PR: Balanced Budget Proposal is Honest, Responsible

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 8, 2011
CONTACT: Daniel Scarpinato

No gimmicks or borrowing in fundamental reform of state government

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX (March 31, 2011) – Under a budget package unveiled Thursday by the Arizona House of Representatives, the state budget would have a structurally-balanced budget for the first time in five years.

And for the first time in a decade, that goal will be accomplished with real cuts and long-term spending reforms – not through gimmicks, debt or borrowing.

The proposal includes $1.3 billion in spending reductions, and provides long-term solutions to put the state on a path of financial stability.

“This is a budget to be proud of,” said House Speaker Kirk Adams. “We are dramatically reducing the size and scope of state government to align with revenues, while also introducing some exciting and substantive long-term spending reforms that will fundamentally change state government, making it more efficient and responsible.”

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Ben Quayle roasts fellow politicians

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Congressman Ben Quayle recently spoke to the Washington establishment roasting virtually any fellow politician in his path.

He had a few choice lines which stung his colleagues but he also paid tribute and honored the late David Broder.

 

It’s The Little Things…

You would think that the City Council members in Tucson—especially those who are up for re-election—would really be watching their p’s and q’s more than ever after the Rio Nuevo debacle.

However…

Council Member Shirley Scott must have forgotten that she is up for re-election.  Or maybe she just felt that she did not owe the citizens of Tucson any explanation when she voted on a land deal directly tied to her Campaign Chairperson, instead of recusing herself.   Lawrence Hecker, who is listed on her paperwork as Campaign Chairperson (filed with the City of Tucson as of January 11th, 2011) is the very same Larry Hecker who is the legal representative for Gadsden Company.  Gadsden sent a letter to Councilwoman Scott advising her that a “Yes” vote would be a win-win for everyone.  Councilwoman Scott voted “Yes” to the deal at the March 22nd, 2011 City Council meeting.

You can read more about the land flip deal here: Controversial flip is advanced on a unanimous vote

And see where she was caught here:  Can you say… conflict?

Voters will have the chance to decide soon if this type of behavior from their elected officials is acceptable or if they will clean house.


RINO Grant Woods going down in Fiesta Bowl scandal

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

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fiesta Bowl employees were paid for their political contributions
Grant Woods was Fiesta Bowl’s attorney, then “investigated” them and found nothing wrong  

Special committee investigators found that some contributions and bonuses were deleted from the document sent to state officials, although the original was found in Woods’ files. That included more than $37,000 that employees said was paid to Junker as compensation for political donations.Liberal Republican Grant Woods, who endorses Democrats over Republicans for office, is finally going down in what may be the biggest scandal since AZSCAM.

Here is part of the Arizona Republic’s coverage of the scandal:

A Fiesta Bowl report describing corruption and inappropriate spending focuses on top executives.

But the extent of wrongdoing it describes also raises questions about whether directors of the non-profit organization failed in their watchdog role.

The report, commissioned by a special committee of the bowl’s board, quotes employees as saying that they lied about their roles in hiding political contributions. The report also alleges that some people falsified documents and took other steps to conceal a culture of excess that permeated the tax-exempt agency.

It also describes an initial inquiry that the bowl commissioned on the allegations and says the inquiry was fraught with shortcomings and suggests it was manipulated to fend off a government investigation.

Even when The Republic reported in December 2009 of employees’ claims that they had received cash bonuses to compensate for campaign contributions – a potential violation of campaign-finance law and the bowl’s tax-exempt status – then-Chairman Alan Young denounced the article as untrue.

Board members initially hired prominent Phoenix lawyer Grant Woods to conduct an “independent review.” Less than a week after the story appeared, Young announced that the former attorney general had uncovered “no credible evidence” of illegal or unethical conduct.

Wood’s independence, however, came into question for a number of reasons.

First, he was retained by the Fiesta Bowl as legal counsel and worked as the agency’s advocate, constrained by attorney-client privilege.

Second, Woods has close ties with Gary Husk, an attorney-consultant who represented the Fiesta Bowl and was linked in The Republic’s report to the alleged campaign violations. Husk, who was paid more than $1.25 million from the Fiesta Bowl from 2005 to 2009, previously worked at the Attorney General’s Office as Woods’ chief counsel.

Third, at the time Woods was retained by the Fiesta Bowl, he was co-chairman of the election campaign for Gov. Jan Brewer, who was a recipient of bowl-related campaign contributions. One of Brewer’s advisers, Chuck Coughlin, was a consultant who worked with Husk and received $557,000 in Fiesta Bowl fees from 2005 to 2010.

The special committee’s report, unveiled publicly today, suggests that Woods’ probe was orchestrated to come up empty.

The report says that in spite of the role employees said Husk played in the donations, Husk was the person who recommended Woods to lead the investigation.

The report says Woods acknowledged that Husk prepared the list of questions to be asked of Fiesta Bowl employees and hand-picked those who were interviewed. Woods told investigators he was given only a few days to conduct a “seat-of-the-pants” inquiry, and was instructed not to take notes or write a report.

Numerous Fiesta Bowl staffers told investigators that Husk was implicated in the political contributions, yet teamed with Woods for an “independent” review. They said Husk conducted pre-interviews to eliminate witnesses who admitted they’d been reimbursed, and coached others on how to respond to Woods’ questions.

According to the special committee report, Woods advised the Fiesta Bowl board that he had uncovered no campaign-finance problems without comparing political donations with bonuses paid to bowl employees. The report contains no indication that directors asked questions or expressed skepticism.

In early 2010, Woods sent a letter to state Elections Director Amy Bjelland, who was investigating possible campaign violations. “At no time has any (Fiesta Bowl) employee ever been reimbursed for a political contribution,” Woods wrote, adding that he had reviewed pertinent records. About the same time, Woods hired Michael Brewer, the governor’s son, to assemble a list of political contributions by Fiesta Bowl employees. The report says Woods concluded that donations were not linked to bonus checks even though a correlation was obvious.

In February 2010, the report says, Husk asked bowl employees to prepare a spreadsheet of campaign contributions and bonus checks. Woods then mailed a similar spreadsheet to the Secretary of State’s Office, which oversees state election laws.

However, special committee investigators found that some contributions and bonuses were deleted from the document sent to state officials, although the original was found in Woods’ files. That included more than $37,000 that employees said was paid to Junker as compensation for political donations.

Natalie Wisneski, the bowl’s chief operating officer, told investigators that Husk instructed her to alter checkbook entries. Wisneski and Peggy Eyanson, director of business operations, both told investigators they also were instructed to destroy accurate financial ledgers, according to the report.

The Fiesta Bowl paid Woods $55,000 for his efforts, the report said, and Woods told investigators he passed $20,000 of that on to Husk, without explaining why.

 

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Consider the long-term economic benefits of flat tax reform

By Stephen Slivinski

The flat income tax proposal authored by state Representative Steve Court (HB 2636) to replace the current Arizona income tax altogether has started a much needed discussion about tax policy.

The proposal rests on an important insight: the need to have a broad base of taxation with a low, single tax rate that avoids distorting the economy by exempting some activities, but not others from taxation.

What’s been overshadowing the discussion, however, are reports that this specific proposal would increase taxes for the working poor. It is certainly true some people currently pay little or no taxes under the current system and they would pay at least something with a flat tax. It’s also true that income isn’t the only form of compensation these sorts of workers receive in a year. They also receive a number of government benefits such as subsidized child care, free health care, and myriad other services. The requirement that all Americans pay at least something in taxes may not seem as onerous when viewed in the broader context of the government services to which they have access.

Another important concern is whether tax policy is geared to increasing economic growth over the long term so those who are currently poor have more and better job opportunities to help them leave poverty. Today’s graduated income tax rates targets the very people who can create jobs that lift people out of poverty. Taxpayers in the middle and high income brackets – many of which are investors and small business owners – pay a progressively higher rate for each additional dollar they earn or invest. Economists generally agree that sort of tax system hinders income and job growth for all, and particularly for those at the lower end of the income ladder.

Analysis of tax reform proposals needs to take into account the long term, not just the short term. Seemingly-difficult changes today are worth making if they are part of a reform plan that creates a more robust economy tomorrow.

Steven Slivinski is senior economist with the Goldwater Institute.

Learn More:

Goldwater Institute: “How To Restructure Arizona’s Tax Code: A Smarter, Flatter Tax Plan to Create Jobs.”

Goldwater Institute: “Would a flat tax be good for Arizona? Yes”

Hoover Institution: “Questions and Answers about the Flat Tax”

Words that would defy your right to personal property!

The definition of wealth is like beauty, in the eye of the beholder.  My personal wealth is whatever I own, regardless of the worldly evaluation.  But, did you know current Arizona law allows your private property rights, including your personal wealth, to be taken without full due process? 

Absolutely!  It is called conservatorship.

Public demand to stop this insanity came after years of documented abuses by fiduciaries.  Current law has allowed everything from the draining of personal wealth leaving the once solvent ward penniless and destitute, the destruction of marriages and families with divorces filed and homes sold by fiduciaries forcing families into homelessness, restriction of visitation, the severe personal neglect, and even untimely demise of individuals in the care of their court appointed “protector” have been alleged.   

It was easy money.  No one was watching.  And the rules for placement were very loose.

While placing someone into guardianship requires clear and convincing evidence and the right to a jury trial, conversely establishing a court ordered conservator has no such evidentiary language or threshold.  By default, the most loosely interpreted methods of evidence have been used to strip individuals of their rights.  Now comes a bill, HB2424, which would require the same standard in all cases where a private citizen is potentially limited by court order from being fully in charge of their own matters.  That standard is clear and convincing evidence.

Deprivation of a property interest is protected in the 5th amendment to the Constitution, and is of absolutely equal stature with “life and liberty.” We should not be so cavalier with the deprivation of one’s property interests. The “takings clause” of the Fifth Amendment is very clear… “No person shall…be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…”

So, why would anyone feel anything less than “clear and convincing evidence” would be grounds for the court ordered removal of individual rights?  In the absence of a criminal action, how can anyone justify anything less as an evidentiary standard for the wholesale, court ordered “taking” of one’s property? 

Being placed into conservatorship results in the loss of all control and use of one’s own funds, severely limits their franchise rights, restricts all aspects of their life.  If I cannot choose when, how, how much, or where to spend my money, If I have no control of my own land, am not legally able to enter into a binding financial contract or sell my own holdings…then what personal liberty do I have left?

Moreover, losing control of one’s property is losing control of one’s life

As in all cases when profit and greed are at the center of public policy, those with the most to lose have lobbied the legislature trying to disguise their motives.  They have gone full force as there is great wealth at risk. Not their current wealth of course, but the prospect of your wealth in their hands.  The very entities that can be found at the center of all the horror stories, the negligence, and the profiteering at the expense of others, the fiduciaries, are now demanding protection to keep up their bad acts!  They are demanding the “clear and convincing evidence” standard be removed from HB2424. 

Of course they do not want such a standard…what cash cow will they have if that goes away?  The status quo is serving them quite well, thank you.

Such an egregious attempt at circumventing due process cannot be tolerated and should not be supported!

Kudos to Sen’s. Ron Gould, Don Shooter, Lori Klein, and Sylvia Allen for their particular vigilance in the Senate Approps hearing yesterday in defending our rights! 

Arizona Conservative Party Forming?

This came across my email courtesy of the Flagstaff TEA Party. I thought it was worthy of a robust and healthy discussion…

ARIZONA CONSERVATIVE PARTY PLATFORM

PREAMBLE

We the People of Arizona are Grateful to Almighty God for Our Liberties. Our Mission is to Reestablish the Limits and Boundaries of Government, Local, State and Federal, those Boundaries as Framed by the Founding Fathers of the United States of America. We believe that if Our Country is to continue to set the Example of a Free Republic, We Must Adhere to Those Principles as Presented to the Country and the World in the Declaration of Independence, The United States Constitution, and Our Bill Of Rights.

Conservatism: “To preserve” is a Political and Social Philosophy that Promotes the Maintenance of Traditional Institutions. “Conservatism is Not So Much a Philosophy as an Attitude, a Constant Force, Performing a Timeless Function in the Development of a Free Society, and Corresponding to a Deep and Permanent Requirement of Human Nature Itself.”

The Arizona Conservative Party Says:

  • It is time for Conservatives to Have a Voice.
  • It is Time for Us to stand up and Take Back Our Country and Our State
  • It’s Time for Conservative Republicans, Conservative Democrats, Independents, and Libertarians to Depart from Their Respective Parties and Join the Arizona Conservative Party to uphold our States Rights.

The Conservative movement that is taking place all across America must provide Conservatives a strong political support base, one that will give true Constitutional Conservative candidates the confidence to run for political office in their political districts. It is for that purpose that the Arizona Conservative Party (the “ACP”) is founded.

(Read the Party Platform Articles)

Visit the Flagstaff TEA Party website.

 

Budget Memo to Governor Brewer

By Byron Schlomach, Ph.D.

Memorandum
To: Governor Jan Brewer
From: Arizona taxpayers
Subject: Fiscal and Economic Reality

Over the last two years, you have laid out a vision that government, through tax subsidies, will pursue certain high-skilled industries for the state and make sure these industries will have the workforce they need with funding for education. That’s a laudable goal, but there’s an overwhelming problem with this vision: The numbers do not add up.

Arizona is in its fourth fiscal year since the recession began without honestly balancing its budget. State lawmakers have avoided addressing spending priorities and have made few attempts at structurally reforming government. As the Joint Legislative Budget Committee has pointed out, of the $12.5 billion in budget gaps during the recession, only $2.2 billion has been closed with permanent spending reductions. We have received more in federal assistance, at $2.4 billion, than we have eliminated. And we have created almost as much debt at $2.1 billion. This debt does not include $1.5 billion in spending rollovers to school districts and universities, for which taxpayers also pay additional interest.

Arizona taxpayers suffered the two biggest tax increases in state history last year with the return of the state equalization property tax and the 1-cent sales tax increase. We cannot afford more tax increases. The state’s total gross domestic product fell by $7.5 billion in 2009. But Arizona’s private sector – the producing sector – lost $8.2 billion in GDP, meaning only the government grew in Arizona’s economy that year.

Federal stimulus money is drying up. In 2014, $900 million in annual sales tax revenue is scheduled to end. Your proposed $500 million in reductions to taxpayer-funded health care, while justified and now supported by the federal government, likely will be challenged in court and cannot be counted. Recently enacted tax policy creates more revenue uncertainty both in short term and long term.

In round numbers, 40 percent of state general fund spending is for public education, 30 percent for health care, 10 percent for universities, 10 percent for prisons, and 10 percent is spent on everything else. Your proposed budget would spend more on prisons, a little less on universities, less on health care (which is uncertain at best), and you would make public education off-limits for less spending. The numbers simply do not add up. No budget category can be off-limits. At some point, Arizona will have to face fiscal and economic reality.

Dr. Byron Schlomach is director of the Goldwater Institute’s Center for Economic Prosperity.

Learn More:
Goldwater Institute: Budget Reduction Opportunities 2011

Joint Legislative Budget Committee: Revenue and Budget Update

Arizona Republic: A Look at the Numbers

The People’s Bill-HB2424

The role of “We, the people” in the effort at much needed probate reform is proving to be substantial and with something to show for their diligence.  A group of people, previously unknown to each other and from extremely diverse backgrounds, found themselves bound by an experience the great majority of Americans would think unbelievable in our free society.  

No one understands just how horrendous the current probate system can be, except those whose families have been devastated; the lives of loved ones reduced to being warehoused and held until death or destitution, whichever comes first.  Watching others control the life of one so dear, depriving them of lifes pleasures and draining them of all dignity.

So, they did what our Constitution demands.  They fought for their rights and demanded action from those who are elected to serve.  They have not given up and won’t be defeated.

Today, HB2424 will be heard in Senate Appropriations.  Once again, victims of probate abuse will testify.  They will tell the stories that have been made all too public in the accounts of local and national media.  The desire for disbelief will be palpable as no one will want to believe our society could treat the most vulnerable among us in such a cruel and heartless way.  But, it is true.  They will be crying out for reform.  Literally crying, their pain is visceral and real.

But, there are forces fighting against the reform.

Of course the hired-guns, paid to “kill the bill” on behalf of special interests who could care less about the lives of so many but look to their next payday as the motivation for their actions. 

The fiduciaries association who have profited greatly from the lacking and lazy courts. 

The “elder law” attorneys and their lobbyist, Susan Bitter-Smith, who have made fortunes from the life savings of those under their care with a steady income requiring little effort but the monthly billing and occasional appearance. 

Those who would deny such a need will be there, pointing fingers at others.  No need to change,  we are the good guys…you can trust us….wink, wink.  They will appear so professional and say “all is well”.  They will claim these are unusual cases and have unusual ends since they are unable to deny the atrocities committed under their watch and by their hand.  They will do this while charging their clients by the hour to retain the right to do so.

The hearing will be held in SHR 109 at 2:00 PM and will be broadcast on streaming video from the Arizona Legislature, either via internet or on cable TV.   Do not think this is not about you, it is.

 Complacency and acceptance of the status quo is the nesting place of corruption.   

    

Guest Opinion: DeeDee Garcia Blase ‘So why be a Republican?’

By Neal Goldberg

It seems as though not only are you correct on your assessment of Ms. Blase as a stand alone organization. She is decidedly someone who is looking for attention in the worst sort of way. One look at her website is proof of that. But she is actually dangerous to the Latino Community because she is not even aware of the issues that face the Hispanic community.

On a facebook thread regarding a Washington Post article concerning republicans having a hard time arousing the Latino population, She commented that she was partial to George J. Bush for President…. because she had a bias (Latino I am presuming). I told her that he was a Bush and a Globalist. What came next shocked me. This was her reply….

“Globalism is a helluva lot better than isolationist views, Neal. Healthy trade with other countries prompts relationship building. You cut that off and there is absolutely no hope for “world peace”. Liberals are funny people. They think peace can be miraculously discovered all on it’s own. You you have healthy world-wide trade (money exchanged)…the global climate is much better. It’s not perfect, but it’s a helluva lot better than finding NO common denominator at all.” 

While I will leave out my angst about her comment, I will just apprise you of my response…

“You have GOT to be taken the hook line and sinker DeeDee. Its as if we didn’t trade with anyone for thousands of years and all of a sudden broke the trade barriers! You are saying nothing but talking points DeeDee and unfortunately, either ……you are now brainwashed or you just don’t know better…don’t know which! Has free trade been a help or hinder? More jobs? No. More Immigration? Yes. Capital flight? Yes. The absolute rise in Corporatism? Yes. A healthy economy? No. Now all of a sudden you drag the word PEACE in with all of this and mix it with Liberalism?? You are so freakin mixed up, you don’t know what the hell is going on do you? Before “Free” trade, you had PROTECTIONISM, where each country had its own protection called “tariffs” on goods being imported into their own country, and when the protectionism is lifted, it is a race to the bottom. Or have you forgotten what Free trade has done to Mexico, or Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador where most of Latin America is coming for jobs. Or are you now so REPUBLICAN that you are willing to forsake your own people and enjoy the slavery that now exists in our Agriculture under the guise of free trade? If that is republicanism, I want nothing to do with slave traders. I am truly saddened and disappointed in you DeeDee. And so should anyone reading this post.” 

Instead of replying of course, she deleted my post because it was to much to answer that post.

So, in other words, DeeDee is only a Republican because she thinks that Democrats are baby killers…

“Before I give you the short answer, I have to preface this by saying that Deedee agrees with the Democrats on all these issues that affect minorities or immigrants. Prop 107, SB1070, etc.

So why be a Republican?

Simple answer: Because Democrats are baby-killers (abortion). ” (See http://tucsoncitizen.com/three-sonorans/2011/01/30/three-sonorans-debates-deedee-blase-of-somos-republican-sunday-at-noon/)

So, to sum this all up, Blase is ready to sell her soul, and her own heritage, for the simplicity of her views on right to life issues.

For the Good of the Latino Population, she needs to be called out for what she is. A Democrat in sheep’s clothing pretending to be a Republican because its easier to get noticed as a Hispanic woman as a Republican, with Pro-life views willing to sell everyone out for that one purpose.

I hope this helps you in putting Blase where she needs to be put. Out to pasture where she cannot do any harm.