Monday, November 22, 2010

The Arizona Republic: A return to the bad old days?

I know that not too long ago, I opined that the AZ Republic was less a "conservative" paper than a "corporate" one, dedicated to protecting the bottom lines of Big Business (not that there is much difference between the two, but it explains the reluctance of the Rep's editorial board to endorse the likes of nativists Russell Pearce and JD Hayworth during recent election cycles - their habit of turning private hatred into public policy has the side effect of shrinking the number of people looking for low wage/ no benefit jobs, driving up Big Business' labor costs).

However, it looks like the AZ Republic is returning to the its original purpose as the press release outlet for the Arizona Republican Party.

Last week, it ran a week long "investigation" of the troubles with Arizona's public pension systems, ultimately ending the series with a call to reform the system, perhaps by changing the public retirement systems in AZ to 401k-like systems, where an employee's retirement benefits are primarily based on how much they've taken out of their paychecks and put into an investment account.

Unfortunately for the Republic's editorial board/message discipline staff, such a change would require the voters of Arizona to approve a change to Arizona's constitution.  Something that may not be so easy to pull off since most Arizonans actually know a couple of public employees, whether as neighbors, friends, or family members. 

It's hard to gin up blind hatred of a group of people that folks actually know.

Hence the need for the Republic's week-long demonization of public employees and retirees.

Anyway, quotes in the articles from Kirk Adams, Republican speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, and Russell Pearce, Republican Shadow Governor president of the Arizona Senate strongly hint that they already have legislation in mind to put a question on the 2012 ballot to amend the state's constitution.

Now, it may just be a coincidence, a matter of random timing, but the agenda for next week's conference of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right wing organization that gives industry bigwigs and lobbyists a chance to influence state legislators, is posted already.

Early on Wednesday, the first full "working" day of the conference (though it is difficult to characterize elected officials partying on the corporate tab as actually "working") is an interesting item -
Public Pension Reform Working Group  9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.  Independence FG

...Wonder how long it will be before the Arizona Republic makes it official and puts the names of Brett Mecum and Matthew Roberts on the paper's masthead?

Mecum and Roberts are, respectively, the Executive Director and Communications Director of the Arizona Republican Party.


Thane Eichenauer said...

I read that the Arizona Constitution also requires a balanced budget. Given that it is commonly agreed that the Arizona state government does not have a balanced budget then I propose that there isn't any section that isn't bendable or ignorable due to exigencies of the moment.

testcase said...

Yes, this series was clearly coordinated with GOP leaders. I can't believe how they didn't even attempt to hide it. I think we have much more of this to look forward to in the future.