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PHOENIX COMMUNITY TEAM

The Phoenix Team at the Terraces invites speakers on a variety on interests. All members are welcome.

Our team meets on the second Wednesday of the month.

MINUTES & REPORTS

  • May 2018 REPORT
    Report from the meeting held in May, 2018. Read more here…

    Twelve League members attended the May 9th meeting of the Phoenix Community Team, held at the Terraces in Phoenix. The two guests speakers were Alec Schaffer and Stephanie Cooper of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission. The focus was on the ever expanding and improving voter education program administered by the Commission. 

    And before you read any further, please log into the website/link below, look around, then enter your address and get a lotta information (with more to come as more candidates file their petitions) about who YOU are eligible to vote for.  Then under Elections, go to Voting Informed and then check out:  Dashboard, Candidate Debates AND Compass.   As the old saying goes, a ‘picture/or in this case seeing the actual stuff I’m going to write about, is worth a 1,000 words (and I hope to keep it under that).

    AZ CLEAN ELECTIONS WEBSITE

    Highlights of the presentation were:

    FOCUS GROUPS: 
    The Commission convened focus groups to get more information about what motivates people to register and vote (or not register/not vote) and in different elections.  When it came to local elections (almost anything other than presidential, with the lower on the ballot the more so), participation is low because people said they had a hard time getting information about the candidates and most were not that motivated to actually find the information!!   Participants did indicate an ‘emotional’ connection to voting, which is why they liked getting “I voted” stickers.  Participants also said that the Voter Guide was too BIG and so many threw it away.  As a result, the 2017 Voters Guide was ‘district specific,’ showing all statewide candidates and then ONLY those for YOUR district; and the cover is being redesigned for 2018!!
    *NOTE - By l law, the Voters Guide can NOT contain information about candidates other than those running in state elections.  However, on the web site the Commission hopes to start putting up much more information about candidates all the way ‘down ballot’ this year.

    2017 Elections:
    The Commission was very busy as there were 4 different local elections in different parts of the state and the Commission website, media buys of all kinds and social media displayed information about deadlines for registration, vote by mail deadlines, voting locations with all social media having a consistent logo and using digital ads to include something called a ‘chatbot’....using AI (I actually know what that means, i.e.,. artificial intelligence tho I have never used a Chatbo!!)

    National Voter Registration Day:
    The Commission participated in the 2017 Voter Registration Day by appearing on the ASU campus and registering 43 new people plus showing many others how to register and the web site. National Voter Registration day in 2018 is September 25!!!

    Roundtable: 
    This was held in 2017; League along with County Recorders, some City staff and non profits attended, which resulted in the development of closer ties between the Commission and all these entities.  Most counties and cities that conduct their own elections do NOT have sufficient funds to conduct much in the way of voter outreach/voter education and thus work very closely with the Commission.
    Visuals:  We saw some that use an arrow to ‘tie’ different elements of the voting process together, i.e., registration, candidates/issues, voting locations and the voter!!

    Civics 101 & the Morrison Institute:
    The Commission will be working with the Morrison Institute that is developing a Civic 101 program to provide more information about each elected office to include at the local level.
    *NOTE - Gloria Olsen thought this would be a perfect fit with the LWVMP’s new focus on county government; and I just left a message/sent a question to the Institute to try to get more information about such.

    “18 in 18” Campaign:
    This was launched earlier this year with an interactive mural positioned in a prominent place in downtown Phoenix, and will be displayed at many “First Friday” events (evenings in the ‘arts district’ of downtown Phoenix that attract a lot people who go into galleries, eat, drink, mingle etc., with of course, the ASU downtown campus in the heart of the area.)

    Candidate Debates:
    The Commission will once again host debates for both Clean/participating and traditional candidates in every district for both the primary and general elections  The dates for the primary are already listed.  There will be an experiment in the Tucson area, where one of the Commissioners has worked with two high schools that will not only host the debates but will also involve their civics, government, journalism classes, debate teams etc.  The web site also has an evite so as it gets closer to the date of each debate, everyone can see which candidates are attending, which often spurs others to attend!

    2018 Voter Guide:
    Work on this has already begun in terms of layout/visuals, questionnaires are going out to candidates as they file and the publication will appear in July.  They will again be ‘district specific.’

    Independents:
    The Commission will do special outreach to Independents who CAN participate in primaries but have to either let the County Recorder know which ballot to send OR go to the polls.  

    The Compass:
    This is a way in which a voter can determine how close candidates are to their own views, i.e., the link asks the voter about where they stand on 5-8 major issues, in a Yes/No format. They can then see how each of the candidates responded to those same questions, along with room for some short comments/an explanation.

  • SEPT 2017 REPORT
    Report from the meeting held in September, 2017. Read more here…

    Guest Speaker Alice Stambaugh
    The current Electoral College system, grounded in state laws which allocate electoral votes on a winner-take-all basis, leads presidential candidates to concentrate their resources on voters in a handful of swing states, relegating the vast majority of the country to spectator status.
    The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact would change this, guaranteeing the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular vote in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
    Find out what NPV is, how it will work, how likely it is to take effect in the near future and why we should not try to eliminate the Electoral College at this time despite the LWV position statement to that effect.

  • JAN 2018 REPORT
    Report from the meeting held on January 10, 2018. Read more here…

    Guest Speaker Jim Small
    Jim Small, the executive director and editor of the AZCIR (AZ Center for Investigative Reporting), which was founded in 2012, spoke to the January 10, 2018 meeting of the Phoenix (morning) Community Team. Small, who was a reporter & then editor of the AZ Capitol Times, the Yellow Sheet and the AZ Legislative Report, joined the AZCIR in December 2015. Small explained that the AZCIR is a nonprofit (501C3) entity, focuses on data, in depth investigative reporting, has no regular schedule of publication (reports get published when the investigation is completed!!) and shares its data/reports for free with other media, e.g., KJZZ, the AZ Republic, the AZ Daily Star, the HuffPost and with other non profit organizations, e.g., the ACLU of AZ.. Small said that AZCIR represents a new business model for the media called ‘accountable journalism,’ and is affiliated with the National Ethnics And Excellence in Journalism organization. There are a number of similar entities around the country with some focusing only one on community/city or one topic, e.g., the environment while AZCIR covers a wide range of public policy issues all over AZ.

    Small then focused on a somewhat recent report that AZCIR completed and published called “The Cost of Cuts” that was actually based on data published by the AZ Legislature’s own Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC), which annually is supposed to put out a report titled “Tax Expenditure Report (for a specific year.)” Expenditures, Small explained, in this case means all the exemptions, deductions, allowances, exclusions and credits, i.e., all the funds that the state of AZ does NOT collect due to specific laws. The report focused on the FY 2016 JLBC Report showing $13.7 billion in such ‘expenditures,’ which represents 150% of the actual budget for that fiscal year or $9.8 billion, and with such ‘expenditures’ due to grow based on current laws that continue to expand such, e.g., tax credits to State Tuition Organizations (STOs) for vouchers!!!! The $9.8 amount, he said, was composed of 45% sales taxes, 45% income taxes, and 10% miscellaneous income. Of the 45% collected in income taxes, 42% came from individuals and only 3% from corporations. Because AZ has no statewide property tax, income and the budget fluctuate quite a bit from year to year. For FY 2016, Small stated, there were $12.6 billion in sales tax exemptions (NOTE: sales taxes are legally considered to be TPTs = transaction privilege taxes) of which there are 226!! AZ is a very high sales tax state with such taxes considered to be very regressive (as poorer people spend a larger portion of their income buying ‘stuff’ then wealthier people, who invest and save more....actions not taxed). Small also pointed out that sales taxes are very susceptible to special interest lobbying groups, which is why there are exemptions for items such as 4” pipe (but not larger or smaller pip), horse vitamins (but not vitamins for humans) and various kinds of small aircraft. Small also reported that House and Senate leaders are supposed to annual appoint a committee to review the status of all the ‘expenditures’ and make recommendations to the House/Senate regarding those to be ended or changed in some way. However, although the Legislature’s tax analysts collected all the data for the Committee, it did not meet as required; some thought that might be due to the fact that the last year they did meet, their recommendations re ending certain expenditures were largely ignored. However, after the publication of the AZCIR’s report, a Committee was appointed.

    A lively question/answer period followed regarding how how AZ ranks regarding taxes, what data there is to support the claim that companies move to AZ because of our low taxes, how competitive AZ is on the basis of taxes vs. an educated/skilled workforce and more.

    The website for the AZCIR is
    www.azcir.org.

  • JULY 2017 REPORT
    Report from the meeting held in July, 2017. Read more here…

    Guest Speaker Luis Avila with Stand For Children on Demand2Learn Education Research
    On Wed., July 12, about 15 LWVMP members and guests listened to Luis Avila, advisor with 270 Strategies & national program director at Stand for Children, a nonprofit grassroots advocacy organization dedicated to improving public school education speak about the ACLU of AZ's new campaign, which is called "Demand2Learn."  This campaign focuses on ensuring educational equity in public schools to include charters by gathering and analyzing data about disparate treatment of students with disabilities and students of color, working with the AZ Charter School Board and training parents to be advocates for their students by ensuring they are aware of their rights.   
    Mr. Avila started by speaking about his own experiences both as an immigrant student in the US, having to translate for his mother who didn't speak English as well as one of his early jobs.....as a teacher in a charter school, who received NO training on how to be a teacher, how to engage students, how to deal with students with disabilities or behavior problems. He recounted a story that still haunts him about one of his students who dropped out because of his behavioral issues, which Avila did not know how to address largely because he had no training and no idea the student's father had just been deported and thus the student was angry, upset and frightened.     
    Avila said that his experience and research shows that so many students are pushed out of schools due to the focus on testing that results in how schools are graded!!  Many parents have no idea that their child has or should have an IEP (Individual Educational Program) if the child has a disability and thus have no capacity to even try to ensure that the school is following that IEP.  Further, when parents enroll their children in a high performing school especially a charter school, they often voluntarily withdraw the student because the child is falling behind and the school encourages the parents to withdraw the child and find someplace `more suitable.'     
    Avila than provided both statistics and stories to illustrate the `school to prison pipeline' in which the schools with higher percentages of minority and poor students, who often suffer from economic insecurity and trauma, have discipline problems.  Without well trained teachers, the schools too often rely on police in the schools, whether thru a formal program or as off duty security, who too often treat both students with disabilities and disciplinary problems from a `crime' perspective.  This leads to more suspensions during which students miss instruction, which further leads to expulsions.  Without a proper education and without a school to attend + as they are suspended or have dropped out - many young people get involved in some degree of illegal activities, or get picked up by police for truancy or violating curfew, which leads to an arrest, which leads to jail and thus the `school to prison' pipeline moves along. He also pointed out that there are more police in high poverty, high minority areas, who thus are more likely to `see' truant students vs. upscale malls in which students who are skipping school are free to roam around without any police to detain them!! (a self fulfilling prophecy).    
    Avila traced a lot of this approach to the `war on drugs' that started in the 1970's and is on going.  He pointed out that 68% of Black males without a high school diploma go to prison by age 34!!  Further from 1970-2010, the number of people in prison in the US increased by 430%. Other disturbing statistics that Avila reported were:  53% of people in prison have a substance abuse problem; 56% have a mental health issue; each year that someone spends in prison, results in a 1 year decrease in their life expectancy; in AZ children as young as 8 can be held in detention; that 20 years after someone is released from prison, they are more likely than others to be at the bottom of the income distribution; and their children are more likely to go to prison.   
    Currently Demand2Learn is gathering data from as much public schools/districts as possible regarding suspension/expulsions by race, disability etc. The federal government only collects such every 5 years and does not report it for another 3-4 years so there is no current reliable information.  Further, although the AZ Department of Education used to collect such data until about 5 years ago, it has since stopped and even when it got it, no one ever analyzed the data!!   In October, Demand2Learn will host a policy summit, which will result in a legislative platform that will be the focus for the 2018 Legislative session.

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LWV Metropolitan Phoenix Contact Information

Phone
480-231-6426

Mailing Address
LWV Metro Phx
3219 E. Camelback Rd #187
Phoenix, AZ 85018

Email
infoLWVMP@gmail.com