AZRA Faction Power Grab Fails Spectacularly

By Calamity June

Gabriela Saucedo Mercer

Gabriela Saucedo Mercer

Saturday morning at the Arizona GOP, the usual divisive suspects made a last-gasp effort to remove from office a popular and successful AZ GOP Chairman. This is but one of a long line of failures that a diminishing faction has attempted.

This is the same group that spearheaded the failed recall effort of chairman Lines last summer, which was the same group that unsuccessfully supported Jim O’Connor a year ago when he ran against Lines for GOP Chairman. The same group that pushes its false narratives on the pages of Frosty’s Fake News and the fever swamp blogs that she promotes.

Haters gonna hate. Losers gonna lose.

Prior to this failed attempt, State Committee members were treated to yet another temper tantrum from GOP Secretary and two-time losing candidate Gabby Mercer (starting to see a pattern here?) Mercer repeated her oft-told lie about access to records, threw invective at the Chairman and Executive Director. As has been demonstrated time and again, the responsibility to obtain the AZGOP permanent records lies with the Secretary. Mercer has failed to do her job, and every time she opens her mouth, she affirms that fact.

Jonathan Lines

Jonathan Lines

Following Mercer’s rant, Chairman Lines once again set the record straight, and then delivered his Chairman’s Report. He spoke about the work that the party is doing to get boots on the ground, register new Republicans at a staggering 55-1 advantage over the Democrats, and build a training program that has provided tools and resources to hundreds of Republican PCs.

And yet, for some reason, following that report of a successful year at the helm, obstructionist Joe Neglia, who had previously attempted to change the rules of the meeting (we’ll let you guess how that went) called for the removal of the chair.

The action was swift and decisive. There was an objection to consideration, prompting an immediate vote by division. A small, pathetic contingent centered in LD 23 rose in defense of the motion, leaving approximately 80% of the Committee standing, quite literally, in opposition.

And once again, the obstructionists, from Gabby Mercer to Joe Neglia to Tim Horn, had exposed themselves for what they really are.

Frosty’s Fake News Amplifies More Lies

By Calamity June

This morning, Frosty Taylor, the author of the FakeNews “Republican Briefs,” defended the campaign of lies that she has been amplifying on behalf of La Paz County Chairman Russell Sias. For weeks, Sias has been denigrating the hard work being done at the Arizona GOP, attacking the year-long Bylaws process, and hurling personal insults at anyone who does not subscribe to his hateful tactics.

Russell Sias

To dispense with the latest Sias-fueled fever dream: the bylaws revision process has been transparent and fair, with every corner of the state represented. Any suggestion to the contrary is without merit; all bylaw changes will be given an up or down vote at next month’s Mandatory Meeting.

But beyond that, Frosty resurrected the absurd narrative, also being pushed by Sias and others, that there has been a “cleansing” of “conservative worker-bee” PCs over the last 5 or 6 years.

Last we checked, there were plenty of hard working conservative PCs who continue to form the backbone of the Arizona GOP.

Workers like Kim Owens and Lisa James, who run the Dodie Londen Excellence in Public Service program…hundreds of women from across Arizona have learned the nuts and bolts of campaigning and governing, and several have gone on to elective office, including Senator Kelli Ward, AZ GOP Secretary Gabby Mercer, and Lisa Askey, the Chairwoman of the Chandler GOP Women. And the list goes on and on.

Another victim of Frosty’s smears is Lisa Gray, a dedicated conservative and hard working PC who VOLUNTEERS her time as the Executive Director of the Maricopa County Republicans. And yet, Frosty has focused her bile at Gray, resorting to name calling and personal bile at every opportunity.

And let’s not forget Jonathan Lines, a true product of the grassroots movement and a champion of conservative causes dating back to Ronald Reagan’s election. Frosty, Sias, and their ilk have waged a near-constant effort to destroy Lines, all in the name of power and control. And yet Lines, while running multiple businesses and raising a family of 11 kids, has sacrificed countless hours to promote the Republican Party and President Trump.

The Arizona GOP is governed by strong, conservative and active precinct committeemen. And just this week, saw the fruits of their labor when Congress, finally, voted for real tax reform! This came about in no small part because Chairman Lines and the AZ GOP rallied their PCs to insist that Congress keep its promise to Arizona taxpayers. Every single Republican in the Arizona delegation supported the President’s tax reform bill. Sounds like real conservative results to us!

Frosty Taylor, Russell Sias and the rest of the “dead end caucus” do not stand for conservative results. They don’t believe in party unity. They thrive on chaos, disunity, and lies. The truth is, there is no conspiracy to “cleanse” the party of conservatives…there is no “secret” process to reform the bylaws. There are only conservative, hard-working PCs, doing their best, every day, to grow the party, elect Republicans, and Make America Great Again.

Frosty Taylor represents none of this. She’s the mouthpiece of dysfunction and lies. And more and more true Republicans are finally taking notice.

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As always, the aforementioned parties are welcome to submit a counterpoint response to Sonoran Alliance.

Navajo County Republican PC’s to Slaton: You’re Fired!

By Calamity June

On Saturday morning in Navajo County, 15 of the 17 duly elected Precinct Committeemen convened at a Special Meeting and voted, unanimously, to remove Steven Slaton as Navajo County Chairman. Longtime activist Jim Vance was elected as the new chairman, effective immediately.

Steven Slaton

Steven Slaton

It is never a good thing when a party officer faces a recall, but in the case of the Navajo County Republican Committee, it was a long time coming. Slaton’s tenure has been marked by divisiveness, petty internal fights, and personal attacks on Republican elected officials. It was time for Mr. Slaton to go, as evidenced by the fact that 15 of the 16 PCs not named “Steve Slaton” voted to remove him from office.

With Slaton and one other PC choosing the boycott the meeting in protest, there was not one vote in favor of keeping him in office. Sadly, Steven Slaton had lost the confidence of his PCs, and as we head into the crucial election year of 2018, it is clear that new leadership was required in Navajo County.

More broadly, however, this is an important moment for Republicans throughout Arizona. For decades, bullying and harassment chased hundreds of good, conservative activists out of the party. Name calling and divisiveness ruled the day, with a select few elites deciding who was worthy of participation in their club.

No more.

Now, as Chairman Jonathan Lines follows through on his promise to build an inclusive and growing party, PCs from across the state are rejecting negativity and bullying, and rallying around the GOP as we look towards victory in 2018.

One would hope that Slaton’s unanimous removal from office will serve as a wakeup call to others in the party who choose division instead of addition. And if not, they’ll surely soon be joining Mr. Slaton among the ranks of former Chairmen.

Calamity June is a Republican activist who resides in the Phoenix area and writes primarily on Arizona Republican Party politics.

La Paz County Republican Chairman’s Bullying Power Play

By Calamity June

It’s been a few months since we had even thought about Russell Sias, the “Chairman” of La Paz County. We put “chairman” in quotes because, with fewer than 5 elected Precinct Committeemen in all of La Paz County, Mr. Sias effectively holds court over a committee of one.

La Paz County GOP Chairman Russell Sias

There are no party operations in La Paz, no voter registration efforts, no get out the vote activities.

Earlier this year, the only other elected state committeeman resigned from the party.

Mr. Sias’s term as chairman has been an abject failure.

One thing he seems very skilled at, however, is working to divide the GOP, sending incoherent screeds and angry missives to Frosty Taylor’s Fake News Briefs and clamoring for…well it’s not very clear what it is that he’s actually clamoring for, but electing Republicans surely isn’t high on his list.

Oh, and let’s not forget…Mr. Sias also signs off all of his e-mails with a quote from Adolf Hitler.

Which brings us to today, the final meeting of the AZ GOP Bylaws Committee. Under a mandate from Chairman Jonathan Lines, Bylaws Chairman Kathy Petsas has run the most inclusive and transparent Bylaws Committee in recent memory. Every County and Legislative District was invited to appoint a member, to ensure a diverse, strong committee membership to review and, in some cases, overhaul the party’s bylaws.

Despite his utter failure to grow the party or preside over even a semblance of Republican activity in La Paz County, chairman Sias was offered the opportunity to appoint a Bylaws Committee member.

La Paz CountyThe individual he chose to appoint, however, was ineligible to participate. Not only was she not a duly elected state committeewoman (despite signing a document claiming to be one), she seems to be running for elective office OUTSIDE of La Paz county. This is not even to mention the abusive and diversionary activities that this particular individual engaged in, her prior arrest record or her complete lack of decorum.

Aware of his failure, Mr. Sias, at the 11th hour, attempted to appoint HIMSELF to the committee. Once again, no dice. The Bylaws Committee has been meeting for nearly a year, has worked collaboratively to consider dozens of amendments and revisions, and is nearing the end of it’s work. The deadline to appoint new members came and went months ago. This attempt to end run the rules should not have been tolerated, and it wasn’t.

So, thanks to Mr. Sias’s neglect, La Paz County is not represented on the Bylaws Committee.

This morning, despite not being on the Bylaws committee and not participating in any previous bylaws activities, Mr. Sias drove from Quartzsite to Phoenix with the express purpose of creating division and distracting the Committee from it’s goals. He must have known that, after a year of work, he could not just insert himself on to the committee and expect to be productive.

No, Mr. Sias is a bully, and he came to Phoenix thinking he could bully the Chairwoman. Was he ever wrong.

While she would have been well within her rights to prevent Mr. Sias from even attending the meeting, Chairman Petsas allowed the committee to determine whether or not Mr. Sias could attend as an observer.

Owing to his overwhelming unpopularity, even that vote was close…by a 10—9 margin, the committee allowed Mr. Sias to observe.

In response, Mr. Sias…drove away, in a truck bearing Montana license plates. Proving once again he has no real interest in promoting our party or our candidates here in Arizona.

We all know what will happen next. Tomorrow’s Fake News Briefs will be filled with lies and slanders about Chairman Petsas. Other members of the committee will be called out personally and shamed. Mr. Sias’s tactics as a bully and a liar will be on full display. And Fake News Maven Frosty Taylor will dutifully play her role as recording secretary.

Hopefully she’ll have the decency to leave out the Hitler quote.

Speaking from One Woman to Another

Speaking from One Woman to Another – A Response to Karina Bland of the Arizona Republic

by  Sheila K Muehling

Over the last few years, I have asked myself many times why women are being used as political tools.  Why now, why not 40 years ago?  Why not 30, 20 or even 10 years ago. Before President Obama was elected I don’t remember a great deal of talk about women and what we want or don’t want.  My question is “Are women really ready to become active? Are women really ready to put in the effort?”  As a woman who has always been involved, I would like to share my thoughts.

Unlike the majority of people I know, I still receive the Arizona Republic and the Wall Street Journal newspapers every morning. Last week I opened the paper and on the front page was printed a rather unpleasant picture of President Trump and Joe Arpaio.  And to top off the specter of it all to the left an opinion piece from Karina Bland. What was the name of the piece, “Women want to get active; can they unite?” I would really like to know why this opinion piece was position on the front page but I think it doesn’t take much to understand that decision. However, as I read the article Karina started with her September 22nd evening observations of the Trump rally. She shared that everything on the streets was orderly and the protesters were handing out water, clearing sidewalks for wheelchair bound participants, giving out lollipops and making sure people were not overwhelmed with the heat. It was a picture of LALA land.  Of course early in her piece (above the fold) she positioned her comment about Heather Heyer who was the young women killed by the white-nationalist and how someone was carrying a sign that read “Heather deserved a better president.” Karina goes on to talk about the happy protesters who only wanted to exercise their rights but in speaking about the Trump supporters she throws in their use of “the middle finger.”

At this point, I would like to take a trip down memory lane before I finish my thoughts and share how I feel about Karina’s column.  As a woman, I too grieved over another loss of life – the two men who stood on a roof in Benghazi and prayed that their country would not leave them to die. Their country did not answer their prayers. Our President went to bed and then off to a fundraising event.  I grieved for a young man who knelt on the sands of a foreign country and had his head cut off. Our President went golfing.  As a woman and a mother of sons the age of these three men, my sign should have read “They deserve to have a better president.”

President Trump did not have control over a vicious man who decided to run down a crowd. President Obama had total control over a military that could and should have at least tried to save those lives.  The press has spent two weeks talking about how terrible the bigoted and racist Trump is but if you go back and look the press spent only a short time holding Obama responsible for the deaths in Benghazi or the beheadings of American men.

Karina continues her article with comments on the “Women’s March Events” where she sites five million women were involved in the month of January. I don’t know how many women were involved but I do know that the mess that was left in Washington after the “women” marched was despicable. Google and look at the pictures. If the behavior of the women in Washington was what Karina is promoting, as a woman, I will pass.

Karina goes on to talk about a group called “Nice White Ladies”. There was something about wanting to fix racism and finding it as difficult as talking to a manager of Whole Foods.  I read her description of that group and I am still trying to figure out the point.  Again, I think I will pass.

Then Karina addressed the conservative women who were at the rally. They questioned the negative press about the President, they told her that the Republican party was made up of all races and how race was not the issue. They were focused on healthcare and tax reform. Wow, that is a novel idea.  One woman shared that she felt the President loved and supported this country and was willing to help make it better. One woman told her she felt that Arpaio worked to make our state safer for her children and grandchildren.  The women who spoke to her talked about getting involved in the school board and the local town government.  Many were sickened by the removal of our history and asked how are our children are going to learn if they never see. They all chimed in that they were tired of sitting back and were ready to get involved.  Hey, I think this is a group I can relate to.

Suddenly the protesters came back into focus.  Karina told of seeing signs that said, “Old white men have been in charge too long” and “The future is female”. There was even a woman who had a T-shirt that said, “Legal Observer” just to make sure if anyone got in trouble they were there to help. Give the protesters comfort to know their legal rights were being watched.  We used to call those type of lawyers “Ambulance Chasers.”

But let’s go back and look at what her article was supposed to be about. It was getting women to become active and uniting them. My question is how did this article unite anyone?  I am around women and men for that matter every day.  I bring up current events and nine out of 10 of the people I am talking to haven’t a clue what I am talking about. No one I know reads a paper like the Wall Street Journal but they all believe everything Facebook says.

If you want to get involved then make a commitment.  Signup to be precinct committeemen and go to the meetings. Read the bills posted at the state capital and research what they mean. When Common Core was marching through the state capital I begged women with school children to listen to me and research the information. I even created an extensive PowerPoint that I was willing to send them to watch. But out of the hundreds of people I spoke to not one asked to see it. They had other things on their mind like working out, or yoga, or the vacation they were planning.

Don’t believe what is posted on the Internet and on Facebook without researching it first. Really stupid things come up on Facebook. Go to city government meetings because that is where many issues that affect you and your family start. Attend the school board meeting once in a while. When there is an election research the candidates. Just because they can afford the signs and the TV ads doesn’t mean they will represent you and your loved ones.  Go to the local debates and ask questions of the candidates.  And please, don’t become hero worshipers and groupies.

So Karina, if you are reading my article, from one woman who is involved to another, the next time you write an article about women getting involved, leave the media spin in the coffee room and talk about real life and how women can get involved. It doesn’t start at a rally to protest the President of the United States.

Is Illegal Immigration the Fault of President Donald Trump?

by  Sheila K Muehling

Over my lifetime there have always been people entering this country illegally. As a small-town Midwestern kid, I was never affected by anyone coming in and working or living in my hometown. My father was a local contractor and a union member. His men were hired from the union hall and as far as I knew, they were just regular American workers.

Immigrant WorkersOver my lifetime there have always been people entering this country illegally. As a small-town Midwestern kid, I was never affected by anyone coming in and working or living in my hometown. My father was a local contractor and a union member. His men were hired from the union hall and as far as I knew, they were just regular American workers.

As a young adult living in Chicago I still was not affected by illegal immigrants. We had large Polish communities, Hispanic communities, Little Italy, the Chinese community and most of the Southside of Chicago was the Black community. I hired men and women who lived all over the city and unless they did a poor job, they worked and got paid along with everyone else. If they were a payroll employee, they never received cash and they always paid their taxes.

When President Reagan passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986,   my support was with the President.  As a person who ran a business in the construction industry I knew many of my sub-contractors hired workers who were illegal. Because they were not my employees I didn’t worry about it.  Once the law passed I was happy to share the information with anyone who was not legal and help them to complete the paperwork to become citizens. I made a big deal of the new law and to my surprise some of my own employees secretly took advantage of the IRCA. Only after they became citizens and obtained a social security number of their own did I realize how many were illegal and using a false or stolen social security card.

After the law was passed the problem was that many throughout the country did not take the opportunity to become citizens.  Thousands stayed in the shadow from fear of the government but more importantly, many didn’t come forward because they didn’t want to pay taxes.  The fact was most of the sub-contractors I hired used illegals as cheaper labor. Not because they paid them lower hourly pay, but because they didn’t have to match the Medicare and Social Security taxes, and they didn’t have to pay unemployment or union dues. When the law passed many of those companies made the effort to get all of their people to come forward but I remember that many who would work on my jobs suddenly disappeared.

After the IRCA the government promised to fix the border issues but we all know that did not happen. People continued to hire illegal immigrants. Women loved having them clean their houses and keep their yards manicured. Many became nannies and many worked in eldercare. The farmers wanted them to pick the crops, the builders wanted them to clean up job sites and haul materials. My experience was most Americans hired Hispanic workers because they are hardworking and respectful not because they were cheap. I knew people who considered their domestic help part of the family.  But no matter how much Americans loved the illegals they were in the long run still illegal and the problem became bigger and bigger. Sooner or later it had to break.

I am a strong supporter of President Trump and I am proud to be standing with him. However, we have to find a way to fix this problem and calm the country down. Many of the protesters in Charlottesville, Boston and Phoenix were not there because of the Hispanic population they were there because they are of the mind that Donald Trump is a bigot and a racist. I would also guess that better than 50% were there because Hillary Clinton lost. If 10% of those protesters ever spent one minute working with our state social services that try to help children and families, they would understand the problem is not this President. The problem lies with the previous administrations dating all the way back to President Reagan who never did anything to improve and promote the current immigration laws and that includes Barack Obama.

Instead of promoting the likes of Antifa and Black Lives Matter, stand with people like me who are demanding the government address the system of legal immigration now.  Let’s hold Democrats and Republicans alike to their promises during campaigns to reform the system. Let’s be committed enough to vote out the politicians who use excuses for doing nothing.  Americans should stand together on this issue.

Jon Gabriel on the Trump Pardon of Arpaio

Fellow Conservatarian friend and blogger extraordinaire, Jon Gabriel, gets a shout out for his great work on Ricochet, Sunday Square Off and his recent op-ed in USA Today. Be sure to sign up for a subscription to his blog for ongoing great content.

Here’s his recent media appearance on Sunday Square Off.

Also, check out Jon’s recent op-ed in USA Today:

Sheriff Joe Arpaio is no conservative and no hero, no matter what President Trump says

President Trump asked the crowd last week at his Phoenix rally, “Was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job?” Had the hall been filled with an accurate cross section of Arpaio’s former constituents, the answer would have been a resounding “no.”

Jon Gabriel

Jon Gabriel

Nevertheless, Trump pardoned the ex-sheriff on Friday, though he had not been sentenced and had shown zero remorse for his crime. America’s self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff” was convicted of criminal contempt of court last month after refusing to obey court orders. This most recent legal battle involved numerous federal attempts to get Arpaio to stop racially profiling residents of Maricopa County.

Not only did Arpaio refuse, he bragged about it: “Nobody is higher than me. I am the elected sheriff by the people. I don’t serve any governor or the president.”

Many conservatives outside of Arizona celebrated his headline-grabbing antics, but they don’t know the real story. I’m a conservative Maricopa County resident who has lived under Arpaio throughout his decades-long reign. Arpaio was never a conservative; he just played one on TV.

I saw his love of racial profiling firsthand, especially on my daily commutes through the tiny Hispanic community of Guadalupe, Ariz. When conducting these “sweeps,” helicopters buzzed houses, an 18-wheeler marked “Mobile Command Center” was planted in the center of town, and countless sheriff’s deputies stood on the roadsides, peering into the cars rolling by. Being Caucasian, I was always waved through. The drivers ahead and behind me weren’t so lucky.

Washington’s laxity in border enforcement led many right-of-center Americans to appreciate more robust enforcement, even when it regularly included authoritarian scenes such as the one in Guadalupe. But even if you turn a blind eye to the human cost of such race-based enforcement, Arpaio’s other misdeeds are legion.

During one three-year period, his Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office didn’t properly investigate more than 400 alleged sex crimes, many of them involving child molestation.

In all, the department improperly cleared as many as 75% of cases without arrest or investigation, a fact outlined in a scathing report by the conservative Goldwater Institute.

When local journalists delved into Arpaio’s dealings, he had them arrested, a move that ultimately cost taxpayers $3.75 million. We paid $3.5 million more after the sheriff wrongfully arrested a county supervisor who had been critical of him.

About the same time, Arpaio sought charges against another supervisor, a county board member, the school superintendent, four Superior Court Judges and several county employees. All of these were cleared by the courts and also resulted in hefty taxpayer-funded settlements for his targets.

As a U.S. District Court judge presided over a civil contempt hearing, Arpaio’s attorney hired a private detective to investigate the judge’s wife.

On the pretext of going after an alleged cache of illegal weapons, a Maricopa SWAT team burned down an upscale suburban Phoenix home and killed the occupants’ 10-month-old dog. There were no illegal arms, so they arrested the resident on traffic citations.

Arpaio’s staff concocted an imaginary assassination attempt on the sheriff, presumably for news coverage. Taxpayers had to pay the framed defendant $1.1 million after he was found not guilty.

The sheriff’s department misspent $100 million on the sheriff’s pet projects, and wasted up to $200 million in taxpayer money on lawsuits. Yet he still found money to send a deputy to Hawaii to look for President Obama’s birth certificate.

All these antics, and many more, finally persuaded Maricopa County voters to oust the sheriff by a whopping 10-point margin. They selected his Democratic opponent, despite choosing Trump by 3 points in the same election.

Convicting Arpaio of contempt of court is similar to busting Al Capone on tax evasion. It was merely the tip of the iceberg considering his numerous violations of the public trust.

The sheriff bragged in a TV interview that he would “never give in to control by the federal government.” Unsurprisingly, Arpaio ran to the federal government for help when he found himself in legal trouble. And he got it, from a president who is just as committed to truth, justice, the rule of law, conservative principles and his oath of office. That is, not very committed at all.

Jon Gabriel is editor in chief of Ricochet.com and a contributor to The Arizona Republic. Follow him on Twitter at @exjon.

 

 

 

Jeff Flake: We Can All Agree We Need Secure Borders

Jeff Flake

Senator Jeff Flake

Senator Jeff Flake recently posted the following opinion piece on Medium.

We can all agree — the President, Republicans and Democrats in Congress, and people all across the country — that we need secure borders. I also agree with the president that having a secure southern border requires physical barriers. The question is: what type of physical barriers are best? And how can technology and surveillance fill the void when physical barriers are not feasible?

I’ve been working on this issue with some of my colleagues for years. The bipartisan immigration reform bill that passed the Senate in 2013 (which I helped author) provided for 700 miles of fencing, including “double fencing” in some areas. This was in addition to doubling the number of border patrol agents from 20,000 to 40,000 as well as providing a host of other technological and border infrastructure improvements and significant additional resources to prosecute illegal border crossers.

Throughout the campaign, President Trump spoke extensively of “building a wall” along the southern border and his first budget asked for funding for “bricks and mortar” for a wall. I understand what he’s trying to accomplish, but there are there better ways to secure the border than a “brick and mortar” wall.

The closest thing we have had to a “wall” along the southern border were the surplus Vietnam War-era “landing mats” that are turned upward and placed end-to-end through some of the border communities. Because border patrol agents couldn’t see what was happening on the other side of the wall, rocks were often thrown over them, causing injury to agents and damage to border patrol vehicles. Consequently, these walls have largely been replaced with fencing.

It’s important to understand what sort of fencing we are talking about. It’s not a short chainlinked fence or a barb-wired fence you’d see on a ranch. We’re talking about a solid steel structure that often rises 20 feet above the ground but has narrow gaps allowing border patrols agents to see through to the other side.

I was pleased that during his visit to Arizona this week, President Trump traveled to the border community of Yuma, where “landing mat” walls have been replaced with fences, to great effect. I would invite the President to visit other stretches of the border in Arizona where walls have been replaced by fences in border communities. I should note that in some remote, mountainous areas, even border fences aren’t feasible because of the landscape. In these spaces, sensors, camera towers, and drone surveillance can help fill the void.

There are other issues with border walls. For example, the San Pedro watershed near the town of Naco in southern Arizona empties northward across the border into Arizona. A brick and mortar border wall would be either be breached during the monsoon season, or it would flood border communities on the Mexican side of the border. Even the current border fences in that region need storm gates to allow debris to escape northward through the border fence after a good rainstorm.

If the “border wall” is simply a metaphor for increased border security, which includes a mix of fencing, sensors, towers and drone surveillance, I strongly support the President. Arizonans have been working on this issue for years, and the downward trend in illegal border crossings over the past few years has been encouraging (owing both to better border security and an improving economy in countries south of our border).

But an actual brick and mortar border wall is not the most effective or efficient way to secure our border and keep Arizona safe.

A Civil War Era Monument That Was Never Built

By Dick Foreman

I’ve written this blog about 14 times. Seriously.

And each time it goes to the cutting room floor. My analysis of Empowerment Scholarship Accounts has been set aside by a recall issue. School Funding is a critical discussion turning into the flavor of the day but at least ideas are emerging and competing. And then Charlottesville happened and the focus lurched into a new discussion. Shall we bulldoze Confederate monuments or not? Sweet mercy sakes, I thought we had some tough challenges with public education issues, and now Confederate monuments are bumping our schools’ needs off the radar. One of my keenest advisors and observers of the Arizona political and policy scene said this to me, “I am annoyed at everything.”

Yes. I am annoyed, too. But not at everything. In fact, as I think about it, I am far more grateful for the opportunity to support the over 1 million Arizona children who have started school again this month. And, with due gratitude to Dr. Ruth Ann Marston and Phoenix Elementary School District Superintendent Larry Weeks for tipping me off, I now have a keenly refreshed perspective on this point. Perhaps you might appreciate it, too. Read on.

It is a sacred opportunity to define the mission in public education. It’s as American as our American Founding Fathers, who unequivocally endorsed it. So, understanding our roots might help, like learning the real pioneer history of public education in Arizona. What are we doing this for? Who is our “Education Founding Father?” Do we have one?

Yes, indeed we do. And he’s an incredible role model and inspiration as well.

Don Estevan Ochoa

Don Estevan Ochoa

So, I’d like to reflect on Don Estevan Ochoa, born in Chihuahua, Mexico in 1831. Senor Ochoa is Arizona’s Education Founding Father. To me, this is not a debate. It is an irrefutable truth.

In a nutshell, Ochoa was a Tucson merchant who, during the Civil War, refused to shift his loyalties from the United States Government to the Confederacy in deference to the demands of the commander of the marauding army from the south. When he told them “no,” they confiscated all his worldly goods (which was a lot as he was one of the most successful merchants in Tucson at the time) and ordered him out of the Territory. Forcibly put outside the protective Tucson Presidio, he vowed to return to drive the Confederates from Arizona. And he did! Ochoa made his way through hostile Indian lands to fetch a Union battalion at the Rio Grande that returned with him, successfully restoring Arizona to the Union. He was a bonafide war hero and American patriot. And this curious fact remains true to this day; in 1875, he was elected Tucson’s first and last Mexican American Mayor.

As accomplished a career as this was, it was still not enough for Ochoa. He was also president of the school board where he upstaged the Arizona territorial legislature and a domineering Catholic bishop to single-handedly raise the funds and donate the land to build the town’s main public school. He accomplished this as a follow up to his efforts three years earlier, as chairman of the territory’s Committee on Public Education, to establish Arizona’s first public school system in Tucson.

Author Jeff Biggers wrote about Ochoa in an online piece A Mexican Immigrant’s Act of Honor for the New York Times (See A Mexican Immigrant’s Act of Honor, by Jeff Biggers, The New York Times, February 14, 2012):

In the spring of 1876, the Arizona Citizen declared: “Ochoa is constantly doing good for the public,” and concluded, “Ochoa is the true and useful friend of the worthy poor, of the oppressed, and of good government.” With the school completed in 1877, the same newspaper raved: “The zeal and energy Mr. Ochoa has given to public education, should give him a high place on the roll of honor and endear him more closely than ever to his countrymen. He has done much to assist in preparing the youth for the battle of life.”

Wow. This reads like a very sensationalized western novel. But it’s not a novel, it’s Arizona’s pioneer heritage. Maybe it’s time to finally desegregate our opinions and integrate our collective hopes.

For many, our respective engagements in public education seem hopelessly mired in what I do not affectionately refer to as political “flotsam and jetsam.” I’ll say this as positively as I can, our vision for Arizona’s educational future remains a critical thinking opportunity.

In my more pessimistic moments, it seems we’re bent on ignoring our past to get to a future that we collectively refuse to envision through consensus building. That’s a problem. What is NOT a problem is where we started. Don Estevan Ochoa was Mexican by birth, American by choice and a hero by deed. He gave up his fortune to fight the Confederate marauders. He got into politics, bless his soul. But most importantly from my perspective, he created the Arizona public education system. He started it all.

Perhaps we should build another Civil War inspired monument – to Don Estevan Ochoa. Senor Ochoa was a real Arizona Civil War hero, an immigrant, a businessman, a true patriot, a rugged pioneer, a proud Republican, and the founder of Arizona’s public education system.

Now isn’t that a heritage all Arizonans can be proud of?

NOTE: Dick Foreman is president & CEO of ABEC.

The Pardon

By Sheila K Muehling

Today with coffee in hand, I opened the Sunday edition of the newspaper and what did I see but the two faces of President Trump and Joe Arpaio and a headline, “Pardon, Politics & Power.” We just can’t stop seeing the press constantly needling anything to get things riled up. So I decided to take a look at one of the humanitarian arguments MSM prints on a daily basis.

Many of the protesters have demanded Arpaio’s head on a platter as justice for the thousands of poor families who have been ripped apart. The children who’s parents have been returned to their country leaving them without a mother or a father to take care of them. The argument that the parents made a choice to come to this country illegally in hopes of staying here, falls on deaf ears. The pardoning of Joe Arpaio is a slap to the poor children who see this as injustice to their own futures.

To those children whose parents have been or will be deported I say yes, it is unfair to you and you deserve to have your parents. To those same children I say go with your parents and work hard to make a life and be successful. Your future is up to you regardless of where you live. The good thing is your parents are alive and can give you a loving hug and support as you grow to be adults no matter where you live.

But now let’s look at another use of the Presidential pardon system. How about President Obama? Over and over the accusations fly through the media that Joe Arpaio caused death and destruction of families as he rounded up the illegal population. Arpaio targeted cooks, bricklayers, gardeners, housekeepers and nannies. He took dads and moms from innocent little children. How dare he be pardoned!

Joe Arpaio

Joe Arpaio

Here is a list of who President Obama pardoned. As you look at the list, I want to share what I see as I compare these pardons to the pardoning of Joe Arpaio.

President Obama was a supporter of releasing men and women who trafficked in illegal drugs. I submit that more children and families were destroyed by drugs and drug trafficking than were ever destroyed by Joe Arpaio’s focus on arresting and removing illegal immigrants. If you have ever worked in the child welfare area of any state you see death and destruction. Innocent babies born drug addicted who often never get over the medical issues they face day in and day out as they shake and cry thorough early withdrawal from drugs fed to them through the mother’s bloodstream. The children who spend the first five years of their lives with doctors and hospitals, more drugs and more treatments and hours with counselors who try to help them feel normal. The children who grow into angry teenagers who never understand what a normal life is all about.

Then there are the children who face a lifetime of watching their parents spend time not on books and toys or cheering them on at their sports games but instead, spend time doing drugs and displaying out of control behavior.

Children who know when mommy and daddy are high and how to stay out of their way. Children who go to school hiding the bruises, cigarette burns and wounds inflicted on them by their parents. They face the embarrassment of soiled and torn clothing, lice infested heads, sleep deprivation, worn shoes and hungry bellies.

I support President Trump’s pardon of Joe Arpaio. As a taxpayer, I want to stop spending my taxes on the prosecution of an 82-year old man who believed that he was elected to enforce the law. President Trump did the right thing to put this issue behind all of us. This is over.

President Obama on the other hand put drug dealers back on the street. Most of them are probably still doing the same thing they have always done, destroying families and people. We will continue to spend our tax dollars to prosecute these same people and pay to keep them fed, clothed and entertained in the prison system. We will continue to try and heal the children who are affected by the people Obama pardoned. When will that be over, never.