Watch the LD9 Clean Elections Debate (video)

LD9 debate

Sept. 15 was the date for the Legislative District 9 candidate debate hosted by the Citizens Clean Elections Commission (CCEC) and moderated by Hank Stephensen, LD9 resident and editor of the Captiol Times Yellow Sheet.

Due to the pandemic, the 2020 CCEC debates are being held online and not in person, as is the tradition. While we were waiting in the “green room” for the event to start, CCEC Executive Director Tom Collins said that the online debates have had much larger viewership than the in-person events, which is great news.

All three House candidates participated: incumbent Democratic Reps. Randy Friese and Pam Powers Hannley and Republican challenger Brendan Lyons. Unfortunately, Lyons’ schedule dictated a “hard stop” at 7 p.m., so our debate was truncated to one hour. Many audience questions were left unasked.

Below are the video time stamps for different questions, if you are interested in specific topics. Stephensen allows for more candidate interaction; check out the robust debates on unemployment insurance and how to pay for education.

Continue reading Watch the LD9 Clean Elections Debate (video)

Arizona Daily Star Editors Interview LD9 Candidates (video)

LD9 candidates

Each election season, there is an endorsement process. Organizations, groups and causes conduct their endorsement processes differently. Some just hand out endorsements. Some require candidates to answer questions and do interviews.

Last week, the Arizona Daily Star conducted their endorsement interview with the three Legislative District 9 candidates: Democratic incumbent Reps. Randy Friese and Pamela Powers Hannley and Republican challenger Brendan Lyons. In the before times, these interviews were conducted behind closed doors with only Star personnel and candidates at the newspaper’s office. In the COVID19 era, the endorsement interview was an online forum with ~15 constituents and Star staff in the audience. Having even a handful of constituents “in the room, was a worthwhile addition. As you’ll see in the video, the people had good questions about reproductive choice, education funding and other topics.

The interview is an hour long. Pop some popcorn, pour your favorite beverage, and watch the video here. For your convenience, below are the question time stamps. (You can check out my other endorsements, honors and candidate statements here. Watch the whole collection of Star endorsement interviews here.)

Continue reading Arizona Daily Star Editors Interview LD9 Candidates (video)

Labor Day 2020: Protests against Corporate Welfare Replace Labor Picnic (video)

Labor Day Protest in Tucson

Labor Day 2020 in Tucson was … different.

Instead of hosting a giant picnic at Reid Park with games, food, and networking, the Pima Area Labor Federation (PALF) joined other groups for seven days of protests against corporate tax giveaways, gentrification, and expansion of Tucson’s Central Business District this Labor Day week.

Barrio Neighborhood Coalition activists, PALF members, Mi Familia Vota, Jobs with Justice, college students, neighbors, Catholic workers, and other progressives turned out to protest the upcoming Tucson Mayor and Council decision on Sept. 9 regarding expansion of the Central Business District (CBD) and expansion of GPLET tax giveaways in the CBD.

Tax Giveaway Protest
Ward 3 GPLET protest on Sept. 3.

The first protest was at the Ward 3 office in LD9. This office is located in the Opportunity Zone that conveniently runs along the path of destruction of the Grant Road Widening Project, which has been hanging in limbo for ~30 years just like the Broadway Blvd. Widening Project. In the days of increased online commuting, why are we knocking down all of the businesses on two major arteries, forcing businesses to move or close, and then incentivizing new businesses to go there? This is the ultimate in “picking winners and losers.” How is this friendly to local businesses when government forces many of them to go out of business or forces them to hang in limbo for decades while decisions are made in endless meetings, many of which are behind closed doors?

The Labor Day protest was at the Ward 6 office also in Midtown but in LD10. Approximately, 40 people came to that protest, including former City Councilwoman and former mayoral candidate Molly McKasson.  She lost the mayoral race to Republican and former Raytheon executive Bob Walkup. Years ago in the Arizona Daily Star, Molly said, “It’s too bad Tucson decided to put all of its eggs in the developers’ basket.” Ten years or more later, that statement is prophetic.

Continue reading Labor Day 2020: Protests against Corporate Welfare Replace Labor Picnic (video)

2020 Citizens Initiatives Explained at LD9 Town Hall (video)

LD9 town hall

The LD9 Town Hall on August 19 featured presentations by David Lujan of the Center for Economic Progress and Marilyn Rodriguez of Creosote Partners on the four Citizens Initiatives that have been battling in court to get on the November 2020 ballot.

All four initiatives — Invest in Ed (public education funding), Smart and Safe (legalization of adult use marijuana), Second Chances (prison and sentencing reform) and Healthcare Rising (stop surprise billing) — were challenged in court by those who profit from the current broken systems and want to protect those systems.

In the four videos, Lujan and Rodriguez do a great job of outlining the layers of legal challenges that each of the four Citizens Initiatives faced at the hands of Republican Legislators, the Chamber of Commerce, two retiring Pima County Democrats, and others who want to maintain the status quo in education funding, marijuana policing, prison sentences and time served, and privatized, for-profit healthcare.

It’s interesting to hear about the behind-the-scenes political maneuver by Republican Legislators and Ducey’s judges in an all-out attempt to keep all four of these initiatives off the ballot. As of this writing, Invest in Ed (Prop 208) and Smart and Safe (Prop 207) will be on the ballot. Second Chances was knocked off the ballot by separate legal challenges from retiring Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall and retiring Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez. (Why?!)

Continue reading 2020 Citizens Initiatives Explained at LD9 Town Hall (video)

Defund the Police? Balancing ‘Social Control’ & ‘Social Investment’ (video)

Robert Reich

What does “defund the police” mean to you?

Following the tragic and unnecessary deaths of George Floyd, Dion Johnson, Rayshard Brooks, Carlos Ingram Lopez and others at the hands of law enforcement officers, there have been calls to “defund the police.”

Often the same people who say “defund the police” also add “that doesn’t mean take away all of the funding.” When I ask what it does mean, the explanations often get mushy. Recently, I read “What Defund Police Really Means: Replacing Social Control with Investment” by former Labor Secretary Robert Reich.

In this Guardian article, Reich talks about increased spending in social investment beginning in the mid 1960s through President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. Beginning in 1964, the War on Poverty efforts rolled out Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, Food Stamps, cash assistance to the poor, equal opportunity programs, the voting rights act and more. By the early 1970s, these programs were working to reduce poverty, particularly among African Americans.

In 1971, future Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell wrote the now infamous “Powell Memo,” which author and historian Bill Moyers labels a “Call to Arms for Corporations, “ excerpted …

Continue reading Defund the Police? Balancing ‘Social Control’ & ‘Social Investment’ (video)

Where Are the COVID19 Wizards to Help Us Re-Imagine Ourselves & Our Future? (video)

Post-COVID19 world

Three and a half months of sheltering in place — with the novel Coronavirus just one chance encounter away — have given us time to perfect our strategies for survival during the current government-created public health crisis and to make plans for a safe, more equitable, more enlightened future.

COVID19 turned the spotlight on the glaring disparities in our social and economic systems. The virus smashed open those broken systems and refused to let us turn away from the inequities of who gets sick, who lives, who dies, who goes broke, who loses their home, and who is forced to work in unsafe conditions. Blacks in the US have the highest death rates from COVID19 across all age groups, followed by Latinos, and with whites trailing behind. Your ZipCode, your income, and your race should not determine your healthcare access or your health outcomes.

On top of this outrage within the health care delivery system, we witness the unnecessary deaths of George Floyd (Minneapolis), Dion Johnson (Phoenix), Rayshard Brooks (Atlanta), Carlos Ingram Lopez (in Tucson) and others at the hands of law enforcement officers and the out-sized police response to the George Floyd/Black Lives Matter protests around the country.  Also, don’t get me started about my fears for the widening achievement gap between K-12 students whose parents have a reliable Internet connection and adequate computing power for online learning and the students who don’t.

All of these systems were broken before COVID19.  The pandemic and related system failures tell us we can no longer ignore and enable the structural racism, sexism, and widespread discrimination in our systems and laws.  Excuse my language, but this sh*t’s gotta change. Now is the time to strategize for a better, more equitable, more inclusive future. Where are the wizards to help us re-imagine our country and create the vision?

Continue reading Where Are the COVID19 Wizards to Help Us Re-Imagine Ourselves & Our Future? (video)