Politics

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Gov Race: Ken Bennett Talks Education, Gun Safety and Balancing the Budget

Posted By on Wed, Jun 20, 2018 at 12:00 PM

Gubernatorial candidate Ken Bennett (right) speaks with audience members after an event hosted by the Pima County Republican Club. - KATHLEEN B. KUNZ
  • Kathleen B. Kunz
  • Gubernatorial candidate Ken Bennett (right) speaks with audience members after an event hosted by the Pima County Republican Club.


At yesterday’s Pima County Republican Club gathering, Ken Bennett told the crowd that when he saw Gov. Doug Ducey “cave” to the mounting pressure from K-12 educators and announce the “20x2020” plan, he knew he had to run for governor.


That was on April 12, so his team collected the 6,223 signatures required plus almost another 2,000 in a little over five weeks to qualify him for the Aug. 28 Republican primary.


Bennett, a fifth generation Arizonan from Prescott, served as Arizona’s Secretary of State from 2009 to 2015. Before that, he was a state senator from 1999 to 2007, including a four-year stint as Senate president. In 2014, he was one of several Republicans in the GOP primary for governor that Ducey ended up winning. .


The veteran politician is back as a Clean Elections candidate, meaning he has agreed to not accept campaign contributions from political action committees and corporations. By making this promise and following other guidelines, the Citizens Clean Elections Commission will give him $839,704 for the primary election campaign if he can get 4,000 registered voters to each give him a $5 contribution.


Kevin McCormick, a Libertarian, is the only other Arizona gubernatorial candidate running a Clean Elections campaign. According to the CCEC, the money they give to candidates is generated from a 10% surcharge on all civil penalties and criminal fines in the state. Their intent is to encourage candidates to spend more time campaigning directly to individual voters rather than pandering to the interests of large corporations who have money to burn.


Bennett claims the #RedforEd movement is a politically-charged undertaking aimed at turning Arizona into a blue state.


Shifting some blame onto Gov. Ducey, Bennett claimed that if Prop. 123 had provided the funds it was intended to give, Arizona schools would have received the money they need. The proposition failed to live up to its promises because its source funds were depleted and a federal judge declared the action unconstitutional almost two months ago. However, Bennett is doubtful that the proposition or Gov. Ducey’s new plan would have satisfied educators for long.


“Every time you give a mouse a cookie, they’ll ask for a glass of milk,” Bennett said, implying that teachers will always ask for more funding no matter how much the government provides.


Bennett spent the first third of his speech doing what he does best: talking about the Arizona state budget. Referencing his famous Kleenex box demonstration, Bennett criticized the state legislature for falling into debt in the years since he left the Senate and the economic recession took its toll.


He said when he was President of the Senate the state budget was balanced, with $9.5 billion coming in and $9.5 billion going out along with a $1.1 billion reserve fund that he helped establish. Comparing this previous success to the current budget, Bennett said there has been a lot of “accounting tricks and gimmicks” to make up for lost funds, which have ultimately held Arizona back.


“I decided to run for governor because I want to balance the budget,” he said. “I proved that I can do it with a Democratic governor, and I know that we can do it again.”


To do that, Bennett vows that a top priority of his campaign is make sure the Affordable Care Act gets repealed completely, and as soon as possible.


“Obamacare is going to bankrupt our country,” he said. “It’s hurting small businesses, it’s killing jobs, so I believe very strongly that we need to get rid of it.”


When Bennett mentioned the impending appointment of Cindy McCain to her ailing husband John’s Senate seat, a deep groan erupted from the audience. Bennett said if elected, he would not appoint Cindy to the position, because “U.S. Senate seats are not family heirlooms.”


After expressing this view on Twitter, Bennett was met with harsh criticism by members of his own party. At the club’s meeting, he said he doesn’t mean any disrespect to Cindy, but he would never appoint someone who will vote against repealing Obamacare, referencing Sen. McCain’s famous “thumbs-down” gesture in July of last year.


Bennett used this topic to take another jab at his opponent, claiming that Sen. McCain voted against the repeal because he was upholding the wishes of the governor.

Tweets made by Sen. McCain and Gov. Ducey in opposition of the repeal were printed out and distributed to audience members during the event. - KATHLEEN B. KUNZ
  • Kathleen B. Kunz
  • Tweets made by Sen. McCain and Gov. Ducey in opposition of the repeal were printed out and distributed to audience members during the event.


Bennett has clearly aligned himself to the right of Gov. Ducey, claiming that he isn’t doing enough for conservative interests in the state. Bennett’s policies on gun violence prevention coincide with that line of reasoning.


“My school safety operation plan does not involve taking guns away from Arizonans,” he declared.

Cue loud cheers from every corner of the room.


“The best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is to have a good guy with a gun at the same place at the same time,” he said.


His proposal models Ohio’s existing FASTER program, which calls for firearms and emergency response training for school staff, the use of infrastructure specialists who will make updates to secure school campuses and increased efforts to identify and assist students who show signs of mental illness.


While the training programs can be provided free of cost, it is unclear how Bennett plans to fund the infrastructure projects or increased mental health support.


He asked the audience, “Why are our schools not as secure as airports or concerts or government buildings?”


According to Bennett’s handout, the firearm training would not be mandatory but offered only to “willing, competent and capable staff members.”

Ken Bennett's newly-released school safety plan. - KATHLEEN B. KUNZ
  • Kathleen B. Kunz
  • Ken Bennett's newly-released school safety plan.


Although he previously said that the #RedforEd movement was a liberal political stunt, Bennett’s plan would distribute tax credits to teachers who take the firearm training. The credits are intended to help pay for a firearm and other related equipment.


So what if teachers don’t have money for basic school supplies like textbooks or markers? At least they’ll be given tax credits to purchase and carry a firearm on the job.


An audience member mentioned a big concern with Bennett’s plan: What if a trained teacher accidentally shoots an innocent student while trying to take down an active threat?


Bennett replied, “Can somebody hit somebody they weren’t intending to while trying to stop a shooter? Of course. And all of those things will get worked out. I’d rather have [a trained individual] stop a shooter and maybe get somebody else nicked in the process than have bodies dropping every eight seconds.”


After the event, Bennett said in an interview that the FASTER program is adaptable to each school’s situation, and teachers would only be expected to do what they are comfortable with. He said if they want to keep their weapon in a holster with a lock, they can do that. If they prefer to keep it locked in a safe, they can do that too. He added that the program will not advertise to students and faculty which teachers are carrying a gun or where the guns are located.


On the other hand, Gov. Ducey’s gun control plan includes tightening background checks and implements the use of a Severe Threat Order of Protection, which allows law enforcement, school faculty, mental health professionals, family members or other relevant parties to petition in court and prevent a high-risk individual from obtaining a firearm. In comparison of the two, Bennett’s plan is expected to receive more support from Second Amendment activists and voters.


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Claytoon of the Day: This is MAGA

Posted By on Wed, Jun 20, 2018 at 10:46 AM

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The Loft Hosts Free screening of 'The House I Live In'

Posted By on Wed, Jun 20, 2018 at 12:30 AM

As part of the University of Arizona Poetry Center’s Art for Justice Film Series, the Loft Cinema will screen “The House I Live In,” a documentary offering a look into the lives of those impacted by the war on drugs in America. The 2012 film pieces together glimpses into the worlds of a dealer, a narcotics officer, a senator, a judge, an inmate and more. The film, by Eugene Jarecki, won the Grand Jury Prize for documentary films at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012.


See it at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 20 at The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd. Admission is free. For more details, visit The Loft website.



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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Sally Hemings, 1773-2018: Hemingses' Lives Matter

Posted By on Tue, Jun 19, 2018 at 5:00 PM

MONTICELLO, COURTESY OF WIKIPEDIA
  • Monticello, Courtesy of wikipedia
A major error in the historical narrative of this country's founders has been partly corrected at Monticello in Virginia.
The newly opened space at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s palatial mountaintop plantation, is presented as the living quarters of Sally Hemings, an enslaved woman who bore the founding father’s children.
The life of Sally Hemings, a slave owned by Thomas Jefferson, is an essential part of an honest recounting of the history of slavery and its importance in the early history of the United States. The two hundred year denial of her sexual relationship with Jefferson and her bearing of six children with him is historical witness to the unwillingness of the white majority to face up to the truth concerning this country's original sin. The reconstruction of Hemings's separate and unequal living quarters on the grounds and its inclusion in the tours of Monticello are a partial, far-too-late correction of the historical record.

I've spent a considerable amount of time in the years since I retired from teaching trying to correct the weaknesses in my own education. For instance, I finally read James Joyce's Ulysses a few years ago. I own that omission. The book was there all along, I knew its place in the literary canon since I was in high school, but I simply never bothered to pick it up. But I take less personal responsibility for the alarming gaps in my knowledge of the history of minorities in this country. The primary responsibility for my ignorance is the gap in the historical record created by historians who put on blinders when they wrote their many thousands of books on American history, which should be shelved in libraries in a section named, "History As Told By the Winners." The historical record has begun to be corrected over the past few decades. I'm trying to catch up as fast as I can.

A few years ago I read The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, by Annette Gordon-Reed. It is a history of Sally Hemings and her family before, during and after they were owned by Thomas Jefferson. The book shifts the usual focus of narratives about our country's founders, putting the Hemings family front and center and making Jefferson a secondary character who is discussed as he relates to the slave family.

Here's the short version of Sally Hemings's story: When Hemings was 16, in Paris with Jefferson to take care of his children, Jefferson impregnated her with the first of the six children they would have together. Jefferson denied his parentage and kept Sally and their children slaves at Monticello, only granting the children their freedom when they became adults.

For the longer version, I'm going to employ an unusual approach, starting from last Saturday and working backwards to Sally Hemings's birth.

Continue reading »

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District 3 Democratic Candidates Focus on Housing, Education and Equal Representation

Posted By on Tue, Jun 19, 2018 at 1:12 PM

LD-3 Democratic candidates speak with audience members after a public forum on May 30, 2018. - KATHLEEN B. KUNZ
  • Kathleen B. Kunz
  • LD-3 Democratic candidates speak with audience members after a public forum on May 30, 2018.

Andrés Cano was seven years old when environmental activists fought for his grandmother. She was poisoned by beryllium inhalation from a manufacturing plant in South Tucson during the early 1990s.

Betty Villegas was just out of high school when she and her friends drove people without transportation to the local polling place to cast their votes.

Sen. Olivia Cajero Bedford was settled into her third career in the tourism industry when she was exposed to the legislative issues of the time, which inspired her to change her career once again.

These events were the seeds that rooted a passion for public service in the three of the Democratic candidates for Arizona’s 3rd Legislative District, who spoke at a community forum hosted by UNITE HERE Local 11, CASE Action, Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA), Progress Now Arizona, Our Voice Our Vote (OVOV), Mi Familia Vota and Arizona Wins.

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New Ballot Initiative Promises Cheaper Electricity Bills and Cleaner Air

Posted By on Tue, Jun 19, 2018 at 12:49 PM

How does $5 off your monthly electricity bill sound? Most would say good, but relatively insignificant. How about $4 billion in savings statewide and half your electricity comes from renewable energy sources? That’s a future the Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona ballot initiative is promising all residents and businesses by 2040.

With a growing population in Arizona — 3.2 million new residents are expected to come in the next 30 years — plans are beginning to form regarding how Arizona will provide electricity to such a large number of people.

The Natural Resources Defense Council funded a study that compares two possible futures: one where Arizona Public Service and Tucson Electric Power build new gas-fired power plants, and one where almost every utility provider, except the Salt River Project, sources 50 percent of their energy from clean renewable mediums like solar and wind farms by the year 2030.

An energy firm called ICF conducted this study using their Integrated Planning Model and a few variables established by the NRDC. According to Dylan Sullivan, an senior scientist at the NRDC, the IPM is a big deal.

“IPM is a detailed model of the electric power system that is routinely used by the electricity industry and regulators, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to assess the effects of environmental regulations and policy,” Sullivan wrote in his analysis of the study.

He explained that this model is designed to consider almost every possible factor of the electricity system and the effects of its operations. Capacity of power plants, technology performance and maintenance, public demand, government policies, prices of resources, the weather — you name it. From there, it finds the most cost-effective way to meet the needs of Arizona’s growing customer base.

According to the study released in early June, when the 50 percent renewables plan is in effect, the IPM predicts the following:
  • The average electricity bill would be $3 lower each month in 2030, and $5 lower each month in 2040. Combining these savings from across the state would total to more than $4 billion. That’s $4 billion going back into our economy.
  • Arizona would meet future electricity needs with solar projects that are built and run in-state rather than using gas plants that rely on imports from other states. This will create jobs for Arizona residents.
  • The investment in renewable energy and storage can reduce the carbon footprint. It would lower annual carbon dioxide emissions in 2030 by 4.6 million tons, which is the same as the annual emissions from 900,000 cars.
DYLAN SULLIVAN, NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL
  • Dylan Sullivan, Natural Resources Defense Council


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Claytoon of the Day: The Chump Foundation

Posted By on Tue, Jun 19, 2018 at 10:40 AM

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Monday, June 18, 2018

T.H.R.E.A.T. Watch: Border Edition

Posted By on Mon, Jun 18, 2018 at 6:00 PM

threat-watch-border_gyre.jpg
On November 15, 2016, I wrote my first post after the presidential election. The headline was Trump Human Rights Erosion And Termination Watch (THREAT Watch). I was afraid of what this nation would become under a Trump administration. At the same time I hoped my fears would prove to be unfounded. I wanted to find, a year or so later, that I had been an alarmist.

Based on what is going on right now at the U.S./Mexico border, the Trump administration has gone beyond the threat of eroding and ending human rights in the country. It has moved into action. We are staring directly into the abyss.

Anyone who condones or rationalizes what the administration is doing at the border to infants, toddlers, boys and girls up to the age of 18, and to parents whose children are being torn away from them, is aiding and abetting the destruction of this country as we know it. I'm sorry, but if you claim that you can retain your sense of decency and not condemn what is being done to children and families in our name, you have already lost part of what makes you a decent human being. You share the guilt with the monsters who put this zero tolerance immigration policy into motion and the border guards who are implementing it.

I have to be honest and admit, as a citizen of this country, I share the guilt and shame as well, even though I condemn what is going on with every fiber of my being.

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Summer Safari Nights

Summer Safari Friday Nights 2018 Date: Every Friday until August 3, 2018 6:00 pm — 8:00 pm… More

@ Reid Park Zoo Fri., May 18, 6-8 p.m., Fri., May 25, 6-8 p.m., Fri., June 1, 6-8 p.m., Fri., June 8, 6-8 p.m., Fri., June 15, 6-8 p.m., Fri., June 22, 6-8 p.m., Fri., June 29, 6-8 p.m., Fri., July 6, 6-8 p.m., Fri., July 13, 6-8 p.m., Fri., July 20, 6-8 p.m., Fri., July 27, 6-8 p.m. and Fri., Aug. 3, 6-8 p.m. 3400 E Zoo Court

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  1. Claytoon of the Day: This is MAGA (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
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