AZ Democratic caucus acting like a damn opposition party! Yay!

21 Jan 2016 03:12 am
Posted by: Donna

barbara mcguire
AZ Sen. Barbara McGuire

The Arizona legislative session began last week and, as has been the case for most of the past decade or five, the Democrats are in the minority. If you pay attention to the doings at 1700 W. Washington St. you know that being the opposition party means that Democratic lawmakers, armed with facts and logic, argue valiantly (and futilely) against atrocious harebrained GOP bills in committee hearings and make impassioned speeches against said bills and ever crueler budget cuts on the floors of the Senate or House. They are, of course, mostly ignored as the terrible bills and budgets pass.

But being the noble opposition does not mean simply resisting, it should also mean offering their own vision for how the state should be run, even if it, too, goes nowhere legislatively. It’s in that way that our Democratic caucus is really distinguishing itself this session. Democratic legislators have dropped several progressive bills and have grabbed media attention with them. They include bills to legalize marijuana, make voter registration and voting by mail automatic, end discrimination against LGBT persons in housing and employment, and require sex ed to be medically accurate. And a bill introduced by Senator Barbara McGuire, a moderate Dem from Pinal County, would allow terminally ill people to end their own lives with doctor-prescribed drugs (warning: link autoplays a video):

Sen. Barbara McGuire of Kearny says her bill lets patients with an incurable disease and six months left to live request medication to end their lives under the care of a physician.

As baby boomers enter their golden years, end-of-life care has become a greater priority with doctors in California, Oregon, Washington, Vermont and Montana already prescribing life-ending drugs. California Gov. Jerry Brown was the latest governor to sign a “right-to-die” proposal into law in October.

Senate Bill 1136 is likely to face several hurdles. Republicans who control the Legislature are unlikely to back the measure and Gov. Doug Ducey opposes physician-assisted suicide.

Good for McGuire and the Dem lawmakers who have joined her in sponsoring the bill. It will not pass, of course, not with this legislative majority and Governor, but it should spark a conversation. Governor Ducey should be forced to explain publicly why he objects to allowing people to choose their own path to dying and I think Arizonans may be shocked to learn what underlies that.

The 2014 Center for Arizona Theocracy Policy surveys are no longer searchable online but you can see then-candidate Doug Ducey’s answers in this Phoenix New Times article, wherein he indicated he was against physician assisted suicide. Ducey did not elaborate on that answer with a statement but another candidate did, none other than the “moderate” former Mayor of Mesa and great white hope of the centrist Valley business elites, Scott Smith. Again, no longer available at the CAP site but yours truly wrote a post about Smith’s appalling statement to the question:

Question 8: I believe God has a plan for each of us for which we must be strong, even when this includes trials to our end.

Smith is LDS and Ducey devout Catholic but I’m fairly certain he would say something similar. Uber-conservative Catholics take their cues on this from people like Mother Teresa, who was a big proponent of the nobility of suffering (for other people). I tend to think that most people, regardless of their religious faith or lack of it, don’t cotton to moralizing strangers denying them the prospect of euthanasia because God has a plan.

But cornering Governor Ducey into awkward interviews where he extols the virtue of suffering is not the only good reason to have a conversation about assisted suicide. There are also real concerns, often expressed by people with disabilities and advocates, that allowing it could lead to people being pressured or coerced into ending their lives by caregivers or relatives or believing that their lives are not worthwhile if they are not healthy and able-bodied. These are tough questions and they will likely lead to an ongoing debate akin to that over reproductive rights (though probably a more honest one since it’s not about ladies and sex). We need to have it.

Plus, it certainly beats the hell out of yet another tiresome row over where’s the next place Arizona is going to allow people to carry guns. So yay Democrats! Way to show us how grownups (try to) do policy.

Hillary Clinton takes a forceful stance on abortion rights like women matter or something!

19 Jan 2016 05:41 pm
Posted by: Donna

DEM 2016 Clinton

So the contest between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders is getting real, as was apparent in Sunday’s night’s Democratic Presidential debate on NBC (which got a respectable 10 million viewers, by the way), in which the two front-runners argued vociferously over their different approaches to health care, banks, gun control, and foreign policy. The disparity between Clinton and Sanders is generally characterized as one of her pragmatism vs his idealism and there are about a thousand think pieces you can find that analyze it. Here it is, as succinctly stated by Jeet Heer:

Sanders is promoting an “ethics of moral conviction” by calling for a “political revolution” seeking to overthrow the deeply corrupting influence of big money on politics by bringing into the system a counterforce of those previously alienated, including the poor and the young. Clinton embodies the “ethics of responsibility” by arguing that her presidency won’t be about remaking the world but trying to preserve and build on the achievements of previous Democrats, including Obama.

That’s what it boils down to and I have good friends and people I respect and admire on both sides of it. I’m personally going with Hillary, but more on that later, as I throw the following bucket of ice water on the high hopes of supporters both camps: Essentially, any Democrat who is elected President in 2016 (and I hope one is) will probably not be passing any type of major health care legislation, or breaking up the big banks, or making college free or significantly more affordable, not with Paul Ryan’s Congress. There is a glimmer of a possibility of retaking the Senate but I wouldn’t count on it, barring some colossal GOP fuck-up in the coming year. Dems may pick up a few House seats, due simply to increased voter turnout in the Presidential year, but don’t count on coattails from the top of the ticket, regardless of whose name is on it. Democratic voters are notoriously terrible about voting all the way down the ballot and states not named things like “Ohio”, “Florida”, or “Virginia” won’t even rate a Presidential candidate visit.

So the Democratic President most of us hope will be elected will be charged mainly with vetoing bad Republican bills, keeping the country from engaging in blatantly stupid military conflagrations, and nominating as many as four Supreme Court Justices. That’s pretty much it, and I think it’s momentous enough to get that Democratic nominee, whomever it is, elected in November.

That said, I am thrilled about a stand that Hillary Clinton has taken recently on reproductive rights. As many of y’all know, low income women have been barred from using Medicaid or other federal programs (such as military health care) to cover abortion services since 1976 under the Hyde Amendment. Hyde was the first of many successful anti-choice measures that restricted abortion without technically banning it. It was named for a Republican Congressman from Illinois who openly admitted that he loathed abortion being available to any woman:

“I certainly would like to prevent, if I could legally, anybody having an abortion, a rich woman, a middle-class woman, or a poor woman. Unfortunately, the only vehicle available is the…Medicaid bill.”

In other words, poor women had to take one for the forced-birth team. And they’ve been taking it every year since 1976 because Hyde is a rider attached to regular annual budget appropriations and to whatever else Republicans (or in some cases anti-choice Democrats) want. This shitty amendment has wreaked havoc on the lives of some of our most vulnerable people and their families. Over the years, pro-choice groups and sympathetic members of Congress have attempted to repeal Hyde but, for the most part, it has enjoyed easy passage year after year because even most Democrats have been persuaded that there is something wrong with public insurance covering abortion. (Reinstating Hyde was made a condition of the passage of the Affordable Care Act, with pro-choice activists scolded to stop being such whiny purists. I remember it well!)

But in the past year or so, mainly out of you-have-really-worked-my-last-nerve outrage at right wing attacks on reproductive health, and in particular at the disgusting smear campaign against Planned Parenthood provoked by charlatans with video cameras, the pro-choice movement is increasingly unabashed in its calls to end Hyde. And it has gained a very prominent and important ally in that cause, as Rebecca Traister explains:

The lack of interest in the topic of reproductive justice is particularly galling, since this primary season — which has included talk of political revolution coming mostly from Sanders — has lately also featured some revolutionary language coming from Clinton, not a candidate usually known for being on the radical edge of debate.

But as too few people seemed to have noticed, Hillary Clinton has spent the past ten days campaigning vocally and without apology against the Hyde Amendment. Hyde, a legislative rider first passed in 1976 and added to appropriations bills every year since, prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for abortion, which means that the low-income women, many of them women of color, who rely on Medicaid for health insurance cannot use their insurance to terminate their pregnancies except in cases of rape, incest, or their life being in danger.

It is a discriminatory law that perpetuates both economic and racial inequality. And the notion of repealing it has remained a third rail in American politics until about five minutes ago … or, more precisely, until this summer, when California representative Barbara Lee introduced the EACH Woman Act, which would effectively repeal Hyde. So far, the bill has 109 co-sponsors but a vanishingly small chance of going anywhere.

Which is what makes it so notable that Hillary Clinton — who, despite a strong record of supporting reproductive rights, has not always spoken about them with righteous vigor (her 2005 discussion of abortion as a “sad, tragic choice for many” enraged many activists) — has decided to publicly do battle against Hyde. Even more important, she is explaining her stance in terms that offer a crucial and long-awaited corrective to the course of the abortion debate in America.

This is huge and Traister is right to be irked that reproductive rights were not raised at the recent Democratic debate (while moderator Andrea Mitchell did feel it was appropriate to ask Bernie Sanders how he felt about Bill Clinton’s penis wanderings twenty five years ago while Hillary was standing right fucking next to him). When I and others brought up the absence of a single question on reproductive rights, we were brushed off with standard rebuttals we’ve grown to expect in these situations – All the Democratic candidates are pro-choice so why ask about it? It was settled by Roe v Wade in 1973! – along with some new ones – Campaign finance reform will solve this problem! Passing single payer is the answer!

For a pro-choicer such as myself, the insistence of many on my side to treat abortion and contraception access as a secondary ladies auxiliary issue, and even worse as a bargaining chip to achieve other progressive priorities (such as the ACA) or something to be jettisoned in favor of the “big tent” (dear God, what about the pro-life Democrats??), is a matter of endless frustration. It also stuns me how blasé many of my liberal counterparts are about it when it is so obviously such a top-tier issue for the GOP, not only in the sense of motivating their voters but also always at the top of their legislative agenda. A Republican President will make antipathy toward abortion rights and contraception a litmus test for judges, including those appointed to the Supreme Court. And those judges will also be against labor rights, voting rights, environmental protections, public education, and banking and campaign finance regulations. Just so you know.

And if you like Bernie Sanders because of his single payer health care plan, then consider the irony how years of conservative attacks on reproductive rights and accommodations to their tender sensibilities on abortion and contraception have actually undermined the cause of single payer, by making it difficult to extract health care from the whims of religious health care providers, other parties claiming “religious conscience objections”, and government agents acting as protectors of taxpayers (Hyde Amendment). Having pro-choice interests take a backseat to others wasn’t such a great idea after all.

Naturally, I don’t expect a President Clinton to be able to get a repeal of the Hyde Amendment passed, for reasons I’ve already stated about the extent of what her powers would be. But I’m deeply grateful to Hillary for making this statement and I submit it’s every bit as important as the conversation Bernie Sanders has re-opened about single payer health care. I’m with her.

The Top Two blackmailing of AZ Democrats begins!

14 Jan 2016 12:22 am
Posted by: Donna

open and honest elections sos filing

From the AZ Capitol Times comes this teaser for their January 12th edition of the Yellow Sheet:

Top two and anti-dark money rolled into one

By: Yellow Sheet Report January 12, 2016 , 4:18 pm

The campaigns for dark money disclosure and a “top-two” style primary election system have officially joined forces under the aegis of Open and Honest Coalition. In a news release today, the coalition announced the filing of “separate, but aligned” proposals to amend the Arizona Constitution.

Oh brother. Yes, it’s true. The message is clear that if you Democrats want the Dark Money initiative you have to sign on to the craptastic Top Two Primary, that only “works” by demolishing progressive Democrats in Arizona. But it’ll be fine that Democrats are discouraged from running in numerous races so as pave the way for “moderate” Republicans to win jungle primaries, as Republic columnist Linda Valdez (who likes Top Two) assured me on Facebook recently, since we’ll know who’s funding everyone!

Except we still don’t know who has donated to this Open and Honest Coalition, since they haven’t disclosed any donors yet. Nor is there ballot language for either measure. Here’s how the Open Primaries Arizona describes them in a press release from Monday:

The Open and Honest Coalition has formed two committees to potentially back two separate, but aligned, initiatives:

Open and Honest Disclosure would require groups who spend money to influence candidate elections to disclose the original source of any contribution in excess of $10,000. With over $15 million of undisclosed money spent in the 2014 election cycle to influence Arizona candidate races, campaign finance disclosure rules must be strengthened to restore integrity and transparency into Arizona’s election system.

Open and Honest Elections would create a level playing field for all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, where they would directly compete under the same rules. It would also allow all voters to participate in elections – removing the current unfair and often burdensome barriers for independent and unaffiliated candidates and voters. Independents are the largest registered group in the State of Arizona, yet they are treated to a completely different set of rules when it comes to running for office and voting in primary elections.

“The American experiment as a constitutional democratic republic is in jeopardy. Voter turnout has dropped in the last two election cycles, more and more Americans are choosing not to identify themselves with political parties, yet those very same parties set the rules which govern our elections and choose our candidates. The American people have lost faith in our government to address some of the fundamental problems facing America today – America is still great, it is our two party system and undisclosed dark money contributions which have broken the system,” said J. Charles Coughlin, President and CEO of HighGround Public Affairs and Co-Chair of the Open and Honest Coalition. “We intend to fix that problem, to establish a level playing field for all candidates and voters and to protect our democracy from the corruption of undisclosed dark money contributions to support candidate elections in Arizona. I am confident, if we are able to get on the ballot, Arizonans will overwhelmingly support both of these amendments to promote Open and Honest Elections in Arizona.”

“I believe it is time for change in how we elect people to public office! The younger generations need something to believe in when it comes to our government system and the way we elect public officials. We need an election process that will bring us together to address the issues we all care about, such as Education, Employment, Immigration, and many others,” added Danny Ortega, an Open and Honest Coalition co-chair and former Board Chair of the National Council of La Raza.

The coalition is hoping to file ballot language by the end of January on both amendments. They are working to secure over $10 million in financial support from both local and national sources to back both efforts. In the upcoming weeks, the coalition will announce additional co-chairs to demonstrate that efforts to increase fairness and transparency are backed by a broad left/right coalition of business, community, civic and political leaders from Arizona.

The first description, which obviously deals with campaign finance disclosure, is a straightforward description of what the initiative will do. The second is the Top Two primary one and it is, of course, a whole lot of meaningless word salad. But notice how Chuck Coughlin – prime architect of SB1070 and Terry Goddard’s defeat in 2010 for Governor who has, it should be said, not shied away from praising dark money in the past – weaves a reminder about ending “corruption of undisclosed dark money contributions” into his pitch. Just in case you Democrats forgot you had better support this Top Two piece of garbage if you want your Dark Money initiative.

Governor Ducey the man-basher?

12 Jan 2016 12:41 pm
Posted by: Donna

In an otherwise unremarkable (for a conservative Republican governor in the pocket of Koch Industries) State of the State speech on Monday, Governor Doug Ducey said a few remarkable things. One of which was a (good, and long overdue) proposal to create a task force to address thousands of untested rape kits in Maricopa County. He has assigned Sen. Katie Hobbs, a long-time advocate for violence victims and children, to it. So far so good. (In an interesting side note, lobbyist Chris Herstam pointed out on KJZZ to host Steve Goldstein after the speech that the Governor’s announcement appeared to be a dig at Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was seated in the audience and whose office had failed to follow up on rape investigations. If you recall, Arpaio endorsed Ducey over several challengers eager for his blessing in the 2014 primary election.)

But then he said this other thing that sent ripples through social media. He announced that he had directed the state’s Department of Economic Security to start publishing the names and photos of “deadbeat dads” online. Whatever one thinks of the ethics and effectiveness of such public shaming campaigns, the likelihood of this one producing an appreciable stream of revenue to struggling single mothers is probably low.

The whole thing has the feel of being a focus-grouped strategy to blunt the charge that Ducey has been anti-woman, with his attacks on Planned Parenthood and savage cuts to aid to poor families. How can you say Doug Ducey hates women when he’s going after rapists and (presumably male) child support scofflaws? It’s a clever ploy, I’ll give him that much, but shaming men who are behind on child support on Twitter is a (very) cheap substitute for real help for struggling Arizonans.

They want it to be a jungle out there for voters

08 Jan 2016 01:05 pm
Posted by: Donna

jungle102

The year is new and, of course, the Top Two, AKA Jungle Primary people are very busy peddling their harebrained idea to gullible pundits. The latest to take the bait is Arizona Republic‘s Linda Valdez, who is arguably the most liberal member of the paper’s editorial board.

Quoth Linda:

First, you get rid of partisan primaries.

The system is a relic. These days, people who register to vote with no party affiliation make up the largest group of voters in the state. They can vote in partisan primaries, but few independents engage in elections devised to serve the political parties they have already rejected.

Partisan primaries are ruled by a few die-hard voters who represent the fringes of each party. Because most districts are not competitive, the primary candidates those extremists pick usually win in November. No moderates need apply.

In 2012, there was a ballot initiative to create a non-partisan, open primary system. It looked popular, but it failed after a “dark money” campaign raised doubts in voters’ minds.

“You learn a lot from failure,” says former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson, who championed the measure.

He made a checklist of what to do differently. He’s ready to try again to pass an open primary initiative.

Much about that is wrong. Valdez is even wrong about the measure being nonpartisan in 2012 (it wasn’t) and it might not be this time either, if what lobbyist Chris Herstam, who is working on the Open Primaries campaign, told me recently is true (that they’re going back to party labels because polling shows them that’s what voters want). When I and a liberal friend criticized the column on Valdez’ Facebook page and asked her why she thought it would work, she responded with the familiar talking points every supporter of this thing regurgitates. They go something like this: It will be a game changer that changes the dynamics and shifts the paradigm! Candidates will have to appeal to everyone, not just fringes in each party! Press them for specifics on how, precisely, the new system will work to elect moderates and they repeat the talking points harder. Point out how easy it is to game the system via sham candidates and they’ll blithely inform you that such dirty tricks happen all the time! (No shit they do, because they work!)

The friend who was also arguing with Linda Valdez wondered if the Top Two people were just doing a really excellent sales job. My experience with them going back to 2012 is no. They tend to step all over their dicks, even when they’re way ahead in the polls. They currently have polls showing them getting up to 80% support for their measure when the question is asked a certain way but are getting bad publicity for not disclosing donors and they still haven’t managed to come up with ballot language so they can start getting signatures, despite making it known months ago they are planning to do this.

But they don’t need to be stellar salespeople or organizers to get plenty of influential people on board with their campaign. There’s little personal investment or opportunity cost to someone like Linda Valdez to support Top Two and write a column in praise of it. If this were something she were considering sinking a bunch of her own money into Linda would probably need more to go on than “This will change the dynamics! It’ll be great!” It’s just voting, though, and despite the lip service given to how important it is and the nonstop complaining people who aren’t conservatives in Arizona do about the “craziness” at the State Capitol, voting and elections just aren’t given that much importance here. Except to conservatives, of course, and liberals who are much smaller in number and not nearly as well-funded or influential.

As Linda Valdez notes in her column, partisanship appears to be on the wane as the number of people who register unaffiliated with either party rises. This is generally hailed as a good thing in mainstream circles but maybe Valdez, who has focused on immigration throughout her career and is the author of a new book – Crossing the Line: A Marriage Across Borders – about her and her Mexican-born husband’s experience with America’s immigration system, might want to reconsider that. Don’t miss the always-insightful Heather Parton this week in Salon, as she recounts what happened in California in the 90s when Hispanic voters got fed up with the anti-immigrant nastiness and organized:

The initiative was draconian, even requiring police to verify citizenship of anyone they detain and forcing school districts to verify citizenship of all students and their families. Pete Wilson ran an ad supporting it that has become one of the most famous political ads in history, in which an ominous voiceover intoned: “They keep coming: 2 million illegal immigrants in California,” over grainy black and white footage of figures scurrying across the screen like insects exposed to the light.

Prop 187 won overwhelmingly with 59 percent of the vote. And Pete Wilson won re-election handily, as did Senator Dianne Feinstein who had run on a promise to crack down on immigration when she got back to Washington. It seemed to be a rousing success.

But while Republicans were high-fiving each other over their great victory, the court issued an immediate stay of the proposition and the Latino community in California began to protest and organize. And they also began, in great numbers, to vote Democratic. The fallout from Prop 187 and a few subsequent anti-immigrant proposals decimated the Republican Party in California. In 1994 the GOP held 26 of 52 (50 percent) U.S. House seats in the California delegation. Today they hold just 15 of 53 (28 percent). The Republican nominee has not won California in the last 6 presidential elections.

According to research by Latino Decisions this is why:

Prop 187 and the Pete Wilson years had two effects that shifted the state dramatically to the Democrats. First, the number of Latino voters grew quickly in response to perceived attacks on the Latino community. In comparison to other states that did not experience the same anti-immigrant environment such as Texas or New York, the research clearly demonstrates that Latino voter registration in California increased must faster than anticipated by population growth alone. Second, during the mid-1990s extensive research documents a increase in Latino votes for the Democratic party in California that was sustained throughout the 2000s. Not only did more Latinos start voting, they started voting heavily against the Republican Party.

That’s right, the Democratic takeover of California was NOT the work of white granola hippies and Hollywood stars. It was Hispanic voters who registered as Democrats and showed up en masse to eject the main source of the problem – Republicans. Note that they did this despite the fact that there were Democrats, like Senator Feinstein, who acted like craven shits over Prop 187. The organizers of this effort knew that their power lay in their numbers and in the partisan electoral system that is the one that exists, not the fantasy-land one we wish did.

When SB1070 passed in 2010 in Arizona there was certainly organized opposition to it that included voter outreach (and inevitable backlash of Republican suppression tactics). But while Hispanic voters have increased in number, “independent” registration has continued to outpace Democratic and Republicans have increased their power over the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the state. While it’s unlikely that an Arizona effort as laser-focused toward increasing the Democratic electorate and booting out Republicans would have been as fantastically successful as the one begun in 1994 in California has been, the demographics here would certainly suggest that things should be different and better than they are now. There was just no interest in it, though, since many activists angered over SB1070 were angry at both parties.

A year later young people I met at Occupy gatherings, who were expressing their outrage over a financial system that was destroying their futures, told me they weren’t really interested in politics or running for office. They were going to effect change (somehow) outside of politics This was in a stark contrast to the Tea Party movement, which got deeply involved in the Republican party. (It’s worth noting that it’s actually a myth that the Tea Party were apolitical outsiders triggered by the financial collapse. Many if not most were already GOP activists.)

The thing is that the more that partisan engagement is discouraged, and singular individuality is prized, the better it is for conservative Republicans in Arizona. Republicans are very happy to plod along under the stodgy old uncool partisan system, marching around in silly shirts and hats while winning most of the elections and ruining the state. They do not give a shit about being cutting edge or winning everyone over. Meanwhile, Democrats in Arizona have tried to give the people what they say they want, by doing their utmost to be precisely those “moderates who appeal to everyone”. For their efforts they’ve gotten little in the past decade besides humiliating election losses and being dismissed as fringe extremists by people invested in the “both sides” farce or kicked dirt on by progressives who consider them to be hapless sellouts.

The talking points of the Jungle Primary campaign are a continuation of this denigration of political participation. Politicians have (often justifiably) been fodder for derision throughout American history but this disdain for partisan grassroots activity, down to the very level being a precinct committee member or merely voting in a partisan primary is newer. Didn’t we used to like and respect people who voted regularly and who sometimes took the extra step of volunteering their time and energy to support candidates, maybe even running for office themselves? Not anymore! That’s for chumps now. Or “fringe extremists”.

The cool people are rejecting party labels, as Linda Valdez says, but they somehow also want moderate candidates who “appeal to everyone”, as another Top Two Primary supporter told me. The Jungle Primary offers them the perfect, effortless solution. Let the business leaders and their well-paid consultants figure out how to get those “moderates” elected. You don’t need to worry your pretty head about it.

It all reminds me eerily of the anti-labor rhetoric that comes from places like the Goldwater Institute.

Moreover, no less than elected officials, public employees are trustees of the power delegated by citizens to the government. Public-sector unions violate a basic public trust when they use collective bargaining to secure one-sided and obviously unsustainable benefits. For these reasons and others, the Goldwater Institute recommends that Arizona join North Carolina and other states that completely prohibit state and local government officials from contracting with public employee unions, requiring all employment relationships to be individually negotiated.

Just as bosses want you lowly workers to be atomized individuals negotiating your pay and benefits rather than forming unions to leverage your collective power, so too they want you to be “independent” voters looking to wise business leaders to guide you through the confusing jungle of voting.

Ducey’s appoints notorious anti-public education figure to AZ Supreme Court

07 Jan 2016 04:12 am
Posted by: Donna

Governor Ducey’s spokesman, responding to an EJ Montini column critical of his appointment of Clint Bolick to the AZ Supreme Court.

Ugh, what a week. My brain is so crowded with things to be irate about I don’t even know where to start, but I’ll go with waking up Wednesday to learn that Governor Ducey had appointed Goldwater Institute litigator Clint Bolick to the state’s Supreme Court. Bolick has no experience as a judge but a long history of attacking public education and public workers, as detailed in the Montini column sneered at by Ducey’s communications director. And, hoo boy, does Bolick take a dim view of workers’ rights in general!

Bolick has long been a huge “school choice” (privatization) proponent and a steadfast opponent of full public school funding. For years his Goldwater Institute has provided conservatives with fuzzy math-based inflated per-pupil spending amounts to enable them to obscure how much they have truly gutted public education. For example, here’s the howler the Institute peddled about K-12 spending when they worked to defeat the Prop 204 sales tax measure in 2012 (emphasis mine):

Arizona schools spend $9,233 per student when you add up all funding sources, a 9 percent increase from 2000.

Such unusually high dollar figures (most surveys put Arizona substantially lower) are the result of GI including every expenditure they can get their hands on – “lunch money, after school sports, adult night programs, adjacent ways (sewer & road repairs as a result of city maintenance), and other non-revenue dollars” – which the other states we’re compared with do not use in their calculations.

The bullshit-based defeat of Prop 204 cost the schools $1 billion. Of course, remember who else was a big Prop 204 opponent. I won’t speculate on whether the Bolick appointment was repayment or not. You decide.

It was especially unnerving to see the announcement of Bolick’s appointment the day after the legislative district meeting I attended Tuesday night, wherein we were told that Democrats were duty-bound to support Ducey’s state land trust grab, AKA Prop 123, because we don’t want to be seen as “anti-education”. This is obviously not a concern for Governor Ducey, who strongly broadcast his contempt for the education groups who signed on in support of Prop 123 with this Supreme Court pick. IOKIYAR!

Look who’s excited about Prop 123

05 Jan 2016 12:45 pm
Posted by: Donna

santa cruz land

Per the AZ Capitol Times, Governor Ducey is positively giddy over the strong support his education funding plan is getting from the “business community”:

Let’s Vote Yes for Arizona’s Schools, the campaign committee formed to promote Prop. 123 in the May 17 special election, announced that it brought in about $1.75 million in its first two months of fundraising. The fundraising haul brings the campaign about halfway toward meeting the expectations of campaign manager J.P. Twist, who has said he expects it to raise between $3 million and $4 million.

The biggest contributors were GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons and his wife, Renee, who each gave $250,000 to the campaign. Greater Phoenix Leadership has given $220,000, while the Helios Education Foundation contributed $100,000.

Salt River Project and the Arizona State University Foundation each gave $75,000. Cox Communications, DMB Associates, Blandford Homes and auto dealership magnate Larry Van Tuyl each gave $50,000. Developer Edward Robson and his company, Robson Communities Inc., each gave $25,000 to the campaign.

“We have overwhelming support from the business and education communities who have rallied behind this landmark opportunity,” Gov. Doug Ducey said in a press statement issued by the campaign. “This money – and the money to come – shows that people understand just how important passage of Prop 123 is to our schools, teachers, children and our state.”

I’m sure this is because those developers are impressed by the initiative itself, with its triggers that cap school funding to just under half the state budget no matter how much that budget is slashed by the Republicans, thus ensuring that Arizona’s public schools remain at the bottom of the nation. Yeah, it has to be that and not all that sweet state trust land they’ll have access to for rock bottom prices.