Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Claytoon of the Day: Wonderful Son

Posted By on Tue, Aug 14, 2018 at 9:27 AM

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Monday, August 13, 2018

Tired Of Those Annoying Political Phone Calls And Fliers?

Posted By on Mon, Aug 13, 2018 at 4:04 PM


Are you tired of all those political robocalls and calls from earnest volunteers? Did you know, they're tired of talking to you too?

Are you tired of all those glossy, oversized postcards from candidates touting their accomplishments — and maybe running down their opponents? Did you know, they're tired of sending them to you too?

Just vote. When campaigns find out you've sent in your ballot, they'll leave you alone. No more (or almost no more) calls. No more (or almost no more) oversized postcards. You can sit back with the beverage of your choice and watch the political circus unfold before your eyes, knowing you've done your patriotic chore. Better yet, volunteer for the candidate(s) of your choice and be one of those phoners or the doorbell ringers helping to get out the vote.

Send in your ballot!

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Claytoon of the Day: LeBron Meets LeCon

Posted By on Mon, Aug 13, 2018 at 9:12 AM

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Friday, August 10, 2018

A Review of David Garcia's Book, "School Choice"

Posted By on Fri, Aug 10, 2018 at 4:03 PM

  • Courtesy of BigStock
Full disclosure: I have already stated my support for David Garcia for governor on The Range. Today I sent in my ballot with the bubble filled in next to Garcia's name.

Thursday, a post on Blog for Arizona by Larry Bodine sent minor shockwaves through the Democratic primary race for governor. Bodine wrote a scathing review of a book David Garcia wrote titled School Choice, which will be published September 28. According to Bodine, Garcia's book is pro-school privatization and, in the words of the headline "a Blueprint to Dismantle Public Education."

Bodine's post was the first I heard of the book. I asked him if he would share his review copy with me, and he did gladly. I read the book — or to be completely honest, I read the beginning carefully, then skimmed the rest of the 196-page book attentively enough to understand its content.

Bodine's depiction of the book is, in a word, wrong.

Of the people who have had a chance to read the book and comment on it in the media, I probably have the most experience reading education books. I have amassed a significant number of postgraduate units in the field, and I've continued reading education works, ranging from blog posts to articles to books, on a daily basis. Though I have expressed my support for Garcia, I also know how to read these kinds of texts for content and possible political leanings without letting my personal opinions interfere.

What Garcia has written is a book on the history of school choice beginning in colonial days and continuing through 2017. It is meant to be an objective overview of the subject, and it succeeds in that regard. If I had never heard of David Garcia and read this book, I wouldn't know his personal opinions on the subject. Though it is written for general consumption, it would be a valuable book to assign in any college course on the history of education, from Education 101 through graduate school.

I'm not the only one to arrive at the conclusion that Bodine's post is a distortion of the contents of Garcia's book. Brahm Resnik, one of Arizona's top journalists, came to a similar conclusion. So did Maria Polletta of the Arizona Republic. I'll quote some of what they wrote at the end of the post.

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Candidates Answer Survey from Arizona's Disability Organizations

Posted By on Fri, Aug 10, 2018 at 3:40 PM

This election season, a group of Arizona-based disability organizations sent a survey to all candidates running for state and federal office. The survey contained specific questions about the issues, laws and policies that affect the disability community, to see how these candidates would possibly use their time in office to enhance the lives of the disabled.

This survey also serves as a resource to raise awareness of the issues that the disability community faces, which are not often in the political spotlight. However, one in three Arizona residents are affected by a disability, according to Sarah Ruf, a community relations specialist for Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council, which is one of the leading organizations that produced this survey.

Unfortunately, a lot of candidates did not respond to it. The organizations stated that the survey had a 26.5 percent response rate. Although, there were a few from the Tucson area that did respond. Here are a few highlights from what they said. You can read the full document here.

Ralph Atchue (D) State Senator LD-11
Atchue, who lost his 2016 race for this position against Republican Sen. Steve Smith, "definitely supports" training law enforcement to interact with individuals with disabilities.

He wrote:
"Law enforcement has got to incorporate training on interactions with individuals who cannot communicate verbally. This training must include circumstances dealing with individuals with conditions that stem from mental illnesses and stress. We have got to train law enforcement to tell the difference between situations that are life threatening and those that can be approached with concern and tact. We are seeing too many unnecessary deaths, injuries and incarcerations."

Atchue also considers the Arizonans with Disabilities Act (AzDA) - which requires local governments and businesses that provide public services to make reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities - "an important component of civil rights,” and does not support any attempt to delay a building's compliance with ADA standards, unless in the most "extreme conditions," which he did not provide an example of.

Neither of his political opponents responded to the survey.

Kathy Hoffman (D) State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Hoffman "definitely supports" public schools (including charter) complying with federal access laws.

She wrote:
"As a school-based speech therapist, I have extensive experience working with students with disabilities. It is critical that students have comprehensive special education services available in all public schools to make sure that they have equal access to a high quality education. Further, public schools should not be allowed to turn away students with disabilities for any reason.”

None of her political opponents responded to the survey.

Anthony Sizer (R) State Representative LD-2
Sizer, who lost his 2016 primary for State Representative in LD-14, indicated that he is "likely to support" Medicaid block grants or a per capita cap system, which would limit the amount of money for the program.

He does support additional funding for Arizona's five centers for independent living, which provide programs for individuals with disabilities. He also supports law enforcement training for interactions with the disabled community, as well as integrated employment. The rest of his survey responses indicated "not sure - need to learn more."

JP Martin (D) and Pamela Powers Hannley (D) State Representative LD-9
These two candidates are currently battling each other for a seat in the House, and responded very similarly to the questions in the survey. They both support integrated employment, ADA-compliant public buildings, funding for Arizona's CILs, prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, forbidding landlords from denying tenants based on income source and Medicaid funding for higher wages for community attendants.

Powers Hannley wrote, "Home health aides and other caregivers have important jobs. Unfortunately, they are woefully underpaid and often suffer from wage theft. Yes, they should be paid appropriately."

They both stand in opposition to Medicaid block grants, a per capita cap system, Medicaid work requirements and ADA notification procedures. Powers Hannley noted that she voted against the latter while in office.

The other two candidates, Ana Henderson and Randy Friese, did not respond to the survey.

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Arizona Still Grappling with Question of How to Prevent School Shootings

Posted By on Fri, Aug 10, 2018 at 3:14 PM

March for our Lives protest in Tucson. - DANYELLE KHMARA
  • Danyelle Khmara
  • March for our Lives protest in Tucson.

Gun legislation in Arizona remains a hot-button issue going into election season. Gov. Doug Ducey’s proposed school safety plan, which was unveiled in March, was a contentious bill since Arizona lawmakers can’t agree whether “school safety” and “gun reform” are synonymous.

The bill was proposed as a proactive measure towards preventing any more school shootings like the February attack Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The bill passed in the Senate with full support from Republicans and none from Democrats. But ultimately, the legislation stalled in the House.

“Governor Ducey was disappointed that the Safe Arizona Schools Plan was not passed by the Legislature, but that doesn’t mean that our work is done on the issue,” said Ducey Press Secretary Elizabeth Berry in an email. “School safety is a top priority and the governor is committed to fighting for the common-sense reforms included in the [bill].”

Ducey says that passing his school safety bill is one of his highest priorities going into the next legislative session, should he win re-election. But with his plan facing criticism from both Republicans and Democrats, he will have a challenge seeing it become law if he’s reelected.

Democrats cite the lack of universal background checks as one of the bill’s biggest pitfalls. Ducey’s plan intends to strengthen the existing criminal background check system, allocating $600,000 to do so, but that doesn’t take into account that person-to-person sales aren’t regulated because only federally licensed firearm dealers are required to perform background checks at the point of sale. This is commonly referred to as the “gun show loophole.”

Congressional candidate, Arizona Sen. Steve Smith (R-Maricopa), who sponsored the Safe Arizona Schools Plan, says that while he’s confident that Ducey will be re-elected, the issue is still important enough that it will be addressed—and fast—if he’s not. Smith also thinks gun reform should be addressed at the state level not nationally.

“This is not a gun bill; this is a school safety bill,” Smith said. “We’re talking about keeping people safe as it relates to mass shootings. We aren’t going to get into bump stocks and all of those other areas. If you want to have a debate about that, then run a bill about it.”

The Arizona House of Representatives voted 34-25 in February against a bill to ban bump stocks, House Bill 2023. Ducey’s bill initially had several types of STOP orders—Severe Threat Orders of Protection—that would allow both members of the public and law enforcement to petition Arizona courts to advocate for the removal of firearms from individuals exhibiting severe and imminent signs of threatening behavior.

The bill states that after law enforcement presents a judge with evidence that an individual is dangerous, the judge can require that the person in question undergoes a 21-day observation and mental health examination to determine whether or not the person is a risk.

The bill saw multiple revisions throughout April and was significantly watered down before it got to the floor for a vote. That final version removed the aspect of the STOP order that allowed concerned citizens to petition for one, allowing only members of law enforcement to do so.
Smith says that most people don’t know how to petition a court anyway, so removing that part will allow law enforcement to properly handle concerns.

The STOP orders are one of the most contentious parts of the bill, as Democrats argue that they won’t do enough while Republicans argue that they are an overstep by the government.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Bennett says Ducey’s plan focuses too heavily on seizing guns and that the state should instead arm willing teachers to keep schools safe, referring to the oft-used slogan: “The best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

Smith also argues that the addition of armed forces, whether it be through security resource officers or the arming of teachers, is necessary to keep Arizona schools safe.

“The majority of the people that talk to me want to see the schools be better protected, and inevitably that means that they want somebody on campus to be able to use force and have force available if needed,” he says.

Ducey’s plan would increase the amount of armed security resource officers on school campuses in Arizona. It also would allocate more funds for more trained mental health professionals on school campuses, with $3 million for behavioral and mental health specialists, according to Berry.

While Smith, Ducey and Bennett believe that it is necessary to arm more people to combat mass shooters, Democratic gubernatorial candidate David Garcia doesn’t believe placing more armed officers in schools would create the support system that is necessary to prevent school shootings.

“Those who firmly believe that a crisis would be resolved with a gun fight have been playing too many video games and watching too many movies,” Garcia said. “What we need is eyes, ears and communication . . . in the form of support, not enforcement.”

Garcia argues that in order for Democrats and Republicans to mend the division regarding topics of gun control, Arizona needs a governor who doesn’t receive praise from the NRA.
The NRA publicly supports Ducey’s school safety plan, which Smith praises.

Marissa Ryan is a University of Arizona journalism student and a Tucson Weekly intern.

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Claytoon of the Day: Let's Get Orwellian

Posted By on Fri, Aug 10, 2018 at 10:17 AM

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Thursday, August 9, 2018

Experts Discuss the Past and Future of Family Separations at the Border

Posted By on Thu, Aug 9, 2018 at 3:55 PM

A mural on the wall inside Casa Padre, the largest government-contracted migrant youth shelter, located in Brownsville, Texas. - COURTESY OF THE ADMINISTRATION FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES AT THE US DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
  • Courtesy of the Administration for Children and Families at the US Department of Health and Human Services
  • A mural on the wall inside Casa Padre, the largest government-contracted migrant youth shelter, located in Brownsville, Texas.

Amidst reports of child detention centers providing inadequate housing conditions and being responsible for sexual abuse and psychological trauma inflicted onto children, the federal government’s family separation policy is under more scrutiny than ever.

America’s Voice Ohio organized a conference call with a group of legal experts to put the Trump administration’s response to mass migration into context and explain possible alternatives to detaining families at the southern U.S. border.

Brian Hoffman is a pro bono coordinator at the International Institute of Akron. He said he has been working with migrant and refugee families at the border for years and be believes there are misconceptions about these immigration policies.

Many Americans think the family separation policy is new or that it was initiated by this administration, which isn’t true. This situation has been present for a long time, and Hoffman said that the horrific situation we find ourselves in with children being abused in detention centers was very predictable to himself and his colleagues.

He explained that in 2009, President George W. Bush ended family detention in the U.S. In 2014, President Obama restarted this practice. The government turned part of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, New Mexico, into a family detention center. Hoffman said he volunteered there and witnessed the beginnings of abusive enforcement practices that are now taking place across the country.

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