8th Annual Rodeo Days at Plaza Palomino

“Mark your calendars! It’s almost time again for the Rodeo Days Arts Celebration! Get ready to put on your cowboy hat and come see some of the region’s best fine art, jewelry, wood work, metal art, pottery, fused glass, leather work and more! Listen to Mariachi Herradura, The BILL GANZ WESTERN Band and the Arizona Dance Hands!! Sip local brew, dine on food from Plaza Palomino restaurants – and also food trucks! Pony rides, the infamous Quick Draw with Former Mayor  Bob Walkup and local notables, and a western costume contest! Silent Auction benefits the Gospel Rescue Mission homeless shelters, and the beer proceeds go to Tucson Association of Museums. Come out and enjoy one of Tucson’s favorite western-themed events! Free and fun for the whole family!”

https://plazapalomino.com/event/rodeo-days-arts-celebration-3/. Organized by my friend Susan French (pictured below with former Tucson Mayor  Walkup)

CD 8 Special Election GOP clown car primary

The GOP primary in CD 8 has exposed what a sorry lot of candidates from which Republicans have to choose.

Former state Senator Steve Montenegro, “a true conservative Christian minister running for Congress” (per his website), suddenly has a scandal: Flirtatious texts, topless photo roil Steve Montenegro’s campaign; he blasts ‘false tabloid trash’:

Days before Steve Montenegro decided to run for Congress, a state Senate staffer was trading flirtatious text messages with a cellphone number associated with Montenegro, according to a record of the messages viewed by The Arizona Republic.

During one exchange in November, while Montenegro was on a work trip in Tennessee, the messages discuss how the staffer could have attended the conference as well. The staffer later sent a topless photo of herself to the number.

The response, according to the messages: “You should have come.”

The texts suggest a close, consensual relationship, albeit between an ambitious elected official and someone in an entry-level legislative job.

Montenegro’s campaign has declined since last week to comment in response to Republic inquiries about the messages. He has skipped campaign events in recent days.

In a statement released by his campaign after a story about the text messages aired Tuesday on 12 News, Montenegro dismissed the matter as “false tabloid trash” but didn’t address the content of the text conversations.

His campaign didn’t respond when asked to specify what he deemed to be false or distorted.

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Authoritarian Tea-Publicans are plotting to impeach the Pa. Supreme Court over new congressional map

Last month, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the GOP-gerrymandered congressional districts as violative of the Pennsylvania state constitution, and ordered all 18 districts redistricted.

The court gave Democratic Governor Tom Wolf and the Republican-controlled General Assembly about three weeks to approve a fast-tracked plan in its Jan. 22 order.

Neither side was able to take advantage of that window, which set up the next step in the court’s order: Its own imposition of new district lines by Feb. 19.

House and Senate Republicans made one last pitch to try to forestall the state court takeover of Pennsylvania’s Congressional maps, but were rebuffed by Gov. Wolf. Pa. redistricting is in the court’s hands now, after Gov. Wolf rebuffs last pitch for delay.

On Monday, State Supreme Court released a new congressional map for 2018 elections:

Under the court’s redrawn map, districts more closely align with county lines, and only 13 counties are split among two or three districts. By contrast, under the last map, enacted by the legislature in 2011, more than twice as many counties were split among multiple districts.

In striking down that map last month as unconstitutional, the justices said the new districts should be as compact and contiguous as possible. Their new map, they wrote in an order, is “superior or comparable” to proposals submitted by the participants and interested groups during the legal challenge that led to the historic ruling.

Pa-map

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Gov. Ducey and GOP legislature fail to protect our children with reasonable gun safety regulation (Updated)

First, a preface.

The NRA’s largest 2016 outlay was the $30.3 million it spent in support of Donald Trump. “[T]he NRA’s investment, which was more than any other outside group, paid for a slew of ads that directly targeted the same voters who propelled Trump to victory.”

Now the FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency. FBI investigating whether Russian money went to NRA to help Trump:

FBI counterintelligence investigators have focused on the activities of Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA, the sources said.

It is illegal to use foreign money to influence federal elections.

It’s unclear how long the Torshin inquiry has been ongoing, but the news comes as Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s sweeping investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including whether the Kremlin colluded with Trump’s campaign, has been heating up.

Disclosure of the Torshin investigation signals a new dimension in the 18-month-old FBI probe of Russia’s interference.

* * *

Investigators for three congressional committees probing Russia’s 2016 operations also have shown interest in Torshin, a lifetime NRA member who has attended several of its annual conventions. At the group’s meeting in Kentucky in May 2016, Torshin spoke to Donald Trump Jr. during a gala event at the group’s national gathering in Kentucky in May 2016, when his father won an earlier-than-usual NRA presidential endorsement.

So there’s this aside.

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Code Red: dereliction of duty by a ‘criminally incompetent’ commander-in-chief

After a weekend of our always insecure egomaniacal man-child Twitter-troll-in-chief Trump lashing out over Russia probe in an angry and error-laden tweetstorm, a remarkable series of opinions appeared in newspapers on Monday.

Max Boot wrote at the Washington Post, Trump is ignoring the worst attack on America since 9/11:

Imagine if, after 9/11, the president had said that the World Trade Center and Pentagon could have been attacked by “China” or “lots of other people.” Imagine if he had dismissed claims of al-Qaeda’s responsibility as a “hoax” and said that he “really” believed Osama bin Laden’s denials. Imagine if he saw the attack primarily as a political embarrassment to be minimized rather than as a national security threat to be combated. Imagine if he threatened to fire the investigators trying to find out what happened.

Or if you would prefer, imagine if this was the response to the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, as cartoonist Steve Benson does.

SteveBensonCartoon

That’s roughly where we stand after the second-worst foreign attack on America in the past two decades. The Russian subversion of the 2016 election did not, to be sure, kill nearly 3,000 people. But its longer-term impact may be even more corrosive by undermining faith in our democracy.

The evidence of Russian meddling became “incontrovertible,” in the word of national security adviser H.R. McMaster, after special counsel Robert S. Mueller III indicted 13 Russians and three Russian organizations on Friday for taking part in this operation. “Defendants’ operations included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump (‘Trump Campaign’) and disparaging Hillary Clinton,” the indictment charges.

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Victoria Steele & Jim Love Compete to be Tucson’s State Senator

Candidates Jim Love and Victoria Steele for Tucson's state senator.

Candidates Jim Love and Victoria Steele vie to be Tucson’s state senator.

Progressives have two excellent choices in Victoria Steele and Jim Love to be the candidate for the Arizona Senate in northern Tucson’s Legislative District 9.

The Democrats aim to fill the shoes of widely-admired Steve Farley (who is off to unseat the Governor).

Even though only one can prevail, Steele and Love are friends. He once worked for in her successful campaigns for the state House, where she represented District 9 from 2012 to 2016.

Love: trouble keeping teachers

Love has been an elected member of the Flowing Wells School Board for 17 years. “Republicans continue to cut education,” Love said. “I am having trouble keeping teachers in Flowing Wells. The problem is that the budget for public education comes from the general fund. We need to find a dedicated source of funding for education.”

Arizona is dead last nationwide in elementary school teacher pay and 49th in the country for secondary school teacher pay, thanks to Gov. Ducey — who has proposed a miserly .4 percent pay raise for teachers.

Love has worked over recent years in the Arizona State Legislature with Democrats and Republicans to have bills written to support public education. “We get kids who want to get a four-year degree but have no way to pay for it,” he says. “They cry because they can’t afford to go to the University.”

“Our schools are doing a darn good job,” said Love, a respiratory therapist. “But how can we keep teachers if we don’t pay them a living wage?” More info about Love is available online.

Steele: emphasizing the five “E’s”

Steele, a professional counselor, spoke shortly after the Florida mass shooting. “I support a bill that makes it a felony for parents if they keep a loaded gun in the house and a child uses the gun to hurt themselves or others,” she said. “That makes perfect sense to me.” Her campaign emphasizes the five “E’s”:

  • Education
  • Environment
  • Economy
  • Equality
  • Eliminating gun violence

“I am running because I’m tired of seeing kids used for target practice by a shooter who can get an assault rifle legally,” she says. “We need to ask candidates where they stand on gun safety.”

She successfully sponsored a bill to fund mental health first aid training with $500,000. Out of the 300 bills in the state legislature that were signed into law, only eight were Democratic bills ─ and two of those eight were Steele’s bills.

“I’m your voice in the legislature. We need someone with the experience, enthusiasm, and heart to do this work,” she said. “I am that woman.” More info about Steele is available online.

Tucson Legislative District 9

Tucson’s legislative district 9 encompasses 214,000 people in the Foothills, north Tucson, Flowing Wells, Casa Adobes and Marana.