Author Archives: AZ BlueMeanie

Creepy Trent Franks’ resignation effective immediately after more details emerge

My Spidey senses tingling were correct, there was more to Rep. Trent Franks sudden resignation — and I don’t believe the latest reporting is the full story either (there have been rumors circulating about him for years). Politico reports, Female aides fretted Franks wanted to have sex to impregnate them:

Arizona Rep. Trent Franks allegedly made unwanted advances toward female staffers in his office and retaliated against one who rebuffed him, according to House GOP sources with knowledge of a complaint against him.

The allegations, which reached Speaker Paul Ryan and top GOP leaders in recent days, led to Franks’ sudden resignation this week. Franks originally announced that he would resign on Jan. 31, 2018. But just hours after POLITICO inquired about the allegations, he sped up his resignation and left office Friday.

The sources said Franks approached two female staffers about acting as a potential surrogate for him and his wife, who has struggled with fertility issues for years. But the aides were concerned that Franks was asking to have sexual relations with them. It was not clear to the women whether he was asking about impregnating the women through sexual intercourse or in vitro fertilization. Franks opposes abortion rights as well as procedures that discard embryos.

A former staffer also alleged that Franks tried to persuade a female aide that they were in love by having her read an article that described how a person knows they’re in love with someone, the sources said. One woman believed she was the subject of retribution after rebuffing Franks. While she enjoyed access to the congressman before the incident, that access was revoked afterward, she told Republican leaders.

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November jobs report shows continued job growth

Steve Benen has the November jobs report. Job growth remains strong, but short of last year’s pace:

Headed into this morning, the consensus forecasts pointed to job growth in November at about 261,000. We didn’t quite reach that total, but we got close.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the economy added 228,000 jobs in November, which is down slightly from October, but which is nevertheless a strong total reflecting a healthy market. The unemployment rate held steady at 4.1%, which is very low.

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The revisions from the previous two months were mixed, with September’s totals revised up a little, but October’s totals revised down a little. Combined, they pointed to an addition 3,000 jobs added to the overall totals.

Providing some additional context, the U.S. added 1.97 million jobs over the first 11 months of 2012, 2.24 million over the first 11 months of 2013, 2.78 million over the first 11 months of 2014, 2.47 million over the first 11 months of 2015, 2.08 million over the first 11 months of 2016, and 1.91 million over the first 11 months of 2017.

Or put another way, while this year has been pretty good for job creation, we’re nevertheless on pace to see the slowest job growth since 2011.

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Education Shorts

Catching up on my “to do” list on education issues in Arizona.

In late November, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a new analysis of school funding in 48 states which shows that funding for Arizona’s kindergarten to grade 12 public school system remains nearly 14 percent below what it was before the Great Recession hit in 2007. The Arizona Capitol Times reports, Arizona school funding still lagging, report shows:

The study by the Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan research institute showed that even with an infusion of money since Gov. Doug Ducey took office in 2016, the state’s per-pupil spending is well below its 2008 funding levels when adjusted for inflation. It also said per-pupil formula spending dropped last year by 1.2 percent.

Ducey has touted his efforts to boost K-12 spending, and laughingly proclaimed himself to be the “education governor.”

“Arizona has put more money into K-12 education over the last three years than any other state in the country, without raising taxes,” he told KTAR radio earlier this month. “It has been the focus of every budget that we’ve had.”

But much of that increase came from settling a lawsuit brought by schools that alleged the state illegally cut spending during the recession. [And that case was settled for substantially less than the restitution actually owed by our lawless Tea-Publican legislature for its theft of education funds.]  The settlement added some state spending but most of the new cash came from increasing withdrawals from the state land trust dedicated to schools.

The study found that Arizona school funding hasn’t recovered from the cuts despite the new spending and could be getting worse, said Mike Leachman, the center’s state fiscal research director.

“It’s clear that Arizona school funding is down significantly and the data we have suggest further worsening at least in terms of formula funding, which is the major source for general support for all school districts in the state,” he said.

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Rep. Trent Franks to resign from Congress, special election to be called

Arizona’s Christian Right congressman Trent Franks (8th Congressional District) unexpectedly announced his pending resignation from Congress on Thursday after creeping out two staff members in his office by talking about surrogate pregnancy for he and his wife.

It is not at all clear from published reports whether Franks approached these two staffers about becoming the surrogate. That would give this story an entirely different context.

Rep. Franks told reporters that he would let his statement speak for him, which attempts to frame the incident in a light most favorable to him. (My Spidey senses are tingling that there is more to this story):

Franks’ full statement:

I have always tried to create a very warm and supportive atmosphere for every last person who has ever worked in my congressional office. It is my deepest conviction that there are many staffers, former and present, who would readily volunteer to substantiate this fact.

Given the nature of numerous allegations and reports across America in recent weeks, I want to first make one thing completely clear. I have absolutely never physically intimidated, coerced, or had, or attempted to have, any sexual contact with any member of my congressional staff.

However, I do want to take full and personal responsibility for the ways I have broached a topic that, unbeknownst to me until very recently, made certain individuals uncomfortable. And so, I want to shed light on how those conversations came about.

My wife and I have long struggled with infertility. We experienced three miscarriages.

We pursued adoption on more than one occasion only to have the adoptive mothers in each case change their mind prior to giving birth.

A wonderful and loving lady, to whom we will be forever grateful, acted as a gestational surrogate for our twins and was able to carry them successfully to live birth. The process by which they were conceived was a pro-life approach that did not discard or throw away any embryos.

My son and daughter are unspeakable gifts of God that have brought us our greatest earthly happiness in the 37 years we have been married.

When our twins were approximately 3 years old, we made a second attempt with a second surrogate who was also not genetically related to the child. Sadly, that pregnancy also resulted in miscarriage.

We continued to have a desire to have at least one additional sibling, for which our children had made repeated requests.

Due to my familiarity and experience with the process of surrogacy, I clearly became insensitive as to how the discussion of such an intensely personal topic might affect others.

I have recently learned that the Ethics Committee is reviewing an inquiry regarding my discussion of surrogacy with two previous female subordinates, making each feel uncomfortable. I deeply regret that my discussion of this option and process in the workplace caused distress.

We are in an unusual moment in history – there is collective focus on a very important problem of justice and sexual impropriety. It is so important that we get this right for everyone, especially for victims. 

But in the midst of this current cultural and media climate, I am deeply convinced I would be unable to complete a fair House Ethics investigation before distorted and sensationalized versions of this story would put me, my family, my staff, and my noble colleagues in the House of Representatives through hyperbolized public excoriation. Rather than allow a sensationalized trial by media damage those things I love most, this morning I notified House leadership that I will be leaving Congress as of January 31st, 2018. It is with the greatest sadness, that for the sake of the causes I deeply love, I must now step back from the battle I have spent over three decades fighting. I hope my resignation will remain distinct from the great gains we have made. My time in Congress serving my constituents, America and the Constitution is and will remain one of God’s greatest gift to me in life.

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Democrats begin to clean house of sexual harassers while Republicans embrace them

This week, Time magazine named its person of the year: the “Silence Breakers” who were part of the #MeToo movement.

Time

The five women who appear on the Time cover are actress Ashley Judd, singer Taylor Swift, Uber engineer Susan Fowler, lobbyist Adama Iwu, and strawberry picker Isabel Pascual. This year, all five women broke silence and told their stories of sexual assault or harassment.

Interesting factoid: #MeToo? In 80 years, no American woman has won Time’s ‘Person of the Year’ by herself:

No American woman has won Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” by herself in more than eight decades. Over the course of the 91 years that the magazine has proffered the title, in fact, only one has done so: Wallis Simpson, who earned the title in 1936 thanks to her relationship with King Edward VIII, a relationship which eventually led to his giving up his throne.

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Study: The wealthiest 1 percent of American households own 40 percent of the country’s wealth

Those GOP plutocrat campaign donors really need their tax cuts (not). Christopher Ingraham reports,  The richest 1 percent now owns more of the country’s wealth than at any time in the past 50 years:

The wealthiest 1 percent of American households own 40 percent of the country’s wealth, according to a new paper by economist Edward N. Wolff. That share is higher than it has been at any point since at least 1962, according to Wolff’s data, which comes from the federal Survey of Consumer Finances.

From 2013, the share of wealth owned by the 1 percent shot up by nearly three percentage points. Wealth owned by the bottom 90 percent, meanwhile, fell over the same period. Today, the top 1 percent of households own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined. That gap, between the ultrawealthy and everyone else, has only become wider in the past several decades.

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