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?
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
Two of the 11 bills that make up the Republican budget for Arizona — HB2899 and HB2900 — were defeated 30-30 in the Arizona House on Monday, June 7.
These bills include the disastrous Flat Tax proposal and the income tax cap at 4.5%. Together, they are an attack on the will of the voters because they reduce the impact of Prop 208 (Invest in Ed) on Arizona’s wealthiest residents. Arizona’s 1% (about 30,000 people) would have been the biggest beneficiaries of the Republican’s $1.5 billion in tax cuts in their budget. This state has over 7 million people. Why are the Republicans working for 30,000 people? These bills — and the other nine that make up their budget deal — deserve to die.
I am so thankful for Rep. David Cook who voted “no” on both bills along with all 29 Democrats.￼ The flat tax would have really hurt cities and towns across Arizona. They would have lost more than $200 million in shared revenue if the Flat Tax had passed. It would have forced them to cut services or raise sales taxes dramatically.￼ Rep. Steve Kaiser stood up and gave a short but impassioned speech about how glorious it would be to live in a state like Texas or Nevada with no income tax. He failed to add how high the sales taxes and miscellaneous fees are in states that have low personal and/or corporate income taxes. (Somebody pays. Roads and schools are not free.)
Continue reading Two #AZGOP Budget Bills Defeated in #AZHouse (video)
The House Appropriations Committee was debating the budget as I drove to the Capitol on Tuesday morning. The Republicans started the budget process by introducing the 11 bills that make up the coming fiscal year’s budget on Monday, May 24. Except for leaked documents and rumors, this was the first time the Democrats and the public were able to see the whole proposal (available here).
Rumors have been swirling around the Capitol for weeks about the massive tax cut — biggest ever in Arizona history — and the flat tax proposal that the Republicans were planning. The rumor mill also said they didn’t have the votes to pass it. Republicans need ALL of their members to get in line on the budget, since the flat tax and other shortcomings make their budget a non-starter with Democrats, who make up 48% of the Arizona Legislature.
Continue reading #AZGOP Budget Has Flat Tax & Tax Breaks But Lacks Votes (video)
On the afternoon of May 27, 2021, the Arizona Senate adjourned until June 10 because the Republicans don’t have the votes to pass their budget, which was created behind closed doors by a handful of their members.
ORIGINAL POST from earlier that day:
As I reported yesterday, some Arizona Republicans are feeling the heat from constituents on their horrible budget, the $1.5 bullion in tax cuts (primarily benefiting the wealthy), and the flat tax. What do they expect when an extremist budget crafted behind closed doors by handful of Republicans is revealed to the media and the voters? Of course, people will be outraged￼. Republicans have their tax cut blinders on. They are ignoring so many needs that could be funded with the money we now have.
On May 26, the House adjourned until June 10 because the Republicans did not have the votes to cram the budget through both houses in the middle of the night (standard operating procedure for Arizona Republicans). This is historic! Stopping the budget process because Republicans are in disarray has not happened in years.
Continue reading #AZHouse Adjourns with No Budget. Et Tu, #AZSenate? (video)