Today is not only a big day, but also the beginning of a long battle over the future of public education funding in Arizona.
The Save Our Schools AZ coalition of parents, teachers and other concerned citizens just submitted 111,540 signatures to repeal the voucher bill --many more than the 75,000 or so required to compel a vote next November, 2018.
Their dedication, skill and tenacity has impressed everybody. With over 2,500 dedicated volunteers, they have sent a signal that they are not to be trifled with.
So, here is what you can expect next.
First, the super-wealthy anti-public school forces will throw much cash-ola from their deep pockets at lawyers to attempt to throw the referral off the ballot.
Then, if they can't do that, their lackeys in the legislature will attempt to repeal the very law that they put in place, a la HB2305 from 2013.
Here is where they will be in real trouble. Those legislators who voted for the bill the first time will be wise to heed this warning: they are not safe in 2018. They are not safe if they vote to repeal the law they put in place, as it will signal to the voters that (a) they are the kind of lawmakers who are willing to play games with public policy and (b) they do not respect the will of the voters.
The right wing does not understand that people are paying attention on this issue. They public may not have gotten activated about dark money or attacks on voting rights in previous years. But they will get very active about attacks on their neighborhood schools. They have shown it already.
Further, the Right has not attended the many new organizational meetings that I've seen. Every Democratic party LD meeting is twice its size over last year. We now have Resist, Indivisible, Stronger Together and many more. The next We the People Summit on November 4th (you saw it here first) will see even more than the 1,500 people that we saw at the first summit.
So, go ahead dear legislator. Repeal that law. Play games with our constitutional rights to refer laws to the ballot. It is clear from the massive activity around the state that even people like Debbie Lesko are not safe.
In other words: bring it.
News Around the District
1) Speaking of impressive numbers, the number of people who have been out knocking on doors in the heat for Kevin Patterson for City Council has been staggering.
Here's an informative interview on KJZZ that highlights just how Kevin Patterson is a much better advocate for the city. The current councilman has become known for his out-of-touch and radical rejection of the important role of the city to deliver basic services or protect its citizens.
When knocking on doors for Kevin last, I spoke to a Republican who said he would never vote for Sal. To paraphrase, "He slipped in to office when he was appointed to replace Greg Stanton, and he's never really represented us."
Here are the details on the next walk for Kevin. I'll be there. Join me. If you can't join us then, here is the list of daily events. Please find a way to help.
2) IMPORTANT NOTE. The LD24 Democratic party meeting this Thursday the 10th will be at a new location. It is now meeting at Longview Elementary School at 1209 E Indian School Rd. We meet every second Thursday of the month at 7pm. The attendance has been so great over the last 9 months that we needed a new location.
So, if you've stayed away recently because our last meetings have been more crowded than a Japanese subway car, please join us this Thursday where you will find more elbow room and the same great people. Stay tuned to this Facebook page for updates.
1) I know the following topic is a little less than political, on its its face, but did you know that we need more foxes to protect us from lyme disease? (Photo source: NYT). This fascinating study really speaks to the importance of biodiversity in protecting, not just the cute animals in the forest, but we humans and the cute little animals that we call our children.
2) You know, if people bring forward credible evidence that you might be corrupt, perhaps the thing to do is to take extra steps to demonstrate that you are not. Our GOP-exclusive Corporation Commission has voted to provide themselves with 5 attorneys to defend against credible accusations that they are conflicted against voting on rate cases that involve APS -- the utility that spent millions to get them elected. It gets better. (Photo source: AZCentral) Four of the five also voted NOT to allow Commissioner Bob Burns to get an attorney because he was the one who is bringing the lawsuit accusing the others of having those ties with APS. Could you look any more guilty?
As columnist Laurie Roberts puts it, "It makes sense that the commission (read: we) would have to hire attorneys to represent each of the commissioners named in Burns' lawsuit. But it also makes sense that the commission (read: we) would supply Burns with legal help in his quest to find out whether his colleagues have any business voting on APS's pending rate request. That fact that that didn’t happen is…typical."
The reason the 4 commissioners are resisting may have something to do with the fact that they don't want any court to force disclosure of the millions of dollars of campaign contributions by APS in 2014 that got them elected. We have the right to know.
3) This draft report from 13 federal agencies indicates that the United States has and will continue to feel the effects of global warming. According to the New York Times, "The average temperature in the United States has risen rapidly and drastically since 1980, and recent decades have been the warmest of the past 1,500 years..." Naturally, everybody is waiting to see what steps the Trump Administration is going to take to squash the findings of the report. After all, we've learned just how inconvenient the Trump administration finds science when it comes to global warming denial.
While we are on the topic, have a look at this revealing, 35-second video that shows how dramatically temperatures around the world have changed over the last 100 years. I can't embed the video in this newsletter, so please just follow this link to watch.
4) I have some great charter schools in my district. But I have become increasingly concerned in recent years about the lack of oversight over how taxpayer dollars are spent at some charter schools. Did you know, for instance, that charter schools can exclude themselves from standard accounting practices and procurement rules? This means that a charter school operator can pay their family members to provide goods and services with effectively no oversight. I was shocked to learn this from a constituent who actually does the accounting for several charter schools. An interesting source that tracks this issue is Arizonans for Charter School Accountability. Actually, its one guy; Jim Hall. He is a former principal who pounds away at his computer every day, going through public documents to do that which our state government should do -- protect taxpayer dollars.
5) I scored only 72% on the East Valley Chambers of Commerce Alliance 2017 Scorecard, and I could not be more proud. As of this newsletter release, they have not posted a digital version of their scorecard, but they sent a paper version to my home ("A" for effort for them, I guess.) What did they want me to vote yes for? Notably, they wanted me to vote in favor of HB2404 and HB2244, which undermines our initiative and referral process to the point that the public effectively has no say in how our government is run.
So, yeah. Give me an "F" for all I care. I'll take it. I know the people in my district care about our voting rights, our rights to redress our government and what the chambers of commerce are really up to.
Folks, these are the some of the guys who may spend money against me in my next election --if not to beat me, but to punish me for standing strong. This is where I make my pitch for you to throw a few bucks in to my re-election war chest. Every dollar counts.