Category Archives: Counties

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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Fully Funding Education is the Top Issue as LD 18 Democrats look to take both State Representative Seats in 2018

State Representative Mitzi Epstein

State Representative Mitzi Epstein

Education, Education, Education. That is the top issue for all three candidates competing for the two Representative seats for LD 18 as they vie to continue the trajectory of making this district increasingly blue in this year’s election.

As reported in a previous overview of LD 18, it is a district that includes Ahwatukee-Phoenix, Tempe, Chandler, and Mesa. Socioeconomically, it is a mostly upper-middle-class district. It is where the main campus of Mesa Community College is located as well as technology powerhouses GoDaddy and Intel.

Jennifer Jermaine

Until recently, the district has predominately elected Republican candidates for its local seats. Democrats made their first electoral gains in the district this decade with victories for State Senator Sean Bowie and State Representative Denise “Mitzi” Epstein in 2016.

The party hopes to continue this trend by re-electing Bowie and Epstein to their current positions and electing either Jennifer Jermaine or LaDawn Stuben who will run against Republican State Representative incumbent Jill Norgaard.
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AG Candidate January Contreras Will Protect Vulnerable Populations

January Contreras

January Contreras

Over cups of coffee and water at the Tucson Café Passe (the bratwurst is good as well), Democratic Attorney General Candidate January Contreras, a fourth generation Arizonan, described the reasons she is the right person to lead the state’s justice department starting in January 2019.

An experienced jurist and advocate, Contreras, a wife of 24 years and mother to two sons, has an extensive record of public service. Mentored (and still guided) by former Attorney General, Governor, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, she has served as a Deputy County Attorney for Maricopa County and Assistant Attorney General. In these capacities, Contreras prosecuted criminals, people, and entities that committed health care fraud against vulnerable citizens like the elderly in nursing homes.

Furthermore, under former Governor Janet Napolitano, her duties also included policy advisor and serving as the Assistant Director at the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) where she fought proposed cuts to the system. Joining Governor Napolitano at the Department of Homeland Security during the Obama Administration, Contreras helped establish the Council on Combating Violence against Women and served on other task forces designed to further advances for women and children.

Returning to Arizona, Contreras founded ALWAYS (Arizona Legal Women and Youth Services), an organization dedicated to assisting victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, and child abuse. When necessary, Contreras would help the victims for free.
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Moving Forward: What is next for Red For Ed?

Arizona Educators United spokesman Noah Karvelis stands beside dozens of teachers and public education advocates protesting

Arizona Educators United spokesman Noah Karvelis stands beside dozens of teachers and public education advocates protesting.

Fresh off the week-long statewide teacher walkout, Red for Ed co-leader Noah Karvelis answered questions on what his organization accomplished and where its members will channel their energies in the coming months. Karvelis expressed happiness with the movement they were able to energize, the “empowerment” Arizona teachers harnessed in the walkout, and the down payment in increasing funds towards our state schools. This was more impressive given that the Red for Ed Movement did not negotiate directly with Governor Ducey or any of his allies.

He acknowledged the contributions of other leading Red for Ed Team Members like Derek Harris, Rebecca Garelli, Dylan Wegela, Vanessa Arredondo, Heather Nieto, Brittani Karbginsky, Kelley Fisher, Kellee Wolfe, and Cat Barrett,

Moving forward,  Karvelis (who is also the campaign manager for Superintendent of Public Instruction Candidate Kathy Hoffman), said that the goals for Red for Ed are to bring education funding to the level where it was in 2008. What passed the State Legislature last week was still $700 million short of restoring parity to our education funding needs. To that end, the movement will champion and campaign for the Invest in Ed Ballot Initiative.

Saying the wealthy should pay their “fair share,” Karvelis expressed reservations about a sales tax to fully fund education, calling it “regressive.” He favors Invest in Education coupled with other measures that would bring in funds from a “devoted revenue source” such as income tax increases with a trigger to adjust funds for inflation.

On other education-related issues, Karvelis conveyed that support staff should perhaps be salaried instead of hourly wage employees. Furthermore, he indicated that a $100,000 grant to the Koch sponsored-centers at Arizona State University and University of Arizona was “highly problematic” and indicative of an organization using public funds to “proliferate their agenda.”  Finally, on Proposition 305, Mr. Karvelis wrote that school vouchers with public funds were a “direct attack on public schools and public education.” He also stated that “public dollars should be spent on public schools, not on vouchers for private and charter schools.”

Mr. Karvelis and his team should be congratulated for the positive change they have helped usher in for Arizona’s public schools. Congratulations and thanks should also be extended to everyone that was willing to fight for better conditions for Arizona children’s schooling. As Karvelis and the other members of Red for Ed would point out, there is a long road moving forward. There are pro-education candidates to support in the November elections.

Voters need to read where each candidate, from both parties, stand on the issues of moving children’s education forward to help make an informed decision. There are ballot initiatives to fight for and against. Finally, there are dark money and open reactionary interests to ward off. If the people make fully informed decisions and objectively evaluate where the candidates stand on the issues, the sun should rise on a bright day on Wednesday, November 7, 2018.

 

 

The First Chapter Completed in Funding our Schools? Maybe not for Tucson.

Walking around the state capital late this morning, there were universal signs of enthusiasm, passion, and unity among the supporters, dressed in red,  for increasing school funding. People held signs advising gatherers to remember the November elections and the need to vote in people who will finish what started this week.

The well-organized and very visible Superintendent of Public Instruction campaign of David Schapira, with signs and volunteers throughout the capital park,  joined with the forces promoting the Invest in Education Ballot act, collecting signatures. The leaders of the Red for Ed Movement were not letting up, with leaders like Noah Karvelis telling reporters what will happen next.

Not satisfied with the budget that passed today, district union representatives were telling their people from their districts that the fight must still go on after a week of rest and returning to the classroom. These representatives encouraged teachers to collect signatures for the Invest in Education Ballot Initiative, by collecting at least 200,000 signatures so 150,000 will be validated. They also said that they needed to work towards electing public school advocates this November, no matter which party they belonged to.

The one area of immediate concern expressed was when a few of the educators from Tucson relayed that their districts may not reopen for a couple of reasons.

  • First, they are justifiably not happy with how the support staffs have been treated.
  • Second, they are understandably furious that Pima County, unlike Maricopa, did not have their property tax increases in the budget taken care of by the state government. Saddled with this increase, net instructor raises would be minimized and support staff would receive a net cut in their salaries.

What will happen in Tucson and the other Pima County District Schools will be revealed later. It is important that the Red for Ed Movement stick together and work to correct this imbalance this county is beset with as well as the other funding issues not addressed in this budget. It is six months to November and there is a lot of work to do.

 

https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-education/2018/05/03/arizona-teacher-strike-scottsdales-ingleside-pima-madisons-madison-park-open/577156002/

https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/arizona-education/2018/05/02/arizona-budget-legislature-teacher-strike-redfored/575753002/

https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/laurieroberts/2018/05/03/redfored-has-changed-arizona-politcs-so-who-won-and-who-lost/577208002/

 

 

It looks like the First Chapter in Increasing Education Funding is not quite finished yet.

It appears the teacher walkout will continue into tomorrow (maybe Friday as well)  as the Legislature was unable to pass a budget as originally planned. State Representative Townsend, a foe for increasing Education Funding, indicated that the budget may not pass until Saturday. Educators and their supporters will be back at the capital and other locations tomorrow and remain there until the legislature completes its responsibilities.

While the budget process lingers, please take time to review the amendments Democrats are offering to the budget that affect education. These include measures to “cap” class sizes, give raises to support staff, and reducing the counselor to student ratio.

Finally, also review the other budget provisions in education that are being debated such as a “repeal and replace” of the voucher measure or giving twenty percent of the University increased budget to two Koch Brothers-sponsored centers (one at Arizona State University and the other at the University of Arizona).

Please contact your legislators and let them know your views on these budget priorities for our K-12 schools and state universities.

Please remain patient. This is the first step in ensuring that all so children in the state get a first-rate quality education. This is just a short delay that will hopefully be over in 48 hours. Afterward, the educators will be back at school and the movement to increase education funding will take the shape of electing candidates in November that want to properly fund schools and working to pass measures like the Invest in Education Ballot Initiative.

https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-education/2018/05/02/arizona-teacher-redfored-walkout-really-end-thursday-legislature-budget/574251002/

https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/laurieroberts/2018/05/02/arizona-house-take-up-back-door-voucher-expansion-bill-today/573499002/

https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/laurieroberts/2018/05/01/asu-ua-koch-brothers-economic-freedom-schools-arizona-budget/570667002/