Tom’s Cheat Sheet

Posted by popular demand, here are my proposition recommendations:

Proposition 122: No

This is complete bullshit. It allows the state to ignore federal laws that they legislature does not like. This sort of thing comes up every few years and seems to be a way to provide an excuse for the state to sue the federal government (unsuccessfully, in all likelihood) and provide work for a clique of otherwise unemployable think-tank attorneys at taxpayer expense.

Senator Goudinoff put it best many years ago: “I thought we already settled this question on a hill in Pennsylvania.”

Proposition 303: No

This allows terminally ill patients to access experimental drugs. Though this sounds good and is very constrained, it effectively absolves doctors of liability for handing out medications of dubious value and opens the door to all sorts of quackery and bad science.

Proposition 304: Yes

This raises legislator’s salary to $35K. Though I know that you hate the legislature, and you should these days, please keep in mind that there are a lot of good, hard-working people there who deserve better than a paltry $24K a year.

If you think that $24K is more than the legislature deserves, then keep in mind that you get what you pay for and maybe it is you that deserves a legislature that does not take its job seriously.

Proposition 415: Yes

This would authorize a $22 billion bond to build a new animal care center. The current overcrowded facility has been obsolete for decades and is scattered about an unruly warren of modular buildings, making it difficult for the staff to do its work.

The opposition to this is, with all due respect, knee-jerk and stupid. These folks would be equally opposed to a bond to build a school, a fire station, or a bridge and they deserve to be rebuffed and ostracized. This thing will cost the average taxpayer about $3 a year at most, and it is critical to the health and safety of a community where stray animals are a serious problem.

Proposition 420: Yes

This allows TUSD to sell surplus land, whether it is land that has been abandoned due to a school closure, or simply land that was purchased years ago for projects that never happened. No one will deny that the revenue is necessary, and this is a no-brainer.

Color Me Unshocked

Earlier this week, the report that no state cut more money for schools than Arizona did got a lot of play. I guess I should have written about it, but, unfortunately, the news that the folks that run our state don’t give a rat’s ass about our state’s future doesn’t shock me enough to make me angry anymore.

Phil Hubbard, who served in the legislature in the eighties and nineties, used tell a story about a Republican from Sun City who had a seat near him on the floor. Another legislator was giving a speech about preparing for the future. The legislator from Sun City leaned over to Hubbard and said, “The future? In Sun City we don’t even buy green bananas.”

These days, we’ve got a veto-proof majority and a governor serving on behalf of people who don’t buy green bananas.

Vote yes on 204…sales taxes suck and are regressive, but hoping our legislators will give a darn is a fool’s errand.

Count Franzi as Opposed

Emil Franzi comments on the troubles that the “Open Government Act” has had in reaching the ballot:

Don’t you just love it when the self-righteous and snot-impacted get embarrassed in public? The group of political losers and special interests promoting the elimination of partisan elections acted like paying enough petition passers to get 10% of the voters to sign one was not just a mandate but a message from God. Turns out they didn’t have enough legit signatures.

Hey, I didn’t say that. Franzi did.

By the way, this is from Franzi’s website Southern Arizona News Examiner. The column in which it appears is called “The Fat.” Get it?

You see…that’s as opposed to “The Skinny.”

See that’s funny because…well, never mind.

So, What’s Going On Here?

Despite it being the closest thing Arizona has to a Lieutenant Governor, being Secretary of State is not the easiest path to be elected Governor.

You’d have to go back to Sidney Osborn, our state’s first Secretary of State, to find the last guy to do it. It took him twenty-two years and four tries after he’d left the office to finally be elected Governor.

He’s the only one, actually. Few have even tried to run for Governor or any other office. Dick Mahoney was the last Secretary of State to make a try at higher office in 1994, but lost a Democratic primary for US Senate by a scant eleven votes.

In recent years, a Secretary of State has more of a chance of becoming Governor if someone is appointed Ambassador to Argentina or gets convicted of real estate fraud than actually being elected.

It may be because of the nature of the job. Unlike an Attorney General, there isn’t a lot of room to engage in whatever policy disputes are in vogue. Run as competent an office as you want, but the fact that you opened a walk-up center in some far off corner of Graham County is not going to get much notice from primary voters.

I give you all of that not just because I want to impress you with my award winning knowledge of Arizona’s political history, but to tell you why I’m a bit suspicious about Ken Bennett’s continued efforts to keep the Quality Education and Jobs Initiative off the ballot. Methinks it’s more about Bennett’s future ambitions than the any concern about “setting a precedent.”

Bennett announced yesterday afternoon that he will appeal a court decision that ordered that the initiative be placed on the ballot. I had a difficult time remembering when the last time a Secretary of State was the plaintiff in a law suit to keep something off the ballot. I called a couple of long time political observers who couldn’t think of a time either. At best it is a rare move.

If the way the petitions were filed is a problem, where is an anti-tax group to make the challenge? Why is Bennett the lead guy on this?

Coupled with Bennett’s odd (and he admits regrettable) foray in to the birther wilderness, I really have to wonder if he sees this as a way to excite primary voters. He is currently couching this in terms of legalities because he’s got to, but let’s see what he’s saying next year. Will he be talking about how he kept a tax increase off the ballot?

He’s got to get attention somehow.

NB: I know that it’s not a tax increase, but we know how this rhetoric goes. It is not only a tax hike, but the biggest in history…

Hoping for a Few Activist Judges

La Cervecera announced that she will not be calling the legislature into special session. For those that don’t remember (actually, it was only the last post), the governor was going to call a special session to deal with a citizens’ initiative to give Arizona a “jungle primary.”

I don’t pretend to know why the session got called off, but something makes me think it was not a sudden love of direct democracy and it’s attendant urge to leave things like this up to the voters. More likely, it had something to do with Senate leadership worrying that they would not have the members for a quorum. Also, the governor and the legislature were still in disagreement over what would be discussed: the governor’s proposed tinkering or the “Operation: Voter Mindfreak” proposed by folks like Frank Antenori.

(Appologies to Robert Shea, Robert Anton Wilson, Criss Angel and Geoff Tate for that one)

That’s okay, la Cervecera has found a new crusade. She’s asking the US Supreme Court to review a decision that allows state employees to place same sex partners on their health insurance.

Wow, it’s a two-fer. Nuestra gobernadora is taking a swing at two of the Republicans favorite piñatas: homosexuals and state employees. She’s doing it and she ain’t even up for re-election.

Glad to see her priorities are straight…so to speak.

We Love the Voters ‘Cept When We Don’t

Get ready. Next Tuesday, the legislature will guest star Tom Hanks as alcoholic uncle Ned.

That’s right, it’s a very special session.

At issue is the citizen’s initiative to give Arizona a “Jungle Primary.” All candidates will be on the same primary ballot with the top two finishers going to the general election.

The idea here is to limit the influence of political parties, which will of course hail a rebirth of Jeffersonian Democracy and cooperation. As we’ve seen, bodies that are elected on a non-partisan basis, such as the TUSD school board, are free of the bitter division that has been the hallmark of partisan bodies.

Yes, my tongue is firmly in cheek there. You can see that I’m not buying into the arguments of supporters.

Still, it got the signatures and it deserves to be voted on by the voters. It is out of the hands of the legislature and the governor, which is exactly what was intended when the initiative provision was written into the state constitution back in 1911.

Nevertheless, the governor and legislature are prepared to take their case to the people and, in a open democratic fashion, convince them to vote it down and…um…no.

Instead, they hope to trick them.

Hey, I didn’t say it. For all my problems with Frank Antenori, when he’s running a game, he’s happy to tell us. Here is the Arizona Republic:

Senate Majority Whip Frank Antenori, R-Tucson, said many lawmakers, Republican and Democratic alike, don’t like the citizen initiative and would favor an alternative.

But he admitted confusion is part of the game plan.

“If you put two or three (similar proposals) out there, they vote ‘no’,” he said of voters. “That’s the default.”

Yep, at least he’s honest.

The governor is pushing for a less drastic move. The initiative would allow a candidate to run with any label they want, or none at all. The governor is exploring ways to make it so candidates have to run under a recognized political party or “independent.”

(Should this pass, I will announce my candidacy for governor as a candidate of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, because no one can really stop me.)

This could make many elections, de facto, non-partisan races. Now here’s the funny part.

Remember how the Republicans wanted to force the City of Tucson into holding non-partisan elections? Remember their arguments about good government and all that? Now, we’re hearing what a huge problem it would be if people hid their true affiliation in runs for legislature and state wide office.

Hmm. It wouldn’t be about who holds power in the state versus the city, right?

What Was Weak This Week

After Andrew Thomas was disbarred, he saw the error of his ways. He has become humble, contrite even. He’s a new man.

I’m kidding of course.

Thomas took to KJZZ’s Here and Now this week to blast “corrupt” Maricopa County officials. “Corrupt,” by the way, defined as opposing him.

He’s pushing for Proposition 115, which will cure corruption by handing more power to the governor. This is sort of like the recent moves to “reform” civil service by, you know, giving more power to the governor.

Prop 115 is considered a compromise from the earlier plan to get rid of our merit selection process all together.

Since “corrupt” means everyone who doesn’t share Andrew Thomas’s politics or raises a question about his methods, what happens if this passes and a Democrat gets elected governor? I bet we’ll start hearing patronizing lectures from conservative lawmakers about restraining the power of the executive.

Of course, this sort of power and patronage grab is designed to make sure that never happens.

“Education ’12” Initiative

You may have already heard a little bit about an initiative campaign being organized to extend the Proposition 100 sales tax that was passed by the voters back in 2010. Interestingly, the group, called Education ’12, reports that their polling shows broad support for the idea.

I’m not that keen on funding things through sales taxes, which tend to be regressive. I spoke to a person involved in the effort and he told me that their polling showed that an income tax increase was a non-starter.

There are a host of other ideas that may be incorporated into the final initiative language, including establishing a minimum for funding education. Sounds good. I wonder how long it would be before our wise solons on West Washington figure out some way around that one, or if they’ll just choose to ignore it entirely.

An initial press release touting their numbers is after the jump. They promise more detailed poll numbers later.

Continue reading

Item: Antenori Admits He’s a Partisan Hack

This is something that made it’s way on Friday from the Yellow Sheet, to Blog for Arizona to the Weekly’s Range blog:

Still stewing over the Pearce recall, [Sen. Frank] Antenori told our reporter yesterday he’s meeting with Republican activists on Friday to plan revenge.

The full item is at the pay-only Yellow Sheet, but a commenter put the relevant part of the article over at BfA.

There is a general thrust to Antenori’s fit of pique. Here is one sentence from the Yellow Sheet that summarizes it:

Getting “turncoat” Dems to run – and run victorious campaigns – is another story, he said, adding that the grand scheme of his plan is to create pressure to reform recall laws, which he said have become the new tool of the left.

That’s right: reacalls are bad because people that disagree with Frank Antenori might use them. That’s a fine reason to get rid of a pillar of our state’s constitution.

If there were constant threats of recalls for partisan reasons, he’d have a point. Serious recalls in our state, however, are most common at the city level where most officials are non-partisan. Attempts at recalls over the last few years that came because of a partisan tantrum didn’t even get out of the gate. The near-biennial recall campaigns announced by a group of Democratic dissidents against John McCain routinely go nowhere, and the recall of Clarence Dupnik fizzled despite support from Republican blogs.

Antenori thinks that the recall process is broken because a powerful friend of his, Russell Pearce, was ejected from office because of it. He forgets that calling the powerful to account before the voters doesn’t mean the recall system is broken, it means it’s working.