Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Thursday, October 8, 2015

What can a Democratic state senator do, as a member of the minority party?

Let's talk vision.
2.
the act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be:
prophetic vision; the vision of an entrepreneur.


Well, we all know one thing Democratic Arizona state lawmakers "can't do," according to local corporate media. Get their bills passed, right?

So, why do we even care who we send to the legislature to represent us? At least until we get to be the majority party, one might think. Here are some examples.

Because of his Progressive vision, LD26 State Rep. Andrew Sherwood, played a key role in passage of Medicaid Restoration in 2013, having served on the House Appropriations Committee from the time he was first sworn in at the beginning of his first term, to represent LD26. Additionally, besides advocating for Progressive issues and concerns, Andrew puts a great deal of effort into tech industry innovation and job development. 

Because of his vision, in 2014, Andrew was a prime sponsor of HB2163. The bill, which establishes a mechanism for commercial space flight enterprises to enter into enforceable liability release agreements with passengers, sets the stage for Arizona to be on the cutting edge of what will soon be an emerging industry.

Besides the obvious issue of passing Democratic bills, there is SO much more that Democratic members of our state legislature actually DO with the authority you delegate to them through your vote.

What about killing BAD bills? That's also a skill that Andrew Sherwood has demonstrated. He was instrumental in shutting down the 2013 Papers Please Bathroom Bill.

By the way, yours truly (the Arizona Eagletarian) was instrumental (by being the first to write about it and by starting a CREDO petition that garnered more than 30,000 signatures) in raising awareness of the infamous SB1062 which Jan Brewer vetoed because of the firestorm of controversy.

What else? Here's an example of New York state lawmakers, one Republican and one Democrat, challenging the status quo of how that state's legislature is run. The key here is that any legislator can identify problems with the institution and find ways to challenge the operation. 

Might Arizona Eagletarian readers know ANYONE who is able to dissect dysfunctional organizations such that ordinary people can understand the issues and take action?

As Andrew Sherwood demonstrates, he also appears on radio and television, and regularly writes opinion pieces that local media publish. Members of the minority party can and should drive the public conversation. Why do you think the GOP at the legislature now realizes it's got a huge problem on its hands with tragically underfunded public education?

However, will just ANY Democratic member be able to do those things and more? Maybe... or maybe not.

Consider HB2485 from 2014. A tax money giveaway to charter school corporation Imagine Learning for a technology-based (computer games) language development program. After being outed as an ALEC bill, it was held in the Senate and not passed. But that's not all. To hoodwink taxpayers and get around the controversy, the program was simply assimilated into the FY2015 budget bills (passed in 2014). From the Tucson Weekly,
I wonder if Democrats sponsoring and voting for this bill realize it's taken nearly word for word from a piece of ALEC model legislation, K-12 Technology-Based Reading Intervention for English Learners Act, approved by the ALEC Board of Directors January 9, 2014. I also wonder if Democrats are aware that Imagine Learning funds ALEC at its second highest level, along with some of the country’s biggest special interests, or that Imagine Learning is the darling of conservative [right-wing] privatizers everywhere.
While the original intent was, "Gray’s original measure sought $12 million a year for the next three years for statewide implementation" for these CD-roms, the final figure in the budget reconciliation bill was "only" $300,000 "to instead create a three-year pilot program for 10 school districts and five charter schools." That's still an awful lot of taxpayer funding for computer games. The reason ALEC was so interested is that instead of paying teachers to provide personal contact teaching for English Language Learners, the funding goes directly to overhead and profit components of private/charter school operators.

A conceptual parallel, former Arizona Republic editorial writer Jennifer Dokes reflected, shortly after Brewer vetoed SB1062 (a bill not related to this tax giveaway, but demonstrated the tone deafness of the legislature anyway),
Of all the talk about Senate Bill 1062, I’m troubled most by comments from Arizona GOP lawmakers stunned by the reaction to their “benign” and “innocuous” tweaks to existing law.
It’s astonishing they ignored the clear truth that any mix of religion and politics requires handling with extreme care.
They were either clueless or arrogant. Either way, they didn’t bother to venture outside their bubble, which is not a good position from which to move a changing, diverse state forward.
In 2014, in an LD26 Dems monthly meeting, this blogger called attention to this bill (HB2485) showing that its sponsoring lawmakers also were either clueless or arrogant (probably clueless). One of those sponsors is now our former senator.

I took a small measure of pushback from some fellow Dems who took offense at me calling out our good friend Ed Ableser. But had I not, and if not for other activist citizens, the $300,000 appropriation would likely have been closer to that $36 million originally sought.

As Arizona Republic reporter Alia Beard Rau put it,
A Utah-based education technology company that has been wooing Arizona politicians for years could soon get its hands on a state contract worth tens of millions of dollars.
So, LD26 precinct committeepersons, looking prospectively, do you want to elect someone who instinctively can smell out an ALEC bill and protect taxpayers' and your interests, or someone with no experience analyzing the Arizona Legislature's conduct and government budget/finances, who would be conspicuously susceptible to the kind of hoodwinking the GOP almost got away with in this situation?

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So, what must LD26 precinct committeepersons look for in the candidates you will select on Monday? That depends on what you want to accomplish. We come again to Game Theory.




Put another way,




Yesterday, I set forth for you that LD26 Democrats could, in fact, influence the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to appoint one of our incumbent state Reps., (Andrew Sherwood or Juan Mendez) to fill the vacancy opened up last week as a result of Ed Ableser's resignation.

However, to do so, you (LD26 precinct committeepersons) must take bold action to select the strongest non-incumbent candidate, in addition to both Mendez and Sherwood, when we meet on Monday evening at the Escalante Community Center in Tempe (6:30pm).

That entails implementation of a Game Theory strategy, not unlike what it took to, in 2011, oust nativist Senate President Russell Pearce. In other situations (such as with LD28, from which Democrat Eric Meyer has won election in a district that leans Republican), winning necessitates implementing the Single-Shot strategy. Single-Shot being a Game Theory strategy.

It's entirely reasonable for any Democratic activist to aspire to serve in the legislature. To my knowledge, each person who has indicated intent to seek the appointment is, in general a good person and someone I consider a friend.

But from the perspective of the engaged, informed voter (in this case, YOU, not more than 62 people), which candidate would make the most sense? That depends on what each brings to the table, or to the Senate Democratic Caucus, as it were.

Here's MY vision:

Arizona Democrats (led by LD26) will become the majority party in the state legislature and implement forward thinking (innovative) public policy to revolutionize our society, reduce inequality and enhance the quality of life for all of our fellow Arizonans.

In 2010, my vision was to provide insightful coverage of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission to the end that everyday people could understand the process and have a voice. Even Republicans appreciated my in-depth coverage.

In 2015, I intend to extend that vision such that everyday people can understand the legislative process and have a genuine voice in how our state is governed.

Here's what I offer you to demonstrate that my vision is tangible and reachable.

Steve Muratore:

More than 950 posts to the award-winning Arizona Eagletarian, not your ordinary news source.

More than 25 years fighting for what matters to Arizonans, from K-12 education, labor organizing, three (plus) years in the Arizona Capitol Times newsroom, five years' coverage of legislative and Congressional redistricting and much more.

Graduated in 1986 from Arizona State with a Bachelor's degree in Accounting; more than 8 years experience as an accountant at the Arizona Department of Economic Security; at the Capitol Times, I analyzed and wrote summaries of thousands of pieces of legislation and compiled numerous other data.

As a post graduate, I took classes (ASU) in Government Financial Management (graduate level), and Newswriting. During my employment at ADES, I obtained and held the Certified Government Financial Manager professional designation (the Association of Government Accountants, which sponsors the CGFM doesn't like me to say that, since my membership has been inactive for so long and I have not worked in accounting or taken continuing education courses since).

Nevertheless, I can step right into the position, speak and advocate intelligently and effectively about Arizona government budgeting and finance, in and for your interests.

You have a unique opportunity.

I would LOVE to be able to say (like Donald Trump?) that I can fix it all. But you and I both know that any one person cannot. But we do know that, as anthropologist Margaret Mead used to say,
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Pursuant to Game Theory, however, my plan is intended to maximize the odds of getting Andrew Sherwood or Juan Mendez appointed to fill the vacancy in the Arizona Senate. If you select me to the list for the Board of Supervisors to consider, I believe they are extremely unlikely to appoint me to fill the vacancy.

But if they do, you get the best value in a committed, qualified, prepared activist Democrat to represent your interests. Of course, I challenge any of the interested individuals to set forth their qualifications and vision to see if they match mine.

If YOU select an underqualified candidate, LD26 Democrats' voice in public policy diminishes dramatically.

If the Board of Supervisors, as I expect, does not appoint me, under this scenario, we go through this process again to fill a vacancy in the Arizona House. In which case, three non-incumbent LD26 Democrats can and will be selected to that list for Board of Supervisors' consideration and appointment.

In THAT scenario, I could support David Lucier. I could support Michael Martinez. And IF proper transition of leadership for LD26 Democrats is provided for, I might even be able to support Samantha Pstross to join me on that second short list.

Today it is a case of the grasshopper pitted against the elephant. But tomorrow the elephant will have its guts ripped outLe Loi, Vietnamese emperor, 15th Century

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