The EPA is under investigation for a practice called Sue and Settle. Environmentalists in government and private organizations have found ways to create new regulations by fashioning lawsuits tailored to have courts institute policy changes. Both parties involved in the lawsuits secretly decide in advance what the outcome will be and how much taxpayer money will be transferred to the environmental group in the settlement. In other words, they are exploiting the courts to change laws, and in the process, helping to fund radical environmental groups without legislative or taxpayer consent. Millions of taxpayer dollars have been given to these groups.Read more
In this video, you will see that West Virginia is suffering 6.9% unemployment, due to the Obama Administration’s determination to shut down the coal industry with excessive regulations, thanks to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). There is no mention of the more than 50% unemployment suffered by 300,000 Navajos, or the destruction of jobs in Northern Arizona!
In announcing his recent decision to change from the Democrat to the Republican Party, Arizona Senator Carlyle Begay spoke of unemployment rates as high as 80% in his district. He also stated that future progress in Arizona has to include partnerships with rural and tribal communities. It is the Republican party that has embraced these crucial partnerships, which are the cornerstone of the future of our state.
As a rural Arizonan living in Gila County, I understand some of the concerns that we share. Rural and tribal Arizonans live in and of the land. We are sustained by it. We respect and love it. Rural Arizona offers rich natural resources that have fed, clothed, sheltered, and provided energy and water to millions of people.
The Democrat Party has waged war on our livestock, timber, and coal industries, the very industries that sustain Arizona’s rural and tribal communities.
Back in July 2015, then Democrat Senator Carlyle Begay spoke at the Heartland Institute’s International Conferences on Climate Change.
Please see a summary of Senator Begay’s speech following the video.Read more
Rep. Warren Petersen has crafted legislation that will have a chilling effect on public officials who illegally waste money and then walk away with lucrative benefits or severence pay. It’s HB2115 Simple, straightforward, brief. (This bill is scheduled to be heard Jan. 28 at 9:00 am in the Government and Higher Education Committee. See ACTION at the end of this article.)
Should a public official who is caught and terminated for fraudulently, lavishly spending taxpayer dollars on meals, travel, hotels, entertaining, etc., go on to receive lucrative payouts, annuities, pensions, and other benefits?
Rep. Warren Petersen doesn’t think so, and neither do the many other sponsors and co-sponsors of this excellent bill. HB2115 spells out that anyone who is found guilty would forfeit any future benefits. While there already are laws on the books against fraud and misappropriation of public funds, these cases don’t always get pursued as the official is fired or even allowed to quit.
HB2115 ensures that these public officials forfeit any future benefits. States Petersen: “All too often, those who are caught and terminated leave with lavish payouts, annuities, pensions and other benefits. Termination from a high position in government office should not be like winning the Lotto. Rewarding someone for bad behavior can only encourage more of the same.” See Petersen Seeks to Prevent Lavish Payouts to Errant Public Officials.
Two cases come to mind:
"Everything at the City of Phoenix is geared toward the employees," DiCiccio said. "The taxpayers come last, always." See Undisciplined Bureaucracy: Civil Service Job Protections Make Disciplining a Problem Government Employee Complicated, Costly and Time Consuming
An extremely good bill, HB2115 passed its first Committee hearing on 1/28/2015: 6 in favor, 2 against, 1 absent. It would have passed 7-2, because Rep. Justin Olson (LD25), who was absent, was one of the bill’s Primary Sponsors. But it has a long way to go to become law.
Please recall from my original article, Rep. Warren Petersen (LD12) crafted this legislation as a deterrent, making public officials think twice before illegally spending thousands of taxpayer dollars, thinking they can walk away with lucrative taxpayer-paid benefits or severance pay. After watching the committee hearing, including Phoenix Council member Sal DiCiccio’s comments, it’s clear that government employees enjoy far more "job protections and tolerance for bad behavior" than private sector employees.
In the case of Stephen Banta, CEO of Valley Metro, following an investigation by The Republic, they reported that Banta was reimbursed with taxpayer funds for flying first-class, buying alcohol, staying in $600/night hotels, and eating in some of the most expensive restaurants in Portland, charging all of it to the taxpayers, while running Valley Metro. This included 44 round-trip airfares between Phoenix and Portland from February 2010 to July 2012 for Banta and his wife. The Republic also found that Banta was reimbursed for dinners that included guests who said they didn’t attend those dinners.
In spite of all this, Banta was awarded $265k in an annuity upon termination of employment.
Democrat Lela Alston (LD24), who voted against the bill, commented: "Maybe his contract should have read: ‘You can’t take your wife on vacations using public funds.’" Democrat Jonathan Larkin (LD30) agreed.
In another recent caseRead more
The first effort to strip our duly elected Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) of powers was during the Legislature’s last session. Thankfully, HB2184 was held in the House. The second whack at our eleted SPI was brought forward this session by Sen. Jeff Dial, via SB1416.
SB1416 has been held by Speaker of the House David Gowan, until very recently, when he caved under pressure from Governor Ducey. Gowan is currently running as a "conservative" for U.S. Representative in CD1. Is "caving under pressure" a trait you seek in a U.S. Congressman?
SB1416 has now morphed into an even uglier SB1313, championed by Rep. Paul Boyer, known for his disdain for parental authority in matters relating to the education of their children. See Rep. Paul Boyer Won’t Allow Parental "Opt Out" Bill to be Heard! , Boyer Blocking Parental Choice, Privacy Bills , and Boyer Tries To Dodge Public On SB1313, Education Overhaul
See below for a Summary of SB1313 by Vicki Alger, Ph.D.
Very simply, THIS BILL MUST BE STOPPED!
The House Education Committee will meet on Wednesday, March 16, at 2:00 PM, to vote on SB1313. Click HERE for the agenda. Please call, visit, use the RTS (virtual Request to Speak), email the following Committee members as soon as possible!Read more
Dear Sen. Allen,
Like you, this has been an especially stressful session for me, too. SB1416 (previously SB1313 previously SB1416 previously HB2184) is not what I planned to fight this session.
I planned to do all possible to help parents protect their children from politicians and corporations that are using and abusing them, under the guise of “assessing their academic progress.” AzMERIT by any name is an abomination brought to us by the Governor-appointed personalities on the State Board of Education (SBE). In fact, it was the SBE that brought us AIMS, PARCC, and every other useless standardized test that has literally accomplished nothing in improving student achievement in Arizona.
It was the State Board of Education (SBE) that agreed to Common Core in Jan. 2010, before it was even written. The SBE fell into lockstep to do what Governor Brewer required of them. It was also the SBE that formally approved, in June 2010, the implementation of Common Core after a Dog and Pony Show put on by Dr. William McCallum, one of the lead math writers. In fact, I didn’t find any evidence in the Minutes that the SBE reviewed the standards. Not that it mattered. The Governor wanted them, because she blindly believed the experts, plus she saw a chance at the $250 million jackpot called Race To The Top. Even the “vetting” that went on within Arizona when teachers were brought in for their “opinions” of draft standards was nothing more than a publicity stunt on the part of the Common Core Team headed by David Coleman, who is well known as the chief architect. The “fix” was in from start to finish. The SBE didn’t do any independent “vetting” of their own.
Common Core Standards didn’t take years to put into place. They were literally dumped on teachers, kids, and parents, as witnessed by the revolt that occurred all across America, including the revolt of the grassroots in Arizona who did the vetting.
I could go on with many more examples of the wasteful, incompetent, downright dangerous performance of the Governor-appointed State Board of Education and why they need less, not more, powers and duties. But that’s for another day.
You have stated that SB1416 is “the most misunderstood bill of the session with the most misinformation circulating among the grassroots organizations mostly fueled by their support of the Superintendent.”
We aren’t alone. Many Arizona senators and representatives join us in our precise understanding of the negative effects of this bill.
If SB1416 is approved, this is what the people who voted for Diane Douglas will know:Read more
What does this video have to do with Arizona? This teacher is talking about the same kind of High Stakes Tests that are given to children here in Arizona as young as 8 years old. AzMERIT is forced upon students, beginning in the third grade, and every year through high school. In Arizona, it’s AzMERIT; in Utah, it’s SAGE; in Florida it’s the FSA. All of these states, including Ohio and others, have paid $Millions to American Institutes for Research, one of the world’s largest behavioral and social science research and evaluation organizations to create these tests.
As a parent, have you stood up for your child and opted out of AzMERIT? Have you stood firm in the face of opposition from teachers, principals, school administrators, and the State? If not, learn more by clicking HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE.Read more
Wait! Didn’t you say SB1455 had been hijacked? Then you said it was back on the right track? Now you say it’s been resurrected? Yes, Yes, and Yes.
After being placed on the "right track," it failed in the Senate on March 7 by a vote of 18 Nays; 11 Ayes; 1 Not Voting. Shortly after, Sen. Carlyle Begay brought it up again. (Only senators who voted Nay can do that, which is why Sen. Begay voted Nay.)
So, it can be Reconsidered. The problem is this: Is there anybody who can turn some of those Nays into Ayes?
YES! YOU! See below for the names and contact information of Senators who voted Nay, followed by some Truths that YOU must convey to them, in order to convince them to change their vote.
Click HERE for the Excel File of Senators who Voted Nay. (Sen. Miranda did not vote.) Please contact them via Phone, Facebook, Email, In Person, and Twitter. If you cannot open the file, please send me an email at email@example.com, and I will send it to you.
The Truth About Why You Should Support SB1455. (These are prioritized based on the most common objections voiced by senators, and are not necessarily in order of your or my priority.)
1. Standardized tests, including AzMERIT, are not the only assessments given to students throughout the year. In fact, Standardized tests are unreliable in assessing a student’s educational progress. AzMERIT has never been validated or proven to be an indicator of a student’s progress. AzMERIT doesn’t tell us anything about third-grade promotion. AzMERIT is given in the Spring, but the results aren’t available until November, which is three months after the next school year begins! Teachers have no input into Standardized Tests. Teachers aren’t allowed to see the tests. Teachers don’t see their students’ tests, even after they’ve been graded by third parties. Parents don’t see the graded tests. Students don’t see the graded tests. Nobody has any idea what answers were right, and which were wrong!
Better methods of evaluating student needs and progress already exist. Careful observations and documentation of student work and behaviors by trained teachers is more helpful than a one-time test. Assessment based on student performance on real learning tasks is more useful for measuring achievement and provides more information for teaching than multiple-choice achievement tests. Parents working with teachers, term grades, homework performance–these and other indicators are far better than AzMERIT. See How Standardized Testing Damages Education.Read more
SB 1455 will be voted on by Arizona Senators on Monday, March 7, during the "Third Read" at 1:30 pm. This bill, sponsored by Sen. Sylvia Allen, gives parents the legal authority to opt their children out of the statewide assessment adopted by the State Board of Education, including AzMERIT, with no penalty to the child, school, or school district.
Please call your and other Senators’ offices beginning now and leave a voicemail message. Follow up again Monday morning. Ask them to please vote YES to SB 1455 during the Third Read on Monday. See list of senators, with phone numbers and email addresses, by clicking on this article titled Opt Out Bill Hearing Today (UPDATE).
Last session, a similar bill failed by ONE VOTE. This session, all senators are under extreme pressure by special interests that stand to gain money, power, school rankings, human cogs in the corporate machine, and private student data by keeping both Common Core and standardized testing in place. It’s an election year for these senators. Click HERE for the live proceedings and watch how they vote!
During last Thursday’s COW (Committee of the Whole), Senator Allen supported SB1455 by citing ARS 1-601, which declares the "fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing, education, health care and mental health of their children is a fundamental right." She also cited ESSA provisions that allow states and parents to opt students out of standardized testing.
Statewide assessments are among the most controversial and least effective methods of assessing a child’s educational progress. If parents across the country are opting their children out of statewide assessments, there’s a good reason.
For those who are interested in knowing more about why parents despise AzMERIT and standardized testing, keep reading.Read more