Does This Sound Familiar?

While we’re on the theme of Deja Vu all over again, some of you Arizonans may remember a little budget buster from earlier this decade called “Alternative Fuels Vehicles.” One would think that the brightest minds in Washington, D.C. would have taken a lesson from the past.

Govt to suspend ‘cash for clunkers’

WASHINGTON (AP) – Congressional officials say the government plans to suspend the popular “cash for clunkers” program amid concerns it could quickly use up the $1 billion in rebates for new car purchases.

The Transportation Department called congressional offices late Thursday to alert them to the decision to halt the program, which offered owners of old cars and trucks $3,500 or $4,500 toward a new, more fuel-efficient vehicle.

The congressional officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Through late Wednesday, 22,782 vehicles had been purchased through the program and nearly $96 million had been spent. But dealers raised concerns of large backlogs in the system, prompting the suspension.

(Courtesy and credit to Breitbart and the Associated Press.)

 

Arizona Department of Commerce Files Brief in Support of CityNorth

The Arizona Department of Commerce has filed an amicus brief attacking the Arizona Court of Appeals decision invalidating the gift clause in the CityNorth case.

Incredibly, a segment of the Brewer Administration has jumped into the CityNorth case on the side of Phoenix and the other advocates of taxpayer subsidies to private industries who are trying to get the Court of Appeals decision striking down these subsidies as illegal gifts thrown out.

The Department of Commerce, a state agency under Governor Brewer, thinks the Court of Appeals ruling calls into question some of its programs. If this is the case, it’s because the Department of Commerce has been giving taxpayer money away to private groups, in violation of our state constitution’s ban on such gifts.

It was bad enough when the Department of Commerce was just a waste of money, a parking lot for old, washed up Democrat politicos. But now it is actively fighting to undermine our liberties.

With the state in a budget crisis, the Department of Commerce should be the first to go. Unfortunately, the oldest trick in the book of the apologists for Big Government is to put popular things on the chopping block like police and education.

Hopefully voters will remember that this fall when all the Chicken Littles predict massive cuts to police and education and general Armageddon if they don’t vote to raise taxes. How come the cuts put on the table by apologists for Big Government never include wasteful programs like the Department of Commerce, Structural Pest Commission, Board of Cosmetology, etc.?

If our state leaders had made more of an effort to cut out these boondoggles they would be on much more solid ground in calling for higher taxes. But they haven’t.

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Deja Vu all over again?

The New Bogeymen

You’re looking at a collage of the newest bogeymen. At least that’s what the liberal-led, Democratic controlled Congress is calling these American companies.

Polling must have revealed to Democratic leadership that it’s not in their political best interest to go after the doctors or the American Medical Association. And you know the Dems won’t attack their lifeblood, the trial lawyers association. That leaves only one target for the Democrats to take aim at – the insurance companies.

So this is all about strategy for the Dems in their march to take over our personal health care and decisions. If they can narrow and divide their opposition down to a few bogeymen, they figure they can rekindle American anger in back in their direction and mount the largest government fiasco since Social Security.

Make the calls to your congressmen today!

Pentagon Preparing for a Major Outbreak

FoxNews and CNN is reporting that the Pentagon is preparing plans to assist the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) in the event of an anticipated Fall 2009 outbreak of the H1N1 virus.

According to the report:

In the event of a major outbreak, civilian authorities would lead any relief efforts, the official said. As the military would for a natural disaster or other significant emergency situation, it could provide support and fulfill any tasks that civilian authorities could not, such as air transport or testing of large numbers of viral samples from infected patients.

As a first step, Gates is being asked to sign a so-called “execution order” that would authorize the military to begin to conduct the detailed planning to execute the proposed plan.

Speculation is running rampant as to the use of military forces during such a pandemic including the use of massive quarantines.

This is really starting to sound like something out of a movie.

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AZ Education Budget: Antiquated Allocation Bankrupts All

by Gayle Plato, M. Ed.

Education funding, the liberal’s beaten poster child, never reflects reality nor sees the light of day. Ask any state legislator, “How does the state actually fund money for schools”, and you’ll get a description of per-pupil base support, phrases like large capital (the buildings and big stuff), soft capital for desks, and transportation. In addition, when you say things like, “Why don’t we dictate how many ___ or fire all of the ____,” their eyes glaze. Your cracked pot on which you stand is crumbling like art of Piestewa Area 51 notoriety. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

Of course not. Because the average citizen cannot just look up the state budget for education and have ANY clear picture of how the money is allocated. At a recent town hall meeting of Americans for Prosperity, I heard two budget experts trying to explain the line item veto in regards to programs that Governor Brewer crossed out. The experts were confused, and they read this every day. I challenge anyone reading this with a child in an Arizona public school: please tell me how much your child’s district gets for your student? Nobody truly knows. Yet the teachers’ unions are screaming, the liberal lobbying groups including our beloved Arizona Republic complain daily about the state being near the bottom in spending. Since when, in the history of public funding, is spending less a BAD THING? I want to know if amount spent is showing a return! Why invest more in a system rising in cost and producing lousy products? Students in Arizona are GMs-SUV gas guzzling Jimmys.  We are the ones going bankrupt to build these lousy products.

“Following the formula through state financial documents, however, is
complicated. For example, in the Statement of Revenues and Expenditures in the Arizona Superintendent’s Annual Financial Report for 2006-07, state revenues received by school districts are reported according to enrollment-based formulas, categories of spending and Proposition 301 funds collected from a 2000 tax increase to be used specifically for teacher base pay increases, teacher performance pay and certain maintenance and operations programs.3 Within the Statutory Formula Programs section is the Basic State Aid, as well as additional enrollment determined categories. However, in the State Summary of Financial Data, Basic State Aid is not a line item. Rather, state revenues for the classroom are categorized as Maintenance & Operations, Classroom Site Fund, and Instructional Improvement Fund. There is no direct link between the two. Further, some of the statutory formula funds, such as for soft capital outlay, are broken out separately. This is all very convoluted, but the point is that the system lacks transparency and,therefore, accountability.”  (http://www.goldwaterinstitute.org/article/3170)

We spend approximately half of our state budget on education: the cost problem is simple. Throw out the formula as it is not relevant. During a state time of open enrollment, where children can move freely between districts, per-pupil costs get muddy. Do we properly track transportation costs? My son cannot take a bus as he’s from ‘out of district’. Where do his travel bucks go? Doesn’t seem they go with him, and when I asked at the districts, no one seemed to have a clue. Price per desks, cost of books, transportation based on district boundaries: the terms themselves are not current. Kids don’t sit in individual desks all in row reading Dick and Jane. North Phoenix /Scottsdale schools use smart boards and lap tops, while lower income classes are still huffing dry erase pens in stuffy portables, sharing antiquated IT in backwards labs. Who are we kidding about equalization of funding?

This is not Left v. Right. This is the Past v. Present. We are using formulas that carry over from a time when tabulation was done by hand. We can track every child and know where he is sitting every hour, put it in a data file, and have to the state by the close of the school day. Technology is supposed to HELP STREAMLINE.

Options

Regular Education: Offer a flat rate per child and let the districts sort it out.

All problems and costs beyond a flat rate based on the per student funding are up to the local citizens. Our Constitution mandates and recommends fiscal debate be with the majority of the people it impacts. Define the state amount based on pupil attendance. Determine an average cost for elementary and secondary regular education. Let them levy, bond, budget cut, or have bake sales. As a libs would say—buy and sell local.

Special Education: Get the state out of the way.

Federal funding tabulation does not need to go through the state as districts could submit data directly and get monies according to programs and students. Why do we filter all programs? Bureaucracy is the problem, with lots of made up jobs of cheese movers and crumb counters. Budget analysis is antiquated and fraught with waste.

Funds Follow Students

We are paying for kids to learn. The flat rate follows the child, and this should be accomplished in darn near real time. If the IRS moves to a majority of us electronically filing, with greater accuracy and less fraud, our education allocation can handle monitoring of students on a state level.

Emergency Funds are Temporary

Any school failing, falling down, feverishly growing, or facing crisis, needs to fill out specific requests with absolute cost analysis and face detailed scrutiny. This is the key for all state allocation problems. Our state gets in the middle of programming issues and temporary concerns, and then NEVER moves. We move the cheese and then let it mold.

No one, on a state level can mandate district decisions, but we are forced to pay for district mistakes. When any blogger writes, let’s fire all of the low-end administrators (yes I said that basically), all state level politicians literally laugh. Why? Because our ocean of debt is infiltrated by schools of jellyfish: endomorphic gelatinous blobs that float where they please, with far-reaching tentacles that sting all that swim. We allow schools to bite the hands that feed them. Make the districts grow up and balance the books, or the parents will vote the boards out and down all bonds.

Arizona creates odd mandates of building funds or programs like all-day Kindergarten. We allocate for a temporary need or local desire but then do not allow oversight, limits on pilot funds, or change as needed. If a district needs help with old buildings, let’s give official options for the emergency—not ongoing support. If a district wants all-day Kindergarten, we cannot line item it in for political points one year, but then not have ANY state control for fear of getting voted out.   That fear is the sting that’s killing us all.

Tom Horne Draws National Attention

State schools superintendent Tom Horne is getting national attention for taking on the elements of so-called “ethnic pride” in an Arizona school district. Today’s Washington Times chronicles Horne’s ongoing battles with the entrenched bureaucrats and recalcitrant school board at the Tucson Unified School District who want to make sure Arizona taxpayers continue to foot the bill for Raza studies – a curricula that belittles the United States and advocates for racial separatism. Horne’s fight is one that’s worth winning. Here’s an excerpt but of course, you can read the entire article here.

Tom Horne has two degrees from Harvard University. He participated in Martin Luther King’s 1963 March on Washington. He’s Arizona’s superintendent of public instruction.

In other words, he’s not the kind of guy you would expect to find at the forefront of a movement to eliminate a politically sensitive program such as ethnic studies. Yet there he is, blasting classes that promote what he calls “ethnic chauvinism,” calling for voters to oust school board members who support it and generally painting a target on his back for liberals and minority advocacy groups.

“What I object to is dividing kids by race and teaching them only about their own culture,” Mr. Horne said in a telephone interview. “That’s exactly the opposite of what we should be doing. We should be teaching kids that they’re individuals and not exemplars of racial groups.”

 

Judiciary on Trial

Maricopa County Superior Court Presiding Judge Gary Donahoe

TIME FOR JUDICIAL REFORM

Our sources tell us that the Arizona Supreme Court is currently considering an appeal of a Superior Court decision that disqualified the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office from investigating the Court Tower. Superior Court Presiding Criminal Judge Gary Donahoe refused to let the County Attorney’s Office prosecute the case, yet allowed the Court’s attorney Tom Irvine of the law firm Polsinelli Shughart, who was also representing the Board of Supervisors that authorized the purchase of the Court Tower, remain as legal counsel for both the Board and the Court.  In a shocking display of judicial arrogance, Donahoe torpedoed the investigation to protect the Court Tower (where he will have a penthouse office) and Irvine.

The Goldwater Institute’s Clint Bolick, a nationally renowned attorney who has argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, declared that,

    Irvine’s dual representation is “a blatant conflict of interest, one of the first kinds of conflicts you learn about in law school.”

If attorneys in this state realized what was going on, they would be shocked. Irvine is representing both sides of a business transaction – the Superior Court side that asked for the Court Tower, AND the Board of Supervisors side that authorized the expenditure. Irvine never even bothered to disclose his dual representation in the case. In fact, the Republican-dominated Board of Supervisors has actually allowed Irvine, a Democrat activist who used to be the attorney for the Arizona Democrat Party, to become their attorney instead of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office in violation of the law.

The one-sided decision by Judge Donahue declaring that the County Attorney’s Office has a conflict of interest but the Court and the Board of Supervisors don’t when they’re sharing the same attorney is the most shocking display of judicial arrogance since the Prop. 100 fiasco a couple of years ago, when the Superior Court refused to enforce the new law prohibiting bail for illegal immigrants accused of serious crimes. In that situation, the Arizona Supreme Court had to step in to force the Superior Court to uphold the law. It looks like the Supreme Court is going to have to step in again to clean up this mess.

The appeal submitted to the Supreme Court summarizes the conflicts this way:

The conflicts of interest in this matter are numerous and severe. Shughart [Irvine] simultaneously represented two clients, the Superior Court and the Board, on the very same matter, the Court Tower project. Through this process, Shughart obtained a ruling from one client, the Superior Court, to benefit the other client, the Board. Moreover, in his minute entry, Respondent Judge stated he was releasing the ruling to the public in part to allow Shughart to use it to benefit Mr. Irvine in his other civil litigation. As a result, the minute entry has been used by Shughart not only to shut down the grand-jury investigation of the Court Tower, but also in an unrelated civil lawsuit filed by MCAO against the Board in which Shughart represents the Board. Finally, Shughart provided these legal services with all these multiple conflicts while one of its attorneys was the subject of a criminal investigation related to the Court Tower.

This is the strongest evidence yet that the judiciary is in dire need of reform. The Superior Court apparently thinks it’s above the law. This is the last straw for merit system appointment of judges, real reform will also include a change to electing judges.

Click here for video of Goldwater Institute’s Clint Bolick declaring Irvine’s representation of both the County Supervisors and the Superior Court a “blatant conflict of interest”

So Mr. President, What’s the Big Rush?!?

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No Doubt He’s Running For Governor To Improve Education!

Sometimes you hate to draw attention to folks who do strange things during a campaign because it rewards them with attention that they might not otherwise deserve.  But sometimes its just so deserving, you just can’t help yourself.  Which brings us to John Paul Mitchell.  No, not the hair guy (whose actual name is John Paul DeJoria, go figure, right?) but the Independent candidate for Governor.  Mitchell is actually fun to read about and listen to when he’s talking about taxation, in fact, he wrote a book on it.  [Gratuitous plug just to be nice to him HERE]

But his most recent blog post, entitled “Gov. Brewer Conspiring Against the People“, is a strange rant against the polling company Public Opinion Strategies, whom he proclaims has a “dark history of fixing polls” (someone contact corporate legal please) to “meet Republican agendas.”  His principle objection?  I’ll let him tell you himself:

“Only 600 individuals were surveyed in a telephone poll. That is less than 3% of all eligible registered voters in the State of Arizona. By standard polling protocol, that is a very small window to assess.  What about the other 97% of Arizona voters? How would they vote?”

Hmm, 600 voters is less than 3% of all eligible registered voters?  Well that is true, but you get the feeling he means its just barely less, as he confirms when he asks what the other 97% of voters think.  Doing the math for Mitchell, what he’s asking is what about the other 19,400 registered voters in the State of Arizona, what do they think?

When he’s done getting the answer to that question, he can start to inquire about the other… other voters…  You know, the other 3,083,747 active voters in Arizona?

For those who don’t know, by standard polling protocol, 600 responses is a pretty large sample size for any poll.  And for those who wonder, Mitchell is a Doctorate student at the University of Sedona and he possesses a Master’s degree in Pastoral Counseling Psychology.