This is in response to the article on the Rawlings tragic case in Gila County Superior court. I was upset when I read that the Prosecutors are petitioning the courts not to allow for evidence to be put forth showing that for years and years, due to the lack of a bridge, the residences on the east side of Tonto Creek, growing use to the trauma of the seasonal flooding, and in desperation to get to work, school, grocery store or the doctor would cross when flooded. Some residence bought high clearance vehicles so that school children could get to school.
Did they ask for a bridge? Yes they did since the late 1970’s the residences of Tonto Basin have petition the Government both State and Federal for a bridge that would traverse the Tonto Creek connecting both sides of the community.
I became involved with the issue of the bridge as a State Senator representing that area since 2008. Complicating the issue was the listing of the Willow Fly Catcher as an endangered species now involving more federal and state agencies in the application of the bridge.
Government was first established by the people to protect their liberties and the health and safety of their communities. Infrastructure of roads and bridges are a Constitutional duty of elected officials. Tax revenue determines which projects get funding and which don’t. Projects in more populated areas always win out over rural Arizona. Federal dollars were appropriated for study of the bridge to get through the red tape, but we could never get the bridge built. However, as I understand it that has now changed with a Federal appropriation for the Tonto Bridge. But it took over THIRTY YEARS!
Many of us when we see a sign that says “do not cross when flooded” weight their chances against the need to cross. I have done it myself many times living in rural Arizona.
Spending tens of thousands of tax payer dollars in prosecuting the Rawlings is not useful, productive, or making the public safer from drugs or crime. But, I do know this; there are two parents who live everyday with the hell of what happened. They deserve our compassion, support and understanding, but for the “Grace of God” it could be us.
Former District 6 State Senator,