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

Monday, October 11, 2010

First Things First: Russ Pearce's deception and lies.

The AZ Republic's BS-detector found quite a mound of it in Russ Pearce's propaganda on the First Things First program. Don't them let them rob our schools through Prop 302. They'll just be using it to build new prisons for our kids, instead.

-------------------------Hooray for the AZ Republic Fact Checker-----------------

The issue: Use of funds by First Things First

Who said it: Russell Pearce (R)

by Mary Jo Pitzl - October 7, 2010, 7:27 pm

What we're looking at:

In an e-mail supporting Proposition 302, Sen. Russell Pearce claimed the First Things First program, which provides health and human services to preschool-age children, spends money on illegal immigrants, funds abortions, and pays its staff $70,000-plus salaries.

The comment:


The forum:

E-mail sent to Pearce supporters in September.


First Things First is the target of Proposition 302, which seeks voter approval to repeal the 4-year-old program. Lawmakers such as Pearce say they need the money in the program's fund balance -- about $345 million -- to help balance this year's state budget. First Things First makes grants to various programs that provide services to improve the health and education of children from birth to age 5.

Pearce made three specific allegations against the program.

1) Pearce claims that the program spends money on illegal immigrants. In explaining that accusation, Pearce claims that a man, whom he identified as a pastor, walked into one of the offices of a First Things First service provider and made it clear that he had a family that needed help, but the family did not have legal status in the U.S.

Pearce refuses to identify the man, the office's location, the date of the interaction or any other details beyond a list of four agencies that have received First Things First dollars. They are: Teen Outreach Pregnancy Services, Mariposa Community Health Center, Association for Supportive Child Care, and Pinal Gila Child Care Services.

Liz Barker Alvarez, a spokeswoman for First Things First, said the program meets all state and federal laws governing people who are not legally present in the U.S., "and to the best of our knowledge, our grantees are also."

She added that Pearce has not contacted the agency with his complaints, leaving her to rely on his remarks to news media. "We are dealing with allegations and innuendos," she said.

At the Association for Supportive Child Care, Executive Director Susan Wilkins was unaware of anyone getting services they're not entitled to receive.

Besides, she said, the group does not provide tangible services such as housing, transportation or financial aid. Rather, it offers professional development for preschool teachers and uses First Things First dollars for scholarships for those teachers. Scholarship recipients have to work at licensed day-care facilities, which are regulated by the state and therefore checked to ensure they are not providing service to people in the country illegally, Wilkins said.

In addition, the scholarships are typically used at local community colleges, and the colleges' entry requirements would screen out anyone not legally present in the U.S., she said.

Pearce said he will seek an investigation into the First Things First program, either by the state Attorney General's Office or a county attorney. Pearce said it is against state law to use taxpayer money to provide services to people who are not authorized to be in the United States. There is no indication that he has yet sought such an investigation.

2) Pearce also indicated First Things First may have provided funding for abortions.

Pearce says that information also came from an inquiry made to a First Things First grantee about a crisis pregnancy, and the service provider indicated that the situation could be dealt with.

Again, Pearce gave no specifics other than the agency names.

Once again, Barker Alvarez said Pearce's claims that First Things First pays for abortions are allegations and innuendo.

Representatives of the groups Pearce highlighted said they're unaware of the inquiries the senator referenced.

Marie Fordney, outreach director for Teen Outreach Pregnancy Services, said that her group provides free pregnancy tests for anyone younger than 21. But First Things First dollars are not used for these services.

"It is ridiculous to imagine that First Things First would fund abortions, since its goal is to support children age zero to 5 and make sure they enter kindergarten ready to succeed," she said. "(It's) not to have fewer children in Arizona."

3) As for the salaries, Barker Alvarez acknowledged that some staffers make more than $70,000, but a breakdown of all 126 staff salaries is still being produced.

Bottom line:

Pearce could not provide documents or details to back up his allegations, and they could not be substantiated.


E-mail from Sen. Russell Pearce
Interviews with Sen. Russell Pearce, First Things First, Teen Outreach Pregnancy Services, Mariposa Community Health Center, Association for Supportive Child Care, and Pinal Gila Child Care Services.
Arizona Revised Statute 8-1171

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