To the Editors of the White Mountain Independent and the future Citizens of Sitgreaves County,
I recently came across an opinion letter by one Eric Kramer to the White Mountain Independent that was published just this past April 2nd and would like to point out some egregious falsehoods in Mr. Kramer’s letter regarding the proposed Sitgreaves County and the Northeastern Arizona Development Act. While I share no measure of ill will toward Mr. Kramer, this is the second time he and the White Mountain Democrats have attempted to influence public opinion through blatant lies regarding Sitgreaves County in this newspaper. I would like to address these now, before this devolves any further:
- The Northeastern Arizona Development Act is not a Ponzi scheme promising magic free money to anyone. By decentralizing the counties equitably according to our plan, each region will be better capable of spending and utilizing resources according to the needs of their citizenry, and work more efficiently with city, state, federal, and tribal governments, rather than spreading out resources amongst 20,000 square miles to service 200,000 citizens in the most impoverished region in the Southwest.
- School districts will not be reorganized according to NADA. Our plan for the county decentralization is based around the current boundaries of present-day school districts, which are beneficiaries of county funds, along with roads, public safety, and other necessary services. Supporters of the Sitgreaves County Project want their tax dollars to be invested at home, here in the White Mountains, where we actually work and live.
- Round Valley and Joseph City will not be in the same county, so they will not be sharing funds. Round Valley will be in Sitgreaves County, and Joseph City will remain in Navajo County.
- Winslow will remain in Navajo County, not Sitgreaves County, so Winslow residents would still drive to Holbrook for jury duty, not Show Low. However, instead of driving an hour to Holbrook or St. Johns, citizens of Sitgreaves County would only have to drive to Show Low for county business.
- I never claimed that Navajo County was created by New Mexico. I claimed that the county was created by executive order while Arizona was a part of the New Mexico Territory, which it was in 1890, to facilitate the development of the Santa Fe Railroad. Mr. Kramer actually repeats a version of this same information in his letter.
- Our reasons for wanting our own county and the Northeastern Arizona Development Act are in no way, shape, or form similar to Brexit. Brexit is a foreign populist movement trying to separate the UK from the EU. We’re not trying to separate ourselves from the United States, much less Arizona. Our goal with the Northeastern Arizona Development Act is to champion our communities, our families, and our children by creating a new county that works for us, and reform Navajo and Apache County so that they can work better for their constituents in the north.
In their previous press release, which they issued back in January, the Democrats smeared me and my research without actually looking at it, and made the false and ridiculous claim that Sitgreaves would be powered entirely by residential property tax, which is impossible. Now, Mr. Kramer is attempting to say that my research is poorly articulated, when anyone following the Sitgreaves County Project or the Northeastern Arizona Development Act over the past year, detractor and supporter alike, would read Mr. Kramer’s April 2nd letter and instantly know that he didn’t once look at our research, much less our maps.
Mr. Kramer, the White Mountain Democrats, and everyone else against the Northeastern Arizona Development Act spreading this kind of rhetoric and misinformation are not doing so because they’re against Sitgreaves County, they’re doing it because they want to preserve the status quo of higher taxes, public corruption, and no economic development.
Furthermore, the White Mountain Democrats are openly in league with partisan activist groups such as No Fracking AZ to stop the Northeastern Arizona Development Act. No Fracking AZ has dedicated itself to drumming public opinion against natural gas exploration in the Holbrook Basin, dubbed by many leading geologists the “Saudi Arabia of Helium,” through a well-organized misinformation and propaganda campaign that has locals believing that the drilling that will be going on up north will poison the Coconino Aquifer. If Mr. Kramer actually looked at the science behind helium extraction, particularly in our geological region, he would find that helium drilling is actually very minimal and low risk, and not anything like what he and his cohorts claim it is.
The position of the Sitgreaves County Project, by contrast, is this: we wish to work with oil and natural gas companies to develop smart and responsible drilling policies so we can protect the integrity of our environment, namely our water, while also bringing industry and development to Northeastern Arizona.
With helium demand on the rise (helium is used for much more than balloons, but life-saving medical equipment, high-tech servers, military equipment, aerospace equipment, the list goes on), eyes are turning to Northeastern Arizona to be the next global capital of helium. Should these companies prove fruitful in their exploration, Arizona stands to gain billions if not trillions in revenue. If we could do that, and protect our water and environment, how could anyone be against it? Bringing that development here could pave the way for a future that is not dependent on whether or not this or that power plant is going to close in the next year.
The position of Mr. Kramer, the Democrats, and No Fracking AZ appears to be that they would not mind the coal-fired power plants shutting down, despite it leading to a severe loss in revenue and therefore higher taxes. The position of Mr. Kramer, the Democrats, and No Fracking AZ appears to be that we should not bring responsible helium development to Arizona, leading to even further losses in revenues and again, higher taxes.
The citizens of the future Sitgreaves County are tired of living at the behest of naysayers who want reduced growth and higher taxes, and the Sitgreaves County Project will continue to fight policies that are harmful to the White Mountains and its outlying regions and communities. We will continue to fight tax hikes, as we did when we helped defeat the recent jail tax in Navajo County. We will continue to fight the corruption in Apache County as we work to expose their rotten officials, and we will continue to fight unreasonable policies that put the future economic health of Northeastern Arizona at risk, like we did when we helped defeat the anti-fracking bill the Democrats tried pushing through the Arizona House these past months.
I have been working closely with LD-6 Representative Walter Blackman and hundreds upon hundreds of Sitgreaves County supporters to shape the Northeastern Arizona Development Act for the betterment of our region’s future, and I have done so entirely for free and of my own will. Our priority now is to fight the falsehoods and propaganda being spread by Eric Kramer, the White Mountain Democrats, No Fracking AZ, and anyone else who stands in our way of bringing greater freedom and prosperity to Northeastern Arizona.
Helium is Arizona’s future just as Sitgreaves County is its future, and given the amount of totally false information I just read in Mr. Kramer’s letter, I’ve got to say, his is actually one of the best April Fool’s jokes I’ve ever heard. Too bad the joke is on him. Our work continues.
Leader, Sitgreaves County Project