Long-term drought, extreme heat, intense fires and unpredictable weather — obviously, Arizona is feeling the effects of climate change now.
Governor Doug Ducey and Republican Legislators continue to pursue the capitalist path of unbridled and unchecked growth as the road to prosperity, with no concern regarding the environmental impact or the long-term sustainability of their ideas.
In her speech to the UN climate conference in 2019, teen climate activist Greta Thunberg called the corporate push for more consumerism … more growth … more building “fairytale” and warned world leaders that the youth of planet Earth expect action. In 2021, Thunberg called the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow “more blah, blah, blah” and scolded leaders for making little progress.
Climate change is a ticking time bomb. The human race has roughly this decade to make major changes in order stop the worst effects of climate change.
For the commentary this week, you’ll hear Thunberg scolding world leaders for inaction on climate change on behalf of the world’s children in 2019.
Continue reading Podcast: How Will Climate Change Shape Arizona’s Future? (video)
As prescribed in the US Constitution, every 10 years the United States conducts a census and counts everyone in the country. After the census, there is a redistricting process in which the areas that have gained population can potentially gain seats in the US House of Representatives. Population shifts nationally and statewide dictate that new maps be drawn to update representation in government at multiple levels. Historically, redistricting has been conducted by the political party in power in each state. This has resulted in highly gerrymandered and oddly shaped districts that are designed to keep the party in power in power for another 10 years until after the next census. Allowing the political parties to draw lopsided maps – literally – is obviously not a fair to the people and leads to unrepresentative government.
In 2000, the voters of Arizona passed a Citizen’s Initiative that took the redistricting process out of the hands of the Republican-controlled Legislature and gave it to an Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC). By law, there are two Republican members, two Democratic members and one Independent member.
Arizona’s 2021 Independent Redistricting Commission has been working on new Congressional and Legislative maps for a few months now. Controversial draft maps (version 10) were passed by the commissioners on October 28, 2021.
The maps are not final, and many people in Pima County, myself included, are not happy with the Pima County’s gerrymandered districts. Tucson proper is split into four different districts, ignoring natural boundaries like Interstate 10 and multiple mountain ranges and putting urban areas in districts that are heavily rural.
Continue reading Podcast: Independent Redistricting Commission Draft Maps Ready for Public Comment (video)
Before each Legislative session, out-of-town legislators, like myself, have to find living quarters in Phoenix for roughly six months.
Shopping for apartments and combing through corporate websites to look for affordable housing with no hidden fees is a laborious process. No matter how careful I am, the corporate landlords seem to always stick me with me with something.
A few years ago, I made the mistake of renting a “smart” apartment. I saw on the website that the smart apartment option was available. I didn’t realize until I showed up with the movers and a truck full of furniture that I couldn’t get out of that option. A smart apartment is one that tracks your every entry and exit with your smart phone, tracks your utility usage, and tracks who knows what else. My smart apartment had sensors hung here and there throughout the apartment, including closets and cupboards. The sensors were easy to see – and a bit creepy. What wasn’t easy to see was the smart apartment section of the lease which said by signing the lease I was giving an unnamed subcontractor permission to collect, store and use my personal data. I couldn’t get out of the $40 per month fee for a smart apartment, but I chose not to download and activate the app.
The smart apartment now seems like a quaint, old fashioned attempt at surveillance mostly because the tracking was so obvious, and by accepting a bit of inconvenience, I was able to get around most of the surveillance.
Today, with social media plus 5G, smart phones, smart watches, and all sorts of wi-fi or bluetooth enabled devices from refrigerators to car radios, we are surrounded by devices and software programs that are tracking us, collecting data, building profiles and using what they have learned about us to influence our behavior.
Continue reading Podcast: Cybersecurity, Corporate Surveillance & Crypto. How Safe Are We? (video)
In early August, a friend of mine invited me to like the Facebook group entitled “Stand Against Barstool Sports Rape Culture.”
It didn’t take much digging to figure out why my friend Kat Stratford had created this group. Barstool Sports founder David Portnoy has quite Internet rap sheet when it comes to sexist behavior and raunchy, misogynist comments about women. With boobs, butts, beers, and blackout parties, Portnoy built the “bro culture” and Barstool Sports. What started as a Boston fantasy sports and gambling newsletter and blog has become a multimillion-dollar, multimedia sports, pop-culture and gaming conglomerate.
On July 27, 2021, Portnoy announced on Twitter that the University of Arizona had offered him a “unicorn deal” by choosing Barstool Sports as the new naming sponsor of the heretofore lackluster Arizona Bowl, which is played at Arizona Stadium on New Year’s Eve. They will not only get multi-year naming privileges and notoriety through the Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl, the deal with the University also gives Barstool exclusive broadcast rights to the game. Bye, bye, CBS TV.
Exactly one month later on August 27, 2021 the Arizona Department of Gaming announced 18 of the state’s sports betting licenses and their corporate sportsbook partners. Phoenix Raceway was awarded an online sports betting license, and Barstool Sports is their partner. This contract allows Barstool Sports to run bets on the Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl during the game.
Continue reading Podcast: Arizona Bowl: Using Sex to Sell Football & Gaming (video)
Arizona House Democrats made a substitute motion to suspend the rules and bring HCR2010 Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to an immediate vote today (May 19, 2021). Republicans have been bringing us to the floor for one or two votes for several days in a row while they work their backroom budget deals, far from watchful eyes of voters, reporters and Democrats.
The Floor drama went a bit differently than the ERA vote has in past years. The newly elected Democratic women Legislators really wanted to propose the ERA. I agreed and said it would be better if someone else made the motion, this year since they’re on to me after four years of motions. Speaker Pro Tempore Travis Grantham didn’t recognize Rep. Melody Hernandez, but a few minutes later, just as Majority Leader Ben Toma made the motion to adjourn, Grantham recognized mild mannered, former school teacher Rep. Judy Schwiebert, who rose to make a substitute motion to suspend the rules to bring HCR2010 to a vote. Republicans didn’t try to substitute her substitute motion. Consequently, we voted on the Schwiebert amendment, unlike other years. (Later Grantham said he goofed on the parliamentary procedures; Toma’s motion to adjourn should have taken precedent.)
This has been a tough year for women in the Legislature with multiple attacks on our rights, passage of the Draconian anti-abortion bill SB1457, and no additional funding for housing, maternal and child health, or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). In this toxic, anti-woman environment, I think it is only fitting to propose ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.
The vast majority of people living in poverty in Arizona and in the US are women and their children. Why are we purposefully shortchanging future generations by forcing working mothers to struggle to put food on the table and a roof over their heads?
Continue reading Arizona Republicans Vote Down ERA (video)
For years, Arizona￼ has been one of the worst states in the country for affordable housing.
A recent research survey, published in March 2021, ranked Tucson #1 in the world for worst change in property affordability, with Phoenix coming in #7. The survey by Online Mortgage Advisors reported on housing affordability in 200 US cities over the past five years. It shows that “house prices have quickly become unaffordable for workers making average wages for their specific city,” according to a report by KOLD TV.
In the five years that I have been in the Legislature, affordable housing has been a hot topic which generated a lot of talk and a fair number of Democratic bills but not much Legislation that made it to the finish line. (Heaven forbid that any meaningful Democratic legislation would be signed into law — regardless of how much it would help the people of Arizona.) Unfortunately, little has been done to raise stingy benefits for the poor and the unemployed OR to tackle homelessness, housing affordability, or evictions. One positive step by the Legislature was restoration of partial funding to the Housing Trust Fund. (Also worth noting: thank goodness the voters raised the minimum wage in 2016, or Arizona residents’ income to housing ratio cost would be even worse.)
In the five years the Legislature has been talking about housing, affordability has gotten significantly worse in the state’s two major cities.￼ The video below discusses two bad bills from the past that have contributed to Phoenix and Tucson becoming less affordable. These bills should be repealed.￼ It also includes four current housing-related bills in the Legislature.
Continue reading Arizona Needs a Comprehensive Approach to Affordable Housing (video)