Arizona Thinkers

in response to “Services Vary Widely From Region to Region
Add your thought Gypsy Lyle said:

When you say “one is left to wonder though which activity or combination of activities brings the maximum bang for the buck”, I wonder what professor and bright doctorial student might pick up on this and come up with some answers. Your article mentions university involvement but how much and by whom? Thanks again for producing a very thorough and thought provoking piece. I always learn something from reading Thinking Arizona.

in response to “Education Gap Goes Beyond Educators
Add your thought Nina Seifert Bishop said:

Educate not only your children but their parents as well. Get rid of charter schools; they do not perform better than traditional public schools. Keep out pretend teachers from Teach for America. Students excel when they have a stable school environment. Invest in training your experienced teachers instead of hiring pretend teachers; respect them, support them and pay them well to keep them in your schools. Oppose Common Core and inBloom student data mining. Refuse the state test; it undermines quality instruction time and feeds into corporate privatization of public schools.

in response to “Arizona Can Fix Schools By Addressing 3 Questions
Add your thought Phil Lopes said:

Clearly and concisely stated. As a former legislator, I lay the problems at the legislature’s door. They refuse to consider results of Rand study (bills to address student teacher ratios never got a hearing because they were introduced by Democrats). The majority’s approach is driven, in large measure, by competition between charters and non charters will solve problem, and teachers unions are too powerful resulting in teachers being lazy because of perceived job protection. What would it take to get districts to cooperate? Seems like such a slam dunk but it doesn’t happen. Keep up good work.

in response to “Gov’t Spending on Welfare Soon Will Top Education
Add your thought MLH said:

Here’s my question. Why have our elected officials failed to protect funds (to the tune of $700+ million) for public education but found funding for private prisons? The state ended its budget year with a surplus 3x larger than anticipated. The governor and members of our state legislature refuse to restore funds to K-12 schools and our state universities when there has been a surplus.

According to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, the state legislature and governor cut $767 million to the Department of Education along with $279 million to the School Facilities Board from FY 2008 through the current fiscal year. Lawmakers permanently eliminated once funded full-day kindergarten in FY 2011.

In addition, the current temporary sales tax expires May 2013, a loss of $610 million in school funding beginning August 2013. Without funding, there will be less teachers and even larger class sizes.

We are tired of politicians who say they support education but their voting records show otherwise.

Our little ones cannot vote, and for their sake, we need to protect education funding for their generation and future generations. Yes on Prop 204.

in response to “Gov’t Spending on Welfare Soon Will Top Education
Add your thought Steve Muratore said:

I suspect that use of only safety net programs as a measure of “shelling out more on the repercussions of poverty than on trying to prevent it in the first place…” perhaps understates the problem. Public safety and corrections/prisons/jail costs likely have some correlation in there somewhere.

in response to “Expenditures Aim at Competitive Few
Add your thought James said:

Why should government entities be shielded from the economic realities that productive businesses have to face? When a company gets in financial difficulty it doesn’t have the option of extracting more money from people at the point of a gun (which is ultimately what taxes are). No, a business has to make changes that either increase revenue or reduce costs or some combination thereof. The number of jobs at my company is not protected or guaranteed. It rises and falls as economic and business conditions change. Why do so many people believe that governmentt should be any different? If education were a competitive, free-market, places like District [?] would go out of business if they continued to do less (educating) with more (taxes) and those entities that provided the best value to their customers would prosper.

in response to “ASU, UA Could Do More to Spur Innovation Economy
Add your thought Richard Gilman said:

Dr. Gerner should know of which he speaks. Gerner, a longtime professor of cellular and molecular medicine at the University of Arizona, was director of the Arizona Cancer Center’s gastrointestinal program. Honored by the UA with its 2010 Innovation Award, he today is a professor emeritus. His discoveries led to the founding of Cancer Prevention Pharmaceuticals, which last month was named a winner of the Arizona Innovation Challenge sponsored by the Arizona Commerce Authority.

in response to “Five Districts Could Alter Composition of Legislature
Add your thought Harrison Shirley said:

Let’s just say the outcome of 2012 will be quite a surprise to the AIRC members, especially Herrera.

in response to “Community Commentary
MLH said:

The only hope is that the new finalized maps will be competitive. The voters do NOT want legislators responsible for drawing their own districts.

Ideally, congressional and legislative district maps would reflect the results of the most recent census. The concept of one-person, one-vote dictates that districts should be roughly equal in population.

On August 17th, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor addressed the Independent Redistricting Commission. Justice O’Connor praised the volunteer members of the Independent Redistricting Commission for their civic service.

Now, Governor Brewer and the GOP majority in the state cry “gross misconduct” to oust the IRC chair. The rush by Secretary of State Ken Bennett to call the November 1st special session in the Governor’s absence is the epitome of a miscarriage of justice.

The 21 AZ legislators responsible for the ousting should stand accused of “gross misconduct” for ignoring the voters’ will.

The question is: Will the AZ Supreme Court rule in Mathis’ favor to rule her removal as illegal?

If not, who will apply to serve on the IRC?

The Commission on Appellate Court Appointments is seeking applicants who are registered as Independent voters to serve on the Independent Redistricting Commission. Residents of all Arizona counties are eligible to apply, so long as they are registered voters, but not registered as either a Republican or Democrat. Those who have held or run for public office (other than a school board); worked as a registered, paid lobbyist; or served as an officer of a political party, or on a candidate’s campaign committee also are disqualified from consideration.

Applications must be submitted by 5 p.m. Nov. 15. Forms are available at or by calling 602-452-3311.

in response to “Community Commentary
State Rep. John Kavanagh said:

To the comment by the Arizona Eagletarian:

My post did not mention “crimes.” Violations of the open meeting law are civil offenses, although reporter Howie Fischer did once suggest that Mathis may have engaged in criminal bid rigging, which is criminal.

However, a civil violation of the open meeting law involving behind the scenes vote polling is, in my opinion, an example of the gross misconduct that triggers the removal of an IRC member, as per the Arizona constitution. Democrat Senator David Shapira agrees with that statement. (Go to:

in response to “A Few Helpful Pointers for IRC’s Next Chairperson
Add your thought State Rep. Brenda Barton said:

Once upon a time at the beginning of this century, the voters created the Independent Redistricting Commission…and, as fate would have it, the commission did its work. Of course not everyone was pleased with the outcomes, but generally the commission maintained the public confidence and trust in the process. The results of its work however were challenged through the legal process… and eventually after a few years of legal dancing, the congressional and legislative districts were born and, we all lived happily ever after.

That is until 2011 when by law and custom a new census was taken and the redistricting process began once again.

Oddly enough, the original premise of redistricting by appointed commissioners who were appointed by appointees who were appointed by two past governors no longer in office has never been constitutionally tested.

We are after all, guaranteed by the the national and state constitutions a “republican” (small ‘r’) or representative form of government. Is it representative when three out of five appointees appointed by appointees appointed by governors no longer in office draw the political lines of a state?

As it is today, there is absolutely no accountability to the people for the outcome of the current process! Amazing isn’t it? If the maps were not challenged legally, there would be no recourse of redress by the people regarding the districts of the next 10 years.

The “old way” (through the Legislature who are elected by the voters), left those who created the lines the year before at risk of being ousted less than a year later if the voters didn’t like the outcome. Consider that is the representatives of the people followed the legal parameters of a political district (communities of interest, compactness, contiguous and of equal populations) we would have the job completed. AND! If the voters didn’t like the maps, those who drew the lines would quickly reap the wrath of the voters less than 12 months later.

Competitiveness and ‘minority-majorities’ were never envisioned or considered a part of redistricting. The entire purpose of “reapportionment” was to insure the premise of “One man/woman, one vote” or equal representation. Never were equal outcomes or districts engineered to insure “competitiveness”.

Competitiveness has historically been considered in the arena of ideas, not mapping by strategic demographic political experts.

in response to “A Few Helpful Pointers for IRC’s Next Chairperson
Add your thought State Rep. John Kavanagh said:

A few more “pointers” might be appropriate. Such as:

1. Do not call other members and broker votes behind closed doors in violation of the open meeting law, especially on critical votes involving the selection of the mapping firm. And do not offer to vote for another members position as a quid pro quo for a current vote on your issue.

2. When the Attorney General, while acting in his official capacity, asks you to explain allegations of law-breaking, answer honestly instead of “lawyering up” because it looks bad.

3. When the governor notifies you that she is concerned about the allegations and asks for the explanation that she is constitutionally entitled to, send her a real answer as opposed to a well-parsed letter obviously prepared by a lawyer that says very little.

in response to “Community Commentary
Monica Manning said:

The events of the past few days, concluding with the ouster of the commission chair, have surely confirmed for me as a newcomer to Arizona that you selected well in choosing the creation of the redistricting commission as a lens for understanding Arizona politics. Your advice for anyone seeking to replace the ousted chair captures well the politics of redistricting as well as the politics of Arizona. We’re never going to get politics out of politics, but surely we can do better to bring some clear thinking to the politics of the day. Seems to me that is what Thinking Arizona is aiming to do.

in response to “Community Commentary
Jones said:

We used to have the Legislature draw the boundaries. THE CITIZENS amended the AZ Constitution for the IRC process. The AZ LEGISLATURE appointed and approved the members. NOW, Gov Jan, Senators Russell and Frank are unhappy. THIS IS THE REASON the voters changed the Constitution. Let’s hope the AZ Supreme Court sees this as unconstitutional and we MOVE FORWARD with the redistricting.

in response to “Community Commentary
Pres Winslow said:

Competitive legislative districts, combined with a shift to a “top two” priimary system would set the stage for, but not guarantee, more centrist elected officials and policies. In State Rep races, the one-third non-affiliated voters could, for example, vote for a moderate Democrat and a moderate Republican. This would empower the non-affiliated voters and provide an incentive for them to participate in primaries as swing voters. Centrists can’t win office unless they first advance to the general election.

in response to “One Term, Different Ends
Add your thought Richard Gilman said:

The denominator used for each state is its population. That’s a readily available figure to “normalize” for differences in size. But obviously it includes every man, woman and child. The number of taxpayers in each state, and the percentage they represent of the state’s population, would be very interesting to know. But that’s a very difficult number to know or calculate. Many people pay at least some sales tax over the course of the year; fewer file a tax return, and so on. I’m not sure we can hypothesize that Arizona has more or less.

in response to “Arizona Revenues Fall Below Most States
Add your thought Richard Gilman said:

David is right, this is an important consideration. In Arizona’s case though, it doesn’t cause things to change all that much. The story notes that the per capita income for Arizonans in 2009 was $34,304. That ranks 37th in the country. When one uses that information to calculate the ratio of state taxes paid to income earned, Arizona’s ranking relative to other states improves to 40th in the country.

in response to “Civil Discourse Needs Right Aim
Add your thought Monica Manning said:

I hope you will send an e-mail blast about this column. It’s definitely worth it. Since reading it on Tuesday morning, I’ve both reflected on it and returned to it for a second reading. Two points which stand out for me: First, David Brooks’ comment on how “truth” is perceived. He is on target that those who are sure they have the truth have no desire to find compromise. And those who are uncertain about what the truth might be often choose to avoid the dialogue because they feel they are not prepared. We have forgotten that politics is about compromise and instead see it as only about power. Second, and much more hopeful, is your suggestion of framing issues in terms that transcend the usual partisan divide. That has really left me thinking about some of the tough issues, e.g., abortion. In Minnesota, I watched several thoughtful, respected political leaders make the effort to find where “common ground” might be on this issue, but it didn’t go anywhere. Framing the issues in new ways takes a lot of thought, but it may well be worth the effort. Thinking Arizona is serving an important purpose, not just in attempting the framing but challenging the rest of us to join in.

in response to “Film Advocates Another Way
Add your thought Nuria Alcayaga said:

Mr. Carter has identified an important issue, but has turned it inside out. The existing districts were designed by the majority of the previous IRC members, being the two Republicans and Mr. Lynn, who voted with them 98% of the time. Maximizing democratic voters into a few districts is not a Republican tactic, it is a Republican strategy. The facts he cites is not a Democratic advantage, it is a Democratic disadvantage. He must understand that?

in response to “Plowing New Ground
Add your thought Susie Burns Cole said:

Richard, so happy to see that you’re back sitting on the “right side” of the typewriter; I mean computer. (Gosh we’re old.) You have always been a gifted journalist, and “thinking arizona” is a perfect forum for unbiased news on AZ politics. I look forward to reading, and perhaps writing some articles for “thinking Arizona.” This is a win-win for writers and readers!

in response to “Plowing New Ground
Add your thought Minnette Burges said:

Richard, welcome back to Tucson, and thank you for your commitment to the goals of Thinking Arizona. Your work of journalistic “plowing” in lieu of “flash” is important, and a significant contribution to current Arizona policy and politics. Congratulations on this complex endeavor! Minnette Burges

in response to “Four Swing Districts Bisect Phoenix
Add your thought Wes said:

Arizona benefits from this new site. Thanks. Gerrymandering has a long history and it’s one unfortunate aspect of partisanship that seeks to gain all it can while in power. The next round of redistricting needs advocates now who will fight for natural and more equal district boundaries.

in response to “Four Swing Districts Bisect Phoenix
Add your thought ThinkingArizona said:

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