Archives for April 2013

APS Continues Pressure to Quash Solar Energy Choice in Arizona

Several weeks ago when I took up the cause of energy choice via the issue of net metering, little did I realize I would strike at the nerve of the big utility energy monopolies like APS. While my intention was not to overly criticize the Republican-led Arizona Corporation Commission, several of my posts were mistakenly perceived that way when all along criticism, was meant to challenge big utilities for quashing energy choice.

Recently, Arizona Public Service Co.’s CEO Don Brandt wrote an editorial in defense of APS’ push to eliminate net metering claiming that rooftop solar consumers are a burden on other energy consumers not using solar. What’s striking in this is the audacity of APS’ top executive blaming solar users while APS pushes to widen its profit margin. The last time I checked, APS was regulated by the ACC because of its unique monopoly power in the marketplace. Thanks to the commissioners at the ACC, APS has been kept in check.

I’ve obviously struck a nerve with APS (as other utilities watch this critical discussion take place) to the point where the CEO feels the need to respond and wage a public relations battle against those who want the choice to offer back a surplus of clean, cheap energy. APS obviously feels threatened – and they should – after recent polls show energy choice is extremely important to Arizonans.

It’s time for credit and criticism to be given.

To the Arizona Corporation Commissioners I commend them for a job well done in holding the line for ratepayers, encouraging energy innovation and for the pursuit of realistic consumer-based energy choices for Arizonans. I also continue to urge and encourage the ACC to reject the pressures by big utilities like APS prowling for corporate cronyism deals.

Thanks to the Arizona Corporation Commission, solar is a great success story in our state and will be operating free of utility incentives by the end of the year. With Arizona continuing to score solar touchdowns for schools, consumers and thousands of solar jobs let’s not fumble in the red zone because APS is trying to strip the ball away.

Weekly Update – 4/26/13 – of AZ Conservative Coalition Legislator Eval

Updated Ratings!!!

 

Arizona Conservative Coalition Republican Legislator Rankings

Legislative Actions as of 4/26/2013

Last Updated 4/28/2013

 

 

Narrative:

 

The number of bills being tracked is 254 plus 3 Strike All amended bills.

There were some bills voted on this week that increased economic regulations or expanded the delegation of law making (regulatory) authority from the legislature to the executive branch. There were votes to add regulatory requirements to insurance agents, add state regulation of Music Therapists, and burden private providers of Department of Motor Vehicle Services with regulations that it is likely the actual Department of Motor Vehicles is unable to comply with (the private companies can be shut down, though, while the government agency cannot be). Some Republican legislators voted against these laws, but many voted in favor of them (along with most Democrats).

We have added a new feature to the ratings. There is now a section showing scoring exceptions for a legislator voting NO on a bill in order to make a motion to reconsider it. This is explained in the score section in more detail. The basic idea is that, in this special case, a NO vote is counted as a YES vote in the evaluation because the legislator is actually advancing the bill by using the NO vote as a parliamentary tactic to be permitted to give the bill another chance to be voted on.

As we near the end of the session, we remind legislators as well as the voters to beware of omnibus bills and last minute amendments that can contain legislative language that might be glossed over by overwhelming legislators with too many pages of legislation to read before voting or by making last minute changes that are difficult to properly evaluate before a vote. Legislators should understand that any bill containing legislative language from a bill that we gave a negative weight may get the negative weight of that negatively weighted bill regardless of how many good things are also in the revised bill currently being voted on. Since it will be impossible for the contents of omnibus bills or bills with last minute amendments to be known early enough for an announcement about how the bill weights will be reset for the evaluation, everyone needs to be aware that they will be evaluated on the final version of the bills they vote on after the votes take place. With the Governor digging in to pressure the legislature to expand Medicaid, we will be watching for that in late breaking bills as well as appropriation omnibus bills. We will also be looking for Common Core funding in omnibus bills. We strongly oppose both and will weight bills that include them accordingly.

These are NOT final scores for the session until our final report after the session ends! We encourage conservative activists to use these weekly evaluations as a way to work with legislators to achieve more conservative results in the legislative session.

 

The legislation causing the most lowering of scores is HB2047 combined with HB2045 which switches Arizona from the AIMS standard to the Common Core standard. Our concern is that Common Core surrenders state autonomy on education to the federal government and promotes nationalization of education well beyond the proper scope of the federal government. In addition, the curriculum associated with Common Core relies on an international perspective instead of traditional study of American and World history. HB2425 was passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor.

Other bills having a significant negative impact on scores remove significant limitations on school district spending, allow executive agencies to set fees in order to bypass limitations on the legislature raising taxes or fees, or increase government regulation of businesses.

Many Republican legislators have argued that good business regulations that “make people do the right thing” are good. This, unfortunately, is almost a perfect definition of fascism which Republicans traditionally oppose. There are always situations where we might wish others would deal with us on terms of our choosing when they are not willing to do so. Using government to force people to deal with us on our terms rather than mutually agreed upon terms is tyranny even if it is dressed up as consumer protection or professional responsibility or trying to improve market efficiency. Of course, in a free economy, people can decide for themselves what is good and make decisions on that basis as both consumers and businesses. Also, government regulations usually have unintended consequences that are usually bad. These consequences are then used to justify still more regulation when less regulation is the best solution.

 

To look at the legislator scores, click on legislative report.
 For bills used in evaluation, click on bill weights.

For detailed evaluation data, click on detail evaluation data.

For Frequently Asked Questions, click on  FAQs.

Latinos/Hispanics and Republicans

By Aaron Borders

I want to start this article with this thought in mind. Republicans don’t need to change their platform to bring in Latinos/ Hispanics to the GOP, they need to get their message to the Latino/ Hispanics people. I base that comment on my MANY conversations with Hispanic and Latino Arizonans. It seems that when I approach a Hispanic or Latino Voter I ask them what they think about the Republican Party. I usually get one of these two answers or both. “Republicans are racist and they hate Latinos/Hispanics”, or I get this,” you’re the first person that’s asked, I don’t even know what the Republicans believe”.

I grew up in a generation that didn’t see race as an issue at all. When I was a boy, Michael Jordan was the biggest basketball star, Tiger Woods was the biggest talent in golf, and Emmitt Smith was the best running back in the NFL. As I got older and I learned more about politics, I learned that Democrats opposed EVERY piece of civil rights legislation that our Congress has passed. Now I know you are reading this and thinking, ‘what do Latinos/ Hispanics have to do with the African- American Civil rights movement?’ Very simple, the same way the Democrats have sucked in the same people they fought to enslave (remember Lincoln was a Republican) and through big Government programs, they have destroyed their culture and family values. This is their plan for the Latino/ Hispanics population as well.

In the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s the African-American people were fighting for their civil rights and liberties. By in large, they were religious folks following Dr. Martin Luther King (Republican) and his quest for equality for his people. The African-American community had tight family bonds and values. ALL they wanted was to get equal pay and equal opportunity. So, with MUCH rejection from the “Dixiecrats” which were a proud group of Democrat segregationist and their supporters that had assumed control of the state Democratic parties in part or in full. They also opposed racial integration and wanted to retain Jim Crow laws and white supremacy. With great pressure from the Civil Rights Movement and the Republicans in Congress, a lot of civil rights legislation was passed into law. President Lyndon B. Johnson only went along because he saw the “voter loyalty” that came with it.

The Democrat Party continues to get the African-American vote solely out of loyalty to a Democratic President who signed Republican Civil Rights bills, they consistently vote against their own interest with blind loyalty. THIS is how African-Americans relate to Latinos/ Hispanics. With the Latinos/ Hispanics, however, it is just getting started. Here are a few examples.

Proposition 8 in California was a great illustration of what I am referring to. The LA Times recorded this, “California’s black and Latino voters, who turned out in droves for Barack Obama, also provided key support in favor of the state’s same-sex marriage ban. Seven in 10 black voters backed a successful ballot measure to overturn the California Supreme Court’s May decision allowing same-sex marriage, according to exit polls for The Associated Press. More than half of Latino voters supported Proposition 8.” It’s Amazing that something that is a core belief issue to African-Americans and Latinos who felt so strongly about same-sex marriage they, “turned out in droves” on an non presidential election year to oppose it, but; blindly voted for a party that openly supports it.

Here is another example, According to a Reuters report, “U.S. Hispanics — traditionally an anti-abortion group influenced by their predominant Roman Catholic faith. A 2007 joint survey by the respected Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and the Pew Hispanic Center shows that 65 % of first-generation U.S. Hispanics believe abortion should be illegal.” However, according to the New York Times, Nationwide Hispanics voted 67% in favor of Obama. Such a solid disconnect. An anti-abortion position is an unwavering position because there is a belief that legalized murder is taking place. Yet once again, the party that openly supports abortion and late term abortion was the party that got the anti-abortion Hispanic/Latino vote. Not to mention President Obama who openly supported infanticide as an Illinois State Senator.

I will give you one more example before I share with you what I feel the Republicans can do to fix this problem.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Hispanic-owned businesses in the United States increased by 43.7% to 2.3 million, more than twice the national rate of 18% between 2002 and 2007. About 45.8% of all Hispanic-owned businesses were owned by people of Mexican origin. Hispanic-owned businesses generated $345.2 billion in sales in 2007, up 55.5% compared with 2002. The number of Hispanic-owned businesses with receipts of $1 million or more increased 51.6%— from 29,168 to 44,206 businesses between 2002 and 2007.These new data come from the Survey of Business Owners: Hispanic-Owned Businesses: 2007. Once again common reasoning would tell you these folks would vote for Pro-Growth Candidates and support Pro-Small Business policies. Unfortunately as I previously stated, President Obama, who is certainly not Pro-Growth (unless you’re talking about Gov. Regulation) or Pro-Small Business, got 67% of the Hispanic vote.

So what does this all boil down to? I refer to the second comment I get from Hispanics and Latinos when I ask them their thoughts about Republican Party.

First the Democrats have told the lie that Republicans are racist. Republicans know that’s not true but we haven’t adequately reached out to the Hispanic Voters and explained our history of, NOT being racist. The truth is that the Republicans want a secure border. Not only to keep U.S. commerce in the U.S. to grow our economy, but for the security of our Nation. We MUST explain that there is proof that Hezbollah and Hamas have infiltrated the Mexican drug cartels and a dirty bomb from them will not discriminate between Republicans or Democrats. Hispanic and Latino Voters MUST see these lies as a ploy to pit them against Republicans; at the risk of their families’ security.

Second, the Republican Party must work harder to explain their platform to Hispanics and Latinos. I don’t want to discount the work that the Arizona Latino Republican local groups have done, but as a party we must do more. As I have illustrated, there is a huge voter base that agrees with the Conservative Republican platform, they just haven’t been told by us what we believe. The Democrats tell them what we believe and most of the time the Democrats are the only one talking to them. So in essence, they only hear lies about how we are racist, then we don’t reach out to them for their vote, and that further solidifies the lie in their mind.

As a current candidate for the LD-29 Arizona State House, I have been blown away when I speak to Hispanic and Latinos Voters. For some of these folks I am the first Republican that has ever talked to them. Furthermore, when I explain our platform to them they almost ALL look at me confounded and say, “I didn’t even know I was a Republican.”

As Republicans, we had better wake up as a party and invest in our message to the Hispanic and Latino Voters because they are us, they just don’t know it.

Aaron Borders is a Republican candidate for the Arizona Legislature in Legislative District 29. You can find out more about Aaron at his website at www.AaronBorders4AZ.com. You can also follow Aaron on Twitter and Facebook.

The Obamacare Girls: Brewer & Pelosi

Governor Brewer continues to galvanize the Republican Party with her stubborn refusal to face the fact that Arizonans reject Obrewercare. After her unsuccessful attempt to apply the intimidation techniques acquired in the ObamaCampaignTactics101 she now reaches deep into the Nancy Pelosi bag of tricks and pulls out a parliamentary stunt to get her way.

Stop OBrewercare in Arizona!

Stop OBrewercare in Arizona!

Getting her way is what this is all about – right? This week the Ohio Legislators stood up to their Governor and offered a budget minus the expansion.  The U.S. Congress Democrats are so concerned about the political price they will pay in 2014 they are pleading to postpone the implementation of Obamacare!

But Governor Brewer doesn’t care about the Republican majority in Arizona. Governor Brewer doesn’t care if she is hurting the political future of the republican legislators. Governor Brewer definitely does not care about the Arizona Republican Party because every republican legislative district (minus 2) and county openly opposes Obrewercare and yet she pushes on.

So now the Republican Governor is using the exact same maneuver to bring Obrewercare to Arizona that Nancy Pelosi used to bring us Obamacare – just to get her way.  The AZ Senate is considering forcing a vote on the floor.

NO public input.   NO committee debate.   NO expert testimony.  NO doctors – NO nurses – NO homecare providers telling the impact on their lives.

The Lobbyists are in control because our Republican Governor is handing our health care to them on a silver platter.

For a complete list of the Legislators supporting Obrewercare : http://fragaz.org/obamacare-girls-brewer-pelosi/

 

Taxpayer outrage! Supervisors award $1.4 million to convicted felon Wolfswinkel

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
Friday, April 26, 2013

The bigger the crook, the larger the settlement 
Supervisors out of control awarding millions to more gold-diggers in order to make Sheriff Arpaio look bad 

Convicted felon Conley Wolfswinkel When are the adults going to take over?  Even the judges are figuring out the Supervisors’ little scam, and are refusing to allow more million dollar settlements to Wolfswinkel and Mary Rose Wilcox. After it was clear that the judge was not going to approve convicted felon and Don Stapley business partner Conley Wolfswinkel’s lawsuit against the county over “stress” from Arpaio and Thomas prosecuting him, Wolfswinkel went to the County Supervisors and demanded a payout. They awarded him $1.4 million this morning, the largest settlement yet. Next up for a generous settlement offer of YOUR money will be disgraced former Don Stapley, who was so corrupt he didn’t dare run for reelection last year.

Here are other settlements that have already been awarded, a waste of OUR taxpayer money, courtesy of the Supervisors, who are always eager to give their pals and themselves handouts in the name of making Arpaio look bad –

* Supervisor Andrew Kunasek; $123,000.

* Retired Judge Barbara Rodriguez Mundell; $500,000

* Susan Schuerman, executive assistant for former Supervisor Don Stapley; $500,000

* Retired Judge Anna Baca; $100,000

* Retired Judge Kenneth Fields; $100,000

Steve Wetzel, Maricopa Chief Information Officer; $75,000
Contact the Supervisors NOW and tell them you do not approve of them handing out OUR money to corrupt politicians in order to shame Arpaio.

We hear that Andrew Thomas is running for governor. We bet he will finally put a stop to these abuses of tax dollars, since no one else will.

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Convicted felon Wolfswinkel about to get huge settlement from County Supervisors

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
Friday, April 26, 2013

UNBELIEVABLE. Will Supervisors award him $5 million, even more than Mary Rose Wilcox? 
Judge repeatedly ruling against Wolfswinkel’s lawsuit against Maricopa County over “stress” from being prosecuted, so he turns to County Supervisors for settlement   

Convicted felon Conley Wolfswinkel You can’t make this stuff up. Convicted felon Conley Wolfswinkel, who was disgraced former County Supervisor Don Stapley’s business partner, is demanding $5 million from county taxpayers over Sheriff Arpaio and former County Attorney Andrew Thomas attempting to prosecute him. The Phoenix New Times exposed Wolfswinkel’s dishonest land swaps with Stapley a few years ago.

We’ve been told that Wolfswinkel’s lawsuit against the county hasn’t been going so well, the judge has been ruling against him on everything. Realizing he’s going to lose and not get even one cent of our money, Wolfswinkel has turned to the County Supervisors, who have a pattern of handing out millions of taxpayers’ dollars to anyone who disagrees with Arpaio (and Thomas), in order to make them look bad. Any whistleblower who tries to put a stop to their taxpayer-funded political vendetta spending spree is fired, as happened to poor Deputy County Attorney Maria Brandon.

Will the County Supervisors repeat their generous handouts of taxpayer money and award convicted felon Wolfswinkel millions of dollars, simply to make Arpaio look bad? How many more people have to lose their jobs, reputations, and live savings simply because they tried to put a stop to this kind of corrupt activity? The Supervisors are meeting this morning at 10 a.m. to discuss his settlement.

Contact the Supervisors NOW and tell them you do not approve of them handing out OUR money to corrupt politicians in order to shame Arpaio.

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Phoenix Business Owner Says Mayor Needs To Keep Campaign Promise Regarding Food Tax

(Phoenix, AZ) It seems there were a lot of questions directed at Mayor Stanton at a community meeting held at the Mayo Clinic on April 23rd. But it wasn’t zoning laws or the need to fix our streets that was on most people’s minds, it was the food tax. In fact some of the residents that attended wanted to know why Mayor Stanton isn’t keeping his campaign promise that he made to repeal it like he did during his campaign. While Mayor Stanton continued to tell residents that the tax is needed to keep fire and police services operating, Phoenix business owner and city resident Nohl Rosen reminded him that he needs to keep his promise to the people.

“As a business owner when I make a promise to a customer, I honor it as that is what your supposed to do because it’s good service. I simply reminded the Mayor that he made a promise to the citizens of Phoenix and that he needs to keep it,” Rosen said.

However, during the meeting which was also attended by City Council members Jim Waring and Bill Gates, it was revealed that the food tax was used to give pay raises to city employees and also fund golf courses.

“When the food tax was put into affect 3 years ago, the citizens were told that it was to keep fire and police services going. Now we find out that the money wasn’t used for its intended purpose. Still, Mayor Stanton during his campaign said he would repeal the food tax and hasn’t done it. That would be the honorable thing to do and also sets things right. Just what is the Mayor waiting for?” Rosen further asked.

Rosen says he’s considering doing more of his shopping in Scottsdale and other neighboring cities to fulfill regular household needs until the food tax is repealed and encouraging others to do the same.

Consultant Legislators: A conflict of interest?

In the most general of terms, a conflict of interest is “a set of circumstances that creates a risk that professional judgment or actions regarding a primary interest will be unduly influenced by a secondary interest.”

In Arizona, there really are no rules governing legislative conflict of interest statutes.  Essentially, as long as at least 10 people benefit from a piece of legislation, there is no conflict of interest.  Should allegations of conflicts of interest arise, there’s really nothing anyone can do about it.  Arizona is one of only nine states without an independent organization to oversee ethics comp

ethicsIt is not uncommon for legislators to sponsor or vote on bills that affect their personal career industry.  When you have a “citizen legislature” it’s impossible to not vote on bills that relate to education, doctors, lawyers, real-estate agents, landlords, etc.  But what about political consultants?  Does that pass the “citizen legislature” smell test?

The Arizona Republic pointed out earlier this year that there are a number of lawmakers who run or work for consulting firms whose scope of work remains unclear.  The campaign disclosure forms do not require lawmakers to reveal their clients, making their potential conflicts of interest even murkier.  But, some of these contracts are no doubt related to campaigns and public policy objectives.

House Minority Leader and potential Democratic candidate for Governor Chad Campbell lists “public affairs consulting” for Inspired Connections on his financial disclosure form. The “About Us” page for Inspired Consulting does not list Campbell as a member of their staff and it is unclear what his role is with the firm.  Other state legislators who serve as “consultants” include Sen. Al Melvin, Sen. Steve Gallardo, and Rep. Ruben Gallego.  Melvin recently made news by announcing he’s exploring a run for governor.

Former LD15 State Senator David Lujan (and good friend of Kyrsten Sinema) directed an independent expenditure effort against Republicans during the 2012 election cycle.  “Building Arizona’s Future” spent over $700,000 in the last cycle defeating Republicans, funded in large part by national Democratic money from D.C. that Sinema helped direct into Lujan’s committee coffers.  Lujan is now running for Phoenix City Council District 4.

This isn’t the first foray in the consulting arena for Campbell or Lujan.  In 2007 Campbell and Lujan formed a political consulting firm with then Democratic legislator and colleague Kyrsten Sinema.  It is unclear what Forza Consulting did or whom they represented, but according to records with the Corporation Commission the LLC still remains “open.”

Democratic Representative and rising star of the Left Ruben Gallego currently has the most prolific consulting background.  Before being elected to office in 2010, Gallego previously spent time with Valley PR firm Reister, and also served as Chief of Staff for Democratic Phoenix City Councilmember Michael Nowakowski.  He was also the Vice Chair of the Arizona Democratic Party.  Gallego’s wife, Kate Gallego, is running for Phoenix City Council in District 8 to replace term-limited Councilmember Michael Johnson.

Ruben Gallego is listed as the Director of Latino and New Media operations for Strategies360’s Arizona office.  Gallego works with Director of Arizona Operations Robbie Sherwood, a former reporter for the Arizona Republic and former Congressman Harry Mitchell’s Chief of Staff.

10-veterans-videoDuring the 2012 election cycle, Strategies360 was paid by the Yes on Prop 204 committee (“Quality Education & Jobs”) to handle communications on behalf of the union-funded campaign.  Prop 204 proposed the single-largest permanent sales tax increase in Arizona’s history and was viewed by many as a “special interest giveaway.”  Voters defeated the proposition nearly 2-to-1

Strategies360 was also paid at least $10,000 during the 2012 election cycle to handle “earned media outreach & strategic communications” for the Arizona Accountability Project (AAP).  The AAP was one of the chief committees used to funnel liberal money into the last election cycle to defeat Republican candidates.  AAP spent almost $600,000 last election cycle targeting Republicans including efforts against Jerry Lewis, Joe Ortiz, Frank Antenori, and John McComish.  They also did work in support of Democrat Tom Chabin.

Strategies360 was involved in the 2012 election to defeat Sheriff Joe Arpaio and is currently involved in the present effort to recall Arapaio.  Recently, Gallego appeared at a “Respect Arizona” rally (the group organizing the recall).  Also present at that event was Minority Leader Chad Campbell.

During 2012, Gallego even helped lead the efforts of the group opposing Arpaio, Citizens for Professional Law Enforcement PAC.  Arpaio’s campaign manager at the time, Chad Willems, questioned the financial motivations of Gallego and others:

“This is just another group out there of people lining their pockets,” Willems told HuffPost. “It seems like a full-time employment group for these guys.”

Gallego’s reach into the far-Left elements of the Democratic Party are deep.  He even served as the professional consultant for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona during the 2012 cycle, orchestrating their attacks against pro-life Republicans.  His firm was paid nearly $5,000 in consulting fees, and they were paid more than $20,000 to handle the mail program attacking several Republican lawmakers and candidates.

Let me be clear: there’s nothing illegal about what Gallego or his firm is doing.  Consultants on both sides of the political spectrum are involved in these sorts of efforts every cycle.  Some would argue this is no different than the efforts of the Senate President and the Speaker of the House and their Victory Funds last cycle.  That’s a fair comparison, but unlike Gallego (and possibly other legislators), the President and the Speaker were not financially compensated for their involvement.

Current Arizona statute provides for a one-year ban on former legislators serving as lobbyists after they leave the legislature.  Specifically, ARS 38-504(a)(b) state that for one year, a former public officer, including legislator, shall not represent another person for compensation before the legislature concerning any matter with which the legislator was directly concerned and personally participated.For two years after he or she leaves office, no public officer, including legislator, may disclose or use for personal profit information designated as confidential.  Further, section c states:

A public officer or employee shall not use or attempt to use the officer’s or employee’s official position to secure any valuable thing or valuable benefit for the officer or employee that would not ordinarily accrue to the officer or employee in the performance of the officer’s or employee’s official duties if the thing or benefit is of such character as to manifest a substantial and improper influence on the officer or employee with respect to the officer’s or employee’s duties.

When legislators like Gallego are using their positions of influence to help direct thousands of dollars in independent expenditure efforts designed to defeat their colleagues and change the partisan make-up of their chamber, while simultaneously making money off of these efforts, how is that not a conflict of interest?

Submit your nominations now for Best of the Capitol 2013!

Join Arizona Capitol Times as we honor this year’s contenders for Best of the Capitol.
Now in its seventh year, this annual section and event has become a celebration of Arizona’s Capitol community.


Nomination Deadline: April 26

Categories:
Elected Officials  Debaters  Committee Chairs  Fashion • Hair  Lobbyist
Lobbyist Under 40  Capitol Staffer • Political Rising Star • Power Broker
Political Operative  PR Person  PR Firm  Twitterer  IE/Ballot Measure Campaign
Grassroots Effort  Candidate Campaign  After-Hours Hangout  Place to Impress a Client • Capitol Lawn Event  Awards Event  Cocktail Party

_______________________________________________________________


Best of the Capitol event: 

Tuesday, June 25  5:30 – 7:30 p.m. • Location to be announced
_______________________________________________________________
You may register at http://regonline.com/2013BestofCapitol

For individual seating and tables call Tom Misener at 800-387-7450
or email tom.misener@thedolancompany.com

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Interested in event sponsorship or advertising in our special insert?
Contact Melanie Campbell at 602.889.7125 or melanie.campbell@azcapitoltimes.com

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MIHS Meets in Closed Door Session to Discuss Controversial State Contract


The Maricopa County Integrated Health Systems Board of Directors
is currently meeting in closed-door Executive Session to discuss the current legal challenge and protest filed by Magellan and United RHBA against MMIC (Mercy Maricopa Integrated Care), MIHS CEO Betsey Bayless, and Maricopa County Special Health Care District.  The current agenda shows a 30-minute spot dedicated to discussion of this subject, all of which will be exempt from records requests and exempt from public inspection.

It is not surprising that the MIHS Board is keeping a low profile and is remaining tight-lipped about this controversial contract after being awarded a possibly illegal $2 billion to $3 billion dollar contract from the State of Arizona.  This came on the heels of a controversial pay raise for MIHS CEO Betsey Bayless that raised her taxpayer salary to $500,000.

Accountability and SunshineThe board will apparently receive legal advice on the protest to the bid and discuss options moving forward.  An administrative law judge is likely to uphold the Department’s awarding of the contract, leaving a lawsuit targeting the state as a possible option.  Magellan has already filed a civil suit seeking financial damages in Maricopa County Superior Court against MIHS and MIHS’ CEO Betsey Bayless.  Magellan alleges MIHS was awarded the contract improperly and used proprietary information from Magellan to win the bid.

The new contract was set to begin on October 1, 2013, but the protest and lawsuit are likely to delay implementation.  Previously MIHS responded to the formal protest with the following statement:

“We are studying those protests and will respond in the appropriate venues,” the statement said. “We are confident in the strength of our bid, and we are proud to offer a unique, collaborative approach to meet Maricopa County Medicaid recipients’ behavioral-health needs and to integrate the behavioral- health and medical services for those with serious mental illness.”

If you recall, the lawsuit also alleges “serious conflicts of interest” by MIHS because Mercy Maricopa both manages the system and provide services, which is “prohibited by the contract and by state law.” Magellan also alleges that the bidding process contained “serious irregularities,” such as the state’s bidding process being amended twice to unfairly benefit MIHS over their private competitors.  Additional claims include conflicts of interest, improper scoring, licensing problems, and disclosure of proprietary information to competitors. Magellan originally serviced the state contract since 2007.

The serious allegations require attention and deserve public scrutiny.  MIHS should be holding discussions on the contract and the protest, but they should be doing this in the face of the public.  Not behind closed doors immune from public records requests. MIHS is a government entity that collects nearly $60 million dollars in property taxes every year and is run by a publicly elected Board of Directors.  When the state awards a contract that could be worth up to $3 billion dollars, possible bias in favor of a taxpayer funded MIHS over private competitors deserves more sunshine and certainly more accountability.

If you’d like to contact the MIHS Board of Directors and demand more transparency for taxpayers, they can be reached via email as follows: