26dems Homepage
Tech Advisory: This web page is best viewed in Firefox, Safari, or Internet Explorer version 7 and newer. You may have to upgrade Adobe Flashplayer if you experience problems. Report any problem to the webmaster.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Amy Goodman on ‘Standing Up to the Madness’

Amy Goodman host of Democracy Now will speak in Tucson April 26 on her Standing up to the Madness: Extraordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times book tour. She has an positive inspirational message of encouragement to the American people that makes us want to stand up for what we believe in to empower President Obama. She tells us to organize and make demands quoting Frederick Douglas who said that "Power concedes nothing without a demand."

Listen to Truthdig Podcast March 31, 2009
The “Democracy Now!” host talks about her book, the state of activism and why “the media are the most powerful corporations on Earth—more powerful than any bomb, more powerful than any missile.”
image from roamagency.com

WHEN: 6:00 pm
WHERE: Tucson Convention Center Turquoise Ballroom, 260 S. Church Avenue
DESCRIPTION: Benefit for KXCI/Access Tucson
TICKETS: $10.00 Available at the following locations, online, and at the door (space permitting)

KXCI, 220 S. 4th Avenue 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. weekdays.
Tickets by phone: 520-623-1000, ext. 13
Online Tickets: www.kxci.org
Access Tucson, 124 E. Broadway Blvd., Noon - 10:00 p.m. (closed Sunday and Tuesday).
Tickets by phone: 520-624-9833
Antigone Books, 411 N. 4th Avenue, call 520-792-3715 for hours and information.
Any unsold tickets will be available at the door at 5:00 p.m. day of event.

Hersh: Cheney ‘Left A Stay Behind’ In Obama’s Government, Can ‘Still Control Policy Up To A Point’

In an interview on NPR’s Fresh Air March 30, host Terry Gross asked investigative journalist Seymour Hersh if, as he continues to investigate the Bush administration, “more people” were “coming forward” to talk to him now that “the president and vice president are no longer in power.” Hersh replied that though “a lot of people that had told me in the last year of Bush, ‘call me next, next February,’ not many people had talked to him. He implied that they were still scared of Cheney.

“Are you saying that you think Vice President Cheney is still having a chilling effect on people who might otherwise be coming forward,” asked Gross. “I’ll make it worse,” answered Hersh, adding that he believes Cheney “put people back” in government to “stay behind” in order to “tell him what’s going on” and perhaps even “do sabotage”:

HERSH: I’ll make it worse. I think he’s put people left. He’s put people back. They call it a stay behind. It’s sort of an intelligence term of art. When you leave a country and, you know, you’ve driven out the, you know, you’ve lost the war. You leave people behind. It’s a stay behind that you can continue to contacts with, to do sabotage, whatever you want to do. Cheney’s left a stay behind. He’s got people in a lot of agencies that still tell him what’s going on. Particularly in defense, obviously. Also in the NSA, there’s still people that talk to him. He still knows what’s going on. Can he still control policy up to a point? Probably up to a point, a minor point. But he’s still there. He’s still a presence. Listen to podcast:

The idea that Cheney would seed the government with trusted contacts is not surprising. As Hersh noted in his talk with Gross, Cheney has “been around forever” and “understands bureaucracy much better” than almost anyone in government. In 2006, Robert Dreyfuss reported for The American Prospect that when Cheney helped staff the Bush administration in 2001, he put together a “corps of hard-line acolytes” that served “as his eyes and ears” in the federal bureaucracy. Former officials called them “Dick Cheney’s spies.”

Additionally, before leaving office, the Bush administration aggressively placed political appointees into permanent civil service positions as part of a process known as “burrowing.” Some of the burrowed former political appointees have close ties to Cheney, such as Jeffrey T. Salmon, who was a speechwriter for Cheney when he served as defense secretary. In July, he was named deputy director for resource management in the Energy Department’s Office of Science

GROSS: You investigated the Bush administration throughout the Bush administration. Always looking for ways that they may, might have been going beyond executive authority in taking on new powers. And now that the Bush administration is over, you’re still investigating what they did and where they might have violated the law. Is investigating that any different for you as a journalist post-Bush administration than it was during the Bush administration? Are more people coming forward now, now that the president and vice president are no longer in power?
HERSH: You know, that’s a great question because I did think, I had a lot of people that had told me in the last year of Bush, “call me next, next February.” And, so far, even people who are out are still cherry because, you know, not so much Bush, but Cheney really is…he’s really smart. In the article this week, in the New Yorker, that’s coming out this week, I mention that at one point last fall, Mr. Miliband, the young foreign secretary of Britain, unilaterally, without telling the White House made a trip to Syria to see the president, Assad, and his intelligence chief, his MI6 chief went before him. And Bush-Cheney didn’t know about it until actually was, they were actually there. And Cheney at a meeting — and I do have, I can tell you I do have access and have had and I’ve been careful of how I use it, to a lot of stuff from meetings in the White House — and at a meeting he railed on about perfidious Albion, you know, the old Shakespeare term for England and that was used during the Revolutionary war as a pejorative term for England. Perfidious Albion he said. He is, Cheney is really underestimated. It’s easy to make a caricature of him. He’s very very bright. And he’s also in person, a much more open-minded in the sense, I’m talking about not politically. You could go and the most despaired people in the world go and have social evenings with him and his wife and talking about current, as long as you don’t get into politics, movies and stuff like that. It’s, he’s easy to make a caricature, but he’s much more formidable than people think. Got a rap clap memory. Understands bureaucracy much better, he’s been around forever, has had every job.

GROSS: Are you saying that you think Vice President Cheney is still having a chilling effect on people who might otherwise be coming forward and revealing things to you about what happened in the Bush administration?

HERSH: I’ll make it worse. I think he’s put people left. He’s put people back. They call it a stay behind. It’s sort of an intelligence term of art. When you leave a country and, you know, you’ve driven out the, you know, you’ve lost the war. You leave people behind. It’s a stay behind that you can continue to contacts with, to do sabotage, whatever you want to do. Cheney’s left a stay behind. He’s got people in a lot of agencies that still tell him what’s going on. Particularly in defense, obviously. Also in the NSA, there’s still people that talk to him. He still knows what’s going on. Can he still control policy up to a point? Probably up to a point, a minor point. But he’s still there. He’s still a presence. And again, because of the problems this administration’s having filling jobs, a lot of people who served in the Bush Cheney government, particularly even in the White House people on most sophisticated staffs are still there. You simply can’t get rid of everybody, you may not even want to. Some are professional people. But Cheney is, I would never call it admiration, but, you know, formidable, yeah, this guy. This guy is the real McCoy.

Stop GOP Attempt to Block Obama's Most Progressive Nominee

CREDO Alert:

There is no doubt about it. Focus on the Family is out to get pro-choice and pro-Constitution Office of Legal Counsel nominee Dawn Johnsen.

Dawn Johnsen is a former legal director of NARAL Pro-Choice America. She has been a fierce and outspoken critic of John Yoo and the Bush administration's unconstitutional policies. As one of President Obama's most progressive nominees, she could soon take over John Yoo's former base of power: the Office of Legal Counsel. But not if the rightwing Focus on the Family is successful in blocking her confirmation.

Although many Americans have never heard of it, the Office of Legal Counsel is a powerful part of the executive branch. The OLC was the source of the infamous torture memos and other legal justifications for unconstitutional activities of the Bush administration.

Not surprisingly, the radical right has targeted her and is pulling out all the stops to get Republicans and centrist Democrats to support a filibuster of her nomination.

We can't let the right wing successfully blackball pro-choice, pro-Constitution advocates.

Tell your senators: Stop the Focus on the Family filibuster, and vote to confirm Dawn Johnsen

Sign Petition

Monday, March 30, 2009

Why are Health Insurance Companies Afraid of Competition?

Donald Cohen
Executive Director, Center on Policy Initiatives
Huffington Post
Posted March 26,2009

Are insurance companies really saying "Competition works, but not when it works against us?"
The Health Insurance industry is already gearing up, once again, to fight Obama's health care plans. This time it's not Harry and Louise, but rather cries of unfair competition with a successful model of government organized health insurance.

Insurance companies, along with other vested health care interests, have successfully thwarted every serious attempt at universal health insurance since the New Deal and are taking no chances to keep a solid streak. The standard line of attack is to raise the specter of government-run health care, long lines and losing our choice of doctor. They back it up with endless repetition of ideological arguments that free, unregulated markets are the only way to meet America's needs.

Now, the insurers are crying foul about President Obama's plan to create a public Medicare-like insurance product that Americans could choose to purchase. In a letter to Obama, five senior senators including Mitch McConnell and Charles Grassley said that "forcing free market plans to compete with government-run plans would create an unlevel playing field and inevitably doom true competition." The term "free market plan" is a clever choice of words intended to obscure that these are actually just normal private, for-profit insurance plans.

What makes this ideological about-face so remarkable is that insurers and industry funded think tanks have been arguing for years that competition is the best mechanism to keep costs down and quality high. The message is clear - competition works, but not when it works against us! Read the entire article at Huffington Post.

The Real News: Betrayal in Iraq

Watch this video from Real News, an exclusively donor-supported television network broadcasting on the Internet. View changing clips from the no spin zone at the bottom of this page.

Leila Fadel, Baghdad Bureau Chief of McClatchy Newspapers speaks to Paul Jay about the recent escalation in violence in Iraq's capital. She says the former fighters termed the "Sons of Iraq" who have turned on Al Qaeda and joined the U.S. are now being persecuted by the Iraq government. She says the Maliki government is afraid of the power they've accumulated in the neighborhoods they were put to protect by the U.S. and many are now in exile or in hiding.

Hold The GOP Accountable: They Broke it. Now They Must Own Up

Here are some letters published in the Tucson Citizen. Now is the time for all of us to express our rage and be heard! Onward! Write your own letter to the editor now.


March 27, 2009, 4:13 p.m.
Tucson Citizen

Republican leaders' inflated claims fall flat

Republican leaders in Congress are bemoaning their projection that President Obama will double the national debt in 10 years and "bankrupt" the country.

Many of these Republican leaders, including Arizona's own Jon Kyl and John McCain, were in Congress when:

• Ronald Reagan nearly tripled the national debt from all previous presidents combined from $937 billion to almost $3 trillion. Dick Cheney later said, "Ronald Reagan proved that deficits don't matter."

• Bill Clinton's National Deficit Reduction Act of 1993 (which did not receive a single Republican vote) reduced the federal deficit and produced the first surplus budgets since LBJ's last budget in 1969.

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan testified to Congress in February 2001 in favor of reducing federal revenues so the national debt would not be paid off too quickly.

• George W. Bush doubled the national debt from slightly more than $5 trillion to almost $11 trillion, aided and abetted by these very same Republican leaders.

Three-fourths of our national debt today was accumulated under three Republican presidents: Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

The Republican leaders who drove this country into the ditch now complain to the tow-truck driver who has come to the rescue that it is going to cost a lot of money to get the country out of the ditch and back onto the road to prosperity.

These Republican leaders should be sent into exile never to be heard from again.

Roger A. White

Give AIG executives the boot - boot camp

The AIG, Merrill Lynch and other players whose greed, irresponsibility and arrogance brought down the economy probably did not break the law.

The last 12 years of deregulation - thank you Phil Gramm - and laissez-faire attitude of the regulatory agencies probably make their behavior legal. But these people clearly lack moral integrity and social values.

We send teenagers who get into mild trouble or who display patterns of antisocial behavior to Boot Camp to learn some discipline and the value of cooperation, so they mature and develop nondestructive behavior patterns. I suggest we do the same for this crop of Wall Street delinquents.

Let's send the people who were the top salary and bonus earners in these failed companies to reality boot camp.

Wouldn't it be appropriate for John Thain, formerly of Merrill Lynch (rumored to be McCain's choice for Treasury secretary), who handed out billions in bonuses and redid his office bathroom with a $1,000 trash can and $3,000 toilet, to strike out into the woods to do his business with a hand shovel and three pieces of useless paper that were once valuable stocks ?

How about making AIG execs who are used to drinking $300 bottles of wine with their $500 meals find their own drinking water in a stream a mile away, and forage for their dinners?

After six months of survival training, we'll test their readiness for the real world by giving them jobs as custodians in schools filled with low-income students, pay them 50 cents below minimum wage, with no end-of-year bonuses. That should test their new-found moral fortitude.

Joan Safier

retired teacher

Health insurers pull a fast one in proposed reform

The industry says it will treat all people fairly in return for a government requirement that everyone has to buy their product. But they want to charge different prices for different levels of coverage

David Lazarus
LA Times
March 29, 2009

It might have looked as if real progress toward healthcare reform was made last week when leading insurers proposed ending their long-standing practice of charging higher rates to sick people and denying coverage to those with chronic conditions.

But not so fast.

A closer look at the insurance industry's plan reveals a potentially huge loophole that could short-circuit genuine reform.

The insurers are saying that they'll treat all people fairly in return for a government requirement that everyone buy their product.

Yet if you read the fine print in their plan, it turns out that they're reserving the right to charge different prices for different levels of coverage -- a practice that would effectively keep us where we are, with sick (or potentially sick) people paying more for insurance. Click on loophole for the rest of the story.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

How insurers secretly blacklist millions with common ailments

By John Dorschner | Miami Herald
Trying to buy health insurance on your own and have gallstones? You'll automatically be denied coverage. Rheumatoid arthritis? Automatic denial. Severe acne? Probably denied. Do you take metformin, a popular drug for diabetes? Denied. Use the anti-clotting drug Plavix or Seroquel, prescribed for anti-psychotic or sleep problems? Forget about it.

Trying to buy health insurance on your own and have gallstones? You'll automatically be denied coverage. Rheumatoid arthritis? Automatic denial. Severe acne? Probably denied.

What's more, you can discover that if you lie to an insurer about your medical history and drug use, you will be rejected because data-mining companies sell information to insurers about your health, including detailed usage of prescription drugs.

These issues are moving to the forefront as the Obama administration and Congress gear up for discussions about how to reform the healthcare system so that Americans won't be rejected for insurance.

It's especially timely because growing numbers are looking for individual health insurance after losing their jobs. On top of that, small businesses, which make up the bulk of South Florida's economy, are frequently finding health policies too expensive and are dropping coverage, sending even more people shopping for insurance.

The problem is, material available on the Web shows that people who have specific illnesses or use certain drugs can't buy coverage.

''This is absolutely the standard way of doing business,'' said Santiago Leon, a health insurance broker in Miami. Being denied for preexisting conditions is well known, but when a person sees the usually confidential list of automatic denials for himself, "that's a eureka moment. That shows you how harsh the system is.''

Read the complete story at the MiamiHerald.com

CARE Concerned Arizona Residents for Education Weekly Update

The leadership in the Arizona Legislature has released its Budget Proposal for fiscal year (FY) 2009-2010. Full details will be released next week. The new budget proposal includes over $330 million in K-12 budget cuts and $200 million in cuts to Arizona's universities. These cuts will be in addition to the $133 million to cut to K-12 and the $160 million cut to universities in the budget for FY 2008-2009.

There are other options to these deep cuts to Arizona’s public education system. Arizona is due to receive $830 million for public education through the federal stimulus package. The money must be used during the next two budget years for classroom funding or building maintenance. These education dollars are available only if Arizona’s spending on public education does not fall below 2006 spending levels. There is also an additional $185 million that Governor Brewer will have the discretion to spend over the next two years.

Governor Jan Brewer has written a letter requesting the stimulus money, see Governor Brewer's Letter. However she has indicated that she may not accept all of the money. She has also stated that she will support further cuts to public education. As noted above, to receive the federal money, spending levels for education must not fall below 2006 spending levels. The current cuts to spending on higher education may fail to meet this criterion. See Arizona Star article, Stimulus money hangs in balance.Arizona’s priorities must include proper funding of public education. The Arizona State Constitution requires the Legislature to adequately fund public schools. Arizona Constitution, Article 11, Section 10 states “the legislature shall make such appropriations, to be met by taxation, as shall insure the proper maintenance of all state educational institutions, and shall make such special appropriations as shall provide for their development and improvement.”

The Education Equalization Property Tax would bring in $250 million a year for education. This tax had been in effect for 26 years until it was suspended in 2006 when Arizona had a budget surplus. The tax, which directly benefits public education, is due to resume in FY 2009-2010. It would cost the average homeowner $8 a month. HB 2073 Permanently Repeal Education Equalization Property Tax and its Senate counterpart, would permanently repeal the State Equalization Property Tax. If the legislature does nothing, $250 million a year will go directly towards public education at a time when schools critically need these funds. Governor Brewer’s position on this bill has been equivocal.

When asked by CARE to comment on the impact of the proposed cuts, Vicki Balentine, Ph.D., Superintendent of Amphitheater Schools in Northwest Tucson, told CARE that "The health of the K-12 and university system is a critical component of Arizona's economic future. This proposal will continue to debilitate our K-12 system and negatively impact the future of Arizona as a whole."

CARE Action of the week.

Email (this links to a form to comment to the governor) or call Governor Brewer: Email Governor Jan Brewer 1-800-253-0883

· Thank her for accepting the federal stimulus monies.

· Urge her to maintain 2006 spending levels for education allowing Arizona to qualify for the federal money designated for education, approximately $830 million.

· Remind her that funding public education is mandated in the Arizona Constitution.

· Emphasis that further degrading the public education system will hamper Arizona’s economic recovery.

· Encourage the governor to reconsider her position on HB 2073, the repeal of the education equalization property tax. If allowed to resume on schedule, this tax would provide $250 million to public education.

· Tell her why you personally value public education.

Contact your legislators:

CARE has been given some helpful hints for emails and letters. In the subject line of your email, mention that you support public education and your district. Some examples:

· Fund public education. I live in LD 26 and I vote.

· Support public education. LD 25 voter.

· Make public education a priority. LD 30 constituent.

CARE provides talking points, but not form letters. We have been told that form letters are easily disregarded and variation in the body of your email or letter is important.

Find your legislator

Members of Arizona State Legislature

To reach legislators, you can also call the toll-free line: 1-800-352-8404

If you use the toll free line, at the prompt dial the last four digits of the legislator's phone number.

In the news.

K-12 funding could be cut $330M more

Arizona's High Court Bans School Vouchers


Priority Alert: Contact Governor Brewer Now!

Advocate for a budget that will include federal stimulus money to boost public education and serve the most needy in our society. Governor Brewer has shown independence from the Republican leaders in the Arizona Legislature whose only solution has been to mercilessly cut programs across the board. Brewer has indicated support for tax increases. Democratic legislative leaders urge you to call, email or fax Governor Brewer now!

Mailing address:
Constituent Services
Office of Governor Jan Brewer
1700 West Washington-101A
Phoenix, Arizona 85007

Telephone: (602) 542-1318
Toll Free 1(800) 253-0883
Fax: (602) 542-1381
E-mail address: azgov@az.gov

Friday, March 27, 2009

The MSM and Swimming Naked

There’s a Wall Street saying about what happens to traders who have taken too many chances, when the stock prices ebb: “When the tide goes out,” it’s said, “you see who’s been swimming naked” – what might be called the ultimate consequence of a bear (or bare) market.

By Robert Parry March 28, 2009

But the same lesson may apply when the existing mainstream media fades out to sea. Today, even as many Americans rightfully disdain the MSM, its rapid contraction could inflict even more damage on an already battered American Republic.

That’s because the MSM has been providing information – albeit with many flaws – that has allowed others, including bloggers and independent Web sites like ours, to derive substantial information from working reporters who are sent off to cover a multitude of stories.

When those mainstream reporters dwindle in number amid endless budget cuts, the tide of basic facts will retreat and – metaphorically speaking – we’ll discover which political groupings have been swimming naked, relying too much on the work of the MSM.

The answer today seems clear. The conservatives, right-wingers and Republicans will be as well-covered as some of those bathers in the Victorian Era. The liberals, progressives and Democrats will be left trying to cover up.

The logical result of a fading MSM – combined with a robust right-wing news media and a miniscule progressive one – will be the relative strengthening of conservatives who already possess a vertically integrated media infrastructure for developing and disseminating information, from newspapers, magazines and books to radio, TV and the Internet. Read more at Consortium News

April 1, 5-9 Old Town Artisans 210 N. Court Ave.

Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection
300 East University Boulevard, #120
Tucson, Arizona 85705 (USA)
1+ 520-388-9925

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Dr. Dean Stands for Healthcare

Sign the Petition

The White House Is Open For Questions


RTA ballots from 2006 to be recounted

March 25, 2009, 4:42 p.m.
Tucson Citizen
A hand recount of the 2006 Regional Transportation Authority election ballots will begin April 6, according to a letter the Arizona Attorney General's Office sent to the Pima County political party officials Monday.

The recount is part of a criminal probe by the AG into complaints that vote results may have been manipulated.

The attorney general's office last month seized the ballots from the Pima County Treasurer's Office, where officials have been seeking court direction on whether the ballots should be destroyed.

"Our examination of the RTA ballots will include a hand count of the ballots," wrote Donald E. Conrad, criminal division chief counsel at the attorney general's office. The examination is expected to take five days, he wrote. Check this link for more of the story.
Stay tuned as procedures take shape.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Exclusive: Diebold 'Nukes' Humboldt County!

Terminates all contracts - including voter registration system - following California county's discovery, disclosure of major flaws in Diebold/Premier voting systems...

Guest Blogged by Parke Bostrom of the Humboldt Transparency Project

At the California Secretary of State's public hearing regarding the possible decertification of Diebold's tabulator systems, GEMS v1.18.19, in relation to the "Deck Zero" covert deletion of 197 ballots in the November election, the audit log's magical "clear" button, and the GEMS audit logs failing to report when ballots were manually deleted by the operator, Diebold/Premier representatives tried to shift blame for the 197 deleted ballots onto Humboldt County, CA's Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich.

Crnich responded, "If you're saying that your system needs to be checked every damn time we turn it on, I agree with you."

Crnich's use of an expletive seems to have pushed Diebold/Premier's legal counsel over the edge, causing them to reach for and firmly press the "nuke" button in response, by petulantly informing the county of termination of licensing for the use of any of the company's products. Click here for rest of the story.

The Humboldt Transparency Project is a nonpartisan citizens group dedicated to election integrity and accurate elections. The group worked with the Humboldt County Registrar of Voters to develop a system to scan ballots and use software to conduct an independent count. The group discovered what is known as the Humboldt Anomaly when the Diebold optical scan election system deleted 200 ballots from the initially certified election count. First Diebold tried to place blame on the Registrar of Voters, then finally admitted that the software has a 'DELETE' button for erasing audit logs in every version of its software. Yes, that means the ''DELETE' button existed on every version of Pima County GEMS software system used in past elections in Pima County. Diebold's retalitatory action against Humboldt County means that the County will no longer be able to operate its purchased optical scanners with GEMS software after California's May 19 election. A cost-effective system similar to the one developed by the Humboldt Transparency Project is being proposed for Pima County, although any change may require a new state law.
-----Sandra Spangler, Chair, Pima County Democratic Party Election Integrity Committee

Election Integrity: VoterACTION Video Points to Electronic Election Threats

Voter Action has filed lawsuits in 13 key states, (including Arizona) to promote public control of public elections and challenged the uncritical adoption of fatally flawed election systems sold by unaccountable private companies. Experts say that electronic voting produces unverifiable results.

The German High Court recently declared election computers unconstitutional.

cybersecurity expert Steve Stigall recently described to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission attempts to use computers to undermine elections in developing nations. Stigall told the Commission that computerized election systems can be "manipulated at five stages, from altering voter registration lists to posting results." Stigall warned that "whenever the vote becomes an electron and touches a computer, that's an opportunity for a malicious actor potentially to ...make bad things happen." Must read why we must NOT adopt Internet voting!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

AIG is chump change

It's time to reform offshore banking, and see what untaxed wealth big business is hiding in overseas tax shelters.

Joe Conason's Salon.com article reveals it's high time to demand accountability from a long list of small tax haven countries and principalities where corporate tax evaders have parked breathtaking sums of money in off-shore subsidiaries. This hidden money could be put to use to develop clean energy through solar solutions to invest in education and jobs and reduce poverty in the U.S. and around the world. This article makes the case that we really won't know how much money is there until the books are open and transparent. Read the GAO report that reveals that most of America's top 100 companies operate off-shore subsidiaries.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Rolling Stone: The Big Takeover

According to Matt Taibbi, "The global economic crisis isn't about money - it's about power. How Wall Street insiders are using the bailout to stage a revolution."

Taibbi makes the case in words that average Americans CAN understand is that the wizards of Wall Street are making the economy too complex for we the people to understand. They have asked the people to trust the experts who conduct business behind closed doors that even shut out members of Congress. In order to rein in this power we all need to become more informed. Allow time to read this article. It will open your eyes. Follow this link

Friday, March 20, 2009

Read the Bill: The Sunlight Foundation

Too often, controversial bills are voted on hours after coming to the House or Senate floor. There is no time for members of Congress to read the bill, and no chance for interested citizens to weigh in on the legislation.
Read The Bill from Sunlight Foundation on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

CARE Legislative Alert Take Action Now!

Please take just a few minutes of your time to email and / or phone your legislator.

HB2630 School districts; personnel contracts will go before the Arizona House of Representatives today. This bill moves the deadline for school boards to give notice of a general salary reduction, make contract offers for the next school year, or give notice of intent not to offer a contract for the 2009-2010 school year, from May 15th to June 15th.

The bill was introduced only 3 days ago and is sponsored by House Speaker Kirk Adams. According to the Arizona Star, Adams said “there is some question whether there will be a new state budget by April 15. And central to that issue is how much money lawmakers will provide to public schools.” He further stated, “What we didn't want to have happen is school districts to make decisions based upon rumor and innuendo and not actually have a budget out there, to be laying off teachers without full knowledge of what's happening…It's just to give them more time for the process."

In the same article, John Wright, president of the Arizona Education Association, said that “pushing the drop-dead date back to June 15 creates a situation of leaving teachers in limbo: They don't know whether they should be out looking for work elsewhere, perhaps even making arrangements to move to another state.”

See full article, Notifying teachers of 2010 jobs faces delay

Representative Nancy Young Wright, Legislative District 26, told CARE that this bill will “not protect teachers or children, only legislators who want to delay dealing with the fall out from budget decisions.” "A realistic budget needs to be passed sooner rather than later," Young Wright said. "We could carve the education portion out of the budget and decide it quickly to provide relief to teachers, parents and administrators." She also noted that the bill was fast-tracked during a time when many districts are on Spring break, which means many people it affects won't have a chance to participate. Delaying the budget until June will limit the participation of those affected the most because school will be out and people go away on vacation, Young Wright said.

Assistant Minority Leader, Representative Kyrsten Sinema, Legislative District 15, reiterated Representative Young Wright’s statements. She told CARE that this bill is an “attempt to hide the fact that they (the majority leaders in the house and senate) plan to make additional massive cuts to K through 12 education, and they prefer to do it when no one is watching.”

CARE left messages with Representative Vic Williams, Legislative District 26, but has not been able to reach him for comment on this bill.

PLEASE CALL AND EMAIL YOUR LEGISLATURES NOW! Tell them to vote NO on HB 2630. Let them know we need a realistic budget that can be openly discussed and funds public education as soon as possible, not in June.

In the subject line of your email, write Vote NO on HB 2630 and your legislative district. For example:
Subject: Please vote NO on HB 2630, LD 26 Constituent

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tucson-area Republicans failing test

By Lena Saradnik, Special to the Explorer
It appears that some of our Tucson-area Republican legislators are more interested in serving the ideology of their Maricopa County leaders instead of the interests of their Southern Arizona constituents.

As proof, we need only examine their threats to Rio Nuevo / TREO, the draconian budget cuts to our K-12 education / university systems, corporate tax credits for private / parochial schools, and the $22.5 million cut from Science Foundation Arizona.

Cuts to education will be devastating enough, but the $22.5 million cut to SFAz will have an immediate and direct impact on Arizona’s economy and Tucson families. One local example is the Mirror Lab at the University of Arizona. They were able to leverage the $1 million from SFAz into $6 million in equal matching funds. If SFAz is dismantled, this proposal and others like may well collapse.

In FY2009, the investment of $22.5 million the state funds spent on SFAz generated direct matching funds of $35 million and leveraged an additional $50 million. Because of this cut, Arizona stands to lose, this year alone, at least $85 million. This money educates students, creates high-paying jobs, attracts high-level industry and lets businesses know Arizona is open for business. This money directly benefits Pima County families, educational institutions and Southern Arizona’s economy.

Here is how our current Southern Arizona legislators made this happen.
Read More

Tucson-area legislators, Reps. Antenori R-LD30, Gowan R-LD30 and Stevens R-LD25, joined Rep. Sam Crump and the other Maricopa legislators who refused to vote for the budget unless $22.5 million for SFAz was removed. As with the cuts to education, their positions were based completely on ideology and not what was best for Southern Arizona.

As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Vic Williams R-LD26 could have made a stand and spoken out against the economic impact such cuts would have on his district and Tucson’s economy. Instead, he shares the same shortsighted and narrow views as his Maricopa leadership and went along the cuts.

The 2009 budget bill (with the $22.5 cut to SFAz and education) passed in special session with only the minimum 16 Senate votes required for passage. Two Republican senators, Carolyn Allen and Jay Tibshraeny, had the courage and wisdom to oppose the budget. Only one more vote was needed to defeat it. Two votes could have been had if two Southern Arizona Sens. Al Melvin R-LD26 and Jonathan Paton R-LD30 had voted in their districts’ interests instead of marching in lock step with their Maricopa leadership’s ideology.

More importantly, Senator Melvin, as the powerful vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, could have saved the $22.5 for SFAz from being cut in committee, or if that effort failed, during the final vote in the Senate. Better yet, the more experienced Sen. Paton (eight years in the House) could have shown leadership and joined forces with Sen. Melvin and refused to vote for the budget if the cuts to SFAz remained in the bill. Instead, they voted with the Maricopa ideology and against the economic interests of Arizona.

In the past, Southern Arizona has elected independent legislators who represent their districts and not mirror images of the Maricopa legislators. The past legislators valued public education. During their campaigns, this crop of newly elected senators and representatives vowed to do just that and be independent voices. They vowed to fight for public education and to represent their district’s interests. Clearly they have failed their first test.

Lena Saradnik, a Democrat, is a former legislator in District 26.

Write a Letter to the Editor

Friends 'O Farley News Flash

What's Brewin' in the Gov's Office?

Here's the latest from Steve Farley, Arizona State Representative, District 28, Policy Leader of the House Democratic Caucus sfarley@azleg.gov You can sign up to receive his newsletter.

There's not a lot going on in the Governor's Office for that matter, it appears. The Governor Stimulus Watch is still ongoing -- there are now a mere 17 days left for Governor Brewer to submit a simple one-paragraph letter to the Federal Government stating that she will accept the stimulus money to create jobs and boost the economy, and there is no indication from the Feds that she has done so.

The Arizona Guardian, a new web-based newspaper that covers the Capitol exclusively, reports this morning that she told them that she mailed a very long and embellished letter on March 5 that was supposed to serve as the certification letter. However, it has not yet appeared on the official U.S. website, so perhaps it never made it into the mailbox.

If you want to follow the story, and see if she ever does mail that letter, you can read about state recovery efforts on that website.

There you will find examples of the other very simple letters already sent by 35 other governors. You won't find ours yet, however.

You can also find links from this page to 37 other state websites which have been set up in the spirit of accountability and transparency to let their citizens know what is happening with the stimulus money. Arizona doesn't have one of those websites, either.

Other states like Oklahoma and California have already put people to work and put shovels in the ground on stimulus-funded projects. Let's hope the Governor gets on the ball and lets us all know that we will accept all the money to which we are entitled, and lets us know exactly where it is going. If not, the Legislature will have to step in. And I'm not optimistic about those prospects...

Read More

Remember last week when I wrote about the thousands of kids who would have been tossed off childcare yesterday unless we acted? Well we actually did act last Thursday. Although we wouldn't have had to act this late if Republican leadership had only listened to what Democrats were saying in January about how much stimulus we had coming.

Even though the fix should have been simple, Senate Republican leadership couldn't resist adding an item that would have raided $17 million from Arizona cities in the form of state shared revenues. This raid would likely have forced cities to lay off critical public safety personnel with no warning. Luckily we stripped that provision in the House and the Senate reluctantly agreed to go along with us, after some drama in which the Senate Majority Whip Pam Gorman (R-Anthem) for a time was lobbying against her own President Bob Burns (R-Glendale).

The childcare funding was restored for now, but is still in danger if we are not careful as we develop the Fiscal 2010 budget. This childcare money is actually coming from federal stimulus money, and we have $32 million more available to fund the program next year. All we have to do to claim it is to provide language to appropriate it. Hopefully we can get that done this time without a fix after the fact.

Today House Democrats received an update on the stimulus picture, which is still not completely clear even if the Governor does get around to sending in the request letter. Here are the latest numbers of what we know now:

If we keep the Fiscal 2009 cuts in place, we are looking at a $2.8 billion deficit for Fiscal 2010. We have a total of approximately $2.2 billion that we can use to fill that deficit for Fiscal 10 and/or 11. We could also use some of that to restore some of the $600 million in programs that were cut in FY09. But in order to obtain all that money, we will need to make sure that we maintain the same funding levels as we spent in 2006 for education and healthcare.

Bottom line is that it looks like we will be able to fill about $1.8 billion of the deficit in Fiscal 09 and 10 and $417 million in Fiscal 11. That's about $1 billion or more short of what we need, and state revenue collections from sales and income tax in February 09 are down about 20% under February 08.

We hear that ASU economists have determined that, even if we do get all the stimulus funds to which we are entitled, we will end up getting less than most other states. Economist Lee McPheters told us that we lost 4.5% of the jobs lost nationwide from 12/07 to 1/09, but the stimulus package is projected to restore only 1.9% of the national jobs created by the stimulus. So the budget picture remains murky and bleak for now. More on that later.

Back to Budget Week -- you may ask, what is the Legislative majority doing to get to work on the budget this week?

It turns out they're not doing much at all. They are hearing, COWing and voting on only one emergency bill, HB2630. Its entire purpose is to delay a deadline from April 15 to June 15 under which school boards are required to give notice to teachers that they will or will not be renewing their contracts for the upcoming year.

This is only budget related because the budget is late and education funding is unclear. School districts are not sure how much money they will be receiving from the state, and therefore they do not know if they will have to lay off teachers, increase class sizes, or do a number of other terrible things if the Legislature does not stand up for education.

Perhaps we could avoid the deadline-moving bill entirely, and simply stand up for education and get the budget work done by April 15. Shockingly, we don't even know at this point if the Governor and the Legislature will be able to come together on any budget by even June 15.

For some of us who thought that Republicans might be able to work together to accomplish their goals more efficiently given that they control all the levers of power in this state, the infighting has been really astonishing. Governor Brewer has been under constant attack from her right, including a comment during a public caucus meeting from Sen. Ron Gould (R-Lake Havasu)--the senator who walked out on her speech--where he said, "I thought our governor's name was Jan, not Janet."

While it may be entertaining to watch the Republicans fight, I just wish they could cut out the drama and get down to the business of balancing this budget without hurting Arizona families. The longer we wait to get there, the more people will get hurt.

Finally tonight, be sure to tune in to Arizona Illustrated this Friday, March 20, at 6:30 on Channel 6 as I will join Rep. Frank Antenori (R-Somewhere in Southern Arizona) for a rematch of our January Friday Roundtable show as we field questions from the panel of esteemed local journalists and everyone's favorite local news guy, Bill Buckmaster.

Thanks for staying involved in your state government, however crazy it may sometimes seem. It remains a huge honor for me to be able to serve you up here, and help put your voice of reason forward on the floor of the House of Representatives.


Steve Farley
Arizona State Representative, District 28
Policy Leader, House Democratic Caucus
Ranking Member, Transportation Committee
Ways & Means Committee
Capitol office: 602-926-3022
Tucson office: 520-398-6000
Official email: sfarley@azleg.gov

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

CARE-Concerned Arizona Residents for Education

Contact Legislators and the Governor

Oppose Two New Bills

HB 2288 Corporate Tax Credits for Private School Tuition

The House Majority issued a statement of their intended actions over the next 45 days. One of those actions is to repeal the sunset clause on Corporate Tax Credits, a tax credit wherein companies are allowed to give money directly to private schools for tuition. This corporate tax money would otherwise go into the state coffers. The leadership is forging ahead with great speed on this one, and HB 2288 will be scheduled for a vote by the full House very soon. This bill would put into law the ability of corporations to give millions of dollars to private schools to underwrite tuition, with no end date and with a built-in increase of 20% per annum. No such mechanism exists for public schools.

Please take a moment of your time RIGHT NOW to let your representatives know that in a time of financial crisis, subsidizing private schools will not help the 82% of Arizona children educated in public schools, and that the millions of dollars this bill will re-route to private schools is essentially being taken away from the general fund and thus public school children.

HB 2073 Permanently Repeal Education Equalization Property Tax

Rich Crandall, head of the House Education Committee, sponsored legislation to permanently repeal the state Education Equalization Property Tax. Vic Williams is co-sponsoring this bill. This revenue source contributed $250 million a year towards education until it was suspended in 2006 by the Legislature. This tax, which costs the average homeowner $8 a month, is supposed to be restored this year and would go a long way toward mitigating the $1 BILLION cut to education proposed in the FY2009-2010 budget.

Please contact these legislators and the governor. Urge them to oppose HB 2288 and HB 2073.

Contact Information On CARE Website

Election Integrity in Pima County At Crossroads

The RTA: The Unanswered Questions
New Tech Tools for Election Transparency
Party Volunteers Must Oversee Elections, Tighten Chain of Custody in Future Elections

The Election Integrity Committee brought the questionable behavior that has happened in Pima County through the ongoing public records litigation into the full light of public awareness of

Attorney Bill Risner has repeatedly petitioned the Attorney General and the courts to provide transparent remedies that will protect future elections. The case is now on appeal, but public access to the yellow sheets and poll tapes was blocked by a sealed court order. The Attorney General allowed a criminal investigation to languish through many months. His action to seize the ballots, take them to Maricopa County, and not officially disclose the whereabouts of the ballots shows that the office of the Attorney General is pursuing a course of secrecy that invites public speculation rather than public assurance.

How can we know that a secure chain of custody has been followed? Since this is an investigation about elections, we think the Attorney General should deliver on his word by offering some proof that he has custody of the ballots, who is going to count them, whether any one from Pima County will be allowed to observe the count, and when this count will happen? It would be prudent for the Attorney General to answer these questions and solicit support rather than to continue to deny the public's right to know under the cover of a criminal investigation. Criminal investigations rely on preserving a strict chain of custody. Let's persuade Attorney General Terry Goddard to release some of the details of ballot transport that would not compromise the investigation.

Voices of Opposition and Democracy for America co-sponsored the introduction of Fatally Flawed the movie to the wider Tucson community last Monday night on the UA campus. The well-attended event drew a KOLD news crew as well as John Moffatt, who must have been very uncomfortable witnessing himself on the big screen as a major proponent in the County's now debunked mayhem and chaos defense. The 30 minute intro composed of selected clips from the public records trial and local news clips and RTA advertisements highlighted a high stakes election supported by elected officials and the enormous effort and expense Pima County put toward obstructing public records. The take away raised questions about why the County would go to such great lengths to resist turning over public election records. Was it that they had something to hide? The film clearly made this point and was followed by an outstanding panel discussion by Bill Risner, Mickey Duniho, Jim March and John Brakey.

Election Integrity is positive! It is all about about opening up democratic participation through transparency! We have much work to do to educate the public that our work is not a game about carelessly throwing around accusations or besting opponents on one side or the other but about the foundational principles of our participatory democracy---a democracy that rests on public vote counting and oversight. There is no place for secrecy. No matter how many security measures we will be able to put in place, all of us must recognize we must all be vigilant to enforce a secure chain of custody. That means that it is the obligation of public officials to verify the outcome of elections and to follow a consistent secure chain of custody observed by political party volunteers. On the horizon are some exciting new technologies that will overcome some of the stubborn barriers sooner rather than later!

Sandra Spangler
Chair, Pima County Democratic Party Election Integrity Committee

View the First Trailer of Fatally Flawed

PCDP Open House

Saturday, March 28
11:00 AM - 3:00 PM
4639 E. First St.

Join Congressman Raul M.Grijalva and dozens of other elected officials on Saturday, March 28 for a fun and informative day at headquarters. Representatives from over thirty clubs, organizations, and allied groups will be on hand to let you know how you can help to make our city, county, state, and country a better, more Democratic place. Refreshments will be provided courtesy of County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez. Call 326-3716 for more information.

A 70-year-old gift we enjoy today

By David Safier, Special to The Explorer
I had visitors from Portland last week, friends who were so ecstatic to swap the Pacific Northwest’s cold and wet for Tucson’s warm and dry, it was impossible to keep them indoors.

Their one demand was that we hike to their favorite Tucson destination, Seven Falls, in the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area.

Whenever I take out-of-towners into the Sonoran Desert, I begin seeing it through their eyes. I relived the first few times I walked the Bear Canyon Trail, peering upward at the steep walls of the Catalina Mountains, listening to the stream rippling at my feet and the bird calls coming from every direction, then reaching the turn in the trail where I first caught a glimpse of the falls, the water dropping in stages until it pools at the bottom and forms the stream I crossed again and again to reach that spot.

The Sabino Canyon area is a free gift that keeps on giving, bringing new pleasure every time I visit.
* * * * * *
As I suspected, the Sabino Canyon area and much of the Coronado National Forest was preserved and made accessible to the public through projects created by Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the Depression.

Read More
Write a Letter to the Editor

UPDATED: Kai, Comerford apparent winners in Marana primary

NW Explorer March-12-2009
Maslyn, McGorray, Post, Steckler to advance to May 19 general election, according to unofficial tally
(18% turnout, second chance for Dems)
Read More

LD 25 & 26 Town Hall
"Budget Update"

Sat. 3/21, 
2:00 - 4:00 PM

Nanini Branch Library, 7300 N. Shannon Rd.

Join Rep. Pat Fleming, LD 25 and Rep. Nancy Young Wright, LD 26 for an update on the budget. Please call (520) 398-6000 for more information.