Monday, August 31, 2009

AZ budget Brew; Obama's bad mining pick Pizarchik

What will Brewer do?

TUCSON -- First a quick update on the high-stakes Arizona budget battle. There are only 5 days left for Gov. Brewer to veto the same old unfair, GOP-only, reckless, one-sided bad AZ budget. Will she keep her word and say 'no'? Follow RepPatterson on twitter.

Obama's 'coal man' Pizarchik.

WASHINGTON -- President Obama’s choice to run the Office of Surface Mining signifies that campaign promises to end environmentally destructive coal mining practices, such as mountain-top removal, will be abandoned, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Placating the coal industry is evolving into the central plank of the administration’s environmental agenda.

In July, after months of internal wrangling, President Obama passed over some prominent mining reform candidates to select Joseph G. Pizarchik, a long-time Pennsylvania mining regulator to head the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation, and Enforcement (OSM). Pizarchik is well liked by industry and loathed by coal community groups and environmentalists, many of which are opposing his confirmation.

Read more from PEER...

Related: Verizon/Alltel wireless on wrong side of coal issue.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Happy to be back in sweet home Tucson AZ USA

Tucson sunrise.

TUCSON -- We had a great trip to Turkey and now are glad to be back home.

Big thanks, Mom, for all the help! Thanks everyone in Turkey! I hope to post some photos to the web soon.

This weekend just working on the casa and trying to relax & reset some with the fam. Back on my bike and working from my Tucson office Monday.

I am up early this AM seemingly still on Turkey time, which is 10 hours ahead of Arizona. It is nice, cool and quiet this time of morning, and a beautiful Sonoran Desert sunrise is turning on.

I am thankful to be scheduled this week to receive a legislative award from the Arizona League of Cities and Towns at their annual meeting, this year held in Pima County.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hope for bipartisan talks on Arizona budget?

House Democratic Leader David Lujan.

Views from Turkey and beyond at RepPatterson on twitter.

PHOENIX -- As the legislature passed a motion Tuesday to adjourn sine die and end a third special session, House Democrats remained hopeful to continue productive bipartisan talks to build a better budget for a stronger Arizona.

The motion to sine die affords Gov. Jan Brewer 10 more days to sign or veto the budget, allotting more time to shape the current budget, which was sent to Brewer on Thursday.

“We are hopeful that Gov. Brewer and our Republican colleagues will continue to work in a bipartisan way with Democrats so we can solve this budget together,” said House Democratic Leader David Lujan. “Bipartisanship is necessary to pave a road toward economic recovery and prosperity for the future of education and middle-class families in Arizona.”

Democratic lawmakers have urged for bipartisan budget talks for eight months to solve the state's economic crisis. Brewer finally called all five parties — Brewer, House and Senate Democrats and Republicans — to the table on Friday, after a budget had passed and days before she is required to take action, in order to try to pass her one-cent sales tax increase. Democrats agreed to work in every capacity to create a bipartisan solution.

Democrats met in another five-party meeting Tuesday morning where they presented Brewer with their own proposed changes to the budget.

Many members of the media have asked to see the proposed changes, but Democrats gave Brewer and Republicans the proposed changes in good faith and want to honor their promise to not make those proposed changes public yet.

- from House Dems PIO

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Updates on Arizona budget & diplomacy in Turkey

From Konya and beyond.

KONYA, TURKEY -- First a quick update on the Arizona budget, then an update from Turkey.

Recent statement from AZ House Democratic Leader Rep. David Lujan of Phoenix: “This morning I had a brief discussion about the budget with Gov. Brewer and other caucus leaders. I expressed to the Governor and to Republican leadership that Democrats are always willing to work together toward a bipartisan budget solution. Democrats are happy to negotiate the revenue issue with the Governor in the context of the larger budget package as there are certain areas we feel need changed. I look forward to continuing discussions with the Governor and our colleagues over the weekend and next week to address those concerns and work toward a bipartisan budget solution for a stronger Arizona.”

I haven't talked with Lujan about this so I'm not exactly sure what it means, and it could be interpreted to mean just about anything. I will respectfully share my view that it would be a mistake for my fellow lawmakers to support GOP Gov. Jan Brewer's sales tax increase desires due to the unfairness and regressive nature of it. Sales tax in AZ is already too high and addiction to the volatile sales tax is a big part of what got the state in to this budget mess in the first place. We certainly need to raise more revenue, but in a smart and fair way, and more sales tax increases are simply not wise or fair.

Now, from Turkey.

We've been having a great trip visiting historic sites and Turkish leaders. Everyone has been very kind and welcoming to us wherever we go. We are now in the central Turkish city of Konya, having traveled from coastal cities of Antalya, Izmir and Istanbul.

It is now the Muslim holy month of Ramadan here and people are fasting everyday until dark. Mosques are everywhere and the call to prayer we hear echoing through the streets five times a day is calming and slightly haunting at the same time. It certainly reminds me we are a long way from home.

Istanbul is a huge thriving metropolis of 13M+ people, the biggest city in Europe. The place is buzzing 24/7 and the economy seems stronger than the US right now. The history here is also amazing as this has been the crossroads of civilizations for thousands of years.

Izmir is a big city southeast of Istanbul. We visited some awesome ruins and artists in the area.

Antalya is a historic city on the southern Turkish coast which is now also a major beach resort, a sort of Las Vegas of Turkey but on the ocean.

Today we traveled through big mountains inland to Konya. The mountains reminded me very much of the Sky Islands around Tucson. Tomorrow we will visit more sites and local people.

In Turkey we have been very busy, on the go, and not sleeping much. We are meeting with many Turks and representing Arizona with respect and honor. Four other Arizona legislators are with me here. There is much interest from the friendly and smart people here toward Arizona due in part to the similarities between the two places. Turkey is a rising global power and an important friend to America in this part of the world.

I wish I had more time now to write more but I don't. When I have more time I will try to cover our Turkey experience more here and post photos. Given the intense schedule of this great trip it may have to wait until I am home in sweet Tucson. Check RepPatterson on twitter for other possible updates.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Istanbul; AZ budget; PEER on SW environment

News from AZ, Turkey & beyond.

ISTANBUL -- It's a beautiful night here and we're having a great trip. Check for updates from Turkey @RepPatterson on twitter.

I am also still watching and reporting some on issues back home in the southwest, including the latest and most reckless worst budget from legislative Republicans, which Gov. Jan Brewer should again veto as it would be an economic disaster for Arizona for many years.

On the environment: The USIWBC has responded to PEER's release of important info about the agency, and the response shows what a problem this little known agency is. See the Aug 10 story on this.

PEER also reports on hope for the imperiled Gunnison sage grouse.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Obama in AZ, but Tucson? Diplomacy in Turkey

Antalya, Turkey

TUCSON -- Welcome President Barack Obama & family to Arizona and the Grand Canyon. Next time please visit the 1M+ people in western Dem stronghold of Pima County and Tucson, AZ's best city.

Merhaba. We're soon on long-planned diplomatic trip for Arizona political leaders to Turkey, an important US ally & rising global power. We will listen, share and learn.

This international relations trip is at no cost to taxpayers, and I have the support of my House leadership to go. As a part-time citizen legislator, I am frustrated there seems to nothing more I can do right now for a fair budget. House Democrats and I have been working hard on the budget since January and we have a decent plan on the table, but stubborn Gov. Jan Brewer and majority leadership in the legislature will not negotiate with us, and I cannot make them. The lack of cooperation or leadership from Brewer and legislative Republicans hurts Arizona.

Visit here and RepPatterson on twitter for updates and views from Turkey.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

AZ House Dems fire back on GOP budget debacle

Rep. David Lujan is leader of the AZ House Democrats.

UPDATE, 1:50pm: Late breaking news @RepPatterson on twitter and facebook.

PHOENIX -- Read this recent letter from Arizona House Democratic leadership, the latest push in an 8 month effort to help the state pass a fair FY2010 budget.

ARIZONA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP

August 11, 2009

The Honorable Jan Brewer, Governor
The Honorable Kirk Adams, Speaker of the House
The Honorable Bob Burns, President of the Senate
Arizona State Capitol, 1700 W. Washington, Phoenix AZ 85007

Dear Colleagues,

It is with dismay and disappointment that we watch the course of events over the past few days. Our state is facing its worst budget crisis ever and, after seven months, no comprehensive budget solution is in place. There have been many false starts and, worse yet, each budget proposal has become more desperate and reckless than the last in an attempt to gain Republican votes, to no avail. No comprehensive budget solution that sets funding levels for the state government or addresses the growing deficit has been enacted.

It has become clear that you are unable to govern your way out of this desperate situation.

At what point do you say “enough is enough?” At what point will you stop your frenzied and fruitless pursuit for a “Republican” budget solution? To earn Republican votes, each of the budget proposals you have attempted to pass has become more and more focused on lumping extremist, ideologically-driven policy ideas into the budget. These policies are unrelated and unnecessary to addressing the budget problem at hand. Your budget proposals are now moving further away from a solution that would stabilize our state’s revenue system. In addition to making our state revenue even more reliant on the volatile sales tax, your most recent plan gives away virtually dollar-for-dollar as much in tax cuts over the next four years as is raised by the sales tax increase (IF it were to pass on the ballot). Your proposal forces middle class families to pay more in taxes in order to fund tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy.

Pandering to the right-wing element of your Party has brought you no closer to resolving this budget crisis with a fiscally-sound, common sense, comprehensive solution.

The citizens of Arizona expect one simple thing from its state leaders – to pass a budget. This is our responsibility under the Arizona State Constitution as well. There is an obvious path to meeting this responsibility and, as we have been for months, Democrats stand ready to help walk down that path. However, the goals of the budget proposal should be to stabilize revenue, protect schools and vital services from devastating funding cuts and to get Arizona’s economy back on firm footing.

Our terms for budget negotiations are the terms that protect Arizona’s families. We are happy to negotiate a budget within that context. Specifically, we believe three things are necessary:

1) The starting point for budget negotiations will be the joint House-Senate Democratic budget we proposed in May. Our goals in this budget proposal were to A) protect education and vital social service funding and B) to increase revenue in a responsible way that stabilizes revenues and does not disproportionately burden middle class families with an unnecessarily high tax hike. These remain our goals.

2) Engagement in five-party talks, with representatives of both the House and Senate Republican and Democratic Leadership Teams in the room along with the Governor, is essential. The Governor must engage and participate in the dialogue. She also must come to the table with a willingness to negotiate specific terms within the context of her overall goals. All parties must take this approach and all parties, including the Governor, must agree to the proposal every step of the way.

3) Negotiations must include those Republican legislators who are willing to work cooperatively on and eventually vote for a bipartisan budget.

It is past time to face this problem, renounce partisanship and extremist ideological agendas, and enact a common sense solution. There is no time for games with legislators that are not interested in solving this problem. Our state faces its worst economic crisis ever and it is our responsibility as elected leaders to act. You have failed in meeting this responsibility on your own so, once again, we offer our help. We believe our conditions will protect this state's families from the ill-advised policies you have attempted (and failed) to pass.

We and the state of Arizona eagerly await your response.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Grijalva welcomes Obama to Grand Canyon

Abandoned uranium mines around the Grand Canyon are still risky and polluting.

TUCSON -- As President Barack Obama prepares to visit the Grand Canyon, Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva sent him a letter this week calling upon his administration to protect the Grand Canyon from future mining.

As Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, Congressman Grijalva has asked the Administration to pursue a permanent protection of our national treasure.

Arizona State Rep. Daniel Patterson and other state leaders also are working to protect the Grand Canyon region from harmful uranium mining.

“While mining for uranium may be necessary and unavoidable in some cases, the Grand Canyon and the water source of the West, the Colorado River, are too precious to risk contaminating with radioactive material,” said Grijalva. “President Barack Obama’s visit to our Public Lands is a great opportunity to show appreciation for one of our country’s greatest treasures and by providing a permanent protection, it will ensure that the Grand Canyon will be unspoiled for our future generations.”

This past July, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar took initial steps and decided to segregate nearly 1 million acres of federal lands in the Arizona Strip for two years while the Department evaluates whether to withdraw these lands from new mining claims for an additional 20 years.

Congressman Grijalva introduced legislation earlier this year, titled the Grand Canyon Watersheds Protection Act of 2009 (H.R. 644), to withdraw approximately one million acres near the Grand Canyon from mineral exploration under the 1872 Mining Act and provide permanent protection to both the Canyon itself, as well as to the Colorado River flowing through the Grand Canyon, which provides drinking water for tens of millions of citizens in the region.

- adapted from Rep. Grijalva

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

AZ House Dems push on schools and budget

Rep. Cloves Campbell

UPDATE, 8/12: AZ budget news on facebook and twitter @RepPatterson.

PHOENIX -- In addition to calling for an investigation into abuses of the state’s Private School Tuition Tax Credits program, which reportedly is violating several federal and state laws, Arizona House Democrats today again pushed positively for a fair solution to the budget crisis.

Republican lawmakers and Republican Gov. Jan Brewer once again failed to pass and sign a budget Tuesday, again leaving the state under economic duress.

"Just like all Arizonans, Democrats are just as frustrated with the total lack of leadership on the state budget," said House Democratic Leader David Lujan. "It is ludicrous that the legislature has had seven months to pass a budget and still can't get the job done. This kind of behavior is unacceptable."

House Democrats once again sent a letter Tuesday to their Republican colleagues and Brewer to join them in working together on a bipartisan and common-sense budget solution.

"Continuing a failed Republican-only budget strategy will not solve this crisis," said Rep. Daniel Patterson, D-Tucson (District 29). "We're all in this together and need to work cooperatively across the aisle to build a stronger Arizona for our kids, future economic recovery and improved quality of life."

Republican lawmakers deserted bipartisan budget talks with Democrats on July 28 in favor of a partisan budget that failed to pass again and drove Arizona further into debt.

"Bottom line: we need to pass a budget," said Rep. Cloves Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 16), Appropriations Committee member. "In order for our state to succeed, we must stabilize revenue, protect schools and vital services and turn the economy around. There is an obvious path to a responsible and comprehensive budget solution, and as always, Democrats stand ready to walk down that bipartisan path for a stronger Arizona."

- adapted from House Dems PIO

Monday, August 10, 2009

Border agency worst in gov't, risks water & floods

Bush man Bill Ruth still in charge at 'rogue' USIBWC

TUCSON -- A little-known agency called the United States Section, International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC) is arguably the most incompetent and abusive in federal service, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Lack of any oversight in this agency threatens horrendous water pollution, disastrous flooding and waste of tens of millions of dollars in federal stimulus funds.

The people and environment of Nogales, Arizona and the Santa Cruz River are particularly at risk.

Read more about USIBWC...

Also, budget updates, etc. from the AZ Capitol & Legislature this week on twitter @RepPatterson.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Organizing for America in AZ for common good

President Obama & Rep. Patterson in AZ earlier this year.

TUCSON -- I spoke this morning with 50 new Community Organizers in Tucson working with President Obama's Organize for America.

I've been organizing now for 20 years and I am very encouraged by this effort for the common good.

Yes we can!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Working to help preserve Tucson & AZ history

Citizen archive photo of Miracle Mile.

UPDATE, 8/8: Gannett responded Friday.

TUCSON -- I'm working with the Arizona Historical Society and others trying to help preserve the archives of the recently shutdown Tucson Citizen, which was the oldest paper in the state.

Hopefully Gannett Corporation will be wise and do the right thing here and make a clear deal soon to fully preserve the archives.

Read more...

Rs fiddle on day 37 of FY2010 with no AZ budget

GOP 'leaders' would rather sell our capitol than fairly raise needed revenue for schools and services.

TUCSON -- Today is day 37 of the new fiscal year and Arizona still has no state budget.

Parks, police and agencies are struggling to stay open while dysfunctional Gov. Jan Brewer (R-Glendale) & Republicans fiddle. The latest terrible idea from GOP honchos in the legislature is selling the Capitol.

I share the outrage of my fellow Arizonans who are very frustrated with the total lack of leadership from the Governor and legislative majority.

Check out a fair and reasonable budget plan at StrongerArizona.com

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

PEER helps stop off-road excess near Grand Canyon

Reckless ORV damage harms Kaibab National Forest.

FLAGSTAFF AZ -- Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER.org), where I serve as Ecologist and Southwest Director, CBD and others recently won an important victory against a bad Forest Service plan for off-road vehicle excess on the Kaibab National Forest, near Grand Canyon National Park.

I am particularly thankful about this as I hunt on the Kaibab National Forest. Good job, Cyndi Tuell of CBD on this issue.

Read more...

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Brewer/GOP unfair bad AZ budget looks dead today

Ultra-partisan Gov. Brewer is a big problem in the AZ budget deadlock.

UPDATE: Follow RepPatterson on twitter. More Republican chaos in the legislature as Senate Majority Whip Pam Gorman (R-Anthem) just resigned her leadership position (read also EJ Montini on this). Senate GOP leader Chuck Gray (R-Mesa) has left the state on an ocean cruise vacation.

PHOENIX -- Right now it looks likely accidental Gov. Jan Brewer's (R-Glendale) one-sided Republican-only bad budget deal will not pass the Arizona Senate today. Neither 'bad plan Jan' nor Senate President Bob Burns (R-Peoria) seem able to bully enough votes for this clunker GOP deal.

The Brewer/Burns/Adams proposed Arizona GOP tax increase budget is not even balanced, and would harm our state's economy, schools and quality of life for many years.

I and other Arizona Democratic lawmakers, who represent millions of people statewide, remain ready and willing as we have all year to help craft a fair and reasonable smart budget people will support, but Brewer and GOP leadership in the legislature have been ultra-partisan in refusing to work with us.

The people of Arizona deserve better than the failed GOP (non)leadership from Brewer and legislative Republicans.