Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Rally to Move AZ Forward!!

This coming Saturday, October 25, from 4 - 7 p.m., join many of the great candidates for office this year at Mesa's Riverview Park (2100 W 8th St, Mesa, Arizona 85201) -

In addition to Fred Duval, some of the other candidates expected to be there include Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema, State Representative Juan Mendez, David Garcia, Democratic nominee for State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Jim Holway, Democratic candidate for the Arizona Corporation Commission.  Also expected to appear: many legislative candidates from districts in the area.

It should be a fun time for all, and it is taking place just before the ASU football game against the University of Washington (start time: 7:45 p.m. @ UW, televised on ESPN).

The rally is being put on by the LD26 Democrats (most of Tempe, west Mesa, Salt River Pima/Maricopa Indian Community) and the Maricopa County Democrats, but it is open to all who are interested in meeting some great candidates and helping to Move AZ Forward....

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Weekly Address: What You Need to Know About Ebola

In the midst of all of the media and GOP fear-mongering over the two cases of Ebola contracted in the US, the text President Barack Obama's remarks on the topic, from his weekly address (October 18, 2014) -

Today, I want to take a few minutes to speak with you-directly and clearly-about Ebola: what we're doing about it, and what you need to know.  Because meeting a public health challenge like this isn't just a job for government.  All of us - citizens, leaders, the media - have a responsibility and a role to play.  This is a serious disease, but we can't give in to hysteria or fear-because that only makes it harder to get people the accurate information they need.  We have to be guided by the science.  We have to remember the basic facts.

First, what we're seeing now is not an "outbreak" or an "epidemic" of Ebola in America.  We're a nation of more than 300 million people.  To date, we've seen three casesof Ebola diagnosed here-the man who contracted the disease in Liberia, came here and sadly died; the two courageous nurses who were infected while they were treating him.  Our thoughts and our prayers are with them, and we're doing everything we can to give them the best care possible.  Now, even one infection is too many.  At the same time, we have to keep this in perspective.  As our public health experts point out, every year thousands of Americans die from the flu.

Second, Ebola is actually a difficult disease to catch.  It's not transmitted through the air like the flu.  You cannot get it from just riding on a plane or a bus.  The only way that a person can contract the disease is by coming into direct contact with the bodily fluids of somebody who is already showing symptoms.  I've met and hugged some of the doctors and nurses who've treated Ebola patients.  I've met with an Ebola patient who recovered, right in the Oval Office.  And I'm fine.

Third, we know how to fightthis disease.  We know the protocols.  And we know that when they're followed, they work.  So far, five Americans who got infected with Ebolain West Africa have been brought back to the United States-and all five have been treated safely, without infecting healthcare workers. 

And this week, at my direction, we're stepping up our efforts.  Additional CDC personnel are on the scene in Dallas and Cleveland.  We're working quickly to track and monitor anyone who may have been in close contact with someone showing symptoms.  We're sharing lessons learned so other hospitals don't repeat the mistakes that happened in Dallas.  The CDC's new Ebola rapid response teams will deploy quickly to help hospitals implement the right protocols.  New screening measures are now in place at airports that receive nearly all passengers arriving from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.  And we'll continue to constantly review our measures, and update them as needed, to make sure we're doing everything we can to keep Americans safe.

Finally, we can't just cut ourselves off from West Africa, where this disease is raging.  Our medical experts tell us that the best way to stop this disease is to stop it at its source-before it spreads even wider and becomes even more difficult to contain.  Trying to seal off an entire region of the world - if that were even possible-could actually make the situation worse.  It would make it harder to move health workers and supplies back and forth.  Experience shows that it could also cause people in the affected region to change their travel, to evade screening, and make the disease even harder to track.

So the United States will continue to help lead the global response in West Africa.  Because if we want to protect Americans from Ebola here at home, we have to end it over there.  And as our civilian and military personnel serve in the region, their safety and health will remain a top priority.

As I've said before, fighting this disease will take time.  Before this is over, we may see more isolated cases here in America.  But we know how to wage this fight.  And if we take the steps that are necessary, if we're guided by the science - the facts, not fear-then I am absolutely confident that we can prevent a serious outbreak here in the United States, and we can continue to lead the world in this urgent effort.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Arizona Election 2014: Time to vote...

Well, early ballots started hitting mailboxes in Maricopa County last weekend (mine is already filled out and returned) signaling that the election cycle is almost over.

While some people are "issues" folks (choice, women's issues, LGBT, etc.), I am a "candidate" guy - I can disagree with someone on a particular issue, but so long as I think that someone is working for the best interests of his/her constituents, I can respect and support that someone.

Which means that for me anyway, in most years it is easy to be a Democrat in Arizona.

While I can't and won't claim that every or even any Democratic candidate is a perfect human being, I can say that as a group, they're decent human beings and try to be honorable public servants.

In contrast, it's been close to a decade since Republican primary voters supported any candidate who is either decent or honorable.  For example, the Republican caucus in the state legislature is now divided into two groups - the "bay at the moon" caucus and the "go along to get along" caucus.

To be sure, a few have slipped through time...but once they exhibit any of the traits of public servants, they face a primary challenge from the right.

With that as a preface, here are my votes for the 2014 general election in Arizona, in the order the offices appear on my ballot (foreshadowing: this is one of the years where I'm proud to be a Democrat) -

- Congress (CD9) - Democratic incumbent Kyrsten Sinema v. Republican perennial candidate Wendy Rogers

I've made it clear before that Sinema is not exactly my favorite Democrat.  I supported another candidate in the 2012 primary (David Schapira, now a member-elect of the Tempe City Council) and may support another candidate in a possible 2016 primary. However, she has done some exemplary work on behalf of her district and Arizona's veterans.

In contrast, her opponent Wendy Rogers (who *is* a veteran, as she will be sure to tell you if you ever are within earshot of her) has wholeheartedly embraced that standard GOP platform of fear and demonization.  She shows absolutely no sign of being concerned with the welfare of the people of CD9 or Arizona.

In short, Sinema may not be perfect, but she is head and shoulders above her opponent.

Vote goes to: Sinema

- Arizona Governor - Open seat.  Democrat Fred Duval v. Republican Doug Ducey.

Because this is a race for an open seat, the campaign has been all about what the candidates *will do* in the office, not what they *have done*.

Duval has pledged to protect the state's education system from further cuts by the legislature and to see that the state pays the court-ordered funds that were improperly cut by the lege in past years.

Ducey, on the other hand, wants to increase the amount of public money funneled to private and charter schools, and has pledged to fight the court-ordered funding repayment.

Summary:  Duval is someone who brings a "us" perspective to the table, Ducey brings a "what's in it for me" attitude.

Vote goes to: Duval.

- State Senate (LD24) - Incumbent Democrat Katie Hobbs v. Republican Bill Follette

This one may be the easiest race on the ballot - Hobbs is smart and has worked her tail off for the district; Follette is running as "The Democrats' Republican".  Really.  Check out his signs.  That's all he's got.

Vote goes to: Hobbs

- State Representative (LD24) - Democrat Lela Alston (incumbent), Democrat Ken Clark, and Republican Lei Lani Cortez (vote for 2)

Another easy one.

Alston and Clark are longtime public servants who have performed admirably in every position that they've held; Cortez is running as a Republican who has checked off every box on the GOP's "groupthink" checklist.

Vote(s) goes to: Alston and Clark

- Arizona Secretary of State - Open seat.  Democrat Terry Goddard v. Republican Michele Reagan

Goddard is a former mayor of Phoenix, former Arizon Attorney General and arguably, the most qualified candidate for any office this year.  His concern for Arizonans is endless, his work ethic is boundless, and his integrity is unassailable (didn't even need a thesaurus for that sentence :) )

Reagan is a state legislator who has crafted, sponsored, and/or voted for the most oppressive legislation to come out of the Capitol in recent years - SB1070 (anti-immigrant), SB1062 (anti-LGBT), and HB2305 (anti-voter) - and also lies about the political process in Arizona.

Vote goes to: Goddard

- Arizona Attorney General - Semi-open seat (meaning that the incumbent lost in the primary).  Democrat Felecia Rotellini v. Republican Mark Brnovich.

Rotellini is an experienced prosecutor and former head of the Arizona Department of Financial Institutions.  She has spent much of her career in consumer protection roles.

She has pledged to work to fight things like domestic violence, human trafficking, and fraud (and other crimes) directed toward Arizona's senior citizen and veterans.

Brnovich has worked for the Arizona Attorney General's Office and the corporate lobbying group "free market think tank" Goldwater Institute.

Brnovich has pledged to fight things like...federal law.

Summary: Rotellini was impressive in 2010 when she was the Democratic nominee, and after four years of the incumbent's sleaze and arrogance, she's even more impressive.  Plus, she takes the job of AZAG seriously, looking to protect Arizonans.  Brnovich apparently sees the job as being more about enabling the neo-secessionists in the legislature and less about serving the people of Arizona.

Vote goes to: Rotellini

- State Treasurer - Open seat.  Only one candidate, so I skipped this race.

- Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction -Semi-open seat.  Democrat David Garcia v. Republican Diane Douglas

Garcia is an associate professor at ASU, a veteran, and a nationally renowned education researcher.

Douglas is a former school board member in Peoria.

Garcia supports a well-rounded program to help improve Arizona's K-12 system.

Douglas is a single-issue candidate - she vehemently opposes the set of education standards known as "Common Core".

Summary: Not that the other races were difficult to decide, but this was the easiest choice among the statewide races.  Some offices have to go beyond partisanship, and even some Republicans consider Garcia to be the most qualified person to ever run for this office.

Vote goes to: Garcia

- State Mine Inspector -  Only the incumbent, Republican Joe Hart, is on the ballot.

Vote goes to:  Manny Cruz (write in).  Cruz was the 2010 Democratic nominee, and was gearing up for a 2014 run until he was diagnosed with cancer.  He passed away in May of this year and is still missed by the many people whose lives that he touched.  I know the vote won't count, but it is the right thing here.

Arizona Corporation Commission - Open seats.  Democrats Sandra Kennedy and Jim Holway v. Republicans Tom Forese and Doug Little (vote for 2)

Kennedy is a former member of the ACC and the state legislature.

Holway has had a long career in education and government service, focused on the environment.

Forese is a state legislator.

Little is a career corporate cog.

Summary:  Kennedy and Holway have years of experience in public service.  Forese and Little have a campaign that is being funded by APS, one of the corporations that is regulated by the ACC.

Vote(s) go to: Holway and Kennedy

- Maricopa County Assessor and Clerk of the Superior Court - the Democrats skipped these races, so my votes went to the two Libertarian candidates.  Maybe if the Libertarians get enough votes, the Ds will stop skipping low-profile races like these.

- Maricopa County Community College District Governing Board - "At Large" seats - Eddie Tiggs, Mario Diaz, John Heep, and Tracy Livingston (vote for 2).

Not a strong vote "for" here, but while Mario Diaz has issues (like his ties to "Republican is everything but name" state legislator Catherine Miranda) and I couldn't find out much about Tiggs, Heep and Livingston are tea party types who will work to undermine public higher education in Maricopa County.

Votes go to: Tiggs and Diaz.

- Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board - Laddie Shane, Francesca Thomas, Kim Hartmann, and Pam Kirby (vote for 2)

This is one race that I know almost nothing about, so I went with the recommendation of a friend who teaches for SUSD and voted for Hartmann and Thomas.

- Local school district ballot questions -

1.  Continuation of a "maintenance and operations" budget override for SUSD.  Considering what the legislature and Doug Ducey (if he wins his race) have in mind for Arizona's K-12 system in the new year, this one was an easy "Yes".

2.  Authorizing SUSD to dispose of some real property on 44th Street in Phoenix.  No.

- Scottsdale City Council - Dennis Robbins, Linda Milhaven, Jennifer Petersen, David Smith, Cindy Hill, and Kathy Littlefield (vote for 3)

In August, I completely skipped this race as none of the candidates are outstanding, but the August election eliminated the two candidates that I considered to be the weakest.  Looking at the race again, I still am not particularly enamored with any of the candidates, much less three of them.

Then I received a mailer where Scottsdale mayor Jim Lane announced his endorsement of three of the candidates (Robbins, Milhaven, and Petersen).

I ended up voting for two of the others.

I'm not exactly a fan of Jim Lane.  In case you couldn't figure that out for yourself. :)

- Maricopa County judge retention ballot - too numerous to list individually, but there is one of special note: Michael Herrod, husband of Cathi Herrod, head of the Center for Arizona Theocracy Policy.

- Statewide ballot questions - previously covered here.

To recap briefly:

Proposition 122 - "No" - it's an effort to mobilize the neo-secessionist vote; if passed, it will serve only to keep us as a national punchline.

Proposition 303 - "No" - it's an effort to use the "awwwwwww" effect to get people to change AZ law to allow drug companies to bypass the FDA and sell untested drugs and medical treatments to desperate patients.

Proposition 304 - "Yes" - it would raise legislative salaries from $24K per year to $35K.  Bottom line: you get what you pay for, and we pay our legislators crap.

- Maricopa County ballot questiion - Proposition 480

Would authorize the county health care district to issue $935 million in bonds to rebuild and expand the county's nationally-recognized hospital and health care system.

Vote: Yes.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Fun with campaign signs: On the cheap edition

One of the regular occurrences of any campaign season is the sighting of a "write-in" candidate.

They're just like regular candidates, except they aren't on the ballot and (usually) have no money.

Most write-in candidates "campaign" by asking friends to vote for them; a few, however, have some limited financial resources and will try to campaign more traditionally, say, by putting up some signs.

One of the ways that campaigns with limited resources try to save money is to have signs that are only printed on one side.

Another way that campaigns (all campaigns, not just those of write-in candidates) look to save money is by using rebar as sign posts; it's less sturdy than the normally-used fence posts, but it's also less costly.

All of which is fine...until the downsides of one-sided and rebar combine -

Found at the SE corner of Rural and Baseline in Tempe
The other side of the sign -

The candidate on the sign, Joe Hui, is an official write-in candidate for Corporation Commission.

Bonus "Fun with campaign signs":

I live in one of the few Democratic-leaning legislative districts in Maricopa County (LD24), which means that we see the Republican candidates who run on the "Republican?  Who me?" platform -

Found at McDowell and Hayden in Scottsdale
This sign is so effective that if I hadn't already voted for Katie Hobbs and returned my ballot, I would...still vote for her.  I don't have a high opinion of Democrats who triangulate and
run for office as "Republican-lite", but I'm fair about it - I don't have a high opinion of Republicans who run as "Democrat-lite", either.

Plus she is AWESOME. :)

Bonus2:  Dear...well, *everyone* -

Spell check is your friend.   Whether you are a candidate/campaign, or an anti-candidate/anti-campaign, whether it is a website, press release, campaign lit, or street sign, or something else, proof read everything before you send it out.

Including stickers that you attach to a candidate's signs -

Found at McDowell and Hayden in Scottsdale.
Ignoring the "vandalized sign" part of this picture, for now (that's a possible class 2 misdemeanor), there are two stickers now affixed to the sign.  One is easy to see - "communist".  Pretty sure it isn't true, but it isn't as much fun as the other sticker -

I think that they (whoever "they" may be) are trying to accuse Rep. Kyrsten Sinema of being an "atheist" here.

Not sure what an "athiest" is, though.

OP-ed: Take it from the parents who know her, Douglas “scarily unqualified” to lead Arizona schools

This was published previously in the Peoria Times and the Arizona Republic's West Valley section.

It is printed here with the permission of the authors (h/t to ProgressNow Arizona) -

To every single voter in Arizona:
 As long-time education advocates in Peoria and Cofounders of Peoria United Parent Council in 2004, we have had long-term first-hand experience with Superintendent of Public Instruction candidate Diane Douglas.

We want to make this warning crystal-clear to voters: Diane Douglas does not even remotely have the skills to do the job.

Several years ago, before she ran for the Peoria Unified School District (PUSD) Governing Board, Diane was a member of our parent group. At the time, she seemed to be willing and able to make reasoned decisions and prepared to review all sides of an issue.

However, much to our chagrin and dismay, once she was elected to the PUSD Governing Board, an astonishing Jekyll-and-Hyde transformation took place.  Her dangerous extremism, and overwhelming anti-public-education, anti-teacher agenda came rushing to the forefront. Her micromanaging of educators and overwhelming partisanship — in a non-partisan position — was so volatile and divisive that it became nearly impossible to get even the most mundane day-to-day business of the district done, let alone provide additional support to kids and teachers.

Diane is an anti-everything candidate.  She repeatedly scorns the benefits of higher education.  She opposed every effort to provide adequate funding for our district.  While she was a PUSD Governing Board member, she lead the opposition against Prop. 100, the temporary statewide one cent sales tax initiative intended to provide a modicum of additional support to education. Fortunately, Prop. 100 was overwhelmingly approved by voters and supported by our Republican Governor, Jan Brewer.

Diane’s ONLY "experience" in the classroom is second-guessing thousands of highly educated, hard-working, overwhelmingly competent professional teachers in the district on a daily basis. And, no, teaching people how to make stained glass does not count. Yes folks, this esteemed candidate for the most powerful education position in Arizona most recently worked as an instructor at the local strip mall’s stained glass shop. An honest job, but hardly the background required for providing high-level educational leadership and policy direction for the state.

Please listen to the people who know her best. Don’t put Diane Douglas, who is scarily unqualified for this important state-level position, in charge of the future of our children’s and grandchildren’s education, and hence the future economy of Arizona. By any measure – professionalism, cooperativeness, experience and so much more -- David Garcia is the far more qualified candidate to lead our schools.

The above accurately describes our eight plus year experience with Diane Douglas, however, we are no longer spokespersons for PUPC.

Jan Wilson and Kim Price Olsen, Peoria Parent and Grandparent

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Fun with campaign signs: Reinforcing choices

A little while back, I posted my choices/recommendations on the three statewide ballot questions going before Arizona voters this year (No on 122 and 303, the questions sent to the ballot by the legislature, and Yes on 304, the legislative pay raise).

At the time, I didn't have anything specific to point at to support my opposition to 303, just a general feeling of distrust of the people behind the measure, the Goldwater Institute.

Now I have some more specifics.

And am even more firmly opposed to it.

First up:  Another committee has been formed to support the measure.

If the name "Laura Knaperek" rings a bell, it should - she's a former legislator who became an industry lobbyist after her time in the lege.  Which industry?  Whichever one is paying her today.

Second up: Signs that show that the neo-secessionists that support Prop 122 are supporting Prop 303 -

On the west side of Pima Road in Scottsdale, between Via de Ventura and Indian Bend Road

Closer -

And the "Paid for by" -

Any other questions?

Monday, October 06, 2014

Charles Boles: Campaigning to prove that he is unsuited for the job he is seeking..

In most of the country "justices of the peace" are basically known for conducting weddings.

In Arizona, while they do that (for most JPs here, it is one of the more enjoyable parts of the job), they also serve as judges (small claims, low-level DUIs, evictions, many misdemeanors, orders of protection, etc.).

In that regard, a large part of the job is about paperwork - see that it is done cleanly and accurately.

And because it is an elected position, there are occasionally candidates for the job who don't seem to understand that, or at least who don't take it seriously.

Charles Boles, the Republican nominee for Justice of the Peace in the University Lakes precinct of Maricopa County (east Tempe) seems to fall into that group.

Notes: the Democratic nominee is Tyler Kissell; the district itself is almost evenly divided between Rs and Ds.

As noted in a complaint filed by Mark Thompson, a Republican former legislator and one of the candidates in the R primary won by Boles, Boles has been filing campaign finance reports that are contradictory and/or incomplete.

From the complaint -

He lists a number of issues with a number of different reports, so I chose to look at his most recent filings.

"Sloppy" doesn't even begin to describe what I found.

From Boles' most recent report ("Post Primary Report") -

As someone with a bit of an accounting background (and only a *bit* - I am not an accountant), this page is almost horrifying.  On line 5b and line 7, columns A and B should have the same number.  As you can see, they don't.  Not even close.

From his Pre-Primary report:

Boles' response to Thompson's complaint was less than illuminating (it also didn't say anything about fixing the shortcomings in his reports; in fact, most of his response was to simply criticize Thompson's previous candidacy) -

According to reports that have reached me, Maricopa County Elections has punted on the complaint, citing lack of jurisdiction (which I find hard to believe) and lack of time (considering that early ballots go into the mail later this week, I believe this one very much).

In other words, Boles probably won't get much push back on his financial reports until after the election, at the earliest.

Of course, if he wins the election, he may see far more push back than he, as a non-sitting judge, expects - *if* he wins his race, he will then fall under the jurisdiction of the Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Arizona's judicial branch is a nationally respected one; in fact, it garners more national respect than the state's legislative and executive branches.

And the Commission is a big reason for that.  It does a very effective job of keeping the few AZ judicial officers who get out of line from getting too far out of line.

And not getting the paperwork right is something that *will* get the Commission's attention.


Boles' open disregard for the detail work of being a candidate speaks volumes about how he would do the job if he wins.