News

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Asterisk in Ducey's Plan to Fund All-Day Kindergarten in 'Lowest-Income Schools'

Posted By on Fri, Mar 17, 2017 at 3:30 PM

COURTESY OF FLICKR.COM
  • Courtesy of flickr.com
Need another reason to be wary of Ducey's promises? Here's one: his all-day kindergarten funding pledge. It's not quite what he said it is.

Here's what Ducey said in his 2017 State of the State address:
"My budget gives the lowest-income schools dollars to start or expand full-day kindergarten."
Note the word "schools" in the phrase "lowest-income schools." Apparently that's not what Ducey meant. He meant "lowest-income charter schools," but if the school is inside a district, that's not enough. The whole district has to qualify as "lowest income" or No Money For You.

This was news to me until someone sent me a story by Michael Hernandez, an intern at Arizona Public Media (Let's hear it for the future of journalism!): All-Day Kindergarten Funding Out of Reach for Tucson's Public Schools. For Ducey's funding pledge to kick in, 90 percent of your students qualify have to qualify for free or reduced lunch. If you're a charter school, it's just that simple—90 percent on free/reduced lunch, and you get the money. But a whole district has to meet that number to qualify. So TUSD doesn't qualify, or Flowing Wells. Even Sunnyside with 86 percent of its students on free/reduced lunch doesn't make the cut.

According to the article, no Pima County school district will get a penny from the program, but ten charters in the county qualify.

Even in this rare instance where Ducey puts together a plan that favors low-income schools, he makes sure charter schools get more than their share of the proceeds.

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Sheriff Mark Napier Says His Deputies Won't Be Taking Over the Work of Border Patrol

Posted By on Fri, Mar 17, 2017 at 2:31 PM

Mark Napier
  • Mark Napier
Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier laid out his thoughts on how he will interact with federal authorities on immigration matters in a prepared statement earlier today:

The absence of a secure border presents a public safety concern for Pima County. We know significant quantities of illegal drugs are transported across the border for distribution throughout the United States. Human trafficking occurs across the border and results in the victimization of vulnerable populations. Transnational threats may also exploit the insecurity of the border to make undetected ingress into the United States, which potentially poses a national security threat. For these reasons, I fully support the increased emphasis on securing the border and providing additional federal resources to enhance our efforts to combat these public safety challenges. The Pima County Sheriff’s Department looks forward to increased cooperation with our federal partners to address public safety concerns relevant to our proximity to the International Border.

While I support the increased attention given to the border and welcome additional federal resources, the Pima County Sheriff’s Department does not have the capacity to engage in proactive enforcement of federal immigration laws. We have approximately 500 sworn personnel to provide law enforcement services to an area of 9,200 square miles. During the current fiscal year, we were facing a projected deficit of $6 million just to provide essential services to the people of our county. Our correctional facility currently houses approximately 1,825 inmates. We have the capacity for 2,000. We lack sufficient capacity to detain significant numbers of people for federal immigration violations. The Pima County Sheriff’s Department does not have the ability from either an operations or incarceration perspective to engage in active enforcement of federal immigration violations. Federal authorities best address these violations of federal law.

If local law enforcement becomes proactive in immigration enforcement, we will not enhance public safety, but rather deteriorate it. People in our community without legal documentation must be able to come forward and interact with law enforcement as victims and witnesses to criminal activity. If these people cannot interact with local law enforcement out of fear of deportation, we create an entire block of our community that will be victims of crime with no recourse and will not be partners with the community in reporting crime. All people of Pima County must be able to interact with law enforcement without fear.

The Pima County Sheriff’s Department cooperates fully with our federal partners when, in the regular course of our duties, we develop a reasonable belief a person might be in this country without documentation. We contact federal law enforcement who then makes the determination about legal status and what steps might be required with respect to the enforcement of federal immigration laws. There are several thousand Border Patrol personnel in Pima County. They are able to respond rapidly to our requests for support. There is no need for personnel of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department to be cross-certified as immigration agents (287G Program).

The Pima County Sheriff’s Department cooperates and works collaboratively with all our federal law enforcement partners. We value these relationships. We recognize ICE Detainers and cooperate with them. We are required by state law to verify the immigration status of persons housed in our Adult Detention Center prior to their release. A relatively small portion of persons crosschecked through ICE result in an Immigration Detainer request. An ICE Detainer, as currently drafted, does not provide a legal basis for detaining a person. Therefore, we cannot engage an extension of detention based solely on the existence of an ICE Detainer. When we no longer have a legal basis to hold an inmate, and are aware of an ICE Detainer, we notify ICE that we are beginning out-processing of the inmate. This generally takes approximately two hours to complete. This provides sufficient time for ICE to take custody of the person. During calendar year 2016, the Pima County Sheriff’s Department processed approximately 35,000 persons into jail. Only 420 inmates had ICE Detainers. We acknowledged 100 percent of them and through collaboration/cooperation with ICE ensured that no person with an ICE Detainer was released into our community.

The human toll associated with immigration is real and a factor for our department. Every year, we recover approximately 150 bodies in the desert areas of Pima County. This necessitates we maintain an industrial refrigerator at our Ajo District Station, simply to store human remains. Victimization of undocumented border crossers is a significant issue and it goes largely unreported. We know that border bandits and Coyotes prey upon these people. Securing the border will prevent deaths and criminal victimization of border crossers. Dissuading illegal entry into this country is in fact compassionate public policy.

The Pima County Sheriff’s Department is committed to providing the highest level of public safety services to the people of our County. We proactively attack crime problems and criminal behavior without regard to the immigration status of the bad actors involved and will continue to do so.



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"Kiss Me, I'm the Descendant of Irish Immigrants!"

Posted By on Fri, Mar 17, 2017 at 9:26 AM

COURTESY OF STATICFLICKR.COM
  • Courtesy of staticflickr.com
Full disclosure: I don't have a drop of Irish blood in me that I know of. I don't wear green on St. Patrick's Day, or drink green beer. I don't kiss people because they're Irish. But that doesn't stop me from recommending a terrific op ed in today's New York Times by Fintan O'Toole, a columnist for The Irish Times: Green Beer and Rank Hypocrisy.

Stop reading this right now and link to his column! Or, if you prefer, stick around and read what I have to say about it.

O'Toole's basic thesis is, don't forget that most of the Irish-Americans we celebrate today are descendants of reviled immigrants.
[The Irish] were nobody’s ideal of the desirable immigrant. The typical Irish Catholic arrival in New York or Boston was a peasant with little formal education and few material resources. Worse, these people were religious aliens — the papist hordes who threatened to swamp Protestant civilization and, in their ignorance and superstition, destroy enlightened democratic American values.
Today in a proclamation, Trump celebrates "the achievements and contributions of Irish-Americans to our nation . . . overcoming poverty and discrimination and inspiring Americans from all walks of life with their indomitable and entrepreneurial spirit.”
Even by the crooked yardstick of the Trump administration, the disconnect is surreal: The president will salute the legacy of one wave of immigrants even as he deploys against other immigrants the same calumnies once heaped upon the Irish.
O'Toole says of those members of the Trump administration with Irish ancestry, like Sean Spicer, Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway:

Continue reading »

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Southern AZ Pols React to Rep. Steve King's Celebration of Whiteness

Posted By on Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 12:53 PM

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) made the headlines this week with a tweet that celebrated the philosophy of far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders, whose Party for Freedom got knocked down by voters in yesterday's election in the Netherlands. In subsequent interviews, King has stood by his tweet.

King has been criticized by members of his own party as well as the Trump White House.

WaPo's Amber Phillips has a round-up of King's previous expressions of white supremacy here.

So far, U.S. Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ02) is not joining those critical of King. Her office did not respond this week to two requests for comment on King's tweet and comments.

But Southern Arizona's two Democratic congressmen condemned it.

Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ03) responded with this statement before GOP politicians began speaking out against King's comments:

Congressman Raul Grijalva
  • Congressman Raul Grijalva
Steve King’s tweet, and his subsequent defense of the bigotry it promoted, are wakeup calls for all Americans about the Republican Party’s true motivations in pursuing immigration reform. King was an early supporter of Donald Trump; he is a trusted advisor of the president on immigration reform; to characterize these views as anything other than mainstream in today’s Republican leadership would be false. The deafening silence from each and every one of King’s GOP colleagues only further conveys their silent approval of the hate he’s spewing.

The sad truth is that, among this crowd, immigration reform has very little to do with enforcement. For King and his ilk, this is about race and ethnicity. The GOP has exploited themes of bigotry and racism in their campaigns for years, and the fear they stirred up among their base played right into Trump’s hand last November. With each new policy proposal, and each glimpse into the GOP’s thought process, we see a concerted effort to create a European nation-state inside the United States. Deportations, restrictions on visa opportunities, and the broad targeting of immigrants, ethnic minorities and religious groups in this country, all serve the white nationalist cause that Rep. King and his allies have whole-heartedly embraced.

There was a time when virulent racism was considered appalling fringe behavior by both parties – now it’s clearly become the driving narrative for Republican leadership under Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump.

Congressman Tom O'Halleran (D-AZ01) issued this statement:


Continue reading »

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Mark Hamill Uses Twitter Force Against the Trump Death Star

Posted By on Wed, Mar 15, 2017 at 5:00 PM

COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA.COM
  • Courtesy of wikimedia.com
This is too good to pass up. Kevin Eck, recently hired staffer for Betsy DeVos' Education Department, was unhappy with Mark Hamill, aka Luke Skywalker, for his criticism of Trump. So in November Eck tweeted:
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Now that Eck is at the Dept. of Ed, Hamill decided it was time to reply.
screen_shot_2017-03-15_at_11.33.17_am.png
Eck is one of three recent Education Department hires who have been condemned for racist tweets, like this one.

Continue reading »

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Fund to Help Islamic Center is Real Deal

Posted By on Wed, Mar 15, 2017 at 3:30 PM

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Hitting the internet today is a GoFundMe campaign to help the Islamic Center of Tucson replace destroyed and damaged copies of the Qur'an. A man reportedly broke into the Center and vandalized the prayer books. TPD is conducting an investigation.

Some asked if the fund is legit, so I emailed it and received a call from Marty Johnston. He and Stephanie Roberts started the fun and both are members of the Tucson Jewish community and board members of Congregation Anshei Israel.

The fund is at $3,737 of its $14,400 goal. From the fund's page:

It was a heck of a weekend. First, on Friday, the Jewish Community Center received a bomb threat and went on lockdown.

Then, early Monday morning, around 3:30 a.m. a man broke in to the Islamic Center Tucson, and destroyed and damaged copies of the Qur'an. See the news story here.

Tucson is better than this!

I'm a Tucson Jew, and I've been welcomed at the Islamic Center Tucson, as well as the Muslim Community Center. A Jewish friend (Stephanie) said we needed to help. So here goes...

There are Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Bahá'í , Atheists, Agnostics and others in Tucson who love our Muslim brothers and sisters, Though we may have different beliefs, we want them to be safe, and never to have to pray in fear.

Let's come together and replace the damaged copies of the Holy Qur'an, and show our Muslim neighbors that they are indeed our brothers and sisters.

I don't have exact amounts on the replacement or repair costs. If we have extra money, I'll use it for Jewish-Muslim / Muslim-Jewish peacebuilding events.

Thanks in advance.

Anything helps.

Help spread the word!

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Planned Parenthood Advocates Show Support in Southern Arizona

Posted By on Wed, Mar 15, 2017 at 2:46 PM

bigstock-planned-parenthood-clinic-163967057.jpg

According to a press release from Planned Parenthood Advocate of Southern Arizona today, in response to the House GOP introducing the Affordable Care Act repeal bill in favor of TrumpCare, petitions in support of Planned Parenthood will be delivered today, Wednesday, March 15, from 2 to 3 p.m. at Congresswoman Martha McSally's Tucson office, 4400 E. Broadway Blvd., Suite 600.

From the release:

Today as part of the growing response to the House GOP officially introducing their ACA repeal bill, which also contains provisions blocking patients access to Planned Parenthood, Planned Parenthood supporters in Arizona will take action and deliver petitions to Rep. Martha McSally’s office in Tucson. On Monday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released their score of the ACA repeal bill. The report detailed the dangerous and harmful fallout of the plan that would leave 14 million people without coverage by 2018.

The CBO estimates that the “defund” Planned Parenthood provision would result in reduced access to care for patients who live in areas where Planned Parenthood is the only health care option or where Planned Parenthood serves low-income populations. Fifty-four percent of Planned Parenthood health centers are in health professional shortage areas, rural or medically underserved areas.

When politicians say they want to defund Planned Parenthood, what they are really saying is they want to block millions across the country and thousands of people in Arizona from access to basic health care — cancer screenings, birth control, well woman exams — that they depend on. Planned Parenthood supporters are rallying and organizing to make sure this does not happen. A delegation of 12 advocates went to Congresswoman’s McSally’s office last night to demand she discuss the facts regarding this legislation. The claims made by GOP leadership that this is not a targeted attack are false. CBO is totally clear that the provision singles out Planned Parenthood. It states: "CBO expects that, according to those criteria, only Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its affiliates and clinics would be affected.” This undermines proponents claim that the provision does not violate the Byrd Rule because it affects a “class of providers,” and not just Planned Parenthood.

The fact is, one in five women in America has relied on Planned Parenthood, and their health care shouldn't get caught up in congressional Republicans' extreme agenda to undermine access to preventive care. The political attacks on Planned Parenthood are very real and will harm the over 33,000 patients in Arizona that rely on Planned Parenthood Arizona for care every year. The bill being considered would only serve to deny Medicaid patients in Arizona from lifesaving health care. Our leaders in Congress have the responsibility to keep Americans safe and healthy. Without a doubt, cutting access for Planned Parenthood patients on Medicaid will put people’s lives at risk. Supporters are asking that Congresswoman Martha McSally listen to her constituents and reject any attempt to cut off millions of women from essential health care at Planned Parenthood.

Patients do not go to Planned Parenthood to make a political statement. They seek compassionate, affordable, high-quality health care. Every person, no matter who they are or how much money they make, deserves that kind of care.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

So Are Your AZ Politicians Supporting Trumpcare?

Posted By on Tue, Mar 14, 2017 at 4:20 PM

Congresswoman Martha McSally is carefully reading the healthcare proposal and listening to local stakeholders. - COURTESY OF PIMA.GOV
  • Courtesy of pima.gov
  • Congresswoman Martha McSally is carefully reading the healthcare proposal and listening to local stakeholders.
The Congressional Budget Office's Trumpcare score has been all over the headlines in recent days, so by now, you know the basics: The winners are America's wealthiest citizens, who will pocket a nice tax cut, and the losers are folks on the end of the economic spectrum, who will likely lose their Medicaid coverage or find that private insurance is now too expensive to afford. Hey, freedom isn't free, people.

So who is supporting and who is not?

Congresswoman Martha McSally (R-AZ02) is on the fence. McSally District Director C.J. Karamargin didn't respond to our specific questions about the much-criticized cuts in Medicaid for low-income Arizonans, but he did send along a generic statement that has been shared with various nosy news organizations that are wondering where McSally stands:

Congresswoman McSally is encouraged that the American Health Care Act includes provisions she fought for: It keeps in place coverage of pre-existing conditions, allows young adults to remain on their parents’ insurance until age 26 and maintains the prohibition of putting lifetime caps on benefits. The congresswoman is carefully reading the 123-page bill, listening to local stakeholders and in the days ahead will work with House leadership for a viable solution to the healthcare challenges facing Southern Arizonans and all Americans.

BTW, there's another protest against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act outside of McSally's Tucson offices at 4400 E. Broadway at 2 p.m. Wednesday, March 15. Organizers—including Indivisible Southern Arizona, McSally Take a Stand and the East Side Bad Hombres and Nasty Women—are calling it an "open mic" where you can share your story about the ACA.

Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ03) compares Trumpcare to the scandal-plagued Trump U:

CBO confirmed this week that the Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with "TrumpCare" is nothing more than an attack on the poor and elderly. Twenty-four million people will lose coverage if the GOP manages to force this bill through Congress. Many will choose to forgo health insurance because this bill incentivizes young, healthy people without coverage to remain uninsured. That means higher premiums for everyone else, and particularly the elderly who will no longer be protected from price gouging the way they currently are under the ACA.

The only winners under the GOP’s healthcare repeal are wealthy Americans who stand to pocket a $600 billion windfall in tax breaks. Those cuts, and the meager deficit reduction in this scheme, come at a heavy price for working families and people on Medicaid. For millions of Americans, "TrumpCare" will go down in history as the healthcare equivalent of Trump University – that is to say, a complete and utter sham.

Congressman Tom O'Halleran wants to find a bipartisan agreement to improve the Affordable Care Act:


Continue reading »

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Staff Pick

Frida: Portraits by Nickolas Muray

Tucson Botanical Gardens and Etherton Gallery are collaborating to bring the photography show Frida: Portraits by Nickolas… More

@ Tucson Botanical Gardens Oct. 10-May 31, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. 2150 N. Alvernon Way.

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