There was plenty of corporate media in attendance on Wednesday afternoon for a press conference prior to the Protect Your Vote AZ committee hauling more than 80 boxes of petitions to force HB2305 to face the likelihood of veto by the People of Arizona in November 2014.
The pictures (below) tell the story. One thing you likely will not read in the corporate media, however, is that lone wolf journalist Howie Fischer (owner and operator of Capitol Media Services) was a little bit more than his usual self today. Known among Arizona capitol watchers as a boisterous interviewer, Fischer can sometimes commit genuine journalism by asking tough, appropriate questions. He does not, however, usually do so when it's somebody who has the power to shut down his livelihood by cutting off access to either the governor or members of the Arizona Legislature.
In this case, Fischer did his best impression of a GOP committee chairperson badgering someone testifying against a bill the chairman favors. One question aimed at referendum committee chair Julie Erfle suggested that since no other state allows citizen/activist groups to collect and deliver early ballots there must be something insidious about the practice as it played out last fall in our state.
This next pic is how I thought perhaps a response could reasonably have been presented. But it wasn't.
Instead, Erfle replied to all of the questions with composed graciousness. The fact of the matter is that the only thing the practice does is enhance the ability of elderly, homebound and/or overworked voters to have their votes counted. Make no mistake, the overwhelmingly Caucasian GOP finds the prospect incredibly threatening.
It's time that the PEOPLE of Arizona, not just the minority that Paul Weyrich spoke for, had a say in the laws we are subject to everyday. Therefore today, Protect Your Vote AZ submitted more than 146,000 signatures to the Arizona Secretary of State.
Here's more of the story from Wednesday afternoon at the Arizona Capitol.
Committee chair Julie Erfle with former House Minority Leader John Loredo and Robbie Sherwood of Strategies 360, before the press conference, with some of the boxes of petitions stacked behind them.
Democratic state Rep. Lela Alston (LD24) and Maricopa County Democratic Party Chair Laura Copple. Lela spent lots of time with the volunteers organizing the petitions and verifying signatures. Laura is a tireless warrior for Democratic voters and activists and chairs one of the largest county party organizations in the country.
One of the speakers during the press conference, Barry Hess, former (and perhaps future) Libertarian Party candidate for governor of Arizona waxed eloquent, noting that the Republican stooges in the legislature had succeeded in unifying almost the entire rest of the state of Arizona against them.
Organized chaos getting all of those boxes up to the 7th floor, where the Secretary of State's Elections Services office is located.
Erfle handled the paperwork with state Elections Director Amy Chan and deputy Secretary of State Jim Drake to make the filing of 146,000 plus signatures official.
Chan's team now has 20 business days to verify the signatures and make #Stop2305 official. At least officially on the 2014 general election ballot.
Of course, we are excited and proud today. But rest assured, (national and Arizona) Republican money changers will not take this lying down. We can and will anticipate a whole lot more effort to conjure up claims of wrongdoing they will say they want to stop. The attack from the far right has been building for more than six decades. It will take strong, sustained push back, against HB2305 and other attacks on the working, Middle Class and poor to keep from further widening the already egregious inequality that has become the norm in America.
Speaking of inequality, be on the look out for former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich's soon to be released movie, Inequality for All. It is scheduled to open at the Harkins Camelview 5 on September 27.