AZ Reps. pitch funding striking teachers by legalizing pot

April 23, 2018

Arizona Democrat Mark Cardenas (LD 19) and his House of Representatives Republican buddy Todd Clodfelter (LD 10) have joined in a novel bipartisan effort to fund teachers who are demanding a 20 percent pay increase. The teacher’s scheduled strike takes place this Thursday, leaving the students they claim to care about stranded and missing crucial class time.

Sending a terrific message to the impressionable school children, State Reps. Cardenas and Clodfelter are renewing their previous efforts to legalize pot in Arizona. This time the pretext is to help pay for teacher raises.

Read their bill, HCR 2037, titled “marijuana, regulation and taxation,” that includes a provision for 40 percent of the net revenues be directed to a public education grant program that would be administrated by a task force appointed by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, which would solicit, receive, review and evaluate applications and award grants.

No kidding!

The Governor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting projects 20 percent teacher raises will cost state taxpayers about $650 million.

In 2016, Arizona voters rejected Prop 205, which would have legalized recreational use of the drug. This was SRAZ’s exposé regarding the facts behind the deceptive legislation.

Keep in mind teachers are represented by far-left unions. The $ millions teachers pay in dues fund liberal politicians and their causes.

Teachers unions have steadily amped up their political involvement: From 2004 to 2016, their donations grew from $4.3 million to more than $32 million — an all-time high. Even more than most labor unions, they have little use for Republicans, giving Democrats at least 94 percent of the funds they contributed to candidates and parties since as far back as 1990 when Center for Responsive Politics initially began collecting data.

Passage of ballot propositions — 301 in 2000 increasing the state sales tax and 123 in 2016 a grab from the state land trust — guaranteed more money for education, which apparently is never enough. Teachers protest and school districts hold budget overrides and bond elections to “get more money into the classroom” —- eduspeak for bolstering teacher’s salaries. A major premise of passing the Arizona Lottery in 1980 was that money from ticket purchases would make its way to schools.

State Reps. Mark Cardenas and Todd Clodfelter are shameless lightweights who both need to be primaried in their respective districts. Not only do their constituents deserve better, but so do the rest of us who would have to function under their deceptive legislation. Arizona’s students have become the undeserving pawns in their reckless escapade.

Read 10 Facts You May Not Know About Education in Arizona. It’s news you need and aren’t getting. Armed with the facts, it’s time for informed parents to march. The only roadblock is they have jobs where their presence is required. And unlike teachers, they don’t have the luxury of frequent half days, lengthy holiday vacations or the entire summer off.

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Voters, not colleagues, should have decided Rep. Shooter’s fate

February 2, 2018

 #MeToo movement supersedes election process

The expulsion of state Rep. Don Shooter from the Arizona legislature over allegations of sexual harassment is rightfully making national news. He has destroyed his career and dishonored his own family.  But the vote to expel the duly elected legislator raises questions about the process, while in no way condoning his actions.

The Yuma lawmaker, who lists his occupation as a developer, had a first-rate background according to his bio on the Arizona House Member’s page:

Chairman Shooter was elected to the Senate as a write in candidate in 2010. In 2011 he was appointed Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He was re-elected in 2012 with 98% of the vote and in 2014 with 64% of the vote. He was reappointed as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. In 2016, he was elected to the House of Representatives and appointed as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Chairman Shooter champions the issues of fiscal responsibility, less government intrusion in our daily lives and 2nd amendment rights. He has been named a friend of the family in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 by the Arizona Family Project, inducted into the Directors Hall of Fame by the Amberly’s Place victims’ rights organization and achieved the status of “Top 10 Technical Legislator” by the Arizona Tech Council.

The Republican, who let his ego get in the way of decency and good judgement, represented Legislative District 13. Rep. Shooter was removed from office Feb. 1, 2018 by a vote of 56 to 3. The measure to remove him required 40 votes of the 60 House members. Reps. David Stringer (R-LD1) and Noel Campbell (R-LD1) joined the accused in casting a no vote. The undeniable fact is Shooter was removed in an action lacking due process.

Nationally, other legislators have resigned or been stripped of their leadership posts, but not expelled after being accused of misconduct. Shooter is quoted as saying he deserves to be punished but did nothing to justify expulsion. He opted for the voters to decide his fate.

“I’ve had two, three months to think about this. I did wrong, I deserve a censure,” he said. “But I’ll tell you this. I was sent here by the people of District 13. And to the best of my knowledge, I’ve never betrayed that trust, never, never. Not for monkey business, not for contributions, not for influence, not for power, not for anything. And by God, they’re the ones who should throw me out if they want to throw me out. And they may,” he stated.

The Yuma County Board of Supervisors will replace Rep.Shooter. Three of the five members are Democrats.


AZ legislators deserve a pay increase after 20 years

January 25, 2018

Several states have tied legislative salaries to median household income, allowing for automatic, gradual increases

Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts blandly describes herself as “a wife and mother…who loves all things Arizona….” What she neglects to mention is her contempt for Arizona’s state legislators who are among the lowest paid in the nation. She writes three columns a week and presumably gets paid for a full week‘s work. Legislators work full time during the session and serve constituents throughout the year. They also have to be ready to be called back into special session at the whim of the governor. They have not had a pay increase since 1998. It’s a good bet Roberts has.

Roberts, who thinks $24,000 a year is adequate compensation for those we elect and entrust with writing Arizona’s laws, is now hammering state Rep. Bob Thorpe (R-LD 6) for sponsoring two salary related bills — bringing them into the realm of reality in a state where increases of their paltry wages have been denied by voters for the last twenty years. Thorpe realistically proposes to tie future raises to the salaries of supervisors from counties of 500,000+ residents.

Rep. Thorpe also hopes to tie per diem to  the federal reimbursement rate –– raising the daily expense rate for out of Maricopa County legislators from $60 a day to $130. Those who are elected within Maricopa County would see a modest $7 increase per diem

Although today’s rampant political correctness constrains Laurie Roberts from referring to state lawmakers as “90 dwarfs” as former Arizona Republic columnist David Leibowitz frequently did, Roberts disparages the Flagstaff representative as “The Thorpedo,” for running the two bills: HCR 2016 and HB 2275.

Low pay restricts who can realistically serve  in the legislature, since a family could not subsist on $24,000. Few employers can or will allow citizen legislators to take months off work every year and travel to the state capital, which is why retirees, housewives or those with ample financial resources dominate the chambers. Juxtaposed against the rate of inflation, the current salary has decreased.

In Feb. 2013, we wrote AZ legislature: It’s not a part-time job. Responding to the demands of the job has become increasingly complex. Arizona is a large state with diverse issues.

The Public Safety Personnel Retirement System, covering first responders, correctional officers and elected officials has expanded its use of outside consultants by hiring a media relations and crisis communications contractor. And what a surprise to read that legislative basher David Leibowitz was awarded the lucrative $72,000 contact. How often will the word “dwarf” slip out of his mouth now that this state retirement system is paying him? We’re betting it’s been excised from his venomous vocabulary.

Laurie Roberts’ own employer ran this 2017 news report citing a national study finding the state’s retirement system ranks as one of the worst performing in the country, but pays the highest management fees. Perhaps that’s where she should direct her misplaced wrath.


Amnesty grading system disappoints

December 20, 2017

Numbers USA is a reliable site on the issues of illegal immigration, amnesty, birthright citizenship, the Visa lottery and chain migration. The organization gives report card grades to all U.S. House and Senate members. Founder & CEO Roy Beck’s illuminating “Gumballs” video has educated on these issues in an unrivaled manner. The pull down topics on the top of each page are well researched.

That’s why we are disappointed by the grading system used on, “Do Your Senators Support Giving Chain Migration to Yet Another Amnesty Group?

Using Arizona as an example, lame-duck Sen. Jeff Flake is correctly given a “YES.” His co-sponsorship of S. 1615, the DREAM Act of 2017 is cited among the reasons. Arizonans who pay attention are well aware that he is committed to giving a pass to those who enter our country illegally. He’s leaving the senate due to embarrassingly low polling numbers, but is still able to do damage for another year.

John McCain received a “Leans Yes” grade because he recently cosponsored S. 744, the Gang of 8’s amnesty bill, that would gift Chain Migration to illegal aliens who receive amnesty. The reason? “Sen. McCain does not receive a “YES” rating because he is not cosponsoring legislation in the current Congress that would do so.”

 This is an irrational rationale.  Throughout his overly long congressional career, McCain has been a committed amnesty proponent — favoring a “pathway to citizenship” — while giving the back of his hand to the rule of law by rewarding America’s invaders. Such actions only encourage further illegal entry. Prior to Flake entering the senate, by only three percentage points, his predecessor Jon Kyl partnered with McCain on repeatedly pushing what they euphemistically called “Comprehensive Immigration Reform,” code words for amnesty.

McCain does not deserve equivocation. When his close friend and senate colleague Ted Kennedy died, McCain recommitted to doing anything he could to “honor” leftist Kennedy by ensuring passage of what amounts to a gift of millions of voters to the Democrat Party. He said he would make sure the legislation would be named for Kennedy.

John McCain and Jeff Flake were the architects of the Gang of 8 amnesty legislation, in which they aligned with the senate’s most committed liberals, including Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) along with two other like-minded RINOs such as Marco Rubio. Flake has plans to resurrect this monstrosity before he leaves the senate in Nov. 2018. If the ailing McCain is able, he will be on board. Numbers USA should know “pending legislation” should not be the sole criteria. Commitment is what counts. 

For a memory refresher, these were the blatant campaign lies told by Sens. Jon Kyl, John McCain and Jeff Flake. Immediately after the ballots were counted they reverted back to their former amnesty positions. Newcomers to Arizona might be easily conned.  We expect Numbers USA to be more savvy.


Intrigue follows Ben Toma, appointed to LD 22 AZ House

April 27, 2017

In the aftermath of state Representative Phil Lovas’ recent resignation from a Legislative District 22 House seat, the elected precinct committeemen of the district nominated three people to fill the vacancy.  The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors made the final pick, selecting Ben Toma. A warm congratulatory message was sent out by AZ GOP chairman Jonathan Lines.

Since the name Ben Toma was unfamiliar, we did a little research and found a litany of items in local newspapers.

In an August 31, 2016 election, Vice Mayor and Mesquite District Council member Bridget Binsbacher was victorious over Peoria City Council challenger Ben Toma, as reported in the Peoria Times.

Toma’s loss might have had something to do with this earlier Sept. 18, 2014 Arizona Republic report that he was being investigated. He was eventually cleared of the charges.  Ben Toma was previously appointed to the Peoria City Council.

The perennial appointee is obviously a man to watch.

 


AZ legislators’ bill suspends refugee resettlement program

February 3, 2017

Refugee resettlement has been in the forefront of national news since Pres. Donald Trump issued an executive order suspending the program for 120 days until adequate vetting of those from terror sponsoring nations is in place. The president is of the opinion that American security is more important than political correctness.  After the Boston marathon carnage, San Bernardino, Orlando and a host of other bloody attacks by resettled but unwilling to assimilate refugees who bear allegiance to ISIS, few disagree with that premise as evidenced by recent polls.

Rasmussen Reports indicates most voters approve of President Trump’s temporary halt to refugees and visitors from seven Middle Eastern and African countries until the government can do a better job of keeping out individuals who are terrorist threats.  The recent survey finds that 57% of Likely U.S. Voters favor a temporary ban on refugees from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen until the federal government improves its ability to screen out potential terrorists from coming here. Thirty-three percent (33%) are opposed, while 10% are undecided.

The Arizona legislature is also responding to the issue with SB 1468(click link to read) which amends Title 1, Chapter 2, Article 4 of the Arizona Revised Statutes with the addition of Section 1-272, relating to refugee resettlement. It was introduced by Sens. Judy Burges and Sonny Borrelli and Reps. Mark Finchem, Anthony Kern, Vince Leach and  Don Shooter. The bill indefinitely suspends Arizona’s participation in the resettlement program and imposes a fine of $1,000 a day per refugee on any charity or group providing services to refugees.

Pew Research Center notes that with 4,110 resettled in Arizona in 2016, our state is number six among the top ten states to receive the largest number of refugees.

Before leaving office Barack Obama announced that 10,000 Syrians would be allowed entry the following year. As of Nov. 19, 2016, 31 Governors across the country were concerned enough by the potential for terror that they opposed the entry of new Syrian refugees according to this CNN map. (scroll down.)

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey issued this press release stating his immediate plan to halt the placement of any new refugees in Arizona a year ago.

The ‘flash mobs’ protesting these reasonable restrictions have been mobilized at airports around the nation by the same activist groups that protest a security wall along our southern border or other efforts to protect our nation and citizens from harm. John McCain’s longtime financier, Socialist billionaire George Soros, a leftist, open borders proponent, has funded numerous such anarchist organizations to create havoc. We saw them burn down Ferguson, Missouri, terrorize and ultimately shut down those who dare to engage in free speech on university campuses, and screech vulgarities on the mall in Washington, D.C. on the day of President Trump’s inaugural.

Today Paris is once again under attack. This time by a machete wielding man shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ as he attacked French soldiers at the Louvre Museum.

It’s past time to wise up. Arizona’s legislators are on the right track.

 


Gov. Doug Ducey reprises gimmicky “court packing”

November 30, 2016

Back in 1937 —  when most of us were but a gleam in our dad’s or granddad’s eye — Democrat President Franklin Roosevelt, just coming off a reelection victory, announced his audacious plan to expand the nine-member U.S. Supreme Court. He touted his scheme as making the court more efficient. Critics, including his  own Vice President and many congressional Democrats who joined with Republicans, charged that Roosevelt was trying to “pack” the court with liberal like-thinkers and  neutralize the impact of Supreme Court justices hostile to his far left “New Deal” — which he feared the court would disassemble.

Here Franklin Roosevelt in one of his radio addresses known as Fireside Chats, makes his case for increasing the number of Supreme Court justices with what he blandly referred to as the “Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937.” It became more widely known as “Roosevelt’s court packing plan.”

Fortunately, Roosevelt’s efforts to persuade failed.

Arizona Gov, Doug Ducey faces no such hostility. Yet he has just enlarged the 5-member Arizona Supreme Court by two members. The move gave him the ability to appoint the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice, which he can point to in future campaign ads. We take no issue with the appointees Andrew Gould, a former superior court and court of appeals judge, or Solicitor General  John Lopez, who lacks any judicial experience — but the process that placed the two Republicans on the high court is suspect.  The new justices are Ducey’s second and third appointments to the Supreme Court. In January he appointed Libertarian leaning, registered Independent Clint Bolick. According to a news account, the unnecessary expansion will “cost an additional $1 million dollars each year, and came despite objections from Chief Justice Scott Bales, who wrote Ducey to veto the legislation.”  The bill HB 2537, signed by Ducey was the brainchild of East Valley state Rep. J.D. Mesnard, an educator.

The State Courts building, dedicated in 1991, was built to eventually accommodate two additional justices, but there is currently no pressing need.

Ducey used the same argument that Roosevelt used saying the expanded bench would allow the court to take on more cases and ensure swift justice. In fact the Supreme Court, known as the court of last resort, is very selective in the cases it chooses to take and most of the research is done by law clerks. It hears all death penalty appeals.

In contrast, the Courts of Appeals — Arizona has two — review all civil and criminal cases properly appealed from Superior Courts.

Whether court packing is done by Democrats or Republicans, it remains equally suspect.