Archives for March 2009

Americans/Arizonas for Prosperity Questions Tax Poll

Here is the latest response on the debate over a recent poll suggesting Arizonans favor a tax increase. This was featured on the Americans for Prosperity, Arizona Chapter website.

Cutting my taxes, securing our border. That’s my AZ GOP.

(Well, one out of two is still half a loaf…)

In a news release today, the Arizona Republican Party used a Kenski/HighGround poll question to suggest that its stance in favor of a (temporary) tax increase is popular with voters. (read press release)

Sharp readers will notice that the Kenski/HighGround poll question did not break down the amount of the tax increase into per-family or per-household figures.

In our AFP Arizona poll, when we let respondents know that the increase would be over $300 per household, we got very different results. 62 percent of respondents in Phoenix were opposed to the tax, and 64 percent in Glendale. Opposition to tax increases crossed party lines, with 47 percent of self-identified “strong Democrats” in Phoenix opposed, and 52 percent in Glendale.

(Read Press Release regarding the poll.)

Photos from Mesa Bailout Protest being used to promote nationwide April 15th protest

Kudos to those who showed up with clever signs to protest Obama’s visit to Mesa last month. Photos of the protesters and their hilarious signs are being used to foment interest in the nationwide Tea Parties taking place this April 15.  According to Michelle Malkin’s HotAir site,

Momentum has snowballed phenomenally since we started reporting on the tax revolt movement five weeks ago. People have even started e-mailing around the Mesa AZ protest photo round-up as a viral e-mail. Too funny. There are now lots of national figures on board…

Click here and here for information on the Arizona Tea Party protests this April 15. Republican Professionals is having a Tea Party event this Thursday.

PR: AZGOP Names Communications Director



Phoenix, AZ -Arizona Republican Party Chairman Randy Pullen today announced that he has named Matthew Roberts Communications Director for the AZGOP.

“Matt’s experience with media and political communications will enhance our ability to promote the positive message of reducing taxes, reforming government and controlled state spending,” said Chairman Pullen. “I am pleased that our team continues to grow and look forward to laying the groundwork for successful state and local elections in 2010.”

“Matt comes to us with an extensive background in governmental and political communications which fits perfectly into our team,” said Brett Mecum, executive director of the Arizona Republican Party. “Matt has the ability to effectively communicate the thoughts and concerns of the AZGOP and develop a message that will resonate with voters around Arizona.

“It is an honor and privilege to join the team at the Arizona Republican Party,” said Roberts. “Chairman Pullen has put together a fantastic team to lead us through next year’s elections, and we will work hard to build upon the recent successful results that the Republican Party has enjoyed.”

Matt Roberts joins the AZGOP after a serving as Director of Communications for two members of the New York State Senate. He also worked as Resource Administrator for the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, organizing voter outreach efforts and campaign communications for Republican members of the State Senate.

Mr. Roberts will be organizing the communications efforts of the Arizona Republican Party and promoting Chairman Pullen’s effort to build and expand upon the successful grassroots strategies that have delivered positive results for Republican officials around the state.


PR: House Dems Seek Tax Hikes


House Democrats’ Tax Increase Would Grow Unemployment Rolls Plan will cost tens of thousands of jobs and reduce economic output

Phoenix–Yesterday the Arizona House Democrats released a plan to raise the income tax, property taxes, and levy a new tax on utility bills to close the budget deficit.

An analysis commissioned by the Goldwater Institute and performed by the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts, examined the effects of an income tax increase, a utility tax, and the reinstatement of the state equalization property tax on employment, state economic output, and income. (Yesterday the Goldwater Institute released findings from Beacon Hill that showed a sales tax increase would cause the state to lose 14,400 private sector jobs.)

The plan would raise income taxes on families earning more than $250,000 per year. While Beacon Hill did not examine a tax increase only on certain families, it did show that an income tax increase would have larger negative impacts on the economy than sales taxes. The analysis shows a $1 billion increase in Arizona income taxes would eliminate more than 26,000 private jobs. The state’s economic output would shrink by $1.6 billion, and after-tax income would fall by $1.5 billion, about $500 per household.

The proposal also includes reviving the $250 million state equalization property tax. Beacon Hill’s estimates show this tax increase will reduce the state’s economic output by $498 million, eliminate 3,800 private jobs, and cut after-tax income by $385 million.

The plan would also impose a new tax on utility bills. Taxing electricity is a direct burden on economic growth because it makes it more expensive for businesses to operate and expand. This tax has the worst effect on economic output of all taxes considered, causing the state to lose $1.9 billion in output. It would also cause the loss of 13,400 jobs and $1.4 billion in after-tax income.

To close the budget deficit, the Goldwater Institute has recommended reducing spending and structurally reforming the way we fund k-12 and higher education and healthcare.

The Goldwater Institute is a nonprofit public policy research and litigation organization whose work is made possible by the generosity of its supporters.

Fun With Polling

Polling is a tricky thing.

The average person may think it is as simple as finding a question and asking it.  It’s not and that’s why most reputable pollsters have a combination of education and/or experience that give them the background to do the job right.  Most people would be surprised at how easy it is a change the wording of a question in subtle ways to get an answer you want.  It’s why every now and then you see polling results that purport to represent the feelings of the electorate that may make you shake your head in wonder.

Interest groups realize this and that’s why they will often work in conjunction with a pollster to craft questions that they feel will have a reasonble likelihood of giving them the answer they want. You simply throw in options in the question that you know people like to gin up support for your issue.  I tend to call this “PR polling.”

For example – Let’s say you were behind an effort to raise gas taxes by 25 percent.  Now common sense tells you that most people would oppose that.  So you don’t ask the question “Would you support raising gas taxes by 25 percent to build more roads”  You don’t need a poll to know the answer to that one.  Instead you conjure up something like this:

“Would support raising gas taxes 25 percent if it would reduce your commute by 75 percent and allow you to spend more time with your family?”

I suspect the results on that question would be quite different.

Which brings me to the recent poll conducted by Margaret Kenski and High Ground and just released by the AZ GOP today.  The press release purports to say that Arizona voters support increasing taxes.

Here is the question asked by Kenski, who by the way is a very reputable pollster.

“I’d like to ask you how acceptable or unacceptable you find the following measures which would be considered in addition to spending cuts in order to preserve critical education and public health funding while the economy begins to recover. These taxes would be in the form of a constitutionally limited tax that would last for no more than three years and would automatically be eliminated without another public vote.

Let’s assume for the purposes of these questions that the Legislature and the Governor have already cut nearly $1 billion dollars in State spending by 2010, used all of the federal stimulus funds to balance the budget and still have a billion dollar per year budget deficit. All of the funds raised from these taxes would be dedicated towards maintaining 2010 spending levels for K-12 education, universities, community colleges, and health care for the poor. Each of the following measures would raise approximately a billion dollars per year.”

I’ve highlighted some of the “sweeteners” included in the question to ensure the answer they want.  First we have “critical”  This is in there for one reason – to scare people.  It’s a word that when used before education and public health implies an emergency situation.  Not, mind you an emergency situation in government terms, but an emergency situation in real terms – IE if we don’t do this then our schools will close and people will die.

Second, we have “while the economy begins to recover.” this at first blush may seem extraneous to the question, but it’s not.  It’s there to say “hey things will get better soon so this wont be so bad.” because people don’t like higher taxes in tough economic times.

Finally, we have the all time favorite term to use when you want to gin up support for something – “education” and the “poor”.  After all who wouldn’t want to support our kids and those less fortunate than us.  So these terms are used in the question.  Now I am not saying they shouldn’t be used for descriptive purposes, but ask yourself, why didn’t the question just say “education and healthcare” instead of “K-12 education, universities, community colleges, and healthcare for the poor.”  The answer is simple, by listing all of these things you are attempting to touch in some way the respondent.  They may not have a child in school, but maybe they care a lot about a community college or a university.  Same thing with the healthcare question.

Now if you really wanted to find out what the citizens of Arizona feel about how to deal with the budget situation, you would probably ask the following and you would probably get a much different answer.

“Some people say that we need to raise taxes to balance our state budget so that we can limit budget cuts for government services like education and healthcare, others say that we should reduce government spending to balance the state budget.

“which position is closer to your view?”

I suspect we would get much different results.

PR: Brewer Appoints Brnovich to Department of Gaming


Governor Jan Brewer Names Mark Brnovich Director of the Department of Gaming

PHOENIX – Arizona Governor Jan Brewer today named Mark Brnovich as the new Director of the Arizona Department of Gaming.

“I am proud to add Mr. Brnovich to my cabinet,” stated Brewer. “He has a great understanding of gaming issues in Arizona, and his legal expertise and experience will be essential in his service to the Department of Gaming and the State of Arizona.”

Prior to his appointment, Mr. Brnovich was Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona. During his time there he focused on federal offenses occurring in Arizona gaming enterprises and worked closely with tribal gaming investigators, the Arizona Department of Gaming and law enforcement agencies to prosecute crimes and coordinate crime prevention efforts. He also served as Assistant Attorney General in Arizona, where he was primarily responsible for representing the Arizona Department of Gaming and providing legal advice regarding legislation, contracts, licensing and regulation of Native American gaming. In prior years, Mr. Brnovich also worked as Judge Pro Tem of Maricopa County Superior Court, Deputy Maricopa County Attorney and Command Staff Judge Advocate in the U.S. Army National Guard. He began his extensive legal career as a law clerk for the San Diego County District Attorney and later for the Honorable Jonathan H. Schwartz in Phoenix.

In addition to his legal career, Mr. Brnovich has served as Senior Director of State Customer Relations for Corrections Corporation of America, developing and maintaining relations with various government agencies throughout the United States. He has also worked as Director for the Center for Constitutional Government at the Goldwater Institute, formulating policy and conducting research and analysis. He started his career with a congressional internship in Senator John McCain’s office.

Mr. Brnovich received his Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Arizona State University and his Juris Doctorate from the University of San Diego School of Law. He also completed the Judge Advocate Officer Basic Course for the United States Army.

“I want to thank the outgoing Director, Mr. Paul Bellis, for his dedication, hard work, and willingness to participate in an effective transition,” said Governor Brewer.

MSM Now Looking at AIG, Banks in Potential Fraud of Taxpayer Money

by Gayle Plato

GET THIS:  Barron’s believes the blogs may be onto something (we reported here yesterday) and is picking up on this odd little story of financial swapping.  It is potentially fraudulent and I suspect this issue could be the new Watergate.  Geithner and Obama are not patsies no matter what they might say as this comes out.  Maybe the bonuses were just hush money.  I dunno, I am just sayin’:



Web Site Details AIG’s ‘Gift’ To Banks, Backhand To Taxpayers

If this is borne out, this one’s a game-changer. For the financial sector. For the government’s bailout plans. For the Administration’s leadership.

The website Seeking Alpha published an account Monday of a maneuver by American International Group (AIG) to: a) fraudulently capsize its balance sheet, in order to; b) force the government to pour more capital into the capsizing insurance giant, by; c) unwinding billions of dollars of credit transactions with banks that took the other side of those trades, in a way that; d) swelled those banks’ balance sheets with what was effectively a one-time gift, and; e) the Treasury knew about the scheme, and by; f) pumping the capital that AIG clamored for, gave its tacit approval.

(See the Seeking Alpha account here.)

Keep in mind, according to the Seeking Alpha account, this wasn’t a plan by AIG. This was an act: covert, at least from taxpayers – who, let’s be honest, aren’t going to understand the intricacies of sales of credit-linked notes – but overt, with the complicity of AIG executives, especially at its AIG-Financial Products unit, along with banks and Administration officials….

The result: AIG effectively transferred a huge chunk of its balance sheet to its banking counter-parties. The banks got a one-time shot-in-the-arm to their bottom line. An increasingly desperate AIG gets the capital it clamored for.”

 See related post:


PR: Survey Says, Support for Balanced Budget

The Arizona Republican Party has released the following press release:


Statewide Survey Shows Support for Balanced Budget Approach
Results show support for statewide sales tax as part of comprehensive plan including cuts and use of stimulus funds

PHOENIX – The Arizona Republican Party released results from a recent survey today showing strong public support for a temporary 1% statewide sales tax as part of a balanced budget approach.

The statewide survey conducted in partnership with Margaret C. Kenski, Ph.D. of Arizona Opinion and HighGround, Inc. was conducted over March 6 – 12, 2009, interviewing 607 high-efficacy, likely voters. When it came to taxes, here was the comprehensive question that was asked:

“I’d like to ask you how acceptable or unacceptable you find the following measures which would be considered in addition to spending cuts in order to preserve critical education and public health funding while the economy begins to recover. These

taxes would be in the form of a constitutionally limited tax that would last for no more than three years and would automatically be eliminated without another public vote.

Let’s assume for the purposes of these questions that the Legislature and the Governor have already cut nearly $1 billion dollars in State spending by 2010, used all of the federal stimulus funds to balance the budget and still have a billion dollar per year budget deficit. All of the funds raised from these taxes would be dedicated towards maintaining 2010 spending levels for K-12 education, universities, community colleges, and health care for the poor. Each of the following measures would raise approximately a billion dollars per year.”

The results showed that 66.6% of the electorate supported a temporary 1% increase in the statewide sales tax to help bridge the gap to economic recovery, with nearly 40% considering it a very acceptable option.

  • 39.7 % Very Acceptable
  • 26.9% Somewhat Acceptable
  • 9.1% Neutral
  • 5.9% Somewhat Unacceptable
  • 18.0% Very Unacceptable
  • .5% Unsure

The question gathered widespread support spanning party lines – Republicans found the sales tax 62.5% acceptable, Democrats 71.6% acceptable and Independents 64.6% acceptable.

“We were surprised by the level of support expressed by the electorate. It appears that Arizona voters would support a balanced approach in solving the budget crisis,” said Randy Pullen, Chairman of AZGOP. “Former Governor Napolitano and the Democrats in the legislature left us with a financial crisis on our hands. We all recognize Arizona government must learn to live within its means by reducing spending and reforming government. This Governor and Republican legislature have already made larger budget reductions and reforms than any previous governor and legislature. However, with continuing bad news on all fronts about declining tax revenues and the state having to borrow money next month to make payroll, the sooner the budget is balanced the better it will be for all Arizonans.

“We encourage the Governor and the Legislature to pursue any and all means necessary to right our current budget crisis and restore fiscal sanity to the state of Arizona,” concluded Pullen.


Anonymous political speech is one of our most cherished rights

Espressopundit’s Greg Patterson has weighed in on our blog post about Chuck Coughlin, suggesting that anonymous blogging should be prohibited. While we greatly respect Greg, we kindly beg to differ, “adult supervision” would curtail one of our most important rights. One of the principles this country was founded upon was free speech – it’s why it was protected in the First Amendment. The Founding Fathers published some of their greatest writings, the Federalist Papers, under anonymous pseudonyms. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay all wrote articles under the pseudonym “Publius,” named after Publius Valerius who founded the Roman Empire (One of Sonoran Alliance’s anonymous contributors posts under the pseudonym “Publius”) The Federalist Papers were written to support ratification of the Constitution, and its writers needed the anonymity to protect themselves from political retaliation. An “Anti-Federalist Papers” was written in response by “Brutus.” Later on, the U.S. Supreme Court looked to the Federalist Papers to help decide controversial cases.

The Supreme Court affirmed that anonymous speech is protected in Talley v. California, a 1960 case where a Los Angeles ordinance prohibiting anonymous pamphlets from being distributed was struck down.

It’s not often that the right and left agree on anything, but when it comes to free speech, the ACLU and the newspapers agree with us on protecting this important right. On Sunday, the Arizona Republic’s Political Insider mentioned the Sonoran Alliance post about Coughlin, and called out Coughlin for hypocritical talk about playing nice by repeating a sentence he’d written to columnist Laurie Roberts telling her she was such a poor writer she shouldn’t be writing.

We think that Shane does a great job of monitoring errors and giving the opposing side room to dispute posts by contributors – in fact he’s been pretty open about letting anyone become a contributor.  And Chuck Coughlin’s supporters have certainly had plenty of room in the comments to get their defenses (and personal attacks) across.

A Republican governor advocating for a tax increase is significant and must be debated in the public sphere. To try and shut down debate over this reeks of the government trying to control the press and our right to free speech. Furthermore, Coughlin has failed to prove that any of the accusations in the original post were false. Coughlin is arguably the most powerful lobbyist in the state, and because of it no one dares to criticize him without being afraid of losing their job or other negative ramifications.

Patterson himself runs stories from anonymous sources. The New Times, which has also attacked Sonoran Alliance for its anonymous bloggers, frequently relies on anonymous sources for entire articles. And as Patterson fairly points out, many of the commenters on his blog are anonymous.

Sonoran Alliance stands as a defender of free speech, and will not cave in to internet censorship. Nor to Coughlin’s friends and employees attacking us in the comments or on other blogs. The Founding Fathers would be rolling over in their graves.

Arizona Republic bias against Sheriff Arpaio

The latest Arizona Republic attack on Joe Arpaio, which the paper had the temerity to run in its news section, is a classic example of why the print media has been so successfully painted as a purveyor of leftist propaganda rather than real news.

Reporter JJ Hensley used a favorite trick of the liberal media–take a viewpoint that is held by only a handful of extreme liberals and present it as if it were mainstream thought.

Here’s the telling quote from the article describing “complaints” from “critics” of Arpaio regarding his efforts to detain illegal aliens accused of criminal activity unrelated to their alien status:

“Many of the complaints against Arpaio center on two themes: the immigration-enforcement agreement doesn’t come with enough guidance for local authorities to focus on serious criminals offenders – opening the door for racial profiling; and that the agreement has led to the removal of illegal immigrants for relatively minor offenses.”

Is this reporter serious?  Not only do these people break the law to come here, but they continue to break the law once they get here.  And law enforcement is supposed to turn a blind eye to this because their crimes are “relatively” minor?

If they are here illegaly anyway, why in the world would we tolerate any criminal activity from them?  And here’s the writer’s description of the “minor” criminal offenses:

“The majority of the charges against inmates with ICE holds were for drug-and-alcohol related violations; failure to pay fines or appear in court; and allegations related to forgery and using false identification.”

OK, so these people are mostly junkies, drunk drivers, deadbeats and fraudsters, but let’s let them stay in the country even though they are here illegally because their crimes are minor?  Yeah, right.

Obviously, this type of thinking is way out of the Arizona mainstream, embraced by only a handful on the extreme left, even though the writer presents it as common thinking.

It is only in the 14th paragraph out of a 15 paragraph story that we find out who the “critics”, er critic, is–Arizona ACLU Director Alessandra Soler Meetze.
It’s no wonder people don’t trust the press anymore.