Monday, January 28, 2013

Guest Post -- AZ Solar under attack

Arizona's solar future is under attack at the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) in a big way, and we need to respond in a big way.  Last Wednesday Commissioner Gary Pierce tried to sneak in an amendment that would effectively decrease Arizona's Renewable Energy Standard (REST) to under 13.5%.  A solar industry official told me this amendment would represent the most significant policy setback Arizona's solar industry has seen in years.  Fortunately, the legality of the amendment was called into question and the idea was tabled. (read about it here and here)

This Wednesday we have an opportunity to make our voices heard at the Commission by submitting public comment in opposition to the Pierce plan to decrease the REST.  We are not yet sure whether his amendment will be brought to a vote on Wednesday, however considering the fact that a REST decrease is even being considered, it is our duty as Arizonans to make our voices heard.  Pierce tried to sneak his amendment through last Wednesday because he knows it will be widely unpopular if the public finds out about it.

Take Action

  • The first thing you can do is email or call the Commissioners and let them know how you feel about Pierce amendment #2 in the APS REST plans that will cut solar by 11% and effectively decrease the REST below 13.5%. For reference, the docket number is E-01345A-12-0290.
Gary Pierce - (602)
Brenda Burns –  (602)
Bob Stump - (602)
Susan Bitter-Smith - (602) 542-3625 –
Bob Burns - (602)

  • The best way to make an impact is to attend the next ACC open meeting this Wednesday Jan. 30th and submit public comment directly to the 5 commissioners.
What: Open Meeting
Where: Arizona Corporation Commission
               1200 W. Washington
               Phoenix, AZ 85007
When: Wednesday, January 30th - 10am

Please let me ( know if you are able to make it to the Open Meeting.You can share this blog post with others to invite them to attend as well.  Please let your networks know what is happening at the ACC.

Will Greene

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Arizona UPRISING -- AZ DEM reorganization UPDATED 1/27/13 6:45pm MST

At my first meeting as a member of the state committee of the Arizona Democratic Party, elections for the executive board for 2013-2014 took place today.

Bill Roe, longtime Democratic and environmental activist -- first elected to the ADP chairmanship last spring when Andrei Cherny quit to embark on a quixotic effort to win a seat in Congress -- was reelected by acclamation. Bill has done a great job since first taking the helm and will continue to provide vision and energy.

Alexis Tameron, who managed Richard Carmona's 2012 senate campaign, (and before that was instrumental when Harry Mitchell defeated an incumbent J.D. Hayworth in 2006 among many other accomplishments) takes over as first vice chair. Former Pinal County Attorney Jim Walsh was elected senior vice chair (not sure what the distinction is between that and first vice chair). Former state Rep. Phil Lopes (who coordinates Progressive Democrats of America - Southern AZ), Matt Kopec (instrumental in defeating Frank Antenori and participating in several other winning campaigns) and long time Labor activist Roman Ulman won the three vice chairMEN positions. Lauren Kuby, Barbara Tellman and Emily Verdugo are the three new vice chairWOMEN. Those are some seriously badass people and I'm confident they will provide firm, positive direction for the staff of the ADP.

Former ADP executive director Luis Heredia was elected Democratic National Committeeman. Jane McNamara takes over as ADP secretary and Rick McGuire was reelected treasurer. 

Neither the executive board nor the staff of the Arizona Democratic Party, on their own, can do what needs to be done. But with grassroots organizing in all of the legislative districts, TOGETHER we can turn Arizona BLUE in 2014. 

Let's get it done!

Rise UP!


Pamela Powers Hannley posted a more detailed report on yesterday's reorganization meetings. She must have taken notes. I did not. It's a good write up and I agree with her perspective on the proceedings and results.

Hannley also includes two minutes of video of new First Vice Chair Alexis Tameron addressing committee members before the vote.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Arizona UPRISING -- Hope for some bipartisanship in AZ

While I may be otherwise occupied and not busily blogging on the Arizona Eagletarian as much as I'd like, I do keep my eyes and ears open hoping to find out that the state legislature is doing something worthwhile at least from time to time.

Yes, there still are some kooks among the 60 members of the Arizona House of Representatives and 30 members of the Senate. But they do not seem, at this stage, to be running the show. And that's a good thing.

Even so, I was pleasantly surprised to see SB 1161 which will establish an animal abuser registry to keep track of people (age 18 and older) who have been convicted of animal cruelty and similar crimes.
The department of public safety shall maintain a central animal abuser registry that contains the names and registration information of every person who is required to register pursuant to this section. The department of public safety shall make the animal abuser registry available on its website and shall promptly answer any written, telephone and in-person requests to search the animal abuser registry. The registry shall be searchable by name and location. The animal abuser's information shall remain in the registry for as long as the person is required to register.
A very quick google search indicates that social science research has indeed linked animal cruelty as a predictor of violence and aggression toward humans. Yet much of the study seems to have focused on identifying potential serial murderers. I'm confident there are criminologists and public policy makers (and lawmakers) searching already available literature to find hints on identifying people who may commit mass shootings. 

I am encouraged that SB1161 sponsor state Sen. Steve Farley (D-LD 9) was able to get, beside fellow Democrat Anna Tovar (LD19), several of his GOP colleagues to sign on to the bill with him, including Sens. Al Melvin (R-LD 11) and Michele Reagan (R-LD23) as well as Reps. John Kavanagh (R-LD23), Phil Lovas (R-LD22) and Ethan Orr (R-LD9). 

My hunch is that in prior sessions, a proposal like this may have been met with objections based on the old "too much bureaucracy" or "too much Big Brother" notions. 

It should go without saying, at THIS moment in the history of our society that the time to establish such a registry, is long overdue. And since it is better late than never, the time is NOW.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Arizona UPRISING -- WHO is Setting the Agenda?

Over the last two years, and in spite of tremendous resistance from astroturf inspired (Tea Party) political groups, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission exercised its citizen mandated authority and redrew political boundaries for state legislative districts.

Many (okay, ALL) observers realized a year ago, when the AIRC approved the new maps, that things would change in 2013 at the State Capitol. Of course, that is why the faux outrage from irrational extremists. And why the AIRC still must defend lawsuits from Republicans who cannot accept the will of the People of Arizona.

Anyway, in November, the names and faces of the new legislature became clear. But few may have grasped the extent to which the political climate would (can ACTUALLY) really turn around.

How many will have dared to proclaim that the Minority Party would begin to set the agenda in 2013?

On opening day, Gov. Jan Brewer declared that Obamacare is here to stay and it is up to Arizona lawmakers to prepare for it. In spite of expected opposition from her own Party, in that proclamation, she spelled out her plan to accept the Obama administration's Medicaid expansion which provides for federal funding at a 90/10 match rate. Particulars of Brewer's speech addressed head on several expected objections. Others will write in detail about the plan and Brewer's speech.

My intent, however, is to look at an aggressive and largely UNDER the RADAR move that new LD26 state Sen. Ed Ableser has taken to introduce what can be key economic development and ethics/accountability legislation leading up to today's session.

SB 1005 provides Green Technology and Manufacturing incentives for adding jobs in Arizona.

SB1016 says that Public Power Entities serving an annual retail load of 300,000 megawatts per year must make NET METERING available to customer generators if they contribute excess electricity generated by solar, wind or biomass facilities on the customer's premises to the grid. This would appear to apply to Salt River Project.

Consider that with customer generators feeding more and more electricity into the grid during PEAK load times (daytime during the long, hot Arizona summer), the need for SRP (as well as Arizona Public Service and Tucson Electric Power) to import electricity from the Pacific Northwest would be minimized. And in so doing, put DOWNWARD pressure on electric rates when they are highest in Arizona. THANK YOU, Sen. Ableser for introducing this legislation. Of course, this is only the first step.

Those two bills were filed before the session even started. But TODAY, Tempe's Sen. Ableser introduced another key bill that I believe will require widespread popular support throughout Arizona to get it passed and signed into law.

SB1043 Legislators; Disclosure of Interest

Includes the following (new) text:

A.  A legislator who casts a vote with respect to any bill, memorial or resolution on the floor of the house of representatives or the senate in which the legislator has a direct financial interest shall prepare a written statement that identifies the bill, memorial or resolution, the legislator's vote and the nature of the legislator's direct financial interest. The legislator shall file the statement with the chief clerk of the house of representatives or the secretary of the senate.  The statement shall be posted on the internet web page corresponding to the legislator as found on the legislature's website.  The web page for each legislator shall have an area entitled "disclosure of direct financial interest" for each statement to be posted.
B.  A legislator shall report the direct financial interest as soon as possible after the legislator's vote in the house of representatives or senate.

Arizonans have been subject to some very blatant opportunism and self-serving legislation, especially in connection with K-12 school finance/contracting issues.

Tom Boone, who resigned from the Deer Valley Unified School District Governing Board in 2011, besides previously serving as assistant superintendent for business services in that district, also served in the Arizona House of Representatives. During his time in the House, Boone served on Education, Government and Retirement, and Appropriations committees. ALL of which are prime spots for an official positioned (and connected to HUGE dollar contracting functions) as Boone was.

From an apparently well documented blog post on the Sonoran Alliance website:
A state lawmaker [Tom Boone], who also serves as a governing board president and as a self-appointed executive for a related government entity that acts on behalf of up to 21 school districts, is again being accused of conflict of interest violations. These allegations now include violations of open meetings laws, financial accounting irregularities and violations under the state procurement code.  The Attorney General’s Office has issued a written request to Deer Valley and Valley Schools Management Group (VSMG) to produce documents by October 13th related to the expanded allegations....
On September 8th, at a Deer Valley Unified School District Governing Board meeting, State Representative Tom Boone (R-Glendale), who also serves as Governing Board President, was asked by a parent to explain his association with VSMG, where Boone serves as Chairman and CEO.  Boone also appointed himself to serve on the VSMG Board of Management that oversees VSMG.  As a governing board member, Boone oversees the district’s contract with VSMG and was accused of using his role as a state legislator and governing board member to pass legislation that would benefit himself, his family and his business associates. (emphasis added)

Local political journalists have, for years (this year is no exception), matter of factly reported that Democratic state lawmakers will struggle to even have the slightest degree of influence at the Capitol. And Arizona based advocates (for environmental and childrens' issues, for example) have hedged their bets and supported GOP lawmakers that they KNOW would rather die than promote legislation these groups favor.

Everyone that follows Arizona politics knows that Republicans have smaller majorities in each chamber of the legislature this year than last. But few people seem to think this will result in substantially more influence from Democratic lawmakers.

Perhaps Sen. Ableser believes that introducing a number of good bills before very many other senators even get started will increase the chances of making a difference this year.

Well, Democratic activists, the fact that 2013 is not an election year does NOT let YOU off of the hook. NOW is the time for ALL Democrats and (mainstream?) Republicans to demand that YOUR lawmakers give proper consideration to good legislation even when it comes from legislative minorities.

In February 2012, US Sen. Bernie Sanders and journalist John Nichols spoke at a well attended fundraising dinner and called for an UPRISING in Arizona similar to what we saw in Wisconsin after Scott Walker and ALEC-owned state lawmakers attacked the rights of working class families.

It is NOW time for civic minded activists in Arizona to organize in support of common sense legislation like Ableser has introduced.

It is NOW time to SET the agenda and stop letting the Andy Biggses and Andy Tobins of Arizona define the issues.

Rise up, Arizona! RISE UP!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Redistricting -- cost update

Just a quick note to link to Mary Jo Pitzl's latest story on about the ongoing costs of litigation for the multiple lawsuits the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission has to defend.

Legal battles over the state’s new political boundaries have cost taxpayers $1.4 million, and the legal meter has only begun to run.

Records requested by The Arizona Republic show that the lion’s share of the expense — $1.3 million — has come from the Independent Redistricting Commission, which has been hit with four lawsuits since it started its work in 2011.

Other public costs come from the court fight over Gov. Jan Brewer’s 2011 removal of the commission’s chairwoman, Colleen Mathis, and the Legislature’s intervention in that lawsuit. Taxpayers footed the bill for both sides of that case.

The commission’s legal costs have been a sore topic at the Legislature, where the majority Republicans disagree with the new congressional and legislative maps the commission drew last year. The commission has twice said it needs more money to defend its work, angering some lawmakers who believe the commission is wasting taxpayer dollars.

Last month, Executive Director Ray Bladine said the office needs $2 million in extra cash to get through the second half of this budget year. He plans to send a formal request to the Legislature this week. The commission is also asking Brewer’s office to give it an advance on its fourth-quarter payment. That request has gone unanswered.

Lawmakers are loath to give more money to the five-member commission, even though the Legislature has added to the legal tab by filing its own lawsuit, creating another instance in which taxpayer dollars are covering attorneys fees on both sides of a case.
There, of course, is more to the story (both on azcentral and otherwise). I'll update this post on Wednesday afternoon with some specific data from the AIRC.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Arizona UPRISING -- Arizona Eagletarian is alive and well

Amazingly, TIME FLIES -- whether you're having fun or not.

Yes, it's been about three weeks since my last post on this blog. I have been remiss in not keeping you up to date. Please forgive me.

There is a little bit of news regarding independent redistricting and I hope to do a brief write up about it this evening.

However, on the horizon, we also look forward with great anticipation (not necessarily just for great and wonderful things) to the opening of the first regular session of Arizona's 51st Legislature. That takes place next Monday, January 14, noonish.

Already, we've gotten a preview of the hijinx and hilarity to come. John Kavanagh wants voters to repeal the Medical Marijuana Law -- despite the fact that THREE times, Arizonans have said YES to MMJ initiatives. Because members are allowed to "pre-file" bills (make sure you specify 51st Legislature, first regular session) for the upcoming session, Chief birther, Carl Seel has already filed the first nutjob bill. Michele Ugenti filed a few that have raised eyebrows. And quite a few "technical correction" bills have already been filed.

Technical correction bills generally, as first introduced, make cosmetic, non-material changes to language in existing statutes. The ultimate purpose for the bill is to grease the skids for "strike all" amendments later in the session -- after the deadline for introducing new bills has passed. Strike all amendments can be a way to push through a controversial measure with minimal public scrutiny. Think "Alt-Fuels" debacle from 2000.

Given that the GOP no longer holds a supermajority in the Arizona Legislature, the upcoming session may not be quite as freaky as the last two years. But since the GOP is still in charge, they will still be trying to do things that many people understand to be outrageous or harmful to life and property in our great state.

In the next few days, I also hope to give you a glimpse of some of the legislation that has already been proposed, some of which are good things.