Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Friday, June 5, 2015

Huge day in Arizona and US politics

First, Scrooge McDucey raised the curtain on a plan to raid the State Land Trust Fund for public school funding. His idea would require voter approval because it's currently contrary to the Arizona Constitution.

By the way, it occurs to me, after discussing the idea of a recall with several people, to withdraw the consent of the governed from our current governor, it could have a shot at success. But only if we can maximize voter turn out for Democratic and Independent voters. That would not be any time in 2015.

A potential recall movement, if it were to begin next month (the earliest allowable), if enough signatures were gathered, would take place in March 2016. I'd love to get him out of the governor's office as soon as possible, but the practical reality is that maximum voter turnout will be necessary for it to be successful. The best shot would be a Presidential year general election.

Therefore, I'd recommend waiting another six months or so before beginning any petition drive for a recall. Besides, that will give Scrooge McDucey more time and more austerity rope to hang himself.

Meanwhile, Wednesday in Washington, DC, Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke at a press conference on the Trans Pacific Partnership treaty.

Last, but not least, on Thursday, the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University held a roundtable discussion on the upcoming citizen initiative(s) to legalize and regulate marijuana possession and use.

Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk represented the "don't do it" perspective. She wasn't well received. To me, she sounded disingenuous much of the time. Since the main page of her office's website says it is "copyright Yavapai County Government," it appears she is improperly using taxpayer funds for political purposes.

J.P. Holyoak, president of the Arizona Dispensary Association and chair of one of the initiative campaign committees, represented the anti-prohibition perspective.

Will Humble, former director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, provided a public health policy professional's perspective. He cited the significance of Governor George Hunt and his advocacy for direct democracy, noting that he (Humble) had a passion for the people's voice in lawmaking.

And Dan Hunting, senior analyst at the Morrison Institute moderated the hour and a half discussion.

Because Phoenix New Times staff writer Ray Stern, who covers among other topics, marijuana related issues in our state, was there taking extensive notes, I'll only touch on a highlight or two. Ray said he expected to have a story up on his paper's website in the morning. Another gentleman was recording the discussion on a tablet from the front row. I asked him afterward (forgetting to ask his name) if he was planning to put the video on YouTube. He responded in the affirmative. I'll try to get a link to it when I check tomorrow.

Anyway, like I said, I didn't think Ms. Polk was well received. The main focus of her advocacy was the impact on children. There were plenty of holes in her arguments, but that can be at least partially attributed to the limited amount of time in the discussion. However, she did go on record as saying that she believes as soon as a new President is elected, she expects the issue of whether states even have the right to legalize marijuana will be raised in litigation before the Supreme Court of the United States. She went on record as saying she believes firmly that they will outlaw it altogether.

The best moment of the entire forum, in my opinion, came when Hunting asked Polk, given that she acknowledged there ARE medicinal benefits that are derived from marijuana, whether it should be removed from Schedule 1. Schedule 1 is for drugs with "no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse." Hunting got pointed with her on it because she got caught in a contradiction.

Humble's closing comment is worth noting. He drew a contrast between lawmaking at the Capitol, in the Arizona Legislature, that sometimes is done hastily with little to no thoughtfulness or outside scrutiny. However, when the PEOPLE legislate, the issues are subject to from six months to two years of open debate.

That, of course, is if news enterprises fulfill their charge to serve their communities and actually facilitate that debate. In 2015-2016, thankfully, we have social media -- the blogosphere, and platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, etc.

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