Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

New Arizona Senator for LD7 -- Carlyle Begay

Today, the Apache County Board of Supervisors appointed Carlyle Begay to finish the Arizona Senate term started in January by Jack Jackson Jr. (D-Window Rock), who resigned earlier this month to accept a position in the Obama administration as liaison to Native American nations on environmental issues.

Mr. Begay apparently serves currently as Vice President for Business Development at American Indian Health & Management Policy.
Carlyle Begay has a tremendous acumen and passion for health policy and business. He has focused the majority of his efforts on services related to Indian health and Indian health program development. He has experience in the management of health care organizations, managed care, health care market structure, and health care delivery. In addition to an understanding of how public policy actions affect costs, quality, and access, in the Indian health and public health care sectors.
A quick look on Twitter showed an Arizona Capitol Times story indicating that LD7 state Rep. Albert Hale (D-Window Rock), who reportedly had sought the senate appointment himself, is challenging Apache County's decision citing the fact that Begay has resided in Gilbert for the last seven years. From the July 31 Yellow Sheet Report,
There were questions about Begay’s eligibility to represent LD7 as the Democrat has lived in Gilbert for the last seven years and is still listed as a registered voter in Maricopa County, according to the Maricopa County Election’s Department. But officials in the Apache County Election’s Office confirmed that Begay registered in the county on July 22. His registration in Maricopa County will be nullified as soon as Apache County officials notify the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office of the change. Reached briefly by phone today, Begay told our reporter he registered in Apache County weeks ago and has already received his voter registration card. Two weeks ago, Begay told our reporter that despite his residency in Gilbert for the last seven years, he has maintained an address in Apache County. “I’ve always kept a fairly close tie to issues on the Navajo Nation and issues particularly related to the Navajo government," Begay said. 
If Hale's challenge gets any traction, we'll hear more about this situation in corporate news outlets. Otherwise, here's hoping that Begay and Hale develop a strong bond and good working relationship as seat mates, along with fellow LD7 Rep. Jamescita Peshlakai.

Former Sen. Jackson Jr. posted the following on Facebook earlier this afternoon.
Congratulations to Carlyle Begay for being selected by the Apache County Board of Supervisors as my replacement to the Arizona State Senate. I know Mr. Begay will do well in representing the people of Legislative District 7 and Arizona.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

GOP officials still intent on telling the Big Lie -- OFTEN

Arizona Republican Party communications director Tim Sifert appeared on Arizona Horizon on July 9 to verbally duke it out with Libertarian Barry Hess about the Voter Suppression Act (HB2305). On the question of whether there has been voter fraud in the return of early ballots by concerned citizens, Sifert, who might know something about election irregularities used the expression "recipe for mischief."

In other words, the VERY BEST this political hack (or, at best, flack) could produce -- when called to cite specifics on whether there had been any actual allegations of voter fraud -- was rumor and innuendo.

Why would I suggest that Sifert might know something about election irregularities? Might that be only rumor and innuendo on my part? Not in this case. An Arizona Supreme Court opinion from 2004 says,
Jim Irvin was elected to a four-year term of office as a Corporation Commissioner beginning January 2003. In September 2003 Irvin resigned, and the governor appointed Kris Mayes to fill the position until the next general election in accordance with Article 15, Section 1(C), of the Arizona Constitution. This section provides in part, “[I]n case of vacancy in the office [of the Corporation Commission], the governor shall appoint a commissioner to fill the vacancy. The appointed commissioner shall fill the vacancy until a commissioner shall be elected at a general election as provided by law, and shall qualify.” Ariz. Const. art 15, § 1(C).
Tim Sifert timely filed nominating petitions for the office of Corporation Commissioner. However, two different terms for seats on the Corporation Commission are up for election in 2004: one seat has a term expiring January 1, 2007,which is the office currently held by Mayes, and three seats have terms expiring January 5, 2009. Although Sifert is seeking the office with the term that expires on January 1, 2007, his nominating petitions did not “designate the expiration date of the term following the name of the office being sought.” See A.R.S. § 16-314(D). Carl Seel, a candidate for the same office,filed a complaint in Maricopa County Superior Court seeking an injunction to prevent Sifert’s name from appearing on the primary election ballot because he did not comply with A.R.S. § 16-314(D).
Long story short, the trial court found in favor of Seel; Sifert's name was not allowed to appear on the ballot. Sifert appealed directly to the Arizona Supreme Court (represented by Lisa Hauser, counsel to plaintiffs in Leach v Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission and all around thorn in the side of the AIRC). The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court ruling (Sifert lost).

I'd bet that Tim Sifert considers what Carl Seel did in 2004 to be "mischief." But was it immoral, unethical or illegal? NOPE.

-----

Just this last Sunday, Julie Erfle -- chair of the Protect Your Vote Committee -- appeared on KTAR radio to debate HB2305 with state Rep. Steve Montenegro (R-Avondale).
Erfle pointed out that
...there was a very effective Get Out The Vote effort by essentially voter advocacy groups that happened to favor Latinos, that happened to favor groups that tend not to vote Republican. Now, they were able to collect ballots from people who are disabled, who are home bound, who are low propensity voters.
They were able to turn those votes in. These are young volunteers, some of whom I met, who were not criminals. They weren't doing anything illegal. They weren't doing anything unethical. In fact, they were doing that which we ask our young individuals to do, which is to get involved in our democracy. That's what they did.
Now, what's very unfortunate for me to hear from Steve [Montenegro] and from his colleague Michele Reagan, is these rumors that somehow they were doing something that is illegal. And right now, that's all we have.
As you pointed out Mike [radio host], there's no investigation going on. There's no evidence that this is anything other than rumors and innuendo. And so because we have nothing more than rumors and innuendo, we want to then put these people in a bad light. And that's very distressing for me and distressing that we would want to put these individuals in a bad light, would want to now criminalize their acts.
I find that very hard to believe. I also find it hard to believe that if there was any evidence, any evidence at all, that we had voter fraud going on with these groups, that Ken Bennett, our current Secretary of State, who was willing to investigate the President's birth certificate would not be investigating this right now. 
One of the hosts then asked Montegnegro if there had been any investigation conducted by anyone, such as a county attorney. Montenegro said there "should be" and then rambled on about "evidence" and testimony before the legislature about it. Apparently to deflect attention from the fact that he really has no tangible argument, Montenegro suggested Erfle had pulled the race card. What she really did was call attention to the underlying reality behind HB2305, the concern that Latino voters, traditionally suppressed without so much effort, are now asserting themselves at the ballot box.

Bottom line, Julie Erfle called it straight. Montenegro and Reagan have had nothing but rumor and innuendo.

If Tim Sifert can get specific about his "recipe" or if Steve Montenegro can cite credible evidence, let's see it.

Until we see details (credible details, for that matter), we can only surmise that the Arizona GOP has NOTHING but the Big Lie it's trying to sell.

I ain't buying. Neither should you.

-----

The HB2305 referendum effort now has a website. It holds background information about the effort, links to news coverage and information on how to volunteer to help collect signatures or to verify signatures collected on petitions already turned in.

Protect YOUR Vote!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

GOP propaganda -- well, is such a harsh comparison appropriate?

I've gotten word that some people may have been offended by my last (previous to this) blog post.

Honest disagreement can be a good thing. It can foster better understanding, if it leads to honest discussion.

Because those potentially offended did not come to me with the concern, I can only speculate on some of what they may have been offended about.

In the post at issue, I cited a quote widely attributed to German World War II propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels.
If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it...
I also quoted a press release issued by the Arizona Republican Party regarding the referendum effort seeking to put HB2305 on the ballot for the people of Arizona to decide whether to allow the bill to become law or to exercise the People's Veto as prescribed in the state constitution.

That press release, as reported by the Yellow Sheet Report (7/25), specifically said the intent of HB2305 was to fight voter fraud in Arizona. In that same edition, Yellow Sheet reporters and editors said that the AZ GOP did NOT name any specific persons or groups as having committed any such fraud and the Republicans did not cite ANY actual allegations of voter fraud having occurred.

There have been NO reports of any allegations of non-citizen voter fraud having occurred in Arizona from the 2012 election -- that I have been able to find. The most specific reporting, that I found with a Google search, is from September 2012 in the Tucson Sentinel. That story indicates the only cases that have been found and prosecuted involve persons voting in Arizona and another state in the same election. 15 cases. That would not have changed the outcome of any particular race even if all 15 cases were in the same district, in the same election. Not even close.

Is it fair to say that the Arizona Republican Party knowingly is making false charges when it puts out press releases like that? I think so. The AZ GOP could easily dispel my claim by citing any reports of actual voter fraud, if it actually had any.

Michele Reagan, who started pushing many of the provisions in HB2305 from the start of the 2013 regular legislative session, has made the same claims WITHOUT ever citing any specific incidents or allegations of voter fraud.

Is it fair to say that Michele Reagan knowingly has been making false charges in print and broadcast media when she says things like that? I think so. Michele Reagan could easily dispel my claim by citing any reports of actual voter fraud, if she actually had any.

Yesterday's blog post also indicated that the German World War II propaganda minister added more to the statement when he made the claim about getting people to believe a big lie told often enough.
....The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.
Do we have to sit back and let Arizona Republicans get away with telling the big lie often enough to get people to believe it? I do NOT think so.

To the point of my having possibly offended people with the harsh comparison, I specifically refrained from the use of two particular, very inflammatory words, hoping to make my point without offending anyone other than those whose oxen actually get gored by telling this particular truth.

If I did not succeed in that endeavor, I sincerely apologize.

-----

One such person in particular apparently was offended (or at least did take strong issue with what and how I made the case), is Lou Lernor. He apparently goes to great lengths to keep people from knowing who he actually is and uses on Facebook -- contrary to Facebook policy -- the fake name, "Lou Show."

Because of his incivility and habitually rude behavior toward me in particular, I blocked him on Facebook close to, if not more than, two years ago. Mr. "Show" recently claimed to be a lifelong Democrat. However, perhaps because he doesn't get to post abusive comments to my Facebook timeline, he does so, about me elsewhere.

I have no problem with him disagreeing with me. I have no problem with him being angry with me. But I personally don't think he should be allowed to disrupt the efforts of Green Party, Libertarian and Democratic activists simply because he disagrees with me.

Mr. "Show" posted this comment:
This is really outrageous! I’m a lifelong Democrat and I see nothing wrong with HB 2305. It is hypocritical for Steve Muratore, editor of his “Arizona Eagletarian”, to mirror the Democratic party line of complaining about HB 2305 while also claiming that the Republicans are taking a page out of the Nazi playbook by Geobbels that if you tell a lie long enough then people will start to believe....
Bully for Mr. "Show" to see nothing wrong with HB2305. He is entitled to his belief. I also have no problem with him claiming that I'm hypocritical. But him disagreeing with me doesn't mean I have to let him get away with making silly statements without calling him out for it.

Last I checked, Mr. "Show" is not the final arbiter of whether the Democratic Party or the overwhelming majority of Democratic activists is allowed to take the position that there IS something wrong with HB2305. I understand that bill to be a naked attempt by Republican state lawmakers to grab power away from the majority of Arizona voters. Clearly, the intent of HB2305 actually IS voter suppression. As I understand things, Democratic Party officials and activists pretty much all agree with me on that position.

So, Mr. "Show" disagree all you want. In fact, make your case in writing on your blog, if you have one. But don't expect that you will escape criticism from those who disagree with you.

-----

If you (anyone) disagree with me, let's have an honest discussion.

Friday, July 26, 2013

GOP propaganda -- if you tell a lie often enough...

Earlier this week, a second GOP committee organized to support HB2305 (and oppose the referendum).

This time, apparently taking a lesson from Joseph Goebbels, Robert Mayer (chairman) and Lee Miller (treasurer) named their committee "Stop Voter Fraud in support of R-03-2014." The Yellow Sheet apparently could not get anyone to answer the phone at the number listed on the committee record on the Secretary of State's website.

However, the Arizona Republican Party issued a press release on Thursday indicating full support of efforts to subvert the referendum.
"Last November we witnessed the nefarious techniques used by leftist groups to confront voters at their homes, manipulate ballots and harass elections officials counting ballots. One Democrat group even used a 15 year old child to collect ballots," said Robert Graham, Chairman of the Arizona Republican Party.  "The Legislature and the Governor responded to bring voters and elections officials some relief, passing a new law to prevent groups from disturbing voters at their homes to 'round up' ballots." (emphasis in original)
The Yellow Sheet reported on the GOP release, paraphrasing it in a way that almost sounded like an endorsement of Graham's message. Which, if that's where they had left it, would be disturbing. Obviously, the Yellow Sheet does take editorial liberties at times, as does the Arizona Eagletarian, to wonder aloud -- as it were -- about the veracity of claims made by those who are quoted in its stories.

Graham (along with the new committee's officials Robert Mayer and Lee Miller) seem to hope insight widely attributed to World War II German propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels will help them carry the day.
If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.... 
In this case, however, I'll credit Yellow Sheet editors and reporters because they did not leave the situation alone at that point.
Though he mentioned the word “fraud” multiple times, the state GOP’s statement avoided direct examples. Graham didn’t accuse any specific group of fraud nor did he provide any specific instance of fraud in last year’s election. Graham was also silent on the law’s provision that requires third party candidates to collect as many signatures as Dem and GOP candidates. That provision, which was touted by Republicans at the Legislature and is believed to be strongly supported by national Republicans, has riled up the Greens and Libertarians, who would have to gather more signatures than exist on the local parties’ roster. (emphasis mine)
Of course, I will take that last point and clarify one step further. Said provision (for monstrously increased nominating petition signature requirements) not only would require Greens and Libertarians to gather more signatures than they have registered voters, it effectively shuts the door completely for any Green Party or Libertarian qualifying for a ballot in Arizona ever again -- IF HB2305 goes into effect.

Now, about that Goebbels quote. The World War II propaganda minister had additional insight that relates to the current situation and points out that OUR cause is not hopeless. The people of Arizona will ultimately not be fooled by this underhanded strategy.
....The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.
In this case, the TRUTH is the greatest enemy of Robert Graham, Robert Mayer, Nathan Sproul and Michele Reagan, who all appear to be going full steam ahead trying to sell their specious claims of voter fraud.

But WE will go TELL THE TRUTH on the mountain, over the hill and everywhere. And we will do it with as much gusto and enthusiasm as the town crier announced the birth of a future King of Great Britain in London just a few days ago.




Thursday, July 25, 2013

Update on Lobbyist Shakedown and Redistricting lawsuits -- UPDATED 9:55pm MST 7-25-13

See UPDATE at the end of this post

This morning Arizona's Citizens Clean Elections Commission voted 3-2 to authorize its counsel, Joe Kanefield (Ballard Spahr) to file suit in Maricopa County Superior Court challenging the Lobbyist Shakedown Bill (HB2593).

Earlier this week, the Arizona Supreme Court declined to accept original jurisdiction for the Special Action filed the week before.

Had the Supreme Court accepted the Special Action claim, it could have decided the matter, yea or nay, solely on the basis of questions of law. However, in Superior Court, the litigation will involve witnesses, depositions and testimony -- and an extended time frame. No information is yet available on when a complaint will be filed in Superior Court. However, in order to prevent HB2593 from going into effect in September, an injunction would have to be granted. Whether a Superior Court judge will grant an such injunction is not a safe bet one way or the other.

Commissioners Hoffman (who was also an individual plaintiff in the lawsuit as filed in the Arizona Supreme Court, and is currently chairman of the CCEC), Koester and Titla voted to proceed with filing in Superior Court. Commissioners Laird and Reckart voted against.

-----

According to Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission staff, the oral arguments hearing previously scheduled for tomorrow morning (July 26) in the matter of Leach v AIRC, has been continued (rescheduled) for August 13 at 10 am.

-----

UPDATE

In addition to today's vote by the Clean Elections Commission, the Yellow Sheet reported that
So far, it looks like three of the four plaintiffs in the special action are on board with taking the case to superior court. CCEC Chairman Louis Hoffman, who is suing as an individual, told our reporter shortly after the Supreme Court rejected jurisdiction that he would bring the fight to Superior Court. Arizona Advocacy Network’s Sam Wercinski said his group is likely to join the case, as well.... The final decision will be made on Friday, he said. The one wild card is [state Rep. Victoria] Steele [D-Tucson], who told our reporter that she will meet with her attorney – Hogan represents her as well – to discuss the case. Steele expressed concern over whether her involvement in the case would leave her enough time to continue her work as a mental health counselor, keep teaching and continue her service in the Legislature. “The process is a bit different going into Superior Court. So, I have to weigh it with how much of a time commitment this is going to be for me and can I continue with all the other things,” she said.
Rep. Steele told the Arizona Eagletarian just a few minutes ago that she had discussed the situation with Hogan and that she has, in fact, decided to join in the complaint as they will file it in Maricopa County Superior Court, likely within a couple of days.

Then there is Rep. JD Mesnard. Here's what he told the Yellow Sheet.
Mesnard, who sponsored H2593, questioned whether the CCEC has standing to challenge the bill in court, and took issue with the taxpayer-funded commission’s involvement. “Whether someone else wants to sue Ihave less of an issue with. But this sort of kind of self-preservation attitude of a commission, I’m just not a fan of. It looks pretty shady to me,” Mesnard said. He added that he’s not an attorney and has no opinion on whether the other plaintiffs have standing. But he’s not really concerned with them anyway, he said. “None of the rest of them that I recall is a government commission, so to speak, so I have an easier time with that,” Mesnard said. The issue of standing didn’t come up during today’s meeting, but Hoffman laid out his case for why the CCEC has a direct interest. “Should the new limits go into place, I believe that fewer candidates would run as Clean Elections candidates. And those kinds of decisions are going to be happening quite soon,” he told our reporter. Commissioner Steve Titla echoed that sentiment. “With the lower amount, you have more people inclined to participate, and that sort of impairs or thwarts them,” he said.
This from a young whipper-snapper who thinks it's perfectly kosher for the GOP state lawmakers to pass legislation that is nothing more and nothing less than a naked power grab, subverting the rights of Arizona citizens. Note the video clip embedded in this blog post. Obviously, his first two initials, "J.D." do not stand for Juris Doctor. It also appears he doesn't understand the concept of standing
In law, standing or locus standi is the term for the ability of a party to demonstrate to the court sufficient connection to and harm from the law or action challenged to support that party's participation in the case.
If the CCEC didn't have standing, I seriously doubt that Joe Kanefield would have taken the case to the Arizona Supreme Court in the first place.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Redistricting -- a new AIRC brief in the Leach case

In support of its motion to have individual commissioners dismissed as defendants in Leach v AIRC, Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission counsel filed a brief a day or so ago.
The Motion seeks to dismiss the Commissioners as parties based on redundancy, lack of redressability, and legislative immunity. Plaintiffs’ Response fails to provide any valid reason why the Motion should be denied, and indeed much of the Response addresses issues that are not implicated by the Motion. [...]
The practical effect of the Motion is to streamline the litigation and avoid having to spend time and resources wading through the nuances of the role of the Commissioners if they remain as parties. Parties generally have responsibilities of responding to written discovery (interrogatories, RFAs), filing and responding to motions, and presenting evidence at trial. But here, the Commissioners were named solely in their official capacities as another way of suing the Commission. See Part I, supra. It will simplify the case to have one defendant, the Commission, who defends the map, Ariz. Const. art. IV, pt. 2, § 1(20), rather than having to deal on an ad hoc basis with the nuances of any additional responsibilities the Commissioners bear as parties.
Indeed, Plaintiffs’ counsel recently made clear that Plaintiffs intend to serve different written discovery to each Commissioner in order to exceed the presumptive discovery limits in Rules 33.1(a) and 36(b) by simply multiplying the limits for interrogatories and requests for admission by the number of Commissioners. (Exhibit 2.) However, the purpose of written discovery is to obtain the party’s position in litigation. The Commission has only one position – the legal defense of the redistricting plan on behalf of Arizona voters. Plaintiffs essentially concede that the real purpose of naming the individual Commissioners is to increase the amount of discovery they can acquire. This cannot be a legitimate reason to deny the Motion. 
Regardless of the resolution of this Motion, important legislative privilege issues remain in this case. The legislative privilege held by the Commissioners is an issue that will arise in discovery, regardless of whether the Commissioners are parties. Indeed, in a related federal lawsuit, the Commissioners were dismissed as parties, and issues of legislative privilege were addressed separately. Plaintiffs have the opportunity to get documents and testimony through discovery requests to the Commission and none of the reasons Plaintiffs cite support denying dismissal of the Commissioners as parties. For the foregoing reasons, the Commission respectfully requests that the Court grant the Motion.
The remainder of the brief can be viewed at the link embedded above. Exhibits supporting the Commission's position include a case law reference and a copy of a letter from AIRC counsel to plaintiff's counsel.

More will be available to report on this after the oral arguments hearing on Friday morning.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Lobbyist Shakedown Bill -- takin' it to court

Last week, attorneys for Arizona's Citizens Clean Elections Commission, Arizona Advocacy Network, Louis J. Hoffman (a current member of the Clean Elections Commission and one of the drafters of the original Clean Elections Amendment), and state Rep. Victoria Steele filed a petition for Special Action in the Arizona Supreme Court challenging HB2593. The bill, titled "Campaign finance; contribution limits" is much more fairly referred to as the Lobbyist Shakedown Act.

HB2593 was approved in the senate on a 17-13 straight party line vote. In the House, five members were not present for the vote, but for those present it passed on a party line vote (all AYE votes from Republicans, all Democrats present voted NAY, one Republican also voted NAY).

The essence of the bill is that limits Arizona voters imposed on lawmakers' lawful ability to raise campaign funds from anyone (this is what empowers lobbyists to obtain favor from elected lawmakers) were all but obliterated.

How Republicans in Arizona are STILL able to get away with obscuring this issue, despite the very common knowledge of "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" sometimes puzzles me. Not only is it common sense and common knowledge but it has been proven scientifically by academic research. Arizona State professor emeritus Robert Cialdini first published his seminal book, "Influence" in 1984. Cialdini's work makes it impossible to legitimately refute the fact that allowing lobbyists to buy favor with elected officials is a scourge on American government at all levels.

Nevertheless, the Arizona Supreme Court today declined to take original jurisdiction in this lawsuit. Mary O'Grady, counsel for plaintiff Louis Hoffman, this afternoon said she has no information on what action will be taken now on this matter.

However, it appears a logic next step (or Plan B, if you will) would be to file the petition in Maricopa County Superior Court. Today's action by the Supreme Court likely makes it more difficult to obtain an injunction preventing the relaxed campaign contribution limits from going into effect on the general effective date for legislation passed in the Spring 2012 legislative session (September 12).

I will try to keep my ear to the ground for developments in this matter.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Redistricting -- Monday's meeting recap

This morning, pursuant to the meeting notice and agenda posted last week, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission met. Two members of the public attended (I was not one of them). A recording of the meeting will be posted to the AIRC website in a day or two.

The commission made two substantive decisions this morning. First, by a unanimous vote (5-0), it approved an extension of mapping consultant Strategic Telemetry's contract.

Second, after executive session discussion, the AIRC approved, in a motion with no opposition, authorizing legal counsel (Mary O'Grady and Joe Kanefield) to "seek release" of executive session transcripts from June 15, 24 and 29 of 2011 regarding discussions about the mapping consultant contract.

O'Grady told me that because the commission does not want to run afoul of state statutes regarding disclosure of executive sessions, "seek release" in this case means they will ask Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Mark Brain (before whom the Leach v AIRC case will be tried) for permission to disclose those transcripts. She said that even though Lisa Hauser's discovery requests did not specifically include those three transcripts, the AIRC believes they are germane to the issues presented in the Leach complaint.

 -----

Last Friday, counsel for plaintiffs in Harris v AIRC filed its brief in response to Judge Roslyn O. Silver's July 8 order that both parties comment on the ramifications of last month's Supreme Court ruling in Shelby County v Holder, which struck down Voting Rights Act provisions requiring preclearance of Arizona's Congressional and legislative district maps.

The conclusion Harris' counsel comes to is this:
Shelby County cuts the line between Arizona and Section 5, and thereby destroys the IRC’s already insupportable rationale for deliberately underpopulating Democrat-dominated districts and overpopulating Republican-dominated districts. Shelby County applies retroactively, it makes no difference to Plaintiffs’ lone state-law claim, and it does nothing to revive the already-rejected case for abstention. Plaintiffs respectfully request that, upon the conclusion of supplemental briefing, the Court proceed to decision of this case and render judgment for Plaintiffs declaring the IRC’s legislative plan unconstitutional and enjoining its enforcement for the 2014 election.
The bottom line appears to be that Cantelme claims the Supreme Court's Shelby County ruling applies retroactively (meaning the AIRC had no grounds or justification to seek Department of Justice preclearance, even though it was the law of the land at the time the redistricting took place) when AIRC counsel has said and will most assuredly say again that the ruling has NO BEARING on the maps as they are now.

Pursuant to Silver's July 8 order, the AIRC deadline for responding to the Harris brief is August 2nd (Friday of next week).

By the way, over the weekend, the only news coverage of Cantelme's filing appears to have been written up by Howie Fischer of Capitol News Services. Fischer's story was carried in a few newspapers around the state, including Tucson's Arizona Daily Star and Flagstaff's Arizona Daily Sun.

At minimum, that story and the various headlines written apparently by staff for those newspapers has done little to clarify anyone's understanding and much to confuse the issues. Some have reported that on Friday, Arizona Republicans filed suit demanding Congressional district lines be changed for 2014. 

No new lawsuit was filed against the AIRC regarding Congressional or legislative district lines last week. It all boils down to the fact that Cantelme is now -- as opposed to the summer of 2011 -- dropping all pretense of wanting to ensure adequate representation for Arizona's Hispanic voters and clearly advocating only for the GOP being able to maintain its stranglehold over public policy and lawmaking at the Arizona Capitol. 

I'm not sure how boastful I have a right to be, but you can get the clearest information available on our state's 2011 redistricting cycle right here on the Arizona Eagletarian.




Friday, July 19, 2013

Redistricting -- Monday morning quarterbacking, er, I mean meeting...

Yesterday (Thursday), the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission posted notice that on Monday morning, July 22, it will meet at 9:00 am at its office, at 1100 W. Washington Street in Phoenix.

Besides an official welcome to the new commissioner, Cid Kallen, business on the agenda includes discussion (and likely approval) of an extension for mapping consultant Strategic Telemetry's contract and discussion and possible executive session regarding discovery matters in Leach v AIRC. The commission may (will) consider whether to release transcripts of executive sessions of past business meetings.

A hearing in Leach is scheduled for Friday, July 26 at 9:15am, Maricopa County Superior Court, in the courtroom of Judge Mark Brain, East Court Building-413. The East Court Building is located at 101 W. Jefferson St. in downtown Phoenix.

Friday's hearing is for oral arguments on a motion to have the individual commissioners dismissed as defendants in this lawsuit. Lisa Hauser, on the other hand (lead counsel for plaintiffs) disagrees with the AIRC motion and requested the oral argument hearing.

Hauser's response provides insight that if the individual commissioners are dismissed as defendants, it will be more difficult for her to compel them to testify.

Additional documents recently exchanged in Leach include Hauser's first request for production of documents (June 10, 2013); first set of non-uniform interrogatories (June 10, 2013); plaintiffs request for admissions by defendants (June 10, 2013); and a letter from Mary O'Grady to Hauser and co-counsel Mike Liburdi expressing concern over demands (or requests) made by Hauser (July 11, 2013).

-----

Incidental to this meeting, the oral arguments hearing or anything at all related to this lawsuit, first named plaintiff Venden (Vince) Leach filed paperwork with the Secretary of State in April to run for state representative in LD11. Incumbent LD11 Republican state reps include Steve Smith and Adam Kwasman, two of the "brighter bulbs" in the House GOP caucus? Not necessarily.

Smith has apparently been talking about running for the state senate in 2014. He previously served in the senate but deferred to Al Melvin in 2012 when the two ended up in the same district as a result of redistricting. Melvin has made rumblings about running for governor in 2014. Neither Smith nor Melvin have updated their SoS filings to reflect those intentions. Kwasman has put an exploratory committee in place to run for Congress in CD1, the seat currently held by Ann Fitzpatrick.

For LD11, that leaves room for one more GOP (tea potter) to run for state representative. Low and behold, our good friend Proud Terri has apparently again gotten the bug to run for office. Terri told the Arizona Capitol Times/Yellow Sheet that she feels like she has grown up since the last time she served (her term in the House ended in January 2013).
Though Proud built a reputation as a firebrand during her short time in the House, she said she has learned from some of her mistakes and verbal flubs, and is changing her tone to be a somewhat kinder, gentler version of her former self. “I’m a lot wiser than I was two years ago… Maybe I’ve just grown up some,” she said.
To which, I have to simply ask, "REALLY?" Just how long ago was it that she was fired before she even started a new job at the Arizona Department of Veterans' Services? (About three months ago). ADVS director Joey Strickland resigned/was fired for what ended up being a misunderstanding on his part. Brewer's staff had, in 2012, warned Strickland to not hire Proud. He didn't realize that prohibition was still in effect.

Really, THREE months ago Proud was making the same verbal gaffes that marked her time in the legislature. Now she's all "grown up?"

Anyway... to pull off this magic trick (getting voters to trust her again... might not be as difficult in LD11, as in the district she really resides in, LD9) given that they have serious RWNJs representing them now), Proud is apparently pulling a Don Shooter. Shooter apparently rented a place he could claim to be living in, in the part of Yuma comprising a portion of LD13, rather than where he actually lives (LD4). LD4 leans away from Shooter's brand of Tea.

According to the Secretary of State, as of July 1, 2013, LD11 has 30,960 Democrats, 45,750 Republicans, and 38,106 Independent. LD9, on the other hand, has 43,146 Democrats, 38,065 Republicans and 34,988 Independent. Proud may have been mature enough to calculate that even though she may have been able to muster enough extremist Republican voters to beat (incumbent GOP moderate) Ethan Orr in a primary, it is far less likely she could win a general election in LD9.




Sen. Reagan dances around Nathan Sproul, but will he work on her anti-referendum campaign or not?

So, we may have hit a nerve last night with the state senator from Scottsdale.

When all she really needed to do was to issue a statement saying, "Nathan Sproul will not work for this committee," an associate from a PR firm today sent me a long, drawn out non-denial denial.

"Senator Reagan’s response to the reported involvement of Nathan Sproul with the Protect Our Secret Ballot committee."
SCOTTSDALE, AZ – It was recently announced that Senator Michele Reagan will act as chairman for Protect Our Secret Ballot, a committee organized to support the election reform legislation in HB 2305. The majority of the legislation contained in HB 2305 is a consolidation of many reform efforts introduced during the legislative session by Senator Reagan. Pertaining to her decision to chair this committee, Reagan stated “protecting the integrity and credibility of our electoral system is tantamount to protecting our most sacred right. Both Republicans and Democrats should commit to ensuring that Arizona residents have faith that their vote will be counted and elections are fair.”
The Protect Our Secret Ballot committee held its first organizational meeting on Thursday, July 19. It has been reported that Nathan Sproul, managing partner at Lincoln Strategy Group, will be directly involved in the committee’s activities. Regarding Sproul’s involvement, Reagan said 
“No roles or responsibilities were discussed during the meeting yesterday. I made it very clear to everyone in attendance that I do not support Sproul’s involvement in this effort and that his past and current activities undermine the credibility of our mission. My legislation is aimed at preventing fraudulent activities; including those Sproul is alleged to have participated in. Defrauding voters is inexcusable, regardless of what the party affiliation is of the perpetrator. My goal from day one of the legislative session was to protect the rights of Arizona voters and ensure that we have integrity with our elections. I will not support or allow my name to be associated with this effort if Nathan Sproul is involved in any way. Our committee set out with a vision of ensuring fairness and integrity with voting and I will not allow that vision to be tainted by the activities Sproul has committed in the past.” 
There are a few points in Reagan's "response" that I think should be highlighted (and I started by putting those points in boldface in the text quoted above).

I suppose the first, very simple point to make is that July 19 is today (Friday, not Thursday).

Second, Reagan's statement does not indicate that Sproul will be banned from her anti-referendum effort. She just dances around the point by saying she will not allow her vision (which we know consists of depriving Democratic, third-party and minority voters of their rights) to be tainted by Sproul's PAST activities.

The response raises questions. Is the message simply elaborate code that she is not actually in charge of that committee? Is she being "handled?" If so, who are her handlers? Aren't hidden handlers just a group of operatives pulling her puppet strings? If she is being handled, and is not in charge of THIS committee, how could we possibly trust her to independently carry out the duties of Secretary of State?

Third, from the response, Reagan stated “protecting the integrity and credibility of our electoral system is tantamount to protecting our most sacred right.

Her stated goal is to "protect the rights of Arizona voters and ensure that we have integrity with our elections. The literal translation, according to usage, of that statement is that she intends to protect the rights of CERTAIN Arizona voters.

Reagan's statement also continues to propagate the false claim that voter fraud is a problem in Arizona. That claim has been shown to be a complete and total fabrication.

How she can, with anything remotely resembling a straight face, claim that -- completely and totally preventing third-party candidates from ever being able to qualify for the ballot in legislative, Congressional and statewide office races -- protects the rights of any voters except Republicans is beyond me.

Even though the senator tried very hard to avoid having anyone even think of this question, it comes up anyway. Does Reagan have any intention of preventing the "mind fuck" or "brain fuck" activities the Arizona Eagletarian reported last night? "She" certainly did not answer the question in her "response."

I have to ask that since she believes so emphatically in the credibility of the electoral processes, WHY is she planning to circulate non-binding petitions to confuse voters?

I'm not buying what Michele Reagan is selling. Neither should you.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

How will Michele Reagan "fight voter fraud?" Hire Mr. Voter Fraud himself, Nathan Sproul!

It's one thing for a power hungry Republican senator, knowing she has virtually no chance of winning nomination for Secretary of State -- without Tea Party approval -- to brazenly put out false propaganda that her Voter Suppression Bill is really about fighting voter fraud. 

It's quite another thing when she and/or her inner circle supporters turn to perhaps the most notorious figure in voter registration fraud in America today -- Arizona's own Nathan Sproul.
For a year, the Republican National Committee has portrayed Democrats as the villains when it comes to voter fraud.
In a provocative article on CNN’s Web site, the committee’s chairman, Reince Priebus, said, “Democrats know they benefit from election fraud.”
The tables have turned, however, and Republicans are now playing defense over the role of a well-paid operative, Nathan Sproul, in a voter registration scandal that emerged in Florida and has spread to other states.
And now, in an exquisite twist of irony, the Yellow Sheet reported today that Sproul has been tapped to manage a signature gathering effort hoping to confuse Arizona voters.
Meanwhile, the committee formed to fight the H2305 referendum is assembling its team. As reported Tuesday, Reagan is chairing the Protect Our Secret Ballot committee.* Multiple sources have said [Payday Jonathan] Paton will play a significant role in the campaign, Barrett Marson is expected to serve as its spokesman, and Nathan Sproul has reportedly also joined the effort. The campaign is expected to take a page out of the Restoring Arizona pro-Medicaid expansion playbook and circulate its own non-binding petitions expressing support for laws that limit voter fraud. Several railbirds said Sproul’s Lincoln Strategy Group has been tapped to manage the signature-gathering effort.
The list of allegations of Sproul's fraudulent activities is long. But as the slithering GOP operative that he is known to be, he has found a way to slip out of the grasp of law enforcement pretty much every time. But... others have taken very real measures to insulate themselves from him despite the fact that he always seems to elude conviction.
The Republican Party, which paid Mr. Sproul about $3 million this year for work in five states, has severed its ties with him, saying it has no tolerance for voter registration fraud.
But questions about Mr. Sproul’s methods first emerged in 2004, when one of his companies, Sproul & Associates, was paid nearly $8 million during the election cycle.
The payouts made the company the seventh-biggest recipient of campaign expenditures by the committee, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics.
In the meantime, here's what the Washington Post reported last fall:
The man at the center of a voter-fraud investigation in Florida is a longtime GOP operative with a pugnacious streak and a controversial history among Republicans and Democrats for his aggressive tactics in registering voters.
Nathan Sproul is a businessman who rose rapidly in Arizona politics, heading the local Christian Coalition and the state Republican Party in his mid-20s. A series of voter-fraud allegations against him in 2004 did not slow his ascent: Sproul and firms linked to him have been paid $21.2 million by the Republican Party, its candidates and affiliated interest groups over the past nine years.
But the man who once accused his Democratic critics of having “hysterical fits” now finds himself isolated politically. Nine Florida counties reported to the state that hundreds of voter-registration forms submitted by Sproul’s firm contained irregularities such as suspicious signatures and missing information. State law enforcement authorities are investigating the allegations. A spokesman for Sproul denied any improprieties... 
Of course he denied it. What would you expect him to say?

This video, just under four minutes long, sums up Nathan Sproul quite well.


More links to reporting on Nathan Sproul's dubious enterprises:

Salon.com

Houston Chronicle

Brad Blog

Crooks and Liars

Current TV

Chicago Tribune

KPHO Channel 5 Phx

The Young Turks

-----

Atlanta Journal Constitution -- Dissecting the GOP "in person voting fraud" fraud
And so it continues: Republicans have yet to identify any evidence anywhere in the country of attempts to alter election outcomes through in-person voting fraud.
None.
Yet in the alternative universe that too many of them occupy — the same universe in which Mitt Romney is up 10 points in “unskewed” polling — they are somehow absolutely certain that it occurs, and these supposed “small-government” types are equally certain that new regulations and state bureaucracies all across the country are necessary to prevent it.
Yet, this is exclusively how Michele Reagan has taken to justifying her sinister Voter Suppression Bill (HB2305). And thus far, NO Arizona journalist, broadcast or print, has apparently seen fit to call bullshit on her brazenly false propaganda.

Well, I call on Arizona's corporate media to refuse to allow Reagan to repeat that meme without making her provide credible, substantiated EVIDENCE that such voter fraud has occurred.

Searching Google for Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett testifying before Congress, I found ONE news item had been posted to his Secretary of State website.

Voters Peter Canova and Gina Thi Canova were indicted in 2011 for having voted twice in the 2008 general election, once in Arizona and once in Nevada. I found no document indicating which party the Canovas had registered with, but I did find a Maricopa County Superior Court docket record (Case CR2011-005543) of the proceedings.

The two were arraigned in March 2011. They apparently were given suspended sentences and unsupervised probation. On April 17, 2013, for at least one of them, a judge entered an order setting aside the judgment of guilt.

In fact, I understand that in December 2012, Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett testified before the US Senate on that very subject.
As I listened to the news on the radio this morning, I think I heard (suppressed) laughter as Arizona Secretary of State told Senators that the state prosecuted a whopping, mind-boggling fifteen cases of voter fraud, in the last eighteen months. And yet, none of these were even cases of non-citizens voting, but were citizens who voted in Arizona and in another state.
I wonder how many snowbirds were inadvertently caught up in the fury, as Republicans fought so hard to hide their voter suppression efforts behind the thin veil of fraud? [...]
Likewise, the score from Arizona was 15 cases over a year and a half, while 2.3 million ballots were cast in the last election here. I could find nothing to indicate how much money they've spent pursuing election fraud cases, or how much they spend on the voter ID program in general. But, hell, that's nearly one case per month. Way to go. Clearly the election turns on all this alleged fraud. 
-----

There you have it, in a nutshell.

Michele Reagan wants to be Secretary of State. In the mold of disgraced -- and disbarred -- former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, who aggressively campaigned to victory by pouring gasoline on the fear -- held by low-information voters -- of undocumented immigrants, Ms. Reagan is trying oh, so gallantly, to make people believe that Arizona has a voter fraud problem.

But the primary purveyors of voter fraud in Arizona appear to be Nathan Sproul and Michele Reagan.

-----

The Yellow Sheet Report on Reagan's new committee quotes the state senator from Scottsdale as being leery of Sproul, apparently to give her plausible deniability in the event she decides to resign as chair of the committee. However, the Secretary of State's website record of the committee, Protect Our Secret Ballot is fully consistent with the YS blurb suggesting the original and primary strategy is to confuse voters.

The full name of the committee, "Protect Our Secret Ballot, in support of R-03-2014" reflects exactly what the YS blurb says they intend to do.
The campaign is expected to take a page out of the Restoring Arizona pro-Medicaid expansion playbook and circulate its own non-binding petitions expressing support for laws that limit voter fraud.
The SoS record also specifically indicates the committee supports R-03-2014 which is the Secretary of State's nomenclature for the referendum to put HB2305 to a vote for a People's Veto.

Again, it's one thing for Michele Reagan to claim she wants nothing to do with Nathan Sproul (remember, she undoubtedly wants to establish plausible deniability for when she actually announces her intention to seek the office of Secretary of State). It's a completely different thing for her to be the one that put her name on the initial filing to establish the committee with full knowledge that they intend to brain fuck the voters of Arizona.

By the way, Michele Reagan and Nathan Sproul played the Yellow Sheet Report (and it's partner, Arizona Capitol Times) right into their hands.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Guest Post -- June Gloom for Corrections Corporation of America

At the June district meeting D26 Democrats had the good fortune to hear Dianne Post speak about private prisons in Arizona.

Corrections Corporation of America has had quite a month since then.

CCA proudly claims to be "the nation's largest owner and operator of privatized correctional and detention facilities". Despite CCAs largesse, the American Civil Liberties Union reported in June that four different states chose not to renew contracts with CCA to operate correctional facilities.

A few days later, the Associated Press reported that Kentucky elected to not renew its contract with CCA, thus closing the last of the Bluegrass State's private prisons.



The Texas Department of Criminal Justice declined to renew its CCA contracts on two facilities. While the State of Texas claims it is for budgetary reasons, one cannot ignore the numerous deaths at the Dawson State Jail including that of an infant whose mother was forced to birth the child in a toilet. This is just one example of the many pending lawsuits against the private jailer.

Meanwhile the Mississippi Department of Corrections elected not to renew CCA's contract to run the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility after two riots there in the last year. During one riot a prisoner was stabbed to death. A third riot occurred in the same time frame at another CCA operated facility in Mississippi.

Just this month, Idaho revealed that it would seek a new contractor to replace CCA as the operator of it's largest prison. Affectionately (or maybe not-so-affectionately) known as the "Gladiator School" by it's inmates, the Idaho Correctional Center has been the subject of numerous lawsuits, many of which settled out of court with prisoners. The facility has been investigated by both the Idaho State Police and the FBI. CCA even admitted it's employees had falsified more than 4,700 hours of staffing records at the “Gladiator School.”

So what effect has this all had on CCA's stock? Suffice it to say that States aren't the only one's fleeing CCA, investors have as well. According to Yahoo Finance on April 12th, 2013 CCA (ticker symbol CXW) closed at $40.78. On Monday, July 8th, it closed at $31.60. That’s a 22.5% loss of stock value in less then 90 days. It is interesting when writers such as Matt Stroud at Forbes and Seth Jayson at the Motley Fool question investing in a company for ethical as well as fundamental reasons related to financial analysis.

In Arizona, CCA says it now operates six facilities, two in Florence and four in Eloy (both locales are in Pinal County). CCA prisoners in the Arizona facilities come from (CCA calls it "customer base") the States of California, Hawaii and Vermont as well as the US Marshall Service, ICE (federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and the United States Air Force.

The big question for Arizona, and Legislative District 26 Democrats, is why is our Legislature and Governor are now planning agreements to go into business with CCA when other states and investors are escaping?*

Raymond E Linafelter

D26 Precinct Committeeman



* Note: In September 2012, the Arizona Eagletarian cited the crony capitalism practiced by Arizona Republican elected officials and executive branch agencies, providing an example in plans for the Arizona Department of Corrections to contract with CCA.

-----

The opinion column was first published at D26dems.org

Monday, July 15, 2013

Phoenix City Council -- District 8 gets spicy and dicey

Because I do not live in Phoenix, and therefore cannot vote in any district for any candidate for its city council, I have been reluctant to get involved in any of the campaigns and have only been superficially paying attention to them.

Of course, I would LOVE to see Karlene Keogh Parks put Sal DiCiccio out of OUR misery in Council district 6.

District 4 has MANY candidates, several of whom could make very good council members.

-----

Then we come to council district 8.

Five candidates qualified for the ballot. I know a couple of them but have heard the most about three in particular, Kate Gallego, Lawrence Robinson and Pastor Warren Stewart. I only first learned about the two other district 8 candidates, Luis F. Rodriguez and Carolyn T. Lowery, this evening.

So, I gave those two a call.

Rodriguez says he's more conservative than the other candidates. Lowery told me she's facing resistance from the Black community because she's running against a pastor. Both are serious and committed candidates even though they do not enjoy broad community support to the same extent as Gallego, Robinson and Stewart.

One of the district 8 candidates, however, got my attention today. But NOT in a good way.

Guess which candidate enjoys the support of David Cantelme.


Dear Friend,Our campaign has received encouraging letters from all over our State letting us know why Pastor Stewart is the best candidate to represent District 8. It is my pleasure to share this letter of support from lifetime Phoenix resident, David Cantelme.
Dear Dr. Stewart:
You don't know me, but I have lived in Phoenix and the Valley all of my life, and have followed the good work you do from a distance. I was very pleased to learn of your decision to run for City Council. We badly need a person of your wisdom and experience to sit on the Council, and I am confident you will employ your talents for the betterment of our City. Please do me the favor of accepting my contribution of $450 to your campaign for Phoenix City Council.
While it may be a bit out of fashion these days to make a comment like this, I want you to know that you are in my prayers that the Lord will guide you and keep you through the tribulations of a political campaign.
Very truly yours,
David Cantelme
If you agree with David that Pastor Stewart is the most experienced leader for the job, please donate by "clicking" here. Your generous contribution will be used for canvassing supplies such as water, energy bars and campaign literature.Thank you for all your support,
Josh Zaragoza
Campaign Manager
-----

David Cantelme has been THE loudest and most dedicated voice working to undermine Independent Redistricting in and for Arizona's Congressional and legislative districts, at least since 2010.

The Arizona Eagletarian has documented his efforts since the Spring of 2011. He has been the chief spokesman and advocate for the clandestine lobbying group calling itself Fair Trust. I have consistently referred to that group by the title that more fairly characterizes what it represents to the vast majority of Arizonans, UNfair Trust.

Now, if I were a narcissist, I might think this is about me and that perhaps Cantelme invested the $450.00 in Stewart's campaign so that I would put this out to sabotage him. I don't think I have that kind of influence. And I am confident Cantelme does not think I have such influence.

Since this is not about the Arizona Eagletarian, or me, I have to figure that Cantelme (who I believe is as much of a snake as anyone in Phoenix) contemplated who might have the best chance to win the district 8 seat (unless he gave to more than one candidate, which is certainly not unheard of) and decided to purchase some favor, even if not outright favoritism.

By the way, without completely rehashing Cantelme's history with the AIRC, it's important to at least mention here that he was and is lead counsel to the plaintiff group that sued to nullify the legislative district map now in use. A court ruling is still pending, as the trial completed at the end of March.

I cannot let Cantelme's letter go without comment.

How sincere does Cantelme sound in his letter to Stewart?
I have lived in Phoenix and the Valley all of my life, and have followed the good work you do from a distance.
It was as if The Serpent from Genesis Chapter three had materialized to come and beguile Warren Stewart.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made...
What exactly does Cantelme want from Stewart (and from the Phoenix City Council)? I don't know the answer, but you can bet your bottom dollar that he either already wants something or he will want something once he gets his hands positioned to where he can control Stewart.

Do you think that Ben Arredondo was groomed like this by the FBI when they set up the sting that caught the former Tempe Councilman and state Representative?

-----

Election day is August 27, six weeks from now. Early ballots will go out, according to the Phoenix City Clerk, on August 1.

That Cantelme would want to grease the wheels for favors by future members of the Phoenix City Council is completely understandable. That Warren Stewart would ACCEPT a maxed out contribution from him should give voters, and community leaders pause.

Might Warren Stewart's supporters want to rethink that endorsement?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Post Racial America? Really?

I had every intention to write about something entirely different than this and do so much earlier on Saturday.

But as soon as I got home, about 7:30pm, I learned that a 6-member Florida jury had acquitted George Zimmerman of both second degree murder and a lesser charge of manslaughter for having killed Trayvon Martin in February 2012. I then watched (and participated in) lengthy discussion threads on Facebook where strong emotions and opposing views took center stage for several hours.

There have been and will be many others more eloquent than me to draw out the reasons why this verdict was both inevitable and a serious miscarriage of justice. There may not have been any way for the jury to have decided differently on the very narrow questions of law presented to it about the two individuals (Martin and Zimmerman) in particular. But there was and is a stark and disconcerting mismatch between those legal issues and the underlying questions of who owns or enjoys personal power in American society.

Here's Cord Jefferson, one person of color's take:
Tonight a Florida man’s acquittal for hunting and killing a black teenager who was armed with only a bag of candy serves as a Rorschach test for the American public. For conservatives, it’s a triumph of permissive gun laws and a victory over the liberal media, which had been unfairly rooting for the dead kid all along. For liberals, it's a tragic and glaring example of the gaps that plague our criminal justice system. For people of color, it’s a vivid reminder that we must always be deferential to white people, or face the very real chance of getting killed. (emphasis added)
Is that not really the bottom line?

About two hundred thirty-seven years ago, another Jefferson wrote,
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. 
Any student of American History knows that ideal was not immediately achieved. It took decades, the dedicated persistence of many Americans, and ultimately the lives of hundreds of thousands of soldiers in the Civil War just to bring a legal end to slavery.

Yet, even after abolition of slavery, people of color were denied the rights of citizens of the United States. One hundred years later, oppression persisted in many regions.

President Lyndon B. Johnson was an incredibly flawed human being and a flawed president. There is plenty to criticize about his presidency. But he accomplished some amazing and incredibly important things while in office. Without Johnson's leadership, we would not have had the Voting Rights Act of 1965 or Civil Rights Act of 1964.







Actual practices in American cities and towns did not immediately change when laws changed. In fact, Johnson noted, toward the end of his remarks upon signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964,
...This Civil Rights Act is a challenge to all of us, to go to work in our communities and in our states, in our homes and in our hearts to eliminate the last vestiges of injustice in our beloved country. So tonight I urge every public official, every religious leader, every business and professional man, every working man, every housewife; I urge every American to join in this effort to bring justice and hope to all our people and to bring peace to our land. 
My fellow citizens, we have come now to a time of testing. We must not fail. Let us close the springs of racial poison. Let us pray for wise and understanding hearts. Let us lay aside irrelevant differences and make our nation whole. Let us hasten that day when our unmeasured strength and our unbounded spirit will be free to do the great works ordained for this nation by the just and wise God who is the Father of us all.   
Some say that we, in 2013, live in a post-racial America. Only some. I won't delve very deeply into that debate right now. But I will say that a number of clues exist suggesting we are not there yet.

In Maricopa County Arizona, voters have elected and re-elected a race-baiting sheriff six times now. Finally, because of amazing persistence of activists to overcome Arpaio's popular mythology, US District Court Judge G. Murray Snow just two months ago issued findings that the sheriff consistently violated the Constitution with the policing practices and policies on which he built his popularity?

Last month, the Supreme Court of the United States issued an opinion striking down Section Four of the Voting Rights Act.

Last night's Zimmerman verdict exposed a nerve, a deep division of opinion in the way Americans look at the world we live in. Marissa Alexander's case, also very recent and also in Florida, provides a stark contrast.



TAMPA -- Marissa Alexander had never been arrested before she fired a bullet at a wall one day in 2010 to scare off her husband when she felt he was threatening her. Nobody got hurt, but this month a northeast Florida judge was bound by state law to sentence her to 20 years in prison.
Alexander, a 31-year-old mother of a toddler and 11-year-old twins, knew it was coming. She had claimed self-defense, tried to invoke Florida's "stand your ground" law and rejected plea deals that could have gotten her a much shorter sentence. A jury found her guilty as charged: aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Because she fired a gun while committing a felony, Florida's mandatory-minimum gun law dictated the 20-year sentence.
Her case in Jacksonville has drawn a fresh round of criticism aimed at mandatory-minimum sentencing laws. The local NAACP chapter and the district's African-American congresswoman say blacks more often are incarcerated for long periods because of overzealous prosecutors and judges bound by the wrong-headed statute. 
The admitted killer of black teenager Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman is acquitted of all criminal charges. Marissa Alexander, a black woman whose "crime" caused NO ONE any physical harm was sentenced to 20 years in prison for protecting herself and her children.

The bottom line right now is that President Johnson's words are as timely today as they were fifty years ago.

-----

By the way, Stand Your Ground and mandatory-minimum sentencing laws both have been pushed -- in EVERY state legislature in the country -- by ALEC, apparently to provide a solid economic foundation for the private prison-industrial complex.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Mayor Stanton endorses Karlene Keogh Parks!

PHOENIX – Mayor Greg Stanton today endorsed local business leader Karlene Keogh Parks to represent District 6 on the City Council, making clear that she has the right priorities for the city’s future.

"Karlene Keogh Parks knows that growing our economy should be our top priority, and that to do that we need to invest in downtown redevelopment and expand light rail,” Stanton said. “She also knows that to be a great modern city, Phoenix must make sure that we treat all our people equally, and with respect.”

Keogh Parks’ opponent, incumbent Sal DiCiccio, voted against expanding light rail in the Valley.  He even voted to allow Phoenix businesses to deny housing and jobs to individuals with disabilities and on the basis of sexual orientation.

"I am incredibly proud to have Mayor Stanton's support, and I’m looking forward to working with him to make Phoenix an even better place to do business and raise a family,” Keogh Parks said. 

About Karlene Keogh Parks

Karlene Keogh Parks is the founder of the Keogh Health Connection, which has helped provide health care and nutrition to more than 200,000 vulnerable Arizonans, and is currently an insurance executive with HUB International. She lives in the Arcadia neighborhood and is married to Steven Parks, has a daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren.


###

I probably should have mentioned earlier that what I posted above is from a Press Release sent from Karlene's campaign. My mother had successful surgery today and I was working from my cell phone in the waiting room at the hospital. 

Redistricting -- new commissioner Kallen to take oath

According to Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission deputy director Kristina Gomez, newly appointed Redistricting Commissioner Cid Kallen will take the oath of office Friday, July 12 at 3:30pm. The ceremonial swearing in will take place at Secretary of State Ken Bennett's office on the 7th floor of the executive tower at the Capitol, 1700 W. Washington St, Phoenix.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Redistricting -- Harris v AIRC UPDATED 9:15pm MST 7-8-13

See UPDATE at the end of this post

US District Court Judge Roslyn O. Silver today ordered both sides to provide additional information for consideration in the lawsuit filed last year by Republicans challenging the legislative district map.

The text of the order reads:
The parties are directed to comment on the effect, if any, of the decision in Shelby v Holder, 2013 WL 3184629 (U.S. Supreme Court June 25, 2013), on this case, including, in particular but without limitation, on the possibility of abstention in favor of state court adjudication. 
Accordingly,
IT IS ORDERED that the parties shall file supplemental briefs as follows:
1. Plaintiffs' brief by July 19, 2013, not to exceed 20 pages.
2. Defendants' brief by August 2, 2013, not to exceed 20 pages.
3. Plaintiffs' reply brief by August 9, 2013, not to exceed 10 pages.  
Of course, the first named plaintiff in this case is our friendly, neighborhood Republican malcontent, Wes Harris (who this summer also happens to be trying to muster support for a referendum). The defendant is the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.

So this might suggest the District Court is considering whether to punt this over to a state court (which would require, I believe, starting over from scratch). Another possibility is the three-judge panel chaired by Judge Silver may be looking for a preview of what might be argued in a hypothetical appeal of the trial court's ultimate ruling. If that's what this is about, the court may be wanting to establish a record related to those issues so an appeals court can get a framework on how and why the trial court decided what it will have decided.

Nevertheless, despite the sense of urgency demonstrated by Judge Silver in pre-trial orders, we are likely not going to get any decision in time for the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission to make wholesale changes to the legislative district map before the 2014 election cycle gets rolling, not that the District Court is necessarily inclined to order such changes anyway.

-----

UPDATE

Just a little perspective based on the 2012 election cycle. The current legislative district map was adopted in January 2012 and had to be precleared by the Department of Justice before implementation. Notice of DOJ preclearance was received on April 26. Theoretically, therefore, if the District Court by October 1 does order changes to the legislative map, it's possible to get it done, as long as county elections officials have something to work with by Spring 2014. That still would require tremendous upheaval and additional cost.

The possibilities are endless, I suppose. Envision incumbent GOP lawmakers salivating at the dream of another supermajority along with advocates for competitive districts turning up the heat to demand even more competitive districts. Whoever wins that ultimate grudge match, so to speak, would then NOT face scrutiny by DOJ.





Are you on the transition team?



I can't change the world all by myself. It IS a team effort.

-----

The other evening, I was viewing (on my computer) a documentary about MIT linguistics Prof. Noam Chomsky. Something he said struck me as particularly poignant.
It's not the case, as the naive might think, that indoctrination is inconsistent with democracy, but rather as this whole line of thinkers has observed, indoctrination is the essence of democracy. The point is that in a military state or a feudal state or what we would nowadays call a totalitarian state, it doesn't much matter what people think because you've got a bludgeon over their head and you can control what they do. 
But when the state loses the bludgeon, when you can't control people by force, and when the voice of the people can be heard, you have this problem. It may make people so curious and so arrogant that they don't have the humility to submit to a civil rule and therefore you have to control what people think.
And the standard way to do this is to resort to what, in more honest days used to be called propaganda; the manufacture of consent; creation of necessary illusions; various ways of either marginalizing the general public or reducing them to apathy in some fashion.... -- Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media
From this perspective, and in light of the development of social media and associated technologies, we know that there is a lot going on these days with people seeking to counter the marginalization and apathy of which Chomsky spoke and wrote. We see it in the corporate media with reports of rioting in Turkey, of a coup d'etat in Egypt, of the Arab Spring a year or two ago, riots in Greece, Great Britain and other countries because of proposed or enacted austerity measures.

We see dynamics of the push and pull tension in corporate dominated mass media versus egalitarian social media. It's been a while since we've heard anything about efforts in Congress to attack "net neutrality." But we need to keep a vigilant watch on issues like that. Perhaps the most blatant examples of propaganda imposed on the American people is campaign advertising.

Contemporary political issues, embodied very much in the controversy over former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, both personify this overall concern and provide very sharp examples of propaganda at work in both mass and social media. Some believe Snowden to be a criminal, a traitor and a spy. Others laud his courage to disclose the overreach of the United States federal government security apparatus and its spying on law-abiding citizens. People believe what they believe about this controversy because of how they view the world and our government (and elected officials).

But I digress. All politics is local.

Politics Uncuffed blogger Julie Erfle chairs the Protect Your Right to Vote Arizona coalition.

Erfle explains in her post Stacking the Deck to Save Incumbents,
Why, you may ask, did incumbent Republicans feel the need to make the most sweeping changes to our election laws in decades WITHOUT first receiving voter approval? The answer is simple: our demographics are changing, and they do not favor the brand of politics espoused by extremist politicians. Instead of appealing to voters, these incumbents would rather forgo a “big tent” and change the laws to benefit their pup tent.
Here’s the how and why:
Criminalizing those who collect ballots is a direct result of a growing Latino movement that has learned how to successfully get out the vote. There was nothing criminal about what volunteers did in the last election — ensuring first-time voters, those with mobility issues and those who often forget to turn in their ballots had their votes counted. Since this isn’t criminal behavior, incumbent Republicans moved to change the law to make it criminal, which just so happens to benefit them as well. (emphasis added)
Increasing the number of signatures required for third party candidates and Democrats was a direct result of Republicans losing competitive Congressional districts in the last election. Republicans erroneously believe Libertarians will automatically vote for a Republican if no Libertarian is on the ballot. But as Robert Robb points out in the Arizona Republic, it’s unlikely Libertarians are the spoilers Republicans think they are.
Republicans like state Sen. Michele Reagan (R-Scottsdale) want you to believe that there has been voter fraud. However, if there actually has been, it's has not been a result of non-citizens attempting to vote, but from voter suppression. Here's the propaganda Michele Reagan, who wants to be the chief election officer for Arizona in 2015, posted on her campaign website.
Election legislation received a great deal of attention at the beginning of session but we need to turn the spotlight back on the issue as we approach the finish line. Arizona voters deserve an election system that embodies integrity and efficiency.
Of course, Ms. Reagan never could demonstrate that there was ANY question related to the integrity of Arizona's voting process. Any issue regarding efficiency certainly should NOT jeopardize the integrity of any vote. But THAT is what Reagan's voter suppression legislation will do if it is allowed to go into effect.

Please join me on the transition team for Arizona in 2013. Please get involved in the referendum petition drive to put the Voter Suppression Act on the 2014 ballot. You may call 480-382-1102 or email ProtectYourRightToVote@gmail.com to find out where to get a petition to have your friends and neighbors sign.