Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Friday, August 31, 2012

Politics, Labor and the War on Big Business -- Book Review

In 1891, acting governor N. O. Murphy acknowledged that charges were frequently made in the territory that "a continual state of war" existed "between the people and the corporations." More specifically, he noted: "It is alleged that the railway corporations interfere with elections and endeavor to corrupt legislation in order to promote their private interests, and that an expensive lobby is always maintained at the seat of government to shape legislation favorable to the corporations."1
Having been, for the last two and a half decades, increasingly interested in the perpetual quandary that is Arizona politics, my personal memory of key events and intriguing characters goes as far back as the impeachment and removal of Republican Gov. Evan Mecham in 1987-88 and the AZSCAM scandal in 1991.

How easy is it to think that the hijinx and rancor we've come to know too well -- with the Tea Party, Russell Pearce and the near nonstop drama that accompanied the 2011 Independent Redistricting Commission (chronicled in detail in the Arizona Eagletarian, beginning in December 2010) -- is all some relatively new phenomenon? Not hardly.

Perhaps it's fitting that Politics, Labor and the War on Big Business: The Path of Reform in Arizona 1890 -- 1920David R. Berman's newly published treatise on the political history of territorial Arizona would be published in our state's centennial year.

Take a 240-page journey through Arizona's tumultuous early days guided by Berman's extensive research (followed by more than 60 pages of footnotes) on the fascinating process of the making of the Union's 48th State.

You will find the influence of Socialists, Populists, Progressives and Teddy Roosevelt's Bull Moose Party. Berman introduces the reader to Nathan Oakes (N.O.) Murphy and his brother Frank, two of the most prominent Republican figures in Arizona's early history; Arizona's most prominent Populist, Buckey O'Neill; and George Wylie Paul Hunt the new state's first governor.

Berman says George W.P. Hunt was important enough that his "views, activities, failures and achievements are at the heart" of his narrative.

Ultimately, Berman's aim is to tell the story of the "rise, fall and impact of anti-corporate reform" efforts in Arizona during the three decade period 1890 - 1920. Because so much in America (and Arizona) is the same today as it was more than a century ago, we can glean important insights from the successes and failures of pioneer activists and politicians.

Does this sound at all familiar?
"Reformers [of that day] saw the system of representative government as essentially corrupt because of the influence of big business and put their faith in direct rule of the people."2
Hunt and other drafters of the Arizona Constitution instituted citizen initiative and referendum processes as well as the Arizona Corporation Commission (Article 15).

As to what the reformers did a century ago in Arizona, consider the following:
In sum, the Progressive movement in Arizona, as reflected in the anti-corporate movement, was far more effective in bringing about changes opposed by a business elite than is portrayed in various studies of developments in other states. The movement in Arizona had shortcomings -- especially when it came to the rights of minorities and, to some extent, of women -- but it did aim for and produce more working-class benefits, corporate taxation and regulation, labor protections, and democracy. On balance, the movement gave Arizonans a greater opportunity to control their government and their jobs.3


The Occupy Wall Street (as well as Occupy Phoenix) movement began nearly a year ago. Initial efforts succeeded in organizing hundreds, perhaps thousands of people throughout the U.S. However, these days, there does not appear to be much activity among the OWS ranks. Could today's reformers incorporate Berman's insights to gain additional traction in their efforts to instigate change? I think so.

In Arizona, in 2012, the role of Big Business is again prominent in the news. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), is a 39-year old organization that has been stealthily exerting increasing influence in state legislatures. ALEC is ALL about exerting the influence of Big Business in parochial ways. That exposure, and the controversy that followed, has caused numerous corporations to abandon the lobbying cabal. For the interests of working and middle class Americans, that's a very good thing.

ALEC and other lobbying interests do not hide that their intent is to advance the interests of whoever supplies their funding. They do, however, throw a cape of invisibility over their intent with persistent propaganda that makes many people think the interests of Big Business somehow is their (working class) own interest.

Investigative journalists and documentary filmmakers are doing tremendous work these days to expose that propaganda for what it is. For example, Hot Coffee, Heist: Who Stole the American Dream and Cyanide Beach are three very powerful independent documentaries on very current issues related to Big Business having hoodwinked Americans for a long time.

But without a fair and accurate understanding of the political and economic history of America, the competing forces of Big Business will continue to find ways to subvert efforts to maintain what real, genuine Americans need to support their own personal sense of freedom and liberty.

Politics, Labor and the War on Big Business: the Path of Reform in Arizona 1890-1920 provides that well researched, fair and accurate understanding of how it was. Leaders with vision will translate those insights into what it can be for the ever growing population of our great state.

Professor Berman will talk about his book and sign copies on September 6th at 7:00 pm at Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 S. McClintock Dr. in Tempe. (Southwest corner Guadalupe/McClintock) Be there or be square!

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1     Berman, David R., Politics, Labor and the War on Big Business, p 37.
2         p 4
3     p 12

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UPDATE: Though President Obama is scheduled to deliver his DNC speech on Thursday evening, that speech will be available to watch online after the fact. I plan to set my DVR so I can watch it when I get home from the book signing.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Intensity and Obfuscation -- High Stakes Primaries

On Tuesday, the dog days of summer will be over in Arizona, at least as far as the 2012 primary election season goes.

Given that it takes a "special breed" to be a successful politician these days, it should be no wonder to anyone that the intensity of hard fought primary battles can bring out the worst in people sometimes.

This link, which I provide in a sort of tongue-in-cheek gesture, shows what people can think it takes to be a successful politician. Google the question, "what makes a successful politician?" and you'll find a wide range of answers, from academic to cynical. One might want to hope for a different perspective on politicians than that, however. But really, an intense primary election differs from highly contrasting partisan general election races even though many citizens think there is "no difference between the major political parties."

Ideally, any political campaign would be focused on issues and ideas. But for that to happen in practice, opponents would have to be comparable in other ways. Think of the expression, "all else being equal..." The fact is, all other factors are NOT equal. Character, integrity, education and communications skills are among the factors that come into play besides values, issue positions and world view.

Case in point, the Republican primary race for nomination to be Arizona's U.S. Senator. Four candidates appear on ballots throughout the state and two more are qualified as write-ins. But anyone paying attention knows that the reality is only two of the six have made a serious campaign of it. Current Republican Congressman Jeff Flake and the largely self-financing political newcomer Wil Cardon are the two. Most watchers believe that even Cardon has at best only a very slim chance to earn the nomination.

Because of the divisiveness of that campaign, we've seen Arizona Republicans express a great deal of concern that Cardon's intense attacks on Flake weaken Flake's chances to win in November.

History shows those GOP fears to be legitimate. Consider the following, about the last Democrat Arizona sent to the US Senate, Dennis DeConcini.
He was elected to the Senate in 1976 as a Democrat, having defeated Republican Party (GOP) U.S. Representative Sam Steiger for the open seat left by retiring GOP Senator Paul Fannin. Steiger had first won a bruising primary in 1976 against the more conservative U.S. Representative John B. Conlan.
Democrats avoided this dilemma, this time, because challengers to its likely nominee, former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona, voluntarily withdrew from the race.

However, Democrats in the primary election race for Arizona's newest seat in the U.S. House of Representatives (Arizona's Ninth District) are not so blessed.

I should preface my discussion of the three Democrats in this race by observing that the SEVEN Republicans in the CD9 primary have not exhibited the same degree of intensity or divisiveness. At least not as anyone has reported in local media.

But Democrats have three candidates: David Schapira, Kyrsten Sinema and Andrei Cherny.

All three have at least some political experience, but that experience has obvious contrast. All three have loyal volunteers and campaign staff. Among those, there is also obvious contrast. And all three are articulate on issues that are important to voters.

So, how the heck do we tell who really is the best one?

Each has presented what they believe are the best aspects of their political history. But like a job applicant, it's difficult to get them to be candid about what might be (their OWN) personal weaknesses.

Cherny has played up the fact that he served in the Clinton administration, on White House staff. He also has been quick to point to his association with Elizabeth Warren, the originator and driving force behind establishment of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. But what was Cherny's ACTUAL role as a White House staffer, and what exactly does it mean that he personally KNOWS Elizabeth Warren? Cherny wrote speeches. That was his job.

If you listen to his rhetoric, however, he claims to have been responsible for Clinton adminstration accomplishments and for the CFPB. Look beneath the surface and Cherny's political experience is woefully thin.

Add that to dramatic weaknesses he exposed in how he campaigns for public office. In his California Assembly campaign a decade ago, he went embarrassingly negative. That strategy arguably cost him the election. He has admitted having done so, but his current campaign is being conducted with just as much, or more, distortion and misleading accusations against his opponents.

Paid Cherny campaign workers have repeatedly made the claim that opponent David Schapira supported establishing vouchers to divert funding away from Arizona's public schools system.

Schapira did vote for a bill that included an amendment for vouchers. He addressed the situation as soon as he realized the mistake and took steps right away to deal with it. His vote, however, did not make the difference on whether the bill passed or failed. Anyone can make a mistake, but when you compare how Cherny, Schapira (and Sinema) addressed this mistake, it becomes clear which of the three of them has more integrity and strength of character.

Nevertheless, Cherny campaign workers, and this is simply one example of a pattern that has pervaded the former speechwriter's campaign, have been making the outrageous claim that Schapira INTENDED to undermine public education. Actually, Sinema's mailers have made the same false claim. Avid Cherny supporter and former Democratic state lawmaker Rae Waters acknowledged that Schapira's vote on vouchers was nothing but a mistake and publicly chided at least one Cherny's staffer.

Oh, yes, and Cherny's paid staffer has put a good deal of effort into trying to convince people that Schapira is a McCain supporter.

There's a reason the oath witnesses in court take before testifying specifies "the whole truth and nothing but the truth." The Cherny staffer's claim about McCain comes from an interview published by the National Journal in 2004. Cherny's staffer said:
"I just knew about his work with John McCain. 'I worked for, supported and will continue to support John McCain in whatever he does....' David Schapira, Jan. 6, 2004."
Here's the same thing WITH context:

NJ: Who did you support/work for in 2000, 1992, 1988, 1984, and 1980 primaries?
Schapira: 2000 -- I worked for, supported and will continue to support John McCain in whatever he does, but I was all for Gore in the Democratic primary and general. (emphasis mine)
Again, this was taken in 2004. Schapira worked for McCain as an unpaid undergraduate intern but made it clear that in the general election he wholeheartedly supported the Democratic nominee, Al Gore in that 2000 campaign.

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Kyrsten Sinema has also made the intentionally misleading claims about the voucher vote situation. While technically correct, the mailer intentionally misleads by suggesting, with bold images, direct language and citing a Goldwater Institute report praising the vote, that Schapira's vote was done for the purpose of undermining public schools. And nothing could be farther from the reality of this situation.

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So, WHY does a candidate have to resort to intentional misrepresentations and mischaracterization to try to win an election?

Because that's a question with many possible answers, I cannot say with authority what motives are at work here. Obviously, there are economic incentives and psychological incentives. But those are just possibilities. I can't help but think that there has to be some kind of deficiency in the candidate who feels they cannot win without resorting to obfuscation of the issues.

Regardless of the actual results of any given primary election race, many (most?) politically active people realize that candidates and supporters must shift gears for the general election campaign. Because candidates and supporters can become heavily invested emotionally in a primary, that transition can be difficult.

Take care in the next few days to prepare for that transition. And let's win in November.













Friday, August 24, 2012

Guest blog -- Ask Andrei

This guest blog post was written by Arizona Democratic activist Randall Holmes


On Wednesday, August 22, I received a robocall from Andrei Cherny, inviting me to participate in a "town hall" conference call with Andrei and former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard to discuss Andrei's campaign in the Democratic primary for Arizona's 9th Congressional District, so of course I did. Also in the Democratic primary are former state senator Kyrsten Sinema and current Arizona Senate Democratic Leader David Schapira.

Participants were encouraged to push *3 to get the opportunity to ask questions, so of course I did. Soon, a screener came on the line to ask me for my name and city, and the nature of my question.

Unfortunately, I was a little flustered and didn't have a lie prepared, so I told the truth: that I'm Randall from Tempe, and that I wanted to ask Andrei about any polling for the race that he's heard about (non-Dem polls put Andrei a distant thrid), and how he feels about some of the ad mailers sent to voters by "independent" expenditure committees.

Sadly, my turn didn't come up before the end of the call. I'm sure Andrei and Terry would gladly take my question if they had the chance. Fortunately, there was a feature that allowed participants to leave a voicemail after the end of the call, so of course I did.

I said that I think of Andrei and Terry as friends, and I'm hoping they agree that we're going to need all Democrats on board for the general election, and that we all have to support our nominee, whoever he or she may be. I'm a pragmatic progressive Democrat, and I'll support any Dem in a general election - corporate, DLC (www.dailykos.com), Blue Dog, whatever - if it means taking back the House, electing Nancy Pelosi as Speaker, and controlling the committee chairs and the agenda for Obama's second term.

I always cling to the hope that all Democrats will keep our eyes on the prize and support a progressive nominee, although that's not always the case. My first choice for AZ09 is David Schapira, who I think will fight the hardest of the three candidates for the interests of the average working Arizonan. But, if Kyrsten pulls it out, I'll support her. And if the polls - or the voting machines - are wrong, and Andrei somehow ekes out a victory in the primary, I'll support him, because it's not about him (or me) - it's about the future of our district, our nation and what we laughingly refer to as "human civilization."

However, many of my friends will hold a grudge, and will not support a candidate who they don't feel they can trust, and who they think secured the nomination through Lee Atwater/Karl Rove-style tactics. Some of my fellow Dems often ask me, "Well, if you don't like our nominee, what are you going to do - vote for the Republican?" No, I'm voting for the Democrat, but many Democrats will skip that candidate's line on the ballot, or worse - stay home. While the conventional wisdumb says that our 2010 defeat was a reaction to our "too-liberal" policy initiatives, the fact is that too many Dem voters abstained, because they felt our initiatives weren't liberal enough.

Now to the point. My mail box is being polluted every other day by postcards from something called the "Progressive Independent Committee" (words have no meaning anymore), attacking Kyrsten Sinema, and only today (Wednesday 8/22) I received a scurrilous piece of crap telling lies about David Schapira. I don't know how "independent" they are, but they're definitely not progressive. They haven't sent anything attacking Andrei. Hmm.

I've received a couple of pieces from Kyrsten (also a friend) repeating one of the lies about David, and I'm disappointed in her for stooping to repeat it, but at least she has the brass to put her own name on it.

Now, here's a new one for the digital age: A week or so ago, there were some interesting posts on Facebook, looking like they were from David's supporters and sliming Kyrsten. David immediately asked the offenders to cease and desist - if they were actually his supporters - as he has insisted on running a positive campaign. Indeed, he has scrupulously followed the 11th Commandment: "Thou shalt not speak ill of thy fellow Democrat."

However, a closer look at the "people" posting the attacks seemed to indicate that they were fake personae, set up with identical personal bio info on their "info" or "about" pages that also exactly matched that of someone, who when asked, admitted to being an Andrei supporter. It's circumstantial evidence, but when combined with Daily Kos stories about Andrei's 2002 campaign for California Assembly, it fits a pattern:



Incidentally, while googling for that last link, my search turned up a wealth of good reading:

It's hard not to laugh at the "strategery" and "tacticalistics" of some of the consultants and political operatives who have way too much influence in our party and our campaigns. I like to call them what we called the weasels in the Bush Administration: "Mayberry Machiavellis." But they do serious damage to our cause, and often cause more damage than they're worth.

By the way, there seems to be some confusion lately around the definition of the word "progressive." It's used as an epithet by the corporate tea party media, as well as some of our corporate Democratic Mayberry Machiavellis. In my personal dictionary, "Progressive" means favoring Human Progress from Feudal Servitude to Civil Democracy, balancing the rights of the individual (Liberty) with the rights of the community (Democracy). That's it. No more, no less.

We're trying to build a majority coalition that can actually save the world for the kids, and in order to do this, we have to win friends and influence people. We don't have to agree on everything, but our friends crapping in the punch bowl tends to spoil the Party, and give us all a bad name.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Redistricting -- Hauser's day in court

The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission's Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit nitpicking over the process for determining the Congressional district maps was heard this afternoon in Maricopa County Superior Court before Judge Mark Brain.

AP reporter Paul Davenport writes:
Lawyers pressing a Republican-backed lawsuit challenging the new congressional districts told a judge Wednesday that the case should be allowed to proceed because the state's redistricting commission violated important procedural requirements that protect the public by providing transparency and fairness.
"They have to be taken very seriously. They're no less important than the substantive goals," said attorney Lisa Hauser. (emphasis mine)
Which raises the question of why Hauser thinks NON substantive issues warrant the massive additional expenditure of taxpayer dollars -- that proceeding with this lawsuit and starting the map drawing process over from scratch -- would entail. Davenport continues:
Commission lawyers want the judge to dismiss the suit. They said it's based on unfounded allegations and attempts to get courts to trample on the commission's constitutional authority to draw congressional and legislative districts.
"The truth is that the plaintiffs don't like the congressional map drawn by the commission and are trying to force the commission to start over," said Joe Kanefield, an attorney for the commission.
The case is one of three lawsuits challenging new districts given final approval by the commission in January following a lengthy and controversial process. 

AIRC Counsel Mary O'Grady addressed Hauser's obvious attempts at micromanaging the redistricting process by pointing out that every commission meeting and hearing was recorded, audio and video, and that extensive records of the proceedings are easily available for public review (posted on the AIRC website).

The hearing this afternoon lasted about two hours and wrapped up with Judge Brain taking the matter under advisement with no time frame given to expect his ruling.

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The Arizona Auditor General is still working on its audit of the AIRC even though it had previously led the commission to expect a draft of its final report before the end of July. At some point, there likely will be a public hearing in the legislature on the (eventual, final) report. Normally, those hearings are matter of fact presentations by auditors without much hoopla or fanfare.

However, given the contentious nature of the redistricting process over the last year and a half, and that the GOP supermajority expects to suffer significant loss of strength in the upcoming general election, its reasonable to expect them to make this one a dog and pony show to stir up their Tea Party base sometime in late September or October.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Arizona: Kids Care enrollment opens for short time UPDATED 8/17/12

Moments ago, I received the following press release from the Arizona House of Representatives:

Limited enrollment for KidsCare II now open
Quezada: ‘Parents need program information so they can act now’
STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Enrollment in KidsCare II, Arizona’s temporary Children’s Health Insurance Program, is open for a limited time. Rep. Martin Quezada, D-Avondale (District 13), is working to keep Arizona parents informed about the options that currently are available.
“Enrollment for KidsCare II is only going to be open for a short time. There are a limited number of spots available for this children’s health care program. The enrollment guidelines have changed and parents need program information so they can act now,” Quezada said. “Arizona remains the only state in the country that has not fully restored funding to KidsCare. KidsCare II is a short-term solution but until Republicans can agree to fully fund KidsCare, an investment of about $7 million, thousands of Arizona children will remain without health care coverage. We must set aside partisan bickering to find a long-term solution to this issue.”
About 25,000 children will be able to enroll in KidsCare II, and those slots are being filled on a first come, first serve basis. To be eligible for KidsCare II, a child must:
· Be an Arizona resident
· Be 18 years old or younger
· Be a citizen of the United States or a qualified immigrant
· Have a Social Security number or apply for one
· Be under the income limit
· Not be currently covered by other health insurance
· Not be qualified for coverage through a state agency employee
· Not be eligible to receive AHCCCS (Medicaid) coverage
· Be a member of a household that is willing to pay a premium
For more information about the program, including income limits, or to apply go to http://www.azahcccs.gov/applicants/KidsCareII.aspx or call 1-800-235-9678.

That's the good news. I'm looking into how and why this limited enrollment has temporarily opened up. When I receive that information, I will update this post (probably tomorrow). Kids Care is funded heavily by the federal government (authorized by Congress), with lower matching requirements than most federally funded grant programs.

In the meantime, it appears that Governor Brewer and some of her top advisors may get involved in trying to encourage state lawmakers to approve accepting the expanded Medicaid provisions of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The timing of that news can put pressure on some GOP primary races (for the state legislature).

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UPDATE

While unable to get a response from anyone at AHCCCS (the agency administering Kids Care), I did receive the following from Murphy Hebert, Public Information Officer for the Arizona House Democrats:

Please be advised that CMS approved the AHCCCS 1115 Demonstration Waiver Amendment request.
By way of background, this demonstration waiver request was first submitted as part of the Governor's Medicaid reform package last year. It allows the state to utilize local government funds to leverage federal dollars to provide uncompensated care. CMS originally denied this request because they did not feel that dedicating new resources to an uncompensated care pool in the context of a demonstration that otherwise reduces coverage was consistent with their objectives. This essentially meant that they would not allow the state to significantly cut its Medicaid population but then give more federal dollars to make up for the loss. However, CMS indicated that this request could be accommodated if the plan included a proposal to reenroll more individuals under Medicaid. The Governor then partnered with UA Health Network, Maricopa Integrated Health Systems, and Phoenix Children's Hospital and submitted a proposal to provide uncompensated care, hospital improvements, and expand KidsCare, and the revised request was granted late last week.
In addition to the Safety Net Care Pool, the Demonstration Waiver approves the utilization of Prop 202 gaming funds as matching dollars, which will provide an additional $13M for funding for rural hospitals, trauma hospitals and emergency departments statewide. Finally, it provides additional federal funding to offset uncompensated care in Indian Health Services and tribal 638 health facilities.
I have attached the CMS approval letter. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

Unfortunately, this language was apparently first sent in an email by someone at AHCCCS or the governor's office in April. So, while it does provide some background insight on how and why this limited enrollment is now available, it also raises other questions. Like, why now?

This announcement conveniently coincides with news reported on Monday by the Arizona Republic:


Two key advisers to Gov. Jan Brewer are attempting to create a coalition of hospitals, insurance plans, providers and other players to push Arizona to expand Medicaid under federal health-care reform.
Last week, the board of a statewide group of human-services providers agreed to hire Chuck Coughlin and Peter Burns, and the state's largest hospitals and health plans are considering signing on.
The pair would bring political and technical savvy to the complex realm of health care, with the goal of marshaling a united front of heavy-hitting businesses to push Medicaid expansion through the Legislature next session.
Remember the defiant rhetoric by red state governors in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling that Obamacare will stand? The salient question in those first days after the ruling was whether a given state would participate in provisions to expand Medicaid.


In June, the U.S. Supreme Court largely upheld the federal Affordable Care Act, including a requirement for almost everyone to obtain health insurance. However, the court also ruled that states could reject the law's Medicaid expansion without being penalized.
Six Republican governors have opted out so far, but Brewer has said she wants to hear from Arizona stakeholders and get more information about federal requirements and the potential impact before making her decision.
Medicaid is a state-federal program for low-income and disabled people. Federal funds would cover most of the cost of expanding the program.
The governor's staff said last week that Brewer's decision will be part of her budget proposal for fiscal 2014, which she'll release in early January.
But Burns and Coughlin aren't waiting. Their idea is to bring together those with a stake in Medicaid expansion to show Brewer they are behind her and to provide the financial data and other background information to support Medicaid expansion.
While the Republic, in a news story, cannot speculate on who knows what information and must go with what information it is given, I am not so bound. In my mind, there is little no doubt the Brewer's already been -- at minimum -- briefed on Coughlin and Burns' plan. She's probably a "co-conspirator." Of course, there's nothing illegal about having advisors work with stakeholders. The only reason I can think of for this apparently clandestine effort to strong arm tea party incumbents and candidates for GOP seats in the legislature is because Brewer really does want to participate in the Medicaid expansion.


She's been (rightfully) vilified for cutting AHCCCS enrollment despite voters having mandated otherwise (Prop 204 in 2000).

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According to AHCCCS legislative liaison Jennifer Carusetta, the agency first (after the waiver was approved in April) reached out to families of the approximately 100,000 children on a wait list. That list was established when Kids Care enrollment cut off due to elimination of state funding from the legislature.

Carusetta indicated that 13,000 children from that wait list have now enrolled. The remaining families on the wait list are still welcome to enroll, but because community funding has been secured for the required match to federal funds, the program can be opened for those who had not tried earlier.  The federal government, she said, provides $3 for every $1 state or local funding is provided. That's a 75/25 ratio.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Redistricting -- Litigation Update; Recent Mtg; Rules of Decorum

Late last week, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission filed a new motion to dismiss the amended complaint filed in federal court in the case claiming the voting rights of Republicans is wrongfully diluted in the new legislative district map.

The 18-page motion starts by noting
Consistent with the deference routinely and properly accorded by courts, where the maximum population deviation between state legislative districts is less than 10%, the deviation is considered “minor,” and the Court presumes that the legislative map satisfies the one-person, one-vote principle. E.g., Brown v. Thomson, 462 U.S. 835, 842-43 Case 2:12-cv-00894-ROS-NVW-RRC (1983). This presumption can be rebutted only if Plaintiffs show that the population deviations at issue result solely from an unconstitutional or irrational state policy.
This reiterates what's been said before on this issue. However, additional insight may be found in this quote from the motion:
It is fundamental that Plaintiffs are required to plead “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim that is plausible on its face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). Conclusory allegations are insufficient to state a claim.
And concludes with:
As Justice Scalia aptly observed, challenges to legislative maps with deviations under 10% based on “impermissible political bias” are “more likely to encourage politically motivated litigation than to vindicate political rights.” Cox, 542 U.S. at 951-52 (Scalia, J., dissenting) (emphasis in original). The Complaint alleges nothing more than political bias based on speculation and alleged conspiracies. For the foregoing reasons, the Commission respectfully requests that this Court dismiss Plaintiffs’ First Amended Complaint with prejudice.
And the Associated Press reported yesterday that the three judge panel had set the matter for hearing on October 31. Though nearly three months from now, holding the hearing just days before the general election could raise interest in the hearing or in the election or both.

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Last Friday, the AIRC met for three hours to discuss (bicker) about the terms of contract extensions for legal services (for Ballard Spahr as well as Osborne Maladon) and for the mapping consultant, Strategic Telemetry. Since I was otherwise occupied that afternoon (grandchildren and their birthdays take precedence, in my book), I was not able to catch more than a few minutes of the meeting when it was streamed online that day.

Even now, I've not listened to the entire recording, so I cannot report all of the details. My understanding, however, is that rates for the two law firms were "harmonized" (made equal). Though attorney fees were harmonized, relations between the opposing partisans among the commissioners were not.

The bickering we saw then as an expression of the frustration of coming to mapping decisions on which not every commissioner agreed this time seemed less restrained than it had been before.

In a moment when the proverbial light bulb lit up in my mind, it occurred to me that legislatures throughout the country provide for that kind of dynamic. After all, there has never been a time when politics has seen the absence of conflict. In more than 200 years of history and now 50 state legislatures (most of which have two chambers, an Assembly or House of Representatives and a Senate), it only now, nearly a year and a half after this body of five commissioners began its deliberations, occurred to me to look at legislative rules of decorum. The Congressional Republican Caucus states it thus:

Categories of Unparliamentary Speech
  • Defaming or degrading the House
  • Criticism of the Speaker’s personal conduct
  • Impugning the motives of another Member 
  • Charging falsehood or deception 
  • Claiming lack of intelligence or knowledge 
  • References to race, creed, or prejudice 
  • Charges related to loyalty or patriotism
Rules of Decorum in the Arizona House of Representatives include this language:
When a member desires to speak in debate or deliver any matter to the House, or make a motion, he shall rise and address himself to the Chair, and on being recognized may address the House. He shall confine himself to the question and avoid personalities. No member shall impeach or impugn motives of any other member's argument or vote.
Rules of the United States Senate include this language:
No Senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator. 
Does any of that prevent criticism of ideas or disagreement on the substantive matters on which the AIRC must deliberate? I don't think so. But it DOES accomplish something very important, namely to establish boundaries within which the deliberation can be constructive and productive while accommodating, or in spite of, disagreement.

As a case in point, recently Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), spoke for forty minutes on the floor of the US Senate -- in painstaking detail -- establishing that he personally had profound admiration and respect for his colleague, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma). However, the point of that speech was to -- also in painstaking detail -- make the case that Inhofe's public stance on the issue of climate change is "dead wrong."


I include the clip of Sanders' speech as a case in point. You may or may not want to take the 40 minutes to listen to the entire speech. But even in the first few minutes you can get a very good feel for the boundaries within which Senator Sanders, I think, very persuasively argued his point -- without being ruled out of order even once.

So, ultimately my point is that the 2021 AIRC should be counseled by review of the record of the current redistricting cycle to adopt rules along these lines. It will perhaps require more diligent preparation and presentation by the commissioners, but I think it will make deliberations markedly more productive during meetings.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Arizona UPRISING -- Legislative Primary Races That Count

The Arizona Eagletarian detailed a historical record of 2011 Arizona Independent Redistricting because the tone of politics and lawmaking in our state is heavily influenced -- before any legislative session begins -- by where district lines are drawn. That record (the one I wrote) began in December 2010.

For the same reason, the August 2012 primary election for state lawmakers and Congressional representatives this month will flavor public policy decisions until the end of 2014. Therefore, primary races that provide a clear contrast between candidates in the same political party matter tremendously.

On the Republican side, the state senate race in Mesa's LD25 (Russell Pearce vs Bob Worsley) and for state House of Representatives seats in Scottsdale's LD23 (John Kavanagh, Jennifer Peterson and Michelle Ugenti) are intriguing. The Pearce/Worsley race has gotten a good bit of ink in local corporate media so I do not feel compelled to dig into it. 

Kavanagh and Ugenti, of course, are incumbents. Jennifer Peterson, however, is an elected school board member and education advocate. That presents a significant contrast between her and the incumbents.

Arizona Republic columnist Bob Robb this week suggests that there will be little change in the ideological extremism of state GOP lawmakers. Robb does, however, think the possibility of Andy Tobin being edged out in the three incumbent lawmaker House race in LD1 would mean a new House Speaker more inclined to "pick gratuitous fights" over policy issues, rather than suppress them.

Instead, the divide is between conservatives who want to pick gratuitous fights and conservatives who don't see the point. And a rough entente has been reached. The gratuitous-fight conservatives get to kick up their heels in the Legislature. And the don't-see-the-point conservatives arrange for most of their bills to get lost on the way to passage.
If there's a big surprise coming out of the primary election, it might be the failure of House Speaker Andy Tobin to make it back. Tobin faces a primary with three current Republican legislators vying for two House seats.
But if Tobin is defeated, it will be for being insufficiently conservative, not for being too conservative. Tobin held up some anti-union bills, which agitated some conservative groups. And he would be replaced as speaker by someone less likely to ride herd on the gratuitous-fight crowd.
Tobin's current House seat mate is Karen Fann. Fann is on the ballot this month along with Tobin and current Anthem Senator Lori Klein (R-Pink Gun). Personally, I think defeating Tobin in that district would be a long shot, but not impossible.

If there was any possibility that any of the GOP races held the potential to make the legislature more rational and moderate, I'd be more interested in covering those races. I'm not very optimistic about that, however.
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On the other hand, there are a few key Democratic primary races with the potential to influence the direction of public policy in 2013 and 2014.

This time, let's consider Legislative District 30, a Voting Rights Act district, designed to enable Hispanic voters the opportunity to elect lawmakers of their choosing.  According to the best data available to the Independent Redistricting Commission, when the maps were approved 57 percent of the district population was Hispanic. Of the registered voters, 24 percent were Republican, 38.6 percent Democrats and 37.4 percent not affiliated with either major political party.

The state senate race is between incumbent Democrat Robert Meza and challenger Raquel Terán, also a Democrat. Both candidates are Hispanic. However, that may be where the similarity ends.

Local activists have been complaining about Meza's representation for a long time.


Terán is criticizing Meza's level of engagement at the Legislature, charging Meza is frequently absent and has missed votes, to the detriment of his constituents.
"I believe we need to be there for the whole process," Terán said of lawmakers being present for daily sessions. "When we're not there, who is representing the District 30 constituents?"
Meza acknowledged he doesn't spend a lot of time on the Senate floor during daily debate sessions, and said he believes his time is better spent dealing directly with constituent concerns. (emphasis mine)

And from the Arizona Republic's Political Insider:

Supporters of challenger Raquel Terán say incumbent Sen. Robert Meza, D-Phoenix, is threatening Dream Act kids with legal action for campaigning for Terán.
Ann Wallack, executive director of the Maricopa County Democratic Party, said Meza should save the heavy hitting for the adults, such as her, who are used to tough politickin'.
"You should lay off the students," she said.
Meza said he hasn't threatened anyone with a lawsuit, but he did advise a young man working for Terán that he should stop spreading untruths about Meza. He said several of his campaign supporters have told him the young man in question has portrayed Meza as "a mean person who doesn't like undocumenteds."
Meza said he advised the young campaigner that such derogatory comments over time can land people in court, but denies he ever rattled a lawsuit threat in the kid's face. The characterization is insulting, Meza said, since he's helped several "dreamers" himself.
The back-and-forth is the public face of a dispute between Meza and fellow Phoenix Democratic Sen. Steve Gallardo. Gallardo is backing Terán because, he said, the Senate needs a legislator who will sponsor bills and speak up at the statehouse, something Meza is not noted for. (emphasis mine)

From the Phoenix New Times, reported by Monica Alonzo just a few days ago,


As for Meza's frequent absences during daily roll call at the Legislature, he explains that instead of wasting time on opening ceremonies, he is working with constituents. He says he nearly always shows up when it's time for a floor vote, when the entire body votes on a measure.
And yet in 2008, while he was serving in the House of Representatives, Meza ranked in the top 10 for missed votes. In 2010, he was criticized for taking a vacation at the beginning of the session. In 2011, records show he was present for 36 sessions, excused for missing 12 sessions, and showed up late to 10 others.
In 2012, he's had seven excused absences.
"When you're absent — regardless of what comes up — you're missing an opportunity to share the stories of your community," Terán says.

I'm reminded of a comment Democratic Congressional candidate Kyrsten Sinema made during a debate recently:

Kyrsten Sinema responded by saying she had been told... that it is better to listen than to be heard and to develop meaningful relationships with members on both sides. Though not identifying her source, she later described how that enabled her work with Tucson Republican state Sen. Frank Antenori to get a bill passed which makes all veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan immediately eligible for in-state tuition at any of the state universities. (again, emphasis mine)
So, what Robert Meza characterizes as wasting time, a former colleague describes as time that could be key to cultivating relationships that could have been used to advance legislation to actually benefit the citizens in his district.

Further, Meza's domestic partner, Mike Snitz is running for a seat in the Arizona House of Representatives. Since they live together, they are running in the same district. Snitz also has a whole bunch of issues that should be explored. I hope to do that in a blog post in a day or two. However, I want to point out that Meza was also named as having received free trips and sporting event tickets* from lobbyists. The picture below, provided by Snitz' primary election opponent Jonathan Larkin, gives a pretty good feel for how Meza does (and Snitz will) approach the job of representation as a lawmaker.

Larkin's (a U.S. Marine veteran) caption for the photo: 
While I was in Iraq, Mr. Snitz (right) was traveling with state Senator Robert Meza (left) courtesy of high-powered lobbyists. In this photo, the pair are attending a Notre Dame football game with all expenses paid for by Fiesta Bowl lobbyists.
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Additionally, there are apparent irregularities in how Senator Meza has handled his campaign finances over the last couple of years.

Local activist Esther Durán Lumm filed a complaint just last month with the Secretary of State and Attorney General's Offices detailing a number of apparent violations of Arizona Revised Statutes based on Meza's campaign finance reports.

Ms. Lumm's complaint says Meza may have converted thousands of dollars of campaign contributions (most of which he obtained from lobbyists who expect a return on their investment in state lawmakers, for more insight, see: Influence By Cialdini, Robert B.), falsely reporting the source of some contributions, violation of a ban on receiving contributions from lobbyists while the legislature was in session, failure to disclose his position as officer of a corporation (in his personal financial disclosure), and receipt of campaign contributions from corporations (which is prohibited).

At minimum, Meza will have to claim he inadvertently made mistakes in his reporting. In which case, one would reasonably question his competency for handling complex legislative matters. Even if Meza skates (escapes criminal or civil liability) on these allegations, the connection between his campaign finances and weak representation of the community that elected him seems clear.

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Without question, however, Meza is indeed campaigning for re-election to the Arizona Senate. In doing so, he has muddied his hands quite a bit. By that, I mean he has made harsh and false or misleading allegations against his opponent, Raquel Terán.

In a mailer to voters in the district, Meza accused Terán of being arrested for disorderly conduct. As Alonzo reported in the New Times,

In 2008, Arpaio's deputies delivered a citation to her home accusing her of disorderly conduct in connection with her criticism of Arpaio during a Maricopa County Board of Supervisors meeting.
And Terán has sat in a Maricopa County Superior Courtroom, birth certificate in hand, to defend herself against allegations that she is undocumented and ineligible to run for public office. (The lawsuit, filed by Douglas border watcher Alice Novoa, was tossed out by a judge.)
If Meza was confident that he had done such a good job that he could run for re-election on his record, why does he feel compelled to confuse and obscure the issues, his record and the truth about his opponent?

The bottom line in the senate race in LD30 is that there is a real and dramatic contrast between the candidates and it is NOT just on positions on issues.


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