Sunday, November 30, 2008

Fees, ORVs pushing national forest visitation down

Mt. Lemmon AZ: Forest fees keeping people away from their public lands.

TUCSON -- Less people are visiting America's national forests, says the US Forest Service.

Increasing forest fees and related hassles, like on southern Arizona's Coronado National Forest in the Santa Catalina Mountains (aka Mt. Lemmon), Sabino Canyon, Madera Canyon and other places, are part of the reason people stay home, especially families and lower income people.

Forest Service mismanagement and noisy, reckless off-roaders, which the Forest Service has unwisely encouraged in recent years, are another big problem.

'Wreck'reation: Reckless off-roaders often violate forests closed to ORVs, running off everyone else.

James Johnston, a policy analyst and Forest Service employee advocate in Oregon, spent the last year camping out in 67 national forests and talking to 400 people. He concluded that while fewer people may be using the woods, fewer trails and campgrounds are open and there are more people riding noisy off-road vehicles.

"They think that it's harder to find solitude," he said. Sadly, he's right.

Three ways the Obama-Biden administration should reform the Forest Service are:

1. Move the Forest Service from the US Dept. of Agriculture to Interior, where most of the other US conservation-related agencies are.

2. Appoint US Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ) as Secretary of Interior. He currently serves as Chairman of the US House subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands.

3. Reform and refocus the Forest Service toward conservation and sustainability.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mining boom in AZ is busted crashing economies

Abandoned 'business district' in mining town Clifton AZ.

MORENCI AZ -- Based on a proven track record since the 1800's, mining in the American west is often accurately described as 'boom and bust'.

Right now, big mining corporations are again hurting people and towns with massive job cuts. The mining 'boom' we hear now is crashing local economies as mining goes 'bust' again, after leaving communities with a new round of land destruction and pollution.

Were a similar percentage of Freeport-McMoRan's (FCX) high paid executives and white-collar workers laid off at the corporation's deluxe HQ, as were blue-collar workers sacked at the mines? Doubt it.

Friday, November 28, 2008

AZ leaders must protect, not axe, education funds

AZ's kids need a Governor and Legislature who will work to protect education.

PHOENIX -- Incoming Arizona Senate President Bob Burns (R-Peoria) said this week it's 'obvious' we need to cut education because 'we have overspent, obviously significantly overspent.' Yet, with Arizona already unacceptably next to last in the nation in per pupil funding, there is little to nothing to cut.

With all due respect to Mr. Burns, he is wrong on this. The State of Arizona has underfunded education, much to the harm of our economy, children and future generations. Education (and health care) are the last places we should look for cuts, not the first.

How about bringing back the education equalization property assessment, as earlier agreed, and looking hard at streamlining the bloated prison budget, Mr. Burns? How about a real attempt at solving Arizona's revenue problems?

Due to already stressed budgets, Principal Teri Melendez of TUSD must try to run two schools this year.

As a State Representative who went to public schools and has a daughter now in Tucson public schools, I listen to teachers, parents and students, and I will do all I can to try to protect public education from drastic cuts as a first budget balancing option. I will work wisely with all who value education, including moderate Republicans, and our incoming House Democratic leader, David Lujan (D-Phoenix), who says, 'let's protect education as much as we possibly can.'

The likely extreme Republican attacks on public education are just one more critical reason why Arizonans need Gov. Janet Napolitano (D) to stay in office and not go to DHS in Washington. Without her helping negotiate the budget, and her veto pen if needed, the reckless self-proclaimed 'conservatives' may be out of control at the State Capitol for the next two years.

Everyone knows this will be a tough budget year, but there's nothing 'conservative' about slashing public education funding first, that approach is radical and unwise.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

NFL should improve big Thanksgiving game

Rematch Super Bowl teams, not Lions every Thanksgiving.

TUCSON -- I'm just relaxing at home with the family today. Nice cool rainy day in the Sonoran Desert. Our house smells tasty with the cooking food. I'm having a very thankful day, and I hope you are too.

I like and used to play football, so as I wait for our visitors, I'm watching the NFL's traditional Thanksgiving game shown nationally from Detroit. But it is not a good game. The Lions are down to Tennessee by 34 in the 4th quarter, and most of the fans have left the stadium, but still the viewers must suffer until the bitter end.

I'm an old Lions fan, but they are almost always bad, and should have to earn back the holiday spotlight. The NFL could ensure competitive Thanksgiving games by having the main event always feature the two teams that played in the last Super Bowl, hosted by the winning team. With this plan, today we would see Patriots v. Giants as the main game from New York. If the Lions make the Super Bowl, then they can again play in the big game the following Thanksgiving.

Cardinals v. Eagles tonight from Philadelphia should be a better game than what we are seeing from Detroit. Go Arizona! Too bad this better game is not as widely shown.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Arizona wild turkey success for Thanksgiving

Gould's Mexican turkeys on the rebound in southeastern AZ.

TUCSON -- I am thankful for many things, especially my family, health and success, and also for the recovery of Arizona's native Gould's Mexican turkey in the Sky Islands region.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Feds opt not to protect Mexican gartersnake in SW

Don't tread on me. Photo by Tom Brennan.

TUCSON -- The northern Mexican gartersnake (Thamnophis eques megalops) needs protection in Arizona and the southwest, but won't get it soon as the outgoing Bush-Cheney US Fish and Wildlife Service is choosing to not add it to the endangered species list, instead declaring it only a candidate for protection, which is usually the list where politically ignored wildlife species go to wait and die.

The northern Mexican gartersnake is part of our southwestern natural heritage, and is primarily endangered by loss of wetlands, streams, springs and other riparian areas, and also invasive bullfrogs.

The Obama-Biden Interior Department should take quick action to protect the snake and candidate species.

OTHER COVERAGE: Payson Roundup.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Many big utilities fear US energy conservation

Save, America.

TUCSON -- We keep hearing from talking heads that America must generate more power, but the truth is most Americans are wisely using less electricity. That's a positive change. Energy conservation helps people save money and protect our environment.

Despite the good news, too many big energy corporations quietly have a dim view of energy conservation, instead favoring unsustainable and wasteful growth of power consumption.

Less travel expected this holiday due to economy

Snowy Santa Catalina Mountains.

TUCSON -- Taking a trip this Thanksgiving week? My family and I are not. We've decided to stay in wonderful southern Arizona and enjoy a few days off work and school.

Travel watchers are predicting less travel by Arizonans this holiday season due to the down economy.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

America and Arizona needs economic justice now

Poverty in colonias, Pima County AZ

TUCSON -- With unemployment and foreclosures worsening again in Arizona, and home values still going down, the suffering of too many Arizonans is growing as this bad economy gets worse.

So far, the bailouts and stimuli seem focused on protecting only select big corporations and white-collar workers in banking and finance, not the majority of working people who are hurting, unemployed and losing their houses. Where is the help for working families?

The time for economic justice in Arizona and America is now!

There is some hope, on the federal level, that President-elect Barack Obama gets it and will do all he can to help, but that may not have big enough effects at the state and local level, where most people need and get essential government services.

As a working family man and State Representative-elect (D-district 29), I can relate. I am already working hard to respectfully build effective relationships across the aisle at the capitol, using my leadership and community experience to build bridges and have the best chance of solving problems and helping people. We must reward hard work, not just wealth, and ensure a better economic future for workers and local business.

But if Gov. Janet Napolitano leaves the office to Sec. of State Jan Brewer, there may be little to stop the extreme 'conservative' excesses of a careless majority in the Arizona legislature. I and others have good ideas to help our economy become more prosperous, diversified and sustainable, but it remains to be seen if we'll have any real chance to have our economic solutions seriously considered. At the state level we could be in for bleak couple of years for working people in Arizona, but I will never stop searching for common ground, nor will I stop working for positive change and economic justice.

Too many Arizonans are cold, hungry and bootless, and if you have no boots, you cannot pull yourself up by your bootstraps.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Learner for Obama's CEQ top environment advisor

Howard Learner would be good at CEQ, and he has my support.

CHICAGO -- Howard Learner is director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, and also a leading candidate for President-elect Barack Obama's Chairman of the influential White House Council on Environmental Quality.

I met Howard in 2007 in northern Michigan at a science and policy conference on global warming and the Great Lakes. We had a good talk then about the environment, politics, Obama and turning America around. I also talked with him this week, and find that he'd be a solid pick for CEQ, which badly needs a shakeup and return to public-interest focus. Learner has known and advised Obama on environmental issues for years.

Before founding ELPC, Learner was the General Counsel of Business and Professional People for the Public Interest, a public interest law center, specializing in complex civil litigation and policy development. Mr. Learner is an Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University Law School, teaching an advanced environmental law seminar. He holds J.D., Harvard Law School, 1980; B.A., Political Science, University of Michigan, 1976.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Rep. Grijalva of AZ for Interior Secretary, seriously

Grijalva for Interior?

TUCSON -- Politico is reporting that our Congressman Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ7) is emerging as a top candidate for Interior Secretary. This is good news, and I encourage President-elect Barack Obama to select him.

I've long recommended Raul as good for this important job, and I hope he gets it.

If Mr. Grijalva becomes Interior Secretary, it is very likely another progressive Democrat would take his seat in Congress, perhaps Richard Elias, Chairman of the Pima County Board of Supervisors.

Contact the Obama transition team with support for Grijalva for Interior.

OTHER COVERAGE: Washington Post; Tucson Citizen; Billie Stanton; New West

Fitz cartoon on Napolitano and truly blue red state

TUCSON -- Fitz's cartoon for today.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Napolitano should say 'no, thanks' on DHS Secretary

Napolitano should finish her responsibilities as Arizona Governor.

PHOENIX -- According to the Washington Post and others, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano is President-elect Barack Obama's choice to serve as secretary of homeland security.

If true, Janet should resist the urge to jump ship at home and join the federal bureaucracy in DC now. She is more influential and powerful as a well known western Governor than she'd likely ever be at DHS.

With high respect for our Governor, I and millions of Arizonans ask her, please, to honor our votes and her responsibility to serve out the next two years of her term as Governor, then join the Obama team in 2010 if that is what they both want.

If she leaves now, she'll be handing control of our state government completely to extreme Republicans, the political situation at the State Capitol will go from tough to dismal, and she may burn political bridges here that would make it difficult for her to ever come back. She would likely always be remembered mostly for leaving Arizonans hanging during tough times. It is much more important to Arizona that she stay and serve out her second term as Governor, to provide a critical check against the far-right-leaning legislature, than it is for her to take the DHS job.

At 51, the Governor still has many political options, but these options may be limited long-term if she abandons Arizona now. If she finishes her commitment as Governor, she could run for Senate in 2010, even if old John McCain tries to run again, and she would have a good chance of winning. In the Senate, she would be much more powerful than DHS Secretary, and she could likely stay there as long as she wants. Some are saying part of why Obama wants Napolitano is to woo McCain with a big favor by getting her out of Arizona.

Janet should know that cabinet posts are usually political dead ends, and effective Secretaries are often thrown under the bus due to politics. She could serve 4-8 years or less at the controversial and troubled DHS and then be done in the political world.

The Obama team is smart enough to know that Napolitano leaving now would be very bad for us here in Arizona. Perhaps they do not care? But they should. Arizona is now the second biggest state in the west, and taking our much needed Governor, especially during these critical tough times, may harm Democratic gains in our important state, and likely make it hard for Obama to win Arizona in 2012.

If the Governor is offered and takes the DHS job, I wish her the best and offer my help. We'll be watching to see what she does to end the Real ID legal exemptions so badly abused by Bush-Cheney-Chertoff DHS, and we'll be saying, "Mr. Obama, tear down this wall!"

OTHER COVERAGE: Napolitano Transformed, Border Reporter. Many implications in AZ, CQ Politics. Why Arizona Dems don't want Napolitano at DHS, The New Republic. Homeland futility, Village Voice. Napolitano could win McCain Senate seat, Tucson Citizen column. 'Gov.' Brewer may be hostile, Tucson Citizen. Arizona's loss, AZ Daily Star.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

AZ Rep. Grijalva wins progressive caucus chair

Obama with Grijalva.

TUCSON -- I'm proud to say that my friend and Congressman, Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ7), has been elected as co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Good job, Raul. You've earned it.

Obama puts US back on solving global warming

Scientists say Arizona and the American southwest will continue to get drier and hotter with climate change.

CHICAGO -- Speaking via video to a gathering of world leaders, President-elect Barack Obama said that the continued existence of George Bush as president would prevent him from making the trip to Poland next month for the next round of international global warming and climate change talks. But he'd clearly heard the call for his presence.

Here's a key passage from Obama's video statement:

"Let me also say a special word to the delegates from around the world who will gather in Poland next month: your work is vital to the planet. While I won't be president at the time of your meeting and while the United States has only one president at a time, I've asked members of Congress who are attending the conference as observers to report back to me on what they learn there. And once I take office, you can be sure that the United States will once again engage vigorously in these negotiations, and help lead the world toward a new era of global cooperation on climate change."

Why is Obama's statement such a big deal? Because for eight years the U.S. has been blocking genuine progress on an international climate deal. Now, in the middle of economic crisis and with plenty of other issues to address, President-elect Obama took the time to make a special statement committing the U.S. to positive engagement in the upcoming negotiations. His commitment will be seen as a major breakthrough by countries around the world.

It's a start.

- adapted from Bill McKibben, 350.org

Speaker-elect picks AZ House committee chairs

I will work cooperatively at the Capitol to solve problems, help people and build bridges for positive change.

PHOENIX -- House Speaker-Elect Kirk Adams (R-Mesa) has announced the following standing committee chair appointments for the 49th Legislature, which will begin its work in January 2009.

Appropriations – Representative John Kavanagh
Commerce – Representative Michele Reagan
Education – Representative Rich Crandall
Environment – Representative Ray Barnes
Banking & Insurance – Representative Nancy McLain
Government – Representative Sam Crump
Health & Human Services – Representative Nancy Barto
Public Employees, Retirement & Entitlement Reform – Representative Tom Boone
Judiciary – Representative Adam Driggs
Military Affairs & Public Safety – Representative Jerry Weiers
Natural Resources & Rural Affairs – Representative Bill Konopnicki
Rules – Representative Warde Nichols
Transportation & Infrastructure – Representative Andy Biggs
Water & Energy – Representative Lucy Mason
Ways & Means – Representative Rick Murphy

Speaker-Elect Adams also announced today that Representative Steve Yarbrough will serve as Speaker Pro Tempore.

Specific regular hearing schedules and memberships for the 49th Legislature’s standing committees will be posted publicly as they become available.

- from Speaker-elect Adams news release

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

PEER defends BLM landscape conservation system

Joshua trees and wildflowers in the Mojave Desert.

WASHINGTON -- Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) in DC and California is working at the request of concerned BLM staff to defend the National Landscape Conservation System.

Young leaders: get cash from Do Something Awards

Do Something, win money.

by Jeneiene Schaffer

TUCSON -- The Do Something Awards, formerly the Brick Awards, are designed to provide recognition and funding for young community volunteers. Do Something Award Winners receive a community grant, participation in a special award ceremony, media coverage, and continued support from Do Something.

In the 2009 program, five winners will receive a minimum of $10,000 in community grants and scholarships. (Only winners who are age 18 and under are eligible for a scholarship of $5,000 and a $5,000 community grant; winners age 19-25 receive their entire award in the form of a community grant.) Of the five winners, one will be selected as the grand prize winner, and will receive a total of $100,000 in community grants, paid directly to the nonprofit of his or her choice.

Do Something Award applications go through two stages. First, the Do Something Award Academy (comprised of former winners) reads through all of the applications and selects the finalists. Finalists are flown to New York City for interviews with representatives from the Do Something Award Selection Committee.

The five Do Something Award winners are announced shortly thereafter in Spring 2009. The grand prize winner will be announced in Summer 2009.

Please visit the Do Something Web site for complete program guidelines. For more information on how to support youth in our local communities, please contact Jeneiene Schaffer at jschafferaz(at)gmail.com

Monday, November 17, 2008

Citizens launch Arizona highway 83 website

Visit azhighway83.com

VAIL AZ -- I received this today about a new citizens' website in the AZ highway 83 area, southeast of Tucson.

'This website is devoted to Citizens as well as the visitors to the Vail/Corona/Cienega Corridor and the Empire-Fagan Valley. The goal of this website is to educate the Citizenry of the issues that affect the region and to promote Community Involvement. This region has long been left out of the Planning process of this vital area by outside Governmental Agencies and Large Corporations who do not seem to get that community planning begins with the communities who will be directly impacted...'

There is not much on this site yet, but you may want to watch it if you follow Arizona quality of life issues.

Speak up now to guard Coronado National Forest

Santa Catalina Mountains (aka Mt. Lemmon), part of your Coronado National Forest, near Tucson.

TUCSON -- The quiet, pristine Coronado National Forest and unique, fragile and scenic Sky Island mountain ranges we value could slowly disappear.

Right now, the US Forest Service is resuming public meetings to present draft sections of the revised Forest Management Plan. The new Plan will affect management of the Forest for the next twenty years or more. The Forest Service is seeking input on draft Desired Conditions, on proposed Land Use Zones, and on draft maps of Potential Wilderness. This is your opportunity to speak up for protection of the spectacular Coronado National Forest.

The Coronado Planning Partnership has released a report entitled State of the Coronado National Forest: An Assessment and Recommendations for the 21st Century. Please utilize this great tool to inform yourself about the special values of each mountain range on the Forest and to formulate comments to the Forest service. Ask for a plan that is conservation-based, protects the amazing biological diversity of the Forest, promotes a healthy and resilient Forest, and that protects quiet recreation opportunities. Ask the Forest Service to adopt State of the Coronado and the recommendations contained within, as key components of the new plan. Your input can make a difference.

Please attend public meetings in your area:
• Nogales Ranger District, Nov 17, Monday, 4-7pm, Esplendor Resort, Sonoran Ballroom, 1069 Camino Caralampi, Rio Rico
• Santa Catalina Ranger District, Nov 20, Thursday, 4-7pm, Sheraton Tucson Hotel and Suites, Jr. Ballroom, 5151 E. Grant, Tucson
• Forest-wide, Nov 22, Saturday, 9a-noon, Cochise College, Benson Campus, 1025 State Route 90, Benson

Meetings will be a modified open house format with a short introductory presentation at the top of every hour. If you cannot make these meetings, you can still have input.

Whether in person or in writing, talk to the Forest Service about these critical issues. Quiet Recreation: The majority of Forest visitors travel to the Forest to escape noise and pollution, and engage in quiet and low-impact recreation. These opportunities are threatened by Off-Road Vehicle use.
• Tell the Forest Service you value a quiet, pristine Forest where you can experience nature without noise and pollution. Also tell them you oppose forest fees, mining, full fire suppression and livestock grazing.
• Protect opportunities for quiet recreation, biological research, and ecotourism on the Forest.
Special Interest Area Proposals: Protect biologically and culturally important areas of the Forest through the designation of Special Management Areas. Including the following:
• Cave Creek Canyon Zoological and Botanical Area to protect the highest density of breeding raptors in the US.
• Barfoot Zoological Area to protect the largest known population of twin-spotted rattlesnakes in the US.
• Southern Peloncillo Zoological and Botanical area to protect one of the largest and healthiest wetland complexes in the State of New Mexico and on the Forest.
• Scotia Canyon Zoological and Botanical Area to protect a unique perennial cienega system rich in sensitive species such as Chiricahua leopard frog, Huachuca springsnail and Mexican Gartersnake
• Aliso Spring Riparian Preserve to protect a population of lowland leopard frogs
• Rosemont Valley Historical Area to protect over 620 historical sites
• Agua Caliente Zoological Area to protect an area of high value for botanical, bird and reptile research
• Finger Rock Research Natural Area to protect an opportunity for studying impacts of drought, climate change, and invasive species on native flora and fauna.
Wilderness Suitability: Many areas of the Forest remain rugged and wild and are a cornerstone for protecting biological diversity and ecosystem resiliency, and for providing primitive recreation opportunities. As development brings more people to the Forest, quiet, pristine areas on the Forest deserve protection.
• Protect areas of the Forest with wilderness characteristics by designating them as Suitable for Wilderness.
• Ask the Forest Service to study 1,200,000 acres across the entire Forest identified as suitable for wilderness in State of the Coronado National Forest.

Let the Forest Service know what you think by contacting Jennifer Ruyle at 388.8300 or coronado-plan@fs.fed.us, or visit here. For more information visit the Sky Island Action Center or contact Louise Misztal at 624.7080 x19, or louise@skyislandalliance.org

- adapted from SIA

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fight fire with fire in west to help safety & forests

Toxic fire retardant dropped on Quinlan Mountains, Pima County AZ, in 2007.

TUCSON -- While deer hunting this week in the Baboquivari Mountains southwest of the city, I could barely walk through the thorny, overgrown vegetation on state, US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and US Fish and Wildlife Service refuge lands there. I'm sure the going is also very rough for much of the larger animals in the area. The higher country of the Baboquivaris, like much of the west, badly needs a wildfire that is allowed to burn and help improve habitat quality.

Western forests and woodlands evolved with fire, and our government's 100 year+ efforts to put out virtually all wildfires has been an expensive dismal failure for public safety and the health of our lands. As lands are denied the fires they need for ecosystem health, woody vegetation builds up to unnaturally high levels, and eventual fires burn much hotter, bigger and more destructive.

Let me be clear, I don't want houses to burn down in woodland areas. My point is more people must take more responsibility for their own property by clearing vegetation away from buildings to create defensible 'fire safe' spaces. There are still far too many irresponsible people not doing this, especially wealthy vacation home owners, and too much poor planning allowing urban sprawl in to fire areas, but yet many scream for fire suppression every time the inevitable wildland fire breaks out. Lives should not be lost or risked, and scarce public money wasted trying to save structures, if owners do not take personal responsibility by doing everything they can to reduce fire threats on their own property.

There have been some gains on allowing natural fires to burn. The US Forest Service, BLM and other agencies now monitor and let some fires burn, but only in the most remote areas. The first response by bureaucrats is still to try to put almost all wildfires out as soon as possible, including by dumping thousands of gallons of toxic red fire retardant on streams, wildlife habitat and communities. The decisions to do this are predictable and somewhat understandable, with ignorant residents, reporters, politicians and insurance industry executives screaming for fire suppression at the first sign of smoke.

The Forest Service especially is suffering severe budget problems due to the dominance of fire suppression efforts. The agency's budget is drained almost every year when diverted to fire fighting efforts. Some in Congress, including Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ7) are trying to end this unwise binge spending.

The Arizona State Lands Department, headed by Mark Winkleman, which is responsible for over 9.3M acres of our lands, seems to still be doing little to nothing with controlled fire or letting some natural fires burn, seeming to prefer the outdated and dangerous 'full suppression' policy of trying to put out every wildfire. The stated mission of the Land Department's Forestry Division, is, 'preventing and suppressing wildland fires on 9.3 million acres of State Trust land and 13 million acres of private land.' Not one word about fire management, just prevention and suppression only, which does not work.

We must learn to live with nature and wildfire because we cannot stop it, and the economic, human and environmental costs of continuing to try to put out virtually all wildfires are much too high.

I was once a red-carded BLM wildlands firefighter, and any honest fire boss will tell you that despite all our efforts, fire fighter injuries and deaths and billions of public dollars spent, fires largely go out when nature decides with rain, less wind, higher humidity or other natural factors.

A final note, due largely to the spread of invasive weeds, urban sprawl and livestock grazing, we are seeing more fires in low desert areas of the southwest. Fire is not natural in our low hot deserts and it can wreck these fragile and scenic lands permanently. These desert fires, which are mostly started along roads by humans, should be fully suppressed and the root causes eliminated or better mitigated.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Reckless mining company kills worker, but no fine

Mine worker protests ASARCO in 2005.

TUCSON -- Mine electrician Peter Eudave, 41, was killed August 15 at ASARCO corporation's Ray Mine near Kearney AZ, bringing the total to at least seven mining-related deaths in Arizona since 2004.

A federal investigation into the death found inadequate ASARCO management policies resulted in the accident, says the Mine Safety and Health Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor.

But despite the death of Mr. Eudave, the citation was lifted by the feds after mine electricians received training. No fines were levied.

Such lax enforcement is part of why big corporations continue to cut corners and more workers are injured or killed on the job.

Eudave, a native of Superior, had worked at the Ray Mine -- about 70 miles north of Tucson -- for 14 years, said Celestino Flores, president of United Steelworkers Local 915.

Flores said miners and other workers held fundraisers and pooled their money to help the family with funeral costs.

"He was a hard worker," Flores said. "Such a good guy."

An investigation by Arizona State Mine Inspector Joe Hart's office has been completed, but the findings are still under internal review, and therefore publicly unknown at this time.

- some info from ADS

Friday, November 14, 2008

Grijalva or Richardson for Secretary of Interior

Grijalva or Richardson would be good at Interior.

UPDATE, 11/21: Many reports that Richardson may be Commerce Sec.

TUCSON -- US Rep. Raul Grijalva and Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico are my 1 and 2 picks for Interior Secretary in the Obama-Biden administration.

If Grijalva gets the position, his Congressional seat would likely be filled by another progressive Democrat. If Richardson goes to Washington, Lt. Governor Diane Denish (D) would take over as Governor of New Mexico.

Other good candidates for Interior include: John Leshy, former DoI Solicitor General under Clinton, US Rep. George Miller (D-CA), former Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, and US Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA), who sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

EPA HQ cancels pollution controls on SW coal plant

More favors to polluting industry from outgoing Bush-Cheney EPA.

WASHINGTON -- A new rule affecting the southwest has just been published from EPA Headquarters, signed by the controversial EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson.

EPA HQ in DC has canceled new pollution controls at the APS four corners coal plant (seen in photo). We don't have all the details yet, but it appears EPA staff took some appropriate pollution control action, APS challenged them, then fed lawyers and EPA made a deal with APS, giving them what they wanted.

New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah and the Najavo Nation are directly affected by the EPA rollback.

Southwest PEER is investigating this latest action by what many people are now calling the US Environmental Pollution Agency.

It will be critical for the new Obama administration to return trust to EPA and other damaged federal agencies by quickly moving to restore transparency and science-based public interest decisions.

UPDATE & OTHER COVERAGE, 11/15: AZ Daily Sun in Flagstaff. People I talked with who've been working on this issue say it was extreme for APS to challenge the need for more pollution controls.

The bottom line is EPA is shelving a pollution control plan at a dirty coal plant because a big energy corporation asked them to, and only because EPA allegedly didn't fully explain the need. No one seems to be disputing the need, but the pollution goes on due to a procedural allegation and deal between corporate executives and EPA.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

AZ should support Dept. of Environmental Quality

Keep and better support ADEQ.

TUCSON -- The fate of ADEQ is being debated at the Capitol in Phoenix.

This agency has big responsibilities on health, air, water and the environment. Arizonans need ADEQ on the job, and to take even stronger actions to help clean up our air, water and environment.

Better protecting our environment protects us, our children and our economy. I support keeping and strengthening ADEQ, and Arizona's full participation in the important Western Climate Initiative.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

OHV safety bill I worked on signed at AZ Capitol

AZ Game & Fish officer dealing with off-roaders.

PHOENIX -- I'll be at Governor Napolitano's office at the State Capitol today for the signing of the Arizona OHV bill, which will help improve safety, law enforcement, recreation and the environment. The new law and rules will start Jan 1 09.

As part of my job as ecologist and southwest director of PEER, I worked in a bipartisan manner to help support and pass this bill last year. Rep. Jerry Weiers (R-Glendale) and others worked hard to bring together many diverse interests for a compromise bill.

I'll be out deer hunting later this week, on foot, and hope to not see too many ATVs, which can wreck the hunt.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thank and support veterans, and work for peace

Veterans for Peace march in Arizona.

TUCSON -- Today is Veterans Day, a time to remember and thank the millions of people who have served our nation in the military, and often died or been wounded. My grandfather was a WWII Navy vet, and my dad is an Vietnam-era Army vet.

No matter how we feel about war, we should always respect and help our veterans and members of the armed services, and only send them in to conflict as a last resort. For far too long, veterans have been treated as 'disposable', ordered in to battle by distant commanders, and then been largely ignored after leaving the military. Sadly, in recent years, federal veterans benefits have been cut.

Many of the homeless people in Tucson and across the nation are vets, including a growing number who served in Iraq or Afghanistan.

With Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, the southern Arizona VA hospital and thousands of vets in my south side district 29, veterans issues are important to me. As a compassionate Representative in the State House, I will do what I can to help veterans.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Congress could halt Bush last minute bad rules

Hoyer, Pelosi, Reid and Congress should freeze new or proposed rules in the Federal Register.

WASHINGTON -- Proposed regulations by the Bush-Cheney Administration to ease protections for endangered species have generated more than 300,000 comments overwhelmingly in opposition. Rushing to process all of the comments, officials have developed a code to assign a number for each of the more than 100 different policy and legal objections raised by opponents so the comments can be responded to en masse, according to a document posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER.org).

The code consists of seven pages listing argument after argument opponents have raised, including an array of legal, practical and economic concerns. It was developed from sampling several thousand comments. The code enables Bush administration lawyers to write up answers without having to actually read the comments. These samples also show only a miniscule portion of comments (less than 1%) favor the plan.

Nonetheless, the Bush administration plans to disregard all of the arguments and finalize the new rules before the next administration is sworn in. President-elect Obama has already announced his opposition to the Bush endangered species plan and pledged to reverse it, a process that could take months, however.

"This is the last hurrah of the Bush administration and they have no intention of letting public input or logic get in the way," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that the endangered species rules are one of a slew of "midnight regulations" being pursued in the final weeks of the Bush administration on topics ranging from occupational health to air pollution to birth control. "Congress could close this circus down by acting to freeze the Federal Register when it returns to session later this month."

The Bush endangered species rules would allow federal agencies to dispense with the advice of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologists about whether projects like highways or power-plants pose potential harm to federally protected species. Opponents in the conservation community contend that this would dramatically weaken Endangered Species Act protections by removing preventative measures which eliminate conflict early in the planning process. These changes would be the first major rewrite on the rules since 1986.

"This plan did not come from the scientists who administer the Endangered Species Act," Ruch added. "In fact, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the agency most affected by the plan, did not have a role in reviewing this plan. It was dictated by political appointees in its parent agency, the Interior Department."

- from PEER

EPA, DEQ & counties must clean up AZ's bad air

Pollution in the Grand Canyon State.

TUCSON -- There is a health warning today for harmful particulate pollution in our air. Flying back from DC yesterday, it looked like we were landing in Los Angeles. It's so bad this morning that you cannot even see the Santa Catalina Mountains from the city, and they are right there. We certainly make our own pollution in Pima County, but much of the bad air also blows in from Pinal and Maricopa Counties, from which we are downwind.

For far too long, lawmakers, EPA and AZDEQ have done too little, too late about air pollution as counties beholden to polluters say 'give us more time'. No more, fully implement the Clean Air Act now instead of continuing to try to avoid it as the pollution gets worse. Kids and people are getting sick, and our quality of life and economy are suffering. Arizona needs real action now to clean up our air, not more bureaucratic excuses and mumbo-jumbo.

I intend to take this on in the legislature with many diverse allies who will join me for a new, real effort to clean up Arizona's bad unhealthy air.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Obama justified to quickly reverse Bush errors

Obama right to take fast action.

WASHINGTON -- President-elect Barack Obama plans to use his power to issue executive orders in early 2009 to reverse Bush mistakes on global warming pollution, stem cell research, reproductive rights, reckless oil and gas drilling and other areas.

I applaud Obama's wise consideration of moving swiftly to remove some of the worst Bush-Cheney errors against the public interest. Clearly, this is justified and within his authority.

To prevent the outgoing administration from doing further damage with last minute attacks, congress should move soon to freeze publication of proposed or new rules in the federal register, until after January 20.

Friday, November 07, 2008

In DC, all talk is on Obama cabinet choices

AZ needs Gov. Napolitano to stay.

WASHINGTON -- I'm in the DC area for post-election meetings. The mood is positive, and there is much talk and many questions about who Barack Obama will select for his cabinet.

Two quick thoughts. It is essential to Arizona's future that Gov. Janet Napolitano stay put. Without her as a backstop, the legislature could do great damage. If she wants to go to DC, she should run for John McCain's Senate seat in 2010, or work out an agreement with Obama on joining the administration after she serves out her term.

I am also involved in discussions on who should be the next US Secretary of Interior, a crucial post to the west on water, wildlife, lands and energy. Some of the names being circulated are conservative, somewhat anti-conservation Dems such as Gov. Dave Freudenthal of Wyoming or Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer. Either would not be the best choice for the west or the nation.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Victory!

Arizona State Capitol, Phoenix

TUCSON -- I came in first and won my race for State Representative in district 29! Obama wins!

Huge thanks to voters across the south and south east sides in LD29, to all our supporters, and especially my beautiful wife Jeneiene. We had a great party upstairs at Hotel Congress.

I look forward to working cooperatively starting in Jan 09 in the State House to solve problems, help people and build bridges for positive change. Thank you!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Chertoff not welcome in Arizona, protest Nov 14

Lawless Chertoff and Bush.

RELATED: Migrants getting over America's failed 'Berlin Wall'.

TUCSON -- Join concerned patriotic Americans Nov 14 in a first amendment protected protest against Bush-Cheney's Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff.

Chertoff has eroded the rule of law, endorsed and expanded unethical deadly border militarization policies that have resulted in the deaths of thousands, criminalized and prosecuted hard-working people and families, violated Indigenous rights of mobility and passage, and devastated the beautiful and fragile borderlands environment of Arizona and the American Southwest.

Say 'no' to Bush-Chertoff and failed border militarization! Fri. Nov 14, 10:00a-12:30p, Univ. of Arizona Law School, 1201 E. Speedway Blvd., Tucson. Meet at the SW corner of Helen Street and Mountain. Parking is available at the parking garage on the SE corner of Park and Helen, one block west of the law school.

For more information, call 520.770.1373

- adpated from CDH

AZ wildlife biologist Ted McKinney dies at 71

Dr. Ted D. McKinney passed Oct 22.

MESA AZ -- A native Arizonan, Ted McKinney was a biologist with Arizona Game and Fish Department's research branch. He also taught biology and wildlife management at Oklahoma State University and the University of Texas. His field research in Arizona focused mainly on desert bighorn sheep and mountain lions.

Ted was a friend to wildlife and will be missed. Our condolences go out to his family.

AZ and US needs you to vote for positive change

Just vote.

UPDATE, 11/4: VOTE today, 6a-7p. Party tonight!

TUCSON -- Monday is your last chance to vote early. Polls are open 8a-5p, 115 N. Church Av., at the historic pink courthouse with the green tiled dome. Bring ID.

On election day, Tues. Nov 4, please vote at your polling place, 6a-7p. Bring ID. If you still have your early vote-by-mail ballot, it is too late to safely mail it in. Please turn it in at your polling place. Call 740.4330 with any voting questions.

Vote Patterson. Vote Obama. Vote Democratic. Change America and Arizona for the better.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Thanks and praise for all campaign volunteers

Obama/Democratic volunteers.

TUCSON -- As we roll toward Tuesday's election, thousands of people across Arizona are continuing to volunteer long hours to help elect their favorite candidates.

As a candidate for State Representative in district 29, I again extend my sincere thanks, respect and praise to everyone who has helped on our campaign, and other Democratic campaigns in Arizona.

No matter what your views or party, everyone in politics who is successful owes at least some of that success to the generous volunteer help they depend on.

Volunteering on campaigns is also good for our democracy. It allows people to get to better know the candidates and their neighbors, and to be more involved than just voting.

Vote Tuesday. Vote Democratic. Change America and Arizona.