Attention Pundits: This is What Real Bi-Partisanship Looks Like

From House Minority Leader Chad Campbell’s Facebook feed:

“Describing mine and Gov. Brewer’s relationship these past couple of years as “frosty” is definitely one way to put it… That being said, I give her credit for taking on Medicaid expansion and some school safety issues in her State of the State speech today. I sincerely hope we can put aside our differences and work together on these key issues, as well as others.”

And this, from Tucson’s own Democratic State Senator Steve Farley’s Facebook feed:

“Governor Brewer just told us she will fight to expand AHCCCS coverage to everyone below 133% of the poverty line. I haven’t been this happy with a State of the State since Gov. Napolitano! She has quite a battle against her own party now….”

Here is a statement from Bill Roe, the Arizona Democratic Party Chairman:

“I am glad that Governor Jan Brewer agrees with Democrats and is calling for full expansion of the Medicaid program under President Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act. Expansion will give Arizona’s economy a much-needed boost by creating jobs. It is the right thing to do since it will provide Arizonans with adequate health care. We hope the Governor’s leadership is enough to convince members of her own party to put the needs of Arizona ahead of petty political brinkmanship.”

The opposition party in Washington D.C. could learn a lot from these people.

Barber for the Full Term

At this hour, Ron Barber is announcing his bid for CD 2 congressional seat. This would mean he is no longer running just as a placeholder candidate for the unexpired term of Gabrielle Giffords.

This ruins the day of Steve Farley, Paula Aboud, Matt Heinz and Nan Walden. Although, I heard speculation that Heinz would run anyway. I have my doubts. I think that is based more on him jumping the gun on the interim district 8 seat and I haven’t spoken to him about it.

It also probably ruins the day of Dustin Cox too. He had a free pass to get into the state senate before this. This means he’d have to get back into a crowded LD 9 house primary that might include Paula Aboud.

UPDATE: Jim Small has tweeted confirmation that Farley is running for senate and Heinz is indicating that he may stay in.

Amirite?

I hope to have some video to post for y’all of Friday’s hearing put on to discuss the anti-labor bills before the legislature. In the meantime, here’s a quote from an AFSCME member that attended the hearing. He wanted to address the allegation that public employee unions are “bankrupting the state:”

I’m making less money now than I was four years ago. I want to ask who’s bankrupting who?

The legislators who attended asked all of us to call the members that represent us. It would be a bit pointless for me to do so: all three of mine (Steve Farley, Bruce Wheeler and Paula Aboud) were there.

In addition, County Supervisor Richard Elías, Councilmember Regina Romero and Pima College Board Member Sherryn Marshall were there. Elías gave the opening remarks to the legislators, and it wasn’t a big surprise that he was there: he had been a member of UFCW as a young man and his father is a union printer.

Surprising was another elected official to show up: Steve Kozachik. Kozachik described his experiences working with AFSCME as a councilmember during the city’s financial crisis and how the cooperative attitude was helpful. Heck, he actually knew the difference between collective bargaining and meet and confer. It isn’t the sort of nuance we’ve come to expect from Republican elected officials, especially when it comes to labor issues.

Two and Eight

Okay…here’s where it stands now:

Ron Barber is running for CD 8, but will likely announce over the next few days that he will not be running for CD 2. Paula Aboud will probably be announcing today that she will run for CD 2. A robocall went out to Democratic activists saying that she’d be doing so.

When Barber makes his announcement about CD 2 is likely when Steve Farley and Nan Walden will make their intentions known. Walden and Farley both, by the way, have been gathering signatures for Barber.

I don’t expect the Democratic field to grow any bigger than Farley, Aboud, Walden and Matt Heinz. Heinz had announced last week his intention to run in the special election, which means he must have been the only person in Democratic circles not to know that Barber was going to announce. He’s since backed out of the special and will be running in the regular election.

Another on the backing out list seems to be Tim Sultan. I haven’t seen much from him since someone from Sultan’s camp (the High Porte?) sent me an e-mail shortly after Gabrielle Giffords’s resignation. Of course, he is a new father, so he’s a bit busy.

Sultan, by the way, had an endorsement of sorts in a tweet from Three Sonorans blogger David Morales.

Whether any of these anouncements opens up other offices is up in the air. Farley is not going to resign his legislative seat, and Heinz hasn’t given much indication that he will. Aboud, on the other hand, left things a bit up in the air at a Democratic event this weekend when she said that she wants to stay in the lege to work on a couple of bills. At least one observer I talked to wondered if that came with the implication that she would resign after that work is complete.

Not So Quiet Anymore

A month ago, it looked like the District 9 races would be snoozers. Rep. Steve Farley was set to run against former Rep. Dave Bradley for state senate might provide a hint of excitement, but the house race only consisted of two declared candidates for two seats: 2010 candidate Mohur Sidhwa and former KOLD reporter Victoria Steele. The general election was looking to be even more sonambulant. Republican incumbent Terri Proud would rather not run in a race where she needs to talk to mid-town Democrats and has indicated she isn’t going to run.

The Democratic House primary looks to become a bit of a contest, however. U of A professor Todd Camenisch has looked seriously at the race. Camenisch made a run against Sen. Frank Antenori in the old 30, but registration advantage and a poor Democratic year meant he barely got 40% of the vote. Despite this, the Catalina Foothills school board member is looked at as a rising star in the party.

Enter another rising star: Brandon Patrick, recently hired on for Councilman Paul Cunningham’s staff, has been making calls exploring a possible run. Patrick’s first foray into Southern Arizona politics was his work against the police association backed Prop. 200, which polled well at first and in the end went down in flames.

The question becomes whether Patrick’s behind the scenes work for campaigns holds more sway with interests like labor unions than whatever cred Camenisch has build up as a school board member and the guy that took on Antenori.

Oh, add to that another piece of fun: what happens should Farley or Paula Aboud resign their seats to make a run either in the special election or the new CD 2?

But What Do Doctors Know About Hospitals?

One of the assertions made by supporters of HB 2067, the bill to remove authority over University Medical Center from the Arizona Board of Regents, is that somehow pointy headed academics will ruin medicine at the place. This doesn’t seem to be a concern of actual physicians. The part that Andy Biggs and company won’t tell you is that they aim to replace academic interference (an odd worry to have when the building says “university” on the front) with political interference.

This is from an epistle of Bruce Ash that he’s been distributing in any available corner of cyberspace:

Keep his hands off our community money………..don’t allow [Robert] Shelton to ruin one of Southern Arizona’s treasures so he can continue the wasteful spending and abuse that goes on at the UofA. Think about the next time you may need the services at UMC. Do you want some egg head making decisions that impact your healthcare or the kind of competent health professionals who helped Gabby Giffords?

Leaving aside how offensive it is for a Giffords basher like Ash to suddenly and cynically invoke her name when he wants to score garbage political points, it would be worth noting that at least one member of Giffords’s surgery team has weighed in on this. Here is Dr. Peter Rhee, MD, who was attending physician to Giffords after she was wounded, in a statement that will be read by Steve Farley when this bill is debated today:

I came to Tucson to build a program that will be nationally and internationally renowned and to further science. I want to be able to contribute with original ideas and see them come to fruition. This means I came to Tucson to be in academia, which is to treat patients, teach and innovate. If I can’t do this here then I guess I will go somewhere else where I can.

Dr. Rhee, by the way, is the director of the trauma unit at UMC, has published over 100 journal articles, retired from the United States Navy as a captain and recieved the Legion of Merit for service to our country. But, since he is also a professor at the medical school, he is exactly the sort of “egghead” that Ash and company think has nothing worthwhile to say about how the hospital is governed. Better to leave it up to Ash’s and Biggs’s friends.

A Couple of Other Notes From Up North

Just two things, ’cause I feel like eating a pear.

La Cervecera’s plans regarding making state employees “uncovered” by civil service protection appears to be dead right now. I’d like to think it was because legislators thought the plan was unworkable, unfair and smacked of the worst Gilded Age machine politics, but it was more likely that they didn’t want to get saddled with that much work this close to sine die and aren’t happy with some of the governor’s vetoes.

– The scheme to get the legislature involved with the Board of Regents’ plan to overhaul their relations with UMC has gone to a conference committee. The bill still takes control of UMC away from the Regents, but it has an 18 month limit. At the end of 18 months, if no other action is taken, things will revert to the status quo ante. Supporters of the Regents, Steve Farley among them, pushed for this (even though they oppose the bill) in the hopes that cooler heads will be running things later.

Because We Can Fund Things With Less Money

The governor’s corporate giveaway, oh, I’m sorry “job creation program” was COWed last night, and goes to third read today.

Okay, for those of you that are not well versed: COW is “Committee of the Whole,” basically a meeting of the entire Senate or House, and third read is a final vote in the whole House or Senate.

Don’t you feel like an insider now? Don’t be so proud of yourself.

This bill was first presented to lawmakers on Monday, with barely any time to peruse the 214 page document. Even Republican members claimed not to know what was in the bill.

The bill includes a cut in corporate tax rates from 6.49% to 4.9%. There is no requirement that the beneficiaries of these cuts be headquartered in Arizona and no guarantee that the money saved will be invested in Arizona. You may remember last session that Steve Farley and Tom Chabin fought off an attempt to do something similar under the guise of “job creation.” That time, Kirk Adams was claiming that the tax cut was going to pay itself, which their own “dynamic scoring” model didn’t bear out. This time, I haven’t heard much supply-side alchemy invoked, and even the governor’s staff is admitting that this current bill might not do much for job creation.

Also, remember that that bill came up at a time when la Cervecera was about to propose her sales tax hike to pay for schools. They pulled that when they realized how bad it looked to be cutting corporate taxes while asking for regular folks to pay higher taxes. By the way, even with that sales tax increase, we are already looking at further cuts in education and health care, you know, the ones that weren’t supposed to happen if we passed the new sales tax. Guess what will be cut further if this thing passes?

The bill also includes a provision to cut commercial, industrial and agricultural property taxes, made up for by increasing residential property taxes. There is a rebate in the law, but if you don’t file the proper paperwork, you won’t be eligible for it. Given that I have the feeling that future budgets will likely count on folks not filing for their rebate, and that most homeowners can’t afford a lobbyist, look for that to stay as complicated as it is in this bill.

The bill also creates an unaccountable bureaucracy called the Arizona Commerce Authority. I didn’t say it was unaccountable, the bill’s language does: the bill states that this new body is “The authority is exempt from state general accounting and finance practices.” Gee. This quango (I’ve never gotten to use that word before) will be funded partly through lottery revenue (Farley has already the phrase “gambling with your tax dollars.”) This will allow the state, theoretically anyway, to give money to private companies and claim that it’s not the state, thus avoiding the constitution’s “gift clause.” Is Tlatoani Adams still saying the state isn’t in the business of picking winners and losers?

Anyhow, this bill will bring all sorts of business to the state, right? I’m sure there will be companies lining up to do business somewhere where the schools are being shuttered, parks are closed and the highways are in disrepair as long as the taxes are low.

A Bit Late

The Tucson Sentinel is reporting that Ruth McClung has finally conceded the CD 8 race to Raúl Grijalva. This comes weeks after it was obvious that the math had turned against her (which she’d understand, she’s a Rocket Scientist, in case you hadn’t heard) and long after she’d get anything resembling a decent press for being a gracious loser out of it (I’ll be flabergasted if anyone but the Sentinel says “boo” about this one, even the Weekly has been quiet).

Her concession comes the day after the canvass had been officially certified, and more than two weeks after final returns had been submitted to the Secretary of State.

Given this spirit, I’d like to officially concede the Democratic Primary to my opponents. Not this last primary, but the 2006 primary. I’m sure that Steve Farley and David Bradley will represent our party well against the Republicans.

Her concession statement is after the jump. My favorite bit is “Viva the people!”: enough Spanish to claim some sort of racial unity cred without using too much to scare the racists. Kind of like her campaign.

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