LD9 #COVID19 Town Hall on Testing, Unemployment & the #AZ Budget (video)

LD9 town hall video

The Legislative District 9 Team– Senator Victoria Steele,  Rep. Randy Friese, and myself– held our first virtual town hall on Thursday, April 30, 2020. Except for getting hacked at the end [more on that below], it was a great meeting. Many LD9 precinct committee people were on the call. Over the course of the hour, 125 people jumped on the virtual meeting, and for most of the meeting there were close to 90 participants. If you have been to one of our town halls, we’re lucky to get 25 people, so the attendance was amazing, as far as we are concerned. If you were unable to attend online, I broke the town hall into three videos. You can view them below the fold.

Rep. Powers Hannley on COVID19 Data and Testing

I started the show by talking about Governor Doug Ducey’s most recent executive order, Thursday’s COVID19 data, and Ducey’s three-Saturday testing blitz. His goal is to perform diagnostic tests on 30,000-60,000 people on three Saturdays — May 2, 9, and 16– at multiple locations in Arizona. Today’s data from the Arizona Department of Health Services shows that they have done 10,000 tests since our town hall on April 30. You can see the list of testing blitz sites for the three Saturdays here. It was my understanding that the tests were supposed to be FREE (since the Legislature gave Ducey $105 million and the feds gave Arizona money specifically for testing), but I have since learned that they may bill your insurance. This is like the “free” flu shots at Walgreens. If you have no insurance, it is supposed to be free.

Senator Steele on Pandemic-Related Unemployment

Senator Steele did the second segment of the town hall and addressed unemployment in the US and Arizona, what the pandemic benefits are, and how to get them. She said she has gotten more calls to her office on this topic that anything else.

Dr. Friese on COVID19’s Impact on the Budget & What It’s Like on the Frontlines

Rep. Friese is assistant minority leader of the House Democratic Caucus and services on the Appropriations Committee. In his segment, he explained the state’s current financial situation and talked about the likelihood of one or more special sessions to deal with the budget and/or the virus. He also gave us a glimpse of what it’s like to be trauma surgeon in the midst of a pandemic.

What Happened at the End

As I said above, it was a great meeting… until the last minute. Our Zoom meeting was not secure enough, and we were Zoom bombed with child pornography. My husband Jim and I scrambled to shut the meeting down ASAP. The whole LD9 team is extremely sorry that our friends were subjected to these images, and we sent out messages to our mailing lists.

After the meeting, the House Democratic Chief of Staff immediately contacted the Department of Public Safety (DPS). They contacted the FBI, and the FBI is investigating the incident. Jim and I worked with them to get what they needed off of my computer– so the original footage could be deleted, which it has been.

Zoom bombing meetings is a growing nationwide problem. Bad actors disrupt lists of online Zoom meetings daily, now that so many groups are using this technology to communicate in the days of sheltering in place and social distancing.

Victoria, Randy and I will not let these people destroy our webs of friendship, activism and democracy. We want open meetings, but we also safe spaces for everyone. We are looking into ways to make our online meetings more secure in the future. Up until the last minute, when our community was assaulted by online predators, it was a great meeting filled with discussion and sharing. We so appreciate your support.

We know how upsetting this incident was for many of you. We urge anyone needing it to reach out and talk with someone they trust. You also can contact the Sexual and Domestic Violence Services Helpline at (800) 782-6400.

Take care. Stay safe.

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