In our history, beginning with President George Washington and Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, the US has created four National Infrastructure Banks (NIB). Under Presidents Washington, John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin Roosevelt, National Infrastructure Banks built and upgraded infrastructure across the country from roads, damns and bridges to health clinics, schools and the national parks; provided productive work and good pay for thousands if not millions of Americans; increased production and manufacturing capacity nationwide; and created economic vitality.
I am the most independent-voting Democrat in the Arizona House and perhaps in the Arizona Legislature. How did that happen? When I first ran for office in 2015, I said I would look at every bill and ask myself, “How does this help the people of Arizona?” And if it didn’t broadly help people OR if it was a carve-out for the connected, there was no reason for me to support it.
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)
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.
Five years ago this month, I started my first campaign to run for the Arizona House to represent Legislative District 9.*
In 2016, I ran an unabashedly progressive Clean Elections campaign based upon economic reform, equity, and public health.
I promoted raising revenue by eliminating unnecessary lawsuits, tax loopholes, sweetheart deals, and corporate tax giveaways and by creating a public bank to spur the economic development, without draining governmental coffers.
I advocated raising the minimum wage, tackling income inequality, ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, and fighting discrimination against women and other minority groups.
Lastly, I was the only person back in 2015 talking about refocusing funds from the War of Drugs to tackle the opioid epidemic and to end criminalization of marijuana. Far too many people — mostly men of color — are warehoused in Arizona prisons because of activist county prosecuters and over-policing of marijuana possession.
I promised to be the voice of the people in the Arizona Legislature, and as a Clean Elections candidate, I have been free to speak my mind because I am not dependent upon big money donations.
Now more than ever, with the COVID19 virus creating financial and public health insecurity, Arizona needs experienced leaders who will fight for the people and not kowtow to the corporations.
The Coronavirus has revealed deep-seated inequities and widespread race, sex, and gender discrimination in our systems. Underfunded public schools, mass incarceration, voter suppression, food and housing insecurity, environmental degradation in the name of profit, healthcare deserts, medical bankruptcy, and violence against innocents– whether it be domestic violence, gun violence, domestic terrorism, or police violence — these broken systems are baked into our laws.
It’s time for reform.
It’s time for historic change in the Arizona Legislature and in Washington, DC in Nov. 2020.
It’s time to end austerity for the people and welfare for the corporations.
Giving away billions of taxpayer dollars annually was already an unsustainable path. Continuing Arizona’s carte blanche corporate and special interest tax giveaways during the COVID19 era and beyond is fiscally irresponsible. We will need funds to rebuild our state; the tax breaks have got to stop. We can’t afford them.
Arizona should be investing in future generations. We should fund the People’s To-Do List: education, roads, healthcare,
and security — not the corporate wish of tax giveaways, deregulation, privatization, and sweetheart deals.
How many ways can Arizona flub its COVID19 response simultaneously?
Not only did the Washington Post report that “Arizona has lost control of the pandemic,” Governor Doug Ducey also has been slow and intentionally minimalist in his distribution of relief to Arizonans who are suffering financial hardship.
His government has distributed only a tiny fraction of the funds available for unemployment, pandemic unemployment, and eviction relief. Only 6% of the 16,000 people who have applied for eviction relief have actually received it. Thousands of Arizonans could be evicted in July because Ducey is being tight-fisted and slow with the money, and deadlines are fast approaching. The Arizona Republic estimates that at the rate Ducey is currently distributing rental relief, it will take him a year to release paltry $5 million set aside to help renters.
Ducey temporarily delayed eviction enforcement through July 22. Congress banned evictions on property with federally backed mortgages until July 25 and funded pandemic unemployment through that date. These cutoff dates are less than a month away, and Arizona is seeing record number of cases of COVID19 every day — because Arizona and so many other red states opened up economies too quickly. Ducey is also being slow giving earmarked money to local governments and tribes. What is the point of forcing suffering on the people of Arizona?