Small Business Left Vulnerable to Unfair Big Labor Tactics

Senate Fails to Nullify NLRB “Ambush” Election Rule

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2012 — The United States Senate was today tasked with voting to nullify an upcoming change in workplace unionization rules that would dramatically undermine an employer’s opportunity to learn of and respond to union organization.  The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a rule to reduce this amount of time from 38 days to 20 days or less.  Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) introduced legislation, S.J. Res. 36, to nullify this rule and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) took this issue across the country in a national ‘Call to Action’ for its membership, and highlighted the importance of this vote in a Key Vote letter to the Hill.

“Protecting the rights of our members to own, operate, and grow their own businesses is the motto of NFIB, and this latest rule change by the NLRB threatens this at its core,” said Dan Danner, CEO of the National Federation of Independent Business. “By failing to nullify this rule, Senate Democrats have once again allowed Big Labor intimidation tactics to infiltrate small business and commandeer Main Street.  We tasked our extensive grassroots network across the country with a ‘Call to Action’ to urge senators on both sides of the aisle to support Senator Enzi’s common-sense resolution, but once again, politics has dictated policy.  Instead of a fair, level playing field for unionization in the workplace, the NLRB has given labor bosses a significant advantage over small-business owners, leaving them vulnerable and unsure of what will come their way next.”

The National Federation of Independent Business has been very engaged in ensuring that workplace unionization is the result of a fair and informed decision by employees, and has worked to limit the scope of the NLRB’s pro-Big Labor policies.  In an op-ed running today on Fox News.com, Dan Danner gave a final push to urge senators to support Senator Enzi’s resolution.

By not nullifying this NLRB rule, the Senate has allowed non-confirmed members of the NLRB to change labor law and has conceded its legislative responsibility to the NLRB.

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NFIB is the nation’s leading small business association, with offices in Washington, D.C. and all 50 state capitals. Founded in 1943 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, NFIB gives small and independent business owners a voice in shaping the public policy issues that affect their business. NFIB’s powerful network of grassroots activists sends their views directly to state and federal lawmakers through our unique member-only ballot, thus playing a critical role in supporting America’s free enterprise system. NFIB’s mission is to promote and protect the right of our members to own, operate and grow their businesses. More information is available online at www.NFIB.com/newsroom.

If 2011 Was the ‘Year Of School Choice,’ What Does That Make 2012?

By Jonathan Butcher

The Wall Street Journal called 2011 the “Year of School Choice,” and with good reason. Thirteen states, including Arizona, passed or expanded choice-based reforms. Some two dozen other states considered similar legislation.

There is still time for Arizona lawmakers to make 2012 an encore performance.

What is most striking about the 2011 reforms enacted around the country is the programs’ inclusive designs. That is, for the past 20 years, programs that allow students to choose a public or private school of choice have been small in scope. When school voucher programs became law, often student eligibility would be limited to children with special needs (such as Florida’s McKay Scholarships) or low-income students in individual cities or districts (like Milwaukee, Wisconsin).

Private school-choice reforms were seen as policy solutions for specific student groups, not a way to change how all students access education.

Yet in 2011, lawmakers in several states (including Indiana and Wisconsin) passed new reforms or expanded existing programs with broad eligibility provisions.

In 2012, there have not been as many bills signed into law (yet), but in Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal just signed a reform package that is designed to reach more than just isolated student groups. Lawmakers in the Bayou passed a set of bills that allow parents of students in failing schools to petition to close their school or convert it to a charter (a similar bill passed the Arizona Senate this year) and allow low and middle-income students in schools rated “C” or below access to school vouchers.

Arizona lawmakers still have time to follow suit and expand the state’s unique education savings account program to students in the state’s lowest-performing schools and military families. Offering parents and students choices of education services is no longer a reform for a minority of students.

Around the country, education reform is finally moving from “choices for some” to “choices for all.”

Jonathan Butcher is education director for the Goldwater Institute.

Learn more:

Wall Street Journal: School Vouchers Gain Ground

Wall Street Journal: The Year of School Choice

PR Newswire: Louisiana Governor’s School Voucher Plan Clears Legislature

Glendale Busts Its Budget and Plans to Raise Taxes

By Carrie Ann Sitren

How do you close a $35 million budget gap? Perhaps the better question is why that hole was dug in the first place. One answer for the City of Glendale is hockey. In fiscal year 2012, the city added $20 million (up from only $1.2 million the year before) to its operating budget for the Jobing.com Arena, where the Phoenix Coyotes hockey team plays. The NHL has been demanding financial support from the city since 2009, when the team filed for bankruptcy.

Instead of looking for ways to cut arena operating costs, city officials are considering a 0.8% increase in the sales tax. This would make Glendale the city with the highest sales tax rate in the nation. It would also be enough to cover the $20 million city payment for Coyotes hockey next year.

In other cities, like Oakland, taxpayers don’t pay high dollars for someone else to manage their arena. Instead, professional management groups compete for that right. Arena management can be a profitable business, with groups maximizing concert and other entertainment events and keeping the revenues from concessions and ticket sales. Meanwhile, cities benefit because they don’t have to pay the operating costs. In some arena contracts, like the Sprint Center in Kansas City, the city also gets a cut of the profits. Last year, arena management added $1.8 million to Kansas City’s budget.

A few million dollars in the door would be a well-needed substitute for $20 million going out of Glendale for its arena. We have yet to see city officials open bidding for management. Given the heavy competition for it in other cities, Glendale should consider that option before asking taxpayers to cough up more sales taxes and for another year of hockey.

Carrie Ann Sitren is an attorney with the Goldwater Institute.

Learn more:

Goldwater Institute: Goldwater Institute v. City of Glendale

Arizona Republic: Glendale Budget Looking Bleak

Associated Press: No Team, No Problem for Kansas City’s Sprint Center

Arpaio-Team Prosecutor Targeted in “Witch Hunt”

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
Sunday, April 22, 2012

By Dave Tombers

A longtime prosecutor who worked in concert with Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose Cold Case Posse found probable cause that Barack Obama’s birth certificate was forged, says he was caught in a “witch hunt” for trying to remove corruption in the county.

A disciplinary panel for the Arizona Bar Association recently ordered the revocation of two attorneys’ law licenses and suspended the license of a third in a case WND first reported last fall. William O’Neill, the state’s presiding disciplinary judge, announced the decision.

Former county prosecutor Andrew Thomas has a deadline Tuesday to say whether he will appeal the decision. An ethics panel found Thomas’ office wrongfully accused three officials of illegal conduct to embarrass them.

Thomas has defended the prosecutions as necessary for rooting out corruption in government.

The allegations included scandal, fraud, payoffs and lavish vacations by county officials.

Thomas told WND, “This has been a massive cover-up and, for me, genuinely a Dreyfus-like injustice.”

WND has learned that as many as 11 county employees have been terminated in recent months for allegedly accepting bribes in a court tower construction scandal – one of the Thomas investigations that was stymied.

WND has also learned that the FDIC recently announced the loss of millions of dollars. There also are allegations that some $5.5 million was linked to county official Don Stapley, the subject of another Thomas investigation that was thwarted.

The October WND report documented the early troubles between then-Maricopa County Attorney Thomas and County Supervisor Stapley.

In 2006, Stapley tried to rein in Thomas’ ability to hire outside counsel for the county, saying Thomas based his “appointments upon who was favorable to him, not necessarily who was best qualified to represent the county.”

According to the complaint, the county board, under Stapley, wanted to oversee attorney selection and even hire outside counsel for the board itself. Thomas let them know on numerous occasions that the actions were illegal.

The complaint quoted Thomas saying, “Board members are immune from suit when they rely in good faith upon opinions of the county attorney, but no such immunity would apply and they may be personally liable for actions on advice of other counsel.”

Thomas essentially was arguing that the citizens of Maricopa County elected him to be the county attorney, and Stapley’s actions gave the appearance of circumventing the wishes of the voters.

The Arizona Bar Association took Thomas’ admonition of the county board to be a conflict of interest.

In another instance, Thomas initiated an investigation of Stapley for criminal wrongdoing.

A grand jury brought more than 100 charges against Stapley, ranging from failing to file financial disclosures to accepting expensive gifts such as three-week Hawaiian vacations and expensive ski trips for him and his family.

Allegations also arose that Stapley raised political contributions to run for president of the National Association of Counties, even though he was running unopposed.

The cash he raised was alleged to have been used to pay for personal luxuries instead.

But several judges who handled various steps of the case threw out charges, even though outside investigators had cited the “merit” of the counts. And bar association officials said the one-year statute of limitations had expired on dozens of charges.

Ultimately, none of the counts went to trial, and Stapley testified before the bar that the investigation “ruined his life.”

In an email to WND Thomas said of the bar association results, “The findings are completely divorced from the actual facts and evidence presented at the hearing.

“While I was county attorney, I antagonized powerful people and special interests – particularly the judiciary, which rendered this decision – over crime control, illegal immigration and other issues. These forces targeted my law license for five years; at the end, they simply mobilized, ganged up and overwhelmed me, fabricating wrongdoing to achieve their desired end.”

Others targeted included former assistants Lisa Aubuchon and Rachel Alexander.

The bar association revoked Aubuchon’s license and suspended Alexander’s, which will force her to re-take the bar exam.

Referring to a recent national survey found at stateintegrity.org, Thomas said this week, “Arizona has some of the worst corruption in America.

“Today, corruption has won and justice has lost,” he continued. “I brought corruption cases in good faith involving powerful people, and the political and legal establishment blatantly covered it up and retaliated by targeting my law license.”

WND’s previously reported the maneuvers could have been politically motivated, with even some of Thomas’ political opponents saying the counts have “no merit.”

“Arizona after what happened yesterday has become Mexico,” Thomas said. “People in this community need to understand what happened yesterday when my law license was terminated.

“Powerful politicians twice indicted for corruption have gone free. Others who blocked investigations and prosecutions retaliated against law enforcement and demolished county government to protect themselves escaped justice. Insiders who knew how the system works and how to work the system have had a field day. Honest prosecutors have been unjustly smeared and punished.

“The rule of law is no more in this county,” he said.

“We will never know all the corruption cases that aren’t filed and the criminals that go free because of what’s happened. But the chilling effect on prosecutors is clear: Public safety and clean government inevitably will suffer. They already have.

“The political witch hunt that’s just ended makes things worse [regarding corruption in America] by sending a chilling message to prosecutors: ‘Those who take on the powerful will lose their livelihood,’” he said.

The bar association refers people to the disciplinary order and says, “The panel found that Thomas and Aubuchon used their positions as Maricopa County attorney and deputy county attorney to target political enemies.

“A 247-page order details how they ignored conflicts of interest and used their positions to burden and embarrass targeted individuals. The order also states they violated the Rules of Professional Conduct relating to perjury and violating court rules.

“Alexander, who also worked as a deputy county attorney, was found to have filed a lawsuit without completing a proper factual investigation.

“The case was tried over nine weeks before a hearing panel comprised of the presiding disciplinary judge and two volunteer panel members (one attorney and a member of the public). Forty-eight witnesses testified and nearly 6,200 pages of exhibits were admitted.”

The panel ruled, “This case is replete with intentionally orchestrated malignant actions.”

Bar spokesman Rick DeBruhl told WND that there was nothing further to comment on.

“The association doesn’t disbar attorneys,” he said. “We simply follow the orders of the independent panel.”

The order itself explains Thomas should have seen the clouds on his horizon.

“Attorneys must ever guard against the temptation to confuse what is legal with what is ethical or moral. Because an act is legal, according to the letter of the law, does not make it ethical. Because an act is ethical does not make it legal,” it said.

Then it added, “Speeding is illegal but isn’t always unethical. If one speeds because he believes it will save a life, the action may still be found to be illegal but not necessarily unethical. On the other hand, cheating on a spouse is ethically wrong, but may be legal.”

But the harsh judgment makes no mention of recent scandals, many stemming from the original corruption investigations Thomas and his colleagues began.

“Look at all the corruption scandals that have happened recently in Arizona while the rule of law has basically been repealed in Maricopa County,” said Thomas. “We had the U.S. attorney who resigned in disgrace. We had the criminal chief of the U.S. attorney’s office plead the Fifth Amendment before Congress.

“We have the firings after the court tower corruption scandal came out. We have the golf tournament scandal, which the Arizona Republic has reported. Now [Maricopa County Supervisor] Don Stapley is enmeshed in an FDIC lawsuit which involves some of the original counts we first filed against him.”

Thomas announced in his press conference his intentions to target corruption through a ballot measure and a forthcoming book.

“We now have a constitutional crisis, as prosecutors and members of the executive branch are being targeted by the judiciary and other branches for blowing the whistle on corruption and misconduct in the judiciary,” Thomas said. “That is essentially what has happened to me.

“As county attorney, I took on many powerful special interests and corrupt individuals who retaliated with a witch-hunt targeting my law license,” he said. “Unless we want Arizona to become as corrupt as Mexico, the people of Arizona must take back their government. At this point, only the people of Arizona can make things right.”

He said he would seek voter help for reforms to fight corruption.

“This fight now shifts to the court of public opinion, a fair court,” he said.

WND reported earlier on comments from even some of Thomas’ critics.

Said columnist Robert Robb, who has made no display of supporting Thomas, “I have written scathingly about the gross abuse of power by former County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Thomas and Arpaio proclaimed that there was a giant conspiracy involving the county board of supervisors, senior county management and several judges in which the judges agreed to protect county officials against criminal probes in exchange for the county constructing a new office building for the judges.”

Robb said there was no evidence to support the racketeering and criminal complaints, but he said the complaint brought by the Arizona Bar Association against Thomas includes “gross overcharging,” which he called a “serious disservice.”

Among the issues that originally attracted attention was the $347 million in taxpayer funds used for a court tower during an economic downturn, a building that featured plush quarters for judges and raised eyebrows as it was done at a time when county employees were being laid off.

http://www.wnd.com/2012/04/prosecutor-who-teamed-with-arpaio-targeted-in-witch-hunt/

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Tempe Mayoral Candidate, Mark Mitchell: Hypocrite

Reposted from Citizens for a Better Tempe

You have probably seen the hit piece put out by the Mitchell campaign, claiming that the historic Monti’s La Casa Vieja “was sued multiple times by vendors for failure to pay bills.”

And you know what, it’s true. Monti’s, like a lot of small businesses, have endured tough times in this economy, and have had to make hard choices to keep their doors open and avoid laying people off.

A lot of businesses like … Mark Mitchell’s company.

Did he leave that part out? That’s odd.

Mark MitchellAnyway, Mitchell’s company – Tempe Decorator Center – was sued multiple times in just the past two years, owing hundreds of thousands of dollars to paint companies and other contractors, according to Maricopa County court records. The business was sued for millions by M&I Bank, and even stiffed the Phoenix Suns on Suite tickets. The company also had state and city tax liens filed against it, including one filed by the City of Tucson just last year.

By the way, if you are confused by the fact that Mitchell says he serves as Vice President of a company called Arizona Flooring & Interiors, and not Tempe Decorator Center (TDC) its because TDC shut down in 2010 and re-opened at around the same time under a different name. I’ll leave it to you to guess why. Here’s a copy of Mitchell’s financial disclosure forms showing both names from 2010.

But wait, it gets better.

Four separate employees of Mark Mitchell had to file complaints with the Arizona Department of Labor over unpaid wages – just last year. The Labor Department then went to court on their behalf to try and get a judgment against Mitchell’s company to pay the wages rightfully owed to them – which the government eventually did.

Even better, while his employees were trying to figure out how to get by without the paychecks they were counting on, Mark Mitchell went on vaca …oh excuse me… to conferences in Washington DC, Denver and Charlotte, stayed at hotels costing upwards of $300 a night, and stuck taxpayers with the bill.

There is a larger point here. That both Monti and Mitchell have seen their businesses struggle in a rough economy isn’t really the issue. We have all felt the effects of the financial crisis. The more important issue is that Mark Mitchell is the type of politician that would demonize someone for struggling, even though his own business had gone through the same thing but worse. And unlike Mitchell, Michael Monti always made sure his employees were taken care of.

We have to do better than Mark Mitchell. It obviously hasn’t occured to Mitchell that the experience of navigating a restaurant through tough times and tight budgets is exactly what we need in Tempe’s next Mayor. Not someone who demagogues them for political gain, and certainly not someone who is a hypocrite for doing so.

County Supervisors award liberal activist Randy Parraz unasked for money over “stress”

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
Saturday, April 21, 2012

Fired Deputy County Attorney spills beans in lawsuit against Supervisors on how they rewarded their friends and  Arpaio/Thomas enemies with $100,000.00′s 

Randy Parraz wasn’t even a protester, nor had he filed a lawsuit against the County, yet County Supervisors added him in to receive an inflated award of taxpayers’ money

The payoff for taking out Russell Pearce is now obvious. Here are some excerpts from fired Deputy County Maria Brandon’s federal lawsuit against Maricopa County:

In 2010, as the high-profile feud escalated, some in county management began to use the county’s self-insured trust to reward political friends such as anti-Arpaio and anti-Thomas protestors. They also sought to punish Arpaio and Thomas politically by paying more than necessary to settle his claims and lawsuits and then publicly blaming the costs on Arpaio and on Thomas and their mismanagement.

Attorneys in Special Litigation who were under the chain of command of county management but providing representation to Arpaio and Thomas as their attorneys, refused on ethical grounds to go along with this behavior.

An attempt was made to keep these attorneys from returning to the County Attorney’s office. When this was opposed by newly-elected County Attorney Bill Montgomery, a scheme was devised to circumvent the merit system so the salaries of these employees could be slashed and/or they could be fired without the right to appeal.

In February 2010, Risk Management adjuster Jacquie Garrett, who was assigned to adjust three lawsuits filed by a group of seven (7) anti-Arpaio protestors arising from incidents on December 15th and 17th, and Brandon decided requested settlement authority of $7500 foreach protestor, a total of $52,500.32. At the end of April 2010, Risk Manager Rocky Armfield sent Brandon an email explaining that he had obtained additional authority of up to $100,000 per protestor, and that he was adding the claim of Randy Parraz, a political activist who was not arrested or a participant on December 15th and December 17th and had not yet filed a lawsuit.

Rocky Armfield was told repeatedly by Brandon and by his adjuster, Jacquie Garrett,that there were defenses and motions that could be applied to these cases to reduce or eliminate the liability for the defendants and the self-insured trust. For example, Mr. Parraz’s notice of claim had been untimely filed, but Armfield was intent on pushing these political cases to a nearly mediation and an early monetary settlement.

The lawsuits were settled at the mediation over MCSO’s objections, as follows: Theilen received $99,999; Monica Sandschafer received $99,999; Odhner received $75,000; Nelson $75,000; Bethancourt $50,000; Millan $50,000 and Teran $24,700. Randy Parraz did not settle his claim at that time.

The Republic published a front page article regarding the settlement amount of $424,700 for seven protestors who were booked and released, and where there were no claims of excessive force or physical injuries. One protestor, who had not been booked or taken to jailbut had only received a citation in the mail, received $24,700 in settlement funds at the mediation.

During these five months, John Does I-V, unknown policymakers for Maricopa County, set up a salary structure that protected the salaries of attorneys at General Litigation who had represented county management, but slashed the salaries of attorneys from Special Litigation who had represented Arpaio/MCSO and Thomas/MCAO.

The new salary structure had the effect of punishing attorneys perceived by some as political enemies in the county feud because they represented Sheriff Arpaio, even though that was what they were hired to do.

All three line-attorneys in Special Litigation had their salaries significantly reduced under the new salary structure. As of April 18, 2011, the Special Litigation attorneys received the following reductions in salary: Attorney S. Lee White’s salary was reduced by $29,640(about a 30% reduction); K. Peter Muthig’s salary was reduced by $17,971 and Plaintiff Brandon’s salary was reduced by $7737.

Under the plan developed during the five months of negotiation between Bill Montgomery and county management, all attorneys brought back from General Litigation and Special Litigation were to be placed on probation despite the fact that many had worked for the county for 20 or even 30 years. Plaintiff Brandon was placed on probation despite the fact that she had worked for Maricopa County continually for 33 years.

Tom Liddy said he attended one meeting alone with Assistant County Manager/BudgetDirector/Interim HR Director Sandi Wilson with no written agenda, and she began the meeting by asking, “What are you going to do about Maria Brandon?” Liddy likened the atmosphere to the post-Civil War, Reconstruction period when there were lynchings.

Despite her many years of public service, Plaintiff Brandon lost her work, her annual salary of about $134,000 and later of about $126,000, her family’s medical insurance, and her reputation. Prior to June 10th , Plaintiff had never been dismissed or asked to leave a job in her life.

The full complaint is posted here.

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Chuck Colson’s Legacy

As word came these last few days that Chuck Colson may be near death, I’ve been reflecting on the legacy of this amazing leader. Like many of you I’m sure, I remember reading Born Again about his conversion to Christianity. Colson has dedicated his life to challenging believers to apply biblical principles to their everyday lives. The many ministries he’s inspired and led, including his renowned Prison Fellowship Ministry, The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and the Manhattan Declaration have been at the forefront of the national pro-life, pro-family movement.

In April 1985, Colson wrote these words that are even more appropriate to today’s challenges:

“Certainly evil is to be expected in a fallen world. What is not expected is for a holy people to accept it. If Christ is Lord of all, Christians must recapture their sense of moral outrage.”

I can think of no better way to honor Mr. Colson and his life’s work than by reading, signing, and sharing the Manhattan Declaration. The goal of the Manhattan Declaration is to build a movement of Catholic, Evangelical, and Eastern Orthodox Christians who will stand together alongside other men and women of goodwill to advance the sanctity of life, rebuild and revitalize the marriage culture, and protect religious liberty. And, if you haven’t, pick up a copy of Born Again or any of Colson’s many other books and be challenged and inspired by this man’s legacy.

Three In One!

Tuesday was a great day for family advocates at the Legislature – three CAP-supported bills were signed into law on the same day!

  • SB 1359 – Prohibits so-called “wrongful life” lawsuits against medical professionals for misdiagnosing or not diagnosing a birth defect of a preborn child, which, if known, would have led to the child being aborted. Sen. Nancy Barto sponsored this bill.
  • HB 2627 – Prohibits abortion providers from qualifying for Arizona’s Working Poor Tax Credit, including Planned Parenthood. Rep. Debbie Lesko sponsored this bill.
  • HB 2265 – Ensures that arts funding in Arizona is not used to deface religious objects or promote obscenity. Representative J.D. Mesnard sponsored this bill.

Citizenlink covered these victories – read their story here.

Religious Freedom Bill Still Alive

Because of the support of Arizonans across the state, HB 2625 is one vote away from heading to the Governor’s desk. This is the bill that protects religiously-affiliated employers from being forced to violate their religious convictions by covering abortion-inducing drugs or contraception in their insurance plans. Despite the distortions and attacks, the truth about this bill has been made known. Find out how your representative voted here.

You can track the progress of this and the remaining CAP-supported bills in action with our online Bill Tracker or on our Facebook page.

Intern with CAP this Summer

We are accepting applications to intern with us this summer in the policy and communications departments. In such a critical election year, interns will get frontline experience working to promote foundational values in public policy. Click here for information on how to apply.

Veterans group endorses Kelly in CD8 Special

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 19, 2012

Veterans group endorses Jesse Kelly for Congress

TUCSON, AZ Combat Veterans for Congress has endorsed Jesse Kelly in his bid to represent the Eighth Congressional District in Southern Arizona.

Jesse Kelly in uniform Kelly is honored to have the support of such a distinguished group of veterans and responded with this comment, “As a combat veteran myself, I understand the risks they have taken and the sacrifices that our service members have made while wearing the uniform. I will work hard to protect veterans and make sure they receive the full benefits they earned while serving our great nation.”

Jesse Kelly works in the private sector as a project manager for a construction firm. He and his wife live in Pima County, where they are raising their two sons. Please visit www.VoteJesseKelly.com for more information or send an e-mail to info@votejessekelly.com.

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Paid for by Kelly for Congress

Use of his military rank, job titles and photographs in uniform does not imply endorsement from the Department of Defense or the Marines.

Arizona’s State and Local Governments: Weighing Us Down

By Byron Schlomach

Amid calls for increased state spending and fears of 2014 program cuts, some are calling for extending 2010’s sales tax increase indefinitely. However, Arizonans should understand how much their state and local governments cost before we let them charge us even more.

The graph below shows state and local governments’ direct expenditures as a percentage of private GDP for four states and the 50-state U.S. average from 1985 through 2009. This cost-of-government measure reflects government’s affordability to taxpayers.

Some states with high incomes and GDPs can conceivably “afford” more government. One of the most affordable state and local governments in the country in 2009 was Connecticut’s, partly because incomes (and GDP) in Connecticut is high. Currently, as can be seen in the graph, liberal New Jersey’s governments were more affordable than ours.

The percentage can go up because government spending rises or because GDP has fallen. GDP in Arizona has fallen lately (as it has in virtually every state) and this graph demonstrates that Arizona’s state and local governments have failed, worse than most, to shrink with Arizonans’ ability to afford them. Even before the recession, though, since 1999 the general trend has been less affordable government in Arizona.

In 1990, Arizona’s government burden as a percentage of private state GDP was the highest of all 50 states. The following decade saw tax cuts that shrank Arizona’s government burden until we were below the U.S. average. As a result, our economy boomed.

Now Arizona’s state and local governments are again above average in cost. Our government burden is closer to that of California than Texas, and the difference between the two states is striking. California’s unemployment rate is nearly 11 percent; Texas’ is above 7 percent, but only because so many people are moving there.

The numbers show that Arizona has failed to keep government small and economic growth high. We seem more focused on being a tired, flaccid has-been like California instead of an energetic economic leader like Texas.

Our state legislative leadership has it right: Resist increasing spending. Reduce the risk of raising taxes later. And lower the burden of government.

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

Learn more:

American Legislative Exchange Council: Rich States Poor States (PDF)

Joint Legislative Budget Board: (Legislative) Budget as Introduced (PDF)

Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting: The Executive Budget Recommendation (PDF)

Listen to your dog!

Preschool on the 9th Floor

So yesterday Gov. Brewer threatened to veto all non-budget bills that aren’t already on her desk – no matter what.  “The governor has indicated to leadership that, outside of the bills that are on her desk now, she won’t sign any more bills until there’s a budget,” Brewer spokesman Matthew Benson said.

Anyone who pays attention to the AZ Capitol scene knows well her propensity to act like a four-year-old when she doesn’t get her way.  However, her newest negotiation tactic seems particularly reckless.

A few conservative members have suggested responding to her threat by immediately sending up HB2721, the CPS reform bill.  This approach is especially tempting since the bill is the bi-partisan consensus result of her own highly-publicized CPS Task Force from last fall.  She’d either cave and sign it, which would look weak, or veto it, which would look as childish…well, as her threat was.

The conservatives are trying to budget for the long term by keeping the state from having another budget meltdown in a couple of years.  Brewer wants to spend MORE than the Democrats.  Since she’ll be on her way out by then, she doesn’t really care much whether she leaves a funding cliff for the next administration.  For some reason, she wants applause from the K-12 and welfare spending lobbies.  She still hasn’t learned that no amount will ever be enough for the spenders.

If this is how she negotiates with her “friends”, it’s a wonder she ever accomplished anything as a legislator.

Progressive Democrats set example of Enlightened Civility and Tolerance

The following is a re-print from the Arizona Daily Star and is posted here as a sterling example of the civility and respect with which the Progressive Democrats view anyone who thinks differently from them.  Here we can see such Leftist virtues as *Tolerance* of *Diversity* and *Respect* for Others.    In other words, the Progressive Democrats want everyone to DO as they SAY but NOT as they DO.   These are the folks who want you to elect them to steer the ship of state.

By the way, what is the fetish the Progressive Left has with college and university education?  They seem to think it magically bestows some kind of smartness on those who endured four or more years of higher education.  They seem to look down their collective noses on those who are graduates of the School of Hard Knocks, in other words, those who may possess good old common sense.  Liberals seem to believe that once you leave high school your ability to continue learning ends unless you sit for endless hours listening to a college professor who’s never practiced anything remotely like what he teaches.  But I digress.  Read this example of *civility* that hails from the enlightened troglodytes in Baja Arizona.

Fitz: Kelly wins

Dave Fitzsimmons The Arizona Daily Star | Tuesday, April 17, 2012

     High school graduate Jesse Kelly defeated a Harvard educated Air Force pilot, a nice American named Dave Sitton and Frank “Spank me, I’m bad” Antenori. Now that the fat lady has sung and the primary is over it’s time for Act II of “The Barber of Civility”: A contest between the guy who looks like the Jurassic Park professor without the pith helmet and a carpet bagging gun-toting Bible thumping gosh and shucks Gomer Pyle who can channel Sean Hannity.

Jesse will do great among the unwashed, the rural, the illiterate, the scared goobers willing to cheerfully vote against their own interests, whipping up the groundlings and the believers with rhetorical red meat so rotten with the stench of untruths that honorable flies will choose to lay their eggs elsewhere. And he’ll smile like a man surprised he said something resembling a coherent thought. And the crowds who hate elitists and grammar and syntax and critical thinking will slap their knees and hoot. Scan the online comment section for repugnant speech and unfiltered anonymous hatred of all who differ with the strict conservative  view and and you have found your archetypal “here come the black helicopters from Kenya” Kelly supporters.

And he will be petted and stroked and groomed and cooed to by right-wing think tanks and he’ll be showered, nay, flooded with bags of cash from big oil and all the right PACs looking for a manly mannequin with a pull string. And he’s a pretty one. He’s tall and he’s handsome and he’s tall and he’s handsome. Elderly church ladies who can’t tell you who the Vice-President is gaze adoringly up at Kelly, yearning to vote for him and to adopt him and to feed him apple pie. Goodbye Mo Udall, hello empty plastic Ken doll.

And he will be angry at those who question his ascendency and his indignant finger will raise up to poke the sky and he’ll thunder incoherent talk radio babble about freedom and liberty and liberty from freedom and FOX news and the right-wing machine will give him their cameras and their spotlights every chance they can.

He won’t represent you. He will represent the Tea Party fanatics, talk radio freaks, the hand-wringing evangelicals, the gun fondlers and the paranoid. The rest of you are just not Americans, you Marxists and Communists and baby killers and you can go to Hell for all he cares. He’ll terrify crowds with his tales of the liberal straw man, the wretched progressive sasquatch, the abominable secularists and he’ll shake the scarecrow and he’ll offer himself up as the great peasant’s torch just waiting to be pressed into battle against the fictitious kindling. Swaddled in the flag and clutching his sacred Constitution he’ll weep for America and prophesy a plague of socialism sweeping across the land that will rival the fire-in-the-sky visions of St. John. Evolution is a head-shaker and abortion is for harlots and those who are not with him are devils. The Word is Limbaugh and he is the word made flesh. Hearken to Jesse all ye Limbaugh Christians, the end times are upon us and the Messiah has a high school diploma. Reject him not, oh ye dittoheads. The Republicans have their man, their folksy Baron of bromides, their King of jingos, raised in the womb of the right-wing echo chamber. And their darling will have an army of fanatical feverish shock jocks who’ll trumpet at the Walls of Jericho for He who is Him everyday until Medicare, Social Security, Big Government, Taxes, the department of Education, our rotting public education system, and those diabolical regulators and the United Nations all come tumbling down.

At the final debate with Giffords in 2010 he was figuratively hoisted on the shoulders of believers with pitchforks and torches who cheered their Messiah with yahoos and slogans in lieu of palm fronds. How can one be civil when you’re debating an opponent who lies and smirks and makes George Bush sound look Stephen Hawking? His adherents cannot be moved by facts, they have found faith.

Sinclair Lewis had his Main Street Babbitt, we have Kelly. This Barber v. Kelly election will truly be an American spectacle rivaling the Scopes Monkey trial because its outcome will define us for years. Are we an easily frightened America aching for the shallow comfort of the primitive and the superstitious or are we the fearless America that questions, that embraces the future, that is modern and smart? Mark Twain and H.L.Mencken savaged their respective times as the gilded ages of carnival hawkers and tent evangelists and smiling shoeshine salesmen and gullible rubes willing to say yes to any smiling carpet-bagger. They are gazing up from Hell longing to see this show unfold. This summer the oldest American story shall repeat itself.

 

Even Republic denounces crony million dollar payouts to Mary Rose Wilcox

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, April 18, 2012

Before Payouts, Prove Claims

Maricopa County Treasurer Charles “Hos” Hoskins wants something simple from the elected county officials who are looking for a big “pain and suffering” payout from taxpayers.

Prove it.

Verify that the claims these elected officials are seeking — in the case of Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, $975,000 — are justified.

Declaring he has no intention of serving as a “rubber stamp” for county administrators, Hoskins has asked County Attorney Bill Montgomery for a legal opinion regarding what, exactly, constitutes proper compensation to an elected county official who has been maltreated by other county officials, namely Sheriff Joe Arpaio and now-disbarred former County Attorney Andrew Thomas.

It is a fair question. Hoskins must sign off on compensation for claims made by elected officials, and the huge claims filed by both Wilcox and Supervisor Don Stapley deserve close scrutiny.

Both officials, for example, argue that the infamous civil racketeering charge levied against them and other top county officials by Arpaio and Thomas were ruinous to their careers and reputations. Wilcox said the “intimidating” charge harmed her “emotionally and economically.”

Really? The infamous federal racketeering charges filed Dec. 1, 2009, were almost universally mocked and condemned from the moment they were filed. They were so outlandish that their filing became the anchor argument in the just-completed disbarment cases against Thomas and his top aide, Lisa Aubuchon.

It may be fair to ask what is more emotionally ruinous to the supervisor: The racketeering charges? Or Hoskins’ unexpected challenge to the big payday?

If those ludicrous racketeering charges were ruinous to anyone’s reputation, they were more so to Thomas’ than anyone else’s.

Should County Manager David Smith eventually opt to settle with Stapley, the issues facing the county treasurer become still more complex.

The November 2008 indictment of Stapley on 118 felony and misdemeanor counts was, by any fair estimation, an abuse of power by Thomas and Arpaio and a humiliating, unjust event for Stapley. But the 22 felony charges logged against him in December 2009 are another matter entirely. In that case, Stapley had raised about $140,000 to “run” for office for a national association of county officials, much of it raised from donors with business before the county. Without disclosing the contributions, Stapley voted on issues involving the donors and spent much of the donations on Hawaiian vacations and audio/visual equipment.

A county attorney who investigated the charges believed they had merit. How do those charges factor into the supervisor’s claim of pain and suffering at the hands of Arpaio and Thomas?

Hoskins is raising fair questions. Before cutting any more checks, let’s get some fair answers.

Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/opinions/articles/2012/04/17/20120417editorial0418-before-payouts-prove-claims.html#ixzz1sP7ANlGy

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Government Workers Deserve Paycheck Protection

By Darcy Olsen

If you’ve ever signed up for a magazine subscription, bought cable TV, or purchased something from an infomercial, you’ve probably encountered the automatic renewal process. After the initial subscription period ends, some companies continue charging you until you jump through myriad time-consuming hoops. And you may never get your money back.

This happens perpetually to Arizona workers, but the consequences are far greater. Year after year, unions take dues from the paychecks of government workers without asking them for permission. The unions then spend the millions of dollars raked in from automatic renewals to fund political warfare their own members oppose.

The Arizona Legislature is considering HB 2103, a bill that would require unions to get members’ permission every year before taking dues from their paychecks.

Under Arizona law, once you’ve joined a government-employee union, you’re never asked if you’d like to continue authorizing paycheck deductions. Big Labor diverts some of those deductions to political activism, which may directly conflict with your political beliefs and have little to do with your job.

For instance, the Service Employees International Union, which represents more than 1 million local and state government workers, public-school employees, and bus drivers nationally, spent much of 2010 organizing boycotts of Arizona in the wake of SB 1070, the immigration legislation overwhelmingly supported by Arizonans.

A half-dozen states have already passed similar paycheck-protection measures, including union strongholds Michigan and Ohio.

Within five years of the passage of Washington’s paycheck-protection law, voluntary paycheck deductions to the state’s teachers-union PAC had shrunk by 75 percent. Paycheck-protection legislation in Idaho and Utah yielded comparable results.

Paycheck-protection laws give government workers a greater voice and force unions to justify to their members why they should continue to subsidize union bosses’ political activism.

HB 2103 will restore the balance of power to working Arizonans – public employees and taxpayers alike.

Darcy Olsen is president and CEO of the Goldwater Institute.

Learn more:

Arizona State Legislature: HB 2103

Arizona Republic: Bill Would Stop Unions from Raiding Paychecks

Fired county employee sues over Supervisors inflating settlements against Arpaio, Thomas

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
Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Suit alleges that Supervisors sought to punish Arpaio and Thomas publicly by inflating settlements given to their enemies            

Alleges that Supervisors publicly blamed the higher costs on Arpaio and Thomas and their supposed mismanagement

Courthouse News Service 

by Jamie Ross

April 17, 2012  

  

PHOENIX (CN) – A former attorney for Maricopa County claims in Federal Court that county management violated her constitutional rights by retaliating against her to “reward political friends,” including opponents of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and then-County Attorney Andrew Thomas.
Maria Brandon and her husband claim that while a feud between Maricopa County, Arpaio and Thomas escalated, county management “sought to punish Arpaio and Thomas politically by paying more than necessary to settle his claims and lawsuits and then publicly blaming the costs on Arpaio and on Thomas and their mismanagement.”
Brandon worked as an attorney for the county’s Special Litigation division until April 18, 2011, when it was closed and she was brought to the Civil Services Division.
Brandon claims Risk Manager Rocky Armfield “made efforts to negate, intimidate, and to retaliate against Special Litigation attorneys exercising their independent judgment, violating his ethical duties to the Maricopa County self-insured trust.”
According to the complaint, in February 2010 “Risk Management adjuster Jacquie Garrett, who was assigned to adjust three lawsuits filed by a group of seven anti-Arpaio protestors arising from incidents on December 15th and 17th, and Brandon decided requested settlement authority of $7,500 for each protestor, a total of $52,500.”
Armfield sent Brandon an email in April 2010 stating that “he had obtained additional authority of up to $100,000 per protestor, and that he was adding the claim of Randy Parraz, a political activist who was not arrested or a participant on December 15th and December 17th and had not yet filed a lawsuit,” according to the complaint.
Brandon, who was the attorney assigned to the MCSO and MCAO defendants on these cases, says Armfield did this without her knowledge.
She says in the complaint that The Arizona Republic got a copy of a confidential attorney-client email between her and then-Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy David Hendershott, which claimed that the county “had no intention of giving away a lot of money. The Republic “published a front page article regarding the settlement amount of $424,700 for seven protestors who were booked and released, and where there were no claims of excessive force or physical injuries. One protestor, who had not been booked or taken to jail but had only received a citation in the mail, received $24,700 in settlement funds at the mediation,” according to the complaint.
Brandon, who says she did not provide the newspaper with a copy of the email, was quoted in the interview as saying about the settlement: “I don’t know why they did what they did, and I’m sure they have their reasons.”
After the article was published, Brandon says, Armfield retaliated against her by pulling cases from her.
On Aug. 30, 2010, Armfield advised “Special Litigation that Risk Management would be issuing reservation of rights letters on cases where claims for punitive damages were asserted. Since punitive damages were normally claimed in civil rights’ cases, MCSO deputies and detention officers sued by inmates would receive these letters. The letters warned those sued that they may have to pay damages out of their own pockets,” according to the complaint.
Concerned with the ethical issues presented by the reservation of rights letters, Brandon says in her complaint that Special Litigation “researched the issue and eventually asked outside counsel at Lewis Brisbois for an opinion as to their ethical obligations vis a vis their clients. Upon receiving the Lewis Brisbois opinion, the director of Special Litigation wrote a letter to Rocky Armfield outlining the issues and the opinion from Lewis Brisbois. The Special Litigation letter further angered Rocky Armfield, and he sent Special Litigation a letter demanding that they disregard the Lewis Brisbois opinion, or else immediately return all risk cases to Risk Management.”
Brandon claims Armfield then “refused to send any risk cases at all to Special Litigation; all risk cases where representation of the Sheriff or County Attorney was required were sent to outside counsel at additional taxpayer expense.”
Brandon says she was later placed on probation, dismissed and reinstated before she was fired in June 2011 for reporting that a support staff member had grabbed her arm and yelled at her.
She seeks general litigation damages and punitive damages for violations of due process, of the First Amendment, tortious interference with contract, and employment law violations.
Named as defendants are Brandon’s supervisor, Tom Liddy and his wife, Rocky Armfield and his wife, and Maricopa County.
The Brandons are represented by Larry Cohen.

  

http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/04/17/45675.htm

The lawsuit can be found here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/89802454/Brandon-Maria-Complaint#fullscreen


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Which Republican will win today’s Special Primary Election in CD-8?

Tax Day Blues Should Lead to Thoughts of Reform

By Stephen Slivinski

It’s federal tax day, and many wonder why they owe the government so much money. And those who receive refunds might wonder why the federal government kept so much in the first place.

Yet the shared experience of filling out tax forms – or paying someone to do it for us – should also have us wondering if there’s a better way.

Although a big part of the tax bite stems from functions government has taken on that could easily be handled by the private sector, the costs of complying with the federal tax code are nothing to sneeze at either. According to the Internal Revenue Service’s own calculations, U.S. taxpayers and businesses spend 6.1 billion hours a year complying with federal tax statutes. Translate that time into hours worked instead, and it amounts to more than three million full-time workers, or about 2 percent of current U.S. employment. By comparison, the number of employed Americans between 2008 and today has dropped by about 4 million.

All of this at a cost of $163 billion – money that could have been spent starting businesses, putting more money into savings, or paying household bills.

And these estimates don’t include state-level tax compliance. Although filling out federal tax forms is something every taxpayer in each state has to do, the residents of nine states don’t have to file out a state income tax form. That’s because those states don’t have an income tax.

Those states benefit in more ways than just the cost of time and money spent on filling out tax forms and engaging in tax planning. For instance, those states tend to have higher net job creation rates – about 10 percent higher than those with an income tax between 2000 and 2007.

Why? Because income tax systems penalize work and investment. On the other hand, consumption taxes – like sales taxes – encourage wealth creation.

Arizona policymakers should head toward a broad-based consumption tax that could eliminate some of the current system’s complexity and unlock economic growth.

It’s certainly something that must have crossed the minds of beleaguered taxpayers this week.

Stephen Slivinski is senior economist for the Goldwater Institute.

Learn more:

Internal Revenue Service: National Taxpayer Advocate 2010 Annual Report to Congress (PDF)

Goldwater Institute: Investing in Arizona