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Gov. Doug Ducey: Ex inmates in Arizona’s fire-crew program given a real second chance

‘I felt like a zero. Now I feel like a hero.”

That’s what an Arizona inmate said to me when I traveled to Navajo County in the summer of 2016. My team and I were up north observing the damage caused by the Cedar Fire and meeting the brave firefighters who risked their lives to protect our state’s landscapes.

The man I met was part of a group of inmates enlisted in a fire-crew program operated by the Arizona Department of Corrections. The agency’s program selects current inmates to fight fires throughout Arizona while serving their time in prison.

To me, the program is a way of letting these individuals pay back their communities and, by giving them a chance to be productive members of society, increasing the likelihood that they won’t return to prison after being released. Often, it means a job is waiting when they walk out the doors.

One squad boss who spoke to KOLD News 13 in April said that the program has “been a life-changing experience for me. I know a lot of the guys out here feel the same way.”

I told that story during my State of the State address in January, and I’ve thought about it many times since. Exchanges like this — and the positive outcomes we’ve seen from Arizona’s forward-thinking corrections efforts — are one of the reasons we’re investing more in anti-recidivism programs this year.

The next time a Sawmill Fire rages through Southern Arizona, threatening our neighbors’ homes, property, and livelihood, I want it to be easier for individuals released from prison to stand up and protect their communities.

That’s why the new state budget I signed a few weeks ago is investing $1.5 million to create a post-release fire crew. (The existing program enlists current inmates; the new program enlists released inmates.) We’re giving Arizonans a real second chance to turn their lives around in a meaningful and productive way.

Our anti-recidivism strategy is a win-win for everyone involved, including hardworking Arizona taxpayers. After all, it’s expensive to house inmates — and, according to the data, 39 percent of inmates released from prison will eventually return to prison. That’s a big bill to pay in the long term.

Taxpayers already give enough of their hard-earned money to government. They shouldn’t be expected burden the ever-growing costs of recidivism because of outdated policies.
This new fire crew accomplishes both: It protects taxpayers from long-term prison costs, and it improves public safety. And it’s not the only investment we’re making to make that happen.
Our fiscal year 2018 budget also finances the expansion of “Employment Centers” within Arizona prisons. These centers help inmates do things like build résumés and find jobs before they’re released, giving them tools to lift themselves up and build better lives rather than revert to their old ways.

This is a common-sense investment to reduce the state’s prison population and save taxpayers money.

So far, we have opened three of these successful Employment Centers, including in the Manzanita Unit in Tucson. All three centers are now open and operational, and we’ve already seen 35 individuals receive job offers after participating. (There are nearly 200 inmates currently going through the program.)

Our goal is to give people the tools they need to improve their lives, help them see value in themselves (maybe for the first time in their lives), and offer them a concrete way of paying back their communities.

Whether that means analyzing the effects of outdated occupational licensing processes on individuals with criminal records or enabling released inmates to work as peer coaches to help those struggling with addiction, our state is taking the lead when it comes to getting people back on their feet.

That’s how to give Arizonans a real second chance — and how to save Arizona taxpayers money while doing it.

This guest opinion originally appeared on Tucson.com.


NFIB: No Spike in Hiring for Small Business

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 1, 2012 — Chief economist for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) William C. Dunkelberg, issued the following statement on the October job numbers, based on NFIB’s monthly economic survey that will be released on Tuesday, November 13, 2012. The survey was conducted in October and reflects the responses of 2,029 sampled NFIB members:

“Anyone expecting big economic news on the Friday before the election will be sorely disappointed. October, not unlike the last several months, proved to be another weak job creation month. Pessimistic uncertainty within the small-business community continues to dampen hiring plans. According to the October survey, owners stopped releasing workers; the average change in employment per firm rose to just 0.02 workers—essentially zero. While this development ends a four-month run of employment reductions (September’s number was a seasonally adjusted -0.23), it is no reason to get excited. Employment is still 4 million lower than it was in 2008 (first quarter).

“Last’s month’s surprising Household Survey will likely ‘right itself’ after its shocking 893,000 net new jobs (most part-time), a reading that is historically inconsistent with our current anemic two percent GDP growth. The unemployment rate will likely rise a tenth of a point or two, and only about 110,000 new jobs will show up in the Payroll Survey.

“Seasonally adjusted, 11 percent of the owners reported adding an average of 2.7 workers per firm over the past few months, and 10 percent reduced employment an average of 2.9 workers. The remaining 79 percent of owners made no net change in employment. Forty-eight (48) percent of the owners hired or tried to hire in the last three months and 38 percent (79 percent of those trying to hire or hiring) reported few or no qualified applicants for open positions. 

“The percent of owners reporting hard to fill job openings fell one point to 16 percent of all owners, the second monthly decline in a row. This is not good news for the unemployment rate as it has a strong negative correlation with this series.  Twelve (12) percent have openings for skilled workers, two percent for unskilled and three percent for both.

“Job creation plans remained weak, with a net four percent planning to increase employment, unchanged from September and 6 points below the August reading. Not seasonally adjusted, 10 percent plan to increase employment at their firm (unchanged), but 12 percent plan reductions (up 1 point). Not seasonally adjusted, hiring plans were strong only in the East South Central states.

“Overall, October job creation news is not the surprise that some may have been looking for.”


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

Rep. Ben Quayle Responds to Disappointing Jobs Report

WASHINGTON (DC) – Congressman Ben Quayle released the following statement in response to the May jobs report, which showed the unemployment rate rising to 8.2% and just 69,000 jobs being added.

“Today’s poor jobs report is yet another sad testament to the failure of President Obama’s economic policy. Well into a supposed economic recovery, the unemployment rate is still above 8%. The President’s policies have failed to energize our economy and bring security and opportunity to struggling families in Arizona and across America. 

“The President has tried debt-driven stimulus measures. He’s tried tax-code gimmicks and subsidy stunts. It’s time he tried simplifying the tax code, reining in regulation and red tape and scrapping his disastrous healthcare bill. For Arizona, where our unemployment rate exceeds the national average, the time for smart economic policy can’t come soon enough.”


The ‘Obama Factor’ and Unemployment Statistics

The state-controlled Democrat Media Complex (DMC) loves to tout tiny improvements in the unemployment rate as evidence that the “President’s plans are working”.

I have to agree — those plans are working just fine — if what the President wants to do is reduce the number of makers and boost the number of takers.  On that score, Obama has made undeniable progress from Day One of his administration.

As evidence –

See the chart below, which shows the Labor Force Participation (LFP) Rate.  This statistic answers the following simple question:

What fraction of our total civilian working-age population is actually employed?

In this statistic, people are counted as either working or not-working.   It doesn’t matter whether they’re looking for work or not.  That makes this statistic harder to “fudge” than the widely reported “unemployment rate”.  While there are month-to-month variations, note the steady, linear decline in the trend lines since Obama took office in January, 2009.  Well done, Mr. President!

This is The Obama Factor.  It’s a phenomenon, a statistical trend, and a chart we should all demand to see every time the state-controlled DMC reports the usual unemployment rate statistic.  If the DMC doesn’t oblige, continuing the malpractice of what it still calls “journalism”, you can find the chart at this link.

So …

Do Obama’s re-election prospects get worse as the LFP rate continues to fall?  One might think so, but the answer is No.  Perversely, his prospects actually get better!  There are two reasons:

First, all those newly unemployed people are prime candidates to become new Obama model-citizens.  He convinces them they are victims of the vilified “1%”, he offers them extended unemployment benefits with more borrowed money, and, with high confidence, he chalks them up as Obama-voters come election time.

Second, once these folks say they are no longer looking for work, they no longer count as “unemployed”.  Consequently, they contribute to a drop in the commonly reported unemployment statistic.

This is terrific news for Obama — a double win — as long as voters remain stone-cold ignorant of The Obama Factor.

As an aside, if you are an Obama believer who is currently unemployed but still looking for work, you could help the president’s “job numbers” if you would just stop looking for work two to three months before the election.  If only half of the unemployed-but-still-looking would do that, the official unemployment rate would drop to between 4% and 5% just before the election.  Wouldn’t that make a great campaign talking point for your beloved leader?

But I digress.

If Democrats/Progressives manage to re-elect Obama, The Obama Factor trend will continue — possibly accelerating.  One day soon there will be so many takers that they can out-vote, out-shout, and out-threaten the makers.  As the takers demand more and more, the makers produce less and less as they lose their remaining incentive to generate new jobs, products, services, and income only to see it confiscated.  Eventually, many of them go on a virtual “strike” as the industrialists did in Ayn Rand’s newly relevant novel Atlas Shrugged.  Soon thereafter, the Democrats/Progressives run out of other people’s money, borrowing power, and resources.

There will then follow some combination of rationing, civil unrest, martial law, tyranny, and virtual slavery to The State. The only alternative will be starvation or imprisonment in The State’s prisons and gulags.  It has happened many times in many places.  WesternFreePress.com recently interviewed three direct eye witnesses (here, here, and here).

Preposterous you say?  Such a disaster could never happen here?  Stick around.  It’s on its way (before 2027) unless we act to stop it.  And Obama recently laid more critical groundwork for this nightmare with his stealthy signature of the National Defense Authorization Act.  That law gives him dictatorial powers over American citizens when and if he chooses.  These powers violate (at a minimum) the Fifth and Sixth Amendment protections in the Constitution.  But Obama has told us not to worry because he won’t use those powers unless he really has to.  Small comfort.

This November, we have one last solid chance to reverse The Obama Factor, turn the economy around, and restore Constitutionally protected freedoms.  Here’s hoping we score an electoral victory large enough to effect those changes as well as overcome the Left’s continuing attempts to commit vote fraud.

As one of the Republican candidates for President has said, the 2012 election is the most important US election since 1860.  Those who again fall for Obama’s rhetoric, voting for him again despite his record, must share responsibility for the all-but-certain national mega-disaster that is headed our way.

Rep. Quayle Introduces The Employee Workplace Freedom Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 2, 2011
CONTACT: Richard Cullen

WASHINGTON (DC) Congressman Ben Quayle (R-AZ-03) introduced legislation Friday that would reverse a new rule announced last week by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that forces private-sector employers to display notices describing the National Labor Relations Act.

Mr. Quayle released the following statement on his bill, HR 2833, The Employee Workplace Freedom Act:

“Over the past two and a half years, American businesses—both small and large—have dealt with an onslaught of new mandates, regulations and taxes. The National Labor Relations Board piled on another rule last week when it announced that employers must display 11-by-17 inch signs outlining the 76-year-old National Labor Relations Act. This needless requirement—which falls outside the NLRB’s statutory authority —opens the door for legal action by the NLRB against companies that don’t comply.

“This new rule is further evidence that the Obama Administration puts the interests of union bosses ahead of individual workers. This pattern of behavior was on full display when the NLRB filed an egregious complaint against Boeing. Our federal agencies should work with American companies to reduce the regulatory burdens that inhibit growth. They should not enact nonsensical rules that add unnecessary costs. The Employee Workplace Freedom Act stops one of these foolhardy rules in its tracks.”



Rep. Quayle Statement on August Jobs Report

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 2, 2011
CONTACT: Richard Cullen

WASHINGTON (DC) Congressman Ben Quayle (R-AZ-03) released the following statement Friday after the Department of Labor released its August unemployment report:

“Today’s report continues the disturbing trend of unacceptable employment figures. Couple it with the White House’s mid-session budget estimate of 9% unemployment through 2012, and we get a grim picture of our economic future. It is evident that the further government encroaches on the private sector, the further the private sector retreats.

“Washington is not good at creating jobs, it’s only good at destroying them. We must reduce the regulatory burdens on the private sector so our innovators and job creators can expand, invest and hire.”


AZGOP: Obama Recovery Kills Job Creation…Again

CONTACT: Garrett Hawkins

Phoenix, AZ – If May’s job numbers weren’t bad enough, according to the monthly jobs report, the U.S. economy created a measly 18,000 new jobs in June raising the unemployment rate from 9.1 to 9.2 percent. The unemployment rate is now two full points higher than it was in the Department of Labor’s report in January 2009—the first month of the Obama Presidency.

“This is not simply a ‘bump’ on the road to recovery. President Obama’s economic policies have totally failed,” said Arizona Republican Party Chairman Tom Morrissey. “Continuing the President’s policies will only drive up the unemployment rate further. We cannot afford these disastrous policies any longer.”

In spite of the horrible price the American public is paying for their failed policies, the Democrat entitlement crowd continues to pressure the Obama Administration for more government intervention, increased government spending and higher taxes. Additional interference into private enterprise from the government will only increase the downward economic spiral resulting in higher unemployment, more debt and fewer jobs. In a speech on the floor of the Senate on March 6, 2006, then-Senator Barack Obama said, “You don’t raise taxes in a recession.” Obviously, the left-wing extremists of his party have convinced the President to change course—yet again.

“It’s time to limit government’s involvement in the economy. This means lowering taxes, reducing regulations and creating jobs,” said Arizona Republican Party Chairman Tom Morrissey. “It doesn’t get any clearer: Obama’s failed economic policies punish small business and kill job creation. I strongly support our Republican Congressional position that calls for spending cuts with no new taxes.”


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