Thursday, October 16, 2008

$101,801.64 A Simple Word - By Mark R. Kerr

Registered voters in Arizona have been besieged over the corporate broadcast airwaves with a questionably edited television ad, with a mysterious Anglo hand holding a nondescript microphone eliciting comments from young couples (and one token old guy - despite federal law that prevents people, older than 60 from getting hitched) and in the mail, showing more pictures of young heterosexual couples and families, from the proponents of Proposition102, touting their measure of “20 simple words” about marriage despite Arizona law (Arizona Revised Statutes 25-101 and 25-112) and court precedent (Standhardt V. Superior Court), totaling “213 simple words” which have been in affect since 1996.

Ah yes, twenty simple words which voters gave the proposal a simple, one word response, “no” to, in 2006, when the same proponents of 2008's Proposition 102, the Center for Arizona Policy and the Dr. James Dobson’s, Colorado Springs based, Focus on the Family when this was known as Proposition 107 but that was then as previously reported in this column and publication, the cost of Proposition 102 to taxpayers was $2,036,032.67, or $101,801.64 a “simple word.”

So could the $2,036,032.67 of taxpayer’s money be better spent and if so, on what? This question was posed to several current and former elected officials, candidates and community leaders and the responses were telling.

Arizona House Democratic Leader, state Representative Phil Lopes of Tucson stated that the money “could probably finance 10-15 homes for working families.” He added that, “Affordable housing, even with the downturn in prices, is a major problem facing working families in Arizona. These monies could provide about 200 tuition scholarships for university students from low income families.”

“For $2 million, we could provide health insurance to nearly 2,000 uninsured children in Arizona. As a medical provider, I feel that assuring ready access to health care for our children should take priority over efforts to foment hate and division in the community," said Dr. Matt Heinz, Observer endorsed Democrat running for the Arizona House of Representatives.

“$2 million,” state Representative (and soon to be state Senator) Linda Lopez commented, “could have been spent better in any number of ways: provide safe child care for more working poor, provide more inspections of nursing homes to protect the vulnerable elderly, provide more vaccinations against debilitating diseases for children. What a waste if money to pay for legislation that's already law!”

Jason Cianciotto, Executive Director of Wingspan, wrote, "According to the Children's Action Alliance, a non-profit, non-partisan research, education and advocacy organization dedicated to promoting the well-being of Arizona’s children and families, there are 250,000 children in our state who do not have health insurance. A majority of these uninsured children qualify for AHCCCS or KidsCare, but their families don't know about the programs. It costs a maximum of $35 per month for an Arizona family to enroll their children, no matter how many, in KidsCare. If the $2 million spent by the state to put the supposed "marriage amendment" on the ballot again this year were spent on providing basic health insurance to children, a moral imperative that actually supports families, over 57,000 of those children would now be insured."

South Tucson Mayor Jennifer Eckstrom stated, "Can you imagine the number of hard working families who live paycheck to paycheck who could get some much need relief and help for a wide variety of financial needs to meet their ever increasing housing, living and food costs during these most difficult economic times?"

“More prosecutors could be hired and the effort to enforce the laws of Pima County and Arizona could be increased, protecting taxpayers in their day-to-day activities,” commented Barbara LaWall, the current Democratic Pima County Attorney.

“Imagine what $2 million dollars could have done to help address the current home foreclosure crisis. That would have been a far better way to invest taxpayer money in protecting Arizona families,” wrote Tucson Vice-Mayor (Ward 3 City Councilmember) Karin Uhlich, the openly Lesbian Democrat.

Uhlich continued, "All of us in elected office face a fundamental decision in our work: Will we pander for political gain and inflame issues that divide us? Or we will serve the public good and lead in ways that unite us? The Arizona legislature has invested huge sums to inflame and divide. I think 2008 will mark the year that kind of politics is soundly rejected in Arizona and across the nation. To secure our future we should encourage adults who wish to form loving families and invest every dollar we can in the economic well-being of families. That goal can unite us. That goal best serves the common good."

"It could help feed many needy and homeless families, especially the many helpless and impacted children who must go to bed every night on an empty stomach,” Dan Eckstrom, Pima County Supervisor (Ret.), said when asked to comment.

Nothing is as simple as it appears to be, advertised as such or ends up but the proponent’s of Proposition 102 is one that Arizona just can’t afford, even at $101,801.64 a simple word.

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