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)
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
Inauguration Day for the Arizona Legislature was January 11, 2021 — five days after the insurrection at the US Capitol. Since the occupation of the nation’s Capitol, the Arizona Capitol has been surrounded by chain link fencing to protect us from armed threats from the outside. Unfortunately, inside, the threat of COVID19 is not being taken seriously, in my opinion. Although the Arizona House has a policy that says members, guests and staff must wear face masks, it was not enforced at all for Opening Day. Continue reading Inauguration Day 2021: Face Masks & Chain Link (video)
LD9’s July virtual town hall was July 23, 2020. The format was a bit different for the this town hall because the LD9 team of Senator Victoria Steele and Reps. Randy Friese and Pamela Powers Hannley shared the stage with educators Leila Counta (TUSD School Board member), Taylor Cleland, and Nathan Davis (Amphi School Board Candidate) for the first 30 minutes.
We had a rousing discussion on the safety of opening up Arizona schools during the pandemic, with presentations from the educators and comments and questions from the Legislators and participants. What is TUSD doing? What is Amphi doing? How are teachers preparing for the unknown? The education video is a bit long because it includes the three presentations, plus the Q&A session. (Pop some popcorn and watch it. It’s worth it.)
Continue reading July LD9 Town Hall Focuses on Opening Up K-12 Education & COVID19 Q&A (video)
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?
Continue reading Where Are the COVID19 Wizards to Help Us Re-Imagine Ourselves & Our Future? (video)
It took Arizona three months to reach 20,000 cases of COVID19. After Governor Dour Ducey opened up the economy in early May, it took only three weeks to add another 20,000 cases. Arizona now has the WORST outbreak of COVID19 in the nation.
In addition to our state’s disregard for solid public health policies, such as a longer shelter in place directive or wearing masks in public, the state government has been shamefully slow and stingy in distribution of aid. Only 6 percent of the 16,000 Arizonans who applied for eviction relief have received it, and renters face an eviction cliff in mid-July if the Governor doesn’t act. Distribution of unemployment, pandemic unemployment, and federal aid that passes through the Governor’s office has been equally slow and minimalist. What is the point of forcing more strife onto people? Why the slow distribution of funds?
Continue reading When a Crisis Hits, #PublicBanks Respond Quickly (video)