Author Archives: Michael Bryan

Women Leaders: What’s the World Coming To?

By Dianne Post

Recently, several glass ceilings have been broken and others wacked hard. Internationally, women are 29% of the UN peacekeepers. Five women lead peacekeeping operations. Three completely female units are in Haiti, Liberia and DR Congo. The UN has found that the presence of women helps reduce conflict and confrontation, protects local women and helps lift their status, and makes the peacekeepers more approachable.

On the political side, Theresa Mary May just became the second woman Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party. Margaret Thatcher was the first woman Prime Minster from 1979 to 1990 and leader of the Conservative Party. Angela Dorothea Merkel, a former research scientist, is the longest serving woman leader. She has been the Chancellor of Germany since 2005 and the leader of the Christian Democratic Union since 2000. When Hillary Clinton is elected, three of the top four most powerful countries in the world will have women leaders. China will be the outlier.

In 2014, twenty-two women world leaders represented a new high. The longest serving is Merkel in Germany with Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, president of Liberia, close behind since 2006 and Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of Argentina since 2007. The newest were the appointed president Simonetta Somaruga in Switzerland and Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic elected in Croatia in 2015. The countries where women rule range from European (6) and Eastern European countries (5) to Central and South American (5) to Africa (3), Asia (2) and the Mid-East (1). North America is conspicuously missing.

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The Price of Apathy is to be Ruled by Evil Men

By Dianne Post

As the events in Ferguson illustrated, injustice is as American as motherhood and apple pie.  From our inception, the Constitution counted African-Americans as only three-fifths of a person and Native Americans were not counted at all.  Neither group could vote nor could women or people who didn’t own property.

Likewise, law enforcement developed from a very flawed beginning, slave patrols sent out by plantation owners to capture escapees.  After the Civil War, sheriffs and justices of the peace were not paid by the government but were provided lists of workers needed by plantations, mines and the railroad.  The sheriff then arrested and the justice of the peace convicted African-Americans and “leased” them to the businesses.  Pinkerton thugs hired by corporations attacked labor union strikers in factories and plants while law enforcement turned their backs.

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No on Prop 123 – not sustainable and not a solution

By Dianne Post

[Note from the Editor: TLDR summary- the author opposes Prop 123 and encourages you to vote NO.]

How the fight started

In 2000, the state legislature wanted to increase revenue but didn’t want to be blamed for a tax increase so they referred the question of a statewide sales tax for education to the voters. The referendum, now Prop 301, also included the 2% annual inflation adjustment for education. The voters approved Prop 301 and every year thereafter the legislature did as the voters ordered – raised education funding by at least 2% – until 2010. In 2010, they only approved an increase for the transportation support and not the base level or inflation

In October 2010, several school districts sued because any referendum is protected by the Voter Protection Act that says a referendum passed by the voters cannot be repealed and can only be amended if the amendment furthers the purpose of the law and has 75% of the legislators approval. Adopted in 1998, the VPA arose out of concerns that the legislature was abusing its power to amend and repeal voter-endorsed measures. The principal purpose of the VPA is to preclude the legislature from overriding the intent of the people. With the adoption of the VPA, voter-approved measures are now superior to enactments of the legislature in that they cannot be repealed by legislative act, and they cannot be easily amended. Yet that is what the legislature did by refusing to fund the mandatory 2% inflation increase. By not funding the base level, the legislature re-directed (stole) the money specifically earmarked for education by the voters and used it for other things. In other words, they continue to abuse their power by repealing voter-endorsed measures by their actions i.e. failure to appropriate the monies.

Their dislike of voter approved measures and their intent to eliminate them is nakedly visible with four bills introduced this session to reduce citizen powers. HCR2043 would allow a legislature to revoke a voter passed measure – exactly the reason we passed the Voter Protection Act in the first place. HCR2023 would lower the obstacles for legislators to repeal the voters’ intent and put more hurdles in the way of voters getting their wishes on the ballot in the first place. HCR2024 would require a super majority of voters to pass an initiative and HCR2047 would require 25% of the signatures to come from rural counties. Thus it is clear that the legislators fear the voters – when in fact they work for us!

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Republicans Curse the American Cursus Honorum

By Michael Bryan

We are seeing something very unusual in the history of American politics in this cycle’s GOP Presidential primary: a complete abandonment of the American Cursus Honorum on the Right. I believe it gives significant insights into a building crisis of legitimacy in the democratic process on the Right.

Many will not know what I mean by Cursus Honorum, and if they do, may dispute that even it applies to American politics. I will explain the concept, argue for how it has historically been normative in the American political system, and then describe why I think current events are violating those norms, and what that may mean.

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What’s Holding Back Economic Development in Arizona?

By Ed Dravo

Year after year, legislative session after legislative session passes without meaningful policies to address our economic problems. Once one of the leading states in economic growth we are now a perennial laggard. By growth I mean rising incomes and not a larger body count. If it’s larger numbers that moves you, Arizona has made the grade; that is until recently. Now more people are leaving the state than entering.

In a story written by Eric Toll for the Phoenix Business Journal two corporations employing over 3000 people earning double existing state wages passed on Arizona (Phoenix, specifically) as a place to relocate. The state made the semi-finals but failed when the selection committee passed their findings to senior management. Toll inquired off the record for the reasons for our being shunted out of the finals. Each company provided a different reason. Company A’s management committee felt uncomfortable moving to a state that re-elects someone like Arpaio (not because they wanted a more diverse culture as whitewashed in an AZ Republic editorial piece). Company B rejected us because management was afraid of raising their children in a place that repeatedly ranked alongside Mississippi and Alabama for public education. A third reason was the difficulty finding employees with training in sophisticated skill sets-read job training.

This was not the only bleak story about the Arizona economy in recent weeks: The paltry amount of venture capital raised is a big concern and NAICS, the organization ranking employment categories, has jettisoned Arizona’s listing as a high tech manufacturing state. That era pretty ended in the 90s when call centers were touted as great catches.

RetireesThat elephant is named retirees. It’s their refusal to approve funding for things like education and infrastructure improvement. There is a common element that drives all the negative outcomes. It’s all important but invisible, the proverbial elephant in the room. This behavior became apparent long ago when Sun City retirees refused to pass bond issues funding primary schools in their districts, resulting in the need for legislative relief or children would be deprived of an education. This was hardly the concern of people who moved into the district to escape cold winters and financial responsibilities.

The retiree enclaves along the Colorado, Prescott Valley, Fountain Hills, N Scottsdale, westernmost Phoenix, and the I-10 corridor north and south of Tucson represent a formidable voting block. They routinely elect legislators who enliven the monologues of late night hosts for brazen acts of civic indifference if not outright hostility to the general public. According to Bill Hart with the Morrison Institute at ASU, retirees, anyone 65 or over, will increase to 30% or more of the overall population in twenty years. With their committed voting habits that translates to a 60% majority on issues they agree on.

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Amnesty International’s Draft Policy on “Sex Work” Violates Human Rights

Guest Post by Dianne Post

Dianne Post has been an attorney for over 34 years. For 18, she practiced family law in the Phoenix area representing battered women and molested children in family and juvenile court. Since 1998, she has been doing international human rights work mainly in gender-based violence.

The International Secretariat of Amnesty International passed a draft policy at their meeting on August 7 on “sex work” that would decriminalize all aspects of prostitution including buying, pimping, and brothel keeping while still allowing a state the power to regulate selling. The policy now goes to the Board. That policy is a direct attack on women and would make a mockery of human rights. The Nordic Model of targeting demand, where selling is not a crime but buying is, has proven to be the only successful tool to protect women in prostitution.

The alleged reason for Amnesty’s action is to make prostitution safer; the result is to do the opposite. Every country that has legalized the purchase of women in prostitution has failed. Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen said, “Almost five years after the lifting of the brothel ban, we have to acknowledge that the aims of the law have not been reached.” According to the Amsterdam police, “We are in the midst of modern slavery.” In New Zealand, a city council member said, “It was widely expected that the outcome of legalizing prostitution would be that sex trade workers would generally operate from safe, regulated and legal brothels. In Manukau, that has not been the case.”

As Maricopa County Attorney, Bill Montgomery states, “Legalizing any activity tells the members of society that we approve of the activity in question.  Accordingly, legalizing prostitution would necessarily result in a growing market for the selling and buying of women with the consequent degradation of their dignity and heightened objectification of daughters, sisters, and mothers.”

While Amnesty would maintain its opposition to trafficking, wherever prostitution is legalized, sex trafficking increases. In the Netherlands, the sex industry increased by 25%; in Victoria, Australia, the number of legal brothels doubled, and illegal brothels increased by 300%. A 200-400% increase in street prostitution was reported in Auckland, New Zealand and in Germany, the numbers of trafficked women increased dramatically.

“Sex work and sex trafficking cannot reasonably be separated. Sex work fuels the demand for commercial sex, which is the indisputable driving force behind the sex-trafficking industry.” (Cindy McCain, Chair of the Human Trafficking Advisory Council at the McCain Institute for International Leadership, August 13, 2015, The Washington Post.)

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