Richardson: Arizona is Broken - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Voices

Richardson: Arizona is Broken

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Retired Mesa master police officer Bill Richardson lives in the East Valley and can be reached at

Posted: Monday, March 17, 2014 2:15 pm

Arizona is broken! No "ifs," "ands" or "buts", the state the once reigned supreme in growth, jobs, education, public pensions and public safety is now best known for being the source for national humor and taking the heat off of Mississippi as being the armpit of ignorance in America.

I’ve watched as the job of governing at the State Legislature, a position that was once looked upon with high regard and respect, is now regarded as a third rate circus of puppets who get their strings pulled by special interests, those with the most money and power to either buy a vote or intimidate an elected official into submission out of fear of political retribution.

I’d rather have a daughter working in a house of ill repute than have a son who is an Arizona State Legislator.

While the state is swirling down the drain everyday and we get further and further behind the curve when it comes to growing for the future and tackling serious problems that directly impact Arizona’s sustainability, our Republican dominated Senate and House of Representatives runs of half-cocked and passes SB 1062, officially known as the Exercise of Religion Bill, in record time and throws the state into their prescription to solve a non-existent problem dealing with freedom of religion, a right guaranteed by the U. S. Constitution. SB1062 was the brainchild of lobbyist and mega power broker Cathi Herrod the president of the Center For Arizona Policy. Her husband Michael is a recently appointed Maricopa County Superior Court judge whose former law firm did work for disbarred and ex-Maricopa County Attorney Andy Thomas on cases involving Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Now, the legislature driven by the Goldwater Institute and Arizona Alliance for School Choice want to further dismantle public education by shoving House Bill 2291 and Senate Bill 1236 down our throats in order to further shrink public school funding. The Bills would allow Empowerment Scholarship Accounts that would siphon off public school funds to allow parents to get us to pay for private schools for their kids. State Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal is in political bed with the extremists who want to further dismantle the state’s public school system.

Huppenthal went so far as to make “robo calls” touting the giveaway of tax dollars for tuition for private schools. The calls were reportedly paid for by the Arizona Alliance for School Choice. The group is reportedly spending $250,000 on their campaign to redesign our school system.

Debra Duvall, executive director of Arizona School Administrators told the Arizona Republic, “We have one education fund for district schools, a second for charter schools, and now this would create a third education fund for private schools. We can’t afford the two we have right now.” Duvall, the former superintendent of the Mesa Unified School District, is one of the most respected and trusted public educators in Arizona.

230 Arizona school district superintendents, that’s all of them except eight, have come out publicly against the bills. They’ve written a letter to the public and the legislature.

Our school system doesn’t need to be redesigned by a bunch of elitists and right wingers with their own personal and political agendas, it just needs to be funded properly and supported by the State Legislature, Superintendent and Governor. The system worked great for years until the special interest groups decided they wanted in their way and knew what was best for the rest of us.

The state capitol is out of our control and in the control of those with their own private, religious, corporate and monetary interests. They’re ruining our public schools and everything else that gets in the path.

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