#RedforEd crowd should rethink plan to take on Arizona Supreme Court
A few weeks back, the Arizona Supreme Court dealt a blow to #RedforEd efforts. The court kicked an initiative off the ballot that would have increased education funding by raising income taxes on Arizona's highest earners.
The justices ruled the initiative wouldn't make the ballot because of deceptive language in the ballot description. Seems the teachers got the math wrong on how much the tax increase would be, and also left out a detail regarding indexing rates for inflation.
In response, #RedforEd organizers said they wanted to send a message to Supreme Court justices by targeting them at the ballot box. While most judges aren't elected in Arizona (JPs and smaller counties aside), they do have to stand for retention every four years, so voters can strike at them. It's rare that a judge is actually booted by voters, though.
We're sympathetic to the anger the #RedforEd gang feels. They gathered a remarkable number of signatures in a short window during a hot summer season. And it's never fun to find out you've lost out over a technicality.
But getting mad at judges because you screwed up on your ballot language, however, is a lousy crusade for a few reasons.
First, it's not like the court isn't already politicized, but making it even more politicized is a bad idea that will likely boomerang against the left and educators in the future.
Secondly, knocking judges off the bench is a really, really hard thing to do—and #RedforEd already faces an uphill battle in this year's election if organizers want to unseat Gov. Doug Ducey and make headway in changing the direction of the Arizona Legislature. Adding more to the list of challenges and then failing to deliver in November will only make them look weaker, not stronger.
Pima County's Roadblock
Ally Miller and her cronies argue against fixing the roads
Pima County voters have the chance to approve $430 million in bonds to get a jump on fixing our worst roads. While we don't think bonding for road repairs is generally a good strategy, this plan makes sense to us for a few reasons: The borrowing period will be very short, with the bonds repaid, on average, in about 3.4 years; the county has been paying off so much bond debt in recent years that officials will not have to raise the secondary tax rate in order to pay for the improvements; and every other option has been exhausted, so if you want to fix the darn roads, this is your last chance.
You can read plenty of arguments in favor of the bonds in the county's publicity pamphlet, which should be arriving in your mailbox soon.The Skinny got an advance peek at it and there are 10 pages of arguments in support of the bonds, from people such as Amber Smith, president & CEO of the Tucson Metro Chamber; Ted Maxwell of the Southern Arizona Leadership Council; Randy Karrer, chair of the Pima County Fire Chiefs Association; business people like Wendell Long of ARCpoint Labs of Tucson, Dave Hutchens of TEP, Judy Wood of Contact One and Dick and Nan Walden of Green Valley Pecan Co.; real-estate bigwigs like Chris Scheafe, Mark Irvin and Barbie Reuter; and—well, you get the idea. If you're the paranoid type, you might call them Pima County's Deep State (or maybe Deep County?). If you're not the paranoid type, you'd say they are successful members of the business community who want to see the roads fixed.
Of course, there are also seven arguments against the roads. They come from Pima County Supervisor Ally Miller, who has blocked every effort to improve the roads because she thinks there's plenty of money as long as the county stops building soccer fields; Ally Miller's appointee to the county's 2015 bond committee, Joe Boogart; former Ally Miller employee John Backer; current Ally Miller employee JoAnn di Filippo; Ally Miller's husband, Jeff Miller; and—well, you get the idea. That's some widespread support you have there, Ally.
Justice of the Peace indicted on tax changes, resigns seat
It's been a tough few weeks for the Bee family.
First 21-year-old Keith Bee Jr. failed in his audacious bid to replace his dad, Justice of the Peace Keith Bee, on the bench.
Now, in news first broken by Kim Smith of the Green Valley News, Bee himself resigned from the Justice of the Peace seat he's held since 2007 just a few months before his term would have been up—because he's facing charges of federal tax evasion related to his company, Bee Line Bus Transportation.
Bee did not return a call for comment, but he's hired one of Tucson's best defense attorneys, Michael Piccarreta, who told Smith that Bee is the victim of a shoddy tax preparer.
We're sure the books will be all straightened out. After all, Bee has a great CFO for his company: Keith Bee Jr.