Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I stand corrected: AZ Prop. 13 is serious.

The insufferably wacky ("Nor can you prove otherwise...") Jeff Greenspan handed off Prop. 13 Arizona to more competent hands in order to work full time on Ron Paul's campaign. Unlike past efforts, this one is organized and serious. The name is still stupid. "Proposition 211 on this year's ballot is Prop. 13..."

The Prop. 13 Arizona committee is getting ready to file a single initiative, striking Article 9 Section 19--currently full of more holes than Swiss cheese--from the State Constitution entirely, and replacing Section 18 with a rollback and limited increase. More to follow when the language is finalized.

Arizona Tax Revolt, a separate group, is also putting forth promising, albeit perhaps redundant, initiatives. More on that later.

Thanks to Tom Jenney of the Arizona Federation of Taxpayers for the heads-up on my obsolete details.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Last one about Rodney Glassman

Unless he puts his foot in his mouth or a prostitute is found dead in his trunk (hmm...that gets me to thinking: Rodney Glassman is the local candidate in recent years most likely to be found with a dead hooker in his trunk) this is the last post I'll be doing about Rodney Glassman.

I was going to stop already, but this is so over-the-top I can't miss the opportunity.

Glassman has taken to supercillious pretense whenever he feels Lori Oien is talking more about him than the issues. (Glassman has yet to learn how much character matters when people are to be trusted with positions of power.) Yet he began a candidate-to-candidate Q and A session by asking Oien about her views on abortion, which is about as much a city issue as is foreign aid to sub-Saharan Africa.

Then came the soul-bearing moment. "When I go about having sex with women, I like to know we're on the same page."

I wonder if, after having knocked up some debutante he's impressed with his slick ways and big bucks, he pesters her to get an abortion like he pestered Jim Kolbe and others for donations. Is that why he now likes to see that they're on the same page?

Either way, if my sister were to bring home a man like that to Thanksgiving dinner, there'd be fisticuffs, blood, and arrests. I'd call him a weasel, but weasels are warm blooded.

A tax revolt ballot initiative for Arizona

There have been rumors, including a cryptic note from Tom Jenney of Americans for Prosperity, about a serious tax revolt, possibly consisting of a TABOR initiative, in Arizona. Prop. 13 Arizona certainly isn't it--if anything, the decidedly stupid name makes that clear--but on the off chance that it makes the ballot, its two amendments would be a welcome addition to the state constitution.

Prop 13 Arizona was filed by Jeff Greenspan, a paleo-con and perennial foe of taxation. Jeff is a curious character, who considers random capitalization of words, sprinkling his writing with "logic" and "rational" and general spinning about to be argument. At least on the Internet, he's reminiscent of Zippy the Pinhead. However, he seems to have his act together more than in years past. Although only one of the two initiatives have been filed with the Secretary of State's office, at least this time there's a website and other people on board.

The two proposed amendments would eliminate exceptions to the Consititution's tax rate caps, roll back valuations to 2003 for properties purchased before then, and set two percent per year cap on valuation increases. Curiously, this is lower than inflation. Perhaps it'll be the measure's undoing.

That is, if it makes the ballot. I'm not expecting Greenspan to deliver, although I'll be pleased if he does.

Perhaps someone at the Star reads my 'blog.

I spent a few minutes last Friday writing about Rodney Glassman's business antics, and a few more dropping links to the post on Craigslist and other comment boards, to find today that the Daily Star has, with professional quality, covered the matter. The papers have previously been quiet about Glassman's past.

"Mission accomplished!", or did I waste my time. I'll never know.

Read the comments below the Star article. You'll find that Glassman, at one time, barred kids who bought their equipment elsewhere from skating on the rink. What a weasel! Penny wise and pound foolish, for sure. One can actually get away with that, in government--"Do as I say, or else"--which is why we want the carpetbagging phony-philanthropist Glassman away from the reins of power.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Rodney Glassman's past life: why character matters in the Tucson City Council race.

If you want to embarrass Tucson City Council hopeful Rodney Glassman, ask him what he was up to when he got himself kicked out of Carol West's office back in 2000. It's already cost him her endorsement, as well as that of former councilman Jerry Anderson, who's leading "Democrats for Oien." In a city full of yellow-dogs of the worst, pseudo-elitist type--the sort that confound Democrat registration with a measure of intelligence and consider it a 1:1 correlate with being a Good Person--that means a lot.

I don't know whether or not Glassman's transfer to the U of A, where he picked up three degrees from known easy programs, was brought about by academic difficulties at Cornell. Regardless, while he was here, he took over management of his family's struggling ice arena.

The official story is that Glassman turned the operation around, making it profitable. We're supposed to admire him for this: it's what passes for accomplishment in the life of a man who has only credentials. What the Glassman camp doesn't tell you is that Glassman first tried to get the City to bail the operation out, becoming so obnoxious about it to alienate Anderson and become the first and last person West ever had to ask to leave.

Glassman has not denounced this rent-seeking behavior or even apologized, leading us to one of two conclusions:

  1. Rodney Glassman the Councilman would approve of the behavior of Rodney Glassman the businessman and accept the transfer of the burden of failing enterprises from private owners to taxpayers.
  2. Rodney Glassman is truly wicked. He knows that government bailouts of business are wrong, but asked for one anyway.

Pace Richard Dawkins, I'm not inclined to think of people as evil or wicked without good reason. Thus I'm left to conclude that to elect Rodney Glassman to the city council would be to elect another cronyist who believes that government should help private enterprise along with favors and privileges.

Should casting a vote for Lori Oien even be in question? If it still is, the ever-irascible right-wing commentator Emil Franzi has dug up some truths about Glassman and his (partly tax-funded!) vanity foundation that will make your decision certain.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Are dangerous predators like Andrew Thomas or Joe Arpaio living in your neighborhood? Check these public records.

Joe Arpaio, "America's Toughest Sheriff", has blustered on occasion that his address is a matter of public record, and that he travels without guard, so that if anyone--such as mothers of his victims--wants to take him out, they could.

When someone publishes that address in a newspaper, however, chief goon (and bigot enabler) Andrew Thomas goes on the warpath. He's learned, however, that attempts to intimidate a major city's weekly are politically perilous. We still take freedom of the press seriously here in the States.

Now Thomas is upset--crocodile tears, if you ask me--that, the website run by the Arizona Republic and Phoenix channel 12, published links to public documents giving his home address, complaining that it put him and his family in peril. The paper, as a courtesy, deleted the links.

I don't advocate doing anything to anyone's wife and children, nor do I believe that assassinations are an appropriate way to take even folks as low as Thomas and Arpaio out of office. However, Thomas, for the prosecution of Matt Bandy, for the failure to prosecute Patrick Haab, and for numerous offenses against the public trust and the liberty of the people, is beneath the courtesy shown to him by the Republic. For well-known reasons--including the attempt to intimidate the New Times--the same applies to Arpaio.

Both men's addresses are public record, on the Maricopa County Recorder's website. Both of Thomas's and Arpaio's residences may be found on their 2004 Financial Disclosure Statements.

Kids, if you go trick-or-treating to the addresses given, have your parents check things over. The homes are known for harboring bad apples.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Municipal Unicron-ism

In the absence of outside restraint, Arizona cities will eat everything.

Driving home late yesterday night from a conference in Flagpole, I was reminded by a sign declaring the Phoenix city limits--several miles north of Happy Valley Road--that Arizona law has an absurd quirk which allows cities to annex large amounts of empty land. Phoenix isn't even the craziest example; the sleepy little town of Buckeye is 48 miles wide north-south and 24 miles wide east-west.

Arizonans have, as a rule, fought both incorporation and annexation. Rillito, completely surrounded by Marana, has held out for years. Green Valley has yet to even come close to incorporation. Casas Adobes residents have made it clear that they want to be a part of neither Marana nor Oro Valley nor Tucson; independent incorporation is still a contentious matter. Residents of unincorporated areas receive basic services (protection of law, etc.) from the county and contract privately for the rest (bring that up to anyone who says "libertarianism looks good on paper but doesn't work in life"!); incorporation replaces this market process with political bureaucracy. Living in an unincorporated area does mean that a sizable portion of one's taxes are sent to Phoenix, never to return, but the benefits may nonetheless be outweighed by the costs.

Frustrated in their attempts to seize inhabited areas and expand power and tax revenues, Arizona's municipalities have been moving towards what amounts to preemptive annexation, allowing them to continue to run cities like multilevel marketing or pyramid schemes. Spending like drunken sailors is alright; subsidized growth within the city's wide limits will make the latest bond issue look like chump change in a decade or two when the tax base has doubled!

Growth in Arizona will inevitably continue, and since we have yet to meaningfully reform our water laws and privatize the aquifiers, it will become increasingly irresponsible. Allowing annexation of undeveloped areas sets up an incentive for politicians to encourage such sprawl. Moreover, residents of new development ought to have the choice of being subject to existing city government, their own local government, or none at all. That's a matter of justice, moreover, it keeps the cities honest.

Arizona's annexation law has an obvious flaw, and needs to be reworked again.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Tucson City Election: Kalafut's Picks

Tucsonans vote on two ballot propositions, a mayor, and three city councilmen this fall. Election Day is 6 November, but due to the universal mailing of early ballots, many, including me, have already voted. My choices were as follows:

  • No on Proposition 100
    This proposition would raise the Mayor's annual salary from $42,000 per year to $48,000, and each City Councilman's salary from $24,000 to $36,000.
    These positions--especially the city councilor's--are not supposed to be full-time employment; that is why Tucson has a City Manager. The Citizens' Commission on Public Service and Compensation is recommending the increase because higher salaries will attract more "diverse and representative" candidates, increase salaries to keep pace with inflation, align salaries with average salaries in the city, and because the duties of the Mayor and councilmen supposedly necessitate more than 40 hours of work per week.

    If the Mayor and Council are working more than 40 hours per week on their duties, something is culturally or structurally wrong with each office. Rejecting Proposition 100 forces them to address this existential question, and may move us in the direction of adopting the superior Council-manager form of government, already common in the rest of the state.

  • No on Proposition 200
    Adding a "garbage fee" to the water bill without lowering taxes, allowing competition, or instituting a pay-for-use fee schedule was one of the City Council's lowest acts in recent memory. Prop. 200, the Tucson Water Users' Bill of Rights would remedy this, but at the same time prohibit privatization or either garbage or water, imposes a water delivery cap without an associated permit-trading system, forbids use of purified effluent as tapwater, and would likely result in an increase in wildcat well drilling and sprawl development. As I've written before, it's a deliberately deceptive mess, forcing us to swallow three doses of bad to get one of good. Send it to the rubbish heap to join John Kromko's political career.

  • Bob Walkup for Mayor
    I wanted for Dave Croteau to come together as a candidate, so that I could vote for him over the growth lobby's choice, incumbent Bob Walkup. When I thought he was going to support a cap-and-trade approach to water conservation, he had my vote, however, he abandoned that position when his party endorsed Prop. 200 in the process of courting--or not courting; I'm hearing different stories from different people--John Kromko, the proposition's author. Croteau has a vision involving sustainability and "re-localization" which he paints in broad strokes, never making the connection to concrete policy proposals, or clarifying how he'd accomplish his objective without running afoul of the State and Federal Constitutions, the laws of economics, or the liberty of the people.

    Although he speaks of a "living wage", I don't see him as being Yet Another Leftist Class Warrior. I do see him as being representative of a problem that has plagued the Green Movement from its beginnings: aesthetics do not readily translate to policy. There are no major Green think-tanks, nor is significant academic scholarship done is support of the Green position. The libertarians, social democrats, and conservatives can reference serious works of philosophy and economics to support their positions; the Greens are stuck with touchy-feely values that amount to little more than unconstrained statements about the best of naively possible worlds. (I share quite a few of those values, but find that the Greens, in their guessing-game, get their policy implications mostly wrong. That's a matter for another time.)

    We'd all love to live in Candyland, but I'd like to know what a person is going to do about the here-and-now, given the dirty constraints of reality, before I trust him with any power. Croteau is off in space; Walkup, as we've seen, doesn't screw things up too badly, so in the absence of serious competition, he has my vote by default.

  • Beryl Baker for City Council, Ward One

    Speaking of candidate who paint with a broad brush, it's been difficult to get detail from Regina Romero. The issue about which she has spoken the most is KIDCO, a city-funded after-school babysitting program. Romero would have it expanded and make it more educational. That would be a fine position for the executive director of a charitable non-profit or even a daycare entrepreneur, but I expect City Councilmen to have more to say about matters of concern to residents and local businesses than about how to expand a handout program.

    Beryl Baker, on the other hand, is a neighborhood activist advocating nuts-and-bolts reform. In light of that, I forgave her endorsement of Prop. 200 and gave her my vote.

  • Lori Oien for City Council, Ward Two

    Lori Oien's record of community involvement is even more impressive than Baker's, and she offers a concrete platform of fiscal responsibility and improved city services.

    Rodney Glassman is an arrogant trustafarian dandy with an inflated resume. He runs a charitable foundation, yes, and is what passes for a socialite in Tucson, but his only discernible past political or activist experience was as a Raul Grijalva lackey. (Grijalva, for those who've forgotten, is an ineffectual, thuggish Congressman with a far-left voting record and a campaign strategy based on unionism and class warfare.) The newspapers say Glassman offers "leadership"; I find him as vapid now as I did when he defeated the far more substantial Robert Reus in the primary. Let him grow up a bit and learn to offer voters policy, not just personality. Vote Lori Oien.

  • Dan Spahr for City Council, Ward Four
    Dan Spahr's tying of his campaign to the occupation of Iraq with a "Support the Troops" slogan is both tacky and bizarre, and he's a bit of a populist in the right-wing empty-head sense regarding social issues, but he brings some good to the table, including community policing and a belief that the Rio Nuevo strategy must be changed to focus on private investment, not public subsidy. The Tucson City Council has needed a fiscal conservative dissenter of the sort that Ann Day has been on the Pima County Board of Supervisors, and Shirley Scott hasn't been it. In the interest of throwing the bums out, I held my nose and voted Spahr.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A real tax credit is the way to cure the fake one's ills.

Last week, the Tucson Citizen reported on use of Arizona's tuition tax-credit program to fund K-12 level education at Rainbow Acres, an adult group home. While this use falls outside the intent of the 2002 law, it's in accord with its letter.

We should consider the benefit to retarded adults a positive side effect, not a sign of fraud or a reason to scrap the tuition tax-credit program. One can expect, when a complicated system that adds a layer of institutions--school tuition organizations in this case--to the mix is created, that there will be unintended consequences, positive, negative, or both. If Arizonans want to get serious about reforming education for the state's children, a simpler solution will do.

In what has become the most-viewed post on the Pima County Libertarian Party's weblog, I proposed that Arizona's legislature take steps to remedy the market failure keeping private education beyond the means of too many families: the double-payments problem. Offer a dollar-for-dollar tax credit, with a cap much higher that Iowa's or Illinois's paltry $500, to parents, grandparents, godparents, neighbors, or anyone else who pays the private education expenses of a particular minor child.

This does away with the money-laundering system of tuition organizations, and it's fair: parents should not have to pay both for their children's education and for that of the children of the less responsible or less well-off.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Seeking a co-blogger

I'm not going to be in Arizona forever; I estimate another two years before I'm a Californian. I'd like to hand this 'blog over to someone at that time, and have a co-blogger or two until then. Any takers? Send me an e-mail if interested.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Check our legislators' alibis.

As regular readers of this irregularly updated 'blog know, I take a dim view of the antics of Russell Pearce, Don Goldwater, and their type. Instead of debunking economic fallacies and promoting high-minded morals, they bring out the worst in Arizonans, enhancing the irrational hatred of the Mexican and turning spite into rage. Unless Congress moves to fix the problem, we're going to see a Vincent Chin incident, with blame lying as much with men (and I use the term loosely) like Pearce as with the perpetrator.

The rage felt over Mexican immigration--it's always about "ILLEGALS" but the truth comes out between the lines--is difficult to understand, and naturally so, as it's irrational. (Have you noticed the patchy, shifting, post-hoc nature of the justifications given?) To get a sense of how crazy it is, consider the following Seattle-area incident, which trumps the bizzare anger over pressing two for Spanish or having to suffer through hearing other people have conversations in a foreign tongue.:

Well, let's look at it this way: At least, this guy wasn't buying a blowtorch.

But that age-old adage that patience is a virtue somehow slipped the mind of a man shopping at The Home Depot on Utah Avenue South in Seattle on Thursday.

Around 9 p.m., the man was in line at a self-service checkout stand, ready to buy a pry bar and a hacksaw, according to a Seattle police report.

But, as a manager told an officer, the man accidentally hit the button on the computer screen for Spanish.

That was the tipping point for this consumer.

He became "frustrated that the machine was speaking Spanish," the police report says.

So, instead of asking for help, he let loose a blow with the pry bar and shattered the computer. He ran from the store and made a beeline to some railroad tracks, the report said.

A Seattle police officer searched for the man, but didn't find him.

The manager believes he caused about $10,000 in damage. He left the pry bar in his shopping cart.

Does anyone know the whereabouts of Russ Dove or Roy Warden that day? Check the security tape. Does the perp resemble Mr. Pearce?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Full text of the Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act

Lately it's felt like preventing the institution of socialized medicine would be as difficult as stopping an oncoming train. We might just have to suffer through a generation of waiting lists, declined care, and overseas travel for treatment in order to prove what credible healthcare economists are already telling us.

If one wants to avoid being hit by a train, the other option is to derail it before it arrives. The "Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act", a ballot initiative being advanced by Medical Choice for Arizona, would do exactly that, preventing many of the abuses associated with socialized medicine and restricting its form to either residual welfare or a voucher system.

Medical Choice for Arizona is not yet on the Web, and the Secretary of State's office has not posted the full text either. I was sent a xerox by that office, and have copied the initiative word-for-word below. Remember: you saw it here first.

Commentary to follow soon.



Be it enacted by the People of Arizona:

1. Article II, Section 36: Constitution of Arizona is proposed to be added as follows if approved by the voters and on proclamation of the Governor:


2. The Secretary of State shall submit this proposition to the voters at the next general election as provided by Article XXI, of the Constitution of Arizona.

Monday, October 01, 2007

A few more words on Arizona Libertarian Party v. Brewer

My "official" opinion as the 1st Vice Chairman of the Pima County Libertarian Party on the recent Arizona Libertarian Party v. Brewer decision is posted on the Pima County Libertarian Party weblog, however, there are a few things that I ought to say speaking for myself.

While the proximate effect of the decision is to prevent outsiders from hijacking the Libertarian ballot line, the case has much more significance as election law than it will in boosting the fortunes of the AZLP, for the simple purpose that the AZLP does not use its ballot line for anything of significance.

The AZLP does run candidates, usually underqualified ones who don't take campaigning seriously. (I was, self-consciously, one of those in 2004.) It rarely has contested primaries, and has yet to have a serious impact in a partisan race. Even moving the Overton Window, or otherwise changing the terms of debate, doesn't happen as often as it could because the Party fields candidates like Ernie Hancock or Barry Hess, clueless on the publicly relevant issues pertinent to the office sought, seemingly without reservation.

Yuri Downing was a mere gnat compared to the swarm of bees that is self-defeat. Back in 1990, Rick Tompkins, acquiring the voter list by less than ethical means, sent a mailer to every Libertarian in the state recommending they change their registrations and vote for Prescott slimeball Sam Steiger. The number of people driven off by Ernie Hancock's boorish populism is something we'll probably never know (although I've heard enough ex-Libertarians' anecdotes to put the number at more than a handful), but we do know that his war with members who merely insisted that the organizing law be followed hurt both state registrations and the the National party, causing Harry Browne to fall short of 50-state ballot access.

Libertarians have stopped suing each other, but keep shooting themselves in the foot. Mike Renzulli's motion to deny any Party support (including sales of the voter list!) to candidates who participate in Clean Elections did not receive a vote at the shambles that was the last State Convention, but the ensuing discussion was enough to drive Rick Fowlkes, our best candidate in the last two elections, over to the Republicans. Furthermore, this year, the State board made the decision for the Libertarian electorate that no Presidential primary would be held in 2008. (I'm still hoping that George Phillies or Wayne Root will have the cojones to say "we don't care".) There are better uses for my time (as a grad student working more-than-full-time) than to try to unseat the corrupt ideologues behind the decision. Hancock, for his part, is busy doing as Tompkins did, encouraging libertarians to change their registrations to vote for the paleoconservative Congressman Ron Paul in the Republican primary.

Libertarian policy solutions can succeed in Arizona, with last year's Prop. 207 being the most salient example. Libertarian candidates have no trouble getting more than their share of press when they're actually newsworthy. What's holding Libertarians back in this state is not election law, it's Libertarians. If the Party wants to advance a libertarian agenda at all--and after the 2007 State Convention, that itself is debatable--it needs to get serious about using its ballot status to run strong candidates, for appropriate offices, who threaten to take votes from the major party candidates or, even worse, get elected. Imagine that? Hold public office? How very un-Libertarian!

And how ironic it is, that the most significant policy change effected by the AZ LP is not a great advancement of liberty; it's ALP v. Brewer.