Tag Archives: Phil Lopes

PDA Tucson endorsements for Arizona primary

TUCSON CHAPTER PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRATS OF AMERICA AND PEOPLE DEMANDING ACTION

People Demanding Action (PDAction) Tucson, a 501 (c) 4 sister organization of Tucson Progressive Democrats of America is proud to announce the endorsements of:

  • Joel Feinman for Pima County Attorney, http://joelfeinman.com/
  • Bill Mundell for Arizona Corporation Commission
  • Tom Chabin for Arizona Corporation Commission, http://www.tomchabin.com/newsroom/2016/6/23/chabin-mundell-outline-a-code-of-ethics-for-the-acc

Progressive Democrats of America-Tucson is proud to announce the endorsement of:

  • Victoria Steele for AZ Congressional District 2, http://www.victoriasteeleforcongress.com/

Each of the candidates completed a questionnaire prepared by PDA Tucson.  The responses were reviewed by PDA members and found to be in strong support of our progressive values. The completed questionnaires are available for review on request to pdatucson@gmail.com

You can find more information about each of the candidates at their websites and you can contact them for information about scheduled house parties and/or candidates forums if you wish to meet them in person and become more familiar with their stance on issues.

Each of them needs our support in volunteer time and/or money. Each of them will move our County, State, and Country in a progressive direction.

An organizational meeting for People Demanding Action Arizona, a statewide organization, will take place on Saturday, July 16, 7:00 pm at Ermanos Craft Beer and Wine Bar, 220 N. 4th Avenue. Everyone is welcome to join the planning to move progressive issues forward in Arizona. The revolution continues.

Jenise Porter was recently chosen by the PDA Tucson Steering Committee to be the new Chapter Coordinator. I will remain an active member of the Steering Committee.

Phil Lopes
http://pda.nationbuilder.com/

“Ready to Go” with Tanque Verde Valley Democrats

Tanque Verde

Can Public Banking Spur Economic Growth in Southern Arizona?

Flag-99-862-sig-sm72by Pamela Powers Hannley

Tucson is one of the most impoverished cities in the country—for many reasons. The Arizona Legislature—driven by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and short-sighted, “small government” ideology—has routinely swept funds earmarked for counties and cities to "balance" the state’s budget or fund pet projects like lower corporate taxes.

Beyond the Legislature’s negative impact on Baja Arizona, the Tucson economy is not diversified enough. Manufacturing is nearly non-existent in Southern Arizona. There is an over-reliance on defense spending, University of Arizona spin-offs, tourism, low-wage service jobs, and growth/development. During the Great Recession, multiple income streams for our local economy were dramatically reduced or eliminated—resulting in the loss of hundreds, if not thousands of good-paying jobs due to budget cuts, business closures, and the housing market crash. People and jobs left the area.

In August, the Arizona Daily Star ran a week-long series on multiple aspects of poverty in Southern Arizona and just this week, the Star ran a story that stated Tucson was second only to Detroit in the proliferation of crappy, low-wage jobs. In a survey of 52 metro areas with over 1 million residents, Tucson was in the top 10 for job creation; the problem is that more than half of the projected 28,000 new jobs will pay less than $13.84/hour. (If you really want to be depressed, check out the list of Tucson's fastest growing occupations here. None of these jobs requires a college education. Thanks to TREO's efforts, telemarketer is #1. Thanks to Tucson's ample supply of old folks, the next four most popular jobs are low-wage health/caregiver positions. We won't break the cycle of poverty in this city with a jobs picture like this.)

So, we know that our city has big economic challenges. Now what? As I wrote back in August, it's time for some creative economic solutions. It's time to STOP our addiction to military spending. It's time to STOP relying on temporary construction jobs and low-wage hospitality industry jobs. It's time to defund TREO and STOP chasing rainbows by competing with other metro areas for "the next IBM" or the next spring training team. It's time to STOP sending our money to Wall Street for investment. It's time to START investing in Tucson. It's time for public banking. [Read why after the jump.]

Public Banking as an Economic Engine

Public banks are owned by the citizens and managed by a board of directors on behalf of a governmental entity (country, state, county, city) for the benefit of the citizens and the collective good. Commercial banks are owned by investors, and their goal is to make money for those investors. As we learned during the Great Recession, "public good" has nothing to do with it. North Dakota is the only state in the US that has a state public bank; consequently, ND weathered the Great Recession without a hiccup because it manages its own wealth and relies less on Wall Street gamblers than other states, like Arizona.

State banks (like North Dakota's) or national public banks (like Costa Rica's) are economic engines because they manage the government's money and create their own credit — thus eliminating bank fees and freeing the state to fund projects for the public good, like infrastructure projects that improve the state and provide good-paying jobs. Infrastructure improvements (better roads, reliable bridges, light rail) make the state more economically efficient and a more attractive place for businesses and people. Good-paying jobs attract a better educated workforce and boost the economy because people have money in their pockets. State banks can foster local business development and help community banks by backing the community banks' loans to LOCAL small businesses, farmers, or entrepreneurs.

Buying Debt

Public banks can also help the economy by offering low-cost student loans or by buying up personal debt (ie, credit card debt, student loans, underwater mortgages) and excusing it or restructuring it. This would be similar to what the Rolling Jubilee– part of Occupy's Strike Debt group– is doing. Rolling Jubilee recently purchased $15 million in personal debt for $400,000. Focusing primarily on medical debt, Rolling Jubilee helped more than 2600 Americans in 45 states by buying their medical debt and excusing it.

How does this benefit the public good? People who are spending a significant amount of their income each month to pay off debts cannot afford to buy the things they want or need– like houses, cars, childcare, health insurance, food, etc. They are supporting the lending institutions– primarily too-big-to-fail banks– with their monthly payments, but this money is lost to the local economy. Let's assume a middle class American is paying $200 on a credit card, $100 on a student loan, and $300 on a car loan each month; that is $600 per month going to Wall Street Banks and not to the local economy. If this person is making less than $15/hour and working less than 40 hours per week at a call center that doesn't provide health insurance, they are living on the edge of catastrophe if they or a family member gets sick or has a serious accident. High debt + high interest rates + low wages = poverty, crime, drug trafficking, addiction, domestic violence, suicide. If you add a medical emergency or life-threatening diagnosis to the mix, lives can spiral out of control quickly, and people lose hope.

Public Banking Can Help the State Economy, too

By Arizona statute, all of our state's wealth is held in a big commercial bank—Bank of America, at this time. Consequently, Bank of America makes money by creating credit on our money and charges the state fees and interest. Sweet— for Bank of America– but not for the citizens of Arizona.

Establishing a public bank in Arizona could vastly improve Arizona's budget problems, according to Jim Hannley, registered investment adviser, local public banking advocate, and head of PDA Tucson's economic and social justice team. For two years, Hannley, PDA Tucson Chair and former Arizona Legislature Phil Lopes, and others in Progressive Democrats of America's (PDA) Tucson Chapter have been meeting with Arizona and Tucson politicians to encourage support for public banking. In 2013 alone, Hannley has addressed groups like Sustainable Tucson, Democrats of Greater Tucson, Drinking Liberally, and the Tear Down the Walls Conference to drum up grassroots support for public banking.

Arizona's Republican-led government parrots the same economic austerity meme as Republicans on the national level, according to Hannley. The meme goes like this:

  1. There's not enough money.
  2. We must take dramatic austerity measures to control spending.
  3. Government must live within its means and cut budgets and services. (This disproportionately hurts the poor and the middle class who use these services and hold the jobs being cut, Hannley pointed out.)
  4. Government must cut corporate taxes to encourage businesses. (Cutting corporate taxes and income taxes results in raising taxes on the rest of us because revenue has to come from somewhere. Why do you think we have a 8.1% sales tax? Income taxes and property taxes are progressive taxes. Sales tax– which hits the poor the hardest– is the most regressive tax, and the one that Arizona and Tucson rely on all too heavily. Secretary of State Ken "Birther" Bennett, who is running for Arizona governor, is proposing to levy sales tax on food, while cutting corporate and high earner income taxes.)

To have a solid economy, people need purchasing power. Points 3 and 4 of the Republican austerity meme take money out of the hands of ordinary citizens, thus reducing their purchasing power and hurting the overall economy. (If you're making less than $13 an hour as a home health aide, how can you afford a $12 glass of wine at one of the gleaming new bars on Congress Street?) Continued sequestration cuts (which Congressional Republicans want to keep) and cuts to direct social programs which help millions of Americans (like Food Stamps) will worsen poverty nationwide.

So, how could establishment of a public bank help? Under the current system, Arizona has lost the ability to create credit and has transferred this power to a private company– Bank of America. Before the Wall Street crash, the too-big-to-fail banks were lending money at a rate of $30 for every $1 in their vault, charging interest on that $30, and making money on our money. Since our state's money is held by Bank of America, all of Arizona's wealth is invested on Wall Street– not in the State of Arizona. By contrast, North Dakota has had a public bank since 1919. ND is one of the few– if not the only– state in the US whose economy was not destroyed by the Wall Street meltdown and the housing crash. ND also has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the US.

The Bank of North Dakota holds all of the state treasury funds and is an economic driver for the state. Each state collects taxes and receives millions of dollars in matching funds from the federal government for health care, roads, schools, and many other initiatives that promote the public good. In most states (like Arizona), those funds are held in large commercial banks– not state banks. The Bank of North Dakota holds that state's funds, manages all large transactions, invests in public works projects to create jobs and better the state, and guarantees loans to students, farmers, small business, and entrepreneurs. Arizona, by contrast, is beholden to Bank of America.

Arizona currently has a $60 million debt, which we pay interest on– thus transferring our wealth to the private companies who own the debt. To help balance the budget– after the crash– the State of Arizona sold off assets, like the State Capitol buildings; now the state must pay rent on buildings it used to own. In addition, in 2012 the Arizona state employee pension plan (which is invested on Wall Street) recognized a $524 million loss on pension fund. Contrast this bungled financial picture with North Dakota's. For fiscal years 2011-2013 ND projected $3.197 billion in revenue and $3.185 billion in total expenditures, giving it more than a $12 million budget surplus. ND has a reserve balance of $1.237 billion. These budget figures include $900 million in property and income tax relief from 2009 to 2013. The Bank of North Dakota makes money by using surplus funds to make loans to businesses and citizens. According to Hannley, the Bank of North Dakota has greater than a 13% return on equity.

In 2012, Tucsonans passed a bond initiative to fund road repairs. The voters approved a $100 million bond, which the city paid a fee of $1 million to create. With an authorized interest rate up to 8%, the city could pay as much as $8 million per year in interest over the 20-year bond. If Pima County or the State of Arizona had a public bank, the city could borrow from the public bank at a lower rate to pay for road repairs and save millions of dollars. Tucsonans would save money on the municipal bond, and the state would make money on the interest. Under the current system, municipalities like Tucson have to pay higher interest rates to Wall Street bond managers, while the State of Arizona's sits at Bank of America—making peanuts for Arizonans.

Twenty states are considering establishing a public bank, according to the Public Banking Institute's website. Arizona is listed as one of those states because in 2012 Rep. John Filmore introduced a public banking bill in the Arizona Legislature; the Apache Junction Republican and small businessman worked with PDA Tucson on the initiative. PDA Tucson continues to be committed to this cause.

"It’s time to cast off our addiction to Wall Street banks," Hannley said as he ended his talk.

Facts from the Public Banking Institute

Public Banks are …
• Viable solutions to the present economic crises in US states.
• Counter-cyclical, meaning they are capable of reducing the negative impact of recessions, because they can make money available for local governments and businesses precisely when private banks decrease lending.
• Potentially available to any-sized government or community
able to meet the requirements for setting up a bank.
• Owned by the people of a state or community.
• Economically sustainable, because they operate transparently according to applicable banking regulations
• Able to offset pressures for tax increases with returned credit income to the community.
• Ready sources of affordable credit for local governments, eliminating the need for large “rainy day” funds.
• Required to promote the public interest, as defined in their
charters.
• Constitutional, as ruled by the U.S. Supreme Court

… and are not
• Operated by politicians; rather, they are run by professional
bankers.
• Boondoggles for bank executives; rather, their employees are
salaried public servants (paid by the state, with a transparent pay structure) who would likely not earn bonuses, commissions or fees for generating loans.
• Speculative ventures that maximize profits in the short term,
without regard to the long-term interests of the public.

 

Like what you read here? Check out my Tucson Progressive blog and Facebook page.

AZ Dem reorganization meeting: Not a good day for incumbents (video)

Welcome_0096-sm72by Pamela Powers Hannley

Saturday, January 26, was a day of surprises– a bad day for incumbent Democratic Party officers but a good day for activists and young Democrats. It was the culmination of the Arizona Democratic Party's (ADP) statewide reorganization, which began with the election of new precinct committee (PC) persons in August.

These last two years have been somewhat tumultuous for the ADP, after the stormy election and eventual resignation of Andrei Cherny (of No Labels fame) as party chair. Both the county and state parties came under fire from candidates and activists for playing favorites, endorsing candidates before the primary election, and, sometimes, and actively working for or against certain Democratic candidates. As a result, many unhappy campers grumbled on Facebook, on the blogs, and in person, and some even protested the headquarters in Phoenix. Multiple groups— including progressives— used the past few months to gain power in the local party structure– with an eye on Saturday's state committee meeting. 

On Saturday, 400+ elected precinct committee people elected the chair, eight vice chairs (four of each gender from different counties), a secretary, a treasurer, a DNC representative, an education coordinator, and an affirmative action moderator. 

The first upset victory of the day was for first vice chair. Former Carmona campaign manager and long-time activist Alexis Tameron beat three-term vice chair Harriet Young handily. After the jump, watch a video of Tameron, as well as more details, photos, and election results.

Even though he couldn't attend the meeting due to open heart surgery, Tucsonan Bill Roe ran uncontested as chair of the party, a post he assumed in March 2012 after Cherny's resignation to run for Congress. Other uncontested races (which also resulted in election by acclamation) were: Jim Walsh (Pinal County), senior vice chair; Rick McGuire (Maricopa County), treasurer; Janie Hydrick (Maricopa County), educational chair; and C.J. Carenza  (Maricopa County), affirmation action moderator.

Verdugo_0043-sm72The vice chair positions were hotly contested– with 10 people vying for six positions– and the fields included many new faces. Recruitment and grassroots activism were common themes that ran through all of the speeches given by winning candidates. Tameron and Emily Verdugo of Pinal County– both young Latinas– want to reach out to young Democrats and Latinos to bring new blood into the party. Barbara Tellman, long-time Pima County volunteer, said she was "infuriated by the Arizona Legislature" and wants to court disenchanted Republicans and people who identify with no party. 

Both Verdugo and
Lauren Kuby of Maricopa County emphasized thinking and reaching outside the box. As she walked up and down aisles to deliver her speech, Verdugo said she doesn't follow the rules and talked about better marketing and outreach to multiple groups. Kuby emphasized her role in making Tempe blue and offered several specific, creative recruitment and fundraising ideas that she employed locally as examples of what could be done statewide. 

PDA Tucson coordinator and former state legislator Phil Lopes; tireless Pima County organizer and former legislative district chair Matt Kopec; and union supporter and radio personality Roman Ulman of Maricopa won the three vice chairmen posts. Long-time party officer Jim Woodbrey, who has a political resume dating back to the Kennedy administration, won the least number of votes, while twenty-something Kopec won the most votes. 

"We must stop being timid and risk averse," Lopes told the PCs in his speech. "We must back candidates that reflect Democratic values"– like clean elections and stopping the influence of money on politics. Urging the party and the PCs to walk the walk, not just talk the talk, Lopes said Democrats must separate our party from
the other party because too many people think the parties are the same, and they're not. By reflecting our values in our actions and in the candidates we back, people will see
that we are different.

The office of secretary was another upset, with incumbent secretary and long-time party official Sharon Thomas losing to Jane McNamara. Although both women were well-qualified and had the English and editing skills to do the job. Saturday was a day for outsiders and local activists– worker bees like McNamara– to win.

The only race that got nasty was for the Arizona representative to the Democratic National Committee (DNC). This is the person who gets to schmooze on the national level on behalf of our state. Former ADP executive director Luis Heredia, who resigned recently, squared off with former vice chair Chris Campas. 

Voting_0025-sm72As was the case for all other speeches that day, Heredia's talk focused on his accomplishments and his pride in having served the party as executive director and role in the multiple victories in 2012.

In a move that surprised everyone for its vitriol, Campas trounced Heredia in his speech and tried to tie multiple
complaints about the party to Heridia. The extreme negativity was so shocking to the PCs that at one point it sounded like the English Parliament with multiple groaning, booing, and asking him to stop. The negativity didn't go over
well, and Heredia won by a significant majority. Personally, I think that although Heredia should own some of the complaints— so should Cherny and the other members of the ADP board– many of whom are no longer officers because they didn't run or they lost on Saturday (Young, Woodbrey, Thomas, and Campas).

It's a whole new ball game, folks. Stay tuned for what happens next.

Photo captions

Top: Welcome and call to order at Dobson High School in Mesa.

Middle: Verdugo with Rose Lopez and Vince Rabago.

Bottom: The voting process.

More photos on my Tucson Progressive Facebook page here.

 

 

 

 

PDA Tucson’s Phil Lopes runs for Dem Party Vice Chair

by Pamela Powers Hannley

On Saturday, January 26, 2013, the Arizona Democratic Party will hold its reorganization meeting in Phoenix. New state party officers will be elected by elected precinct committee (PC) people. If you are a progressive and an elected, please consider voting for Phil Lopes. If you are a PC and can't make the meeting, contact your legislative district chair and give someone your proxy vote. Here is the proxy form. 

Below is Lopes' candidate statement…

Phil Lopes for Vice Chair

Dear AZ State Democratic Committee member,
This letter is to ask for your vote for the position of Vice-Chair of the AZ Democratic Party. I would be honored to have your support and vote. I am running for Vice-Chair to:
  • strengthen the party, especially in public policy advocacy, and,
  • to improve the public’s perception of the Party

Although the Party raises money during campaign season, it does not advocate with candidates, elected officials or the public at large for policy positions that reflect the values of Democrats. This is one reason why the public perceives Democrats and Republicans as not very different. For example, during the recent campaign, I heard no mention of developing a fairer tax system. This is inconceivable given that our State tax structure is way too sales tax reliant and the sales tax hits the poor the hardest. Likewise, most Democrats feel that there is too much money spent on campaigns but too many of our candidates chose not to run using Clean Elections.

In my view, the Party has rarely advocated for policy positions. It may be that it is uncomfortable in doing so or that effective policy advocacy is difficult, which it is. But that does not mean that we should not try to distinguish ourselves from Republicans, to “walk the talk” for our values. One theme that I have consistently heard in my 30+ years in the AZ Party is that the resolutions we pass are not adequately implemented, pushed, both within and outside the Party. For example, I was involved in getting a resolution passed supporting single payer health care in the mid-80s, but to my knowledge nothing was ever done with it until I introduced a single payer bill, twice, in the Legislature.
In addition to the direction I want to move the Party, I think my experience speaks strongly to my ability to be an effective Vice-Chair. I served eight years in the AZ House, for four of those years as House Democratic Leader. During my time as Leader I instituted the practice of regular reports to the State Committee. Also during my time as Leader I was deeply involved in Legislative campaigns, which in 2006 resulted in the House Democratic Caucus growing to 27 members, the most we have ever had. I was Chair of my Legislative District in the 80s, and have served on both the Pima County Executive Committee and on the State Committee. I was a surrogate for Terry Goddard when he ran for Governor and for Andre Cherny when he ran for Treasurer.
If you have any questions regarding this statement or my candidacy in general, please contact me at lopesphil@gmail.com or 520-861-7654. I look forward to your support.
Regards,
Phil Lopes