Thursday, February 26, 2009

Errors - By Mark R. Kerr

On Tuesday, September 1, voters in the City of Tucson will go to the polls to determine their respective party’s standard bearers for the City Council seats for Ward 3, Ward 5 and Ward 6 and on Tuesday, November 3, who will serve in those positions for the next four years.

This reporter was thinking of the federal time frame when writing the previous column - admittance, apology and correction of the erroneous sentence, something most publications will do but a question arises whether elected officials do the same?

Case in point, Arizona’s Legislature which each chamber, the state House of Representatives and state Senate - led by the Republicans and have managed over the past two decades, placed “feel good” measures on the ballot for voter consideration that have proven to be erroneous and detrimental.

Thanks to those individuals who founded the state of Arizona, its Constitution’s provides a mechanism for the citizens to gather signatures to place initiatives, referendums or in 1988, a recall of then Republican Governor Evan “Quarantine those with HIV” on the ballot for consideration by the voters.

Through the initiative and referendum process whether the citizens gathered signatures and placed measures on the ballot for consideration, since Arizona’s statehood on Feb. 14, 1912, some of the positive proposals, such as:

Giving women the right to vote, eight years before the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; expanding the state’s low income healthcare program; approving measures allowing for the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes for people suffering from terminal illnesses and cancer; prohibiting Arizona’s Legislature from moving funding mandated in ballot approved measures to programs they choose; allowing Native-American’s such as the Pascua and Tohono O’odham nations to set up gaming operations to improve the lives of their people; allowing first time offenders of personal drug use or possession to be eligible for treatment and probation in lieu of incarceration; setting up an early childhood education program and, ending the inhumane treatment of animals, such as chickens pigs, forcing them to live in smaller cages - that they can’t move around in, naming a few of several examples.

Unfortunately, the state’s founders also gave the Legislature this “political outlet” as well, in the form of the Concurrent Resolution - needing approval only by both chambers only and not the Governor’s signature, for the Legislature to place measures on the ballot for voter consideration. Some of these “Concurrent Resolutions” put on the ballot included:

Proposition 102 on the 2008 ballot - defining “marriage” in the state Constitution, pleasing the Legislative Republican’s handlers, the Center for Arizona Policy, who cashed in on the bigotry “gravy train,” refilling their coffers so that their lawyers, also known as the Alliance Defense Fund can run amuck in the country; restricting the rights of people wanting to register to vote - disenfranchising Arizona citizens; making English the official language of the state; ensuring the rights of the dead from taxation on their plots and communities (graveyards); all the propositions dealing with Arizona’s Legislative Republicans, sure-fire, political “feel good” group over the past four elections - illegal aliens; requiring a two-thirds vote in each legislative chamber to raise revenue; requiring either a two-third or three-fourth voter approval for initiatives; rewarding those individuals who don’t vote by adding them to the totals needed for passage of any initiative or referendum; restricting the rights of citizens filing suit in civil (small claims) court or for receiving damages; selling of the state’s “trust lands” for the past ten elections and making Arizona “a right to work” state.

So with that, Republican accidental Governor Jan Brewer, Republican Secretary of State Ken Bennett and the Arizona Legislature is moving forward with a special election, for this year, to put a proposal to the voters to “temporarily” raise the state’s sales tax - expected some time in June at a cost of more than a million dollars.

It is expected that there will be another proposal on the ballot, to satisfy the radical-right wing, Republican faction in the Legislature, HCR (House Concurrent Resolution) 2028, that would allow Arizona’s Legislature to ignore the will of voters and move mandated funding for programs to where they want it go.

All of this is interesting since they had approved legislation to force cities and counties to hold bond override elections in November, so that all the voters can turn out and have their say, blah, blah, blah.

During these perilous economic times, Accidental Governor Jan Brewer, the Republican’s in charge (and with majorities) of both chambers of Arizona’s Legislature, as well as their spokes-minions, such as: the severely defeated Congressional District 8 candidate, Tim Bee, lawyer and lobbyist extra ordinaire John Munger have used the line “It’s all the Democrat’s fault,” the question arises of why the Republican led Arizona Legislature admit to their errors, change course, uphold the state constitution and do as the voters and taxpaying populace of Arizona want? It is a matter of trust and confidence, not holding on to outdated theories that have been proven not to work. Arizona can’t afford that anymore.

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