Archives for March 2013

Pinal County Lincoln Day Luncheon – April 13th

Pinal County Lincoln Day Lunch

The Pinal County Republican Committee

presents their annual

Lincoln Day Luncheon
to celebrate our Republican Heritage

Saturday, April 13th, 2013
11:00 am to 2:30 pm

Click here to reserve your ticket!

Featuring Guest Speakers

Rev. Clyde Bowen, Chairman, AZ American African Republican Committee
Lando Voyles, Pinal County Attorney
Paul Babeu, Pinal County Sheriff


Master of Ceremonies
Douglas Wolf, Pinal County Assessor

Pastry Chef Duel
Silent Auction
50/50 Raffle


Tickets – $35 per person
Check should be payable to Pinal County Republican Committee
Deadline to reserve tickets is Friday, April 5, 2013

Mail payment to:
Clara Davis
869 W. Dexter Way
San Tan Valley, AZ 85143

 

State Bar’s chief counsel tries to thwart investigation into disciplinary judge O’Neil

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
Monday, March 25, 2013

State Bar’s Elected Board of Governors Wants to Investigate Mark Dixon’s Complaints Against Bar Disciplinary Judge O’Neil
Yet Bar’s Chief Counsel tells Dixon he is not to talk to the Board of Governors!

From: Mark Dixon [mailto:md20033@yahoo.com]
Sent: Thursday, March 21, 2013 9:24 PM
To: Eddie Farnsworth (efarnsworth@azleg.gov); John Allen (jallen@azleg.gov); Kelli Ward (kward@azleg.gov)
Subject: response to email from Ms. Vessella ordering contact only with her

 

Good Evening,

 

Please review the following email string as it pertains directly to your attempts to reign In the State Bar Disciplinary problems.

 

Thank you,

Mark Dixon

 

From: Mark Dixon [mailto:md20033@yahoo.com]
Sent: Thursday, March 21, 2013 9:22 PM
To:amelia.cramer@pcao.pima.gov‘; ‘whitney@cunninghammott.com‘; ‘rtplattlaw@gmail.com‘; ‘bryan.chambers@azbar.org‘; ‘lisaloo@asu.edu‘; ‘jennifer.rebholz@farmersinsurance.com‘; ‘alex@vakulalaw.net‘; ‘jflagler@flaglerlaw.org‘; ‘mcrawford@mcrazlaw.com‘; ‘Dee-Dee.Samet@azbar.org‘; ‘r.coffinger@gmail.com‘; ‘tom@crowescott.com‘; ‘dderickson@rhlfirm.com‘; ‘DDrain@DianeDrain.com‘; ‘mho@polsinelli.com‘; ‘levine2005@aol.com‘; ‘ssaks@cb-attorney.com‘; ‘gt@ltinjury.com‘; ‘JimmieDeeSmith@azbar.org‘; ‘Kanefieldj@ballardspahr.com‘; ‘smays@phoenixlaw.edu‘; ‘marc.miller@law.arizona.edu‘; ‘Douglas.Sylvester@asu.edu‘; ‘tonyfinley@hotmail.com‘; ‘ajennings@bloodsystems.org‘; ‘meredith_peabody@hotmail.com‘; ‘maritajohn@cox.net‘; ‘jennifer.burns@azbar.org‘; ‘dbyers@courts.az.gov‘; ‘virginia.gonzales@azag.gov
Subject: response to email from Ms. Vessella ordering contact only with her

 

Arizona State Bar Board of Governors,

 

I feel it is imperative that you are aware of the correspondence between myself and Ms. Vessella.  She seems to be stepping way out of her authority to the point of trying to be intimidating.  The enclosed documents and links are being provided per the request of Mr. Jack Levine.  Again I am an open book and welcome any questions anyone has.

 

Thank you,

Mark Dixon

520-705-2945

Md20033@yahoo.com

 

From: Mark Dixon [mailto:md20033@yahoo.com]
Sent: Thursday, March 21, 2013 9:16 PM
To: maret.vessella@staff.azbar.org
Cc:john.phelps@staff.azbar.org‘; ‘john.furlong@staff.azbar.org‘; ‘gayle.jackson@staff.azbar.org‘; ‘lisa.deane@staff.azbar.org‘; ‘rick.debruhl@staff.azbar.org‘; ‘rob.hosch@staff.azbar.org‘; ‘carrie.sherman@staff.azbar.org
Subject: response to email from Ms. Vessella ordering contact only with her

 

March 21, 2012

 

Arizona State Bar Association

Maret Vessella

Chief Disciplinary Counsel

4201 N. 24th Street, Suite 100

Phoenix, Arizona 85016-6266

 

Ms. Vessella,

 

Thank you for your correspondence although I do not understand your position or the tone of the email.  According to your website “The State Bar of Arizona Board of Governors oversees the policy making and operation of the organization.”  Although I am not an attorney, this statement at least means that you answer to the Board of Governors. The Board of Governors is charged with the “operation of the organization;” you are accountable to them.  If the Board of Governors feels it is within their purview to review any charges being made then that would be within their policy making ability and duties in overseeing the operation of the organization.  If a board member asks and the board president to put me on the agenda are you telling everyone that you, as a subordinate of the Arizona State Bar Board of Governors, has the authority to stop any such testimony.  It would appear that in the interest of justice, transparency, and seeking out the truth you, most of all, should be the most interested in my testimony as it would be a reflection of the performance of the State Bar disciplinary process, the integrity of bar counsel, and of the disciplinary panel and disciplinary judge.

 

Mr. Lavine asked me if I had reported any of this to the Arizona Supreme Court and Chief Justice Rebecca Berch, yes I did.  I first went to the Pinal County Superior Court Presiding Judge Robert Carter Olsen, the followed that with a letter and documents to Chief Justice Berch.  Enclosed are the letters and responses, they speak for themselves.  You can view the entire document on scribd at this link.

 

http://www.scribd.com/doc/95055578/Supreme-Court-Pinal-County-Superior-Court-as-of-5-28-12

 

Now, let’s get to the real issues and concerns.  In my conversation with Jack Lavine, it is not the complaint he is necessarily interested in but the underlying agendas of the parties involved.  Kent Volkmer, as I stated in my complaint, is an extremely honest, intelligent, good and relatively young man who has a wife and two children he is responsible for.  He has been a tremendous help to me and I am indebted to him for what he has tried to do and the advice he has given me.  I had no choice but to file a complaint.  Mr. Volkmer is the one who was supposed to be representing me on the dependency matter.  Regardless of his response to the complaint, I will defend him to my upmost ability.  There is no doubt the evidence supports the conclusion that Mr. Volkmer was threatened and intimidated by the “establishment” to not pursue my case and contempt charges against CPS.  His efforts to properly represent me would, ultimately, expose William J. O’Neil’s and others’ severe unethical and illegal misconduct.  The “establishment” and O’Neil tried to use my daughter, an impressionable and confused teenager, to threaten and intimidate me.  For his efforts, Kent Volkmer should be given whistle blower status and not the threats and intimidation I believe he has received.  I would not wish upon him the wrath which was visited upon me and my family.

 

The complaint against Tiffany & Bosco P.C. was filed due to information I received indicating foreclosure proceedings began directly after William J. O’Neil was “cleared” on November 29, 2012 of the judicial complaint I filed against him.  Collection of the mortgage held by my family was placed with another law firm, they were attempting to collect on the mortgage held by Bank of America, not foreclose on the property.  This is consistent with the agreements I made with Tiffany & Bosco and Bank of America regarding a judicial foreclosure seeking payment of the debt and not the property.  The mortgage was transferred to Nationstar Mortgage LLC and Tiffany & Bosco began foreclose proceedings on December 14, 2012, just days after William J. O’Neil was cleared, at the same time Kent Volkmer stopped communication with me and many other related judicial rulings came down in many courts all revolving around O’Neil and the Arizona State Bar disciplinary process misdeeds.  I just found out today that the foreclosure sale was postponed on my property, that surely indicates some truth to my allegations.

 

Let’s turn our attention to the judicial complaint against O’Neil, 12-231.  George Reimer issued an “order” on November 29, 2012 stating “Accordingly, the complaint is dismissed in its entirety pursuant to Rules 16(a) and 23.”  Interesting though, Mr. Reimer, when posting the information on the Judicial Complaint website, only released the cover letter I sent with the complaint, not the complaint itself.  For your information, I have included the complaint with this email along with the findings posted.  Or you can view the entire complaint with exhibits on scribd at the below link.

 

http://www.scribd.com/doc/112852009/William-J-O-Neil-Arizona-Presiding-Disciplinary-Judge-judicial-complaint

 

Just a couple of interesting facts:

 

1)      I alleged O’Neil committed mortgage/short sale fraud.  When two members of the Arizona Association of Realtors Professional Standards Committed for Ethics looked at the evidence their immediate conclusion was O’Neil committed mortgage fraud but, it came to no surprise to them when the Arizona Department of Real estate cleared the agent/broker involved.  There was no way the Department of Real Estate or the Attorney General’s Office was going to go after a judge.  O’Neil also made statements about his not having much of a relationship with Brien Brenfleck, the straw buyer, yet O’Neil consistently had weekend breakfasts with Brenfleck and Brenfleck even lived with O’Neil for some time.

2)      O’neil denied ghost writing court documents for me along with a judicial complaint against a judge.  Go to the courthouse, pull the files of the court cases O’Neil cited in the judicial complaint he wrote and you will clearly see that I never signed out or looked at these files, yet O’Neil did.

3)      The simplest of these complaints to prove would be an additional charge filed with Pima County Superior Court Judge Michael O. Miller, the first screening officer and investigator on this complaint.  Through research I discovered that in 5 cases heard before the Disciplinary panel, Robert Gallo served as the public member.  Robert Gallo was O’Neil’s good friend and next door neighbor, right next door.  This conflict was never disclosed to any of the 5 individuals and in one case it listed Gallo as being from Maricopa County.  Creighton Cornell, one of the 5 individuals has an appeal in front of the Arizona Supreme Court right now.  There should also be no surprise that Michael O. Miller was appointed to the court of appeals.

4)      Let us not forget the reinstatement of Ms. Carmen Chenal by O’neil and the subsequent sealing of her disciplinary file.  Just a very short time before that my contractors license was suspended due to a complaint filed by another of O’Neil’s neighbors for an “unpaid bill”.  There is no signed invoice, credit agreement, deliver receipt or documents of any kind besides monthly statements.  Due to the extreme stress and activity involved in the many legal issues I was 1 day late answering the complaint and my license was immediately suspended.  I filed a motion for reconsideration which was hand delivered to the Registrar of Contractors but was never acknowledged.  I was informed that the Attorney Generals office was behind these actions, apparently as a favor for O’Neil and exchange for the reinstatement of Ms. Chenal’s license.

 

The conflicts even exist within the Arizona State Bar Board of Governors, your First Vice PresidentRichard T. Platt, recently resigned as the Pinal County Attorney’s Office Chief Criminal Deputy.  During his tenure there, he participated, with James Walsh, in the same type of activity which Andrew Thomas was prosecuted.

 

Patti Lee was assaulted by a Pinal County Sheriff’s Deputy; the deputy beat her fiercely, a picture is worth a thousand words.  Ms. Lee was indicted by a grand jury a year after the incident for assaulting a police officer, this was done solely in retaliation for her filing a lawsuit against Pinal County seeking damages.  William J. O’Neil is listed as the judge on the case.

 

After an 18 month investigation, in early October 2009, Pinal County sought and received another grand Jury indictment against Daranne Tacker for theft of monies at Pinal County Development Services.   The same charges were dropped on December 21, 2009.  This cost the family some $40,000.00 to clear an innocent woman.  After an 18 month investigation and grand jury indictment it took just 2 months for the Hon Boyd Johnson to dismiss the charges.  The interesting thing is, according to sources, the individual who actually stole the money was having sexual relationships with her superiors and apparently was never charged.

 

I myself was warned that if James Walsh got re-elected as the Pinal County Attorney an indictment was going to be sought for me including such charges as: felony possession of a firearm while putting down a horse at William J. O’Neil’s house, sexual conduct with a minor, and false reporting to a police officer along with other charges. This reportedly was being spearheaded by Richard T. Platt.

 

All this was done and much more during the tenure of Richard Platt at the Pinal County Attorney’s office as Chief Criminal Deputy.  One of my concerns now, will the Arizona State Bar bring trumped up and charges against the new Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles for cleaning up and clearing out the Pinal County Attorneys office of individuals who promoted these activities and much more.

 

Are not these the same type of activities Andrew Thomas, Lisa Aubuchon, and Rachel Alexander were prosecuted for by the Arizona State Bar, bringing unfounded grand jury indictments?  Should these activities also be investigated? Should Richard Platt be disbarred?  According to what I have read, there was never an actual complaint filed in the Andrew Thomas matter; it was all done on the initiative of the Arizona State Bar.  A layman’s conclusion would be, if you are in the good graces of the “establishment” you can get away with just about anything.

 

This is just the tip of the iceberg that I, a citizen, have discovered and documented.  We can go on and on, and believe me we will.  I was offered a significant settlement, taxpayer money,  to shut me up but that came with a non-disclosure agreement to protect corrupt public officials, well that “ain’t gonna happen.”  I have struggled with my kids, of which I was granted sole custody, have worked to make a living and provide for my family, got remarried to a woman who ended up having borderline personality disorder, got divorced and gave her whatever she wanted.  Then, I have this mess visited upon me.  My family, life, business, and reputation have been destroyed.  For what?  So William J. O’Neil could get a $300,000.00 loan and my ex-wife could get my dog.

 

Pardon me if I do not accept the concept that there would be any type of unbiased and fair investigation in this matter, quite frankly that is like letting the fox watch the henhouse.   Many of the accusations involved could not happen without the consent and approval of the State Bar Disciplinary Counsel.  The State Bar disciplinary process, along with the Commission on Judicial Conduct, is in a sever state of disrepair, if not un-repairable, with the current management.

 

My suggestion, and if I may be so bold as to say, my demand, is that a committee be formed with Jack Levine as Chair.  The committee members should be picked by Mr. Lavine with those members including Representatives John Allen and Ed Farnsworth.  This committee should be fully and independently funded with the ability to hire independent outside investigators to fully investigate the issues I have brought up along with many others not yet disclosed.

 

Sincerely,

 

Mark E. Dixon

520-705-2945

Md2033@yahoo.com

 

 

 

 

 

From: Maret Vessella [mailto:Maret.Vessella@staff.azbar.org]
Sent: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 6:18 PM
To: ‘Mark Dixon’
Subject: RE: State Bar complaint Tiffany & Bosco, David W. Cowles, Michael A. Bosco

 

Dear Mr. Dixon,

 

I have received your emails today concerning Kent Volkmer, David Cowles and Michael Bosco.  I understand that you sent this information to members of the State Bar Board of Governors.  I also understand that you were contacted by one of the Board members, Jack Levine, who advised that he would raise your matters at the next Board meeting.  The appropriate processing of your charges is through Lawyer Regulation and you will be advised by my office of our review.  The Board of Governors has no role in the evaluation of bar charges so they will not address your allegations.  You may direct future correspondence regarding these matters to my attention until such time they are assigned to counsel for review.

 

Regards,

 

Maret Vessella, Chief Bar Counsel

T: 602.340.7240  F: 602.416.7440

 

From: Mark Dixon [mailto:md20033@yahoo.com]
Sent: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 1:44 PM
To: Maret Vessella
Cc: John F. Phelps; John Furlong; Gayle V. Jackson; Lisa Deane; Rick R. DeBruhl; Rob Hosch; Carrie Sherman
Subject: State Bar complaint Tiffany & Bosco, David W. Cowles, Michael A. Bosco

 

March 19, 2012

 

Arizona State Bar Association

Maret Vessella

Chief Disciplinary Counsel

4201 N. 24th Street, Suite 100

Phoenix, Arizona 85016-6266

 

Re:  complaint against Tiffany & Bosco P.A., David W. Cowles, Michael A. Bosco

Ms. Vessella,

 

In March of 2000 I purchased the property and my residence at 10380 W. Pasadena Dr., Casa Grande, Az. 85194.  This property was purchases thru my mother and the Dixon Family Trust as I was in the middle of a divorce therefore could not get financing.  Although I did put approximately $20,000.00 down payment for the property.

 

On December 21, 2005, my mother, Patricia Ann Dixon quit claimed the property to me and agreed to pay off the mortgage on said property.  This quit claim deed was prepared by William E. Platt Jr. my parents attorney and retired Pinal County Superior Court  Judge in Coolidge Az.  Mr. Platt assured me that the quit claim deed was all I needed for a purchase agreement and the mortgage would not be a concern as the quit claim deed did not transfer any encumbrances, liens, taxes etc.

 

On April 24, 1999 my father who suffered from beginning stages Alzheimer’s was lost on a hike in the mountains above Roosevelt lake.  This caused the decline of the family relationship which

became more strained by the years, this strain came to a head the fall of 2008.  My then wife discovered and brought to my attention that the man my mother had living in my fathers house had, at the very least, participated in the beating to death of his 2 year old little girl in 1965.

My then wife also discovered severe discrepancies in my families story about my fathers disappearance which convinced me that my family in fact caused the disappearance and death of my father.

 

Needless to say per our agreement the mortgage was not paid off as agreed.  I continued making payments until such time as the family relationships became strained in 2008 and my ability to work with the mortgage company was stopped by my family.  This property has been in and out of foreclosure with different mortgage companies always with the promise that I could speak for the trust account as I was making the payments.

 

On November 23, 2010, Michael A. Bosco, Jr. with Tiffany & Bosco, P.A. started foreclosure again.  In working with Vatsana Nally at Tiffany & Bosco along with Bank of America, Office of the President, it was agreed that I would pay up the mortgage and further, as I was the owner of the property, would be allowed to speak for the trust account.  The only reason I agreed to this was an insurance policy existed thru the trust account that would pay off the mortgage upon my mothers death.  It was further agreed that in the event a foreclosure process occurred again it would be in the form of a judicial foreclosure and the bank would pursue the Dixon Family Trust and Patricia Ann Dixon for the proceeds due.

In April of 2011. I paid the balance owed in full.  Immediately upon payment I was informed by Bank of America and Tiffany & Bosco that they could have no further communication with me.  Since the breach of the agreement I have not made any more payments.

 

On December 17, 2012, Tiffany & Bosco again began foreclosure thru David W. Cowles, some 20 months after all agreements were made.  In my attempts to communicate with Tiffany & Bosco, their representative Diana informed me that they are fully aware of me and will not speak to me.  This is no coincidence given my issues with the Pinal County Superior Court and the now Arizona Supreme Court Presiding Disciplinary Judge William J. O’neil.  A lot of judicial decisions were made in November and early December of 2012 including the clearing of O’Neil on judicial complaints filed by myself.

 

My complaint is very simple, Tiffany & Bosco misrepresented their position and further have breached all agreements made in April 2011 by and thru their agent Vatsana Nally.  Had the promises not been made I would have never paid any balances due by Patricia Ann Dixon.  William E. Platt misrepresented the affect of the quit claim deed as it did not fully transfer the property.  I have tried all avenues to resolve these issues short of filing a case in the Pinal County Superior Court.  Given the current events it is quite obvious I would never receive a fair hearing before the sale date of March 21, 2012.

 

To save time I have included some of the documents involved and do intend to pursue this matter as soon as the current issues have run their course.  It has come to my attention that this is yet another instance of William J. O’Neil’s manipulation of the system in order to put pressure on me to be silent regarding the many problems within the parts of the Judiciary and the State Bar.

 

Sincerely,

 

Mark Dixon

Md20033@yahoo.com

520-705-2945

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Sal DiCiccio: Phoenix Food Tax, Broken Promises

Sal DiCiccio

Follow me on FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/DiCiccioSal
Follow me on TWITTER: http://twitter.com/PhxDistrict6

Mayor Stanton made an announcement on Thursday that he would not fulfill his campaign promise to repeal the food tax.  Along with many Phoenicians, I am very disappointed in his decision.  The citizens have relied on this commitment and, once again, their city is letting them down.

The middle class and the poor are the ones who will be impacted the most.  What makes this decision even more unfortunate is that over $106 million in pay raises have been doled out to city employees while Phoenix citizens have not seen one penny of relief.

You have my commitment to protect you and your family.  I will continue to push for the repeal of this tax that was passed deceptively with barely 24 hour notice.

The credibility of the City of Phoenix has been damaged.  The ability of people to trust the word of Phoenix officials has further diminished.  As I continue my fight to repeal the food tax, I will also strive to restore people’s faith in government.

AZ Republic columnist Laurie Roberts’ article on Stanton’s announcement

My best to you and your family,

Sal DiCiccio
City of Phoenix Councilman, District 6
602-262-7491
council.district.6@phoenix.gov

*Any e-mail you send to council.district.6@phoenix.gov will be subject to the Arizona Open Records Law and may be reviewed by the Arizona Republic.

AZ Conservative Coalition Legislator Eval Updated

You can check out the updated evaluation here:

http://www.azconservativecoalition.com/2013/03/legislator-ratings-updated-up-through.html

Vanishing Immigrant Entrepreneurs

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has produced this excellent video explaining in layman’s terms why the U.S. is hemorrhaging immigrant entrepreneurs due to bad policy that is badly disconnected from our economy’s needs.

What Happened to the Recent STEM Bill to Help Immigrant Entrepreneurs?

House Republicans led the a recent effort in 2012 to revise U.S. guest worker immigration policy to help stem the exodus of immigrant entrepreneurs. The bill would have reallocated 55,000 green card lottery visas to STEM workers (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). STEM workers are prodigious immigrant entrepreneurs!

The current 7% cap on immigrants from any one nation would have been raised to 15%. The cap is the same for high-population nations like China and India as for Greenland. Chinese, Indian, Mexican and Filipino immigrants often face lengthy delays due to high demand for immigrant visas and this cap. Some Filipinos who applied in 1989 are just now receiving immigrant visas! If you’re from Mexico or the Philippines and not in a preference category, your wait for an immigrant visa is over 100 years!

immigrant entrepreneurs

The U.S. offers far fewer H1B visas available each year than foreign advanced degree graduates. We take in the ‘cream of the crop’ from other nations, give them the best education, then kick them out to go home and help foreign competitors.

We’ve been hemorrhaging those lucky enough to obtain an H1B visa after college. Many of these immigrant entrepreneurs haven’t been able to adjust their status to permanent resident, or bring their immediate families due to caps and quotas. Many get fed up with our broken system and return home, starting new companies abroad which compete with U.S. companies.

The green card lottery provides 55,000 immigrant visas each year to countries not already providing many immigrants, and only requires a high school education. House Republicans don’t see much value in the green card lottery, since the U.S. already has plenty of citizens and permanent residents with a high school education, many of whom are unemployed. Our worker shortfalls are at the extremes of the skills spectrum: high skilled professionals, and unskilled farm workers, etc.

Why Did the STEM Bill Fail to Staunch the Exit of Immigrant Entrepreneurs?

Senate Democrats, led by Chuck Schumer, objected to the introduction of the STEM bill, effectively killing the bill. Democrats are fond of the diversity visa program because they like promoting diversity, and the lottery brings many immigrants from Africa.

Big labor, a major backer of the Democratic Party, is always a huge foe of guest worker programs. Big labor has long subscribed to the protectionist notion that fewer immigrants and guest workers raises wages for American workers and immigrant workers. However, the effect of labor protectionism is to send more jobs overseas, and inhibit the creation of more jobs for Americans by immigrant entrepreneurs. Start-up companies, often founded by immigrant entrepreneurs, are huge engines of job creation.

Will the ‘Gang of Eight’ Plan Help Immigrant Entrepreneurs?

We certainly hope so! President George W. Bush’s immigration reform plan failed largely over fixing guest worker programs. At the behest of Big Labor, Senate Democrats, including Senator Barrack Obama, introduced poison pill amendments to Bush’s reform bill that led many Republicans to drop their support and vote against cloture to end debate and take up a final vote. John McCain aide Mark Salter later wrote Obama would come to meetings and

draw from his shirt pocket a 3×5 index card, on which he had written changes he insisted be made to the bill before he would support it. They were invariably the same demands made by the AFL-CIO, which was intent on watering down or killing the guest-worker provisions.

All indications are that Big Labor is seeking to control guest worker programs through establishment of a commission to review guest worker quotas each year. During negotiations between the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO, the Obama administration leaked its immigration reform plan, which pointedly omitted any reform of guest worker programs. The leak apparently had the intended effect, because the U.S. Chamber caved and agreed to the commission concept, which no doubt will be dominate by Big Labor, seeking to protect unionized industrial sectors. The Wall Street Journal recently wrote:

The AFL-CIO and U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Thursday released a set of immigration reform principles, and the press is calling it a breakthrough. But don’t be fooled. The real story is that the backroom talks failed, and Big Labor is still holding out for a political commission to run any new guest-worker program.

The Chamber and AFL-CIO have been trying to work out those details in private talks, but they have made little progress. Our guess is that last weekend’s now famous White House leak about the President’s immigration plan was intended mainly to muscle the Chamber. Mr. Obama’s leaked outline didn’t include a guest-worker program, which labor negotiators cited in urging business to drop or limit the idea.

Despite the setbacks and obvious push back from Big Labor, I am optimistic about the prospects of immigration reform in 2013. I’d frankly like to see fixed quotas abolished because history has proven quotas are often disconnected from economic need, choking off the supply of immigrants needed by a growing economy, which sends U.S. jobs overseas and/or fuels illegal immigration.

If politicians are concerned about preserving American jobs, then let’s replace quotas with modest tariffs on guest worker wages, to be paid by employers. Such a tariff would ’tilt the table’ further encouraging employers to hire American citizens or lawful permanent residents, but provide access to guest workers without navigating through a mountain of bureaucracy.

####

Bob Quasius is the founder and president of Cafe Con Leche Republicans
Original Link

Doug Ducey: Inside the Vault – An Update on Arizona’s Financial Health

Doug Ducey

2013 is off to a very good start!

We have a balanced budget, $2 billion in our operating account and another $450+ million in a savings account earning interest. Arizona is on firm financial footing and the Legislature is back to debating the merits of individual proposals and whether they deserve taxpayer support.

Yet, we’re still not out of the danger zone. If our revenue projections are slightly off or go on another spending spree, we could find ourselves into the same hole we’ve just crawled out of. I’m confident that the Governor and Legislature don’t want to head down that path.

I will continue to advocate for economic growth and financially responsible ideas within our state government. Two areas of particular concern for the long-term health of our finances are our public pension systems and our state debt – both of which are completely solvable situations.

In December 2012 the Defined Contribution & Retirement Study Committee completed a 2-year review of Arizona’s four retirement systems, which currently covers more than 581,000 employees, retirees, or former employees that have yet to retire.

The Pew Center for the States and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation produced a report for the Study Committee titled Arizona’s Pension Challenges in November 2012 highlighting a $13 billion shortfall between what should have been set aside to pay future pension benefits and what the state’s pension plans have on hand. In addition to a growing unfunded liability, the number of retired members in each of the four systems is growing faster than the number of new workers entering.

Much of the discussion surrounding any pension system revolves around complicated financial formulas. There is an equally important human element that must always be in the forefront; these pensions are for those who teach our children, police our streets, put out the fires, respond to medical emergencies, and keep the basic functions of government running.

We are fortunate that our pensions are in far better shape than many other states. That said, there are issues that require attention. Several reform options were explored by the Study Committee for policy makers to consider so Arizona can continue to strengthen and enhance those plans in order to protect the benefits to current retirees and employees that have earned them, as well taxpayers now and in the future.

The final report, as well as all the meeting minutes, presentations and research materials can be accessed here.

Equally as important is our state debt. In January the Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC) delivered their annual report of Arizona’s State Debt and the status of other financial obligations to the Appropriation Committees in both the House and Senate. Although the Legislature has gone to great lengths to deliver balanced budgets and begin to save money in the “Rainy Day Fund” the past two years, there are several areas on the state’s balance sheet that still need to be addressed.

Arizona’s total outstanding state debt exceeds $8.71 billion; increasing significantly from $4.89 billion in FY 2007. We continue to defer $1.2 billion of payments annually and our General Fund Debt Service costs will rise from $302 million in FY 2012 to $373 million in FY 2014.

Our state debt is too high. Today it is manageable. For tomorrow, we need to address our debt and pay for the money we’ve borrowed and already spent before we continue to commit to new spending. The entire report, which includes debt retirement options and a listing of all lease-purchase/bonding issuances from FY 2003, can be accessed online here.

We need to keep up the momentum that our state government has generated in showing that we can live within our means and demonstrate financial responsibility. Together, as taxpayers and citizens, we can hold elected leaders accountable for the future costs of today’s decisions.

If you would like to know Arizona’s daily cash balance visit the Treasurer’s Office web site, or if you want more frequent updates and commentary you can follow me on Facebook or on Twitter.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

Sincerely,
Doug Ducey

Doug Ducey

Download the Q1 2013 edition of Inside the Vault.

The Actual Costs of Expanding Medicaid in Arizona – What Really Happened

The main argument being made to expand Medicaid dependency in Arizona is “to do the math.” Well the Texas Public Policy Foundation did the  math for what really happened in Arizona the last time Medicaid was expanded and here is the graph depicting the cost to Arizona. These numbers cover a six-year period beginning in 2002 and ending in 2008.

Medicaid Expansion

The actual cost of expanding Medicaid in Arizona

Here is the article posted on the Texas Public Policy Foundation website:

This article originally appeared in The Daily Caller on 3/21/2013. 

If state lawmakers really want a clear picture of what Medicaid expansion under Obamacare will look like, they should start with Arizona, where expansion was tried more than a decade ago — with disastrous results.

In 2000, Arizona received a federal waiver to extend Medicaid to all childless adults and parents earning less than 100 percent of the federal poverty level. This is nearly the same group that would be eligible for Medicaid under the federal health care law, except that Obamacare would include those earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, a slightly larger group.

At the time, Arizona lawmakers and expansion advocates promised that expanding Medicaid would lower the uninsured rate, reduce uncompensated care costs, decrease the “hidden tax” on private insurance for uncompensated care, and save about $30 million a year in state funds.

These same promises — lower uninsured rate and reduced uncompensated care costs — are being made by those calling for Medicaid expansion in other states.

None of the promises came true. In fact, the opposite happened. Enrollment of parents was more than triple what was forecast, while enrollment of childless adults was more than double.

As a result, costs skyrocketed. Spending per enrollee was much higher than anticipated, especially among childless adults, who proved to be twice as expensive to cover as parents. By 2008, Arizona had spent $8.4 billion on Medicaid expansion — more than four times what had been forecast.

What about the promise that expansion would lower the uninsured rate? In 2002, about 18.7 percent of Arizona’s non-elderly population was uninsured. By 2011, that group had actually increased to 19.4 percent. Meanwhile, the percentage of Arizonans with private insurance dropped from 61.8 percent to 55.5 percent, while Medicaid enrollment grew far beyond what had been predicted.

When the recession hit in 2008, Arizona faced a budget shortfall and scaled back Medicaid benefits for childless adults, including organ transplantation. It later froze enrollment for that group, which dropped from 227,000 to 86,000.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s January announcement that she will support the Obamacare Medicaid expansion should not have come as a surprise. Arizona’s waiver expires in 2013, and the state had no choice but to go along with expansion. If it did not, the feds would likely not renew the state’s waiver, which would force some 86,000 people out of the Medicaid program and into the ranks of the uninsured.

The Arizona experience is not unique. In 2002, Maine implemented an almost identical Medicaid expansion — with almost identical results. Within two years, enrollment was more than double what had been forecast, with childless adults costing more than four times as much as parents. Between 2002 and 2011, the uninsured rate remained the same, while the share of those with private insurance shrank, from 66 percent to 59 percent.

Proponents of Medicaid expansion claim it will reduce the uninsured rate and therefore reduce uncompensated care costs. The hope and expectation is that federal expansion dollars will free up state funds and relieve taxpayers, much like advocates of expansion hoped for Arizona and Maine.

Earlier this month, Methodist Health Care Ministries and Texas Impact published an estimate of Medicaid expansion savings. At first glance the figures are impressive; some $900 million in state funds could be freed up for the upcoming biennium, according to the report. The groups’ earlier study claimed counties and local taxpayers could expect relief from having to pay for uncompensated care costs, which the report said would decrease dramatically with Medicaid expansion.

But these projections are in fact nothing more than thin hopes. In Arizona, uncompensated care costs increased by an average of nine percent each year after expansion, and in Maine charity care rose from $40 million in 2000 to $215 million 2011.

Other states that have toyed with expansion — Delaware, Oregon, Michigan, Utah — have all had similar experiences: costs and enrollment exceeded expectations, uninsured rates stayed the same or increased, and the number of people on private insurance shrank.

If states are the incubators and laboratories of public policy, then the results of decade-long experiments with Medicaid expansion are in. In Arizona, Maine, and everywhere expansion was tried, none of the promised benefits materialized.

If lawmakers in other states choose to go down the road of expansion, they now know what to expect: skyrocketing costs, huge enrollment growth, a static uninsured rate, and more — not fewer — uncompensated care costs. Just ask Arizona.

 

OBrewercare & the Brewercrats – Doing Obama’s Job in Arizona

Surrender

 

 

Shining Some Sunlight on the Politics of Power in Arizona

Recently, I couldn’t help but notice a shared post on Facebook by Arizona Corporation Commissioner; Gary Pierce. Commissioner Pierce publicly gave kudos to one of Sonoran Alliance’s contributing writers, Richard Brinkley, over a column in which Brinkley took Barber to task over Barber’s criticism of the ACC.

Sonoran Alliance oftentimes provides commentary shedding light on the various intersections within the Republican Party.  We react and we forecast.  And we connect dots to inform.

In this post I’d like to expound on Brinkley’s column but also offer some clarity on what free market Republicans should do to remain politically and intellectually honest.

Republican Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce is a good man.  But lately behind the scenes, he appears to be doing the bidding not of ratepayers, but of APS.

Last Thursday’s “atta boy” on Facebook to an online criticism of Congressman Barber’s own critique that the Corporation Commission has moved and is continuing to move to kill the solar industry in Arizona, needs some ideological clarification and even correction.

While I am not in the habit of indirectly applauding messages by Democrats like Ron Barber, Republicans, especially Gary Pierce need to think long and hard about entering corporate cronyism arrangements with monopolistic utility providers like Arizona Public Service.

APS essentially wants to erect barriers to entry and even kill competing solar providers because a flourishing solar industry threatens their position in the market resulting in less control and business for them.

So how can Republicans like Commissioner Pierce argue that the public education monopoly deserves competition via charter schools and school choice but monopolistic utilities like APS should face no competition?

The hypocrisy is Republican policymakers wax eloquently about the evils of subsidizing solar energy but shrink from criticism when confronted about massively subsidizing corporate monopolies like APS. It’s time for Republicans to be intellectually consistent and reject corporate welfare policies altogether.

This brings me to my free market point of clarity. All indications are that over the next year, APS will be working behind the scenes with the Corporation Commission to kill net metering.

What is net metering?

In brief, net metering is the policy of 43 states to allow residential solar customers to sell excess power back to the grid.  It is a sound policy requiring APS to buy this power just as we consumers are limited when we buy power from the government-sanctioned utility companies.

Eliminating net metering would kill the flourishing residential solar market here in Arizona thereby eliminating consumer choice for Arizona energy consumers.  Does Commissioner Gary Pierce really want to take credit for this – eliminating consumer choices – especially in Arizona where sunshine is as much a commodity as oil is in the Middle East?

Over the next year hopefully Commissioner Pierce will realize this is not just bad public policy, it rejects free market core principles that are inherent to the Republican Party.  Competition is good for schools, health care and energy.  Solar energy is an important part of that.  Those businesses are getting off incentives while utilities are not.

We can hope that our GOP returns to taxpayer-friendly, competition-based public policy as we re-engage the citizenry with consistent messaging that will resonate more powerfully in the future. Let’s face it, hugging the 800 pound utility gorilla is bad public policy and bad politics.

Shane Wikfors is the creator and editor of Sonoran Alliance and a longtime Arizona conservative Republican activist. He has been a consultant for and is an advocate of non-subsidized, consumer-based, taxpayer-friendly energy diversity and sustainability.

PCRC Lincoln Day Luncheon

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