The GOP has weaponized the courts in undermining our democratic institutions

20 GOP attorneys general hand-picked a conservative activist judge known for his political activism from the bench to conspire to overturn the Affordable Care Act. One can fairly say that the process was “rigged” to produce the desired result. Judge Reed O’Connor should be impeached, and the 20 GOP attorneys general held to account for their unethical professional misconduct.

The New York Times reports, In Weaponized Courts, Judge Who Halted Affordable Care Act Is a Conservative Favorite:

In the 11 years Judge Reed O’Connor has been on the federal bench, he has become a favorite of Republican leaders in Texas, reliably tossing out Democratic policies they have challenged.

The state’s Republican attorney general appears to strategically file key lawsuits in Judge O’Connor’s jurisdiction, the Northern District of Texas, so that he will hear them. And on Friday, the judge handed Republicans another victory by striking down the Affordable Care Act, the signature health law of the Obama era.

Judge O’Connor, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush, has been at the center of some of the most contentious and partisan cases involving federal power and states’ rights, and has sided with conservative leaders in previous challenges to the health law and against efforts to expand transgender rights.

No one questions his expertise on the law. But his rulings illustrate the ways in which the federal district courts have become politically weaponized, as Republicans and Democrats alike try to handpick judges they see as ideologically friendly to their cases.

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New Chair Alison Jones Vows to Bring in Grassroots Groups to Pima Democratic Party

Alison Jones is a career hydrogeologist who has been president of the Arizona Geological Society.

Chair Alison Jones emphasized her #1 campaign goal “to bring in and coordinate with grassroots groups. A lot of credit goes to these groups. We have plenty of opportunities for us to work together.”

Only 50 hours after being elected Pima County Democratic Chair, Alison Jones vowed to embrace community groups that helped elect Democrats, and to hold an outreach summit among the County’s six Legislative District leaders.

“I have a lot of support in the room and I’m charging ahead,” she said at Monday’s meeting of the Democrats of Greater Tucson. “I’m excited about the possibilities.” See In a Surprise Victory, Alison Jones Elected as New Pima Democratic Chair 156 to 151.

One of her first projects is to find a replacement for outgoing Executive Director Heath Butrum. “I want someone with budgeting and personnel skills, who is very organized with logistics. We need someone who will create a welcoming tone at headquarters, and someone who is excited about spreading our message of inclusivity,” Jones said. Butrum’s departure date is flexible.

Coordinate with grassroots groups

She emphasized her #1 campaign goal “to bring in and coordinate with grassroots groups. A lot of credit goes to these groups. We have plenty of opportunities for us to work together.”

She specifically cited the Arizona Ground Game, which “mobilized hundreds of people knocking on doors for Democrats,” and AZBlue2020, which is working on PC development and training. “We are going to need all the help we can get,” she said. “2020 will be on a scale we’ve never seen before. It’ going to be gigantic.”

Jones is a career hydrogeologist who has been president, secretary, and treasurer of the Arizona Geological Society. “All these skills are directly applicable to the chair position,” she said. She has been in Tucson since 2006, arriving from Maine. In her work, she consults for Tucson Water designing wells and assisting mining companies with permits.

“I’m a geologist and science freak,” she quipped.

A map of the legislative districts in Pima County

A map of the legislative districts in Pima County

She reiterated her campaign platform to:

  • Hold a Summit of LD leaders. “One or two people from each LD will be invited to headquarters on a Saturday, to share what we did. For example, LD9 had a great tri-fold brochure and I’d like to see other LDs do that.”
  • Revamp the atmosphere at headquarters. “I want to see a more welcoming environment. When people give you their most valuable thing — their time — you should repay that.”
  • Build a county platform. “We need to stand for something. Millennials don’t care if you have “R” or “D” behind your name, but they want to know where you stand on climate change, gun laws, and skyrocketing education costs. Our platform will be specific to Southern Arizona. She will create a county platform committee.
  • Recruit and train 1,200 precinct committeemen (PCs). Because so many Democrats voted in the last election, Pima County’s allotment of PCs grew to 1,800. Currently, there are 425 PCs.
  • Improve communications including a useful website with a functional calendar, and revive the county party newsletter. Get the ability to text PCs and volunteers, “so we can alert them if there’s something going on at the Board of Supervisors. Activism does work.”
  • Create a Speakers’ Bureau so PCs will amplify the party message.
  • Boost Advocacy. Train PCs and volunteers to use the Request-to-Speak system to comment on pending legislation. She noted that the YWCA is holding Progressive Candidate Training starting on Feb. 9.
  • Build a bench of candidates by recruiting and training candidates.
  • Improve fundraising. “I want to beef up the Catalina Democrats,” who pledge to give $1,000 per year to the party.

Jones’ first meeting of the Pima County Executive Committee is Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, at 6:30 pm at the Pima County Democratic Party headquarters at 4639 E 1st St, Tucson, AZ 85711.

Comments still glitching

Dear loyal readers of Blog for  Arizona,

You’ve probably noticed if you try to comment on our blogsite, that sometimes your comments are approved automatically and sometimes not.  We’ve consulted with our webmaster, and she has been unable to fix the problem which started a few months ago.  So I’ve been approving the legitimate ones which have gone into the comment Trash bin. Other comments have been approved on their own, from regular readers but we’re not sure why some are and some aren’t.  As bloggers, we even have to approve our own comments sometimes.

We are considering other options, but until then, please bear with us and with me, as I’m not online 24/7.  I will continue to approve comments when I can but they will likely be delayed, especially during this holiday season. And apologies to those of you whose comments never did appear recently, as we were trying to fix things and a bunch got inadvertently deleted over a 2 week period in November/December, through no fault of mine.

Thank you for your patience & understanding, for this inconvenience. We realize that is this is frustrating for those who comment frequently.

Carolyn Classen, volunteer blogger at Blog for Arizona (since 2/11/14), formerly with


The Arroyo Cafe Holiday Radio Show

Carolyn’s note: I guess this holiday show is just in time for (dare I say it?) Christmas 2018. Tucson folks I know in this show: David Fitzsimmons aka Fitz, attorneys Nancy Stanley & Elliot Glicksman, and Bridgitte Thum & hubby Mike Sterner.  Lots of laughs in store for you attendees. Wonder who the Surprise Celebrity Guest will be?

$15 ticket purchase:

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An Interview with Superintendent of Public Instruction Elect Kathy Hoffman

“I am looking forward to being the voice for public education and elevating the voices of teachers and students," says Kathy Hoffman.

“I am looking forward to being the voice for public education and elevating the voices of teachers and students,” says newly-elected Kathy Hoffman.

During the 2018 election campaign in Arizona, one person personified the Cinderella theme of coming from nowhere to win statewide office.

No, it was not Katie Hobbs. It was not Kyrsten Sinema. It was the incoming Superintendent of Public Instruction, Kathy Hoffman.

A speech therapist, Hoffman achieved the “Impossible Dream” of Arizona electoral politics this year by her meteoritic rise to become the state’s top educator. She bested seasoned political veterans David Schipara in the August primaries and Frank Riggs in the November general elections. After Senator-Elect Sinema, she was the top vote-getter among Democrats.

A new star in the Democratic Party, Ms. Hoffman sat down with the Blog for Arizona a third time to reflect on her victory, discuss her transition, and chart a course for her first year in office. The questions and responses are below.

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