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)
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?
Eighteen months ago the Arizona Legislature shut down due to the COVID19 pandemic and the governor’s shelter in place order. Arizonans have traveled a rocky road since then.
Throughout most of the pandemic, Arizona’s government has been willing to sacrifice lives in order to hew faithfully to the right’s anti-science ideology, which dovetails neatly with the “open for business” mantra. Pressure from the Chamber of Commerce, COVID deniers, and the Trump administration caused Arizona Governor Doug Ducey to jump the gun more than once and open the state up for business too soon. In the summer of 2020, Arizona was worst in the world for COVID19.
My guests today are Will Humble, executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association and former director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, and Rep. Melody Hernandez, who is paramedic. Humble provides a brief overview of where Arizona has been and where we are now with the pandemic. He breaks down the history, the science, the policies, the politics, and the personalities. In contrast, as a frontline healthcare worker throughout the pandemic, Hernandez tells stories of tragedy, death and perseverance.
Continue reading Podcast: COVID19 in Arizona: Where Are We Now? 18 Months Later (video)
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)
Work has changed dramatically in the past 40 years.
In the 1980s, President Reagan busted the air traffic controllers’ union, corporations began closing factories and offshoring American jobs to countries with cheap labor, and trickledown economics dictated tax cuts for the rich and the dregs for the rest of us.
It the 1990s, banking deregulation paved the way for the Wall Street crash of 2008 by eliminating financial protections enacted after the Great Depression.
During the Great Recession, which dragged on for years, almost 9 million Americans lost their jobs. Unemployment hit its peak at 10% in 2009. Although, many governors tout robust recoveries from the 2008 Wall Street crash, the jobs Americans have today are dramatically different from jobs in the 1970s – before union busting, offshoring, and tax cuts for the rich became commonplace. Before politicians cared more about fundraising and getting elected, than about the people they claim to serve.
Continue reading Podcast: Labor Day, How Unions Are Organizing Arizona
If you followed my Legislative video updates during the 2021 session, you already know that it was a grueling session that lasted two months longer than the 100-day target for Legislative sessions in Arizona. Republicans generally prefer to push bills through the process as soon as possible before the people catch wind of what they are proposing and show up to protest.
Why did the Republicans drag out this session? Because they spent two months twisting members’ arms on the budget and making individual backroom deals to buy votes.
With their extreme hubris and entitlement on full display during the 2021 session, Republican Legislators acted as if their one vote margin was a mandate to impose authoritarian government and crushing austerity on future generations, while suppressing the vote, further reducing women’s rights, and secretly pumping up mandatory sentencing. (The failed mandatory sentencing laws that Republicans unconstitutionally stuffed into the budget were discussed in Episode 1 of this podcast.)
The result was that some of the most extreme bills proposed in my five years in the Arizona House were debated and passed — or inappropriately shoved into the budget. Stuffing multiple Republican Legislators’ failed pet bills into the budget just to buy their votes on the Flat Tax, the alternative tax for small business, and other fiscally irresponsible ideas is a dangerous trend. Instead of negotiating with the 29 Democrats in the House, the 31 Republicans did everything they could to pass laws to take away the financial benefit of Prop 208 Invest in Ed to public education and automatically eliminate more than one billion dollars a year in new tax revenue from future budgets.
Continue reading Podcast: Arizonans Fight Back Against #AZGOP with Six Referenda (video)