Monday, October 24, 2016

World View Case Update

Posted By on Mon, Oct 24, 2016 at 11:00 AM

Document fragment from Judge Wood's Gift Clause ruling - JONATHAN HOFFMAN
  • Jonathan Hoffman
  • Document fragment from Judge Wood's Gift Clause ruling

As you may recall, on Aug. 22, Judge Catherine Woods heard oral arguments regarding Pima County’s motion to dismiss the suit filed against Pima County by the Goldwater Institute on behalf of a number of Pima County business owners and tax payers regarding the deal with World View Enterprises. After reading the briefs and hearing the arguments, Judge Woods denied three of the four counts from the bench, the remaining count was taken under advisement. The count under advisement was in regards to Article IX, Section 7 of the Arizona Constitution, commonly known as the “Gift Clause.” On Oct. 14, Woods issued a ruling denying  the Gift Clause count. The Goldwater Institute gave the specifics in a press release:

...finding that we have successfully explained our position that the County “'unquestionably abused’ its discretion in spending taxpayer money and lending its credit when, among other things, it took on $15 million in new debt, commenced the construction of the headquarters and balloon pad to be used by a private for-profit corporation that had an unproven ability to conduct its intended operations, failed to obtain competitive bids, committed to lease the premises to the private for-profit corporation at below market rates, and granted to that corporation the right to operate, maintain, and control access to the pad (which would include keeping any profits it makes from allowing other third parties to use the pad).

But wait, there’s more! In the same press release, the Goldwater Institute announced:

... today we are asking the court to cancel the World View lease and force the County to comply with a state law that requires an appraisal, public auction, and a minimum price when the County leases property. When we were in court for the hearing on whether or not the case would be dismissed, the County admitted that it ignored this law, and Judge Woods has already ruled that the law applied. The County will have 30 days to respond to our request for the lease to be cancelled. 

Pima County has had much more luck demonizing the Goldwater Institute than it has had defending the World View deal. It has had some success in portraying the Goldwater Institute as a bunch of contemptible Maricopans who, when they are not pulling wings off of flies, entertain themselves by poking sticks at Pima County. It should be remembered that the Goldwater Institute cares not one whit if Pima County does, or does not, build a launch pad or manufacturing facility. What it cares about is the flouting of laws that are specifically designed to protect the taxpayers and businesses of Arizona. That is what Pima County has done by arranging contract deals in secret (Project Curvature), offering sweetheart financing deals that do not exist in the natural world, and dispensing with the legally required appraisals, competitive bidding, etc. Remember, too, that the Goldwater Institute is not representing itself; rather, it is representing the plaintiffs, also known as your neighbors.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Five Ways To Avoid Being An Able-Bodied Douchebag

Posted By on Wed, Oct 19, 2016 at 9:13 AM

So, I want to start this article off by saying that I had some trepidation about that title up there. I tend not to like to call people "douchebags." It's one of the most vile insults of the world, in my book. Right up there with the "C" word. I'm more of an "asshat" kind of girl, but for this particular piece, douchebag was about as fitting a descriptor as I could muster. 

I also need to tell you that I, too, have fit squarely into the douchebag category in the past. But then my daughter got her wheelchair, and I heeded the advice of Zelda Rubenstein when she was trying to save Carol Ann. I came into the light. And because I came into the light, I feel it is my responsibility as a mom to a kid who uses a wheelchair, a friend to people that use wheelchairs, and well, as a human being, to help you do the same. Here are five ways you can steer clear of able-bodied douchebaggery, and continue being the lovely human being you most likely already are:

1. Accessible Fitting Rooms 
  • Compliance Signs

This sign is typically seen in Target or Walmart fitting rooms. It means that families and people in wheelchairs (or utilizing mobility aids) can use this particular fitting room. It is large. It has 2 mirrors. It is for the mom with a kid (or kids) in tow, the mom with the kiddo in the wheelchair (or utilizing Caroline's Cart), or simply, the person in the wheelchair (or on crutches, or using a walker, or any type of mobility aide, really). If you do not fall into one of those categories, THIS DRESSING ROOM IS NOT FOR YOU.  Do not hop your solo self in there because you want to take numerous selfies of the front and  back of your outfit to post on Instagram. Do not pop on in there because it's the only dressing room left. That's like taking the handicapped parking spot because it's the only spot left. If you wouldn't park your car in the handicapped spot, don't park your booty in the wheelchair accessible fitting room. 

*Also, don't ignore the person who calls you out for doing it, or get snippy with them. It just makes you look like a bigger douchebag, and again, I kind of think you're probably not a douchebag.

2. Caroline's Cart
In case you're unaware, THIS is Caroline's Cart. 

  • Target

And this is my kid in "Caroline's Cart". 
  • Adiba Nelson
Caroline's Cart was designed specifically for individuals with disabilities. If you've never had to get a child (or adult) with low to no muscle tone in or out of a typical shopping cart, you have NO IDEA how much of a godsend this cart is. I have almost dropped my child and nearly fallen to the ground in the middle of a busy parking lot while trying to get her out of a standard cart. So, this is really a two part instruction on how not to be an able-bodied douchebag in regards to Caroline's Cart. A) If you are not traveling with a child, teen, or adult that utilizes a wheelchair or mobility aid, DO NOT USE THIS CART. It is not a backup cart for when all of the other kid carts are taken. It is not a cart for your pet. It's not a cart for your kid who is tired of walking the aisles with you. It is for parents of children that use mobility aids, and adults shopping with other adults who use mobility aids. Please do not make me call you out if I see you doing this (and yes, person about to comment about invisible illnesses, I know about invisible illnesses). B) If you see someone pulling ALL of the kid carts out, just to get to Caroline's Cart, and she's struggling to hold her own child while doing so, HELP HER OR HIM OUT. I cannot tell you how many times people have stood and watched me struggle (patrons and employees alike), and even commented about how much of an inconvenience it seems to be, and then grabbed their own super accessible, easy to grab shopping cart and gone on their merry way. Please don't be that person. Not only does it qualify you to move straight to the top of the douchebag line, but it can (and actually has) reduce the person struggling to tears of anger and frustration. 

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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Social Media Takeover

Posted By on Tue, Oct 4, 2016 at 5:02 PM

It seems like everyone one you see today is glued to a phone or laptop. Many people don't even realize how absent they are from reality because they are constantly checking their Facebook feeds, sending out a quick Tweet at dinner or editing an Instagram photo for hours on end. 

But the question is, are there actually any benefits to "social media" addiction? 

It's all opinion. Many people would probably agree that the overuse of social media today is worrying—but that doesn't mean it isn't (or can't be) an asset to society.

Social media does have a lot of benefits because it allows people to connect and share ideas instantly, while also helping people make connections, from business contacts to new friends. It seems like the pros and cons of social media use are pretty much even —partially because it doesn't seem like people use social media to its full potential. 

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Friday, September 16, 2016

Tucson Is A Vacuum—And I'm Ok With That

Posted By on Fri, Sep 16, 2016 at 1:12 AM

  • Photo Illustration
In case you haven't noticed, hardly anyone that lives here is a Tucson Native. I kid you not. You can ask five different people where they are from and you will likely get the following answers: New York, Illinois, Michigan, and two other frozen over states that Satan will never step foot in. Just about everyone comes from somewhere else, and settles in here, ready to take on the hell hot summers like a champ. Because 106 degrees on a good day beats five below zero any day, right? 

Then there are those of us who aren't from here, but were dragged here by our parents as some sort of gentle take on biblical punishment. Our parents did not believe in "Spare the rod, spoil the child," but they did fully buy into "and the meek shall inherit the earth," so this was their way of wearing us down. "Bring the children to the surface of the sun," they said. "Eventually they will be so weak from their futile attempts to leave, they will have everything their hearts desire!" they said. *Insert evil laugh* 

I fall into that second category. Moved here with mom, from the coolest city in the world, New York, when I was 11. I cried when we left; she cried when we landed. Fitting. I had very little say in the matter (read: NONE), and I remember being shocked out of my mind that this desert of death with the silent "C" actually had grocery stores, stop lights, and BUSSES!  But alas, it wasn't The Big Apple, and I tried like hell to go back home. I mean, I couldn't even get a slice of pizza here! What was this place that makes you buy an ENTIRE pizza pie just so you can eat ONE STINKIN' SLICE? Every summer I lobbied, albeit unsuccessfully, for a one way ticket back to my concrete paradise. Every. Damn. Summer. And then finally, I gave up. I admitted defeat. I couldn't have my pizza, but I did have my Eegee's, so I guessed that was better than nothing. Now don't get me wrong, it was no Mario's Italian Ice in a yellow cup with a wooden spoon and the syrupy, sugary bottom—but it was somethin'. 

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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Old Heads vs. Young Bucks: Hip-Hop’s Dilemma

Posted By on Thu, Sep 8, 2016 at 5:00 PM

Pete Rock is the latest old head to go after the young bucks of hip-hop. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • Pete Rock is the latest old head to go after the young bucks of hip-hop.

The hyper-American culture of hip-hop has been around for a whopping 40 years, and has gone through countless changes. We’ve heard party music heavily focused on seconds-long drum breaks propelled by two turntables and a DJ, to boom-bap beats, heavy dark samples and witty MCs rhyming about the “trife” life, to extremely melodic and catchy beats paired with rhymes that at times are clever, but at most are one dimensional.

Different times saw different mindsets, different work ethics and different inspirations. Yet, can these disparate minds and styles continue to create simultaneously as the genre itself begins to have a real human history? Can pivotal members of the culture (the old heads like Pete Rock) who have honed in their craft and who represent the old-school exist alongside rappers whose sole purpose is to make cash (the young bucks like Young Dolph) in rap.

In a perfect world, yes. But nothing’s ever easy in hip-hop.

It is good old ageism that’s not allowing old heads and young bucks to happily co-exist? A recent clash between the two suggests no way. The 44-year-old Pete Rock, who’s been creating hip-hop since the late ’80s and is one of the most influential hip-hop producers on earth, went after 26-year-old rapper Young Dolph on social media.
Rock reacted on Instagram to Dolph shooting a music video in which he spit the line “I had he had “cocaine running though my vain” with a child beside him. The clip prompted Rock to say “we have to raise our children better than this.” And he called Dolph “hot garbage.”

Dolph took to Twitter, insulted Rock, and said the cocaine bit was a nod to his parents being crack addicts and being born with crack in his system.
Rock shot back, taking a stand against “mumble rappers” and said “Y’all don't care about the culture, so why are you in it?"

Rock has a point. Many new rappers claim they don't like older hip-hop, that it doesn't resonate with them and it's not a culture they want to be in. In fact, rapper Lil Yachty said in a recent Billboard interview that he couldn’t name five tunes by Tupac Shakur or The Notorious B.I.G., two of the most influential MCs in hip hop.

Everyone should know where they came from.

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Friday, September 2, 2016

American Babylon: A Conversation With Jan Brewer

Posted By on Fri, Sep 2, 2016 at 7:39 PM

Recorded Wednesday, Aug. 31 at the Phoenix Convention Center just before the Donald Trump rally. Jan Brewer was appointed Governor of Arizona in 2010 to replace Janet Napolitano. She was elected for a full term later that year after signing SB1070, legislation which made it illegal to be an immigrant. This was a hugely controversial and horrible piece of law, remarkably similar to the proposals made by Donald Trump in his rally later in the evening.

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American Babylon: Kid Wearing Keffiyeh at Trump Rally Singled Out and Ejected

Posted By on Fri, Sep 2, 2016 at 6:36 PM

Take a look at this video footage which shows a young kid in a Keffiyeh being singled out and ejected by Trump security guards at the Donald J. Trump rally in Phoenix Convention Center on Wednesday, Aug. 31. I spoke with the security guard in the suit in this footage, and he told me: "He's actually a really great kid, he just wanted to watch. But I can't protect him in this crowd when there's like 8,000 people out there." Sad. Disgusting. All of the adjectives Donald Trump For President likes to spew about others.

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Friday, August 5, 2016

Tucson and Its Not-So-Accessible Public Spaces

Posted By on Fri, Aug 5, 2016 at 3:54 PM

You know, one of my favorite memories of growing up here in Tucson is strolling up and down 4th Avenue on the weekends, and following the underpass into downtown. There were so many places I could explore. Bentley's, Cafe Quebec, the back room of the Chicago Store—they were amazing times. Everything was accessible to me, and I took full advantage of it. Today, not so much. 

Well, let me correct that. Everything is still accessible to me; however, everything is not accessible to my daughter who uses a wheelchair as her main source of transportation. Therefore my statement stands true—not so much. It never dawned on me how much Tucson excludes those who use mobility aids until I took my daughter to the Tucson Children's Museum.

We tried to interact with some of the exhibits they had, specifically, the one where you spin a wheel mounted to the exhibit and made electricity. A typical and perfect example of cause and effect, right? Wrong. My daughter's wheelchair couldn't get close enough to grab the handle and spin the wheel because of the box it was mounted on. Only a slight problem, but not unfixable. I took her out of her wheelchair, propped her up on my knee, and we tried again. However, because my daughter's cerebral palsy greatly affects her motor skills she couldn't maintain a grip on the handle and therefore couldn't spin the wheel that created the electricity.
Tucson Children's Museum Electri-City Exhibit
  • Tucson Children's Museum Electri-City Exhibit

Womp woooommmmppp. Game over. NO ELECTRICITY FOR YOU!

Now, there is an easy fix here, but it requires thinking outside the box. The easy fix might be having something she could stand on (with my assistance) that would simulate the transfer of energy (weight) from her body to the exhibit, and that would stimulate electricity. When I put her back in her chair, the electricity goes out. Same concept of cause and effect, and the transfer of energy to create electricity. Bada Bing Bada Boom and the kid is happy.

Sadly, that is not an offered alternative. Now, some of you might say, well she could have put her hand on the giant "hand" picture, and interacted that way. To you, I say, perhaps. Perhaps she could have, but that would mean moving her far enough from the exhibit so that she could bend over in her wheelchair and maneuver her body in such a way that she could get her hand on it, and not fall out of her chair. And still breathe.

Sounds like a lot for a small child? It is. And it shouldn't have to be. I mean, it is the Children's Museum, which leads one to believe it's open to ALL children, not just able-bodied children, right? Now, before you give me the most wicked side eye in all of side eye history for pointing out a disparity at our beloved Children's Museum, I'm not saying they are the devil.

To our benefit, there are some exhibits that she can interact with, and always has fun with. She always has a blast chasing bugs in Techtopia, picking the giant nose in Bodyology and grocery shopping, where she gets all the things. Literally: She tries to put everything in her little shopping cart. So while this doesn't necessarily make up for the lack of adaptive scissors and art utensil aids in the Imaginarium (art is her favorite thing EVER), it does still allow her to have some fun.

I am simply saying they need to think more often about the kids who interact with the world around them a little differently. 

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