Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Monday, September 30, 2013

Redistricting update

Just days after The Hubris... er, Honorable Andy Tobin went on record declaring his attitude toward the voters of Arizona, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission had to send a letter to all attorneys now under contract saying that they must cease all work.
I regret to inform you that at the present time we do not have a sufficient appropriation to pay for additional legal services. Please stop all work as of September 30, 2013. If you continue to work on items in your approved contract agreement, you will be assuming the risk that in the future the Legislature will provide an appropriation to fund additional legal services. [...]
Arizona law is clear that a state employee cannot authorize payments for which there is not an appropriation. (A.R.S. §1-254)
By the way, on the subject of Andy Tobin's hubris, it's SO nice to know that the Capitol Times/Yellow Sheet Report(ers) read the Arizona Eagletarian. Of course, when I get insight from them, I tell you that is where I got it (provide the citation).

Nevertheless, after reading on this website that Tobin's intent in the lawsuit seeking to have the AIRC declared unconstitutional could only be to get the issue considered by the Supreme Court (the US Supreme Court that is), they called my source, Loyola law Prof. Justin Leavitt. Of course, I'm thankful that they validated exactly what I posted last week.

I'm still waiting for the Arizona Republic to publish numbers on how much money the legislature has wasted (spent) on litigation challenging the Will of the People of Arizona on redistricting in this cycle (since 2010).

In the meantime, since the state constitution demands the legislature fund the AIRC, including when it must defend its work in court, one might wonder how this particular conundrum might blow up on Tobin, Senate Pres. Andy Biggs and their Appropriations chairs (Sen. Don "shoot 'em up" Shooter and Rep. John Kavanagh).

Since John reads this blog, maybe he'll comment.




Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hubris, thy name is Andy Tobin UPDATED 3:50pm MST 9-26-13

Following up on my previous blog post on the contempt the Republican dominated Arizona Legislature has for Arizona voters, I am compelled to highlight the persistent nature of the willful judgment errors of certain GOP leaders.

Capitol Media Services reporter Howard Fischer quoted Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, Andy Tobin (R-LD1),

Tobin said Monday he envisions a special legislative session this fall to recraft the districts if the court sides with challengers.
He said the lawsuit has nothing to do with the outcome of the 2012 races using the lines the commission drew following the 2010 census. Tobin said he always has opposed the idea of the non-elected commission crafting boundaries, but was not in the Legislature in 2002 or in a position to contest what happened then.
But Tobin conceded there was little interest by Republicans in challenging the process at that time because the lines drawn a decade ago were probably more favorable to the GOP. The work of latest commission -- new members are named every decade -- was decidedly different.
"The truth is, this Independent Redistricting Commission was stolen,' he said.

Tobin also said his interest is unrelated to the fact he does not live in the congressional district where he wants to run, the one currently represented by Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick.
People who know Fischer recognize that even though he did report Tobin's denial of a connection between the 2012 Congressional election outcome and the lawsuit, he (Fischer) probably doubts the denial. Maybe it comes from viewing too many episodes of Arizona Horizon's Journalists' Roundtable, but I can see Fischer's face contorting* with that doubt very easily.

Fischer seems to imply that Tobin's motivation is related to his desire to run for Congress. Even if that desire is in the back of Tobin's mind, the bottom line issue is that Republicans are desperate to nullify Arizona's Independent Redistricting in any way possible.

That Tobin continues to hold to and speak forth the faulty claim that "this Independent Redistricting Commission was stolen" highlights his incredible arrogance. How many times has a court validated Tobin's claim? ZERO. And Republicans have tried to make the claim in court. How many times has a court declared that claim to be completely without merit? The Arizona Supreme Court did so in November 2011.

By the way, remember just a short time ago when the Arizona Supreme Court issued its opinion declaring this year's HB2600 unconstitutional and thereby completely striking it down?

This situation -- Andy Tobin seeking to rekindle the controversy from 2011 -- is a prime example of WHY the GOP dominated legislature seeks to politicize Arizona's judicial branch with bills like HB2600 and the 2012 general election ballot Prop 115. The People of Arizona resoundingly defeated Prop 115 and the Arizona Supreme Court struck down HB2600 for this very reason. Because, that is, self-serving Republican lawmakers (and yes, someday it might be the Democrats trying it, but they aren't now) make arrogant statements like Tobin did to Fischer even after the courts make it clear the argument is hogwash.

Further, Tobin knows full well that no court is going to grant the injunction he requested last week. There will be no special legislative session anytime soon wherein the legislature will get to redraw the Congressional district lines. The ONLY possibility of a GOP win in this lawsuit is if they succeed in getting the Supreme Court of the United States to grant a writ of certiorari.

For that to take place, the suit must go through the trial (US District Court) and appeals (9th Circuit Court of Appeals) courts. I can't imagine any way that will happen any time in 2013.

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Note: * For an example of Fischer's "oh, sure" look, check the Arizona Horizon link at 4:00 until 4:20 into this video clip from the Friday, September 20 edition. Later in the clip (at about the sixteen minute mark) the discussion turns to Tobin's desire to run for Congress.

UPDATE

According to Loyola University Law Professor Justin Leavitt, in lawsuits like this one, when a three-judge panel is convened, the party which does not prevail is able to appeal directly to the US Supreme Court which must review the case. Leavitt also indicated, in an email that,
I think your assessment of the merits is about right. And it's entirely possible that they're just trying to get the case before SCOTUS. If so, they've got a good vehicle: there's a special procedure that's now really only used for a few types of redistricting and campaign finance cases -- constitutional challenges to statewide district plans (like the legislature's suit) are heard by panels of three federal judges, and are then appealed directly to SCOTUS. This isn't like SCOTUS's normal certiorari procedure, where they decide which cases they want to hear and which they don't -- it's a do-not-pass-go straight mandatory appeal to SCOTUS.
That means that SCOTUS has to deal with the question. Now, most of these cases receive just summary, one-word answers: "appealed" or "affirmed." And that's also what I'd expect here -- a one word "affirmed" for a district court decision tossing out the case...
I'd be surprised if four, much less five, of the current Justices agreed. For one thing, if the state's argument is right, it's not just about the power of the initiative -- it also means that governors have no power to veto any state legislative bills regulating aspects of federal elections. (It's even trickier if there's an omnibus bill -- the governor could presumably veto any part of the bill except the part affecting federal elections.) After all, "Legislature" means "Legislature." That's part of the reason why the Court didn't go there in the early 20th Century, and why I think it's really unlikely to do so now.
So, my description of the procedure whereby a party must seek a writ of certiorari is not correct. But that Tobin's hope is to get the Supreme Court to overturn settled law still applies.

Monday, September 23, 2013

More GOP Legislative Contempt for Arizona Voters...

Last Friday, attorneys acting on behalf of majority Republicans in the Arizona Legislature filed a brief asking a federal court to essentially immediately and permanently nullify the Congressional district map currently in use.
...Arizona State Legislature hereby moves this Court to preliminarily enjoin the enforcement of Article VI, part 2, section 1 of the Arizona Constitution insofar as it takes the power to establish congressional districts away from the Legislature and conveys it to the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission; as well as the use of any federal redistricting maps created by the Commission; and additionally moves to consolidate the hearing on this motion with the trial on the merits.
You know, those dastardly Tenth Amendment Republicans* who eschew federal intervention in the affairs of the State of Arizona... except when it's convenient for them to thwart the will of the People of Arizona.

In explaining their rationale (as irrational as it may be), the GOP counsel states:
In 2000, a voter-generated referendum, Proposition 106 (hereinafter “Prop. 106”), removed the Legislature’s constitutional role in that process and granted it instead to the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (hereinafter “IRC”), an unelected, nonrepresentative body.
"Voter-generated referendum" is the code they want to use to hide -- or at least minimize -- the fact that it was really an actual legislative act** conducted by citizen initiative. Technically, yes, the citizens acting in a legislative capacity DID relieve the Legislature of its role in redistricting. I've been over that issue hundreds of times. Case law as cited in the AIRC briefs in this lawsuit makes it crystal clear.

By the way, it might be entirely reasonable to submit the following language to editors of every English language dictionary now in print for use as the definition of hubris.
Based on the Legislature’s likely success on the merits, as well as the likelihood of irreparable harm to the Legislature and to the public interest, this Court should preliminarily and permanently enjoin enforcement of Prop. 106 as to congressional district lines, the operation of the IRC for congressional redistricting, and the use of any congressional district maps established by the IRC. The Legislature and its constituents, the People of Arizona, have already suffered the harm of congressional elections that diverge from the process guaranteed by the Elections Clause. No remedy exists to cure the enforcement of this unconstitutional law. Now, the 2014 general election cycle is underway, and the Legislature once again faces the prospect of being denied its constitutionally-delegated authority to determine the “times, places and manner” of federal elections. To avoid irreparable harm and in accordance with the public interest, the Court should preliminarily enjoin enforcement of Prop. 106 and the use of the IRC’s congressional apportionment maps, and upon consolidation of the hearing with the trial on the merits pursuant to Rule 65, enter declaratory judgment that Prop. 106 is unconstitutional and issue a permanent injunction restraining its enforcement.
Of course, the legislature's attorneys PROCLAIM the likely success of their motion and the lawsuit. Yet, can that be anything more than them trying to talk THEMSELVES into believing it first?

The key point upon which this entire case will turn appears to be how the court will define "legislature" as used in the Elections Clause.
The times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof;
The AIRC, in one of its briefs in this case said:
The Legislature misuses the Elections Clause to elevate its own authority at the expense of Arizona’s Constitution and voters... the Supreme Court long ago, however, established that the Elections Clause does not impose restrictions on a state’s lawmaking process. Smiley v. Holm, 285 U.S. 355, 367-68 (1932)***. Because the Elections Clause does not favor a state legislature over decisions of its citizens, or other lawmaking processes established in a state constitution, the Legislature’s claim should be dismissed.
Clearly, Greg Jernigan and Peter Gentala know that they will lose this case at the trial level and probably at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. It's only a guess on my part, but I have to figure this is about one thing only -- a Hail Mary pass at getting the Citizens United Supreme Court to overturn the settled law of Smiley v Holm.

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NOTES:
* The ebb and flow of Tenth Amendment Jurisprudence reflects the delicate constitutional balance created by the Founding Fathers. The states ratified the Constitution because the Articles of Confederation created a national government that was too weak to defend itself and could not raise or collect revenue. Although the federal Constitution created a much stronger centralized government, the Founders did not want the states to lose all of their power to the federal government, as the colonies had lost their powers to Parliament. The Tenth Amendment continues to be defined as courts and legislatures address the balance of federal and state power. 
The Tenth Amendment also is conveniently and conspicuously ignored when the issue is something Arizona's ruling class Republicans dislike, especially when it comes to legislative acts conducted by way of Direct Democracy. Independent Redistricting is certainly one such issue. Legalization of Medical Marijuana is another. As is the case with this particular lawsuit, the will of the PEOPLE of Arizona be damned, as far as the GOP is concerned. They will, of course, try to frame the issue as that THEY are the only legitimate representation of the will of the people of Arizona. Such claims, however, are nothing but hogwash.
**The initiative is usually defined as the people's power to approve or reject legislation initiated or proposed by someone other than the legislature. [...]
The usual form of the initiative is as a citizens' initiative or as a voters' initiative. (The two terms have the same meaning). This is legislation (whether ordinary statutes or fiscal issues) proposed by a group of citizens through a petition.
In Arizona (and some other states), changes to the state constitution can be made by this process of citizen initiative. Which is how we ended up with the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.

***...In the first place, the Florida voters’ act of lawmaking according to the state’s expressly enumerated lawmaking process is fully consistent with the commands of the federal Constitution’s Elections Clause, and consonant with the understanding given to the Elections Clause by the Supreme Court in two cases...
From a Michigan Law Review article:
Partisan gerrymandering is a serious contemporary concern, but it is not a new problem. Since at least 1811, when a newspaper editor invented the term to refer to a redistricting scheme by Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry, political parties have used clever line-drawing to protect their incumbents and ensure that they are over represented in legislative bodies relative to their support in the electorate. In this way, parties attempt to maximize their power and retain it, even when a majority of the electorate turns against them. [...]
In Smiley v. Holm the Supreme Court of the United States rejected the Minnesota Legislature’s incumbent-insulating strategy and instead allowed the new party preferences of the state’s voters to find immediate and dramatic expression. 
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My good friend Mary Jo Pitzl has mentioned that Arizona Republic reporters covering the state capitol (she is one of them) keep track or have kept track (or something like that) of the amount of taxpayer money the legislature has been spending on these (frivolous -- my characterization, not hers) lawsuits. I hope she gets those numbers updated very soon so Arizona citizens can stay informed about how our lawmakers are stewarding the funds entrusted to them.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Just to clarify my position

In case readers are unsure of where I stand on the question of electric utility deregulation (after the blog post I put up last night), I have a couple of thoughts and will try to clarify.

First and most importantly, both investor owned utilities (like Arizona Public Service) and quasi-municipal companies (like Salt River Project) could and should have been leading the way on implementation of new technologies to transform the industry. Because those enterprises rely more on inertia than on innovation, they risk many things, including our health (clean air and water for starters) and their very existence.

Disruptive innovation that has transformed other industries can and will soon bring technologies that will -- cost effectively -- power our homes and workplaces in ways that are more in harmony with sustainable living on Planet Earth. Such innovation will also enhance reliability, dramatically reduce externalities (the costs to society from burning fossil fuels) and gradually, if not rapidly, reduce direct cost to consumers for electricity.

I agree with the objection raised recently by utility advocates, the editorial board of the Arizona Republic and columnist Bob Robb that the Arizona Corporation Commission should not abdicate its constitutional role in setting rates for consumers. That such issues are or can be separate and distinct from the possibility of changing the structure of retail electricity delivery systems seems simple -- conceptually -- even if it might take a bevy of engineers and attorneys to figure out how to implement.


Electric Utility Deregulation and Disruptive Innovation -- UPDATED 6:25pm MST 9-21-13

With the Arizona Corporation Commission now being owned lock, stock and barrel by ALEC, it's not easy to discern when they might actually be considering something that could be good for consumers, as opposed to the ACC's corporate masters. Therefore, when the question of the ACC considering electric utility deregulation came up a few months ago, I was not necessarily surprised.  However, when I read the arguments put forward by lobbyists and public relations people (on behalf of the regulated utilities), I was immediately skeptical.

Last month, the Arizona Republic published an op-ed written by former Symington aide Jay Heiler. It begins,
More than a decade ago, the Arizona Corporation Commission abandoned a plan to impose electric “deregulation” on Arizona’s citizens and public utilities in recognition of the great risks and problems it posed. Now the ACC is revisiting that decision, at the urging of those who wish to market electricity directly to large users and some of those large users themselves.
That could have been written by me, back in 2001. In fact, I did write about that very topic in a letter published by the Phoenix New Times, with pretty much that same message.
I have been reading a wide range of news, opinion and research on electric utility deregulation and the California debacle. None, however, until your stories in New Times, have, in my opinion, begun examining what any of it really means to Arizona ("Shock Treatment," Robert Nelson, February 22). I believe you hit the nail squarely on the head, on several points. For example, uncertainties and market manipulation of the fuel (natural gas) supply. That is only one reason that any hope for ratepayers to see reduced electric rates when caps are lifted, beginning in 2004, is completely baseless. (my emphasis added this time, not in 2001)
Indeed, the California market was "built for sharks." The shortages were not entirely because of consumption, nor entirely real. Generating companies' arbitrary withholding of supply from day-ahead auctions caused panic conditions and was a factor in sending wholesale prices to levels more than 20 times those of the previous year, without corresponding or justifying increases in the cost of producing the electricity.
This described conditions during California's experiment with electric utility deregulation. I had first hand knowledge of the data about which I wrote then. In 2000, during the California crisis, I worked (for six months) through a temp agency for Arizona Public Service conducting accounting analysis on APS' bulk power sales and purchases with companies in California and Washington State.

Not only that, but at some point back then (2001 or 2002), I purchased my first URL for the purpose of activism and advocacy, StopDeregulationNow.org. Because the ACC did not follow through at that time, I never put any content up on the website and declined to reauthorize it when it was time to pay the fees again.

Anyway, the most obvious thing I learned about the economics of deregulation back in 2000 was that there was no way residential or small business customers would benefit from RATE deregulation. The administrative burden on the utility is tremendously higher when you have a thousand customers whose aggregate electricity consumption is one MW (megawatt) than when it takes only one or two huge commercial, industrial or governmental customers to consume the same amount. Think about reading a thousand meters and sending out a thousand bills as opposed to reading only a handful of meters and sending one or two bills.

Nevertheless, to have Jay Heiler, who represents the perspective of the ONE percent, making claims about how bad deregulation would be for ratepayers could only make me wonder. Who was at the heart of this drive to kill deregulation this time and what was the real motivation?

At the time, I couldn't find any obvious answer even though I had my hunches. Lo and behold yesterday the Arizona Republic posted an op-ed by Corporation Commissioner Brenda Burns.
... we are living in an era that is ushering in major changes in how electricity is delivered. The possibilities for modernization are endless and there are many innovations taking place which could eventually put consumers in a position to completely go off the grid. Those technologies include the Bloom Box, microgrids and storing unused solar energy.
The commission should prepare for these exciting opportunities of freedom and choice. Among other things, I had hoped that the debate surrounding electric retail competition would also include discussion of the intriguing ways we could be the vanguard by incorporating new paradigms of electric generation. Unfortunately, we have hit the “stop” button on 21st century modernization and are stuck with, for now, a 19th century model of electric service.
As technological innovations nudge consumers away from the monopoly model, the incumbent utilities will seek recovery for their investments and fixed costs. Had this debate continued, we would have been able to explore those considerations.
Generally speaking, I would NOT trust Brenda Burns on politics (ok, maybe the Ronald Reagan method, trust but verify)... well, I still have a hard time given how brazenly she has represented interests contrary to those of everyday Arizonans for so long. BUT, on this issue, her words ring like a fight bell.

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I may not be the kind of visionary, like Bill Gates, that's got the next idea to revolutionize the workplace, or the home or the environment. But I've been both in the path of unstoppable disruptive innovation and a beneficiary of another innovation that disrupted a major industry and profession.

In both cases for me, it had to do with advances in computers. In the 1990s, I established, maintained and communicated (provided training and troubleshooting to and for accounting system users) a complex chart of accounts for a state government agency. To ensure a social service agency with more than 50 different programs maintained clear audit records on funding sources, financial commitments and expenditures (hundreds of federal grants and state appropriations, cost centers, activity and object codes), there were literally thousands of valid combinations and even more that were not acceptable.

Social workers and clerks (some clerks with only a high school education) needed guidance on using the right codes and figuring out what they were doing wrong when a one digit typo prevented them from completing required data entry tasks.

As computer system technology continued to develop, my job became expendable because it was easier for others to grasp the complexities without a guru.

Self-publishing internet blogging platforms, among other advancing technologies, have been incredibly disruptive to the journalism industry.

Cutting to the chase -- it goes without saying that the need to change HOW we generate the electricity on which we all depend is of the utmost urgency and importance. The Arizona Corporation Commission, in years gone by, has been a leader in development of Renewable Energy Standards. But there has been a lot of resistance and many setbacks and stumbles along the way.

Commissioner Burns' column sets forth what is likely the underlying reason right-wing advocates like Jay Heiler are using consumer oriented smokescreens to keep -- once again -- from having to address the inevitable problem of disruptive innovation about which investor owned utilities are deathly afraid. Deathly being the key word.

The IOUs have had well more than a decade and probably closer to two decades to change their cultures and become the visionaries that can plow away the obstacles to the next generation of electricity generating technology. Instead of becoming learning organizations, they have dug in their heels, resisted change and actually become the obstacles in their own paths. But change, especially in contemporary times, is inevitable. If they do not lead the way now, they will become victims, risk completely losing the value of their corporate equity and will indeed go the way of the dinosaur.

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By the way, the Arizona Republic and columnist Bob Robb claimed the ACC should NOT consider deregulation because the Arizona Constitution mandates the ACC set utility rates. However, if competition is opened to divergent technologies, without the ACC abdicating authority for setting rates, how is that at cross purposes to the state constitution?

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UPDATE -- the update is to include a link to Heiler's op-ed. I forgot to include that link when I first posted this last night.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Lobbyist Shakedown Bill challenge goes to Appeals Court

Since last week Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Mark Brain declined to issue a preliminary injunction to prevent the Lobbyist Shakedown Bill from taking effect, plaintiffs (Citizens Clean Elections Commission, Arizona Advocacy Network, Louis Hoffman and Rep. Victoria Steele) in the case filed a Petition for Special Action in the Arizona Court of Appeals today.
This Petition for Special Action seeks expedited review of the trial court’s order denying Petitioners’ request for preliminary injunctive relief. Legislature through its enactment of House Bill 2593 dramatically increased the campaign contribution limits for statewide and legislative candidates in violation of the Voter Protection Act. [...]
Petitioners asked the Maricopa County Superior Court to preliminarily enjoin HB 2593 to preserve the status quo before the law’s September 13, 2013 effective date, which the court denied on September 12, 2013. In doing so, the trial court eschewed binding precedent from this Court and the Arizona Supreme Court that compel the conclusion that HB 2593 unconstitutionally amended and superseded [A.R.S.] § 16-941(B)*. The court focused on a novel and demonstrably incorrect proposition—based on a “Game Theory” not raised by any party—that overturned the results of the 1998 election and contravenes the Arizona Constitution. The court’s ruling finds no support in the record or the law. Immediate reversal and the granting of an injunction is the appropriate remedy. [...]
The petition concludes:
To grant preliminary injunctive relief, Arizona law requires that Petitioners demonstrate “either (1) probable success on the merits and the possibility of irreparable harm, or (2) the presence of serious questions and [that] the balance of hardships tip[s] sharply in favor of the moving party.” Smith, 212 Ariz. at 411, 132 P.3d at 1191 (emphasis added). Though clearing one of those hurdles is sufficient, Petitioners clear both. Petitioners accordingly request that the Court reverse the trial court ruling and preliminarily (and, if appropriate, permanently) enjoin HB 2593’s effect.
Petitioners (plaintiffs) requested expedited consideration and Court Clerk Ruth Willingham signed an order indicating a three-judge Appeals Court panel will consider the petition, either in conference or during oral arguments (yet to be determined whether oral arguments will be heard) on the afternoon of October 9. If Secretary of State Ken Bennett or Sen. Andy Biggs or Speaker Andy Tobin wish to file briefs opposing the petition, they must do so by the end of this month. If they do so file, petitioners/plaintiffs then have five business days to file a reply.

By the way, Judge Brain also denied motions by two individuals and one political committee (Goldwater Institute) to intervene as defendants in the case.

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* NOTE, A.R.S § 16-941(B) reads:
Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, a nonparticipating candidate shall not accept contributions in excess of an amount that is twenty per cent less than the limits specified in section 16-905, subsections A through E, as adjusted by the secretary of state pursuant to section 16-905, subsection H. Any violation of this subsection shall be subject to the civil penalties and procedures set forth in section 16-905, subsections J through M and section 16-924.
When used in statutes like this, "notwithstanding any law to the contrary..." means the language which follows takes precedence over ANY statute or session law in effect already or that the legislature tries to enact that conflicts with it.

Of course, the GOP dominated Arizona Legislature wants what it wants (in this case, to shakedown lobbyists for obscene amounts of campaign cash) and has demonstrated most heartily that it doesn't care what the voters of Arizona think, do or mandate in the way of citizen initiatives. That is why they spend so damn much money on litigation trying to get under, over, around or through what the PEOPLE of Arizona have mandated by way of direct democracy.

Arizona's own Watergate? UPDATED 7:45pm MST 9-18-13

Sometime between close of business on Friday, September 13 and Monday morning (September 16) when the first Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission staffer showed up for work, unknown subject(s) broke in and stole all of the agency's computers.

A crime scene analysis crew from the state Department of Public Safety then spent hours collecting evidence in a situation executive director Ray Bladine described as eerily surreal.

The crime scene unit found what appeared to be a crack pipe; a computer monitor was left on the steps outside the office; and the only food taken was two cans of soup. A refrigerator with numerous other food items brought in by agency staff was left untouched.

Did the perpetrators leave evidence as a diversion or was the burglary really committed by transients? It's too early to tell.

According to Bladine, the AIRC is still waiting for a ruling in the Harris case; the Leach case (in Maricopa County Superior Court) is in the discovery phase, meaning that counsel for the Republican plaintiffs is still working on a fishing expedition. Which, of course, complicates the process of determining the motive for the burglary.

By the way, appropriated funding for the AIRC, just two and a half months into the new state fiscal year, is already nearly all expended. Unless some major (unrelated) issue emerges soon to cause Gov. Brewer to call the legislature into special session, it will be unlikely additional funding can be made available before the 2014 regular session begins on January 13.

In the meantime, the State of Arizona's self-insured Risk Management fund likely will, at least partially, cover the cost for replacing the AIRC computers. Additionally, the Department of Administration is working on enhancing security measures for the agency's offices.

UPDATE

An initial scan of footage recorded by security cameras on the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality building adjacent to the AIRC offices doesn't reveal much, if anything at all. That's likely because there is too little light at night to capture images of anyone at or near doors or windows of the Evans House.

The investigating officer had gone off duty by the time I called on Tuesday Wednesday afternoon. I expect to learn more tomorrow. Stay tuned.




Monday, September 16, 2013

Guns don't kill people, right?

Guest Post by Jerry Gettinger

At 23, I started a career in San Antonio, Texas. It was late November 1963. My 50-person office had heard that President John F. Kennedy was going to pass by on his way to the airport. Very exciting. My buddies and I stood and watched from outside the office.

Suddenly, there was a noticeable increase in the crowd noise. I looked to my left and suddenly… he came around the corner with Jackie; and in the front seat Texas Governor John Connally with his wife. The car was a Lincoln convertible, big and Presidential-looking. There was only one police officer who was responsible for keeping the crowd at bay, even though he really wasn’t needed. We were all well behaved in those days. 

Of course, there were Secret Service men running along side. The motorcade had, as I remember, five autos, with the President’s next to the last. As President Kennedy passed, I was stunned at how handsome he was. Jackie was enough to astound you. The President's car passed maybe 25, 30 feet in front of me. 

I turned to my friend and mentioned how easy it would be to put a bullet into the president. The car was a convertible and the lack of security was quite surprising. (The president was unpopular in Texas.) But who would think of doing such a thing?  

As I think back, it was so obvious and so easy that it should not have been surprising.

The next day, I was at my desk talking to a customer when he said, “I have to hang up. There was something on the TV about the President being shot.” 

I put the phone down and was about to yell when someone came running in and yelled that the President had been shot in Dallas. I looked over at the friend to whom I had made the offhand remark the day before. Our eyes met and there was that look of disbelief. But it was true. And President Kennedy was dead a short while later.

I can’t explain it, but I have always had the feeling that everything changed that day. The world was never the same again. No one was safe and there were no rules anymore. 

Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Kennedy, Columbine High School, Virginia Tech and in January 2011, Tucson. It sounds cold, but what happened in Tucson was not a surprise. It was shocking and even more so, sad, sad, sad. But not surprising. 

I haven’t heard anyone say that the senseless massacre was a surprise. It started on a chilly day in Texas and continued in Tucson. The players change. The method is the same (guns), although the numbers have increased along with the ability to kill faster. Hi-Tech. Tucson, we had hoped would be a turning point, like Columbine High School, or Virginia Tech, or, who knows what is next.

Then there was Newtown. I fear it is simply another painful experience, except… First graders. Those who knew no evil. They had not even begun their lives. 

We thought the Tucson shooting was a horror -- and it was. However, Newtown made the others seem small, even though they were each in their own way a disaster of great proportion. People shot, children’s lives thrown away swiftly by a mentally ill young man, wicked to a degree one can only imagine.

I remember the President’s murder as if it were yesterday. Kennedy was bigger than life in person. And Jackie was hot. Every time there is a such a tragedy, I think back to the open car the President was in. So vulnerable. 

When are we going to stop the craziness? 

Buying assault weapons for target practice? Can anyone really believe that? On whom? A nine year old? First graders? If something isn't done, there will be another. That is certain. Tucson was not an isolated event. It was another episode in a series. 

An incident made all too easy by our so-called gun laws. Heck of a job, Wayne (LaPierre). Your money has made gun laws a joke. The TV program Gunsmoke is now a reality show being filmed at your corner supermarket or in the local elementary school.

Please explain to me how a magazine holding 50 bullets is good for anything but, oh well, you know.

Next there was Newtown. Children. First graders. Not only has it not stopped, but also it has escalated to where 6 year-olds are fair game. 

Guns don’t kill people, right? Enough already! First graders. My God is there no courage in Washington.

Think about this: if Newtown was another episode, then how bad, how utterly, how utterly evil will the next one be? I know, guns do not kill people….yeah, right. 

Do not, for one minute think that it’s over. Does anyone out there believe that the shooting is over?

This guest post above was written by Jerry Gettinger.

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As I post this blog, news reports have at least 13 people confirmed dead from the DC Navy Yard shooting today (September 16). Mr. Gettinger didn't even list all of the high profile mass shootings in recent years. In 2006, Amish school children in Pennsylvania; in 2009, Ft. Hood, Texas; in 2012, Aurora, Colorado. The fact of the matter is that no matter how many get listed, there are so many more to list.

In the wake of the Navy Yard shooting, Slate posted an interactive, crowdsourced story on how many gun deaths there have been in the United States since Newtown. They acknowledge it is not comprehensive but have reports and record of more than 8,200.

We know the National Rifle Association will not support sensible firearms legislation anytime soon. It is apparent that this lobbying powerhouse wields undue influence over Congress. This, of course, is largely the result of campaign finance law. Or should I say lawlessness?

Yet, that is not the only factor keeping Congress from addressing the issue.

We might joke about Fox News, the Tea Party and the multitudes of people who we believe have no clue about the workings of government. However, many of them do recognize what Gore Vidal, in an essay published in Vanity Fair's November 1998 issue, called the "War at Home." Reprinting that essay in his 2002 book, Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace, he titled it "Shredding of the Bill of Rights."
Today, in the all-out, never-to-be-won twin wars on Drugs and Terrorism, two million telephone conversations a year are intercepted by law-enforcement officials.
That was 1998. Today, they (the NSA, which discloses to the Drug Enforcement Agency, which then uses the information but covers up the audit trail) probably record two million phone conversations before noon everyday. Vidal goes on to say,
Drugs. If they did not exist our governors would have invented them in order to prohibit them and so make much of the population vulnerable to arrest, imprisonment, seizure of property, and so on.
It was just after I watched Steven Spielberg's biopic, Lincoln that I realized the trap set up within the language of the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution.
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
I know what you're thinking, that amendment is about ABOLISHING slavery. Think again. These days, it's about the language beginning with the word "except." It's ALL about figuring out how to justify slavery and indentured servitude anymore. That's why you see people in bright orange scrubs doing groundskeeping tasks at the state capitol and so many more functions state corrections agencies (all over the country) contract out to private businesses at incredibly low rates.

You think undocumented immigrants are the problem? Think again. Downward pressure on wages comes also from prison labor.

But I digress. My point is that the rising contempt for government is not only a figment of the overactive imagination of the Tea Party. We've also seen an incredibly troubling militarization of law enforcement, justified largely by the quixotic War on Drugs. Not to mention the problem of wrongful convictions.

In the meantime, it is still entirely reasonable to call for rational changes to public policy on the use and availability of firearms. Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly continue to lead the way in that call.

However, I see two things that stand in the way. First, undue Big Money influence over Congress. The need for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United ruling and then passing the American Anti-Corruption Act is immensely urgent. And second, we must reign in the overreach of the surveillance and police state aspects of federal, state and local government. Until then, we will only spin our wheels and see so many more thousands of people killed by gun violence in our country.




Saturday, September 14, 2013

Where was Goldwater Institute on this one?

Just this week, the Goldwater Institute sued Gov. Brewer to block the Medicaid restoration bill passed in June -- because, they say, the VOTERS in 1992* said that any tax increase must have the votes of two-thirds of both chambers of the legislature in order to be enacted. And those "selfless advocates" very clearly are ONLY looking out for the best interests of the voters, right?

If that were true, then where was GI in the matter of Dobson et. al. v State of Arizona?

The Dobson lawsuit challenged HB2600 from this year's legislative session. Why is that significant?

In last fall's general election, you and I resoundingly declined to pass Prop 115, a measure put on the ballot by the legislature. It was a brazen effort to politicize Arizona's judicial system. 72.3 percent of voters disapproved of Prop 115 (that was officially 1,446,970 votes against, to 553,132 votes in favor). That is NOT a close vote. That is Decisive with a capital D.

Prop 115 sought to amend the state constitution. It read, in part,
Section 37. A.  Within sixty days from the occurrence of a  any vacancy in the office of a justice or judge of any court of record, except for vacancies occurring in the office of a judge of the superior court or a judge of a court of record inferior to the superior court the supreme court or an intermediate appellate court of record, the commission on appellate court appointments, if the vacancy is in the supreme court or an intermediate appellate court of record, shall submit to the governor the names of not less than three eight persons nominated by it to fill such each vacancy...
B.  Within sixty days from the occurrence of a  any vacancy in the office of a judge of the superior court or a judge of a court of record inferior to the superior court except for vacancies occurring in the office of a judge of the superior court or a judge of a court of record inferior to the superior court in a county having a population of less than two hundred fifty thousand persons according to the most recent United States census, the commission on trial court appointments for the county in which the vacancy occurs shall submit to the governor the names of not less than three eight persons nominated by it to fill such vacancy...
Long story short, this change -- that wasn't made -- would have required the Appellate Courts Commission on Appointments to send the governor EIGHT names instead of three. Further, this language would have made it easier for more extreme ideologues (partisans) to be approved by the screening committee and the names forwarded to the governor.

Why does this matter?

The name Oliver Diaz may ring a bell. A former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice, his story was included in the documentary film Hot Coffee. From the movie's website,
The importance of this story cannot be overstated. The US Chamber of Commerce has spent and continues to spend millions of dollars in every election cycle to buy seats on our state Supreme Courts. The Chamber's attack on Justice Diaz and his wife Jennifer is an example of the lengths large corporations will go to get an advantage in our courts and to destroy the independence of the judiciary, all to promote its pro-business and anti-consumer agenda. 
Anyway, what does this have to do with HB2600? The bill, passed in April and signed by Brewer, sought to add the following language to Arizona Revised Statutes (the legislature cannot amend the state constitution without voter approval):
A.  If the commission on appellate court appointments is required to fill a vacancy in the office of a justice or judge of the supreme court or an intermediate appellate court of record pursuant to article 6, section 37, Constitution of Arizona, the commission shall submit to the governor the names of at least five persons nominated by it to fill the vacancy, except that on a two-thirds vote, the commission may reject an applicant and submit fewer than five names.  If the commission submits five or more nominees, not more than sixty per cent of the nominees shall be from the same political party.  If the commission submits fewer than five nominees, no more than two nominees may be from the same political party.
B.  If the commission on trial court appointments is required to fill a vacancy in the office of a judge of the superior court or a judge of a court of record inferior to the superior court except for vacancies occurring in the office of a judge of the superior court or a judge of a court of record inferior to the superior court in a county having a population of less than two hundred fifty thousand persons pursuant to article 6, section 37, Constitution of Arizona, the commission shall SUBMIT to the governor the names of at least five persons nominated by it to fill the vacancy, except that on a two-thirds vote, the commission may reject an applicant and submit fewer than five names.  If the commission submits five or more nominees, not more than sixty per cent of the nominees shall be from the same political party.  If the commission submits fewer than five nominees, no more than two nominees may be from the same political party. 
C.  The voting records of all members of the commission on appellate court appointments and the commission on trial court appointments shall be recorded in the minutes and made public.  A voting record shall include how each individual commissioner voted. 
Bottom line in HB2600 is that it increases the number of names that are to be sent to the governor to fill a judicial vacancy and it opens the door to extreme partisans. HB2600 was an attempt to move in the same direction as Prop 115 but do so in smaller steps, incrementally. The idea is that if they succeed with this, they would introduce legislation the following year to push the limits even farther.

From the Arizona Supreme Court's Dobson opinion:
By increasing the number of nominees the Commission must submit, H.B. 2600 simultaneously increases the governor’s discretion and narrows the commissioners’ constitutionally granted discretion to nominate no more than the three candidates whom they determine best meet the constitutionally mandated selection criteria.
Subsection C is also a kicker. Publicizing the voting record of all members of the screening committee is ALL about putting pressure on commissioners to appoint those extreme partisans. Don't think for a moment that this could go either for the Right or the Left. This is ONLY about the sustained assault that has been going on for decades against the individual rights of Americans, in favor of the corporate plutocracy, and regarding socially conservative issues (civil rights for LGBT citizens, womens' health, etc) the encroaching theocracy. Think Center for Arizona Policy.

The legislature thought they would pull a smart one on the courts by including a severability clause in HB2600.
If a provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the invalidity does not affect other provisions or applications of the act that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this act are severable.
The hope was that even if the court struck down the provision to increase the governor's discretion and decrease the commission's, that they could still demand that the voting records of individual members of the Appellate Court Commission be recorded and publicized. The Supreme Court would have none of that.
Section 12-3151(C), which requires the commissions to maintain individual voting records for each commissioner, also is not severable because it conflicts with the constitution’s provisions regarding the commissions’ rules of procedure. See Ariz. Const. art. 6, §§ 36(E), 41(K).
When questioned by the Associated Press the primary sponsor, state Rep. Justin Pierce (R-Mesa) claimed,
...unlike Proposition 115, which he called a wholesale overhaul of the commission, his law touched only on one small part of its job and wasn’t particularly controversial.
He went on to say,
“Like many laws that we pass, there are multiple viewpoints on what the law means and whether it’s constitutional,” Pierce said. “This is one where I believe it was constitutional, and many had the same legal opinion. The Supreme Court disagreed, and obviously I disagree with their decision but I respect it.”
This is how ALEC-owned Republican lawmakers all over the country get away with plundering the rights of everyday citizens. Reporters don't challenge them with particularly tough questions. And to the degree that the general public doesn't know about what's in documentary films like Hot Coffee, nobody is the wiser. The plain and simple truth is that Justin Pierce (Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce's son, by the way) is simply executing a corporate legislative agenda to stealthily chip away at consumer and civil protections in both the US and Arizona Constitutions.

As to the question of where the Goldwater Institute was on this lawsuit, do you think they wanted anything to do with it? Come on, do they even give two hoots about you and me? They are ALL about advocating for those who fund them. Think ALEC. Think the US Chamber of Commerce.

Then think about supporting the American Anti-Corruption Act.

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*Note: Prop 108 language includes this,
"(C) This section does not apply to: ... 2. Fees and assessments that are authorized by statute, but are not prescribed by formula, amount or limit, and are set by a state officer or agency. "
In other words, the fees the legislature authorized AHCCCS to assess in order to leverage the federal funding for the Medicaid restoration. All of which plainly contradicts claims Greedwater Institute made that they are looking out for the voters.

So, it appears that entire lawsuit will boil down to GI trying to convince the judicial branch that the fee imposed by the Medicaid restoration bill (see pages 5 and 6 of this fact sheet) is not really a fee. This (Prop 108) language, by the way, is in the Arizona Constitution, Article IX, Section 22.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Hashtag -- #Stop2305

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.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Lobbyist Shakedown Bill -- Hearing tomorrow before Judge Brain

Tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday, September 10) at 1:30pm, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Mark Brain will hear arguments, including on whether to dismiss the case and on motions to intervene as defendants in the lawsuit brought to challenge the Lobbyist Shakedown Bill (HB2593).

The parties have already stipulated to allowing Senate President Andy Biggs and House Speaker Andy Tobin to intervene. Goldwater Institute has also requested intervenor status, as has Republican state Sen. Steve Pierce and the Southern Arizona Conservative PAC.

Briefly, this suit was filed on July 30 subsequent to the Arizona Supreme Court declining to take jurisdiction in a special action. That action sought to have the issue decided solely on the merits of the legal question of whether the bill violates the Voter Protection Act. VPA was a successful citizen initiative put forward as a result of the state legislature passing bills to circumvent laws made as a result of Direct Democracy.

Of course, we know that the Republican dominated Arizona Legislature has long demonstrated an obsession with trying to frustrate the will of the voters, including (but certainly NOT limited to) efforts to subvert Independent Redistricting, refusing to authorize coverage of all of the citizens voters said should be eligible for Medicaid, and several times refusing to comply with the voter approved laws regarding marijuana.

Anyway, there have been a number of documents already filed in this lawsuit. You may read them, at your leisure, as I have uploaded them to my Google Drive.

In the meantime, Arizona Advocacy Network is asking supporters to attend the hearing in Judge Brain's courtroom.
We need friends to join us and fellow plaintiffs tomorrow, Tuesday, at 1:30PM to support our challenge against the legislature's unconstitutional campaign money bill, HB2593. Republican lawmakers pushed this through to override the voter passed Clean Elections Act and Voter Protection Act - Superior Court East Court Building 101 WEST JEFFERSON Rm 413, Phoenix.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Hey AZ GOP -- WE ARE Coming for You!

On 12News' Sunday Square Off this morning, Julie Erfle, chair of the Protect Your Vote committee said that more than 100,000 valid signatures (86,405 are required) will be turned in this week to the Arizona Secretary of State's office to give the PEOPLE of Arizona the authority, in the November 2014 general election, to veto the Voter Suppression bill (HB2305) passed by Republicans in the Arizona Legislature in June of this year.

Here's a link to the segment*, hosted by 12 News reporter Brahm Resnik.  The four minute segment features Erfle, former Brewer spokesman Matt Benson and Arizona Republic columnist Bob Robb.

When pressed by Resnik, Erfle confidently replied, "Yes, yes, it will definitely be enough. We are confident this WILL be on the ballot."

Robb said, "I think Republicans made a mistake in believing that this would keep Libertarians off the ballot.

More of Erfle's insight,
What the legislature managed to do in the waning hours of the session was to unite almost the entire electorate in opposition to what they did... talk about strange political bedfellows... they've joined together to fight this, because they know the repercussions going forward... citizens, by and large are going to say, "we want choices on the ballot. We don't like it when the legislature essentially tries to limit voters' powers... and we certainly don't like it when they try to do an end run around our state constitution," which is going to stick out, I think, as that issue which galvanizes, even Republicans, people like Ron Gould who signed onto the referendum...     
From the Capitol Times,
[At a] Republican Party barbeque in Mohave County, former Republican Sen. Ron Gould, a staunch conservative from Lake Havasu City, signed the petition backed by Democrats to challenge a controversial elections-related law at the ballot next year.
So how did this happen?
Gould said the portion of the bill he opposes discriminates against third-party candidates and would restrict their ability to get on the ballot. The measure would increase the number of petition signatures that Libertarian and Green Party candidates would need to qualify for the ballot.
“I think that what the Legislature did to Libertarians and Greens was unfair,” Gould said. “They essentially set a number (of signatures) for ballot access in the primary that is higher than the number of members in that party. It’s rather tough for them to get on the ballot.”

By the way, on the question of whether opponents of the Medicaid restoration will succeed in getting that measure also on the 2014 general election ballot, in the SSO segment from this morning, Benson predicted that NO signatures will be turned in to the Secretary of State before the deadline later this week.

Therefore, here's MY message to the Arizona Republican Party.


And this

I consider it a challenge before the whole human race and I (WE -- the voters of Arizona) AIN'T gonna lose!



We won't let it happen.

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* NOTE: If I embed the SSO video, it begins playing automatically, which is problematic for many readers and viewers.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Captain Al Melvin triggered Resign to Run?

It looks a lot like Tea Party affiliated state Senator "Capt." Al Melvin has made a public declaration of his intent to run for Governor of Arizona.


The reference to September 13 is the effective date of HB2157 passed during the 2013 regular legislative session and signed by Gov. Brewer on April 30.

HB2157 changes two sections of Arizona Revised Statutes. Section 16-903 is changed by removing the language in red:
An elected official is not deemed to have offered himself for nomination or election to an office or to have made a formal, public declaration of candidacy within the meaning of section 38‑296 solely by his designation of a candidate campaign committee.
Section 38-296 is changed by striking the language in red and adding the language in BLUE (and ALL CAPS) 
B.  An incumbent of a salaried elected office shall be deemed to have offered himself for nomination or election to a salaried local, state or federal office upon ON the filing of a nomination paper pursuant to section 16‑311, subsection A or formal public declaration of candidacy for such office whichever occurs firstAN INCUMBENT OF A SALARIED ELECTED OFFICE IS NOT DEEMED TO HAVE OFFERED HIMSELF FOR NOMINATION OR ELECTION TO AN OFFICE BY MAKING A FORMAL DECLARATION OF CANDIDACY FOR THE OFFICE.
The date of Captain Al's tweet is significant. Had he made his public declaration one day earlier, he would have been subject to being thrown out of office.

Section 38-296 further says:
C.  The resignation of the incumbent elective officer duly filed in writing with the officer, board or commission having jurisdiction of the office shall, if not accepted within ten days, SHALL be deemed to have become effective as of the date of filing.
D.  This section shall not be construed to prohibit a person whose resignation from office has become effective from qualifying as a candidate for another office during the unexpired portion of the term affected by the resignation, nor shall it apply to any incumbent elective officer who seeks re‑election REELECTION to the same office or to any other public office during the final year of the term to which he THE PERSON has been so elected.
E.  A person violating any provision of this section is guilty of misfeasance in office, and the office held by such person shall be declared vacant. 
Since HB2157 will be effective on September 13 and since before the bill becomes effective, a violation of the Resign to Run law (subsection C) seems to trigger an automatic resignation provision, according to subsection E, the office "shall be declared vacant."

It seems reasonable to surmise, therefore, that Melvin has been champing at the bit to make this public declaration and did so on the first day it would be safe for him to do so without jeopardizing his senate seat.

Welcome to the race for governor, Al!

The End Game for American Democracy?

Bill Moyers says (below) that American Democracy is on its last leg.

That's hyperbole, right?

Moyers says we are SO "close to losing our Democracy to the mercenary class, it's as if we are leaning way over the rim of the Grand Canyon and all that's needed is a swift kick in the pants. Look out below."
The predators in Washington are only this far from monopoly control of our government.



The journalists who could tell us these things [what REALLY goes on in Washington, DC] rarely do, and some, never. They aren't blind, simply bedazzled. [...]
William Greider, one of our craft’s finest reporters, fierce and unbought, despite a long life in Washington once said that no one can hope to understand what is driving political behavior without asking the kind of gut-level questions politicians ask themselves in private: “Who are the winners in this matter and who are the losers? Who gets the money and who has to pay? Who must be heard on this question and who can be safely ignored?” (emphasis added)
Frankly, that doesn't sound like an exaggeration, to me, at all.

Now, about that question of who must be heard and who can be safely ignored...

The US Supreme Court will soon (next month) hear arguments in McCutcheon v Federal Elections Commission, a case that challenges personal aggregate campaign contribution limits. That is, the amount any one campaign contributor may give to all candidates combined in an election cycle.
With the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections cannot be prohibited. This holding has paved the way for many other challenges to campaign finance restrictions. One challenger is Shaun McCutcheon, an electrical engineer from Alabama. In February of 2012, he voiced his frustration about federal limits on overall campaign donations during a two-year election cycle - and conservative election lawyer Dan Backer heard him.
What followed was McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, which the Supreme Court will hear in October. In this case, McCutcheon challenges a limitation on the total amount of campaign donations an individual can give during any election cycle. For example, during the current election cycle, an individual can give up to $2,600 per candidate per election, including both primaries and general elections. There is no limit to the number of candidates an individual can support, but the donor can give no more than a total of $48,600 to federal candidates over two years. Similar restrictions apply to donations to parties and political action committees. McCutcheon argues that Citizens United's holding requires the conclusion that these limits are unconstitutional. (emphasis in bold added)
I posted something about this from Represent.Us on Facebook and got very little feedback on it. I shared it again and had a friend tell me she was having a hard time getting her head around it.

We better get our heads around it pretty soon. Shaun McCutcheon is very serious about wanting to buy as many Congressmen as he can afford. I don't personally know anyone who can compete with that.

However, Dēmos filed an amicus brief (on behalf of the Sierra Club, Communications Workers of AmericaGreenpeace, NAACP, the American Federation of Teachers, Main Street Alliance, OurTime.org, People for the American Way Foundation, Rock the Vote, U.S.PIRG, the Working Families Organization, as well as Dēmos itself) for a united voice in this case. A voice that I believe represents MY point of view on the issue.

Dēmos summarizes the brief thus:
This Court has long grounded its campaign finance jurisprudence on the government’s compelling interest in fighting corruption or its appearance. Fighting the perception and the reality of a democratic government corrupted by the improper influence of financial support, however, is more than just a compelling reason for regulation; it is a responsibility of any democratic government. Legitimacy – the belief by the people that they are fairly represented – after all, is a first principle of democratic governance.
Aggregate contribution limits function in tandem with base contribution limits to protect the legitimacy of our democratic government by combating the perception and reality of corruption. Aggregate limits ensure that no one donor can find ways to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars to a candidate or a party, and candidates and officeholders cannot solicit huge sums from a single donor – which evidence suggests would foster a belief among the public that elected officials are improperly influenced by such large contributions. At the same time, contribution limits impose only an indirect burden on speech and thus are not subject to strict scrutiny. For these reasons, this Court upheld aggregate contribution limits in Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976) (per curiam), and has had no cause to reconsider this sound principle.
Appellants ask this Court to overrule settled precedent regarding contribution limits at a particularly inopportune time, because even with these limits in place public confidence in U.S. government is by some measures at an all-time low. Public opinion data demonstrate that this lack of confidence in government is tied to the widespread perception that government is more responsive to financial supporters than to voters or the public interest, and is corrupted by the improper influence of money in campaigns. 
Recent political science research has demonstrated more clearly than ever before that this public concern is not speculative or irrational but rather quite closely tethered to reality. Campaign funding has long been the province of large donors, but the near-dominance of a tiny fraction of the U.S. population over contributions to federal candidates has escalated in recent years. Important new research has documented that the wealthy have starkly different policy priorities than the general public, especially on economic issues, and that government in the U.S. responds differentially – often dramatically so – to the preferences of those who are able to make large campaign contributions, even when these preferences run counter to those of the general public. This particularly affects communities of color, which are far less likely to be represented among the ranks of those whose policy preferences appear to influence officeholders. Campaign finance is a significant factor in this dynamic.
Striking aggregate contribution limits will exacerbate problems of corruption and its appearance. See infra Point IV. Without these limits, a small cadre of donors will be able to contribute millions of dollars to candidates, parties, and political action committees, and candidates and officeholders will be permitted to solicit large sums from potential donors, functionally reviving the “soft money” system that Congress acted to end a mere 11 years ago. This will provide further (and renewed) incentive for federal candidates and officeholders to grant these donors improper influence, skewing policy outcomes more and more towards the preferences of donors as opposed to those of the general public.
Perceptions of corruption are already at dangerous levels in the United States. These perceptions are not irrational fears but rather reasoned reactions to a system that is more responsive to the policy preferences of a narrow segment of the electorate as a result of the improper influence gained through large financial contributions. This Court must not risk undermining the legitimacy of our Republic by overturning longstanding precedent to strike a key bulwark against the reality and appearance of corruption of our democratic government. (emphasis in bold added)
Again, Moyers uses strong language but I don't believe it is hyperbolic. Unless WE rise up and make it clear to the Supreme Court that we will not tolerate them ignoring the corrupting power of unlimited money in political campaigns... well, there is just so much at stake.

The entire transcript of Moyers' essay can be found at:
Bill Moyers Essay: The End Game for Democracy | BillMoyers.com

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If you have HB2305 referendum petitions still outstanding, get them notarized and turned in PRONTO.

The Pima County Democratic Party should have a notary in the office today, but you can call ahead (520-326-3716).

In Maricopa County, Jacqueline Adams at ADP/MCDP headquarters is a notary. I turned my petitions in on Tuesday and she notarized them.


Monday, September 2, 2013

Seasons change and so did we ...

To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1



Once upon a Labor Day, the political season in Arizona changed and so did we.

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Haven't we really had enough of being pushed around by arrogant and unaccountable elected Republicans in this state?

City council elections are over. We have less than two weeks to gather signatures to put the Voter Suppression Bill HB2305 -- passed at the eleventh hour in the 2013 regular session of the Arizona Legislature -- on hold pending a vote in November 2014 by The People. The People, who are supposed to matter.

In interviews on local current affairs and political talk shows, Republicans like Michele Reagan have vigorously stuck to the propaganda that HB2305 addresses (what we really know to be non-existent) voter fraud. But 89-year old conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly, just days ago, in a Wing Nut Daily piece touting North Carolina's new voter suppression law removed the pretext. She wrote,
The reduction in the number of days allowed for early voting is particularly important because early voting plays a major role in Obama’s ground game. The Democrats carried most states that allow many days of early voting, and Obama’s national field director admitted, shortly before last year’s election, that “early voting is giving us a solid lead in the battleground states that will decide this election.”
Reduction in the duration of early voting was only one of the provisions of the new NC law. In Arizona, apparently, early voting was not seen as quite so threatening to the GOP ruling class. BUT, here, allowing activist groups to collect and deliver signed and sealed early ballots was seen as VERY threatening. So, HB2305 takes aim directly at the practice, making it a crime.

State Rep. J.D. Mesnard during the final vote on HB2305 in the House spelled out the Republican view that allowing Libertarian candidates access to the ballot caused the GOP to lose all three competitive Congressional district races in 2012. Hence, HB2305 eliminates -- for all practical purposes, it actually DOES eliminate -- the ability of Libertarians, Greens and any other political party besides Republicans and Democrats to get their candidates on the ballot. Without ballot access, how can they influence debate on important issues?

And WHY do we have to put up with corporate media, when they dare to report on the issue at all, dismissing the reality by saying "Democrats claim" this is an effort on the part of Republicans to... Why won't they just acknowledge what is so plain for anyone to see?

In Texas, Republican officials have become so brazen they even take all the pretense out of legal briefs filed in support of Republican redistricting decisions.
DOJ’s accusations of racial discrimination are baseless. In 2011, both houses of the Texas Legislature were controlled by large Republican majorities, and their redistricting decisions were designed to increase the Republican Party’s electoral prospects at the expense of the Democrats....The redistricting decisions of which DOJ complains were motivated by partisan rather than racial considerations, and the plaintiffs and DOJ have zero evidence to prove the contrary.
Don't forget that in Arizona, not only did they attack the rights of all voters except Republicans with HB2305, but the legislature also sued the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission in hope of getting back the authority to draw Congressional district boundaries.

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Since today is Labor Day, let's compare worker productivity vs compensation over time.


From the 1940s (WWII and thereafter) until 1973, worker productivity and hourly compensation grew together. That made for a strong Middle Class in America. What happened in 1973 to change it?

The Powell Manifesto had been published a couple of years prior (in 1971); ALEC was formed and corporate America began marshalling its resources into buying Congress and state legislatures in ALL 50 states.

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Anyway, regarding HB2305, we're getting down to the wire. Make sure to get your petitions notarized and turned in early this week.



For a very long season, Arizona has been a "red" state. Seasons change. And so did we. Arizona will become a BLUE state. The immovable object of Arizona's GOP dominated state legislature will soon have to reckon with an unstoppable force. We shall overcome.

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By the way, Bill Moyers recently posted a brief (3:15) video editorial he titled The End Game for Democracy. Take a look at it, it's pretty good.