Tag: Maricopa County

The Long March through the Ballot

 

Ballot boxIt is always a long march through the ballot in Arizona. This bug is the feature in a Progressive Era state, meaning a state whose constitution was ratified in the late 19th or early 20th Century. Long ballots were supposed to give more direct power over more offices by voters. In practice, we ended up with so many offices and issues that the ballot form is 19 inches long and double-sided. Therein lies a cautionary tale.

Since the ballot is so long, and because a number of the candidates fall below the national or even local political radar, I long ago registered for the Permanent Early Voting List. This means my ballot arrives in the mail approximately 30 days prior to election day. I was determined to vote for every Republican and no Democrat, so all the partisan offices, from Presidential to County Treasurer, were easy. I carefully filled in each appropriate bubble on the scan form ballot. So far, so good.

Now for the “non-partisan” offices, which are clearly nothing of the sort in this day and age. We have all experienced power plays by all manner of local officials. We know that schools have been entirely politicized. So, attention is needed.

The East Valley Loves a Parade: Martin Luther King Jr. Parade

 

Monday, 21 January 2019, was a bright day for the Valley of the Sun. The East Valley Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parade and Festival, hosted by the City of Mesa, was well attended and had enough parade entries to last over an hour. Both the crowd lining the parade route, and those marching, broadly reflected the East Valley community.

Parade Organization:

Unlike the Veterans’ Day parade, where a non-profit group has had primary responsibility for organization and funding over the years, The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parade was a public-private partnership event. The City of Mesa takes lead responsibility:

Conservatives Shouldn’t Look Up to Joe Arpaio

 

Joe Arpaio was my sheriff for 23 years. His predecessors were ineffective and mildly corrupt, so Maricopa County voters embraced the tough-talking, no-nonsense lawman. And he started out pretty well. Sure, there was the shticky pink underwear, tent city, and constant media stunts, but it finally seemed like a dedicated sheriff was at the helm.

But power tends to corrupt. Arpaio started focusing more on media appearances than law enforcement. Scandals started popping up. The headline-grabbing antics got more bizarre. And a man who seemed to many like a conservative stalwart devolved into anything but. I wrote about the ex-sheriff for Monday’s USA Today. Here’s a preview:

During one three-year period, his Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office didn’t properly investigate more than 400 alleged sex crimes, many of them involving child molestation.

Why Are Private Prisons “Immoral?”

 

The Phoenix suburb of Mesa is Arizona’s third largest city, the spring training home to the Chicago Cubs, and, most famously, home to yours truly. Unlike most cities, our leadership is always looking for costs to cut, rather than expensive new programs to create. But their latest budget-minded initiative is angering the local powers that be.

For decades, Mesa has sent its misdemeanor offenders to Maricopa County jails, but that comes with a steep price tag. Over the past 10 years, the county has increased its daily housing prices by nearly 40 percent and its booking cost by more than 60 percent. So now the city is negotiating a deal with private contractor CoreCivic to house the inmates in a neighboring county. The move could save up to $2 million a year. Sounds like a win/win to me, but the county sheriff is seeing red ink:

[Sheriff Paul] Penzone was quick to condemn Mesa’s move, claiming it could increase county expenses and have a negative impact on his organization. To persuade Mesa and other cities not to search for better options, he said he would try to reduce costs and increase efficiency. He claims to have closed Tent City for just this reason.