Tuesday, June 29, 2010

State lawmakers push US immigration reform plan

States want tough national reform.

TUCSON -- Today I joined many of my fellow state legislators from across the country in launching New York-based State Legislators for Progressive Immigration Policy.

US state lawmakers signed and released principals to help lead the way forward with effective and positive solutions to address the nation’s broken immigration system at the state level.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Growing failures of Brewer & Rs harming Arizona

GOP & Brewer failing AZ's people & economy.

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX -- The failures are piling up for Gov. Jan Brewer and out-of-touch Republicans running the state legislature, and Arizonans are suffering because of their lack of leadership.

No balance: Brewer & GOP-run legislature still failing on
AZ budget, $1.3B gap looming for new FY starts Thu.

Vulnerable patients in AZ will be hit soon by Brewer & her callous Republicans' bad budget cuts.

Arizona's people and economy are suffering badly due to their failures.

I voted no on the hostile GOP budget failures. House Democrats and I offered many fair balanced budget solutions that Brewer and Republicans ignored.

Arizona deserves better.

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tucson LD29 Reps picked for leadership academy

Inside AZ Capitol's copper dome

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX -- Rep. Daniel Patterson and Rep. Matt Heinz, both from Tucson's district 29, have been selected to participate in a prestigious training institute for lawmakers in their first four years of service.

The Western Legislative Academy, put on by the Council of State Governments-WEST (CSG-WEST), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization serving Western state legislators, will build excellence and effectiveness in state legislators in the Western region.

“I’m honored to be selected for this academy, to have the opportunity to learn from legislators from other states and to build stronger bipartisanship in our state legislature,” Patterson said. “Arizona is on the wrong track, but I will continue to work hard toward moving our state forward next year.”

Admission to the Western Legislative Academy is competitive and is based on commitment to public service, desire to improve personal legislative effectiveness and interest in improving the legislative process. CSG-WEST chose 39 state legislators as members of the Class of 2010.

The Western Legislative Academy will convene July 12-15 in Colorado Springs, Colo. and will include intensive training in ethics, team building, communications, negotiations and time management. Faculty will include the Eagleton Institute’s Alan Rosenthal, a nationally recognized authority on state legislatures; Washington, D.C. communications expert Arch Lustberg, and a leading team building trainer for the U.S. Air Force.

“This is an excellent opportunity for skill building and I hope to put to work what I learn from the academy,” Heinz said.

- adapted from AZ House Dems

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Goddard border security action beats Brewer talk

Vote Goddard for Governor.

TUCSON -- Showing that real action means more than political hype, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard is offering a new $50 million fund to local law enforcement in Arizona and along the U.S.-Mexico border for border-security projects.

The money comes from a $94 million settlement that Goddard's office reached with Western Union earlier this year to end a seven-year investigation into smugglers' use of wire companies to move money across the border.

Goddard's office sent out grant applications Monday to city, county and state law-enforcement agencies in Arizona, Texas, California and New Mexico. Each state is guaranteed at least $7 million, Goddard said.

Read the full article.

- adapted from ADS

Monday, June 21, 2010

Obama EPA finally unveils weak coal ash rule draft

Obama & his EPA head Lisa Jackson are doing poorly on the environment.

UPDATE, Jul 7: EPA suspends coal ash promotion program.

WASHINGTON -- A confusing and crippled proposal to regulate coal combustion wastes is finally ready for public scrutiny, according to documents posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The official proposal is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's response to the disastrous December 2008 coal ash impoundment spill in Tennessee but has been watered down after intense industry lobbying in the White House and still suffers from a welter of regulatory uncertainties.

The proposed regulation appears in today's Federal Register to kick off a 90-day public comment period. EPA's original proposal was to classify coal ash as a hazardous waste but the Obama White House forced it to add industry-sponsored options, thus presenting a menu of choices rather than one plan. Reflecting this odd smorgasbord arrangement, EPA claims it is "opening a national dialogue" on what is appropriate regulation rather than seeking public input on a specific public health measure.

EPA announced its proposal back on May 4th but, unusually, the more than 300-page final proposal has undergone further rewrites during the ensuing seven weeks, including:

  • In summarizing the costs and benefits, EPA has flip-flopped back and forth on whether the potential benefits of strict regulation are a positive $87 billion or a negative $230 billion (a mind- numbing figure that EPA's regulatory analysis explains was based on industry and other stakeholders' assertions that a hazardous waste status would create a "stigma" against so-called "beneficial use" of coal ash). This $300 billion plus difference has yet to be clearly explained; and
  • Although this is the final "proposed rule," EPA warns that additional clarifying language regarding the applicability of the proposal to a wide variety of specific scenarios and uses may be posted later on its website.
"The Obama administration has invited the coal industry to place its heavy thumb on the regulatory scales," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, whose organization has drawn attention to EPA's failure to study potential adverse health and environmental effects from allowing coal ash to be put into an array of consumer, agricultural and commercial products. "Rather than propose one clear rule, EPA appears to be making it up as it goes along."

Despite its regulatory role, EPA is in a partnership with industry to promote re-use of coal ash. This partnership, called the Coal Combustion Product Partnership (or C2P2), has been temporarily suspended because it "was deemed appropriate to foster dialogue on the proposal evenhandedly with all interested parties through the public comment process….We have suspended active participation in the Partnership; we are bullish on beneficial use," exclaims an internal agency e-mail.

"EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson pledged that she would make her decisions based on science but this proposal makes a mockery of that promise," added Ruch, noting that Jackson allowed the White House to completely reconfigure what EPA had recommended. "This was the Obama administration's first really tough environmental play call and it punted.

View supporting documents, etc.

- from PEER

Thursday, June 17, 2010

My remarks to Brewer & Tucson Chamber today

To recover economy, new leadership needed at capitol.

TUCSON -- Below is the short speech I presented today to a large and influential audience of southern Arizona business leaders, fellow lawmakers and Gov. Jan Brewer at the Tucson & Marana Chambers of Commerce legislative wrap-up event at the El Conquistador.

Good afternoon. Thank you all for joining us here today, it is time to focus our attention and energy to the needs and the ideas of our economy and business community here in southern Arizona.

Throughout my years as a community advocate a state lawmaker, I have strongly supported issues that are very close to home, specifically, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, the U of A’s Science and Tech Park and the U of A Biotech Park, all in my district 29 on Tucson’s south and southeast sides.

I continue to stand opposed to the drastic higher education cuts that were signed into law by Governor Brewer. In this challenging economic climate, we cannot afford to decimate our higher education system here in Arizona. Without a strong higher education system, we will not attract businesses to relocate to our state.

Arizona’s current dire economic situation makes it vital that we approach a solution with sound business sense. Unfortunately, we have seen at the state level, Arizona continues to move backwards both in supporting infrastructure development and choosing budget cuts over investment. In this challenging economic climate, we cannot afford to decimate our higher education system here in Arizona with the massive cuts Gov. Brewer has implemented.

Without a strong higher education system, we will not attract businesses to relocate to our state. The vision for our economic recovery needs to be just that, a vision. We can no longer afford to be short sighted when planning for our future as a state.

Here in southern Arizona we have taken that vision and turned it into a reality. Not only did we see the need for an aggressive and creative transportation plan, but we are building our own light rail system here in Tucson. Though it might seem like a small step, it is a step in the right direction toward an effective transportation plan that will not only work for southern Arizona, but for the whole state.

At the state level in Arizona, very little funding is actually dedicated to multi-modal transportation needs. Most of the leadership – and funding – comes from the local level, as evidenced by what has happened here in southern Arizona.

One of the most frightening examples of the legislative majority’s wrong track approach was evidenced when efforts at the capitol to provide matching funds allowing Arizona to access millions in federal funding to pay for commuter rail between Tucson and Phoenix were defeated.

Investment in the transportation infrastructure of our state would immediately create jobs in the construction sector, which has faced a devastating blow from the economic collapse of the home construction industry in our state.

The lack of vision continues with the legislature persisting in half-hearted efforts to create incentives for renewable energy companies to relocate to Arizona. Though this year we passed House Bill 2700 which continues targeted tax credits for installation of solar energy devices, any efforts made in the past few years to plant the seeds for the creation of a biotech research economic sector have hit roadblocks and barriers.

It is time for Arizona’s governments – at all levels – to make an investment. An investment in our present - with an eye towards our future. As we rebuild our economy, we need to have the strength to see beyond our immediate challenges to a greater vision for what our business community will look like and the infrastructure it will take to get us there. Thank you.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Reality check on immigration & SB1070 in Arizona

Rep. Daniel Patterson's views.

TUCSON – Gov. Jan Brewer and her Republican friends have been running around Arizona dismissing concerns about Arizona’s new immigration law, SB 1070.

Republican House Speaker Kirk Adams wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post, “The truth behind Arizona’s immigration law,” saying that people haven’t taken the time to read the facts about the bill. Republican Sen. Sylvia Allen sent an e-mail with the subject line “I want to explain SB 1070.”

All have failed to explain any real facts about the new law.

It’s typical of Brewer and her Republican friends who consistently have failed to crack down on the violent and criminal acts that accompany illegal immigration. Their patchwork policies do nothing to solve the real problem that Arizonans experience every day.

They failed to point out that the new law will do nothing to stop the coyotes, human traffickers and dangerous drug and arms dealers that cross our border every day.

They don’t mention that the new law is an unfunded mandate and gives police no resources or funding to implement the new law. Brewer and Republicans took police officers off the streets when they massively cut public-safety funding this year.

Law enforcement also can be sued if they don't enforce the law and no doubt will be sued if they do. The law actually unwisely ties the hands of police officers instead of enabling them to protect our communities.

Arizona’s new immigration law is a flawed solution to a very serious problem — crime and violence in our neighborhoods and along parts of the border. There are far better things we can do to solve this problem.

We need a tough solution to border security and immigration that includes more security along our border. We must crack down on the criminal cartels who deal in weapons and narcotics and stop the human suffering and trafficking by coyotes. We need to sanction employers who hire illegal immigrants.

And we need a tough solution at the national level. This means requiring immigrants to pay back taxes and a fine, learn English, and pass criminal background checks on the path to legalization.

We also need to make sure those who are here legally are treated fairly and respectfully. Unlike Brewer and her Republican friends, who consistently have failed to crack down on the violent and criminal acts that accompany illegal immigration, Terry Goddard fights for these solutions every day on the job as attorney general.

Goddard is working to keep Arizona safe, by cracking down on criminal cartels and smuggling rings. In fact, Goddard’s historic settlements with Western Union in February helped cut off the pipeline of cash to the criminal cartels. Already, Goddard has secured $50 million in law enforcement funds from the settlement that will be used toward border security.

Arizona's economy cannot handle the expense of a law that does not provide a real solution to the problem. We need to focus on laws that actually do something to combat the violence.

Republicans this year repeatedly ignored House Democrats' bills that directly addressed violent crime and immigration in Arizona. For example:
· HB 2201: Gives authorities better tools to combat weapons trafficking and increase public safety by making it a felony to purchase weapons under false pretenses.
· HB 2149: Combats the use of drop houses and human smuggling across the border.
· HB 2354: Makes it a Class 3 felony if a person commits forgery in connection with purchase, lease or renting of a dwelling used as a drop house.

Convert TEPark to futbol & go for Tucson MLS club

Pursue pro soccer club at TEPark.

TUCSON -- With the World Cup in South Africa and all the focus on futbol (soccer) right now, it seems like a good time for local sports boosters to consider and move a plan to convert TEPark for soccer and pursue a Major League Soccer club.

Maybe Pima County will find a way to get the lease-breaking White Sox and Diamondbacks baseball corporations to pay for it?

Arizona and the southwest don't have a MLS team yet, so Tucson and southern Arizona should go for it.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Human excess harms bears, jaguars & AZ wildlife

UPDATE, 6pm: AZGFD kills mountain lion in area southeast of Prescott where man claimed problem, state not sure if right animal shot.

TUCSON -- Bears are in trouble in southern Arizona, and several have recently been killed by the Arizona Game & Fish Dept.

From June 9 Arizona Day Star article: A Tucson legislator, Rep. Daniel Patterson, said he is concerned the department is acting out of fear of liability for damages caused by bears.

"Wildlife should be managed based what is good for wildlife, not lawyers and liability," said Patterson, adding that he may try to get the Legislature try to weaken some of the current law's liability provisions.

Endangered Jaguars are at even greater risk. Watch this short video by Stephanie Maya Hamill of Arizona Capitol TV, including footage of the Earth Day 2010 Jaguar bike ride at the capitol.

Monday, June 07, 2010

To the back of beyond: the Gila, New Mexico

Gila River, NM

UPDATE, Jun 11: I'm back in Tucson after great trip to the Gila, New Mexico, a top nature mecca in southwest with wild & healthy rivers, forests & wildlife. Guard it.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Lakers v. Celtics finals likely to go 7 games; LA wins

Shannon Brown from MSU will help lift LA over Boston.

TUCSON -- The Lakers and Celtics meet again today in LA. I'm pulling for the Lakers.

Since the days of Magic, Kareem and Bird, I've always rooted for the Lakers over the Celtics.

I cheered for the PHX Suns these playoffs. The west is the best. It would look better for Los Suns for LA to win the championship, perhaps allowing Suns fans to argue they were the 2nd best team this year.

I pick LA as I've long been a big Laker fan. Plus they have the best player in basketball, Kobe Bryant, which makes it hard to lose, and Shannon Brown, taught by coach Tom Izzo at my alma mater Michigan State, is a rising star on the Laker team.

The Lakers will likely win today, but Boston is good and tough. This series will probably go to 7 games, with LA taking the trophy at home. The team with the overall best defense will win. Watch out if the Celtics steal a win in LA.

Go Lakers!

Go Suns 2011!

Friday, June 04, 2010

Hot weather tips for summer in Arizona desert

June heat is on in the Sonoran Desert.

TUCSON -- The hottest weather of summer is starting today. If you are new to the southwestern deserts, or just dread hot summer days here, try these simple steps to improve your hot season quality of life.

1. Drink a lot of water, at least a gallon a day, with ice is good. Beer does not count as water.

2. Eat more cold and lighter foods.

3. Enjoy late nights and the cooler early AM.

4. Try to stay out of the direct sun from 10a-4p each day. This is the burn time. If you cannot, wear a good full brim hat and stay wet with cool water.

5. Wear light cool clothes that block the sun.

6. Park your vehicle in the shade whenever you can.

7. If you are really too hot in your house, go outside in the shade and hose down with cool water. Get in the pool if you are lucky enough to have one, or go to a public pool.

8. Get up in high in the mountains, such as Mt. Lemmon in the Santa Catalina Range.

9. Try to use an outdoor stove/oven or solar oven to avoid heating up your house.

10. Live with it and pray for a strong, early and long monsoon.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

BP fought Canada same season oil relief well policy

BP's giant oil spill polluting the Gulf of Mexico, as seen from space.


Citing Its Gulf Expertise, BP Argued Rapid Relief Well Capacity Is Needless Expense

OTTAWA -- Just days before the Deepwater Horizon blowout, BP pressed the Canadian government to rescind its long-standing policy that all exploratory oil wells must have "a relief well ready in case of a blowout," according to Canadian documents posted by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The absence of a ready relief well in the Gulf of Mexico means that the Deepwater Horizon spill may continue to gush unabated through August.

In its March 22, 2010 filing with Canada's National Energy Board, BP maintained that rapid relief well capacity in the same season that the original well is sunk "is not required and is problematical to BP" due to additional time and expense. Citing extensive expertise gained in the Gulf of Mexico, BP contended -

  • In the event of a blowout "it will always be preferable to re-establish and remain working with the existing well rather than initiating a relief well" (emphasis added); and
  • "BP recognizes that cost implications per se should not be a driving force in this review [but] additional certainty and clarity on dealing with the approach to well control generally, and relief wells in particular, are required now."

The Canadian "same season" (i.e., within 90 to 100 days) relief well policy was established in 1976 in order "to significantly reduce the damage to the environment that would result if an oil blowout continued to release oil throughout the…season unchecked" according to a government report. That is precisely the present predicament in the Gulf of Mexico where an array of tactics short of a relief well have failed.

"Drilling a relief well simultaneously with a deepwater exploratory well is one of a number of safety measures that we should have been looking at," said PEER Board Member Rick Steiner, a noted marine professor and conservationist who tracked the Exxon Valdez spill. "Had the Deepwater Horizon had a companion relief well along side, this blowout would have been killed weeks ago, not months from now."

While many of BP's claims in its March 2010 filing do not hold up well even in this recent hindsight, one statement rang eerily on point:

"BP understands that BP's privilege to operate depends on BP's maintaining the confidence of the public and regulators, and that a blow-out - however mitigated - could seriously undermine this confidence."

PEER also posted a July 2007 paper by U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) staff which found that the U.S. has experienced 126 blowouts in offshore rigs between 1971 and 2006, a rate of more than 3½ such events per year. While the paper noted some encouraging trends it concluded that "The percentage of blowouts during or after the cementing operations increased significantly during this period." The BP Deepwater Horizon blowout also occurred during this phase.

"If MMS is counting more than three blowouts a year why didn't the BP Gulf Spill Response Plan envision a deep water blowout as a possible scenario?" asked PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, who has voiced concern that merely breaking up MMS will not improve regulatory outcomes. "Same season relief wells are one of a number of safety measures undertaken by other countries that we should have been looking at, and should seriously consider emulating. The U.S. likes to think that it is always the most advanced but being number one in oil spills is not anything to brag about." - from PEER

See also Salon article: Ken Salazar, corporatism and the BP oil spill

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Reward on shot Javelina found at Saguaro Park W

Javelina in Saguaro National Park west, Tucson Mountains.

TUCSON -- The Arizona Game and Fish Department's Operation Game Thief is offering a reward for up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest in connection with the discovery of two dead javelinas, one of which was shot.

Authorities say they found the animals Monday afternoon at Saguaro National Park-West, southeast of West Rudasil Rd., and N. Noel Ln.

One of the javelinas had been shot twice in the head.

Authorities say the shooting may have occurred elsewhere, with the carcasses being dumped there afterward.

Those with information about the circumstances surrounding the shooting are urged to contact AZFGD at 1-800-352-0700. - adapted from AZGFD & KVOA