Sal DiCiccio: $16 Million Wasted In Just One Day By City Of Phoenix

Sal DiCiccio

Last week, I wrote about the structural deficit our city is facing. Our deficit problems will continue until we make public safety our priority and cut spending in non-essential areas. On Tuesday, city staff gave a presentation regarding the budget deficit forecast. The forecast, which did not come as a surprise to me, shows our deficit continuing to grow out of control, even while we collect increased revenue.

The day after the budget deficit presentation, I voted NO on the following expenses, all of which the Phoenix City Council ultimately approved:

  • $3,668,564 to Downtown Phoenix Inc – a group that already taxes private businesses against their will to spend money on the Downtown area
  • $16,000 to National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials – annual membership fee
  • $60,000 to Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 777 to buy promotional and training material for themselves
  • $108,000 to Ballard Spahr LLP- lobbyists (this is on top of the hundreds of thousands of dollars they already spent on lobbyists at the last council meeting)
  • $12,170,000 to change just 4 bus routes
  • $750,000 to join the ASU Global Institute of Sustainability

TOTAL: $16,772,564

Just during a single city council meeting, we could have cut $16 million of unnecessary spending. But instead, we continued to add to the structural deficit problems we face.

As long as we continue to spend in this manner, we will continue to see your taxpayer monies wasted. And city officials will continue to have their hand out, telling you they need to increase your taxes because they are short on revenues. They’re not. They just have a spending problem.

You have my commitment to continue to protect you, your family and your hard earned tax dollars.

My best to you,

Sal DiCiccio
Phoenix City Council
District 6

Former PC and State Committeewoman Calls Out AZGOP Candidate Jim O’Connor

The following guest opinion was submitted. Jim O’Connor is welcome to respond.

After reading a post in the MCRC Briefs by Jim O’Connor, I sent him this email. This is based on my personal dealings with him.
Dear Jim,

I saw the article that you wrote for the MCRC Briefs and have included it at the bottom of this email. As I’m sure you can imagine, my first reaction upon finishing the piece was to chuckle, then after a re-read my thought was that “Jim must be trying to get into the fiction writing business.​” I was shocked at what I read. You said, regarding the divide within our party that:

“It existed when I first began participating in my LD and continues to this very day.”  WHAT?

I was a PC and I never noticed a divide within our party or our LD. That all began after you got involved with the District.

“Both sides use the same tools to engage in this fruitless battle: Proxy abuse, attitudes and facial expressions at meetings (that would scare off new PC prospects), some party leadership who show favoritism to certain PCs, just to name a few.”

I think this statement reveals just how low you will stoop to try and win an election.

PROXY ABUSE…that is your middle name. FACIAL EXPRESSIONS…yep,  just the way you glare at those whom you deem unworthy, whom you believe are RINO’s, whom you believe are not Christian enough…I could go on and on especially since I have been on the receiving end of those LOOKs.

For a man who wears his Christianity on his sleeve, you are the most judgmental person I have ever met.

“The issues to be addressed by the EC are: By-Law Review, Proxy Abuse, Technology, Teleconferencing, PC Recruitment And Training. I invite you to join with me to create a formidable organization focused on registering Republican voters, recruiting new PCs, and working to get good Republicans elected.”

I love this…. Bylaw review: it took you and your crew well over 4 years to put out a set of Bylaws. You wanted your fellow PC’s to have to swear an oath to be loyal to the LD. You wanted to blackball anyone who might have been a Democrat in their past or who might have supported one. The operative word being MIGHT…and you began purging our District of those who fought you on these damaging ideas.

Proxy Abuse: for a man who has made it his purpose to recruit PC’s who do not attend meetings and who do not participate in anything, but who will hand over their proxy’s so that your chosen crew will be elected. For a man who puts out lists of blackballed PC’s so that those carrying the illegal proxy’s will only vote for those on your list…it is disgraceful. You are not a leader.

Training: The first training session I went to that had been arranged by you was about 5 years ago. You remember, it was on the topic of how to speak to someone with different views. I made sure to arrange my schedule so that I could attend what I was hoping would be an interesting and informative morning. What did we get? Well, it turned out that you fell for the nonsense of a women who told you she was an expert in dealing with controversial topics…but instead we heard about her family and how her bridge club did not like her because she had better clothes tha​n​ they did…yep, that was a good day.

The second time I attended one of your training sessions, just last year, it was supposed to be about how to be a good PC. Again, I rearranged my schedule and sat and listened to an older gentleman regale us with stories of his life. I’m not sure the word PC was ever uttered. Again, another flop for the O’Connor team.

I can only hope that you lose this election and don’t take our State down the tubes as you have done to our Legislative District. LD23 used to be winners. We used to have fun in LD23. We used to make a huge difference. Now, under your poor guidance, LD23 is a  loser – loser in recruiting PC’s and everything else. Honestly, I cannot think of one positive thing you have done.

In summary, this article you posted in the MCRC Briefs appears to be an autobiography of you.

Joan Lang
Former PC
Former State Committeeman

===========

Original message:

From the Briefs: By Jim O’Connor

There is no denying that there has been a fundamental divide within our party in Arizona. We all have to say that out loud because it is TRUE. Any attempt to cover that up with clever language by either side of the divide, will lessen our chances of curing the problem under the next administration. It existed when I first began participating in my LD and continues to this very day. So I invite all of us to get real as an alternative to getting even. Both sides use the same tools to engage in this fruitless battle: Proxy abuse, attitudes and facial expressions at meetings (that would scare off new PC prospects), some party leadership who show favoritism to certain PCs, just to name a few. If I go on with this laundry list, I shall fail to make my point.

These destructive behaviors must stop. A thorough audit of our State Party is long overdue. And by audit I mean much more than a financial audit. We need the soon to be elected Executive Committee (EC) to be empowered to act. These 84 members represent every County and Congressional District across Arizona. The issues to be addressed by the EC are: By-Law Review, Proxy Abuse, Technology, Teleconferencing, PC Recruitment And Training. I invite you to join with me to create a formidable organization focused on registering Republican voters, recruiting new PCs, and working to get good Republicans elected. After all, ours is a Republic, if we can keep it.

Republican Activists Call Out AZGOP Chairman Candidate

Words Are Cheap Mr. O’Connor

It was surreal to read what Jim O’Connor, candidate for AZGOP Chair, wrote and which was posted to MCRC Briefs on January 7, 2017:

“JIM O’CONNOR: There is no denying that there has been a fundamental divide within our party in Arizona. We all have to say that out loud because it is TRUE. Any attempt to cover that up with clever language by either side of the divide, will lessen our chances of curing the problem under the next administration. It existed when I first began participating in my LD and continues to this very day. So I invite all of us to get real as an alternative to getting even. Both sides use the same tools to engage in this fruitless battle: Proxy abuse, attitudes and facial expressions at meetings (that would scare off new PC prospects), some party leadership who show favoritism to certain PCs, just to name a few. If I go on with this laundry list, I shall fail to make my point.

These destructive behaviors must stop. A thorough audit of our State Party is long overdue. And by audit I mean much more than a financial audit. We need the soon to be elected Executive Committee (EC) to be empowered to act. These 84 members represent every County and Congressional District across Arizona. The issues to be addressed by the EC are: By-Law Review, Proxy Abuse, Technology, Teleconferencing, PC Recruitment And Training. I invite you to join with me to create a formidable organization focused on registering Republican voters, recruiting new PCs, and working to get good Republicans elected. After all, ours is a Republic, if we can keep it.

Actions speak louder than words. Where is the proof that Jim is a healer? Why should we believe Jim’s promise to mend the party at the state level when he can’t even do it within his own district? Jim and his inner circle are experts at party division. Repeatedly we, the undersigned of LD23, have been on the receiving end of back stabbing, lies and so much more (for a few examples see Guest Opinion: Why Jim O’Connor Should Not Be The Next AZGOP Chairman, Gayla Coletto Responds To Jim O’Connor’s MCRC Post and My Turn: Jim O’Connor Practices Unfair, Unethical Elections.)

For the flavor of what was/is continually dished out by LD23 leadership, please read the following, which appeared in our district’s January 2016 newsletter. It was written by Joe Meli, Chairman Emeritus (emphasis ours).

“You may often be hearing the refrain “I’m a conservative, not a Republican!” Balderdash! We are Republicans who stand for the conservation of our nation’s values framed by the United States Constitution. By definition, a Republican cannot be progressive if progressivism requires abandoning our history and the legacy of the Framers. To be a conservative is to conserve. To conserve is to preserve. To be a Republican in practical terms, one must stand for that concept. Make no mistake, folks who claim to be moderate Republicans are really unsure of what they believe, and therefore pick and choose what planks in our platform to support. They are certainly free to do so, but they offer only a compromised future for our party.”

Many of us have been labeled “moderate Republicans” and therefore have been ostracized from our district. Apparently, those within the LD23 inner circle believe they have some divine ability to magically know our hearts, and therefore can operate as judge and jury when deciding who of us is worthy enough to belong to “their” Republican party.

We get it. Politics is a rough and tumble business. But for the record, we expected Jim to be different—he wears his Christianity and love of our founding fathers and documents on his sleeve, and that was refreshing to many of us. Finally, an honest political leader! But we expected better than what we got. Our bad.

As it relates to LD23, not everything is as it seems. From our perspective, the LD23 inner circle operates as if narrative can trump facts and actual action… But in our world, the proof is in the actual evidence of our experiences. For as long as we can remember, there have been no real attempts made by Jim or his team to repair and rebuild. Just division, division, division. This should raise red flags for all of you who care so much about an honest and transparent Arizona GOP operation moving forward.

Elect Jim O’Connor and you could very well end up like so many of us—at the receiving end of back stabbing, rumors, lies, innuendos and more. And an AZGOP that is more divided than ever. Buyers beware. Don’t say we didn’t warn you…

The undersigned,

Chris Brant
Gayla Coletto
Harold J. Denomme
Eileen Fiedler
Greg Heine
Roberta Heine
Joan Lang
Warren Lang
Bruce Linker
Paula Linker
Sheila Muehling
Cheryl Pelletier
Joan Parker
Nancy Pryor
Linda Rizzo
Joe Romack
Jan Stephenson
Mike Stephenson
Dick Stock
Edith Stock

(Opposing views are welcome.)

Guest Opinion: Why Jim O’Connor Should Not Be The Next AZGOP Chairman

If you are not telling the truth about insignificant things, what else are you not telling the truth about?

I really am a nobody in politics. I have no power now, nor did I want any when I was a precinct committeeman, precinct captain and state committeeman representing the Del Joya precinct within LD23. I just wanted and still want to do my small part to help stop the encroachment of leftist, socialist policies that the Democrat party has attempted and will continue to attempt to cram down our throats when given the chance.

As a result of my grassroots political involvement, I have an experience I want to share with you. I am writing this in the hope that enough people will read and consider this before voting for the very important position of AZ GOP chairman.

Background to the following: Del Joya is the same precinct where Jim O’Connor, candidate for AZ GOP chairman, resides. Early on in my grassroots career, we worked together, including on one or two occasions, joined together to complete our signature petitions.

It was September of 2014 and another primary election cycle had come and gone. It was my responsibility, as PC Captain, to contact the PC’s in my precinct so that we could come together to elect a new captain. Reviewing the list of newly elected PCs, I realized that there were quite a few I had no contact information for—so I called Jim, figuring he could help. But Jim told me he could not because he did not know who these new PCs were.

Ok, so he didn’t know. No problem! I would track down the information myself so I enlisted the assistance of a super-sleuth friend. As a result, I was able to contact all of our PCs and a meeting was scheduled at my home.

The evening of the meeting arrived. Two of the individuals Jim claimed not to know showed up first. We introduced ourselves and got to talking. In the course of our conversation I learned that Jim did indeed know these two individuals. How did I find out? Because these first arrivals informed me that they had been working with Jim on some political activities in the past. Hmmmm…

I was able to speak to Jim about this matter at a later date. At first he denied it. But after explaining to him the facts as they were, he was forced to admit his transgression. He even said to me “Cheryl, as one Christian to another can you find it in your heart to forgive me?”

I know, I know. You might be thinking that this is no big deal—after all, it’s just a little white lie, right? But why did Jim claim he did not know these people? Why did he not want to provide this information? Why was he making me work harder than I had to in order to perform my PC Captain duties? Which leads me to my closing comment… The truth is this: There absolutely was no reason to lie to me about such a small matter. If you are not telling the truth about the little things, what else are you not telling the truth about?

A few experiences already have been shared on this website and on Facebook. And I know that there are numerous other people who have similar stories to tell. We can only hope they will share them. Bottom line is this: Jim O’Connor is not the man he so very well presents himself to be and he should not become the next AZGOP chairman.

Thank you for your time.

Cheryl D. Pelletier
Lifelong Republican and Resident of LD 23, Del Joya Precinct

Gayla Coletto Responds to Jim O’Connor’s MCRC Post

Let’s get the facts straight. Jim O’Connor has listed some lies and one truth.

  1. I was on the credentials table – Truth
  2. I didn’t check Jim’s proxies because Kathy Schneider credential his precinct. – Lie
  3. The Chairman of LD23 approves any material that is distributed to the PC’s. Everyone in the room had the list out in plain site, so why didn’t he object? I have list from other elections that he distributed but, he told me to keep it private – He lied not knowing about the list.
  4. He told me he had 9 proxies. – He’s lying

In regards to MCRC briefs controlled by Frosty, who received but never posted my letter. Yet allowed Jim to respond to my letter when he claimed he didn’t approve of proxies. This is why I’m going to the Sonoran Alliance with my letters as they don’t silence critics.

Why would O’Connor control the election of state committeemen you ask, it was to help him get elected for the State Chairman’s position.

Gayla Coletto

My Turn: Jim O’Connor Practices Unfair, Unethical Elections

By Gayla Coletto

I’m a member of LD23, a state committeemen, treasurer, state delegate, national delegate, Precinct Committeeman and a trusted citizen who has volunteered for many jobs including being on the credentials teams at all LD23 elections as well as at the county and state elections.

I have seen and witnessed the collection (harvesting) of proxies by many including the chairman. The GOP pushed a bill through to stop the democrats from harvesting ballots yet at our elections they harvest proxies giving the person who collects them unethical voting power. With 119 people on a list approved and distributed by the Chairman Jim O’Connor who he himself brought in 9 proxies.

The unfair practice at LD23 by a chairman who distributes a list to new and old PC’s of who to vote for has resulted in an unfair election punishing anyone who Jim O’Connor can’t control.

Because of his unethical practices many hard working committeemen have left the LD. If this practice continues it will destroy the GOP from the bottom up.

Jim O’Connor must answer to these allegations for the sake of the party and our country. This corruptions must stop and a new election for state committeemen must take place before the state election next month.

Guest Opinion: Arizona Board of Education Rubber Stamps Common Core for 7 More Years

State Board of Education Ignores  Governor, Parents, and own Policy and  Rubber Stamps Common Core for another  7 Years

After a raucous 2014 election year for the office for Superintendent of Public Instruction only 16,034 votes separated the outcome of the 2014 election results between Diane Douglas and David Garcia. One would like to suggest Douglas’ opposition to the top down federal one-sized-fits all standards helped ensure she was the victor. This was a coup for the parents who despised the unconstitutional federal outreach in their children’s classrooms – later only to learn the fox was in the hen house all along.

A quick history lesson on Common Core in Arizona. In 2010, the Arizona State Board of Education adopted Common Core standards for all public schools throughout Arizona. As these standards were being implemented, parents and practitioners alike started to have difficulty learning and teaching them.

This classroom battle came to a head in 2013 inciting a Republican primary challenge to then-Superintendent John Huppenthal who was fully engaged in implementing these standards that had to be rebranded to “college and career ready” due to public outcry.

Like so many top-down government mandates, implementing Common Core became a gravy train for special interests who only care about their profits, not about the outcome of our children’s future. These same corporate entities joined local business chambers to ensure they helped elect pro-Common Core candidates for local and statewide offices.

Meanwhile, grade school children who loved math started to hate math. Other children who loved writing, started to hate writing. Parents knew something was wrong.  In some instances, parents with higher degrees in engineering and math could no longer help their children with basic arithmetic homework.

As with the other 49 states, Arizona retains the authority to approve and modify its academic standards. More importantly, there is no federal law requiring the adoption of specific standards. Yet, 46 states originally adopted common core.

To address this, Governor Doug Ducey directed the State Board of Education (SBE) on March 2015. His direction was for the State Board of Education to “make right the situation…with full transparency.” Direction was given for “teachers and parents to bring [standards] forward together.”

In response, the Arizona SBE created a review process that included 17 members representing different sectors of communities across Arizona. Six of these members were parents from various parts of Arizona. This group was called the Arizona Standards Development Committee (ASDC), consisting of educational experts and parents. Its task was to recommend updated standards to the SBE per the Governor’s request.

However, for the past year and a half the standards were only being reviewed by “technical professionals” and lobbyists in closed-door meetings. These individuals were largely pro-common core individuals. Multiple requests were submitted to the Arizona Department of Education to include parents or people with opposing viewpoints, but these were turned down each time.

On December 14th, the ASDC was scheduled only 3 hours to review and possibly approve hundreds of standards. Up to this point, the ASDC had no substantive discussion on the standards and very little time to study the latest version of the standards.

After two and a half hours of presentations and public comments, the ASDC had 30 minutes to discuss and feel comfortable recommending hundreds of pages of standards. They were concerned that many issues with common core remained. Further, there was no evidence that hundreds of public comments were received or one standard changed by public comments. Many of the ASDC were concerned.

Thus, the parents requested additional time to discuss the standards and voted 8-7 vote to delay approving any current recommendation of these newly revised standards to the SBE until at least January 2017.

It should be noted that the clear expectation from ADE and the SBE staff was for the ASDC to rubber stamp the draft and not ask too many questions. At the same time, the Executive Director and President of the State Board of Education posted an agenda item on the SBE’s December 19th  agenda for the SBE also to rubber stamp the standards. Most of them had never read these “new” standards in any substantive detail.

On December 19th, the SBE shocked the public and the ASDC by rubber stamping the recommended standards. The request of the Governor to have standards brought forth by teachers and parents were largely ignored. Not one person in opposition appeared to speak in public because they trusted that the SBE would respect the direction of the Governor and the ASDC to do their job and recommend standards to the SBE.

In a shocking irony, the very person—Diane Douglas–who promised to “stop common core”, recommended the ‘revised’ standards; standards virtually identical to the common core state standards foolishly adopted by the SBE in 2010.

It is no wonder why President-elect Donald J. Trump is in line to become our next President. No one trusts the government. If a process is in place it should be adhered and there shouldn’t have a go-around if the vote doesn’t fall in your favor. Our Republic doesn’t exist to be overrun by bureaucratic tyrants.

As members of this subcommittee we waited patiently for the review and public commenting period to end. We welcomed proponents of these standards to our public meetings and only gave them the deepest respect at our meetings even though they didn’t always model the best public decorum they would want their children or students to convey.

We call upon Governor Doug Ducey to request that the SBE reconsider the vote; respect the public; and follow the process established.

We also call upon Governor Ducey to seat people on the SBE that truly respect the parents of our State who are deeply concerned with the direction of public education in our State.

Respectfully Submitted By

Scott Leska; Public School District Elected Board Member
Grant Peterson; Middle School Parent
Dr. Richard Rutkowski; Business Community Member
Olga Tarro; Elementary School Parent
Maureen Tozzi; Business Community Member
Shawnna Bolick; High School Parent

Merry Christmas from Senator Sylvia Allen & Family

Christmas Time

It was an unknown author who wrote these profound words about Jesus Christ: “I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as this one solitary life.”

Jesus Christ’s birthday is celebrated by the world in this month of December.  He lived in a dusty corner of the Roman Empire more than 2,000 years ago.  From the beginning of his  birth among the animals was the beginning of his humble life. For there was no room for him in the Inn.  He had no money.  He was not a sport hero or starred in a blockbuster movie, or was elected to a position of power.  And, yet, more than one billion people today proclaim to be his followers.

From my earliest memories, I knew who this man was, for I was taught as a child, “Jesus Loves Me.”  My mother read Bible storybooks to me about his compassion for the sick and the suffering and how he healed the blind, lame, and lepers.  He even raised the dead.  I had a picture of him holding the little children.  My heart knew he loved me.   

He was a master storyteller who wove moral lessons through the stories he told so that you had to ponder and think upon them.  To illustrate the forgiveness of God, Jesus related the tale of the prodigal son, who threw away his inheritance in loose living and worldly things until, broken, shamed, and repentant, he returned home to find his father rejoicing that, “once you were lost, but now are found.”

Jesus urged his followers personally to help those in need – the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, the imprisoned, saying that whatever they did“for one of the least of these, ye have done it unto me.”

He asked them to forgive the faults of others and He laid down the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

He forbade murder and adultery, anger and hatred, and encouraged prayer, fasting, and sacrifice. “Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.”

What was at the center of all he taught?  Love. “Love one another as I have loved you.”  Not only love God but also love your neighbor as yourself.  Then he asked us to even love our enemies as he loved his, for on the cross he said, ”Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

My early memories of Christmas were wrapped up in sound, smell, and taste.  There just is something about the air that is even different.  A child feels an unexplained excitement and anticipation that stays with them into adulthood. 

My mother wanted us to remember Christmas not as a gift-giving day but one of celebration of the Life we were honoring. “What gifts can you give Jesus?” was her question to us one Christmas in 1960.  I wasn’t much in the mood to answer her question.  I was feeling sorry for myself because, truth be told, we were a family living on meager means, and I knew that I wouldn’t get much in the way of presents that year. 

My mother told us of a family whose father was very ill.  There were three little girls in the family.  We took some of our old dolls and made them over with new hair and beautiful doll clothes that my mother and I sewed.   I felt the excitement building.  We made pies and cookies and put together a food basket.  After dark, my sisters and I crept up to the door.  We placed our offering on the porch, knocked, and ran.  We had pre-picked a bush where we sat shivering with anticipation as we watched to see what would happen.  The door opened, and a little girl cried out. “Mommy, there’re presents!  Words can’t describe how much better my young 12-year-old heartfelt.  My mom said I felt the spirit of Christmas. 

When it was my turn to bring the spirit of Christmas to my own children, we had many wonderful experiences, but my favorite was with a homeless man who lived in his truck parked in a vacant field.  For months we would drive by and the kids would comment on how sad it was that he had no home.  When we gathered together to pick our Christmas service, my young son said, “Mom, the man in the truck!” 

We made goodies and  wrapped a flannel shirt and packed them in a basket and at the last minute I put in a Bible with the Christmas story marked.  I told my oldest son to be ready to jump out and place the box on the ground at the back of the camper.  I was worried that we might frighten him, so I wanted to be quick.

On Christmas Eve, when we drove up, all was dark and quiet.  I wasn’t sure if he was there, but my son quickly got out and placed the box.  As he jumped back in the car, the back of the camper door flew opened and, as I sped away, my daughter yelled out the window,  “Merry Christmas, we love you!”  The kids sang all the way home.  We had the Christmas Spirit – the Spirit of Christ.

Now I am making memories with my grandchildren this year we help at the Salvation Army warehouse.

Whatever attitudes people hold towards Jesus Christ, whether they believe him to be the Son of God or just a great teacher, there is no question that, if his teachings were faithfully followed and lived by everyone, the world would be a better and more peaceful place to live.  Christmas gives us a chance to change ourselves and to remember a babe born of Mary.

What gift will you give?

Merry Christmas to all of you from the Allen Family!!!

Senator Sylvia Allen on National Popular Vote

Senator Sylvia Allen

Senator Sylvia Allen (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

I am getting a lot of email about the National Popular vote asking me to change the way the electoral college works in our state.  How the Electoral votes are appropriated is only one of two of the powers the state Legislators have been given in the US Constitution.  The other is Article V which allows the states to propose amendments to the Constitution.

The National Popular Vote debate is picking up steam since Trump does not have a majority of the total national vote when adding up all votes cast in each state.  Some of the argument is that voters feel their vote does not count and that if your state is not part of the battleground states you are at a disadvantage.  One email said, “I’m tired of hearing that Ohio and Florida are the only states that matter in presidential elections.  What about Arizona?  Our votes should count too…”

I took a very hard look at this issue last session.  I read the National Popular Vote manual and had many discussions with legislators and my constituents.  Here is how I reasoned it out in my mind from the discussions that were held last year, from what I studied and read, and from my understanding of our government.

This national government was created by the states.  Sovereignty is held by the states.  The way to look at the Electoral College is that it is the States electing the president by the majority vote of the people who live in each state.  As in every election cycle, the President is elected by a majority of each state’s electoral votes, which means the majority vote cast by the people in their respective states elected the President by their electoral votes going for that candidate.  When you think about it, this is the way we preserve Federalism.  Looking at the map in any election you will see that the majority of the states, by the majority vote of their citizens, did elect the President.  Arizona did elect the president by the majority vote of our citizens, which means Arizona does count.

A true popular vote will only mean that highly populated states would prevail and the smaller states would not have a voice in the election which would mean that the citizens in those states would be at a disadvantage.

This nation was founded as a Republic using democratic processes to elect our leaders, but we are not a true Democracy.  We are a nation ruled by law the federal and state constitutions. Educating our citizens on the founding principles is so important, as our Founders said, that without it we will not remain free.

Senator Sylvia Tenney Allen serves as President Pro Tempore in the Arizona State Senate. She is a native Arizonan representing Arizona’s 5th Legislative District.

Death of a Reformer

By Rachel Alexander

Arizona Republican Governor Doug Ducey fired his top reformer last month, Tim Jeffries, who he’d recruited to head the Department of Economic Security in February of 2015. Jeffries came in and cleaned up the agency, firing corrupt employees and improving morale, but once those terminated workers complained to the left-leaning Arizona Republic, the paper went all out to take him down with baseless smears, and the governor eventually deserted him.

With a background in the private sector, Jeffries went about reforming government at the “speed of business.” When Ducey took office almost two years ago, he instructed state agency directors to reduce their agencies by 2 percent. Jeffries is probably the only agency director who accomplished that goal, terminating 475 employees and eliminating some of those positions. Prior to Jeffries’ arrival, DES had become a bloated agency, the second largest in the state with over 7,000 employees and several hundred temporary workers and high-priced contractors.

Jeffries had the Arizona Attorney General’s Office bring charges against a corrupt state legislator who fraudulently obtained $1,726 in food stamps. Democratic Rep. Ceci Velasquez “falsely claimed she had two dependents, gave a false address and allowed two other people to use her food stamp benefit card.” A grand jury indicted her on three felonies for welfare fraud. The investigation had started under Jeffries’ predecessor, but went nowhere since he was afraid to touch it. Why are elected officials above the law? No Arizona public official had ever been investigated and prosecuted for food stamp fraud prior to Jeffries’ directorship. The AG’s office eventually caved, letting her plea to a mere misdemeanor charge and probation. Velasquez plans to run again for the Arizona House in 2018 after her lone misdemeanor clears.

Velasquez’s friend, Democratic Sen. Martin Quezada, launched a Twitter firestorm bashing Jeffries and defending Velasquez, predicting Jeffries’ demise. Jeffries set up a meeting with Quezada about the situation, but for well over an hour, all Quezada could do was act as an apologist for Velasquez. He talked about her lower income level and the poverty of her constituents, and claimed she was being targeted. Jeffries responded, “The only people that DES targets for investigation are those who steal from the poor. I’m not a policymaker, I’m a policy implementer. So if you and your elected colleagues want to pass a law that allows members of the House and Senate to have food stamps they’re not entitled to, then you pass a law to do so. Until then, DES will investigate anyone and everyone who rips off the poor.”

Once the media decides it doesn’t like you, it throws a bunch of accusations together with the words “controversial” and “scandal.” Craig Harris, a reporter with the Republic, is known for putting together sloppy paragraphs with a flashy headline, repeating the same baseless claims over and over throughout multiple articles. Additionally, the Republic suffers from a failure to separate between news and opinion articles. Republic opinion writer Laurie Roberts, also known for her hit pieces on conservatives, tag teamed with Harris against Jeffries. She became increasingly hyperbolic with her histrionics, titling one column “Booze Before Blood.” It was a cruel jab at Jeffries, because she knew fully well that one of the men who killed his brother drank alcohol before killing him.  

The paper piled on Jeffries and his revamped management team for firing 475 employees, accusing him of terminating employees who didn’t deserve to be fired. Yet none of this reporting addressed the specific reasons the former employees were terminated, including the fact most of the employees were at-will employees and only one of them had sued the agency over it. The Republic and other newspapers could not stand Jeffries blunt-spoken style; Jeffries did not hesitate to call some of the fired employees “bullies, liars, racists, sexual harassers, and multi-year bad actors.” Instead, the biased articles discussed how many of the employees were women, seniors, and minorities even though the percentages released were in line with DES employee statistics.

The reality is there was a lot of unseemly, unethical and criminal activity taking place. After Jeffries was terminated, an employee emailed him, “I want to thank you for your selfless service to all employees, clients and taxpayers during your time at DES. It was obvious to most employees how you gave back and touched many people with the true intent of helping the poor and those who serve them. I’ve worked at DES since 2008 and believe me the agency as well as anyone who has ever paid taxes owes you a debt of gratitude. Most of those a**holes that got fired were stealing from the poor or manipulating those who bust their a** to serve them.”

The Republic is now sympathetically covering the attempts of the terminated employees to regain their jobs.

Ironically, Jeffries was fired in part for merely carrying out the governor’s orders — something probably all the other agency directors failed to do. They were instructed in the governor’s “8 Expected Traits of an Agency Director” to “Be wedded to a ‘promote the best; weed out the worst’ philosophy.” They were told, “The Bell Curve is a near-universal phenomenon. Figure out a way to eliminate the worst 10% of any category. … If there are employees who are clearly under-performing and ill-serving the taxpayers, then take steps to replace them with someone who will do better.”

Jeffries slashed the case backlog by approximately 60 percent at Adult Protective Services. He increased the percentage of employees who said they were satisfied with their jobs from 62 percent to 78 percent. Positive colleague engagement increased 300 percent. In other words, employee morale tripled. He created a fun, caring work atmosphere. He put together inspiring, lighthearted videos featuring the employees and outlining their accomplishments, often making fun of himself to give his “cherished colleagues” a laugh or two. One observer told him, “My guess is that for the vast majority of your employees, for one bright shining moment, they were somebody doing incredibly important work for an agency that they could be proud of.”

A DES employee told him it’s a shame the public doesn’t know that “you created merit payments, you brought back tuition, you raised wages on the front line and regularly visited staff around the state to address issues for clients and employees alike.” Jeffries describes himself as an “anti-bureaucrat,” telling National Review’s Kathryn Jean Lopez, “I shepherd this agency like a multimillion-dollar nonprofit.”

The Republic extensively covered a series of allegations against Jeffries, but virtually all of them are false. He was accused of compiling a “do-not-hire” list of fired DES employees — but it was really another agency which created the list, the Department of Administration.

He was wrongly attacked for his Catholic faith, which I addressed in a previous article. Government employees do not check their First Amendment rights at the workplace door; when I worked for Arizona State Government, our Bible Study group legally used the email system to schedule our meetings. Jeffries is told he’s bold about his faith, but he says, “I’m just pursuing my faith and honoring my First Amendment rights.”

Leah Landrum-Taylor, a former Democratic state legislator who worked for Jeffries and reportedly wanted his job, told the Republic that Jeffries bought alcohol for employees during work hours in Nogales, but it was a lie; Jeffries has a time-stamped photo of him with Landrum-Taylor in the Nogales DES office after the time she stated the party started. The restaurant visit took place for colleagues after their respective work hours. Every DES client was kindly served that day in Nogales and throughout Arizona. The paper also smeared him for using the “governor’s plane” for the trip, however the three state planes are owned by the Department of Public Safety, and the interagency agreement for DES to use air assets was in place prior to Jeffries’ arrival. Furthermore, other Arizona agency directors use the planes too.

The Republic and other media sources have repeatedly featured DES employee Andy Hall, who Jeffries had terminated shortly after Hall criticized the DES press secretary for emailing employees about his latest disagreement with Jeffries. The Republic didn’t bother to report that “Hall is a know it all, never afraid to challenge, grate and insult people,” a source told me. Hall “sent two insulting emails to the DES press secretary” and ranted online frequently about DES and Jeffries. Regardless, as an at-will employee, no reason was required to fire him.

Prior to Jeffries’ arrival, over 30 DES service centers had armed security guards to protect employees and clients. After the terrorist attack in San Bernardino took place at a social services center for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities, Jeffries directed his inspector general to transition the contract guard security force to a newly formed DES Protective Services. This group would continue the paramount mission to protect DES employees and clients. This group would also be better trained and more cost effective, thereby positioning DES to expand the number of service centers with armed protection. The Republic slammed him for implementing this common-sense measure, even though DPS guidelines were followed throughout and the effort to protect DES employees and clients was highly transparent.

This is a classic example of how the left is able to take down the brightest, innovative conservatives; through smears, insinuations and outright lies. Since Jeffries’ departure, many of the significant projects have been halted. It is the poor, disabled and downtrodden who will suffer as government returns to moving at the speed of a glacier, fired “bullies and bad actors” return, and agency morale plummets. The bright shining moment for thousands of DES employees is dimming.

For more information, see Arizona’s Poor Lost When Jeffries Was Axed