Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Oh, That Ally: Miller Bans Corrupt Media From Her Election-Night Fest

Posted By on Tue, Aug 30, 2016 at 8:12 PM

Ally Miller investigating potholes - COURTESY ARIZONA DAILY INDEPENDENT
  • Courtesy Arizona Daily Independent
  • Ally Miller investigating potholes
Election Night is off to a great start: Pima County Supervisor Ally "E-Mail" Miller has banned the media from her election night party at Oro Valley's Fox and Hound. 

Results here as they come in.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Zona Politics: Your Primary Election Round-Up!

Posted By on Sat, Aug 27, 2016 at 9:03 AM

August 28, 2016 from Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel on Vimeo.

On this week's edition of Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel: Former state lawmaker Jonathan Paton and Pima County Democratic Party Latino Caucus Chair Vince Rabago join me to talk about Tuesday's upcoming primary election. We discuss the crowded Republican primary in Congressional District 1, the showdown between Matt Heinz and Victoria Steele in in the Congressional District 2 Democratic primary, the GOP primary in the Corporation Commission races, the race between Pia County Attorney Barbara LaWall and her challenger, Joel Feinman, in the Democratic primary; the race between Pima County Supervisor Ally Miller and her challenger, John Winchester, in the GOP primary; and the three-way race between Steve Christy, Marla Closen and John Backer in the GOP primary in the District 4 race for the seat now held by the retiring Pima County Supervisor Ray Carroll. We also dig into the latest on the lawsuit filed by the Goldwater Institute against Pima County regarding World View Enterprises and the recent expansion of the Arizona Supreme Court.

Tune into Zona Politics at 8 a.m. Sunday on the CW Tucson, Channel 8 on Cox and Comcast and Channel 58 on DirecTV, Dish and broadcast. You can also hear the show at 5 p.m. on KXCI Community Radio, 91.3 FM. Or you can watch the show online right here.

Here's a rush transcript of the show:

(Jim Nintzel) Hello, everyone. I'm Tucson Weekly senior writer Jim Nintzel, and we're here to talk Zona Politics. The political herd will be winnowed with the primary election on Tuesday, August 30. Joining me to talk about some of the top races, former state lawmaker Jonathan Paton. Thanks for coming down from Phoenix, Jonathan.

(Jonathan Paton) Thank you.

(Nintzel) and Pima County Democratic Party Latino Caucus chairman Vince Rabago. Gentlemen, welcome to Zona Politics

(Vince Rabago) Great to be here.

(Nintzel) Let's start off with this Congressional District 1 race. Jonathan, you were the actual Republican nominee in that race four years ago. This year, there are, what, five candidates? Seven candidates on the ballot? Two have already dropped out. You're down to five candidates over there. And it looks like, to me, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu may have the advantage in that, but Gary Kiehne, the rancher who almost won last time, is putting up a pretty good fight. And you've got Wendy Rogers in that race from Phoenix, who also seems to be really taking some punches at Paul Babeu. What's your read on that race?

Continue reading »

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Silicon Valley Businesses Move to Phoenix—Because It's Cheaper

Posted By on Thu, Aug 25, 2016 at 9:00 AM

  • Courtesy of wikimedia.org
Governor Ducey loves to talk about businesses fleeing states with high business taxes and onerous regulations to come settle in Arizona. It hasn't worked out exactly as planned. Our U-Haul lots aren't overflowing with moving trucks carrying California businesses here, though we've seen a bit of an economic upswing lately. That includes high tech businesses from Silicon Valley setting up outposts or situating in Phoenix. But according to a New York Times article, their primary reasons for moving here aren't our business-friendly taxes and regulations. The more important reason is, Silicon Valley is crowded and expensive, and by comparison, Phoenix is wide open and cheap.
As start-ups across San Francisco and the Silicon Valley try to contend with high salaries and housing costs, many are expanding to lower-cost cities in the West. . . . For Phoenix, which is about a 90-minute flight from San Francisco, the Bay Area’s loss is its gain.
That doesn't mean businesses are deserting Silicon Valley for Phoenix, however. New tech jobs are being added in both places.
At the end of last year in the Bay Area mega-region — including both the San Francisco and San Jose metropolitan areas — there were 530,000 tech and engineering jobs, a 7 percent increase from a year earlier. Phoenix has about one-fifth as many tech jobs, but the total grew 8 percent from a year ago, according to Moody’s Analytics.
According to the Times article, Phoenix is something of a newcomer in tech job growth compared to other areas of the country. When it comes to the percentage increase in tech jobs from 2010 to 2015, Phoenix ranks 14th with an 18.6 percent increase, compared to a whopping 71.6 percent increase in San Francisco, a 28 percent increase in Charlotte, North Carolina, a 27.3 percent increase in Boston, a 27.2 increase in Detroit and a 22 percent increase in Salt Lake City. Phoenix may be adding tech jobs, but not at a breakneck pace.

Lower business taxes may figure into the high tech equation, but the perks in lower costs for businesses and employees rank far higher. An example:
Housing [in Phoenix] is much cheaper [than in Silicon Valley]. The median home price in the Phoenix metropolitan area is $221,000, according to Zillow. In San Francisco, it is $812,000.

For Ms. Rogers and others, that is a far bigger perk than an extra vacation or a raise in California. Instead of renting a rundown house in Redwood City and commuting an hour or more to work, she now lives 10 minutes from the office in a house that is twice the size — with mortgage payments that are half the cost of her California rent.
It helps, of course, that Phoenix built a light-rail system and has revitalized its downtown, making the city a more attractive place for young high tech workers to live. The light rail didn't come cheap, of course. It was built with new taxes, not tax cuts. Some added tax dollars to improve our schools, our roads and other social and infrastructure needs we've left unaddressed would be a stronger draw for new businesses than a few dollars cut from their tax bills.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

What John Oliver Said About Charter Schools

Posted By on Tue, Aug 23, 2016 at 1:51 PM

John Oliver and his staff clearly did their charter school homework. On Last Week Tonight last Sunday, Oliver discussed problems with the lack of vetting of people who open charters and the lack of oversight once schools are open. He shows people plagiarizing their charter applications, others using charters as their personal ATMs, and schools closing without notice. It's not meant to be a takedown of charters. It's more of a spot-on harangue about the need to tighten charter school rules and regulations to keep the bad actors out.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Greg Miller Out At the State Board of Education

Posted By on Wed, Aug 17, 2016 at 4:42 PM

  • LinkedIn
Wednesday afternoon the press released the news that Greg Miller, current president of the state Board of Education, quit. Not only will he no longer be board president, but he says he plans to leave the board entirely. Miller and Ed Supe Diane Douglas have feuded since she stepped into office in January, with Ducey generally taking Miller's side, so it's surprising to hear that, according to Howard Fischer's article, Ducey may be behind the ouster.
Greg Miller said aides to the governor told him they wanted him out as the top board official. Miller said Ducey, who is due to make new board appointments as early as this week, believed the change would help smooth over what has been at best a rocky relationship between the board and state schools chief Diane Douglas.
Miller is the CEO of Challenge charter school in Glendale, and his wife Pamela is executive director and vice president. His daughter Wendy is principal. The school appears to be doing well, as do the Millers. According to the school's 2012 tax forms, Greg made $121,875, as well as $26,956 in "Retirement and other deferred compensation." His wife Pamela made the same. Wendy made $99,167. There's the question out there whether Challenge charter benefits from Miller's school board presidency, but it's only a question. I've never seen any evidence that the school benefits from his political influence.

Which makes this paragraph from Fischer's article fascinating, especially the passage I've highlighted in bold.
[Miller] said he agreed to quit [the board] if he could control the wording of the press release, the timing of the announcement and got some assurances that the charter school he runs would get "political protections that I no longer could provide.''
Fischer, a very careful reporter, put quotes around the words, "political protections that I no longer could provide,'' meaning they're Miller's words. Is Miller saying his school has benefitted from political protection? Why would that be necessary? Is he implying he's afraid Douglas might use her office to target the school, or is there something else we should know?

I'm guessing Miller's statement will be clarified sometime in the near future. Stay tuned.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Ducey 'Next Step' Watch: Day 89. "No More Reading Tea Leaves" Edition

Posted By on Tue, Aug 16, 2016 at 3:45 PM

  • Illustration from Photospin image
  • Courtesy of Shutterstock
Bill Buckmaster went and did it. On his Aug. 10 radio show, Bill asked his guest, Doug Ducey, "What is the next step for getting more money into the classrooms?" In the next few minutes, Ducey, employing his usual word-salad-sprayed-through-a-garden-hose style of answering questions, said lots of things about improving education but never said a word about increasing funding. What we were pretty sure we knew about Ducey's position since the beginning of our "Next Step" Watch is now official. No. New. Money.

Here's some of what Ducey said, with commentary.

•"[Prop 123] put additional resources into K-12."
Well, yes and no. True, there's more money flowing into schools courtesy of Prop 123, but calling it "additional resources" is heavy-duty political spin. This isn't additional funding, it's giving the schools part of what the legislature withheld illegally starting in 2009. We don't pat bank robbers on the back for returning the money they stole, do we? And we don't say the bank has "additional resources" when it gets its money back.

•"I want to see our teachers better rewarded."
Great. I assume "better rewarded" means higher salaries, though I have to admit, it's dangerous to make assumptions. Maybe Ducey wants to pass out "Good Job!" medals that teachers can wear with pride as they try to figure out how to pay their rents and mortgages and put food on their family tables. But beyond Prop 123, which raised our teacher salaries a bit, where will we get more money to make our salary schedules competitive with other states?

•"I want to see results and outcomes that come from additional resources."
So. If Ducey doesn't see enough "results and outcomes" from the "additional" Prop 123 funding, he's not likely to give schools more money. And if he sees strong "results and outcomes," that means we don't need any more money, right? Brilliant! Ducey's "No more money" argument wins either way.

Continue reading »

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Monday, August 15, 2016

Want To Be a Top High School? Better Not Have Too Many Low Income Students.

Posted By on Mon, Aug 15, 2016 at 3:17 PM

  • Courtesy of PhotoSpin
Newsweek published its 2016 America's Top High Schools listings. I'm not a fan of these things. Their criteria are usually questionable, and they favor schools in high rent districts, making it look like those schools are doing a better job educating their students than schools in low rent districts. But this one is more interesting than most because it has two lists: one just considering student achievement and the other factoring in students' economic status.

Let's start local. University High is in 30th place on the Newsweek list. It's the second ranked Arizona school, below Tempe Preparatory Academy in 15th place. The only other Tucson-area school on the list is Catalina Foothills High, which came in 310th.

What, no BASIS schools, which do so well on the U.S. News & World Report Best High Schools List? Nope, not here. The reason is, Newsweek asks for the percentage of students on free or reduced lunch, and since BASIS doesn't provide lunch for its students, it couldn't provide the information.

Newsweek's listings include the percent of students on free or reduced lunch for each school, which adds a side order of economic reality to the menu. What you learn from those numbers is, low income and high rankings don't mix. Only one school in the top 50 has more than half of its students on free/reduced lunch, and that school is at 50.8 percent. A total of four schools topping 50 percent make it into the top 100. University High, with 16.4 percent on free/reduced lunch, isn't one of the four.

My favorite part of the Newsweek's listings is its Beating the Odds 2016 list, which factors in the percentage of low income students in the schools. As you might expect, the list is wildly different from the original Top High Schools list.

Continue reading »

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

David Gowan Bows To Reality, Quits Congressional Race

Posted By on Thu, Aug 11, 2016 at 1:36 PM

House Speaker David Gowan acknowledges that he wasn't going to Congress this year.
  • House Speaker David Gowan acknowledges that he wasn't going to Congress this year.
Arizona Speaker of the House David Gowan gave up on his hopeless campaign for Congress today and endorsed fellow Congressional District 1 candidate Gary Kiehne, saying that Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu "must not be our nominee."

Gowan's statement:

After prayer and conversations with my family, I have made the decision to suspend my campaign for Congress and to endorse my friend Gary Kiehne in the Republican primary for Congress. I ran for Congress because I felt called to do my part to save the country that has given me so very much. I felt that a conservative Republican who understood the issues facing rural Arizona would be the best fit for this district. But winning this district means nominating such a conservative and, while I was glad to see that our media and grassroots efforts were having a positive effect on our numbers, the improvement was not coming fast enough to win. This race is not about me, and we can’t save the country if we don’t win.

For all of our various differences, what every other candidate in this race can agree on is that Paul Babeu must not be our nominee if we are to prevail in November. The baggage he brings to the race simply cannot survive the millions of dollars that the Democrats will bring to this race and we have no reason to believe that the Republican Party will spend millions of dollars trying to save such a lost cause, particularly not with so many other critical races going on around the country. Staying in the race, and taking conservative votes away from the rest of the field meant that not only could my campaign result in costing conservatives the nomination, but Republicans the seat in November. I could not allow that to happen.

From there my decision was easy. Every candidate polling this race knows that the candidate best positioned to stop Paul Babeu is Gary Kiehne. Gary’s a solid conservative and the candidate who will be able to coalesce enough support in the General Election to win this very important seat. I believe he will represent our district with honor, integrity, and the utmost commitment to conservative principles. So I am suspending my campaign, endorsing Gary, and will be encouraging all of my supporters to help Gary over the finish line. Further, I respectfully ask the rest of the conservatives in the field to both consider and make the same decision. It will be nothing to brag about to your grandkids how one time you finished 3rd in a primary for Congress, if you have to then explain what happened to our country after the Democrats won the seat and pushed their extreme agenda. Everyone has run a good race, we have a quality field of quality candidates, but it is time to face reality and rally to the conservative cause.
Gowan, who has often opposed programs designed to aid single moms, children and other low-income Arizonans, is under investigation by the Arizona Attorney General's Office over his misuse of state resources for his congressional campaign.

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