Category Archives: Legislation

Arizona legislature’s first order of business: a Drought Contingency Plan

There is an old adage in the American West, “Whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting over.”

The Arizona legislature has until January 31 to enact a drought contingency plan for the allocation of Colorado River water in the event a drought emergency is declared, which is expected to occur in 2020. If the legislature misses the deadline, it will result in the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation launching a legal process that would likely trigger a formal, federal management takeover of the Colorado River.

The Drought Situation

The American West has been in a drought for the past 19 years with no end in sight. In fact, researchers say “the Southwest may currently be enduring its first mega-drought in more than 500 years, and it could be one of the most severe in history, new research from Columbia University suggests.” The Southwest Might Be in One of the Worst Mega-Droughts in History, Experts Say:

“The last 19 years have been equivalent to the worst 19 years of the worst mega-droughts on record,” Park Williams of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory told The Atlantic. The current drought is topped by only mega-droughts in the late-800s, mid-1100s and late-1500s.

(Photo of the Lake Meade “bathtub ring”).

While there isn’t an exact definition for what constitutes a mega-drought, climate scientists Jonathan Overpeck and Connie Woodhouse minted the classification in an American Meteorological Society journal entry which claims only droughts that lasted two decades or longer could be added to the ranking.

The brutal drought in the Southwest started around 2000, putting it on the brink of becoming a mega-drought.

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As Mayor, Kate Gallego will Make “Make Phoenix a City that Will Work for Everyone”

Phoenix Mayoral Candidate Councilwoman Kate Gallego

In a runoff race for Phoenix Mayor, candidate Kate Gallego, a former Phoenix Councilwoman, appears to be leading her opponent Daniel Valenzuela, another former member of the Phoenix City Council.

With popular Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton resigning his office and now serving Arizona’s Ninth Congressional District, a special non-partisan election was held in November to elect his successor. In a four-way race, Gallego received 45 percent of the vote and had a 19-point lead over her closest contender, Councilman Daniel Valenzuela. Commentators at the Arizona Republic feel that Councilwoman Gallego, with her energized and devoted base, has the turnout advantage right now going into the March 12, 2019 election.

The Blog For Arizona profiled both candidates in June and interviewed both on their positions in and their vision for moving Phoenix forward. Over the last week, we contacted both campaigns for an update.  This piece describes Councilwoman’s  Gallego’s goals and vision for the fifth largest city in the country.

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Arizona GOP renews its war on public education

Last year Governor Doug Ducey was forced into increasing his offer of a one percent pay increase for public school teachers to an incremental twenty percent pay increase over two years in response to the Red For Ed teacher strike in Arizona. Governor Ducey suggested at the time that this was just a down payment on restoring massive cuts to public education since the Great Recession and subsequent years over the past decade. Governor Ducey went so far as to market himself as the “education governor” in his reelection bid.

Now that the election is past, that down payment on public education funding talk is nowhere to be found. In his State of The State address on Monday, “the governor talked mostly about programs and initiatives he’s rolled out before, such as the Arizona Teacher’s Academy and his school safety plan. He did not propose any new funding plans, sticking to his 20 by 2020 plan and doubling down on his promise for no tax hikes. What Gov. Doug Ducey said (and didn’t say) about education in State of the State address:

Ducey said he would continue to “hold the line” on raising taxes, signaling a lack of support for any education-related tax increases, possibly like the one state Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, proposed before the legislative session even started.

The governor didn’t address the possibility of finding new revenue streams for education.

He did pledge to keep his promise to raise teachers’ salaries by 20 percent by 2020.

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New Progressive Enthusiasm and Energy at Arizona’s State Capital

Democratic Lawmakers rally at the Capital Rose Garden on the first day of the Legislative Session. Photo courtesy of Lynsey Robinson, Second Vice Chair of the Maricopa County Democratic Party.

There is a new Progressive Enthusiasm and Energy at Arizona’s State Capital

It can be seen in the hallways where people crowded the Democratic offices of the House joyfully discussing the legislative prospects for 2019.

It could be seen with the female Democratic legislators wearing white to honor the suffragette movement of 100 years ago.

It could be seen in the early morning rallies with progressive organizations and legislative leaders passionately expressing hope for their ideas and proposals for the New Year.

It could be seen on the House Floor where the parties are at their closest margins since 1966 and some state offices (Education and Secretary of State) were held once again by Democrats.

Democrats, encouraged by the 2018 elections, are ready to shape the legislative agenda and propel the state in a forward direction. Thanks to the gracious invitation of Legislative District 18 (where the author is also a PC) State Representative Mitzi Epstein, this writer was able to witness the events of the day including Governor Ducey’s State of the State Address.

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Fact checking Trump’s prime time address

Media critic Erik Wemple of the Washington Post accurately notes The networks interrupted their programming for the lamest rerun on television, Donald Trump’s racist white nationalist anti-immigrant fear mongering. Trump used the Oval Office to try to create a border crisis.

Trump’s frustrated sales pitch on the border wall reverted to his oldest political tactic: Fear. Trump’s real fear is the loss of his white nationalist political base who feed off the epistemic closure of the “conservative misinformation feedback loop” media bubble. Trump’s public case for his wall has collapsed entirely, and in Trump Nation, that’s the “national emergency.” The real national emergency is the threat of Trump’s collapse.

Media critics had urged networks to take precautions ahead of his speech. ‘This president lies daily’: Critics demand networks fact-check Trump’s live immigration speech.

Afterwards, TV hosts say Trump speech lacked news. Dems say ‘told you so.’

Real-time analysis from on-air journalists followed Trump’s white nationalist propaganda. Anchors Scramble to Fact-Check Trump After Prime-Time Address:

NBC anchor Chuck Todd came on air with a blunt assessment. “He made a lot of dubious claims,” Mr. Todd informed millions of viewers after the network’s scheduled program had been pre-empted for a rare prime-time presidential appearance.

Shepard Smith on the Fox News network told viewers that contrary to Mr. Trump’s assertions, “statistics show there is less violent crime by the undocumented immigrant population than by the general population.”

And on ABC, the White House correspondent Cecilia Vega took issue with Mr. Trump’s depiction of a southern border in crisis. “Just because you say it’s a crisis,” Ms. Vega said, “doesn’t necessarily make it one.”

The post-speech fact checking has been brutal. Continue reading