Signals AZ

The Chief’s Desk April 20 2018

AZ Attorney General Opinion is in: CAFMA ruled legal under State Law

I had the opportunity to sit with Sanford Cohen, owner of Arizona’s Home Town Radio Group, Wednesday morning at the Central Arizona Partnership meeting. I asked him how business was going to which he replied “It’s a great time to be in business, but a bad time to be a human being,” interesting comment as well as very insightful.

In short, social media and an unregulated, unscrupulous media have become the bane of our existence. This is a topic I had been thinking about a lot lately. At one time real journalists existed – folks who exuded journalistic integrity. These individuals were bound by a code and worked hard to ensure what they printed was factual.

I’m not trying to paint everyone related to the media with a broad brush, but in general terms “Houston, we have a problem.”

People can say and publish whatever they want about a person or a group seemingly with impunity. This is not limited to just the “media” today, check out Facebook or other social media – people can be downright vile.

As our speaker Wednesday morning so eloquently put it, “we are dealing with the blatantly stupid.”

Unfortunately, a disregard for accountability and an acceptance of fanaticism appears to be winning over civil discourse, reason and truth. Here’s a little hint for you all – you will never win an argument over social media – alarms sounding – BEEP, BEEP, BEEP DISENGAGE! Sounds better in my head, but you get the picture.

Let’s consider this from a professional point of view. Employers today use Google to search the names of candidates who seek employment with their business/agency. You already know, or should know that what you put on social media is now part of your permanent record and can have an impact on whether or not you’re hireable.

This is not the old grade school threat “this will go on your permanent record!”

Not at all, this is real. Have you considered that what other people write about you on social media or in less than credible media outlets also becomes part of your permanent record? True or not, these stories can have an impact on whether or not an employer will consider you for a position.

The world in which we live is changing rapidly and the things that are out there in cyberspace can have a significant impact on your future.

Look at your Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram or whatever other accounts may exist. What do your posts say about you? What do other people’s posts say about you? If you’re in a higher level position, Google your name and see what comes up. Potential employers may not take the time to weed through the garbage to get to the truth.

What can you do as an individual? As of today, there does not appear to be a tremendous number of options. The law in all its glory does not appear to keep pace with technology. Defamation, under current law, is a high standard to meet – although not an impossible standard and some are overachievers.

A Supreme Court ruling states that if you know, or should have known what you said or printed was false then you can be held liable. Court cases are expensive and time-consuming leaving many people with few options to truly protect their reputation.

So what can you do?

1. Watch what you post – As Chief Polacek has said before, act as if you are already in the position to which you aspire. In other words, don’t post stupid stuff? Blatant stupidity will not suit you well in the future.
2. Write your own story – Make the most of positive social media outlets. Work with credible news sources to ensure the facts are covered. In short, utilize whatever means at your disposal to get the factual story of your organization, your staff and you out to the public.
3. Take part/be involved – Make sure you’re in the community accessible to people so they get to know you as a person.
4. Don’t take the bait! – Don’t engage in social media arguments, or show your backside in public by getting into an argument. Be civil and take the high road. This does not mean that you shouldn’t stand up for yourself. Rather choose your environment, medium, time and words carefully.

As employers, we need to understand that we now live in a world where anyone can say anything at any time about anyone. It’s important that we take the time to compare and contrast what we read in a search e.g. read multiple articles about the person and see if there is a pattern of some sort.

I know a Chief who flew to the city where a potential candidate lived in an effort to weed through the noise and find the truth. Ultimately, he hired the candidate. It takes more time, and can be more costly, but in today’s environment we owe it to ourselves to do our homework rather than discard, or accept, someone because of something we find on the internet. Our goal is to hire the best and the brightest. If we don’t perform our due diligence, we might just miss out on the future of our organization.

I think Sanford was absolutely correct. Business is good, but we are failing as a people. You can see it when we turn on the TV, or tune into to your favorite social media site.

Civil discourse is severely wounded, but it’s not dead. Journalistic integrity on the other hand, in many mediums, has been lost. And finally, social media can be a great connection with friends and family, but can unnecessarily cost someone their reputation. Be careful, and Dude Be Nice……… Just my opinion.

The Arizona Attorney General Opinion is in: CAFMA ruled legal under State Law

As many of you know, a few have questioned the legality of CAFMA and even went so far as to claim voter disenfranchisement. As we have said from the beginning, we created CAFMA by following ARS 48.805.01 Joint Exercises of Power.

There was really no question as to our legal status, and the charge of disenfranchisement had no basis in reality. After the release of the Attorney General’s opinion supporting our position today, there can be no further argument that we did anything untoward in creating the Fire Authority.

This opinion, as well as our third-party audit and third party CPA analysis citing outstanding fiscal policies and showing there is no subsidization between the agencies, makes clear what we’ve been saying all along – CAFMA was properly formed, has saved money, and helped ensure a sustainable future for our organizations and citizens.

The Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority was formed based on a desire for a true regional partnership that would benefit the citizens served by both the Chino Valley and Central Yavapai Fire Districts. At our core are a mission, vision and philosophy that have set our course for the future. For those that have not read it, our Compass is on the home page of our website We adhere to our values and are committed to all those we serve.

Below are the questions presented to the Attorney General’s Office and the subsequent summary answer.


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