The Citizens Clean Elections Commission (CCEC) organizes and hosts debates for all elections in which at least one Clean Elections candidate is running. In Legislative District 9, three of the five people running for office are Clean candidates: Jim Love, Victoria Steele and me. The other two people who are running for house– Rep. Randy Friese and J.P. Martin– are running traditional.
Since early ballots for the August 28 primary election will be mailed on August 1, the CCEC has been hosting many debates in the past month. On July 19, the LD9 candidates had their debate. (The LD9 video link is here and the embedded video is below. To watch other CCEC debates go here.)
CCEC debates include some questions that are asked of all candidates and other questions that are asked of specific people. I have annotated the debate with time stamps– in case you want to focus on particular topics. Since there were several audience questions about guns in schools, the environment and prison reform, I have grouped those questions and answers.
Last week was action-packed in the Arizona Legislature. We returned to work on Monday– just a few days after immigration restrictions and the Muslim travel ban and related protests unfolded at airports (including Sky Harbor).
This week I was proud of the Democrats in the Legislature. I am particularly proud of my Sisters who are also first-time Legislators: Representatives Athena Salman, Isela Blanc, Kelli Butler, Winona Benally, Mitzi Epstein, and Kirsten Engel.
Yes, we’re the minority, but we’re a fiery bunch with a lot to say. Thirteen of the 25 Dems in the House are new, and several of the newbies are unabashedly Progressive (like me) or Progressive-leaning, depending upon the issue.
Often, the people who spoke truth to power this week included some or all of the women listed above. But don’t take my word for it. Watch the videos.
Jan 30:Democrats made statements about the Muslin travel ban.
Jan 31:Democrats spoke out against snake shot and rat shot in the city. (The vote broke along party lines.)
Feb 1:A lively debate ensues regarding states rights and Donald Tump’s executive orders. Unnecessary fingerprinting which could disproportionately affect the poor also debated.
Feb 2: We had our second gun rights debate– this time we discussed “smart guns”. Feb 2 was such a big day that there are eight videos. (Helpful hint: if you click on one here and look below the video feed, it will say which bills are debated in that clip.)
More action this week with a full calendar of votes. It’s TV worth watching; all of the meetings are live-streamed, videotaped, and archived. Archives are here. Live streaming link here.
Floor action begins daily at 1:30 p.m. Committee meetings are at 9 a.m. or 2 p.m. (or after Floor). Republican and Democratic Caucuses meet at 10 a.m. on Tuesdays. All of these meetings are Monday – Thursday, so out of town Legislators can be home on the weekends with family and constituents.
Primary races are good for the Democratic Party because they allow different opinions to be heard. Last night while watching the Democratic National Convention (DNC), the value of the Clinton vs Sanders primary was evident. As a progressive, I heartened to hear Senator Bernie Sanders say that the two camps came together on the platform and came to agreement regarding debt-free college, busting up the banks, making society more equitable, ending Citizens United, and other populist agenda items. (They also added the Equal Rights Amendment – ERA – to the platform, but no one mentioned it.)
Mission accomplished, Bernie. Thanks for your service to the 99%. Bernie pushed Hillary and other establishment Democrats to the left and opened their eyes to the inequities of our current economic policies which offer largesse for the 1% and austerity for the 99%. They balance tax cuts and giveaways for big corporations with budget cuts, layoffs and tax increases for the rest of us– Robin Hood in Reverse.
I am by far the most progressive candidate running in Tucson and the only Tucson Democrat running clean. I have often quip that I am the Bernie Sanders of Tucson– with Hillary Clinton’s gender issues. I am pushing the local political discussion out of the safety zone of politics as usual and toward a more progressive direction– particularly in the area of economic reform, wages, and money in politics. Back in September 2015, when I started campaigning, no one else was talking about the $4 billion in unaffordable corporate tax cuts, $400 million in tax credits (half of which go to private businesses), $312 million in interest on our debt to Wall Street, or God knows how many millions in unnecessary lawsuits. And no one else was talking about income inequality or the living wage.
Listen to the answers. You’ll hear little progressive hints from the other two, and you’ll learn where we stand on the issues. The Zona show is the only venue where we were all asked about gun control, marijuana legalization, and raising the minimum wage, among other things. There are differences between the three of us; it’s worth the 30 minutes. (My segment is around 19:49.)
The Supreme Court is in the midst of its 2016 decision season, when legal cases that have been winding their way through the system for years have their big day. Since the Republicans in Congress refuse to do their job and confirm a new SCOTUS justice to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died suddenly, many recent decisions have been deadlocked 4-4, allowing the lower court’s decision to stand.
Today’s decisions were wins for women because both decisions will save lives.
Abortion Clinic Restrictions Shot Down
In a 5-4 decision, Supreme Court justices struct down Texas abortion clinic restrictions that would have closed all of the clinics in Texas, except a handful in the five major urban areas. This was the Texas law that catapulted Texas Legislator Wendy Davis to national prominence when she filibustered it in 2013. That year, Republican-controlled Legislatures across the country debated 300 bills to limit women’s rights and abortion access. Thanks to copycat laws pedaled by anti-abortion groups like the Center for Arizona Policy, today’s SCOTUS decision means similar restrictions in other states (like Arizona) are likely unconstitutional. (Check out the New York Timesmaps here.)
Today is Fathers’ Day. It’s been almost 20 years since my Dad, James L. Powers, Sr., passed away… far too young.
Many of you have heard my speeches about my Dad’s unwavering support for the United Steelworkers. He was a long-time member and an officer in his local in Lorain County. That is… until the last strike when Thew Shovel closed the plant in Ohio and moved to the south for cheaper, non-union labor. As a vice president, grievance man and a contract negotiator, Dad was a strong fighter for working men and women, and he argued politics and unions with everyone, particularly his father (my grandpa).
Dad, the Working Man
Dad was one of those boisterous, in-your-face union guys that you see in the movies. He was a third-generation electrician, a Navy vet, an NRA member, an avid outdoorsman, a hunter, a John Wayne aficionado, a great dancer, a quirky style icon, a ham radio nut, and a Republican, until Nixon broke his heart and he changed his registration to Democrat after Watergate. He drank to much, fought in bars, won and lost rings and watches playing craps, and carried a switchblade and sometimes brass knuckles. (Truth be told: he may have won those two prizes shooting dice. Jimmy and I were always fascinated to see his winnings in the morning.)
Thew Shovel was in South Lorain, a grungy, hard-scrabble place with economic immigrants from all over the US and the world. “Hillbillies” from Kentucky and West Virginia worked alongside Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Hungarians, Poles, Italians, and workers from the earlier immigration waves like the Germans, English, and Irish. Lorain is called the “International City” because so many nationalities lived there and worked in the factories of Northern Ohio– US Steel, the shipyards, the Ford plant, the GM plant, BF Goodrich, Moen, Nordson, and many others– all gone or, at least, greatly diminished now. Unionized factory jobs made Northern Ohio a true melting pot of ethnicities in the 20th century.
I remember going to Thew once or twice with Mom to pick Dad up when his car didn’t start. (Since both of my parents worked, they always had two vehicles. Mom drove the “good car”, and Dad always drove some rusty rattletrap that was held together with shade tree mechanics and cooled with a Thermos of iced tea on a hot summer day. I remember driving to Lorain once with Dad and my younger brother Jim, who was a toddler at the time. The floor boards on the passenger side of his car were completely rusted out, and I could see the road whizzing by beneath us. Being maybe five years old or so, I remember expressing concern to Dad that Jim and I may fall out onto the pavement and be run down by the cars behind us. There were no seat belts or car seat back then. Dad said, “You’re OK. Don’t look down” and kept driving. There was an “emergency” at radio station, where he was a part-time engineer, and he had to take us along. He left us in the car for what seemed like forever while he went inside to get the station back on the air. It’s a wonder some of us survived our childhoods.)
I have vivid mental picture of the Thew Shovel factory– smelly, noisy, dark, dirty, and stifling hot, and I remember thinking, “Wow. This is where Dad goes everyday.” Life for a working man in the industrialized north was hard. Lorain and Lake Erie were extremely polluted in the 1960s, before the EPA. The air was thick and dirty. The beaches were strewn with dead Lake Erie perch. The sky and the houses were pink with dust from the steel mills. With a job like that, it’s no wonder Dad loved camping, hunting and fishing. (And it’s no wonder he fought so hard for benefits and better working conditions for USW workers.)
My Dad, the Gun Owner
I have been thinking a lot about my Dad during this past week– not so much because of Fathers’ Day– but because of the mass shooting a week ago in Orlando, Florida and the gun control debate that has followed.
I originally wrote the blog post below on Sept. 18, 2013, a few months after the Congress failed to act on post-Sandy Hook legislation. In the US, there have been many more massacres with assault weapons since then– including the mass shooting of 50 people in an Orlando nightclub, early this morning. Instead of working to make our citizens safer by enacting common sense gun laws, the Arizona Legislature routinely passes laws promoting the proliferation of guns of all types, everywhere, even in the Legislature.
Heavy sigh. How many more people have to die before our government stands up to the NRA?
This week, a lone gunman opened fire in a Washington DC naval facility, killing 12 people and injuring 8 others before being killed by authorities. Within hours of the shooting, Senator Diane Feinstein, who sponsored gun control legislation earlier this year, called on Congress to revive gun control efforts.
Serendipitously for gun control advocates, The American Journal of Medicine released Gun Ownership and Firearm-related Deaths by Drs. Sripal Bangalore and Franz Messerli today.
More Guns Don’t Make a Nation Safer
Appearing in the October 2013 issue of the Journal, the new research study reports that countries with lower gun ownership are safer than those with higher gun ownership, debunking the widely quoted hypothesis that guns make a nation safer.