Friday, May 18, 2012

Will Birther Bennett fix Arizona’s election for Romney?

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX - Senate Democratic Leader David Schapira released the following statement today after Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett suggested he may keep President Obama off the November ballot if he doesn't receive additional verification of the President's birth certificate from Hawaii. Bennett has endorsed Mitt Romney and serves as his Arizona campaign co-chair.
Sen. Schapira
"This election year there are candidates from all over the state, representing different parties and viewpoints, running for public office. Given this stunning display of partisanship and favoritism by Arizona's chief elections officer, how can any of them be sure they will have an equal and fair chance on Election Day?" said Sen. Schapira.

"The Secretary of State needs to act, and be perceived as acting, in a fair and impartial manner. Taking an active role in any campaign, other than his own, creates an inherent conflict of interest. To ensure the trust of Arizona voters and the integrity of the elections process, Ken Bennett should step down as Mitt Romney's co-chair."

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Statement on DOJ charges against Rep. Arredondo

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX - Senate Democratic Leader David Schapira today called for Representative Ben Arredondo (LD 17) to resign from his seat in the Arizona House of Representatives.
“In the interests of our constituents, Rep. Arredondo should immediately resign to ensure that those in our community have unabridged representation. The Department of Justice allegations against him are deeply troubling and, whether he is guilty or innocent, will pose too great a distraction for him to fulfill the duties of his office. Arizonans expect and deserve more from their elected officials. Sadly, this is another reminder of why we need more ethics reforms at all levels of government and leaders who are willing to uphold them.”
Sen. Schapira has represented Legislative District 17 since his election in 2006. District 17 includes most of Tempe and South Scottsdale.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Brewer vetoes bill authored by head of her own Youth Commission

Partisanship trumps good ideas in governor’s office

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX - On Monday, Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed SB1066, a consensus bill which would have created a commendation to recognize youth who have contributed more than 200 hours of community service. This award would have provided further incentive for community involvement by young people and formalized the citation in order to build a state and national reputation. The reasons provided by the governor for her veto are not only invalid, they are disingenuous. There is more to this story than the governor's office is willing to admit.

In her veto letter, Gov. Brewer claims that her Youth Commission "has discussed ways to increase high school students' volunteerism and community service since 2009." The author of SB1066 happens to be the Governor’s Youth Commission co-chair, McClintock High School senior Jevin Hodge.

During a visit by Sen. David Schapira to his high school, Hodge approached Sen. Schapira with his idea for the commendation as a way to encourage community service among youth. After a positive response from Sen. Schapira, Hodge took the idea to Cassandra Larsen, Director of the Governor's Office for Children, Youth and Families, who oversees the Youth Commission. While his idea was enthusiastically supported by many youth leaders around the state, his reception by the governor's staff was not as positive.

Larsen and her staff not only dismissed Hodge's idea, they told him he was not allowed to speak with his own state senator without permission from the governor's office. In a follow up meeting with Senate Minority staff and Hodge, staff from the governor’s office denied having any concerns with the bill.

Now, in the governor's veto letter, she proclaims this bill as unnecessary and a violation of the constitutional separation of powers - that the Legislature cannot tell the Executive branch what to do. The fact is, nobody is telling her what to do. The governor had the choice to sign this into law, and she chose not to do so.

In a move that can only be described as partisan retribution against the Senate Democratic Leader, Gov. Brewer has once again put partisanship ahead of good policy by vetoing this bill created by a talented young Arizonan. In fact, the governor is so partisan that when her staff learned their selection of Hodge as chair of the Youth Commission is a Democrat, they ordered the unprecedented creation of a commission co-chair.

Sen. Schapira

"If Gov. Brewer is as concerned with helping the youth of Arizona as she claims, she would have no hesitation in signing SB1066 into law," said Sen. Schapira. "This bill passed out of the Legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support. The only reason she vetoed this bill is because it was sponsored by a Democratic legislator and the idea originated with a student who identifies himself as a Democrat. Gov. Brewer's partisanship has no limitations when it comes to taking down who she sees as a threat. In this case, that perceived threat was a community-minded high school student."

Monday, May 7, 2012

Governor signs budget that abandons Arizona families, children

Radically misguided priorities reveal true intent of Capitol Republicans

Sen. Schapira
STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX - Senate Democratic Leader David Schapira released the following statement on the signing of this year's state budget by Governor Brewer.

"This year's budget, which was just signed by Governor Brewer, reveals the true colors of the Republicans who run our state Capitol. For the last few years they have claimed they had 'no choice' but to cut more than $2 billion from our kids' schools and kick hundreds of thousands off healthcare.

"This year, however, when they had a chance to begin reversing those devastating cuts, they refused. Tens of thousands of children remain on a waiting list without healthcare, making Arizona the only state to deny health coverage for kids who qualify for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Our kids continue to study from outdated textbooks in schools that are crumbling from lack of repair. Republicans even chose to steal money meant to help families facing foreclosure.

"What did they choose to fund instead? Republicans chose to spend money on prisons, more tax cuts for corporations and a lawsuit against the citizen volunteer Independent Redistricting Commission, to name a few. They even made a concerted effort to give Russell Pearce more than a quarter million in taxpayer dollars.

"Arizonans can clearly see that these Republicans didn't have to make the cuts in previous years as they have claimed. They wanted to make those cuts. Their radically misguided priorities are wrong for Arizona families, our children and our future."

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Tea Party Senate approves Brewer's Jobs Plan

Will turn the people's government into giant political crony system

Sen. Schapira
STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX - Arizona's Tea Party Senate today gave its stamp of approval to Governor Brewer's cronyism plan.

HB2571, being sold as “personnel reform,” is another ALEC-inspired power grab by the governor in which she would claim the right to hire and fire the vast majority of upper management in state agencies. It would also remove state workers’ rights to appeal discipline and firing, which would only serve as cover for managerial incompetence and misconduct, effectively muzzling whistleblowers.

Our country has a long history in the struggle against patronage and cronyism, cleaning up corrupt systems from Mayor Daly’s Chicago, to Tammany Hall in New York City and even in Phoenix. Barry Goldwater was a reform-minded Phoenix city councilman who helped the city adopt a charter form of government to clean up our own version of Tammany Hall.

This is also another blatant Republican attack on working families in our state. Thousands of public servants will find their employment status destabilized, subject to the agenda of their politically-influenced managers and able to be fired without cause and without the right of appeal.

While many Arizonans are struggling to find work in a state that still has an 8.6% unemployment rate, some may actually find new opportunities with today’s passage of HB2571. That is, they’ll find opportunities if they’ve contributed significantly to Governor Brewer’s campaign or political action committee, have worked for Republican campaigns, or are current or former staffers or consultants.

We've already seen Brewer put this jobs plan into practice with her appointments this session of:
  • Conservative blogger Greg Patterson to the Board of Regents
  • Former Brewer spokesperson and private prison lobbyist Paul Senseman to the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments
  • His wife Kathryn Senseman, also a lobbyist for private prisons, to the Board for Charter Schools
  • Former Brewer staffer and Chuck Coughlin employee Brian McNeil to the Commission on Trial Court Appointments for Maricopa County
  • Russell Pearce campaign chairman Jesse Hernandez to the Board of Executive Clemency
  • Former Symington staffer Jay Heiler to the Board of Regents
"Under the guise of 'personnel reform,' Governor Brewer and her Tea Party legislators are turning our state government into one giant jobs program for conservative activists and making state workers answerable to the governor instead of the public," said Senate Democratic Leader David Schapira.

"This will push out dedicated, professional public servants who are experts in their field and replace them with opportunistic political cronies. The amount of institutional knowledge that will be forced out the door under this system will be devastating to our state agencies and the people of Arizona who they serve."