Archive for the ‘Gov. Jan Brewer’ Category

Make note of the date because it is a rare day that agree with AZ Gov. Jan Brewer much less praise her, but I am going to do just that. She vetoed Senate Bill 1062 (the one that said its perfectly ok to violate the civil rights of LGBTQIA people if your imaginary sky god says they evil). What’s more is that she did it for all the right reasons: because we value religious freedom and non-descrimnation, because there has not been a single instance of a religious person having their freedom restricted because someone had the nerve to be gay in their vicinity, and the Senate has very important things to do, like pass a darn budget. Kudos Gov. Brewer!

A couple of days ago Gov. Brewer of this fine state abolished an entire state government agency: Child Protective Services. She replaced it with a new one called “Child Safety and Family Services” and put a guy by the name of Charles Flanagan in the director’s position, current head of the AZ Department of Juvenile Corrections. This change by the Governor is most likely bad for Arizona although one could also argue that things couldn’t have gotten any worse.

The tipping point for the Governor, beyond CPS’s well known longterm underperformance, was the fact that a review of their caseloads discovered that 6,000 cases that originated from the official hotline had not been investigated. This sounds horrible and it is. It is also illegal because AZ laws says that those cases MUST be investigated. Nevertheless, what the news media is not reporting to the public is the context in which all this occurred.

CPS has, like most other state agencies, been purposely starved by the Republican Governor and Republican-led legislature. Arizona is a conservative state and prides itself on low tax rates. Combine that with revenue plummeting due to the Great Recession that started in 2008 and from which we are just now recovering and we ended up with very few funds for a lot of services. We are recovering thankfully. Experts are saying that Arizona revenue will have grown by 3.5% in Fiscal Year in 2013 and are predicting 5.3% in Fiscal Year 2014. In the end, we get what we pay for and Arizona doesn’t pay for much.

However, even when times were good, state services were dismal. Here is just one example*. In 2006, the state had approximately 5% of the population living with serious mental illness and on average spent $157 per capita and assisted only 18% of the adults in need. In addition an unusually low percentage of the money budgeted for mental health services, 7%, went to state hospital care. The national average is 70%. This means that if you’re mentally ill in AZ and need assistance from the state you aren’t likely to get any and if you happen to end up homeless and mentally ill, there are no hospitals for you. This again, follows a conservative trend to deinstitutionalize mental health treatment . This trend began in CA when Reagan was governor and when he was elected President he spread that policy nationwide with ramifications we are still feeling today. Suffice it to say, it’s part of the Republican strategy to starve government so that it will fail. And when services fail, because they’ve made it inevitable, they can say, “See government doesn’t work so let’s just do away with it.” Even now Arizona is projected to have a budget surplus but Republican state legislators are still preaching austerity. Here’s what Rep. John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills**) had to say back in October 2013 a couple of months before the most recent scandal.

Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said a more realistic snapshot would build in extra spending requests in the coming years, especially since the state has had a recent run of surpluses.

“A lot of people are asking for more spending,” Kavanagh said, ticking off requests he’s seen for Child Protective Services, wildfire management and roads.

If lawmakers spend even $150 million more a year over the state budget’s baseline for the next three years, he said, the deficit could balloon to $1.4 billion by June 2017.

That’s just theory at this point. Many involved in the budgeting process caution it’s hard to reliably predict revenue and spending more than a year ahead of time.

The point is that CPS was set up to fail. Having worked in law enforcement myself I am very familiar with how child protection services are supposed to work and the incredible burdens the very underpaid, under appreciated and over worked social workers have to contend with. I thought my caseload as a Probation Officer was bad until I found out about the social workers and what they had to deal with. At least with my active caseload of 150 felons in the community, which was about half of their active cases, the likelihood that anyone’s life and mental health really depended on what I did or didn’t do was low. That’s not the case with CPS. Many of the kids’ lives and mental and physical health are directly dependent upon CPS employees every single day. Needless to say the turnover for their employees is extremely high because morale is naturally horrible. High turnover rate means more down time and increased costs for training making CPS even more expensive to run than other agencies.

Of the 6,000 cases that were ignored, 125 were found to be actual cases of abuse and none of those were reported as fatalities. That’s about a 2% rate of actual abuse from Hotline cases. Ultimately this latest scandal is simply further proof that CPS could never have succeeded. This kind of agency faces enough of a challenge in our society without the extra burden of being starved financially. So the Governor can create a new agency all she wants but it will still have the same mission, still have to draw from the same pool of underpaid and disillusioned social workers, and still have the same caseload pressures as before. Furthermore, the fact that she’s putting someone who has been involved with locking up kids and not saving them doesn’t bode well either.

In the end, the people that suffered and will continue to suffer are first and foremost the kids and second the overwhelmed CPS employees. I’m sure the Governor and the state Republican controlled legislature feels their hands are clean and on the surface it may appear they are lily white. Right now it appears that Gov. Brewer is sweeping in to save the day. That’s because they are willing to let that all roll downhill like they always do and the local news media and the voting public will let them get away with it yet again. For what it’s worth, at least some of us know the truth.

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*Another somewhat related example are the approximately 400 felony cases, some of which were sexual in nature and the victims were children, that went uninvestigated in the city of El Mirage. Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office was paid to investigate the crimes except they never were. Funny how Joe is still in office….why is MCSO even allowed to exist if CPS isn’t under the same circumstances? Why hasn’t El Mirage sued the holy bejeebers out of MCSO for unrendered services, fraud, theft, something….anything? Typical Arizona bullpucky to which the voters turn a blind eye.

**Fountain Hills is a VERY wealthy community to the East of Snottsdale where Sheriff “I serve green bologne to my inmates and have one of the highest correction death rates in the country” Arpaio happens to reside.

Some quick thoughts on news items I heard today yesterday….(so sue me, I’m slow to post lately)

  1. You know how waiters approach you and say, “Hi, My name is Kelly and I’m going to be your server today. How is your day going?” Well, I hate it. Call me a curmudgeon (really, it’s okay, I can accept that label) but I don’t give a damn what their name is because I’ll never remember it anyway. And I don’t want to make chitchat with them. I don’t do small talk very well so I don’t bother with it. I only want a waiter to be quick, attentive, efficient and quiet. Well there’s a new application of current technology out there that let’s you order via your phone and text your waiter when you want him/her to come over to your table. A waiter was quoted as saying something like, they “might as well replace us with robots”. Okay!  Sounds good to me.  I’m all for it if it means I don’t have to know your name or talk about the weather with you.
  2. The city of Detroit has been officially allowed to go bankrupt, including the ability to cut pensions in spite of a state constitutional provision that forbids it. Unfortunately, no word as to what creditors will be given precedence–the banks or the thousands of city workers whose pensions have not been funded. Correct me if I am wrong but I thought a bankruptcy judge could specify ‘who gets paid first’? It’s shameful to think that banks making millions, if not billions, in profit would get money before city workers who spent years if not decades toiling away thinking that they would some day be able to retire and now cannot. If the judge does not put them first, those people will have to rely on others and/or work until the day they die. That just sucks.
  3. As I’ve written about many times before, Arizonans hate to pay taxes but they still have the nerve to be upset when public services go unprovided. Sometimes it bites us in the ass like it did when Sheriff Joe failed to investigate over 400 felony cases for the City of El Mirage some involving murder, rape and molestation of children. Now we have another scandal. Six thousand CPS (Child Protective Services) cases have been neglected–as in not touched at all. The Governor having been informed of this created a task force to review all of those cases to see “if the kids are safe”.   Ironically the acronym for the task force is CARE–hah!  Maybe she should have cared BEFORE?!?!  CPS is not at fault. They are extremely underpaid, understaffed and under-appreciated. If some of those kids have been harmed, and the odds are good that they have, I want to know. And I want it rubbed in the face of every Arizonan who refuse to pay their taxes.  Liberty in a Capitalist society is only for those that “Have”.  The “Have Nots” are just SOL.  Their liberty is the freedom to suffer without assistance and without hope.  I wonder if those abused and neglected kids can smell the liberty right now–that is, if they’re still among the living.
  4. The price of milk in the U.S. may double and worse yet, become extremely scarce. And milk won’t be the only commodity that this will happen to…ANY product made with milk and many other basic staples that come from farming. Why? Because the U.S. Congress, held hostage by crazy, foaming at the mouth Republicans who want to take yet more money away from the food stamp program, sucks balls. They’ve failed to pass a Farm Bill–a very basic thing BTW. We need to get some rational adults into office who actually want to make government work for the American people.
  5. And speaking of crazy people, there’s this guy. He is openly advocating treason on Fox Television. Maybe he’s just crazy like a fox because you know he’s making bank off this stunt.  I like to call it Entrepreneurial Hatemongering TM As Bob Cesca says:

    Indeed, this sort of harrowing armed revolt and assassination fetishization generates a not insignificant revenue stream. It’s become its own subsidiary of the conservative entertainment complex, as David Frum called it. Located just adjacent to the anti-Obama conspiracy theory section of the store, the violent-overthrow cosplay shelves are loaded with highly potent crazyswag. For a price. Read the crazy, but subscribe first. And don’t forget to bulk-purchase the hastily-assembled ghost-written book.

  6. Finally, FL is in the news yet again. They continue to set the standard for how to rig elections by limiting who gets to vote. Once again, changing the rules at the last moment, Governor “Gollum” Scott is ordering the county election officials to close down hundreds of drop-off sites used for absentee ballots. According to a Pinellas County official 42% of the county’s absentee ballots were left at drop-off sites in 2012. That’s significant. Absentee ballots help primarily those who cannot, for a number of reasons, physically make it to the polls in the increasingly tiny window of time being allowed–which means the poor, elderly, women, minorities and you know who they tend to vote for. There is some hope though…some county election officials are openly defying the governor (as they did when he tried to illegally trim thousands of Floridians off of the voting rolls in the last election).

I think that’s more than enough misanthropy for today. Cheers!

A bill passed by the AZ legislature would have defunded Planned Parenthood and was signed into law by Gov. Jan “I had leather grafted onto my face” Brewer in May 2012.  The state in its infinite wisdom decided that the fact that Planned Parenthood services MIGHT go to cover abortions so the state could disqualify them as being able to provide services to the poor and be reimbursed by Medicaid.

Under HB 2800, an estimated 3,000 Medicaid recipients in Arizona who currently receive contraception and other preventative care at their local Planned Parenthood clinic would no longer be eligible for services there.

A Federal Judge blocked the law saying “that Medicaid recipients have the right to choose between the full range of qualified providers ‘without government interference.'” and it wasn’t the state’s job to determine if the organization was qualified to receive Medicare funds. This case will help in the same fight over laws passed in Texas and Oklahoma.

Can I tell you just how much I despise Arizona’s governor?  Well, let me start by talking about her most recent sabotage.

Today was a big day for many young illegal immigrants.  They turned out in the thousands to apply for a new deportation deferment and work permit, in hopes of avoiding deportation for at least a period of two years. Many of them meet the criteria (having come here before the age of 16, graduated from High School or have a GED or have served in the U.S. military, and no criminal record).  Some of them didn’t completely qualify.  Those who haven’t graduated  from high school are now very motivated to do so via GED programs, so they can then apply.

We’re not talking about the tens of millions of illegal immigrants.  We’re talking about a very small subset of them–about 800,000 in the U.S and about 80,000 of that total in Arizona.  The reality is they will likely stay here regardless of Federal and State policy.  The U.S. is, for the majority of these youth, the only home they have ever known.  This deportation deferral / work permit program is a way to allow them to come out into the open, become legal to a certain degree and as a result, to better themselves and contribute to society.  And let’s face it, since they are here to stay doesn’t it make sense for the rest of us that they do get legal and do better themselves?

Here  are some of the benefits the U.S. will get out of allowing these young people to work legally here.

1.  They will no longer have to work in the “cash only” underground economy for extremely low wages, being taken advantage of by unscrupulous employers (which are legion in AZ).  Being legal, they can work in the real economy, making higher wages, which means paying more in taxes (both income and sales) and having more purchasing power. All to the good for the AZ economy.

2.  If they make more money, they will be more likely to be able to afford healthcare instead of burdening our ER’s for routine visits. They will also be more likely to go to the doctor for preventative care instead of waiting until something reaches a crisis point.  These things save money for us all.

3.  We will be helping to keep families together (because some of these people are already married with kids).  Families together means more potential income for the family and quite frankly, much better mental health outcomes, for their American children.

4.  It also means they are more likely to be involved in their child’s educational and social lives–also a big benefit.

5.  They will be more likely to report crimes and interact with the police to help solve crimes.  This is a well known problem in law enforcement and affects us all when a crime goes unreported because that criminal will strike again and next time it won’t be an illegal immigrant.  It just might be Mrs. Whitey White citizen and resident of Paradise Valley or Snottsdale, your grandmother, who might have been saved if the original victims weren’t scared out of their minds of being deported and therefore hiding from the police.

6.  They are more likely to be educated or in the process of improving their educational status.  This helps in so many ways and so obviously, I shouldn’t even have to explain why this is good for us all.

7.  They are more likely to carry insurance for their home/apt and their vehicles.  One of the reasons that car insurance is so darn high in AZ (besides all those blue haired snow birds that descend upon us every winter) is because of the high number of uninsured drivers.  And it’s not just the illegal immigrants, there are plenty of poor citizens who don’t have insurance too.  But if these young people are legally recognized and financially better off, then insurance becomes likelier and the rest of us benefit (hmmmm, sort of like healthcare, but I digress).

Sounds like a pretty good deal all the way around, right?  Well, not according to Gov. “Leather Face” Brewer.  She doesn’t like the President’s deferred deportation order, so she decided she would create her own order in response and she would sign it on the very day that all those hopeful young people were first eligible to apply for the new federal program.

Her Executive Order tells state agencies that they are not to provide driver’s licenses or other public benefits to this population of people.  This means the likelihood of their being able to obtain car insurance without a drivers license is not good.  So there goes that positive outcome.  It also means they are less likely to get a legitimate job or open a bank account.     It means that if they wanted to get a GED they would not be eligible for any of the free GED programs offered by the state and local governments.  Yep, keeping them ignorant is a brilliant idea.  Furthermore, some of them were actually going to college and paying in-state rates.  But no more of that…they will have to pay out-of-state rates, meaning many will have to drop out of college.  That’s absolutely, fucking brilliant there, because who wants more college graduates in AZ?!  They can’t get a business or professional license so they can forget about moving up the social ladder.  Their children, who are American citizens, won’t qualify for any state subsidized child care or health care because of this Order.  Makes it pretty hard to work an 8 to 5 job when you can’t afford to pay for child care (and believe me, it is VERY expensive).   So they are back to using the ER as their kid’s primary care physician.

So now with the stroke of a pen, Gov. Brewer has undone many of the things that the President’s executive order hoped to accomplish–things that, in the long run, would be good for Arizona.  I’m sure she and her conservative cronies are very pleased with their cleverness.  It’s just too bad that young men and women who only want to come out into the light, be a legal worker and contribute to the country and state that they love, some of whom actually risked their lives in the U.S. military for the rest of us, won’t be able to see any of the positive outcomes that being a legal worker entails.  The rest of us won’t get to enjoy the benefits of those positive outcomes either.  Instead, we will have to continue to watch these young people live in the shadows and pay the price for a lack of basic human decency on the part of Arizona politicians.

May the Good Lord, the Goddess or the FSM, if you prefer, save us from short-sighted, narrow-minded, petty, vindictive, hateful conservative politicians like Jan Brewer.  Arizona just can’t win for losing with her in charge.

Sources:

http://www.azcentral.com/news/politics/articles/20120815arizona-brewer-bars-public-benefits-illegal-immigrants.html

http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/15/us/immigration-deferred-deportation/index.html

http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/valleyfever/2012/08/governor_jan_brewer_issues_exe.php