Category Archives: Community

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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Taking Public Policy out of the Cathedral and into the Bazaar

In a previous post, I said we need to Innovate as well as Advocate.  How?  Here is one idea.

Cathedral and Bazaar by Carmelita Levin 

For the non-engineers reading this, a quick explanation: Once upon a time, software was created by coding wizards in ivory towers, who would carefully prepare major software releases, having only trained testers examine them, before with some small fanfare allowing users to purchase the results. As you might imagine, software releases tended to suffer from unexpected bugs when running in the real world with real users pounding on them.

The Open Source movement changed all that in the software world, and the classic essay on the subject is called The Cathedral and the Bazaar, by Eric Raymond. The essay was inspired by the success of the Linux operating system, the development of which “seemed to resemble a great babbling bazaar of differing agendas and approaches…out of which a coherent and stable system could seemingly emerge only by a succession of miracles” - and yet which became the most widely used server platform on the Internet.

Why can’t we do the same with Public Policy?  And what would that look like?

Policies and laws are documents. Unlike software, we can pretty much all read and understand them. But we usually do not get to see them until they are in nearly-final state and making their way through the legislative process.  Sometimes this is by design – in the worst cases, one side (need I say which?) will assemble an extremely unpopular set of laws, perhaps a budget that strips money from schools, or one that removes protections from large groups of people, and unveil it only immediately before the vote that makes it law.  This is pretty much the exact opposite of a healthy development cycle.

The process of actually writing laws and policy occurs mainly out of public view.  ALEC, the notorious engine for churning out legislation advancing corporate interests, holds meetings with heavy security and bars journalists from the entire hotel where they are held.  Progressive think tanks like SIX have a much more inclusive and open process, but by being explicitly progressive from the outset, also sometimes turn out laws that have had only one-sided input.

Raymond’s key takeaway, that “Given enough eyes, all bugs are shallow“, that more users having access earlier in the process produces better results, transformed the process of software development. Would exposing policy documents during the process of development have the potential to do the same for public policy?

But the trolls!  How to have a productive discussion and craft a policy while fending off constant attacks from those who hate the fundamental values behind it?

A bazaar is not a free-for-all, though it may seem so to an outsider.  Engineering culture has strong norms, that newcomers are often exposed to in a sort of trial-by-fire.  Fundamentally, these boil down to the respect of others’ time and attention, the understanding that work talks, and that if you don’t like how someone is doing things, you are free to branch off it and create something of your own.  Open source software in particular is ‘copylefted’, meaning that it is free for anyone to copy and change it as long as the result is also free.

Thus, perhaps an Open Public Policy could have a structure, one that expresses the values behind it.  Those who share those values, are invited to help craft the details. Those with different values, should create a different policy entirely, and let the two compete.

New standards in software are usually first expressed in a paper entitled Request for Comments.  So in that spirit, here is

Request for Comments 1: A Structure for Open Public Policy

However, another norm is never to have a solution in search of a problem.  Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux operating system, famously said,

“Nobody should start to undertake a large project. You start with a small trivial project, and you should never expect it to get large. If you do, you’ll just overdesign and generally think it is more important than it likely is at that stage. Or worse, you might be scared away by the sheer size of the work you envision. So start small, and think about the details. Don’t think about some big picture and fancy design. If it doesn’t solve some fairly immediate need, it’s almost certainly over-designed. And don’t expect people to jump in and help you. That’s not how these things work. You need to get something half-way useful first, and then others will say “hey, that almost works for me”, and they’ll get involved in the project.

And so, while recognizing the big picture lets see if we can apply this technique to a concrete problem.  Since these will be open to comments, even presenting something that might be a dumb idea is not so bad – someone will point out why it is dumb, and how it should be fixed, before it becomes law and hurts anyone.  So I’ll present here some probably dumb ideas for fixing problems, with the expectation that the community will point out the flaws, and either trash the idea entirely or perhaps save it by fixing them.  And in particular, I will request reviews from those my ideas are most likely to offend or upset.

RFC 2: Homeless on Beautiful Streets, an idea for San Francisco

RFC 3: Community Service for Citizenship (TBD)

RFC 4: Responsible Gun Ownership (TBD)

The RFC’s with supporting essays will be published in this new Open Public Policy channel.  Readers are welcome to submit, whether your own ideas, policy that is from a well-known organization or existing model law.

Fill the Sun Link Streetcar with toys on Dec. 14

“RAIN OR SHINE!  Hosted by Regional Transportation Authority – RTA

Friday Dec. 14, 9 to 6 p.m. at 360 E. 8th Street, Tucson

The Regional Transportation Authority invites you to be a part of the joy of collecting toys for Ramon’s Miracle on 31st Street, a legendary grassroots charity that provides holiday kindness to economically disadvantaged children in the Tucson metropolitan region.

Now in its 48th year, the open-door Christmas celebration led by charity founder Ramon Gonzales, a retired sheet-metal worker, is attended by thousands of children and their families. This year, more than 15,000 children are expected to attend the celebration. The RTA invites you to join together with others in our community to ensure that each of those children leaves with a new toy in hand. Please help us reach our goal of collecting 1,200 toys this year!

– Easy curbside toy drop-off
– See a life-size “Barbie” Jeep courtesy of Whips 4 Days Car Club
– Visits from Santa Claus…and the Grinch!
– Music performances from local school choirs/bands

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