A Reply from Bill Montgomery

You may remember an entry I wrote on Bill Montgomery a few weeks back. I am definitely not a supporter of his, and I made that clear in the entry. Montgomery has written to me, here are his comments:

I know you referenced responding to my e-mail but, unfortunately, I did not receive it. I actually wrote you because I believe that the blogosphere is just as valid a communication medium as “old media” used to be and I enjoyed reading your blog.

As for prosecuting employers for hiring illegal immigrants, there’s no safe harbor in my candidacy or service as Attorney General. My reference to partnering with employers is to insure that the majority who follow the law are not saddled with undue regulatory burdens that drive up the cost of doing business which, ultimately, is borne by consumers. Right now, we do pay $3 for a head of lettuce – the difference shows up in increased costs for our healthcare, education, and criminal justice systems. I’d like to see use of a biometric card for more reliable verification of employment eligibility and, once we eliminate excuses for employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens, they will be just as much in my sights as the coyotes (with or without lobbyists).

As far as experience, I’ll gladly match my time as a prosecutor with my opponent’s and leadership lessons learned in and out of the Army, let alone actual time spent working as a lawyer. I prosecuted several hundred felony matters and appeared in nearly 1,000 cases for the citizens of Maricopa County in the nearly four years I had the pleasure of working at the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. Also, unlike some prosecutors who are just looking for trial experience before moving off to practice criminal defense, I begrudgingly left so my wife could stay home with our kids. Unfortunately, that was short lived since my Mom was then diagnosed with lung cancer. I set up my own firm to give me the flexibility to care for her and still bring in some income. Since then, though, my practice has been overwhelmingly in litigating on behalf of crime victims and safeguarding their rights under Arizona’s Victim’s Bill of rights.

Last point: “tweety bird” – that’s bit pejorative. Nonetheless, if you love the representation we’re getting from the incumbent AG, we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

Take care,

Bill Montgomery

I’m glad he made it clear that he wants to prosecute coyotes. However, I am always amazed that small government Republicans, who seem to think that a simple background check to make sure that a felon can’t buy firearm is tantamount to fascism, would support a system of “identity cards” similar to something you’d find in Czechoslovakia circa 1972 or Vichy France. Every job I have ever had to apply for involved me filling out an I-9. The employer had to verify my eligibility with already available paperwork. This is why I don’t buy the excuse that employers can’t check their employees, and also why I don’t think we need to take that system and add yet another layer of bureaucracy and government control.

Interestingly, he says that he doesn’t want to burden employers with more responsibilities. His plan sounds, at best, a transfer of those responsibilities to employees, who probably don’t have office managers and assistants to handle such things.

Montgomery, from what I understand, ably served in the Army and ought to be commended for that. I am not sure that his experience there necesarilly translates into being a good Attorney General. Since he would be replacing Terry Goddard, he needs to tell us why he wouldn’t only be adequate, but what would make him a better Attorney General. What decisions has Goddard made that he doesn’t agree with? Who has Goddard gone after that he wouldn’t have? Payday lenders? Polluters? People who scam the elderly? Warren Jeffs?

I didn’t make the “Tweety Bird” comment. This wouldn’t be the first time I got blamed for something that one of my readers posted.

A Couple of Not Necessarilly Related Items on Immigration

Our last huge wave of anti-immigrant hysteria resulted in the 1924 Johnson-Reed Act. The act set quotas on European immigrants, and prohibited immigrants from India and East Asia all together.

Historians believe that the act was prompted by a wave of anti-semitism and the so-called “red scare.” In some confused minds, any Jewish or Eastern European immigrant was a potential bolshevik agitator.

Interestingly, the act set no quotas on Latin American immigrants. I’ll leave the irony up to y’all.

I am on a listserv for Polish Americans. I got a copy of an article from New American Media on Polish immigrant workers. The anti-immigrant sentiment is making life tough for them and many are choosing to stay away from our country all together, going to friendlier countries in Western Europe. Maybe its because I am of mixed heritage it is easier for me to see the two struggles as the same. It’s too bad that so many people whose families were immigrants only a couple of generations ago can’t see it that way.

Just Reverting Back to Form

You might say “Say it isn’t so!” but I say, “I told you so.”

One of my ongoing frustrations when talking to Democratic activists around the country is their ongoing infatuation with John McCain. “Oh, you are so lucky to have him there,” or “I’d vote for him if I lived in Arizona.” Somehow, they equated his personal animus for the President (which only rarely resulted in votes against administration policy) and his zeal for campaign finance reform (which always seemed to increase when it came to taking on unions) with being an actual liberal, or at the very least a moderate.

Well, the man who back in 2000 said here in my very own city that he wants to be “president in the best way and not the worst way,” has completely thrown in with the pod people. According to Josh Marshall’s TPM Muckraker, McCain’s Straight Talk PAC has hired Terry Nelson. Nelson not only worked for Bush’s 2000 campaign, but is tied in with Tom Delay’s money laundering scheme. “Reformer with Results” my half-Mexican behind.

While my friends with stars in their eyes were thinking of McCain the reformer, we who have been following his career were thinking of the McCain that was the only senator not to return the money from Charles Keating, the McCain that used his office to carry out grudges against moderate Republicans and non-fawning reporters in the 1990s, and the McCain who was so partisan that he was almost ready to tank our state’s CAP money in an effort to embarass Governor Rose Mofford.

What we are seeing now is not a “new” McCain, but rather McCain out of disguise.

…And He Also Invented the Internet

District 8 congressional candidate Alex Rodriguez is having a fundraiser this week. He sent an announcement to his supporters which contained this startling message:

We are proud to see the first Hispanic run for Congress. This is a big stride for the Hispanic population, and will hopefully be the beginning of great hope and accomplishments for our children, grandchildren and our future politicians.

Yes, isn’t it about time that this country put a Hispanic in congress? Arizona ought to take a lead in this endeavor.

Just so Rodriguez’s folks know, the first Hispanic to successfully run for congress was Joseph Marion Hernández, who was a Whig elected as the territorial Delegate from Florida in 1822. The first voting Hispanic member was Ramualdo Pacheco, a Republican from California who served several non-consecutive terms in the 1870’s and even served as Governor for a short time. A quick look at our current delegation should tell his folks that he isn’t even the first Hispanic to run in Arizona, but, if my memory serves, he would be the first to run in CD 8 (or the old CD5).

This is nearly as silly as when Rodriguez claimed to be the only veteran to run, which led to some pointed words from the supporters of Air Force veteran Jeff Latas. Come on, how could y’all not know that Latas is a veteran? Both candidates came to their senses on this one before it became an amusing enough “whose is bigger?” contest for folks like me to comment on. Of course, that didn’t stop one supporter of Frank Antenori from trumping both of them on Arizona Congress Watch by claiming that his man has actually killed more terrorists. Okay, you have them beat there, I guess.

Raúl Grijalva: Not Leaving the Hispanic Caucus

Over on AZ Congress Watch, there was a report yesterday that Rep. Raúl Grijalva was leaving the hispanic caucus. Well, not quite.

Grijalva, along with most of the caucus’s California membership, have ceased association with the caucus’s PAC, called BOLDPAC. Apparently, this has been stirring for quite some time, and stemed from thePAC’s support of relatives of caucus members running for local offices.

Of course, Rep. Loretta Sanchez being mad about this sort of nepotism is amusing, but never mind that.

What is interesting to me is that while Grijalva on the list, the rest are entirely from California. The member that runs BOLDPAC, Rep. Joe Baca, is from California as well. What is up with that? Also, I find it interesting that Sanchez and Rep. Hilda Solis are both on the list. The two have had some friction in the past, particularly after Sanchez recruited her sister Linda to run for congress over several local politicos who had paid their dues.

I can’t pretend that I have any idea what is going on in the background here, but BOLDPAC isn’t known for raising an awful lot of money, and doesn’t have a field operation to tap into. New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid has a great shot at taking out Rep. Heather “Janet Jackson Made Me Cry” Wilson, and there is a need to defend the seats of Rep. John Salazar and newly appointed Senator Robert Menendez. Building a “farm team” is important, but I can see why there is anger over spending scant resources on electing someone’s daughter county clerk.

The important thing to remember here is that Grijalva and Co. are not leaving the caucus. The caucus is not just BOLDPAC, it is also a voice on issues like immigration and education and also has an arm called the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, which is involved in various philanthropic activities. The caucus has always been pretty diverse, it includes more conservative Tejanos like Rep. Henry Cuellar as well as liberal firebrands like Nuyorican Rep. Nydia Velázquez. (Oddly, Hispanic political icon Henry B. González was never a member) For a long time, Cubano members, who are entirely Republican but for obvious reasons are also concerned about the direction of the immigration debate, were active caucus members but left as partisanship in the house grew (’round about the time of the formation of BOLDPAC).

NB – Rep. Dennis Cardoza is a member? The reason why I ask is that I have a friend that is very active in the Portuguese community in Massachusetts. When I said once, “Well, you are sort of Hispanic too…” she got very offended.

“But, Portugal was part of Hispana too.”

“No, it was part of Lusitania. We aren’t Hispanics, we are Luso-Americans.”

Maybe the community in New England is more uptight, you know, all that snow and chowder.

Second mildly related anectdote:

I drove around Rep. Hilda Solis when she came to the 2001 Young Democrats of America convention. The radio in the rental car I was driving for some reason had the local classical station on. I left it there, figuring it wouldn’t offend anyone. Solis and one staff member got into the car and she said, “Oh please, you think that just because I’m in congress that I’m old and boring? Put on some rock and roll…”

I switched it one of our copious classic rock stations (one that has probably changed format three times since then) and she sang along.

No, I’m a Wildcat Fan All the Way, I Love that Tubby Smith…I Mean Merlin Olson

A correspondent sent me a little bit from former Avondale Mayor Ron Drake’s web page. I never visit there. Since I don’t go there, I miss stirring pieces of rhetoric and innovative public policy such as this one:

I understand that for many, a better quality of life comes from working in a good job. I want to help Arizona retain quality jobs and I’ll work to attract new businesses to our cities, towns and counties at a rate that is compatible with our environment and fair to the construction indsutry.


Sorry, dozed off there. Did I miss something?

Anyway, the thing that our corresponent found funny on the site was this picture, entitled “Ron Drake – Casual.” Notice the logo on the polo shirt? Yeah, it’s a U of A logo. So, when is he a U of A fan? Was it when he attended and graduated from Northern Illinois University?

Far be it from me to think that hs is all of a sudden “going native” for a mostly Southern Arizona district. Next he’ll be telling us how much he loves Eegee’s and bragging about his collection of Al Perry singles.

Maybe it’s not all political. Round about this time of year, thousands of our brothers and sisters from the Valley of the Yakes who can’t stand us and can’t imagine driving anywhere south of Baseline road suddenly become Wildcat fans. Que sera sera.

NB – Somebody will write and tell me, “See, you Dummycrats can’t even come up with anything to criticize him on except his shirt…” Well, if the guy would actually say something interesting, I’ll find a more interesting criticism.

Oro Valley: Vestar and Loomis Win

The Town of Oro Valley had its election yesterday, and Mayor Paul Loomis fought off a challenge from Amphitheater School Board Member Nancy Young Wright. Wright ran a good campaign and raised a great deal more money than Loomis. Wright made breaks to developers, particularly a bizarre deal given to Vestar Development Co., a central issue in her campaign. She managed 42% of the vote.

The Vestar deal allows them to capture 45% of sales tax revenue from their development. This went beyond a regular package of incentives. This isn’t “We’ll give you a break on sewer fees” or something. Essentially, Oro Valley gave away its taxing and spending authority to a private entity. The deal was capped at $23.2 million (this in a community whose last budget was only $99 million), but there is little oversight over how Vestar spends the money and it sets a bad precedent. Vestar had made it clear that without this “incentive,” they would not build the Oro Valley Marketplace, the development in question, at all.

I guess that Vestar is a maginal company, always on the brink of bankruptcy. Why else would they have demanded the tax “incentive.”? Vestar needs these tax breaks to build because they don’t have the cash, I guess, but their political action committee had the cash to innundate voters with mailers and slickly produced DVDs.

Along with the Loomis/Wright race, the Vestar development deal was on the ballot. A group called Stop Oro Valley Outrageous Giveaways, with the clumsy SOVOG acronym, formed and managed to force the deal onto the ballot. Unfortunately, they were up against a Vestar funded political action committee, and Oro Valley voters, for some reason, approved the deal.

SOVOG looks at this as a bit of a victory though. They felt like this deal was approved with little public input (in the past, the Oro Valley Town council had been criticized for lack of public comment at hearings), and they at least made the public look at this deal.

As much as we on this side of the political line love to complain about politicians being in the pocket of developers, voters have to learn to step up to when the time comes. No ammont of money or slick DVDs forces a citizen to vote for this sort of corporate welfare.

He’s In!

Sen. Harry Mitchell has announced that he is stepping down as Arizona Democratic Party Chairman and running against Rep. J. D. Hayworth. Let the games begin.

Hayworth spends an awful lot of space on his official congressional page criticizing Governor Janet Napolitano, probably looking forward to a US Senate race against her later. I’ve never been too sure that it was appropriate to do this, but now, it looks a bit premature, doesn’t it?

Study: Many Voters Don’t Understand Prop. 200 Restrictions

A study from Northern Arizona University released this weekend concludes that 37% of voters are unfamiliar with the requirements of the so-called Protect Arizona Now act that voters passed in 2004. Today, some locales are having their first elections under the new restrictions, so many consider today the “kickoff” for the new voting requirements.

64% say that they have seen nothing in the news media about this. It doesn’t suprise me, given local TV seems to have trouble covering any story more complex than the latest car accident or Wildcats basketball. But it also makes me wonder, what ever happened to all that Help America Vote Act money that the Seceretary of State’s office is supposed to use for, you know, helping people vote? She seemed to have enough room to put her name and face really large on those mailers, think she could have spent some time informing people about this?

All throughout the last century, public policy was about expanding voting rights. The Seventeenth Ammendment, Nineteenth Ammendment, Harrison v Laveen, the Voting Rights Act, the Twenty-Sixth Ammendment, all were aimed at getting more people to vote. In the early 1990’s, we abolished the position of Deputy Registrar in this state and enabled people to register to vote almost anywhere. We’ve decided now that barefooted, sunstroked, impoverished border crossers are so scary that we need to dial back our voting rights.

I know, I’ll get a post from someone (Phx Kid, probably) that says “All you need is an ID, that’s not a restriction…” Well, we’ll see how the law actually gets applied. Will everyone be asked for ID? Will some ID’s get more scrutiny than others?

How much do you want to bet that there will be no coverage of how this law gets implemented until an upper-middle class Anglo gets turned away from the polls? Yes, cynical me.

The reason why I get a bit paranoid about this is because this is the state of Operation Golden Eagle, a project in the 1960’s where the Republican party actively tried to supress Black and Hispanic turnout by stationing official looking people at polling places to “check IDs.” Even in the most recent presidential election, the Pima County Republicans phonebanked into the mostly Hispanic South Side of Tucson giving the wrong date for the election.

Heck, I also get paranoid about this because when I first voted, they almost turned me away. Not because I was Hispanic (who the heck can tell with me anyway?), but because the elderly election judge insisted that I was too young to vote. This despite my name not only being on the voter rolls, but my name was also on the ballot for Precinct Committeeman.

(Oh, first Republican that claims these are not “restrictions” on voting rights, see if he or she will agree that showing an ID and a background check to buy a gun is not a restriction of their Second Ammendment rights)

Strange thing about this is that people voted these restrictions in on their own volition. Somebody, somewhere, who voted for PAN is going to be the first to complain about voting being too complicated now. The cynical bastard in me will have to resist laughing at him.

Grijalva Supports Feingold Resolution

I was going to try to figure out a comment or elaboration on this, but why? Just let the man speak for himself:

I support Senator Russ Feingold’s resolution to censure the President of the United States.

Today’s resolution reflects the mood of the American people who are demanding accountability from the President. This situation demands that the Democratic leadership speak strongly and clearly to protect the constitutional rights of the American people.

This censure is not solely about wiretapping, it is the culmination of many negative impacts this Administration has had on our nation. Over the last five years, the American people’s mistrust in our government has increased due to the failures in this Administration.

President Bush has failed to be a leader in many areas. He lied about Iraq, was negligent before and after Hurricane Katrina, has hurt our seniors with a flawed Medicare drug benefit, and violated our privacy with illegal wiretapping. It is time that the President be held accountable and respond to the American people.