Monday, December 30, 2013

Arizona Democrats are on the right (correct) track

This blog post started out as a brief Facebook status update. I kinda got carried away and figured it belonged here instead.

The Arizona Democratic Party and the Maricopa County Democratic Party, in my not so humble opinion, are moving in the correct direction, and not necessarily because of anything I've done.

It can be troubling when seemingly sincere and committed people who have been involved or at least associated with Arizona Democrats for years complain about things that somebody else is not doing how the complainer thinks they should be done. In particular, when they bemoan the fact that Arizona is still a red state.

The following are quotes from a book I'm reading. I'll tell you which book later. But these quotes give a little bit of insight and a good amount of encouragement.
"Our youth are impatient with the preliminaries that are essential for purposeful action. Effective organization is thwarted by the desire for instant and dramatic change, or as I have phrased it elsewhere, the demand for revelation rather than revolution... to build an effective organization takes time. It is tedious, but that's the way the game is played... [...]
"The revolution was effected before the war commenced," John Adams wrote. "The revolution was in the hearts and minds of the people... This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments and affections of the people was the real American Revolution." [...]
"In the midst of the gassing and violence by the Chicago Police and National Guard during the 1968 Democratic Convention, many students asked me, 'Do you still think we should try to work within the system?'
"It hurt me to see the American army with drawn bayonets advancing on American boys and girls. But the answer I gave the young radicals seemed to me the only realistic one: "Do one of three things. One, go find a wailing wall and feel sorry for yourselves. Two, go psycho and start bombing -- but this will only swing people to the right. Three, learn a lesson. Go home, organize, build power and at the next convention you be the delegates. (emphasis in original)
Maybe the right thing for me to do with those naysayers is to name names. They probably deserve some shaming. Maybe I'm not taking a bold enough stand about them, but I'm not going to name them right now. This time. 

Some of them have been bitching with increasing vigor the last few weeks. But rather than limiting to just feeling sorry for themselves, these n'er do wells have been blaming some non-existent savior for failing to come to the rescue, snap their fingers and make Arizona Democrats into a powerful machine. But it does NOT work that way. 

Change happens, but it takes time. Organizational changes that are responsible for making good things happen regarding public policy and lawmaking started more than a year ago.

However, Arizona Democrats in 2013 demonstrated in very real ways that they (WE) are, in fact, organizing for powerful impact. Getting #StopHB2305 qualified for the 2014 general election ballot in just about two months' time was no small accomplishment.

Next, when you cut through all of the noise generated by disgruntled Tea-publicans in the Arizona Legislature and their angry followers, you have to give recognition to united Democratic caucuses in both chambers. They made some good things happen with the Medicaid restoration and a state government budget that is far more favorable than GOP legislative leadership wanted.

Enabling Democratic state lawmakers to effectively exercise leverage doesn't happen in this state without organized Democratic activists supporting them.

So, we're heading into 2014. The legislative session starts two weeks from today. 2014 is going to be an even bigger year for Democrats in Arizona than 2013. 

For anyone needing a pep talk, however, this is a good time to take Mr. Alinsky's advice and "learn a lesson. Go home, organize and build power."

Take heart also because the mere mention of the name Saul Alinsky is enough to make some Republicans freak out. That's a good indication they know we're onto something. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Redistricting -- Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal!

Please pardon my irreverence about the holiday. Are there people who yet do not know that scholars generally understand that Jesus Christ was NOT born on December 25, and that this (retail) holiday has roots in pagan historical traditions related to the winter solstice?

Since Jesus scorned the money changers and hypocritical religious leaders, and embraced the sinners, I particularly appreciate Kevin's line from Home Alone, "Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal."

I also owe thanks to my son-in-law's aunt who often has tremendously poignant thoughts (and posts them on Facebook). This evening, she said,
"...And in his name all oppression will cease"...this line from O Holy Night at Christmas Eve service jumped out at me. He truly is the only lasting hope for the world. Jesus is not the founder of a religion. He is a true myth, God's never-ending story of love and forgiveness come to life, and at the same time he was a real person. I have a new appreciation for story this year, and especially the story that trumps all others. 
I personally find the kind of religion that demands obedience to some fool's interpretation of biblical morality incredibly distasteful. You know, the kind that people like Ted Cruz use to justify Christian Dominionism (theocracy) and Islamophobia (promoting fear and hatred of a boogeyman version of theocracy).

But the Jesus Christ in whose name all oppression will cease, stirs my soul.

All of that said, other than writing for this blog, giving Christmas gifts to my grandchildren is just about the most fun thing to do any time of the year.

Please forgive me again. This time for having overshadowed the redistricting news with my reflections on Christmas.


Alright, let's get down to business. On Monday (December 23), counsel for the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission filed a motion to dismiss the legislature's lawsuit against the will of the voters. Noting that the AIRC already has one motion to dismiss pending, this one cites a different reason and different court procedure provision as cause. The motion also notes the AIRC reason for filing this one is to ensure that
While the Commission currently has pending a motion to dismiss pursuant to 12(b)(6) (Dkt. 16), this motion, which addresses the lack of subject matter jurisdiction, is proper. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(g)(2), (h)(3) (requiring Court to dismiss action “at any time” if it determines that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction). This motion is filed to assure that these issues are briefed before the January 24, 2014 hearing.
Rule 12 (b)(6) cites cause for granting a motion to dismiss: "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Rule 12 (g)(2) and (h)(3) notes a reason why the AIRC is allowed to file a second motion to dismiss.
If the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.  
So, AIRC counsel gave the grinchy Arizona Legislature a lump of coal for Christmas. Or, actually it gave the legislature's lawyers something to do other than traditional Christmas family gatherings and rituals. They will no doubt now be spending more time trying to subvert this latest motion.

I've provided a link (above) to the 9-page motion, if you're so inclined to read it.

Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas, Infidels!


Okay, now that I have your attention, what I'm really excited about this evening is that state Sen. Steve Farley (D-LD9) has pre-filed for the upcoming legislative session, his ALEC Accountability Bill, which looks to be essentially the same (and may be exactly the same) as SB1219, the one he filed for the 2013 session.

SB1219 was assigned to Michele Reagan's elections committee and died an agonizingly slow death there. Reagan was busy last winter and spring pushing the Voter Suppression Bill (#stopHB2305) instead.

It becomes even more important this year since the Arizona Supreme Court let the dogs out (when it lifted the injunction against implementation of the Lobbyist Shakedown Bill).

Contrary to what these videos might suggest, I do take this situation -- both the Lobbyist Shakedown and the ALEC Accountability Bill considered together -- seriously.

Farley first introduced the bill (HB2665) when he was in the Arizona House, in 2012. One provision of which is to require disclosure of ANY BENEFIT, including travel, lodging or registration fees for conferences. Also known as wining and dining, that, of course, is how ALEC butters up state lawmakers. In January 2012, here's what Farley said about the bill,
“This bill keeps our elected officials in line and focused on getting results for Arizona’s families, not for special interests,” said Assistant House Minority Leader Steve Farley, the sponsor of the bill. “It’s high time that transparency becomes a priority down here, and lawmakers work to get the job done, not carry the water for out-of-state corporations.”
The bill is one of the first to come out of Democratic lawmakers’ 2012 plan to move Arizona forward and leave the Tea Party’s extremism and divisiveness behind.
The ALEC Accountability Act works to change a long-standing, back-door system of lobbyist-funded scholarships that pay for lawmaker participation in conferences with ideological agendas and provide fancy accommodations, upscale dining and entertainment "networking" opportunities in cities around the country.
On the indirectly related subject of the Lobbyist Shakedown, a local conservative editorial columnist opined in today's edition that
The decision by the Arizona Supreme Court to permit higher campaign contribution limits to go into effect was this year’s most important political development. [...]
For those who profess to want more transparency in campaign spending, this should be a welcomed move. Money contributed to candidates is disclosed. Money contributed to independent expenditure campaigns often isn't. Increasing the voice of candidates in campaigns is good for transparency and voter choice. [...]
Regardless, candidates will now be less of a bystander in their own elections and voters will have more information about who is backing them.
In 2012, HB2665 did not even get assigned to committees. Recall that in 2012, the GOP enjoyed a supermajority in both chambers. They got away with quite a lot of mischief that year.

We cannot know with any degree of certainty how far this year's version, SB1034, will go. But there are a number of factors in play suggesting Democrats will have substantially more leverage in what becomes law in 2014.

Without the ALEC Accountability Bill, the ability of voters to make informed decisions on whom to delegate their authority (by way of their vote) is dramatically hindered. We DO know, however, that Move to Amend, Represent.Us and the American Anti-Corruption Act all will get more publicity and therefore more traction in 2014. To the degree Democratic leverage increases in the Arizona Legislature, SB1034 might just have a chance. 

So, thank you very much Steve Farley. And Merry Christmas, Infidels!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Redistricting -- AZ Legislature v AIRC -- Oral argument

The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission reported yesterday that in the Legislature's lawsuit (CV12-1211-PHX-PGRchallenging the right of the PEOPLE of Arizona, by way of the AIRC, to draw the lines for choosing their own Congressional representatives, the three-judge federal court panel set a hearing for January 24, 2014 at 10:00 a.m., to hear oral arguments on pending motions.

Those motions currently at issue are the AIRC motion to dismiss the case and the Legislature's motion for preliminary and/or permanent injunction barring the 2014 use of the Congressional map adopted by the AIRC in early 2012.

AIRC staff also indicated the court set a deadline of January 8 for responses to the amicus brief filed earlier this month supporting defendant AIRC and its motion to dismiss. 

The January 24 hearing will be conducted at the Sandra Day O'Connor Federal Courthouse at 401 W. Washington St., Phoenix.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Redistricting -- Florida Supreme Court says state lawmakers must testify

On Blog for Arizona today, based on a new Florida Supreme Court ruling, AZBlueMeanie wrote a post making a case for an aggressive counterclaim to one or more of the (three) GOP lawsuits challenging legislative and congressional maps and the right of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission to conduct redistricting at all.
The Orlando Sentinel reports, Florida Supreme Court rules lawmakers can be forced to testify in redistricting court fight:
The Florida Supreme Court ruled Friday that state lawmakers can be forced to testify and turn over documents related to whether they intentionally redrew political maps for partisan gain last year. 
... I [AZBlueMeanie] believe the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC) should have been aggressive and filed a counter-claim against the secretive GOP redistricting organization FAIR Trust and its lawyer/lobbyists who tried to influence the AIRC on behalf of the Arizona GOP delegation. It would have allowed for litigation discovery and testimony under oath from everyone involved in FAIR Trust, and it would have conflicted out the lawyer/lobbyists who are currently representing the GOP in the redistricting lawsuits before the courts.
AZBlueMeanie's counterclaim argument relates to whether the Florida ruling could set precedent so that Arizona state lawmakers could be forced to testify about the clandestine operation of UNfair Trust. If so, what might reasonably be characterized as conspiring to subvert the Arizona Constitution could be brought into the light. Given that the question of legislative privilege as it pertained to the redistricting commissioners was an open question during the Harris trial in March, the role of leadership in the legislature may well one day become subject to discovery.

The lawyer/lobbyists in particular are David Cantelme and Mike Liburdi. Forcing them to testify would have created a conflict of interest for both. Which then would have precluded them from filing the lawsuits on behalf of the Harris and Leach plaintiff groups. Cantelme served as lead counsel for plaintiffs in the Harris case, which is still awaiting a ruling from the three-judge federal district court panel. Harris challenged the legislative district map. Liburdi has served as counsel on both the Harris case and the Leach case. Leach challenges the congressional map on the basis of a list of various alleged procedural errors made by the AIRC.

Overall, anything that represents a feasible strategy to enhance the independence of the AIRC, or to insulate it from undue influence from unsavory characters appeals to me. I wonder, however, about potential issues such a counterclaim might raise (because we don't know who made up the membership of UNfair Trust). Not to mention that funding legal representation for such a counterclaim gets dicey.

Article 4 of the Arizona Constitution sets forth the law under which the AIRC was established and operates. We've known since February 2011 that the legislature would use pending appropriations for leverage in influencing commission conduct. My gut tells me the legislature would refuse to fund the agency to the degree it could be able to initiate a counterclaim. That would then give rise to a special action in the Arizona Supreme Court exploring whether AIRC authority to defend the maps includes defending the process proactively.

Legal theory ought to be explored for whether the Arizona Constitution can allow for such a counterclaim. Even though it may be too late to matter for the maps currently in effect, providing insight on how to preempt anyone from injecting similar interference into the 2021 cycle is very much still in play and most appropriate.

Surely Arizona must have scholars who can sort through this area of law to provide a road map for the next set of redistricting commissioners or advocacy groups such as the League of Women Voters or the Arizona Advocacy Network to defend the process and therefore the maps.

In the meantime, we must remain vigilant, on the lookout for whatever new ways the GOP will try to subvert the will of the people of Arizona. I'm confident they will be trying.

Friday, December 13, 2013

How much of a bet did the legislature take passing HB2317?

When I blogged a few days ago about the latest redistricting update, a series of comments ensued, including a few made by state Rep. John Kavanagh. Those comments bear more consideration by readers of the Arizona Eagletarian.

Firstly, I appreciate (and have received reader feedback that others also appreciate) the banter John and I have had in these exchanges. John quite apparently took the post very seriously. It elicited significant defensiveness, but nevertheless, he responded.

So, thank you John.

Now, to address your latest comment.
I will close out this string of communications by pasting the response I received from DPS on the authority for and frequency of the background checks. The response was:
"We check the names of everyone with a card every 24 hours against in-state arrest records, and the statute generally allows us to do this check. Below is the specific language from ARS 41-1758.03(J) (similar language also in 41-1758.07). Note where it states "periodic" checks are permitted. If a person with a card is arrested for a disqualifying offense, the card is immediately suspended and we notify the employer (or licensing entity). I don't believe these real-time checks are a federal requirement, but I will double check on that."
Here's the language from 41-1758.03 (J)
The division may conduct periodic state criminal history records checks for the purpose of updating the clearance status of current fingerprint clearance card holders and may notify the board of fingerprinting and the agency employing the person of the results of the records check.
Here's the similar language from 41-1758.07 (also subsection J),
The fingerprinting division may conduct periodic state criminal history records checks for the purpose of updating the clearance status of current level I fingerprint clearance cardholders pursuant to this section and may notify the board of fingerprinting and the agency of the results of the records check. 
Now, public policy advocates, political reporters and lawmakers (and many others) know the difference between the words "may" and "shall." The "others" who would pay the most attention to these two words might be the lawyers. So, let's think about them a bit.

Of course, "may" represents permission. "Shall" represents obligation. Does the information John provided in his comment below actually answer the question he claims to have addressed? His first comment included this claim,
And most importantly, everyone with a card, active or extended, who is in contact with kids has their name run daily to insure that they were not arrested for an offense that would not allow them to be in contact kids.
In other words, while we extended the licenses, the holders were still being monitored to insure that they were not arrested for a crime that would preclude school employment. 
To which, I replied,
Is that process of cross checking the names of everyone with a card with arrest reports codified in statute? How do we know THAT has been adequately funded and that whatever IT programming written to accomplish that task actually works? How do we know it's actually being carried out daily?
Well, apparently statutes give permission for DPS to conduct that cross check. 

As to the other questions, consider a role reversal scenario. John is committee chairman. He doesn't like the bill but for some reason agreed to hear it anyway. He didn't agree to support the bill, just to give it a hearing. Do you think he would let it slide without demanding satisfactory answers to the other questions? 

So, pardon me, John, that I remain skeptical. The legislature doesn't adequately fund DPS to prevent or adequately clear backlogs on requests for fingerprint clearance cards. So, what assurance do you have that law enforcement officials tell you the WHOLE truth in this situation? We know that law enforcement officials are never evasive, right?

Look, it's no secret that John Kavanagh and I have very little common ground on policy positions. But he's a smart guy who is obviously tenacious. He can come up with all sorts of questions to find a way to justify killing a bill he doesn't like. HB2317, if he wanted to kill it, would have been no different.

John finished his comment with this:
Finally, the ethics of journalism and I assume you consider yourself a journalist, dictate that a journalist have verified information before leveling a serious charge against another. I should not have had to prove the legislature innocent. The assumption of guilt is bad policy in both law and journalism.
To which, I replied, on that post. It's important to note that John is neither a publisher, nor a journalism instructor. How any one filling those roles would assess this blog is a different question altogether, but he is, in this situation, a consumer. A reader. As such, he is certainly entitled to his highly subjective opinion about the contents.

I will note that assumption of guilt was very clearly NOT something I put forth, at least not to the charge he claimed that I had made. His words, not mine, "the legislature endangering children." I had set forth that I believed HB2317 was the legislature placing a bet, taking a risk. I believe it is clear that is STILL the case. However, the information DPS provided to him gives the appearance the legislature may have tried to minimize the risk associated with that bet.

As to his suggestion that no one should assume THIS legislature guilty when it comes to any question of public policy, I can only laugh.

This legislature does NOT make it a practice to thoroughly vet ideas for implementing good public policy. Rather, they actually simply decide what they think might be a good idea and they look only as far as they need to look in order to justify implementation. I challenge anyone to refute that assessment.

Here's an additional inference I made about John's comments on the December 7 post. It appears John found it disturbing I called him on the bet he and his colleagues made in passing HB2317. Is that not, in fact, what the institution of a FREE PRESS is supposed to do?

More than a century ago, humorist and observer of humanity Finley Peter Dunne wrote [see page 240] that,
Th' newspaper does ivrything f'r us. It runs th' polis foorce an' th' banks, commands th' milishy, controls th' ligislachure, baptizes th' young, marries th' foolish, comforts th' afflicted, afflicts th' comfortable, buries th' dead an' roasts thim aftherward. (emphasis mine)
If today, as Mr. Dunne observed in 1903, "Th' newspaper... controls th' ligislachure" the entire December 7th blog post would be moot. There is, however, no newspaper in Arizona controlling the legislature. It's doubtful they even influence lawmaking in our state much.

In today's Arizona, and throughout the United States, newspapers and broadcast media have most definitely been not only co-opted, but bought out and consolidated by corporatists. Just whose interests have those media corporations been watching out for?

Is it a wonder people like John Kavanagh find it disturbing when a humble blogger catches them in the act of taking risks they might later regret?


By the way, the day before yesterday, (December 11) was the third anniversary of the start of the Arizona Eagletarian.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

LD26 Democrats to honor Newtown victims by raising funds for Arizonans for Gun Safety

A few days ago, LD 26 Democratic Committee chair Randy Keating issued the following:
TEMPE, ARIZ. – Today, Legislative District 26 Democratic Committee Chairman Randy Keating issued a statement condemning the Legislative District 26 Republican Committee’s raffle of an AR-15-style semi-automatic assault weapon just days before the anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting in Newtown, CT. Less than a year ago, the Newtown shooter used an AR-15 Bushmaster to kill 20 young school children and 6 adults.
“Raffling the AR-15 assault rifle, whose winner will be announced shortly before the first anniversary of the Sandy Hook mass shooting, is not only irresponsible, but grossly insensitive,” Keating said. “Arizona deserves much better from the LD26 Republican leadership, and that is why we have decided to help collect donations for one of Arizona’s leading gun safety groups, Arizonans for Gun Safety, until the December 14th, 2013 anniversary of the Newtown shooting. 
“An AR-15 assault rifle is a dangerous weapon in the wrong hands, it should not be a contest prize. To the contrary, gun owners should undergo a background check and safety training before taking on the responsibility of an assault weapon. Arizonans for Gun Safety will use the donated funds to educate the public on safe and responsible gun ownership practices to reduce unintentional gun injuries, gun thefts, and suicides,” said Hildy Saizow, President of Arizonans for Gun Safety.
One hundred percent of the funds that are donated through the LD26 Democratic Committee’s special donation page will benefit Arizonans for Gun Safety’s gun violence prevention, education and advocacy programs. Arizonans for Gun Safety is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to reducing gun deaths and injuries in Arizona communities.
To donate, please visit

Saturday, December 7, 2013

What does it take to bend the Arc of the Moral Universe?

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” -- Martin Luther King Jr.

Consider that American history does NOT reflect the blessings of liberty automatically kicking in when the government of the new nation -- the United States of America -- was first established in the 18th Century.

Does power ever relinquish willingly? Consider Nelson Mandela's lifetime of struggle for equality.

The history of OUR nation is filled with struggle. However, the American experiment has provided a structure such that the struggle can be focused on the political -- discourse and debate -- instead of on violence.

Amendment campaigns are how we make the American vision of equality and liberty a reality. Amendment campaigns are how we accomplished much of what we now take for granted:

  •  All people are equal.
  • Every citizen of every gender, race and creed gets to vote and participate in our society.
  • Women are equal and may vote just as men vote.
  • The poor can vote, even if they don't have money for a poll tax. 
  • Millions of men and women who have lived eighteen, nineteen and twenty years, old enough to die for their country in war, may not be barred from voting. 
  • We can, if we, the people, choose to do so, enact progressive income taxes and not place the tax burden only on middle-class and working families. 
  • We elect the individuals who serve in the U.S. Senate, rather than watch from the sidelines while corporate-dominated political bosses appoint them.
Not one of these principles was established without Americans working for and winning constitutional amendments.
-- Jeffrey D Clements, Corporations Are Not People, 2012
The arc will bend.

Corporatists will yield their power because WE, the PEOPLE will assert OUR rights.

We WILL end the War on Drugs. When we pass the Safer Arizona initiative, amending the Arizona Constitution, it will represent a major step in that direction and it will undercut violent drug cartels taking the market for marijuana off of the streets.

Additionally, we WILL Move to Amend the US Constitution to overturn Citizens United, reclaiming the federal government from Big Money.

The arc will bend, but not without focused political action to overcome cultural inertia.

History is on our side.

Redistricting Update -- Smacking GOP Legislature's Hubris UPDATED Noon 12-7-13

On Thursday, longtime social justice advocate Tim Hogan filed an Amicus Curiae brief with the federal court in the state legislature's lawsuit seeking to kill the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. The brief, on behalf of Dennis Burke, Bart Turner and three citizen advocacy groups (including the Intertribal Council of Arizona) begins,
This lawsuit is an attempt by the Arizona legislature to circumvent the will of the people of Arizona as expressed in two constitutional provisions that were approved by voters. These constitutional provisions are the Independent Redistricting provisions, Ariz. Const, Art. 4, Pt. 2 § 1, and the provisions enacted through the Voter Protection Act, Ariz. Const., Art. 4, Pt. 1, § 1, (6)(B) and (C).
Other Amici supported the enactment of Proposition 106 on numerous grounds, including that it would open the redistricting process to public scrutiny and remove the responsibility for redrawing district boundaries from legislators who have “the ultimate conflict of interest” in doing so. Arizona Sec’y of State, 2000 Publicity Pamphlet, p.57 (2000), available at (Argument for Proposition 106 by Miriam Neiman, Treasurer, Arizona Common Cause, Sun City and Dennis Burke, Executive Officer, Arizona Common Cause, Phoenix). (emphasis mine)
The individuals and organizations that appear as Amici in this case do so not only to defend Proposition 106 but also to vindicate the Voter Protection Act (Proposition 105) which was approved by Arizona voters in 1998. The Voter Protection Act amended the Arizona Constitution to establish that Arizona initiatives approved in the 1998 election or thereafter could not be repealed by the Arizona legislature, nor could they be amended unless the amendment furthered the purposes of the initiative and was passed with a three-fourths vote in each house of the Arizona legislature. [...] (emphasis mine)
Arizona law requires that Legislative Council prepare an analysis of each proposition approved for the ballot. A.R.S. § 19-124(B)*. If there had been any question about the constitutionality of Proposition 106, it would have been identified by Legislative Council. However, no such issue was ever identified by Legislative Council. Nor was the Election Clause issue, now advanced by the legislature, ever mentioned or discussed in the Publicity Pamphlet for the 2000 election or at any time during the campaign prior to the election.
Defendants [AIRC] have more than adequately addressed the Elections Clause argument advanced by the legislature in this case and Amici will not duplicate that discussion. Instead, Amici address issues of Arizona constitutional law that divest the Arizona legislature of the authority to even pursue its claim in this case.
In a Capitol Media Services story posted to the East Valley Tribune this (Friday) afternoon,
Peter Gentala, an attorney for the Republican-controlled state House, acknowledged that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that individuals have no legal standing to sue over constitutional questions of federal election laws. If the Arizona Legislature cannot sue, then no one can.
But Gentala said he doubts it will come to that. He said Hogan's claim is based on a false premise that somehow Arizona voters — and the state constitutional provision known as the Voter Protection Act — can keep the Legislature from asserting rights it has under the U.S. Constitution.
Did you catch that? House Speaker Andy Tobin's attorney boiled the lawsuit down to whether the VOTERS can "keep the Legislature from asserting rights IT has" under the US Constitution.

Let us refresh our memory about the bottom line regarding the US Constitution.
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
I'm fairly confident that "our posterity" does not equate to "our corporations," or even "our state legislatures."


Since Gentala thinks the purpose of the US Constitution is to establish rights for our state legislature to assert, let's just consider an example of what the legislature has done recently to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, promote the general welfare and/or secure those blessings of liberty to our posterity.

In this case, consider insuring domestic tranquility.

The seventh bill passed in the 2013 regular session, HB2317 provides a "work around" to people with an expired fingerprint clearance card to get a new one so they can get (or keep) a job working in schools. A fingerprint clearance card is intended to provide employers (and the people they are supposed to keep safe) assurance that the cardholder has not been convicted of certain crimes.

In HB2317, our ELECTED lawmakers are rolling the dice, laying down a bet. NOT equivalent to insuring anything. Rather, it's about taking risk and hoping they don't have to either payout huge sums of money or suffer prolonged public shaming in the event they lose the bet. For perspective, recall the Yarnell Hill fire. Somebody took a risk. 19 firefighters lost the bet.

In this case, the legislature bet they can keep our children safe even though they consistently (over the years) have declined to adequately fund the Department of Public Safety's fingerprint clearance card processing unit so that applicants can get their cards on a timely basis.

Shall we reflect back just a few days on the fact that more than 6,000 reports of child abuse or neglect were summarily ignored, swept under the rug? By the way, not long ago, the legislature privatized the CPS Hotline. How did that work out for Arizona taxpayers, not to mention children and their families?

Again, that's just a very brief example. How long would the list of travesties committed by the GOP controlled state legislature be, if anyone dared to commit enough reporting resources to compiling the evidence and publishing it? What would Arizona do if citizens were made aware? Would we let Gentala get away with claiming it's the Legislature's RIGHTS that the court needs to be concerned with?

How many of our children (posterity) will miss out on the blessings of liberty if we continue to allow the GOP to run state government on the cheap? If the legislature gets away with killing independent redistricting (in court), will you be able to tolerate the casualty list rising at an ever increasing rate?


* Note: the text of A.R.S. § 19-124(B) is,
Not later than sixty days preceding the regular primary election the legislative council, after providing reasonable opportunity for comments by all legislators, shall prepare and file with the secretary of state an impartial analysis of the provisions of each ballot proposal of a measure or proposed amendment. The analysis shall include a description of the measure and shall be written in clear and concise terms avoiding technical terms wherever possible. The analysis may contain background information, including the effect of the measure on existing law, or any legislative enactment suspended by referendum, if the measure or referendum is approved or rejected.


Here's what Tim Hogan had to say about Gentala's statement:
I don’t think the Supremacy Clause is relevant to our argument. Our claim is that the legislature lacks the capacity to file the lawsuit because of a provision in the Arizona Constitution i.e. the Voter Protection Act. The Supremacy Clause doesn’t and can’t tell states what powers must be conferred on state legislatures. In Arizona, we have constrained the power of the legislature when it comes to voter approved measures. In this case, the Supremacy Clause requires that the Elections Clause is the law in Arizona but that doesn't mean you don’t have to have the capacity to file a lawsuit to complain about it.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

What's more important, Children or Corporations?

The only thing stirring at the State Capitol seems to be the Child Protective Services debacle. More than 6,000 reports to the CPS hotline that were addressed only with an administrative decision notated by two simple letters, NI. That, of course, means "not investigated."

Whatever happened to "promote the general welfare" or "provide for the common defense?" If we don't protect our children, what does that say about us?

Anyway, I've been writing about Arizona politics for more than 20 years. For more than 8 years in the 1990s, I worked in the Department of Economic Security, where CPS is administered.

A time or two back in the 1990s, in op-ed columns published in the Arizona Republic and Phoenix Gazette, I wrote about problems with CPS which for some odd reason are eerily similar to the problems in the news now.

Some of the suggestions made during a public forum on Tuesday evening go directly back to programs that had been implemented (Healthy Families) but apparently never adequately funded by the GOP dominated legislature.

Somebody has to say "Look, we've failed at this for decades, what we've tried has not gotten the job done. We've got to come to grips with that long-term failure in order to avoid spinning our wheels by doing the same thing over and over again." The ONLY thing that has made any sense to me coming from any lawmaker or editorialist is Laurie Roberts declaration that we need to reform CPS with a wrecking ball, not a band-aid.

All the hand wringing in the world won't fix anything or keep another child from dying a preventable death. BUT somebody with a bully pulpit needs to do a comprehensive review of news coverage of the agency, as far back as possible. A list of the dates of stories, names and ages of victims and WHAT WAS DONE about it.

The Arizona Republic HAS that kind of archival record. They need to stop with the bullshit, do this review and write a genuinely hard hitting story.


Anyway, I started writing this post to say there's not much going on at the Capitol to report. And other than CPS, that's still true.

The last update I had on the redistricting commission is that no rulings have come down on any of the three pending lawsuits. Therefore the likelihood increases every day that they will be able to make it until the regular legislative session before completely exhausting their FY2014 appropriation. Of course, the GOP dominated legislature pretended that the money was enough to last through June 2014.


I'm currently reading Jeffrey D. Clements' book, Corporations are not People.

Here are a few paragraphs from the book. The first is the last part of the foreword Bill Moyers wrote for the book, followed by the first few paragraphs of the Introduction.
...keep in mind the words of Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican, who a century ago stood up to the mighty combines of wealth and power that were buying up our government and called on Americans of all persuasions to join him in opposing the "naked robbery" of the public's trust: It is not a partisan issue; it is more than a political issue; it is a great moral issue. If we condone political theft, if we do not resent the kinds of wrong and injustice that injuriously affect the whole nation, not merely our democratic form of government but our civilization itself cannot endure. 

America's story is one of defiant struggle against the odds for an improbable vision: that all people, created and born free and equal, can live and govern together "in pursuit of happiness." This dream of a society of free people with equal rights, where people govern themselves, was unlikely indeed in the eighteenth century. In a world of empires, governed by royalty and divided by class, and in our own country, with millions enslaved, where women were considered the property of their husbands, and where land ownership was considered a prerequisite to participation in government, the pursuit -- let alone the fulfillment -- of this vision was far-fetched indeed.

Yet we Americans never let that vision go, despite dark days. In generation after generation, for more than two centuries, the power of this dream drove us and inspired the world. Despite all of the contradictions, shortcomings, missteps, and failures along the way, this American story remains true, and it is an undeniable triumph of the human spirit. Cynics and critics will have their say, but Americans really did come together to defeat the British Empire; to overthrow the evil of slavery and work for justice; to secure equal voting rights for women; to insist that everyone has an equal vote and voice; to suffer, work and fight year after year to defeat fascist, communist, fundamentalist, and totalitarian challenges to our vision of democracy, equality and freedom.
People are free. People are equal. People govern. We have lived by that and died for that, and whenever we fell short, we worked and sacrificed for that, to ensure, as Abraham Lincoln said in one of our darkest moments, "that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the Earth."
To triumph again over powerful enemies of human equality, dignity, and freedom in our generation, we must properly identify the challenge and bring clarity of thinking and action to making our republic work again. As so often before, success and struggle begin with the simplest of propositions: Corporations are not people.

I happen to believe that the problems Arizona's dealing with regarding Child Protective Services are, in fact, related to the world view held by ruling class Republicans that corporations deserve not only the same rights but preeminence over the people. And that at its root, tolerating epidemic child endangerment is a blatant symptom of a very real threat to our civilization. By no means, is this the only imminent threat to American civilization, but it's a big one that is staring us in the face at the moment.

And while they are at it, perhaps the Republic or the Arizona Capitol Times ought to compile some statistics about how much time has been spent in legislative sessions discussing bills designed to protect children... as opposed to bills designed to protect some fat cat's tax advantage.

Bottom line, are our children just an afterthought? How long will we let that continue?