Muchos del nervio: An abundance of Mexican nerve

March 29, 2006   

Muchos del nervio: An abundance of Mexican nerve

By Carol Turoff                                     

 http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/files/photos/C/CAAJ10503252047.html?SITE=7219&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

Mexican nationals jam American streets, waving Mexican flags and chanting demands. illegal immigrants are long on audacity and short on judgment.
                                                                                                             

The defiance was unrestrained:  Emanating from hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens marching in cities across the United States; dangerously clogging roadways while boldly demanding “rights” from the citizens and elected representatives of this country.  Exactly what rights do those in this country illegally possess?
 
Such unbridled temerity while waving the Mexican flag and chanting, “Today we march, tomorrow we vote!” in Spanish, should serve as a wake-up call to those who value the sovereignty of this great country and take the rule of law seriously.
 
We have watched eastern European nations suffer balkanization.  Just months after the mostly Muslim slums of Paris became seething hotbeds of weeks-long rioting, destruction and arson, areas inhabited by illegals are referred to as “no-go” zones, where police refuse to enter.  The magical City of Light now cowers under threat of more violence by marauding gangs.
 
Make no mistake. America’s marchers did not rise up spontaneously. They were incited by Spanish language media and clergy. The raw nerve exhibited by these lawbreakers as they issue threats is appalling. Meanwhile, the US Senate reacted by passing a sweeping immigration reform bill, which in effect, acquiesces to the outrageous antics of those who blatantly disregard our nation’s laws.
 
Few Americans are anti-immigrant. The operative word, given short shrift by the liberal media, is illegal. And, the Big Lie, repeated often enough to give it an aura of veracity, is that illegal entrants are merely taking jobs Americans won’t take. The construction industry is a prime example of the propagation of this deception. Not so many years ago, tradesmen supported middle class American families. Visit any construction site today, and one rarely finds an English speaker.  These are not jobs Americans refuse to take. They are jobs Americans cannot afford to take at the substandard wages uneducated illegal workers are willing to accept.  Multiple families, in violation of city housing codes, often reside in single family homes, exacerbating neighborhood decline.
 
Driving the problem is Mexico’s failed economy and corrupt government. President Vincente Fox is unique among national leaders in that he is eager to allow his country’s vigorous youth to desert their own land.  His government provides brochures detailing the safest routes, locations of desert water stations, and how best to avoid border patrol agents. The reason is clear:  Mexico’s economy is propped up by the $20.035 billion yearly in remittances sent home by its citizens residing in the United States. Reuters reports this figure is an increase of 20 percent compared to 2004. Remittances from an estimated 11 million illegal aliens living in the U.S. have become the third largest source of income for Mexico after oil exports and tourism.
 
President George W. Bush has been a major disappointment in addressing border security.  Intent on placating the business community, ever desirous of cheap labor, he waffles on reform measures and meaningful efforts to secure our porous borders.  Democrats, anticipating another minority voting bloc to tuck in their pocket,  fare no better with their lack of will to address this crisis. Neither party is prepared to risk alienating the growing Hispanic sector.
 
Sen John McCain (R – AZ), garbed in unconcealed presidential aspirations, addressed passage of the abysmal senate bill. Saying the marchers “galvanized congressional support for the bill,” he proved threats work. McCain denies this bill offers amnesty.  It contains a provision for those who fulfill certain conditions, such as agreeing to pay fines, learn English, and satisfy requirements for a background check.  It also allows illegal immigrants with a high school diploma to enroll in college, paying in-state tuition.  McCain calls this, “Earned Citizenship.” He has yet to address imposition of penalties if those given this amnesty refuse to accept the provisions. His bill decriminalizes being here without permission, so what is the incentive? When penalties don’t apply, the proper term is amnesty.
 
Another issue never addressed is that of children born to the so-called “guest” workers, President Bush enthusiastically promotes.  Their children, born in the United States to non-citizen parents, are granted automatic citizenship. The Fourteenth Amendment, instituted to address the status of children born to newly freed slaves immediately after the Civil War, has outlived its intent and begs for reconsideration.
 
The cost of illegal immigration is high.  Burdens placed upon public education, health care facilities, the criminal justice system and social welfare agencies escalate with each wave of desert crossers. Most importantly, a post 9-11 America demands that secured borders must be a priority.

Profile: Carol Turoff is a former two-term member of the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments. During her eight years on the commission, she participated in the selection of four of the five current Arizona Supreme Court Justices as well as 17 judges on both Division I and II of the Arizona Court of Appeals. Appointed by two governors, Turoff served with three chairing Supreme Court Justices.

Students Demonstrate Stupidity

For the second day in a row, Hispanic students from central and south central Phoenix ditched school today.

They say they were protesting but every interview I saw revealed nothing about the reason for their protest.

One student said they were there to show support for “the cause.” Another said, “they have every right to be here!”

Here was the state capitol.

Perhaps one student came closest in explaining his purpose in protesting. He said he was there “against the HR law.”

The “HR” law he was referring to is House Resolution 4437 (HR 4437) or “The Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 (link). This was what last week’s protest was all about.

I’m willing to bet that 99.99% of these students have never read this bill. I’m willing to bet that 99% of those who protested the last few days have never read the bill.

Today’s protest was nothing more than an excuse to get out of school. That’s all. No student knew why they were there other than to get out of another day of classes and spread a little rebellion.

Is that what we want our children to learn in this day and age – To skip school and get a little non-conformist by conforming to the ebb and flow of protesting the something they know absolutely nothing about? These kids didn’t even know the names of Arizona’s two Senators.

Next week they will take the AIMS test. This week they are supposed to be preparing for the test. If their answers to today’s protest are any indicator, they will fail the test and head into society ill prepared and bound to perpetuate any stereotype of Hispanic-Americans.

Inferno in the Courts

By Carol Turoff

March 2006

Smoke emanating from the court is caused by inflamed public not fire-breathing, value-voting zealots.
The February 2006 issue of Arizona Attorney magazine features an intriguing cover story and accompanying special section titled, Fair Courts Under Fire. The cover illustration depicts a courthouse ablaze. If the intent was to inflame, then it is surely time to secure the deluge nozzle to the hydrant. 

Merit selection of judges is the issue. Author and flame-thrower is lawyer Ted Schmidt. In addressing what he terms “the stench of judicial campaigning,” Schmidt spends six interminable pages detailing costs involved in judicial elections and the superiority of the bench in jurisdictions where “merit” is the determiner. Nearly hidden in the smoldering ashes of his article are the perceived villains, lurking in the darkness to lay torch to the marvel of merit selection: “value voters.” These frenzied folks he describes as flexing their political muscle, are driven by “hot-button” issues, such as abortion, Fourth Amendment concerns and separation of church and state. They care not for competency, but are driven by right-wing ideology. And when these citizen-zealots speak in terms of accountability, they have the temerity to think that they are the ones to whom public servants should be accountable. Fancy that!

Accountability is an interesting topic. For the sake of argument, let’s speak in terms of legislators rather than judges. Since legislators are elected from districts and people of various parties cast ballots, to whom is the elected official actually accountable? And on which issue? If half of his constituents agree with his views, does the other half have the authority to oust him? Accountability is a word that is tossed around with ease and means little. It is of no consequence, nor should it be, when speaking of the judiciary, since judges are charged with interpreting the law rather than crafting it. Their only accountability should be to the Constitution rather than the citizenry. The fantasy of crazed “value-voters” desirous of retooling merit selection is a smoke screen meant to conceal bona fide objections to the current system.

It is important to remember that this esteemed process of judicial selection is in use in just two of Arizona’s fifteen counties. There is currently a 250,000 population threshold. Since exceeding that number would throw more counties into the mix, why are those counties nearing that magic figure fighting tooth and nail to raise the limit and retain the right to elect their judges? A bill introduced this session would raise the population ceiling to 600,000, eliminating the anxiety of having this plan thrust upon counties with burgeoning populations. If Arizona’s judicial system is, as Schmidt zealously concludes, “envied and copied worldwide,” why the concern? Surely the citizens of the state would be aware of the benefits after 32 years under such an exemplary arrangement.

And what about the elected judges in thirteen of Arizona’s counties? When we hear the proponents of merit selection extol its virtues, they speak glowingly of “Arizona’s judicial selection system,” failing to mention that only two counties incorporate the plan. Are the judges in the vast majority of our counties inferior to those who reside in Maricopa and Pima Counties? If so, why aren’t they excluded from the judicial pay and benefits packages until they shape up? Such an absurdity isn’t considered because the judges in thirteen of Arizona’s fifteen counties are as competent, scholarly and worthy of respect as those who are selected by a sculpted panel rather than the citizens. The problem is not with the judges; rather it lies with the process.

Merit selection of judges is a topic with which I have more than just a passing interest. I was appointed by two governors, confirmed by two senate judiciary committees and fulfilled two four-year terms on the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments, vetting and interviewing applicants for Arizona’s Courts of Appeals and Supreme Court. Serving with three voting and chairing chief justices, I went through the metamorphic stages from a steadfast supporter of the system to the conviction that it was in need of a bandage, but not major surgery. Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that the practice is in need of an overhaul.

Observing the machinations of the system described as “removing politics from the process” is a sight to behold. It was, to use the pyrotechnic terminology favored by Arizona Attorney, a baptismal by fire. Each of the voting chief justices exerted intense influence on the commission leaving little doubt as to which candidates had their support. The spectacle of a chief justice serving as a voting chair when the vacancy exists on the supreme court clearly points to the untoward aspect of a justice participating in the selection of his or her own colleague. Further, to imply that merit selection removes judges from the political realm is blatantly untrue.

Every judicial applicant has a political designation alongside their name on the application. Question six (given first-page prominence out of 72 questions) requires that the applicant “list your present and former political party registrations and approximate dates of each.” Additionally, all commissioners are appointed to fill political designations.

The commissions are constitutionally mandated to send a list of “not more than 2/3 of one political party” to the governor–also a partisan–who makes the final selection. So much for the absence of politics in the process. And Gov. Napolitano, unlike her predecessors, has politicized the system to a far greater extent by appointing largely within the confines of her own party. The resumes of her two appointments to the Supreme Court include significant Democrat party involvement. She has also appointed the former executive director of the state Democrat party and the brother of the Chairman of the Pima County Democrat party to judgeships.

Schmidt writes that since 1974 governors have appointed from “another political party 26 percent” of the time. He conveniently avoids mentioning that Republican governors have contributed to that total in far greater numbers than Democrats. In fact, Republican Gov. Jane Hull took the previously unthinkable and never since replicated action, of appointing across party lines when she made her first appointment to the often policy-making Arizona Supreme Court. Hull’s long-time friend, Ruth McGregor, is now Arizona‘s Chief Justice.

This same justice has contracted, using taxpayer dollars, for three years at $9000 a month, with a prominent political public relations firm to explain to the citizens of Arizona how the courts do their job and to relentlessly promote merit selection. The courts are overworked and understaffed. New trial court divisions are sorely needed. Regardless of glossy presentations to the contrary, arrogance appears to take center stage when it comes to the interaction of political gamesmanship with the courts. In spite of vital needs at the trial court level, justices and the phalanx of lobbyists in their employ can be relied upon to make their annual trek to the legislative chambers, requesting budget increases which they squander on expensive public relations campaigns. When there is enough of an overage in the coffers to pay for image consulting, these requests should be carefully weighed.

Selection panels were enlarged in 1992, increasing the number of public members and giving the chief or designated justice a vote. This action was far from serendipitous. What author Schmidt fails to mention is the undue influence of such an authority over the business of judicial selection. Lawyer members are often reluctant to vote against the highest ranking judge in the state and non-lawyer or public members, who usually have no independent knowledge of either the judiciary or the applicants, are greatly influenced by Arizona’s most prominent and powerful judicial officer.

In truth, most judges themselves are unaware of what is entailed in judicial selection. Once selected and robed, the system that put them on the bench takes on a glow that belies the stark political realities behind the scenes.

Schmidt concludes his article with a “call to action,” exhorting those in the legal community to educate their friends, family and associates regarding the virtues of merit selection. “Inform your clients, especially those with political influence, contact your elected officials, chamber of commerce and business groups,” he implores. “Volunteer to speak at schools, clubs and other civic organizations.” There is no denying that merely questioning merit selection generates a four-alarm fire.

The flames shooting from the courthouse depicted on the cover of Arizona Attorney magazine are indisputable. It is the cause of that inferno that is in question.

 

Profile: Carol Turoff is a former two-term member of the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments. During her eight years on the commission, she participated in the selection of four of the five current Arizona Supreme Court Justices as well as 17 judges on both Division I and II of the Arizona Court of Appeals. Appointed by two governors, Turoff served with three chairing Supreme Court Justices.

East Valley Changing?

Last Tuesday’s election in Mesa may be sending an early signal to conservatives that times are a changing given the election outcome. Incumbent city councilwoman, Janie Thom, City Councilwoman, Janie Thomwas challenged and defeated by a newcomer, Scott Somers, in what appears to be based on voter approval for more taxes. At the same time, councilman Kyle Jones held off a challenge by several challengers over his votes to spend more taxpayer money on frills and fru-fru for the city. What could the voters be thinking in each race?

For years, the “east valley” has been considered a safe haven for conservatives. Mormon politicians have maintained control (and still do) of most elected positions in Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa and expanding Queen Creek. In fact, almost all east valley legislators are members of the LDS church. And if you ask just about any politically astute Mormon about taxes, the response is usually negative.

But as I mentioned in my opening line, times are a changing.

Travel across the east valley and you will see housing developments on almost every plot of land. The east valley is growing and with that rapid growth are arriving Californians and Midwesterners. Even during the summer months after the snowbirds have returned north, you will see cars with out of state plates.

With these newcomers, especially those from California, comes an attitude and willingness to accept more taxes. Perhaps that’s why Mesa is on the verge of passing its first property tax. The city council has read this trend and probably believes the time to pass a tax is now.

Perhaps the LDS political community will realize that its stronghold on political power is near its end as the masses arriving from more liberal areas of the country begin to shift the fiscal and cultural values of the east valley.

With Equal Justice for All? The Inequality of Separate but Equal

By Carol Turoff

March 17, 2006

 Maricopa County Attorney General, Andrew Thomas Lady JusticeArizona prosecutor shows unwavering determination in challenging race-based courts.    

During his campaign for Maricopa County Attorney, Andrew Thomas drew a line in the sand.

In the greater Phoenix area, illegal immigration is a polarizing issue of immense proportions. His eye-catching, red and white, triangular campaign signs bellowed out, Stop Illegal Immigration. Opponents charged the office had no jurisdiction over the matter. But the pragmatic Thomas was resolute–and he triumphed, beating out five primary challengers and devastating his Democrat rival.

As elected prosecutor, the Harvard educated lawyer and author has kept his promises and then some. Thomas is taking the previously inconceivable step of bringing criminal charges against illegal entrants, as well as the coyotes or human smugglers who transport them. Indicting illegals as co-conspirators, since they pay their transporting agents an average of $2000 to secure their unlawful passage, is a concept that has met with praise from many quarters. Those espousing open borders and unchecked immigration policies are outraged. For most, however, Thomas’ policy provides rational legal remedies to a growing societal problem. The concept of border crossers paying others to enable them to break the law, does not engender victim-hood status.

In another bold move, County Attorney Andy Thomas has recently filed suit against the county court system in federal district court, alleging that separate proceedings held in Spanish or held solely for Native Americans are illegal. Thomas views such “race based courts” as unconstitutional, violating basic civil rights.

“Justice must always be colorblind.” says Thomas. “This is a principle which cannot be undermined and which I, for one, am willing to defend.”

Presiding Superior Court Judge Barbara Rodriguez Mundell, has defended the practice of holding special DUI courts. Terming the proceedings held in Spanish and for Native Americans “rehabilitation programs,” she says the federally funded courts are constitutional because they are not courts of record. Judge Mundell says the programs are designed to reduce accidents and DUI deaths by assisting these two minority groups through alcohol recovery and education.

The select courts supervise DUI probationers who have served prison time following felony convictions. To date, there is no supporting evidence that recidivism rates have lowered with those going through this customized process.

An analysis commissioned by County Attorney Thomas, found the special courts violate federal anti-discrimination statutes and the due process right of equal access to courts. The study was prepared by Washington DC lawyer and constitutional expert Michael Carvin.

Judge Mundell is on record stating she would give consideration to the creation of new courts for other races or groups if she concluded it would benefit society.

The establishment of such race-based courts is troubling in the face of unequal treatment of defendants. Statistics show that the average jail time served by those in race-based specialty courts was less than half the time served by defendants in the general population DUI courts.

The innovative Thomas charging policies are being observed with interest in other jurisdictions. And, his opposition to Arizona’s courts violating the “separate but equal” concept thrown out by the US Supreme Court in 1954, puts this first-term prosecutor in good company.

It was, after all, the renowned Brown vs. Board of Education case that determined segregation itself has a deleterious effect on the education of schoolchildren. Today, in the greater Phoenix area, that same model is being applied to the specialty courts which unreasonably segregate defendants based upon skin color.

 

Profile: Carol Turoff is a former two-term member of the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments. During her eight years on the commission, she participated in the selection of four of the five current Arizona Supreme Court Justices as well as 17 judges on both Division I and II of the Arizona Court of Appeals. Appointed by two governors, Turoff served with three chairing Supreme Court Justices.

Tape Your Teacher!

I love this story! I have heard several stories just here in Arizona of teachers who use their classroom as pulpit for their political agenda. Yes, plenty of teachers take advantage of young impressionable minds in the classroom by pushing off some liberal ideology. In fact, one of my neighbor’s kids tells me about a teacher at Brophy Prepratory who is always on a rant.

Now I don’t have a problem with this if it’s done in a social studies class AND the other side of an issue is presented equally. Students certainly need to know all sides of an issue so they can make up their own minds and of course, parents are the ultimate conveyor of values to their children.

I’ve always told my children to tell me whenever something political is mentioned or Planned Parenthood is brought up.

What I like about this story is that is it sets a precedent for other students. I’m going to recommend that if there is a teacher who is notorious for peddling propaganda in the classroom, tape it! Let’s go on the offensive and expose these teachers. If the teacher’s union doesn’t do it, let’s have the students do it!