Archives for April 2009

Arizona Board of Regents to Vote on Increasing Tuition Fees

The unelected Arizona Board of Regents will meet today to consider voting to dramatically increase college tuition fees at Arizona universities. According to the Arizona Republic,

The presidents of the three state universities are requesting unprecedented “economic recovery surcharges” as a way to make up for a 20 percent cut in their state funding.

Arizona State University late Wednesday cut its request in half and is now asking for $600 a year for in-state students and $800 a year for out-of-state students.

University of Arizona wants $1,100 a year for all students. Northern Arizona University is requesting a $350-per-year surcharge, although current students enrolled in a guaranteed tuition program are exempt.

Is there another grand conspiracy involved in this move? Earlier this month, K-12 school districts across the state unnecessarily issued over 5,000 pink slips to teachers as a political move to create unrest and panic among the education community and ultimately direct that anger toward the legislature which was trying to balance the budget. Because the legislature was still deliberating budget adjustments, it was unable to say for certain what districts could expect. The legislature even attempted to push back the notification deadline back for breathing room but the Arizona Education Association fought the deadline extension in order to speed up the panic.

Could the Board of Regents be trying to achieve the same political results by causing a student revolt directed at the legislature? The Republic continues:

The universities already have cut back on faculty positions, made employees take furloughs and consolidated departments to try to close a $190 million cut in state funding this year.

Without additional revenue, “We do not believe we can run the university on a quality basis into this next academic year,” NAU President John Haeger said.

The proposed surcharges are unpopular with many students, largely because they come on top of already-approved tuition increases for fall that range from 3 to 14 percent, depending on the university.

The surcharges and tuition increases would result in total increases of up to 22 percent at ASU, 30 percent at the UA and 21 percent at NAU.

This is not the time to create new fees or increase tuition, unless of course the Board of Regents believes that the number of college grads is overinflated and a tuition hike will correct the bubble of individuals seeking white collar jobs. Remember, if the government wants less of something, it increases the cost of doing that something by taxing or assessing fees on it.

Governor Brewer is also expected to attend the meeting. Her office issued a press release yesterday that only stated that she plans on “highlighting her 5-point plan for Building a Better Arizona and discussing higher education funding in the State of Arizona.”

On what may be a related note, we see that, “ASU announces football game-day upgrades.” We sure hope that these enhancements were paid for out of private dollars!

A fair Justice of the Peace analyzes the flaws with photo speed camera tickets

Judge Provides Photo Radar Update

Judge Gerald A. Williams
North Valley Justice of the Peace

For a significant period of time, people received tickets for going 66 or 67 in a 55 mph zone. The problem was that the temporary 55 mph sign was often after the camera. As such, we have had hundreds of hearing requests. Thus far, drivers in this category have almost always been found not responsible at their hearing.

It is no exaggeration to avow that highway photo enforcement tickets have hit my court with such a significant volume that our regular business operations are almost in danger of slowing to the pace of a federal government bureaucracy. Some basic questions deserve an answer. Who is getting theses tickets? Who is getting the money from the fines? Will the law be “fixed” in the current legislative session?

Most of the Impact is on Four Courts: For reasons that are not completely clear, while some justice courts have a relatively few number of photo enforcement tickets, four courts received an avalanche. Those justice courts and the number of photo enforcement tickets they received in February 2009 alone are: Arcadia Biltmore (10,880), North Valley (9,062), Downtown (8,104) and South Mountain (6,791).

At North Valley, part of the problem was due to highway signs, or the lack thereof. For a significant period of time, people received tickets for going 66 or 67 in a 55 mph zone. The problem was that the temporary 55 mph sign was often after the camera. As such, we have had hundreds of hearing requests. Thus far, drivers in this category have almost always been found not responsible at their hearing.

Where Does the Money Go? It is worth repeating that former Governor Janet Napolitano’s budget materials, dated January 18, 2008, listed highway photo radar as creating $90 million in “Non-Tax Increase Revenue Generation.” It has brought in nowhere near that amount; but the money is still substantial, perhaps around $20 million in the first six months. Each ticket has a base fine of $165 and a surcharge for Clean Elections of $16.50.

Money from each photo enforcement ticket breaks down as follows: $16.50 to statewide public campaign financing, $13.48 to the Department of Public Safety, $25.17 to the Supreme Court of Arizona’s Administrative Office of the Courts, $29.70 to Red-Flex (the private photo enforcement company) and $96.65 to the State of Arizona’s general fund. Please note that neither the justice courts nor Maricopa County get anything from these tickets, other than perhaps a headache.

Will Someone Please Change This Law? The simplest and easiest fix would be to repeal sections B, C and D of A.R.S. § 41-1722. Doing so would essentially require highway photo enforcement tickets to be treated just like any other civil traffic ticket. Many of our problems result from the obvious unfairness of having substantially different penalties for otherwise identical speeding violations. A close second would be to repeal the highway photo enforcement law completely. Whether either of these things will get done, I have literally no idea.

The bottom line is that using photo enforcement tickets as a way to generate revenue has proven to be an extraordinarily bad idea. We now have a two tiered speeding ticket system on state highways.

If you are pulled over by a DPS officer, for going five miles over the posted speed limit, the presumed fine is $155; but, if found responsible, you also get two points recorded against your license and your vehicle insurance will likely increase as a result. If you receive a highway photo enforcement ticket, and you are found responsible, the fine is $181.50, whether you were going 76 mph or 106 mph, and nothing is reported to MVD. Hopefully, the state legislature will adopt a better system. I, for one, hope they do so soon.

Judge Williams is the presiding justice of the peace for the Northwest Regional Court Center. His column appears monthly in The Foothills Focus

Border Panic?

With the World Health Organization elevating the swine flu epidemic to Phase 5 (just short of a full blown, bona fide pandemic), it appears that Janet Napolitano’s Department of Homeland Security and the Obama Administration is avoiding any mention of closing the border to avoid a great northern stampede of Mexicans.

However, don’t be surprised if the administration suddenly does order the border closed and calls up the National Guard to assist with security to stop an exodus from Mexico into the US. Apparently, the US still has the best health care system in the world.

U.S. House Passes “Hate” Crime Bill

Here is the latest news from the Phoenix-based Alliance Defnese Fund:

U.S. House Creates Special Legal Status for Gay People

Despite intense opposition from family advocates – including more than 5,000 e-mails from CitizenLink readers – the U.S. House voted 249-175 today to create a new class of crimes based on the traits of the victim, including “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”

Eighteen Republicans voted for the bill, while 17 Democrats voted against it. Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., introduced a similar bill in the Senate on Tuesday.

Under the “hate-crimes” legislation, pastors could be prosecuted for preaching the biblical view of homosexuality. Similar laws have been used to prosecute religious speech in the U.S. and abroad.

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, hosted a special meeting last night to highlight the dangers and concerns related to the bill.

“Under this legislation, justice will no longer be equal,” he said before the meeting. “Instead, justice will depend on the … protected status of the victim, setting up different penalties for the same crime.

“I support continuing the American tradition of equal justice under the law, and I oppose this unconstitutional ‘thought crimes’ bill.”

Let’s get something straight (excuse the pun). I don’t have a problem or hate people who happen to engage in homo/bi/trans-sexual activities. Yes, I know plenty of people who have engaged in all kinds of behaviors that my beliefs and values consider wrong or sinful. I love them all the same and can do so with God’s grace. Besides, God does not see one sin greater than another.

What I do have a problem with is “the state” granting legal status and protection of homosexual behaviour – especially at the expense of an individual’s conscience and faith.

What is the difference in someone demanding that Congress protect their hygenic orientation or dietary orientation or any other behavioral-orientation?

As someone who believes in the rule of law and justice, I was always under the assumption that most crimes are an act of hate. Why are some crimes more hateful than others?

If this bill is signed into law, will the homosexual community demand that all religious institutions that believe homosexuality as a “sin” be required to redact all those passages from their scriptures?

What exactly does the homosexual community want that they don’t already have that using the power of federal law will give them at the expense of someone’s beliefs and values?

I agree. “Hate” is not a family value and believing that something is wrong or immoral is not “hate.” So what is the purpose of outlawing beliefs and values that homosexuality is wrong? Is someone beats up someone who just so happens to practice homosexuality, why can’t they be prosecuted under the full extent of the law for assault and battery? Why the added emphasis?

How will this be enforced?

 

 

Benedict Arlen, revenge is a dish best served cold

Is that the Gong Show?  … or a 1980 campaign stunt?

A Democrat until joining the Republican Party in 1966.  During his first political run, in 1965, Specter ran on the Republican ticket as a registered Democrat.  He handily beat the incumbent, and immediately changed his registration to Republican.

It may have been a winning strategy then, but we’re not sure about now.

There is an Arizona connection to this tale.

In October 1990, a group of business women with the support of then Senator Lugar launched the first class of what today has grown into over 20 states, the Excellence in Public Service Series.  The first Arizona class was inaugurated in 2007 and is known as the Dodie Londen Excellence in Public Service Series.  The woman who launched the Arizona program is no stranger to women in politics, she’s Christine J. Olsen who also founded the program in Pennslyvania … who is also Pennslyvania’s RNC National Committeewoman.

This national program is dedicated to preparing Republican woman for elected and appointed office, and maintains a well coordinated network of, you guessed it, Republican woman in key positions.  Each annual class is very carefully selected and very intensively trained for eight months culminating in a major four-day summit in Washington DC.  Current students from around the nation gather with their alumni mentors and sponsors for an intensive Tour-De-Force of Republican politics inside the Beltway.

Last night Veritas received a phone call from an associate of his in Pennslyvania who is somewhat involved with the program there.  It appears that only moments prior to his defection, Benedict Arlen was to meet with program students from both Arizona and Pennslyvania.  As it was relayed to me, the future women leaders of the Republican Party were physically only a handful of steps from the Senator’s office when a flushed faced staffer came bolting from Specter office towards them.  Meanwhile, the groups coordinator Ms. Comfort was engaged on her cell phone with what turned out to be yet another of Benedict’s staffers anxiously trying to explain what had just happened and why the Senator could not meet with the Republican delegation from his home state.

I have been informed that Brent Hume has since interviewed some of the Excellence in Public Service students from Pennsylvania and Arizona and my source informs me that the “Sense of the group:” is that Mr Specter be forced to repay the Pennsylvania Republican Party donors for his very expensive and hard won victory over the Democrats in his last election.  Phone calls and discussions are being made to seek a legal means of redress for Benedict Arlen’s fraud.  Maybe its time to “Gong” Specter… these women were less than satisfied and, you know what they say.

If you are interested in the Excellence in Public Service Program, this link to the Indiana program contains excellent materials.  In Arizona, the program is called the Dodie Londen Excellence in Public Service Series,

Kavanagh here’s what we whine about …

Rep. John Kavanagh, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said, “… if we leave without passing bills, it will be a great disservice to the people of Arizona.”  Kavanagh said he thinks the House should strive to pass at least 100 bills this session.

I have one question for you John; Why?

Is that the only purpose you serve is to pass bills?  While there are many examples of the lunacy of such thinking – and I invite readers to render their own – I can think of one glaring example of the legislative desire to simply pass bills, the Alternative Fuels Tax Credit of a couple of years ago.

Is it about being relevant?  Do members of the state legislature and senate have that insecure feeling that if they don’t produce reams of paper and pages of bills, that somehow they’re not doing their jobs?  Perhaps they fret that if they don’t pass copious piles of bills, they won’t have anything to put on their re-election websites?  Or could it be that they owe too many special interests and, inattention to this client group would mean a loss of re-election funds come the next ritualistic campaign cycle?

What could possibly be more important to the people of Arizona than a fiscally sound state government?  Shouldn’t “Priority One” every opening session be the financial condition of the state?  One would think so.

Have you ever noticed that every time the Legislature asks for a raise, the voters overwhelmingly say “NO”?  I confess, I voted in favor of the raise this last time around.  After all, this is the 21st Century and, well, the only talent you can attract for the peanuts we pay them, is what we have.  You pay for what you get, or in our case McRepresentative and fries more concerned with “writing bills” than addressing what is truly important.

While I disagree with our Governor over the how, I fully support her efforts to address the crisis.  Likewise, while I do not know what will emerge from the Senate, I applaud leadership’s commitment to being tightly focused on the crisis at hand.

So what’s Kavanagh whining about?

Here’s my suggestion to the Arizona State Legislature.  We have too many bills, laws, codes and curlicues already – enough is enough.  There is no issue so pressing that some legislator simply must write a bill.  This isn’t academia where Publish or Perish has led to perdition.  We’re talking about managing our state’s government.

So why not try this:  Every 3rd year, set aside a special second session for one purpose, sorting out and tossing out existing laws and codes and ARS and the like that are no longer relevant, applicable to the present, or just plain seem dumb.

In this special second session, leadership (no matter who’s in charge) shall require each member of the lower house and each member of the senate to bring to the bill burning party at least 5 pieces of prior legislation from days gone by.  Those will in turn be reviewed by committee and moved on to the COW for a vote up or down – either they’re kept or they get deleted.

Our state government with its myriad of laws, codes, and such is much like your home computer – you don’t need more hard drive, you just need to flush some files occasionally.

Speed cameras MUST GO: $181 for going 67mph in a regular 65mph zone is intolerable

Janet camsThe unfairness of the speed cameras plastered all around this state has reached an unprecedented, oppressive level. I received a speeding ticket for going 67mph on the 101 in an area that hadn’t been under construction much, and so the speed limit had been 65 for much of the past year. I pulled onto the freeway a couple hundred feet before the speed camera van, which I couldn’t see at night, and never saw the itty-bitty sign that had temporarily been put up in February saying the speed limit was now 55. The photo speed camera van was placed there to essentially trick people who thought the speed limit was 65, in order to collect money.

I went to court yesterday to appeal the ticket. The Justice of the Peace who handled the case also handled similar cases before mine, who had received tickets in that same location, all for going 1, 2, or 3 miles over 65mph. Clearly proving that 40% of us getting these ridiculous kinds of tickets are appealing them. Not surprisingly, I’ve never seen the van in that location again – it obviously generated so many ridiculous tickets like mine that they realized the court appeals were well above 40% and costing more than the cameras were bringing in revenue-wise. The van wasn’t in a location known for accidents, it was temporarily placed in that location because it was hidden behind bushes where drivers wouldn’t see it. A Redflex employee represented the state; there was no police officer or DPS representative there to prosecute the hearing, only this private employee guy.

The Justice of the Peace, who was obviously happy to be slamming down the law around his little fiefdom – unlike the outstanding Justice of the Peace in the West Valley, John Keegan, who throws out all photo speed camera tickets – didn’t care that the speed limit on the 101 has been constantly changing in places over the past year due to construction of a new HOV lane. He also didn’t care about any of my other arguments, which included there was a guy speeding up behind me and so I sped up slightly to get over into the other lane to let him speed on by. It was a very offensive, humiliating proceeding, those of us who had received tickets felt like we were treated like criminals, and the justice of the peace made it clear with some of us that he thought we were lying! Since I wasn’t, it was doubly insulting. This is the kind of unfair experience that spurs people to go to law school and become criminal defense attorneys.

It’s been documented much better than I could do on other sites like The Newspaper that speed cameras don’t work. Government officials admit they’re in place for revenue generation, not safety, and they actually increase accidents because there are more rear-end accidents. And most of the revenue generated doesn’t go to the state, the vast majority goes to the private speed camera company. The little money the government brings in goes to handle photo speed camera ticket appeals and non-necessary government functions like Clean Elections – not the highways. The cost to the courts is huge: Think of it this way – if police officers were giving out speeding tickets, you wouldn’t have all these marginal situations like mine and the others who were in court today. The camera catches all these kinds of incidents that a police officer wouldn’t ticket someone for, and that any normal person would appeal. The extra cost of addressing all of these kind of tickets is not sustainable. It was clear to me that my speeding ticket was not about safety – it won’t add any points to my record. Whereas if that same ticket had been given to me by a police officer, it would have. Where is the equal treatment under the law?

A lot of older people like the speed cameras, under the false impression that they make travel safer. Older people tend to drive slower, so they dislike speeders. Understandable. But if this is really about safety, then why don’t we ticket drivers who are driving too slow? Studies show that older people cause more accidents than the general population. Even though people over age 70 only make up 9% of the population, they cause 14% of all traffic fatalities and 17% of all pedestrian fatalities. And their percentage of the population is growing every year, as humans live longer and longer. “Road safety analysts predict that by 2030, when all baby boomers are at least 65, they will be responsible for 25% of all fatal crashes. In 2005, 11% of fatal crashes involved drivers that old…..Safety and health specialists are especially concerned about drivers 85 and older, who, federal crash statistics show, are involved in three fatal accidents a day.” So, if we’re really going to implement speed cameras for safety, they need to start ticketing drivers who drive too slow. Driving too slow is also dangerous.

The website stopcamerafraud.com is working on an initiative that would ban speed cameras in Arizona. But we hear their effort isn’t doing so well. Fortunately, there is another organization out there that is seriously looking into starting their own initiative. We wish them luck. Speed cameras have been banned in other states. Arizona now has more speed cameras than any other state thanks to Napolitano. What is freedom-loving Arizona doing with these revenue-generators that do nothing for safety and little for state coffers, sending most of the money to the private company operating the cameras?

I’d be interested in hearing from others who have had similar experiences, please leave comments. We will keep you updated on the progress of the new organization and its initiative.

Dedicated to State Treasurer Dean Martin

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act. [just ask the Ministry for the Security of the Homeland]

Perhaps this is the reason we’ve seen such a rush to create a global monetary system?  To keep the scheme standing, the base of the pyramid must be expanded.  Could this be why so many people around the world hate the IMF and the World Bank?  Might this explain that cryptic inscription on Andrew Jackson’s gravestone, “I killed the bank”?

Could be… oh, and why Dean Martin?  We know each other and, well, I like him.  I think he’d appreciate this piece.

Air Force One Flyover – Priceless

The cost of an Air Force One flyover…

Shut Up is on the March!

From the good folks at PajamasMedia here is a special pubic service announcement featuring Andrew Klavan on the new liberal strategy…

Yes, it’s brilliant but keep in mind that liberals won’t be convinced by pure logic. They need their emotions stroked in order to be persuaded…