Friday, January 31, 2014

Irony of Ironies -- Why are Kavanagh and Tobin afraid to answer for their communications on SB1070?

On Wednesday, January 29, our good friend John Kavanagh heard HB2366 in House Appropriations. Passed by both chambers on Thursday, January 30, the bill appropriates $100k to provide lawyers for current and former lawmakers subject to subpoenas for documents related to discussions of any kind on the subject of SB1070 (in 2010). From the Arizona Republic,
The Legislature also approved a $100,000 appropriation to fight subpoenas issued to current and former lawmakers about their communications concerning 2010’s Senate Bill 1070. Tobin called the subpoenas “an attack on the legislative process” because they targeted communications lawmakers received and sent while doing their jobs. Rep. Martin Quezada, D-Phoenix, said an easier and cheaper way to deal with the subpoenas would be to repeal SB1070. (emphasis mine)
One irony is in that both Tobin and Kavanagh voted AYE on SCR1001 in 2011, a direct attack on the judicial branch of Arizona government. That Senate Concurrent Resolution referred Prop 115 to the ballot in 2012. The voters, however, by a nearly 3 to 1 margin (1,446,970 to 553,132) beat back that attack.

More irony lies in the multiple attacks the legislature has launched on the Independent Redistricting Commission, including that one of the issues they used to justify the attempted decapitation of the IRC back in 2001 was the Open Meeting Law which requires all communications, except limited scope authorization for executive session matters, to be out in the open. Discussions about the actual mapping work done by the IRC may not be hidden from public scrutiny.

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How many ways have these buzzards thumbed their noses at Arizona voters? Let's not forget last Friday's oral arguments in federal court because the legislature believes the voters harmed them by establishing the IRC; and action taken by the legislature this week toward eliminating the right of the people to VETO the Voter Suppression Bill.

In the video, Andy Tobin says he was APPALLED by the fact that the American Civil Liberties Union would have the audacity to subpoena legislative records. He must not have much regard for civil liberties, except for those of the gods who get elected to be lawmakers, who should not be subjected to "frivolous lawsuits." That legislators would be compelled to testify, or at minimum disclose prior communications, given that they generally are subject to "legislative privilege" strongly suggests this is not frivolous.

Kavanagh was even more indignant, saying the "subpoena is an extremely dangerous thing for the legislature as an institution, not to mention individual members." He then went on a 5-minute or so diatribe about the over broad nature of this particular demand for documents, calling it a classic "fishing expedition."

He then brought out his shiny object (fishing lure, apparently to distract the viewers),
...they have words like "English" in there, and you're talking about a monumental amount of documents... I teach college, and I send emails to my students who say "what courses should I take?" I say English 101. That email now has to go to the ACLU. It's ridiculous...
What is ridiculous is that because NOW Kavanagh has the gavel, he can say outrageous things -- make arguments that nobody challenges HIM on whether his logic is at all rational.

Did anyone ask John Kavanagh why he is telling college students who ask for his guidance that they should take English 101? Most of the people in that hearing room were either college graduates or current college students. How much would you be willing to bet that quite a few of the people who sat there silently taking it in wondered about why he had to suggest to students to take a course that is UNIVERSALLY a required subject to get any degree from the college at which he teaches (Scottsdale Community College)?

He also complains that the process is incredibly time consuming. The real BOTTOM LINE here is that John Kavanagh appears to completely detest the entire notion that he has to be accountable for his actions and words as a state lawmaker.

Oh, and there's the "chilling effect" on constituent communications if people realize their emails to lawmakers will be disclosed. John, disclosure of emails or other communications with constituents ALREADY is subject to Open Records Law disclosure. The ACLU subpoena is immaterial to that situation.

So, John, methinks thou doth protest too much.

By the way, on my November 19, 2013 blog post Kavanagh said this in a comment on the Arizona Eagletarian,
The legislature is not a debating society. It is a lawmaking body. I debate the issues on Horizon, Politics Unplugged, Sunday Square off, forums like Saturday's Stand Your Ground one and blogs like this. There is a time and place for everything. We debate bills in the legislature that have a chance of passage to improve them, not for sport or to comply with some liberal equal time rule.
No, John, if you allowed actual debate in your committee, you would have been challenged on your shiny object story about counseling students to take the FIRST LISTED REQUIRED course for all degrees at Scottsdale Community College. And you would have had to go on record answering for the inane misdirection tactic.

If the Arizona Legislature actually WERE a debating society, I have to figure that public policy decision processes would IMPROVE dramatically.

John Kavanagh had the audacity to complain that for fear of some court case even years after a vote on a bill, lawmakers should have to censor themselves.

Holy CRAP, John! Do you ever listen to yourself? You have said it with your typing fingers and you've said it with your audible voice, that you believe you do NOT have to answer to ANYONE for your actions and words as a lawmaker.

On my December 7, 2013 blog post, Kavanagh said 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. (emphasis mine)
I made (and make) no claim as to my credentials. My credentials are irrelevant. My words stand worthy of judgment on their own.

However, John Kavanagh's habit of engaging his mouth (or keyboard) before putting his brain in gear IS relevant. In POLITICS, which is what we are dealing with here, both John Kavanagh and Andy Tobin ARE required to answer to the people. Both are found wanting. In this case, wanting one hundred thousand dollars to keep them and their comrades from having to disclose the viciousness of the racism that was underpinning the SB1070 debate in 2010.

When Kavanagh and his ilk are sufficiently sanctioned for their careless, reckless, and (at minimum) offensive conduct, maybe they will get the idea that they should not just do things willy nilly to get over on voters.


By the way, for entertainment value, at the end of the video clip, Kavanagh gets a kick out of his committee staffer mentioning my name as having signed in to state a position opposed to HB2366.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Remember when I told you about newly appointed Sen. Carlyle Begay?

First, just who is state Sen. Carlyle W. Begay? 
In the video, Begay describes an impressive educational and professional background. But some of the other things he says, and what members of the senate committee say in return, give us important clues to who he is and what citizens of LD7 can expect from him.
First, Begay mentions his father who has served as a long-time tribal (Navajo) liaison to Peabody Energy (which bills itself as the world's largest private sector coal company). Begay talked about how important it was to hear about those issues as he was growing up. No doubt father and son are both proud of each other.
On November 16, Begay asked me to give him a chance.
By the way, I met -- face-to-face for the first time -- Senator Carlyle Begay. It was good to shake his hand and greet each other. He mentioned that he hopes I'll give him a chance. I assured him I would and that I would be watching.
Here we are in January, nearly three weeks into the 2014 legislative session. What has Begay done for his constituents so far? Well, perhaps throwing a bone to Peabody Coal, he signed on as the lone Democratic sponsor on (Senate Resolution) SR1003. Along with 36 Republicans, Begay is calling for COMPLETE (10th Amendment) nullification of EVERY Environmental Protection Agency rule.

Leaving out the whereases, here's the resolution:
Be it resolved by the Senate of the State of Arizona:
That the Members of the Senate support the nullification in the State of Arizona of all rules imposed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Mrs. Agenda 21 herself, Judy Burges gets the honor as first sponsor of SR1003. I wonder if Begay is just oblivious to the Agenda 21 madness or what. Regardless, with his signature on this bill, he validates claims that he is a Republican plant.

Can he walk it back and actually conduct himself as a member of the Senate Democratic Caucus? I don't know.

I'm not going to say it's acceptable to throw a bone to your father's long-time employer just because you got appointed to fill a legislative vacancy. But does he really understand the ramifications of complete nullification of ALL EPA rules? Here's a sampling of the 24 different pages for finding those rules and resources for dealing with them, you know, to make the environment healthier and safer for Arizonans:

And of course, perhaps the most pressing for Arizona, Air Pollution. Back in the summer of 2012, in my blog post about crony capitalism, I cited a study showing that asthma, respiratory allergies and respiratory infections are essentially pandemic in our state.

It's important to realize that, at worst, SR1003 is symbolic, in that passage causes nothing tangible to happen. But the symbolism reeks of special interest cronyism.

So, Carlyle Begay, why do you represent the interests of Peabody Coal over the rights of the residents of LD7 to breathe clean air?

Guest post -- Duval: Kavanagh's Attack on Opportunity

Arizona House Appropriations chairman John Kavanagh (R-LD23/Fountain Hills) says Arizona spends too much money providing a university education to students. “Is that really a good way to spend money?” he asks.

While other states are seeking to lead the new economy by graduating increasing numbers of students from higher education, Rep. Kavanagh is arguing the exact opposite. He claims that Arizona is spending too much money providing a university education to students who don’t really need it.

Kavanagh's message to talented students unable to afford college is “tough luck.” He couldn’t be more wrong. Every bright student with motivation and talent should have the opportunity to go as far as their God-given talents will allow them to go.

This misguided attack on higher education is, in every practical sense, a Republican attack on opportunity.

After the massive cuts to K-12 schools, defunding all-day kindergarten, and ending the once-cent sales tax that funds our children’s schools, the last thing the folks at the Capitol should do is to set another tripwire on our children’s road to opportunity.

These attacks on opportunity have led to some of the largest cuts to education funding in the country, and they couldn’t come at a worse time – half of Arizona’s public high schools saw 5 percent or fewer of their graduates from the Class of 2006 earn a bachelor’s degree.

My message to Arizona voters is different. We can move AZ forward

We can invest in our children's higher education and build the workforce that will draw high-tech businesses to invest in Arizona. 

We can improve opportunities for the next generation. We must work hard now and not sit back to watch as others pass us on the road to success.

Fred DuVal is currently running for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Arizona. His campaign website is Fred2014.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

RIP Pete Seeger

Photo from Michael Moore on Twitter

A giant voice, the conscience of our nation, died yesterday. Pete Seeger was 94.

From the New York Times obit:
Mr. Seeger’s career carried him from singing at labor rallies to the Top 10 to college auditoriums to folk festivals, and from a conviction for contempt of Congress (after defying the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s) to performing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at an inaugural concert for Barack Obama.
For Mr. Seeger, folk music and a sense of community were inseparable, and where he saw a community, he saw the possibility of political action.

Pete Seeger was a major inspiration to me during my high school years, when I spent time with friends singing folk songs, many of which were Seeger's songs.

Now, by God's grace, I have a hammer and I'm going to hammer out freedom all over this land (Arizona).

And together, we SHALL overcome.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Kingdom Coming -- Taking the Land

Before I get into setting forth more about the Christian Dominionist movement, I want to emphasize that this is something that likely most Christians are not familiar with at all.
They represent a minority of those who call themselves Christian and taint mainstream Christians with their extremism.
All Christians are NOT Dominionists ~ But ~ All Dominionists CLAIM Christianity

It is a growing movement supported by political Christians who teach that America is a nation built on a singular religion, Christianity – and all citizens are to be subject to laws and rules that are in accordance with their Dominionist version of reality.
As I wrote a month ago,
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. (a different YouTube clip than I used in December)
Dominionism, is NOT freedom. Dominionism is antithetical to civil liberties. The twisted logic that allows Dominionists to proclaim (and apparently believe) that Christian Dominionism equates to freedom begins by conflating self-determination (genuine freedom) with moral relativism.
Moral relativism is a philosophy that asserts there is no global, absolute moral law that applies to all people, for all time, and in all places.
According to Dominionist evangelist George Grant calling for a second American Revolution,
When people say, "You Can't Legislate Morality," they are ignoring the very nature of legislation itself. Legislation is merely the codification and law of someone's standard of morality. This is right and this is wrong. If you violate these standards, you will get in trouble. If you adhere to these standards you'll be safe. The whole thing is a logical fallacy. If you can't legislate morality, then you can't legislate.
Grant is quoted at,
“Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ — to have dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness. But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice. It is dominion we are after. Not just influence. It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time. It is dominion we are after. World conquest. (emphasis in original)
That’s what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish. We must win the world with the power of the Gospel. And we must never settle for anything less…
Thus, Christian politics has as its primary intent the conquest of the land — of men, families, institutions, bureaucracies, courts, and governments for the Kingdom of Christ.”
So, here's some of what Michelle Goldberg has written in the introduction to Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism:
Farris's [Michael Farris, founder of Patrick Henry College] Generation Joshua has a less bloody mission, but it is imbued with an Old Testament dream of exile redeemed by conquest. The holy land is America as Farris imagines it. The enemy is America as it exists right now. [...]
Farris refers to these parents... as the Moses generation, because they have successfully led their children out of the bondage of the godless public schools... As Farris wrote in his book Generation Joshua, the homeschooling movement "will succeed when our children, the Joshua Generation, engage wholeheartedly in the battle to take the land." 
"...The enemies of freedom and truth dominate these institutions and thereby dominate our nation." 
What Farris wants is a cultural revolution. He's trying to train a generation of leaders, unscathed by secularism, who will gain political power in order to subsume everything -- entertainment, law, government and education -- to Christianity, or their version of it. 
Perhaps the most stark indication of the reality that Dominionism has become a major force in Arizona lawmaking is in reflecting back on the reaction when state Rep. Juan Mendez (D-LD26/Tempe) gave a secular invocation last May. Rep. Steve Smith (Dominionist-LD11/Maricopa) offered a not-so-subtle rebuke to Mendez.
No one said anything publicly at the time. But by Wednesday's session, Rep. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, lashed out at Mendez. He said if Mendez did not want to offer a prayer, he should have skipped his turn in what had traditionally been a rotation among members.
And to make up for that lack, Smith insisted Wednesday on offering a prayer -- actually the second for the day -- "for repentance of yesterday,'' asking asked colleagues to stand and "give our due respect to the creator of the universe.''
Lest you think I'm overreacting, think about what the Dominionists have gotten away with in the more rigidly command-structured military environment.
On September 1, 2011 the Chief of Staff, General Norton A. Schwartz sent a memorandum for all commanders, the subject was “Maintaining Government Neutrality Regarding Religion.”  In this memo he states, "Leaders at all levels must balance Constitutional protections for an individuals free exercise of religion or other personal beliefs and its prohibition against governmental establishment of religion”. Further, "They must avoid the actual or apparent use of their position to promote their personal  religious beliefs to their subordinates or to extend preferential treatment for any religion.” To do so, he states, "Commanders or supervisors who engage in such behavior may cause members to doubt their impartially and objectivity. The potential result is a degradation of the unit’s morale, good order, and discipline." Thus the flagrant proselytizing of subordinates by superiors, non-voluntary evangelizing of members by chaplains and public prayer in official, mandatory settings, outside of voluntary worship, are at the root of what the Military Religious Freedom Foundation is fighting against.
Do we know what the schools funded by Yarbrough's School Tuition Organization teach? How loudly do you think they would balk if someone proposed auditing their taxpayer-funded curriculum? Do you think Cathi Herrod would be rallying the troops for massive email and phone calling barrages on lawmakers who dared to bring up such a thing?

Besides continuing to strangle K-12 and Higher Education (John Kavanagh) funding, Dominionists and others similarly aligned have fomented the very same kind of fake controversy over implementation of Common Core standards as we saw aimed at the Independent Redistricting Commission? So much so that Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal wrote in an Arizona Republic op-ed,
Other misinformation has driven the debate. This includes erroneous beliefs about data compilation, federal intrusion into the classroom, and that the standards have been dumbed down. All of these are factually incorrect, but the misinformation persists.
Until you come to grips with the reality of this culture war and how those waging it from Farris's side see it, you will continue to underestimate people like Steve Yarbrough and Eddie Farnsworth.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

AZ Democrats take bold stand for FREEDOM, JUSTICE and a Prosperous Economic Future

As Arizona Republicans continued to foster division in their ranks by censuring Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Democratic Party took a bold stand for genuine liberty today resolving:
... the Arizona Democratic Party resolves to support the Safer Arizona citizens initiative... using our state, county and legislative district organizations to demonstrate the true nature of a citizen initiative to change our state's laws, public policy and to demonstrate that Democratic Precinct Committeemen and women, activists and elected officials throughout Arizona strongly stand for the civil liberties of Arizonans and for sound drug abuse policy.
The argument, in the text of the resolution, includes:
Whereas, public opinion polling conducted by Arizona based Behavior Research Center in May 2013 showed “Now it appears that a majority (56%) also favor legalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use... it is men (62%) rather than women (50%) that are the most supportive of marijuana legalization, but defelonization also enjoys majority support in all age groups, across all counties and among both Democrats and Independent voters. Indeed, Independent voters are the most supportive at a very strong 72 percent, with only one in five opposed. Support drops among Republicans and political conservatives, yet it is clear that they are not of one mind on the issue."

Among registered Republicans, 41 percent favor defelonization of marijuana while 56 percent oppose. Among political conservatives, 35 percent favor defelonization for personal use, but 58 percent remain in opposition. The opposition of conservatives is more than offset by the support among political moderates (67 %) and political liberals (75%). And while a majority in all age groups support legalizing simple possession of a small amount of marijuana, it is clear that voters under 54 years of age are the most likely age groups to carry this view into future elections.

“It is perhaps ironic that as support for same-sex marriage and defelonization of marijuana have long been albatrosses which conservative candidates could hang around the necks of some of their moderate or liberal challengers, it now appears that hard opposition to gay marriage and perhaps even to marijuana liberalization could become issues moderates and liberals can use against their conservative opponents...; [There does not appear to have been any factor present itself to Arizona voters to decrease support for marijuana legalization since this survey.] (Gallup polling in October 2013 shows strong support for legalization);

A December poll by Republican research firm Susquehanna Polling and Research suggests Arizonans oppose legalization). According to Gallup, the bottom line is “It has been a long path toward majority acceptance of marijuana over the past 44 years, but Americans' support for legalization accelerated as the new millennium began.” 
I embedded links in the resolution to support the numerous reasons this is the right direction for Arizona.

As I've reported over the two weeks since the 2014 legislative session began, GOP lawmakers have attempted to fast-track bills aimed at further enriching Sen. Steve Yarbrough, further undermining public education and authorizing widespread religious bigotry (again, Yarbrough, but also Eddie Farnsworth) introducing the Orwellian-labeled Religious "exercise of religion" bill.

Last summer a multi-partisan coalition, in a matter of six weeks, collected far more than the minimum number of valid signatures of registered voters to put a citizen veto of the Voter Suppression Bill (#StopHB2305) on the 2014 general election ballot. That the coalition succeeded in that effort certainly has gotten the attention of Republican state lawmakers.

Now they want to pre-empt the voters and have been talking about the fact that if they let the referendum go forward, it could possibly lead to all election statutes being subject to the Voter Protection Act (which would require a supermajority vote in the both chambers of the legislature to make ANY changes to related statutes). The knuckleheads should have thought of that before they rushed in the last moments of the 2013 legislative session to pass HB2305. If they can pre-empt the voters, they are certainly going to try.

Nevertheless, despite Republican efforts to take the wind out of the sails of their opponents, a Democratic Party led coalition can certainly collect the well more than 300,000 signatures needed to get Safer Arizona on the ballot in the remaining five months before the deadline for turning in initiative petitions.

There is MUCH to be written about the resolution, but now is the time to get to work.

With Arizona House of Representatives Assistant Minority Leader Ruben Gallego

Friday, January 24, 2014

Redistricting -- Oral Arguments on Motion to Dismiss; Supplemental Appropriation

This morning, counsel for the Arizona Legislature tried to convince a three-member panel of federal judges not to dismiss its lawsuit claiming the legislature has been harmed by Arizona voters.

Prop 106 amended the Arizona Constitution in 2000 to establish the Independent Redistricting Commission which first drew legislative and Congressional district maps in 2001. In so doing, the "rights" of the legislature were violated.

Peter Gentala, argued for the plaintiff (Arizona Legislature) that the suit was proper and timely. But he didn't get much more than a sentence or two out of his mouth before Judge Murray Snow started peppering Gentala with questions. From the start, Snow seemed most skeptical of the legislature's claims.

Snow asked if the legislature had asked Congress to not seat the delegates who had been elected according to the AIRC map in 2012. Of course, the legislature did not. Such a brash position would have been awfully controversial.

Judge Mary Schroeder asked Gentala if he knows of a case where a legislature has gone to court to say they don't want to follow the law of the state. He responded that he did not know of any such case.

One of the judges asked, "how was the legislature harmed" by the Congressional district map? Wouldn't it have been special if Gentala had candidly admitted that the legislature just plain didn't like having the three competitive districts? Of course, each was won by a Democrat. That was the bottom line, wasn't it?

The judges tried to elicit a response from Gentala as to how the legislature had been "excluded from the [redistricting] process." Of course, they have NOT been excluded from the process, as legislative leadership selects commissioners for appointment, and the entire body reviews the draft maps and makes recommendations for adjustments to draft maps.

Gentala pointed out that the pool of eligible candidates was limited by the screening process conducted by the Appellate Court Commission on Appointments. In other words, the legislature doesn't like that it is prohibited from appointing someone like now convicted felon John Mills. Oh, and the redistricting commission did not make one single adjustment to the maps that the legislature wanted it to make. Poor babies.

On the issue of whether the legislature was "excluded from the process," Brown v the Secretary of State of Florida came up. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on the matter in 2012.
At issue today is whether a state constitutional provision establishing standards for congressional redistricting that was approved by the people by initiative is contrary to the Elections Clause of the United States Constitution. Article I, Section 4 of the United States Constitution provides that the “Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof.” Appellants Corrine Brown and Mario Diaz-Balart, members of the United States House of Representatives, along with the Florida House of Representatives, appeal from a district court order granting final summary judgment to the appellees, the Florida Secretary of State and various intervening parties. The appellants claim that Amendment Six is unconstitutional because it was enacted by citizen initiative rather than by the state’s legislature in the ordinary “legislative process.” Moreover, they say that Amendment Six -- even if properly enacted pursuant to Florida’s legislative process -- imposes substantive requirements that far exceed the state legislature’s Elections Clause power.
We are unpersuaded... 
One judge mentioned (Davis v) Hildebrant, a 1916 case where the people of Ohio had used referendum power to veto a map drawn by the state legislature.
Nothing in the act of Congress of August 8, 1911, 37 Stat. 13, apportioning representation among the states, prevents the people of a state from reserving a right of approval or disapproval by referendum of a state act redistricting the state for the purpose of congressional elections.
Please pardon me for not going back and finding the links from my earlier coverage of the redistricting process to refresh readers today about the Appellate Court Commission, John Mills, the language in Prop106 and so on.

For a good summary write up (without some of the details on questions asked by the judges) of today's oral argument hearing,  check out the story Capitol Media Services' Howard Fischer posted to the East Valley Tribune. Fischer noting at the end,
Judge Paul Rosenblatt, who presided over the three-judge panel, said he realizes that time is running out to affect the 2014 election and promised a ruling as soon as possible.
However, we should note that in the Harris case -- the trial for which wrapped up nearly 10 months ago -- that three-judge panel pretty much said the same thing at the end of March 2013.

So, we will hear about the outcome in this case, when we hear it. But I will be very surprised if the legislature gets to waste any more taxpayer money on this particular lawsuit.


On another note, today House Majority Leader David Gowan (R-LD14/Sierra Vista) introduced HB2492, a supplemental appropriation to the AIRC for $1,462,701 for the current fiscal year. Of course, a lot of factors could effect whether this amount will be sufficient to get the commission through June with the ability to pay its bills.

Among those factors, whether the AIRC will be required to make any changes to the legislative district map and how much more involved the Leach case will get. We still have no trial date set in Leach. One of the lead attorneys in Leach, Mike Liburdi, attended today's hearing in the legislature's lawsuit, apparently not caught up in urgency on his case, which also, theoretically could impact the Congressional district map.


By the way, just this week I obtained the legislature's response to the amicus brief filed by citizen groups and two co-authors of Prop 106 and the legislature's response to the second AIRC motion to dismiss -- both documents related to the legislature's lawsuit against the AIRC.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Kingdom Coming -- THIS is where Yarbrough, Farnsworth, Kavanagh and Mike Huckabee are coming from

We should thank former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee for his candid comments today,
"Our party stands for the recognition of the equality of women and the capacity of women," Huckabee told his audience at the Republican National Committee's winter meeting in downtown Washington. "That's not a war on them. It's a war for them. And if the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control, because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it." (emphasis mine)
BAM! Who exactly is saying they MUST control their libido? Has Huckabee ever heard of self-determination? That IS what FREEDOM is about, isn't it?

Isn't Huckabee's logic sort of twisted and perverse? Demonizing those who honor and promote each woman's (and each person's) right to self-determination seems awfully perverse to me.

Huckabee gave voice to the SAME stealth political ideology behind the aggressive, decades long attacks on the rights of American women to make their own health care decisions, and to have a full range of health care services to support those decisions. That line of political thought is deeply embedded in Arizona's Republican dominated legislature. In 2013, Christian Dominionism brought us the 20-week abortion limit that was struck down in federal court as unconstitutional.

Now the 2014 legislative session has already seen attempts to fast track institutionalizing more twisted logic, just like Huckabee's, with Yarbrough's SB1062 and Eddie Farnsworth's HB2153.

Then there's HB2481, Steve Montenegro's declaring "Government may not require a minister to solemnize a marriage that is inconsistent with the minister's sincerely held religious beliefs." This is the bill that Montini and Ruelas, before the bill was even filed, recorded that brief video dismissing the legislation as unnecessary and introduced solely to appease a fringe group of constituents.
Well, journalist and author Michelle Goldberg (Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism) in an interview with NPR's Terry Gross from 2006 observed,
... people on the coasts aren't aware that it [the Christian Nationalist, or Dominionist movement] exists. I often feel that people in New York, where I live, or San Francisco or any of the big cities, feel like it's just this tiny fringe subculture, when in many cases, it's more mainstream than we are.
The Left Behind books are the best selling books of fiction in America and yet secular people on the coasts, unless they are connected to the publishing industry have usually not heard of them and almost certainly not read them. I don't know that anyone, except for people who grew up in that subculture and then left or who has ever been inside of a megachurch. Yet these are an increasingly important part of the American [political] landscape.
Part of it is because the cultural division in this country has become so profound and because there is such a separation in terms of the media we consume that we can kind of be completely oblivious to what is the reality for so many other Americans.
The bottom line to the crAZy religion oriented legislation we've seen in the first 10 days of the legislative session is well beneath the surface. It is NOT just a competition of political memes. It is NOT simply people who value the life of fetuses but lack compassion for the child once it takes its first breath.

It is NOT just about Cathi Herrod pushing her brand of religion. This is about the entire foundation of American society, and by extension Arizona. It is not about Grover Norquist wanting to cause government atrophy such that it can be drowned in a bathtub.

This is about a genuine culture war. They do NOT stand for FREEDOM. They stand for IMPOSING their version of morality on YOU.

Do you want to be governed by people who do not respect the sanctity of YOUR free will to choose your own morality as long as you don't infringe on the rights of others?

Well, those people are working vigorously to expand what "infringe on the rights of others" means. And when they do, YOUR right to live according to the dictates of YOUR own decisions about faith and morality WILL be diminished.


By the way, it's one thing to have personal values that honor the sanctity of life. Nobody, not even Pro-Choice Democrats and Republicans are "pro-abortion." Yet, not two weeks ago, a commenter on Huffington Post stalked me with comments rife with the twisted logic that considers the honoring of rights of American women to self-determination in health decisions to equate to murder.

But it's another thing altogether, likely done with an immense measure of naiveté by Lupe Contreras and Lydia Hernandez, to align themselves with Arizona's most prominent Dominionist, Cathi Herrod. Herrod appears to have captured the two Arizona Democratic lawmakers and snookered them into signing one of her pledges.

Lupe and Lydia, we are going to need you to stand with Arizonans for true freedom and self-determination. The only way we will succeed in minimizing abortions in our state is by broadening access to birth control AND addressing the fundamental economic issues that have caused massive income inequality.

How did an extreme right-wing ideologue get a job in Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton's office?

Imagine my surprise when I opened my email this afternoon to find the following community advisory from

Mayor Stanton's Coffee Shop Stops

Join Mayor Stanton for coffee!

Mayor Stanton and Councilwoman Gallego will be at The Farm at South Mountain to meet with residents and discuss what’s happening in our community.
Come ready to chat! Coffee and tea will be complimentary.
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.
The Farm at South Mountain
6106 S. 32nd Street
Phoenix, AZ 85042
On 32nd Street just south of Southern Avenue
Coming up...
Coffee with a Cop

Mayor Stanton and Sergeant Mike Dwyer will be having coffee with residents. This is a great opportunity to talk about law enforcement and public safety in our neighborhoods -- mark your calendar!
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
8 a.m. to 8:45 a.m.
Fraternal Order of Police - Phoenix Lodge 2
12851 N. 19th Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85029
For more event info:

This is a good thing, right?

Of course it is. I say that without reservation -- about the events with Mayor Stanton, Councilwoman Gallego and Sargeant Mike Dwyer.

BUT... WHO is Christian Palmer and WHY is he now working for Mayor Stanton? From the Arizona Eagletarian from December 14, 2011, headlined "Redistricting -- Arizona's right-wing propagandists speak,"

Well, they write anyway, and unconvincingly at that.
Since Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Dean Fink issued his six-page ruling slapping down Tom Horne's witch hunt against the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, the peanut gallery of voices claiming the mapping panel is now allowed to operate in secret has grown dramatically. Sadly.
Given the consistency with which Arizona Capitol Times axe grinder Christian Palmer has attacked the AIRC throughout 2011, his deceptive screed came as no surprise.
The key is "axe grinder." Christian Palmer, when writing for the various publications put out by the Arizona Capitol Times team, consistently attacked the AIRC with dubious claims. Eventually, Palmer left the Cap Times newsroom and for a time worked for Arizona's preeminent right-wing advocacy organization Goldwater Institute.

I can't imagine that Palmer's departure from GI could have been because his outlook was too progressive.

Whatever the reason for the transition, Greg Stanton and his staff should exercise an appropriate level of vigilance, not knowing where the enterprising right-wing flack's loyalties currently lie.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

About that thumb in the eye from AZ GOP state lawmakers...

So, because Eddie Farnsworth is both the chairman of House Judiciary and sponsor of the bill to repeal #StopHB2305, he put the bill on this week's agenda for his committee. Well, the legislature has an online system that allows citizens to comment on bills being heard in committees.

So, I signed on to make sure the members of the committee will know how I feel about the bill when they meet in the morning. What I found disturbed me.

This screenshot shows assistant Secretary of State Jim Drake having signed in and left a comment. Representing gubernatorial wannabe Ken Bennett, Drake says he is FOR HB2196 (the repeal of HB2305). And he left a comment that says,
There are some great ideas in last session's HB2305. Through testimony last year, we clearly demonstrated that campaigns picking up ballots had engaged in fraud by telling voters they were from the Maricopa County Elections department. Unfortunately, on the cusp of sine die, perhaps too many measures were rolled into one. We are supportive of the repeal.
What does this all mean? First, it means that Ken Bennett is now ON RECORD as supporting VOTER SUPPRESSION. He should be made to answer for that position, without letting him squirm out of it. Second, Drake, not being sworn in, can and does make a false statement with no fear of being held to have committed perjury. Third, Drake puts -- on the record -- what we know to be FALSEHOODS. These falsehoods are clearly a political ploy to provide cover for committee members who use the statements for justification of a yes vote on HB2196 in committee AND to stir up a hornets nest of controversy by reigniting claims of voter fraud.

There WAS NO demonstration, in any testimony last year, that fraud had been committed in connection with any provision in HB2305.

IF there had been "demonstration that" it would have been big news. As it was, the allegations though demonstrated to have been unfounded, caused plenty of buzz on their own. Julie Erfle, chair of Protect Your Right to Vote committee, on August 12, 2013 posted the following on Facebook.
From today's Capitol Times... for those claiming "voter fraud" as the reason behind HB2305, here's the data: 
Calls to Maricopa County Elections Department regarding volunteers suspected of not delivering ballots: 20-25.
Known cases where volunteers didn’t turn in ballots: 0.
Ballots that get-out-the-vote groups turned in to Maricopa County Elections Department: roughly 12,000.
Cases of voter fraud in Arizona during 2011-2012, according to Secretary of State Ken Bennett’s testimony before a U.S. Senate panel in December 2012: 15.
Cases of voter fraud associated with get-out-the-vote groups: 0.
Votes cast in the 2012 primary and general elections combined: 2,995,587.
Arizona voters on the Permanent Early Voting List: 1.7 million.
Reported in (quoted from) the Arizona Capitol Times. Cases of voter fraud associated with get-out-the-vote groups: 0.


The Arizona Capitol Times' Legislative Report today contained this:

When it meets tomorrow, House Judiciary is scheduled to take up on Farnsworth’s H2196 (election law amendments; repeal) which would scrap Laws 2013, Chapter 209 (H2305: election revisions; violations). While all sorts of legal questions still surround the strategy of repealing the law and then passing its parts in a piecemeal fashion, it’s also unclear if the bill will be able to clear the committee. The panel consists of five Republicans and three Dems, and Orr, who expressed concerns about the bill when voting for it last year, could be the swing vote that stops the repeal effort in its tracks. While Orr signaled to our reporter that he will probably vote for H2196, he said he is still undecided and his vote will hinge on whether he is convinced that the Voter Protection Act applies to referenda. If he believes that it does, Orr said he would vote for the repeal, because he doesn’t want huge parts of elections statutes voter-protected. If legal experts tell him the Voter Protection Act doesn’t apply to referenda, he said he isn’t sure how he will vote. Orr said it’s still a question to him, however, noting that the issue came up with the Medicaid expansion referendum. “And I don’t know how much of that was just our side raising fears of it. I really don’t know if a referendum is voter protected, but I would argue that a half-decent lawyer could make that argument,” he said. Orr acknowledged that preemptively repealing the law, then going back and passing it piecemeal, would just be a backdoor way for the Legislature to get around the referendum. But he gave a tepid endorsement of the process anyway, saying some of the provisions were good public policy that was supported by all 15 county recorders. Quezada, who also sits on Judiciary, said Republican lawmakers’ comments about preemptively repealing and then reenacting the law will come back to bite the law’s supporters if there is a lawsuit challenging the Legislature’s ability to repeal the law before the referendum, which he said was on the table. “With a lot of these statements, these individuals dig their own graves and show what their real motivations are. This is very clearly intended to be and end-run around the voters, and I don’t think the courts are going to look too kindly on that,” he said. (emphasis mine)


The report from the Capitol Times shows WHY Drake's comment might serve to provide cover for the BEE-hinds of GOP lawmakers.

It also shows an incredibly high level of desperation, that they would need someone like Drake to run interference, and do so by deliberate false assertions of fact.

Legislature poised to stick thumb in the eye of Arizona voters

They had their chance. On June 13, 2013, the Arizona Legislature had the opportunity to show respect to voters. They blew it. They showed respect to Karl Rove instead.

Robbie Sherwood with ProgressNow Arizona issued the following release today about the latest mischief the Dominionists in the Arizona Legislature's Republican caucus are up to:

NEWS ALERT! House Committee to Vote on Repeal of HB2305

First Step in Effort to Circumvent Protect Your Right to Vote Referendum

PHOENIX -- The Legislature will attempt on Thursday to revive a massive effort to make it more difficult for Arizonans to vote in 2014, a plan that had been put on ice by a successful citizen’s referendum during the summer.
The Protect Your Right to Vote Committee referendum gathered over 146,000 signatures to put the omnibus House Bill 2305 – which would prevent tens of thousands of eligible voters from casting ballots if it becomes law – to a statewide vote in 2014. According to recent media reports, incumbent lawmakers bent on getting tough with voters intend to circumvent the referendum vote by first repealing HB2305, and then re-passing the various voter roadblocks as new individual bills this session. (emphasis mine)
Step one begins Thursday morning when the House Judiciary Committee hears House Bill 2196, which repeals last session’s HB2305. Judiciary Chairman Eddie Farnsworth, R-Mesa, is the sponsor of both bills. The hearing begins at 9:30 a.m. in House Hearing Room 4, 1700 W. Washington Street.
“Repealing House Bill 2305 doesn’t mean that these politicians have suddenly seen the error of their ways,” said Julie Erfle, chairwoman of the Protect Your Right to Vote Committee. “It is clear that they will try to get tough on voters by passing the pieces as separate bills. This legislative dirty trick is a slap in the face to more than 146,000 Arizona voters who signed the Protect Your Right to Vote petitions, the majority of which were Republicans and independents.”
Erfle urged Arizona voters to attend the hearing or contact the Judiciary Committee members and tell them to respect the will of the people and vote no on Farnsworth’s bill. The Republican members (who are likely in favor of repealing HB2305) are:
Democratic committee members are:
“Although we oppose House Bill 2305, the voters of Arizona have earned the right to vote on this bill in November and we are confident they will reject it. The Legislature should leave it alone,” said Robbie Sherwood, executive director of ProgressNow Arizona and the spokesman for the Protect Your Right to Vote Committee. “What are these politicians afraid of? Once again this is an effort to limit the choices of voters by having politicians choose for them.”
  • HB2305 would make it a crime for volunteers to collect and drop off ballots at the polls. These efforts help elderly, homebound, disabled and working voters to participate in elections.
  • HB2305 would kick voters off the Permanent Early Voting List if they fail to vote in two consecutive elections – both primary and general. This would decrease participation and disproportionally impact newly registered Latino, young and Independent voters who are not likely to vote if removed from this list.
  • HB2305 would keep third parties off the ballot by raising the signature requirement to put a candidate on the ballot for all political parties except Republicans. Ballot access for third party candidates will become unlikely, reducing voter choice. For example, the number of signatures required for Libertarian candidates would increase by 4,000 percent.
  • HB2305 makes it more difficult for Arizona citizens to engage in direct democracy or overturn bad laws passed by the Legislature through citizen initiatives. By instituting a host of minor technical barriers – including the margin size on petitions – that can be challenged in court, politicians are trying to take away an important right that’s been part of Arizona’s constitution since statehood.
About the Protect Your Right to Vote Committee: The Committee is a coalition of more than 25 non-profit organizations working together to put HB2305 to a vote of the people. These include civic engagement organizations, Latino voter engagement groups, conservation organizations, animal welfare groups and labor organizations. It also includes leaders and members of the Libertarian, Green and Democratic parties.

Background on passage of HB2305 in June 2013:

The bi-partisan coalition that pushed the Medicaid restoration bill through to passage was poised to kill the voter suppression bill (HB2305). But national Republicans intervened. From Blog for Arizona, which quotes an Arizona Daily Star story,
There has been a lot of speculation and rumors about what caused three Republican Senators to flip their votes on reconsideration after voting to kill this bill. Howard Fischer offers his take:
     Sen. Steve Pierce, R-Prescott, said he got a call from Daniel Scarpinato, former press aide to state House Speaker Andy Tobin. Scarpinato now works for the NRCC in Washington.
     Scarpinato sidestepped questions of whether he was calling on behalf of the NRCC, saying he was "talking to friends of mine in Arizona." He also denied pressuring Pierce but would not detail what he did say.
     When the measure was resurrected, Pierce was a supporter. Pierce said he still had concerns about making it harder for minority party candidates to get on the ballot and making criminals out of those who take in someone else's ballot.
     But he said he also saw merits to other sections. And after other Republicans who he thought also were opposed went along, he saw no reason to be the lone GOP dissenter - and the cause for the bill's failure.
So it was former Arizona Daily Star political reporter and all-around prick Daniel Scarpinato who was responsible.

More than a week before the legislation session began, the Arizona Republic quoted Republican Maricopa County Recorder (chief county elections officer) Helen Purcell and Democratic Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez on the issue,
Don’t touch that! ... Advice to the Legislature from the folks who run voter registration in the state’s two largest counties: Let’s not repeat last year’s election bills.
After a knock-down drag-out fight in the first half of 2013 over election-law changes, the Legislature gave last-minute approval to a wide-ranging set of changes in House Bill 2305, which promptly sent opponents to the streets with petitions in hand to refer the matter to the ballot. Voters get to decide the issue in November.
Until then, Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell said the Legislature should not try further changes. Her advice to lawmakers: If you do anything, just repeal HB 2305.
In Pima County, Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez said lawmakers should let the referendum play out.
There’s no indication that will be the case. Lawmakers wanted the changes so badly they cobbled together several disparate items — such as raising the signature requirement for third-party candidate petitions and dictating who can return a voter’s ballot — into one big bundle. Whether they’ll unbundle that and try again is one of the unanswered questions of the coming legislative session. (emphasis in original)

Less than a week and a half into the legislative session, the question has been answered. One of the bills (HB2107, link provided above) is sponsored only by our friend John Kavanagh.

Monday, January 20, 2014

By WHAT Objective Measure can either SB1062 or HB2153 be an EXPANSION of Civil Rights?

In its Sunday, January 19 edition -- Martin Luther King weekend -- the Arizona Republic willfully lied or at minimum, intentionally mislead its readers about legislation now on the fast track to passage in the state legislature. Identical bills, SB1062 and HB2153 have been filed in each chamber purporting to "expand religious protections" in Arizona civil rights statutes (ARS Title 41, Chapter 9).

Last week, KPHO Channel 5 investigative reporter Morgan Loew caught Sen. Steve Yarbrough (R-LD17/Chandler) the sponsor of SB1062 specifically mischaracterizing (prevaricating about) his role in sponsoring legislation which has personally enriched himself, in one year by at least $700,000. Yarbrough, identifies himself as one who,
leads a bipartisan group of legislators and citizen group leaders known as the Arizona Values Action Team which supports public policy that is pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, pro-school choice and pro-religious liberty. 
If you're like me, you don't see the values of a Republican lawmaker -- who personally enriches himself by sponsoring legislation that he easily sells to his Republican majority colleagues -- as YOUR values.

Nevertheless, Values Action Team is a euphemism for Christian Dominionism. In 2011, Michelle Goldberg, author of Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalismwriting for the Daily Beast,
Put simply, Dominionism means that Christians have a God-given right to rule all earthly institutions. Originating among some of America’s most radical theocrats, it’s long had an influence on religious-right education and political organizing. But because it seems so outré, getting ordinary people to take it seriously can be difficult.... 
Now, however, we have the most theocratic Republican field in American history, and suddenly, the concept of Dominionism is reaching mainstream audiences. Writing about Bachmann in The New Yorker this month, Ryan Lizza spent several paragraphs explaining how the premise fit into the Minnesota congresswoman’s intellectual and theological development.
If you're skeptical about my claims, there is a plethora of information about Dominionism on Theocracy Watch. And YES, this IS about theocracy in America.
In a September 1994 plenary speech to the Christian Coalition national convention, Rev. D. James Kennedy said that "true Christian citizenship" involves an active engagement in society to "take dominion over all things as vice-regents of God." Kennedy's remarks were reported in February 1995 by sociologist and journalist Sara Diamond, who wrote that Kennedy had "echoed the Reconstructionist line." [...]
Dominionism is therefore a tendency among Protestant Christian evangelicals and fundamentalists that encourages them to not only be active political participants in civic society, but also seek to dominate the political process as part of a mandate from God. 
SB1062 and HB2153 are nothing more and nothing less than Republicans carrying water for Cathi Herrod of the Center for Arizona Policy, a fundamentalist right-wing advocacy organization.

Back to the Arizona Republic. Here's more about the misdirection set up on its website with the story about SB1062. Columnist EJ Montini and sidekick reporter Richard Ruelas, in a brief video clip, about a bill sponsored by Rep. Steve Montenegro (a co-sponsor of Eddie Farnsworth's HB2153, when they probably meant Steve Yarbrough) dismissively state this is an unnecessary bill which is only offered to "appease a certain element of the political base."

A sidebar poll asks readers "Do you approve of a bill that would allow individuals to use religious beliefs as a defense in a lawsuit filed by another individual?" The wording of the poll takes, at face value, what Yarbrough claims in Alia Beard Rau's story
Yarbrough called the bill a “modest clarification” of the state’s existing religious-freedom law.
“Prohibited discrimination remains prohibited,” he said. “In no way does this bill allow discrimination of any kind.”
While that may be technically true, Yarbrough knows, and I can't believe that Ms. Rau doesn't also know, full well that what I wrote last Monday about this bill is the implied intent of the bill.
In other words, not only can a gathered church congregation be allowed to raise holy hands, but ANY association, partnership, corporation, estate, trust, foundation or other legal entity -- if Yarbrough, and by extension, Herrod, get their way -- now also will be lawfully allowed to raise holy hands too, if the corporation so chooses.
What is keeping a corporation or estate, etc., from praying now? Other than that it is not a living, breathing organism, I suspect, nothing.
So, why would they need THIS legislation?
Section 41-1493.01 also defines the "Exercise of religion." Herrod, er, Yarbrough, wants that definition to now read:
"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.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist (but it does take someone who knows CURRENT EVENTS) to discern the true intent of this legislation. In a Washington Post op-ed published just days ago, Brigham Young Law Professor Frederick Mark Gedicks, an expert on religion and constitutional interpretation, wrote,
Can my employer make me pay the cost of practicing his religion? In the coming months, the Supreme Court will decide two cases involving this issue. The cases are about the Affordable Care Act’s “contraception mandate” — the law’s requirement that employer health plans cover Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptives without out-of-pocket expense, including co-payments, co-insurance or deductibles. The employers in these two cases are among scores of profit-making businesses that are claiming a religious right to be excused from this requirement because the use of contraceptives violates their owners’ religious beliefs.
The businesses in these cases are not churches or even nonprofit hospitals or universities with religious affiliations. They are instead a cabinet manufacturer and a chain of arts and crafts stores. Nevertheless, their owners claim that contraceptive coverage poses a grave threat to their religious liberty.
These cases indeed pose a grave threat to religious liberty, but not to that of the owners of these businesses. 
EJ Montini's dismissiveness toward modern day Christian Theocrats is irresponsible. Given that it is likely to cause many readers and viewers to take the attitude that "this is no big deal" -- which equates to lulling Arizona citizens into an apathetic stupor -- it is gross journalistic malpractice.

When was the last time, I wonder, that "journalists" on that same editorial board opined that Arizonans have the government they deserve? Is it reasonable to expect an engaged, informed citizenry when you have pitiful reporting like we've seen in the first week of the 2014 legislative session?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

An homage to John Kavanagh, principal badger of the AZ House GOP caucus

I've been pleased that over the last few months, state Rep. John Kavanagh (R-LD23/Fountain Hills), chairman of the House Appropriations committee -- who I first met during state redistricting -- has shown great interest in reading the Arizona Eagletarian.

Not only has he become an avid reader, but he has graced our pages (posts) here with his always modest "insight." He takes it upon himself to direct my research, judge my efforts and assess... well, assess everything he reads here, pretty much, as "pathetic," that I'm "illiterate" and to be generally evasive when he's caught in a vise.

Oh, yes, he has also labeled me unprofessional. And he has attempted to give me lessons in journalism. It's fair to say that if I had an employer, he would have already advocated for my termination. I've been there too many times before to expect otherwise. Power hates being challenged.

John has instructed me to read books on argument and rhetoric and take classes on critical reading.
The community colleges have a course named CRE101: Critical Reading and the title speaks for itself. You need to take it.
This despite his acknowledgement that I was correct in citing the distinction between "may" and "shall" when he explained the information he obtained from the Department of Public Safety regarding the bet he and his comrades made in last year's session in providing a work around for people with expired fingerprint clearance cards.

When he doesn't like the words I use (e.g. "hubris" which he has in abundance; "corruption" which he took offense at another commenter calling him and his Republican colleagues in general and specific; and, of course, "Chicago politics") he objects if I don't cite a dictionary definition... AND when I do.

This all, of course, adds up to that John Kavanagh pounds his chest and roars, apparently hoping I (and anyone else with whom he disagrees) will seize up like a deer in headlights. He claims to be an expert at argument, but really is more like the Monty Python characters, a caricature of a sound debater who only wins because he's the big voice of legislative Republicans. And when any of his comrades dare leave the confines of Tea-publican orthodoxy, he shouts about Chicago politics.

John, if you want to make sound arguments supporting your viewpoints and your proposed legislation, I welcome your input. But when you conduct yourself like a cartoon character, don't get bent out of shape when that's how people respond to you.

By the way, I don't completely blow off all of Kavanagh's suggestions.

I have been writing for more than 20 years, having first been published in the early 1990s. Obviously, plenty of readers appreciate my perspective. But it's always available to learn and do better. To that end, I'm taking a MOOC at titled Think Again: How to Reason and Argue.  That's where I got the Monty Python clip.

The bottom line about argument is that strong arguments do not always persuade, and don't always even intend to pursuade.

Here's feedback one student posted in a discussion forum during a previous session of the MOOC.

The bottom line in this homage is that I DO appreciate Kavanagh's interest in the Arizona Eagletarian. Since my interest is in following the legislature, I follow Kavanagh. But when he wins, it usually is not based on the strength of his arguments. It's usually because he musters the most bluster, intimidates his opponents and has enough Tea-publicans voting with him most of the time that the strength of his arguments rarely matter.

I appreciate that he has introduced HB2023, to tighten up the gap in coverage for those working with children and vulnerable adults with expired fingerprint clearance cards. The bill could (and SHOULD) be made better, by amending it to specify the frequency (daily) for the database cross check (people with clearance cards against arrest records, hopefully throughout the entire state) and to REQUIRE the results of the cross check to be reported.

In the meantime, whether Kavanagh continues to read the Arizona Eagletarian or not (and I hope he does), he can rest assured that I will be paying attention to him.


So far, 156 House bills and resolutions, and 93 Senate bills and resolutions have been filed. Some good, too many not so good, and at least 65 of which are striker buses (technical correction bills). SB1070 is a striker bus sponsored only by Senate President Andy Biggs(hot). There are bad gun bills and good voting bills; school funding bills (maybe good) and a bill to allow (but not require) people hired to trade securities at for Arizona State Retirement System to undergo criminal background checks.

I will highlight some of the most egregious as well as keeping people like Yarbrough under a magnifying glass (think Phoenix summer sidewalks). As always, I will keep you posted.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Schapira and Kuby running for Tempe City Council

For Immediate Release
Contact: Randy Keating
January 15, 2014

Schapira, Kuby Running for Tempe City Council

Tempe, Ariz. – Today, former Arizona State Senator and Senate Minority Leader David Schapira and long-time Tempe community leader Lauren Kuby announced their candidacies for Tempe City Council.

“I love Tempe. It’s my home, and it’s where I’ve chosen to raise my family, which is why I care so much about the kind of leadership we have on our city council,” said Schapira. “I spent six years in the Arizona legislature fighting to improve education and to create opportunities for our community because I knew that was what my constituents sent me there to do. Tempeans are looking for someone who will work for them every day to create jobs and keep our city’s streets safe, and that’s the kind of councilmember I’m going to be.”

Schapira is currently the assistant superintendent of the East Valley Institute of Technology and a governing board member of Tempe Union High School District. He has previously served as the Arizona Senate Minority Leader (2011–2013), a member of Arizona’s House of Representatives (2007–2011), an instructor at ASU, a high-school teacher and a small-business owner.

Schapira has been recognized by The Arizona Republic as one of “Tempe’s Exemplary People,” a “Lawmaker Who Made a Difference” and an “Emerging Leader Worth Watching.” Throughout his career in the legislature, Schapira was praised as a top legislator by the American Cancer Society, the Arizona Students’ Association , Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Arizona Technology Council and the League of Arizona Cities and Towns.
Schapira is a Valley native who first moved to Tempe in 1984. He and his wife, Rosemary, an educator in the Tempe Elementary School District, live in central Tempe where they are raising their two young daughters, Elliot and Sydney.

Lauren Kuby is a 25-year resident of Tempe and a long-time community leader who, in her work for the Tempe Community Council and Tempe Leadership Class XXV, has served as an advocate for human services and the homeless. As manager of events and community engagement for ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability, Kuby has championed urban sustainability practices.

“I’ve been connected to ASU for nearly 20 years, and I know how important our nation’s largest university is to our community. Not only is it the economic engine of Tempe, it’s a source of culture and at the core of what makes Tempe one of the most unique cities in Arizona,” said Kuby. “My experience with the Global Institute of Sustainability and the Tempe Community Council has taught me how the decisions we make on the city council will impact our community for generations. Now, more than ever, we need to double-down on the progress we’ve made in Tempe on energy efficiency and other initiatives and work with ASU to improve our environment and lead the Valley’s new, sustainable economy.”

Kuby was named by The Arizona Republic as one of the “Top 5 People Who Made a Difference in Tempe.” Former US Congressman and Tempe Mayor, Harry Mitchell, will serve as chairman of her campaign.

Lauren Kuby lives in Tempe with her husband, Mike, an ASU geographer and urban-planning professor, and their two daughters, Nora and Olivia.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Vexatious Litigants or Revolving Doors?

Last week, our good friend state Rep. John Kavanagh (R-LD23/Fountain Hills) filed HB2021. The bill would write into statutes governing how state courts operate (Arizona Revised Statutes Title 12) a new chapter on Vexatious Litigants. From the Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics:
The popular conception that vexatious litigants routinely abuse the justice system for personal gain is reflected in, and perpetuated by, the news media, television drama, and political rhetoric. This widespread notion of lawyers and frivolity has translated into political capital for national and state politicians. In recent years, a virtual deluge of legislation has been proposed to curb frivolous suits and judgments. 
That blurb sets the context for Kavanagh's legislation. This video clip, the official trailer from the documentary HOT COFFEE sets the context even more poignantly:

The language in HB2021 appears to be virtually identical to that in California's code of civil procedure. Here's part of the language of Kavanagh's bill:
A person is a vexatious litigant if the court finds the person does any of the following:1.  In the immediately preceding seven-year period, has commenced, prosecuted or maintained in propria persona at least five litigations other than in a small claims court that have been either:
(a)  Finally determined adversely to the person.
(b)  Unjustifiably permitted to remain pending at least two years without having been brought to trial or hearing.
2.  After a litigation has been finally determined against the person, repeatedly relitigates or attempts to relitigate in propria persona either:(a)  The validity of the determination against the same defendant or defendants as to whom the litigation was finally determined.
(b)  The cause of action, claim or controversy or any of the issues of fact or law that were determined or concluded by the final determination against the same defendant or defendants as to whom the litigation was finally determined. 

I have not been able to find, online, a reference to Arizona's code of civil procedure wherein any reference to vexatious litigants may be, but I DID find a 2011 Arizona Appeals Court opinion specifically referencing a person having been declared a vexatious litigant.
The court erred, however, by declaring Madison a vexatious litigant and restricting her ability to file future lawsuits against the Groseths or anyone else concerning the property sold at the trustee’s sale. To impose such restrictions, the court was required to find Madison’s existing and prior lawsuits were frivolous or harassing; it failed to do so. 
For these reasons, we affirm the judgment insofar as it dismisses Madison’s complaint, but we reverse that portion of the judgment declaring Madison a vexatious litigant and restricting her ability to file future lawsuits.
Since Arizona courts already have the ability to declare a person a vexatious litigant (apparently as a result of rules of court procedure), you might ask why we need it codified in statute?

Documents posted online by California public corruption gadfly website Badger Flats Gazette may provide some insight. A legislative summary of a 1990 bill indicates the intent was to "reduce the state's cost for defending frivolous lawsuits filed against the state." However, there has been concern (and litigation) as to whether that legislation (and codifying it in statute) would be unconstitutional. Apparently, a law like that can also be used to silence critics and political opponents.

We know that Kavanagh wrote a sanctimonious defense of private prisons that was published in the Arizona Republic just a few days ago. We also know that one of the problems that prompted the State of Idaho to terminate its relationship with private prison operator Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) was liability from lawsuits brought by inmates.
The CCA prison has been the subject of multiple lawsuits alleging rampant violence, understaffing, gang activity and contract fraud by CCA.
CCA acknowledged last year that falsified staffing reports were given to the state showing thousands of hours were staffed by CCA workers when the positions were actually vacant. And the Idaho State Police is investigating the operation of the facility for possible criminal activity.
A federal judge also has held CCA in contempt of court for failing to abide by the terms of a settlement agreement reached with inmates in a lawsuit claiming high rates of violence and chronic understaffing at the prison.
So, if former police detective John Kavanagh can deliver for the private prison industry a provision in Arizona statute making it impossible for inmates to learn from their mistakes (by filing successive unsuccessful lawsuits), then might he have assured himself of his next career move?

Could there be a lucrative position waiting for Kavanagh in the growth industry of importing humans for warehousing in Pinal County? Refer back to the Jack Abramoff video embedded in my first blog post about Yarbrough.


Oh, and on the subject of saving the State of Arizona money by putting the brakes on frivolous lawsuits, do you think the irony may have escaped Kavanagh that the legislature has spent copious amounts of taxpayer dough on the lawsuit against the redistricting commission and on legal fees in a wide range of litigation stemming from legislation that the people of Arizona have consistently disapproved.