MESA, ARIZONA ...THE GRIM REPUTATION IT SO RICHLY DESERVES
Justice and Equity are words that are not in the vocabulary of an
autocracy or a theocracy. They are not in the vocabulary of the
operatives of the City of Mesa.
- Abuse of Power
These are the terms that have long been synonymous with the City of
Mesa and the methods it employs to achieve its unholy ends.
Upon occasion a citizen or group of citizens has successfully
challenged an unlawful action by the City of Mesa. How dare a
"sovereign power" have any of its ruthless actions challenged!
What have been the resulting effects? Following are but a few
examples that have helped gain for Mesa the grim reputation it so
...A ROSE BY ANY ANOTHER NAME IS STILL A ROSE, AND
A SALES TAX BY ANY OTHER NAME IS STILL A SALES TAX
The City of Mesa imposed an additional sales tax on all Mesa
restaurants and eating establishments in defiance of the Mesa City
Charter, which requires a vote of the people for any sales tax
increase. Thinking it clever, Mesa concocted some other name for
this sales tax or transaction privilege tax increase that was
imposed only upon restaurants.
After private well-reasoned pleas by one or more restaurateurs
fell on deaf ears of the mayor and city manager, a number of
restaurant owners banded together and, at great legal expense to
themselves, sued the City of Mesa. The sales tax increase was
instituted without a vote of the people as required by the City
Charter. Thus, the tax increase was illegal.
Mesa's attempt to call the sales tax by another name was not
persuasive; and, not surprisingly, the Maricopa County Superior
Court judge had no other choice but to rule in favor of the
restaurant owners. Sorry, a rose by any other name is still a
rose, and a sales tax by any other name is still a sales tax.
Case closed??? Nope.
Unable to graciously take defeat, the headstrong City of
Mesa, at yet more taxpayer expense, appealed the lower court's
ruling to the Arizona Supreme Court. When the case was heard, the
Supreme Court justices severely blistered the City of Mesa for its
stupid and transparent name-game argument, and the restaurant
owners again prevailed. The tax increase for the restaurants was
repealed, and after much confusion the monies that had been
collected and deposited by the City of Mesa were refunded. (All or
most of the restaurants had not passed the tax increase on to their
Did Mesa genuinely believe the increased sales tax for restaurants
to be justified? No. Did Mesa then abide by the City Charter and
take the matter to the voters? No. What then was the City of
Mesa's motive for appealing the case to the higher court, for again
presenting its absurd and meritless name-game argument?
The answer is simple. Vengeance.
Restaurants operate at a low profit margin, and owners dared
challenge an illegal decision by Mesa's autocracy. They therefore
needed to be punished: to be bled financially, to be distracted
from operating their businesses, to be shown that Mesa city
government had unlimited financial resources of taxpayer dollars at
its disposal to waste on a frivolous appeal. The challenge by the
restaurant owners was viewed as treasonous. To to cause a
substantial increase in legal fees for its irreverent opponents was
the least the City of Mesa could do to retaliate against these
productive Mesa businessmen.
JUST BECAUSE YOU HAPPEN TO OWN AND OPERATE A CEMETERY --
OR A BARBER SHOP OR A RESTAURANT OR A HABERDASHERY --
DOES NOT GIVE YOU THE RIGHT TO MISUSE THE MUNICIPAL
POWER OF EMINENT DOMAIN AGAINST A PROPERTY OWNER TO
EXPAND YOUR BUSINESS
The City of Mesa has become notorious for abusing the power of
eminent domain to gain title to real property. This is in addition
to Mesa's habitual practice of purchasing private property from
unwilling or threatened sellers, taking it off the tax rolls, with
no stated reason for any intended public purpose.
The practice of using devious tactics to quench an insatiable lust
and greed for property is deeply rooted in Mormon history.
Although 85 percent of Mesa's population is not Mormon, those at
the helm of operating the City Mesa are of that political
persuasion. Lawlessness and cunning to gain title to real property
are the rule rather than the exception in Mesa.
Consider the experience of one man, the responsible owner of three
adjacent parcels that had been in his family for decades.
The man was approached by a City of Mesa property agent and told
that the City of Mesa would be interested in purchasing his
properties for future expansion of the Mesa City Cemetery situated
east of the man's properties. Few municipalities are in the
business of owning and operating a cemetery, but Mesa is.
The reasonable man suggested that the city make him an offer for
his properties. However, he did not hear from the City of Mesa
again to negotiate any price, and no offer was made or discussed.
Many months later he received an official notice from the City of
Mesa that Mesa would be acquiring his properties by means of the
power of eminent domain, commonly referred to as condemnation.
The City of Mesa pushed the man into court, forcing him to hire a
lawyer, in an attempt to illegitimately gain title to his
properties by the municipal power of eminent domain.
Arizona state law clearly specifies the public purposes for
which the last-resort power of eminent domain may be utilized, and
cemeteries is not among them. Hence, the bullying City of Mesa
lost its case in court, and the man kept his properties.
Case closed??? Again, no.
In its time honored tradition of misusing more Mesa taxpayer
dollars, despite the clearly stated laws of the State of Arizona,
the City of Mesa appealed the case against the man to the Arizona
Court of Appeals, thereby bleeding the man further of his own
financial resources, forcing him to lay out even more in legal fees.
The appellate court ruled in the man's favor and reiterated the
lower court's ruling. Sorry, Mesa. Just because you happen to own
and operate a cemetery -- or a barber shop or a restaurant or a
haberdashery -- does not give you the right to misuse the municipal
power of eminent domain against a property owner to expand your
End of story??? Not quite. It gets worse.
So incensed was the tyrannical City of Mesa over its losses in the
courts that it enlisted the aid of two Mesa state legislators, Lela
Steffey and Pat Blake, to further its "cause" of retaliation and
illegitimate property acquisition. Sister Steffey and Sister Blake
were good local soldiers and, at the behest of the City of Mesa,
dutifully introduced a bill in the legislature to make it lawful
for cities to acquire private property by the power of eminent
domain for the expressed purpose of the expansion of cemeteries!!
The state house of representatives actually passed the bill by a
It wasn't until the "cemetery bill" was introduced in the state
senate that the owner of the three Mesa properties got wind of it,
cried foul, and the wicked special bill targeting this one man for
his three properties was stopped dead in its tracks.
The horror stories of predatory abuse by the City of Mesa abound.
This is but one.