Category Archives: Political Events

#RedforEd March and Rally Thursday

Carolyn Classen posted information in the calendar above about the Arizona Educators United Rally at the Arizona State Capitol scheduled for Noon.

The march this calendar item references is the Arizona Education Association #RedForEd March and Rally (link).

AZ-RedforEd-Rally-banner

After years of cut after cut to education funding, years of students sitting at broken desks, years of taping textbooks to keep them together, and years crumbling school buildings, we’ve had enough.

On Thursday, Arizona’s educators are walking out for our students.

We’ll be meeting at 10 a.m. at the Chase Stadium and marching to the Capitol Building, where there will be a rally.

Sign up to receive details.

The teacher organizations will be joined in solidarity with support from their union brothers and sisters in the Arizona AFL-CIO.

Brothers and Sisters,

We are witnessing a national uprising in education fueled by students and educators. I believe we in Arizona Labor have a moral obligation to provide no-strings-attached support and help as needed. We will share what information we have for continued support leading up to Thursday (4/26).

Students demand safe schools in which to be educated.

Teachers demand economic justice to afford educating them.

Thousands of educators and their supporters will converge on the State Capitol as they strike to send a loud, clear message to Governor Ducey and Legislative leaders: The time for flimsy, empty promises of change is over.

Please contact me directly for help getting involved:
cell: 480-217-1920   office: 602-631-4488

In solidarity

Fred Yamashita
Executive Director
Arizona AFL-CIO

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Back to the McCarthy Era for Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas

If teachers walk off the job on Thursday, April 26, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas warned that “there may be investigations” if complaints come into the Department of Education. Furthermore, if the courts deem the walkout a “strike,” Douglas cautioned that teacher certifications may be revoked and censure notices placed on an instructor’s permanent record.

In an interview with Channel Three Arizona Family News (link below), Superintendent Douglas relayed that she is in favor of more money for education and increased salaries for instructors and support staff. She appeared receptive to ideas ranging from local governing boards setting local district salaries to education budget increases being placed as ballot initiatives.http://www.azfamily.com/clip/14295201/raw-video-diane-douglas-discusses-planned-teacher-walkout

However, Douglas urged teachers not to walk out on Thursday and suggested that they continue negotiations with the Governor and legislature, especially because there are proposals to bargain over. Furthermore, she pointed out that students with free and reduced lunch and special needs may suffer if a walkout occurs. Finally, Douglas intimated that instructors may themselves be blacklisted, have their certificates revoked, or be ostracized from future employment if complaints from the community to the department were processed.

That portion of the interview with Superintendent Douglas threatening potential reprisals against instructors shows an attitude that this country has not seen publicly since the McCarthy Era when many were blacklisted for their real or imagined beliefs. That attitude should not be ingrained in the public servants of our state or country in the year 2018. Fortunately, there are two Progressive Democrats (Kathy Hoffman and David Schapira)  just waiting for a chance, after one of them earns their party’s nomination, to replace her after the November elections.

Teachers do not want to walk out. Teachers want to educate and shape children’s hearts and minds. However, they cannot do it effectively when their salaries rank near the bottom of the country. They cannot do it passionately when they sometimes have to work a second job to put food on their table. They cannot do it competently when they are not provided the modern resources to do the job well.

This is about what is right for the children. It is a step in the right direction to make sure that the people who are responsible for them eight hours a day or longer are properly provided for. Making sure our schools are safe and provide all the features of Twenty-First Century culture and technology is another. The Superintendent and Governor are not going to get there by making idle threats or catering to the conservative whims of their alt right-reactionary sponsors who feel the McCarthy Era was “The Good Ole Days.” It is time to properly fund our schools, compensate our instructors and support staff, and prepare our children for tomorrow.

Van Jones Says Democrats and Progressives need to work on Winning and Not Take Anything for Granted.

Van Jones

CNN commentator and author Van Jones said that for Democrats and Progressives to win elections, they cannot just sit and wait for the people to follow them because the masses agree with them on the issues or because most agree that President Trump is unfit to serve. Instead, they need to speak out and make their views known and remain continually persistent and vigilant for the causes they believe in.

He spoke at the Fifth Annual Lecture Series on Delivering Democracy at the Fourteenth Street Pilgrim Rest Baptist church in Phoenix.

Jones said that Democrats and Progressives also can not take any group for granted. The poor white person in Appalachia wants the same life for their kids like the poor black person in the projects. People who believe in God also believe in helping the needy and oppressed. Democrats and Progressives would be wise to reconnect with these groups they have forgotten. If Democrats and Progressives can do all of these things (and it should not be a heavy lift), Progressives and Democrats will have a lot to celebrate after the next few election cycles as long as they remember that they can never stop being proactive and fight to move the country forward.

The lecture was sponsored by the Arizona State University Center for Race and Democracy and hosted by the congregation of Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church Ministries. Jones is a community and environmental activist, and former White House Aide to President Obama, and he offered his views on bringing different races, classes, and the religious and secular worlds in our country together.

At a packed Church hall, the congregants gathered for the fifth year to hear Van Jones’ views on Race and Democracy. Many still remembered the contributions of their late Pastor, Bishop Alexis Thomas, and progressive (both secular and religious) activists from organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, East Valley NACCP, The Pat Tillman’s Veterans Center, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Red for Ed, and Outlawing Dirty Money (an irony because one of the sponsors of the event is APS)

After an excellent performance by the church choir and music group, the event started with the pivotal question, broadcast on a video “What is Democracy?” Following several varying answers from respondents on the video, the key message is that Democracy is the “responsibility of the people” to maintain.

Dr. Stanlie James, the Vice Provost for Inclusion and Community Engagement, echoed this sentiment by relaying the current issues our countries citizens’ face such as the incident with two African American patrons at a Philadelphia Starbucks (Mr. Jones would later ask in his presentation why the police did not arrest the person that made the erroneous/false complaint) or the rising mortality rate of African American Mothers in a “First World Country.” Calling the Center on Race and Democracy “an oasis in the desert” where these issues can be discussed, she cited support from the Obamas as proof that this center is doing good works.

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The Worst and the Dumbest in the Trump Administration

David Halberstam once wrote a book about the Kennedy and Johnson men called The Best and the Brightest. The theme of that book was despite the qualifications and acclaim these public servants had earned before and during most of their White House Service, most still offered the Presidents poor advice on how to handle the war in Vietnam.

Now if most of the people regarded as the best and the brightest at that time helped lead this country into one of the worst foreign and military policy periods in our countries history, imagine what the President’s aides, probably some of the worst and dumbest to serve, can do to us.

Saturday Night Live actually captured the problem with a segment (link below) with actor Bryan Cranston, reprising his role of Walter White from “Breaking Bad,” becoming the nominee to head the Drug Enforcement Agency (D.E.A.) illustrating that the Administration’s goal to put people who oppose these departments at the head of them.

It has become so bad with the Trump choices that most sane people are scared if Jeff “I never met an immigrant I liked” Sessions resigns as the Attorney General. Just who are among this cast of incompetents in or headed to the Trump Administration.

Betsy DeVos

This ultra-rightwing fanatic became our Secretary of Education despite promoting policies such as vouchers so religious schools can be partially subsidized with public monies. Since becoming the Secretary of Education (after a less than stellar performance at her confirmation hearings where she thought guns were needed in some schools to fight off grizzlies), she has been a champion for student loan companies who want to make the industry more profitable for them.

DeVos has also turned off people with her inattention to special education and civil rights. Walking out of a question and answer session with the Parkland High Students was not helpful either With no background in any sphere of public education, one has to ask, what is she doing there if not to undermine public education?

Scott Pruitt

Not a week goes by when there is not some controversy involving Scott Pruitt, the former anti-Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A) Oklahoma Attorney General who, wait for it, became the head of the E.P.A.  Pruitt has fashioned himself as a cross between a Sun King and a mob figure between not allowing scientists to speak their mind about the environment, making environmental rules and regulations more business-friendly and wasting public monies on first-class travel (to avoid contact with the people), installing a new “Bat Phone-Cone of Silence” communication system, and increased security detail that most other cabinet heads do not get.

This is all while he had a very nice residential rental arrangement courtesy of lobbyists whose pipeline expansion he approved. Finally, his arrogant behavior displayed when he asks his motor entourage to blast sirens so he can arrive at events quicker make people wonder if Scottie needs to be beamed out of the E.P.A. at the earliest opportunity.

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Gov. Ducey’s teacher pay plan is unsustainable, teacher walkout appears likely (Updated)

Calling the governor’s plan not fiscally sustainable, the Arizona PTA has withdrawn its backing for Gov. Doug Ducey’s teacher pay hike plan. PTA group withdraws support from Ducey’s teacher pay hike plan:

Beth Simek, the organization’s president, told Capitol Media Services this afternoon that her own research shows there is no way Ducey can finance both the pay raise and restoration of capital funding without cutting the budget for other needed programs. And Simek said she believes some of what the governor plans to slice could end up hurting the very children her organization is working to protect.

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Simek said that she was not given all the relevant information about how Ducey plans to finance his plan when the governor first asked for support. So, what she did was strike out on her own and gather as much in specifics as she could from various other sources, including other state agencies.

Most crucial, she said, are the cuts being made elsewhere in the budget.

For example, Simek said, Ducey’s plan cuts $2.9 million that had been allocated for skilled nursing services in both the state Medicaid program and the Department of Economic Security. Also gone is $1.8 million aid for “critical access hospitals” and $4 million that the governor had proposed in additional dollars for the developmentally disabled.

“We can’t support that,” Simek said. “That hurts kids and it hurts families.”

The governor’s plan also cuts back $2 million in arts funding, which arts advocates say would decimate grants that fund programs that benefit pupils.

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Democrats are back in the fight for the Arizona Eighth Congressional District: All Bets are Off.

Dr. Hiral Tipirneni, Democratic Candidate for the Eighth Congressional District.

In the 2014 and 2016 Elections for Arizona’s Eighth Congressional District, Representative Trent Franks had no Democratic Opponent and easily cruised to victory in both elections. Now, thanks to Representative Frank’s resignation because of his unique interpretation of family values (asking two unwilling women on his staff to be surrogate mothers for his wife and even offering one money), the Eighth Congressional District is potentially up for grabs in a special election being held on Tuesday, April 24. The two candidates are Dr. Hiral Tipirneni for the Democrats and Debbie Lesko for the Republicans. As Democrats, with a strong viable candidate, mount a credible campaign, conservatives in Republican World are increasingly worried of another “Pennsylvania Congressional 18TH District” upset in an area that went for the President by just over 20 points, was a stronghold for the embattled former Sheriff of Maricopa County Joe Arpaio, and contains Sun City within its boundaries. According to Bill Roe, the First Vice Chair of the Arizona Democratic Party, this April 24 election will all come down to turnout among Democrats, Independents favorable to Dr. Tipirneni, fatigued Republicans disenchanted with their party, and the newly arrived populace in the district that no one knows how they will decide.

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