editor: fred miller October 23, 2023 #61/October 23
Well I kinda got off the rails and had too much info I wanted to write about. Sooo in a few days there will be another edition focused almost exclusively on Bisbee.
There clearly is much turmoil in the US and the world, and the firehouse of information has seemingly increased in intensity, output, and outlets. Trying to sort out the wheat from the chaff, as it were, is time consuming and difficult. Everything is not of equal importance although many things are important. I've tried to highlight some events of relevance as well as give background information for understanding the 'why' of some of those events.
Thanks for reading.
..............COCHISE COUNTY & STATE................
NEW ELECTIONS DIRECTOR
Tim Mattix has been hired as the fourth election director this year after Bob Bartlesmeyer, hand picked and hired by Recorder David Stevens, quit after only four months citing a "toxic" environment in the county.
Mattix worked for the Cochise County Board of Supervisors, first as the deputy clerk and later as clerk of the board during a three year period from November 2020 to July of 2023. County Administrator Richard Karwaczka expressed support for the new director mentioning that he knows county government, has worked with the county election department and has extensive election administration experience in other cities.
NO HANDCOUNTING SAYS AZ COURT OF APPEALS
This week is good for those of us committed to democracy in elections. An Arizona appellate court unanimously ruled that Cochise County, and by extension all AZ counties, could not hand count all ballots.
The CC board of Supervisors (Crosby, English, Judd) and Recorder David Stevens was sued by the Arizona Alliance for Retired Persons Inc. and Stephani Stevenson to stop their effort to hand count all ballots in the 2022 election. There was a lower court ruling that they could not conduct a hand count and this appellate count reaffirmed that decision.
“The legislature exercised this power by devising a precise system for the hand auditing of electronic voting results in [Arizona law],” Judge Michael Kelly wrote. “Accordingly, the County was required to follow the procedures mandated by the plain language of [the law] which creates a gradual, multi-step process that must be satisfied before a jurisdiction-wide hand-count audit of all precinct or early ballots may occur.”
You can read the entire opinion here. Unless the Supervisors vote to challenge the ruling to the AZ Supreme Court, this will be the end of hand counting. The original vote by the board was 2-1 with Supervisor Ann English voting against. Supervisor Peggy Judd recently declared she was done with trying for hand counting of votes, citing harassment by proponents of hand counting as well as the huge legal costs to the county, now totaling more than $300,000. (The harassment of Judd by the anti-democratic extremists indicates that trying to appease zealots will never be successful.) This ruling and the Elections Procedures Manual, on the Gov's desk for approval, will likely put the final nail in the coffin of the 100% ballot hand counters. Just to be clear, after machines count ballots, the results are verified by a random selection of 1-2% of ballots to be counted by hand to ensure machine accuracy. That will continue to occur.
SUPERVISOR "THE AG IS NOT ABOVE ME" CROSBY TO GET COMEUPPANCE?
The AZ Attorney General is wrapping up their case against Supervisor Tom Crosby and possible Open Meeting Violations. Hopefully a decision will be announced in the next few weeks. He claims he is not subject to the AG's rulings. In response to an investigation by the AG that he has violated the open meeting law multiple times, he responded with three pages of psuedolegal arguments that purported to deny the AG’s authority over his actions.
He stated in a letter to Mayes: “As a County Supervisor I am not in the judicial branch, and therefore, no attorney is above me in a ‘chain of command’ or oversight, or supervisory capacity,” Crosby wrote on Sept. 6. “Therefore, because of my concerns for elected representation and separation of powers, I do not concede that I, as a County Supervisor, am under the authority of the Office of the Attorney General or any attorney in this case.”
There may be a major confrontation over the AG's power to enforce regulations governing public meetings.
AG REPS NO LONGER INTERESTED IN WATER COUNCIL
AZ Representative Gail Griffin has supported a state senator and the head of the AZ Farm Bureau that resigned from the Governor’s Water Policy Council, calling the council "extremely flawed." Sen. Sine Kerr, a Buckeye rancher, and Stefanie Smallhouse, who raises cattle in Pima County quit the Council last week, saying that the rest of the panel was not interested in addressing the concerns of farmers about long-term water supplies.
Griffin represents most of Cochise County, excluding Bisbee and Douglas, and serves Chairman of the Natural Resources, Energy and Water Committee. For years she has been a staunch advocate of private property rights and has advocated for less restrictions on water use by agribusiness, often at the expense of residents.
The thrust of the disagreement by the quitters is that they said the council was not paying enough attention to farmers.
FINCHEM AND LAKE LOSE AGAIN
It's tiresome; so much losing. The Federal ninth court of appeals turned down the latest in a number of challenges to AZ voting. This time F&L claimed machines could be hacked. In their opinion, the justices wrote, “None of Plaintiffs’ allegations supports a plausible inference that their individual votes in future elections will be adversely affected using electronic tabulation, particularly given the robust safeguards in Arizona law, the use of paper ballots, and the post-tabulation retention of those ballots.”
F&L's attorneys, including Alan Dershowitz, were sanctioned by a district court suit as they claimed Arizona did not use paper ballots. The court ordered them to pay $122,200 in attorney’s fees. (Dershowitz tried to get out of paying the $12k+ he was fined, by whining he only 'signed' documents and had no role in the lawsuit.)
Add loser Abe Hamedeh to the sanctions list. The AZ Supreme Court has ordered him to pay $44,000 to Kris Mayes, and $12,921 to Adrian Fontes for 'misrepresentations' to the high court.
STATE BUDGET WOES
This article details the fiscal mess awaiting the next legislative session.
"The big revenue deficit revealed at a meeting of the Legislature’s budget analysts last week has been triggered by a combination of the massive income tax cuts known as the 'flat tax' enacted two years ago by then-Gov. Doug Ducey and his GOP allies in the Legislature, higher-than-expected spending on a new universal school voucher program Ducey championed, and lower sales tax revenue as consumers pare back and shift their spending. " $400 million deficit and counting. The flat tax replaced Arizona's graduated tax, sometimes called progressive taxation. A flat tax invariably favor the wealthy because it takes a bigger chunk proportionally out of lower income residents. For instance; A person or family earning $25,000 would pay $648 under the old system and $625 under the flat tax; a difference of $23. However a person or family making $1,000,000 would pay $43,779 in the old system, but only $25,000 under the flat tax; a difference of $18,779. And that is why there will be a revenue shortfall. (stats from this article).
DISTRICT 6 CISCOMANI VOTES FOR EXTREMIST JORDAN
Represenative Juan Ciscomani District 6 (not Bisbee) voted three times for extremist Jim Jordan as speaker of the house. Jordan has been now removed from seeking the Speaker job in a secret GOP vote. Before elected as a representative, was a former assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University. He has been accused by many wrestlers of failing to take action on abuse by a team doctor. And was a main player in the Jan 6 insurrection. Kristen Engel-D is seeking to unseat Ciscomani in 2024.
OVER THE COUNTER CONTRACEPTION FOR WOMEN AVAILABLE
Oral contraceptives will be available later this Fall without a prescription. Not quite over the counter, women will still have to confer with a pharmacist before obtaining the pills, but most importantly they will be available.
REEFER MADNESS CONTRIBUTE BIG BUCKS TO THE STATE COFFERS
$255,997,918: The dollar amount generated by tax revenue from marijuana sales since its legalization in Arizona in 2020 through the end of 2022. The Marijuana Excise Tax goes into a state government fund called the Smart and Safe Arizona Fund (SSAF). The formula for distribution is 33% to community colleges, 31.4% to local law enforcement and fire departments, 25.4% to the state and local transportation programs, 10% to public health and criminal justice programs,0.2% to the attorney general for enforcement. I'm trying to find out how much was CC's share and how was it disbursed. +++++++ ARIZONA TEACHERS 2ND LOWEST PAID IN THE NATION From the AZ Mirror: "...in Arizona, a state which has long underfunded public education and only recently begun approving record funding increases, the deterioration of teacher pay has snowballed. The state has been struggling with a teacher shortage since at least 2016. The latest analysis from the Arizona School Personnel Administrators Association reported in September that as many as 6,000 classrooms lacked a qualified instructor well into the first month of the academic year.
Across the country, the teacher pay gap has increased sharply since 1996, when the national rate stood at 15.7%. Today, the rift between the weekly wages of teachers and other college graduates is higher than 20% in more than 30 states. In the worst states, like Arizona and Colorado, teachers earn less than 70 cents on the dollar when compared to their peers. The only solution, write the report’s authors, is to invest in public education above inflation rates. "
REPUBLICANS ARE LOSING
Make no mistake, the forces opposing democracy in the United States have been rebuffed. State and federal courts across the country have rebuked or rejected hundreds of attempts by extremist politicians to utilize lies, sketchy legal theories, inept attorneys, and unproven allegations to attack elections, voting rights, and election officials; in short, assaulting the foundations of democracy. It is a cause for optimism.
As a result of the tireless work of tens of thousands of lawyers, judges, civil servants, activists, and citizens defending democracy throughout our nation, the Republican Party has been exposed as a party for conspiracy-believing extremists, anti-democratic fanatics, pro-violence racists, and heartless anti-Semites. The conservative, small government, pro-business party of just a few years ago has been taken over by these zealots.
There are significant signs that the apparatus of the party at the national, state, and county level has proven to be incompetent, financially irresponsible, and administratively inept. And Republicans are losing.
At every level there is evidence of an internal power struggle. At the national level it has been on full display with Jim Jordan, the extremist at the center of January 6, trying to strong-arm support for the House speakership. After being defeated three times, he was dropped as nominee by secret ballot; they didn't even have the guts to publicly declare he was a putz.
In Arizona, the state party apparatus is lagging in fundraising because of excessive spending, dopey candidates, and some big donors repelled by the direction of the party. Party chair Kelly Ward was ousted, but the current chair, Jeff DeWitt, seems to have spent freely with little result. Let’s face it, lawsuits are expensive. The AZ Republican Party reported 2nd quarter contributions of $21,617 and $742,171 in expenditures. As of July they only have $143k available.
In Cochise County, Republican Party Chair Brandon Martin was under attack because of his private life (he has refused to pay child support) and, in a skirmish, injured the former chair Robert Montgomery who is himself under AG scrutiny because he falsely stated he was an electoral voter in the 2020 election. The struggle spilled out in public as some members protested outside their Fry Blvd. HQ. Recently, Martin registered as a Libertarian to avoid getting removed. Debi Wise was unanimously elected as chair. The party reported contributions of $12,014 and $21,003 in expenditures in Q2 in 2023.
Although weakened, and as more voters claim Independent status, Republicans continue to be a threat to democracy. This coming years will be telling for the party. I think they will continue to lose voters, but consolidate as an authoritarian party, with violent vibrations particularly if they select Trump as their choice for prez. But there remain vastly outnumbered moderates and traditional conservatives that could come alive. We’ll see.
Republican woes, although heartening, do not necessarily translate into democratic gains. In a future issue I hope to take a look at the Democratic Party and their problems, which are many.
Overall, I’m optimistic that the political climate is changing. Many people have tired of the grandstanding, lawsuits, loudmouths, unfit candidates, and excess spending by politicians. While continuing to defend elections from spurious charges, I think people can now be convinced there are better ways to govern by promoting interests that benefit the majority.
UNDERSTANDING THE WAR IN ISRAEL/GAZA
THE HISTORICAL ROOTS OF THE MIDDLE EAST CRISIS This article from the Guardian is a short overview of the contentious history and tensions, both violent and non-violent, in the area known as Palestine. Situated at a strategic location between Egypt, Syria, and Arabia, and the birthplace of Christianity and Judaism as well as influential in the development of Islam, the region has a long and tumultuous history as a crossroads for religion, culture, commerce, and politics. THE INTERCONNECTED WORLD This opinion article is one of the better commentaries on the Hamas/Israel war. Among the points made is that In the past year Israel and Saudi Arabia have taken steps to normalize relations. If that were to happen, other Arab countries would follow. There is popular support for these efforts. Behind the scenes, the US is suggesting to Israel to make concessions to the Palestine Authority. The PA is the enemy of Hamas. And although Hamas is not directed by Iran, there is cooperation and consultation. There are other factors that influence what is nominally a 'local' war. Adding China-also attempting to influence Saudi Arabia other Arab countries-and Russia, Hamas visited Moscow earlier in the year to get support, into the mix and there is the burgeoning possibility of a world re-ordering of influence. It seems though, among other these other things playing out far from Gaza and Israel, is that the Hamas attack was an effort to disrupt those 'normalization' talks and undermine agreements with Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries to provoke Israel into a military overreaction that will rally the Arab world to Hamas’ side and entrench Israel in a Gaza quagmire.
DEFENDING ACCESS TO MIFEPRISTONE
A group of more than 600 Democratic legislators from 49 states have signed an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court urging the justices to overturn an appellate court decision that would roll back access to mifepristone, one of two drugs used to safely terminate early pregnancies and treat miscarriages.
#1 GREEDFLATION! THE REAL CAUSE OF INFLATION?
This important article for understanding inflation is from a newsletter entitled BIG written by Matt Stoller. He writes about Federal Trade Commission actions as well as focuses on anti-trust issues.
"Among elites, the reaction to this report (on job growth) is that, believe it or not, things are too good for normal people. Stocks are dropping, because Wall Street thinks that the Federal Reserve will likely tighten financial conditions, as policymakers still believe - despite much evidence to the contrary over the last three years - that inflation is caused by workers getting too much money. "One of the core political dynamics in American politics is that our economic and political elites see the world almost entirely differently than normal people, and there’s no better case study for this than inflation. It’s something I’ve written about extensively - why do Americans think inflation is up and the economy is bad when all the dials and data policymakers use show that these are boom times?"
#2 GREEDFLATION: WHY WORKERS ARE ON STRIKE
Thousands of top administrators are making millions of dollars while workers barely make ends meet and have job insecurity. That is what is behind much of the autoworkers strike.
The Detroit News reports: “Ford CEO Jim Farley received nearly $21 million in total compensation last year,” while the Detroit Free Press finds that Carlos Tavares — CEO of Chrysler parent company Stellantis — “had total compensation of $24.8 million.” And at the top of the heap, according to Automotive News, General Motors’ Mary Barra earned almost $29 million in 2022.
CBS News put that in perspective: “Overall CEO pay at the Big Three companies rose 40% from 2013 to 2022, according to [the Economic Policy Institute].” Barra makes “362 times more than the typical GM worker, while Tavares makes 365 times more, according to company filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Farley at Ford makes 281 times more, filings show.”
Put differently, between 1978 and 2021, “executive compensation at large American companies increased by more than 1,400 percent,” Politico recently noted, citing the left-leaning EPI. “It climbed 37 percent faster than stock market growth and 18 percent faster than average full-time worker pay over the same period, the EPI analysis found.” It’s hard to tell workers they’re asking too much or don’t appreciate the fraught economic picture when CEOs are gorging themselves at the salary trough.
MORE MISSIONARY-RUN INDIAN BOARDING SCHOOLS FOUND
“Every Indigenous person in this country has been impacted by the deliberate attempt to destroy Native families and cultures through boarding schools.....For us to visually see the scope of what was done to our communities and Nations at this scale is overwhelming, but this work is necessary to uncover the truth about this dark chapter in American history."
"NABS’s (National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition) research brings the total number of schools to 523, making it the most extensive known list of schools to date that encompasses Native American boarding schools.
In Arizona, the number of boarding schools is 59, the second highest in the country, behind Oklahoma’s 95. Neighboring New Mexico had 52. In the list published by the U.S. Department of Interior, Arizona had 48 boarding schools, and the NABS list adds 11.
Torres said NABS’s mission is not just to hold those institutions accountable that were federally supported, operated, or funded but all of the institutions that worked in that timeline to assimilate Indigenous children.
“It wasn’t just the federal government that did this. Of course, the federal government had a huge part, but it was also Christian missionaries who often did not have funding or support from the federal government,” Torres said. From and AZ Mirror article.
FOLLOW THE MONEY
This government reporting site makes it easy to find out who is contributing how much to what candidate. Go here to find out who is supporting whom.
DANCE AS SPECTACLE, HUMANS MAKE PATTERNS.
If you like dance spectacles with patterns ala Busby Berkeley but more peeps, check out the Purdue Marching Band here.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR INFO
Excerpted from a longer article in The Markup
_____Note: If you are interested in seeing what companies are tracking you as you plod around the internet, go here and put in any of the websites you go to and in a minute you will have you results about ad trackers, cookies, evading cookies ad trackers, keystroke captures, and more. Once you have that information you may do several things to limit your exposure. Just for kicks, I put in Walmart.com. The return said that there were 17 ad trackers,16 third party cookies, trackers on your computer that evade third party cookies, and the site tells Facebook when you visited. Blacklight is a tool developed by The Markup._____
TWO THINGS TO DO
"I would say the two easiest things you could possibly do are to enable two-factor authentication and to not click on any link or open an attachment from somebody you do not know. Write back to them and say, “I’m sorry, who are you?” Google them, do something. Because cybercrime is a high-volume, low-margin business—attackers do not want to bother with you if you make it a little harder for them.
ONLINE HACKING COURSE At Yale, I teach a class where students learn how to hack. My partner Sean O’Brien and I have put the entire course online for people. We go from soup to nuts—from you don’t know anything to, at the end of 12 sessions, you can do a lot.
We don’t do this because we want to create hackers. We want to create educated, secure people who can understand the adversary, know what they’re dealing with, and develop effective techniques.
Many folks, including lawyers, are already upcoders—and we’re good at it. But we need to understand the downcode too." ++++++++ WILD HORSES This newsletter has an interesting story with many photos of these beautiful animals. The article is about the problems of wild horse management. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wants you to adopt a wild horse and it will pay you $1,000 to do so Good read. Beautiful Public Data is a curated selection of visually interesting datasets collected by local, state and federal government agencies. ++++++++++++ COMBINE, as in COMBINE DEMOLITION DERBY This newsletter keeps tabs on developing stories in agriculture. In addition to the metal monsters, his issue features Mushrooms, Pesticide & Farmworkers, and AI in AG. https://ambrook.com/research