When lawmakers enact policies that are as blatantly discriminatory and mean-spirited as the political pus that's been oozing from the Arizona legislature since Governor Napolitano left in 2009, they should expect to be criticized, even in a very red state. Napolitano's only been gone three years but it feels like a decade, when you consider the super-long list of ALEC-sponsored bullshit that the protozoan piss-ants at the legislature have dumped all over the state since Janet's veto pen escaped with her to DC.
Here's just a smattering of their scat, and as you read this list remember one GOP name: Representative John Kavanagh. He's the powerful chair of the House Appropriations Committee and, along with Governor Jan Brewer, Kavanagh is one of the staunchest ALEC shills in the state (he certainly attended their national conference in Scottsdale last year, as did 28 other legislators). A transplant from the East Coast who represents the tony communities of Fountain Hills and Scottsdale, Kavanagh supported every one of these policies:
• ALEC lobbied for, the legislature passed, and Brewer signed with a flourish SB 1070, the "papers please" law, at one of the most goofball news conferences you've ever seen (SB 1070 was supported by the private prison industry, which employs Brewer's chief advisor, Chuck Coughlin; no surprise, John Kavanagh also has strong ties to the corrections industry);
• they passed a law to eliminate public sector benefits for domestic and same-sex partners, only to have the courts throw this POS back in their face;
• they passed SB 1188, which requires adoption agencies to give preference to "a married man and woman";
• Brewer pushed anti-union measures that make Scott Walker look like a piker;
• they approved more draconian restrictions on women's healthcare, including mandatory ultrasounds and laws that forced all rural Planned Parenthood clinics in the state to shut down;
• the GOP cut off at the knees Arizona's once-admired Medicaid program, shoving 100,000 people off the healthcare rolls (including 98 patients awaiting life-saving organ transplants);
• Brewer and her GED cronies cut a half-billion dollars from schools last year, at the same time they reduced corporate taxes the same amount;
• they passed a screwball bill that allowed Arizona to solicit and accept donations from gullible bigots to build a border fence (their goal was $50 million, they've raised less than $200,000 and they're now accepting chain link fence in lieu of cash);
• in what Mother Jones describes as one the most drunken eBay boondoggles in history, the GOP sold the House and Senate chambers to make a quick buck and then leased them, but now Brewer wants to buy the buildings back a year later at an overall cost to taxpayers of $105 million;
• the (mostly) white Mormon men who control the state's education machinery shut down Tucson's Mexican American Studies program, even though the community wanted it, even though the curriculum had a proven track record.
On that last item, when the Ethnic Studies ban was proposed, Rep. Kavanagh actually said this (with a straight face) to Latino and Native American critics of the bill:
"This bill basically says, 'You're here. Adopt American values.' If you want a different culture, then fine, go back to that culture." Pacific Citizen
Ah, Mr. Kavanagh, this is Arizona. Mexicans and Native peoples were here way
before you or Brigham Young. Maybe you should "go back to" your culture in New Jersey.
Anyway, the list above is just a small sample, and the current legislative session is just as nutso, with more abortion restrictions, drug tests for the unemployed, and a volunteer armed border militia. Clearly, they're focused on jobs and the economy.
If these pasty ALEC-sniffing Mormon fundy diddle-heads like Kavanagh are going to be so reprehensible, bigoted, and stupid, they should expect push-back, which is what the leaders of Arizona's hateful stampede of crazy have experienced since SB 1070: protest marches, sit-ins, Capitol demonstrations, a recall of the Senate President, school walkouts, and Occupy events (another student march occurred in Phoenix today). Even Arizona's conservative business community and milquetoast media have called out these nincompoops for their economically and socially counterproductive policies.
Well, the police-state knuckleheads who make up the Arizona
Republican ALEC Party have a way to deal with protest: just prohibit it. Which is what they started to do in 2010, and this legislative session they've taken another big step down the path of suppression. What a long strange trip indeed.
Step 1: Blacklist
When SB 1070 author Senator Russell Pearce, the leading ALEC snotball in the legislature, was named Senate President following the 2010 election, you had the feeling all holy hell was going to break loose, and that's exactly what happened. Believing he had been anointed King Russ, Pearce tried to remake the legislature in his predatory image, and fellow ALEC member John Kavanagh stood beside him every goose step of the way -- like when Pearce tried to ramrod through over-the-top immigration bills that even the Republican majority rejected. And, of course, John's private parts are all tingly at the thought of Pearce running again:
"(Pearce's) recall was a great loss to the state of Arizona. It will be a great gain when we collectively put him back in office." Arizona Republic
Back to 2010: Early on Pearce decreed that certain protesters were barred from entering the Senate chambers (our Senate and House chambers are ugly-ass 1960 modernest bunkers attached to the original 1901 Capitol). Pearce didn't call
his ban a "blacklist" -- oh no, it was simply a list of people he wouldn't allow in the building.
When Sal Reza, a known human rights advocate, entered the Senate on Feb. 24, 2011, for a scheduled meeting with Senator Steven Gallardo, he and fellow activist Anayanse Garza were stopped. Unbeknownst to Sal, he was no longer welcome at the legislature because he had clapped too loudly at a committee hearing, while he watched the proceedings on TV in another room with a lot of people. Yup. Reza told the Capitol Police he had an appointment, but rather than check with Senator Gallardo, the two officers horse-collared Reza:
Both [Reza and Garza] alleged abuse at the hands of DPS Officer J. Gentry Burton and DPS Sergeant Jeff Trap, who collared them after warning Reza to leave, supposedly because he had been "banned" on the orders of state Senate President Russell Pearce. Reza said he was thrown up against the glass window of the building's lobby "like a common criminal."
Garza claimed she was dragged by her hair during her arrests. Garza had not been "banned," like Reza. "They used violence against me," stated the soft-spoken, 33 year-old woman. New Times
Reza has since filed a lawsuit
in federal court against Pearce for violating his First Amendment rights. Pearce, who now hosts a nativist radio show for Ban Amnesty Now, claims legislative immunity
. Stay tuned.
Step 2: Restrict Protests
As protests mounted, Pearce couldn't make a not-blacklist long enough, and his sad ass was recalled last November anyway, so the remaining wingnuts, who control the legislature 2:1, decided to limit all activity at the Capitol complex in Phoenix. According to Rep. Debbie Lesko, "If you went outside, you couldn't even think."
Heck, I didn't know she did think -- could've fooled me. Lesko is the burnt out bulb who recently sponsored the contraception bill that requires employees to tell their boss why they're using birth control. Lesko now says she's revising the bill to make it clear that the birth control discussion should take place between you and the insurance company, not with your boss. Businesses will still be able to deny contraception coverage if they have a religious objection, so the wingers are getting 90% of what they want. It's just not quite as demeaning as they'd like.
Anyway, to eliminate the noisy citizen critters at the Capitol, presumably so Debbie can think better, the Legislative Council passed a bunch of regulations this January:
Activity on the State Capitol Grounds (including protesting, picketing, speechmaking, marching or conducting a vigil, religious service, press conference, luncheon, celebration, entertainment, exhibition, parade, fair, pageant or any other activity that involves the expression or communication of views or ideas engaged in by one or more persons) may be conducted only between the hours of 5 am and 10 pm, and is subject to the following conditions:
Oh, swell: the "communication of views or ideas engaged in by one or more persons." In other words, everything
can be regulated, made more difficult, and rendered more costly. You can read the "conditions" here
, but, in brief, this unswallowable assault limits the location, time, noise, content, number of participants, equipment, and signage -- and
it outlines a permitting process citizens must follow in order to express their "views or ideas" at the Capitol. Of course, if you're, say, the Arizona Mining Association, and you want to hold a big-tent, rowdy shindig to schmooze elected officials (which happens a lot), you might ask your pals in the legislature for an exemption to these phony-baloney rules:
The Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate may jointly approve an exception to these Regulations for an inauguration, funeral or other ceremonial event of statewide significance taking place on the State Capitol Grounds if the Speaker and the President determine that the exception furthers a substantial security or historical purpose.
Yes, those "historical purposes." Wink wink, nod nod.
Step 3: Arrest, Jail, and Fine Mahatma
But there are still sit-ins at the Capitol, and there are still Occupy protesters! They're not violent, they're just so damn annoying, their signs reveal too much truth, and they passively resist arrest, for which the state has no criminal code.
So Arizona's dickwads created one (well, one dickwad did, the other wads of dick just followed him off the First Amendment cliff). With Kavanagh's approval, the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Don Shooter (yeah, I know), took a good House bill that had passed unanimously, one that ended the legislature's raiding of a State Parks fund (HB 2071), and replaced the entire bill (a "strike everything") with:
"Section 1. Section 13-2508, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:
13-2508. Resisting arrest; classification
A. A person commits resisting arrest by intentionally preventing or attempting to prevent a person reasonably known to him to be a peace officer, acting under color of such peace officer's official authority, from effecting an arrest by:
1. Using or threatening to use physical force against the peace officer or another.; or
2. Using any other means creating a substantial risk of causing physical injury to the peace officer or another.
3. ENGAGING IN PASSIVE RESISTANCE.
B. Resisting arrest PURSUANT TO SUBSECTION A, PARAGRAPH 1 OR 2 is a class 6 felony. RESISTING ARREST PURSUANT TO SUBSECTION A, PARAGRAPH 3 IS A CLASS 1 MISDEMEANOR." HB 2071
The uppercase is in the original document to note the major change, which is item A3. But first, because "passive resistance" is not defined in the Arizona Criminal Code, they had to attach an amendment
that describes what the phrase means. A twenty-something staffer consulted his dictionary and inserted this sentence in the amendment:
According to Merriam-Webster's dictionary, passive resistance is resistance, especially to a government or an occupying power, characterized mainly by noncooperation.
Got that? No cause, context, or nuance. Governments and their police forces are deemed "occupying powers" that must be obeyed, especially when you're being arrested for peacefully yet passively resisting in a public space. To do otherwise, as Mr. Thoreau urged, could send your sorry butt to the slammer for a half year.
Here's a video I wasn't able to embed that shows the deep philosophical discussion about this bill that occurred on March 13. This horror show stars Representative John Kavanagh and the Senate Appropriations Committee (start at minute 26). As chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Kavanagh introduced the original State Parks legislation in his chamber; but he is appearing here to support a "strike everything" of his own bill to slip in this passive resistance nonsense. You gotta wonder if this wasn't the plan all along; no ACLU representative or other civil rights spokesperson appeared to oppose the bill, since they likely didn't see it coming.
The veteran Kavanagh gives a smooth and jolly testimony -- the good old boys from the House and Senate chuckling up this erosion of rights. Like his best buds Joe Arpaio and Russell Pearce, John Kavanagh is a former cop who'd love to turn Arizona into his own little police state sandbox. He says passive resistance (what he calls "going limp") is tough on cops because it's "difficult to pick [protesters] up," it "slows the arrest process," and while they're picking up limp people "police are vulnerable to attack" (presumably from other limp types). So, this dismantling of rights is all about making arrests easier for the "occupying power."
When Democratic Senator Olivia Cajero Bedford asks Kavanagh who wants this bill, he happily declares, "Me!" Har, har, they share a laugh. He admits that he has not talked to any police officers or city officials who find passive resistance to be a problem. Rep. Kavanagh is simply "annoyed" that protesters who engage in passive resistance "only get a summons." He wants to make limpness a class 1 misdemeanor, which carries a maximum punishment of six months in jail (A.R.S. § 13-707) and a $2,500 fine (A.R.S. § 13-802). Kavanagh pooh-poohs this punishment as nothing much: "I didn't want to make it a felony." Gee, thanks.
I have no idea what his point is when Democratic Senator Linda Lopez asks if this law would have applied to civil rights demonstrators in the '50s and '60s, who often used passive resistance. Kavanagh says:
"Civil rights people engaged in purposeful civil disobedience, they purposefully broke the law ... to make a point. They made headlines, they drew attention to oppressive discrimination because they were given the opportunity to break the law."
So, is that a "yes" or "no" to Lopez's question? Would Kavanagh have applied his law to lunch counter sitters? And what "opportunity" did Bull Connor give them?
Finally, in case anyone is confused about the target of this bill, Kavanagh says, "the problem exists here [Phoenix]." In other words, it's Capitol protesters and Occupy Phoenix.
Following Kavanagh's testimony, this big smelly dump on democracy passed the Senate Appropriations Committee 9-4, with every single Republican voting for it -- even Senator Ron Gould, who called the whole thing "vague" and "amusing." The hell with civil liberties, especially when it's confusing and funny. Next, on March 19, the bill was heard by the Senate Rules Committee, which passed it along for a floor vote by the same margin -- all Republicans voting for it, all Dems opposed. No citizens group or police force asked for this. One ALEC tool did.
Supposedly, the rewritten bill will be sent back to the House, where there's no guarantee it will pass (no agenda set yet). But if it does, it's likely Brewer will sign it just for spite -- another wagging finger in the face of Obama's Justice Department.