U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona got a first-hand look last Wednesday at how congestion at the Douglas Port of Entry adversely affects the local economy and underscored the “need to modernize”.
Kirkpatrick said that the Douglas POE is among the top seven port-of-entry construction projects listed by the General Services Administration, which is eyeing $1 billion to be disbursed among those ports.
Estimated costs for local improvements exceed $200 million.
On Wednesday, April 17, the congresswoman began her day meeting briefly with a group of local high school students at City Hall assuring them that she would do all that she can to help bring better jobs to Douglas. She then headed to the border where Port Director Michael Quinonez and Guadalupe Ramirez, director Field of Operations in Tucson, provided a tour to demonstrate operational intricacies.
Kirkpatrick saw the long line of trucks waiting to enter the U.S. from Mexico all loaded with commercial goods, waiting to be funneled into one lane; the same with the pedestrian traffic coming in to purchase goods in Douglas.
“It was so helpful for me to see the congestion, both on the commercial side and on the pedestrian side,” she said. “I was told that today was not as bad as it typically is. … It’s a really difficult situation for Douglas. It definitely has an economic impact on the community. There is no question we need to modernize that port of entry.”
Mayor Robert Uribe, along with Interim City Manager Jerene Watson and several members of the city council, took Kirkpatrick out to the United States-Mexico fence line on James Ranch Road; the future site the proposed commercial port of entry. There Cochise County Supervisor Ann English explained how the project is scheduled to move forward.
Then it was off to Cochise College for a “Port of Entry Summit” with local leaders to discuss a plan to create the second port of entry for commercial use.
J.D. Rottweiler, President of Cochise College, said he felt it would be fitting to host the congresswoman in the conference room of Aviation Building because in aviation, it’s all about getting things “off the ground and Cochise College wanted to be that yoke that brings everyone together.”
Mayor Uribe cited the congestion problems facing the port, while at the same time praising the men and women working there saying they are doing a “fantastic job” under difficult circumstances.
Kirkpatrick said, “I am completely committed to helping you with your port of entry,” adding that economic development is a top priority of hers. “I support the two-port-of-entry solution. It’s clear to me, from the visit I had today we need a commercial port and we need a separate pedestrian port and they both need to be state of the art.”
Kirkpatrick, who is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, told the group of leaders that the Douglas ports of entry are a priority for the GSA.
“The GSA has included the Douglas ports on their top seven priority ports, with a money commitment of about $1 billion, which would be spread out among those seven,” she said. “Douglas is on that list and that’s good news for us.”
The congresswoman added she is impressed how well this community comes together, works together, everybody rowing in the same direction.
“I want to take one of those ores and row with you,” she said. “We see an opportunity for Douglas, for Cochise County and we’re not going to let it pass. We’re going to roll up our shirt sleeves, work together and make it happen.”
Marcelo Rascon, the owner of purposed land for the second port of entry on the Mexico side, attended the meeting at the college. He has agreed to donate about 140 acres to the project and called it a “win-win” for everyone.
“Hopefully, this port will detonate the whole area with an abundance of new work,” he said. “Everybody from my community is for it. It’s not only the people but the industries. Everyone is held back from a lot of investment as a result of the situation (traffic congestion and not enough job opportunities in the area).”
Rascon said this has been a long journey and he has been on board for 16 years or so. The economic climate just wasn’t right until recently.
The U.S. ranks 10th, in the 195 countries worldwide, as a dangerous place for women to live. It is the only western nation to make the top 10. It ties with Syria for third place with regards to sexual violence against women and men. This is not a bronze medal for which any country should be proud.
Through the efforts of Wendy Davis, title IX coordinator and vice president of business administration at Cochise Community College, and Jennifer Tagaban, director of resident and student life at CCC, Qurrat Ann Kadwani brought her play, “Intrusion,” to the college.
“The play,” said Kadwani, “is an exploration of how one event, a rape, is an intrusion on different sectors of our society.” About 100 students attended the performance at the college’s Little Theatre on Thursday, as part of CCC’s Take Back the Night commemoration. Take Back The Night provides a forum to explore how societal members perpetuate sexual violence, overtly or covertly, and how its tolerance can be eradicated.
Initially moved to action by the 2012 gang rape of a 23 year old Indian woman in Delhi that was so brutal that the woman’s intestines were pulled out of her body during the attack, Qurrat Kadwani began to write “Intrusion”. While researching statistics on sexual violence, she discovered the dismal statistics articulated above and decided to locate the action of her one woman play in the U.S.
Set in 2039, after rape has been absent for 20 years, a woman goes to a hospital and states that she was raped, thus setting the play in motion. Kadwani inhabits eight characters in an hour; day trader, third grader, prosecutor, reporter, amongst others. Each character addresses oft used myths and real statistics about sexual violence.
The college student observes, “...the first rape victim in 20 years,” entering the hospital. “Is it a false accusation?,” she wonders, “Was she drinking?” In fact, studies show less than seven percent of accusers are found to be lying about their assault and a person who has been drinking, even to excess, is not responsible for violence visited upon her/him while impaired. This character reminds the audience that someone is sexually assaulted in the U.S. every 107 seconds.
Kadwani’s transition to the day-trader character is remarkable; the trader’s experience fraught with irony. As a high school student he was assaulted by a girl in an empty classroom and plaintively asks, “What does it mean if the body likes it, but the mind does not?” Using an entrenched trope of masculinity, he continues, “I mean, what kind of man doesn’t want it?”
In truth, victims of sexual assault, of both genders, sometimes report experiencing physical arousal. This is a biological function. It does not mean the victim enjoyed the assault, though this is often used by the aggressor to convince him/herself and the victim that the sex was consensual.
The trader has grown to become a man who likes, “...my women submissive. I start out with light choking and see how far I can go.” He allows that once or twice he took it too far, “...but I apologized, so it’s all good.” he slurs, before passing out on stage. In the Q&A part of the program that followed the show, Kadwani commented, “The day trader is the most complex character in the show. He was a victim but never dealt with what happened to him in a healthy way. He drinks to forget what happened before and what he does now; embracing toxic masculinity vis a vis sadomasochistic sexual practices wherein he alone is in control.”
Another of Kadwani’s characters, a journalist, salivates at the thought of more viewers, “Our ratings will go through the roof, people will tune in every week to watch the trial updates; the media thrives on drama, not information.” That the pain of the victim is exacerbated by sensationalizing the rape, doesn’t enter the mind of the reporter.
Conversely, the prosecutor bemoans the fact that rapes are hard to prove, “This is why less than five percent of prosecutors take on these cases. But if I win this case, I could make partner!” As such, the victim becomes a conduit for career advancement.
The most hopeful character is the third grader who succinctly tells the audience, “No means no. If Jenny doesn’t want to play in the sandbox with me, I have to leave her alone.” Citing the 2015 People v. Brock Turner case, in which a student athlete at Stanford University sexually assaulted an intoxicated and unconscious 22-year-old, Kadwani said, “I included the child in the repertoire of characters because my thought is that educating youth, in age appropriate ways, may lead to muscle memory by adulthood; ‘no’ means ‘no’ will be understood.”
A student in the audience who requested anonymity said that he liked the third grader best because, “Children pick up on cues that a lot of adults don’t. If you watch kids playing, rarely do they push another kid to play with them. They just go find someone else. There is such honesty in children. Kids are pure that way. We adults could take a tip.”
The FBI reports that of all rapes reported in Arizona, one in 10 results in an arrest.
A May 1 hearing date has been set in the legal challenge filed last week that seeks to halt the grassroot recall effort started back in January against Mayor Robert Uribe.
Judge David Thorn will hold an Order to Show Cause hearing in the complaint filed last week by Mary Jenea Sanchez, who is the mayor’s wife. The hearing is set to begin at 10 a.m. at the Cochise County Superior Court in Bisbee and is open to the public.
Sanchez filed her complaint April 15, the last day to challenge the recall effort which seeks to unseat Uribe well in advance of his June 2020 term expiration. The complaint alleges recall supporters circulated petitions which did not comply with state law and therefore all the signatures obtained on the petitions cannot count.
City Clerk Brenda Aguilar and Cochise County Recorder David Stevens are named in their official capacity as respondents in the complaint. Recall organizer Tanya Duarte is also named in the complaint, as she applied for the recall petition serial number required before petitions could be circulated.
If Thorn rules on May 1 that the petitions were legally deficient then Uribe won’t stand for election. However, if the judge denies Sanchez’s challenge then the next step in the recall process requires the city council to formally call for an election.
City officials have said the election would happen Aug. 27.
Duarte’s application to begin the recall process in January contained several statements or grounds for the recall. Those included that Uribe had created “a lack of trust between the community and city administration” as well as a “negative image” for the city.
Other grounds involved Uribe’s alleged failure to follow the city charter and that the mayor’s actions caused division among the council, city, and residents. The application restricted Duarte to no more than 200 words.
Public records show recall supporters needed 569 certified signatures to move the recall forward. They garnered 801 signatures of which 668 were certified.
After that, the city clerk formally notified Uribe the recall would move forward. The mayor had until April 12 to resign, which he chose not to do. As a result, any registered voter in the city had until 5 p.m. April 15 to challenge the petition signatures.
Sanchez’s complaint, at 4:53 p.m., alleges recall supporters failed to include required information with each petition sheet when signatures were collected. The complaint also alleges Duarte made “false and misleading statements” when she listed the grounds for recall.
“The Arizona Legislature has directed that constitutional and statutory requirements for recall be strictly construed and that persons using the recall process strictly comply with those constitutional and statutory requirements,” the complaint states.
The complaint also alleges Duarte failed to submit a copy of the petition form when she applied to the city clerk for a recall petition serial number in January.
The Douglas Dispatch as reviewed a copy of the application. It contains a serial number purportedly written by a city employee but there is no name, initials, or signature of who completed the form.
Uribe became mayor in 2016 by less than 25 votes out of more than 2,200 cast. He has declined to resign and stridently disputes allegations that he has failed to be transparent in his duties or has acted against the city’s best interest.
On April 19 the mayor submitted a statement to the city clerk that will be included on the ballot if Judge Thorn rules the recall will move forward. He was limited by statute to 200 words.
Describing the recall effort as “simply misguided,” Uribe noted he has adhered to the city charter while making “the tough decisions necessary to move Douglas forward.” He also points to a community that is now “thriving, seeing boosts in tourism, development, and jobs,” and says he’s committed to continuing the momentum.
“I have worked hard for Douglas and operated with transparency, always making myself available to the community and its leadership on all issues,” he wrote. “It is my privilege to serve as the Mayor of Douglas. I have given this community my all and will continue to do so.”