Archives for November 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Norman Rockwell ThanksgivingToday we celebrate the 388th anniversary of Thanksgiving – a Holiday that many of us still consider to be an important religious observance in our Republic’s history. It wasn’t until October 6, 1941 that the U.S. Congress officially recognized and established the holiday to be held on the last Thursday in November. (In December of that same year, the Senate had to pass an amendment changing the date to the 4th Thursday of November.)

Regardless of whatever the US Congress decided, Americans across the country have been giving God thanks for a very long time.

Today, despite the secularization of our culture, our country will celebrate this important religious occurrence by spending time with family and friends and by reaching out to others in need.

Today, prayers will be lifted, thanks will be given to God and hopefully, relationships will be renewed and strengthened.

As you gather with those you cherish and those who may test your ability to extend grace, may God bless your time together and may you remember from Whom all blessings come.

On behalf of all the writers here at Sonoran Alliance, we wish you a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!

Why is Manmohan Singh in Washington?

The MSM reporting on this week’s heralded “President Obama’s First State Dinner” is heavy on arugula, sustainable magnolia and curry than political meat. 

While YAHOO! News chatters about First Lady Michelle Obama’s “breaking with tradition dress,” Bloomberg reporters Kate Andersen Brower and Nicholas Johnston pen a detailed description:
“They will join a group of American and Indian executives, diplomats, public officials and celebrities who will be honoring Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh under heated tents on the White House South Lawn.
Guests will dine on potato and eggplant salad with arugula from the White House garden; roasted potato dumplings with tomato chutney, chickpeas and okra, or an alternate choice of green curry prawns served with caramelized salsify, smoked collard greens and coconut aged basmati. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=washingtonstory&sid=aQ_tY1EpS4FE

Between the coconut aged basmati rice and the chickpeas, what should Americans know that occupies the mind of the Indian Prime Minister? After all, it’s a long way to go for dinner, for Singh, it’s literally half way around the globe, so discussions must be involved.
Howard LaFranchi of the Christian Science Monitor relates, “Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrives at the White House Tuesday wondering if his country remains the US priority under President Obama that it became under President Bush.
The Obama administration thought it had answered that question months ago when it announced that Mr. Singh’s day of meetings would constitute the first state visit of Mr. Obama’s presidency – a distinction meant to convey the importance of the occasion.
But Obama’s week-long trip to Asia that ended last Thursday has India questioning anew the value of a US partnership. In particular, the tenor of Obama’s three days in China was heard by Indians as American acquiescence to rising Chinese power across Asia.” http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/1123/p02s01-usfp.html

Americans did not get much sense from the MSM that much transpired apart from Obama’s bowing gaffs, and zero sense that other nations watch every move a US president makes like hawks, and parse every word, and at least one major ally didn’t like what they heard.   CNN’s 44th President webpage page, under POLITICS, has this astute political insight:
“The dinner, in a tent set up on the White House South Lawn with a view of the Washington Monument, featured round tables for 10 set in resplendent colors — apple green, ruby, gold — with floral arrangements of roses, hydrangeas and sweet peas in plum, purple and fuchsia.  Place settings in fine china from three previous administrations — Eisenhower, Clinton and George W. Bush — were flanked by five pieces of silverware and crystal glasses. Place cards were in script — “The President” and “Mrs. Obama” read two.

A seasonal menu reflecting both American and Indian flavors started with a potato and eggplant salad made with White House-grown arugula and accompanied by an onion seed vinaigrette, according to the White House.”
http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/11/24/obama.state.dinner/index.html?section=cnn_latest

One is left wondering if the place cards for the Prime Minister and his wife were in Hindi script or the potentially insensitive, “English script.” Inquiring minds might want to know, if they were not more concerned about nations, conflicts, terror and war.

Mian Ridge writes about what’s on Indians’ minds in the Christian Science Monitor, “But while talks between Mr. Singh and Mr. Obama scheduled for Tuesday are likely to focus on such matters as Afghanistan, climate change, and cooperation on nuclear energy, pundits in India are more interested in the question of where the US’s new friendship with China, as well as its relationship with Pakistan, leaves India.
“We may aspire to a seat at the high table of world power but China is already sitting at the head of the table along with the United States,” wrote journalist Gautam Adhikari in the Times of India Monday. “It has enough IOUs in its pocket to stop anyone from pushing it around. We also are a billion-strong nation, a democracy to boot and growing economically at a still impressive rate given the global conditions. But, realistically speaking, we are a second or perhaps third tier force in the eyes of the United States.

A recent joint statement from Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao, which included a line of support for better Indo-Pakistan relations, was regarded in New Delhi as an expression of unwanted interference in a sensitive matter. For some, it raises the worrying specter of Chinese involvement in South Asian diplomacy – and at a time when India’s long running border row with China is especially tense.” http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/1123/p06s01-wosc.html

A bit testy. It gets even more interesting though with the Times of India:
“… Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday threw down the gauntlet to Washington, Islamabad and perhaps even Beijing and other world capitals that India would not be budged from pursuing its interests in Afghanistan — primarily of preventing the country from turning toxic under Pakistan’s malignant influence and American uncertainty.

“The road to peace on Afghanistan will be long and hard. But given the high stakes involved, the commitment of the international community must be sustained by firm resolve and unity of purpose.” Singh told Washington’s top policy wonks gathered to hear him at the Center for Foreign Relations, amid a continuing review by President Obama about U.S options in Afghanistan.

The remarks were clearly meant for the US President and his principals who have been bashing heads for several weeks now over next steps in Afghanistan amid charges of dithering on the crucial issue. Singh’s advice ahead of his meeting with Obama on Tuesday — Stay the course; we are going to be there.” http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/Stay-the-course-in-Afghanistan-PM-Manmohan-Singh-urges-US/articleshow/5262957.cms

So, India, which has been invaded by neighbor Pakistan and neighbor China, at great losses of Indian lives and loss of Indian territory, is not comfortable with the Obama Administration’s “reaching-out” to China, and is extremely concerned that any U.S. abandonment of Afghanistan will have a dangerously negative impact on India’s security.

What does CNN’s political reporting reveal on this important diplomatic and geopolitical issue, which reflects an overdue and dragging Obama Administration decision on an Afghan military strategy?
“The event planned by first lady Michelle Obama emphasized eco-friendly themes such as White House-grown herbs and lettuce served to guests and sustainably harvested magnolia branches — from species native to both India and the United States — in arrangements adorning the tent where more than 300 guests wearing tuxedos and gowns were wined, dined and entertained.”
http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/11/24/obama.state.dinner/index.html?section=cnn_latest

Despite the arugula and traditional Thanksgiving pie and various organically grown vegetables from Michelle Obama’s White House Very Hardy November garden, the special sauces may not have been enough to stave off some serious indigestion that began developing just last week, as reported by the Christian Science Monitor:

“But what has set the Indians on edge now is the wording of a communiqué issued last week by Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao at the end of their Beijing talks. The two leaders said their countries “are ready to strengthen … cooperation in issues related to South Asia.” They specifically pledged to “support the improvement and growth of relations between India and Pakistan.”
That set off an uproar in New Delhi, where even members of Singh’s own party questioned whether a declining superpower was bowing to the “core interests” of another country. Indian officials repeated that India needs no outside involvement in its relationship with Pakistan.
US officials say that the communiqué was not intended to signal a recognition of a supposed Chinese sphere of influence. The State Department’s undersecretary of State for political affairs, William Burns, responded by saying there is “too much reading into statements.”
But Neena Shenai, an adjunct scholar for South Asian issues at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, said the statement was “certainly not the way to roll out the red carpet for Prime Minister Singh.” http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/1123/p02s01-usfp.html

But, how many Americans are aware of that? Has our media, which is meant to inform the U.S. public, been diligent in alerting Americans to the dismay and most importantly, the CONCERNS of our allies? Bloomberg’s reporters enlighten us:
“The menu is intended to reflect American cuisine with a taste of India and will include lettuce and herbs culled from the White House garden. The guest chef is Marcus Samuelsson of Manhattan’s Aquavit restaurant …First lady Michelle Obama told a group of girls from the White House Leadership and Mentoring Program at the White House today that state dinners “are critical to what we do internationally.”
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=washingtonstory&sid=aQ_tY1EpS4FE

Really? “Critical to what we do internationally?” Dear Girls, state dinners are luxuries, and can be dispensed with, or can be much more modest for the taxpayer’s pockets than enormous heated tent mega-events with glitzy pop stars to croon along with the fifth course. American soldiers stand at the top of the world, facing the Afghan winter, a bleak, cold, ancient cross-roads of invading armies and rival civilizations, huddled over portable heaters, their rifles slung over their shoulders, stirring boiled water into the plastic pouches of their MREs to bring their desiccated beef stews to some consistency of normal, with one eye and ear always on the alert for the warning movements, cracks of gunfire or shriek of incoming mortar fire – soldiers waiting for reinforcements and a steeling of resolve from the wining and dining civilian leadership in Washington, DC – for these soldiers have seen the enemy up close and know what’s at stake. In the same number of weeks it took to present a sumptuous state dinner for 300 rich and connected guests, a complicatedly elaborate planning as one staffer remarked, critical resources could have been allocated to our soldiers, and much already have been sent on its way.

But despite thousands of words and plenty of video recorded devoted to this week’s state dinner, few syllables in the American media have been devoted to the issue that America waits on, that will have serious and profound implications for many nations, including for the fate of the nation of the man ostensibly honored at that dinner, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, but who rated fewer mentions than the food, the entertainment, and the other guests. The American media, focused on “Eco-friendly,” “White House garden” and a Who’s Who list of Hollywood and Chicago politics, is more aflutter at astoundingly empty reporting of the excruciatingly nothing discovery that: “Place cards were in script — “The President” and “Mrs. Obama” read two.”

Time to repeat what had to be found in the Indian media at the Times of India newspaper, as the nation of India prepares to mourn her murdered people at a grim anniversary:
On the eve of the first anniversary of the Mumbai carnage …“Singh offered similar advice in an earlier address to US and Indian business leaders that the international community needs to remain engaged in Afghanistan and any “premature talk of exit will only embolden the terrorists.”
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/Stay-the-course-in-Afghanistan-PM-Manmohan-Singh-urges-US/articleshow/5262957.cms

The Pilgrims’ lesson for today’s health care debate

By Byron Schlomach, Ph.D.
Goldwater Institute
 
It is often said that if we don’t study history, we are condemned to repeat it. The Pilgrims of yesterday have a valuable lesson for Americans in today’s health care debate.
 
Many today do not know that the Pilgrims initially faced continuous famine of their own making. In his history of the colony, the Pilgrims’ long-time governor William Bradford described the crisis and the eventual solution.

The colony initially practiced a form of socialized agriculture in the belief that it put them all “on an equality throughout.” But, this didn’t produce enough food, so the Pilgrims decided to allow “each man to plant corn for his own household.”

Bradford wrote:

This was very successful. It made all hands very industrious, so that much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been…The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to plant corn, while before they would allege weakness and inability; and to have compelled them would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.

Contrast the Pilgrims to today’s leaders in Washington, DC. The Pilgrim leaders chose to fundamentally change direction rather than rely on the collective to meet their needs. Facing the same choice today, President Obama and Congress are choosing the opposite course.

The health care bill voted out of the U.S. House is a case study in government collectivism. Every person would be compelled by government to buy health insurance. Subsidies would be taken from some to pay for others. Employers would be forced to provide health insurance or face harsh financial penalties. All of this would directly interfere with our freedom to make our own health care decisions.

The practice of medicine would also be more highly regulated than it already is. Government would create a National Health Service Corps and a Public Health Workforce Corps. Physicians would be prohibited from owning hospitals–that is like keeping mechanics from owning car repair shops. And medical practice would essentially be dictated by the government through comparative effectiveness research and other controls.

Yes, some might gain a measure of security from increased health care collectivization, but the American people will pay a steep price in terms of a rising deficit, the loss of freedom to make their own health care decisions, and a loss of overall quality and innovation in health care.

When the Pilgrims made individuals instead of the collective responsible for raising food, everybody won. Everybody ate more even as some were able to eat more than others. To have continued as they had, though, would have been disastrous.

The Pilgrims’ famine ended when they recognized the poor incentives they had created and changed them. We have created poor incentives in health care as tax policy and social programs encourage us to rely on others to pay our health bills. Now we are on the path to making incentives worse, not changing them. 

We must change federal income tax policy to allow taxpayers to get the same tax deductions that employers get when buying health insurance. We should expand health savings accounts to allow unlimited saving for our own health care. And we should allow unlimited charitable tax-free distributions from those accounts when we choose to help others.

As William Bradford said, “Let none argue that this (failure of collectivism) is due to human failing rather than to this communistic plan of life in itself.” We have the ability to truly address the rising cost of health care in America, but a government-run health system is not it.

Byron Schlomach, Ph.D., is the director of the Goldwater Institute’s Center for Economic Prosperity.

Why Afghanistan is Important

Afghanistan is a geographically and geopolitically strategic nation in central Asia. Six countries share its borders: Pakistan, China, Iran and three former Soviet Republics, now independent but heavily Russian-influenced Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. From Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul, the capital of Pakistan, Islamabad, is only 235 miles away, via the famous Khyber Pass. The capital of Delhi, India is just 624 miles away, closer to Kabul, Afghanistan than Dallas, Texas is to New York City. Pakistan’s road network reaches from Islamabad, along the Indus River Valley, and connects with the ancient Silk Road. China is just a few hours away, bordering both Afghanistan and Pakistan at the Karakorum Mountain Range. Along many of these same roads however, Pakistan’s central government controls just the roadway itself, the areas to the right and left of the tarmac have never been controlled, they have and remain the domain of local Tribal governance.

Afghanistan’s recent history has been one of terrible war and strife. In 1979, Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan to prop up the crumbling Soviet puppet-government. American President Carter reacted by boycotting the Soviets through the Olympics and US grain contracts, but President Reagan armed the Afghans to drive the Soviets out. The Soviet Union withdrew, its economy collapsing under the last straw of an expensive and brutal war. The Afghan warlords, seeing a central government power vacuum began a bloody civil war in 1989 vying for dominance. One faction, Islamofascists called the Taliban, by 1992 began asserting dominance with the help of Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden who’d been searching for a safe haven and base since being booted from his home country of Saudi Arabia and then from Sudan.

Secure in his new home and envisioning the rebirth of the Islamic Caliphate from Spain to China, Bin Laden perceived America as the most serious military threat to his vision, and gave material and planning support to terrorist attacks against America and Americans, such as the Khobar Towers and the USS Cole bombings before the 9/11 attacks. To Bin Laden’s eternal surprise and dismay, America arrived in Afghanistan to fortify the last remnants of the Afghan free resistance, the Northern Alliance, just weeks after 9/11 and Al-Qaeda’s September 9, 2001 brutal assassination of the Northern Resistance’s general, Ahmed Shah Massoud, the Lion of Panjshir, a killing meant to be the coup de grace against the Northern Alliance’s military capabilities. Backed by the US military, the revitalized Northern Alliance was able to break the Taliban front lines and sent the Taliban into a running retreat, and Afghanistan into a national celebration of victory from years of Taliban despotism.

Today, Afghanistan is sheltered under US military protection as it rebuilds its shattered and eviscerated nation. Deforestation, degraded agriculture, opium trade and a ruined infrastructure hold back a nation that didn’t have much freedom to develop its cities and towns or exploit any of its natural resources over the past forty years. Worse, the remnant Taliban continues to disrupt progress, to wage low level war against the Afghan people and the Afghan government, hoping to destabilize it, hoping to demoralize Americans into quitting. Because of this, no Afghan government for the near future has the means to protect Afghanistan from any foreign aggression.

If the United States leaves, Afghanistan will be completely vulnerable to any one of several dangerous scenarios of invasion: by the Islamofascist Taliban, or an expansionistic communist China, or a radicalized Pakistan or even Russia via the former Soviet states, for Afghanistan has strategic placement for oil pipelines originating in Iran.

But, Iran must be examined closer as the long-recognized source of destabilizing Islamic Revolutionary radicalism in the region. For the first time since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, Iran was bottled up, with American troops in Iraq and American troops in Afghanistan; effectively keeping Iranian mischief-makers trapped at home. Iraq, with more modern and less degraded infrastructure, combined with a well-educated population with a tradition of engineering stretching back to ancient Babylon, is better equipped to take over much of its security, but Afghanistan has never achieved the development of Iraq ,so it gravely lacks in basic self-sufficiency, especially after decades of war and strife. With the presence of US combat troops, both Iraq and Afghanistan have been protected from Iranian invasion. If the US leaves Afghanistan, Iran could easily pour over the border and take control, positioning itself to overthrow the moderate and shaky Pakistan government for their Revolutionary brand of radical regime, which would be an enormously dangerous situation for India. Nuclear war would not be unthinkable if India perceives it is under threat.

The new Caliphate, as understood by wary Hindus in India, would stretch from Iran through Afghanistan, through Pakistan, through India’s northern Kashmir State, run eastwards along the Himalayan Mountain Range to the former East Pakistan, now Bangladesh –to the Muslim regions of China. Whoever holds Afghanistan holds the key to the entire region, to the east and to the west. To have that in hand only to throw it away, would waste years of hard-earned gains and would deprive the Afghans of any hope at a future of self-determination. Worse, it hands America’s enemies strategic positioning which can be used against America and her allies.

Tucson loses control of Rio Nuevo project

Acting like any good parent, The State of Arizona has taken away the Tucson City Council’s favorite toy, the Rio Nuevo Project.  After years of acting like spoiled brats [and blowing millions of dollars in the process] the City Council now puts the fate of Tucson into the hands of others.  Considering the track record of the Tucson City Council, this might actually be a good thing.

Control of Tucson’s downtown redevelopment project was taken away from the City Council with the stroke of the governor’s pen Monday.

The legislative fix to Rio Nuevo’s long-standing financial struggles was part of the budget package that lawmakers approved to nibble away at the looming $2 billion deficit.

A nine-member board, appointed by the governor, the House speaker and the president of the Senate, will now control the project’s purse strings. Of those members, only five must be local residents.

The Legislature approved a similar slap at Tucson leadership earlier this year, but it was vetoed because of gubernatorial concerns about non-Rio-Nuevo parts of the budget package. This time around, it passed with overwhelming support on a vote of 51-4 in the House and 23-4 in the Senate.

Now that the City Council has gotten their long overdue spanking, [not only here, but also with the recent and extremely close election results],  let us all see if they have learned their lesson and will now start to act in a more “responsible manner”.  Any betters out there?

via azstarnet.

Received from the Campaign for Liberty

logo

November 19, 2009

 

Ron Paul says:
SAVE THE DATE!!!  Friday/Saturday, December 4th and 5th!

 
Congressman Ron Paul will be in Phoenix, December 4th and 5th.  He will deliver the keynote speech at the 1st Annual Arizona Campaign for Liberty State Convention.  There are several other events of interest surrounding the convention.  Please find details below.
 
 
Arizona Campaign for Liberty 1st Annual Convention
Ron Paul Keynote Speaker
Saturday, December 5th, 8am-3pm

 
The Arizona chapter of Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty is pleased to announce and invite you to its first annual Arizona Campaign for Liberty convention.  We are also pleased to announce that Ron Paul will be the headline speaker!
 
The 1st Annual Arizona Campaign for Liberty State Convention will take place on:
Saturday, December 5th from 8-3pm at:
Arizona State University
Memorial
Union ballroom
Tempe, Arizona
 
Dr. Paul will give the headline speech at 9am on Saturday, December 5th at the convention.
 
While the convention is open to all, only dues paying members of the Arizona C4L chapter are able to vote at the convention.  To become a dues paying voting member, please join the Arizona Campaign for Liberty by purchasing a $15 ticket for the event here:
https://www.campaignforliberty.com/event/tickets-states.php?eventid=17&number=1&mode=order
 
The convention will be preceded by……..
 
 
A Public Rally at ASU – Ron Paul Keynote Speaker!
Friday, December 4th, 11am-1pm

 
The Arizona State University chapter of Young Americans for Liberty is pleased to announce a public rally and speech by Dr. Ron Paul on
 
Friday, December 4th
11-1 pm
Hayden Lawn
Arizona State University
Tempe, Arizona
 
The rally will be followed by…….
 
 
End the Fed – Book Signing with Ron Paul
Friday, December 4th, 1:30-2:30pm

 
Dr. Paul will be available after the rally on Friday from 1:30-2:30pm to sign copies of his new book End the Fed.
The ASU bookstore will have copies of the book available for sale at the rally.  Pick one up and get it signed by Ron Paul!
 
 
Arizona Campaign for Liberty Fundraiser Reception with Dr. Ron Paul
Friday, December 4th, 6-8pm

 
Please support the Arizona Campaign for Liberty by joining us at a private reception with Ron Paul on Friday, December 4th, 6-8pm.
Tickets are $250 per person and may be purchased here
 
https://www.campaignforliberty.com/event/tickets-states.php?eventid=18&number=1&mode=order
 
Attendees will receive reception details upon ticket purchase.
 
Thank you.  We look forward to seeing you at the 1st Annual Arizona Campaign for Liberty Convention on Saturday, December 5th, and at the public rally and book signing on Friday, December 4th, at Arizona State University.

Rasmussen poll on Republican Primary

Rasmussen has released a poll on the Arizona Republican gubernatorial primary. You can find the article here: http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/elections2/election_2010/election_2010_governor_elections/arizona/election_2010_arizona_governor_gop_primary

Highlights? Arpaio would handily beat the field with 47% of the respondents. Dean Martin comes in next with 22%. Brewer got 10% of the vote, and Munger and Parker each got 6%. The poll apparently asked 570 likely Republican primary voters their preferences. The poll was done on the 18th and was published yesterday (Monday).

Union trying to bully Legislators into changing law

by Matthew Ladner, Ph.D.
Goldwater Institute
 
The movie Zombieland delivers a humorous take on the zombie movie genre. The protagonist has survived the outbreak of zombie-ism by following a set of self-developed rules. Rule number one: cardio. You must stay in shape so you can out run the zombies when necessary. Rule number two: double tap. When you shoot a zombie, don’t leave them lying around wounded so that you have to try to kill them again later; go ahead and shoot them twice.

Last session the Arizona Legislature passed some profoundly wise policy changes regarding public schools. They prohibited districts from paying people school district salaries to do union jobs. They required school district employees to use vacation days to do teachers association work. Finally, in the event of a reduction in force, the law prohibited the use of seniority as the sole criteria for deciding which teachers ought to be let go.

The first two items fall into the no-brainer category. No one should get paid to do classroom work unless they are actually working in the classroom.

But the final item is the most important of all. This figure from the Brookings Institution shows differences in academic gains by Los Angeles teachers based on how they were certified. In short, some teachers are great; they get large gains from their students. Some produce terrible results; not only do they fail to produce learning gains, they actually drag their students down.

 
 
The Arizona Education Association is actively seeking to have these policy changes overturned. Rumor has it that this will be a condition for Democratic support in the current budget special session.

Let me be clear: it would be IMMORAL to keep ineffective teachers in the classroom simply because they have already spent years mis-educating students. No one–conservative, liberal, libertarian or vegetarian–should support such a policy. The AEA brings disgrace upon itself for seeking it, and any member of the Legislature carrying this water should be ashamed of themselves.

Taking a cue from Zombieland, the Arizona legislature should go ahead and double tap the zombie by making it illegal for school districts to collect union dues from employee paychecks. School districts won’t collect dues for any other private association, and there is no case to be made for spending public money to do so for the AEA. If teachers and administrators find the services of the AEA useful, they can write them a check in the same fashion that a person would do for the Goldwater Institute or any other private organization they support.
 
Dr. Matthew Ladner is vice president for research at the Goldwater Institute.

Lies by Yvonne Wingett

A m e r i c a n P o s t – G a z e t t e

Distributed by C O M M O N S E N S E , in Arizona

November 23, 2009

Another classic example of yellow journalism by Yvonne Wingett
Full of lies

As posted in Cactus Alliance:

http://cactusalliance.blogspot.com/2009/11/another-classic-example-of-yellow.html
wingnut

Yvonne Wingett, the Arizona Republic hack reporter assigned to cover Maricopa County government, developed a pattern of playing fast and loose with the facts. In the absence of any real news, she makes up her own. Her close relationship with the County Supervisors, colors her coverage of all county affairs. She turns a blind eye to the Supervisors’ illegal acts and gives their attempts to take over other county agencies a free pass. She is complicit in assisting the Supervisors smear other county agencies and is often seen cozying up to the County PIO, Richard de Uriarte. Take the article she wrote in Saturday’s Arizona Republic about an audit of the County Treasurer’s Office, entitled “Audit Cites Treasurer’s Office Slip-ups.” Did she even bother to read it first? (Read her reporting here)

The Supervisors ordered an audit of the County Treasurer’s Office for no reason other than to harass the office, which had not been acceding to its demands. Wingett ignores the overall positive report, and instead accuses the office of mishandling procurement and the hiring of contractors. She asserts that “the office failed to follow county procurement policies on tens of thousands of dollars of contracts.” This sounds terrible, but in reality, it involved two contracts for computer services. One of them was arranged by the County’s OET division, not the Treasurer’s Office. So the County Supervisors should have been dinged for failing to follow procurement policies, not the Treasurer’s Office.As for Wingett’s other accusation, she says the office did not properly formalize agreements before hiring two contract employees. She left out the fact that both the hiring and the payments took place during the prior administration. The exact quote from the report on the issue is,

“The payments to Help Desk Technology and Teri Johnson occurred before November 13, 2007 and were authorized by the previous Treasurer.” She also ignores the main audit finding. “For the period reviewed, we found that TIF expenditures were in compliance with ARS §11-495. In addition, we found that TIF revenues were collected and recorded in compliance with this statute.” Why would she do this? Simple, it’s more helpful to the Supervisors to smear their enemy, the current County Treasurer.

This kind of reporting demonstrates that Wingett cannot be trusted to be a fair and impartial reporter. She is the very model of the worst kind of reporter. Her biases come through, and it is reporting like hers that is the reason why people are increasingly deserting the Arizona Republic as a legitimate news source. She is a discredit to all real reporters and an embarrassment to the Arizona Republic, and that’s hard to do.

Goldwater Institute Sues Tempe Over Handouts for Aquarium

Phoenix–Today the Goldwater Institute asked a court to strike down an agreement between the City of Tempe and the developer of Sea Life Aquarium, a children’s theme park at Arizona Mills Mall. The agreement provides tax subsidies and concessions to the private business in violation of the Arizona Constitution and state law.

The Arizona Constitution bans giving subsidies to benefit a private business under the “Gift Clause.” The Equal Protection and Special Laws Clauses of the Arizona Constitution also prohibit these types of subsidy deals. In addition, the Arizona Legislature recently passed a statute prohibiting all retail sales tax subsidies in Maricopa and Pinal Counties, and another restricting sales tax subsidies throughout the state. The Sea Life subsidy runs afoul of both the Arizona Constitution and the state laws.

Subsidies offered to Sea Life, a division of UK-based Merlin Entertainments Group, the second largest operator of attractions in the world behind Disney, include rebates on all construction sales taxes to the developer; rebates on all retail taxes to the developer up to $78,000; rebates on planning, engineering, and building safety processing fees up to $70,000; and special assistance from the city on permitting, planning and other regulatory hurdles required of other, non-favored developers and business owners.

Goldwater Institute attorney Carrie Ann Sitren is representing Nick Coons, owner of Tempe-based Red Seven Computers; Interior Concepts, a Tempe business; and Tempe taxpayers Jack Gibson and Chuck Kirkhuff.

“Our client, Mr. Coons, was not offered any assistance from the city to get his business off the ground,” Ms. Sitren said. “The Arizona Constitution is crystal clear on giving taxpayer money to businesses and industries–it isn’t legal.”

This agreement represents a seismic shift in position by Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman who spoke out against a similar $97.4 million subsidy from the City of Phoenix to build the CityNorth mall. Mr. Hallman even contributed to an article on the subject that appeared in the Arizona Republic September 29, 2009.

“When government gives taxpayer money to a favored business, it must tax the rest of the public with that missing share,” Mr. Hallman wrote. “Small businesses, or those less connected to government leaders, or those who cannot hire lawyers and lobbyists to fight for their own subsidies, are left holding the bag.”

The Goldwater Institute filed suit against the CityNorth subsidy in 2007 and is awaiting a decision from the Arizona Supreme Court on its legality. The Arizona Court of Appeals unanimously declared the deal illegal in December 2008 and until the Arizona Supreme Court reverses that decision, it is the law and clearly makes the Sea Life subsidy illegal.

“The fact that the City of Tempe is offering these illegal subsidies while a similar case is being considered is proof that the courts need to put a stop to this practice once and for all,” continued Ms. Sitren. “They can do that by saying the Arizona Constitution’s Gift Clause provision means what it says, that no subsidy shall be given to benefit a private business.”

Construction is already underway on the Sea Life Aquarium. It is slated to open in June 2010.

This lawsuit, Coons v. Hallman, was filed in Maricopa County Superior Court by the Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation.

For more information on this and other Goldwater Institute lawsuits visit www.goldwaterinstitute.org/litigation. The Goldwater Institute is an independent government watchdog supported by people who are committed to expanding free enterprise and liberty.