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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : latest news : local March 26, 2015

2/7/2013 3:18:00 PM
County supervisors reinstate 'Call to Public,' add prayer
Supervisor Chip Davis: “Anyone from any religion (who) has a request to lead the invocation, they can get in touch with us and we’ll find a time when it will work.”
Supervisor Chip Davis: “Anyone from any religion (who) has a request to lead the invocation, they can get in touch with us and we’ll find a time when it will work.”
By Scott Orr
Contributing Reporter

PRESCOTT- The Yavapai County Board of Supervisors on Monday voted to reinstate the Call to the Public item to meetings after Chairman Chip Davis had removed it from the agenda.

The board also voted to add an invocation, or prayer, to the beginning of the meetings.

Davis said that, as far as he could tell, in the history of the county, there had never been a Call to the Public item on the meeting agenda until two years ago.

That's when then-Supervisor Carol Springer, who was that year's chairman, unilaterally decided to add the item, which allowed a member of the public to address the board on any issue not currently on the agenda. However, because state law requires any board action to be publicized in advance on an agenda, the board could not take action on, or even discuss, the matters brought up in Call to the Public.

"Two weeks ago, I pulled the Call to the Public off the agenda because I didn't believe it was productive," Davis said. "Upon review of that, it was like, 'You know, I'm no different than the person who arbitrarily put it on there.'"

So, he said, he would "eat a little bit of crow" and have the discussion with the board.

Several members expressed doubts about the effectiveness of the item.

Supervisor Rowle Simmons said he preferred that his constituents come to see him in his office, where "we can not only hear about it, but we can interact and do something about it."

That sentiment was what Davis had said when he originally removed the item from the agenda.

But Supervisor Jack Smith said he was "100 percent for" the Call to the Public.

"From my standpoint, I think it is very important for transparency," he said. "I believe it is important for people to get up here and speak their mind and have a feeling they've been heard by the entire board."

Davis also said Smith had suggested the idea of an invocation.

When asked how the board would address the issue of different faiths, Smith said the board would assemble a list of local pastors of various faiths to ensure fair representation of all faiths and that it would also check with other municipalities to see how they handled the question of faiths other than Christianity in their opening prayers.

"We want to be inclusive," he said.

Davis said the board would rotate invited guests who would deliver the invocation, and that they would "keep it pretty general in terms of thanks and appreciation.

"Anyone from any religion (who) has a request to lead the invocation, they can get in touch with us and we'll find a time when it will work," he said.

The board voted 5-0 to add the invocation and bring back the Call to the Public.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, February 10, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Babbitt

1. Religion in government abuses the non-religious. Invariably one of the sermons by the supervisors "Religious Leaders"will piss off some other religious group and they will act out in an unforeseen and generic way. Such as not buying an eBay item.
2. People use religions as a kugel to control the week minded. The supervisors are making the unproven claim that they are in touch with some higher power and then using their elected positions to promote that unproven claim. They think it is an easy way to manipulate the people of Yavapai County.

Posted: Saturday, February 9, 2013
Article comment by: Mary Heartman

@Frank Henry

Those are some excellent suggestions. I hope the BOS follows up on them.

Posted: Saturday, February 9, 2013
Article comment by: Mr Maverick

With all the problems in Yavapai County like water, various police departments with their reputations in shambles over illegal police activity when off duty, compliance by fellow officers who certainly know their comrades were breaking the law makes this seem like fodder to fill up pages. The board of supervisors,who were voted in place to acually do something needs to improve the county or resign.

Posted: Saturday, February 9, 2013
Article comment by: Dottie Halter

When Thomas Jefferson wrote about the "separation of church & state" (which is not in the Constitution) he was saying that the government could not interfere with the church but the government was very much influenced by Christianity. God is mentioned in everything that was written in the founding of this nation. So if you're going to pull the "Church and State" card, you'll need to do a little more studying of the history of this nation.

Posted: Saturday, February 9, 2013
Article comment by: Sam Tardio

This country was founded on Judeo Christian beliefs. As much as a lot of people would like to bash religion they can’t deny that the moral beliefs of religion have been a successful guide throughout this country’s history. Religion is not the problem, this is not the product of a religious war, no one is being forced into anything. Religion is not the problem, radical people are the problem.

How can anyone argue that an invocation is detrimental to the Board. It sets a positive intention for their actions to provide what is best for the public and if it’s before the meeting comes to order it is nothing more than individuals coming together in accordance with their individual wants and beliefs. It does not conflict with separation of church and state and anyone who prefers to not participate is not required to do so. There is no intention to create a new religion or cult, there is no blasphemy, no one is posturing or stands to gain political points, and there is no reason to believe that any future votes would be suspect because of an invocation. Such statements are nothing less than examples of radical thinking.

Posted: Saturday, February 9, 2013
Article comment by: Johnny Johnson

Call to public definitely needs to be approved - and I mean permanently. Prayer? Like singing the nat'l anthem I find it annoying but I don't want to fight about it. As long as it is short and sweet. If it makes people happy... OK.

Posted: Saturday, February 9, 2013
Article comment by: The use of public prayers has no place in Government

There is a separation of church and state. If you feel the need to pray during a government meeting, why not do it at home before you leave or stop at your church on the way to the Board Meeting. Please, leave religion at home and leave it out of government.

It is a good idea to touch bases with some of the different religions, esp. the ones based out of Sedona. Might even be able to provide some free entertainment at the meetings.

Posted: Friday, February 8, 2013
Article comment by: Good Idea.

So we're gona allow for a quasi-public hearing.

Actually its a good idea.

1. The Call to Public should be on the agenda
up front before old and new business sections
of the agenda.

2. The member(s) of the public who speak
should be a residents of the county. And talk
for two minutes or less, max 15 min for all
speakers . The BOS may ask clearifying
questions...but neither the BOS or the speaker
go into a debate. The speaker should speak
on any subject related to fed/state/local
gov...but not on any business item on the assuming that each business item
on the agenda might be allowed (at the pleasure
of BOS).

Good Luck

Frank Henry

Posted: Friday, February 8, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Babbitt

What the supervisors are trying to do is to create a new amalgam religion and to practice it's rituals in the public square. This is both anti-constitutional and blasphemous. How did people who were elected to carry out the business of government degenerate into kooks trying to start their own religion.

Posted: Friday, February 8, 2013
Article comment by: doubling down? .

interesting that one board member was able to swing the entire group to vote for something that "Several members expressed doubts about the effectiveness of the item."... and then included a prayer of the month club subscription as well?

did anyone check the boards drinks after the meeting?

the call to the public is fine... mostly optics of course since no action can be taken.. but still nice to have the option to speak...

but the prayer? hello? i guess things were just going to smoothly or did the board really desire a lawsuit?

now all of their future votes should be suspect.

Posted: Friday, February 8, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Babbitt

There are 211,033 people in Yavapai county please compile a list of all these people's "Religious Leaders". People go to war over religion. people do awful things to each other and to themselves over religion. Religion is serious business not for posturing politicians to gain political points with.
One of the first act of this new five person supervisor board is to say, "We don't take other peoples beliefs seriously (until we assign you a religious leader)".

Posted: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Babbitt

Freedom of religion means that I am free to chose my own religious leaders. Just the fact that you heretics might be praying to your blood god on my behalf is religiously offensive to me.

Posted: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Article comment by: And the Important County business Was?

Ok, this article was about frue-fru stuff and who cares. What REALLY was decided and in which direction is this new County Board going in? I certainly hope we are not going to see more of this waste of time decision making. Fine, you want an invocation...." May we all act as the elected representatives we were elected to be and not tunnel vision politicians. Let the meeting begin."

Posted: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Babbitt

When the cult prays, angels weep.

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