Saturday, October 22, 2016

American Babylon: Former GOP Chairman Michael Steele at the Third Presidential Debate

Posted By on Sat, Oct 22, 2016 at 9:00 AM

American Babylon caught up with former GOP Chairman Michael Steele, who says he doesn't rule out the possibility that he will be Michelle Obama's campaign manager in 2024.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Will Hispanics Help Elect Hillary in Arizona? 'Nah,' Said Jan Brewer, 'They don’t get out and vote.’

Posted By on Fri, Oct 21, 2016 at 3:12 PM

  • Courtesy of wikimedia.org
Here's something to add to "Taco trucks on every corner" and "Nasty Women" on social media. "Jan Brewer says, Hispanics don't get out and vote."

Everybody's writing about Arizona right now, with Hillary looking like she's edging past Donald in the polls. If Hillary takes Arizona, that means a lot more than a few electoral votes. It could mean a purpling, maybe even a bluing, of the state. And one big reason would be an assertion by a growing number of Hispanics of their power at the ballot box.

Former Governor Jan Brewer says she's not worried.
Some Republicans dismissed the notion that Democratic-leaning Hispanics will become a significant enough force to tip the balance to Clinton.

“Nah,” former Arizona governor Jan Brewer said in an interview. “They don’t get out and vote.’’

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Chuck Huckelberry Is Getting Tired of Ally Miller's Fishing Expedition

Posted By on Thu, Oct 20, 2016 at 2:30 PM

Maybe Miller can fill potholes with all those email records she's going through in lieu of helping actual constituents with their issues. - COURTESY ARIZONA DAILY INDEPENDENT
  • Courtesy Arizona Daily Independent
  • Maybe Miller can fill potholes with all those email records she's going through in lieu of helping actual constituents with their issues.
After Dylan Smith of the Tucson Sentinel (followed by Joe Ferguson of the Arizona Daily Star and yours truly) requested emails and other electronic records in order to get to the bottom of the absolutely bizarre story regarding one of Pima County Supervisor Ally Miller's aides masquerading as a reporter, the public learned that Miller was a big fat liar when she claimed she didn't use her personal emails for the public's business. 

Exposed as someone who fibs about following the law, Miller has fought back by requesting hundreds of thousands of emails from Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry and her fellow Pima County Supervisors in an unsuccessful effort to prove there was a massive conspiracy among county officials and local media to discredit her. This is a perfect example of Miller's paranoia; there is no conspiracy. We media types pursued the story not because we were ordered to by Chuck Huckelberry; we pursued them because (a) it was a bizarre story and (b) it was obvious to anyone with half a brain (which evidently excludes Miller and her various flying monkeys in social media and conservative radio circles) that now-former Miller aide Timothy DesJarlais was lying about not being involved in the harebrained Arizona Daily Herald caper. 

Miller still hasn't turned over her emails and is the subject of a slow-moving investigation by the Arizona Attorney General's Office. Meanwhile, rounding up the records this would-be champion of the taxpayer has requested is taking up an insane amount of time and financial resources for the County Clerk's Office while producing zero evidence that anything improper has been taking place, no matter how hard the dumbass Arizona Daily Independent tries to spin things. Miller is now the equivalent of one of those vexatious litigants who file an endless number of lawsuits to harass people.

It now appears that Huckelberry is out of fucks to give regarding Miller, as illustrated by yesterday's memo to the County Attorney's Office wondering if there's some way to stop Miller's relentless requests to read all of his email (which is really ironic given that she was convinced that Huckelberry was reading all of hers as soon as she took office, which is why she instructed her staff to ignore public-records laws and use private emails when talking about the District 1 office's business on behalf of taxpayers).

Here's the memo:

To: Thomas Weaver
Chief Civil Deputy County Attorney

From: C.H. Huckelberry
County Administrator

Re: Continued Burdensome Records Requests by Supervisor Ally Miller

Supervisor Ally Miller has renewed her expansive and onerous requests for public records from me and other members of my staff. While her previous July 13, 2016 requests for records were equally expansive, they at least carried the pretense, stated repeatedly by her on various social media accounts, that she was seeking evidence that my office, the other four supervisors and the County Communications Office conspired with the local media to have them write stories about her mishandling of her employee’s attempt to masquerade as a journalist. She also sought proof we subsequently conspired with the media to have them report her apparent four-year effort to illegally cloak the business of her office in secrecy via the use of personal email and encrypted computer files and portable data storage devices.

Supervisor Miler’s records requests of September 22, 2016 are virtually identical to the requests of July 13, but without the pretense. The media have mostly moved on from the Timothy DesJarlais scandal, and her gross violations of State public records laws are being investigated by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. Yet Supervisor Miller continues her expansive and onerous requests of my office, Chair Bronson’s office and the Communications Office; attempting to discover any mention of the DesJarlais scandal – as well as obtain every email sent or received by any of my staff, the Communications Office, and Chair Bronson and her staff – as well as a host of other electronic communications and internet browser data. Lacking the DesJarlais scandal pretense, one can only conclude the sole purpose of this latest series of requests is harassment.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

McCain Races Away From TV Reporter Asking About Supreme Court Comments

Posted By on Tue, Oct 18, 2016 at 3:10 PM

Sen. John McCain, who is facing Democratic Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick in this year's election, promised yesterday to lead the Republican Party in a blockade of any Supreme Court nominee during an interview with a Philadelphia radio station. He later sort of walked the comment back through a spokesman, saying that he'd at least give Clinton nominees a cursory look-see before rejecting them.

Read my lips: No new justices!
  • Read my lips: No new justices!
Last night, Phoenix CBS-5 political reporter Dennis Welch tried to talk to McCain about his comment, but Arizona's senior senator proved quite spry in racing away away from Welch and diving into the safety of an elevator. This, from the guy whose TV ads made hay of Kirkpatrick's decision to walk away from a Congress on Your Corner as an hostile group of Tea Party activists were starting to surround and yell at her.

Team Kirkpatrick is using the episode to underline the charge that McCain is not the same maverick he once was.

“John McCain is once again putting his political party over Arizonans as he campaigns on East Coast radio stations and brags about refusing to do his constitutional duty,” said Kirkpatrick for Senate spokesperson D.B. Mitchell. “McCain isn’t a maverick or a straight talker and he showed today he will do anything to save his career, even if it means ignoring his constituents and the Constitution because after 33 years in Washington, he’s changed. Arizonans deserve better.”

The Washington Post echoed that theme in an editorial today:
Even if Ms. Clinton tapped someone considered more liberal than Mr. Garland, that nominee would deserve a fair hearing. Senators should accept presidential nominees unless they are either truly unqualified or true ideological extremists. The functioning of government depends on speedy and open-minded judicial confirmations. In the past, Mr. McCain, who ran for president in 2008 and recognizes the importance of a sound appointment process, was a voice of restraint on these matters. Now he recklessly encourages Republican voters to expect that GOP senators will refuse any Democratic Supreme Court nominee.

This is a dangerous road. If the Republicans keep the Senate majority next month, acting on such an expectation will establish the precedent that the judicial branch can be staffed only when the president and the Senate are of the same party. If the Democrats take control, GOP intransigence could lead them to quash the filibuster on Supreme Court nominees, which would further politicize the judiciary and poison the process.

Like many Republicans, Mr. McCain hit a professional low when he endorsed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump this year, an endorsement he retracted only after seeing a video of Mr. Trump boasting about sexually assaulting women. His vow to further politicize the judicial nomination process is another sad marker.

NY Mag's Jonathan Chait expects that Democrats will end the filibuster of Supreme Court justices if they win the Senate and the GOP follows through on McCain's promise:

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We Must Not Allow . . . Runaway Graduation Rates . . . to Create an Achievement Score Gap!

Posted By on Tue, Oct 18, 2016 at 2:40 PM

George C. Scott as General Buck Turgidson, Dr. Strangelove. - COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA.ORG
  • Courtesy of wikimedia.org
  • George C. Scott as General Buck Turgidson, Dr. Strangelove.

Kidding. I'm kidding with that headline about not letting runaway graduation rates lead to an achievement score gap. (Hat tip to General Buck Turgidson's "Mineshaft gap!" in Dr. Strangelove, starting at the 4 minute mark on the video.) It's great that graduation rates are on the rise across the country, hitting an all-time high of 83.2 percent. I hope that number keeps heading higher. But consider for a moment what increasing the number of students who stay in school until they graduate does to overall student achievement rates.

Since this country began, we've striven to increase our student enrollment rates. Universal K-12 enrollment has been our goal, and we're closer to it than ever before. But a consequence of keeping more students in school is that schools have a growing population of students who are less likely to be high achievers. True, some students drop out because of factors beyond their control, but often they leave because school isn't working for them. When you keep those reluctant students in school, you increase the student population which is likely to score low on achievement tests, and they're also likely to make up the largest population of behavior and attendance problems. Every time we work to hold onto a student in danger of dropping out, we increase our educational challenges.

In 1920, about 27 percent of high school-aged students were in school. In 1950, it was around 75 percent. It shot up into the 80s in 1960 and has inched up and down since then, until now it's in the high 80s or low 90s. (The percent of K-8 students has always been higher than for high school students, but it has followed a similar upward trend.)

Think about today's high schools, with all their well-documented problems. Then think about what they might be like if we kicked out 10 percent of the students—those who combined the lowest achievement scores with the lowest attendance rates and the highest rates of behavior problems. School achievement scores would shoot up, not because the remaining students were scoring higher but because the students whose scores were dragging down the average would be gone. Attendance rates would improve for the same reason. And classroom disruptions would become less frequent. School would be a bit more like the "good 'ol school days" some people reminisce about, when that "problem 10 percent" wasn't in school.

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Monday, October 17, 2016

NAACP Ratifies Resolution Calling For a Moratorium on New Charter Schools

Posted By on Mon, Oct 17, 2016 at 3:11 PM

  • Shutterstock
Since the NAACP created a resolution, to be ratified at a later date, calling for a moratorium on new charter schools, it has run into all kinds of resistance. The expected pro-charter groups opposed the resolution, as did the editorial boards of the New York Times and the Washington Post.

This weekend, the NAACP approved the resolution. I sent a personal email congratulating the group on its courage, and took out a membership for the first time.

Black children, who make up 15 percent of the overall school enrollment, make up 25 percent of the charter school population. Clearly the schools are a popular option in black communities. But the NAACP's concern is that too many of the charters attended by black children "mirror predatory lending practices." I'm not sure the analogy works exactly, but the concept is accurate. If you want to find poorly run charter schools where the people who "own" them are out for a quick buck at the expense of the children, look at schools serving children from low income families, whether black, brown or white. It's tough to get away with offering shoddy education to the children of high income, well educated parents, but unfortunately, it's all too easy to stick the words "college preparatory academy" into the name of a school serving low income students and sell it as a way for children to get a better education than they get at their local public schools. As poorly as district schools sometimes serve their children, some charters do even worse.

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Tempest DuJour And Other Queens Channel The Donald

Posted By on Thu, Oct 13, 2016 at 3:39 PM

A few RuPaul’s Drag Race favorites, including Tucson's own Tempest DuJour, bronzed up and donned Cheeto-dust wigs to lip sync some of Donald Trump's greatest hits from the campaign trail. 


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

My Picks for the TUSD School Board: Cam Juarez, Kristel Foster, Betts Putnam-Hidalgo

Posted By on Wed, Oct 12, 2016 at 11:54 AM

  • Courtesy of PhotoSpin
Before I discuss my choices for the TUSD board, I want to make it clear that these are my personal picks. The Weekly will make its endorsements sometime in the future, and I have no input in those decisions.

I want to see Cam Juarez and Kristel Foster reelected to the board because I believe TUSD should continue in the direction it is heading, which is mostly positive—though it's clear, of course, that there are areas in need of improvement which they and the district must focus on and address. I want Betts Putnam-Hidalgo to serve on the board because she will be a source of informed, intelligent dissent. Though I often disagree with Betts—not so much in what she wants for the district as the way she wants to go about it—her input will promote valuable discussion of difficult issues, pushing the board to make decisions which will help move the district forward. I agree with all three candidates in their overall beliefs in promoting progressive ideas regarding social and educational issues.

It would be foolish not to recognize that Tucson's school district has areas of weakness, many of them longstanding. Superintendent Sanchez and the three board members who generally support him have made progress in addressing some of the issues facing the district, but there is obviously more that needs to be done. However, these problems are not unique to TUSD, nor can they be fixed easily.

I spend a great deal of time and effort keeping up with what's going on in education across the country. Over and over, I read about districts with glaring problems and passionate, vocal critics. Most of them are in urban centers with large minority populations. That shouldn't be a surprise. The problems facing our urban centers are of a magnitude and complexity you rarely find in other parts of the country, and the problems extend far beyond the realm of education. In that context, it shouldn't be surprising that TUSD, which is in a reasonably large city and serves a majority-minority student population, has its share of challenges and a wide range of critics.

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