Posts tagged ‘Jan Brewer’

Jan Brewer Decides to Obey the Law

Jan Brewer, Arizona governor by grace of Janet Napalitano going to Washington, said she would not run for a third term.  This is actually hilarious, because by our state Constitution she may not serve a third term.  This announcement would be roughly equivalent to Obama announcing next year he was not seeking a third term as President.  It is simply absurd, and an indicator of the low quality of politicians we get in this state, that she actively entertained the extra-Constitutional notion of a third term for so long.

Asymetric Definition of "Partisan Bickering"

Have you ever notices how "partisan bickering" seems to be defined asymmetrically?   In most of the media, when such a term is used, it generally means "folks trying to reduce the size of the state have gotten uppity of late."   We have just such an example here in Phoenix:

A non-profit organization created by a former spokesman for the Phoenix Mayor's Office is bankrolling the political committee aiming to recall Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio.

The group, Protect Voters' Rights, has contributed $50,000 to the anti-DiCiccio group called Save Phoenix Taxpayers, according to campaign-finance reports filed with the Phoenix city clerk. The contributions from Protect Voters' Rights make up all but $100 of the funding Save Phoenix Taxpayers reported earning since the group formed to launch its recall campaign against DiCiccio in April.

Scott Phelps, a retired Phoenix employee who served as the spokesman for four different mayors during his 19-year tenure, said he formed Protect Voters' Rights to protect the city from being destroyed by partisan politics.

"One of the things I find discouraging and destructive is the rush by folks to make city government more like Congress and the state Legislature," Phelps said. "I can't think of a single soul who looks at the partisan bickering there and says we can use a little more of that at City Hall."

The latter statement is telling, as it seems to be in response to Republican and Tea Party influence in Congress since the last election.  Phelps longs for a return to one-party (Democratic) rule, and for him "bickering" means any sort of political opposition to his agenda, which seems to be the continued growth of government size and power.

DiCiccio is certainly a hell-raiser.  Most recently, he has complained about the mayor's back-door efforts to slip large pay raises for city workers into the budget, despite the ongoing recession that has hit city finances hard.   Further, he has suggested that private enterprises might be able to do things, like maintenance, janitorial, or clerical work, cheaper than government employees.  It is this latter idea, which sounds good to me, which apparently puts him beyond the pale for agents of the state:

Save Phoenix Taxpayers received the first check because some of what DiCiccio has been doing is an example of what Protect Voters' Rights aims to fight.

Phelps specifically cited DiCiccio's lobbying of a bill during the last Legislative session that would have required Phoenix to competitively bid out city services that cost more than $250,000. Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed the bill.

"It's not the right thing to do to run down to the Legislature and try to get that group's leadership, which isn't being filled by the deepest thinkers that have ever held those positions, to impose the will of one or two council members on the entire city," Phelps said.

I will admit that seeking a state law to force Phoenix's hand is an odd approach, but the core objection here is not the odd legislative approach but the threat to government worker jobs.  DiCiccio suspects the group is a front for government workers unions, and I think he is probably right.   After all, it is extremely odd to see a group that nominally calls itself a good-government group shocked by the very idea of seeking competitive bids for city services.

You Will Be Relieved to Know it is Now Harder To Discipline Bad Cops in Arizona

From the AZ Republic

Arizona police officers accused of misconduct will soon have more protection.

Gov. Jan Brewer has signed six bills, backed by police unions, that spell out procedures for internal investigations.

Great, because it was not already hard enough to take action against bad cops in a system where all the insiders - police and prosecutors - generally close ranks to defend them from scrutiny.

The new laws are not all bad -- at least one gives protections to internal whistle-blowers, something that is needed in a police culture that has an effective law of omerta against cops who call out other cops for bad behavior.  My guess, though, is that this rule will be used by unions who want to harass police management, rather than to protect street cops who testify against other street cops.

Defenders of the law said

Police unions weren't asking for anything more than the due process an arrested citizen receives, said Larry A. Lopez, president of the Arizona Conference of Police and Sheriffs.

"Just because we wear uniforms, we're not relegated to a watered-down version of constitutional rights," said Lopez, a Tucson officer.

I have said a number of times that this is not quite true.  Police are given powers to use force against other citizens that the rest of us do not possess.  This necessitates a kind of scrutiny and oversight by the state that would not be appropriate or legal for the average citizen.  For example, police simply do not have the privacy rights in conducting their jobs that the rest of us do.  We have seen too many times that when we give police broad discretion, special powers, and no oversight (or even a nudge and a wink guarantee against oversight), bad things inevitably happen.

If you are confused about what I am talking about, go read Radley Balko's archives.

Our Arizona Governor is Truly Lame

Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona has been insisting for MONTHS that immigrants have been beheading people in the desert.  I wrote about it here,  shande doubled down on the claim in way back in June.   She repeated the claim on a televised debate the other day, and got all the national attention on this idiotic claim that she deserves.  She has reiterated this close-to-outright-racist-paranoid-fantasy any number of times through the whole summer.  So it is grossly disingenuous for her suddenly to act like it was a one-time mis-statement:

Gov. Jan Brewer rose to national fame defending the state's immigration law and warning of rising violence along the U.S.-Mexico border, including a claim that headless bodies were turning up in the Arizona desert.

But the claim has come back to haunt her after her stammering debate performance in which she failed to back it up and ignored repeated questions on the issue from a scrum of reporters.

Brewer has spent the time since backtracking and trying to repair the damage done from her cringe-worthy debate against underdog challenger Terry Goddard.

"That was an error, if I said that," the Republican told the Associated Press on Friday. "I misspoke, but you know, let me be clear, I am concerned about the border region because it continues to be reported in Mexico that there's a lot of violence going on and we don't want that going into Arizona."

That is as craven and mendacious a response as I have ever heard from a politician, and that is saying a lot (it had to be, to bet me worked up enough to blog from a seaside resort in Italy).

Kobach's Defense of SB1070

I have had a bunch of people send me this article defending Arizona's SB1070, our now infamous immigration law.  A couple of responses:

1.  I have never been wildly worked up by SB1070 after it  was amended a week or so after its initial passage.  I have used the debate around SB1070 to reiterate my case, particularly to Conservatives, for more open immigration.  Our immigration laws are prohibition redux, though in this case we are messing with people's desire to work rather than drink.  As such, the laws to enforce the prohibition are less important to me than the fact of prohibition itself.   IOur immigration laws are an incredible restriction on commerce, free labor markets, and even private property (SB1070 redefines trespassing as not having the government's, rather than the private owner's, permission to be on a piece of property), and this is true with our without SB1070.

I would likely have dropped SB1070 coverage a while ago had it not been for the rhetoric that is used by SB1070 supporters.  When our governor is saying that the majority of Arizona's 500,000 illegal immigrants are all drug mules, that none of them are really looking for honest work, and that all they do is cause crime up to and including beheadings in the desert, I get angry to hear the same stupid arguments that many of our grandparents heard about their ethnic groups (though the beheading thing seems to lack historical precedent).  (more on the immigration non-crime wave here).

2.  The language of SB1070 has never matched the arguments supporting it.  SB1070 mainly gives the police power to be more intrusive at certain traffic stops and harass day labor centers.  What in the heck does this have anything to do with drug cartels and armed paramilitary gangs on the border?  If, as our governor says, illegal immigrants are not really looking for legitimate work, then why is most of our enforcement via employers offering legitimate work?

3.  When Kris Kobach says "In four different sections, the law reiterates that a law-enforcement official 'may not consider race, color, or national origin' in making any stops or determining an alien's immigration status," he is ignoring reality.  The law asks police to make a determination (e.g. probable cause that one is an illegal immigrant) that is impossible for actual human beings to make without such profiling.  It's like passing a law that says "police must drive their cars 30 miles a day but can't drive their cars to do so."  The reality on the ground here in Arizona is that, illegal or not, Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been using racial profiling to make arrest sweeps for years, and his officers have become masters at finding some pretext to pull over a Mexican they want to check out  (e.g. the broken tail light).   Words in this law about racial profiling are not going to change anything.

4.  Kobach makes much of the  revision of the law, post-passage, to narrow the circumstances under which police can stop and check for immigration status

But Section 2 of S.B. 1070 stipulates that in order for its provisions to apply, a law-enforcement officer must first make a "lawful stop, detention, or arrest . . . in the enforcement of any other law or ordinance of a county, city or town or this state."

The original wording made reference to "lawful contact"; this was revised to "lawful stop, detention, or arrest" to make clear that officers could not stop someone simply on suspicion and ask for his papers.

There are folks, including most in the Obama administration, that are still criticizing the original "lawful contact" language and need to catch up.  However, this seems a thin branch for Kobach to stand on in lashing out at the law's critics.  Because in fact this over-broad language did pass and get signed into law, and only the immediate and vociferous public backlash against the language caused it to be changed.  Kobach acts like it was changed based of some internal discussion or discovery of error, but in fact "lawful contact" was how Kobach himself helped write the law and wanted it to read, and was supporters like himself were forced to change it only after a lot of vocal opposition.  Its disingenuous to use the modified language as defense against critics when it was only due to the critics that the modified language was inserted.

At this point, I am done criticizing SB1070.  It is not a great law but it is not particularly worse, in its current form, than laws in some other states or federal law.  I don't really anticipate that it will get struck down by the Supreme Court, though its enforcement may be enjoined through the hearing process.

However, I am not done criticizing our prohibitionist immigration regime nor am I done calling out those on the eliminationist side of the debate, like Jan Brewer, who are starting to show their true stripes as the debate proceeds.  I know some of you are tired of it and to some disagree with me, such that I have lost about half my readers over this.  But this debate has been an eye-opener to me.

For years I have taken many of the AZ politicians at their word that they had no problem with Mexicans per se but were concerned with the load on social services and other government budgets.  I understand how the intersection of immigration and the welfare state causes problems, and have proposed solutions to deal with them.  I am willing to have a friendly agree-to-disagree discussion with such folks.  But when our leaders are talking about 500,000 drug mules and mysterious beheadings and crime waves that somehow exist in a state with rapidly falling crime rates, its clear to me something more insidious is driving some of the folks in the debate.

Jan Brewer Jumps the Shark, Slides into Outright Prejudice

On this blog, over the last couple of months, I have presented a pretty clear set of facts showing that, with the possible exception of some rural border regions beset by drug gangs, the vast majority of Arizona has experienced rapidly falling crime rates, in fact crime rates falling much faster than in the rest of the country.  The crime rates of even our key border towns has remained flat.

What to make, then, of these statements by our governor.

Gov. Jan Brewer on Friday reiterated her assertion that the majority of illegal immigrants are coming to the United States for reasons other than work, saying most are committing crimes and being used as drug mules by the cartels.

Brewer's remarks are an expansion of comments she made last week during a televised debate between the four Republican gubernatorial candidates....

In the debate, Jette [a candidate running against Brewer] said that most people who cross illegally into Arizona are "just trying to feed their families." Brewer disputed that, saying, "They're coming here, and they're bringing drugs.

And they're doing drop houses, and they're extorting people and they're terrorizing the families." The governor, who has become a national media figure since signing Senate Bill 1070 into law on April 23, went further on Friday, saying that the "majority of the illegal trespassers that are coming (into) the state of Arizona are under the direction and control of organized drug cartels."

When pressed, Brewer said that even those who do come to the United States looking for work are often ensnared by the cartels.

"They are accosted, and they become subjects of the drug cartels."

Estimates are that there are 8-12 million illegal immigrants in the US (Brewer's hispano-phobic allies would put the number much higher).  They are mostly all drug dealers and criminals?  Really?

I try really hard not to try to guess at what motivates folks I disagree with by assuming they are driven by something dark and evil, but how else in this case can one describe opinions like this so contrary to facts as anything other than prejudice against a particular ethnic group?

Just look at the actions of our governor and folks like Joe Arpaio.  If it really were the case that illegal immigrants are all criminals uninterested in legal work, then why is so much recent legislation aimed at business owners that hire illegal immigrants?  Or at day labor centers?  Why are all of Sheriff Joe's immigration sweeps raiding lawful businesses rather than, say, crack houses?  After all, if illegal immigrants are all just drug dealers not looking for real work, why spend so much time looking for them, uh, doing real work?

Postscript: If Brewer is in fact correct, then there is a dead easy solution for the illegal immigration problem -- legalize drugs.  She and I both agree that the worst criminal elements of illegal immigrants would be much less of a problem without the illegal drug trade.  The only difference is that I think that segment makes up less than 1% of the population of illegal immigrants, and she thinks its everyone.

Further, to the extent that some illegal immigrants just trying to support their families are "ensnared" by drug cartels (whatever that means) it is because of their immigration status.  Make them legal residents of the country, and no one has any particular leverage over them.

Note to Commenters: Many, many of you have disagreed with me vociferously on immigration.  Please, I would love to see reasoned comments defending Brewer, particularly with data.  In particular, please use the laws of supply and demand to explain how the majority of 8-12 million people are able to earn a living in the illegal drug trade in the southwest.  To help you out, there are about 6.6 million people in Arizona.  Based on national rates of 8% of over age 12 being users, about 500,000 of those are illegal drug users.  One estimate is that there are 500,000 illegal immigrants in Arizona.

Update: Are she and I living in the same state?

Arizona GOP Gov. Jan Brewer claimed recently that law enforcement has been finding beheaded bodies in the desert "” but local agencies say they've never encountered such a case.

"Our law enforcement agencies have found bodies in the desert either buried or just lying out there that have been beheaded," Brewer said Sunday, suggesting that the beheadings were part of increased violence along the border.

But medical examiners from six of Arizona's counties "” four of which border Mexico "” tell the Arizona Guardian that they've never encountered an immigration-related crime in which the victim's head was cut off.