• John Kavanagh: Master of the Stupidly Venal

    posted by Mike McClellan at 9 September, 6:23 AM  0 
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    So here’s the situation:  Basha’s AJ Fine Markets — at least some of them — were caught mislabeling steaks, selling “steaks for $10 more per pound by mislabeling the grade of ‘choice’ tenderloin as ‘prime.’ Employees also added trimmings from other meat products to Kobe ground beef, so customers weren’t always getting pure ground beef”  (you can read the full story here).

    Oops.

    The punishment?

    “Bashas’ agreed to pay $1,472,487 to food banks in Tucson and Phoenix as a form of restitution. The stores must also implement a host of disciplinary and training measures.”

    Why not reimburse customers for the overcharging or mislabeling?

    Impossible to identify the overcharged customers.

    Story over, right?

    Not so fast, amigo.

    Into this comes Republican state representative John Kavanagh, with a letter to the editor in today’s paper/

    A letter once again supporting Kavanagh’s mastery of the stupidly venal:

    Regarding “Bashas’ admits to food-labeling deception” (Valley & State, Aug. 31):

    So Bashas’, owner of AJ’s Fine Foods stores, admits to ripping off consumers by selling cheaper “choice” grade meat as expensive $25 per pound “prime” and adulterating its Kobe ground beef with “trimmings” (I am afraid to ask) from other meats.

    Our federal prosecutors enter into a “non-prosecution” agreement because Bashas’ cooperated with inspectors. In other words, getting caught and admitting guilt is, in today’s world of spin, cooperating with prosecutors. Maybe the feds should give Bashas’ management a good-citizen award for assisting law enforcement.

    Worse yet, the U.S. Attorney’s Office sets the penalty as Bashas’ paying “restitution” by donating $1.4 million to area food banks. Last I heard, restitution was something paid to crime victims to compensate them for their losses. Since I hardly think food bank patrons also purchased $25 per pound prime steaks in AJ’s, where is the restitution?

    This is what happens when you have a Justice Department more interested in their idea of social justice instead of legal justice. AJ’s should have been required to sell prime meat at lower prices for a period of time to give true restitution to the actual victims instead of pursuing politically correct justice.

    — John KavanaghFountain Hills

     The writer represents District 23 in the Arizona House.

    Let’s examine Kavanagh’s missive:

    “In other words, getting caught and admitting guilt is, in today’s world of spin, cooperating with prosecutors.”

    You mean, like his buddy Joe Arpaio did recently?  Never mind.

    “AJ’s should have been required to sell prime meat at lower prices for a period of time to give true restitution to the actual victims instead of pursuing politically correct justice.”

    Well, sure, that’s the ticket.  Sell prime meat at all its stores, even those that didn’t mislabel, to all customers, including all those who weren’t victims of the mislabeling.”

    Hey, John, I guess restitution should go to the actual victims, rather than all the fat cat customers of the “boutique” AJ’s.  And since that can’t be done, why not to food banks.  You know, to the needy.

    Not for Marie Antoinette, er, John Kavanagh:  Let them eat cake, right?  I want my steak.  And cheap.  Now.

    Kavanagh, Master of the Stupidly Venal.

     

     


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    Mike McClellan has lived in Arizona since 1967 where he attended high school and the University of Arizona. McClellan taught high school English for 36 years, including 30 years at at Dobson High School in Mesa. He has been a contributing columnist to both the East Valley Republic editions and the East Valley Tribune.

    Mike McClellan's Website: http://azcvoices.com/politics/author/mikemcclellansblog/


    HB2305 is based on inconsistent accusations

    posted by Donna Gratehouse at 14 August, 8:59 AM  0 
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    Monday’s Arizona Capitol Times (yes, still behind a paywall, shut up) explains the “catalyst” of HB 2305, the voter suppression omnibus bill that opponents are gathering signatures to overturn in a referendum. The instigating event that led to the provision in HB 2305 that bars groups from collecting mail-in ballots and bringing them to the election center was this:

    Because the volunteer used her maiden name, and because Valenzuela has worked for the Maricopa County Elections Department for almost 23 years and recognized the political clipboard, he couldn’t help but ask the visitor what he was doing.

    The man, who was in his early 20s, said he “worked for elections” and he was checking if they had received early ballots.

    It was Saturday, and Valenzuela was wearing his Maricopa County Elections Department shirt around the house. When he tried to call attention to this shirt, the young man didn’t get the hint. So Valenzuela told him straight up that he worked for the Maricopa County Elections Department and he had never seen the man around.

    So the visitor backtracked on his statement, explaining that he was volunteering for a political organization helping with the election by registering people to vote. He then quickly left.

    But a few months later, just before the November election, Valenzuela was again at home, and there was a knock at the door. His wife answered. She then went into the living room to ask Valenzuela what someone from the Elections Department was doing picking up ballots on a Saturday.

    They weren’t, he told her. The Elections Department doesn’t pick up ballots.

    Valenzuela, who is actually the Assistant Director of the Maricopa County Elections Department, went on to say that he didn’t call the cops on either volunteer because he “didn’t see any malice in their intentions”. Lucky for them, since impersonating an elections official is already a felony. It appears that what happened was simply a matter of insufficient training and overeager volunteers. There’s no need to pass an entirely new law prohibiting people from freely choosing to give their ballot to individuals or groups they trust because of it.

    The Cap Times piece interviewed Jonathan Paton, who is heading up the pro-HB 2305 effort.

    “They literally control thousands of ballots, when they deliver, if they deliver them. Are they combing through the ballots and finding out this guy is probably going to vote the wrong way, so maybe we’ll just forget to take his ballot to the polls,” he said.

    Riiiiight. Groups supporting Democratic candidates are going into Democratic-heavy communities, collecting votes from Democrats and not turning them in because, yeah, that makes sense. This is, of course, a competing and contradictory claim to the one made by Republican legislators supporting HB 2305, such Sen. Kimberly Yee. Yee said “I know voter fraud is real” upon seeing a box of ballots that Citizens for a Better Arizona had brought to the elections department, suggesting that CBA brought in fraudulent ballots. So why then would groups need to “forget” to bring certain ballots in if they can just forge them all? HB 2305 backers are not even remotely logically consistent in their attempts to place nanny state intrusions on free association.

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    I grew up in Silver Spring, MD, and an adventurous streak led me to join the Navy. I moved to Arizona in 1997 after serving 10 years in the Navy to work in semi-conductor manufacturing. I got involved in national and Arizona politics in 2003. I ran for 2006 State Senate in Ahwatukee and was a Delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. I now live in North Central Phoenix with my boyfriend, Mark, and our three dogs. I've been blogging for Democratic Diva since 2007 about local and national politics with a strong emphasis on women's issues.

    Donna Gratehouse's Website: http://www.democraticdiva.com/


    Is bipartisanship possible in Arizona?

    posted by Donna Gratehouse at 18 June, 5:39 PM  0 
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    The news media in Arizona are understandably surprised and intrigued by Gov. Brewer hugging AZ House Minority Leader Chad Campbell (no love lost between those two) at the signing of the Medicaid expansion Monday.

    I’m as cynical as they come but I thought that was nice. And look, I’m not opposed to bipartisanship on principle. This is for the simple reason that it is not a principle. It is neither a value nor a policy position either. Like its cousin “compromise” it is a strategy, a tactic or tool that can sometimes produce a good result, as we saw with Arizona’s Medicaid expansion (or restoration of what we had before, if you prefer). Other times the result is not so good. Deregulation of the financial markets, the Patriot Act, the Iraq invasion, and the sequester were all bipartisan. So color me unimpressed with bipartisanship’s overall record of success in the past couple of decades. But some do place a high premium on parties working together and feel that bipartisanship is key to getting the most optimal legislation with the least strife. Both President Obama and my Congresswoman, Kyrsten Sinema, seem to favor the approach whenever possible. Bipartisanship polls very well with voters too.

    The current configuration of the Arizona Legislature is undoubtedly better, due to having some more Democrats in each chamber than last session, when the GOP had veto-proof majorities in both chambers. I do think it’s premature and misguided to take the Governor’s Medicaid stance and the defection of some Republican lawmakers to her side as some sign of a brighter and more moderate future. Those rogue Republicans have not turned into moderates, and they demonstrated as much immediately after the Medicaid vote to join their colleagues in voting for a voter suppression bill aimed at Democratic voters. So no, I wouldn’t be singing kumbaya just yet. Those who face a real primary threat have all of next session to get back in the good graces of primary voters. And if bipartisanship is your thing, note that out of 282 bills sent to the Governor’s desk, a mere five were prime sponsored by Democrats. That’s not very bipartisan, is it?

    So how to get to the magical state of bipartisanship longed for by so many in Arizona? Hmm, that’s a toughie… Oh right, elect more Democrats and have them take over at least one chamber. The Senate seems to be the most feasible. I’d prefer Dem majorities all around (because there’s no evidence from blue states that Dems go ideologically cuckoo when they run things) but at least with a split body we would see some sanity. Yes, maybe gridlock too but even that beats the flurry of lousy legislation we’ve been getting the past few years.

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    I grew up in Silver Spring, MD, and an adventurous streak led me to join the Navy. I moved to Arizona in 1997 after serving 10 years in the Navy to work in semi-conductor manufacturing. I got involved in national and Arizona politics in 2003. I ran for 2006 State Senate in Ahwatukee and was a Delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. I now live in North Central Phoenix with my boyfriend, Mark, and our three dogs. I've been blogging for Democratic Diva since 2007 about local and national politics with a strong emphasis on women's issues.

    Donna Gratehouse's Website: http://www.democraticdiva.com/


    Brewer’s legacy

    posted by Tom Patterson at 14 June, 12:17 PM  0 
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    It’s too bad that Jan Brewer was never so aggressive in pursuit of her professed governing principles as she was in forsaking them.

    Admittedly, fiscal conservatives were put in a tough spot by the clever move the Obamacare folks pulled off. States had to turn down a ton of short-term federal money to avoid expanding their already swollen Medicaid rolls. In every state,that meant disappointing your supporters in the hospital/healthcare communities and inviting media scorn. It was still the right thing to do but, as Trent Franks and others pointed out, giving in was in some sense understandable.

    But Brewer disgracefully went far beyond reluctant acquiescence. She didn’t agree, with regret, to sign a bill placed on her desk. Instead, she poured her political heart and soul into a tough battle, giving Obamacare a lifeline. .She threatened, she vetoed and, yes, she bullied. Several national commentators were appalled at the extraordinary measures she took to get her way. No governor of either party went so far in the cause of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansions.

    Why did she do it? Who cares, really. She seems to think this will be her legacy and she’s probably right.

    But there’s no way to sugarcoat it. Just one person rolled her own parties legislative delegation to give life to Obamacare at a time when a serious blow could have been struck. She greatly expanded the welfare state and left to future policymakers the hard questions of how to fund it, when the federal support diminishes. She single-handedly added to the federal debt.

    Little things like Limited Government and Personal Responsibility were conveniently dismissed when, you know, money was on the table. So much for the dignity of states in the federal system. See you around, healthcare freedom.

    Yep, that’s quite a legacy. At least Democrats are happy.


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    Patterson is the volunteer chairman of the Goldwater Institute and past chairman of the Arizona Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights. He has served on several community boards, including Goodwill of Central Arizona, Diamondbacks Foundation and Hospice of the Valley. He is the state chairman for Americans for Tax Reform. Previously, he served as the President of the Arizona Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians and ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council (public sector chair). He was the minority leader (91-92) and majority leader (93-96) of the Arizona Senate. He is a registered Republican but not politically active. In addition, he was the organizer and lead tenor of the original Arizona Singing Senators.

    Tom Patterson's Website: http://azcvoices.com/politics/author/pattersontomc/


    John Kavanagh: Clueless or Venal?

    posted by Mike McClellan at 11 June, 9:15 AM  0 
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    So triple-dipper John Kavanagh (retired Port Authority Policeman, current Scottsdale Community College professor, state Representative) is at it again.

    What is “it”?

    Cluelessness or venality, of course.

    Kavanagh has led the charge in the House against Medicaid expansion, making sure that his Appropriations Committee deep-sixed (at least temporarily)  the Medicaid expansion that had passed out of the Senate.

    Why?

    Costs  too much.  Can’t trust the Feds.  The usual.  Of course, he didn’t actually address the provisions the bill has in place to keep costs down and to end the program if the Feds don’t pony up the promised money.

    Ignoring those protections and the expanded coverage for what, about 400,000 poor folks currently without insurance, many of whom use our hospital emergency rooms as their primary care centers, often coming into those ER’s with more acute medical problems than they would have had they been able to access care earlier.  Like with insurance.  Which would provide primary care.  And save us money.  Something Kavanagh is always concerned with.

    Except in other cases.  Like abortion.  When life is the most vital concern.

    Because Kavanagh’s Appropriations Committee also voted on an abortion bill, one that would provide for unannounced inspections of abortion clinics.

    And with that issue, money-conscious Kavanagh became “Life is paramount” Kavanagh, issuing this little nugget of cluelessness or venality:

    “Those of us that do not support abortion believe it is a human being, and everything we do is to protect a human being.”

    Yes, Rep. Kavanagh, “everything we do is to protect a human being.”  

    Unless, of course, the human being is out of the womb.

    In which case, the health of that human is second to costs.  Even if the costs are in fact savings.

    Idiot or hypocrite.  You make the call.


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    Mike McClellan has lived in Arizona since 1967 where he attended high school and the University of Arizona. McClellan taught high school English for 36 years, including 30 years at at Dobson High School in Mesa. He has been a contributing columnist to both the East Valley Republic editions and the East Valley Tribune.

    Mike McClellan's Website: http://azcvoices.com/politics/author/mikemcclellansblog/


    In which credit is given

    posted by Donna Gratehouse at 31 May, 1:03 PM  0 
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    Linda Valdez is one the better columnists at the AZ Republic so I was surprised to see her play the “both sides” card and chide Democrats for being insufficiently praise-ful of Governor Brewer’s Medicaid expansion.

    It’s time to give her some credit.

    The Left should not follow the hide-bound example of the Right, which seems incapable of recognizing any good in a politician the base hates (Obama).

    Democrats should give credit where credit is due.

    And Brewer deserves some.

    Okay Linda, we will. Oh wait, we already are! I’ve done posts expressing appreciation for her stance and so have other liberal bloggers. Our Democratic state legislator asked us at a recent Dem district meeting to be sure and call Governor Brewer’s office and thank and support her for it. I’ve seen numerous prominent Dems laud the Governor over her Medicaid decision. You know who were out on the State Capitol lawn the Governor had her pro-expansion rally? Lots of Democrats. When I called Valdez out on Facebook about her claim here was her reply:

    Donna, we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. I haven’t heard much from the left in support of her on this. I’ve heard support for the idea of expansion. I continue to hear the usual carping, grousing and often petty insults aimed at her from Dems. It really is beginning to remind me of the GOP on Obama.

    Reminds me of the people who, after all that has happened, still think President Obama isn’t trying hard enough to compromise with Republicans in Congress. I won’t deny liberals carp about Governor Brewer despite her Medicaid stance but I’m not buying that it rises to the level of umbrage – screeching how she’s a traitor and making death threats to pro-Medicaid lawmakers – that we’re seeing from the right. At any rate, the exchange ended well because I took it as a challenge to prove that Democrats and liberals are, in fact, giving Governor Brewer credit on this issue. I posted the following as my Facebook status:

    Linda Valdez of the AZ Republic says that Democrats/liberals aren’t praising Governor Brewer enough for her Medicaid expansion. She claims she’s hearing lots of “carping” and that we’re…wait for it!…starting to sound just as bad as the GOP. So I’d just like to state for the record that I am glad that Governor Brewer is pushing for the Medicaid expansion and hope she succeeds. How many of my Democratic and liberal friends in AZ agree with that statement?

    As of this writing that post has 37 likes and 41 comments, about 75% of which are positive. The complaints are about other things Brewer has done or questioning why she should be thanked effusively for simply doing the right thing. A fair point to which I can only respond that we really need this Medicaid expansion and if saying nice things about our term-limited Governor (who still has a 50% approval rating) about this one thing helps make that happen, so be it. You don’t have to pretend to like anything else she’s done. And remember that the wingnuts’ are losing their freaking minds over this. That alone is enough to make me Team Brewer on this.

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    I grew up in Silver Spring, MD, and an adventurous streak led me to join the Navy. I moved to Arizona in 1997 after serving 10 years in the Navy to work in semi-conductor manufacturing. I got involved in national and Arizona politics in 2003. I ran for 2006 State Senate in Ahwatukee and was a Delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. I now live in North Central Phoenix with my boyfriend, Mark, and our three dogs. I've been blogging for Democratic Diva since 2007 about local and national politics with a strong emphasis on women's issues.

    Donna Gratehouse's Website: http://www.democraticdiva.com/


    Brewer’s Medicaid proposal is conservative? Really?

    posted by Tom Patterson at 17 May, 5:26 PM  0 
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    Gov. Brewers Medicaid program is fiscally conservative. So say her commercials. The claim is underlined and italicized so it must be so.

    Well, let’s see. Her program draws down a substantial short-term subsidy from the federal government, so if your definition of conservative is getting goodies from government so you don’t have to spend your own money until later, then I guess it’s conservative.

    On the other hand, the governor’s proposal to expand Medicaid eligibility undeniably expands the ever-growing welfare state. It increases the national debt by spending more money we don’t have. (No, the money does not just go to other states if we don’t spend it.) It raises the number of people dependent on government.

    Most importantly, it throws a lifeline to Obamacare, the most costly and intrusive federal program of our time, just at a point where it seems about to unravel on its own, because of its inept design. Gov. Brewers “conservative” proposal puts Arizona on the side of those states who take the bait of federal money and thus foist Obamacare on an American public that doesn’t want it but can’t figure out how to get out of it.

    That’s conservative? I’m not into labels and litmus tests, but come on. That’s just a crock.


    More Posts by Tom Patterson

    Patterson is the volunteer chairman of the Goldwater Institute and past chairman of the Arizona Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights. He has served on several community boards, including Goodwill of Central Arizona, Diamondbacks Foundation and Hospice of the Valley. He is the state chairman for Americans for Tax Reform. Previously, he served as the President of the Arizona Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians and ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council (public sector chair). He was the minority leader (91-92) and majority leader (93-96) of the Arizona Senate. He is a registered Republican but not politically active. In addition, he was the organizer and lead tenor of the original Arizona Singing Senators.

    Tom Patterson's Website: http://azcvoices.com/politics/author/pattersontomc/


    Feeling grateful for all those Democrats in the AZ Senate today

    posted by Donna Gratehouse at 17 May, 5:48 AM  0 
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    So budget bills got through the Arizona Senate Thursday, which were surprisingly decent, and the Medicaid expansion won a decisive majority vote. Political strategist and former legislator John Loredo said it best on his Facebook page:

    Tonight Senate Democrats along with a handful of courageous Republicans passed a reasonable, responsible budget. Dems learned that when you have serious leverage, you can hold out for some pretty amazing victories – if you don’t throw in the towel too early. Dems held their votes on Medicaid until they Rs agreed to remove permanent cuts to public education, stop the voter suppression BRB, removed a sweetheart deal for Arpaio and passed several other amendments. If you want to win big you have be willing to risk it all. Tonight we all won big.

    I guess we have to shower those Republicans who did the right thing with praise in the hope it will serve as positive reinforcement for future good decisions. So yes, I’m very appreciative of their votes. I have contacted my Senator, Adam Driggs, to thank him for his yes vote on the expansion. But what I’m really grateful for is the fact that Democrats took away the GOP supermajority in both chambers, which is making a less austere budget and the restoration of Medicaid to the working poor even possible. Anyone think this could have happened last year when there were only 9 Dem Senators? Anyone?

    While we’re at it, imagine how much sooner the Medicaid expansion would have been a done deal had Democrats won majorities in both chambers.

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    I grew up in Silver Spring, MD, and an adventurous streak led me to join the Navy. I moved to Arizona in 1997 after serving 10 years in the Navy to work in semi-conductor manufacturing. I got involved in national and Arizona politics in 2003. I ran for 2006 State Senate in Ahwatukee and was a Delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. I now live in North Central Phoenix with my boyfriend, Mark, and our three dogs. I've been blogging for Democratic Diva since 2007 about local and national politics with a strong emphasis on women's issues.

    Donna Gratehouse's Website: http://www.democraticdiva.com/


    Really, when they say who they are, believe them.

    posted by Donna Gratehouse at 16 May, 5:08 PM  0 
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    Craig McDermott captured an interesting thing Rep. Steve Smith said Tuesday about a ridonkulous bill before the Arizona Legislature, that prevents the evil Federal Government from sapping our Stately essences. Or something.

    Per Craig:

    The text of his “explanation” (emphasis added) -

    Mr. Speaker, I think just since we’re talking a little bit about history, I think it would be fair to point out that history of virtually every nation on the earth has come about from one people taking from another. Going back to biblical times. If we stand on this argument, then God’s people never should have occupied God’s land. ‘Cause they took it from people, too. I guess I wanted to say that some people look at the United States as a taking nation. I look at it as the most benevolent and the most giving nation, certainly in our time and frankly, ever. I vote yes.

    The scariest part isn’t that he said what he said. It was in how he said it, with the same matter-of-fact tone that former legislator Sylvia Allen proclaimed that strip mining uranium was OK because the Earth was 6000 years old and doing just fine.

    Of course he was matter-of-fact about it! Wingnuts are fully armed with their own revisionist history and the deep conviction that their crusade is just and right. Commandeering land, resources, and bodies toward that end is what they’re supposed to do. And they truly, honestly believe they are acting out of benevolence and that God is on their side. Newsflash to everyone who thinks we can reason and engage in civil dialog with these poor benighted rubes: that’s impossible. They need to be resisted.

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    I grew up in Silver Spring, MD, and an adventurous streak led me to join the Navy. I moved to Arizona in 1997 after serving 10 years in the Navy to work in semi-conductor manufacturing. I got involved in national and Arizona politics in 2003. I ran for 2006 State Senate in Ahwatukee and was a Delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. I now live in North Central Phoenix with my boyfriend, Mark, and our three dogs. I've been blogging for Democratic Diva since 2007 about local and national politics with a strong emphasis on women's issues.

    Donna Gratehouse's Website: http://www.democraticdiva.com/


    Possible budget deal illustrates how “bipartisanship” can be dangerous

    posted by Donna Gratehouse at 14 May, 6:34 AM  0 
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    AZ Eagletarian has a concise run-down of a rumored deal by AZ Senate President Andy Biggs (which I hinted at on my Sunday Square Off appearance) to ram a budget through the Senate by tacking a Medicaid expansion amendment on it and dangling some district pork in front of a few Dem Senators to get their votes.

    Here’s the scenario as it was set forth to me earlier this evening:

    Senate President Andy Biggs, who has been declaring all along that he is dead set against the Medicaid expansion, will tomorrow (or Wednesday) have a budget bill (or bills) for members to vote on. The budget will likely look very much like a Tea Party austerity budget with notable exceptions.

    There are apparently five Republican state senators not playing ball with Mr. Biggs. People watching the state legislature this year know those names to be Rich Crandall, Adam Driggs, John McComish, Steve Pierce and Bob Worsley.

    Without those five votes, Biggs has to come up with Democrats to support his budget bill(s).

    Scuttlebutt has it that Biggs has been meeting with Senate Minority Leader Leah Landrum Taylor (D-South Phoenix) and Assistant Minority Leader Linda Lopez (D-Tucson) and a handful of other Democrats to do some wheeling and dealing to peel off enough of the opposition to get his bills passed…

    …Oh, and as to Medicaid expansion, everyone outside the legislature expects Biggs to oppose it. He has said so on several occasions. However, the scenario described to me had Biggs including Medicaid expansion in his budget bill(s) with the very strong expectation that it would be stripped out in the House.

    Despite Andy Tobin reportedly being open to passing the expansion, my source says that’s not a lock and there are several ways he can justify withdrawing any support people might expect him to be ready to offer at this stage.

    In a field as unequal as ours in Arizona is, where Republicans and Democrats are concerned, Democratic lawmakers should not make side deals with Republicans on major issues like the budget or the Medicaid expansion. There is so little to be gained from it, and so much to lose. This is no time to be “bipartisan”. Republicans are intent on imposing austerity on us – crushing education, healthcare, sustainability, and basically everything nice we could ever hope for here. No Democratic legislator was elected to go along with that. Democrats in the Senate should stand strong, as a bloc, and say NO to it and demand something better. It’s why you got elected.

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    I grew up in Silver Spring, MD, and an adventurous streak led me to join the Navy. I moved to Arizona in 1997 after serving 10 years in the Navy to work in semi-conductor manufacturing. I got involved in national and Arizona politics in 2003. I ran for 2006 State Senate in Ahwatukee and was a Delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. I now live in North Central Phoenix with my boyfriend, Mark, and our three dogs. I've been blogging for Democratic Diva since 2007 about local and national politics with a strong emphasis on women's issues.

    Donna Gratehouse's Website: http://www.democraticdiva.com/


    The crazy is strong in some Medicaid expansion opponents

    posted by Donna Gratehouse at 14 May, 6:32 AM  0 
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    Christine Bauserman, whose Facebook page proudly boasts all her conservative and Republican affiliations, believes that poor people getting health care in Arizona is a Marxist plot. She wrote a hilarious LTTE to the AZ Capitol Times about it.

    Just how desperate are Gov. Jan Brewer and political wizard Chuck Coughlin to force Obamacare on an unwilling Arizona? Dwindling resources, loss of votes, and lackluster public support seem to be a reason for the fraught Republicans to enlist the support of a Saul Alinsky based organization. What exactly do Brewer and Coughlin want the Occupy Wall Street types to do?

    Brewer graces the Industrial Areas Foundation website (under IAF in Action), attending an event at the Valley Interfaith Project. With the Republican governor are Senate Majority Leader John McComish and Rep. Heather Carter.

    IAF, established in 1940 by Alinsky, “trains community organizers in the tactics of revolutionary social change.” It is a Chicago-based community-organizing network consisting of 59 affiliate groups, and Valley Interfaith Project is one of those groups. IAF is not a grassroots network; its local affiliates are created as the result of careful planning by its national leadership.

    So was this meeting with the governor who signed SB1070 a result of careful planning by its national leadership? What are they planning — the implementation of Obamacare in Arizona, which is second only to Texas as a leader in states’ rights, or the defeat of the Republican majority in the 2014 elections?

    Valley Interfaith Project proudly proclaims a Marxist mission defining itself as “a nonpartisan organization of dues-paying member congregations, schools, unions and nonprofits committed to building relational power through organizing people for sustainable social and economic improvement.”

    At the meeting, McComish states, “If you don’t have these kinds of gatherings, organizations lose momentum.” This is Republican leadership in our state Senate? The majority leader, a Republican, is publicly spurning his party and the legislative district he is supposed to represent, which happens to poll as the highest legislative district in Arizona at 78 percent as being “less likely to re-elect a legislator who votes for a hospital tax to fund the expansion of Medicaid.”

    Christine is, of course, strongly “pro-life”. Which, as we know, means “Those babies are gonna get born dammit!” – but then – “Health care? You want health care? What are you, some kind of commie?” Christine also appears to lack basic reading comprehension, since she ends her letter with this:

    While governors of states like Florida, with legislators rejecting Obamacare, are facing the fact there is a system of checks and balances and branches of government are indeed separate, Brewer refuses to accept the fact that the public, including Democrats, overwhelmingly reject Obamacare and any new taxes.

    Sorry Christine, that poll was of GOP primary voters only. But thanks for that letter, it was a riot!

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    I grew up in Silver Spring, MD, and an adventurous streak led me to join the Navy. I moved to Arizona in 1997 after serving 10 years in the Navy to work in semi-conductor manufacturing. I got involved in national and Arizona politics in 2003. I ran for 2006 State Senate in Ahwatukee and was a Delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. I now live in North Central Phoenix with my boyfriend, Mark, and our three dogs. I've been blogging for Democratic Diva since 2007 about local and national politics with a strong emphasis on women's issues.

    Donna Gratehouse's Website: http://www.democraticdiva.com/


    Our Legislature’s “Fast And Furious”

    posted by Bodo Diehn at 8 May, 6:49 PM  0 
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    So our legislature has decreed that guns bought back by cities must be put back into circulation instead of being melted down. 

    Let’s hope that these guns will be logged in, so that when one of them shows up as a murder weapon, the legislators who voted “yes” on this dumb piece of legislation can take personal responsibility for that tragedy.  After all, our House Republicans are trying to hold Janet Napolitano responsible for the murder of a border guard who was shot with a weapon that Homeland Security had allowed to go to Mexico.

    Are our Arizona Republicans setting themselves up for the same charges?

    You can post comments to my blogs (and see stuff that might have been censored out) by clicking on the “Leave a Comment” link or on http://www.bododiehn.net/hello-world/ , and I will reply publicly (where called for) as soon as I can.


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    Bodo Diehn first came to Tucson in 1964 for postdoctoral work at the U. of A. and is a retired university professor. After leaving academia, he went back to work for the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality for five years. His interests are Politics, Science, and Literature (not necessarily in that order). He is a long distance runner and triathlete.

    Bodo Diehn's Website: http://www.bododiehn.net/hello-world


    Money can’t buy you love, but it CAN buy you a legislator

    posted by Julie Erfle at 18 April, 9:26 AM  0 
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    In the last presidential race, a handful of billionaires handed over millions to their favored candidate to try and sway the outcome of the race. One such billionaire, Sheldon Adelson, gave $95 million to political committees supporting Mitt Romney and other Republican candidates.

    Imagine how many lives could have been improved, even saved with a $95 million contribution to charities in need.

    I don’t think any of us are delusional enough to believe that a donation of that scope and size isn’t given without an expectation of something in return. Money buys power, and in politics, power means influence and influence means votes. Wealthy donors on both sides of the aisle are buying votes. It’s that simple.

    In Arizona, our legislators are looking to lap up some of that money. With guidance from Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery and the Goldwater Institute, Republican J.D. Mesnard sponsored a bill to increase individual contributions to legislators more than ten-fold. That’s TEN times the previous donation limit.

    HB2593, signed into law by the Governor last week, does several things to ensure wealthy constituents and powerful PACs (Political Action Committees) have the power to buy legislators.

    The revised law allows individuals to give $2500 to candidates for a primary election and another $2500 for the general election. The prior limit was $488 total. There was no distinction between primary and general.

    Put another way, if it takes $50,000 to run a successful state legislative race, candidates need only appeal to 10 individual donors. In reality, that number could be even less because the bill also changes the limits on PAC money.

    Before, PACs had a $2,000 limit. It was raised to $5,000.

    But what’s even more insidious is that PACs no longer have a limit on the total number of dollars they can give in an election year. In other words, instead of being able to influence a handful of races, powerful PACs can now influence as many races as they want.

    Limits on the total amounts given by individuals have also been eliminated, meaning an individual can give $5,000 to as many candidates he/she wants as well as many thousands of dollars to PACs, political parties and independent expenditures.

    The Republicans who support this legislation say it’s a way to combat “dark money.” Please. Do they really think voters are gullible enough to believe that? This bill does nothing to shed light on the donors behind “dark money,” nothing to end the money laundering that occurred in the last election.

    What the bill does is thwart the will of Arizonans who voted to make it more difficult for a handful of wealthy individuals to buy elections. Arizonans approved Clean Elections to try and remove money as the deciding factor in a race. Regardless of whether or not the bill is deemed constitutional, it is clearly NOT written in the interest of furthering the will of a voter-approved initiative.

    This bill isn’t about the will of the voters. It’s about making life easier for legislators. They don’t need to appeal to a wide majority of citizens, just a small minority of wealthy donors with an agenda.

    It’s a win-win for legislators and special interest groups and a lose-lose for representative democracy.


    More Posts by Julie Erfle

    The story behind this blog begins in 2007 when, on an ordinary September morning, my world was unexpectedly smashed to pieces. A drugged-up gang banger with multiple arrests and outstanding warrants crossed my husband’s path. As my husband and his partner attempted to arrest him, he pulled a gun and shot my husband twice in the back of the head. The murder of a Phoenix police officer is big news. Bigger still is the fact that this happened at the hands of a previously deported illegal immigrant in a border state rife with contentious immigration battles. As I listened to the politicians and pundits spin my husband’s death to further their interests, my journalism background came into focus and I found myself doing my own research into the causes and possible solutions to our nation’s immigration problems. I also gained an awareness of what it was like to be on the opposite side of the lens. I had been a member of the media, and now my family was the subject of the story. When I went public with my views on immigration, I was drawn even further into the political web of Arizona politics, and though I shied away for a time, I felt I could no longer be silent. And so I created this blog, my editorial on the challenges facing our state and our nation. My expectation is that it will be used as a source of reasoned debate to elevate our discussions in a thoughtful and informed manner while seeking solutions to complex problems. I hope the differing opinions expressed by myself and others will both challenge and motivate individuals to work for the greater good.

    Julie Erfle's Website: http://politicsuncuffed.com/


    End Clean Elections and increase campaign finance limits, get better funded wingnuts

    posted by Donna Gratehouse at 17 April, 2:52 PM  0 
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    The preferred narrative of the pundit/consultant/business establishment types in Arizona about the root of our current political woes, as I’ve described here numerous times, goes like this: Arizona was long a bastion of bipartisan collegiality and cooperation until just a few years ago, when Clean Elections and hyper-partisan primaries ushered into office a bunch of disagreeable unwashed ruffians with extreme views. On both sides! The obvious solution, therefore, is to do whatever it takes to put elections even more firmly in the hands of wealthy business leaders and corporate lobbyists, who are self-evidently sensible and pragmatic. This was clearly the thinking behind last year’s Top Two Primary initiative and the numerous attacks on Clean Elections from the Chamber of Commerce over the years.

    This session the Legislature passed, and Governor Brewer signed into law, a dramatic increase to campaign finance limits for statewide, legislative, and local candidates. Under this new law, legislative candidates who could previously only raise $488 per cycle can now raise $2500 from individuals and $5000 from super-PACs. Clean Elections advocates plan to sue, claiming that the new law violates Arizona’s public financing constitutional amendment.

    I have spoken with some liberal Democrats who admit that they’re glad to see the end of Clean Elections. Some are consultants and campaign donors who feel traditional financing gives them more freedom to help their candidates win. Others have bought into the oft-repeated myth that Clean Elections caused all those radical right wingers to get elected. No Democrat I’ve talked to, however, is happy about the greatly increased contribution limits. So this appears to be a “be careful what you wish for” situation for Democrats who disliked Clean Elections. Public campaign financing, and the check on the influence of big money in elections that was the intention of the Clean Elections amendment, appear to be dead in the water in Arizona if this law stands.

    The vote on the bill broke down nearly perfectly on party lines, with all the Democrats in the legislature voting against it. All but one Republican (Michelle Ugenti of Scottsdale) voted for it. Which really puts the lie to the notion that rabid right wing Republicans in Arizona are the slightest bit concerned about their ability to raise lots of money. They vote “pro-business” every time, for one thing. For another, an awful lot of wealthy people in Arizona happen to be rabid right wingers.

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    I grew up in Silver Spring, MD, and an adventurous streak led me to join the Navy. I moved to Arizona in 1997 after serving 10 years in the Navy to work in semi-conductor manufacturing. I got involved in national and Arizona politics in 2003. I ran for 2006 State Senate in Ahwatukee and was a Delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. I now live in North Central Phoenix with my boyfriend, Mark, and our three dogs. I've been blogging for Democratic Diva since 2007 about local and national politics with a strong emphasis on women's issues.

    Donna Gratehouse's Website: http://www.democraticdiva.com/


    Why hospitals don’t want you to know their prices

    posted by Tom Patterson at 15 April, 1:20 PM  0 
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    You can see why hospitals particularly were panicked over Sen. Nancy Barto’s SB 1115, which would have forced them to (gasp!) publish the prices of their most common services.

    A lot of grime has accumulated in the world of medical economics since third-party payments became the norm for medical care reimbursements. Hospitals have developed a price structure that is patently unfair. They of course know what their “direct payment” price is, but it’s so high they’re embarrassed and understandably would rather you don’t know about it.

    Nobody pays it anyway. Well, one person does, that’s the poor sap with no insurance who made the mistake of accumulating some assets. He pays full boat. Government pays the best rates, others depend on their leverage in the marketplace. It’s the economic equivalent of your cost depending on who you know.

    Gov. Brewer’s veto message was the usual gibberish you get when somebody vacates their ideals to placate powerful constituents. She’s all for price transparency, of course. It’s just this particular bill with it’s “ambiguous terms and definitions”, blah, blah, blah, which she apparently didn’t lift a finger to correct, that is the problem.

    The governor unfortunately is missing in action on healthcare reform. We are never going to be able to move toward a more market-based, patient-oriented system if the customers aren’t allowed to know the prices of what they’re buying..


    More Posts by Tom Patterson

    Patterson is the volunteer chairman of the Goldwater Institute and past chairman of the Arizona Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights. He has served on several community boards, including Goodwill of Central Arizona, Diamondbacks Foundation and Hospice of the Valley. He is the state chairman for Americans for Tax Reform. Previously, he served as the President of the Arizona Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians and ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council (public sector chair). He was the minority leader (91-92) and majority leader (93-96) of the Arizona Senate. He is a registered Republican but not politically active. In addition, he was the organizer and lead tenor of the original Arizona Singing Senators.

    Tom Patterson's Website: http://azcvoices.com/politics/author/pattersontomc/


    Game On!

    posted by Romina Khananisho at 13 April, 9:49 AM  0 
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    I wrote the previous post thinking the floor debate may just never happen, after all it’s been 20 years since any floor action has been taken on firearms legislations. But it looks like we are headed for a good fight.

    Senators are getting ready and as they should. This is what they are elected to do, debate the issues we are facing as a nation and come up with policy that serves the people of the country best. We all have strong opinions on our 2nd amendment rights and while I am an avid supporter of the 2nd amendment, I am also a supporter of having a healthy national debate.

    Look, I don’t care what statistics you throw my way, increased gun control will not resolve the mental health epidemic, criminal activity, drug trade, gangs, domestic violence or really any of the other reasons why people use lethal weapons to harm others.

    So stop with the statistics, because we all have them. Just admit it; there is no logic anywhere in this debate. And to try to argue with statistics is just stupid. This whole discussion is driven by pure emotion and I have learned that the best way to deal with emotion is to just let it ride.

    Let the Liberals do what they do best, have a meltdown, get caught up in emotion, dodge the real issues and when they finally finish with their convulsive behavior, insert logic.  

    Politically, our elected leaders need to say they have done “something” to address these mass shootings. So let them debate, encourage them to have the conversation, debate universal background checks as an option. Do whatever, but do not let emotion drive this discussion for too much longer.

    There will come a time when Republicans must do what they do best, take control of the situation, insert logic, throw them a bone and call it a day. In the end, if universal background checks is that bone, take the huge win and move on to the next issue. The key here is that those of us who support the ultimate Right to Bear Arms still get to carry freely and it may just buy us another 20 years before we talk about this again!  


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    Romina Khananisho moved to Arizona in 1994 with her family and attended college at Arizona State University. Almost 20 years later her career has thrived as a government relations professional serving both the private and public sector. Currently she is the Government Relations and Communications Manager for the City of Goodyear, Arizona. She oversees the city’s communications division, Mayor and Council staff, grants and neighborhood services as well as serves as the City’s lead lobbyist. Romina is responsible for developing and guiding federal, state and regional legislative policies for the City. She plans and directs the citywide communications/marketing function through, social media, PR consultation and issues management, media relations, public outreach campaigns, publication production, website content management, graphic design services, and audio-visual/video productions. Ms. Khananisho oversees the City media spokesperson and develops various marketing messages for the City. Before joining the City of Goodyear in 2007, Romina served as Campaign Manager for Proposition 106 Conserving Arizona’s Future Campaign. She was the Director of Public Affairs for Arizona Chamber of Commerce, and a Senior Associate with the public relations firm of Demenna and Associates in Phoenix. She gained experience working as a staff assistant for the Office of Majority Staff in the Arizona State Senate, a special projects coordinator during the 2000 election season for the Cook County Republican Party in Chicago, a constituent affairs specialist with the Arizona Governor’s Office (1997-1999), and an administrator with the Phoenix public affairs firm of Highground, Inc. Romina holds a Masters of Business Administration Degree as well as Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science and Sociology. Her opinions have been featured in the Arizona Republic and she was named Forty Under 40 in 2011 by the Phoenix Business Journal. Romina is an adjunct faculty member with Rio Salado Community College and teaches Political Science and Sociology.

    Romina Khananisho's Website:


    Sen. Yee: You couldn’t be any more wrong

    posted by Jana Bommersbach at 3 April, 7:04 AM  0 
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    Sen. Kimberly Yee, R-Phoenix, has killed legisation to increase funding for a program that trains people to intervene when someone is suicidal or could pose harm to others–like Jared Loughner, the Tucson shooter. She used a procedural maneuver to kill a bill that has widespread and bipartisan support, saying she was “trying to maintain the integrity of the process.”

    I maintain that the only one lacking integrity here is Kimberly Yee. I hope her constituents in District 20–northern Phoenix and parts of Glendale–are also outraged that the ONE bill that offered some hope against future mass shootings in Arizona was crushed under her heel.

    I hope the rest of the legislature shows the kind of INTEGRITY Arizona demands on this issue and ignores Sen. Yee and reinstates this bill, and funds it to make sure we have this level of protection.

    And Sen. Yee: You couldn’t be any more wrongheaded in killing this bill.


    More Posts by Jana Bommersbach

    Jana Bommersbach is one of Arizona's most acclaimed journalists. The Arizona Press Club has recognized her lifetime of achievement with its highest honor--The Distinguished Service Award. And the Society of Professional Journalists have inducted her into the Order of the Silver Key as an "inspiration to the state's media community." She has been Arizona Journalist of the Year and twice was recognized as the nation's top city magazine columnist. Jana is a communications expert who has won accolades in every phase of her career: journalist, author, broadcaster and speaker.

    Jana Bommersbach's Website: http://www.janabommersbach.com/


    Another education reform mired in incompetence

    posted by Mike McClellan at 29 March, 9:46 AM  0 
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    As a retired teacher, I keep up with what’s going on in education.

    And, of course, what’s going on is Common Core, the set of math and English standards adopted by 46 states, including us.

    Theoretically, those standards will raise the achievement levels of our kids, as the new standards require more earlier and require more analytical thinking.

    I’ve looked at the standards (you can see them here), and there’s nothing to get upset about (though our paranoids somehow have connected Common Core to a U.N.-led one world government . . . I’m serious). In fact, the high school English standards pretty much reflect what any good English class should focus on.

    But another part of Common Core is more troubling:  How do we know the kids actually are receiving a more rigorous education?

    Here’s the problem.

    Part of the Common Core sales pitch was that it would give individual states an idea of how they compare to other states, with some kind of common testing.

    That testing, as an article in today’s paper reports (here), is a problem.

    First, states aren’t even required to use the same test.  Which means?  No basis for comparison.

    Second, the test, which will replace AIMS, will no longer be part of a graduation requirement.  When AIMS first appeared, its testing wasn’t a graduation requirement either.  And — surprise — kids didn’t take it seriously.  At most schools, when it later  did become a requirement, scores jumped.  If we want our kids to take it seriously, it has to have more weight than some amorphous connection, possibly, to their grades in math and English.

    Third, the consortium that most states seem to favor for testing,  PARCC, has yet to create even a pilot test.  I’ve become part of their network, and receive occasional updates from them. They’re still in the “let’s figure out what the test will look like” phase. Maybe this summer (summer!?)  they will field test a math and English assessment.

    My problem with that is, teachers usually have an assessment done prior to teaching a unit.  This seems more like “teach now, we’ll figure out what to test later.”  Not the smartest.

    Finally, the testing is to be done on-line.  And — surprise, part II — Arizona is behind in both the hardware and bandwidth to adequately do so.
    The Guv’s asked for $20 million to assess and provide what’s needed to those schools lagging behind, but who knows what will happen in the leg.
    Meanwhile, if the state underfunds this, already-underfunded schools will have the bill for the upgrades.

    Or they can do paper and pencil tests — which slow the entire process down, taking away instruction time and adding more testing time.

    I’m all for raising the expectations for our kids, pushing them to achieve more.  But at least at the testing level, incompetence seems to abound.

    And that ain’t good.


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    Mike McClellan has lived in Arizona since 1967 where he attended high school and the University of Arizona. McClellan taught high school English for 36 years, including 30 years at at Dobson High School in Mesa. He has been a contributing columnist to both the East Valley Republic editions and the East Valley Tribune.

    Mike McClellan's Website: http://azcvoices.com/politics/author/mikemcclellansblog/


    Robert Robb pulls the “I’m rubber, you’re glue” gambit on voter suppression charges

    posted by Donna Gratehouse at 25 March, 10:37 AM  0 
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    I am speaking, of course, of Arizona Republic columnist Bob Robb patiently white man-splaining race relations to us.

    Racism is ugly and has been a searing experience in American history. It undoubtedly still exists.

    Unjustified accusations of racism are perhaps less ugly, but intolerably ugly nonetheless. And a decent case can be made that the false claim of racism is at least as prevalent in today’s politics as is racism itself.

    Take the reckless accusations in Arizona about supposed attempts to suppress the Latino vote.

    Let’s not sugarcoat this charge. Voter suppression isn’t an accusation that well-intentioned people are taking actions or making proposals that might have the unintended consequence of reducing the number of Latinos who vote. It’s a charge that reducing the number of Latinos voting is the intended purpose. It’s a charge of racism.

    Well, if anyone is the foremost expert on what racism is and isn’t, it would be noted sociological expert Bob Robb. By Robb’s reasoning, if racial discrimination is simply an “unintended consequence” of a voting law, then it cannot be considered racist because the people passing the law aren’t overtly stating that such a consequence is their intention. Which means that all the Jim Crow voting laws passed after the ratification of 15th Amendment in 1870, which expressly forbids denial of the vote due to race, until the passage of the Civil Rights Acts of the mid-20th century could not have been racist either.

    Such disenfranchising laws included poll taxes, literacy tests, vouchers of “good character,” and disqualification for “crimes of moral turpitude.” These laws were “color-blind” on their face, but were designed to exclude black citizens disproportionately by allowing white election officials to apply the procedures selectively. Other laws and practices, such as the “white primary,”, attempted to evade the 15th Amendment by allowing “private” political parties to conduct elections and establish qualifications for their members.

    As a result of these efforts, in the former Confederate states nearly all black citizens were disenfranchised and removed from by 1910. The process of restoring the rights taken stolen by these tactics would take many decades.

    Back to his column, here’s noted legal scholar and voter felony watchdog Bob Robb defending Republican Arizona lawmakers in their attempt to stop activist groups from collecting and delivering ballots:

    In the last election, the county recorders became concerned about people dropping off large numbers of early ballots at polling places and reports that people were canvassing neighborhoods collecting early ballots, in some cases posing as county election officials.

    Honest elections are fragile things. Politics attracts cheats. This practice is pregnant with potential abuse.

    State law currently says that if you need help filling out an early ballot, you and the person who assists you sign the ballot attesting as to the assistance. SB 1003 would simply require the same thing when you ask someone to return your early ballot for you.

    That also is supposedly racially-motivated voter suppression.

    Yes, politics indeed attracts cheats. But of course Robb isn’t talking about Republican consultant Nathan Sproul. Robb is instead repeating specious accusations about Latino voting activists: “people were canvassing neighborhoods collecting early ballots, in some cases posing as county election officials”. But that allegation makes no sense in light of the voter fraud allegations Rep. Kimberly Yee (R) made to the Republic last month – “I know voter fraud is real” – because she saw boxes full of delivered ballots. In other words, groups picking up ballots need to be banned from doing that because shady characters are misrepresenting themselves and making off with people’s ballots, which they then do what with? Or is it that the votes themselves, having been delivered to the county recorder, are fraudulent as Rep. Yee alleges? People defending the bill might want to get their story straight on why it’s necessary because from here it’s looking pregnant with racially motivated voter suppression, to borrow some phrasing from Robb.

    But let’s assume the motivations behind the controversial voting bills going through the Arizona Legislature right now are benign and colorblind. So what? When people make the reasonable prediction that these efforts could disenfranchise certain groups of voters, it is profoundly disrespectful and disgraceful to dismiss their concerns and accuse them, as Robb does, of “reckless accusations” of racism.

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    I grew up in Silver Spring, MD, and an adventurous streak led me to join the Navy. I moved to Arizona in 1997 after serving 10 years in the Navy to work in semi-conductor manufacturing. I got involved in national and Arizona politics in 2003. I ran for 2006 State Senate in Ahwatukee and was a Delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. I now live in North Central Phoenix with my boyfriend, Mark, and our three dogs. I've been blogging for Democratic Diva since 2007 about local and national politics with a strong emphasis on women's issues.

    Donna Gratehouse's Website: http://www.democraticdiva.com/


    When you grab a tiger by its tail you go where it takes you

    posted by Donna Gratehouse at 22 March, 3:27 PM  0 
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    Pity poor Glenn Hamer, President of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and former chair of the Arizona Republican Party, for he’s feeling terribly hurt and confused by how mean some of (well, a lot of) his Republican compatriots are being to Governor Brewer over the Medicaid expansion.

    Time for adult leadership at county GOP

    Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus just released a 100-page report on how the Republican Party can attempt to win back the large swaths of the electorate that has abandoned it over the last few election cycles.

    The report contains discussion of the party’s posture towards women and minority voters, how young voters view the party and where the party has been deficient in its use of technology and social media.

    But no matter what the party does on Twitter and Facebook, it will continue to be viewed as a bastion of angry cranks if outbursts like the one that occurred in yesterday’s state House Appropriations Committee are tolerated.

    Apparently Maricopa GOP Chairman A.J. LaFaro didn’t get the Priebus memo. He needs to be consigned to the kiddie table.

    For a county party chairman to use his platform for what was supposed to be a discussion on policy to instead blast a Republican governor is offensive enough. But to use such outrageous, unhinged rhetoric is an embarrassment to the entire party structure.

    I commend House Speaker Andy Tobin for swiftly condemning LaFaro and calling for his resignation. Gov. Brewer is a good and decent person. No one deserves that sort of treatment, especially her.

    Aside from LaFaro’s rhetoric, the hearing was five hours of substantive, thoughtful discussion.

    I know the GOP (I am a Republican for those keeping score at home) is better than what was displayed yesterday by one barely-relevant party poo-bah. But that will become an increasingly more difficult case to be made if scenes like the one yesterday are not forcefully condemned.

    Hmm…it’s a such a huge mystery why this bastion of angry cranks is so enraged about the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, isn’t it? Couldn’t have anything to do with the twin shibboleths of conservatism today: white-hot hatred of President Obama and the near-religious certainty that poor people are lazy moochers who deserve to suffer, could it? Yeah, I’m pretty sure that this expansion, which as far as they are concerned is literally the Kenyan Usurper handing free stuff to welfare queens, is never going to be acceptable to them. It’s so deeply offensive that it has rendered Jan Brewer from their SB1070 Savior almost three years ago to the “Judas” angrily denounced by the Maricopa GOP Chairman the other day.

    As I’ve said before, I applaud Hamer and the Chamber for throwing their support behind the expansion. It’s good economic and human policy. But any hope I might have had for Glenn Hamer doing some honest reflection on what is wrong with his party evaporates when he cites Reince Priebus’s “autopsy” of the election as his guiding star. If you don’t feel like reading the whole thing, I’ll sum it up for you: “We lost in 2012 because not enough voters bought our lies. Let’s lie better!” But even if the GOP managed to craft a perfect line of b.s. to make their policies palatable to the majority of voters who find them repugnant, they still won’t be able to corral the angry cranks who speak more candidly about them. The cranks tend to be present and pontificating at water coolers and backyard barbeques far more often than the glib political surrogates the GOP wants to deploy to explain things nicely to the voting public. And cranks are abundant in the state legislature. And on the internet. Yes indeed, Republicans have a social media problem.

    Of course, oftentimes it’s not the unwashed cranks who get caught spilling the beans. The polished “moderate” 2012 Republican Presidential nominee couldn’t even stop himself from cold dissing half the country, right in front of the catering staff. Looks like the lack adult leadership might go a whole lot farther up the chain.

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    I grew up in Silver Spring, MD, and an adventurous streak led me to join the Navy. I moved to Arizona in 1997 after serving 10 years in the Navy to work in semi-conductor manufacturing. I got involved in national and Arizona politics in 2003. I ran for 2006 State Senate in Ahwatukee and was a Delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. I now live in North Central Phoenix with my boyfriend, Mark, and our three dogs. I've been blogging for Democratic Diva since 2007 about local and national politics with a strong emphasis on women's issues.

    Donna Gratehouse's Website: http://www.democraticdiva.com/


    ‘Show Me Your Genitals’ bill more glamorous than crimes against kids

    posted by Julie Erfle at 22 March, 3:26 PM  0 
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    “While the legislature’s leadership ignores efforts to target pimps who sell children for sex, Kavanagh is worried about bathroom etiquette.”

    This was a quote on my Facebook page from retired Mesa police officer Bill Richardson after I expressed my dismay over Representative John Kavanagh’s bill, SB1432, which would criminalize using the wrong bathroom.

    Kavanagh is attempting to undo the City of Phoenix’s anti-discrimination ordinance that was recently expanded to include protections for the LGBT and disabled communities. Richardson speaks about the ridiculousness of Kavanagh’s bill while noting that the legislature has chosen to ignore valid public safety measures that would actually help children.

    He speaks about one measure in detail in his column this week for the East Valley Tribune, saying:

    Sex crimes captivate the audience, but why not the Arizona legislature? I find it interesting the number of Arizona folks who are captivated and fascinated with sex crimes. It’s like they can’t get enough of it.

    I hear constant talk about the media-created, soap-opera-like atmosphere surrounding the Jodi Arias murder trial. People are fascinated with the sex talk and titillating tales of what Arias and Travis Alexander did before she admittedly murdered him.

    No doubt the media loves it. Sex sells and — media-driven voyeurism sells really big in Arizona!

    In an opinion piece in last Saturday’s Arizona Republic, Cindy McCain – wife to Sen. John McCain and a highly successful business executive and known global humanitarian — stated that “Phoenix is a major hub for this activity and is often listed as one of the top spots in the U.S. for child sex trafficking.”

    Imagine that, Arizona as a top spot for child sex trafficking.

    When you consider Arizona’s continued lack of a strategic statewide plan and effective state agency to take on the organized crime elements that sell kids for sex, Arizona is a great spot trafficking in children.

    I wrote in my March 5 Tribune column (“Recent Valley freeway snarls only part of the issue with DPS”) that “Without a centralized and coordinated effort like was once the case with DPS taking the lead in organized crime investigations, the public suffers and the criminal’s profit. No wonder organized crime loves Arizona.”

    While the public’s anti-crime focus is kept on the border and billions and billions of dollars are spent to intercept illegal aliens and drugs — to questionable success — organized criminal activities continue to flourish on our city streets. Human trafficking whether it is for sweatshops or the sex trade has always been a major profit center for organized crime.

    In Arizona, it’s no secret among law enforcement officials that the streets are controlled by gangs with ties to the Mexican mafia prison gang and Mexico based organized crime groups.

    For whatever reasons, Arizona’s policy and lawmakers continue to ignore the threat these groups present to Arizona’s sustainability and quality of life. The legislature’s neglect of statewide law enforcement efforts is legendary.

    When you look at its recent performance, it’s easy to see how Arizona went from being one of the best in attacking organized crime to being a state that’s a major destination and transshipment hub in organized crime’s North American supply chain.

    McCain pointed out in her op-ed piece the legislature’s latest gift to crime and criminals was House Judiciary Chairman Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, refusing to schedule a hearing for a bill to help law enforcement target the growing problem of child prostitution. House Bill 2569 would have created “higher penalties for pimps and traffickers than for johns when the victim is 15, 16 or 17.

    “This bill is relatively simple and straightforward, and just the start of legislation needed to address the larger problem of human trafficking in Arizona,” she added.

    Kiddie pimps would be looking at up to 37 years in prison had this bill moved forward and become law.

    McCain pointed out “Sex traffickers target children because of their vulnerability and gullibility, as well as the market ‘demand’ for young victims. Studies show pimps prey on victims as young as 12.”

    Farnsworth’s refusal to hold a hearing killed anti-organized crime legislation that would help police and prosecutors attack Arizona’s flesh mongers.

    But what else would you expect from our legislature’s leadership — a group that has made ignoring Arizona’s crime problems its usual way of doing business?

    McCain is known for her courage. She’s not afraid to get her hands dirty doing what’s right. It’s too bad our legislature doesn’t have the same commitment and courage to protect Arizona’s children and communities from organized crime and sexual predators.

    People in Arizona need to understand that by prioritizing “bathroom ID” laws over things like child sex trafficking, our legislators are putting sensationalism above public safety. And it’s our children who pay the price for these legislators’ theatrics.


    More Posts by Julie Erfle

    The story behind this blog begins in 2007 when, on an ordinary September morning, my world was unexpectedly smashed to pieces. A drugged-up gang banger with multiple arrests and outstanding warrants crossed my husband’s path. As my husband and his partner attempted to arrest him, he pulled a gun and shot my husband twice in the back of the head. The murder of a Phoenix police officer is big news. Bigger still is the fact that this happened at the hands of a previously deported illegal immigrant in a border state rife with contentious immigration battles. As I listened to the politicians and pundits spin my husband’s death to further their interests, my journalism background came into focus and I found myself doing my own research into the causes and possible solutions to our nation’s immigration problems. I also gained an awareness of what it was like to be on the opposite side of the lens. I had been a member of the media, and now my family was the subject of the story. When I went public with my views on immigration, I was drawn even further into the political web of Arizona politics, and though I shied away for a time, I felt I could no longer be silent. And so I created this blog, my editorial on the challenges facing our state and our nation. My expectation is that it will be used as a source of reasoned debate to elevate our discussions in a thoughtful and informed manner while seeking solutions to complex problems. I hope the differing opinions expressed by myself and others will both challenge and motivate individuals to work for the greater good.

    Julie Erfle's Website: http://politicsuncuffed.com/


    The Kavanagh’s Sex Obsession

    posted by Mike McClellan at 21 March, 5:17 PM  0 
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    Seems like one of Arizona’s power couples sure are interested in sex.

    At least the sex of others, that is.

    Rep. John Kavanagh and his wife, Fountain Hills Mayor Linda Kavanagh, seem to have a laser-like focus on sex these days.

    First, Mayor Linda comes out against a musical being performed in her town.  The Full Monty (you can read the story here).

    Of course, being the good conservative she is, the Mayor couched her concerns in fiscal terms:

    “Many of the residents contacted me and were outraged that ‘The Full Monty’ was being produced and that a minor was acting in the play,” she said. “They have demanded that the government cease funding this organization. I must weigh all of these issues when making a decision about the use of taxpayer money.”

    Well, sure, a few protesters equal no more funding for the production company.  Interesting, considering that the same company has produced a play about strippers, Gypsy, which as the producer pointed out, features “a bunch of kids” in the play.  Not a peep then.

    And the current production has no nudity at all.

    Meanwhile, her husband seems to want checkpoints at bathrooms, with his pushing the now-famous Bathroom Bill, which would make it a crime for transgender folks to use the facilities for which they identify.

    The potential for abuse, Kavanagh seems to argue, is great.  Except, of course, the contrary evidence from 166 cities that already have allowed for transgenders to use the toilets of their choice.  Including that crazy liberal mecca, Salt Lake City.  None of which has reported any problems in the potty.

    But that’s okay — our defenders of what’s right are on the prowl.  The Kavanagh’s will be peeking in the stalls and behind the curtains to assure Arizonans of a safe place to poop and peruse plays.

    Maybe John and Linda have a future in reality TV — Sex Police.  Each week, the Kavanagh’s will monitor a specific public bathroom (with a camera crew, of course), waiting for a transgender to show his junk in the wrong place.  But who’ll make the pinch?  After all, if John enters a ladies’ room, he’d break his own law.

    I’m sure the producers can work out the kinks in this.


    More Posts by Mike McClellan

    Mike McClellan has lived in Arizona since 1967 where he attended high school and the University of Arizona. McClellan taught high school English for 36 years, including 30 years at at Dobson High School in Mesa. He has been a contributing columnist to both the East Valley Republic editions and the East Valley Tribune.

    Mike McClellan's Website: http://azcvoices.com/politics/author/mikemcclellansblog/


    Moderate Republican Arizona State Senators voting ever so moderately

    posted by Donna Gratehouse at 20 March, 9:40 AM  0 
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    I keep being told there are some Republicans in the Arizona legislature who are so gosh darn nice and reasonable and moderate deep down inside. They really, honesty, truly want to do well by the people of Arizona! But they are forced – forced! – to vote badly by the evil menace of Grover Norquist and the ever-present threat of primary challenges. In the end this means that these mild-mannered closet moderates have voting records that closely resemble those of their enthusiastically crazypants colleagues on a variety of looney tunes bills such as this recent one that would, I’m not kidding, allow gold and silver coins to be used as legal tender in the state of Arizona. (Paging Stephen Colbert to the black courtesy phone!)

    The measure is Arizona’s latest jab at the federal government, which prohibits states from minting their own money. It also reflects a growing distrust of government-backed money.

    “The public sees the value in it,” said Rep. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa.

    “This is the type of currency we have had over the history of mankind.”

    What do you think our Biblical forebears bought their dinosaur chariots with? Fiat dollars? Don’t be silly. The bill passed the Senate on a party line vote of 17 to 11.

    legal tender vote

    I have helpfully circled the names of five Senators often described as “moderate”. Worsley is a freshman who beat Russell Pearce in their primary last year. Driggs, McComish, and Reagan all won open Senate seats in 2010, having previously served in the House. In 2010, the only one of those three to have a primary was Driggs, who won it fairly easily. Driggs was not primaried in 2012 and neither were McComish or Reagan. Pierce has not faced a primary challenger in his past three Senate races. But wait, you may say! Aren’t they safe from primaries because they inoculate themselves by voting for stupid crap like this gold and silver coin bill? My problem with that theory is that if it’s such common knowledge that these Senators are moderates yearning to be reasonable the second they are given a chance, don’t you think uber-righty primary voters in their districts would have figured that out a long time ago? Why haven’t Driggs, McComish, Reagan, and Pierce been 86ed and replaced with some True ConservativesTM by now? I don’t buy it. Like I’ve been saying, the more likely explanation is they vote that way because they want to, they believe that stuff themselves, and they don’t expect to be held accountable for those votes by anyone who is supposed to be holding them accountable i.e., Arizona Republic columnists or general election voters in their districts. See, it’s not the primary elections that are the problem with these Republican lawmakers, it’s the general elections.

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    More Posts by Donna Gratehouse

    I grew up in Silver Spring, MD, and an adventurous streak led me to join the Navy. I moved to Arizona in 1997 after serving 10 years in the Navy to work in semi-conductor manufacturing. I got involved in national and Arizona politics in 2003. I ran for 2006 State Senate in Ahwatukee and was a Delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. I now live in North Central Phoenix with my boyfriend, Mark, and our three dogs. I've been blogging for Democratic Diva since 2007 about local and national politics with a strong emphasis on women's issues.

    Donna Gratehouse's Website: http://www.democraticdiva.com/


    Clean Elections a bust

    posted by Tom Patterson at 17 March, 10:05 PM  0 
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    Legislators are considering defunding Clean Elections and giving the money to education instead. It would have to be done as a ballot measure, but why shouldn’t they? Since the notorious “matching funds” provision was struck down by the United States Supreme Court, interest in welfare for politicians has plummeted considerably.

    Just 63 legislative candidates ran “clean” (i.e., with taxpayer money) last year, the first time the number was under 100 since 2002. Just 9.7% of winning campaigns were publicly funded according to the Arizona Capitol Times.

    More importantly, Clean Elections has been tried as a way to open up politics to wider participation and it has failed miserably on that score. I’ll square with you. I’m opposed to Clean Elections because I think it’s wrong to take money from a person and give it to politicians they may vehemently disagree with. I wouldn’t support it if it did achieve its goals.

    But the numbers don’t lie. Going back to the 1960s, an average of 220 Arizonans have vied each election for the 90 legislative seats. Since Clean Elections passed in 1998, there has been an average of 208 candidates each election. Case closed.

    Clean Elections was conceived by its advocates as a demonstration project of how to get more people involved in politics. Their self-congratulatory commercials, also paid for with taxpayer money, claim the program has been a success. But it hasn’t and it’s time to quit pouring scarce resources into it.




    More Posts by Tom Patterson

    Patterson is the volunteer chairman of the Goldwater Institute and past chairman of the Arizona Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights. He has served on several community boards, including Goodwill of Central Arizona, Diamondbacks Foundation and Hospice of the Valley. He is the state chairman for Americans for Tax Reform. Previously, he served as the President of the Arizona Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians and ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council (public sector chair). He was the minority leader (91-92) and majority leader (93-96) of the Arizona Senate. He is a registered Republican but not politically active. In addition, he was the organizer and lead tenor of the original Arizona Singing Senators.

    Tom Patterson's Website: http://azcvoices.com/politics/author/pattersontomc/


    Brain trust trying to recall Chad Campbell

    posted by Donna Gratehouse at 13 March, 10:05 AM  0 
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    Oh this is cute:

    Arizona House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix, could face a recall election…

    …Former unsuccessful legislative candidate Bob Thomas of Phoenix, who is involved with the recall committee, called Fire Representative Chad Campbell, said: “People are concerned about some of the issues he’s been promoting. The list (of issues) is too long to go over right now.”

    Sure it is, Bob. Voters in Democrat-heavy LD24 are deeply concerned with the issues that dastardly Minority Leader Campbell is promoting, such as healthcare access, safety from gun violence, and quality schools. The scoundrel. You can tell they are wary of Campbell, since he barely won his 2012 House election (by double digits). The charismatic community organizers of Fire Representative Chad Campbell (catchy title!) have to get 23,000 valid signatures in LD24, which has about 89,000 total voters, by July. This band of rocket surgeons might be able to pull that off, but then they have to recruit some poor schmuck uh…I mean…intrepid hero to run against Campbell on the November ballot. This is the same ballot the Arpaio recall will be on should that effort succeed with their signatures. I don’t have a link to what the results were for the Arpaio/Penzone 2012 race for LD24, but I’m going to hazard a guess that Arpaio didn’t do too well there.

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    More Posts by Donna Gratehouse

    I grew up in Silver Spring, MD, and an adventurous streak led me to join the Navy. I moved to Arizona in 1997 after serving 10 years in the Navy to work in semi-conductor manufacturing. I got involved in national and Arizona politics in 2003. I ran for 2006 State Senate in Ahwatukee and was a Delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. I now live in North Central Phoenix with my boyfriend, Mark, and our three dogs. I've been blogging for Democratic Diva since 2007 about local and national politics with a strong emphasis on women's issues.

    Donna Gratehouse's Website: http://www.democraticdiva.com/


    The governor gets worked up

    posted by Tom Patterson at 10 March, 4:33 PM  0 
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    “I don’t want dead people in the streets,” Gov. Brewer proclaimed to KFYI listeners, in the course of touting her Medicaid expansion. Well, you’ve got to admit there’s nothing more disgusting than the sight of a bunch of people lying around who just keeled over from losing their government supplied health insurance.

    The guv must be studying Barack Obama’s manual on how community organizers whip up hysteria. She doesn’t quite have the knack, though, like when she comes up with whoppers like “if your mother or son is on chemotherapy, that person will be taken off”. Really?

    It doesn’t work that way in the real world. In her hypothetical, the person would almost certainly become eligible for Medicaid because of the catastrophic costs incurred. Low-income people needing primary care can access community health centers, county clinics and charitable facilities. Life isn’t easy for those at the bottom of the income scale, but on the other hand, it’s hard to show any great difference in health outcomes due to Medicaid.

    This artificial bump up of the Medicaid population for three years with money we already know is going to run out has another unintended effect. It keeps us from developing more cost-effective ways of providing medical care for the poor. Publicly funded Health Savings Accounts, more utilization of physician extenders and direct provision of services all more sense then use-it-or-lose-it insurance for all.

    In the meantime, the governor would be well advised to dial it down. She might even consider a little respect for those willing to act on the principles she used to claim – until the money was dangled.


    More Posts by Tom Patterson

    Patterson is the volunteer chairman of the Goldwater Institute and past chairman of the Arizona Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights. He has served on several community boards, including Goodwill of Central Arizona, Diamondbacks Foundation and Hospice of the Valley. He is the state chairman for Americans for Tax Reform. Previously, he served as the President of the Arizona Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians and ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council (public sector chair). He was the minority leader (91-92) and majority leader (93-96) of the Arizona Senate. He is a registered Republican but not politically active. In addition, he was the organizer and lead tenor of the original Arizona Singing Senators.

    Tom Patterson's Website: http://azcvoices.com/politics/author/pattersontomc/


    Insider biasis showing

    posted by Tom Patterson at 26 February, 11:51 AM  0 
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    In Sunday’s edition of the Republic’s “Political insider”, the paycheck protection bill that was defeated in the legislature was described like this. “The bill is actually about paycheck deductions and unions hate it because it would prevent them from having dues deducted from members paychecks.”

    I have no way of knowing whether that’s an outright lie or just pathetically sloppy reporting. But it’s wrong on several counts.

    The bill would have prevented government unions (only) from making deductions, UNLESS THE MEMBER AUTHORIZED IT, in which case, unlike any other nongovernment entities, they could still go ahead.

    That’s totally different from what the reporters described. Their depiction makes the bill seem punitive toward unions. It shifts the focus away from workers’ rights to have their paychecks protected from unauthorized deductions.

    Moreover, it justifies the votes of all the union dominated Senators (all the Democrats, of course, plus three Republicans) who voted against it and gets them off the hook for voting against a pro-worker bill. And it rationalizes the reporters’ own obvious bias against the bill.

    The “Insider” was reporting what they wish the facts
    to be rather than what they are. It’s a big deal. In states where union workers have been given the right to authorized deductions from their paychecks, fewer than half do so. Of course, that takes away a lot of the walking around money that union leaders have to support their politicians of choice which often are not the ones supported by the rank-and-file who are having their paychecks raided.

    But it’s a neat trick. If the real terms of the debate don’t support your position, just change the facts. Nice work if you can get by with it.


    More Posts by Tom Patterson

    Patterson is the volunteer chairman of the Goldwater Institute and past chairman of the Arizona Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights. He has served on several community boards, including Goodwill of Central Arizona, Diamondbacks Foundation and Hospice of the Valley. He is the state chairman for Americans for Tax Reform. Previously, he served as the President of the Arizona Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians and ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council (public sector chair). He was the minority leader (91-92) and majority leader (93-96) of the Arizona Senate. He is a registered Republican but not politically active. In addition, he was the organizer and lead tenor of the original Arizona Singing Senators.

    Tom Patterson's Website: http://azcvoices.com/politics/author/pattersontomc/


    DiCiccio and Herrod work to flush anti-discrimination efforts down the toilet

    posted by Julie Erfle at 22 February, 12:17 PM  0 
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    Have you heard about the ‘Bathroom Bill?’ It’s at the top of the kill list for Phoenix’s City Councilman Sal DiCiccio and Center for Arizona Policy’s Cathi Herrod.

    Also known as the LGBT Ordinance, this proposal would amend Phoenix’s civil rights policy to include sexual orientation, gender identity or expression and disability in its list of unlawful discrimination. In other words businesses would not be allowed to discriminate against someone based on gender identity just as they currently cannot discriminate against someone based on race or age or religious affiliation, among other things.

    Herrod and DiCiccio like to refer to it as the ‘Bathroom Bill’ because it’s politically savvy to pretend their objections are about bathroom concerns instead of civil protections for LGBT individuals. They argue that little kids might end up using a restroom with a member of the opposite sex.

    Herrod also erroneously claims on her website that churches will not be exempt from the ordinance and will be forced to hire homosexuals or transgender individuals, which is flat-out wrong. The religious exemption that was part of the original ordinance remains.

    But Herrod doesn’t stop there. She has gone so far as to say this ordinance will lead to child predators pretending to be transgendered just so they can gain access to a child through a restroom.

    Her scare tactic is quite imaginative, especially since the ordinance doesn’t even address bathroom use, nor does it change criminal penalties for child predators. And though this may come as a shock to some, transgendered individuals already use bathrooms in public places.

    The argument also strikes me as somewhat, no make that incredibly ridiculous because little kids use bathrooms of the opposite sex all the time. When my boys were young, I always took them into the women’s restroom with me just as I know plenty of dads who took their daughters into the men’s room with them.

    If Cathi Herrod is really concerned about this issue, perhaps she should be pushing businesses for the addition of family restrooms or single stall, unisex bathrooms.

    You may recall Herrod is the same individual who was credited with single-handedly killing an anti-bullying bill during last year’s legislative session. Until Herrod got involved, the bill was set to pass with plenty of bipartisan support as well as the enthusiastic support of teachers and schools.

    Herrod, however, claimed the bill was propaganda for gay rights to push a secret agenda even though the bill never mentioned sexual orientation. No doubt she believes she can successfully kill this ordinance with the same type of scare tactics she used to kill the anti-bullying bill.

    While Herrod focuses on bathrooms and churches, DiCiccio is panning the ‘bathroom bill’ as harmful to small businesses, saying the language is so broad “the floodgates of litigation against businesses will be opened.”

    Interestingly enough, this ordinance doesn’t change any of the existing non-discrimination penalties against businesses. In fact, mediation, not criminal prosecution, is always the first step after a complaint is filed, and to date, no “floodgate of litigation” or anything close to that has ensued within the city.

    Phoenix is behind, way behind, other major cities when it comes to extending civil protections for the LGBT community. 166 other cities, including Tucson, have already passed these ordinances, and it has not disrupted the business community or led to frivolous lawsuits.

    The Council is set to vote on the ordinance next week Tuesday, February 26. Councilman DiCiccio has pledged he will vote against it, and it’s believed that Councilman Jim Waring will vote no as well. If you’re a Phoenix resident who does not wish to continue to legalize the discrimination of the LGBT community (because without these protections, discrimination against LGBT individuals IS perfectly legal), then I suggest you call or email your councilman/woman and voice your support for the revised ordinance. Don’t let the scare tactics of a few flush away years of progress by many.


    More Posts by Julie Erfle

    The story behind this blog begins in 2007 when, on an ordinary September morning, my world was unexpectedly smashed to pieces. A drugged-up gang banger with multiple arrests and outstanding warrants crossed my husband’s path. As my husband and his partner attempted to arrest him, he pulled a gun and shot my husband twice in the back of the head. The murder of a Phoenix police officer is big news. Bigger still is the fact that this happened at the hands of a previously deported illegal immigrant in a border state rife with contentious immigration battles. As I listened to the politicians and pundits spin my husband’s death to further their interests, my journalism background came into focus and I found myself doing my own research into the causes and possible solutions to our nation’s immigration problems. I also gained an awareness of what it was like to be on the opposite side of the lens. I had been a member of the media, and now my family was the subject of the story. When I went public with my views on immigration, I was drawn even further into the political web of Arizona politics, and though I shied away for a time, I felt I could no longer be silent. And so I created this blog, my editorial on the challenges facing our state and our nation. My expectation is that it will be used as a source of reasoned debate to elevate our discussions in a thoughtful and informed manner while seeking solutions to complex problems. I hope the differing opinions expressed by myself and others will both challenge and motivate individuals to work for the greater good.

    Julie Erfle's Website: http://politicsuncuffed.com/


    John Kavanagh, meet John Kavanagh

    posted by Mike McClellan at 21 February, 9:38 AM  0 
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    Republican Representative John Kavanagh has sponsored a few bills that gotta leave you wondering . . .

    About John Kavanagh.

    One is the “Teachers are now mental health professionals . . . oh, yeah, and so are the police” bill (you can read about it here).

    HB 2555 would “require Arizona’s teachers and health-care workers to notify police if they believe someone could become violent.”

    And a companion bill — HB 2158, also a Kavanagh idea — “would amend state law to allow police to detain people deemed to be a danger to themselves or others, even if they didn’t observe the behavior.”

    Well.

    What kind of training will teachers receive?  And has Kavanagh ever observed high school kids and their emotions?
    I get the intention — if we had a law like this, after all, Jared Loughner might never have happened.

    But the law is so broad that it could easily lead to — as fellow Republican Eddie Farnsworth notes — a Pandora’s Box of unintended results.

    On the other hand, maybe Kavanagh’s on to something.  Maybe he should actually expand the law’s reach, to include legislators.

    In which case, I’d like to report a person whose mental state I’m concerned about — John Kavanagh.

    Because Kavanagh introduced another doozy of a bill — HB 2544.

    This one — most likely written by the group behind it, the Citizens’ Defense League — would allow guns in public buildings that don’t provide gun lockers.

    Including, for now, stadiums (Kavanagh says he’ll tweak the bill to eliminate that).

    Stadiums?  Really?

    Kavanagh didn’t have the mental acuity to see that the original bill with that provision wasn’t, well, a little nutty?

    Cardinals’ games where they lose yet another one, a beer-fueled crowd increasingly surly?
    Suns’ games where the cobbled-together group of nobodies once again fall apart in the fourth quarter?
    Dbacks’ contests where Putz blows a save?
    An Aerosmith concert at University of Phoenix Stadium without an encore?

    Brilliant idea, Kavanagh — put guns in an emotionally-heated, alcohol-filled crowd.

    Crazy.  Which is why I’d like to report Rep. Kavanagh to the Fountain Hill Police, where they can take that resident into custody, even if they haven’t observed his behavior.


    More Posts by Mike McClellan

    Mike McClellan has lived in Arizona since 1967 where he attended high school and the University of Arizona. McClellan taught high school English for 36 years, including 30 years at at Dobson High School in Mesa. He has been a contributing columnist to both the East Valley Republic editions and the East Valley Tribune.

    Mike McClellan's Website: http://azcvoices.com/politics/author/mikemcclellansblog/


    Extremism is just another word for…losing the debate

    posted by Donna Gratehouse at 20 February, 9:43 AM  0 
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    So I saw from my Twitter feed that it was an eventful afternoon at the Arizona State Capitol the other day. Lots of bills debated and observers of the Senate Government and Environment Committee were treated a debate over whether sustainability is a communist UN plot or not courtesy of, natch, the Republicans on the committee.

    This puts me in mind of something I’ve been meaning to propose to my fellow Dems for a while: Knock it off with labeling every egregious thing the other side does as “extreme”. “Extreme” is getting to be as stale and meaningless as “civility” these days. It’s a squishy, subjective concept that can be appropriated by anyone and lends itself far too easily to the false equivalence. To wit, you (a well-meaning liberal) can rattle off an endless list of conservative politicians and pundits, with extensive examples of frightening rhetoric and policy positions. But the conservatives will always find that one liberal who said something stupid on TV or some obscure professor who hypothesized a radical leftist position that one time and then, bam, it’s “extremism on both sides!” This is complete lopsided nonsense, of course, but the Right gets away with it because (as I’ve pointed out before) the most shockingly bigoted right wing Republican votes pro-corporate 100% of the time and even the most non-threatening moderate Dem sometimes votes against Big Business. There is literally no other explanation for it. If rabid social conservatives were regularly voting against tax cuts and for regulations on businesses, then…well…Rick Santorum would be an unknown former state legislative staffer today, if that.

    So invoking “extremism” serves no purpose, really. It only contributes to annoyingly frequent outbreaks of chin-stroking by Very Serious Establishment PeopleTM, who are so very concerned about, yes, you people, and your “extremism on both sides!” I propose we make it harder for both the conservatives and the oblivious elite chin-strokers by using more specific terms. Make them learn some new words and phrases! Such as unscientific, willfully ignorant, callous, unfair, irrational, malevolent etc. Sure, the conservatives will try to appropriate them to their ends, but they won’t have as easy a time as they have had with “extremism”.

    The other reason to jettison “extremism” as the go-to descriptor of Republican malfeasance (another word!) is that it is not an accurate reflection of where they are today. Geez, half of their primary voters think Barack Obama wasn’t born in the US! Not to mention the long, sordid laundry list of ludicrous (there’s another word!) positions held by the majority of GOP politicians and their base. They’re not extreme GOP positions, they’re mainstream ones. Calling them “extreme” gives them cool cred they don’t deserve. They’re really just boring followers.

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    More Posts by Donna Gratehouse

    I grew up in Silver Spring, MD, and an adventurous streak led me to join the Navy. I moved to Arizona in 1997 after serving 10 years in the Navy to work in semi-conductor manufacturing. I got involved in national and Arizona politics in 2003. I ran for 2006 State Senate in Ahwatukee and was a Delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. I now live in North Central Phoenix with my boyfriend, Mark, and our three dogs. I've been blogging for Democratic Diva since 2007 about local and national politics with a strong emphasis on women's issues.

    Donna Gratehouse's Website: http://www.democraticdiva.com/


    Local control? We don’t need no stinkin’ local control . . .

    posted by Mike McClellan at 19 February, 2:37 PM  0 
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    So many of our Republican legislators subscribe to the theory that the best government is the least government, that local control is the ideal.

    Except when they don’t like local control.

    As with unions.  Where Republican legislators have introduced a raft of bills telling cities and towns what they can and can’t do with unions representing those municipalities’ employees (you can read the article here).

    You can argue about how unions should be treated by cities and towns, but how can you argue that Big Brother Knows Better, especially if you’re a Tea Party Republican who argues that Big Government is Bad?

    Yet here, those same folks lead the charge, using Big Government to tell the Little Guys what to do.

    Unions often overreach, but we all know what’s going on here:  Republican legislators across the country take their marching orders from ALEC and — voila! — suddenly the same bills are introduced across the country.

    Maybe we should just eliminate the middlman — our Republican legislators — and deal directly with ALEC.


    More Posts by Mike McClellan

    Mike McClellan has lived in Arizona since 1967 where he attended high school and the University of Arizona. McClellan taught high school English for 36 years, including 30 years at at Dobson High School in Mesa. He has been a contributing columnist to both the East Valley Republic editions and the East Valley Tribune.

    Mike McClellan's Website: http://azcvoices.com/politics/author/mikemcclellansblog/


    Creating more big government under the guise of ‘voter fraud’

    posted by Julie Erfle at 15 February, 2:18 PM  0 
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    Arizona State Senator Michele Reagan, rumored to be eyeing a run for Secretary of State, has proposed legislation not to bolster voter turnout but rather to make voting more complicated and cumbersome. This seems counter to what a Secretary of State, the overseer of elections, would desire and counter to the Republican Party’s mantra of protecting personal liberty and reducing needless regulation and big government.

    Reagan’s proposed bill would make it a felony – yes, a felony – for anyone other than a family member or member of a household to turn in someone else’s ballot. In other words if a young woman was on her way to the polls and her boyfriend (who lives in a different household) asked if she could please turn in his completed and signed ballot, the woman could receive up to 2 ½ years in prison… for turning in said ballot. Democracy in action? I think not.

    And how would this be enforced, you may ask? Sponsors of the bill are saying there will be no additional regulation required, but as it stands now, I don’t have to show any proof of who I am, not even a voter ID card, when I drop off a completed ballot or ballots at the polls. Considering that thousands of people drop off their mail-in ballots on election day, this would mean a huge backlog as election workers would now need to check not just the voters’ IDs but also the verification that the person turning in the ballot was qualified under law to do so.

    And what’s to stop someone, or even a group, from continuing to collect ballots in advance of the election and simply mailing in those ballots? Are we going to turn our postal workers into elections officials to ensure this won’t happen?

    This bill does not end needless regulation but rather creates it. Taking away a person’s right to hand over his/her signed and completed ballot to someone else does not extend personal liberty but rather inhibits it. Making it more difficult to cast a ballot does not embrace the democratic process but rather precludes it.

    So why go to the trouble of creating a punishment for something that’s completely unnecessary and includes the possibility of jail time?

    Unfortunately, though not surprisingly, this legislation is purely political. It stems from the last election and the efforts of two groups, Citizens for a Better Arizona and Adios Arpaio.

    Besides signing up thousands of new, mainly Latino voters, CBA and Adios collected many of those ballots and turned them in to elections officials. They did this to remove any and all voting obstacles for lower-propensity and first-time voters, people who typically forget to vote or mail in their ballot on time.

    Yes, these individuals could find a way to turn in their ballot themselves, but what harm is it for another individual or group to turn it in for them? If someone gives someone else permission to hand over his/her completed ballot, are we supposed to believe this is a crime worthy of a felony charge?

    Senator Kimberly Yee summed up the political reasoning behind this bill when talking to Arizona Republic reporter Mary Jo Pitzl. She said she saw copies of the thousands of ballots dropped off at the polls by groups like CBA and Adios. She said that after seeing the box of ballots, “I know that voter fraud is real.”

    That sounds to me like Senator Yee is suggesting these groups didn’t just collect ballots but actually forged them. That’s a very damning and in my opinion, libelous statement. Does she have any proof whatsoever to back her claim? If so, why are we not hearing about any investigations by the Secretary of State?

    Voter fraud is a serious crime and one that is already punishable by law so clearly, this proposed bill is about something entirely different. It’s about muting the voices and interests of those who differ from legislators such as Senators Yee and Reagan.

    Anyone who truly cares about “freedom” and “liberty” should be especially concerned when legislators pass laws intended to suppress the voices of its citizens, regardless of whether or not those citizens agree with said legislators.


    More Posts by Julie Erfle

    The story behind this blog begins in 2007 when, on an ordinary September morning, my world was unexpectedly smashed to pieces. A drugged-up gang banger with multiple arrests and outstanding warrants crossed my husband’s path. As my husband and his partner attempted to arrest him, he pulled a gun and shot my husband twice in the back of the head. The murder of a Phoenix police officer is big news. Bigger still is the fact that this happened at the hands of a previously deported illegal immigrant in a border state rife with contentious immigration battles. As I listened to the politicians and pundits spin my husband’s death to further their interests, my journalism background came into focus and I found myself doing my own research into the causes and possible solutions to our nation’s immigration problems. I also gained an awareness of what it was like to be on the opposite side of the lens. I had been a member of the media, and now my family was the subject of the story. When I went public with my views on immigration, I was drawn even further into the political web of Arizona politics, and though I shied away for a time, I felt I could no longer be silent. And so I created this blog, my editorial on the challenges facing our state and our nation. My expectation is that it will be used as a source of reasoned debate to elevate our discussions in a thoughtful and informed manner while seeking solutions to complex problems. I hope the differing opinions expressed by myself and others will both challenge and motivate individuals to work for the greater good.

    Julie Erfle's Website: http://politicsuncuffed.com/


    Arizona legislature off to a fantastically kooky start

    posted by Julie Erfle at 7 February, 10:27 AM  0 
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    Republican legislators do not like it when Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts calls them kooks. They want us to believe they are serious lawmakers. But who, in her right mind, would call these bills anything other than kookery?

    We have a bill that tells the federal government to “go fly a kite.” Another one that assumes all rich, married couples are perfect parents. One that demands science teachers ignore scientific facts in favor of political posturing and yet another that takes money from poor kids to inform them they have choices they cannot afford.

    You can’t make this stuff up, though I truly wish it was just a joke. Unfortunately, the joke isn’t the legislation but the legislators who will probably get some of these ridiculous bills passed.

    Carl Seel, our infamous ‘birther’ politician from Phoenix, was recently seen hobnobbing with the Sons of the Confederate Veterans (those would be the people who lost the Civil War and the ‘right’ to keep slaves) at a pro-gun rally at the Capitol. In speaking about his bill that makes it a state crime to enforce federal gun laws, Seel said, “This bill tells the federal government to go fly a kite. We’ll show ‘em what we’re gonna do with our firearms.”

    Here you have a State Representative who calls himself a ‘Constitutionalist’ and ‘Defender of Liberty,’ crafting an unconstitutional bill while making veiled threats against the federal government. And this is okay?

    At what point are the leaders within this man’s party going to stand up and tell him this is not behavior becoming of an elected official?

    The media has tried. Laurie Roberts listed Seel as one of the Kooks in her “Dekook the Capitol” campaign. The Daily Show pointed out Seel’s lack of consistency (and intelligence) when he was interviewed about his bill to outlaw photo radar on the freeways. He claimed it was okay for police to stop people based on the suspicion that they might have committed a crime, aka SB1070, but not okay for cameras to catch people who have actually committed a crime, aka speeding, because that would be infringing on people’s civil liberties.

    And yet Seel was reelected in November, which begs the question, “Who the hell is voting in LD 20?” Clearly, the people in his district either 1) don’t pay attention to what their local legislators do or 2) are just as crazy as this guy.

    If there’s one thing Carl Seel is good at, it’s making a fool of himself and his state. No doubt, the people at Comedy Central appreciate this man much more than this writer does. Of course, the people at Comedy Central don’t have to live with the results of Carl Seel in power.

    Nor do they have to live with the results of Kelli Ward in power. Ward, the replacement for Ron Gould, is another anti-federal government legislator making her mark in the land of bad bills. She recently proposed a bill that would take $1.5 million away from funding for low-income kids in K-12 schools and instead funnel the money into a pamphlet that promotes educational choices in Arizona. Low-income kids, no doubt, appreciate being told they could enroll in a private school (if only they had enough money) or a charter school (if only they could afford both transportation and hot lunches).

    Another ‘birther’ legislator and honorary AZ Republic ‘kook’ is Judy Burges from Skull Valley. She’s introduced legislation that helps muddy the waters, so to speak, on climate change. Instead of relying on accurate and widely accepted scientific data, Burges wants to allow teachers the ability to present ideology and religious belief as part of their science curriculum. Climate change denial and “intelligent design” (meaning, anti-evolution) would be accepted in science classrooms. Considering Americans already fall well below their worldwide peers in science, I’m not sure why we would dumb down our standards, but then again, I’m not a state legislator.

    Apparently, not being a state legislator is also why I fail to understand why, in a state that has struggled to provide assistance to abused children, a lawmaker would actually make it easier for couples to forgo criminal background and child-abuse checks before becoming a foster-care parent. Warren Petersen, State Representative from Gilbert, wants to get rid of those requirements if the couple looking to foster is rich, married and has a high credit score. We all know only poor people with bad credit abuse their kids, right?

    If this legislation passes, the state will actually lose money because federal law requires the background and child-abuse checks. But what’s an additional $20 million to a state that already underfunds child welfare? And why listen to child welfare advocates, the ones pleading with Peterson and the other co-sponsors, which includes a few Democrats, to leave the law as it is? Apparently, state legislators know more about the needs of traumatized children than those who actually work with them.

    To be fair Republicans have introduced some good bills, as have Democrats. The good Republican bills will most likely pass. However, if the prime sponsor of a bill is a Democrat, they have little to no chance of getting it assigned to a committee, meaning it’s already dead in the water. In Arizona’s legislature bills can only be heard, debated and voted on if they are sponsored by Republicans. It’s one of those unwritten rules the electorate isn’t privy to understanding.

    Yes, only one-third of Arizonans consider themselves Republicans. However, that one-third is slightly higher than the approximately one-third of Arizonans who consider themselves Independents (and have zero representation at the Capitol) or the slightly less-than one-third of Arizonans who are Democrats. In other words two-thirds of Arizonans are screwed.

    Spoils of war, er, election, I guess, and don’t count on it changing anytime soon. If, however, you are rich, no longer in school, an attorney (they stand to make a killing off all the unconstitutional bills that will be challenged in court), or a Son of a Confederate Veteran, you can count your good fortune. For the rest of us, there’s always another election and a snowball’s chance in Hell that things will change.


    More Posts by Julie Erfle

    The story behind this blog begins in 2007 when, on an ordinary September morning, my world was unexpectedly smashed to pieces. A drugged-up gang banger with multiple arrests and outstanding warrants crossed my husband’s path. As my husband and his partner attempted to arrest him, he pulled a gun and shot my husband twice in the back of the head. The murder of a Phoenix police officer is big news. Bigger still is the fact that this happened at the hands of a previously deported illegal immigrant in a border state rife with contentious immigration battles. As I listened to the politicians and pundits spin my husband’s death to further their interests, my journalism background came into focus and I found myself doing my own research into the causes and possible solutions to our nation’s immigration problems. I also gained an awareness of what it was like to be on the opposite side of the lens. I had been a member of the media, and now my family was the subject of the story. When I went public with my views on immigration, I was drawn even further into the political web of Arizona politics, and though I shied away for a time, I felt I could no longer be silent. And so I created this blog, my editorial on the challenges facing our state and our nation. My expectation is that it will be used as a source of reasoned debate to elevate our discussions in a thoughtful and informed manner while seeking solutions to complex problems. I hope the differing opinions expressed by myself and others will both challenge and motivate individuals to work for the greater good.

    Julie Erfle's Website: http://politicsuncuffed.com/


    Don’t they want to protect babies?

    posted by Donna Gratehouse at 5 February, 7:40 AM  0 
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    The lovely and talented Arizona Senator Katie Hobbs recently introduced SB1358, which was co-sponsored by a bevy of other lovely and talented members of the Democratic Senate caucus. And what sort of monstrous freedom-destroying socialism were these Senators up to? Well, the bill would ban the sale in Arizona of baby product containers containing BPA, also known as Bisphenol A, also known as a chemical compound that “exhibits hormone-like properties that raise concern about its suitability in consumer products and food containers.” These hormone-like properties are believed to trigger deleterious effects on the development of infants’ brains, among other things.

    The Arizona Legislature is home to people like current Speaker of the House Andy Tobin (R), who in 2009 called an anti-abortion bill “the ultimate health care bill for children.” So you’d think these would be people who would at least, you know, pretend to care about threats to the health of infants posed by a toxic substance present in their baby bottles and formula jars.

    But you’d be wrong about that, you big silly. Hobbs reported on her Facebook page that her bill had been “triple-assigned, so it’s pretty much dead”. Now, I’m not the foremost expert on the inner workings of the Arizona Legislature but I’m hazarding a guess that “triple assigned” refers to putting a bill before 3 committees, thus trebling the likelihood that lobbyists will put the kibosh on it before it could make it to the floor and “pro-life” legislators would be put in the untenable position of explaining their vote against a bill that would protect infants from possibly brain damaging products. Indeed, SB1358 has been assigned to the Health and Human Services, the Commerce, Energy, and Military, and the Government and Environment committees.

    My cursory internet research on BPA yields a frustrating mix of plastic industry PR and conservative sites denying harmful health effects and progressive-leaning sites claiming the health risks are real. But the FDA banned the use of BPA in bottles and sippy cups in 2012 and SB1358 would simply extend that to other baby products containing it. I conclude that maybe the concerns over BPA are overblown but maybe they’re not. What this bill does is err on the safe side for babies in Arizona. Not unreasonable at all. Unfortunately, it seems our “pro-life” legislators care far more for business profits and campaign contributions than the well-being of post-birth infants.

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    More Posts by Donna Gratehouse

    I grew up in Silver Spring, MD, and an adventurous streak led me to join the Navy. I moved to Arizona in 1997 after serving 10 years in the Navy to work in semi-conductor manufacturing. I got involved in national and Arizona politics in 2003. I ran for 2006 State Senate in Ahwatukee and was a Delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. I now live in North Central Phoenix with my boyfriend, Mark, and our three dogs. I've been blogging for Democratic Diva since 2007 about local and national politics with a strong emphasis on women's issues.

    Donna Gratehouse's Website: http://www.democraticdiva.com/


    Let the Sunshine In!

    posted by Mike McClellan at 31 January, 4:47 PM  0 
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    No, not the Fifth Dimension song (ugh!).  The bill proposed to bring sunshine to union negotiations (you can read about it here).

    According to the article, “HB 2330 would expand the state’s Open Meeting Law which generally requires public bodies to discuss their business in the open to include any discussion of salaries and fringe benefits between a representative of a public body and any agent or officers of an employee organization. It would not matter whether there was a quorum of an elected council present — or even if a council member was there at all.”

    Says the sponsor of the bill, Steve Montenegro (Republican of Litchfield Park): 

    “There’s no reason why taxpayers should be kept in the dark,” he said, particularly since the closed-door talks eventually will lead to how public dollars are spent.

    “We are asking that the taxpayers be given a seat at the table,” he said. “If you’re big enough to spend the taxpayers’ dollars, you’re big enough to be transparent and accountable.”

    Great idea.  But I’d like to add an amendment.

    Call it “Let the Sunshine In!” clause.

    Which would require any budget negotiations between the Governor and the legislature to be open to the public.  As well as any budget negotiations within the legislature.

    After all, “If you’re big enough to spend the taxpayers’ dollars, you’re big enough to be transparent and accountable.”

    We taxpayers shouldn’t be “kept in the dark.”

    So come on, Rep. Montenegro, let the sunshine in!


    More Posts by Mike McClellan

    Mike McClellan has lived in Arizona since 1967 where he attended high school and the University of Arizona. McClellan taught high school English for 36 years, including 30 years at at Dobson High School in Mesa. He has been a contributing columnist to both the East Valley Republic editions and the East Valley Tribune.

    Mike McClellan's Website: http://azcvoices.com/politics/author/mikemcclellansblog/


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