Arizona Ballot Prop 109 – Hunting as a Right

It is a certainty that any government agency changes over time. The mission expands, changes, and sometimes is commandeered by a different constituency – often at odds with the original mission.

These ideas were probably in the minds of the authors of Prop 109 – the measure that, is passed by the people, would establish hunting as a constitutional right in the State of Arizona. The Arizona Department of Game and Fish was formed in 1929 to, well, manage game and fish. It was funded by the sale of licenses. Today, it manages “wildlife”, and in addition to license fees receives Heritage Fund money (until recently) from the state lottery.

A few years ago, Arizona Game and Fish was caught flatfooted when anti-hunting groups, through a ballot prop, banned trapping on public land – effectively ending trapping in Arizona. Whether or not one approves of trapping is irrelevant in regards to the point at hand. Hunting in Arizona now faced the subtle threat of Game and Fish receiving funding outside the hunting community, and the overt threat of the initiative process.

It should then be no surprise that people who wish to preserve hunting are responding in kind to the ballot prop threat – specifically, Prop 109. This, of course, has sent the anti-hunting crowd into a hissy fit. They are about to seen their weapon rendered much weaker, unless they defeat Prop 109.

The defeat of 109 is a problem. Most people are not all that concerned with hunting, nor do they have an aversion to it. They are certainly not going to get excited over defeating a referendum that will have no affect on them. The hunters, on the other hand, who feel under the gun (so to speak) will come out in droves to pass it. What to do?

Well, as luck would have it, there is a standard approach to getting disinterested people to go along. First, change the issue. Make it about “your voting rights”, a “power grab by politicians”, the “voting rights of citizens” – anything broad, scary, and different than the actual issue. the NOon109.com crowd these phrases in a pamphlet – I picked one up at a local vegetarian restaurant. By changing the subject to one with a broader appeal, they have a chance at defeating the measure.

Having broken the bonds of facts and truth regarding the nature of the measure, it is now easy to lie about the specifics. It has been said that “the best lie is the half-lie”. Here’s an example, “Management of wildlife practices would no longer be based on scientific expertise, but on partisan politics.” The implication is that Game and Fish will be subject to oversight by the legislature – which is true, and that this is a fundamental change – which is false, the legislature always exercised oversight of Game and Fish.

Anyway, a picture is worth a thousand words. Here are two:

The city declined all-mail voting– but unfortunately, the issue will return

 

This was originally published in the Tucson Weekly

It appears that our City Council has negotiated a deal with the Eastborne Company. They plan to put in a huge development that will include a tract of KB Homes houses, a retail complex (complete with a “big box”), and, of course, some University of Arizona “park” of some sort. It will be located in the South Park neighborhood near Park and 36th. But hey, at least we got rid of those dang Republicans on the City Council who suck up to KB Homes, change zoning for rich developers, and allow more of those awful “big box” stores! (Har, har, har, chortle, chortle).

While most council business goes on as usual, our elected representatives were flirting with a new and very wicked idea – all mail-in voting. Thankfully, in the course of Tuesday evening’s meeting, the idea was officially abandoned …for now. Unfortunately, mail-in voting, like “light rail” and herpes, never really goes away. Remember, too, that if they do it in the Emerald City (Portland, Oregon), the Democrats will want to do it here.

This time, the discussion avoided the real issue, and focused on pragmatic problems such as Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance. Frankly, I would be tempted to tell the swinging Richard from Washington to shove it – but that’s just me. The City Clerk is faced with the huge headache of bringing all polling places into compliance. Of course, if most of the polling places went away, so would the headache. Expect support from City Clerk Kathy Detrick next time around.

The elephant in the voting booth, about which no one is speaking, is fraud. You know, we have had pens, paper, and a postal system for over two hundred years, yet we go to the voting booths to cast our votes. Why is that?

Here’s a hint. When you are in the booth, you are alone with the ballot, you mark it, and then you put it in a locked box that is guarded by people from both parties. It’s called a “secret ballot”. Secret ballots are important because they insure that your vote reflects your choice, and not that of your spouse, employer, union representative, landlord, etc. Get it? Why do you suppose that the poll worker will not touch your ballot, and makes you put it in the box yourself?

Some say that making voting easy would encourage more participation. We already have mail-in voting on demand with the absentee ballots – but we know it’s not about participation; it’s about the F-word.

The Motor-Voter law made registering as easy as breaking wind, and now taxpayers from Hyannis to San Francisco are spending big bucks trying to remove fraudulent registrations from the voter rolls.

A number of ACORN people were indicted in St. Louis for submitting fraudulent registrations (it’s still against the law, even for Democrats). Voting by mail is an invitation for similar shenanigans a little further along in the process. There is an ACORN chapter in Tucson, by the way.

There was an election recently in which voters resoundingly defeated a ballot initiative that would have created a statewide mail-in voting scheme. In light of this fact, one would imagine that mail-in voting would now be the “third rail” of Arizona politics. Facilitating fraud must be one heck of a motivation.

One last thing, and this is something that every American knows at a gut level (Tom Danehy will back me on this). Voting with a secret ballot is the most important civic duty that a citizen can perform. It is a right that should be exercised with some gravity. It is not the equivalent of mailing in a magazine subscription – 5 years for $50.00, 2 years for $30.00, 1 year for $20.00, Libertarian, Republican, Democrat. If you increase the turnout fifty per cent with voters who do not take the decision seriously, have you improved the process, or cheapened it?

So, the next time that this mail-in vote stuff comes around, call your Councilman and tell him to knock it off, and get back to greasing the skids for developers and building “big boxes” on the South Side.

Those who delight in the Dems’ implosion need to watch what the other hand is doing

This was originally published in the Tucson Weekly 
Many conservatives, Republicans and others have taken solace in the goofy antics of Ted Kennedy, Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats on the national stage. The feeling is that, in alienating mainstream America, they are hurting themselves and their cause.

But Republicans should not become too complacent. When a magician performs a sleight-of-hand trick, he keeps your attention on one of his hands while the other does the trick.

The McCain-Feingold legislation did not get “big money” out of politics, but it did change the flow. Now the “soft” money must be routed through entities such as Moveon.org and America Coming Together. These organizations steer the big bucks essential to the Democrats and provide the agitprop that keeps the base engaged (some might say “crazed”). This is one reason that the national Democrats often appear deranged when they speak–they are pandering to those who hold the purse strings.

The same is true of Republicans, but to a lesser degree–they do far better with the tightly regulated “hard money” than do the Democrats.

This suck-up goes one way. These Leftist groups see the Democrat leadership as wimpy sell-outs. If you go to www.moveon.org or www.dailykos.com, you’ll find no pictures of prominent Democrats or reports on their activities. You will see a big emphasis on grassroots activities–recruitment appeals, local action plans, profiles of regular people in the trenches, etc.

So, while the Democrat leaders are flailing their arms and screaming (the hand you are supposed to watch), the Leftist groups with the money, propaganda and human resources are ignoring the national scene while focusing on municipalities and state legislatures (the hand you do not see).

I found an example of this new strategy of the Left in an organization called Progressive Majority, based in Washington, D.C. (www.progressivemajority.org). On their Web site, they stated, “In this political cycle, Progressive Majority will provide early seed money for promising progressive candidates running for local and state (non-federal) office.” Note the pointed denial of support for anything national.

Will this think-national, act-local approach work? Well, it did here. Last October, true to its word, Progressive Majority contributed $5,000 to Tucsonans for Accountable Government, an “independent” campaign committee that ran negative ads against Republicans Kathleen Dunbar and Fred Ronstadt. Combine that with money from the Service Employees International Union and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), and you can generate a lot of ill will.

As of this writing, the home page of Progressive Majority features a photograph of Karin Uhlich (one of two “progressive” Democratic freshmen on the Tucson City Council) taken at the election night celebration at Club Congress. The caption reads, “… Karin’s win is an important step for both the LGBT community and for progressives nationwide.” (Emphasis added.)

So what does this mean for the Old Pueblo? One can only speculate. I suspect that our freshman council members are bigger ideologues than they would have us believe. Watch their hands closely, or they may perform some sleight of hand that takes your money, property and rights, and–“POOF”–makes them disappear.

The fiscal conservative must wonder: Is this the era of the Old Pueblo Politburo?

This was originally published in the Tucson Weekly 

Many moons ago, I watched a Tucson City Council meeting on television. At the time, the proceedings consisted of Tom Volgy engaging in wild rants about how Mayor Lew Murphy was the villain, while Lew Murphy placidly accommodated him. I could stomach little more than 10-minute doses of that circus.Nowadays, I am much older and mellower, and I can actually sit through things as appalling as Fahrenheit 911. Yet, it was with some trepidation that I hit the “PLAY” button, launching the Tucson City Council meeting of Dec. 13.Mayor “Uncle Bob” Walkup began the proceedings by turning them over to Councilman-for-Life Steve Leal. Steve introduced a well-choreographed show organized by the Pima County Interfaith Council (PCIC). The show opened with some guy listing all of PCIC’s affiliate churches. As they were named, people in the audience would stand and hold up signs.

The guy stressed that the needs of “our children and youth” were of utmost importance.

I figured he must have a huge family to resort to begging the council; then I realized that he was actually laying claim to all the children and youth in Tucson! Had I any children, I would have been deeply offended by his laying claim to my kids without even talking to me about it.

If you get a chance, go to the PCIC Web site and click the “issues” button. The list of issues is little different than that which you might find on the ACORN Web site–or any other leftist front-group’s, for that matter. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

A string of guys went to the microphone and offered encouragement, and anecdotes that supported the idea that “our children and youth” would be saved if huge sums of tax money were dumped into PCIC social programs and KIDCO.

At first, I felt rather sorry for these guys, who were reduced to begging the City Council for money. It makes one wonder about the quality of their programs. Then I noticed that they were exhibiting no shame whatsoever. In fact, on more than one occasion, they made reference to “this council” with gleams in their eyes. It was as if they were saying, “We know you guys will reach into other people’s pockets for us!”

The council tossed $500,000 to PCIC for Jobpath. Next came a discussion of KIDCO. What the acronym represents, I have no idea, but I do know that KIDCO is the city of Tucson’s after-school child-care service. During the election, the Democrats expressed disgust over the fact that it was nearly free to poor people, and rich people had to pay a token fee.

I think it was during the KIDCO discussion that Nina Trasoff said, “I want to change the vocabulary. I don’t see local law enforcement as the Tucson Police Department. I see it as the Ministry of Love.”

Just kidding. I made that up. She really said, “… change the vocabulary. … I don’t see Jobpath, or KIDCO, or other programs we’re discussing right now as social service projects. I see them as investments in our future.”

Cheers erupted from the PCIC peeps. Note to Nina: The campaign’s over!

All agreed that, without expanding KIDCO, the youth of today would develop into unemployed criminals, because they would be aimlessly wandering the streets after school. Frankly, I had no idea that there were so many parentless children in Tucson, but that would explain why the city does not simply give parents vouchers to use at the child-care center of their choice. After all, it’s not the job of the city to crush the local day-care industry.

In the end, they voted to eliminate the KIDCO waiting lists. I’m not sure what that means, but I don’t think it simply means that the lists are headed for the shredder.

At this point, I was beginning to experience a significant increase in my respiration, and a tightening in my stomach. I kept telling myself, “This is not political payoffs; this is not the beginning of an orgy of inappropriate municipal spending; this is not a vanguard of churches that have abandoned the transforming power of Christ for the transforming power of socialism.” But the gut was not buying it.

I reached out and punched the button that read “STOP.”

A view of democracy in action – and it isn’t pretty

This was originally published in the Tucson Weekly 
My first candidate forum of this season was sponsored by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). For those of you not familiar with ACORN, let’s just say that it is an alarmingly successful grassroots organization that exploits poor urban people in its quest to institute far-left public policies at the municipal level–though I’m sure that they would not describe themselves in those terms.The event was scheduled for 6 p.m. at the El Rio Neighborhood Center–a huge facility. There were no signs directing people to the event, and no one present to open the room. Candidates Nina Trasoff, Karin Uhlich and Steve Farley (who’s no longer a candidate after losing to Trasoff in the primary) were milling around outside, along with a couple of TV camera crews. Fred Ronstadt did not attend.

Kathleen Dunbar had to attend a meeting with Ward 3 leaders and the new city manager.

Dunbar asked for a rescheduling of the forum a month prior to the event, but she was not accommodated. She sent Brad Lang to the forum to answer any questions as to why she was not attending. This was a wise move on the part of Dunbar, as it denied the Democrats an opportunity to attack her while she could not respond. In the end, it mattered not, since approximately twice as many citizens as candidates attended (and only half of the then-candidates were there).

A lovely and charming young woman named Danielle appeared sporting an appropriately colored red T-shirt with the ACORN logo promoting the “Living Wage.” She introduced herself to everyone and explained that there would be a delay because she forgot to bring the receipt for the room rental, and the El Pueblo people were not about to unlock the door without it.

Steve Farley split around 6:20 p.m.

Councilman-for-Life Steve Leal, looking a little like a bushy-haired version of Huey Long, ambled over from the parking lot at about 6:30 p.m. The doors opened at 6:35.

Now, say what you like about Leal, but he’s “down” with the candidate thing. He shows up at the right time, dresses right and sits at the correct end of the table (the far-left end, from my perspective). His voice is deep and clear, and perfectly modulated. It has a disarming softness, with pauses that are perfectly timed. He makes the most reprehensible notions sound matter-of-fact.

If he ever leaves Democrat politics, he could make a fortune heading a cult.

With only three candidates, all Democrats, the forum began. Danielle instructed the candidates to each, in turn, give a two-minute introduction of themselves. Steve Leal got into issues, took five minutes, and then apologized for going over time. (Nice!) Karin Uhlich and Nina Trasoff presented themselves well, though they both looked liked smiling Terminators when they turned their heads side-to-side to make eye contact with all six people in the audience.

Steve Leal stole the show. His ability to play the candidate was outstanding, though I wish I could say as much about his notions of municipal government. For example, he favors our local socialistic system of campaign financing in which candidates get a government grant for their war chest concomitant with their voluntary citizen donations. He actually said, “I would rather be indebted to everybody,” (slow the pace, make a slow encompassing arm gesture, pause) “rather than a few rich people” (turn head, smile, perfect!). So, voluntary contributions from the people don’t obligate you to the people; city-government “matching funds” do … interesting.

What really made me see red was his idea to take a few years of business-license revenue and give it back to the small businesses on Grant Road in the form of new store fronts. Hey Steve, if the city really doesn’t need the money, let the shops keep it! They just might know the best way to apply it to their respective businesses–trust me on this one!

The problem with arrogant politicians is that they see their constituents as wards, not as peers. I’m not suggesting that Leal does not love the people of Tucson; I’m saying he doesn’t respect us. History teaches that an arrogant politician’s loving hand will, eventually, become a chainmail fist.

Mayor Walkup’s Lesson

In a close race – the margin of victory was approximately 1400 votes – Mayor Bob Walkup narrowly defeated challenger Tom Volgy in this year’s mayoral race. Though Mr. Walkup maintained his air of casual confidence, it is unlikely that he exhaled until days after the election, when the final tally was certified. What a change from four years ago, when he trounced Molly McKasson in the same race! Do you think he wonders about that? For the sake of his own political career, he should.

One could point to the fact that Bob Walkup was a virtual unknown four years ago, and now that he has a four year track record he is vulnerable to criticism, but that does not tell the whole story.

Nervous Republicans might suggest that Mr. Volgy was a better, or at least a different, candidate than Ms. McKasson. In reality, however, one would be hard pressed to find two candidates more similar. Both had a long local political history, both served on the Tucson City Council, both had great name recognition, and both were seen by many as Leftist Democrats (I admit that, with the retirement of Zell Miller, this term has become a redundancy). Both suffered from reputations of being arrogant and whiney. Granted, Mr. Volgy did not have fellow Democrats campaigning against him as Ms. McKasson did, but that alone does not explain his near victory.

Delusional Democrats may claim that the local party is finally shaping up. This is clearly wishful thinking. The local Democrat Party was foundering then, and it is foundering still. As recently as two years ago, the only two contested Council seats, Wards III and VI, were won handily by Republicans Kathleen Dunbar and Fred Ronstadt, respectively. The fact that they chose to run, or rerun, Mr. Volgy this time around shows a distinct lack of both vigor and vision.

What role did “issues” play in the change? None, Tucson’s issues are perennial. Transportation, jobs, and growth are addressed by the candidates of every local election. This year the transportation issue manifested itself as propositions 200 and 201; in the last election cycle it was Grade Separated Intersections (GSI’s) which were renamed Continuos Flow Intersections (CFI’s) – I assume the name change had nothing to do with sexual undertones, but I’m not a marketing expert.

A better question than “What changed this time?” is “Who changed this time?” The answer to that question is the same as the answer to the following: Who suffered the greatest betrayal at the hands of Bob Walkup? Bob Walkup engaged in much shameless lying to constituents when running against Ms. McKasson in 1999, but none suffered from these lies more than the liberty crowd; and the best example of this mistreatment can be found in his dealings with the gun rights people.

While campaigning in 1999, Bob Walkup attended a meeting of the Firearms Action Committee of Tucson (FACT). He gave a good speech to those attending, many of whom made individual donations to his campaign. He spoke with Ken Rineer, the “Rosa Parks” of Tucson, and said that he admired Ken for his work in challenging the ordinance banning guns in City Parks (Ken Rineer arranged to be arrested in order to challenge the ban in court). He shook Rineer’s hand, patted him on the back, and said that, if elected, he would take Ken’s side on the issue. FACT contributed $100 to Walkup’s campaign.

Bob Walkup scooped up the money, left the FACT meeting, and never looked back. After he was elected, he not only failed to support Ken, but also actively worked against Ken in his legal battle. Ken lost his case on appeal, so he shifted his efforts to the State Legislature, where he sought to clarify the principle of State preemption regarding gun laws. Not satisfied with his local victory, Mayor Walkup pursued Ken at the state level by hiring a lobbyist to fight against him in the Legislature. His efforts did not end there. He went to heroic lengths to shut down the gun shows at the Tucson Convention Center; again, taking it to the state level when he failed locally.

Fast forward to election time 2003. What must those of us in the Liberty Movement do? The answer is both simple and clear: reward politicians who defend and protect the Constitution, and punish those who do not. In short, punish Bob Walkup. How is this done? Ken Rineer, in an opinion piece that was circulated widely in the rights community before the election, had a solution. He pointed out that politicians, more than anything else, need votes. Not voting for Walkup would deny him one vote, but voting for Volgy would deny him two.

At first blush, this strategy may seem counter-productive in that a worse candidate, Volgy, might win. Let’s take look at that. Is a stand up, honest, anti-rights mayor worse than a smiling, shake-your-hand-pat-on-the-back anti-rights con man mayor? I think not; and, I can’t imagine Volgy working harder against rights than Walkup did in his first term. Whether or not a worse mayor is elected as a result of this strategy is irrelevant. It is imperative that a political price be paid by the deceiver. Ken Rineer went to the polls and voted for Tom Volgy with a clear conscience, as did I, and as did thousands more.

It was the meting out of punishment to the guilty, by people in the Liberty Movement, that changed the mayoral election from a landslide for Walkup in 1999 to a coin toss in 2003. It is imperative for Mayor Walkup, and all elected officials, to understand this lesson. They ignore it at their own peril.