At Playhouse on the Park, a theater/auditorium attached to the VIAD center just north of downtown Phoenix, Common Cause CEO Bob Edgar and Center for Media and Democracy executive director Lisa Graves held a showing of the documentary The United States of ALEC (see embedded video below), followed by a panel discussion/Q&A session. We watched a 41-minute cut of the movie. Bill Moyers, who produced the documentary, has aired a 31-minute version. At this time, the 31-minute version is embedded below. I am hoping to get permission to embed the longer version and will post about it at such time as it becomes available. (photo courtesy Laura Copple)
The panel, from left to right: Joe Thomas, VP of Arizona Education Assn, John Loredo of Arizona Labor Table, Sam Wercinski ex. dir. of the Arizona Advocacy Network, Frank Piccioli of AFSCME Local 2960, Rebekah Friend ex. dir. of Arizona AFL-CIO, Lisa Graves and (standing) Bob Edgar.
UNITED STATES OF ALEC
Lisa Graves, addressing a very pertinent question from state Rep. Juan Mendez (D-Tempe), said that ALEC has an easier time influencing lawmakers in states which employ part-time legislators and have minimal staff. That, not coincidentally, happens to include Arizona.
In the past, I have taken the view that our state lawmakers do not earn a full-time salary and should not expect to get paid what would amount to a living wage. Currently, Arizona pays each member of the legislature $24,000/year plus a Per Diem to address expenses while they are in session. There have been plenty of editorials suggesting we "get what we pay for."
I may have to rethink how I view the situation in light of Graves' insight. And so, will consider the topic and write about it in the future.
In the meantime, as Common Cause CEO Bob Edgar, quoting activist Grace Lee Boggs, suggested -- in order to counter the influence of that corporate lobbying CABAL (ALEC) -- that "We are the leaders we've been waiting for!"
Following up, in the morning some of the members of tonight's panel will hold a press conference:
Press Conference: In-Depth Report on ALEC Ties to Harmful Legislation to be Released Thursday
PHOENIX – Members of a broad coalition of concerned citizens and organizations will hold a Thursday morning press conference to shine a light on the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)’s extremist agenda at the Arizona State Legislature. The Center for Media and Democracy, in partnership with Common Cause, Arizona Working Families, People for the American Way Foundation and Progress Now will make available an updated joint report, “ALEC in Arizona: The Voice of Corporate Special Interests in the Halls of Arizona’s Legislature.” The new report examines the extensive influence that ALEC continues to wield in Arizona despite public national controversies and large-scale defections from corporate sponsors.
Arizona has had one of the highest concentrations of ALEC-affiliated lawmakers in the nation. ALEC’s corporate executives, lawyers and lobbyists, along with member legislators, draft, lobby for, and secure passage of a wide array of bills designed to promote corporate interests. Due to rising public outrage and exposure, major corporations and organizations have recently begun to drop their sponsorships of ALEC, including Coke, Pepsi, McDonalds and KRAFT.
WHAT: Press Conference to shine a light on ALEC’s influence in pushing legislation in Arizona aimed at attacking workers’ rights and enriching specific industries. .
WHEN and WHERE: 11 a.m. Thursday, April 4, outside the Arizona State House
DETAILS: Community leaders will speak out at a press conference at the Arizona State House about ALEC’s influence in Arizona. The speakers will identify specific ALEC legislation that is moving through the Arizona Legislature and how it will impact Arizona families and communities. Speakers include:
· Lisa Graves, executive director for the Center of Media and Democracy, which performed principle research on the report.
· Bob Edgar, President and CEO of Common Cause
· Hon. John Loredo, member of Arizona Working Families and former House Minority Leader.
· Sam Wercinski, Arizona Advocacy Network.
· Marisol Garcia, a teacher from Phoenix