Category Archives: Activism

AZ’s Worst Legislator: Vince Leach, not a Servant of the People in LD 11

State Representative Leach

State Representative Vincent Leach of Legislative District 11 and other reactionary zealots like him sure act like big government promoters when it comes to their reactionary and anti-democratic agenda.

Leach has sponsored ideas such as:

  • Protecting Dark Money contributors.
  • Overruling local election results and ballot initiatives, such as whether local towns can prohibit plastic bags in stores.
  • Opposing a woman’s right to choose.
  • Allowing taxpayer money to help students choose private religious schools.

LD11 spans from Maricopa in the north to the tip of Tucson in the south.

A self-described conservative, Leach has an A rating from both the Oliver North led National Rifle Association and the American Conservative Union, yet poor marks with the Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood, and the Children’s Action Alliance. A SaddleBrooke resident, Representative Leach has been in the Arizona State House since 2015. He is now the chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety, Infrastructure, and Resources and Vice Chairman of the House and Ways Committee.

He is planning to run against Democrat Ralph Atchue for the State Senate Seat in LD 11 being vacated by Steve Smith. The main issues he plans to run on are border security, the Second Amendment, job creation, healthcare, and “life.”

Favoring the privileged
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Evolution, Climate Change, and The Big Bang Theory to be Eliminated From Arizona K-12

Superintendent Diane Douglas

Superintendent Diane Douglas

Later this year, the Arizona State Board of Education will consider adopting new K-12 standards in both Science and History/Social Studies.

The consideration of standards for these core subjects has nearly always met increased scrutiny and controversial consideration from segments of the population with different perspectives because these disciplines touch on topics that can potentially challenge a person’s or group’s belief system.

This year is no exception as the new proposed Arizona K-12 Science Standards have invited negative reactions from members of the mainstream education and science community because of the terms and concepts it has attempted to strike away and the closed-door process Superintendent Diane Douglas’s unknown internal reviewers adopted after being presented with the original draft version of the standards.

Forbidden terms, reworded behind closed doors.

Evolution is the most prominent term altered in the proposed new Arizona K-12 Science Standards. Stricken mostly wherever it is mentioned and redefined as the Theory of Evolution, the word is not even included among the many key terms the reviewers added. Several standards and terms pertaining to the process do remain in a more openly worded form. (Changes in green writing can be found on pages 4, 20, 27, 30, 32, 42, 44, 46, 64, 69, and 72 of the Proposed Science Standards)

The term Climate Change is nowhere to be found. There is a sentence that includes the phrase change of climate and there are standards that allude to it and some concepts/terms. However, discussion of alternative energy options, depending on the grade level is nonexistent, stricken, or reworded. (Changes in green writing can be found on pages 21, 25, 40, and 60 of the Proposed Science Standards)

The Big Bang Theory: Stricken entirely and the more ambiguous consideration of all theories of the universe has been substituted in a probable attempt to appeal to the proponents of Intelligent Design. (Page 62 of the Proposed Science Standards)

One saving grace in these standards is at least we have progressed since the time of the Scopes Trial that the geological ages of the planet and continental drift are included and do not seem to be in question.

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Oh, SNAP! GOP House Freedom Caucus revolt on farm bill may backfire with additional support for discharge petition on DACA

This morning the Washington Post reported, Spooked by discharge petition, GOP leaders scramble to kill House immigration rebellion:

House Republican leaders made a full-court press Wednesday to forestall a GOP immigration rebellion that they fear could derail their legislative agenda and throw their effort to hold the majority in doubt.

The effort began in a closed-door morning meeting where Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) warned that a freewheeling immigration debate could have sharp political consequences. McCarthy to GOP: DACA vote could cost us the House. It continued in the evening, when the leaders of a petition effort that would sidestep were summoned to a room with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), McCarthy and three other top leaders.

Their message, according to attendees, was that efforts were underway at the highest levels, including with the White House, to get immigration legislation on the House floor before the midterm elections.

Politico adds, “Two additional Republicans, John Katko of New York and David Trott of Michigan, signed on after McCarthy’s scolding, leaving the group just four signatures shy of their goal.”

“Clearly we have had a positive impact on our leadership and on this institution because this issue is being taken seriously, and people are thinking through how something can be achieved,” said Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), who filed the “discharge petition” that would set up votes on a series of immigration bills.

The House leaders presented no firm plan for action at the meeting, and the discharge petition effort will continue, Curbelo and others said afterward.

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Who Wanted the State to Spend Tax Dollars on the UA and ASU Koch Centers?

When the Arizona Legislature concluded its 2018 legislative session, its $10 million budget increase for the three state universities (Arizona State University, University of Arizona, and Northern Arizona University) included $2 million for two schools:

  • One at the University of Arizona (Department of Political Economy and Moral Sciences)
  • The other at Arizona State University (School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership), the later school receiving $100,000 to develop K-12 Civic standards.

With each school receiving $1 million, the three universities had just $8 million in increased funding to spread out over the many programs offered at their campuses. What makes these two schools deserving of such targeted generosity by the State Legislature? Was there a grassroots drive by parent, student, faculty, or administrative groups calling for funding these centers?

No. There was no such movement.

Are these schools offering courses that are not readily accessible at other departments or schools like history or political science?

Not really.

Do the universities conduct nationally-competitive searches to staff these schools? Their recruitment apparently did not follow standard University hiring practices.

Is a  new K-12 “seal” of civic literacy necessary? Not when the Department of Education is in the process of finalizing new Social Studies standards that include civics and economics.

Preferential taxpayer funding

So, why do these two schools get such preferential taxpayer funding and staffing consideration if there is no need and there has been no grassroots desire from the university stakeholders? It is because these schools subscribe to the philosophical dogma and patronage of the Koch Brothers, that they receive the favorable consideration of conservative lawmakers in this and other states across the country at the expense of other funds that could go towards education or priorities like Medicaid and hospital care.

Since the 1970’s, the Koch Brothers, like other advocacy groups, have been utilizing their financial clout to promote their ideological agenda in the political, economic, and educational arenas. To that end, they have been subsidizing political candidates and “Freedom Schools,” and other educational programs at learning institutions like George Mason University, Florida State University, The University of Kansas, and Ball State. The University of Arizona and Arizona State University are recent additions to the Freedom School Ledger. Another university, Montana State, has voted not to join this network.

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‘Economically forgotten’ have much in common with America’s poor

Axios.com has an Exclusive: 40% in U.S. can’t afford middle-class basics:

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 6.19.16 AM

Data: United Way; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

At a time of rock-bottom joblessness, high corporate profits and a booming stock market, more than 40% of U.S. households cannot pay the basics of a middle-class lifestyle — rent, transportation, child care and a cellphone, according to a new study.

Quick take: The study, conducted by United Way, found a wide band of working U.S. households that live above the official poverty line, but below the cost of paying ordinary expenses. Based on 2016 data, there were 34.7 million households in that group — double the 16.1 million that are in actual poverty, project director Stephanie Hoopes tells Axios.

Why it matters: For two years, U.S. politics has been dominated by the anger and resentment of a self-identified “forgotten” class, some left behind economically and others threatened by changes to their way of life.

  • The United Way study, to be released publicly Thursday, suggests that the economically forgotten are a far bigger group than many studies assume — and, according to Hoopes, appear to be growing larger despite the improving economy.
  • The study dubs that middle group between poverty and the middle class “ALICE” families, for Asset-limited, Income-constrained, Employed. (The map above, by Axios’ Chris Canipe, depicts that state-by-state population in dark brown.)
  • These are households with adults who are working but earning too little — 66% of Americans earn less than $20 an hour, or about $40,000 a year if they are working full time.

When you add them together with the people living in poverty, you get 51 million households. “It’s a magnitude of financial hardship that we haven’t been able to capture until now,” Hoopes said.

By the numbers: Using 2016 data collected from the states, the study found that North Dakota has the smallest population between poverty and middle class, at 32% of its households. The largest is 49%, in California, Hawaii and New Mexico. “49% is shocking. 32% is also shocking,” Hoopes said.

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Oh, SNAP! The GOP’s war on the poor in the House farm bill

Eighty percent of the farm bill’s spending is on nutrition programs, e.g., the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (formerly food stamps), but House Republicans want to start making work requirements for recipients harsher in order to benefit from these programs. No such requirements apply to the corporate welfare handed out to corporate executives to the tune of billions of dollars.

Tara Golshen at Vox.com has an explainer, House Republicans’ push to slash food stamps in the farm bill, explained:

The first draft of House Republicans’ farm bill, a $867 billion legislative package that subsidizes agriculture and food assistance programs, which Democrats say was written behind closed doors and without Democratic input. The bill has already passed out of the House Committee on Agriculture using only Republican votes. This is somewhat unusual — the farm bill has historically been bipartisan but has been plagued by a polarizing push over food assistance in recent years.

Rep. Collin Peterson, a conservative Minnesota Democrat and the Agricultural Committee’s ranking member, gave an impassioned statement just ahead of the partisan vote, saying, “We were pushed away by an ideological fight I repeatedly warned the chairman not to start.”

The House Rules Committee will devote Tuesday and Wednesday to the 2018 farm bill as members plow through a long list of amendments, raising the possibility of heated debate before it faces a floor vote later this week. Farm Bill Gets Two Days of House Rules Committee Consideration.

The Republican proposal to impose stricter work requirements and anti-fraud measures on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — commonly known as food stamps — is estimated to slash $20 billion from the program’s benefits over the next 10 years. One million people in households of more than 2 million individual could be pushed off the program or experience reduced benefits, according to an analysis by the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

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