Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Here I Go, Defending Diane Douglas Again

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2015 at 9:37 AM

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I can't help it. I find the AZ Board of Ed vs. AZ Dept. of Ed train wreck endlessly fascinating. Diane Douglas is so much fun to watch. If someone can show me how she's done harm to Arizona education during her tenure, how, say, things would be better for our children, teachers and schools if John Huppenthal were still in power, maybe I'll start taking her shenanigans more seriously. Until then, I'll continue getting the same perverse pleasure from her antics that I get watching the Republican presidential race.

The one spasm of guilt I feel over my guilty pleasure is that I'm pretty sure Douglas is up to no good in her attempt to wrest power from the Board. Her dogged persistence makes me pretty certain that others are telling her, "If you can get the power to hire and fire more staff, then you can hire your own people and put some of our Tea Party agenda in motion, so keep fighting them at every turn." If she wins this struggle with the Board, it could mean trouble down the road. But it's hard for me to take the side of Doug Ducey's Board of Education against her. Look, if the two keep fighting, if the hatred between the two sides continues to grow, maybe they'll neutralize each other. With Ducey and his minions in power, I prefer inaction to action.

With that in mind, here's the latest. During the most recent Board meeting, where Douglas forms a minority of one, she kept talking when Board President Greg Miller wanted her to stop. According to Douglas, Miller grabbed her arm, and when she still didn't stop talking, he pushed away her microphone. Douglas claims Miller assaulted her, so she called the cops  on him. The thing is, she was right. He was way out of line touching her, grabbing her, in anger.

I'm not a student of Roberts Rules of Order, but I'm reasonably certain it doesn't tell the chair of a meeting to grab someone or push away her microphone when she's out of order. I'm guessing there's a procedure the chair is supposed to follow. Miller's impulsive action was a small act of violence against Douglas, but an act of violence nonetheless. It was an attempt to scare and bully her into silence. He had absolutely no right to touch her, especially in such an aggressive manner. I would think every advocate for woman's rights should feel indignant right along with her.

Should she have made this a police incident? From a political standpoint, absolutely, even if she didn't think Miller's action rose to that level of aggression. Douglas goaded Miller into an impulsive act, then she used political judo to turn his action against him. It was a very clever maneuver for a novice.

 As a thought experiment, let's turn the situation around. I'm guessing from pictures I've seen of the two that Miller has at least 4 inches and 75 pounds on Douglas. Imagine for a moment that she's the chair and he's the one out of order. What happens if she grabs his arm to shut him up? What happens if she tries to push away his microphone? My guess is that Miller, who has shown he's prone to impulsive behavior, would have shook her hand off his arm—maybe pushed it off with his other hand—while glaring at her. If she tried to push away his microphone, my guess is he would have grabbed her wrist and said, "Don't you dare!" In other words, if things were reversed, there's a good chance he would have used his size and strength advantage to neutralize her attempts to silence him.

Actually, I doubt Douglas would have taken any physical action if she was in Miller's shoes, especially against a large man. What he did is more of a male-on-female power play than the other way around.

Here's why I'm enjoying what Douglas is doing to the establishment Republicans so much. It's karma biting these folks in the ass. When powerful Republicans don't like something, they never let go, just like Douglas won't back down in this fight over hiring and firing privileges. Think about how angry the Republicans were when they realized they didn't control the state and congressional redistricting process, meaning they couldn't tweak the districts to their advantage. They tried every ridiculous maneuver they could think of to pretend they were outraged during every step of the Arizona Redistricting Commission's work. They were so unrelenting, they took their case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court (where they lost). Douglas is taking a page out of the playbook Republicans use against Democrats and turning it against her fellow Republicans. She's got them sputtering in impotent rage over her actions, and they're so frustrated that the Board President actually grabbed Douglas by the arm, which gave her the opportunity to turn her justifiable indignation into a formal assault charge and make his frustration that much worse. It couldn't be happening to a more deserving group of people.

Yes, I admit, watching the continuing adventures of Douglas and the Board is a guilty pleasure. But oh my, it's such a pleasure. I can hardly wait for the next episode.

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