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 calls a “Call to Arms for Corporations, “ excerpted …

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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?

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Did You Miss the June LD9 Town Hall? Check Out the Videos (video)

LD9 town hall

The Legislative District 9 Team — Senator Victoria Steele and Reps. Randy Friese and Pamela Powers Hannley — held a virtual town hall on Thursday, June 18. In order to avoid being hacked again, this event required preregistration and other precautions. The 100 free tickets went fast. Unfortunately, the security measures created a barrier for some of the attendees. Hopefully, we can create a happy medium with our next online event.

The June town hall followed the same format as previous events. Each of us gave a 10 minute presentation on a specific topic, followed buy a question and answer period. There are four parts to the video series from the June 18 Legislative District 9 Virtual Town Hall on COVID19 in Arizona. In part one, Friese discusses the status of the pandemic and the importance of wearing face masks. In part two, Steele discusses housing challenges, evictions, and police reform. In part three, Powers Hannley discusses the Arizona Department of Education’s plans to open up Arizona’s K-12 schools. Part four is 30 minutes of questions and answers on a variety of topics.

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#COVID19 Pandemic Is Both a Problem & an Opportunity

Phoenix with no traffic

Inhabitants of Earth are nearly six months into the most disruptive year of our lives, thanks to the novel Coronavirus. The United States was slow to react to the pandemic that had already spread across Asia and Europe and killed thousands. Early denial by leaders in multiple countries– like the US, Brazil, Russia, India, and the UK– has proven deadly for the general population.

As of today, June 14, 2020, there  have been 7,767,336 cases and 429,555 deaths worldwide. Although the US has 4.25% of the world’s population, we have close to 30% of the cases (2,074,526) and 30% of the deaths (115,436).

Those of us who are not essential workers, sheltered in place for roughly two months as states declared public health emergencies to flatten the curve and contain the spread of the virus. We stopped driving and flying. Traffic disappeared — even in Phoenix. Air pollution cleared. We could hear the birds sing. We started walking our dogs regularly. We rediscovered or learned new skills like cooking and sewing and took on home projects that had waited for months or years due to lack of time in our previously harried schedules. Gardeners sprouted all over Tucson, as evidenced by the almost continuous activity on the Tucson Backyard Gardeners Facebook Group. We started making COVID19 masks and giving them away to friends and strangers, alike.  We went to more online meetings than we had ever imagined… and even went to church online… and in most cases it worked just fine. With a dearth of COVID19 information from the government and loads of misinformation on the Internet, we turned to moderated groups like Fear > Facts Tucson Coronavirus Facebook Group for trusted updates. We were separate, but we built community in different ways to stay connected. Did we really need all of the meetings … the events … the driving … the flying … the stress … the missed evenings with family?

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#BlackLivesMatter Protests Call for End to Structural Racism…Again (video)

Black Lives Matter

Two black men– George Floyd of Minneapolis and Dion Johnson of Phoenix — died on the same day at the hands of law enforcement officers. In the video, Floyd says he can’t breathe as a white officer pins him to the ground with his knee. Why is that even an approved tactic for police?

There is no video of Johnson’s death. We may never know how a man who was asleep in his car ended up dead after a state trooper stopped to check on him. Neither of these officers was wearing a body camera. We have structural racism in our country. It’s not just systemic; racism is baked into our laws and how those laws are enforced.

Here is a case in point. Last August after the Elizabeth Warren rally in Tempe, my husband and I were driving home to Tucson on I 10 after dark. You’ll remember that I 10 was under construction at that time, and the speed limit went up and down in the interior of the state. Jim and I had had a pizza in Tempe before we hopped on the freeway. I had a glass of wine with the pizza, but he had no alcoholic beverages. He was studiously following the speed limit changes on I 10 when we saw DPS flashers and heard the siren behind us.

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Arizona’s 54th Legislative Session Ends: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Rep. Pam Powers Hannley

Usually, sine die is an orderly but sometimes drama-filled end to the Legislative session. Historically, the Arizona House and the Senate vote to sine die (end the session) on the same night and often under the cloak of darkness.

The second session of the 54th Legislature was… different… even before the novel Coronavirus hit the world. Although Democrats made up 48 percent of the House members in the 54th Legislature, the Republican leadership refused to work with Democrats and refused to put any bills up for a vote unless all 31 of their members were in their chairs and ready to vote in lock step with their party. The Republican leadership’s attempts to tightly control the action resulted in chaotic schedules (when all Republicans were present), several closed-door Republican caucus meetings, and long stretches of inaction because one or more R votes were missing. This is no way to run a government.

The Ugly
The Arizona House of Representatives was adjourned from March 23, 2020 to May 19, 2020, due to the COVID19 pandemic. Some of us wanted to sine die on March 23 and go back into for special session(s) focused on COVID19 public health and economic issues, later when we know the economics of our situation better. Others– mostly Republicans– wanted to stay in session and pause the action by adjourning because they had hopes that their bills would still pass during this session.

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