Thursday, September 30, 2010

Menendez immigration bill serious step forward

Senator Menendez

WASHINGTON -- Yesterday, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced comprehensive immigration reform legislation in the United States Senate.

"We commend Senator Menendez for his strong leadership and we look forward to working with him and others on this legislation. It is a serious proposal that contains many of the common sense ideas we have espoused for years. The DREAM Act, and AgJOBS, two provisions critical to reform, are contained in their entirety in Menendez’s legislation," said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum and Chair of the Reform Immigration FOR America Campaign.

Senator Menendez’s legislation is a tough, fair, and practical solution that will:

-- Create millions of new taxpayers by requiring undocumented immigrants to register, go through background checks, pay taxes, and study English on their way to becoming full U.S. citizens. This pathway to earned legalization would honor the hard work of immigrants and our tradition as a nation of laws.

-- Enhance our national security by focusing our enforcement and security measures on the most dangerous threats to America.

-- Protect and respect workers and help economic recovery.

-- Promote and respect families by keeping spouses together and children with their parents.

-- Protect the due process rights of all.

Reform Immigration FOR America is ready to work with serious leaders in both parties who want to work together to improve this legislation. Our national immigration crisis is severe. Without comprehensive reform, we will perpetuate a system that abuses American and immigrant workers, needlessly tears families apart, wastes billions of tax dollars so that politicians can sound tough, stifles economic growth, and contributes to the loss of American brain and economic power to foreign competitors.

The voters, and especially Latino voters, are paying attention to how politicians engage on this issue. Poll after poll has indicated that this has become a litmus test issue for this demographic, and every demographic of the electorate want their elected leaders to solve tough national problems. For too long, the Republican Party has tried to have it both ways on immigration reform. They have complained that the problem needs a comprehensive federal solution, while simultaneously refusing to allow federal legislation to move forward. Instead of playing politics with immigration reform as they have for the past two years, they should engage in good faith negotiations with Democratic leadership to improve this bill and finally solve this problem for the American people. This is a national priority.

We can’t wait any longer to fix our broken immigration system. Americans want their leaders to find realistic solutions to our broken system that restore the rule of law and uphold our best values: liberty, opportunity, and fairness for all. This bill is the first step in that direction and it is time for the Senate to act. We’ll be working with Senators from both sides of the aisle who are serious about fixing this problem and who will help us engineer the coalition that gets us to 60 votes on any of these measures.

- adapted from RFIA

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Gov Richardson to Obama on hemisphere relations

Advice to Obama for better relations with Latin America.

by Bill Richardson
Governor of New Mexico

SANTA FE -- Arizona's attempt to create and enforce its own immigration policy has once again amplified -- and politicized -- the immigration debate in this country. Unfortunately, the anti-immigrant push in Arizona has also further alienated our neighbors throughout Latin America who had been hoping for better relations with the United States after the election of President Obama.

Rather than throw our hands up, I believe we have an opportunity to take bold action and engage with our neighbors throughout the Western Hemisphere.

Latin America has, perhaps, the greatest impact, in terms of trade and culture, on the daily lives of most Americans. The U.S. exports more than $219 billion annually to Latin America -- three times more than our exports to China. Hispanics now represent America's biggest ethnic and most sought after voting block. And nearly every country in the region -- 34 out of 35 -- now has democratically elected governments.

The time is right to leverage our existing trade and partnerships, and advance a more meaningful and collaborative relationship with our neighbors to the south.

Here are five suggestions the Obama Administration should consider:

First, we must aggressively lobby the U.S. Congress for a comprehensive immigration law that includes increased border security, cracking down on illegal hires, and an accountable path to legalization that requires the 11 million immigrants here illegally to learn English, pass a back ground check pay a fine for being here illegally, and get behind those trying to get in here legally. We must remember that not all illegal immigrants come from Mexico -- they also come from Central and South America and the Caribbean. This is not just an issue with Mexico; it is a hemispheric issue.

Second, we need to change our policy toward Cuba. As a first step, the President should issue an Executive Order to lift as much of the travel ban as possible for all Americans. The travel ban penalizes American businesses, lowers our credibility in Latin America, and fuels anti-US propaganda. Such an Executive Order would also be a reciprocal gesture for Cuba's recent release of political dissidents negotiated by the Catholic Church, the Spanish Government, and President Raul Castro. President Obama has taken significant steps to loosen restrictions on family travel, remove limits for remittance and expand other areas of cooperation. An Executive Order loosening travel restriction is in America's interests and would be a bold move toward normalization of relations.

Third, let's embark on a new Alliance of Progress with Latin America and the Caribbean, modeled on President Kennedy's vision for the hemisphere. It should not be a one-sided alliance preconceived on economic expansion of U.S. markets, nor an agreement that imposes an American solution. We need a new partnership in which we close the gap between the haves and have-nots by addressing both human and economic needs and giving more priority to the indigenous people of this hemisphere.

We need a hemispheric agenda that includes and emphasizes solutions to energy demands and climate change in Latin America and the Caribbean. Perhaps we need a hemispheric agreement on renewable energy that provides the technical know-how for the Americas and dramatically expands the biofuel agreement with Brazil. We also need to move quickly toward a real carbon trading system -- rewarding countries that protect their forests.

Fourth, we should continue to seek trade agreements that are free and fair and contain strong labor, environmental, and human-rights standards. Pending trade agreements with Columbia and Panama should be approved by Congress and once again establish the U.S. as a reliable trading partner. Additionally, the Obama Administration should seek a hemispheric agreement on common labor, environmental, and human rights standards. This would be a bold move that would promote our interests and image in the region.

Finally, we need a hemispheric accord on crime and violence. In New Mexico, we are working with law enforcement at every level and on both sides of the border with Mexico to share intelligence and stop the illicit trade of narcotics, illegal guns and human trafficking. This is a trans-national issue that involves a coordinated effort to protect the safety of law-abiding citizens.

While the immigration debate rages within our borders, we must not allow it to distract from our responsibility to engage with our neighbors in Latin America and the Caribbean. We should make better hemispheric relations a foreign policy priority, not an afterthought.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

GOP ignored solution, now state parks may be sold

GOP failures causing crisis for parks

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX -- Republican Gov. Jan Brewer and her privatization commission want to sell state parks to private corporations, after she and GOP lawmakers ignored bipartisan bills last legislative session that would have solved the state parks issue.

“State parks not only serve an important historic and tourist value to Arizona, but also they bring vital dollars, jobs and business to our local economies,” Rep. Daniel Patterson, D-Tucson, said. “Who wants to see a roller coaster going through Kartchner Caverns or heavy advertising of a large corporation in front of Red Rock State Park? That’s not the Arizona we all know and love.”

Brewer’s Commission on Privatization wants to — big surprise — privatize state parks, giving private corporations the opportunity to run the parks, collect admission fees, sell food and other items, and even operate lodging. Brewer's people also want to sell highway rest areas.

HB 2628 and HCR 2040, sponsored by Democrats and Republicans would have created a sustainable parks fund that would keep Arizona parks open.

“Republicans ignored solutions earlier this year to keep our state parks open and preserve Arizona’s beautiful lands,” Patterson said. “Now it seems Brewer and her ‘Privatize Everything Commission’ are only intent on selling state parks. Arizonans know that when that plan fails, just like the private prison escapes, she’ll do nothing to solve it, and our state parks will be left in shambles.”

- adapted from House Dems PIO

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

State leaders still want dream after US Senate fails

Sens. McCain, McConnell, Kyl & GOP cronies kill dreams.

WASHINGTON -- Today, in addition to failing to address the unwise 'don't ask, don't tell' policy on gays in the military, the US Senate stood against fairness and educational opportunity when it voted against considering the DREAM Act as part of a critical defense appropriations bill.

Seventy percent of American voters already support the DREAM Act, and the bipartisan legislation would put nearly one million undocumented high-school graduates on a path to citizenship after they enroll in college or enlist in the armed services – yet the proposal failed nonetheless.

State Legislators for Progressive Immigration Policy (SLPIP), a rapidly growing and diverse group of state legislators from around the country I am a member of, released the following statement in response to today’s disappointing Senate vote:

"While we are deeply disappointed by the outcome of today's vote in the United States Senate, we remain more committed than ever to ensuring that all students have access to an education and the chance to live out the American dream, and that our nation's economy remains vital by welcoming the economic contributions of talented students regardless of their immigration status. From New York to Wisconsin, from Nebraska to Utah, legislatures in red and blue states alike have been ahead of the curve and passed laws that allow promising undocumented students to afford a college education like their US citizen and legal permanent resident classmates. Leaders in the states have played a vital role to allow all students the opportunity to succeed and are shifting the national debate on immigration – and we will continue to do so in the coming months and years."

- adapted from SLPIP

Forest fees struck down by court; end HIRA fees

Feds have been wrongly charging you public lands fees away from facilities.

TUCSON -- The US Forest Service has lost an important court case on their controversial public land fees.

This important legal ruling should lead to an end of the agency's scam HIRA fees on Mt. Lemmon in the Santa Catalina Range.

Read more in this clip from today's Arizona Daily Sun in Flagstaff, Cyndy Cole reporting:

A Sedona backpacker has won a legal victory in a case questioning whether hikers, horse riders and others must buy a pass to visit much of the unimproved 160,000-acre forest surrounding that city.

The case is important because it calls into question the legality of charging someone a fee to use a wilderness area or unimproved trailhead in more than 90 other Forest Service areas nationwide. It also opens the door for others to ask that some Red Rock pass citations be dismissed.

"We've got millions and millions of acres of public land that are going to be freed up by this decision" if it stands, said Kitty Benzar, president of the Western Slope No-Fee Coalition.

"If you're just on a forest road somewhere in the Coconino and Kaibab and you pull over and spend the night, they can't charge you for that," Benzar said.

As your Arizona State Representative, I will be watching to see if the Obama administration chooses to follow the court's order, or decides to waste a lot more time and taxpayer's money pursuing a wasteful frivolous appeal.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Reckless economic agenda shows Rs out of touch

Democrats on your side to help jobs & economy.

UPDATE, Tue. Sep 21: Rs now control AZ legislature. 68% of voters disapprove Rs handling of budget & taxes; 66% say leg. has wrong priorities (ASU poll). I agree. Vote Democratic. (from @RepPatterson on twitter)

TUCSON -- A new poll from NYT/CBS reveals deep distrust of Republicans' ability to help the middle class and small businesses or solve America's economic problems.

· Solving America's problems. More than seven out of 10 Americans think Republicans have no clear plan to solve America's economic problems.

· Helping the middle class. By a 22-point margin, Americans trust Democrats will support the middle class more than Republicans (55 percent to 33 percent).

· Supporting small businesses. Americans believe Democrats are more likely than Republicans to support small businesses (49 percent vs. 41 percent).

"The radical economic agenda of Republican candidates puts millionaires and corporations that ship jobs overseas ahead of hardworking Arizonans," said Pima County Democratic Party Chair Jeff Rogers. "Republican candidate plans to privatize Social Security, allow corporations to stop paying taxes and create a 23 percent sales tax on groceries, gas and medicine would be devastating for Southern Arizona families."

View the poll.


- adapted from PCDP

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Integrity problems at Interior force BP oil spill case

Interior's integrity problems keep piling up under Ken Salazar, fueling rumors he will resign, & perhaps be replaced by NM Gov. Bill Richardson.

WASHINGTON -- President Obama's administration is hiding the memos and e-mails behind official scientific assessments of the size of the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a lawsuit filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), where I serve as Southwest Director. Estimates of the leak rate inexplicably rose five-fold amid reports that political appointees sought to low ball the size of the spill.

The controversy concerns the National Incident Command's Flow Rate Technical Group which, among other tasks, was charged with developing an independent estimate of the amount of oil flowing from BP's leaking oil well. Marcia McNutt, Director of the Interior Department's U.S. Geological Survey, chaired the Technical Group. On May 27 2010, Dr. McNutt issued a public statement that the "Best Estimate" range of flow rates was between 12,000 to 19,000 barrels per day (bpd) but she -
  • Omitted the fact that these were minimum estimates (deleting phrases such as "at least" and "range of lower bounds") and did not mention completed estimates that were much higher. Significantly, the Technical Group was supposed to look at worst-case, catastrophic scenarios to help gauge needed resources and tactics for spill response;
  • Withheld the actual technical report and instead released only a summary that she wrote; and
  • Directed that none of the Technical Group documents was subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and that group members should not disclose any materials.

Ultimately, the oil leak rate has been measured in the new well cap system to be 55,000 bpd, a daily flow rate that had diminished over time, starting at about 62,000 bpd. These numbers were much higher than the previously released figures - a disparity that has yet to be explained.

On July 6, 2010, PEER requested the release of all of the Technical Group papers, including directives from Dr. McNutt and other Interior political appointees but virtually none of these materials has been released. Today, PEER filed suit in federal district court in Washington, D.C. claiming that hundreds of pages of reports and communications are being withheld in violation of FOIA.

"This lawsuit will produce Exhibit A for the case that science is still being manipulated under the current administration," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that promised scientific integrity safeguards which would have prevented or exposed political interference in this arena are still not in place more than a year after the deadline imposed by President Obama. "Our concern is that the administration took, and is still taking, steps to falsely minimize public perception about the extent and severity of the BP spill - a concern that the administration could start to dispel by releasing these documents."

A similar controversy is brewing about the "Oil Budget" released by the administration which estimates that 75% of the BP oil spill has dissipated or been removed but the scientific methodology, let alone the actual studies, behind this conclusion has yet to be disclosed.

Read supporting documents at PEER.org

- adapted from PEER.org

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Goddard fights fraud to protect AZ's middle class

Terry Goddard leads in fighting fraud and scams. Vote Goddard for AZ Governor.

PHOENIX -- Later today, Jan Brewer will mislead voters again, suggesting that she has somehow had something to do with preventing fraud at the gas pump. AG Terry Goddard specifically warned consumers about the dangers of gasoline pump skimmers back in July. It is unclear whether any of Jan Brewer's "work" on that front has had any effect.

Overall, when it comes to protecting consumers, Terry Goddard beat her to punch - years ago. For the nearly eight years he has served as Arizona's Attorney General, Goddard has been the leader in protecting consumers from a variety of fraudulent acts, and has a string of high-profile convictions and successful legal actions to show for it. Among the achievements:
  • Reached a $1 million price accuracy settlement with Wal-Mart, the nation's largest retailer. Wal-Mart agreed to establish a rigorous price inspection and monitoring system to ensure that its customers have access to accurate and clearly posted prices.
  • Prosecuted operators of fraudulent foreclosure rescue businesses that have victimized hundreds of Arizona homeowners. Through criminal prosecutions and consumer fraud lawsuits, the Office stopped rip-off artists who charged consumers large upfront fees and claimed they could modify their mortgage terms and prevent foreclosure, yet provided no such assistance.
  • Filed several major lawsuits and settlements to stop deceptive marketing or advertising. These included a multi-state settlement with Countrywide Financial Corporation with a potential value of nearly $8 billion, relating to the company's use of deceptive mortgage lending practices, and multi-million-dollar settlements with some of the world's biggest drug companies.
In the last year alone, the Office processed some 11,400 consumer complaints and has filed dozens of civil and criminal cases. Also this year, Terry Goddard received the President's Award from the Arizona Community Action Association for his work protecting consumers in Arizona.

Brewer holds news conferences taking credit for the work of others. Attorney General Goddard takes action to protect Arizona consumers.

###

Attorney General Terry Goddard is Arizona's Democratic candidate for Governor. For more information about the Goddard for Governor Campaign, please visit www.terrygoddard.com
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The General Election is November 2, 2010. To register to vote, and to join the permanent early voting list (PEVL) click here: http://azdem.org/action/register/

- from TG campaign

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Patterson honored again by Arizona cities & towns

Mayor Walkup & former TPD Chief Miranda

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX -- Rep. Daniel Patterson, D-Tucson (District 29) has been honored with an award for his support of the relationship between local and state governments by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns.

Patterson received a Friend of Cities and Towns Award for the second year in a row at the League’s 2010 Annual Conference Legislative Luncheon.

“Arizona’s cities and towns are the driving force behind our economy, jobs and our state’s future prosperity,” Patterson said. “I support Tucson and local control. We need to work together to get Arizona back on track.”

Patterson has been dedicated to serving cities and towns, having served as a City of Tucson Planning Commissioner and president of Santa Rita Park Neighborhood Association.

"Rep. Patterson received a Friend of the League award in recognition of his support of cities and towns in Arizona,” said Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup, a Republican. “Most of the state's economic activity is generated in our cities and towns. Therefore, what is good for our local communities is good for the state. I am pleased to have Rep. Patterson representing this region."

The League of Arizona Cities and Towns represents the 90 incorporated cities and towns in Arizona at the state legislature.

You can't trust Brewer on education. Vote Goddard

TUCSON -- You just can't trust dishonest Jan Brewer on education. Vote Goddard and vote Democratic.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Rep. Patterson's Labor Day message to constituents

TUCSON -- Greetings Friends and Happy Labor Day!

It is a wonderful time of year—kids are back in school, cooler days are just around the corner and football season is underway. Go Arizona Wildcats!

This Labor Day weekend we celebrate the 128th anniversary of an American holiday started to celebrate people working day in and day out at the unglamorous but necessary jobs. I think that is true of all of our jobs sometimes, so I sincerely hope that you get the opportunity to spend time with friends and family this weekend and know that your effort helps make our state run.

The sluggish economy also makes this a bittersweet time for many of us. Too many of you are out of work and almost all of you have shared your feelings about the economy with me in one way or another. And that’s what I’m here for. As your Representative in state government, it’s my job to listen to your concerns and help whenever I’m able. If you need help or have ideas about things we can accomplish during the upcoming session, please don’t hesitate to get in touch at dpatterson@azleg.gov, 602.926.5342 (Capitol) or 520.398.6000 (Tucson). Together we can make Arizona stronger!

I always do my best to keep you informed with updates from the Capitol, so check out my tweets at twitter.com/RepPatterson, be my friend on Facebook facebook.com/RepPatterson, and read my blog, The Arizona Eagle at dpatterson.blogspot.com

Best to you for Labor Day 2010 and beyond,

Rep. Daniel Patterson
Tucson-LD29

Save Arizona, stop Jan Brewer. Vote D Oct 7-Nov 2

TUCSON -- Stop Jan Brewer before it's too late. Vote Democratic Oct 7-Nov 2.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Goddard beats bumbling Brewer in debate; prisons

PHOENIX -- Terry Goddard offers truth & solutions, Brewer lies. Many are calling for a boycott, of Jan Brewer. Watch this debate summary from Fox News PHX.

Also watch this report from CBS 5 KPHO about Brewer's dangerous private prison corruption scandal.

Help turn around Arizona, vote Brewer out & Goddard in.