Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Friday, November 29, 2013

Of course it's not Voter Suppression... really?

On Sunday, September 15, the Arizona Republic editorial board mindlessly pontificated that manipulation of voting procedures, which clearly made the difference for two Democratic lawmakers who lost in Colorado recall races was NOT voter suppression.
Real voter suppression is a grave concern. But so are spurious claims of suppression that only contribute to cynicism about the integrity of the vote. [...]
Voter suppression is an intentional effort on the part of partisans to unfairly inhibit the ability of the other side’s voters to cast ballots. It is not an unavoidable result created by circumstances. Or simply some change in election law that one side or the other dislikes. [...]
It is one thing for a losing candidate like Giron to go on national TV to whine about voter suppression. Losers use a lot of excuses, including conspiracy theories, to paint over their electoral inadequacies.
It is quite another for national figures who should know better to pop off on matters they know nothing about, but which can have a dramatic effect on trust in the integrity of elections. 
I would suggest that it's quite another for the editorial board of a "prominent" local newspaper to "pop off" on matters they know not nearly as much as they purport to know, like Voter Suppression.

Case in point, NBC News recently reported on a Brennan Center for Justice survey of 2013 Voting Laws. From NBC News:
Working ballot by ballot, county by county, the Republican Party is attempting to alter voting laws in the biggest and most important swing states in the country in hopes of carving out a sweeping electoral advantage for years to come. [...]
In the 10 months since President Obama created a bipartisan panel to address voting difficulties, 90 restrictive voting bills have been introduced in 33 states. So far, nine have become law, according to a recent comprehensive roundup by the Brennan Center for Justice – but others are moving quickly through statehouses.
“We are continuing to see laws that appear to be aimed at making it more difficult to vote—for no good reason,” Daniel Tokaji, an election law expert at Ohio State University, said in an interview. [...]
In next year’s midterm elections, control of the Senate could well hinge on minority turnout in a few key states.
After the GOP’s 2012 loss, some prominent Republicans urged their party to woo, not alienate, the growing minority electorate.
GOP lawmakers in many states did not get the memo. That includes Arizona, where state Sen. Michele Reagan, who now wants to become Arizona's chief elections officer, championed the Voter Suppression Bill, HB2305.

From the Brennan Center report:
Election 2012 was marred by problems for voters nationwide... One year later, an encouraging number of states have taken steps to provide voters more access to the ballot box. At least 234 bills were introduced in 45 states to increase access. Unfortunately, others have restricted access — 33 states introduced 90 restrictive bills — and the Supreme Court has made it easier for some of them to do so by striking down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. While 10 states passed 13 bills in 2013 to expand voting opportunities, eight states passed nine restrictive bills.
We will continue to monitor voting changes in the lead up to the 2014 legislative session. State legislators will continue to introduce laws to make it harder for Americans to vote.  
How many election law scholars and experts did the Arizona Republic consult when writing its September 15 editorial? None were cited. That editorial clearly reflects the voice of its chief ALEC apologist Doug MacEachern, more than anyone else.

The bottom line is that the editorial board which declared national figures "should know better [than] to pop off on matters they know nothing about..." appears to have popped off on matters it knows nothing about.

The integrity of Arizona elections is a matter that bears more serious consideration than just the "popping off" of a brazenly plutocratic editorialist. But that daily newspaper, like most other newspapers has been in serious decline recently. That decline shows up in the extremely poor editorial decisions it has made in the last couple of months. This is but one of them.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Like it or lump it, the Safer Arizona initiative is a mainstream issue

On Tuesday, Arizona House Assistant Minority Leader Ruben Gallego announced plans to introduce legislation to regulate and tax marijuana.

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Assistant House Minority Leader Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix (District 27), is working on legislation that would regulate and tax marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. The legislation would include a strictly enforced age limit for purchasing and using marijuana. It would also make marijuana taxable.

“The issue of marijuana regulation is pragmatic,” Gallego said. “Regulating marijuana takes sales off the street and puts them in a controlled environment. Ultimately, this will help law enforcement, especially in times when resources are limited. About 750,000 Americans were arrested for marijuana-related offenses in 2012, and the majority of those arrests were simply for possession[1]. Law enforcement officers’ time and resources would be better spent addressing serious crimes, so that we are all safer. Additionally, we can use some of the money generated from the sales to pay for public education and treatment programs for alcohol and drug abuse.”

In its current draft, Gallego’s bill includes the following regulations for marijuana sale and use:
·         Prohibits any marijuana use or possession for individuals under the age of 21
·         Allows those 21 years old and older to possess and consume one ounce or less of marijuana
·         Allows those 21 years old and older to possess and grow no more than five marijuana plants
·         Allows those 21 years old and older to give one ounce or less of marijuana to another  person who is over the age of 21, as long as they do not receive any money for the transfer
·         Bans public smoking of marijuana
·         Establishes requirements for marijuana-related facilities, including retail shops that can sell marijuana

·         Imposes an excise tax on the sale or transfer of marijuana and distributes the tax proceeds to fund public education and treatment programs for alcohol and drug abuse, with half of the money going to the state general fund

[1] Source: FBI 2012 Uniform Crime Report released in September 2013

Note: The FBI 2012 crime report shows an estimated 1,552,432 arrests nationwide for drug related offenses (Table 29). Agency arrest tables show 48.3 percent of those arrested for drug offenses were specifically for marijuana. 

Note: Arrest data for Maricopa County show that the most frequent charge is Drug Paraphernalia-possession/use (which could be simply the possession/use of a device for vaporizing or smoking marijuana). Marijuana possession/use is listed as the fifth most frequent charging offense, at 5,495 so far this year.

Our courts have claimed they are overwhelmed. Well, it's really no wonder when our highly militarized law enforcement agencies spend most of their time picking off the lowest hanging fruit instead of investigating and preventing property and violent crimes. And when Arizona's highest law enforcement officer spends his time harassing DREAMERS and arresting those who protest HIS unlawful conduct.

In the first part of this clip from KTVK Channel 3's Politics Unplugged episode that aired on October 27 (of a meeting Citizens for a Better Arizona had with Attorney General Tom Horne six days earlier), activist Carolyn Cooper gives Horne "what for" in a big way. She was arrested after Horne left the meeting and was taken to Maricopa County Jail (and had to appear before a judge prior to release).

Cooper is due in Maricopa County Superior court on December 4. A couple of other activists arrested that day appeared before a judge today (the day before Thanksgiving), just to set a court date for January. Wouldn't it be nice if our GOP overlords (in high office in Arizona) were more interested in preventing violent crimes and property crimes than in suppressing dissent?



But I digress...

Today in a grocery store, I overheard a group of four young adult women talking about the Safer Arizona initiative. And last night, Channel 10 did a brief segment on its newscast about Gallego's announcement. The Safer Arizona initiative WILL be approved by Arizona voters if we can get the petition in front of enough people. We need volunteers and donations (for copying, mailing and related costs). Please go to SaferArizona.com to volunteer and donate.

FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

And lastly this evening, I wish an (emotionally) warm and Happy Thanksgiving to all of the readers of the Arizona Eagletarian. In addition to my thankfulness for my family, I am very thankful for you.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Lobbyist Shakedown case to be reviewed by AZ Supremes

From the Arizona Supreme Court today:

CV-13-0341-PR CLEAN ELECTIONS et al v HON. BRAIN/BENNETT et al
Court of Appeals Division One
1 CA-SA 13-0239

ORDERED: Petitioners' Motion to Stay Preliminary Injunction and Request for Oral Argument = DENIED. (emphasis mine)

FURTHER ORDERED: Petition for Review of a Special Action Decision of the
Court of Appeals = GRANTED only as to this issue: whether the court of appeals
erred in holding that, "as a matter of statutory construction, when the voters
enacted the Clean Elections Act in 1998, they fixed campaign contribution limits
as they existed in 1998, subject to authorized adjustments."

FURTHER ORDERED: The case shall be set for oral argument on December 17,
2013, at 9:30 a.m.

FURTHER ORDERED: The parties and any amicus may file simultaneous
supplemental briefs, not to exceed 20 pages in length, no later than December 6, 2013.

This means that the Arizona Supreme Court will review the decision of the Appeals Court, only as to the question of whether it erred in holding that when voters enacted the Clean Elections Act in 1998, they fixed campaign contribution limits at the 1998 levels subject to authorized adjustments.

Additionally, the Supreme Court, in deciding not to grant a stay of the preliminary injunction, essentially said the Appeals Court decision to prohibit enactment -- for now -- of the Lobbyist Shakedown Bill (HB2593) stands. 

Ultimately, whether the Lobbyist Shakedown Bill takes effect or not is dependent on the outcome of the trial on the merits of the bill, in Maricopa County Superior Court. The trial, still needs to be held. Of course, whatever the court decides, after that trial, will be appealed.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Lobbyist Shakedown status update

Before the Arizona Legislature adjourned its 2013 session, it made a number of direct assaults on the rights of everyday citizens. The two most egregious, of course, were passage of the Voter Suppression Bill (HB2305, which is now on hold subject to the People of Arizona issuing an unconditional veto in the 2014 general election); and passage of HB2593, the Lobbyist Shakedown Bill.

Since last week I posted about Sen. Begay's first bills, all of which are striker busses, I'll note that HB2593 started out the same way, as a "technical correction" bill.

Last month, the Arizona Court of Appeals blocked enactment of the Lobbyist Shakedown Bill. GOP leadership in the legislature subsequently intervened and appealed that ruling to the state Supreme Court. A spokesman for Arizona's Citizens Clean Elections Commission today told the Arizona Eagletarian that he expects the Supreme Court to announce tomorrow (Tuesday) whether it will accept the legislature's request for review.

Ultimately, the case still needs to be tried in (Maricopa County) Superior Court regardless of whether the preliminary injunction granted by the Appeals Court stands or not. After that, especially if the legislature loses, expect more appeals.

Some of the documents filed last Friday by the plaintiffs (Clean Elections, AZ Advocacy Network, state Rep. Victoria Steele and Clean Elections Commissioner Louis J. Hoffman) are linked below:

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Do not be fooled, my friends. JD Mesnard (sole sponsor of the Lobbyist Shakedown Bill) and the GOP majority in the Arizona Legislature passed the Lobbyist Shakedown Bill and in so doing took a giant leap further along the path to institutionalizing corruption.

You may or may not like to hear it, but this is far and away NOT exclusively a "Democratic" or "Liberal" or "Progressive" issue. Key supporters of the American Anti-Corruption Act include DC Tea Party Patriots leader Tom Whitmore, Former Bush (GW) ethics advisor Richard Painter, and GOP strategist Mark McKinnon.

Nevertheless, this video of actor Matt Damon is from daily.represent.us and poignantly addresses the overarching issue presented in the Lobbyist Shakedown Bill.




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As an aside, it should be noted that a local daily newspaper took information reported in the blog post on Sen. Begay's bills and included it in a political insider column on Sunday -- without giving credit to the Arizona Eagletarian.

Of course, I have been a vocal critic of that newspaper and its editorial decision-making on important stories. Whether the oversight (failure to provide proper citation for the material they took from this blog) was the responsibility of an editor or a reporter, it still disappoints me that they would stoop to this depth.

WHY the Republican vision for Education can only lead to a pandemic of blight.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” Albert Einstein
Commodifying the American culture is highly problematic. Henry Giroux, author of Zombie Politics and Casino Capitalism calls our schools "disimagination zones." They present "a form of learning that robs the mind of any possibility of being imaginative," according to Giroux. Arts are cut out and humanities studies de-emphasized. Sure, we still need to promote the STEM fields of study, but what about music, theatre and art? "All of those things that speak to feeding the imagination."

Charter schools and the obsession (John Huppenthal) with testing both propagates and reflects that culture of disimagination. Now the state wants to shift from AIMS to Common Core. But testing is still testing. And if testing is counterproductive, then why are we doing it?

Okay, here's what got me thinking about this subject. Bill Moyers interviewed Henry Giroux for this week's episode of Moyers and Company.




Giroux even cited Arizona banning Tucson schools from teaching ethnic studies as the hard core element and that the ban is part of suffocating the capacity for imagination.

We are center stage, Arizona.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Stand Your Ground, Arizona?

Tomorrow afternoon, at the Sandra Day O'Connor School of Law on the Tempe campus of Arizona State University, a panel with lawmakers, prosecutors and community members will discuss

Stand Your Ground




in a Community Forum

Saturday, November 23rd 1:00 — 4:00 PM ASU Law School—Tempe Campus



Free Parking in Parking Structure at Rural Road and Lemon Street

FREE ADMISSION

Panelists
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery
State Representative Martín J. Quezada (D-Phoenix)
(Second Democratic Representative TBA)
State Representative John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills)
State Representative Eddie Farnsworth (R-Gilbert)

Reverend Jarrett Maupin
Reverend Luther Holland
NAACP Lawyer Benjamin Taylor
ASU Law Professor Sigmund Popko
Radio Personality Mike Broomhead
Moderator: ASU Law Professor Sigmund Popko

Program
Hour One: Legal Issues - What is the Stand Your Ground Law? - Is it good legal policy?
Hour Two: Community Issues - Is it a good law or legal racial profiling? - Did it play a role in the Travon Martin—George Zimmerman case?
Hour Three: Legislative Perspective - Is it a good or bad law? - Should it be changed? - Will it be changed?

Hosted by Arizona State University School of Criminal Justice



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

ALIS webinar -- SIGN UP!


Don't let lobbyists and special interest groups have the last word with legislators. Learn how to be heard in committee hearings right from your computer- home or office. Sign up for our short webinar.
Learn about and use the Arizona Legislative Information System (ALIS), the online portal that allows citizens to effectively communicate with legislators. The webinar will be presented at two different times.
ALIS provides instant and easy access to legislative documents, including bill versions, amendments, bill status, calendars and committee agendas. ALIS makes it simple for Arizona Citizens to tell legislators their opinions- All without leaving the comfort of home or office.                        

Do you need an ALIS account? Let us know when you register and we'll set one up for you. 

Register Today
 
Date: January 8 2014
Times: 12-12:45pm OR 7-7:45pm


The second regular session of Arizona's 51st Legislature begins on Monday, January 13, 2014. Be prepared.

Voter suppression has become the linchpin of Republican strategy

Washington Post editorial writer Harold Myerson, just yesterday wrote:
Voter suppression has become the linchpin of Republican strategy. After Mitt Romney’s defeat in 2012, the GOP was briefly abuzz with talk of expanding the party’s appeal to young and Latino voters. Instead, the party doubled down on its opposition to immigration reform and its support for cultural conservatism — positions tantamount to electoral suicide unless the youth and minority vote can be suppressed. (emphasis mine)
Republicans have justified this crackdown as a way to keep non- citizens from infiltrating the electorate, not that there’s evidence such a thing is happening. But if a non-citizen wants to contribute millions of dollars to one of those “social welfare organizations” that spends gobs of money on an election campaign, Republicans fight to shield his or her identity. 
Indeed, take away the persistent drive to suppress voting rights among minority and lower income voters and the wheels come off of everything the GOP has been trying to do for years.

By the way, references and citations for quotes backing up Myerson's claim -- about how Republicans have justified this crackdown -- are numerous. Since Arizona's GOP controlled legislature has adopted this same strategy, local pols, including Secretary of State wannabe Michele Reagan, have vociferously expressed their support.

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne and Secretary of State Ken "Birther" Bennett want to waste taxpayer money instituting a two track voting system to keep voters who registered using the federal form from voting on any election race or issue except for President, US Senator or Congressional Representative.

Then we have the local newspaper, the Arizona Republic, attempting to deny the undeniable claim.

Don't let anyone fool you... or, as in the case of the Arizona Republic, distract you. Republicans cannot come out and tell the truth about their motives and intentions. But they have effectively stirred up a frenzy by using loaded and deceptive expressions like "illegal alien invasion" and suggesting undocumented immigrants somehow put a financial burden on taxpayers.

Arizona voters will veto the #HB2305, the Voter Suppression Act on November 4, 2014.

I won't be surprised, however, to see another voter suppression effort in the 2014 legislative session which starts in mid-January.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Let the games begin -- Sen. Carlyle Begay files 8 bills for 2014 session

Brand new state Senator Carlyle Begay filed the first eight bills for the 2014 legislative session.

The Fifty-first Legislature, Second Regular Session will begin on Monday, January 13, 2014. Sen. Begay has already filed eight "technical correction" bills. These bills are introduced with only minor technical changes to statutes but are really intended to become "striker buses."

For example, SB1004 has only the following language in it.
42-1008.  Employee preparation of tax returns for compensation prohibitedAn employee of the department of revenue shall not for compensation prepare or assist in preparing any tax return required to be filed with the federal, THE state or a local government.  A violation of this section shall be grounds for immediate discharge DISMISSAL
The words in ALL CAPS are to be added to Arizona Revised Statutes § 42-1008. The word "discharge" is to be stricken from the statute. The change in meaning to the statutes as a result of this bill is completely NOTHING.

So, why have a bill like this? After a certain deadline, no new bills may be introduced. But lawmakers still will want to make changes to bills. So bills like SB1004 may be amended with a "strike everything after the enacting clause (Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona) and insert whatever language the wheelers and dealers decide they want to try to get enough votes to enact.

In the 2013 regular session, on March 27th, House Appropriations chair John Kavanagh proposed a strike all amendment to SB1045. Kavanagh decided to change a bill the senate had passed making it "unprofessional conduct" for licensed health professionals to claim they are board certified specialists if they are not so certified. Instead, SB1045 became the vehicle on which Kavanagh foisted his "bathroom bill." The bill was held in the House and did not become law. But some strikers do become law.

It's a longstanding game. How Carlyle Begay obtained his initial lessons in writing legislation is an interesting question that may not be easily answered. The answer may or may not provide anything of interest. But it's still something to note as the freshman senator begins his representation of LD7 in northeastern Arizona.




Saturday, November 16, 2013

Arizona Democratic Party passes key Progressive resolutions

At it's quarterly State Committee meeting in (the city of) Maricopa this afternoon, the Arizona Democratic Party passed key resolutions including:
The wording in some cases was modified with "friendly amendments" to make them more succinct and/or readable, but NOT to weaken or water them down.

This action represents significant movement to show that Arizona Democrats stand for genuine values that will protect all citizens. From where I sit, it also demonstrates that we are already moving in the direction Thom Hartmann described in his video on the Concord Project.




Additionally, I collected dozens of signatures for the Safer Arizona initiative, to have voters in November 2014 decriminalize marijuana possession and use. This is, by the way, a mainstream Democratic issue.

More information is available, including a half-hour documentary video on the subject at SaferArizona.com. I collected dozens of signatures and gave additional petitions to several Democratic activists who already "get it," knowing that marijuana IS safer than alcohol.

Let me repeat that. Marijuana is SAFER than alcohol. Safer for individual users and MUCH safer in terms of public health and safety. But more importantly, this initiative is THE key to victory for Democratic candidates in 2014. This initiative WILL drive the youth vote. Get on board, fellow Democrats and Liberal-leaning independent voters!

Activist Dennis Bohlke recently relayed this incident, from his time at the State Fair collecting signatures:
Last week while I was at the fair getting signatures for legalizing marijuana petition, there were professional signature gatherers soliciting the crowd and conning them into signing petitions for Mr. Bennett. They were saying he was a friend to marijuana law reform. I asked them if that was true and they said it was the only way they could get anyone to sign his petition to run for governor. 
Think about the significance of the revelation that Ken "Birther" Bennett's paid signature gatherers couldn't get people to sign his gubernatorial nominating petition without telling them quite a whopper of a story.

Bohlke then said,
I propose that the Democrats endorse our initiative and hang the Marijuana issue around the Republicans neck like a noose. When the Republicans fight us on this, logic and common sense will only tighten the noose. They will be shown to be cruel and black hearted supporters of the prison state. 
Of course, that proposal for Democratic Party endorsement was only informal. Notwithstanding, we CAN and MUST be bold in organizing to end the War on Drugs that began more than 40 years ago when Congress passed, during the Nixon administration, the Controlled Substances Act. By the way, despite the technical and scientific sounding language of the Controlled Substances Act, the underlying motive is revealed in conspicuously plain sight. For example, the definition of "addict,"
The term "addict" means any individual who habitually uses any narcotic drug so as to endanger the public morals, health, safety, or welfare, or who is so far addicted to the use of narcotic drugs as to have lost the power of self-control with reference to his addiction. (emphasis mine)
What does that mean, "public morals?" It's not a term that is easily given to a clear and specific definition. More importantly, to my knowledge, the term is not defined in the Controlled Substances Act. Who do you want deciding what constitutes "public morals" or a violation thereof? Who do you want deciding whether you have "lost the power of self-control" (an expression equally vague and elusive of tangible, objective definition).

Cathi Herrod, and the ultra-conservative lobbying organization Center for Arizona Policy perhaps?

No? I didn't think so.

Stand with me and get ALL of your friends and neighbors to sign the petition to put Safer Arizona on the ballot and we'll make something good happen in a big way in 2014.

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By the way, I met -- face-to-face for the first time -- Senator Carlyle Begay. It was good to shake his hand and greet each other. He mentioned that he hopes I'll give him a chance. I assured him I would and that I would be watching.

Friday, November 15, 2013

When will the Arizona Republic hire a competent energy reporter?

Lyin' Ryan Randazzo has gone unchallenged long enough.

In today's Arizona Republic, Randazzo:
  • Again, fails to challenge Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce about his brazen conflict of interest.
  • Again, in his write up (I'm hesitant to call it either reporting or journalism) of this week's Corp Comm decision to institute fees for solar customers, frames it entirely as if he is an employee of Arizona Public Service, not the Arizona Republic. 
  • Betrays some key facts that shed light on APS's true intentions.
Randazzo wrote: 
The new fees will not add to APS’ profits. Instead, they will offset a fee paid by non-solar users to limit the cost shifting from solar to non-solar customers.
Because there are so few solar customers, the reduction in fees to non-solar customers will be negligible.
NEGLIGIBLE. If this is true, WHY did APS dump millions of dollars of ratepayer money into a media propaganda campaign attacking solar and claiming they have been harmed by net metering?

Did Lyin' Ryan not have to take any business classes when he was working on his journalism degree? He (falsely) claims the new fee will not add to APS' profit. Maybe the Arizona Republic's business editor can give Ryan a refresher course on the equation Revenue - Expenses = Profit. This fee will increase revenue for APS. Therefore, it will increase profit.

The fact of this matter is that APS wanted to get its foot in the door. The concept is incrementalism. They fully expect to go after more money from solar customers in the future. They view, as revealed by industry sources who claim to have had conversations with APS, the solar industry as a "disruptive challenge."

In my email inbox today, I received information from the Oregon Solar Energy Industries Association:
A critical new front in the fight to slow climate change is the one shaping up between the present coal-, nuclear-, and gas-based monopoly utilities and solar energy. Early this year the utilities’ think tank, the Edison Electric Institute, issued a major report on the “disruptive challenges” posed by the onslaught of low-priced solar. Others have described the threat as a potential “death spiral” for those utilities that fail to adapt. The utilities are fighting back in Arizona, Colorado, and elsewhere.
APS cannot truthfully deny that it has been fighting back. But instead of focusing on a business model that will enable them to adapt to emerging technologies, they attack those techologies and the businesses that advance them.

"Disruptive challenges" is a bastardization of the concept of disruptive innovation. By removing "innovation" from its messaging, Edison Electric Institute (and APS) hide from its target audience the fact that it is facing disruptive challenges BECAUSE of technological innovation. Why on earth would anyone think they can win by hindering technological advancement?

Think DINOSAURS. Dinosaurs, of course, are extinct. They couldn't adapt to an environmental catastrophe, so they died out. Quickly. That's what APS faces. But they have had more than a decade to adapt to the coming disruptive technological innovation. APS's executive management has known about those challenges for a LONG time.

EEI is an industry association (union) that likes to masquerade as a think tank. IF it's any kind of tank, it's a STINK tank. (h/t to the Center for Media and Democracy for the term "stink tank"). It says of itself,
EEI’s mission is to ensure members’ success by advocating public policy, expanding market opportunities, and providing strategic business information.
In other words, it represents Investor Owned Utilities and advocates for THEM, NOT for the PUBLIC served by the IOUs. 

In the same email with the blurb from the Oregon group, Portland General Electric lobbyist Brendan McCarthy said,
I... want to exhort you to not lump all utilities into this same category and to be mindful of the loaded language used in the message from the Climate Reality Check Coalition. First off, EEI is not a “think tank” but a trade association. Second, the “disruptive challenges” report referred to was more about the financial implications of disruptive forces and the strategic considerations that utilities must begin to integrate into their long-term planning, than it was about an attack against such disruptive challenges. Third, the fact that coalition refers to utilities “fighting back” indicates more about their own feelings on the topic than it does the utilities. (emphasis mine)
This is lobbyist speak for trying to deny the plain truth. APS has been attacking solar. The utility told its faithful lapdog, Lyin' Ryan Randazzo that the financial harm the company has suffered because of solar customers is NEGLIGIBLE. But APS tells its industry buddies that they have been harmed substantially. McCarthy continues:
I have had lengthy conversations with people at APS, SDG+E [San Diego Gas & Electric] and Xcel. I would hesitate to call anything that they are doing as “fighting back.” EEI and utilities are pointing to the real issues posed by the increased penetration of distributed generation and have been, in some cases ham-handedly, attempting to “fix” the problem through the regulatory model. While some of these attempts have been poorly constructed, that does not mean that the underlying problems do not need correction. APS now has 19,000 net metered customers out of 1.1 million. They are seeing about 500 customers a month install systems and they estimate that each residential solar customers is costing the utility $1000 a year. They have no cap on net metering and they have a rate structure that, with TOU rates, exacerbates the cross-subsidies seen. Even their rate payer advocate, RUCA [sic], recognizes the problem and agrees with APS that there should be a grid fee imposed in order to limit the cross subsidy and lost revenue problem. It is only natural that APS would “fight back” against a program that was designed as an incentive program and now has grown large enough to cause difficulties to the local utility. (again, emphasis mine)
In one breath, McCarthy claims APS has not been attacking solar; in the next, he says, oh, by the way, those attacks are justified. He would hesitate to call anything they are doing as "fighting back;" 'it is only natural that APS would "fight back."' By the way, APS is now telling other EEI member utilities that EACH residential solar customer is costing it $1000.00/year. How does that jive with what Lyin' Ryan has been reporting? Of course, McCarthy probably just took some exaggerating executive or public relations person's word for it.

Dear reader, nothing about APS's recent misadventures with Dark Money propaganda campaigns is at all innocuous.

All five members of the Corporation Commission, clearly a wholly owned subsidiary of ALEC, either voted to impose the new fees or opposed doing so because they wanted to penalize solar customers even more. That action validates what this blog and others have predicted since before the 2012 general election.

I'm encouraged that, as Channel 12's Mark Curtis noted (see the video clip), nearly a thousand people showed up to tell the Corporation Commission not to penalize the solar energy industry. But neither Mark Curtis nor Brahm Resnik (who reported, on camera from the ACC) wrote the stories for the print or online editions of the Arizona Republic on this issue.

It is high time that the Republic sent Lyin' Ryan packing. He's got a promising future in fossil fuel industry public relations, but he is most certainly NOT a credible journalist.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Net Metering and conflict of interest; glossed over by the Arizona Republic

A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives. -- James Madison, August 4, 1822 (from DOLLAROCRACY by John Nichols and Robert W. McChesney)
Yesterday, Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts set forth, plainly and with crystal clarity, the brazen conflict of interest that Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce has on the upcoming vote regarding Arizona Public Service's net metering question.
On Tuesday, former Corporation Commissioner Sandra Kennedy formally asked that Commissioner Gary Pierce recuse himself from the coming vote on solar subsidies, “due to his relationship with Arizona Public Service.”
In a nutshell, Kennedy, a Democrat who plans to run next year to regain her spot on the commission, believes that APS is attempting to buy the Republican commissioner’s vote by either hiring his employer for contract work or agreeing to help his son, Rep. Justin Pierce, in his bid for secretary of state.
“It’s a shame,” Kennedy told me. “I think APS has basically said, ‘Hey we’re going to do what we can and if Commissioner Pierce is willing to play ball with us, he’s in our court.’ ”
In today's Republic, "journalist" Ryan Randazzo's story on the ACC open meeting contains ZERO coverage of Pierce's conflict of interest. ZERO! And the story is on Page A1.
Regulators appear poised to charge new solar customers $7 to $50 more a month despite a show of force Wednesday from the rooftop-panel industry and solar customers at the Arizona Corporation Commission.
The regulators spent all of Wednesday, the first of two days of hearings on the issue, listening to public comment from more than 100 people, most of whom opposed any cost increases. They are expected to make a final decision on the issue today.
The high stakes surrounding the debate were evident when hundreds of solar supporters, who believe that a change would threaten the industry, showed up at Corporation Commission headquarters on West Washington Street in Phoenix, waving signs, shouting slogans and encouraging passing drivers to honk their horns in support.
Four of the five regulators have indicated through written proposals that they support adding fees to Arizona Public Service Co. solar users, although the fees they suggest are not as high as those sought by the utility. [...]
Former state Republican senator Russell Pearce also spoke in favor of the APS plan. “To manipulate the free market is wrong,” he said.
“I do not believe government has the right to pick winners and losers.”
Renz Jennings, a former Democratic commissioner who lost a 2010 bid to rejoin the panel, said arguments from politicians related to free enterprise were off the mark.
“There is little free enterprise here; we all know that,” Jennings said. “This is a regulated industry.”
He said many of the benefits of rooftop solar are not being calculated in the current debate. He said that any changes to solar policies should be handled in a full rate case for APS, at which the regulators could take a deeper look at APS’ finances and expenses to better understand solar.
Randazzo makes it overwhelmingly clear he serves the interests of APS, not the readers and citizens of Arizona with this next statement.
The crux of the net-metering debate is what APS refers to as a cost shift that occurs when customers install solar and dramatically reduce their bills.
NO that is not the CRUX of the net-metering debate. Since when does APS get to define the issue? Instead, the crux really is what this net-metering debate means to the citizens of Arizona. Instead of confronting the conflict of interest he makes APS's interest the bottom line.

Randazzo then touched on certain proposals set forth by members of the ACC.
Four commissioners have filed proposals to the case record that would adapt one of the staff- or RUCO-generated plans and begin adding fees to new solar customers.
Chairman Bob Stump proposed an amendment that would add about $22 a month for solar customers. He said waiting until the next APS rate case is “not in the public interest.”
Commissioner Brenda Burns proposed an alternative similar to Stump’s, as well proposing an addition to the contract that solar customers sign that would make it clear that commissioners may change the regulations and eliminate any savings provided by their solar panels.
Commissioner Gary Pierce proposed adopting a plan similar to those by Stump and Burns with “more realistic” inputs that would add about $50 a month for a 7-kilowatt solar array, a common-size system in APS territory. 
We have had months of anticipation leading up to this hearing. The deregulation story over the summer months was rife with Dark Money spending by APS -- millions of dollars they had received from ratepayers -- funneled into a non-profit to pay for ad campaigns. Millions of ratepayer dollars trying to gin up public support for killing deregulation and to undermine net metering.

No, the crux of this story is Ryan Randazzo completely blowing coverage of a regulated utility manipulating the regulators to protect its monopoly, thereby killing Arizona's most obvious competitive economic advantage -- solar energy. And Randazzo was FULLY aware of the Dark Money scandal. He shared a byline with investigative reporter Robert Anglen on that series of stories.

It is TIME to give Ryan Randazzo his walking papers and get someone who can serve the public interest by reporting on the Arizona Corporation Commission without glossing over the information Arizona citizens need to make informed decisions on who to have represent us in setting utility rates.

And while they are at it, whoever was responsible for defining Randazzo's assignments and setting expectations for coverage probably needs to find other work also.

Let's give Founding Father James Madison one less reason to roll over in his grave.

Monday, November 11, 2013

DOLLAROCRACY -- what you can do to change it in 2014 AZ

John Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation and Robert W. McChesney, professor of communication at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana recently published DOLLAROCRACY.
At many stages in the advance of humanity, this conflict between the men who possess more than they have earned and the men who have earned more than they possess is the central condition of progress. In our day it appears as the struggle of freemen to gain and hold the right of self-government as against the special interests, who twist the methods of free government into machinery for defeating the popular will. At every stage, and under all circumstances, the essence of the struggle is to equalize opportunity, destroy privilege, and give to the life and citizenship of every individual the highest possible value both to himself and to the commonwealth. That is nothing new. -- Theodore Roosevelt, 1910 (emphasis mine) [...]
 ... this progress never quite assured that the great mass of people would gain and hold the right the right of self-government as against the special interests. The U.S. Constitution contains no guarantee of a right to vote, and this lack of definition is constantly exploited by political hucksters who would make America a democracy for the few, and a plutocracy in essence. [...] 
... the United States is rapidly approaching a point where the electoral process itself ceases to function as a means for citizens to effectively control leaders and guide government policies... there can no longer be any question that free and fair elections -- what we were raised to believe was an American democratic birthright -- are being effectively taken away from the people... the money makes a mockery of political equality in the voting booth, and the determination of media companies to cash in on that mockery -- when they should instead be exposing and opposing it -- completes a vicious circle.     
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What CAN you do when the ruling class in Arizona makes a mockery of the Citizens Clean Elections system enacted by voters a decade and a half ago -- by attempting to enact the Lobbyist Shakedown Bill (HB2593)?

What CAN you do when the ruling class in Arizona makes a mockery of Voting Rights by attempting to enact a Voter Suppression Act (HB2305) -- and the state's largest newspaper brazenly says it's not voter suppression?

What CAN you do given that corporate media also brazenly propagates a false myth that the culprits are elected officials of both parties, in hopes of exploiting the gold mine which is election campaign spending?

You CAN elect Fred DuVal the next governor, less than 360 days from today. Fred is already gearing up for the campaign, to battle on behalf of the people of Arizona.

You CAN elect Felecia Rotellini the next Attorney General. Felecia has been preparing pretty much from the day we all learned how Tom Horne stole (won by cheating) the office in 2010. Republicans know Horne, who clearly wants to run again, is heading for defeat in the general election -- less than 360 days from today. But they likely will be powerless to stop him from winning his primary election in August.

You CAN recruit candidates to run for Congress and the state House and Senate in EVERY Congressional and legislative district. In districts where Republicans hold overwhelming voter registration advantage, it may be wise to only run one candidate for the (state) House (even though each district gets two members in that chamber). But that one candidate will empower precinct committee persons and activists to encourage higher Democratic voter turnout.

You CAN, in districts where Democrats hold substantial voter registration advantage, work on voter contact now to build anticipation for and increase turnout in 2014. These districts will be an important factor in providing the margin of victory for our statewide candidates.

You CAN drive home the importance of the PEOPLE'S veto of the Voter Suppression Act. Because that will enhance voter turnout next November.

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And you can help get key citizen initiatives on the ballot for next fall. Voters are already champing at the bit to vote for the Safer Arizona initiative (marijuana decriminalization).

It is not too early to plan -- not only for voter registration drives and PEVL (permanent early voter list) sign ups, but also -- for how we make sure voters, especially new voters, know how, when and where to ensure they can get their votes cast and then ensure they are counted, correctly.

Chief among the voter suppression tactics employed by Arizona's plutocratic sympathizers in 2012 was confusion.

  • Printing false dates on some literature prepared by elections officials in Maricopa County. Whether it was intentional or negligent is not relevant, it happened.
  • Refusing to process voter registration forms lawfully filled out and submitted to county elections officials. Primarily students at the state universities.
  • Inadequate staffing levels at polling places; inadequate numbers of pre-printed ballots and other logistical deficiencies.
The problems which -- either intentionally or inadvertently (negligence) -- led to excessive wait times and overwhelming numbers of provisional ballots may not have been limited to what we know happened. But it is paramount that we prepare now for what we know have been and can anticipate will be problems on November 4, 2014.

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Because of the pervasive corruption of our political systems, Direct Democracy has risen to the utmost in importance. Even so, long-time politicos in Arizona have known that DOLLAROCRACY can reach its sticky and corrupt fingers into that aspect of our electoral system. 

I will write more soon about the Safer Arizona initiative which -- in addition to the referendum on the Voter Suppression Bill -- has vast potential to catalyze substantial numbers of voters who may not otherwise think to vote next fall.





Sunday, November 10, 2013

Does ENDA really create special privileges for LGBT Americans?

In its Sunday edition, the Arizona Republic published the following:
The so-called Employment Non-Discrimination Act would create special privileges based on sexual orientation and gender identity. ENDA would severely undermine civil liberties, increase government interference in the labor market and trample on religious liberty.
Instead of focusing on real problems, like their health-care train wreck, Harry Reid and the Democrats in the Senate are trying to destroy the rest of our civil liberties.
The Senate approved this bill Thursday, without the consent of grass-roots America. Tell your representative in the House to vote no on ENDA.
— Neil Martin, Tucson
I responded, in the comments section:
What CRAP. A claim that has no basis. Create special privileges? Has this bozo (or the editorial board that publishes this tripe) read ANY of the founding documents or the historical records of what it has taken to actually make the promised equality a practical reality for real live people since the inception of our country?
The Arizona Republic REALLY needs to get a sense of what it's civic duty should be for fostering an informed electorate. Publishing obviously groundless claims that propagate hate, perhaps in the hope that some reader will write something to effectively rebut the groundless claims is completely irresponsible.
THIS is an amazing example of how and why the newspaper industry is suffering precipitous decline.
Now, had I first written my response here on my blog, I would more likely have opened with "What BULLSHIT!" Because that is exactly what Mr. Martin's letter is.

It's not simply a matter of a difference of opinion. Martin starts with an assertion that is simply and factually untrue. Who decides on which letters to publish in the Republic, anyway? Why do they appear not to have any standards based on reality?

But let's get real here. What is Neil Martin really getting at? "ENDA would severely undermine civil liberties..." Whose liberties would that be Neil? Other than your right to discriminate (or harass) someone because your pastor told you that Gays are somehow evil? Is that the religious liberty you hope doesn't get trampled on?

In Arizona, because proponents of discriminatory laws (i.e. members of ALEC) have gradually, but most assuredly, taken ownership and control over corporate media, people like Neil Martin are allowed to assert, without challenge, in paper and ink, that ENDA creates a special class of people and/or rights.

Did abolishment of the institution of slavery in America in 1863 create a special class of rights or people? If so, why did it take until the 1960s before the federal government enacted the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act? As evidenced by HB2305 and similar Voter Suppression Bills in other states, even that fight is not yet over. By the way, what were pastors telling their flocks about slaves back in the day? Might there still be pastors in some southern states telling people that slavery was just fine with God?

Challenge your own thinking. Why has it taken until 2013 for the question of prohibiting job discrimination against LBGT Americans to be confronted in public policy or law -- simply because of who they are?

Martin's assertion in 2013 America is just as absurd as it was to suggest giving Blacks the same civil rights and protections as Whites in the 1860s created a special class of people or privileges.

It's just as absurd as prohibitions against interracial marriage (in effect in the Colonies from the 1600s, in the United States from inception until the Supreme Court outlawed the prohibition in 1967). Or against the Color Barrier in professional sports, broken when Jackie Robinson in 1947 became the first Black to play in Major League Baseball.

Did extending the voting franchise in 1920 to American women in every state create a special class of people or rights?

Contrary to what has been taught in elementary and secondary schools nationwide, the history of our country has had an ominous dark side from the very beginning. Rights enshrined in the US Constitution and Bill of Rights have absolutely NOT been granted equally, willingly, or from the beginning for all Americans.

The time to enact the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is now.

The United State Senate passed it last week. Both Arizona Senators McCain and Flake voted AYE. Call your representative in Congress and tell them to demand Speaker Boehner bring the bill to a vote.

Track ENDA at the bottom of this page.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

GOP Hubris -- the latest filing in AIRC challenge

It's pretty much a given, especially in Arizona, that the Republican controlled legislature thinks of itself as God.

Well, at least that it sees itself a superior to the will of the voters of Arizona. Need I count the ways?

Okay, so you know this is the case. But do you REALLY know? How vivid is your understanding of the problem?

Consider the latest brief in the ongoing saga of that not-so-august body seeking federal court permission to kill the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. From a strictly legal vantage point, the brief and the language therein might be mundane. However, when a person reads what the GOP actually sets forth, it's shockingly eye-opening.
First, Defendants’ appeal to federalism to evade the Elections Clause as a limit on state legislative power clashes with the actual federal structure embodied in the Clause itself. Moreover, in the Elections Clause context, states act by express delegation and have no inherent or reserved authority over federal election procedures.
Second, Defendants seek to minimize the historical evidence marshaled by the Legislature without even offering an alternative reading of that history to support their attempted departure from the plain text of the Constitution.
Third, Defendants falsely claim that Arizona’s current scheme still allows the Legislature to participate with meaningful authority under the Elections Clause. The AIRC, however, is known as the Independent Redistricting Commission precisely because it has exclusive authority to conduct redistricting independently from the Legislature.
Fourth, Defendants pin their final hopes on avoiding the merits altogether; first by divining a nonjusticiability argument; and second by arguing laches. The former ignores a century of federal court decisions allowing challenges to the states’ legislative power under the Elections Clause. The latter may not be applied to a government body bringing a constitutional claim to vindicate the paramount public interest in maintaining the Constitution as the supreme law of the land.
The first paragraph appears to say virtually nothing other than that the AIRC invoked the Arizona Constitution -- which reserved the right of the PEOPLE to exercise legislative (lawmaking) authority -- and that the GOP gods in the legislature don't like that one bit.

Second, the GOP gods are pissed* because they had hoped to bait the AIRC into rebutting what the GOP claims is "historical evidence marshalled by the Legislature..." Obviously, whatever historical evidence they claim to have "marshalled," isn't so obviously potent.  The word "marshalled" is a military word. They apparently hope it conveys a sense of strength to the GOP argument that the argument itself apparently does not have.

Third, the GOP gods mischaracterize briefing submitted to the court by the AIRC concerning the role of the Legislature in the redistricting process. The GOP suggests the AIRC has claimed that the Lege somehow still has AUTHORITY with regard to district maps. The AIRC claimed no such thing. The pertinent wording in the state constitution is,
Either or both bodies of the legislature may act within this period to make recommendations to the independent redistricting commission by memorial or by minority report, which recommendations shall be considered by the independent redistricting commission. The independent redistricting commission shall then establish final district boundaries.
Fourth, pretending to have been righteously offended, these GOP gods make known how they want themselves to be viewed by their sycophants and by historians.
...a government body bringing a constitutional claim to vindicate the paramount public interest in maintaining the Constitution as the supreme law of the land.
I'll concede that the AIRC has ZERO chance of having its motion to dismiss granted. But such a grandiose claim that THEY are trying to vindicate any public interest, let alone an issue of "paramount" public interest? Oh, puhleeze.

Let's set the context. First, the context of the purpose of the US Constitution:
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
It pretty much goes without saying that when this constitution was first officially adopted, there was a whole lot of distance between the purpose/intent and the actual laws enacted by Congress and state legislatures. But the arc of history has bent toward justice, even though the bending process takes time.

Now, the context of the Arizona Legislature and whether it complies with either the spirit or the letter of the constitution.

The GOP dominated Arizona Legislature's last act before shutting down the 2013 regular session was to pass a brazen effort to disenfranchise college students and minority voters (HB2305, the Voter Suppression Act). The citizen referendum, by which the PEOPLE of Arizona will veto HB2305, has been certified by Secretary of State Ken Bennett to appear on the November 2014 general election ballot.

Earlier in the session, a great deal of effort was focused on killing the Citizens Clean Elections Commission, and further chipping away -- as it has since CCEC was first passed by voters -- at provisions in the voter approved measure designed to minimize corruption.

That effort culminated in the Lobbyist Shakedown Bill (HB2593), which is now also subject to litigation and has been put on hold by the Arizona Court of Appeals. Just this week, the Legislature appealed further, to the state Supreme Court.

If people didn't know better, they might get the idea that the main focus of the Arizona Legislature has been an full on assault on the rights of Arizona citizens. Then again, what evidence is there to the contrary?

By the way, I still have not seen reports in the Arizona Republic on the amount of taxpayer money the GOP leaders have been spending on litigation fighting the will of the people of our state.

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Back to the brief in support of the Legislature's motion for an injunction to prevent the current Congressional district map from being used for 2014. Here's what they say about federalism.
...both state and federal authority are at risk if “by the Legislature” distorts to “by any process of a state’s legislative power.” (emphasis mine, reference this expression in the Elections Clause, quoted below)
Isn't that special? These guys are starting to sound like they are afraid of disruptive innovation that moving more and more toward Direct Democracy. Here's the language of 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; but the Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations, except as to the places of choosing Senators.
Actually, they go further in spelling out just how much contempt they have for the people.
The structure of the Elections Clause (Article I, Section 4) displays the crucial republican principle of the states’ representative bodies acting to affect the election of the federal representative body – this is the very essence of federalism. Defendants may prefer a structure of a different stripe, but that would require a Federal constitutional amendment. Reformulating the plain meaning of the Elections Clause is what jeopardizes the constitutional balance of power between the representative bodies.
Speaking of the CENTURY of history they claim the AIRC ignores, I offer the following, not that it will burst the GOP's hubristic bubble.

While it may or may not be directly related to this argument about the Elections Clause, there actually WAS a constitutional amendment that took significant power, as enumerated in that Clause, away from state legislatures. The 17th Amendment, passed by the US House in 1912 and enacted when ratified in 1913, cancelled state legislatures' authority to appoint US Senators. Since 1913, the PEOPLE have elected each state's senators.

What makes these guys think the citizens of Arizona will tolerate usurpation, by the legislature, of authority that the PEOPLE have taken away from them?

How much taxpayer money will Arizona's Republican lawmakers spend on frivolous lawsuits before they get the message that they are most assuredly on the wrong side of history on this issue?

Martin Luther King Jr. and others have famously said that the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice. Dr. Larry Brilliant, president of the Skoll Global Threats fund, recently wrote that the arc will not bend on its own. Of course, Dr. Brilliant was alluding to both cultural inertia (which I have written about) and that it takes civically engaged citizens to act in order to bend that arc.

My point here and now is that there is ample evidence the GOP-controlled legislature is on the wrong side of that arc.

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* NOTE: Actually I'm reminded of a scene from the 1980 movie The Gods Must be Crazy. In that scene and in the linked clip, we see a poignant depiction of relative deprivation. Relative Deprivation is a theory of collective action that explains a great deal of the social psychosis under which the Tea Party has been manipulated and worked into frothy mobs the last few years.

While manipulation of angry people generated a movement that got some people of questionable intellect and/or character elected to Congress over the last few years, this theory also relates to the arc of history concept mentioned by King and others. Arizona voters now are able to exercise authority over specific actions of the Arizona Legislature. Can you imagine that the people will give up that authority? I can't.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Like it or lump it, Triangulation is DEAD

The Washington Post, New York Times and CNN have all declared Progressive Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio the winner of the election for mayor of New York City.
NEW YORK — Bill de Blasio overwhelmingly was elected mayor here Tuesday, becoming the first Democrat to lead New York in 20 years and ushering in a new era of activist liberal governance in the nation’s largest city.
Make no mistake, all eyes (of political watchers anyway) will be on New York and de Blasio to see how it all unfolds. Corporate media will jump on his every stumble, awkward comment or misstep, as yesterday's New York Post front page foreshadowed. The new mayor will be vilified, especially by right-wing pundits who will, like with President Obama, blur the lines of criticism between policy and race. De Blasio's wife is Black and his children of mixed race.

But to the extent that he demonstrates effective leadership in a city that's bigger, by population, than all but eleven US states, a trend that may have found a spark in the Occupy movement will grow and burn brightly for all Americans to recognize for what it truly is.

Mark my words, Arizona, tonight we see the beginning of an electoral trend that will ensure that for the foreseeable future, triangulation is dead.

Oh, we'll see those in Congress continue to try it. But the social psychosis that has enabled elected Democrats to fool their base voters is fast fading away.










Monday, November 4, 2013

How can anyone think Warren Stewart is fit for election to the Phoenix City Council?

Warren Stewart, candidate for city council in district 8, recently dropped campaign literature telling you that unless you vote for him, you are turning your back on Rosa Parks. And on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and on the struggle for civil rights.

Now, I've seen a lot of verbal gymnastics in my time, but this one goes far beyond, into the realm of pure malarkey. Let's dismantle it, shall we?

Stewart’s claim rests on the assertion that direct representation for a given community is, in sum total, having someone elected to office who physically looks like that community – and that is it.

If that is direct representation, then someone like Allen West ought to be the hero of the African American community, seeing as he is just such a high-profile black politician.

Immigrant Ted Cruz should be beloved by all the Dreamers out there, seeing as he, too, came from a foreign land with his parents as a child.

I should just love John Kavanagh, since after all we're both white guys with roots in New York. But Kavanagh does not represent me.

Nor does Cruz represent the Dreamers, nor does West represent the black community. They only look like us. They do not represent our values.

Stewart, earlier in the campaign, blew a bit of dog whistle with Kate Gallego in a hit piece: he tried to paint her as not “one of us.” Later he claimed it was because she didn't have roots in the community, not because she was white.

If we are to believe he meant this, then we have to also believe that he understands being part of a community means more than the color of your skin. If your community is moved by the cause of civil rights, your candidate must show a willingness to fight for us all, to protect us all, to further the cause of justice -- for us all.

Warren Stewart is not that candidate.

He isn't even terribly concerned with the cause of civil rights for African Americans. Stewart may talk a good game, but where the rubber hits the road, he has no real plans.

He can't point to any one thing and tell the electorate “Here- this thing here- is environmental racism, and I will fix it.” He talks about building coalitions and spouts all the necessary warm fuzzy rhetoric. But rhetoric is all it is.

The reality is: Stewart believes it is wrong to require crisis pregnancy centers to disclose the services they do and do not offer.

The reality is: Stewart thinks “supporters of same-sex marriage are contributing to the widespread dysfunction of marriage and family”.

The reality is: for all his talk and blather, the man is not a progressive at all.

The reality is: Warren Stewart is a conservative religious ideologue who is using race and “direct representation” as a canard in an attempt to deceive his own community for his own personal empowerment.

Stewart calls himself a Democrat, but his brand of divisive, race-baiting politics has no place in our party. He is an embarrassment to us all.

Make no mistake, I believe our city government will be the poorer for not having an African American voice in City Hall, but racial politics cannot become the Trojan horse for the politics of religious conservatism. 

We must all work towards the development of leadership in all of our communities, and let the best and brightest rise to the top in the process. We must all work towards “liberty and justice for all,” and never be satisfied that this crucial work is done. We must all work for a brighter, more unified future, and cast aside the voices whose rhetoric divides and inflames us. We must all work together, and reject the likes of Warren Stewart.

Vote Kate Gallego for Phoenix City Council on November 5.

This guest blog post was written by Jo Hafford.

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The Arizona Eagletarian also believes Warren Stewart is bad for Phoenix. In July, I became aware of a $450 campaign contribution from David Cantelme to Stewart's campaign. I then wrote a post explaining the corruption that particular situation represented.

To my knowledge, Stewart has not disavowed Cantelme and has not returned the contribution.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Remember that Agenda 21 controversy? Here's what they should be concerned about instead.

Last March, Jeff Turrentine wrote in Slate,
Pssst! Have you heard about Agenda 21? The secret plot to collectivize private property—hatched by United Nations internationalists and midwifed by operatives ensconced within our own government—all in the name of "ending sprawl" and "encouraging sustainability"? The seizure of suburban homes by jackbooted, gun-toting U.N. thugs? The involuntary relocation of displaced suburbanites to cramped dwellings in densely packed cities?
No? Seriously? You haven't heard about any of this?
Don't blame Glenn Beck. His magazine, the Blaze, put Agenda 21 on the cover of its January/February 2012 issue; the article contained therein, its editors promised, would expose "the global scheme that has the potential to wipe out freedoms of all U.S. citizens." Beck then stretched this warning into a dystopian science fiction novel that came out last November titled (what else?) Agenda 21. In it, suburban and rural homeowners are stripped of their property and carted off to overcrowded cities, where they're forced to live in bunkerlike apartments, wear government-issued uniforms, and generate power for the grid by walking on piezoelectric "energy boards."
On the other hand, the United Nations 1992 Rio Declaration, also know as Agenda 21 is completely voluntary on the part of governments throughout the world. Meaning that it is entirely up to the legitimate jurisdictional authorities in every country to decide what to do about the efforts to encourage sustainable development.

Except in the imagination the Tinfoil Hat Brigade, there is no threat to the sovereignty of the United States nor to the citizens or Constitution thereof. It is exactly the opposite of what the right-wing populists fear.

Here in Arizona, in the last two regular legislative sessions, Tea Party affiliated GOP members of both chambers pushed bills designed to protect our state from the dreaded UN mandate.

Instead, the populist GOP/Tea Party/Tinfoil Hat Brigade might rather focus their energies on putting the brakes on the genuine threat to US sovereignty and democratic (yes, lower case "d") lawmaking and enforcement -- the Trans Pacific Partnership.




From The Nation in June 2012,
While the Occupy movement has forced a public discussion of extreme corporate influence on every aspect of our lives, behind closed doors corporate America is implementing a stealth strategy to formalize its rule in a truly horrifying manner. The mechanism is the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Negotiations have been conducted in extreme secrecy, so you are in good company if you have never heard of it. But the thirteenth round of negotiations between the United States and eight Pacific Rim nations will be held in San Diego in early July. 
The Trans Pacific Partnership has been described as NAFTA on steroids. The North American Free Trade Agreement, is otherwise known as No American Factories Taking Applications. From Truth-Out.org
A world without democracy, ruled by a technocratic elite serving the interests of US and global capital - protecting "investor rights" against national laws and regulations - is now being created in secret negotiations over free-trade treaties, one of which, the TransPacific Parnership (TPP), may be sewn up this fall. Can popular will stop it?
For four decades now, we have seen corporate-led neoliberal globalization transforming nation-states into globalized states that serve the interests of transnational capital above the interests of national populations.
Moyers & Company this last Friday expounded on the problem.



Why should the Agenda 21 fearmongers care more about TPP than the Rio Declaration?

Similar to the WTO (World Trade Organization), the TPP will empower foreign countries to take legal action against other countries (for example, against the US) to challenge laws and regulations made by those countries (i.e. Congress and federal executive branch agencies).

In other words, a direct challenge, in a most tangible manner, to the sovereignty of the United States.

Yves Smith, talking with Moyers indicated the TPP agreement is "designed specifically to weaken nation based regulation while at the same time strengthening intellectual property protections. So it's basically a gimme to companies on both ends."

Smith responds to another Moyers question by saying,
The first language to both of these deals goes something along the lines with all signatories are required to make their laws and regulations conform to the standards of this agreement. They are literally required to make their nation based laws subordinate to the terms of these agreements.
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Two very important points for putting this situation in proper perspective include recognition that in the UN Rio Declaration, even though it might have tough sounding language (that obviously triggered irrational fear and backlash by right wing populists), there is no mechanism in the UN for enforcement. The UN cannot even come together to effectively enforce economic sanctions against nation-states that wage war on neighbors.

Second, there is already historical record of nations taking action to sanction other nations -- in judicial proceedings of the WTO (World Trade Organization) -- to enforce the subordination of laws to applicable trade agreements.

In other words, here's your damned attack on national sovereignty, ya danged Tea Party wankers. Get busy organizing to put the brakes on the TPP and you will have the moral high ground and find yourself leading the way on a coalition that will immediately bring Occupy activists together for a unified purpose.