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Festive ‘Slackers’
Downtown Flagstaff shoppers avoid long lines and early mornings with Slack Friday

Kris Kain of Oregon sipped a mimosa with a smile on her face as she looked for T-shirts at Mountain Sports in downtown Flagstaff.

The sun had long been up when Kain and her family decided to shop downtown at 11 a.m. and they waited in no lines as they walked from store to store.

“I am sipping a mimosa right now and it is good,” Kain said laughing. “It has been a very nice and stress-free day in downtown Flagstaff.”

Downtown shoppers really did have it easy on Friday as they avoided long lines and the sunrise during the first Slack Friday.

The event, which was created by the Flagstaff Downtown Business Alliance, served as the antithesis of Black Friday. Shoppers could buy local when and wherever they wanted downtown and still have a chance to pounce on some great discounts.

Business owners said business was always steady, if not always booming.

“The day has been great and people are buying books,” Starrlight books owner Hugh Fogel said. “I am in a good mood and everyone else seems like they are having fun as well.”

However Fogel did not know if he was getting any extra business because of Slack Friday or the location of his shop.

“I think things like Slack Friday and Small Business Saturday really help out local businesses,” Fogel said. “But honestly it is always really busy downtown so I can’t really tell if Slack Friday is helping me out today.”

Other local business owners were more certain of Slack Friday’s effects on their business.

Miranda Sweet, owner of Rainbow’s End,  said Slack Friday has definitely brought an influx of customers to her business.

“It has been a really good day,” Sweet said. “A lot of people are coming in and they are just loving the deals.”

Sweet said that the decision for local stores and the business alliance to advertise downtown shopping as an actual event helped increase foot traffic.

“I have been doing this for close to 17 years and this is a much busier Black Friday then I usually have,” Sweet said. “I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that businesses are organizing this as an event, which means we are posting about it on social media and letting people know that they should come to Slack Friday.”

Downtown shops were mostly filled with tourists checking out downtown Flagstaff with relatives.

Cassandra Begay of Tulsa, Okla., said she loved spending Black Friday in downtown Flagstaff.

“It is so much better shopping at local stores than going to some big store and waiting in line,” Begay said. “I feel like the gifts you get at these stores...are so much more unique.”

San Diego resident Rebecca Debreau said she was pleased with the deal at Bright Side Bookshop, which was giving a free mystery book with any purchase.

“I thought it was one of the most interesting ideas I have ever seen,” Debreau said. “I wasn’t going to buy anything but now I may have to so I can get one of these books.”

Parking downtown was more of a confusion to shoppers rather than a nuisance, with many people either not knowing they had to pay, not paying, or walking into shops to ask store clerks how the parking meters worked.

“The parking hasn’t really been a problem for people -- they just don’t know how to use the meters,” Incahoots Vintage Clothing employee Abigail Stetson said. “I have had a couple people come in today and tell me the meters were confusing but no one has complained.”

Parking on the street was mostly full, with only a few empty spots. However, paid parking spots by City Hall and at the bus depot were practically empty.

Most businesses downtown validated parking on Friday and all parking is free for downtown shoppers during Small Business Saturday.


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Flagstaff shoppers scope out local Black Friday deals

Early morning Flagstaff Black Friday shoppers huddled in their cars waiting for the doors of several local big box stores to open on the biggest shopping deals of the year.

Bonnie Moore was one of the few waiting in line outside Best Buy as the sun came up. She was waiting for the chance to get a 55-inch TV for her husband. It was her second attempt to score a big-screen TV.

“Walmart sold out of them yesterday in 20 minutes,” she said.

Best Buy was her one and only stop on Black Friday, Moore said.

Just down the street Judy Anderson and her husband were waiting for Bealls Outlet to open for a chance to score an Elmo doll for one of their grandkids. They were also planning to hit Home Depot to score some poinsettias.

Eddie Ramirez and his friends had their Black Friday shopping plan worked out for the day. Ramirez and two of his friends had already shopped at Home Depot, where he snagged a nice Christmas tree for $79. He dropped off one friend to wait in line outside Best Buy and then headed over to Sam’s Club with his other friend.

“I couldn’t find any fliers (for Sam’s Club) and I couldn’t find anything online,” he said. “But it’s Sam’s Club they always have something.”

After checking out the deals at Sam’s Club, he planned to head back to Best Buy to check out the deals there and pick up his friend.

Cathy White hopped out of her car shortly before 6 a.m. to wait outside Bed, Bath and Beyond for a set of non-stick, copper-colored pots and pans that were on sale. She had picked up some deals at Old Navy on Thursday and planned to head back over to the store to see if a dress she liked was still available.

The National Retail Federation trade group expects this year’s sales between November and December to be about equal with last year’s rise of 3.6 percent and estimate that online sales this year will rise 11 percent to 15 percent.


Rick Scuteri, AP Photo 

Northern Arizona quarterback Case Cookus (15) speaks with head coach Jerome Souers during the first half of a game against Arizona in Tucson earlier this season.


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ARROWHEAD VILLAGE
Flagstaff trailer park residents have little legal recourse

Second of a two-part series

Last week, more than 50 families residing in Arrowhead Village Mobile Home Park on Blackbird Roost got notice that they will need to vacate the park within six months.

A notice sent to residents said the park had been sold and the new owner wanted to change the use of the park from residential to commercial. Coconino County sales records show the sale was finalized on November 7 from Arrowhead Village LLC, to Kings House Inc., a Flagstaff company listed as the owner of the Travelodge on Route 66 near Ponderosa Parkway.

The property sold for $2.25 million, and on the affidavit of property value filed with the county, the property type is listed as commercial or industrial use, even though the parcel does not have zoning to allow commercial or industrial use. In order for the parcel to be used for commercial purposes, the owner would need to get a conditional use permit from the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission or a zoning change from the City Council.

The letter, which directs residents to contact Keith Hammond, the attorney for the owner, tells residents that owners of a single-wide trailer may be compensated up to $7,500 and owners of a double-wide trailer could receive $12,500 through the state’s Mobile Home Relocation Fund if they choose to have their trailers relocated to another mobile home park within 50 miles. Owners of mobile homes who choose to abandon their homes can receive up to $1,850 for a single-wide trailer and $3,125 for a double-wide trailer, according to the letter.

Arizona law requires landlords to give notice 180 days before residents are required to move out. The park landlord must pay $500 to the relocation fund for each single-section mobile home owner that applies for assistance and $800 for each multi-section mobile home owner that applies, according to Arizona revised statutes.

City of Flagstaff spokeswoman Jessica Drum said the city will be looking into what resources can be made available for residents, and said the city is working to distribute information about its affordable housing program to residents who will need to vacate the park.

The last time Arrowhead Village residents faced possible eviction was in 2013, when Landmark Properties wanted to buy the park in order to build an apartment and retail complex on it dubbed The Standard. 

During the negotiations, a representative for the tenants had asked for $35,000 for each relocation, a bid the developers rejected as "extortion."

  City staff, citing state law that pre-empted municipalities from requiring higher relocation payments, instead offered to recommend more apartments in exchange for voluntary higher payments that would count as affordable housing investments.

But other neighbors petitioned against the rezoning regardless of the payments to tenants, a move under city law that required a super-majority vote of the council (6 out of 7 votes) for approval. Landmark lacked sufficient votes and withdrew its rezoning request and dropped Arrowhead Village from its plans. The Standard is now being constructed along West Route 66 without the need for a formal rezoning.

So far, no requests to change the zoning have been filed for the parcel, Drum said. Evictions are legally possible, however, even before a new development is approved.

Leases in the park are on a month-to-month basis, and a lease agreement a resident showed to The Daily Sun said the “landlord has no specific plans to implement a change in use of the mobile home park during the term of these statements. However (the) landlord expects that a change in use of individual spaces within the park or all or a portion of the park could take place at any time.”


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Arizona lawmaker wants masks banned at political rallies, protests

PHOENIX -- Thinking of wearing a Trump mask to a political demonstration?

A chicken suit to a protest?

Or even fake nose and glasses to a public event?

A proposed new law could send you to prison for a year -- and a dozen times longer if you or someone else at the event was involved in property damage.

Legislation crafted by Rep. Jay Lawrence, R-Scottsdale, would make it a felony to wear any sort of disguise to evade recognition or identification in the commission of any public offense.

But HB 2007 goes even farther. Masks and costumes also would be illegal at civil protests, political events or even any "public event.''

The only exceptions would be for those wearing a disguise "for a business-related purpose'' or anywhere "a disguise may generally be viewed as part of acceptable attire.''

Lawrence said he began crafting the legislation following TV news reports this past summer.

"We've seen masked, hooded people breaking windows, hitting people, fighting with police,'' he said.

The first-term lawmaker acknowledged that has not occurred in Arizona, saying only there have been threats.

"This legislation says those threats, if carried out, have penalties,'' Lawrence said.

But Will Gaona, attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, said the legislation as crafted is not designed to protect the public but instead chill the First Amendment rights of those who protest.

"It's important to keep in mind that the 'disguise' that a person may wear, that disguise itself may be expressive,'' he said.

"Imagine a person wearing some kind of Donald Trump costume to a protest,'' Gaona said. And on the other side of the political spectrum, he said someone dressed up in white wigs and colonial garb at a Tea Party event could be considered in partial disguise.

Lawrence insists that's not the kind of thing his proposal is designed to stop.

"That type of disguise would not be the same as Antifa and others who wear masks and hoods to hide their identity,'' he said, referring to the self-named anti-fascist movement. So, for example, he said it would be "perfectly acceptable'' if someone protesting his views or his legislation shows up at a rally wearing a chicken suit.

Anyway, Lawrence said he believes his measure has an escape clause of sorts to prevent prosecution of those who have no ill intent: It allows a police officer to detain someone wearing a disguise to verify that person's identity "and to determine if the person has committed a public offense.''

Gaona, however, said none of that will keep the person who the police unmask from getting arrested. That's because the bill itself makes it a public offense just to wear a mask at a public event.

"So by the nature of the way it's written, you've already committed a public offense'' even before a police officer asks for ID.

That isn't the only problem Gaona has with HB 2007. He said it unconstitutionally vague because it is impossible for a reasonable person to know what conduct will get him or her in trouble.

"For example, the bill refers to a partial or a complete disguise,'' he said.

"Well, what does that mean?'' Gaona continued. "If I wear glasses and a fake mustache to a protest, am I guilty of a felony?''

There are various laws across the nation dealing with the use of masks and disguises. But Gaona said that, in general, they are nowhere near as broad and encompassing as what Lawrence is proposing.

For example, Massachusetts provides for a one-year prison term for wearing a mask. But that law is broken only in situations where there is intent to obstruct execution of the law or to intimidate, hinder or interrupt an officer or other person exercising his or her rights.

By contrast, there is an Alabama law, with a version dating to 1949, which makes it a misdemeanor to appear in public wearing a mask. That broad-based legislation was originally enacted to deal with Ku Klux Klan members.

In general, courts have upheld similar laws,

For example, a federal appeals court in 2004, looking at a New York statute, said there is a First Amendment right to anonymous speech, saying that covers things like having to disclose an organization's members or the names of people who produce political leaflets. "In contrast, the Supreme Court has never held that freedom of association or the right to engage in anonymous speech entails a right to conceal one's appearance in a public demonstration,'' the court concluded.

But a California state court struck down an anti-mask law there in 1979, ruling it was overly broad. That state's law now prohibits disguises in public -- but only in commission of public offense unrelated to wearing the mask itself.

Even if a basic anti-mask law is legal, Gaona said there are other provisions in what Lawrence wants that he believes are not.

He pointed out that while the legislation provides for a year in state prison simply for wearing a mask at public events, there is an enhanced penalty "if the person who is wearing the disguise has direct or indirect involvement in an offense involving property damage, injury or death.''

What that includes, Gaona said, is someone in a mask spray painting graffiti on a wall during a demonstration. The penalty, he said, is in the same category as rape or manslaughter: 12.5 years for a first offense "which incredibly punitive.''

Worse yet, he said, is that part about "indirect involvement.''

"If I'm at a protest and I happen to be wearing some kind of disguise, and somewhere in the course of that protest there's property damage, am I indirectly involved in that offense?'' he asked.

Lawrence suggested that the kind of questions being asked were based on an overly "literal'' reading of the law versus the intent. Still, he conceded there are questions that may need to be addressed if and when the measure gets a hearing.