There are clearly many ideas floating around the halls of the Arizona Legislature.
One Republican state Senator wants to turn back the clock…err, make that calendar, on how Ariz0na children learn about their bodies a.k.a. “sex education.”
(This reminds me of something that’s pretty much bipartisan political orthodoxy. It goes this way: If you pay attention you’ll eventually notice that Republicans, who continue to maintain a financial advantage over just about everyone else, seem obsessed with “sex.”
Democrats, on the other hand, seem to have the whole sex thing under control for the most part, but they do obsess about money.)
Back to the Legislature.
Regular readers know that for some time now I’ve adopted the “WTF Have They Accomplished?” method of judging elected officials. I’ve done this because, after a lifetime in politics and news, I have a very rough time trying to absorb the self-serving press releases, speeches, commercials, and so on. Don’t get me wrong, I admire all of those when they’re done well and truthfully. But that seems to be happening less and less.
So let us take a look at what the Arizona Governor and Legislature are up to. Keep in mind that “WTF Have They Accomplished? is a way of looking past the b.s. to see, well, what have they accomplished that is tangible and actually solves important problems. “Important” is, of course, subjective, but I think most folks will agree on some basics.
Governor Doug Ducey who I presume had an idea while otherwise taking care of personal business, has made a fuss about Arizona becoming a place that sets the pace and is admired by other states. Now, I can’t fault the governor for thinking big. But he’ll probably be better off if he stopped comparing Arizona with California. Maybe he could start with someplace like Missippi.
So here’s how I’m seeing things through the “WTF” lense.
There are children in Arizona who worry their little hearts out about the fact that the Arizona Legislature and Governor aren’t doing diddly about climate change. Even getting many (most?) of the electeds to accept the fact that Climate Change is real is a heavy lift. They’ll maybe pontificate about our changing climate but don’t lift a finger to actually do anything to mitigate the effects which Arizona is already experiencing. This is the ultimate “WTF Have They Accomplished?”
PUBLIC SCHOOL EDUCATION
Arizona Education is a heartbreaking “WTF Have They Accomplished?” area of concern.
The bluster and b.s. emanating from the legislature and the governor’s state of the state speech can’t really hide how poorly Arizona ranks nationally in education. And tossing a few more bucks to the teachers (they deserve and need much, much more) isn’t going to move the needle much. The underlying problem is all those years of Republican control of the legislature during which they chopped and cut and sliced and diced state spending on public school education – except for Charter Schools and Vouchers. And they live by the mantra that “more money doesn’t fix schools.” I mean, WTF!
Here’s a tidbit that the governor and his crew don’t talk about. Every single piece of polling data shows that Arizona voters will gladly pay more in tax money if they knew it was going to public school education. Unfortunately for all the rest of us, the governor has taken a no new taxes, no way, no how position and as if that’s not enough he wants to cut taxes even more. I’ll give you one guess as to who will actually benefit the most from his tax-cutting? Right. WTF.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM-PartOne
On the criminal justice reform front, there may be a lot of talk, but we’re pretty far away from anything that actually fixes problems. Take a core issue: Sentencing Reform. Nobody who knows anything about the current “mandatory sentencing” law thinks its a good idea. In fact, it has become a relic of the “tough on crime” nonsense that came about during the 1970s and 1980s.
Was there a need for getting “tough?” Probably not the way it was done with new strict laws, reductions in funding and turning judges into black-robed robots with virtually no ability to make sentencing decisions based on facts, situations and, God forbid, humanity.
Instead of fixing a major problem like sentencing reform, Governor Ducey and his staff are betting you’ll give them credit for shutting down the state prison in Florence. My guess is most voters won’t care very much about shutting down the prison. On the other hand, what to do with several thousand prisoners is another topic. The governor has already floated his little signals that this is going to turn out to be a big fat payday for the private prison industry because, well, the prisoners have to be someplace. Those private prisons, by the way, don’t seem to have much of an incentive to rehabilitate prisoners. On the contrary, the more of them come back the more money they’re going to make..
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM Part Two THE DUCEY WAY
Every once in a while I’m struck with the recollection that Governor Ducey is really an ice cream guy. And more power to him. He figured out that you’ll pay more for an ice cream cone (or dish) if you have a choice of toppings and, this is the real genius, you get attracted to ice cream flavors with unique and attractive names. So “chocolate” can become “Super Duper Dark Chocolate.” Vanilla ice cream that some numbskull dropped a peppermint, red striped candy cane into, becomes “Crushed Peppermint Dream.” Who can resist?
But the problem is the governor seems to think that getting a state department new stationary is the same as bringing about real change. The best example of this, and the one that has folks laughing, is how he wants to rename the Department of Corrections the Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation, and Re-entry. It makes me feel safe already..