Arizona Republic: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

I thought reporters who cover the courts for big city newspapers were supposed to understand how America’s justice system works. Apparently not, based on my reading of the Republic’s Michael Kiefer article, Debra Milke’s new world after a half-life on death row.

Here’s Kiefer’s bio:

Michael Kiefer is a senior reporter who has covered courts, justice and Maricopa County government issues for The Arizona Republic since 2003.

And here’s the reporting on Debra Milke’s recent release from prison by the senior reporter who has been covering the courts for over a decade: Continue reading

The GOP campaign to dismantle the Voting Rights Act of 1965

This coming Thursday, August 6, is the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most consequential pieces of legislation in American history.

Jim Rutenberg of The New York Times in a lengthy exposé, “A Dream Undone,” examines the 50 year GOP campaign to dismantle this landmark piece of legislation. A Dream Undone (excerpts):

Screenshot from 2015-08-01 16:19:52[I]n the American South in 1956, not every would-be black voter was an Air Force officer with the wherewithal to call on the local election board; for decades, most had found it effectively impossible to attain the most elemental rights of citizenship. Only about one-quarter of eligible black voters in the South were registered that year, according to the limited records available. By 1959, when Frye went on to become one of the first black graduates of the University of North Carolina law school, that number had changed little. When Frye became a legal adviser to the students running the antisegregation sit-ins at the Greensboro Woolworth’s in 1960, the number remained roughly the same. And when Frye became a deputy United States attorney in the Kennedy administration, it had grown only slightly. By law, the franchise extended to black voters; in practice, it often did not.

What changed this state of affairs was the passage, 50 years ago this month, of the Voting Rights Act. Signed on Aug. 6, 1965, it was meant to correct “a clear and simple wrong,” as Lyndon Johnson said. “Millions of Americans are denied the right to vote because of their color. This law will ensure them the right to vote.” It eliminated literacy tests and other Jim Crow tactics, and — in a key provision called Section 5 — required North Carolina and six other states with histories of black disenfranchisement to submit any future change in statewide voting law, no matter how small, for approval by federal authorities in Washington. No longer would the states be able to invent clever new ways to suppress the vote. Johnson called the legislation “one of the most monumental laws in the entire history of American freedom,” and not without justification. By 1968, just three years after the Voting Rights Act became law, black registration had increased substantially across the South, to 62 percent. Frye himself became a beneficiary of the act that same year when, after a close election, he became the first black state representative to serve in the North Carolina General Assembly since Reconstruction.

Continue reading

Political Calendar: Week of August 2, 2015

The Political Calendar is posted on Sundays. Please send us notice of your political events prior to the Sunday before your event (7 days would be most helpful). See the calendar icon in the right-hand column of the blog page for easy access to the calendar.

Send notices of your events to

Note: For Event Notices and Fliers, click on the “Calendar” button in the menu options above.


Political Calendar for the Week of August 2, 2015:

Monday, August 3, Noon: Democrats of Greater Tucson luncheon, Dragon’s View Restaurant (400 N. Bonita, South of St. Mary’s Road between the Freeway and Grande Avenue, turn South at Furr’s Cafeteria). New price: buffet lunch is $10.00 cash, $12 credit; just a drink is $3.50. (Updated) Featured speaker is Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias on County Bond Proposals rundown. Next Week: Michael McDonald, CEO Community Food Bank on “Issues with the Food Bank and community farming.”

Continue reading

Cartoon of The Week



Continue reading

Talks for Trans-Pacific trade deal deadlock

Stop-TPPThis is quite unexpected news given the rush in the U.S. Congress earlier this summer for fast track authority to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. Trade negotiators from the United States and 11 other Pacific nations failed to reach a deal on Friday, with talks on the largest regional trade agreement deadlocking over protections for drug companies and access to agriculture markets on both sides of the Pacific. The New York Times reports, In Setback for Obama, Pacific Trade Talks Fail:

Trade ministers, in a joint statement, said late Friday they had made “significant progress” and will return to their home countries to obtain high-level signoffs for a small number of final sticking points on the agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, with bilateral talks reconvening soon.

“There are an enormous number of issues that one works through at these talks, narrowing differences, finding landing zones,” said Michael B. Froman, the United States trade representative. “I am very impressed with the work that has been done. I am gratified by the progress that has been made.”

Still, the breakdown is a setback for the Obama administration, which had promoted the talks here as the final round ahead of an accord that would bind 40 percent of the world’s economy under a new set of rules for commerce.

Continue reading

He’s baaaack! ‘Atomic Al’ Melvin is running for Corporation Commission

Hey, Saddlebrooke! Your crazy neighbor Cap’n Al Melvin is baaaack! And he still wants to put a nuclear-waste processing plant in your backyard.

AtomicAlDavid Safier, when he was blogging here at Blog for Arizona, did a series of posts about “Atomic Al” Melvin and his connections to the nuclear power industry, and his desire to build a nuclear-waste processing plant in Arizona. Here is a sampling of his posts. A mind is a terrible thing to (nuclear) waste; Melvin’s Nukes for Schools bill passes in Energy Committee; Don’t worry, Atomic Al, you’ll always have Paris; Coverage of Atomic Al Melvin’s proposed nuclear waste dump; Atomic Al Melvin is baaack.

Jim Nintzel at the Tucson Weekly picked up Safier’s “Atomic Al” moniker in this post, How About We Put That Nuclear Plant in Your District, Sen. Melvin?

Just when you thought that we were finally done with this Teabagger, he’s back and running for the Arizona Corporation Commission, where he could have a real opportunity to pursue his nuclear dreams. The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reported, Former state senator to run for Corporation Commission:

Former Republican state Sen. Al Melvin is running for the Arizona Corporation Commission.

Melvin, who served six years in the Senate before briefly running for governor in 2014, announced on Thursday that he would be seeking a spot on the commission, which has three seats up for grabs in the 2016 election.

The commission is in charge of regulating and setting rates for public utility companies, among other duties.

Continue reading