Archives for June 2009

Deregulation can help fix education crisis

by Nick Dranias
Goldwater Institute
All over the state, parents and students are rallying against budget cuts to Arizona’s public colleges and universities. Instead of focusing ire at legislators, who are literally between a rock and a hard place, there’s another avenue these newly-minted activists could pursue. For Arizonans concerned about increasing access to post-secondary education in our state, why not focus on loosening up state regulations that are choking higher education’s private sector?

Numerous laws make it a crime to open a private post-secondary or vocational school in Arizona without state approval. These laws result in fewer schools and fewer opportunities for both students and educators. Legislators could embrace academic freedom by deregulating private schooling and let the market work.

Arizona pervasively criminalizes entrepreneurs who teach or open a school without government approval. It is a Class 3 misdemeanor to open a private post-secondary school that offers a degree of any kind without approval from the State Board of Private Post-Secondary Schooling. Osteopaths and medical doctors cannot teach without a license. Private cosmetology and radiologic technology schools cannot legally open their doors without approval from state agencies. 

The regulation of nursing schools is a particularly outrageous case in point. Despite the shortage of health-care workers in this state and elsewhere, Arizona law makes it a Class 6 felony to open a nursing school without approval from the State Board of Nursing. The risk of jail time for teaching nursing even extends to out-of-state schools who want to offer Arizonans the option of distance learning.

There is no need for these draconian laws because private post-secondary or vocational schools are already self-regulating. To compete with other schools and qualify for national accreditation, just about every school voluntarily meets minimum educational standards.

Arizona’s heavy-handed regulation does nothing to promote quality or prevent fraud. It only stops the free market from giving students and educators viable alternatives to the taxpayer-funded public university and community college system. And by fostering an artificial scarcity of educational options, the regulation of private schooling magnifies any pain associated with the loss of public funding for higher education.

Arizonans can have it all: access to an excellent higher education without abandoning principles of fiscal responsibility. All the state needs to do is decriminalize private schooling and let people freely teach and learn.
Nick Dranias holds the Goldwater Institute Clarence J. and Katherine P. Duncan chair for constitutional government and is the director of the Institute’s Dorothy D. and Joseph A. Moller Center for Constitutional Government.

Jon Altmann – Frontrunner to Replace Baier on Phoenix Council

Jon Altmann Vies for Empty Phoenix Council Seat

The Phoenix City Council meets Tuesday, June 30th at 2 PM to decide who will temporarily fill the seat vacated by Maria Baier. Baier resigned suddenly on June 17th to join the Brewer administration as state land commissioner.

A leading candidate to fill the spot is Jon Altmann. Altmann, 54, is a business owner who ran against Baier for the then open seat in 2007. Altmann beat two others in the primary to face off against Baier in the General Election He then received a respectable 44% of the vote. Baier raised more than $280,000 for what is traditionally a $50,000 race. It seems after 17 months on the job, she left her city hall investors high and dry and retreated back to her previous favorite spot – state government.

Altmann has a long history of working neighborhood issues in Phoenix and Scottsdale, chairing one city committee and most recently, served two terms on a Phoenix planning and zoning committee. He owns a national level pubic safety consulting practice that has done work in several states. Altmann himself had formerly been with Rural/Metro as their national marketing director, scoring about $40 million in new business before starting his own firm nine years ago.

Even with the interim fill, state law still requires a special election in November to fill the remaining two years of Baier’s term. At last count, 20 people applied to fill the job, but only a handful are likely to be serious contenders. A liberal LD10 Democrat, Jim Mapstead, who lost to Altmann in 2007, is one and another left winger, Jim Larson, who twice ran against LD 6 State Senator Pamela Gorman and got trounced. Mapstead, who turned around and endorsed Baier after losing to Altmann, was rewarded a few months ago with an appointment to the Phoenix planning and zoning commission.

Former city councilman Tom Milton is also in the mix. Milton left the council in 2002 after a term in another district and is now living in an apartment in District 3. Milton is probably DOA with the council – an Arizona Republic story quoted veteran councilwoman Peggy Neely as saying she was looking for “new blood” rather than recycling old members.

Former District 3 councilwoman Peggy Bilsten’s name came up also, but she is now off on another mission in Africa, having left last week. Bilsten’s last six months in office were disrupted with an investigation of staff irregularities and charges her staff was used to paint parts of her home. The investigations immobilized her final days in office while she ran around doing Tsunami relief visits in Indonesia.

Altmann has substantial voter approval from 2007 and revalidated his claim by narrowly losing a LD 11 State House race last year by about 1%, even though the Democrats threw $113,000 against him in a desperate effort to retain the seat. In looking at the numbers, about half of LD 11 is Council District 3 – coincidentally the half that Altmann did extremely well in (he lost ground in the more Democratic west end of the district).

The Phoenix Council is non partisan and Altmann has shown a great ability to bring together widely different groups for endorsements and grass roots campaign work. Altmann also serves as an elected precinct committeeman and got elected as a Republican Party state committeeman. During the LD 11 race, Phoenix Councilwomen Thelda Williams and Peggy Neely endorsed him – Neely even did some autodial calls for him.

Altmann seems off to a strong start – his campaign organization filing has a well-campaign chairman with some business clout with the Council and he is already racking up some major endorsements. State Representative Adam Driggs has also thrown his name behind Altmann again.

One city hall insider said Altmann has “quite a machine” going – with neighborhood and other supporters racking in about 300 calls last week to Mayor Phil Gordon and each of the seven council offices.

The Phoenix City Manager last week reported that city tax revenues continue to decline at a rate of 13% per month and it is rumored whoever joins the council will be looking at a drastic cut of up to 20% of the city budget to make ends meet.

Altmann has a history of building public/private partnerships and his consulting work does strategic budget planning for cities and counties. His last major project was in the very conservative area of Colorado Springs and surrounding El Paso County – Altmann brought together 20 some jurisdictions for a joint process that boosted 911 services with an ambulance contract that costs the county nothing.

The Council has three possible ways to go Tuesday – pick someone else, and risk seeing Altmann wage an even stronger campaign, this time potentially with more contributors and a solid win – pick a “lame duck” who will be a place holder and not run in November – or pick Altmann and have someone who hits the ground running on the issues with about five minutes of warm-up time.

The deadline for filing for the November election was Saturday.

Looking at how his campaigns have worked, one District 11 veteran said Altmann gets a lot of mileage out of a dollar – “just think of what kind of campaign he can run with his grass roots machine and a few more dollars.”

Goddard hires political hack ACLU Tim while laying off prosecutors and investigators

Nelson’s double-murderer client Jose Ceja

Sonoran Alliance has previously covered how liberal Attorney General Terry Goddard keeps laying off seasoned prosecutors and investigators so he can hire political hacks who provide no value to the public but who Terry thinks can help him run for Governor. We wonder what is salary is going to be? This will also set Nelson up for a prime position to run for Attorney General in 2010. How convenient.

Previous hires include failed County Attorney candidate Gerald Richard, a liberal Democrat who had a big hand in Phoenix P.D.’s notorious “sanctuary” policy, and Greg Stanton, a liberal Democrat who just quit the Phoenix City Council.

Now comes word that Goddard has hired former Napolitano lawyer and failed County Attorney candidate Tim

 Nelson as his right hand man.  So what criminal justice credentials does Nelson bring to the Attorney General’s office, which we trust with critical criminal justice functions, including criminal appeals?

Nelson’s exclusive criminal justice experience comes from representing double murderer Jose Ceja, who, despite Nelson’s best efforts to protect him, was executed.  In defending Ceja, Nelson claimed that double-murderer Ceja was “non-violent” and that the death penalty was “torture.”

And now Nelson will be the de facto head of the Attorney General’s office as Goddard campaigns for Governor, and we will be relying on this criminal sympathizer Nelson to keep people like the Baseline Killer and Serial Shooters behind bars?

Terry Goddard and his political hack-filled office are becoming a menace to law abiding citizens.


AZ Senate is Session

In case you’d like to watch a rare session of the State Senate in action on Saturday, here is the link:

Earlier today, the Arizona Education Association almost started a riot on the House side.

Apparently a slight nick of the education budget was too much for them to handle.

Straight from the Speaker of the House, here is what is really going on with education funding:

Putting things in perspective is important. Apparently the ARIZONA EDUCATION ASSOCIATION can’t seem to understand the mathematical reality of a 2% cut. And they wonder why math scores are struggling.

Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace

Here’s a quick vid just released by the Goldwater Institute:

As Political Arizona broke the story on Wednesday night, the Governor and Legislature appear to have a deal in the works to send the legislature into session to consider trailer bills which make adjustments to the current budget. In exchange, the Governor will get her desired 18% tax increase sent to the ballot this November.

Make the calls!

Goddard’s confusing waffling on concealed weapons laws

Terry Goddard in 1994: “I would have vetoed the concealed weapons bill signed into law by Symington.” —The Arizona Daily Star, 8/22/94

Terry Goddard in 2009:  “The current [concealed weapons] law in Arizona is not broken. It has worked exceptionally well.”–The Arizona Republic, 6/19/09

It’s amazing what Terry Goddard gets away with.  Goddard has a long history of anti-Second Amendment activism.  In 1994 he opposed the original bill that allowed concealed carry in Arizona for the first time.  (Aug. 22, 1994 article from the Arizona Daily Star).  The Star article does not say exactly what the grounds for his opposition were, but obviously he felt the bottom line is that law abiding citizens cannot be trusted with gun rights and the law would lead to more violence.

Fast forward to 2009.  Senate Bill 1270 is pending, and it would loosen the current concealed carry law, the one Goddard opposed 15 years ago.  So who is leading the charge this time in opposition to the Second Amendment?  It’s Goddard again, and he has the chutzpah to say that Senate Bill 1270 would effect “a very dangerous change to state law.”

But why should we listen to Goddard now, when he has been so spectularly wrong about gun rights in the past?  And why is it that the Republic journalist failed to point out Goddard’s previous attacks on the concealed carry law he now says works “exceptionally well,” a fact that completely discredits him on this issue?  I guess I just answered my own question.

Anti-gun rights activists like Goddard always oppose any loosening of gun laws, and they always argue that gun rights are strong enough as they are and any new rights will lead to more violence.  But had we listened to Goddard and his gun grabbing pals in 1994, we never would have known the effect of the original law, which even Goddard now agrees works “exceptionally well,” as if he was with us all along.  That’s one reason we shouldn’t listen to them now. Have you no shame, Mr. Goddard?

Goddard…wrong then, wrong now.

Reality Check: Life is Short

Governor Mark Sanford must be relieved. He’s just been bumped from the front page of every national newspaper by the headline, “The King is Dead.” (I’d have to disagree with that proclamation since the Real King died back on August 16, 1977 – although the Real King’s daughter married the “King of Pop.”)

Back to my point.

Expect a blackout of Biblical proportions on political news over the next week as every media outlet examines every jot and tittle of Michael Jackson.

Us middle-aged guys however, will really be mourning the death of that incredible embodiment of sex appeal, Farrah Fawcett, who also passed away today from cancer at the age of 62.

And let’s also not forget Ed McMahon as the footnote of the last week.

All this goes to prove that we are getting older and reality is setting in that no one gets out of this world alive.

So at the end of the day, some of us may be mortal political enemies but we are still human, suceptible to error, sin and entropy.

Give each other a break every once in awhile.

No Media Time For You!

Here is the latest demonstration of “mainstream media” bias as presented by our own Congressmen, John Shadegg and Trent Franks.

A Vice, A Sin, A Confession, A Difference? A Tale of Two Confessions

Here is a clip from Obama’s most recent press conference in which he confesses to sneaking out and grabbing a smoke and messing up.

The Los Angeles Times reported:

It may not be as big as “read my lips,” but it’s shaping up as a notable broken campaign promise: Barack Obama’s pledge to his wife that he would quit smoking if she let him run for president.

More than two years later, he’s still sneaking cigarettes like a middle-schooler. The model of self-discipline who can zap a fly with the accuracy of a tree frog and sink a three-pointer with Kobe-like grace can’t beat his most public vice.

“I constantly struggle with it. Have I fallen off the wagon sometimes? Yes. Am I a daily smoker, a constant smoker? No. I don’t do it in front of my kids, I don’t do it in front of my family, and I would say that I am 95% cured, but there are times where . . . I mess up,” President Obama confessed when asked at his news conference Tuesday if he’s still puffing away.

Here is the video clip or South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford in which he confesses to an extramarital affair:

The questions here: Are both confessions any different? Which vice/sin is more damaging and to whom? And do Republicans and Democrats see both confessions differently or the same?

Introducing Ruth McClung, Republican Candidate, CD-7

I am pleased to introduce conservative Republican, Ruth McClung for Congress in CD-7.

Ruth will be taking on the very liberal Democrat and immigration activist, Raul Grijalva in the 2010 Election cycle.

I am very impressed with Ruth, her personal and professional background and especially her position on issues.

Yes, she has an uphill battle but that’s where you come in. She needs your help, your volunteerism and your financial support.

To contact the campaign, please visit her website at or view her YouTube videos online.