Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Arizona's Legislative Attack on Open Government and numerous Freedoms

The Associated Press reports today that,

In an apparent rules violation, majority Republicans in the Arizona Senate got a closed-door briefing Tuesday on Gov. Jan Brewer’s proposal to change the state government’s personnel system.
Senate President Steve Pierce said the private session was intended partly to reassure Brewer about the status of her plan, which would make it easier to fire workers and have more agency directors serve at the pleasure of the governor.(emphasis mine)
Of course, agency directors ALREADY serve at the pleasure of the governor, with FEW exceptions (i.e. Dept. of Public Safety*). What is the proposal REALLY about? "...Make it easier to fire workers..." is THE EXACT SAME THING as having all state employees serve at the pleasure of the governor. This is the "spoils" system. It means the winner of elections can easily give jobs to (more) supporters, whether they are qualified for the job or not.

Everyone following news and current events in Arizona should know by now that, in a reflection of the adage that "elections have consequences," Arizona is (and has for some time now been) under HEAVY assault by right-wing groups (ALEC, CAP, etc). These groups target civil liberties (CAP) and the economic security of mainstream Americans  (ALEC), co-opting the terminology of freedom in dramatically Orwellian fashion.

For perspective on what freedom actually means to everyday Americans, in practice (whether they recognize it or not), look at some US history. Elected immediately following the Great Depression, FDR called for a Second Bill of Rights addressing the grim realities with which far too many Americans became familiar.
It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.  

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.
Among these are:
The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
The right to a good education.
All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.
America's own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for all our citizens.
For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.

We are, in the US, hopefully now emerging from what many call the Great Recession.

However, the weak, corporate-biased press has failed to call proper attention to the measures being foisted upon Arizona this year (and over the course of several years, but now more than ever because of GED Jan and the legislative GOP supermajority) and what they actually mean to you and to me.

Making Arizona "business friendly," "economic development" and "job creation" have all been used to justify incremental erosion of protections that took many years and the fight of many people to enact.

THIS is why the GOP supermajority fought so vociferously beginning in December 2010 to usurp independent redistricting.

Last month, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission certified Congressional and legislative district maps to be submitted to DOJ for preclearance. Yet, as we have seen, the fight is far from finished.

Because of the diligence of the members, staff and consultants of the AIRC, a court challenge is now unlikely from foes of independent redistricting. They have, instead, taken aim again with several pieces of legislation aiming to undermine and ultimately repeal the independent process altogether. Those measures include asking voters to outright repeal Prop 106 as well as amending statutes to broaden the scope of responsibilities of the IRC to include city, county and school redistricting.

Of course, we also learned over the last couple of weeks that GOP House Speaker Andy Tobin drew his own maps and intends to get those maps, appropriately labeled ANDYMANDER-ING, before the voters in a very costly special election in May or June of this year. $8 million costly. Why would Andy Tobin decide to spend $8 million from the General Fund on this? He says, "I blame the IRC." What a lame excuse. He could NOT cite specific, tangible items in, on or about the maps or the process for which voters reasonably should consider such a decision justifiable. On the contrary, he cited vague situations that have already been litigated (and Tobin's side LOST).

But I digress. Elections have consequences. Some of us have easily been able to predict the kinds of things we NOW see happening in our state legislature. Yet, thousands of people are now being adversely impacted by those lawmakers they supported in 2010. Yes, elections have consequences.

Consider the plight of feral cats and wild dogs throughout the world. Left to their own devices, these resourceful animals will fight for survival and scavenge for food and shelter. But they still prefer the path of least resistance. Cats and dogs -- on a scale of hundreds of millions (or more) -- have earned a living by providing companionship and affection to humans.

Arizona's GOP supermajority has been fighting for food and shelter but has determined that the easy way it can guarantee survival of its unchallenged authority is to control the redistricting process. Because choosing their own voters is SOOOOOOOOOOO much easier than having to convince us that when they cater to BANKSTERS and other monied interests they really have our best interests at heart.


* Pursuant to ARS § 41-1711 D. The DPS director, instead of serving at the pleasure of the governor, can only be removed for cause. I believe this is the only Arizona executive branch agency providing the director such protection. Before allowing this to be changed, should there not be a careful examination of the reasons the protection was put there in the first place?
The director shall be appointed by the governor pursuant to section 38-211 to serve for a term of five years and shall be subject to removal for cause, including but not limited to malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance in office. The term shall expire on the third Monday in January of the appropriate year. The director shall receive annual compensation as determined pursuant to section 38-611.

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