Podcast: Cybersecurity, Corporate Surveillance & Crypto. How Safe Are We? (video)

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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)

Podcast: Fight for $15 in a Right-to-Work State (video)

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Forty years ago, in the fall of 1981, when I told my Dad that I was leaving Ohio and moving to Arizona, the first words out of his mouth were, “Well, you know Arizona is a ‘right to work state,’ don’t cha? That means ‘right to work for less.’”

I grew up in a union household. Dad was a Steelworker for most of his work life. During the 1960s and early 1970s, he was in the thick of the struggle for better wages, better benefits, and better working conditions for factory workers in Northern Ohio. Technically, I knew what “right to work state” meant, but at the time, I had no idea how moving to a right to work state would affect my career and my children’s future opportunities.

My last job in Columbus was as a professional photographer working for a swanky graphic and product design agency. (It was a really cool place to work, and over the last 40 years, particularly when I a wage slave at the University of Arizona, I often wonder why I left!)

At my first job interview in Tucson at a much smaller advertising and graphic design agency, the owner asked about my salary history. I had more than six years of experience in design, photography, and printing production. I told him that I was making $8 per hour in Columbus (and as far as I was concerned, I was worth every penny!) He literally laughed in my face and said, “You’ll never make that kind of money here in Tucson!”

Continue reading Podcast: Fight for $15 in a Right-to-Work State (video)

Podcast: Updates from Taxes to Reproductive Rights & COVID … What’s the Latest?

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One of my pet peeves is reading a cliff-hanger news story, only to be left hanging when there is no follow up. Several stories reported in my previous podcasts have had newsworthy developments since those episodes aired.

To catch you up on the details, Episode 8 is a compilation of updates.

Many of my podcasts referred to petition drives and court cases that were trying to stop bad Republican bills from being enacted. These issues were decided last week. Why last week? Because September 29, 2021 is the 91st day after June 30, 2021, which was the end of the Legislative session. Unless passed with an emergency clause or stopped by the courts or the voters, bills passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor are enacted 90 days after the end of session.

Three previous guests return to discuss the status of the contested laws – particularly the flat tax, the alternative tax to get around Prop 208, the voter suppression bills, the bills attacking the power of the Secretary of State and the power of the governor, Arizona’s latest radical anti-choice bill SB1457, and mandated COVID public health protections.

The good news is that progressives had some wins in the courts. We also had some disappointments. Needless to say, the struggle to beat back oppressive legislation continues. Of course, Governor Doug Ducey and Attorney General Mark Brnovich are appealing cases that the state lost. Brnovich is even appealing the court’s ruling that Republican Legislators acted unconstitutionally when they stuff dozens of unrelated failed bills into the budget. Who is paying for these unnecessary lawsuits generated by unconstitutional or burdensome laws enacted by Republicans? You are. The taxpayer.

Continue reading Podcast: Updates from Taxes to Reproductive Rights & COVID … What’s the Latest?

Podcast: Fighting Back Against Repressive Anti-Choice Laws in Arizona & Texas (video)

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In 2016, Senate Republicans stopped President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court to replace Justice Antonin Scalia. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it was too close to the election and that the new president should choose the new supreme court judge. Despite nationwide outcry against this, the Supreme Court functioned for months with only eight justices. After President Donald Trump took office, he nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch in January 2017,  Judge Brett Kavanaugh in July 2018, and Justice Amy Coney Barrett on September 2020, just months before the 2020 election. (I guess according to Mitch McConnell rules are meant to be broken.)

The US is currently suffering the aftermath of these three conservative appointments. Multiple Republican-controlled state legislatures have passed restrictive anti-abortion bills during the past decade. Since the Supreme Court has taken a decided hard turn to the right with the Trump era appointments, states like Texas and Arizona are in the forefront with anti-choice legislation designed to challenge Roe v Wade.

Continue reading Podcast: Fighting Back Against Repressive Anti-Choice Laws in Arizona & Texas (video)

Podcast: Arizona Bowl: Using Sex to Sell Football & Gaming (video)

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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)

Roots of Arizona Libertarianism Can Be Found in 1950s Virginia (video)

Save our billionaires

Although Democrats make up 48% of the Arizona Legislature and represent more than 50% of the state’s population, Arizona Republicans crafted the next fiscal year’s ~$13 billion budget — complete with a fiscally dangerous Flat Tax and $2 billion in tax cuts for wealthy cronies — behind closed doors with a only a handful of their members.

It’s no wonder that it is June 24, 2021, and we have no budget. They have been twisting their members’ arms and cutting deals to stuff everyone’s failed legislation into the budget to buy votes. This is no way to run a government.

It makes me wonder how much money and what special interest groups are behind the Republican plans to destroy the state’s economy, the public school system, and our mail-in voting system — while cementing power for the powerful — all in one Legislative session.

The Republican budget completely ignores the needs of the people of Arizona and the desires of the voters. Voters said they wanted the rich to pay their fair share in taxes to support public education when they voted overwhelmingly for Prop 208 Invest in Ed in 2020. They also said overwhelmingly that they did not want expansion of empowerment scholarships (ESAs AKA private school vouchers) when they voted against Prop 305 in 2018.

Continue reading Roots of Arizona Libertarianism Can Be Found in 1950s Virginia (video)