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.

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

#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?

Continue reading #COVID19 Pandemic Is Both a Problem & an Opportunity

#COVID19 Shines Spotlight on Inadequacies of Profit-Driven Health Care (video)

hospital

As of today, June 8, 2020, there have been 7 million cases of COVID19 worldwide and 402,555 deaths. The US has the worst COVID19 track record with 2 million cases and 110,514 deaths. Although the US has 4.25% of the world’s population, we have had 28% of the cases and 28% of the deaths.

Why does the US have such a dismal track record in fighting the novel coronavirus? I thought we had the “best healthcare system in the world.” We have the most expensive healthcare system in the world, but when you look at our public health data and our response to COVID19, we definitely do not have the best system in the world.

The United States is the only developed country in the world that does not have a national health plan that guarantees care for all residents. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was a nice try, but its efficacy and affordability have been whittled away by Republicans in Congress.

Why is the US response to COVID19 so disorganized and inadequate? Before the pandemic, we had an over-priced, inequitable system based upon profit and a just-in-time supply chain of personnel, equipment and beds. The novel coronavirus turned the spotlight on inadequacies and inequities of our health care system. In the United States, the health care you get depends on your income and your ZIP Code– not your needs. If you’re a resident of the United States you should have access to the same healthcare across the country. A person living in Chinle should have the same access to care as a person living in Paradise Valley. Now the person in Chinle not only does not have adequate medical care, they may not have running water or passable roads.

Continue reading #COVID19 Shines Spotlight on Inadequacies of Profit-Driven Health Care (video)

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.

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

Join the LD9 Team for a COVID19 Virtual Town Hall on April 30

LD9 Legislators

When I look at the above photo, I think to myself, “Those were the days.” I miss seeing you all, but I do enjoy hearing you on the phone and seeing you on video conferencing.

Although the LD9 team can’t meet with you at house parties and libraries, we can still meet virtually. My seatmates– Senator Victoria Steele and Rep. Randy Friese– and I have participated in many online meetings with constituent groups and other Legislators during the adjournment.

Now we are taking the leap and hosting our own online LD9 Town Hall on Thursday, April 30 at 4-5 p.m. Each of us will give a topical update related to COVID19 and then take questions. Senator Steele will address unemployment insurance, Dr. Friese will discuss the COVID19’s impact on the Arizona budget, and I will talk about the public health aspects of the pandemic (testing, contact tracing, etc.) Dr. Friese is also available to answer questions as a healthcare provider who is working in the hospital through the crisis.

Continue reading Join the LD9 Team for a COVID19 Virtual Town Hall on April 30

If the #AZLeg Opens on May 1, Dems Will Wear Masks (video)

Thanks so much to Greer Warren, Merrill Eisenberg, and everyone who has been volunteering for weeks to make 1000s of cloth face masks to give away.

You may have heard that the Arizona Legislature has been called back to work on May1 (next Friday). On Thursday, the word on the street was that the Senate Democrats and Republicans wanted to come in on May 1, sine die (end the session), and come back in the future for a special session on the coronavirus and related budget issues.

Many House Dems and an unknown number of House Republicans agreed with that plan. I agree with that plan; I also am open to passing a limited number of consensus bills that are related to COVID19, help the people, and have support of at least 3/4 of House members.

The drama among Republican Legislators last week was the rift between House Republicans who wanted to do a week’s worth of committee hearings (without public testimony) and a week of floor debate to pass some more of their bills– and the vast majority of the rest if us who want to end the session and go into a special COVID19 response session later when public health and budgetary needs are clearer. (For the record, the Legislature appropriate $55 million from the skinny budget and $50 million from the Rainy Day fund for COVID19, and the feds have given Arizona billions to fight the virus. The problem is that the decisions are being made by an ice cream salesman– and not by the state’s disaster response chief, who resigned a few weeks ago.)

Between the three of us, Merrill, Greer and I volunteered to make 30 masks for House Democrats and staff if we have to be there on May 1. Phoenix volunteers are also making some masks.

I don’t think it’s going to be safe in the Arizona House without a mask, gloves and social distancing. They have guaranteed that there will be social distancing on the floor. Some members will be voting remotely from home or from their offices. My plan is to be on the floor, wearing mask and gloves. Hopefully, people won’t try to drag this out with partisan vanity bills– like voter suppression, racing, license plates or tax giveaways.

We should be focused on the tasks at hand and the safety of the people of Arizona– not on passing vanity bills and corporate carveouts.