I began this blog in May 2009 following the death of Marcia Powell at Perryville State Prison in Goodyear, Arizona. It is not intended to prescribe the path that leads to freedom from the prison industrial complex.

Rather, these are just my observations in arguably the most racist, fascist, militaristic state in the nation at a critical time in history for a number of intersecting liberation movements. From Indigenous resistance to genocidal practices, to the fight over laws like SB1070 and the ban on Ethnic Studies, Arizona is at the center of many battles for human rights, and thus the struggle for prison abolition as well - for none are free until all are. I retired the blog in APRIL 2013.

Visit me now at Arizona Prison Watch or Survivors of Prison Violence-AZ

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Race, Class, and the Republicans' Final Budget

This just came in an hour ago from Doug Kilgore; I guess that's the last from the AEA on the state house for awhile. They're pretty impressive activists - those teachers and retirees made their presence known at the capitol all summer. There were at least a hundred from all over the state last time I was there, the last day before school started for them.

That's why the legislature is so anti-union: when people get organized, it's easier for them to protest. A lot of people forget that impoverished workers have been imprisoned and died for the right to have an eight-hour day, overtime pay, the right to unionize, and all sorts of protections and benefits that we take for granted now; too many buy into the propaganda marketed by the very people who exploit them. "Right to work"? Tell that to all the people working two jobs and still having to walk away from their homes because they can't afford their mortgages - or their kids' education - anymore.

Lots of hard-working people are getting gouged by medical expenses, too, and the same folks who would oppose an increase in teacher pay or meaningful criminal justice reform - or who would transfer the tax burden onto the poor and working classes, as Arizona wants to do - now stand in the way of guaranteed health insurance. Some are beginning to freak out and kill people again (the right-to-lifer, the anti-immigrant extremists) because they're losing control. The structure of a democratic republic within a capitalist society - assuming there was truly universal suffrage - only works as long as the majority are compliant with their oppression, which racism does a good job of reinforcing, so we're institutionally dependent on hate. Whenever the People start rising and power starts shifting, hate-based legislation and police brutality seem to go up.

You could tell where some of the country was heading from the Sarah Palin rallies; all these white working and middle class people were showing up hysterical about Obama being a socialist and associated with terrorists and having a secret agenda to take away their guns. Oh, yeah - they were upset because he's black, too. So many of them ended up voting against their own interests because of racism. He's probably more likely to be assassinated than any president in history, just because of the color of his skin. We haven't all really come that far - despite how we congratulated ourselves after the election.  And we have a long way to go yet before there's equality and justice for all...

So, anyway, here's Doug's update on the final legislative session of the extended year. He's really been terrific to get reports from every day, and the AEA has always included some way for people to take action: a link to the legislature, instructions for a rally, details to reference when writing the Governor...I need to send another e-mail that way myself, now, in fact. Make sure to send yours tonight or tomorrow morning.

Thanks for all your work, Doug. And thanks to all the other folks at the AEA trying to salvage K-12 - and to the Peace and Justice community (like Liz from Code Pink) there trying to help them all summer.

Special Session is Over - Veto Still Needed - Bipartisan Negotiations Underway

The Legislature has ended the special session, sine die. The House and the Senate took the action today allowing the governor ten additional days to consider how she will deal with the eight remaining budget bills sitting on her desk. If the legislature had stayed in special session, her deadline to act on the bills would have been tomorrow. Now her deadline is midnight on Saturday, September 5. Prior to that time, she can sign or veto the budget bills at any time. If she does not act on a bill by the deadline, it will become law without her signature.

The eight budget bills sitting on the governor's desk are nearly identical to the budget she vetoed on July 1. The bills include massive cuts to education, a permanent repeal of the school equalization tax, and a shift of local property tax burden from business owners to homeowners. In a July 1 statement , Brewer called these provisions "fatally flawed" because of their "devastating cuts to public education."

AEA opposes this budget package and has funded a media and grassroots campaign calling on the governor to veto it. Get involved to call on the governor to veto this budget package by calling her , sending her emails , making a sign for your car, and listening to the audio advertisement. Forward this to others on your email list and ask them to do the same.

Currently the governor is engaged in five-party bipartisan negotiations with Republican Senate President Bob Burns, Republican House Speaker Kirk Adams, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jorge Garcia, and House Minority Leader David Lujan. This group met last Friday and this morning. As this is being written, they are meeting again today. It has been reported that actual proposals are being discussed and exchanged. According to an article in today's Arizona Republic, Governor Brewer stated, "The bottom line is we now pretty much know where everyone stands and what it's going to take to get it done."

The AEA March4schools movement has been urging five-party bipartisan negotiations for months and is encouraging all the parties to work together for a budget agreement that represents the interests of all Arizonans. Solutions to this very difficult budget dilemma will require hard work and creativity. The fact that bipartisan negotiations are underway is a step in the right direction.

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