Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Sardonically quaint Trash Burner Bob effort at Daily Show style humor turns tragic?

Of course, Trash Burner Bob fails in his effort, perhaps because in a vain attempt to avoid coming off as having had his widdle feewings hurt, he falls far short.

In an op-ed posted today to the Arizona Capitol Times website, Stump opens with,
“Irony,” says literary critic Harold Bloom, “demands a certain attention span, and the ability to sustain antithetical ideas, even when they collide with one another.”
An ironical stance acknowledges a certain absurdity and humor in life and politics, and is conducive to self-awareness. Irony is an antidote to ideology, leavening it with a dose of intellectual humility. It bursts pomposity. As such, it is a quality much-needed in government today.
Yet our political climate is conducive neither to sustained attention spans nor the consideration of antithetical ideas — let alone irony.
Of course, I am humbled by Stump's (lack of?) pretentiousness and pomposity as he does what shame and vulnerability researcher Brené Brown calls, "armoring up."
That insecurity is present in all of us, and it's so strong that we often go out of our way to avoid situations that might make us feel fragile. In Dr. Brown's talk at the University of Minnesota, she described the ways we try to sidestep the shaky feeling of vulnerability. We emotionally "armor up" each morning when we face the day to avoid feeling shame, anxiety, uncertainty, and fear. The particular armor changes from person to person, but it usually revolves around one of three methods: striving for perfection, numbing out, or disrupting joyful moments by "dress rehearsing tragedy" and imagining all the ways that things could go wrong. Do any of these sound familiar?
All of these types of armor can make us feel safe and "in control" in the moment, but they're really doing us more harm than good. "Perfectionism is a 20-ton shield-we think it will protect us but it keeps us from being seen," notes Dr. Brown. Numbing our emotions is damaging because it has a widespread effect-you can't numb fear without numbing joy at the same time.
In Stump's case, it sure looks like his armor is a rich façade of faux intellectualism.

Now, I am NOT psychoanalyzing Stump. Lord knows, I've got my own problems. But I DO analyze what Stump wrote. I DO analyze what he has done in the ongoing self-imposed dilemma he faces regarding his obviously blatant violations of Arizona's Public Records Law.

Every bit of Stump's op-ed is nothing more and nothing less than an incredibly awkward effort to avoid, refuse, deny and otherwise get out of having to account for his unlawful conduct. Yes, I pronounce Bob Stump as a lawbreaker. Isn't it abundantly obvious that he has violated lawful requirements imposed on him by the Arizona Legislature (when it passed legislation enacting public records disclosure requirements)? Oh... yeah, I forgot, those requirements were imposed on him DIRECTLY by the people who voted him into office.

Anyway, back to Stump's op-ed. He invoked literary critic Harold Bloom. Not being as well versed in literary matters as Stumpy (claims to be), I had to look up Mr. Bloom. He is, of course, a highly-regarded literary critic. One of his books is How to Read and Why.

In an interview he gave about that book, Bloom did have something to say about irony. But I'm not so sure any of it provides Stump with any armor that's going to keep his feelings from being deeply wounded.

You talk in the book about contemporary readers having difficulty comprehending irony in literature of earlier times. Why do you think this is a problem?
Irony by definition is the saying of one thing while meaning another, sometimes indeed quite the opposite of what overtly you are saying. It's very difficult to have the highest kind of imaginative literature from Homer through Don DeLillo, as it were, and entirely avoid irony. There is the tragic irony, which one confronts everywhere in Shakespeare, that the audience, the auditor, and the reader are aware of--something in the character or predicament or inward affects, emotions of the protagonist or protagonists, that the heroes and heroines are totally unaware of themselves.
It's very difficult to convey this quality of irony by purely visual means. Visual ironies tend to fall flat or they vulgarize very quickly or they become grotesque. Really subtle irony of any sort demands literary language. The way in which meaning tends to wander in any really interesting literary text, so that the reader is challenged to go into exile with it, catch up with it, learn how to construe it, make it her very own, is essentially a function of irony. If we totally lose our ability to recognize and to understand irony, then we will be doomed to a kind of univocal discourse, which is alright I suppose for politicians' speeches and perhaps for certain representatives of popular religion, but will leave us badly defrauded. 

I wonder if Stump will recognize himself in this reflection Bloom made on literature, politicians and religion. Look back to Stump's opening statement in his op-ed,

An ironical stance acknowledges a certain absurdity and humor in life and politics, and is conducive to self-awareness. Irony is an antidote to ideology, leavening it with a dose of intellectual humility. It bursts pomposity. As such, it is a quality much-needed in government today.
Does Stump explain how the irony in his words (this op-ed and several other proclamations he made about his dilemma with public records disclosure violations)? Does he use irony to burst anyone's bubble or to enhance his own (highly deficient lack of) authenticity? You decide.
Case in point: The media coverage of the tiresome soap opera invented by the far-left, dark-money fringe group, The Checks and Balances Project.
Checks and Balances has spent months concocting increasingly fantastical conspiracy theories by connecting random dots and events. Their campaign of innuendo and insinuation, worthy of Joseph McCarthy, is payback for my criticism of TUSK’s hardball tactics in the 2014 election and my support of last year’s compromise forged by the Residential Utility Consumer Office and the rooftop solar industry — a compromise, ironically, which APS and Checks and Balances both opposed.
Rather, Stump (implausibly) casts Checks and Balances Project as the real Dark Money villain in the ironic tragedy in which he sees himself as the victim.
From the start, my stance on dark money has been clear: I would prefer it play no part in the election of commissioners. I am a regulator, not an elections officer, and my duties do not entail unearthing the source of the anonymous spending that engulfed the 2014 commission election, nor the “clean energy” dollars footing Checks and Balances’ romps in the mud.
IF Trash Burner Bob really wanted to claim the role of victim, and prove C&BP as a sinister actor in this drama, wouldn't he have to actually DISCLOSE all of the records at issue? IF those records demonstrated that Stump has been truthful and candid this entire time, wouldn't he then succeed in what now seems to be a fool's errand with his latest declaration of self-pity.

Remember, Stump, the Arizona Corporation Commission and its mercenary "legal" mouthpiece (Cantelme) have contended all along that Stump's text messages no longer existed, and were irretrievable from the iPhone Stump surrendered to the ACC, which phone in turn was seized by the Attorney General last summer.

Well, the good news is -- but perhaps not for Stump -- that the lawsuit may have succeeded in getting Brno to s*it rather than get off the pot. Howie Fischer today reported,
State investigators are working to recover text messages that utility regulator Bob Stump sent and received right before last year’s Republican primary, Capitol Media Services has learned.
Ryan Anderson, spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, said Wednesday that multiple forensic examinations of the phone turned up “thousands of texts.” Potentially more significant, he said the equipment being used has the capability of recovering texts that Stump sent and received even before he had this particular phone.
That could prove crucial to answering questions about what information Stump was exchanging both with the candidates who he was supporting as well as outside “dark money” groups that were trying to influence the race but could not legally coordinate with the candidates themselves.
I wonder how Stump is going to be able to deflect attention away from his Public Records Law violations, and the potential discovery of even more problematic illegal activity. Is it not currently an open secret that Arizona Public Service purchased a majority (three of the five votes) on the Corporation Commission?

Who knows whether anyone at the "prestigious" Capitol Times, or the even more widely read Arizona Republic, will even question Stump's nonsensical crap. However, to me, it is obviously just more misdirection on Bob's part. 

Checks & Balances Project sues Brnovich and Stump

It's been more than seven months since Scott Peterson, director of the Checks and Balances Project first filed a public records request seeking access to which he, and the public, are rightfully owed by the Arizona Corporation Commission and Trash Burner Bob Stump.

In the meantime, the Corporation Commission has aggressively stonewalled, wasted thousands of dollars of taxpayer funds on shiftless attorneys (notably David Cantelme), and made several excuses to refuse to comply with the lawful request.

Most recently, however, the Corp Comm received an assist from Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich when his office seized Stump's phone pursuant to investigation of a whistleblower complaint. That was months ago and nothing has been done, or at least reported about publicly regarding the phone or the whistleblower complaint.

In an effort to compel both AG Brnovich and the Corp Comm to get off the pot, as it were, Peterson filed a special action in Maricopa County Superior Court today. In a press release, C&BP said,
“Commissioners must be impartial in their oversight and regulation of the state’s business community. Yet public records demonstrate that leading up to Arizona’s Republican primary election on August 26, 2014, then-Chairman Stump texted extensively with players in a dark money election scheme that may have provided the funds to elect pro-utility candidates and defeat pro-solar candidates,” Peterson continued.
“The Arizona Corporation Commission needs to get out of the way and let the public see what Bob Stump was really up to,” said Peterson.
You may read the 11-page complaint and the 79 pages of exhibits which detail the background to this situation.

Lest there be any confusion, (and columnists at the Arizona Republic seem to like to obscure public perception as to who the Checks and Balances Project works for and what it does), here's how the Project puts it in the complaint filed today.
Plaintiff Scott Peterson is the Executive Director of the Checks and Balances Project, a watchdog project blog that is devoted in part to investigating the efforts of utilities to influence regulators on public utility commissions and stymie the growth of clean energy. In furtherance of its news gathering mission, Plaintiff regularly requests access to the public records of federal and state government agencies and officials, and publishes relevant information contained in those records to the public.
Despite Laurie Roberts absurd characterization of Peterson's work as that of a sinister Dark Money operation, it's plainly obvious that he functions as a de facto investigative journalism enterprise. If the Arizona Republic had the balls (and competent reporters on the beat following the Corp Comm), would Peterson even have to be doing any of this? I think not. In Arizona anyway.

Further, what on Earth makes it sinister for a watchdog blog operation to be concerned about regulatory capture that stymies the growth of clean energy? Perhaps Laurie Roberts and Ryan Randazzo should investigate both the obscene level of respiratory disease among Arizona citizens, especially in Maricopa County AND compare fossil fuel tax subsidies to the miniscule amount of incentives given to the solar industry and its customers in Arizona and around the country.

Oh, and perhaps some meteorological data comparison of the progression of climate change in our state might help put this situation in perspective also.

As I have argued previously about the co-dependency role the Republic holds over Arizona by enabling fossil fuel interests to continue to oppress Arizona citizens and enabling the GOP at the Arizona Capitol to facilitate that oppression, I've had enough of it.

Rise UP, Arizona.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Redistricting: IRC brief filed in Harris

The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission filed it's brief in response to that filed in September by Wes Harris and his co-plaintiffs (appellants).

There may or may not be any additional amicus briefs filed. I understand the deadline for such filings is a week or so away.

Oral arguments will be heard before the Supreme Court in DC on December 8.

Monday, October 12, 2015

LD26 state senate vacancy

After careful consideration, and procrastination, I have decided to NOT seek appointment to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of former Sen. Ed Ableser.

The decision is mine alone. Nobody advised me to make this decision. Some key people who believe in me had still encouraged me to seek the appointment.

My decision is based entirely on the nerve wracking nature of the anticipation in this situation. Anticipation that is, beyond what would happen tonight.

Emphatically, I still believe that I would have been the best and most qualified non-incumbent candidate, and that the best outcome for LD26 Democrats would/will be for Andrew Sherwood (or Juan Mendez) to be named the newest member of the "upper chamber" of the Arizona Legislature.

The personal tension I experience, between entering the lion's den of a toxic environment (with Andy Biggshot, John Kavanagh and Don "Shoot 'em up" Shooter) and wanting to retain the ability to speak and write with unabashed wholeheartedness on the key issues facing Arizona, gives me pause.

However, in light of the fact that I now choose to forego seeking THIS appointment, I no longer can predict (with any personal hunch) how it will actually play out.

Further, I am reluctant to say who I think should be the third person selected tonight, primarily because of my firm belief that either Andrew or Juan rightfully should be appointed.

In the event either Andrew or Juan actually is appointed, I leave the door open for now on the possibility of seeking appointment to what would be a vacant seat in the House of Representatives, and also to a run in 2016 for election to the House.

In the meantime, LD26 Democratic PCs still should look to select someone who has demonstrated understanding of the public policy arena in our state as well as already having made tangible accomplishments to advance Progressive values.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Put another way,

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

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

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

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

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

Here's MY vision:

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

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

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

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

Steve Muratore:

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

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

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

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

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

You have a unique opportunity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Maricopa County Dems' leadership transfer shockingly uncontroversial, no corporate media coverage?

Yesterday (Tuesday), Kelli Butler resigned her leadership position as Maricopa County Democratic Party chair, so that she can effectively manage an election campaign (hers) seeking a seat in the Arizona House of Representatives from LD28.

Because the transition, with Steven Slugocki stepping up to serve as acting chair, will be smooth and essentially seemless, the situation apparently is just not salacious enough to warrant coverage by corporate media. 

Besides the lack of controversy, perhaps having any Arizona Democrats demonstrate sound judgment doesn't fit the Arizona Republic's (and other corporate print and broadcast media outlets) preferred narrative. The Republic, along with other enablers (think co-dependency) in the Capitol press corps, have played a key role in the decades long catastrophe of one-party dominance in lawmaking and public policy. 

In Butler's letter to members of the MCDP executive board, she states,
The transition of MCDP leadership is the first priority, however. I am thrilled to announce that current First Vice Chair, Steven Slugocki, is stepping in to serve as our Acting Chair, effective immediately. At our MCDP Executive Committee meeting on October 29th, Steven will seek the election by the committee to the position of Interim Chair. Then, at the MCDP Winter Convention on Saturday, December 5th, I hope all Maricopa County PCs will join me in affirming Steven Slugocki as official Chair of our party.
MCDP will be in great hands. Steven is a proven leader, having served on MCDP’s Executive Board since 2008 – he has been our Secretary, Treasurer and First Vice Chair. He is experienced, dedicated and energized. MCDP’s entire Executive Board... all support Steven in this new role. Additionally, MCDP’s outstanding Executive Director, Jon Ryder, will provide his tremendous expertise and experience, ensuring continuity throughout this transition.

Slugocki sent this out last night,
As you've read today, Kelli Butler has stepped down as Chair of the Maricopa County Democratic Party in order to run for the Arizona State House in District 28. It is critical that we hold that seat currently held by Dr. Eric Meyer, the House Minority Leader. I know we all wish her much success in this next important undertaking.
As acting Chair, I want to thank Kelli for her dedication and hard work for our party. In the past year, working with our fellow Executive Board members and staff, MCDP has continued to build on its strengths, and Kelli leaves our party in great shape.
We've worked with our local leaders at the city level to ensure big Democratic successes this year, and we've been busy working with our district leaders to strengthen and grow our party all across the Valley. We're working with our legislative leaders to make sure the legislative caucus program is the success we all need it to be next year.
At every level, MCDP has -- and will continue -- to work every day to recruit and train candidates up and down the ballot. We expect to be making some major announcements on countywide races very soon.
I've been committed to MCDP and served on our Executive Board for 8 years now. I have been elected as MCDP's Secretary, Treasurer, First Vice Chair and most recently re-elected to the same role. I've served under our 3 last Chairs -- Ann Wallack, Laura Copple, and Kelli Butler -- and I'm proud to have their support, as well as that of former Chair Mark Manoil. [...]
Continued Democratic victories are what we are here for -- and MCDP is ready and able.
Thank you all,
Steven Slugocki
Acting Chair
Maricopa County Democratic Party

The transition itself is an accomplishment of more people than just Butler herself. However, I am keenly impressed with her vision and dedication. This move was not made in reaction to any internal conflict or selfish purpose for anyone involved.

However, a potential Democratic candidate to succeed current House Minority Leader Eric Meyer (D-LD28), Scott Nielson, for personal reasons apparently now will no longer be running in the 2016 campaign.


My concern is also very much with and about the impending LD26 election. Up to 62 elected precinct committeepersons will cast votes for three names from which one will be appointed to fill our vacancy in the state senate. There are 62 elected Democratic PCs in LD26. 

Those PCs have the power to make a sound decision... or not. 

Of those who have expressed interest in seeking the appointment, one is the current LD26 chair. She has stepped up her game, so to speak, since we first learned that Sen. Ableser would be resigning. Yet, it is clear to those who exercise critical analysis, that she would not provide LD26 citizens/voters the best value in the event she is selected at this time.

She, and several other enthusiastic, young Democratic activists have tremendous potential for succeeding in such service in the not too distant future.

But at this time, I believe the best choice we (LD26 Democratic PCs) can make is to select both of the two incumbent state Representatives, Juan Mendez and Andrew Sherwood -- along with THE strongest additional candidate. 

Based on current hunches and unofficial feedback from the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, they are not wanting to appoint either Mendez or Sherwood. Doing so would create a vacancy in the House of Representatives, thereby necessitating a repeat of the process to fill that seat.

In 2011, then Senate President Russell Pearce (R-SB1070) was defeated as a result of strategies developed based on Game Theory
Game theory is the study of strategic decision-making. It is "the study of mathematical models of conflict and cooperation between intelligent rational decision-makers." Game theory is mainly used in economics, political science, and psychology, as well as logic, computer science, and biology. Originally, it addressed zero-sum games, in which one person's gains result in losses for the other participants. Today, game theory applies to a wide range of behavioral relations, and is now an umbrella term for the science of logical decision making in humans, animals, and computers.
As it played out in 2011, Andrew Sherwood was well-positioned, as chair of the Democratic Party for the old LD Pearce represented. However, if Sherwood had run, Pearce would have won. Pearce and his supporters knew this. That's why they concocted a scheme to run a sham candidate, Olivia Cortes.
Instead, she [a petition circulator being questioned in court] answered [attorney Tom] Ryan's questions honestly, admitting that she told some folks — including undercover newshounds such as myself — that Cortes' candidacy was meant to "dilute" the vote and help Pearce fend off his main rival, Republican Jerry Lewis.
In 2011, Sherwood exercised a form of delayed gratification, putting off until 2012 his own run for the Arizona House. In 2012, Sherwood won.

In order to enhance (and hopefully ensure) the likelihood of either Sherwood or Mendez' appointment to the Arizona Senate, LD26 Democrats must select wisely on Monday, when they meet for the short list selection process.

There is likely only one person in LD26 who could cause the MCBOS to select one of our current House members.

More on that tomorrow. 

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

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Corporation Commission chaos? And then some.

Just moments before close of business today at the Arizona Corporation Commission, its new spokeswoman, Angie Holdsworth, sent a press release.

Shocking the entire world (not really, just those who would expect the commissioners to do the right thing) we then found out that Trash Burner Bob Stump and his APS-owned colleagues Doug Little and Tommy Forese (collectively known as Tommy Little Stump) ALL have decided that they do not hold any bias against the solar industry.

Therefore, she said, the applications for rehearing the APS net metering fee decision will expire without any official action.

Requests seeking Commissioners’ recusal expire,
Commissioners reject claims of bias
Filings that seek a rehearing on solar cost shift issues and the recusal of three Corporation Commissioners on that case will expire without formal action by the Commission.
The filings, submitted by two former commissioners, Sunrun, and The Alliance for Solar Choice demand Commissioners Tom Forese, Doug Little and Bob Stump refrain from voting on an Arizona Public Service request to increase the fee that the energy provider charges to rooftop solar customers. The requests also seek a rehearing on the Commission’s decision to set a hearing to review the cost shift created by solar customers.
No open meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday or Thursday, the deadlines for the Commission to consider these filings. By law, if no action is taken within 20 days, the filings are considered denied. The 20 days expire Wednesday and Thursday.
In August, the Commission voted to hold an evidentiary hearing to determine if the current charge to solar customers should be modified.
“After a thorough review of the record, and having fully considered these matters, I have determined that there are no grounds for disqualification or recusal that would prevent me from participating in this decision,” Forese wrote in a filing.
“I did not prejudge any issue presented and considered the record with an open mind and acted fairly and impartially in my decision-making,” Stump wrote in a filing.
“I have duly considered the allegations and the entire record and I conclude that I have acted fairly, impartially and without bias in all aspects of this proceeding,” Little wrote in a filing. “I am not disqualified from decision-making by any conflict of interest because none exists.”
The Commission may take up an APS request to modify its August Decision at its Oct. 20 Open Meeting, according to a filing by Chairman Susan Bitter Smith.

However, perhaps because APS (virtually) owns the Corporation Commission, APS' motion to withdraw its request to hike the net metering fee, likely WILL be heard and acted on.


More news today...

Still related to Trash Burner Bob's bias problem, he apparently has gotten himself in a tizzy because Hugh Hallman cited Stump's Facebook postings. As reported in the Yellow Sheet today,
Stump said he is not biased against any party or position on the APS proposal. Additionally, Stump seized on the opportunity to criticize former Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman (the attorney for the commissioners and solar company) and others for failing to “distinguish between the quasi-judicial role of a Corporation Commissioner and the rough-and-tumble political process” in which energy regulators also operate under. Stump said “general expressions” on the nature and extent of cross-subsidization and net metering do not mean advocacy for any one position, as these subjects are being robustly debated across the country. “APS does not have exclusive purchase on these ideas, and my musings are not mirrors of APS’s positions,” he said. “Yet certain interveners appear unable to distinguish between political satire and the serious stuff of ratemaking. To enter Facebook posts into the docket is surely a first for the Commission and, in my view, verges on parody.”
How quaint. A commissioner who brazenly has violated Arizona Public Records Law pretends to be an authority on it. YS goes on,
Stump also claimed that Hallman should have left anything he wrote on Facebook alone because it’s private. “The entry into the public docket of personal Facebook photos – my page is a private, not official, page – was a gratuitous invasion of my privacy,” he wrote. Furthermore, Stump suggested that Hallman and others in the solar industry have no sense of humor and can’t tolerate scrutiny. Hallman had complained that Stump’s Facebook page and Twitter feed were replete with postings “openly taunting the rooftop solar industry.” But Stump retorted: “Heaven forfend [sic] that the political tactics of some in the solar industry should escape scrutiny, and it is such scrutiny which I exercised... 
YIKES! Stump thinks someplace on the internet is private?! And how about this amazingly obvious Freudian (projecting) declaration that his detractors can't tolerate scrutiny. Holy CRAP as Frank Barone used to say on Everybody Loves Raymond.


Changing the subject to redistricting, SCOTUS has tentatively scheduled oral arguments in the Harris case for December 8. AND, the Redistricting Commission is searching for a new office. More on that in the days ahead, but apparently the current location has a leaky roof.


Finally (for today, anyway), Kelli Butler, who has served as chair of the Maricopa County Democratic Party has resigned, reportedly because she wants to again run for a seat in the Arizona Legislature in LD28. Steven Slugocki, who has served for a few years as first vice-chair, will be acting chairman of MCDP.

More details to follow.

The bright spot, as far as MCDP is concerned, is that someone with key experience is prepared to step into the position so that the organization will be able to continue operations without even the smallest setback. Will that be the case for LD26 next week?

Last week, Ed Ableser became the LD26 former state senator when his resignation became official. He left to take a job in Nevada. More to come on the process to fill the vacancy also.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Thanks, MacEachern, for tacit acknowledgment of the power of social media!

In a column posted to this afternoon, editorial writer Doug MacEachern asserts the Susan Bitter Smith situation is overblown.
But would those differences matter if not for the bigger issue overlaying every controversy (as well as every “controversy”) involving the Corp Comm? That being: the death struggle going on now between the rooftop solar industry and regulated energy companies like Arizona Public Service?
Bitter Smith owns a public-relations company that once was hired by a developer to help work out a dispute with neighbors near his new development. It involved an unfinished substation owned by APS, the largest company regulated by the Corporation Commission. APS ended up moving the as-yet uncompleted substation.
Generally, I'm all for getting at the underlying issues that expose the motives and methods at play in controversies. But really, in his attempt to do so, is MacEachern really illuminating the situation or further obscuring it?

The differences he uses to set up his bogus argument are between the Bitter Smith problem (direct violation of conflict of interest law that applies only to Corporation Commissioners and candidates for that office) and recently resigned member of the Arizona Board of Regents, Mark Killian. Killian took a job Gov. Ducey offered him as director of the state Department of Agriculture.

Killian had the appearance of conflict of interest based on the competing priorities of serving at the pleasure of the governor as a cabinet official and advocating for increased university funding from tax dollars, which is counter to Ducey's position.

Simply lauding Killian for removing himself due to the APPEARANCE of a conflict wasn't enough for Mac. Instead, he used the situation to suggest compliance with specific law intended to safeguard the public interest in regulating monopoly utility corporations is insignificant and citizens concerned about it are overreacting.

How quaint. How fallacious because of the false comparison. How quintessentially MacEachern.

The Arizona Republic has covered the controversy. Local Capitol watchers (including Howie Fischer and Brahm Resnik) reported on Tom Ryan's initial complaint on September 2nd.

Yet, there's no evidence that local media would have done anything with the situation beyond initially broadcasting very brief sound bytes from the Ryan's press conference, if not for social media pressure and posting the complaint/initial video and subsequent video interviews explaining the specifics of the law and the situation, on blogs, Twitter and Facebook.

So, THANK YOU, Doug for acknowledging the likelihood the public would have forgotten about the controversy if non-corporate outlets (egalitarian social media, like the Arizona Eagletarian) had not goaded the corporate news enterprises to fulfill their duty to the communities that sustain them.


Just over a week ago, dubiously named Public Integrity Alliance (apparently funded through or by Arizona's Dark Money Prince, Sean Noble), filed a complaint against Susan Bitter Smith. The PIA complaint contained NO new allegations and invoked NO additional citations of law that Bitter Smith had violated. A friend of mine was immediately suspicious. My friend is familiar with PIA head Tyler Montague.

In my initial post about that second complaint, I cited speculation about the PIA motive. Now, another, seemingly more plausible motive has emerged.

On September 11 the Yellow Sheet reported (quoting an unnamed source, which they typically call a "railbird"),

Yesterday’s move by the Public Integrity Alliance calling on Bitter Smith to choose between her Corp Comm seat and her private sector consulting was met with skepticism by some, given the opaqueness of the money that has swirled around the commission’s elections.
One railbird speculated that the biggest beneficiaries of increased attention on Bitter Smith are Forese and Little. “It’s clearly to get the heat off them. [PIA] are funded by [Sean] Noble people and APS – the people who love Forese and Little,” the source said. Last year, PIA (then known as the Arizona Public Integrity Alliance) was accused by both Tom Horne and [Republican state Sen. Don] Shooter of being a front group for Noble’s firm DC London (YS, 2/11/14) because that firm was running the campaigns of the only two candidates it attacked in advance of the 2014 election.
But one campaign consultant with ties to APS said it takes “a big tinfoil hat” to believe APS is behind PIA. “I think if it was Save Our Future Now, that would be one thing, but PIA seems to be fairly independent. I don't know where they get their money. I haven’t even heard a whisper about it,” the consultant said, adding that the betting money is on PIA’s strategy being “a steady destruction of Susan” similar to what happened with Horne. APS spokesman Jim McDonald flatly denied any connection between the utility and the Public Integrity Alliance, which called on Bitter Smith yesterday to resign from her jobs outside the Corp Comm. “We have no involvement with them,” McDonald said.
Of course, even THIS is speculation. But with an APS-tied "railbird" overtly suggesting that "it takes 'a big tinfoil hat' to believe APS is behind PIA..." clearly is the mark of verbal sleight of hand.

In the short-term, removal of Bitter Smith from the Corporation Commission opens the door for Ducey to appoint a REAL tinfoil hat aficionado in Cap'n Al Melvin, the former senator on record wanting to sell Arizona out to the nuclear industry for spent fuel storage.

Can we really worry about such a hypothetical situation now, when really the immediate concern is corruption?

This brings up Game Theory, which would seem to suggest that Arizonans should tolerate Bitter Smith's conflicts of interest because the alternatives might be less desirable.
Game theory is the study of strategic decision-making. It is "the study of mathematical models of conflict and cooperation between intelligent rational decision-makers." Game theory is mainly used in economics, political science, and psychology, as well as logic, computer science, and biology. Originally, it addressed zero-sum games, in which one person's gains result in losses for the other participants. Today, game theory applies to a wide range of behavioral relations, and is now an umbrella term for the science of logical decision making in humans, animals, and computers.
I submit to you that tolerating known conflicts of interest for fear of what MIGHT happen, is NOT rational or logical in this situation. Clearly, however, what makes this scenario plausible to me is that APS still hasn't acknowledged its responsibility to disclose its election spending in the 2012 or 2014 election cycles for ACC seats and both Bitter Smith and Burns have/had expressed the need to compel that disclosure.

Burns is far less vulnerable than Bitter Smith. Getting rid of Bitter Smith still won't fully protect APS from a disclosure subpoena. But does the state's largest ACC-regulated utility roll the dice with spending to attack Bitter Smith?

Given what we do know about APS conduct over the last three to five years, it's certainly possible.