheriffs, courts, CBP, ICE and every single agency that calls for enforcement of any sort or an ethnic cleansing…. “

Garcia and Rodriguez have abandoned activism that works — education, challenging and rewriting legislation, lobbying decision-makers and showing respect for all voices. Instead, they launch attacks, mostly against white people and law enforcement. They dance on the edge of racism, the very cancer they claim to oppose.

The good news out of the county is that their tactics have been shut down by somebody they likely considered an ally at one point.

County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry addressed concerns raised by the CLEPC group after they recommended turning down this year’s Stonegarden grants. He said their concerns have little merit, and basically took them to the woodshed.

•Huckelberry dismissed accusations that Sheriff Napier had not been forthcoming on data tied to Stonegarden money. In fact, he said Napier’s openness and concessions are “almost unprecedented” in the law enforcement community. “In my opinion, claiming the Sheriff is lacking transparency and information disclosure is incorrect,” he said in a May 7 memo. He also said the sheriff’s openness had been mischaracterized by the CLEPC board “in order to now argue that his department is hiding information, which is incorrect.”

•Huckelberry said the Sheriff’s Department is adequately staffed and the overtime Stonegarden provides for is not a hardship — another claim by CLEPC.

• CLEPC believes turning down the grants won’t matter because border enforcement will happen anyway. Huckelberry said that’s a wrong way to look at it. Stonegarden grants increase local law enforcement effectiveness, and he figures the federal government should pitch in financially in a border area.

Page after page, Huckelberry rips apart their arguments.

Huckelberry has formulated a compromise to keep the Stonegarden funding. It’s probably enough to win over Bronson and Valadez. But Elias — he’s the one we can thank for Garcia and Rodriguez — will never be on board because he thinks like they do. The vote is Tuesday.

But I was at an event Saturday morning where Rep. Raul Grijalva made an interesting statement they should hear.

“Our uniqueness is not based on our differences but on our similarities,” he said.

The message was clear: Push for unity, not division. It can happen.

Grijalva hasn’t exactly fashioned a career on consensus-building and compromise, but he knows what works and what it takes to get the job done. Garcia, Rodriguez and Elias could take a few pointers.

— Dan Shearer


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