Saturday, September 06, 2014

Arizona Election 2014: Ballot questions

This year, this is going to be a simple post - there are only three state-level ballot questions*, and none were proposed through the petition process,  In contrast, in 2006, there were 18, with only six of the questions referred to the ballot by the legislature.  

* = In many jurisdictions, there will be local-level questions (school district overrides, city charter updates, etc.).  However, there are only three questions that will be every ballot in the state.

Voting decisions on two of the questions will be very easy:

- Proposition 122, referred by the lege in 2013 as SCR1016.  If passed, it would allow the AZ legislature to ignore any federal law, regulation, or rule that it doesn't like, and to bar any official in the state from supporting/enforcing said law, regulation, or rule.

This probably isn't legal anyway, but passing it would send a message to late-night comedians everywhere that they can continue to count on Arizona for a steady stream of punchline material.

In other words, HELL NO.

- Proposition 304, a proposal from the Commission on Salaries for Elective State Officers to raise the annual legislative salary from $24K to $35K.

As with most things in life, you get what you pay for.  And we pay our legislators crap.

$35K isn't great, but it's better than $24K, and it might attract a better quality of candidates for the lege.  Which is something that Arizona needs.

This one is a Yes

- The tough one is Proposition 303, referred by the lege in 2014 as HCR2005.  If passed, it would create a section in AZ law called "The Patients' Right To Try Act".  It *sounds* "warm and fuzzy" good - it would allow eligible patients to make use of "investigational" drugs and medical therapies if such is made available by a manufacturer of such.  Basically, desperate patients could take a chance on unproven treatments, if they so desire and a possible treatment is made available.

Sounds good, until you realize that the measure is being proposed by the Arizona legislature in a way that cannot be corrected or repealed by a future legislature (because of the Voter Protection Act)...and the next time that the members of the Arizona legislature support an idea that is beneficial for the average Arizonan will be the very first time for the majority of them.

Cynicism now thoroughly piqued, further examination of the measure is warranted. 

Upon which one finds a few interesting facts about the proposal - 

1.  In this context, "investigational" means "not approved by the FDA".  In essence, this would allow Big Pharma (and its relations) to use desperate patients as guinea pigs for untested medical therapies.

2.  The proposal does NOT require a manufacturer to make available untested medical therapies, only provides them legal cover if they do so.

3.  It would bar state regulators from penalizing physicians or health care facilities that administer those therapies.

4.  The legislative intent section clearly states that the act applies to all patients, not just those with terminal illnesses (the language of the act states that eligible patients must have a terminal illness).

5.  The proposal would allow a manufacturer to pass on to the patient the cost of manufacturing an untested medical therapy.  If a specific therapy hasn't reach the "economies of scale" part of its existence, that number is going to be huge.

6.  This proposal (or something similar) is popping up in legislatures all over the country -  Michigan, New Jersey,and Colorado, among others.  That kind of coordination indicates that this idea has some deep-pocketed supporters.

7.  The political committee formed to support the measure reeks of "dark money" - the largest single contributor is the corporate lobbying firm "free market think tank", the Goldwater Institute (providing $35K out of $35,504.30 in contributions reported in its most recent campaign finance report) and the largest single expenditure reported in the most recent campaign finance report is to Sherpa Public Affairs of Phoenix ($14.5K out of nearly $28K)...under the heading "Reimbursements".

Since GI's sources of money are secret and the word "reimbursements" is so all-encompassing yet vague, this committee has effectively anonymized both its contributions and expenditures.  They've made sure that no one can follow the money trail here. 

To sum up: this proposal was shepherded to the ballot in a way that circumvents the already minimal oversight provided by the normal legislative process, looks to be designed more to enhance industry profits than to enhance patient outcomes, and has deep-pocketed supporters who wish to remain in the shadows.

In the final analysis: this is a No vote.

As seems to be normal for AZ elections, the questions referred by the legislature merit a no vote, while the question referred to the ballot by something other than the lege merits a yes vote. 

Note: more on a similar drug proposal that was implemented in Colorado from a contributor to here

Monday, September 01, 2014

Race for the AZ Legislature: a general election primer

While the races for Arizona's statewide offices garner the most attention, both from the MSM and the general public, the race for the control of the state legislature is at least as important - this state has a "weak executive" form of government where most of the real power rests with the legislature.  Statewide office holders run their areas of the state government, and the governor can act as a bit of a check on the legislature by utilizing the veto, but if the majority of the lege wants it, the state government works *against* the people of Arizona, not *for* us.

The chambers of the Arizona legislature are comfortably under the control of of the Republicans (Senate: 13 Ds, 17 Rs; House: 24 Ds, 36 Rs).  Some observers believe that the Democrats will gain control, or at least 15/15 parity in the Senate this year and gain ground in the House.

I don't believe gaining control of the Senate is going to happen for the Democrats, this year anyway, but gaining ground in both chambers is possible.

Too many things would have go right for the Ds for Senate control to change this year, but with a little luck and a lot of hard work, things will improve this year.

The races for the legislature are set.  Most are over (no challenger) or unofficially over (challenger(s) present but the particular district is so slanted in terms of partisan registration or electoral history that minority party candidates aren't viable).

However, a few merit interest.

- The race for the state senate seat in LD6.

The Republican incumbent, Chester Crandell, was not being challenged by a Democratic candidate.

However, an Independent candidate, former legislator (and former Republican) Tom O'Halleran will be on the ballot in November.

The race was going to be interesting no matter what, but then Crandell passed away suddenly in August.

O'Halleran will now face Sylvia Allen.  Allen was selected by LD6's Republican PCs to replace Crandell on the ballot.  Allen is a former legislator with a long record of outlandish statements and controversy.

This race will become the most-watched legislative race in Arizona - Andy Biggs' senate presidency may depend on the outcome.

His hold on the R caucus is so tenuous that the mere loss of one vote within the caucus, even if it doesn't become a Democratic vote, could cost him the office.

As such, expected a *lot* of IE and PAC (aka - "dark") money to pour into this race supporting Allen.

- LD8 State Senate - Democrat Barbara McGuire holds the seat now and the Democrats have a slight registration advantage.  However, turnout/results is a different issue, as the district currently sends two Republicans to the state house.

This is the senate seat that most concerns the Democrats.

- LD9 State House - Republican Ethan Orr holds one of the seats in this Democratic leaning district, and his schizophrenic voting record reflects a desire to show the voters of his district that he's a "moderate" while proving to his caucus mates that he's anything but.  Democrat Randall Friese may be able to pick up this seat.

- LD28 House - Democrat Eric Meyer is one of the incumbents in this Republican-leaning district.  His seat is always vulnerable, but he has held on to it, in part, by campaigning his ass off.  This time around, the Republicans have nominated Shawnna Bolick, wife of Goldwater Institute bigwig Clint Bolick, in an attempt to wrangle the seat away from him.  She will have lots of money behind her, but it remains to be seen if her ties to GI will help or hinder her efforts.

- LD26 Senate - Currently held by Democrat Ed Ableser.  While the district is not overwhelmingly Democrat in terms of registration, in terms of results, it is.  The area hasn't elected a Republican since 2004, when (most of) it was still LD17.  So the Rs have gotten cute here.

Their candidates are running as "we're not really Republicans" Republicans.  Their sole House candidate has taken to putting up signs that have his partisan affiliation crossed out and replaced by "Arizonan".  Their Senate candidate is running as an Independent (to be fair, it may be because he believes that Arizona Republicans are too liberal).  The most noteworthy aspect of his campaign it that he has signs that are so sturdy that if they were any more permanent, they may fall under commercial sign codes, not political sign codes.

- LD18 Senate and House - Registration here says this is a "red" district, but recent results say it is "purple" (see 2012 presidential election results).  Democrats Janie Hydrick (Senate) and Mitzi Epstein (House) have an uphill battle here but a very real chance of taking not just one of the district's three legislative seats here, but *two*.

- LD23 Senate - an "open" seat, but the R candidate here, John Kavanagh, is a sitting legislator looking to move across the quad at the state capitol.  Registration numbers and electoral track record show that this is an overwhelmingly Republican district.  However, Kavanagh may be too extreme for the chamber of commerce types that dominate the Republican electorate in this fairly affluent district and the Democratic candidate, Paula Pennypacker, is a businesswoman and a former Republican who may be more palatable to them.  Not predicting an upset here, but if I was a betting man, this would be one that I would consider making a "long shot" bet on.


The Senate breakdown will be 14 Ds, 16 Rs, with Andy Biggs losing his job as Senate President.

The House breakdown will be 26 Ds, 34 Rs, with someone other than Andy Tobin in the Speaker's chair (that part of the prediction is safe, because Tobin is termed out and not running for reelection to the House).

Best case (IMO): Senate 14-15-1; House 28-32

Worst case (IMO): Senate 12-18; House 23-37

A quick and not particularly comprehensive look at the state's legislative races:

Keys to the information below:

LD(x) = Legislative district
R: = Republican candidate
D: = Democratic candidate
"R +..." or "D + ..." a number indicates the voter registration leader in that district, based on the major parties' relative registration numbers (for example, a voter registration breakdown of 40% party A, 35% Independents, and 25% party B would be shown as "A + 15%"; interestingly, in every district, voters registered as "Other", Arizona's word for Independents, come in as the first or second place group in terms of registration figures)

* = incumbent
** = current legislator who is a candidate for the other chamber

"Summary" meanings:
- over = no major party challenger
- all over but the shouting = overwhelming registration or history advantage
- likely = strong registration or history advantage for the district's majority party.  A minority party pick up here is within the realm of possibility, but highly unlikely
- leans = solid registration or history advantage, but close enough that a couple of mistakes by the majority party candidate(s) and a well-run campaign by the minority party candidate could result in an upset
- Toss up = just that; could go either way.  The coloring (light blue or light red) indicates a possible lean to the race but is not a prediction

Note: the "summary" evaluations are not scientific, and in a few instances, are based as much on "feel" as numbers.  In other words, do your own due diligence when evaluating a specific race.

LD1 R + 29%
Senate: R: Steve Pierce*

D: n/a

summary: over

House: R: Karen Fann*

Noel Campbell

D: Frank Cuccia

summary: all over but the shouting

LD2 D + 16%
Senate: R: Daniel Estrella

D: Andrea Dallessandro*

summary: all over but the shouting

House: R: John Ackerley

D: Demion Clinco*

Rosanna Gabaldon*

summary: all over but the shouting

LD3 D + 19%
Senate: R: n/a

D: Olivia Cajero-Bedford*

summary: over

House: R: n/a

D: Sally Gonzales*

Macario Saldate*

summary: over

LD4 D + 15%
Senate: R: Connie Uribe

D: Lynne Pancrazi*

summary: all over but the shouting

House: R: Richard Hopkins

D: Charlene Fernandez

Lisa Otondo*

summary: all over but the shouting

LD5 R + 19%
Senate: R: Kelli Ward*

D: n/a

summary: over

House: R: Sonny Borrelli*

Regina Cobb

D: Joe Longoria

Beth Weisser

summary: all over but the shouting

LD6 R + 11%
Senate: R: Chester Crandell*

D: n/a

summary: Interesting possibilities here.

House: R: Brenda Barton*

Bob Thorpe*

D: Lanny Morrison

summary: Likely R

LD7 D + 33%
Senate: R: n/a

D: Carlyle Begay*

summary: over

House: R: n/a

D: Jennifer Benally

Albert Hale*

summary: over

LD8 D + 5%
Senate: R: Irene Littleton

D: Barbara McGuire*

summary: Toss up

House: R: Frank Pratt*

TJ Shope*

D: Carmen Casillas

summary: Likely R, but a possible poach for the Ds

LD9 D + 4%
Senate: R: n/a

D: Steve Farley*

summary: over

House: R: Ethan Orr*

D: Victoria Steele*

Randall Friese

summary: Poachable; Orr is an R incumbent running in a D-leaning district

LD10 D + 3%
Senate: R: Mark Morrison

D: David Bradley*

summary: Leans D

House: R: Todd Clodfelter

William Wildish

D: Stephanie Mach*

Bruce Wheeler*

summary: Leans D

LD11 R + 12%
Senate: R: Steve Smith**

D: Jo Holt

summary: Leans R

House: R: Mark Finchem

Vince Leach

D: Holly Lyon

summary: Likely R

LD12 R + 27%
Senate: R: Andy Biggs*

D: Scott Glover

summary: all over but the shouting

House: R: Eddie Farnsworth*

Warren Petersen*

D: DJ Rothans

summary: all over but the shouting

LD13 R + 17%
Senate: R: Don Shooter*

D: Terri Woodmansee

summary: all over but the shouting

House: R: Darin Mitchell*

Steve Montenegro*

D: Steve Hansen

summary: all over but the shouting

LD14 R + 12%
Senate: R: Gail Griffin*

D: n/a

summary: over

House: R: David Gowan*

David Stevens*

D: James Burton

summary: all over but the shouting

LD15 R + 21%
Senate: R: Nancy Barto*

D: n/a

summary: over

House: R: Heather Carter*

John Allen*

D: n/a

summary: over

LD16 R + 16%
Senate: R: David Farnsworth*

D: Scott Prior

summary: Likely R.

House: R: Doug Coleman*

Kelly Townsend*

D: Cara Prior

summary: Likely R.

LD17 R + 12%
Senate: R: Steve Yarbrough*

D: Kristie O'Brien

summary: Leans R

House: R: JD Mesnard*

Jeff Weninger

D: Danielle Lee

summary: Likely R.

LD18 R + 8%
Senate: R: Jeff Dial**

D: Janie Hydrick

summary: Leans R, but race to watch

House: R: Jill Norgaard

Bob Robson*

D: Mitzi Epstein

summary: Leans R, but race to watch

LD19 D + 21%
Senate: R: n/a

D: Lupe Contreras

summary: over

House: R: Sophia Johnson

D: Mark Cardenas*

Diego Espinoza

summary: all over but the shouting

LD20 R + 9%
Senate: R: Kimberly Yee*

D: Patty Kennedy

summary: Likely R

House: R: Paul Boyer*

Anthony Kern

D: Amy Schwabenlender

summary: Likely R

LD21 R + 10%
Senate: R: Debbie Lesko**

D: Carolyn Vasko

summary: Likely R

House: R: Rick Gray*

Tony Rivero

D: Esther Lumm

summary: Likely R

LD22 R + 23%
Senate: R: Judy Burges*

D: Arky Muscato

summary: all over but the shouting

House: R: David Livingston*

Phil Lovas*

D: Bonnie Boyce-Wilson

Larry Woods

summary: all over but the shouting

LD23 R + 24%
Senate: R: John Kavanagh**

D: Paula Pennypacker

summary: Likely R, but a race to watch

House: R: Michelle Ugenti*

Jay Lawrence

D: n/a

summary: over

LD24 D + 15%
Senate: R: Bill Follette

D: Katie Hobbs*

summary: all over but the shouting

House: R: Lei Lani Cortez

D: Ken Clark

Lela Alston*

summary: all over but the shouting

LD25 R + 25%
Senate: R: Bob Worsley*

D: Steven Zachary

summary: all over but the shouting

House: R: Justin Olson*

Rusty Bowers

D: David Butler

Sheila Ogea

summary: all over but the shouting

LD26 D + 6%
Senate: R: n/a

D: Ed Ableser*

summary: Likely D, but the Rs are trying to get cute here.

House: R: James Roy

D: Juan Mendez*

Andrew Sherwood*

summary: all over but the shouting

LD27 D + 32%
Senate: R: n/a

D: Catherine Miranda**

summary: over

House: R: n/a

D: Reginald Bolding

Rebecca Rios

summary: over

LD28 R + 11%
Senate: R: Adam Driggs*

D: Kelli Butler

summary: Likely R

House: R: Kate Brophy McGee*

Shawnna Bolick

D: Eric Meyer*

summary: Leans R, but one to watch – Meyer is multiple term incumbent in an R-leaning district

LD29 D + 18%
Senate: R: Crystal Nuttle

D: Martin Quezada**

summary: all over but the shouting

House: R: Aaron Borders

D: Cece Velasquez

Richard Andrade

summary: all over but the shouting

LD30 D + 16%
Senate: R: Gary Cox

D: Robert Meza*

summary: all over but the shouting

House: R: Michael Gidwani

John Lyon

D: Jonathan Larkin*

Debbie McCune-Davis*

summary: all over but the shouting

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Fun with campaign signs: Spell check edition

It's unusual here in AZ, but on occasion, when a major party candidate runs in a district that favors the other major party, the candidate facing a steep partisan headwind is a Republican.

One of the favorite tactics in such a situation is to minimize their partisan affiliation.

James Roy is the Republican candidate for the Arizona House of Representatives in LD26 (Tempe, west Mesa, Salt River Pima/Maricopa Indian Community).  In terms of voter registration, it's not an overwhelmingly Democratic district; in terms of results it is.

As such, it has become difficult for the Republicans there to recruit candidates.  This year, Mr. Roy is the sole R candidate for two House seats in the district.

I don't know if he a "warm body" candidate or if he deliberately was recruited to "take one for the team" in an almost unwinnable district while learning to run a campaign.

If the second one is the reason behind his candidacy, well, he has a lot to learn.

One basic lesson: read proofs before giving approval to the printer.

"Rebuplican"?  Really?

On the sign, Roy talks about getting "the job done".

The meaning of that phrase is rather vague, but one thing is clear, the "job" doesn't include checking spelling.

On the plus side, at least he spelled "Arizonan" correctly.

Wouldn't want to run for office as an "Arinozan"...

Thursday, August 28, 2014

No matter how the November election turns out, there will be some MAJOR changes in AZ's political landscape...

As a result of Tuesday's primary election, there will be a slew of new faces in many of Arizona's highest profile elected offices.

Statewide offices, where every holder of an office that's in a "line of succession" office (in line for the governor's office) will be new to the office:

Office Current holder Reason for vacancy Contenders (D/R)
Governor Brewer Term limits Duval/Ducey
SOS Bennett Term limits Goddard/Reagan
AG Horne Primary loss Rotellini/Brnovich
Superintendent Huppenthal Primary loss Garcia/Douglas
Treasurer Ducey Running for governor DeWit ®

Also new at the Capitol in January:  The AZ House of Representatives will have a new speaker as the current Speaker of the House, Rep. Andy Tobin, is term-limited and running for Congress (his primary there is still considered too close to call, though he is ahead by 346 votes).


Arizona's CD7, long held by the soon-to-be retired Ed Pastor, will have a new face.  Ruben Gallego emerged from the Democratic primary.  He faces an Independent candidate and a Libertarian in the general election.

Maricopa County Board of Supervisors District 5, long held by Mary Rose Wilcox, who resigned to run for CD7, will have a new member - Steve Gallardo, a state senator won the D primary in the race to serve out Wilcox' term on the BOS.  Note: for a low profile (but *very* powerful) board that almost no one pays attention to, the MCBOS has undergone a huge upheaval: Of the five people elected to it in 2008 - Don Stapley, Fulton Brock, Max Wilson, Mary Rose Wilcox, and Andy Kunasek - four are gone.  The reasons are varied, but the bottom line is that all but Kunasek are done.

Tempe's city council has three seats up for election, with two of the incumbents, Robin Arredondo-Savage and Shana Ellis, running to retain their seats.  However, only one of them will return as on Tuesday, newcomers (to the city council, not politics or community activism) Lauren Kuby and David Schapira won seats outright.  Arredondo-Savage and Ellis will face off in November for the third seat.

Mesa, AZ's third-largest city, will have a new mayor as the person who was last elected to the job, Scott Smith, resigned to run for governor.  On Tuesday, John Giles rolled to an easy victory by a nearly 3-to-1 margin.

- And none of this even begins to cover the legislature, where there are new faces every cycle.

Come January, one really will need a scorecard to keep track of the new players...

Monday, August 25, 2014

For at least one race, tomorrow is the equivalent of the general election

I saw this on Jeff DeWit's twitter feed on Saturday and I was going to absolutely *pounce* on this for the unbridled arrogance of a Republican saying that a race is over in the primary.

And then I realized that it may be arrogant...but it is true in his race.

From the candidate listing on the AZSOS' website -

With all due respect to Mr. Davis and his write-in candidacy, this one *is* over after the primary.

None of the three R candidates, DeWit, Hallman, or Pullen seem to be the type to be good, or even potentially good, public servants, so we are left with hoping R primary voters choose the least bad candidate.

Given Arizona's recent history, we know how unlikely that is.

Fun with campaign signs: Recycling edition

...And not the "green" kind of recycling, either...

One of the habits of campaigns is to not throw out *anything* that could be used in a subsequent campaign - office supplies, signs, t-shirts, whatever.

Generally speaking, frugality can be a good thing.  However, it can be taken too far sometimes.

Example - Rep. Jeff Dial (R - LD18):

Looks pretty standard - candidate name and office, and as a bonus, it even has a "Voted for Obamacare" attack sign posted next to it (it's an R primary thing - they hate the president so much that they are campaigning by linking their opponents to Barack Obama in any way that they can; it's fun to see in a two-way race when both sides engage in race-baiting mud-slinging).

It took me a second to realize that there was something "different" about this sign, and another couple of seconds to figure out what it was.

See the bottom, where it says "Republican for State Representative"?

From the AZSOS' candidate listing page -

 In other words, the sign is all about putting his name out there - his name is a huge part of the sign, while the office is in (relatively) tiny print.  People driving by will notice the name, but not the office.

Annoying bloggers with cameras, on the other hand... :)

Another dead giveaway that the sign is from an earlier campaign is the weathering.  The front side (the side facing the street) above isn't too bad; many signs, even new ones, are showing indications of exposure to the elements in AZ).

The back side, however, shows the sign's age very clearly -

Just a guess here, but it seems that Dial stored the signs from his previous campaigns outside...and this one was directly exposed to the weather.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Fun with campaign signs: a bit of a mystery edition

At this point in an election cycle, it's not unusual for campaigns to have lost some of their signs. 

Sometimes they lose them to "dirty tricks" by other campaigns; sometimes they lose signs because they were placed on private property and the property owner took them down; sometimes they lose them to random (or not-so-random) passers-by who decide that they don't like a particular candidate or campaign signs in general and take unilateral action to express that dislike.

In the cases of dirty tricks or random passers-by, there is usually evidence left behind in the form of vacant sign posts and damaged signs on the ground.

In the cases of property owners, frequently (but not always) *everything* - signs, posts, etc. - is gone.

Which make what I spotted at the NW corner of McDowell and Hayden all the more curious.

The signs were down, but appeared to be undamaged other than normal wear and tear.

However, the posts that held up the signs were completely *gone* (note the holes in the ground with nothing in them) -

There were a few signs present on the corner -

Not sure if those were repaired/replaced or just weren't touched in the first place.

Normally, when signs go missing for  reasons other than a property owner taking them down, it looks like the NE corner of Granite Reef and McDowell (approximately 1/2 mile east of the signs above) -

I might have chalked this one to the property owner (there's a 7-11 on this corner), but there are other signs on the corner -

The downed signs may have fallen due to deliberate acts, or may have been downed by the weather that the Phoenix area experienced this week.

However, either way, they were still *there*.

If anyone knows, or has a good guess at, what happened with the signs at the beginning of this post (signs OK, sign posts gone), please leave a comment or send me an email at  I'm genuinely curious...

Monday, August 18, 2014

Dear Ofiicials Making The Situation In Ferguson, Missouri Worse: There's a difference between "authority" and "credibility".

The authorities in and around Ferguson, MO need a language lesson.  Here's a brief one:

Watching the activities in Ferguson, MO, starting with the killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teenager, by Darren Wilson, a white police officer, and through the aggressive, almost war-like, response by the local police to protestors and journalists covering the events, I was struck by how the "powers that be" there (governor, county attorney, police chiefs, etc.) seem to lack a basic understanding of some significant language concepts.

Out of courtesy to them, keeping this basic -

A noun is a thing that can be possessed.  It doesn't have to be tangible to be real.  For instance, words that represent character attributes are nouns, even if the attribute cannot be physically touched, i.e. - "intelligence".

In a sentence: "His intelligence is impressive."

In Ferguson, there seems to be a bit of confusion between two words.

First up - "authority":

From Merriam-Webster Online -


noun \ə-ˈthär-ə-tē, -, -ˈthr-\
: the power to give orders or make decisions : the power or right to direct or control someone or something
: the confident quality of someone who knows a lot about something or who is respected or obeyed by other people
: a quality that makes something seem true or real

Next up - "credibility":

Also from Merriam-Webster -


noun \ˌkre-də-ˈbi-lə-tē\
: the quality of being believed or accepted as true, real, or honest

In case it isn't clear enough, let me sum up the difference -

Authority, the power to make decisions and issue decrees, is granted; credibility, or believability,  is earned.

And from Governor Jay Nixon through the police chiefs and senior officers and all the way down to the lowest-ranked club-wielding patrolmen, they haven't earned squat.

Instead of protecting and serving the people of Ferguson, they have been acting in a manner to harass and assault those people.

If anything, their callous disregard of the rights of the people of Ferguson protesting the summary execution of Michael Brown (and the rights of journalists covering the protests) has only served to diminish their already scant credibility.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Former state legislator Sylvia Allen angling for a return to the lege

...And here I was, thinking that Arizona's Republicans were implacably opposed to recycling... :)

From the Arizona Daily Sun, written by Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa -
Navajo County Supervisor Sylvia Allen might find herself back in the Arizona Senate before the end of the year.

And if she does, it would be under eerily similar circumstances to her first stint in the Legislature.

According to the Arizona Capitol Times, Allen announced she wanted to be the designated Republican nominee for Sen. Chester Crandell’s seat in the Nov. 4 general election.


Allen has plenty of experience working with the Arizona Senate. According to the Arizona Republic, she was appointed to the Senate in June 2008 to fill the remainder of Sen. Jake Flake’s term.

Flake died from a heart attack after falling off his horse. Flake was also running for re-election unopposed.

Allen then ran for the District 5 Senate seat in 2008 and won. She served in the Senate until 2012, when she ran for and was elected to the Navajo County Board of Supervisors.

Crandell died on August 4 as a result of a fall from a horse.

As a sitting elected official who has more than one year remaining in her term of office, Arizona's much-ignored resign to run law would apply here, assuming that she becomes to GOP nominee for the seat.

Note: I am pretty sure that the law would not apply until (and if) she becomes an official candidate for the legislature.

Note2: As of this writing, no campaign finance filings for her (desired) candidacy are on the AZSOS' web site.

General info:

From a letter to elections officials in Coconino, Gila, Navajo, and Yavapai counties (parts of each fall within Legislative District 6) from the AZSOS regarding the filling of Crandell's seat and his spot on the ballot:

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ferguson, Missouri: How many will die before we intercede in the humanitarian crisis in our own country?

I'll keep this one short and sweet:

ISIS/ISIL is not as big a danger to Americans as are the police in Ferguson, Missouri.

As such, the following brief note was submitted via the White House's website:

Dear President Obama,

Please withdraw some troops from Afghanistan and/or Iraq, move them to Ferguson, Missouri, and deploy them to protect the people of Ferguson from their own police force.


A citizen who is horrified that this is happening in 21st century America.


WaPo reporter arrested

The hostile occupation of Ferguson

Ferguson police refuse to release name of killer of Michael Brown

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams dead. Damn.

Picture courtesy Billboard

From the Los Angeles Times, written by Lauren Raab, Ryan Parker, and Nicky Loomis -
Robin Williams, a comic and sitcom star in the 1970s who became an Oscar-winning dramatic actor, died Monday at 63 in Marin County. The Marin County Sheriff's Office said he appears to have committed suicide.

The news of the beloved actor’s death rocked the nation. Channels broke into their usual programming to make the announcement, and within minutes, he dominated online trending topics. Even President Obama noted his passing.

Williams, hailed as a comic genius, was a star of movies and television for more than three decades. But he also suffered from substance abuse problems.

The actor "has been battling severe depression of late," his publicist Mara Buxbaum said. "This is a tragic and sudden loss. The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time."

There aren't many celebrities whose passing affects me.  Those that have done so in the past (Molly Ivins, George Carlin) were people who made me laugh.

Robin Williams did that in spades.

During the late 1970s, there were two "cool" TV shows - Saturday Night Live, because it was *SNL*, and the sitcom Mork and Mindy.

The "situation" in that sitcom (an alien visiting Earth and living in Denver with Pam Dawber) wasn't anything special, but the "comedy" part in that sitcom was made truly special by Williams (playing Mork from Ork).

In many regards, his comedy there was a toned-down version of his standup act ("toned-down" meaning that it was marginally less manic and with the language cleaned up for prime time audiences, but just as improv-ed).

After, and even during, his sitcom days, he transitioned to movies, the first being a big-screen adaptation of the cartoon "Popeye".

It was a humble beginning to his film career, to say the least - calling the film "overly campy" would be overly generous.

However, it serves as a good baseline - many of his future films were huge successes artistically or financially or both (Good Will Hunting, Good Morning, Vietnam), many less so (Man of the Year, Bicentennial Man), but in all of them, one could see his growth as an actor.

My personal favorite was Cadillac Man: the humor was both manic (rapid fire) and intelligent (you had to take a moment to think about, and appreciate, some of the material) which, combined with the dramatic material, allowed Williams to showcase the breadth of his skill and talent in one forum.

Not the best movie ever;  not even Williams' best.  However, it showed that even when the material wasn't great, he could deliver a great performance.

He was also socially and politically active.  His charity work was legendary, and not always high profile.

And don't tell certain conservatives (their heads may explode), but the liberal Williams did more work to support active members of the military than all of Fox News' "contributors" put together.

The outpouring of memories of Williams, from the President and other well-known people to the average person on the street, has been overwhelming and heartfelt.

Every generation, there are just a few people who can reach out an touch the hearts of millions of others;  Robin Williams was one of those very few.

To close, some of Williams' stand-up, from 2000 -

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Will tea party types/Republicans succeed in turning the governing board of Maricopa County's community colleges into a bigger version of the governing board of Gilbert's public school district?

Yesterday, I wrote a bit about some of the school board races here in Maricopa County; today, the subject is one of the other low-profile races here.

It isn't news (to observers in AZ, anyway) that the governing board of the Gilbert Public Schools District has been taken over by tea party types and what was once one of the few crown jewels of public education in Arizona has been devastated.

With the damage done there, the tea party types have set their sights on a bigger target -

The governing board of the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD):

- At-large seat, five candidates for two seats (pending litigation; the board's membership was expanded by the Republicans in the legislature who were looking to make this board more "Republican".  The move was so brazen that a lawsuit seeking to overturn the law that created the new seats is winding its way through the court system)


- Augustine Bartning, Republican, ran for LD24 state senate in 2012 (lost).  Interesting note: 1000 signatures are required on nominating petitions for this office.   He turned in 1074.  If his petitions are challenged, that probably isn't enough of a buffer to survive a challenge.

Note: he may not be part of the takeover attempt; in LD24 in 2012, he seemed to be an almost reasonable human being.

Note2: he also may have been toning it down for the audience in a moderate, D-leaning district.

- Mario E. Diaz, Democrat, a well-respected (and well-connected) political consultant

- John Heep, Republican, also running for the Sun City West fire district board

- Tracy Livingston, Republican, wife of hardcore winger state legislator David Livingston

- Eddie Tiggs, don't know much about him

Assuming that the board's expansion survives the court challenge, the candidate receiving the most votes will serve a four-year term while the candidate receiving the second-most votes will serve a two-year term.  Future elections will be for four-year terms.

District 3, three candidates for one seat:

- Johanna Haver, whole-hearted RWNJ (pretty much an "English first, last, and only" type; that characterization may be oversimplified a bit, but only a bit)

- Reyes Medrano, Sr., don't know much about him.

- Fred Zook, don't know much about him.

District 4, two candidates for one seat:

- Randolph Lumm, incumbent, and a good one

- Jean McGrath, former legislator and current perennial candidate.  Highlight of her legislative stint: she ran a bill that would have barred overnight visits by the opposite sex in the dorms of Arizona's public universities

District 5 (two-year term; the others are four years), two candidates for one seat:

- Rick Eastman, don't know much about him

- Alfredo Gutierrez, noted author and incumbent.  Appointed to fill a vacancy.

Normally, I refrain from engaging to too much commentary in posts like this one (this started out as a strictly informative post), but it sure looks like that there is a low-profile but concerted effort to turn the MCCCD governing board into a countywide version of the governing board of the Gilbert school district.

And with the likes of Livingston, Heep (maybe), Bartning (maybe), McGrath, and Haver, they aren't being subtle about it.

General information on the MCCCD board here.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Maricopa County school board races are set, and some familiar names are running

The races for the governing boards of the various school districts in Maricopa County are set*.

* = Pending challenges, write in candidacies, and election cancellations due to an insufficient number of candidates.

There are 182 candidates running for 146 seats, meaning that there are some uncontested, and soon to be cancelled, races.

As the races are putatively non-partisan, there is no primary.  What races there are will be decided in November's general election.

Historically, school board seats are low profile, attracting mostly candidates that are interested in local schools.

However, there are a few folks who also know that winning and keeping a school board seat gives them the kind of grass roots/neighborhood exposure that stands them in good stead when seeking higher office. (Note: Many of the folks who hold, or hold aspirations to, higher office also choose school board work because they truly care about their local communities; there's nothing wrong with taking advantage of some of the practical political benefits of the job while trying to do some good works.)

Folks such as -

- Lydia Hernandez, state legislator, one of three candidates running for two seats up for election on the Cartwright Elementary District board

- Ron Bellus, well-connected R (former press secretary for Evan Mecham, former GM of Arizona Capitol Television [the AZ lege's version of C-SPAN], and current director of broadcast services for the AZ Corporation Commission), one of five candidates for two seats on the massively troubled Gilbert Unified governing board

- Patty Kennedy, candidate for LD20 state senate, one of three candidates running for two seats up for election on the Glendale Unified HS board

- Martin Quezada, state legislator, one of three candidates for three seats on the Pendergast Elementary District board

- Laura Pastor, Phoenix City Council member, one of six candidates for five seats on the Phoenix Union HS board (note: that board is divided into "wards", and she is the only candidate for her ward's seat)

- Judah Nativio, former candidate for the legislature, one of three candidates for three seats on the Queen Creek Unified board

- Brandon Schmoll, current constable in the Kyrene Justice Precinct, one of five candidates for two seats on the Tempe Union HS board


- Hernandez, Kennedy, Quezada, Pastor, and Nativio are incumbents.

- Hernandez and Quezada may be running for different school boards, but they are both also running for the same legislative office: LD29 state senate

- Districts with fewer candidates than seats up for election - 

Aguila Elementary - 1 candidate, 3 openings
Avondale Elementary - 1 candidate, 3 openings
Buckeye Union HS - 1 candidate, 2 openings
Laveen Elementary - 2 candidates, 3 openings
Littleton Elementary - 2 candidates, 3 openings
Madison Elementary - 2 candidates, 3 openings
Morristown Elementary - 1 candidate, 2 openings
Paloma Elementary - 0 candidates, 3 openings
Saddle Mountain Unified - 2 candidates, 3 openings
Sentinel Elementary - 0 candidates, 2 openings
Union Elementary - 1 candidate, 3 openings
West-MEC (districts) - 4 candidates, 6 openings

In the cases where no candidate declares for a seat (and write ins are still possible, so the above list is NOT final), the Maricopa County Superintendent of Schools, Don Covey, can appoint someone to fill the seat.

- The full list of seats up for election, as well as the full list of candidates, can be found on this page.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Fun with campaign signs - placement edition

I've helped place enough campaign signs to know that there are a few unwritten rules; not legal requirements, not "official" in any way, and certainly not absolute, but usually followed by most campaigns -

1.  Don't mess with the signs of other campaigns (every cycle, this one gets ignored by a few people, yet, in a funny way, those few exceptions illustrate how the vast majority of campaigns follow this one.  There is a bit of disincentive here in the sign tampering law, but violations earn just a wrist slap; more effective are the principles of "do unto others..." and "what goes around, comes around").

2.  Don't block the signs of other campaigns (this one gets tougher as the cycle grinds on, but mostly because so many signs go up that it becomes almost impossible to find a spot with clean sight lines; physics, not malice, at work).

3.  Don't block non-political and permanent signs (the reason for this post).

I live in Scottsdale, a place that is so "special" that every couple of years, there is a movement to ban "unsightly" political signs as being detrimental to the image of Scottsdale.

Some call the idea "good", some call it "incumbent protection".

Most people with more than three active brain cells call it "unconstitutional" on free speech grounds.

Political signs have been restricted for safety reasons (none in medians, no blocking of sight lines at corners, etc.), but that's it.

Still, you'd think that candidates running to represent all or part of Scottsdale would at least be aware of the tender sensibilities.

You'd think that, but you'd be wrong.

At the NW corner of Pima and Chaparral roads in Scottsdale -

OK, this doesn't look too bad, right?  There's a least four feet of clearance between the "Auerbach for City Council" sign and the "Welcome To Scottsdale" sign.

From a perspective of someone who can get close and analyze the signs (like a pedestrian), not bad at all.

However, signs aren't placed at busy intersections to catch the eye of pedestrians (and in most of Scottsdale, that would be a waste of time and effort anyway); they're put there to be seen by people passing by in cars.

So, the same corner, from across the intersection, viewed more as a driver than a pedestrian -


"Welcome To"..."Auerbach"?

The situation regarding the "Welcome To Scottsdale" signs is even worse at other intersections.  For example:  NW corner of Pima and Indian Bend -

There's a reason that the anti-sign movement in Scottsdale never goes away.  This ---- is one of the reasons for that.

Note to readers:  Some sharp-eyed folks may notice the absence of signs of Democratic candidates in the pictures above.  That's not deliberate on my part; there just aren't any at these intersections.  Also, it's Scottsdale - other than the statewide candidates and the LD24 candidates (which stretches into Scottsdale south of Oak), there's only one D on the ballot, Paula Pennypacker for State Senate.

Even the most "moderate" candidates in the (allegedly) non-partisan city council race are pro-developer/chamber of commerce Republicans who are or have been members of the AZGOP's state committee.

Note2:  The unwritten rules only apply to not *messing* with other candidates' signs; there's no requirement to *help* other candidates (especially opposition candidates) either -

I didn't take down the Tom Horne sign and don't know anything about who did, but sure as hell didn't do anything to put it back up either.