This last week has been a scorcher. All of the Southwest has been under an excessive heat warning for the last week and in Sedona, temperatures have topped at least 105 degrees since Sunday, June 18.

Local agencies have issued warnings to stay cool and hydrated and find shelter in case their homes don’t have a working air conditioner or swamp cooler.

There are two jokes in this editorial.

I make that statement to coax readers who may not finish the editorial as a reward. Yes, it’s a gimmick, but go with me on this one.

In 2013, Farhad Manjoo published an article on measuring readership, calculating how many readers he was losing by paragraph; it was down by 31 percent at about this point.

Next week, the Sedona Fire District Governing Board, acting on the recommendation of a citizens committee, will likely approve asking voters for an $18 million, 10-year bond to tear down and rebuild one station, move another and make improvements to two others.

This $18 million bond will be incredibly difficult to get past voters.

My drive to work today was a little discombobulating.

As I made my drive from my house on the Lower West Side, I mean West Sedona, through Midtown, I mean the Coffee Pot Drive area, to the Upper East Side, I mean Uptown, I didn’t notice the landmarks one would associate with Manhattan — no skyscrapers, no videoscreen billboards, no halal restaurants.

In his poem “, Said the Shotgun to the Head,” slam poet Saul Williams writes, “From now on cities will be built on one side of the street so that soothsayers will have wilderness to wander and lovers space enough to contemplate a kiss.”

Using this poem as jumping off point, I proffer a modest proposal that will solve the dual prob­lems of traffic and “Not In My Backyard-ers” who object to every change in the city.

Sedona could build a road circumnavigating the city’s perimeter, bulldoze every house in city limits and replace them with luxury shotgun-style homes from city limits to the city center where we can place parking lots, cell phone towers and ameni­ties. From above, Sedona will look like Imperial Japanese Rising Sun naval ensign.

The city of Sedona is updating its decades-old signage rules and is looking at off-premises signs, i.e., A-frames promoting live music at a restaurant, a colorful box directing drivers to a garage or estate sale, a temporary sign announcing the date and time of religious services or a sign telling people the location of a Realtor’s open house.

Compounding this is the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Reed v. Gilbert, which ruled that municipalities cannot make signage rules that regulate content of signs as those rules are an infringement of our fundamental First Amendment protection of free speech.

Over Memorial Day weekend, Verde Valley residents dealt with smoke from the Snake Ridge Fire, currently burning about 8,000 acres east of Camp Verde.

Prevailing winds on Friday and Saturday blew smoke west into Camp Verde, Rimrock and the Village of Oak Creek and by Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, the smoke reached most of the Verde Valley from Cottonwood and Clarkdale to Sedona. Yes, we are in the middle of fire season.

Journalism students at Arizona’s high schools and universities recently won major free speech protections from the Arizona State Legislature.

Senate Bill 1384 was one of the last bills passed this legislative session. With a 41-19 vote in the House and a 29-0 vote in the Senate, the bill grants First Amendment protections to student journalists, whether writing for a school-sponsored publication like those of most high schools or a fiscally independent publication like those of many state colleges.

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Sedona United States Cloudy, 32 °F
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