Category Archives: Poverty

Poor People’s Campaign kickoff on Monday

Here is something you can persuade your local church congregation into supporting and participating in. After all, WWJD?

On Monday, thousands of low-wage workers, clergy and activists will gather at the U.S. Capitol and more than 30 statehouses across the country to kick off the Poor People’s Campaign (organization website), a civil disobedience movement that aims to push the issue of poverty to the top of the national political agenda. Here’s how the Poor People’s Campaign aims to finish what MLK started:

Inspired by a 1968 initiative planned by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the multiracial coalition will involve 40 days of protests and direct actions to highlight the issues of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy and militarism. Organizers are pitching it as one of the largest waves of nonviolent direct action in U.S. history.

About 41 million Americans live below the official poverty line, the majority of them white. Organizers with the Poor People’s Campaign say official measures of poverty are too narrow, and the number of poor and low-income Americans expands to 140 million if food, clothing, housing and utility costs, as well as government assistance programs, are taken into account.

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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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Differing Plans for Different Philosophies to Solve the Education Funding Crisis in Arizona

Teachers are on Day Four of their walkout

Teachers are on Day Four of their walkout

As the educator walkout continues this week, there are currently five published plans that have been offered to solve the funding crisis our education community faces in this state. Each plan has positive features to one or more groups. All of them have drawbacks to one or more groups. Hopefully, mature public servants on both sides will get together and try to fashion a plan based on aspects of part or all of these proposals that will enable the children and educators to return to school.

Plan One: Invest in Education Act Ballot Initiative

What is the scope of the plan? To place an initiative on the November ballot to raise the state income tax on high earners to raise monies to fully fund schools. People earning from $250,000 to $499,000 would pay an additional 3.46 % in state taxes or $17,265.40 maximum. People earning $500,000 or higher would pay an additional 4.46 percent or $22,300 minimum.

What is the name of the person/groups that support this plan? Superintendent Candidates Kathy Hoffman and David Schapira, Gubernatorial Candidate David Garcia, Arizona Center for Economic Progress.

What is the financial method utilized to solve the education funding crisis in Arizona? Increasing the state income tax for high earners.

What is at least one positive aspect to this plan? It is a steady and consistent revenue stream that would not be susceptible to an economic downtown like a sales tax.

What is at least one negative aspect to this plan? As designed, it only raises close to $700,000,000 of the $1,000,000,000 needed to fully fund schools. Also, as columnist Laurie Roberts points out, it does not ask any of the other income groups to contribute. This initiative puts the added burden solely on high-income earners. This could potentially galvanize the corporate right and create a highly charged partisan fight, waking up the conservative base just as the Blue Wave hits in the November elections.

Plan Two: Governor Ducey’s Plan

What is the scope of the plan? To give teachers a 20 percent raise in stages by 2020.

What is the name of the person/groups that support this plan? Governor Ducey and his allies in the legislature.

What is the financial method utilized to solve the education funding crisis in Arizona? Revenues based on economic performance and possible reallocation from other sensitive budget areas for the needy. This may also include the shifting of property taxes to local communities where they are forced to pay more.

What is at least one positive aspect to this plan?  Most of the teachers would get a raise.

What is at least one negative aspect to this plan? First, it does not fully fund education or even the teacher raises. How are the teacher raises determined in the local districts?  Where are the raises for support staff?  Where are the monies for capital improvements and investments? They are not there.

Second, the funding apparatus, even in its revised form is both unclear and unstable. Updated proposals relayed that the Governor would divert funds from other areas of need like prescription drugs to fund the raises, which would be pitting one group of needy recipients against another. Furthermore, the Governor’s proposals depend on a consistently strong state economy. There are no provisions, other than raiding other budget areas, like prescription drugs, if there is a downturn.

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Democratic Party Leaders See Voter Explosion in Arizona LD 18

According to Dr. Janie Hydrick, the top three issues facing the community are public education (the number one issue), safety, and affordable health care.

Situated in their office at 725 East Guadalupe, District Chair Dr. Janie Hydrick and Webmaster Craig Falasco discussed the issues Arizona LD 18 faces this political season and the people-first goals they would like their candidates to pursue to move their community forward.

Encompassing parts of Ahwatukee-Phoenix, Tempe, Chandler, and Mesa, this mostly upper-middle-class district is where the main campus of Mesa Community College is located as well as technology powerhouses Go Daddy and Intel.

It has an incumbent Democratic State Senator (Sean Bowie) and one Democratic State Representative (Mitzi Epstein) who are running for reelection. Two other Democrats LaDawn Stuben and Jennifer Jermaine are running for the other representative seat. (See https://ld18democrats.org/elections/#ld18_senate_house)

Voter enthusiasm has exploded

Describing the district as mostly centrist with streaks of both pragmatic and Sanders-style Progressivism, both Hydrick and Falasco contend that voter enthusiasm has exploded since the 2016 election with attendance at their January 2018 meeting showing a nearly four-fold increase from 70 to 240 attendees.

According to Hydrick, people are finding, thanks at first to Hillary Clinton’s Electoral College loss and later to the daily antics and policies of the Trump Administration, the benefits, and the necessity of active citizenship. Their enthusiasm has also grown with the recent Arizona Congressional District Eight results, feeling that the Democrats, with their platform, will be very competitive against the “entitlement reform” agenda of the Republicans in other areas that are less conservative and more diverse and inclusive.

Falasco cautioned that, even with a possible Blue Wave, Democrats have to do the little things that win elections like knocking on doors and making phone calls.

According to Hydrick, the top three issues facing the community are public education (the number one issue), safety, and affordable health care. Furthermore, Hydrick believes that a “quality education, a solid economy based on a work ethic and investing on people, and to restore the American Dream of solid income, a stable life, and retirement security is the key to satisfying the needs of the people in their district.

The District passed a resolution supporting the teacher walkout that started yesterday. Hydrick stated that the Governor and the Republican legislators supported tax cuts instead of fully funding schools. She also maintained that the Republicans had no idea of what was going on in schools and their ideas for solving the school funding issues involved taking funds out of other areas that vulnerable citizens depend on.

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AZ GOP response to #RedForEd ranges from ‘class warfare,’ to suing teachers, to McCarthyism

Yesterday I noted that Rep. Noel Campbell (R-Prescott), is the only Republican to propose a tax increase to support public education. Shocking! Arizona Republican proposes a tax increase to support public education.

Unfortunately for Rep. Campbell, he falls back on the most regressive tax – the sales tax – which is most susceptible to fluctuations in the economic cycle. It is not a reliable and sustainable revenue source.

The regressive sales tax is favored by Arizona’s corporate CEOs who want to raise $2 million for education with a 1.5-cent citizen’s initiative on the ballot in 2020 – “don’t you dare rescind our corporate welfare tax cuts, or impose new income or property taxes on our corporations.”

Howard Fischer reports that the sales tax proposal is D.O.A. No teacher-pay deal reached ahead of Arizona strike; sales-tax increase floated:

State Rep. Noel Campbell says a three-year, one-cent sales tax, on top of the existing 0.6 of a cent levy dedicated to education, would provide about $1 billion a year, more than enough money not only for pay raises for teachers and support staffs but also to help restore some of the funding that’s been cut over the years in state aid to education. It also would give schools enough to provide full-day kindergarten if they wish; that program’s funding was cut during the Great Recession.

If nothing else, it also would provide some breathing room while education advocates come up with a more permanent solution that could go to voters on the 2020 ballot, Campbell said.

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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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