Updates from LMHudson Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • LMHudson 5:51 pm on February 12, 2021 Permalink | Reply  

    How to use the Request to Speak (RTS) system 

    First, you must go physically to the State Capitol and register at one of the kiosks. Once you have done that, the RTS system will recognize you where ever you login from with your email address and password. You must do this once only. I would be happy to help you.

    Now, do your homework. Two good sources are Jose Borrajero’s People’s Lobbyist (http://www.azpeopleslobbyist.com) and the Arizona Civil Defense League (https://azcdl.org/). Sign up for their email alerts.

    Once you are registered and have a bill on which you wish to comment, browse to https://apps.azleg.gov/, select Request to Speak, and sign in. Suppose you are interested in HB2054. This bill would amend ARS 16-165 on page 2, line 24, by one word. Where ARS 16-165 presently says “The Secretary of State may compare the records of deaths with the statewide voter registration database,” HB2054 proposes to change “may” to “shall.” As of 12 February, there were 109 people writing in support and 466 writing against. Election integrity is a stunningly partisan issue and those who oppose it are very well organized. The members of the House seem not to have been impressed by the RTS ‘No’ votes. Yesterday this bill was passed out of the House to the Senate, 58-1, with only our own Jennifer Jermaine voting ‘No.’

    If you wish to express an opinion about a bill, browse (from the front page of azleg.gov) to Legislative Information>Request to Speak. Make a New Request and specify the bill.

  • LMHudson 5:49 pm on February 12, 2021 Permalink | Reply  


    Recalls are hard because the law requires the number of signatures to be at least 25% of the number of votes cast. In November, 424,531 votes were cast in the District 1 Maricopa County Supervisors election, so 106,133 signatures are needed for recall. Since Jack Sellers won very narrowly, that is half the votes he received. No Democrats, to my knowledge, support election integrity, and all favor municipal subdivisions — counties and cities — over the state legislature, so all those signatures will have to be gathered either from people who did not vote in this race in November or from people who voted for Sellers and now regret it.

    The physical petition must be printed both sides on legal size paper and the signature collector must have his signature notarized. I can do both. If you want to sign, please contact me. I can also provide petitions for the statewide recalls of Governor Ducey, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, and Kathy Hoffman, the State Superintendent of Schools.

    The organizers of this recall are here: https://wethepeopleazalliance.com/

  • LMHudson 2:26 pm on October 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply  

    City of Chandler Question 1 

    There is no meaningful vote here. Southwest Gas is the monopoly provider. The only way to escape them is to go off grid. We must rely on the Arizona Corporation Commission to oversee their pricing.

  • LMHudson 2:13 pm on October 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply  

    A further argument for voting ‘No’ on Prop 208 

    The district schools were granted their monopoly in the hope they would produce good citizens. There is a lot of evidence — at the national level — that the teachers’ unions have turned or tried to turn the district schools into factories designed to produce social justice warriors. At their 2019 annual meeting, the National Education Association (NEA) rejected a motion here to “re-dedicate itself to the pursuit of increased student learning in every public school in America by putting a renewed emphasis on quality education.” The NEA went on to adopt motions including one to “incorporate the concept of ‘White Fragility’ into NEA trainings,” here, and “to push reparations” here. More on this topic here.

    The Arizona Education Association (AEA) is an affiliate of the NEA, and our local teachers’ associations such as Kyrene Education Association is an affiliate of the AEA. The Kyrene school district acknowledges the national controversy in their administrators’ blog, but says such things are not happening in Kyrene.

    What’s happening is more subtle. Kyrene’s governing board did not, like Tempe Elementary School District, adopt a resolution in favor of Black Lives Matter, but the district curriculum is nevertheless a choice that has been imposed on the families in the district without any real public deliberation. Arizona law requires Kyrene to expose its curriculum choices on its website for 60 days (science is there now, here), and parents and community members may view educational materials by appointment on the district premises. The governing board approves the curriculum in the following, very narrow sense: they are presented choices where the research is done by the staff. They approve if the material is within budget and within the vague guidelines (English Language Arts here, History and Social Science here) of the Arizona Board of Education. (There must be some reference to the Holocaust, for example.) Governing board members are not expected to read the material.

    It is hard to read, partly because it is mostly online. The big education publishers — McGraw-Hill, Savvas (once known as Pearson), National Geographic — provide interactive material, which is supposedly more engaging for kids than pages of text. Actual books –fiction –are assigned in Language Arts. They are exclusively modern works because they are chosen to reflect the values of equity, diversity, and inclusion.

    Those values are not only the values of the Kyrene staff; they are imposed by the publishers. Here is an email to the Savvas national sales staff describing their goals:

    Savvas’ business is supplying the enormous school districts. They do not sell to small, independent schools. They want to sell the same product nationwide, and, thanks to the NEA, there is a big market for Culturally Responsive Learning (CRL). If a governing board member wanted his district to adopt a text like Wilfred McClay’s American history Land of Hope, the struggle would be hard.

    Kyrene provides a 20 minute video about their Social Studies curriculum here. The narrator describes Kyrene’s goal as creating global citizens.

    If each Kyrene school sought its own charter there might be a school devoted to CRL, and perhaps another devoted to anti-racist training. Parents might freely choose to send their kids to these schools. What is missing is choice. The best way to promote quality education in our neighborhood is to vote ‘No’ on Proposition 208 and use the Arizona Tax Credit to encourage more independent schools.

    • kimberhatt 9:31 am on October 10, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Good information. Thanks Lawrence


  • LMHudson 8:24 am on October 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply  

    Voting for the Lesser of Two Evils 

    This logic pulls us inexorably to the left. The sole requirement for receiving the endorsement of the Republican party is registration as a Republican. There must be a limit. We might sometimes actually be better off with elected officials who are known to be wrong, than those who deceive and betray us. It would force us to be more vigilant and to use the legislature to stop them from doing harm. It’s too dangerous to withhold a vote in a election for a legislator, but for some of the myriad governing boards we are asked to vote on, it is necessary to draw a line. In this election, I offer the county supervisors (see neighboring post) and the Kyrene School Board (see neighboring post) as examples.

  • LMHudson 2:46 pm on September 30, 2020 Permalink | Reply  

    City of Tempe Questions 1-5 

    We are being asked to approve $349 million of new general obligation (GO) debt, divided into five ballot questions for different budget purposes. The city provided this 20 minute youtube presentation, here. The proposed bonds are intended to fund the projects in the City’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP), here. The total program will cost $776 million over 5 years. Every four years, the City asks voters for the authority to issue bonds. It is not possible to relate the numbers for the proposed borrowing to the CIP. Our approval is needed to continue the ongoing process of borrowing and spending, so the five questions are really one.

    Four years ago, the last request for bond authority (for $254 million) passed 25,439 to 14,187. If you are uncomfortable with this process, merely withholding your vote is not an effective protest.

    Even if you value water pressure, paved streets, and police protection, there are two reasons to vote ‘No.’ First, the City has for years demonstrated an odd obsession with mass transit and it has stopped enforcing single family residential zoning (see neighboring posts, here, here, and here), possibly because our leaders believe we should all be encouraged to live more closely together. The CIP not only cannot be mapped to the proposed bonds, it is impossible to pick out, for example, mass transit-related projects, and oppose them. A ‘No’ vote, against all the bonds, is a protest against the neglect of the suburban neighborhoods.

    Second, the City carries a heavy load of pension debt and they should demonstrate that they have a plan for paying it. As of June 30 2019, the City had about $450 million of GO debt and $500 million of pension debt outstanding. (See page 34 of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) here.)

    The state limits the amount cities can borrow on a GO basis to a fraction of the property tax base and Tempe has unused GO debt capacity under that calculation. There are no limits on pension debt and the accounting is faulty.

    promiseamount recognized
    Arizona State Retirement System (ASRS)108
    Public Service Personnel Retirement System (PSPRS)305
    Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB)79

    The two retirement systems are at the state level and have boards of trustees. If they are accountable to anyone, it will be the legislature.

    Pension debt differs from normal, bonded debt in that the liability must be estimated. Government organizations systematically cheat, choosing actuarial assumptions that understate the liability.

    The ASRS and PSPRS trustees assume that their investments will earn about 7.5% per year and that their future obligations can be discounted to the present at the same rate. If the trustees were to adopt actuarial assumptions from the private sector — say, Berkshire Hathaway’s assumptions (see page K-17 of their 2019 annual report, here) of 6% for earnings and 3% for the discount rate, the debt would be far greater, maybe more than 50% more. Both retirement systems publish their sensitivity to changes in their actuarial assumptions, on page 52 of the PSPRS CAFR, here, and on page 69 of the ASRS Annual Actuarial Valuation, here. Both systems estimate their sensitivity to a 1% change in assumptions to be about 10%. (The City, on page 108 of its CAFR, estimates the sensitivity to be higher, about 20%, so 10% may be a low estimate.) All the changes from their assumptions to private sector assumptions are adverse, totaling 5 1/2 percentage points. This suggests that the debt calculated under private sector rules would be at least 50-60% higher, or $700-800 million. Pension debt dwarfs the GO debt.

    Borrowers like the City of Tempe are fee-paying clients to the bond rating agencies, so their ratings always lag reality. AAAs can become Bs very quickly, but only after the market closes to the bonds. In an extraordinarily low-interest rate environment where all lenders are chasing yield, no one looks hard at credit risk. The cities of Prescott and Bisbee explored bankruptcy as a defense against their pension debt. Story here. Tempe is neither Prescott nor Bisbee, but in order to remain a premium credit, it must fund its pension debt more realistically.

    Of the modest contributions asked annually by the retirement systems, the cost is shared between the City and the police and fire employees about 6:1; ASRS employees pay half of the levy. If the retirement plans were funded according to private sector actuarial assumptions, employees might balk at paying more or demand raises to compensate. Either way, the City will have to find room in its budget for perhaps another $30 million annually, unpleasant but not impossible.

    A better solution would be to pay it off now. The City attempts to structure its GO debt so the cost of repaying it is in the same time period as the use of the asset. (A building that lasts 20 years will be funded with 20 year debt.) Applying that logic to pensions would require very nearly paying off the debt.

    A ‘No’ vote on these bonds is a request to the City to put its pensions in order.

  • LMHudson 5:01 am on September 30, 2020 Permalink | Reply  

    Maricopa County Special Health Care District 

    Here is a description of the race, between Mary Harden and John Farnsworth. Ms Harden is incumbent, a former nurse, and a great believer in public health. She is opposed by Mr Farnsworth, who is the brother of Eddie Farnsworth, who serves in the Legislature. Neither candidate, less than 3 weeks before the election, has published campaign material on the internet. If you search facebook for Mary Harden, you will find she is endorsed by the Arizona Nurses Association and Lauren Kuby.

    In 2014 the hospital system, then known as MIHS, sought voter approval for a $1 billion bond issue, to raise money to build new hospitals. Republican legislators (including Eddie Farnsworth) opposed what was called Prop 480–story here— but it passed 513,967 to 296,505 in an election in which 877,187 voted. Some members of the MIHS board also — in 2012 — opposed the bond issue and they were ousted in the 2012 election, story here. It is impossible for an outsider to know what happened — an excellent reason why governments should not run hospitals or any other service readily supplied by the market — but it seems possible that the MIHS wanted to build more hospitals and they engineered a board which would not interfere. Ms Harden began her service as a board member in the 2012 election.

    Whether or not you vote for a board member, please don’t forget to vote ‘No’ on Proposition 449. See the neighboring post.

    • azfamilylawtips 2:13 am on October 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      You did a fantastic job with this website!!! It was MOST helpful in deciding how to vote. I especially liked the deleted tweet, lol!!! thank you!


  • LMHudson 4:45 am on September 30, 2020 Permalink | Reply  

    Proposition 449 

    This proposal would extend an existing property tax for another 20 years, for the benefit of the Maricopa County Special Health Care District, also known as Valleywise Health, or County. We are also being asked, in November, to elect a member of the Board of Directors. There is also a 9 member Governing Council. None of these people is paid, and there is no reason to believe they have any real authority. Too much of our government consists of highly-paid staff supposedly governed by good citizens. The staff generally frame the questions and control the agenda. Accountability to voters is an illusion.

    The arguments for this proposition are here. Notable endorsers are Kyrsten Sinema, Paul Penzone, Reuben Gallego, and Corey Woods.

    In November, 2014, the Maricopa Integrated Health System (a previous name for Valleywise) came to us for approval of a billion dollar bond issue. The Arizona Free Enterprise Club opposed it. Their argument is here. The Club also opposes Proposition 449, but they have not so far written more than the list of their endorsements, here. The 2014 bond issue passed, with 513,967 ‘yes’ votes, and 296,505 ‘no’ votes. Withholding your vote is not an effective protest.

    Here is the latest Valleywise budget. In it, you will learn that their annual operating budget is about $600 million, of which about 60% is salaries and benefits. Most of their revenues come from Medicaid. Their employees, like district school teachers, belong to the Arizona State Retirement System, which is badly underfunded.

    Valleywise needs to explain better why they need our money, and why we need a public hospital system.

  • LMHudson 1:46 pm on September 28, 2020 Permalink | Reply  

    Judges of the Court of Appeals, Division 1 

    Paul McMurdie has shown bad judgment on several occasions, such as Medicaid expansion and Prop 207 from 2006 (now ARS 12-1134). Samuel Thumma is a Napolitano appointee and an alumnus of Perkins, Coie, an extremely partisan Democrat law firm. These two should not be retained.

  • LMHudson 10:30 am on September 28, 2020 Permalink | Reply  

    An argument for not voting in the Board of Supervisors 

    Adrian Fontes was in charge of county elections for the November 2018 election. He created so-called Emergency Voting Centers–without any legal basis– located in Democrat neighborhoods, and when the Republican party tried to get an injunction against counting the votes they collected, Fontes stripped off the outer envelopes and mixed the ballots with the others, making them impossible to identify. The following March, the Arizona Federation of Republican Women hosted a panel that included Steve Chucri, who represents District 2 on the Board of Supervisors (BOS). Mr Chucri told us that the real responsibility for running elections rests with the BOS, and that the job had been delegated years ago to the Recorder. Because of the Recorder’s behavior in the recent election, Mr Chucri promised us that the BOS would re-assume control of elections.

    Two years later, Mr Fontes is still largely responsible for elections. (See this neighboring post, and this one about how Fontes’ instructions live on, here.) The BOS has done almost nothing to reign in Mr Fontes. It was their responsibility. They acknowledged their responsibility and said that they had all necessary powers to fix the problem. They betrayed us and now they ask us to vote for them because their opponents are supposedly worse. None of the supervisors should be returned to office.

  • LMHudson 6:02 am on September 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply  

    Judges of the Superior Court 

    If, like me, you think all government activities become unaccountable over time and our county court system in particular has become a black box –try finding out how many jury trials there are–, our method of voting whether to retain judges is highly unsatisfactory. We are expected to vote based on these ratings by the Arizona Commission on Judicial Performance Review, which are based on surveys mostly of attorneys and witnesses. Only one of the 40 judges up for review has a rating that varies significantly from the others (Ms Gentry). The Commission distributed 102 surveys to attorneys, of which 27 were returned, and 827 surveys to witnesses, of which 52 were returned, so her score is based on the testimony of some individuals who got mad at her, maybe with reason, maybe without. We cannot know. A more positive review of the ratings system is here.

    Only two Superior Court judges have ever been rated unfit by the Commission. Story here, and here.

    Nevertheless, we vote, usually ‘yes.’ In 2018, all the Superior Court judges were retained, by an average margin of 2.5:1. The judge who came closest to being voted out got 459,288 ‘yes’ and 311,878 ‘no’ votes. In that election, nearly 1.5 million people voted in Maricopa County, so half ignored the second page of the ballot but half voted. Merely failing to vote is not an effective protest.

    The Legislature can change this system but they respond to votes, so we need to vote ‘no.’ Here are three ways of voting ‘no:’

    1. vote against retaining ALL the Superior Court judges, except the ones we have evidence are competent judges, in this case, Ms Marwil, and Mr Whitten. Mr Coury found the language of Proposition 208 to be misleading but he got overturned by the Arizona Supreme Court. Supporters of Proposition 208 are trying to oust him.
    2. vote against all those judges appointed by Democrat governors and those who once worked for Perkins Coie (an extremely partisan Democrat law firm). That logic results in a ‘no’ vote for Ms Gentry, as she was appointed by Governor Napolitano. The other ‘no’ votes are Bruce Cohen, Pamela Gates, Michael Gordon, John Hannah, Michael Kemp, Michael McCoy, Scott Minder, Karen Mullins, David Palmer, Timothy Ryan, and Christopher Whitten.
    3. The Democrat party here endorsed all but a few judges. If you vote exactly in the opposite fashion, you will come close to the results above.

    The Arizona Free Enterprise Club provides its judge endorsements here. They are surprisingly generous.

    • Heidi Will 9:49 pm on October 20, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      I appreciate the information on judges. I’m confused about Whitten. Under #1 you say he’s competent, but in #2 you say he worked for Perkins Coie. Are you recommending voting for or against him?


      • LMHudson 6:37 am on October 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Judge Whitten was appointed in 2006, by Governor Napolitano. I don’t believe he has ever worked for Perkins Coie. If I knew nothing else about him, being appointed by a Democrat would disqualify him under crude rule #2; however, I know someone who has appeared before him in a difficult case and found him to be a fair-minded judge and that’s more important.


  • LMHudson 5:47 am on September 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply  

    An argument for voting ‘No’ on Prop 207 

    This statute would essentially legalize marijuana for those over 21. The precise rules, such as the limit of 6 marijuana plants, don’t matter because once you take the police out of this business, the rules will become a kind of honor system. Here are the arguments for. Here are the arguments against.

    There are over 100 unique essays urging a ‘No’ vote. Some bear multiple signatures. The essays come from our Catholic bishops, our governor, many of our legislators, and from medical professionals, law enforcement, psychiatric counselors, and parents, people who have experienced the effects of marijuana on their children.

    There are 10 essays urging a ‘Yes’ vote, two from Chad Campbell, first in his capacity as the sponsor of this legislation, and a second one, in which he presents himself as a private citizen. (He is, in fact, an executive for the advocacy firm Strategies 360.) There are two essays from retired politicians predicting job creation by the marijuana industry. There is an essay from a lawyer lamenting harshness of the punishments under existing law. The rest are from commercial sellers of marijuana.

    Will Humble (director of Arizona Public Health Association, an advocacy organization) submitted the same essay under both ‘Yes’ and ‘No.’ He predicts both costs and benefits.

    The recent book Tell Your Children, by Alex Berenson, makes two points:

    1. we have long experience of alcohol, but almost none with today’s high-potency THC.
    2. there is lots of evidence that, for some people, THC is a gateway drug, and for some, THC may cause violent, psychotic behavior.

    No one knows for sure what will happen if this legislation passes, but the most important thing to realize is that if it passes in this form, as a ballot initiative, bypassing the legislature, we cannot easily undo it or amend it if it turns out to be a mistake.

    To love thy neighbor as thyself means wanting good outcomes for your neighbors. There are no good outcomes in drugs.

    Vote ‘No’ on Proposition 207. If you think marijuana should be legalized, tell your representatives in the legislature.

    Here is a recent report from Colorado.

  • LMHudson 1:41 pm on September 25, 2020 Permalink | Reply  

    Cheatsheet for the Chandler ballot 

    • john fitz 10:37 pm on October 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      I’ve been trying to get more information about the judges. Why so many ‘NO’s?


      • LMHudson 10:42 am on October 13, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        The best thing I have read is The Machinery of Criminal Justice by Stephanos Bibas. My argument is that our justice system has strayed far from the 6th Amendment. We have allowed a caste of experts to turn it into a machine for processing Justice-Involved-Youth. Plea bargaining has caused jury trials to disappear. The conviction rate would make North Korea proud. This occasional opportunity to vote is our best tool for protest. How can we possibly vote intelligently with the information we have? Better to make our robed masters fear for their jobs, and encourage the legislature to reform this system.


  • LMHudson 9:23 am on September 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply  

    Justices of the Supreme Court 

    Johnson Utilities Inc v Arizona Corporation Commission et al, decided July 31, was an unusual decision because it went beyond the narrow holding courts usually seek and clarified how the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) fits into the state constitution. Before the decision, the ACC regarded itself as “Arizona’s co-equal, fourth branch of government.” In fact, on July 30, it had proposed issuing a mandate requiring electricity to be generated by renewable sources of energy, not very different from the 2018 ballot Proposition 127 which was defeated 2:1. No, says the Court in this decision, which makes it clear the ACC has no more power than a municipality, and that its decisions may be overridden by the legislature. One might wish the Court had gone even further, along the lines of the dissent by Justice Bolick, but we should celebrate whenever a court has the courage to overturn its own past errors, and ground a rogue unit of the government in already written law.

    The author, Justice Gould, and concurring justice Lopez were appointed by Governor Ducey. Chief Justice Brutinel, also concurring, was appointed by Governor Brewer. We should retain them.

  • LMHudson 7:00 pm on September 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply  

    How to return a mail ballot 

    Remember the instructions included in your August primary ballot?

    There are three possible reasons for these instructions: (1) to cause the automatic ballot readers to jam, in order to slow the ballot count, (2) to permit ballots to be intercepted, steamed open, altered and re-submitted, and/or (3) to cause everyone in Maricopa County to vote in person on Election Day, which won’t be possible because the lines will be too long. The Arizona Supreme Court ruled that the instructions above will not be supplied for the November ballot, whereupon our Recorder, Adrian Fontes, offered the same instructions over twitter. Story here.

    Early voting started to open all over Maricopa County on October 7. Each one contains a padlocked blue plastic urn with a slot in it. Drop your completed ballots in there, or vote in person if you prefer. The result will be the same: a ballot in a green envelope dropped in the blue urn. Only on Election Day can you pass your ballot through the scanner yourself.

    You can then get some confirmation from Maricopa County that your ballot has been at least received by browsing here. If it has been received, you will be told that it has been signature verified and counted. The process is taking about 72 hours on October 25.

    Here is a page on the recorder’s website where you can obtain a spreadsheet list of voting centers.

    The nearest as of October 13 is 2051 W Guadalupe Rd, in a strip mall on the south side of Guadalupe, just east of the 101 and west of St Timothy’s church, where the anchor tenant appears to be Goodwill. As of October 22, the nearest station is in Chandler Fashion, in a group of buildings on the north edge of the shopping center, where the anchor is PF Changs. The address is 3305 W Chandler Blvd, suite E05.

    Please vote before Election Day.

  • LMHudson 3:33 pm on September 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply  

    Maricopa County Community College District 1 

    There are two candidates:

    1. Laurin Hendrix, incumbent, website, facebook page,
    2. Jacqueline Smith, website, facebook page, blog

    Notable differences:

    Hendrix is endorsed by Andy Biggs and Justin Olsen.

    Smith is endorsed by Greg Stanton, Katy Hoffman, and almost the entire Tempe City Council.

  • LMHudson 3:03 pm on September 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply  

    Maricopa County Community College District At-Large 

    There are two candidates:

    1. Shelli Richardson Boggs, website, facebook page, and
    2. Linda Thor, incumbent, website, facebook page, blog,

    Notable differences:

    Boggs is endorsed by Andy Biggs and Debbie Lesko.

    Thor is endorsed by Greg Stanton and many people from higher education. She is a supporter of Mitzi Epstein.

  • LMHudson 1:33 pm on September 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply  

    An argument for voting ‘No’ on Prop 208 

    This is a proposal to raise the top rate of income tax in Arizona by 78% and devote the proceeds to education. Good summaries of the economic arguments are here and here. Very little of the proceeds will reach teachers, anyway, article here. The proceeds will be divided between the district and charter schools according to school population, but most of the money by far will go to the district schools. Most of us, even those without school-age children, are willing to pay for public education, but will the district schools use this money well?

    The Arizona Retirement System, its membership mostly teachers at district schools, is dramatically underfunded ($15.6 billion, according to this study by the Reason Foundation). None of the money will go there.

    The charter and private schools in our neighborhood have done a much better job re-opening this year than have the district schools. The problems that have had to be solved in order to re-open are the same for charter, private, and district schools, but the district schools have lagged. Their problem is their immensity.

    The school districts are enormous compared to the charter and private schools. The three school districts (Tempe Union, Chandler Unified, and Kyrene Elementary, together serving nearly 100,000 students) are all promising to open by Oct 13, if the COVID “metrics” behave. By contrast, Desert Gardens Montessori (enrollment 260, infant-through-grade 12) has been open since June for small children and since August 17 for the older kids. St Timothy’s Catholic school (K-8 and about the same size), has also been open since August 17. Our public charter schools, Tempe Prep (6-12, enrollment 430) and Chandler Prep (K-12, enrollment 725) both opened September 8.

    Most activities achieve economies of scale. One might expect the district schools to be able, for example, to buy cheaper textbooks by buying in quantity. Government activities seem not to enjoy economies of scale. The cost to educate a student in the three school districts is not significantly different from the cost in the much smaller charter schools:

    schoolgradesenrollmentcosts ($m)cost per student
    Chandler School DistrictK-1245,9994008,707
    Kyrene School DistrictK-816,68317410,407
    Tempe High School District9-1213,3121279,541
    Chandler PrepK-1272579,217
    Tempe Prep6-1243049,152
    (These numbers come from the schools’ regulatory reports for 2019, pre-COVID.)

    The price of a year at St Timothy’s Catholic school (K-8, enrollment 260) is $7,500. The smaller schools may actually be more efficient.

    A consequence of excessive size, particularly for government organizations, is paralyzed decision-making. Here is a video of the September 16 meeting of the Tempe Union High School governing board. At about the 31 minute mark (after a lengthy presentation of COVID metrics by zip code) you can see the superintendent trying to make a decision on behalf of the entire district. They are unable to consider the possibility of opening some schools earlier than others. At 47:50 president Hodge declares that it would be inequitable to allow students in the southern part of the district to return to school when northern students cannot. No member of the governing board ever moves to challenge that idea, or in any way to discuss how the re-opening process might be sped up.

    The effect of excessive size on curriculum is a subject worthy of a separate post, here. Who do you suppose is better educated, a graduate of St Tim’s or a graduate of Kyrene?

    Support quality education by voting ‘No’ on Proposition 208. And don’t forget to use the Arizona Tax Credit to support charter and private schools at no cost to you. (See neighboring post.)

  • LMHudson 1:32 pm on September 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply  

    An argument for voting against all ballot initiatives 

    Ballot propositions are designed to bypass the legislative process, to allow citizens to make law directly. Democracies tend to end in tyranny, so the founders of our republic favored separation of powers rather than democracy. Making positive law is supposed to be difficult, not something to be done whimsically. Ballot propositions undermine the separation of powers and lead to bad law.

    Laws passed by the legislature may be readily amended, but laws passed by initiative can only be amended by initiative. Arizona permits three kinds of citizen initiative, an amendment to the constitution, a statute, and a referendum. Rules here. The rules for getting a proposition on the ballot do not require any geographical distribution. The sponsor of a 2020 ballot statute, for example, can gather all 237,645 required signatures in downtown Phoenix. There are companies that collect signatures. They charge about $10 per signature. (Search for ‘paid petitioners’ or ‘Arizona Petition Partners.’) Two million dollars sounds like a lot of money, but it is evidently no serious bar to out-of-state interests who wish to make Arizona law. Here is a good account of the difficulty of amending the statutes passed by initiative. Special interests are almost always the sponsors of ballot initiatives. Who would be willing to spend $2 million to repeal one?

    Ballot initiatives are often paid for by out-of-state interests

    Proposition 208, the “Invest in Education Act,” reports contributions to date of $4.6 million, of which $4 million has come from a Portland, Oregon-based charity called “Stand for Children.” (Campaign finance report here.) The second biggest donor is the Arizona Education Association, our teacher’s union. If you read about Stand for Children (here) you will learn that they are a 501(c)(3) charity that does political advocacy, specifically in favor of such causes as Black Lives Matter and barring police from schools. IRS Forms 990 no longer require the disclosure of donors, so we must guess the source of their funding. One possible source is us taxpayers. Stand for Children is apparently a major beneficiary of the CARES Act. Story here.

    Proposition 207, the “Smart and Safe Act,” is mostly funded by commercial sellers of marijuana. (Campaign finance report here.)

    Ballot initiatives are intentionally misleading

    The petition gatherers are required to state their proposition in 100 words or less, so there is always a battle over whether the petition signers and the voters are being misled. Here is the proposition that has become 208 on our November ballot:


    In 2018, a similar proposition was disqualified because the proposed tax rate hike from 4.5% to 8% was described as a “percentage” increase of 3.5%. This year, the same tax proposal is okayed as a “surcharge.” The sponsors do not wish to appear to be proposing a 78% tax hike.

    By contrast, the short title of Proposition 207, the “Smart and Safe Act,” is so self-evidently untrue we may detect a sense of humor. The longer title is less reassuring:


    To evaluate these claims requires considerable knowledge and experience. If the promoters turn out to be wrong about either the smart or the safe parts, who will pay to repeal this statute? Remember, the legislature won’t be able to.

  • LMHudson 1:32 pm on September 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply  

    Tactical voting 

    Consider this hypothetical election: there are 100 blue voters and 100 red voters. There are 6 candidates, 4 of which are blue and 2 are red. Each voter is allowed to vote for 3 candidates. If all 100 red voters vote for the 2 red candidates and no other, the each red candidate will receive 100 votes. If the 100 blue voters each cast 3 votes, but distribute them equally among the 4 blue candidates, each blue candidate will receive 75 votes. The 2 red candidate will be elected, along with 1 blue candidate. The red voters, who cast only 200 votes, nevertheless win an election against blue voters who cast 300 votes.

    The conditions for this tactic to succeed are narrow. If there were only 1 red candidate, he would receive 100 votes and be elected, but he would then be out-voted by the two blue winners. If there were 3 red and 3 blue candidates, and each voter allowed to vote for 3, there would be no advantage in concentrating the votes. One side must have more acceptable candidates than the number of allowed votes.

    The only case where this might be useful on our ballot is the race for the governing board of Tempe Union High School District. Because there are three seats open and four acknowledged (follow the time line to Aug 29) left-wing candidates — Hodge, James, Montero, and Reesor — the vote for them may be scattered. Conservatives, if they can agree on three candidates, may win by concentrating their votes on those three.

Compose new post
Next post/Next comment
Previous post/Previous comment
Show/Hide comments
Go to top
Go to login
Show/Hide help
shift + esc