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June 12, 2024

Guest Perspective by William Noonan published in the Red Rock News on Wednesday June 12, 2024

City of Sedona staffer calls Sedona residents ‘short-sighted selfish bullies’

Shannon Boone, the Sedona housing manager, thinks Sedona is a place where people who disagree with her are “selfish bullies.”1 She said this in her public email correspondence that was obtained from the city in a records request.

In her emails, Boone calls people who live here “short-sighted selfish bullies” and “NIMBYs” who don’t want “youthful” people here until the “selfish bullies” are “too old to care for themselves.” 2 She wallows in self-pity that her “hands are tied” by “NIMBYs” who exercise their referendum rights under the Arizona Constitution to stop the divisive policies of this self-described “geeky mission-driven developer”3 who wants to put a homeless car park in the Sedona Cultural Park.

Her disdain for the people who live here explains the unpopularity of her policies, and the City Council must choose between continuing to support her or supporting the people who live here whom she maligns.

In a March 13 email to HAG’s Steve Segner, Boone instructed Segner to “keep Noonan from getting 500 signatures for the referendum by April 11.” Segner apparently dutifully complied on April 5 by publishing a laughable hit piece about me online. Segner’s politics of personal destruction fit well with the methods and goals of HAG.

Fultz’s emails derided the “sheer ignorance” of the people who dared disagree with him about the homeless car park, and bemoaned the “epic challenge” of “educating the electorate.” Former City Manager Karen Osburn chimed in that she was a “bit disgusted” by it.7 They were incapable of understanding that reasonable people disagreed with them and thought the homeless car park was just a bad idea.

Meanwhile, Jablow was telling the international press that he thought the homeless car park was a “sucky idea” and “we’re not proud of it.”8 If the mayor was capable of understanding the drawbacks of the homeless car park, perhaps Fultz was the one who needed to be “educated.”

The epithets hurled at residents by city officials in their public email correspondence suggest the disdain they must feel for their deplorable constituents. Although contempt alone explains much of the disdain, the $875,000 grant from the state of Arizona probably explains the rest. Boone’s emails show she was annoyed about losing the $875,000 if the homeless car park was not started by July 1,9 and the City Council bemoaned the loss of the “free money” during an April 23 council meeting.10

Blinded by “free money,” city officials seemingly failed to consider that most of the rest of the country has wised-up and turned against programs like Sedona’s homeless car park because those programs make homelessness worse. California spent $24 billion on homeless programs over the last five years and worsened homelessness there11. A recent poll found that 76% of Americans living in towns and cities favor clearing out homeless people, and liberal voters were more likely to support that idea12. People most personally affected by years of these counterproductive homeless policies know it is time to stop the self-inflicted damage. Sedona should learn from the mistakes of others instead of repeating them.

The city should also stop implementing the divisive policies of Boone, who grandiosely considers herself a “construction and development professional”13 even though her signature Sedona achievement is proposing a homeless parking lot.

Meanwhile, as reported in this newspaper, few residents attend or view city meetings,14 perhaps because they sense the condescension some city staff and council members have for the people they are supposed to represent. The city may want to consider listening to the people who live here instead of treating anyone who disagrees with them as “selfish” or “ignorant” or “disgusting.” They should also stop cynically manipulating public opinion using front groups like HAG to create manufactured consent for their divisive and unpopular policies. Only then can Sedona begin to heal.

William Noonan, writing on behalf of the Save The Cultural Park Committee, is a retired physician and attorney who practiced biomedical patent law in Portland, Ore., before he moved to Sedona.

Footnotes

  1. March 13, 2024, email from Sedona Housing Manager Shannon Boone to Steve Segner and other members of the Housing Advisory Group. ↩︎
  2. March 13, 2024, email from Sedona Housing Manager Shannon Boone to Steve Segner and other members of the Housing Advisory Group. ↩︎
  3. Email dated March 13, 2024, from Sedona Housing Manager Shannon Boone directed to Steve Segner and copying other members of Housing Advisory Group. ↩︎
  4. As early as Jan. 24, 2024, Sedona Housing Manager Shannon Boone sent an email to Housing Advisory Group sending “talking points” and warning them that they had reports of “groups showing up in opposition” so they had to “get the truth out.” She gave them talking points to parrot back at city meetings.
    In another email dated Jan. 30, 2024, Housing Advisory Group co-founder Linda Martinez sent Housing Advisory Group members talking points prepared by the Sedona Housing Department. ↩︎
  5. Email dated March 17, 2024, from Housing Advisory Group co-founder Linda Martinez to then-Sedona City Manager Karen Osburn: “See below…can you check with legal counsel.” ↩︎
  6. Email dated March 28, 2024, from Sedona Mayor Scott Jablow to Sean Smith, of the Sedona Residents Unite political action committee, and other members of Housing Advisory Group adding the following language in red font to point 1: “was contacted by the major media groups FOX, AZ 15 and Scripps which handles NBC all asking for interviews at City Hall for interviews.” [sic] ↩︎
  7. Email exchange dated March 20, 2024, between Sedona City Councilman Brian Fultz and then-Sedona City Manager Karen Osburn. ↩︎
  8. “‘We just need a little help’: how a safe parking plan for people living in cars split a US town” The Guardian, newspaper in the United Kingdom, April 6, 2024. ↩︎
  9. Email from Sedona Housing Manager Shannon Boone to Steve Segner and Housing Advisory Group dated March 13, 2024. ↩︎
  10. Sedona City Council Special Meeting, April 23, 2024. Click to watch the meeting. ↩︎
  11. “California Spent $24 Billion on Homelessness and It Can’t Measure the Impact,” Bloomberg News, April 10, 2024. ↩︎
  12. “Two thirds of voters say America’s fast-rising vagrancy rates are out of control and want mayors to move the homeless to tent encampments outside cities, our poll shows,” The Daily Mail, newspaper in the United Kingdom, Jan. 10, 2024 ↩︎
  13. April 30 email to city of Sedona Records Clerk David and Sedona resident Mary vonBreck; see also Sedona Housing Manager Shannon Boone’s LinkedIn page. ↩︎
  14. “Low viewership of City Council and other city meetings raises questions, especially why meetings last for hours,” Sedona Red Rock News, June 5, 2024. ↩︎