Monday, October 25, 2010

Penny Kotterman: Ideologue, Union Boss, Extremist, and wrong for Arizona

Makers of the "Airborne" patent medicine, before it was (even more thoroughly) discredited in a class-action lawsuit, promoted it by emphasizing that it was created by a schoolteacher. Apparently--and I do not understand the mentality--our memories of kindly old Miss So-and-So who taught us in 3rd grade were to cause us to trust it more than something created by scientists and put through clinical trials and for which we actually had some evidence of efficacy.

The Penny Kotterman campaign for Superintendent of Public Instruction has attempted a similar marketing strategy. The reason we are given to support Kotterman: she was a schoolteacher. That's it. Not her policy positions, not her values, simply her occupational history. Conveniently omitted before all audiences except those composed of committed anti-private-education ideologues are some inconvenient details: Penny Kotterman is not just any schoolteacher. She was and is one of the most committed opponents to education reform in Arizona.

If the name "Kotterman" sounds familiar it is because she was the lead plaintiff in Kotterman v. Killian, the Left's challenge to the then-new tuition tax credit program. In no uncertain terms, several years before the Supreme Court's decision in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, the ultimate decision in Kotterman established the legality of the tuition tax credit program under Arizona law.

For those who may not have been paying attention, the tuition tax credit program gives a small dollar-for-dollar tax credit to people making donations to "school tuition organizations" which in turn must contribute all but a minuscule portion of what they take in to pay the private-school tuition fees for children. Compared to a direct parent tax credit the program is a kludge that only indirectly addresses the market failure caused by double-payments, but that's not the point here. The tax credit program allowed children at the margin to benefit from real school choice.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona (then AzCLU) claimed that this tax credit program violated the Arizona Constitution and brought on Kotterman as lead plaintiff. It's worth noting that they did not, and still do not in their follow-up Winn v. Garriott, claim that civil liberties are being violated. (A digression: The only difference between Winn and Zelman is between tax credits and vouchers; by continuing this case post-Zelman ACLU-AZ's board of directors is verging on a breach of its fiducial duty to its membership.) When I served on the ACLU-AZ board of directors whose civil liberties were being violated--who was less free because of tax credits--I'd get dodgy answers ("those who don't want people who give to private schools to get a tax break" or "I don't want 'my money' going to religious schools") combined with shamed aversion of eyes. The Kotterman case itself was based on the anachronistic claim that the Arizona Constitution contained a Blaine Amendment. Even more shameful: those familiar with Blaine Amendments know that they were supported and in some states passed as a means for Protestants to officially oppress Catholics: nothing that the ACLU should support! The AZ Constitution does contain Blaine Amendment-like language but even a genuine Blaine Amendment wouldn't rule out the tuition tax credit program. The AzCLU had to go one step further, in claiming that a tax credit for people saving the state an expense is the same thing as a state expenditure, therefore when donations end up paying for religious education because parents send their kids to religious schools, it is the same as the legislature making an expenditure on religious education.

The whole thing strained credulity--it was clearly a post-hoc dressing up of vulgar leftism in civil libertarian language--as does the 9th Circuit's ruling in still-pending Winn that tax credits violate the Establishment Clause because parents choose more often than not to send their kids to religious schools and STO donors choose to support these institutions. (This line of argument was knocked out of the park in Zelman in, as I recall, O'Connor's concurrence: a program cannot be constitutional in one state but unconstitutional in another because the citizens have different religious preferences.)

But what does this have to do with Penny Kotterman? She was no Schecter-like ingenue with no ideological commitments who had been personally wronged by a government policy. Indeed given that she had not been harmed it is difficult to determine why she had standing at all. She was at the time the head of the state's largest schoolteachers' union, the Arizona Education Association and was plaintiff--as is often the case in these sorts of challenges--because she was a True Believer that the policy passed by the legislature was wrong. There are no two ways about it: In the late 1990s, teachers' union boss Penny Kotterman attempted to smother school choice, the state's most significant education reform, in its crib. Far from backing away from this today, she stands by her position on her campaign website. (The dippy justification given: 90% of Arizona kids are still in the old public schools. In other words: change has not happened therefore change should not happen.)

The usually good East Valley Tribune and many other press outlets, perhaps forgetting what kind of anti-reform extremist Penny Kotterman is, have been suckered like an Airborne purchaser into believing that Kotterman must be good for the state because she was a schoolteacher.

To quote the Trib:
Penny Kotterman is a former school teacher who has spent 33 years in education, including six years as the president of the state’s largest teacher’s union, the Arizona Education Association.

We like Kotterman for two reasons. First, she will be a stronger advocate for public schools, whose performance has declined sharply in the last decade. Beyond that, we think that — after 16 years of having politicians in the superintendent’s office — it’s time to turn that position over to a teacher who has been there and done that in Arizona’s school system.

As with electing an African-American President of the United States, in principle putting an educator in the Superintendent seat would be a welcome change. However, continuing the analogy with the Presidency: not this teacher. Penny Kotterman has too strong an ideological commitment to be counted on to serve the public interest. While I cannot give him the ringing all-out endorsement I gave Scott Stewart, there is no doubting that, when it comes to education, as a legislator John Huppenthal has been part of the solution. As the East Valley Tribune noted before denying him their endorsement, he's taken the issue quite seriously, researching the alternatives and only then backing the best. He can be counted on to support what is best for Arizona's schoolchildren, no matter what institution is educating them. He can be counted among the co-authors and co-sponsors of important education bills reducing from 18 months to 3 months the amount of time needed to dismiss poorly performing instructors from their jobs, eliminating the cap on charter school enrollment, and eliminating schoolteacher tenure in Arizona. Looking forward, he has been and remains a proponent of merit pay. Kotterman, on the other hand, we can expect to perform an inappropriate balancing of the interests of schoolchildren against the interests of unionized teachers and the public school establishment, and declares on her website that she remains 100% opposed to vouchers and tuition tax credits, which help make school choice a reality for many middle-class families.

I thus recommend that readers vote for John Huppenthal on 2 November 2010.

Arizona Blue Meanie outed.

And while I was busy kicking Dan Heller for his descent into smug and antisocial glibertarianism (or, more likely, while I was sleeping with the post queued up) Josh Brodesky of the Arizona Daily Star gave an infinitely nastier character what he had coming.

The Arizona Blue Meanie has been outed as Tucson lawyer Roger White, no doubt keeping his identity secret to avoid both loss of clients and libel suits. The Blue Meanie's modus operandi was to be wild and Make Things Up. Sometimes this was just insinuation--for example, he didn't accuse Jeff Flake of embezzlement but attempted to connect it with the non-increase in Social Security checks, and sometimes it was outright defamation. Logic rarely played a role in his remarks--in stark contrast to his co-'bloggers. Perhaps this was also a reason for anonymity: who would hire a lawyer who doesn't seem like he thinks his way through things?

I'd prepare a shame list, but I recommend just clicking the "Blog for Arizona" link and seeing for yourself. It's hard to find a "Blue Meanie" post that is both reasonable and within the bounds of gentlemanly decency.

The State Bar lists White as inactive, but Justia says he practices family law and estate planning. To those disgusted by his politics and personal conduct, I recommend giving your business to Peter Schmerl, a good (modern classical-)liberal and despite his shyness a real stand-up man both privately and in his community.

Call me old-fashioned, or an out-of-touch Midwesterner, but this 'blogger believes in wagering one's reputation on one's remarks, on correcting one's self if incorrect, saying "sorry" and meaning it, and in making amends if one wrongs somebody. Where I come from that went simply with being a man (or grown woman). It makes one wonder, what kind of men are anony-'bloggers like White or the contributors to Sonoran Alliance? Anyone who knows these characters personally care to comment?

Another endorsement from Ben K: Rick Fowlkes for Corporation Commission

I was told at my wedding that Rick Fowlkes didn't make the ballot, and should have checked up on that before stating it as truth here: to readers, I offer a sincere "sorry!"--and a thanks to Thane for setting me straight in the comments of that last over-the-top hockey-fight post.

Let's put an engineer and a free-marketeer on the Corporation Commission: vote Rick Fowlkes. Instead of writing at length about the man and his platform, I refer readers to earlier posts. Nothing has changed but his party: Fowlkes remains a man of ideas, the lone candidate who seeks truly to empower consumers and make the markets work.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

R.I.P. Daniel Heller

It appears that Phoenix Libertarian Examiner Dan Heller, or at least the Heller who was an intelligent commentator and a joy to read, died recently of circle-jerk related injuries.

The strongest evidence to date: an article entitled "Don’t be a jerk: Vote Libertarian or Don’t Vote at All"

I'll let it speak for itself first:
If you vote for increased taxes (or for the existence of taxes at all), you’re voting for strong, scary-looking men with badges and guns (who take their jobs way too seriously) to collect private property—through violent means—from your neighbor. That’s not cool, even if it’s for a “good cause” (i.e.; for whatever righteous redistributionist cause—probably involving children— you support).

If you vote to ban or prohibit a substance you don’t like (such as tobacco or alcohol or any other narcotic), you’re supporting the use of violence against other people because you think you know what’s best for them. Come on. Don’t be an jerk. Don’t use or endorse the use of violence because you think you know what’s best for other people. Instead, if you’re going to take a risk by voting, without being a jerk, vote with the Golden Rule in mind—vote unto others as you would have them vote unto you.

Would you walk to your next door neighbor’s house, point a gun at him and demand that he gives you some money because you don’t like his “immoral” habits, like smoking? Would you point a gun at your neighbor and demand that he pays you money so you can give it to some homeless children you think deserve it more than he does? Would you say, “Pay up, buddy! I need to buy your health insurance and create a retirement savings account for you. Do it now, or I pull the trigger!”

More than likely, no, you wouldn’t, because that’s sociopathic behavior. But why vote like a sociopath then? There’s no reason to. Just stay home. Open a bottle of wine. Relax.

Taxation is or sometimes can be similar to a shakedown. And a sink is or sometimes can be similar to a toilet. Nevertheless, if you really cannot tell the difference you are not welcome in most homes, including mine. And similarly the popularity of Heller's viewpoint--none of the ideas are new, and they were indeed quite old by the time I believed them as an 18-year-old punk--among the soi-disant "hard core" of the Libertarian Party explains why libertarians are in general unwelcome. It isn't quite shitting in the sink, but the sort of false moral clarity that has one telling people not to vote their conscience, and condemning all candidates and by extension the people who vote for them as engaging in sociopathic behavior is rude and antisocial--if not a signal of some kind of sociopathy!

Rather than tackle this ab initio I turn to one of the best respected libertarian philosophers of our time, Loren Lomasky, best known as the author of Persons, Rights, and the Moral Community. In "Libertarianism as if (the other 99% of) people mattered", an essay appearing in Social Philosophy and Policy 15 (e-mail me if you cannot find a copy--an essay containing the phrase "Libertarians ought not be required by their principles to lead geyserless lives" is almost certain to be fun):
If I have adopted the cooperationist rather than the rejectionist attitude toward the society in which I live, then I am thereby committed to acknowledging that although my fellow citizens' views concerning the ethics of taxation are, as I see it, mistaken, the perspective from which they adopt those views is not so unreasonable or so uncivil as to disqualify them from moral respect. ... It is, therefore, not only misleading but also an exercise in borderline incivility to equate taxation with theft, for if it is taken in its straightforward sense, that pronouncement denies the legitimacy of the social order and announces that I regard myself as authorized unilaterally to override its dictates as I would the depredations of the thief. It says to my neighbors that I regard them as, if not themselves thieves, then confederates or willing accomplices in thievery.

One is left to wonder why Heller neither drops out of society nor engages in war on his neighbors and colleagues. Moreover the equation of taxation with theft is a circular argument and a patently obvious one at that.

This isn't to say that there is no ethical component to voting. One is probably compelled by common decency to vote out of office recidivist violators of guaranteed liberties, such as Joe Arpaio, and we shun from polite company at least outright Sheriff Joe supporters. It is likewise for global warming denialists--all other things being equal, candidates who support policies that prevent us from fouling our shared nest receive the vote of moral people, and those who deliberately or negligently spread falsehoods--especially scientists who make silly arguments for ideological reasons--to enhance the short-term profits of the Koch brothers or merely because they think they are spiting Al Gore are shunned. "Not our kind, dear." It isn't war, but we don't simultaneously accuse people of being thieves and sociopaths or in league with thieves and sociopaths yet treat them as friends or welcome neighbors.

What makes this all the more amusing is the total falsehood of Heller's newfound moral clarity. Every serious libertarian thinker recognized far more subtlety to these questions--to choose two "accessible" examples, Friedman and Hayek both supported guaranteed minimum incomes for very solidly classical-liberal reasons. If it wasn't done before, Nozick in Anarchy, State, and Utopia made the equation of liberty with a lack of coercion intellectually off-limits: the arguments against it substitute for true rebuttal a merely more strident repetition of the old Spooner/Rand/Rothbard position.

By now I'm boring my readers. Let me just finish up by saying that to date I have been able to find force (Oh no, force!!!!!!) in the positions held by every "libertarian" who like Heller categorically condemns force and condemns all who do not vote as he would like for being supporters of force. So yes, your moral clarity is fake. And yours too. And, when I'm guilty of it, mine.

For reasons I might get to, at least a few third-party candidates receive my personal endorsement this season, at the very least: Libertarians Joe Cobb and Thane Eichenauer, independent Ted Downing, and, with reservations, Libertarians Nick Coons and Steve Stoltz. Rick Fowlkes would get my endorsement, too, but he's not on the ballot. And for now the link to Heller will remain. His back-catalog--before what must have been a blow to the head (perhaps from a Rothbard book?) had him repeating 1970s cliches in his columns and, we see, unable to distinguish the sink and the toilet--is interesting and his recent output cannot detract from it. Moreover we can expect false moral clarity to be a mere phase he's going through. It happens to most self-identifying "libertarians" and the more intelligent ones get over it eventually.

Vote "Yes" on Proposition 107: 3 generations of discrimination has been at least enough.

This year's Proposition 107, the "Arizona Civil Rights Initiative", is simple, almost self-explanatory. To quote:
36. Preferential treatment or discrimination prohibited; exceptions; definition










Opponents of this proposition tend to make two claims. One is that quotas do not exist in Arizona. True, but it isn't the whole truth. While there are no quotas per se, there are plenty of preference programs, as documented in a Goldwater Institute whitepaper

The other is that preference programs exist as a matter of justice or are necessary to prevent discrimination. That's outright nonsense: the way to not discriminate on the basis of ethnicity into account is to consciously stop discriminating on the basis of ethnicity, which is not the same thing as giving preferences.

As we were reminded by Richard Epstein and others in the wake of Rand Paul's bout with foot-in-mouth syndrome earlier this year, there is a reasonably compelling argument to be made for government affirmative action programs as a sort of remedy for negative discrimination in the immediate past, so as not to "lock in" for a generation or longer the results of such discrimination. If the government for a time deliberately did not hire Martians, it would make sense to give preference to Martians in its next few hires so as not to keep Martians more or less locked out until all the Earthlings retire, and to avoid the effects such a policy would have on the next generation of Martians (and Earthhlings!)

But Arizona's preference programs are not time-limited remedies to past discrimination and not narrowly tailored in intent or effect even if they avoid quotas. At best they are responses to discrimination of decades ago. Some of their supporters seem to think we are living decades ago. Take the League of Women Voters, which stated in the measure's publicity pamphlet that "The LWVAZ believes that all qualified candidates should get a fair chance to compete for jobs or obtain an education based on individual merit, not special connections. Proposition 107 would turn back the clock to a society of "good old boy" networks where women and people of color routinely face discrimination. "

Were preference programs repealed immediately after their institution, yes, this would be true. The same people would be in charge, making the hires they would make without it. But we've made decades of social progress since then and while bigots can still be found in trailer parks and retirement homes they are no longer in charge of the university or government. Indeed those university, county, municipal, and state bureaucrats who the League of Women Voters implicitly claims would not allow others to obtain an education or compete for jobs based on merit unless prohibited from making decisions based on what a reasonable person would think to be merit (a hint for LWVAZ members: "merit" is not race, gender, or ethnicity) should be outraged.

I repeat: The moral authority of preference programs expired decades ago. The bigots of old are retired or dead. Thanks in part to past preference programs, a new generation has not taken their place. Proponents of continued ethnic discrimination have a difficult question to answer, and you should ask them it whenever you get the chance: "How long should discrimination persist, and under what conditions would you support its end?" The answer "as long as there is inequality between ethnic groups" is inadequate. If imbalances still exist, it is likely that they are not the direct result of past discrimination. It is evident that further "positive" or "reactionary" discrimination to remedy such imbalances will be ineffective, in addition to being unjust.

That injustice, acknowledged in both the majority opinion and dissent in Grutter v Bollinger (the U.S. Supreme Court case upholding discriminatory programs if narrowly tailored and limited in duration), is now holding back race relations and may be the cause of much residual ethnic prejudice. We're at the point where many a person of European or South or East Asian ancestry, on seeing someone whose ancestors came from the "global south" be admitted to a selective program at a state university, receive a state contract, or be hired as a state employee, suspects that that admittee, that contractor, that employee may have gotten there through an unfair and discriminatory process. That is not a situation we'd like the suspected "affirmative action" admittees, contractors, or hires to be put in.

To quote native Arizonan and retired Supreme Court Justice O'Connor's majority opinion in Grutter v Bollinger:

[Accordingly,] race-conscious admissions policies must be limited in time. This requirement reflects that racial classifications, however compelling their goals, are potentially so dangerous that they may be employed no more broadly than the interest demands. Enshrining a permanent justification for racial preferences would offend this fundamental equal protection principle.

A policy limited in time must be subject to either sunset or periodic review. The Arizona legislature has established no sunset or periodic review for its discriminatory programs. By initiative, we have forced a review. Let's sunset the policy ourselves this November 2nd. Vote for progress on race and ethnicity. Vote "yes" on Proposition 107.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The little differences.

I've spent 7 years in Tucson, will be 8 before I leave, and I'm still learning some of the cultural differences between here and "back east"

Case in point: Nobody, except me, wears evening clothes (aka a tuxedo) to the symphony's opening night.

Neither way is clearly better, but one sure is strange to me!

Friday, October 22, 2010

A bit on Scott Stewart's challenger Kevin Mattocks

It's no secret that Scott Stewart is the only member of the PCC governing board who works in the private sector or even has a strong private-sector background.

Kevin Mattocks, his opponent, also has a bit of a private sector background, but for the most part has worked as a policeman, first in Mesa, then in Oro Valley. Recently he has been head of the FOP, one of the police unions. Stewart (see below) believes him to be the government employee union candidate, and knowing Stewart (and knowing Stewart to be honest to the point where one would mistake him for a Quaker) I'd be very surprised were this were an exaggeration. Indeed, Mattocks confirms the narrative, perhaps inadvertently, on his own website:
I had many discussions with my twin brother who works as a police officer with Pima Community College. The employees of the college learned of my enthusiasm and eligibility to run for this position in district 4. They met with me and talked me into running.
(emphasis mine). Not requests from community leaders, not even faculty and students, and certainly not any intrinsic interest in the position motivated Mattocks: college employees, perhaps perturbed that Stewart backed a 40-hour work week, asked him.

Government employee union candidate or not, what has struck be about Mattocks is his vacuity. Why is he running? He doesn't say. What does he want to do differently? The best we find on his website:
I believe in personal responsibility, family first, limited government, free markets, individual liberty, traditional American and Christian values and a strong national defense. I believe the role of government should provide people the freedom necessary to pursue their own goals. I ask for your support and your financial support as I continue my election. I have never planned or run an election nor do I consider myself a politician. I appreciate your interest in my success.

How any of this translates to PCC Governing Board policy is anybody's guess. He goes on a bit:


Accountability with our Tax Dollars

Affordable and Accessible Community College Education

Public Safety

Improvement of Adult Education Programs

Community Development

And the second version of the website, although more polished, also lacks concrete statements about PCC or county policy.

I do not attend PCC governing board meetings so I cannot speak to how much interest Mattocks has shown in the month-to-month concerns of that body. But his website and his non-existent statements to the press appear to indicate either that he is uninterested (i.e. he was put up to this), that he hasn't researched the issues at all, or that he hasn't a clue about the PCC governing board's concerns and the compromises they must make with each other and with reality and thus has no policy ideas at all.

It would be small of me to argue that Stewart is a better choice because he is a highly educated engineer and his opponent is a police officer whose regard for intellect may or may not be signaled by his writing on that first website. Surely an "everyman" can also act to advance higher education; in the American tradition millions of "everyman" parents, for several generations, have done so by encouraging and pushing their children to hit the books and go to college. But whereas Stewart has much to say about the value of education to the individual and the public and specifically about the role of the community college, conspicuously missing from Mattocks's (few) statements concerning his run for office are any discussion of education. Not even the vapid Congressional "I support education and the children..." Nothing.

I ask again, and will be far nastier about it than the ever-polite Stewart: Why is Mattocks running? He appears to have no interest in the position, to bring nothing to the race, and if elected it does not appear that he will bring anything to the seat except his rear end. It is not up to us to give him the benefit of the doubt. It's up to him to convince us, to share with us his ideas and the way he thinks about policy. He's not even trying to do so.

From Stewart's website:
A short statement about my opponent

For twelve years now I've worked to take care of the Pima College staff in both good times and bad. In fact, I've almost always been the board member to publicly defend our employees’ compensation package. This year, however, I have opposition from the government employee union sector. Personally, I believe my opponent was recruited by Pima's union leadership because of the manner in which we have dealt with recent funding cuts. Let me explain why I think this.

Like everyone else, we have to do more with less. However, instead of instituting layoffs and furloughs we've expanded our workweek from 37.5 hours to 40 and cut pay 2.7% per hour (resulting in 4% more pay per week). Unfortunately, the union leadership sees only more hours for less money per hour. They have even publicly complained about the hardships of the 40-hour workweek – this at a time when many folks in the community have lost their jobs!

I have met my opponent and he's an intelligent and positive man. Nonetheless, I believe his background as a government employee and a government employee union representative could very well change the board from one that looks out for the community first to one that first looks out for college employees first. Naturally, I believe we have to take care of the employees but our primary mission is to serve this community FIRST and foremost.

No recommendation on Proposition 302

A first for this 'blog: on one ballot question, I provide no recommendation. Perhaps (Treasurer candidate) Thane will be able to offer more perspective.

The legislature's (constitutionally-mandated) balancing of the budget depended in part on the sweeping of tobacco surtax revenue into the general fund. In 2006, voters approved Proposition 203, the Arizona Early Childhood Development and Health Initiative, sometimes called "First Things First" after the bill's supporters' name for themselves, which added an eighty-cents-per-pack surtax to the cost of cigarettes and established a far-left, Great Society style board to promote government-run pre-K schooling and well-baby care, which since its establishment is estimated by its supporters to have provided services of some sort or another to half of the children age five and under in the State.

Since the funds were set aside by voters, they can only be re-allocated by voters. This year's Proposition 302 does that. It defunds the activities of the Early Childhood Development and Health Board and sweeps the eighty cent surtax into the General Fund.

On the one hand, this is a good thing. It balances the budget and removes a California-style pre-allocation from our system of government, putting budgeting back in the hands of the legislature, which is better equipped than the single-issue ballot question voter to make cost-benefit decisions in context. And it defunds a program that not only makes Arizona children government dependents from birth, but also one that does so unsustainably, by taxing an unhealthy and ordinarily extremely rude activity that by rights we'd like to see diminished by orders of magnitude and that has over time went from socially acceptable to acceptable in all but the politest of circles to generally unacceptable, at least among educated folk.

On the other hand, it means that the budget, more so than it is already, is funded by many petty taxes that are difficult to reduce and easy for some to impose on others. Structurally, taxes--except those that amount to user fees like road taxes or obvious corrections of externalities (Pigouvian taxes) like carbon taxes--should be few in number and of the sort that affect most or all people in a fairly direct manner.

I don't see either of "yes" or "no" on Proposition 302 having a clear advantage here and will not share how I plan to vote on this. Perhaps commenters have insight or perhaps Thane will clarify, but for now: you're on your own.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ben's endorsement: Re-elect Scott Stewart to the Pima Community College governing board

The beginning of my (late) remarks on the upcoming election, this one is more a personal endorsement than any. For as long as I have known Scott Stewart--almost as long as I have been in Tucson--I have known him to be a man of integrity and not only a capable intellect but someone with enough concern for propriety and realities of the day to be said to exhibit wisdom.

He has his detractors (*cough* glibertarians... *cough*) but the worst they say about him is that he is not a reactionary or ideologue, that he takes this "public servant" stuff seriously and is acting to better Pima College and the community rather than to further some outside agenda. So self-absorbed and overcertain of their small beliefs are his detractors that they do not realize that to normal people what they are saying would be a serious compliment!

Beyond that, just consider what Scott Stewart himself has wrote of his service on the PCC Governing Board:
My Record (Scott Stewart)

When I was first elected my primary intention was to keep the college effective and affordable for both students and taxpayers. I also was interested in exporting Pima's strengths to other institutions. The reason this was a priority was (and it still is!) Pima's fastest growing market share was remedial education for recent high school graduates.

I have never governed as a partisan. Instead, I work hard and study the College and the choices before it. Some of our main choices relate to where our students come from and where they go next, either transferring to a 4-year university or going directly to work. I believe my study has allowed me to make the best judgments possible regarding such choices.

In my time on the Board, I've personally worked to attract students from alternative venues such as charter and private schools and home-schooling. I have ensured Pima remains friendly to such students. We have reached out as well to these institutions and associations to help them solve their student challenges. I've also successfully pushed partnerships so our graduates can afford further education beyond Pima. The College now offers several of these.

During my years on the Board, I've helped Pima make the following improvements:

· More transparency - our “metrics” are now posted on the PCC website

· Moved our Aviation Technology Program to a site on the airport grounds to qualify for FAA Certification in more areas

· Increased the staff workweek from 37.5 to 40 hours

· Moved staff closer to a “Pay for Performance” plan, rather than simply basing their pay on time employed

· Improved pay dramatically for the high-demand nursing faculty

· Ensured that Pima listens to local employers so we can learn what is needed and wanted from our graduates

· Ensured the College works with local high schools, charter schools, private schools, and home school associations to know how their students do on our placement exams.

· Reduced opportunities for identity theft by insisting that Pima not use Social Security Numbers as a student ID

Obviously, I'm proud to have successfully worked on all of the above. I would appreciate your support to continue my work.

There's nothing in there not to like, and to the best of my knowledge no serious omission of any reason to not support the man, either. I give the re-election of Scott Stewart my wholehearted endorsement.

To read more, visit

Phoenix sticking its neck out over billboard censorship.

Update, from Korwin's press release:

Assistant Phoenix city attorney Ted Mariscal claimed in a conference call with Mr. Korwin and CBS Outdoor that the billboards weren't commercial enough, the message was too vague, and then demanded the message be changed to his satisfaction. When pressed for a definition of what is either sufficiently commercial or what defines a public service ad he declined to respond, referring instead to a 12-year-old 9th Circuit court case concerning a religious group (Children of the Rosary) and abortion ads. CBS is designing new art to please the city, but without guidelines of what's acceptable, there's no way to predict the result, and the TrainMeAZ campaign isn't exactly keen on this approach.

Arizona Republic 'blogger Laurie Roberts reports on a developing story: the City of Phoenix has pulled's advertisements from bus shelters, supposedly following receipt of a complaint. (Whether or not the complaint was truly external--and just what kind of person would complain about a run-of-the-mill add--is currently unknown.)

TrainMeAZ is a website advertising firearms training and other firearms-related services. The billboards are rather simple: the stock "Guns Save Lives"-in-a-heart thing followed by "Arizona says: Educate your kids", followed by the URL. In short: buy a firearm, keep your kids safe by training them, and oh, here's our URL where you will be directed to services to help do both. A commercial ad for a website if there ever was one.

Phoenix's argument: It's a public service announcement, not an ad for commercial service, and the city's (court-upheld) ad policy prohibits purchase of PSAs. But PSAs do not direct people to commercial websites.

The distinction--and what test will be applied--isn't immediately clear, but what I do know is that the City of Phoenix must be up for a fight. We "civilized" folk often think of bigots as idiots and slobs (because most of them are): the man behind the ads, Alan Korwin, is a bit of a homophobic and anti-immigrant bigot (very recently giving space in his newsletter for a typical Russell Pearce bigot rant) but he's no idiot. What he's good at--getting the word out about firearms liberalization--he's extremely good at, and something has me thinking Phoenix could be outmatched.