Sunday, July 27, 2014

About that Dark Money operative selectively promoting weaker Democrats...

As you know, Mario E Diaz incorporated a 501 C (4) corporation for the purpose (possibly among other reasons) of promoting certain candidates for the Arizona Legislature without having to disclose his funding sources.

Besides spending for faux Democrat Richard Bauer, Diaz has dropped a few dimes in support of Rep. Catherine Miranda (D-Arizona Public Service). Miranda is in a primary election race against Aaron Marquez, a US Army Reserve officer and veteran of a tour in Afghanistan.

Apparently knowing that Marquez' military service trumps Miranda, Diaz' Friends of Arizona mailed out a nice positive, but apparently VERY wrong fluff piece touting Miranda's advocacy for Arizona veterans.

You see, Miranda may have tried to champion that legislation, HB2475, but it did not become law as it never was even assigned to a committee in the Senate to be deliberated. It was only assigned to the Senate Rules committee which only considers whether the bill is constitutional and in the proper form. If Senate President Andy Biggshot had wanted it heard, he would have assigned it to another committee, like appropriations.

So, you say (rightfully) that the fact the bill died wasn't Miranda's fault, she still "championed" it, right? Well, doesn't a champion generally WIN?  Anyway, the bill was NOT Miranda's bill, it was introduced by it's first sponsor, Mark Cardenas, who happens to also be a veteran of the US Army.

Should we give Miranda the benefit of the doubt in this case? We might consider doing so but the fact of the matter is the mailer is obviously intended to mislead people into believing Miranda actually got the job done. She did NOT accomplish anything of the sort.

Cardenas' bill made it out of the House (by a vote of 50-8) largely because of the bipartisan House Veterans Caucus. The 8 Nay votes were cast by hard right wing Republicans. No surprise there.

In large print, the mailer says "Let's thank Representative Catherine Miranda for expanding veterans' job opportunities."

Fact: Catherine Miranda did NOT expand veterans job opportunities.

Because it is possible for provisions in one piece of legislation that dies to end up in another bill that may become law, I checked to see if that was the case.  HB2475 provided both that tax credits be extended to businesses hiring veterans AND that state procurement officers set up goals for contracting with veteran owned/operated businesses. Checks of lists of bills that did pass and of Arizona Revised Statutes for procurement and for tax credits failed to reveal any such provision having been enacted into law this year or last.

By all means, if anyone has any information to contradict this post, please let me know ASAP and I will correct it. But as it stands, it's apparent that Mario Diaz has been spending an as yet undisclosed amount of Dark Money for the purpose of pulling the wool over the eyes of LD27 voters with the goal of getting APS-owned Senate candidate (and state Rep.) Catherine Miranda elected over ACTUAL veteran and Army Reserve officer Aaron Marquez.

Oh, and about Diaz' connection to Republicans, as noted in my last post, he boasts support of Republican Bob Blendu. Well, now we have Arizona's Dark Money kingpin and possible UNfair Trust fulcrum, Sean Noble bowing in honor of Diaz, touting support for Diaz' candidacy for a seat on the Maricopa County Community College District Governing Board.

Talk about your unholy alliances. Why would ANY Arizona Democrat want to get mixed up with Sean Noble or those who associate with him?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Who's that Dark Money guy supporting Richard Bauer? UPDATED 7-28-14 1:30pm MST

Not only is faux-Democrat Richard Bauer working with his cronies to buy Kyrsten Sinema's endorsement, but a Dark Money operator is now blowing smoke up Bauer's bee-hind, so to speak.

Sinema is still ignoring me, by the way, apparently hoping I prove to be irrelevant. After all, I don't have big bucks to throw around to entice her. Maybe her hope will bear out, maybe not.

But there sure was a lot of interest in my last blog post. Please note that I had and have no illusion that my criticism of the freshman Congresswoman will at all hinder her quest for re-election. She's not been graced with a primary election opponent. And both Republicans vying for the GOP nomination to oppose Sinema, Wendy Rogers and Andrew Walter, appear to be very weak opponents.

My concern in the post was and is with a guy that has no business running for a seat in the Arizona House as a Democrat. It's all well and good for any voter to register with whichever party (or no party) as they see fit. That's not what bothers me. I'm concerned with Bauer's entire approach to civic responsibility and how his professional affiliations reveal what those voters can reasonably expect from him in the event LD24 voters buy his bullshit.

Another important caveat I must mention: in general, I favor unions. Working people have and should continue to have the right to organize -- as illustrated by this cartoon which I modified a few months ago when we were dealing with SB1062.

No, my concern at this time about Richard Bauer relates to his associations. I'll give you an example I believe is problematic.

Friends of Arizona sent out a mailer supporting Richard Bauer over his opponent, Ken Clark.

It's a nice positive campaign piece. The first problem however, is that it's not necessarily true or factual when it implies that Richard Bauer is "real people with real experience in the real world..."

Richard Bauer worked for the government. That's not the real world of needing to figure out how to create jobs, which the other side of the mailer says will be Bauer's top priority. But he has ZERO experience in anything that could suggest he has any personal insight on how to promote job growth. What he DOES have, however, is long time affiliation with an organization that vigorously courts Arizona legislative Republicans for mutual back scratching (not limited to rational Republicans)*.

We know that Republicans believe job growth comes from cutting taxes and eliminating regulation. They completely overlook the fact that without customers, businesses, especially small businesses, cannot expand and take on new workers. So, it's very reasonable to figure an elected Richard Bauer would be voting solidly with the Republicans on anything they claim is good for the economy. Except that it won't be good for most Arizonans.

Bauer also is emphatically NOT a leader who has demonstrated willingness to "fight for all the people, the working class and the middle class..."

Richard Bauer failed, for many years, to fight the fight that matters for Phoenix voters. Democrats have, for years in Arizona lost elections because low efficacy voters like Bauer couldn't find one half hour of one day out of a month available to vote early or on election day. Bauer did not vote in some elections in which City of Phoenix ballot measures on fiscal issues were at stake.

Yet, he and his Dark Money advocate want you to believe that he knows how and has never failed to fight for you. Their claims are just not true.

By the way, WHO IS/ARE the Friends of Arizona? A great idea for a group to aggregate money to focus on electing Democrats, right? Maybe. If the organization advocates for easily bought candidates at the expense of experienced, principled candidates, that's not necessarily good.

Again, WHO IS/ARE the Friends of Arizona? It is an organization incorporated by Mario E Diaz.

By the way, Mario says,
Friends of Arizona believes strongly that protecting every Arizonan’s right to vote is the absolute cornerstone of our state. Protecting this right means not only maintaining current voting participation, but also expanding access to the polls for residents of every background. Besides expanding access to the voting booth to as many people as possible, we believe a better-informed community produces a better functioning and more transparent state government. 
Except that by pushing Bauer, Mario advocates for someone who has let his right-to-vote atrophy for lack of exercise.

In this case, we know that Mario Diaz also boasts endorsement (testimonial) from former Republican state Sen. Robert Blendu. Blendu was a key player in the proposal to build a trash burning facility in the West Valley so that Mohave County could get credit for renewable energy. Diaz was also an advocate for the Payday Loan industry, supporting Prop 200 in 2008. Voters saw through the predatory lending industry and defeated Prop 200 by a margin of 40.4 to 59.6 percent of the vote.

Ken Clark was an outspoken advocate of defeating the payday loan industry.  For Mario, there seems to be evidence this is a personal battle. After my previous blog post, other readers suggested that Sinema might also have some personal animosity toward Clark. I don't have any evidence of that, but it's certainly possible.

My last point tonight is that Diaz and his Friends of Arizona last month sent a mailer out touting Catherine Miranda in the primary election over Aaron Marquez for the LD27 state senate seat. We already know that Arizona Public Service has its hooks in Miranda.

For me, the bottom line is that organized people beat organized money (see the cartoon, above). But we have to be highly determined and persistent.


* On the Firefighters' website, the list of endorsements includes several irrational legislative Republicans, including Andy Biggshot, Rusty Bowers (a former lawmaker running again after several terms not serving), Sonny Borelli, Steve Yarbrough (who is nothing but a Cathi Herrod tool who likes to skim taxpayer funds for himself), Paul Boyer, Debbie Lesko (state chair for ALEC), etc.



Apparently trying to signal they don't intend to be intimidated by a pipsqueak blogger, both Mario Diaz and Sean Noble retweeted my tweet last night (7-27-14) announcing my other blog post on this Dark Money situation. Both Diaz and Noble, after all, are alpha males, or believe themselves to be anyway.

Even more notable is that I received an email from Creators Syndicate today complaining about my use of Mike Luckovich's political cartoon. Gee, I wonder who tipped them off to that. Anyway, the note I received was a typical cease and desist demand that I remove the cartoon or face the threat of legal action.  Ooooh. I'm shaking in my boots. (NOT).

So, I replied asserting the Fair Use Doctrine. The subsequent reply (from Creators Syndicate) to my assertion said:
If you are claiming fair use you cannot alter the original cartoon. Please replace the one you currently have posted with the original cartoon or it needs to be removed.
So, in the spirit of FAIRness, I now present you with what I understand to be the unaltered version of Lukovich's cartoon.

You can see that the version I put up when I first published this blog post remains true in essence and character to Luckovich's original. Since the Fair Use Doctrine permits use for criticism and comment,
Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair. (emphasis mine)
  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
  1. The nature of the copyrighted work
  1. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  1. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work
I decline to remove the original, retaining it for criticism and comment purposes to show comparison and contrast between the two. As you can see, there is negligible difference. Primarily, I include Cathi Herrod as the stand-in for the GOP. Herrod is widely known and understood at the Arizona Capitol to exert outsized influence on lawmaking here.  She is known to dominate the GOP caucuses in the legislature. I also tweaked the labeling of the group of fish organized for defense. I believe my adaptation retains the essential meaning of Luckovich's original.

So, nice try Mario and/or Sean and/or your surrogates. You have done a fine job of connecting yourselves together for purposes of informing Arizona voters. But you fail to intimidate me into silence.

Power to Arizona voters -- to make properly informed decisions -- rather than being hoodwinked by Dark Money operators -- about for whom to cast their votes!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Why did Kyrsten Sinema endorse Richard Bauer in a hotly contested Democratic primary for LD24 House? UPDATED 1:30pm 7-22-14

The Arizona Capitol Times fancies itself a big time player in the politics of the state legislature. Covering a recent debate between the two non-incumbent Democratic hopefuls -- former lawmaker Ken Clark, who previously served one term and Richard Bauer, a retired Phoenix firefighter, Cap Times reporter Hank Stephenson took a profoundly superficial view of the situation. After setting up the debate as an effort to fill a power vacuum being left by Chad Campbell, Stephenson declares the exercise to be of no consequence because the two candidates would vote the same anyway.
The two challenging Democrats -- Ken Clark and Rich Bauer -- would likely have similar voting patterns in the GOP dominated Legislature.
The outnumbered Democratic Caucus is mostly resigned to voting as a bloc against Republican-sponsored legislation and complaining about Republican policies. Democrats bills seldom receive hearings and very rarely become law. 
I object! Assuming facts not in evidence... and leaving MANY facts in evidence out of his assessment. The logical fallacy Stephenson employs in this case is in claiming or supposing historical patterns will be in effect when the 52nd Legislature convenes in January 2015. That and the Cap Times journo assumes the like voting patterns. The fallacy is known as appeal to antiquity.

First off, the old does not necessarily foreshadow the new in this case. At least five Republicans running (as either incumbents or House crossover candidates) for the state senate (I know, this post is about a Democratic House primary) are profoundly vulnerable in THIS year's election. I'll spare you recapping that phenomenon as I've either cited them by name or alluded to their situations several times over the last six or seven months. With Democrats holding 13 of the 30 Senate seats now, all that is necessary to cause an overwhelming sea change is a gain of at least two of the 17 seats now held by Republicans. With a pick up of three seats, Democrats select the Senate President, ousting Andy Biggshot.

That, of course, disposes of the position of weakness in which the Cap Times wants to keep Democrats.

Eventually, Democrats will be able to control the House, even if not this year. The bottom line for 2015 is that there will be some change in tone at the Capitol. The more change the better. Republicans at both the state and federal level have decimated Arizona for decades. That is going to stop.

Back to this LD24 House Democratic primary. Stephenson assumes incumbent Lela Alston retains her seat in 2015. That's a fair assumption. Not 100 percent guaranteed, but a strong likelihood.
Bauer is a retired Phoenix firefighter who is making his first run for political office in the district where he was born and lived almost all of his life.... But he's unpolished on specific policies and doesn't echo Democratic talking points on every issue. 
If that's the case, on what does Stephenson base his conclusion that Bauer and Clark would vote essentially the same once in office? Because the story revolves around a "feisty debate" between the two candidates, the moderator (Arizona Republic reporter Mary Jo Pitzl) wisely posed the question (to each) on what the difference is between the two.
Without mentioning Bauer's poor record of turning out to vote -- in the last decade, Bauer has only voted in one general election and he has not voted in a primary -- or that Bauer briefly left the Democratic Party to become an Independent, Clark noted that he has always voted and has always been a Democrat.
Note that Stephenson makes an obviously NON-objective statement about Bauer's departure from the Democratic Party, saying it was "briefly." In this case, "briefly" is the full length of a legislative term, two years. A source provided the Arizona Eagletarian information citing that Bauer's decision to leave the Democratic Party was made official on October 4, 2010. He remained an Independent until he apparently decided to run for the House as a Democrat. Bauer's change back to a Democrat was made on October 7, 2012. That was less than two months after Chad Campbell won the primary for what everyone paying attention knew was his final term in the House.

When Clark cited the specifics of Bauer's voting record, Bauer,
...shot back that what sets him apart from Clark, who served two years in the legislature, is that he is not a "life-long career politician." 
Since Clark is also not a "life-long career politician," Bauer obviously blew that opportunity to sound like he knew what he was doing and that he had any idea what he was trying to get himself into.
Bauer complained that part of Clark's list of city of Phoenix issues Bauer failed to vote on is inaccurate because Bauer lived outside of Phoenix for three years.
However, voter registration records show Bauer as having listed Phoenix residences (for voting purposes) continuously for at least the last 22 years. So, even if he did live outside of Phoenix, he was still registered to vote and apparently could have voted including on fiscal related ballot measures during whichever three-year period he wants to now claim (pretend?) he lived elsewhere. And he was apparently still working for the City of Phoenix that entire time.

Bauer has admitted that Clark is correct about his voting record (except for the three years Bauer apparently wants to dispute) and has said:
"(But) some of it is accurate and I apologize and am embarrassed for the (elections) I didn't vote in. However, what I completely resent is (the charge) that I did not support firefighters and public safety. It clearly says Rich Bauer did not support public safety," Bauer said.
"And while you were selling repossessed houses, I was running into burning buildings," he said. 
That statement is priceless. It appears to have sailed completely over Stephenson's head. However, when Bauer declared his priorities -- minimizing the significance of his betrayal of his civic duty -- he (again) profoundly defined and differentiated himself from Ken Clark.

You see, Rich Bauer's own words tell you and I that his only priority then and now is what he was trained to do as a firefighter. And that training apparently did not include voting at every election.

A friend wrote recently that when a candidate tells you who he is, believe him. And Richard Bauer made nothing but excuses and put plenty of effort into trying to tell the debate audience that his indifference toward voting was no big deal. But really, when voters are deciding who they want to represent them in the lawmaking process, is it really no big deal?

You see, in order to understand fully (you know, transparency, which we MUST demand of our elected state representatives) who Richard Bauer is, we must understand who Phoenix firefighters have endorsed for state legislative offices. I do not have a list of those endorsements through the years handy right now. How much would you bet that there are plenty of Republicans, and not just so-called moderate Republicans on that list?

And how much money did individual firefighters and their unions donate in campaign cash to those Republicans? That's something Hank Stephenson should be able to find out and report on with little resistance because that is a Capitol Times strong suit. And when we find out how much those firefighters have given to Republicans, it might take substantially more effort to uncover what each expected from the other. You can safely bet that there were real expectations in both directions.

That brings me to my next question.

Why would Kyrsten Sinema, elected as a Democrat, ostensibly to represent the voters of Arizona's Ninth Congressional District, endorse someone who has a demonstrably weak sense of civic duty and an apparent propensity to mislead voters? Okay, so most elected officials are uncomfortable with letting voters know their shortcomings and foibles... including Sinema.

Richard Bauer on Monday morning posted on his Facebook page that he had received Sinema's endorsement.

I had asked Sinema campaign staff (and Congressional staff) about this when I first heard it was pending (a week or so ago). Both were evasive. Last week, Sinema's campaign staff told me:
Hi Steve - we have a process we go through before Kyrsten endorses anyone. I assure you that process is followed in every case. ;) (the wink was in the original) 
Then this morning I asked, in writing, her campaign staff three questions. Those questions were seen but not responded to by the staff. 

  • 1) is that a true statement? Did Kyrsten endorse Bauer? 
  • 2) If so, what kind of statement is she prepared to make supporting that endorsement? 
  • 3) Is she, or anyone in the her campaign cognizant of Bauer's electoral history? 
The response, including to multiple efforts to reach them by phone -- crickets. Because it's fair to infer that if she did not endorse Bauer her campaign would have been quick to jump on the situation, Bauer did receive Sinema's endorsement.

The next question has to be WHY did she endorse the guy. My sources suggested that the firefighter's union promised Sinema a boatload of campaign cash in exchange for that endorsement. We won't know until reports are filed with the FEC whether that ends up being true.

By the way, the Cap Times story I've been quoting from mentions bullying behavior by the firefighters who had attended the debate when they didn't get their way at the end. Stephenson chalked that up to them (both sides) having consumed alcohol and the already politically charged atmosphere. But really, that goes with the pattern of the firefighters other habitual known behaviors, hopefully not always when they have alcohol in their blood. 

In 2010, the firefighters endorsed and worked diligently for Cathy Eden in the four way race for the Democratic nomination to run against John McCain for US Senate. Every candidate EXCEPT Eden was getting lots of signs stolen. Coincidence? I think not.

All appearances seem to indicate that Richard Bauer is in this to become an in-house lobbyist for firefighters. So it's reasonable to expect firefighters to vote for him. But it's not as reasonable for anyone else to vote for him.

Based on longstanding patterns of conduct, it is reasonable to expect that, in the event he wins the a seat in the House, he will be selling out every Democratic ideal and legitimate constituent except for firefighters. He will do so by climbing in bed with the ALEC members who have run the show for years.

It is way past time to put a stop to ALEC and in this case, defeating Richard Bauer is a necessary step to take to that end.


As to the conspicuous silence of Sinema and her staff when pressed to answer for decisions like this, investigative journalist Charles Lewis, in his recent book 935 Lies has important insight. Lewis quotes a judge who had heard arguments regarding whether to suppress publication of the Pentagon Papers.
A cantankerous press, an obstinate press, an ubiquitous press must be suffered by those in authority in order to preserve the even greater values of freedom of expression, and the right of the people to know.*
And yet, on such a relatively small matter as who she endorses and why, Kyrsten Sinema is as evasive as a criminal. I understand the discomfort, but really she's going to need to figure out how to get over her insecurity if she plans to stay in elective office very long.

*935 Lies, page 37.



Perhaps the most significant recent example of the conflict between Phoenix firefighters advocating contrary to the obvious interests of working class Arizonans is the work their union and its leaders engaged in to support and work for the appointment of Sal DiCiccio to the Phoenix City Council.

I dare Richard Bauer to demonstrate just how independently he could possibly conduct himself from his bosses. I don't believe he can be independent and I don't believe he either does or can advocate independently for constituents -- other than narrowly parochial interests of a non-transparent group of firefighters. For example, the Phoenix New Times reported, in July 2013,
The District 6 representative [DiCiccio] is dripping in irony after his latest call for "significant reforms" at Phoenix City Hall, including "ending lobbyist nepotism and implementing policies to end personal ties between elected officials and their staffs."
Perhaps DiCiccio forgot about his own very close "personal ties" with [Phoenix firefighters] union-boss-turned-lobbyist Billy Shields, with Shields' wife, Lora Villasenor, and with Shields' brother-in-law, Joe Villasenor?
And New Times reported in 2011,
It's no secret that the firefighters union rallied for DiCiccio's appointment to the City Council when Councilman Greg Stanton left in 2009 to take a job at the Attorney General's Office. And, given that DiCiccio's anti-Public Safety Manager Jack Harris stance meshes perfectly with the police union's stance, it's no surprise that cop shop lends him its support as well. (emphasis mine)
With firefighters brazenly "in bed with" the Phoenix councilman who is most obviously comfortable engaging in anti-labor advocacy and cozying up to Tea Party activists, I find it unconscionable for any honest, engaged official or citizen advocate to support Richard Bauer. And with Bauer unable to demonstrate how he is at all or could possibly consider lawmaking decisions independently from his union it is critical that LD24 voters choose Ken Clark instead.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Why can't Oil and Gas compete with renewable energy sources without MASSIVE gov't subsidies?

Less than a month ago, I learned that coal-fired electrical power generating facilities get generous Arizona state tax breaks allowing the IOUs (investor owned utilities) which use it to get a competitive advantage over WIND and SOLAR.

Today, Huffington Post reported that despite repeated Obama administration calls for cutting subsidies to oil and gas producers, Congress has failed to act.

WASHINGTON – Over the past five years, the Obama administration has repeatedly called for cutting fossil fuel subsidies in the form of tax breaks and other incentives. But the amount of money the federal government forfeits through subsidies has increased steadily over that time period, reaching $18.5 billion last year, according to a new report from the environmental group Oil Change International.
That total is up from $12.7 billion in 2009, largely because oil and gas production has increased in the United States. Next year, domestic oil production is expected to reach the highest level since 1972. The Obama administration regularly touts its "all of the above" energy strategy, which includes increased oil and gas production.
The Oil Change report includes a variety of subsidies in its accounting, including tax breaks, incentives for production on federal lands (such as royalty fees that haven't been adjusted in 25 years) and tax deductions for clean-up costs. And if state subsidies for oil, gas and coal production are also included, the total value climbs to $21.6 billion for 2013. 
The story and the report from Oil Change International cite this situation as,
"We're spending more taxpayer dollars every year to fund fossil fuels that we can't afford to burn, according to climate science," said Steve Kretzmann, executive director of Oil Change International.
The situation appears to me to be a gigantic (tax) money laundering or kickback scheme whereby Members of Congress benefit from the subsidies they write into federal law for the oil and gas companies. The fossil fuel industry corporations then turn a percentage of those subsidies around and give them to those supportive Congressional representatives in the form of junkets and campaign donations.

For those enterprising enough to specifically identify that money laundering path, I offer this link to a Follow the Money handbook available on

Monday, July 14, 2014

Redistricting -- Legislature to SCOTUS: Validate Parliamentary Sovereignty in Arizona

In Arizona Legislature v Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, the AIRC filed it's motion to dismiss or affirm on June 30. Today, July 14, the legislature filed it's final brief. It's now up to the SCOTUS to review all of the briefs and issue a ruling... or set the matter for a full hearing and oral argument.

Up to this point, everything has pointed to the problem being that the ruling class in Arizona has had a prolonged hissy fit because the PEOPLE dared to take a stand against what all boils down to oppression.

In this last gasp effort, a Hail Mary play which may or may not be successful, lawyers for the legislature say,
As the constitutional text, the historical record, and this Court’s cases demonstrate, the Framers were well aware of the differences between the “Legislature” and other entities to whom they could have assigned the role of “prescrib[ing]” regulation of federal elections. Their assignment of this delegated power specifically to the most accountable branch of state government—“the Legislature thereof”—cannot be disregarded.
If that argument prevails, the court will be further validating the ruling class oppression of the PEOPLE. It will also have to delude itself about founding documents such as:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
and the Preamble to the 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 defence, 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. 
Those citations do NOT say, "that all men, except those who aren't in power, are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights..." or "we the RULING CLASS of the United States..."

The legislature's brief is written from the perspective that the legislature is the primary owner of the sovereign power the people delegate to government. That, of course, is a faulty approach. The legislature wants to validate the notion of parliamentary sovereignty in Arizona. Taking its cue from the constitution of the United Kingdom,
Parliamentary sovereignty is a principle of the UK constitution. It makes Parliament the supreme legal authority in the UK, which can create or end any law. Generally, the courts cannot overrule its legislation and no Parliament can pass laws that future Parliaments cannot change. Parliamentary sovereignty is the most important part of the UK constitution. 
Doesn't that sound a lot like the GOP dominated Arizona Legislature over the last couple of decades? They fight many things that are in the interest of the PEOPLE. Including by taking things to court, at tremendous but undisclosed costs to taxpayers. When courts decline to rule in favor of the legislature, they often can be seen wailing and gnashing teeth.

If the court buys that argument and rules in favor of the legislature, it will only validate the usurpation of the rights and authority of the PEOPLE of Arizona by a narcissistic bunch of power freaks.

One good thing in the brief, however, is when it contends that,
... but at a minimum this Court’s plenary review is warranted to address this question of obvious national importance, which will continue to arise as States take ever-bolder steps to take “politics” and state legislatures out of the redistricting process.
The justices all know quite well how redistricting has been traditionally abused by partisans in state legislatures.

Up to this point, the IRC has adequately argued that the intent of the Founders was to put the authority for lawmaking as close as feasible to the people themselves. Technology, communications and computational, has made gerrymandering obsolete. The only thing remaining is for the highest court in the land to validate the concept.

Rather than simply hope for the best, the legislature asks, as its conclusion, for a full hearing and oral argument.
This Court should note probable jurisdiction and set the case for full briefing and oral argument.
I can't speak to the issue of whether that request will be granted. But it seems this was the purpose for the statement, earlier in the brief (and quoted above), that "as States take ever-bolder steps to take "politics" and state legislatures out of the redistricting process."

Of course, the bottom line is that the PEOPLE, by way of their lawmaking authority in state constitutions, will indeed take bold steps, "from sea to shining sea" to implement independent redistricting.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Redistricting -- Judgment for taxation of costs

On June 2, 2014 the three-judge panel overseeing the Harris case ordered a judgment on taxation of costs, in the amount of $24,030.65 because convicted felon Wes Harris and his fellow Republican plaintiffs, more than a year after trial in the redistricting case, lost. This judgment covers taxpayer costs for making copies and taking depositions to defend against what were determined to be invalid claims against the Independent Redistricting Commission and the legislative district map.

The parties to the case, Harris et. al. and the AIRC, stipulated that the judgment would be paid but held in trust by one of the AIRC law firms, BallardSpahr, pending the outcome of appeal to the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) of the April 29, 2014 ruling. Plaintiffs' counsel, Cantelme and Liburdi filed notice of appeal in June and will file their brief, detailing their case last ditch effort argument hoping SCOTUS will be more favorable to them than the district court panel.

The Arizona Eagletarian has also learned that the Leach case, previously thought to be abandoned by the plaintiffs, is back on track. It's too late for this lawsuit, which complains about processes and procedures as they were carried out by the AIRC in 2011/2012, to have any impact on 2014 elections. So, perhaps this group of plaintiffs, again funded by who knows what, hopes to get the legislative map redone for 2016. It's still a pipe dream, in my view. But apparently they've found someone willing to pay plaintiffs attorneys, so on we go.

More info on Leach when it becomes available.

Friday, July 4, 2014

AIRC to SCOTUS: Dismiss legislature's appeal

On Monday, June 30, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission filed a motion to dismiss or affirm with the Supreme Court of the United States in the Arizona Legislature v AIRC case. The legislature had previously appealed the ruling of the three-judge panel that had dismissed the lawsuit that had attempted to invalidate the vote of the People of Arizona to enact independent redistricting.
As in many other states, the Arizona Legislature shares legislative power with the people, who since statehood have had the power to pass laws or amend the state constitution through ballot measures. Ariz. Const. art. IV, pt. 1, § 1(1). In 2000, Arizonans used that power to create a new constitutional body, the Independent Redistricting Commission, whose purpose is to “provide for the redistricting of congressional and state legislative districts.” Ariz. Const. art. IV, pt. 2, § 1(3)-(23) (“Prop 106”). Until then, the Legislature had controlled redistricting legislation, subject to the governor’s veto and the people’s power of referendum and initiative.
Apparently dissatisfied with the Commission’s congressional redistricting plan adopted in 2012, the Legislature brought this case on the theory that the voter-created Commission violates Article I’s Elections Clause because it “divests the Legislature of its authority” over redistricting legislation. (See Appellant’s Jurisdictional Statement (“JS”) at 33.) See U.S. Const. art. I, § 4. 
This Court should dismiss this appeal for lack of a substantial federal question or summarily affirm the district court’s dismissal of the Legislature’s claim. The three-judge panel’s order is a straightforward application of this Court’s long-standing precedent. In two cases, this Court has already rejected the argument that the Elections Clause grants a state legislature some special institutional control over redistricting legislation. Smiley v. Holm, 285 U.S. 355 (1932); Ohio ex rel. Davis v. Hildebrant, 241 U.S. 565 (1916).
The Elections Clause gives states the authority to regulate federal elections by enacting legislation in the manner “in which the Constitution of the state has provided that laws shall be enacted.” Smiley, 285 U.S. at 368. In Arizona, the state constitution “has provided that” redistricting legislation “shall be enacted” through the Commission. Like the voter referendum in Hildebrant and the gubernatorial veto in Smiley, the existence of the Commission “is a matter of state polity” that does not violate the Elections Clause. Smiley, 285 U.S. at 368. The Court need not take plenary review merely to consider another factual permutation of an issue it resolved long ago.
In the alternative, although the district court decided the merits, this Court should vacate the district court’s judgment and remand with instructions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The case presents a non-justiciable political question because the Constitution dedicates this question to Congress, which has power to “make or alter” state regulations. And Congress decided a century ago that redistricting should be done pursuant to state law. See 2 U.S.C. § 2a(c).
The 39-page AIRC motion concludes:
The appeal should be dismissed for want of a substantial federal question. In the alternative, the judgment should be summarily affirmed or vacated with instructions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Respectfully submitted,

Today's edition of the Arizona Daily Sun (Flagstaff) carries a story written by Howie Fischer on the subject.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Why is Sinema so afraid of criticism?

On June 19, the US House of Representatives voted 293-123 on the Massie amendment to the National Defense Authorization Appropriation NDAA bill.

The amendment will limit the legal authority of the NSA to spy on Americans.

Of the nine members of Arizona's delegation, eight were in attendance and voted. Five voted AYE,

  • Schweikert
  • Grijalva
  • Pastor
  • Gosar
  • Salmon
Three voted NO.
  • Franks
  • Barber
  • Sinema
Kirkpatrick was not in DC for that vote.

Since Sinema had previously voted in favor of measures intended to limit NSA spying on law abiding Americans, her NO vote troubled me.

So, I asked Sinema Congressional staffers Dana Marie Kennedy and media liaison Janey Pearl Starks, "why did Kyrsten vote NO on the Massie amendment?" 

The response was... crickets.

I asked campaign staff, including Michelle Davidson. She said talk to Congressional staff.

So, I now had two questions.
  • Why did Kyrsten vote NO on the Massie amendment? and,
  • Why does nobody respond to a question that should be extremely simple to answer?
Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN) sits on the House Veterans Affairs committee. During a recent HVA hearing, Walz told a witness from the VA, "I will be your biggest supporter but also your harshest critic."

That's pretty much how I see things with Democrats these days. I know from 2012 that when I criticized Kyrsten, it took a long time before she was willing to even make eye contact with me.

I am not out to "get her." But I am out to get answers and report them. So I ask questions.

And I will ask questions that don't get asked much by corporate print or broadcast media.

And if I don't get answers, I'm going to keep asking.

Now, the smart thing would seem to be to have somebody answer the question(s) as quickly as reasonably possible. That's what transparency is about, right?

Well, I never have heard from any of Kyrsten's Congressional staff on this question.

A couple of months ago, when the VA scandal first broke into the news, I wondered aloud why Kyrsten, who represents the district where the Phoenix VA Medical Center sits, wasn't front and center letting constituents know she was advocating in Congress for them.

Her staff pretty much let me know they were going to try to cut off my access. That is probably why I got the silent treatment this time. I could be wrong. They should tell me one way or the other.

Anyway, Kyrsten subsequent to my inquiry about her VA advocacy, co-authored (with Salmon) an amendment to a VA appropriations bill that specified $1 million be designated for the VA Inspector General to conduct an audit to determine the reason for delays in VA care delivery. The amendment passed and the money was put to work.

I was actually surprised at how quickly the IG was able to determine the problem and later found out it was because VA officials in DC, in Phoenix and apparently all over the US, already knew what the problem was. But the VA has been persistently resisting calls for transparency for years.

Nevertheless, a citizen who lives in CD9 persistently pestered Sinema's staff for answers to the question about the Massie amendment. Here's what he told me,
I... spoke with Michael Brownley who had left the message for me. His response was that she agreed with the content, but voted no because it lacked an emergency provision that legally collected info could not be used to prevent an attack without a warrant that could take to long to get. I did not accept that and asked if she, or with a group of others in the House, had proposed other legislation, or an amendment to Massie that would include that. He said no. I asked why all the Dems who voted for it didn't have the same concerns as her. (emphasis mine)
He copped out by saying that he can't speak for the reasoning behind the votes of others. 
Actually, Sinema's staffer cannot speak for any other member, so I'm okay with him saying that.
He also mentioned that any information collected that is not "security" related is immediately destroyed. I stated concerns about what determines if it is security related and told him that my son who is in IT has told me that NOTHING in the electronic world can ever be truly destroyed. He didn't have an answer for that either. It ended by my thanking him for responding to me, and saying it would have been better had he responded the first time I contacted her office. He told me to keep his name and to call him back if I had any future questions. 
A fair amount of the irritation of this particular citizen can be chalked up to the procrastination on the part of Sinema's staff. I don't know whether the concern about an emergency provision is reasonable or not. It seems like there already are provisions for acting on "intelligence" that would save American lives in an emergency. Perhaps I should lend Kyrsten my copy of Glenn Greenwald's book, No Place to Hide.

The importance of this exercise, however, is in Sinema being reminded that she still needs the votes of people in CD9 in order to stay in office. If she isn't willing to answer to those voters, that's problematic.

Back to the initial question for this post, why is Kyrsten so afraid of criticism?

The only thing that could put her in "free fall" like Horne or Huppenthal might be a moral failure like those bonehead Republicans have so consistently engaged in. I'm confident at this point, Kyrsten doesn't have to worry about that.

As far as being called out for a mistake? Well, shirking in fear of attacks from the Right side of the political spectrum, or out of fear of anything, isn't the way to earn respect or re-election.

To reiterate/paraphrase the words of Kyrsten's Minnesota colleague, "I'll be your biggest supporter but I can and will be your harshest critic" when you refuse to respond.