‘ObamaCare’ is working: more good news

“ObamaCare” is working in states where GOP governors and/or legislatures did not sabotage the Affordable Care Act by failing to establish a state-run insurance exchange and/or failed to enact expanded Medicaid coverage for its citizens , i.e., the Red State “coverage gap.” Credit: McClatchy

The Gallup Survey reports Uninsured Rate Drops More in States Embracing Health Law:

mcc_aca_coverage_gapThe uninsured rate among adults aged 18 and older in the states that have chosen to expand Medicaid and set up their own exchanges in the health insurance marketplace has declined significantly more this year than in the remaining states that have not done so. The uninsured rate, on average, declined 2.5 percentage points in the 21 states (plus the District of Columbia) that have implemented both of these measures, compared with a 0.8-point drop across the 29 states that have taken only one or neither of these actions.

As Gallup previously reported, the states that have chosen to expand Medicaid and set up their own healthcare exchanges had a lower average uninsured rate to begin with: 16.1% compared with 18.7% for the remaining states — a difference of 2.6 points. The already notable gap between the two groups of states widened in the first quarter to 4.3 points.

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Exciting Easter Eggstravaganza on April 19

EGGstravaganza-web-2014Tucson Water and Tucson Parks and Recreation Department present the 14th Annual EGGstravaganza. This free annual community-wide event is about having family fun! The event is expected to attract more than 2,000 Tucson youth. Family activities include music, carnival games, inflatables, prizes, egg hunts, and the Easter Bunny. Come to our Parks and Recreation information booth to catch the highlights of the various Parks and Recreation units offering services and programs to the community. A variety of foods will be available for purchase through local vendors.

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Meet the GOP’s new class of jokers (Martha McSally makes an appearance)

Katie McDonough, assistant editor for Salon, offers a scathing critique of the GOP’s new class of jokers: Meet the “rising stars” of the dumbest rebrand everWelcome to the lamest reinvention in modern history. Why these “young guns” are just as scary as the old male ones:

joker cardsTo answer the questions Andy Kroll raised in his Wednesday Mother Jones piece exposing New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez as a terrible shithead — yes, Martinez probably is the next Sarah Palin. And yes, Martinez is also, as Kroll points out, probably the next Chris Christie. Which is to say that she is currently being floated as a great savior of the Republican Party, even though she is terrible.

But while Martinez and some of the “young guns” being scouted by the National Republican Congressional Committee may make for some more demographically representative campaign ads, the policies they have built their careers on are pretty indistinguishable from the sea of white men who have been driving the GOP into the ground. And it’s these policies that matter most to the politically engaged and highly motived voting blocs — unmarried women of color, in particular — who are shaping contentious elections and whom the GOP so desperately want on its side.

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Scaled-down school vouchers bill approved by Senate

DeathStarTea-Publicans in the Arizona legislature are willing to settle for a scaled-down school vouchers bill this year — oh, excuuuse me! An “empowerment scholarship accounts” bill — but rest assured, unless you elect Fred DuVal governor and elect more Democrats to the legislature this fall, the “Kochtopus Death Star,” the Goldwater Institute, and its school privatization storm troopers will be back next year to finish the job. Senate votes to expand voucher-like program for private school tuition:

On a voice vote Wednesday the Senate approved legislation to expand the voucher-like program, now geared for only certain students, to all children living in zip codes where the average household income is below 185 percent of the federal poverty level for a family of four. That currently computes out to $44,122 a year.

SB 1236, which still requires a final roll-call vote, does not make that an income limit for individual families. And Sen. Kimberly Yee, R-Phoenix, said those who earn much more also would qualify for the state-paid tuition as long as the average income of their neighbors, as defined by postal zip codes, is below that figure.

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“Due process? What due process? We’re rescuing hookers!”

Certain areas of Phoenix have a problem with prostitution and sex workers are often trafficked into it so some (I assume) well-intentioned people came up with a diversion program which is not without its critics:

Project ROSE (Reaching Out on Sexual Exploitation) is a collaboration between the Phoenix Police Department and Arizona State University School of Social Work. Twice a year, more than 100 police officers spend two days rounding up sex workers through street sweeps and online stings. Sex workers are handcuffed and taken to Bethany Bible Church. They are then assessed for eligibility to the “arrest-diversion” program. Anyone with previous arrests for prostitution or in possession of drugs at the time of arrest is ineligible. Eligible sex workers speak to a prosecutor who offers them the ultimatum of criminal charges and possible jail time or participation in a “rehabilitation” program run by Catholic Charities. They are denied the right to speak to a defense attorney.

The article I quoted is from Ryan Beck Turner of the Human Trafficking Center, who is obviously not a fan of the program. ProjectROSE came to the attention of sex worker and civil rights advocates when Monica Jones, an ASU social work student and transgender and sex worker activist, was apprehended and charged with “manifesting prostitution”. Jones claims she was not soliciting on the night she was arrested and that she was targeted for protesting ProjectROSE.

I’m just going to say that Project ROSE strikes me as a ghastly cross between a Crisis Pregnancy Center and a 12 step program, with police and prosecutorial force behind it. But even if it were the most fantastic prostitution diversion program ever devised, the way they get people into the program is fraught with violations of due process. They are really trying to claim that handcuffing people and taking them to a location where they are not permitted to leave is not an arrest? They are really trying to claim that being “assessed for eligibility” by cops is not an interrogation? They are seriously acting like sex work suspects being required to make incriminating statements about themselves and a deal with prosecutors to avoid being charged and put in jail is somehow fine and that all the above can happen without the suspects being advised that they can talk to a lawyer first?

ProjectROSE’s own fact sheet says this about that:

Clients at Project ROSE do not require legal representation, as they are not under arrest. They are never arrested at Project ROSE for the prostitution-related charge.

They are “never arrested” by snatching them off the street and handcuffing them for “manifesting prostitution” or whatever. Yeah, okay. But what is the problem, if this is such a helpful program, with simply allowing and encouraging suspects caught up in it to, you know, talk to a lawyer of their own choosing about whether or not this is the right thing for them before they agree to it? Why the insistence that legal representation isn’t required? Why are you so afraid of diligent defense attorneys snooping around your program, Project ROSE?

Monica Jones, who alleges that she was improperly arrested, exemplifies why the immediate availability of a defense attorney is required. Does anyone believe that the prosecuting attorneys on hand at the Project ROSE “events” (this is how a defender of the sweeps described them to me on Facebook) will give an iota of real help to a person suspected of prostitution who believes her rights were violated by her arresting officer?

Maybe sex workers should take up ranching on federal lands instead.

‘Constitutional Chickens’ bill lays an egg

What does it say about the priorities of Arizonans when the most commented upon bill of the legislative session is the “constitutional chickens” bill sponsored by Sen. David Farnsworth (R-Mesa)? Lawmaker: Homegrown chicken and eggs are a constitutional right. (It is also one of the most commented upon posts at this blog).

The CPS scandal, which the legislature still has not addressed — meh. Political corruption in this state from legislators being prosecuted, to money laundering of campaign finances, to undisclosed gifts to legislators — meh. Creating jobs, funding public education, health care, infrastructure and roads — meh.

But backyard chickens? Oh, hell yeah! The chicken lovers go insane. Well, cluck you! The “constitutional chickens” bill just laid an egg in the legislature. I love this Arizona Capitol Times headline (subscription required), Despite lots of clucking, chicken bill doesn’t come home to roost:

gonzo-and-camilla-the-chicken2Republican Sen. David Farnsworth’s bill to allow a chicken in every backyard captured the imagination of Arizonans and was one of the most talked-about bills of the legislative session.

Committee hearings about the bill were packed, and dragged on as everyone wanted to get a chicken-related joke into the conversation.

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“Everytown for Gun Safety” launched today

7 years ago today a mentally ill student opened fire at Virginia Tech and killed 32 students and wounded 17 others.  Over 3 years ago on January 11, 2011 another mentally ill young man fired his gun here in Tucson, Arizona and killed 6 innocent people, and wounded 13 others.  Some of those 13 (Pam Simon, Suzi Hileman, Mary Reed) were at a press conference today in downtown Tucson announcing the launch of a new organization “Everytown for Gun Safety” to lobby for common sense legislation on all levels of government, especially Congress.

Everytown

Also attending today were Emily Nottingham, mother of the late Gabe Zimmerman (Congressional aide killed on 1/8/11), Roxanna Green, mother of the late Christina Taylor-Green (killed on 1/8/11), and Daniel Hernandez Jr. and Patricia Maisch – both heroes on that fateful day at the Safeway in NW Tucson where the shooting occurred.

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Charles Pierce on Richard Mack

Charles Pierce at Esquire has more on former Graham County Sheriff Richard Mack, and his conspiratorial Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association in this report, The Latest From The Front:

The great victory for freedom and liberty (!) struck at the Bundy Ranch continues to resonate across the land like a 50-pound bag of manure dropped into a massive copper skillet. The latest insanity comes to us courtesy of The Blaze, the print version of the voices in Glenn Beck’s head, which voices seem to be a bit horrified at the whole business.

Mack made the chilling revelation on Fox News’ “The Real Story” Monday, two days after the tense standoff between Bundy and the federal government came to a peaceful end. “We were actually strategizing to put all the women up at the front,” he said. “If they are going to start shooting, it’s going to be women that are going to be televised all across the world getting shot by these rogue federal officers.”

Mack obviously was inspired by the hundreds accounts of how the Minutemen hid behind their wives’ skirts on Lexington Green and Concord Bridge, and of how the ladies of the Old North Church were arrayed in battle lines up on top of Breed’s Hill in Charlestown. And surely I can’t be the only one who noticed that Mack’s account is remarkable devoid of comment from the actual women he says he was going to use as human shields. I’m sure this is an oversight.

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Neo-Confederate anti-government sedition in Arizona

The Arizona Republic finally got around to doing an investigative reporting piece on the sovereign citizen movement over the weekend, and it fell woefully short. This lengthy report failed to mention those who are members and sympathizers in Arizona, as has been reported here over the years. Sovereign citizens challenge authority of law:

Confederale SoldiersThe Republic contacted more than a dozen people who had identified themselves as sovereign in Phoenix and other cities across the state, including people who claimed affiliation with sovereign groups called the “Republic for the united States of America” and the “Republic for Arizona.” Some had served in the military. Others mentioned college degrees.

Only one agreed to speak in person and on the record.

Rockney Willard Martineau was in a Maricopa County jail.

* * *

Over the course of 2013, The Republic polled sheriff’s and recorder’s offices across Arizona about their interactions with sovereign citizens. The results showed a mixed picture of the belief’s prominence in the state.

Some law-enforcement officials said they had not seen much activity in several years, while others said sovereigns in their jurisdictions are well-known. Recorders in several counties rarely see a filing, while others report three to 10 a week, although some of those arrive from other states.

The FBI is keeping a close watch.

Seriously? Perhaps the problem is how this reporter defined “sovereign citizen,” disregarding the numerous far-right anti-government organizations to which these extremists belong. If The Republic polled sheriff’s offices, how is it possible that they missed these guys?

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Pima County Fair – April 17 to 27, 2014

You are invited to join in the fun at the 103rd annual Pima County Fair,pimacountyfair

April 17 – 27, 2014!  The Pima County Fair is one of Southern Arizona’s largest and most anticipated annual events with nearly 250,000 visitors over an 11 day period One of the most affordable events that promises and delivers fun at a reasonable price! Spend the day with family and friends enjoying animals, attractions, motorized events, carnival rides, concerts and entertainment sure to appeal!

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