Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Thursday, February 27, 2014

About Cathi Herrod's side of the SB1062 story

So, a few days ago the Center for Arizona Policy got a group of law professors together to get them to sign a letter saying the people opposing SB1062 were "misleading" everyone.

On letterhead for Douglas Laycock, a professor of law and of religious studies at the University of Virginia, 10 professors in addition to Laycock signed on. The thrust of the letter is that SB1062 is not discriminatory because it's not the bill that was proposed in Kansas.
SB1062, which amends Arizona’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, is on your desk for signature. The bill has been egregiously misrepresented by many of its critics. We write because we believe that you should make your decision on the basis of accurate information.
Some of us are Republicans; some of us are Democrats. Some of us are religious; some of us are not. Some of us oppose same-sex marriage; some of us support it. Nine of the eleven signers of this letter believe that you should sign the bill; two are unsure. But all of us believe that many criticisms of the Arizona bill are deeply misleading.
These are smart people who know, or certainly should know how to make sound, valid arguments. However, in the opening paragraphs of their 4-page missive, they set forth 1) why they believe they are authorities on the subject; and 2) a vague, generalized declaration that criticism of SB1062 is "deeply misleading."

What they do NOT do is say ANYTHING specific about just what criticism(s), published or broadcast where or by whom, are misleading. That should be a HUGE red flag.

They then proceed to set forth brief history of RFRAs (Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, in federal and state law). They talk about the standards set forth in RFRAs and why -- compared to the proposed legislation in KANSAS -- Arizona's bill was a good thing because of what courts would have had to do in order to determine who wins a given lawsuit.

But I don't know that ANYONE published ANYTHING comparing SB1062 with the Kansas legislation in order to criticize or justify it the Arizona bill. Which appears to make their attempted argument NOT germane to the discussion we've had over the last week here in Arizona.

The other thing that these uppity law professors gloss over is that in order for courts to be put in position to make any ruling, someone must face what they consider to be discrimination. Somebody is going to suffer harm to some degree before a court will be able to decide if that harm was justified or not.

So, bravo for Ms. Herrod for getting someone to put something in writing that attempts to justify SB1062.

The arguments set forth in the letter may or may not matter to a judge in a courtroom, but in the political realm of Arizona legislation, they do not hold water, and appear only mildly less disingenuous than Herrod has up to now on this matter.




Cathi Herrod tells the BIG LIE -- about her SB1062 defeat UPDATED 7:30pm MST 2-27-14

On February 23, I posted an analysis of SB1062. I did so because Cathi Herrod told the world to "read the bill, just read the bill."

However, it was abundantly clear from the day the bill was introduced, January 13, 2014, that it was an outrageous attack on humanity under the guise of religious freedom. A few days later, I asked by what objective measure the bill could possibly have been considered about defending religious freedom.

Last week, after the bill was approved by the Arizona House and made ready for the governor's consideration, I started a petition on CREDO MOBILIZE calling for Brewer to veto the bill. More than 33,700 people signed the petition.

Supporters of HUMAN RIGHTS freedoms protested at the state capital several times thereafter. The National Football League sent signals indicating it was considering moving the location of the 2015 Super Bowl (currently scheduled for Glendale, AZ, at the University of Phoenix Stadium) if the governor signed the bill. Numerous other business related indicators, including convention cancellations and loss of job growth opportunities from businesses considering moves to Arizona took place in the meantime.

Several Republican politicians, including three state senators who voted for the bill and both of our state's U.S. Senators, McCain and Flake called for Brewer to veto.

In other words, the PEOPLE of Arizona and the United States spoke loud and clear as a result of understanding the genuine ramifications of this misguided legislation.

By the way, in my analysis of the bill, I invited Herrod, and/or our friend John Kavanagh -- both of whom had advocated on national broadcast media for signing the bill -- to refute or issue a rebuttal to the analysis I published.

So, after Brewer announced her veto decision, the Center for Arizona (HATE) Policy issued the following statement:

26-Feb-2014PHOENIX - “Today’s veto of SB 1062 marks a sad day for Arizonans who cherish and understand religious liberty.

SB 1062 passed the legislature for one reason only: to guarantee that all Arizonans would be free to live and work according to their faith.
Opponents were desperate to distort this bill rather than debate the merits. Essentially, they succeeded in getting a veto of a bill that does not even exist. (emphasis mine)
When the force of government compels one to speak or act contrary to their conscience, the government injures not only the dignity of the afflicted, but the dignity of our society as a whole.
SB 1062 made certain that governmental laws cannot force people to violate their faith unless it has a compelling governmental interest–a balancing of interests that has been in federal law since 1993.
The religious beliefs of all Arizonans must be respected and this bill did nothing more than affirm that. It is truly a disappointing day in our state and nation when lies and personal attacks can over shadow the truth.”
Whose religion rationalizes that it is acceptable to issue bald-faced lies to manipulate your readers into believing what is clearly not true? Cathi Herrod presents as nothing more than whited sepulchre.

If she were even halfway sincere, Herrod might consider some self-reflection and examination along the lines of a 10-question quiz devised by Rev. Emily C. Heath pastor of a United Church of Christ in Vermont. (I can't really tell whether, on the inside, Ms. Herrod is sincere. But I can tell quite a bit, even if not her sincerity, by what she says and does publicly).

For example,
1. My religious liberty is at risk because:
A) I am not allowed to go to a religious service of my own choosing.
B) Others are allowed to go to religious services of their own choosing.

or
5. My religious liberty is at risk because:
A) Being a member of my faith means that I can be bullied without legal recourse.
B) I am no longer allowed to use my faith to bully gay kids with impunity.
The results might be surprising.


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By the way, a source told me earlier this evening (Wednesday) that the AZ House may vote (Third Read) on 60 bills today (Thursday). Among the pieces of garbage potentially facing approval are HB2481 (the minister/gay marriage preemptive strike against a Supreme Court ruling or ballot measure) and HB2526 (consumer lender loans).

The kicker with HB2526 is that several Democratic members of the House signed on as sponsors. One of whom, when I asked about this bill, became very defensive. Another simply ignored my questions. It's still a Republican bill, but I'm puzzled that any Democrat would support it. By the way, the one Democrat who answered some of my questions told me that Rep. Debbie McCune Davis, who has fought the Payday Loan industry valiantly, supported HB2526. Based on a comment McCune Davis posted to a Facebook discussion thread, I learned that claim was not true.

It is my hope that Democrats stay unified on important legislation. Empowering predatory lenders to add to financial stress of lower income families is important and should be emphatically opposed.

UPDATE

The House voted (Third Read) on HB2526 this afternoon, passing it by a vote of 38-18 with 4 not voting.

Democratic leader Chad Campbell was out of town, and assistant Democratic leader Ruben Gallego apparently also was not present for the vote.

Democrats voting in favor of this legislation to enhance the ability of predatory lenders to heap financial stress on lower income families included Lydia Hernández (LD29/West Phoenix), Catherine Miranda (LD27/South Phoenix), Democratic whip Bruce Wheeler (LD10/Tucson), and Lupe Chavira Contreras (LD19/Cashion).

It is a DISGRACE for those four members to have voted in favor of this bill.

Lest anyone think Republicans Ethan Orr, Heather Carter and Kate Brophy McGee are suddenly "moderates," all three voted in favor of the predatory lenders, and NOT Arizona families in this case.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

REDISTRICTING -- AZ Lege files appeal with Scotus to last week's loss in federal district court

As expected following last week's federal court decision, yesterday the Arizona Legislature filed an appeal with the Supreme Court of the United States.

Of course, this action was upstaged by both the controversy regarding and Gov Brewer's veto of SB1062.

There's no telling how long it will take for the Supreme Court to decide whether to affirm or overturn the decision, but rest assured that I will keep you posted.


SB1062 VETOED!

In a press conference just a few minutes ago, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announced that she had vetoed SB1062.

Here is a transcript of her remarks.

Read her veto letter here.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Culture War will continue, even though Herrod knows a veto looms

So, despite the Center for Arizona (HATE) Policy having adopted a victim mentality and appearing close to accepting that the only course of action Gov. Brewer can possibly take is to veto Herrod's bill, SB1062, it is very unlikely Herrod will accept defeat in what she views as a war for the soul of America and Arizona.

The Arizona Republic quoted Herrod this afternoon:
Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, which promoted SB1062, said the outcry makes it “almost impossible” for Brewer to sign the bill.
“But if the bill is vetoed, it will be because of the perception of the bill, not the merits,” she said.
From Herrod's latest statement on the subject:
“The attacks on SB 1062 show politics at its absolute worse. They represent precisely why so many people are sick of the modern political debate. Instead of having an honest discussion about the true meaning of religious liberty, opponents of the bill have hijacked this discussion through lies, personal attacks, and irresponsible reporting.
It's as if nobody, including Constitutional Law scholars, are able to understand what Herrod's bill actually does. That's tragic and indicates these culture warriors are not interested in giving up on their cause anytime soon.

Instead of refuting analyses such as presented in the Arizona Eagletarian, she and her sycophants have adopted a strategy of continuing to tell the big lie, as loud and as often as they can. Given what wingnut blogs like SeeingRedAz yesterday posted, it appears to be working on the low information Tea Party types.
It’s no surprise that the Arizona Republic has embraced its usual technique of bold headlines, multi-page contrivances posing as news reports, and zealously oversized photos on the issue of SB 1062 — employing the irresponsible tactics the liberal newspaper blatantly uses to promote its myopic dual agenda. Columnists and editorialists have donned their jackboots to facilitate marching in lockstep with the attack strategy — irrespective of the facts.
More than 32,000 people have signed our petition on CREDO MOBILIZE. If you haven't done so yet, I invite you to sign it now.

Even if Brewer vetoes SB1062, the fight is not over. HB2481 to hit the fan today?

HB2481, which "may be cited as 'Arizona's First Freedom Act'" is apparently going to be the very next piece of vexatious legislation to hit the fan in Arizona.

A source told the Arizona Eagletarian on Monday evening that the bill, which would add language to A.R.S. § 41-1493 to provide that
GOVERNMENT MAY NOT REQUIRE A MINISTER TO SOLEMNIZE A MARRIAGE THAT IS INCONSISTENT WITH THE MINISTER'S SINCERELY HELD RELIGIOUS BELIEFS.
will be heard in the House caucuses today and likely also subject to floor debate (Committee of the Whole) and Third Read all this afternoon.

But you say that government ALREADY may not demand a minister to do anything inconsistent with the minister's "sincerely held religious beliefs." Well, WHO is a minister? To that same section of statute (41-1493) language is added defining a minister thus,
"MINISTER" MEANS AN INDIVIDUAL WHO IS AUTHORIZED TO SOLEMNIZE A MARRIAGE PURSUANT TO SECTION 25‑124.
So, who now becomes a minister for purposes of this new provision?
     A. The following are authorized to solemnize marriages between persons who are authorized to marry:
1. Duly licensed or ordained clergymen.
2. Judges of courts of record.
3. Municipal court judges.
4. Justices of the peace.
5. Justices of the United States supreme court.
6. Judges of courts of appeals, district courts and courts that are created by an act of Congress if the judges are entitled to hold office during good behavior.
7. Bankruptcy court and tax court judges.
8. United States magistrate judges.
9. Judges of the Arizona court of military appeals. 
This could parallel prior year legislation authorizing pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for the Morning After Pill.

What else does HB2481 do? It adds language to A.R.S. § 41-1442 regarding where discrimination is prohibited, and exceptions thereof.
F.  THIS SECTION DOES NOT REQUIRE A CHURCH TO ECUMENICALLY RECOGNIZE, FACILITATE OR SOLEMNIZE A MARRIAGE THAT IS INCONSISTENT WITH THE SINCERELY HELD RELIGIOUS BELIEF, DOCTRINE OR TENET OF THE CHURCH.
G.  FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION, "CHURCH" MEANS A RELIGIOUS ASSEMBLY OR INSTITUTION AND DOES NOT INCLUDE A HOSPITAL, HOTEL, RESTAURANT, RETAIL OR SERVICE BUSINESS OR ANY OTHER TRADITIONAL PLACE OF ACCOMMODATION.
In other words, in the statute specifying that discrimination may not take place in places of public accommodation, "because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin or ancestry" and noting EXCEPTIONS to that rule, our legislature wants to again sneak in language that DOES allow discrimination on the basis of "sincerely held religious belief, doctrine or tenet" of any given church.

So, take a guess as to whom OTHER THAN on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin or ancestry, they are targeting. Okay, so "sex" might include "sexual preference" or "same-sex marriages." But we'd have to check the case law to know for sure, since they didn't include language to disambiguate (I learned that word by reading Wikipedia) that particular term.

Now, what makes anyone (including Cathi Herrod) think any government is going to try to compel any church to do anything contrary to the doctrines and tenets of that church? I can't answer that.

However, isn't it nice of Ms. Herrod to specify that they don't mean to discriminate against same sex couples in hospitals, hotels, restaurants, retail or service businesses or any other traditional place of accommodation?

But really, could this be anything other than a preemptive strike against a citizen initiative to amend the Arizona Constitution to allow same-sex marriages? It might, but that's the first thing that comes to my mind.

The vociferous protestations she and her ilk (and the most vocal state lawmakers taking up her cause, like Al Melvin and John Kavanagh) that SB1062 was ONLY about protecting the religious beliefs of certain people have rung hollow for the last several days.

But in this case, it ALMOST makes sense.

We have the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article 2, Section 12 of the Arizona Constitution. From Wikipedia (on the Free Exercise Clause),
In 1878, the Supreme Court was first called to interpret the extent of the Free Exercise Clause in Reynolds v. United States, as related to the prosecution of polygamy under federal law. The Supreme Court upheld Reynolds' conviction for bigamy, deciding that to do otherwise would provide constitutional protection for a gamut of religious beliefs, including those as extreme as human sacrifice. The Court said (at page 162): "Congress cannot pass a law for the government of the Territory which shall prohibit the free exercise of religion. The first amendment to the Constitution expressly forbids such legislation." Of federal territorial laws, the Court said: "Laws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious beliefs and opinions, they may with practices."
And from the Arizona Constitution,
The liberty of conscience secured by the provisions of this constitution shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness, or justify practices inconsistent with the peace and safety of the state...
Here's where the, "I'm not a lawyer" thing comes in again. There appears to be plenty of ambiguity such that if a ballot measure were to be approved by Arizona voters (or a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, for that matter) authorizing same-sex marriages, then hypothetically, I could see how Herrod and her ilk might fear for their eternal lives because they might be compelled to marry two guys.

Well, maybe that's just a little bit tongue-in-cheek. But in this case, I see how their imaginations can conjure up a plausible scenario where they might feel a need to have their religious beliefs (practices) protected.

Ultimately, this is still about Cathi Herrod's Culture War. How far it might be appropriate to let her get with it is something I'm not prepared to offer an opinion at this time. But it is coming up right on the heels of the firestorm of controversy over SB1062.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Print Newspapers' Smear of Kavanagh Reeks of Desperation

Guest post, originally published on Blog for Arizona, by Bob Lord


Let's hope this is one of the last gasps of a dying snake.

The pathetic print newspaper industry, in a desperate attempt to preserve a statutorily-mandated revenue stream that lost its justification decades ago, maliciously attacked Arizona House Rep. John Kavanagh in some of the most despicably self-serving and deceptive editorial pieces I've ever read.
Unfortunately, few members of the public likely understand what really is going on.

Let's be clear: Kavanagh and I are not exactly political chums, although I have nothing personal against him and do admire his willingness to comment here under his real name. But he's a right-wing conservative and I identify as Green. So I have no motive to shill for Rep. Kavanagh.

But I'm willing to give credit where credit is due, and John has introduced a piece of legislation, HB 2554, which is outstanding and long overdue. HB 2554 eliminates the requirement that newly formed corporations and limited liability companies publish their formation information in a print newspaper of general circulation.

The Arizona print newspaper industry collects millions in fees from business start-ups each year for printing these statutorily mandated notices. The notices appear in separate sections of numerous local newspapers. Nobody reads them. They go straight to the recycling bin or, worse yet, the landfill.
And it's been that way for decades.

It's what's referred to as a private tax, but technically is a fee.

A long time ago, when local print newspapers were the best way to disseminate this information and far, far fewer corporations were formed, most states had publication requirements.

No longer. All but four states (AZ, Nebraska, New York and Pennsylvania) have eliminated the publication requirement because it no longer serves any purpose. From the way the Arizona print newspaper lobby is squealing like a stuck pig, you would never guess this to be the case, but it is.

In the past weeks, a spate of wildly deceptive editorial pieces have appeared in Arizona newspapers, led of course by our Arizona Republic in What's this? John Kavanagh wants larger government?

At the heart of the deception is the conflation of (a) the legitimate and necessary practice of providing online access to information about corporations and limited liability companies to the public; and (b) the completely wasteful and valueless practice of publishing information about new corporate and limited liability company formations in print. Those two practices are not naturally connected. The newspaper lobby, however, justifies the continuation of the giant revenue stream it derives from wasteful print publication on the basis of the public's need for online access.

Practically each line from the Republic either is misleading or is an outright lie, starting out with the glaring omission of the fact that the list of states retaining the publication requirement is down to four, and shrinking.

First, some background. HB 2554 would eliminate the requirement that newly formed businesses publish their formation information in a print newspaper, thus saving each new corporation about $100 and each new limited liability company about $40. In 2013, there were 6,345 new corporations and 53,991 new limited liability companies formed in Arizona. Do the math. When you add in publications for name changes, mergers and other matters, we're talking $3 Million in publication fees annually.

HB 2554 also would allocate $65,000 to improve the online database of business entity information. The Corporation Commission already maintains a website where this information is available. It's actually very good. Those stats I cited about new business formations in 2013? Right off the ACC website. Time needed to retrieve that data? About a minute.

After the initial $65,000 expenditure, there likely would be ongoing maintenance costs, although the website maintenance costs already incurred by the ACC may not increase materially.

Bottom line: Businesses save $3 Million PER YEAR, in exchange for a one-time $65,000 website development expense. 

On to the Republic's hit piece. First, the Republic insinuates that Kavanagh is a hypocrite because he's promoting "big government":
So it’s amazing to see him sponsoring a bill that would take a role performed by Arizona businesses and give it to state government.
No, this is actually a role already performed by state government. It's a quintessentially governmental function. When a business forms a new limited liability or corporation, it files "articles" with the Corporation Commission containing vital information such as it's name, place of business, owners' names and so forth. The Corporation Commission already organizes this information in a database.

It's after this occurs that big government swings into action under current law, requiring each business to must publish some, but not all, of its vital information in a newspaper of general circulation. There are at least 20 such newspapers in Maricopa County. The newspaper then voluntary transmits that information to a website the newspaper trade association maintains, even though the trade association could systematically pull the same information from the ACC website. The trade association then places the information in a searchable database, along with information from other types of public notices. The effect is to duplicate the data available from the ACC database.

But the newspaper database is not as reliable (or comprehensive) as the ACC database. After all, it's entirely voluntary on the part of the newspapers to submit publication information to the database. And, by the way, a newspaper of general circulation is not required to join the trade association.

Rep. Kavanagh's bill seeks to eliminate the big government aspect of current law. The bill would not preclude the newspapers from maintaining their website. And all the information used by the newspapers would still be available to them, from the ACC. The only thing that wouldn't be available would be the unnecessary print publication of information for fees.

So, Kavanagh is not taking a role performed by business. He's eliminating an unnecessary regulatory requirement -- the print publication of information -- and saving businesses millions of dollars annually.

Next, this whopper:
Kavanagh wants the Arizona Corporation Commission to spend $65,000 in taxpayer money to create a website where minimal information about corporate and limited-liability company filings would be posted for 90 days. He says this would be a boon to the public and business.
Neither is true. [emphasis mine]
Actually, it would be a boon to business, in the form of a $3 Million annual cost savings. Or is it more? If a business engages a law firm or document preparation service to handle its formation, the effort of the law firm or document preparation service ultimately increases the cost to the business.

But that's not the whopper. The whopper is the "$65,000 in taxpayer money" part. The money would come from filing fees already paid by new corporations and limited liability companies. Are those filing fees taxes? Possibly, in the self-serving delusional minds of the Republic's editorial board. Could those fees increase marginally to fund the $65,000 website development? Kavanagh claims they would not, at least as a result of this change.

Then, the Republic distorts the purpose of the affidavit newspapers supply for businesses that publish with them:
Newspapers provide affidavits as legal proof of notice, something the Corporation Commission would not do.
The sole purpose of the affidavit is to allow a new corporation or limited liability company to prove it satisfied the publication requirement. Eliminate the publication requirement and the affidavits have no purpose. So, the choice for the business owner is "you either get an affidavit to prove you paid your private tax to the newspaper industry, or we eliminate the private tax and you don't get an affidavit." If you're a new business owner, which would you prefer?

Then there's this:
Business isn’t clamoring for a change.
Of course not, but what a crock. Each new business is getting hit for $40 or $100 in costs, perhaps a bit more if it operates through multiple entities. Do they want to pay this private tax to the print newspaper industry? No. Are they "clamoring" for change? No, there's not enough money involved. This is precisely how bad legislation gets passed and good legislation gets crushed. Each business getting ripped off for a few bucks doesn't have enough at stake here to "clamor" for change. But the corrupt, pathetic print newspaper industry has a huge amount at stake, namely, its place at the trough. So it's doing plenty of clamoring. When the interest of the public is dispersed, as it is here, and the special interest is concentrated, guess who almost always wins.

The Republic of course claims not to be acting in its self-interest:
Politicians don’t like a news media that pokes into their business. But this change would have no effect on The Arizona Republic, which doesn’t publish these filings. It would hurt niche and small-town newspapers, like the one that serves Kavanagh’s Fountain Hills.
Make that no DIRECT effect. There are other ripoffs in the form of public (governmental) notices that must be published in print under obsolete statutes from yesteryearcentury. The Republic is making bank on those notices. And its editorial board knows those notices too will get a closer look if Kavanagh's bill passes. Also, those little newspapers it purports to care about use a portion of their public notice revenue to help subsidize the same website that the Republic uses for its public notices. So, indirectly, our friends at the Republic have much at stake.

But it wasn't only the Republic. This was an organized effort. Here's the Payson Roundup in Government Takeover a Political Cheapshot:
So why would [Kavanagh] introduce HB2554, which would use $65,000 in taxpayer money to set up an obscure Website to post legal notices currently published in local newspapers and their Web sites throughout the state?
Could be he’s just mad at newspapers — especially small-town newspapers like the Roundup, his hometown Fountain Hills newspaper or maybe the well respected Capitol Times, a legislative watchdog weekly.
Excuse me, but what the hell is an "obscure" website? We have these things called search engines. They lead us to websites. What the tricksters at the Payson Roundup don't tell their readers is that no one newspaper is guaranteed to handle any one publication for a new business entity. If you wanted comprehensive information on this front, you'd have to gather all the newspapers in the relevant county, or visit all their websites. Or, you could just go to the Corporation Commission website.

And this:
Please note: Kavanagh has proposed a new fee — read that tax — to set up and operate the Web site. Now, maybe you believe his peculiar claim that you can set up a state Web site that will handle a flood of constantly changing legal notices for just $65,000. We’re skeptical ourselves, seeing as how the last time the Arizona Corporation Commission tried to update its much less comprehensive Web site Starpas, the cost ballooned to $250,000 although it never actually worked.
No, it's not new, it is a fee, not a tax, and the folks paying it would save a ton of money under Kavanagh's bill. And the "constantly changing legal notices" actually don't change. The information regarding Arizona business entities changes constantly, but you know who the keeper of that information is? The Corporation Commission. That website, Starpas, which the experts at the Roundup malign, is incredibly reliable. And it's absolutely positively not "less comprehensive" than the website contemplated in Kavanagh's legislation. It's far more comprehensive. In fact, Starpas provides not only the information, but copies of the actual filed documents. It provides annual reports of corporations. It provides statistics on filings.

Are the editorial board members of the Roundup completely clueless? Possibly, but the other possibility is that they intentionally distorted facts for profit. Bottom line, however, is that they likened Kavanagh to a Democrat, when his bill does something that's very Republican: Eliminating an unnecessary regulation. So, was it Kavanagh or the Payson Roundup who took the cheap shot? You make the call.

The public, unfortunately, is fairly clueless on this matter. I happened upon a letter to the editor of a local Fountain Hills paper, from a lady named Eunice, which gave this justification for continuing the publication requirement:
The Arizona Corporation Commission would only be required to post them online. The Times’ editorial stated that the Arizona Newspapers Association posts these things on their website in addition to setting them in print. So there is nothing of value to this HB2554.
No, Eunice, nothing of value other than $3 Million in cost savings annually to new businesses.
How many times a week do you browse online for corporate filings or even for ridiculous legislation that may not appear in print? Public notices in print represent revenue for newspapers and a better source of information for all citizens who enjoy their newspaper with a cup of coffee in the morning.
Sorry, Eunice, besides you, there are fewer than five people statewide who "browse the corporate filings" in print. After all, it would be no more interesting than reading the phonebook. Indeed, when I read Eunice's letter, I thought of the scene in Rainman, when Dustin Hoffman recalled a waitress' phone number because he'd read it in the phonebook.



Even if reading the print notices of business formations was a logical way to obtain information, it has no value under our current system, because you'd have to purchase and read over 20 newspapers in Maricopa County to obtain comprehensive information regarding the 150+ business entities formed daily here. And unless there's something specific you need to know, it's useless information. If there is something specific you need to know, you're only going to find it online, unless you like searching for needles in haystacks.

So, Eunice, is it really worth $3 Million per year so you and perhaps five other underemployed or over-aged dimwits can read absolutely useless information in print as you sip your morning coffee?

In closing, I'll relate my personal experience with this. I was one of six attorneys who drafted Arizona's limited liability company statute in 1992. We intentionally omitted a publication requirement, because, even back then, the requirement no longer served any legitimate purpose.

A year or so after the legislation was enacted, the newspaper lobby threw a fit. I testified. The newspapers of course won (they were far more powerful back then), but we did extract a compromise limiting the amount of information that had to be published. That concession has saved Arizona businesses millions over the past two decades. I'm proud of that.

Several legislators confided in me back then that they knew the publication requirement was a ripoff, but they couldn't get on the wrong side of the newspapers. That actually was understandable at the time, but no longer. Print newspapers no longer have the power to extract this tribute from the public, and legislators should have the courage to tell them so.

###

-----

Yesterday, the Prescott Daily Courier ran an editorial about HB2554 that is even more convoluted. That paper confused the issue of PUBLIC (governmental/municipal) notices with corporate notices. In some states, the two categories might be handled in the same statutory provisions, but in Arizona, they are separate. In the 2013 legislative session, HB2483 tried to address both, seeking to allow online publication of governmental and corporate notices but due to pressure from the newspaper lobby, died.

If that doesn't add to the cognitive dissonance about the role of newspaper publication, that's even more troubling. This goes to what Lord meant when he said that likely few people would understand the issue. Based on what the Payson and Prescott papers had to say about the bill, it seems likely THEY don't even understand the issue.

Add to this the firestorm of controversy that has arisen as a result of SB1062. Kavanagh's bold but misguided defense of the religious discrimination law detracts from the clarity with which he acted and advocated for eliminating the statutory requirement to publish corporate notices in print newspapers. At this time, HB2554 passed in the Technology and Infrastructure committee and has yet to be scheduled by Speaker Andy Tobin for floor debate.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Let's examine SB1062, shall we?

Arizona's self-appointed Bible enforcer Cathi Herrod says all we need to do is read the bill and we will see that no discrimination is intended.

Let's test that theory.

The first change SB1062 makes to Arizona statute is, in § 41-1493 (Definitions related to the Free Exercise of Religion), to expand the definition of "exercise of religion."
2.  "Exercise of religion" means the PRACTICE OR OBSERVANCE OF RELIGION, INCLUDING THE ability to act or refusal to act in a manner substantially motivated by a religious belief, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.
On the surface, this might appear to be an insignificant change. But what does "practice or observance of religion" mean? This bill does not define the language added. THEREFORE, by definition (of how statutes get defined and clarified when the legislature introduces ambiguous language) it can ONLY be defined by a court.

Have you ever heard the expression, "it's easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission?" In this case, whoever this statute applies to will interpret the language the way he or she wants to and it will be up to a person who believes her or himself to have been wronged to take that person to court to have a judge decide who's right and who is wrong.

The next change SB1062 makes to statute is to expand the definition of "person,"
5.  "Person" includes a religious assembly or institution ANY INDIVIDUAL, PARTNERSHIP, CORPORATION, CHURCH, RELIGIOUS ASSEMBLY OR INSTITUTION OR OTHER BUSINESS ORGANIZATION.
Do you recall recent controversies over campaign finance and freedom of speech? In its Citizens United ruling the U.S. Supreme Court held that corporations have the same rights as living, breathing humans. SB1062 seeks to enshrine that legal principle into Arizona civil rights statutes to say that businesses have the same religious rights as living, breathing humans.

Further,
B.  Except as provided in subsection C, government OF THIS SECTION, STATE ACTION shall not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.
C.  Government STATE ACTION may substantially burden a person's exercise of religion only if it THE GOVERNMENT OR NONGOVERNMENTAL PERSON SEEKING THE ENFORCEMENT OF STATE ACTION demonstrates that application of the burden to the person PERSON'S EXERCISE OF RELIGION IN THIS PARTICULAR INSTANCE is both:
1.  In furtherance of a compelling governmental interest.
2.  The least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

HUH?

Instead of this statute limiting the authority of a government agency or body in Arizona from burdening a person's exercise of religion, it will now limit the right of a NONGOVERNMENTAL person to seek enforcement of a "state action." Again, the ONLY place a person can go to demand a business comply with the law (like a law granting civil rights to LGBT persons) is TO COURT.

In other words, a business (if this becomes law) cannot be compelled to honor the civil or other rights of some people (whoever it wants to discriminate against) EVEN IN COURT.

Additionally,
D.  A person whose religious exercise is burdened in violation of this section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding, and obtain appropriate relief against a government REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE GOVERNMENT IS A PARTY TO THE PROCEEDING.
E.  A person that asserts a violation of this section must establish all of the following:
1.  That the person's action or refusal to act is motivated by a religious belief.
2.  That the person's religious belief is sincerely held.
3.  That the state action substantially burdens the exercise of the person's religious beliefs.
F.  The person asserting a claim or defense under subsection D of this section may obtain injunctive and declaratory relief.  A party who prevails in any action to enforce this article against a government shall recover attorney fees and costs.

First, the business that wants to get away with discriminating is now (if this becomes law) authorized to assert that his religious freedom was violated, based on any number of hypothetical situations.

Second, in order to be "protected" against the risk of losing that lawsuit, the person must establish that the discrimination was based on a sincerely held religious belief that has been "substantially burdened." The person seeking to be shielded is eligible for injunctive and declaratory relief -- FROM a judge, in a court. In other words, that's the end of the story... almost. The party who prevails SHALL recover attorney fees and costs.

That's the fail safe to minimize the risk of going to court in the first place. Whoever loses the lawsuit has to pay the other side's attorneys.

In other words, as I wrote yesterday,
Boston also said, "What legislation like this does is take a noble cause and turns it into a tool of oppression."
Anyone who doubts this (and that appears to include our friend John Kavanagh) needs to take a good hard look at the research in the Stanford Prison Study.
What happens when you put good people in an evil place? Does humanity win over evil, or does evil triumph?
The evidence is stark. The proponents of discrimination, misguided at best. Giving Herrod, Kavanagh and other proponents of lawful religious discrimination the benefit of the doubt, they are willfully ignorant of the inevitable unintended consequences.
Ultimately, regardless of whose perspective you examine the inevitable scenarios from, SB1062 sets up unavoidable conflict that will either be tolerated by those suffering violations of civil rights or provided relief from courts.

All of which, despite John Kavanagh's protestations, affirms what I have been saying from the day SB1062 was first introduced as proposed legislation -- this is about enforcement of Cathi Herrod's interpretation of the Bible, at the expense of the civil rights of anyone and everyone else.

And since Kavanagh so forcefully believes SB1062 is NOT discriminatory, and went on CNN the other day to try to make that case, I invite him to refute the argument that I made here and in my previous blog post.

Before he does, however, I must point out that the argument he made in the video explaining his vote -- that SB1062 is not discriminatory because the Arizona Republic supposedly distorted the implications of SB1070 four years ago, thereby causing a national controversy -- is all sorts of invalid. But I'm confident that Kavanagh is better equipped than I to tell us which logical fallacies he employed in his defense of SB1062.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Kavanagh says Brewer will sign SB1062, but does she DARE even consider it?

In the span of less than 48 72 hours, our CREDO MOBILIZE petition has accrued more than 10,000 25,000 signatures calling for Gov. Brewer to #VetoSB1062.

Last month, I cited SB1062 showing how the bill is a license to discriminate, using "sincerely held religious belief" as a shield against lawsuits.

The bill's author (Cathi Herrod, not Steve Yarbrough) doggedly holds to the position that she is a victim in this situation, rather than admitting what this bill is really about. In an interview on CNN, Herrod refused to answer questions directed at whether SB1062 would allow a business owner to discriminate against gays. Robert Boston, communication director for Americans United for Separation of Church and State answered for her, after she repeatedly refused. He indicated that YES, SB1062 would allow that discrimination.

Boston also said, "What legislation like this does is take a noble cause and turns it into a tool of oppression."

Anyone who doubts this (and that appears to include our friend John Kavanagh) needs to take a good hard look at the research in the Stanford Prison Study.
What happens when you put good people in an evil place? Does humanity win over evil, or does evil triumph?
The evidence is stark. The proponents of discrimination, misguided at best. Giving Herrod, Kavanagh and other proponents of lawful religious discrimination the benefit of the doubt, they are willfully ignorant of the inevitable unintended consequences.

So, Kavanagh says (at the 7:50 mark in this video clip) that Brewer WILL sign the bill.

To demonstrate just how willfully ignorant he is, in the CNN interview, which included NYU law professor Kenji Yoshino, Kavanagh responds to the very first question posed to him -- about whether SB1062 would enable a hypothetically Catholic loan officer to refuse to do business (give a loan to) a gay couple or an unwed mother -- by saying "absolutely not." But he later (at 2:20) acknowledges that the question has been posed to courts for decades and will again have to go before courts to decide.

Kavanagh then launches into a rationalized explanation of whether this law changes anything. He says it does not. Yoshino, a constitutional law professor, however, says it does make material changes.

This illustrates what we have seen time and time again from Arizona's legislature, that it decides what it wants to do based NOT on legitimate dialogue with stakeholders representing opposing views. Instead, they take the bully approach. We're going to do this because WE CAN and you can't stop us.

In 2010, that gave Arizona SB1070. Immediately upon passage of that bill, citizen opposition mounted a ferocious fury. But Gov. Brewer seized on the political opportunity and a rising Tea Party movement and signed the bill anyway.

Arizona suffered economic losses immediately. But Brewer easily won her primary election and despite a meltdown (16-second lapse into confused silence on Horizon, and other incidents demonstrating questionable qualification and judgment), won re-election.

In 2013, voting rights advocates effectively pushed back from January until the last day of the legislative session, holding off voter suppression legislation. On the last day, with lobbying help from John Boehner, the GOP succeeded in passing HB2305, the Voter Suppression Act. They anticipated protest, but they did not fully appreciate the hornets' nest they had swatted at and hit squarely.

Far more than the minimum required number of signatures -- many of which were from Republican voters -- enabled the referendum to successfully put the measure to voters.

Thus far in 2014, they figured they could pull a fast one, repeal HB2305 and take the wind out of their opponents' sails. That repeal, HB2196, is now ready for Brewer's signature and may land on her desk on the same day as SB1062.

The legislature appears to not have learned the lessons of recent history.

Will Brewer have learned?

Will Brewer, despite John Kavanagh's assurance that she will sign SB1062, even dare to consider doing so?

Dare she hasten the inevitable political transformation of Arizona into a solid BLUE state?

Redistricting -- AZ Legislature's lawsuit goes down in flames

On Friday afternoon, the three-judge panel that had heard oral arguments in January for dismissing the legislature's challenge to the Congressional district maps drawn in 2012 issued a 2-1 decision and 14-page order dismissing the legislature's challenge. Judge Murray Snow wrote the opinion with Judge Mary Schroeder concurring.

Judge Paul Rosenblatt concurred in part and dissented in part.

The Associated Press summed it up thus,
The three-judge panel's majority ruling rejects lawmakers' arguments that the U.S. Constitution gives only the Legislature the authority to draw maps for the federal districts. U.S. District Judge Paul Rosenblatt dissented. [...]
The majority on the panel ruled that Arizona voters' creation of the commission to draw districts was not unconstitutional and that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld similar efforts by states to remove the drawing of district maps from partisan lawmakers.
"The Arizona Constitution allows multiple avenues for lawmaking, and one of those avenues is the ballot initiative, as employed here through Proposition 106," U.S. District Judge Murray Snow wrote. "Plaintiffs ... cannot dispute that the initiative power is legislative." 
Rosenblatt, however, strongly broke with Snow and Circuit Judge Mary Schroeder. He noted that the way the commission is chosen by the Legislature, from a list drawn up by the state's commission on appellate appointments, and that fact that the commission can reject the Legislature's suggested map changes, undermine the Legislature's constitutional power to oversee elections.
From the court decision:
To the extent, however, that the Legislature makes arguments that the IRC cannot be the repository of legislative authority because it is not a representative body, such arguments arise under the republican guarantee clause of the Constitution and, as such, are not justiciable.
In other words, we don't buy what the legislature is trying to sell us, as any argument the legislature may make that the IRC is not a representative body are not subject to judicial interpretation. So, that's one strike against the legislature. More from the court decision:
What the parties dispute is the meaning of the Elections Clause of the United States Constitution. That clause states that “[t]he 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 chusing Senators.” U.S. Const, art. I, § 4, cl.1. Plaintiff asserts that because the word “legislature” means “the representative body which makes the laws of the people,” (Doc. 12 at ¶ 37), and the Clause allows the legislature to prescribe the time, place and manner of holding elections for congresspersons, the Clause specifically grants the power to realign congressional districts to the legislature. The Supreme Court, however, has at least twice rejected the notion that when it comes to congressional redistricting the Elections Clause vests only in the legislature responsibilities relating to redistricting. Both cases found that states were not prohibited from designing their own lawmaking processes and using those processes for the congressional redistricting authorized by the Clause. In subsequent cases, the Supreme Court has reaffirmed that a state can place the redistricting function in state bodies other than the legislature. [...]
In doing so the Court declined to hold that the Clause granted redistricting authority uniquely to the state legislature as opposed to any other entity, including the people, which the state may have endowed with “legislative power.” Thus the Court observed that the argument that Congress had violated the Elections Clause by authorizing re-districting to be accomplished “in the manner provided by the laws [of the state]” including referendum as it had been used in Ohio to reject the legislature’s redistricting map, “must rest upon the assumption that to include the referendum in the scope of the legislative power is to introduce a virus which destroys that power, which in effect annihilates representative government.” [...] (emphasis mine)
Had the Court interpreted the Elections Clause as requiring that redistricting authority was vested uniquely in the legislature as opposed to giving the states discretion of where to place such authority within the scope of the “state’s legislative power,” there would have been no need for the Court to hold that the question of granting the people of Ohio the right to participate in congressional redistricting through the referendum power was not justiciable. Thus, in affirming the State Supreme Court’s denial of the writ of mandamus in favor of the validity of the referendum, the Court necessarily held that to the extent that the Elections Clause vested some constitutional authority in a state to redistrict national congressional districts, that authority was vested in the operation of a state’s legislative power; not necessarily in the state legislature. [...] (emphasis mine)
It noted that the function to be performed under the Elections Clause is to prescribe the time, place and manner of holding elections. “As the authority is conferred for the purpose of making laws for the state, it follows, in the absence of an indication of a contrary intent, that the exercise of the authority must be in accordance with the method which the state has prescribed for legislative enactments.” Id. at 367. The Court found “no suggestion in the federal constitutional provision of an attempt to endow the Legislature of the state with power to enact laws in any manner other than that in which the Constitution of the state has provided that laws shall be enacted.” [...]
Hildebrant and Smiley thus demonstrate that the word “Legislature” in the Elections Clause refers to the legislative process used in that state, determined by that state’s own constitution and laws. Other Courts have arrived at the same conclusion. “The Supreme Court has plainly instructed . . . that this phrase [‘the Legislature’] encompasses the entire lawmaking function of the state.” Brown v. Sec’y of State of Fla., 668 F.3d 1271, 1278-79 (11th Cir. 2012). [...]
Plaintiff notes that the ballot initiative is not one of the four constitutionally-defined processes by which the Legislature itself may enact laws (Doc. 17 at 11), but it cannot dispute that the Arizona Constitution specifies that the initiative power is legislative. Ariz. Const. art. IV, pt. 1, § 1, ¶ 1 (“The legislative authority of the state shall be vested in the legislature, consisting of a senate and a house of representatives, but the people reserve the power to propose laws and amendments to the constitution and to enact or reject such laws and amendments at the polls, independently of the legislature.”). (emphasis mine)
Clearly, the majority members of the panel recognized that the U.S. Constitution is about representation of the PEOPLE rather than the rights of a partisan body which more often than not thumbs its collective nose(s) at the will of the people of Arizona.

But then there was Judge Rosenblatt's dissent. House Speaker Andy Tobin was pleased with that part of today's findings. But Tobin also had a note of resignation in his voice when he spoke with the AP.
House Speaker Andy Tobin [sic] the result was not unexpected but was pleased to see the strong dissent from Rosenblatt. He said the Legislature expected all along that the case would head to the U.S. Supreme Court and he expects that effort to begin soon. That appeal bypasses lower courts.
"If they think its frivolous we want to know that too, and then the argument will be over," Tobin said. 
Again from the court decision:
There is no dispute that the IRC was created through the legislative power reserved in the people through the initiative with the specific purpose of conducting the redistricting within the state, and that in exercising its functions the IRC exercises the state’s legislative power. [...]
Plaintiff apparently recognizes, in light of Hildebrant and Smiley, that the Elections Clause does not give unique authority to state legislatures to conduct redistricting.
Hence, we see why Tobin tacitly acknowledges his lawsuit was frivolous. But I don't hear anyone clamoring for Tobin or Senate President Andy Biggs(hot) to justify the money THEY frittered away with this lawsuit. More from the court decision:
As the Supreme Court stated in Smiley, the Elections Clause includes no “attempt to endow the Legislature of the state with power to enact laws in any manner other than that in which the Constitution of the state has provided that laws shall be enacted.”...
...the Supreme Court’s decisions in Hildebrant and Smiley “provided a clear and unambiguous answer . . . twice explaining that the term ‘Legislature’ in the Elections Clause refers not just to a state’s legislative body but more broadly to the entire lawmaking process of the state.” 668 F.3d at 1276.4 In Arizona the lawmaking power plainly includes the power to enact laws through initiative, and thus the Elections Clause permits the establishment and use of the IRC.
Therefore,
IT IS ORDERED THAT Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim (Doc. 16) is granted. (emphasis in original)
Rosenblatt's dissent follows and can be read at the link provided above. As the AP notes, Rosenblatt "strongly" dissented. But the strength of his dissent is only in the emphatic choice of words he used to describe his displeasure. The strength is definitely NOT in a strong argument.
It cannot be disputed that the Elections Clause's reference to "the Legislature," as that term has been interpreted by the Supreme Court, refers to the totality of a state's lawmaking function as defined by state law, and that in Arizona a citizen initiative, such as that used to enact Proposition 106 to amend the state constitution, is an integral part of the state's legislative process. But the fact that Arizona has appropriately used its initiative process to establish the IRC cannot be the end of the inquiry under the Elections Clause, as found by the majority, because it also cannot be disputed that any law passed by a state, whether through an initiative or referendum or directly by the legislature, must abide by the United States Constitution.
He just didn't make a case for how the establishment of the AIRC fails to abide by the U.S. Constitution. The sole point he makes, and he states only that he finds it "instructive," is that in the three cases cited showing where and when Congressional redistricting was conducted other than by a state legislature, "all involved situations in which the state legislature participated in the redistricting decision-making process in some very significant and meaningful capacity."

In one, a governor vetoed a legislatively drawn map, in another the voters vetoed a map by referendum and in the other, the legislature drew the map based on strict rules imposed by a citizen initiative.

This is where I invoke the "I'm not a lawyer, but..." scenario. Rosenblatt's argument revolves around the notion of the "rights" of the legislature, rather than the rights and responsibilities of the PEOPLE. To me, that argument seems incredibly weak. He closed his dissent with this,
What Plaintiff does not have under Proposition 106 is the ability to have any outcome-defining effect on the congressional redistricting process. I believe that Proposition 106's evisceration of that ability is repugnant to the Elections Clause's grant of legislative authority.
Well, La-dee frickin' DAH! Who, other than enemies of genuine representative government in Arizona, cares what you believe, Judge Rosenblatt? I believe you didn't make a valid argument.

We will see just how weak or strong when, ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court either overrules or affirms the majority decision. That's not likely to come before the 2014 election.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Are you going to let Cathi Herrod get away with this?

Today is a sad day in Arizona.

SB1062, the pro-discrimination bill introduced by Steve Yarbrough on the first day of the legislative session, passed in the Senate yesterday on a straight party line vote (17-13) and in the House today with all Democratic members and three Republicans (Orr, Brophy McGee, and Carter) voting against passage.

Every war, including this culture war has setbacks. This is a dramatic setback for civil rights.

But it is not the final word.

The next step in advocating for human and civil rights is to contact the office of Gov. Brewer to tell her to veto the bill.


And PLEASE sign this CREDO MOBILIZE petition calling for Brewer to Veto SB1062.

Why is Jan Brewer greasing the skids for the Rosemont Copper project?

Our "friend" Steve Yarbrough introduced SB1413, a sales tax giveaway to manufacturing and smelting businesses in Arizona. The language in the bill exempts the following from TPT, the transaction privilege tax, in our state.
Gross proceeds of sales or gross income derived from sales of electricity for use in manufacturing or smelting operations.  For the purposes of this paragraph, "manufacturing" and "smelting" refer to and include those operations commonly understood within their ordinary meaning. 
Get Microsoft Silverlight

When Republicans are inclined to resist a proposal for government spending, they do so with demands that the "fiscal impact" be disclosed.

In THIS case, Gov. Brewer's lobbyist, Michael Hunter, slithered away from the only related question any member of the Senate Finance Committee posed to him about the bill. Sen. Steve Farley (D-LD9/Tucson) asked about the financial impact, an obvious question since this bill directly reduces general fund revenue.

Hunter said, "the worst thing I can do is to develop numbers that are mistaken or wrong." Pretty slimy, er... slippery, wouldn't you say?

When it's the GOP that wants to resist, they don't put up with that kind of a response.

Put to him again, Hunter said essentially that they have the numbers but are just not at the place where they're ready to tell the legislature what they are.

Again, this is a DIRECT assault on general fund revenues. And Governor Brewer is pushing for it.

Glenn Hamer, head of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry appeared to have read a prepared statement, which pervasively OOZED with vague rhetoric appearing to have been designed to hypnotize the committee members into a state of willing compliance. He opened with, "On behalf of this state's job creators, I strongly support..." removal of the TPT from electric bills for manufacturers.

Hamer's rah rah rah speech included platitudes like "we all win when we get these jobs" and "Arizona has done a lot over the last few years to improve its competitive position."

In other words, Glenn Hamer and Michael Hunter were apparently highly effective in baffling ALL of the committee members with BULLSHIT. But neither cited ANY evidence of correlation between the "improved competitive position" and jobs of any kind in Arizona, let alone high paying jobs.

Farley at least tried, by offering two amendments, to address the fact that this bill is a direct, even if stealthy, assault on the ways and means to operate state AND local government. He was rebuffed. Politely, but rebuffed in no uncertain terms nevertheless.

Really, the ONLY voice of reason in the entire discussion of SB1413 was the executive director of the Arizona League of Cities and Towns, Ken Strobeck. But because he's a lobbyist and not an activist, he was constrained to be polite in how and what he said to Yarbrough (committee chair and prime sponsor of SB1413).

Strobeck suggested taking municipalities out of the equation for this tax giveaway and mentioned that in other states where this type of legislation has been enacted, it has had performance standards, such as job creation requirements written into the law with it.

The bottom line is that SB1413 further shifts the burden for operation of state and local government -- because Brewer's snake slithered out of answering the questions -- to an undetermined but likely substantially large degree, onto the already overburdened shoulders of working class Arizonans.

Over the course of the last two decades, Arizona has grown increasingly reliant on TPT (sales taxes). Those taxes are dramatically regressive.

That regressiveness exacerbates the workaday stress on everyday Arizona families... families trying to raise children. Families who, when stress reaches a breaking point, have children that are then put at risk.

How soon we forget the ramifications of the public policy decisions our elected officials make. How long ago was it that Brewer called for a complete overhaul of Child Protective Services? Less than 40 days.

As I've recently written, everywhere I go, people are telling me their stories of how impossible it is to even tread water financially, even though they have full-time jobs.

So, the ultimate question has to be WHY are the Republican governor and legislature poised to put even more stress on working class Arizona?

The simple answer is -- because THEY CAN.

Which leads naturally to the question of why they can get away with it.

The answer to that question might be the same as the answer to why last week in Tennessee, auto workers voted against certifying union representation, the only mechanism they had to protect their own interests.

From where I sit, the answer is corporate media driven propaganda.

-----

Even though legislative testimony completely ignored the impact of SB1413 on the potential Rosemont Copper Mining project, that may have been the elephant in the room. "Smelting" was intentionally included in the bill but received ZERO attention during the Finance Committee debate.

Rosemont is a highly controversial project subject to federal and state regulatory permitting processes. The GOP wants to claim that it has "job creation" potential. But that argument completely ignores the fact that the adverse environmental impacts will decimate Southern Arizona's tourism industry and have untold adverse health ramifications on residents for miles around the mine.

The economic potential of the Rosemont project is highly speculative. The company behind the project has a dubious history that should make responsible government officials gravely skeptical. But in this case, the governor, the legislature and industry associations are falling all over themselves trying to get this project approved.

For more information about those who have developed the hype which has Rosemont proponents salivating, I recommend viewing investigative journalist John Dougherty's film, Cyanide Beach on YouTube.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Dear Superintendent Huppenthal, Do you REALLY believe your job is to recruit for private schools?

In a comment to another news story about Huppenthal and his private school marketing scheme, Diana Murray, a Paradise Valley School District parent, says that just this evening, she received the robocall from the Arizona Superintendent of PUBLIC Schools directing her to the Goldwater Institute's website for more information about taxpayer funding for private schools.

Additionally, the legislature is currently poised to expand the availability of taxpayer funds for private schools, with SB1236 and HB2291. In his video interview with Brahm Resnik last week (at the 7 minute mark of the 13 minute interview), Huppenthal acknowledged that if those bills are enacted, 50 to 65 percent of Arizona students would be eligible for taxpayer money to send them to private (NOT charter, but PRIVATE) schools.

Therefore, if you think this is the right thing to do, I have this message for you, John.

-----

Dear John,

As you have recently reminded us, your record is that of a "true believer" in "school choice," we know that.

Since you believe so deeply that what you've done is appropriate and in the best interests of your constituents, should you not then have the courage of your convictions and continue the calls?

Why not record MORE calls for families to send their children to taxpayer funded -- unaccountable to the taxpayers -- private schools? 

Dude, don’t hide from it. Wear it boldly EMBLAZONED on your chest

And make sure to Do.It.All.The.Way.Up.To.Election.Day.

Pretty Please. With sugar on top!

Yours Truly,

Steve Muratore
Arizona Eagletarian

Monday, February 17, 2014

Redistricting, UNFair Trust and Sean Noble -- more revelations -- UPDATED 2-18-14 9:30pm MST

In the Yellow Sheet Report dated today (February 17, 2014), we receive a bit more background on Sean Noble and other contributors to the UNFair Trust.
TRAINING THE SPOTLIGHT ON FAIR TRUST
After Friday’s revelation by ProPublica that consultant Sean Noble’s Center to Protect Patient Rights gave $150,000 to the GOP redistricting group FAIR Trust in 2012, a source familiar with the organization’s activities shed some light on its financing and spending. The source was unaware of Noble or his network of nonprofits having any involvement with FAIR Trust in 2011, but had a good idea who was writing the checks that launched the group.
According to the source, Tucson auto dealer Jim Click and then-Shamrock Foods CEO Norm McClelland each poured in about $100,000 to provide the group with its initial funding. A Sept. 7, 2011, email from fundraising consultant Michelle Marini listed 37 “confirmed guests” for a FAIR Trust fundraiser scheduled a few days later at the home of Dan and Marilyn Quayle, roughly 20 of whom were potential contributors.
In a separate email sent in early August 2011, fundraising consultant Corinne Lovas wrote that the list of invitees to the September event included about 10 people who had already given FAIR Trust at least $10,000, as well as “prospects” who could contribute at least $25,000. Among the confirmed attendees were AREAD Corporation CEO Nariman Afkhami; Apollo Group executive Mark Brenner; Dr. Jeff Mueller of the Mayo Clinic; then-GoDaddy general counsel Christine Jones; then-Arizona Assn of Realtors CEO Tom Farley; CAP President Cathi Herrod; and former IRC commissioner Jim Huntwork.
(Every GOP member of the congressional delegation except Flake was also listed as confirmed, as were Tobin and then-Senate-President Russell Pearce.) The source said a small number of the attendees did not contribute to FAIR Trust. The money from the September fundraiser was badly needed because, by August, FAIR Trust had already spent the roughly $350,000 it had raised initially, the source said. For the entire year, the source said FAIR Trust raised at least $500,000, and possibly as much as $600,000, from about 25 contributors, the source said.
According to two budget estimates prepared by FAIR Trust attorney David Cantelme in July 2011 and provided to our reporter, FAIR Trust expected to spend about $347,000 on “IRC Administrative Proceedings” and another $86,000 on “DOJ proceedings.” “They would have blown through that budget,” the source said, adding the group was hampered “because they kept having to go back to the well.” After the September fundraiser, McClelland held a fundraiser for FAIR Trust, as well, the source said. (emphasis mine)
SEAN NOBLE: FAIR TRUST ONLY GOT $150K FROM CPPR
Noble told our reporter today that the Center to Protect Patient Rights only gave FAIR Trust the $150,000 listed on its 2012 tax filings, and the redistricting effort did not receive money from any of the other nonprofits he was involved in. Though CPPR’s IRS filing showed the group giving money to “Fair AZ Independent Redistrict,” it listed a federal employer identification number for another Noble-run non-profit called Free Enterprise America, which ceased operations in May 2012. Noble said the mistake was due to a bookkeeping error – CPPR had previously given money to Free Enterprise America, and the group’s name was next to FAIR Trust on a spreadsheet – and that there is no connection between Free Enterprise America and FAIR Trust. Any allegation that the duplicate EIN is evidence that Noble is trying to hide something is “absurd,” he said. CPPR gave the $150,000 grant to FAIR Trust, Noble said, because “there was a need for additional legal action, and it fit the kind of mission that CPPR has been involved in.”
If you're at all like me on this one, you're not at all pleased with the extent to which plutocrats and would-be plutocrats have worked to subvert the will of the people of Arizona, in this case as it relates to independent redistricting.

UPDATE               UPDATE              UPDATE

The crybabies at the Arizona Capitol Times, who with impunity have stolen my work -- without granting even so much as credit for where they got the information -- have a problem with the FAIR USE doctrine. They demanded I take down this blog post. Sure, that's likely. NOT.

Fair Use cases have rested on balancing four measures.

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include— (emphasis mine)
(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
I obviously do not charge for a subscription to the Arizona Eagletarian. Since I do not resell the credited content, it is obviously NONCOMMERCIAL and is for educational purposes, as there is (also obviously) an urgent need and compelling public interest in widespread disclosure of the nature of the influence that sinister actors such as David Cantelme and Sean Noble -- as TOOLS for the Kochtopus -- have had in what voters intended to be INDEPENDENT redistricting, free from special interests.

The nature of the items that the Cap Times squawked about? Again, obviously items of a compelling public interest demanding widespread disclosure.

The quoted material comprised substantially less than FIVE percent of the material they sent out to their high dollar subscribers yesterday (February 17).

The effect of my disclosure on their potential market? Seriously? Do they REALLY believe that Arizona's state capital lobbyists are going to abandon them -- an entire newsroom that reports in detail on what takes place in the legislature -- because my one-person blog discloses something of such a compelling public interest?

No, I don't think so either. If the Cap Times' market is going to be adversely impacted by anything going on these days at the Capitol, it would be the passage of bills like HB2554. The Cap Times uses corporate notices as a crutch, because for more than a century newspapers have been the beneficiary of a mandate that they served well back in the day. 

But requiring those incorporating new businesses to publish in newspapers no longer serves the public interest because those who want the information can find it in a simple database that doesn't require an archaic process. There is much more to be written on that subject, but for now, I digress.

The Capitol Times wants criticism? I have not been shy in criticizing their publication in the entire life of this blog and I certainly will not be shy today.

The fact of the matter is that much of what they reported in the blurb I republished is speculation. It might be educated guessing, but guessing nevertheless. From the first paragraph (above):
The source was unaware of Noble or his network of nonprofits having any involvement with FAIR Trust in 2011, but had a good idea who was writing the checks that launched the group.
An undisclosed source. That means that neither the Capitol Times nor anyone else verified any of the claims. "Had a good idea..." a hallmark of speculation.

By the way, back to the issue of FAIR USE, the Capitol Times, in its daily Legislative Report and Yellow Sheet Report did the exact same thing, but far more extensively, than they accuse me of having done. A high price subscription service reproduced copyrighted works from local newspapers, in total, without comment on the pieces.

They republished stories and columns written by EJ Montini of the Arizona Republic, Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services, the Arizona Republic's editorial attacking John Kavanagh because Kavanagh sponsored HB2554 and an Arizona Republic Q and A with House Minority Leader Chad Campbell.

And they have the audacity to try to intimidate ME for republishing two brief blurbs.

It seems to smack of desperation, don't you think?


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Here's why Huppenthal's Republican vision for Arizona Public Schools is faulty.


Infographic courtesy Linda Thomas, Public Schools Advocate. Linda's website is www.RestoreReason.com

Dragging newspapers kicking and screaming into the 21rst Century? UPDATED 2:00am MST 2-16-14

On Thursday, the House Technology and Infrastructure Committee heard HB2554, which, unless it's derailed by special interests -- newspapers threatening lawmakers -- will make a significant step toward bringing Arizona law and state government into the 21rst Century.

In the hearing, a video of which is available here, an attorney representing the Arizona Newspaper Association, one representing the Arizona Capitol Times and a couple of other lobbyists mentioned several dog-whistle code words, without making any coherent argument.

Those lobbyists FAILED to make any claim -- that the generally at least $100.00 in fees businesses must pay to newspapers -- provides ANY value added to either the business required to publish OR to the public.

Chew on that one for a few minutes. It is the crux of the entire concept of enhancing technological efficacy of Arizona government.

Here's what John Moody, lobbyist for the Arizona Newspapers Association brought up in his testimony before the TI committee:

  • This bill looks for a solution to a problem that does not exist
  • There IS an existing database that is handled by the private sector (ANA)
  • There is no reason to take it away from the private sector and eliminate private jobs
  • When you look at how the system works now, you'll see this bill is not necessary
  • Moody said it's been done this way (requiring corporate notices to be published in newspapers) since before statehood (which was 102 years ago)
  • Jobs will be lost and smaller newspapers may go out of business because of this
  • "We are of the opinion that everything done by the private sector is done more cost effectively and done more efficiently than if done by government."

The claim that "it's been done this way" for more than a century should -- at this stage in telecommunications technology development -- be a RED FLAG on its own to say it's time to reevaluate the current systems and procedures.

Claims and arguments that bills like this look for a solution to a problem that does not exist is the classic psychological defense mechanism known as denial. Because the newspapers do not know how to cope with the disruptive innovation known as the INTERNET, they both refuse to acknowledge the challenges they face AND try to convince others that the problems don't exist. On its face, such claims are overwhelmingly absurd.

Claims that there is an existing database administered by private sector Arizona Newspapers Association go directly to the question of WHO OWNS the public data. If that database "goes down" or becomes inoperative for any period of time, who do we call to demand the service be restored?

As if the ANA were an Italian mother laying a guilt trip on the legislature, you don't want to eliminate JOBS do you? The problem with that is that nixing this bill STIFLES job CREATION (innovation). Harvard Business School Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter has written that invoking history (it's been done this way for more than a century) is a surefire way to stifle innovation.

"Jobs will be lost." Well, we've been over the subject of Disruptive Innovation extensively. I simply refer you back to posts from last fall on this subject.

"We are of the opinion that everything done by the private sector is done more cost effectively and done more efficiently than if done by government." Of course, "we are of the opinion" kinda sorta takes that claim out of the realm of being an argument. The ANA is certainly entitled to its opinion. But it's not entitled to its own facts.

Discussion during Moody's testimony made it clear that the fact is for businesses required to publish notices of incorporation (or related changes), NO CHARGE is a LOT more cost effective than the alternative. Which is that currently, those business start ups are forced to subsidize a dying newspaper industry business that provides ZERO added value to the public or to the business required to pay the fee, usually about $100 (for three consecutive publication dates).

One member of the Technology and Infrastructure committee raised a number of questions and cast the lone dissenting vote. That member expressed concern for the people who are only served by newspapers in rural Arizona and do not know how to use a computer.

To that member, I would strongly suggest that the people she claims to have given voice to in this debate are very likely NOT at all interested in corporate notices. Instead, the overarching issue and the underlying concern (for those who read between the lines) may be that perhaps this member was concerned more with how rural newspapers that serve the district she represents would portray her to their readers.

IF that's the case, her position would be more or less parallel to that of Arizona Public Service and how that investor owned utility dug its heels in to resist the inevitable disruptive innovation it faces. Newspapers are dying because they struggle to adapt their business model to technological innovation. It is very much contrary to the public interest to use government to protect entrenched special interests that refuse to adapt.

Have you ever heard the expression, "government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers?" Protecting the forced subsidy of an industry that resists adapting to disruptive innovation would be to try to keep losers from the inevitable... which is only inevitable if they don't find a way to adapt.

This state representative's obligation (and that of every other Democratic and Republican state lawmaker) is NOT to capitulate to the newspaper industry, but to sell THEM on the concept of adapting to disruptive innovation.

The bottom line in this entire debate goes directly back to the question raised at the beginning of my prior blog post on this subject,
To whom does the information and data compiled by Arizona government agencies belong?
Does this information belong to the Arizona Newspaper Association and the Arizona Capitol Times, or does it belong to the people of Arizona? What do the people of Arizona owe to ANA or the Capitol Times if those for profit organizations can no longer add value to the public regarding corporate notices?

UPDATE

Though I posted a link to my previous (related) blog post that explains more about what HB2554 does, here's language from a House fact sheet/summary of the bill,
Requires the Commission to establish and maintain a database for documents filed pursuant to statute.
·          Directs the Commission to post the database on its website to allow the public to search for business information, including an entity’s name, approval date and county of the known place of business.
·          Stipulates that the information must be maintained in the database for least 90 days.
·          Allows the Commission, in order to maintain the database, to determine the amount and charge a nonrefundable fee to the entity whose information is entered into the database.
·          Requires all monies received to be deposited in the Fund.
·          Removes the requirement for the business entity to publish a copy of required filings and to provide with Commission with an optional affidavit evidencing the publication.
Ø  Strikes the 60 day deadline for the business entity to publish these documents upon approval.
·          Directs the Commission to input information into the database regarding the approval of required filings by corporations and LLCs within five business days of approval.
Ø  For corporations, the following documents will in input into the database in lieu of publication: articles of incorporation, articles of domestication, articles of amendment, articles of restatement, articles of merger or share exchange, articles of dissolution, application for authority to transact business, application for withdrawal, application for certificate of authority and articles of merger or membership exchange.
Ø  For LLCs, the following documents will be input into the database in lieu of publication: articles of amendment, articles of organization, restated articles of organization and articles of merger or consolidation.