Jan Brewer's Arrogant Bull at ALEC's GOP-Corporate Love Fest

brehaha.JPG
Brewer blowing smoke at ALEC attendees...

I kept waiting for her nose to start sprouting. Because when you tell whoppers like Governor Jan Brewer did at the American Legislative Exchange Council's opening luncheon at the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa Wednesday, there really should be some Pinocchio-esque "tell" for those who don't know better.

Brewer's self-aggrandizing arrogance might have fooled some of her fellow Rs (any Dems present at the corporate-GOP love fest were either in disguise or in deep denial), but those who've been paying attention know her fantasies of state fiscal responsibility are pure shibboleth.

Arizona's grammatically-challenged chief executive painted a portrait of Arizona at the financial abyss, pulled back by her heroic Republican bean-counting.

"I'm proud to say that today we now have a balanced budget and a positive cash balance for the first time in years," Brewer read dutifully from her prepared remarks.

"And I don't need to tell you that this just wasn't just by accident."

She then went on to claim this "positive cash balance" was because of some four point plan she'd had up her sleeve for years.

The last R to make such erroneous claims was Sand Land's disgraced, driven-from-office state Senate President Russell Pearce. Pearce also argued that Arizona had balanced its budget, and that because of this, he insisted, its ledger was now in the black.

In reality, Arizona's underlying state debt is anywhere from $8.5 billion to $59.2 billion, depending on whether you ask the state's Joint Legislative Budget Committee or conservative watchdog groups such as State Budget Solutions and the Sunshine Review.

But sticking with the JLBC's number of $8.5 billion, it still gives the lie to Brewer's self-serving propaganda. 

What about "balancing" Arizona's budget? Actually, the governor and the legislature put the state $1 billion further in the hole by selling and leasing back state buildings like the Capitol.

Despite this, the 2011 budget anticipated a $332 million deficit, rolled over to 2012. This will no longer be necessary due to an uptick in tax revenue, brought on in part because people are not taking their mortgage interest deductions. 

See, when the housing industry sucks and folks' ain't got a home no more, there's no home-owners deduction, and people pay more in taxes.

But paying more in taxes doesn't go over big with the ALEC crowd, so Brewer didn't mention her 2010 temporary one-cent sales tax hike, which expires in 2013, leaving the state looking at a possible shortfall in 2014 of anywhere from $600 million to $1.2 billion, according to the JLBC.

JLBCRESIZED.jpg
from a 9/27/11 JLBC report
Brewer's debt: $8.5 billion, made worse by the sale of state buildings...

Not that Brewer will have to worry about that too much. She's a lame-duck, and is termed out in 2014. 

Brewer also let fly some serious hogwash on Arizona's supposedly improved economy and how state government has helped bring a bunch of new jobs to the state.

"Our business client prospects have increased 350 percent on average each month," she maintained at one point.

"Prospects"? What's 350 percent of a "prospect," I wonder? Compare that to the current reality of 9 percent unemployment in this state.

Additionally, Brewer made a big to-do out of wanting to "reform the state's personnel system," making it easier to hire and fire employees. 

Snoresville. Unless, you're unlucky enough to be a state employee, that is.

If it were only easier to fire Brewer. Though a recent poll of Arizonans did show that 32 percent of them were ready to recall her leathery hide, daunting task though that would be.

(You'd need more than 400,000 signatures from registered voters to achieve this.)

If I'd been drinking milk, I would have nose-spit it on this Brewer-ism:

"We need the help of our state's universities to better prepare public sector leaders for the real demands of operating a $25 billion enterprise."

Brewer, of course, attended no university. And as I point out in this week's column, it shows. 

Indeed, she plodded through her ALEC speech, sometimes pausing before every other word. It was like watching a grade-school kid stumble over her multiplication tables.

The governor left almost immediately after her remarks, stopping in the corridor to take press queries for around three minutes total before escaping stage right. Further proving the woman is incapable of having a real press conference of any kind.

leskomeese.JPG
Arizona state representative Debbie Lesko with former U.S. Attorney General Ed Meese...

By contrast, former U.S. Attorney General Ed Meese was genial and actually funny on the stump when he followed Brewer after the intermission of a speaker or two.

When he made some remarks against the federal government "overcriminalizing" actions the states had already criminalized, I made a mental note to ask him afterward about the infamous Meese Commission on pornography, which I recalled from my youth under the thumb of President Ronald Reagan.

Didn't Meese want harsher federal penalties against porn back then, I asked him after the luncheon was over?

"We were looking for federal laws [against pornography] because of the Interstate nature [of it]," he admitted.

Well, hey, that's different then, huh?

gasmask.JPG
Darth Vader, on the ramparts and ready for pepper spray...

As for the ALEC-ers, there was much mention of the anti-ALEC protesters outside, though if you did not venture past the environs of the resort, or watch TV, you could remain oblivious to activism, mostly focused on Westin Kierland's eastern entrance.

Outgoing ALEC president Noble Ellington drew a laugh from the crowd with a mention of the excitement outside.

"ALEC is on the move," he said. "We've got things going our way, and we're bound to be doing something right or we wouldn't have the [police] helicopters flying around or the demonstrators."

Republican Arizona House Member Debbie Lesko, Sand Land's state chair for ALEC, even went so far as to read part of a recent, critical report "ALEC in Arizona" by People for the American Way and Common Cause, as a point of pride.

"`Arizona has one of the highest concentrations of ALEC legislators of any state in the United States,'" Lesko read to the applause of the assembled. "`At least 50 of the 90 legislators now serving in the legislature are ALEC members.' Yay, Arizona!"

(I should note that the PAW report listed one Democrat as an ALEC member, state Representative Richard Miranda. But when I called Miranda to confirm this, he stated that PAW's info was not current, and that he had not participated in any ALEC events for "at least ten years." He said he was not attending the ALEC convention, and was not sympatico to ALEC's cause.)

tricklsdown.JPG
Another sign from the front lines...

Afterward, I buttonholed Lesko, who I must admit I found to be a pleasant and forthright person one-on-one, and very willing to entertain questions. Much more so than the governor, natch.

Lesko saw no problem with legislators and representatives of big business talking to each other about possible legislation.

"I think the legislators in ALEC are a very good idea," she said. "Because it gets the private sector together with the public sector. This is the real world. We have to work together to build the economy and increase jobs. So to me, it's just logical."

Indeed, much of what ALEC does, much of what the PAW report chides ALEC for, would not be controversial for your average right-wing Republican. ALEC is a deeply conservative institution, one founded by the late Paul Weyrich, also co-founder of the Heritage Foundation, the infamous conservative think-tank.

fatcat.JPG
This gives cigars a bad name...

A mere stroll through the vendors section of the conference confirms this impression, with more than one pro-life organization on hand, and others denouncing "Obamacare" or preaching the gospel of limited government.

And yet, though I was generally allowed to roam around the conference, ALEC retains an aura of secrecy. ALEC spokeswoman Kaitlyn Buss said I was free to attend certain ALEC workshops, but that various "subcommittee hearings," were closed to the media.

Buss could not explain why this was so. Nor did she have a good explanation for why ALEC's list of state legislative members from across the country was not being made public.

Similarly, she could not provide specifics on how much money ALEC was spending to fly out individual legislators. Though the Westin Kierland was fully booked by ALEC attendees, and I can assure you from eyeballing it that the resort is pretty posh.

When I raised this issue with Lesko, she offered that at least no public money was being spent. And she said ALEC was trying to be more transparent, and would be posting proposed legislation to a new website following the conference.

Considering the numerous deep-pocket corporate sponsors of the event -- from PhRMA and GlaxoSmithKline to ExxonMobile and AT&T -- ALEC's current lack of transparency, and its influence over state governments remains troubling.

sign1.JPG
A rather nattily dressed ALEC protester with an intriguing offer...

This is why I think the work being done by Common Cause, PAW, and various other groups is important. For decades, ALEC has flown under the radar, its power unchecked and unmeasured. During my visit, I got the feeling that the protesters and the criticism had forced ALEC to at least play the PR game, if nothing else.

After the lunch speeches were over, I stuck my head in the doors of a few of the workshops open to me. These included panel discussions on common core standards for schools and increasing exports for states to improve local economies. 

I can attest that it was fairly boring, wonkish stuff, albeit with a conservative bent. In the latter workshop, I did find it amusing watching Arizona Republican State Senator Al Melvin trying to keep from falling asleep, as gal pal Senator Lori Klein -- winner of this year's New Times award for Best Bigot -- sat next to him.

BTW, am I the only one to notice these two wingnut geezers are always together in all kinds of weather? Gross. 

After this, I meandered over to the east side of the resort's hotel parking lot, to check out the police barricade and the protesters. I totally missed the pepper-spraying incident of earlier in the day, documented in part by a video released by AZResistALEC, which you can see, here.

While I observed the demonstration, there was little going on other than some guitar playing, some chanting and some sign-waving. Phoenix Police were lined up blocking the entrance to the hotel, but there was no physical confrontation between the cops and the protesters at that point.

pepper.JPG
So that's what ALEC stands for...

Around 5 p.m. or so, the cops began to pack it in, and the hundred or so demonstrators present began to melt away, promising to return the next day. 

I did speak to a few who had been hit by the pepper spray, but had returned to their battle stations. Since I've gotten a face full of the stuff in the past, I feel for anyone who has had to experience these toxic blasts.

This is without passing judgment. Like I say, I did not witness the altercation.

In general, I found the protesters to be sincere and in some cases courageous, though there was a kabuki element to the proceedings. It would not have taken much for better-dressed demonstrators to infiltrate the event, perhaps even disrupt it nonviolently. 

For all I know that could still be on the protesters' agenda. But nothing like that happened on the opening day.


My Voice Nation Help
45 comments
ExpertShot
ExpertShot

Here's an idea to protect protestors from pepper spray.  Get yourselves about 10 large fans from Home depot with a 12 volt battery to go with each one (and voltage converter if necessary).  put the battery and fan together on one of those furniture moving dollies.  Have your non-arrestee compardres roll those suckers in back of the group getting sprayed and turn them on.  The wind generated will send the pepper spray back at the sprayers.  In addition, each arrestee should have a large can of compressed air with them to assist in the "blowback" of pepper spray sent their specific direction.  The element of surprise should be in effect here so conceal the compressed air cans and put some sort of box over the fans - perhaps the boxes should be disguised as holiday presents for the police with fancy paper and bows.

Mistalee
Mistalee

"I kept waiting for her nose to start sprouting."

And of course it will sprout, Stephen. She's already planted it - deep in the ass-crack of her corporate masters.

Markus West
Markus West

It is funny how this paper condemned Occupy Phoenix and gave it bad press, yet these are the very same people who are with occupy phoenix and other organizations protesting ALEC. Did any employees of "NEW TIMES" protest any of this, no, because they are huge Capitalist's who will do what benefit's them.

StephenLemons
StephenLemons

New Times is not monolithic. There are different writers here with different opinions. Other writers don't speak for me, I don't speak for them.

I've never condemned OP, though I never liked the chanting element of the demos. I tend to be skeptical of collectivism and conformity. I don't care if it comes from left, right or center. Sorry, not signing on to it. If you don't like it, tough.

Other than that, I report on protests all the time, even encourage them, and sometimes I walk with the protesters. I've taken my faceful of pepper spray heretofore. But even in doing so, I thought of myself as reporting on the demo. 

No, we're not supposed to be the ones "demonstrating." That's not my role as a commentator or reporter, though it should be obvious where my sympathies lie.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot

Stephen, perhaps you can give Mr. Stern a little info he seems to want to ignore.  The Valley Fever section of the paper (and blog) presents itself as "1000 mg of News".  That's news as in facts backed up with verification by two sources.  Mr. Stern seems to want to be a columnist but presents his opinions under a "News" banner in your paper. 

Why am I surprised that the right wing commentors that "Fair and Balanced" New Times is now presenting don't follow the rules just like those of Fox News. 

BTW - Why didn't you point out that Edwin Meese was also a criminal like Joke Arpayoso.  His friends were racketeers and he was responsible for the death and injuries at the People Park protests in the 60s, which protests helped to stop the killings and injuries in Vietnam.  Or that he was a criminal, indicted for his role in the Reagan administrations' role in selling advanced weapons to Iran. 

Meese obstructed a congressional inquiry and tried to limit the damage to President Reagan for selling weapons to our enemies and for conducting drug purchases to finance those transactions. 

Meese was a menace to society and still is!!!

Coz
Coz

Indeed, at least some people are waking up to the bullshit going on by politicians.Now to start voting they're worthless asses out of office.

Follower_of_the_ONE
Follower_of_the_ONE

  I had this conversation earlier tonight... bottom line Coz, People can no longer afford to have their heads in the sand.  The sleeping giant awakens, the independents are that giant.  The Republicans/GOP folks no longer hold a clear majority in this state, the field is evenly split between the Reps, Dems and Independents. 

  That IS the reason that negating proposition 106 thus circumventing the will of the people IS the primary focus of ALEC, Brewer, and most certainly the legislature.  If the odds aren't stacked in their favor there goes their control over this state.  It IS a matter of survival. 

  It has to be pretty scary for them that the citizen focus is changing, the shift is leaning towards a more moderate Arizona... no more knee jerk politics.  As reported in most venues, other than Fox, even Arizona has 70% (I believe) of the polled populace leaning towards a more moderate immigration strategy. 

This is a hypnotic administration, by that I mean...listen to my words, watch my hands, obey my commands, we are not criminals (although our actions, if not criminal are sinister and immoral).  They are so good at what they do that they have convinced themselves that they are too big to fail ... bigger bugs have been stomped.

Coz
Coz

People have been blind for years. Now are they only beginning to see.Voting outside of Party BS and voting with an ounce of integrity needs to happen before any changes are ever going to happen.

This does show people are finally waking the F up.A trend I sure hope continues.

Follower_of_the_ONE
Follower_of_the_ONE

No wonder she looks like a blonde headed prune... the old girl has been out in the desert prospectin'.  The real world of Jan Brewer must be a very dark, depressing, paranoid, alcohol fueled place.  As far as ALEC ... it's gotta go along with it's legislators, they are not honest people, I don't care how nice they appear to be it's a fascade... agenda driven and the agenda does not at all favor the citizens of this state.  They are greedy bidnessmen, many out of state, who have paid good money to buy this state and by god they are more than willing to take it from the poor and middle class ... to the last penny followed by time in their private prisons.  Disgusting SOB(s).. And this is what WE will be judged on..they are our representatives.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

Or she was out in the desert a-looking for them headless bodies and Eye-raqi weapons of mass dee-struction.

Monstercoon
Monstercoon

True that follower. They can make a maggot gag.

Barni Qaasim
Barni Qaasim

Thank you for covering this important event. "Arizona has one of the highest concentrations of ALEC legislators of any state in the United States,'" Lesko read to the applause of the assembled. "`At least 50 of the 90 legislators now serving in the legislature are ALEC members.'"

Tina
Tina

We readers are privileged that Stephen took the time to be there and report on some of the happenings, conversations and speeches.   Thanks.

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

["Prospects"? What's 350 percent of a "prospect," I wonder? Compare that to the current reality of 9 percent unemployment in this state.]

Let's keep it in perspective, Mr. Lemons. To Mrs. Brewer each and every call from any other state or country is sure to be a 'prospect' of some sort or another.

The typical prospect call might go like this:

"I've been thinking about relocating my business to Phoenix but I've heard that an elderly sheriff there routinely violates constitutional rights. Is that true? If so, why is he still sheriff and why is he still getting away with it?"

"Maam, none of what you have heard is true, just ask any Republican politician in Maricopa County, in fact let me connect you to our state senate president right now and he will answer your questions in a manner designed to make you feel comfortable to move your business to Phoenix. Please hold a moment........... Sir, I'm afraid Senator Pierce is not available. If you call back tomorrow we will try again. By the way, Sir, you are the 9th caller this week, so we've just realized a 350% increase in prospects from the two calls we had last week. You have just won a huge tax credit if you choose to move your business to Phoenix, and you get a FREE autographed copy of the governor's book".

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

Speaking of the governor's book - are there pages to color for her admirers?

Jason
Jason

"Prospects"? What's 350 percent of a "prospect," I wonder? Compare that to the current reality of 9 percent unemployment in this state.

That's why GED Jan and her mentally sick Republinut sleazeballs refused to change ONE WORD in a state statute that would have given unemployment money to 30,000 Arizonans.

"BTW, am I the only one to notice these two wingnut geezers are always together in all kinds of weather? Gross."

That is gross indeed.

GED Jan needs to be recalled and then booted out. I wonder if she'll attempt to run for office again if she is successfully recalled, like her hero, mentor, and savior Pearce? 

teknik1200
teknik1200

do you think she'll act like she's entitled to run again because she was not elected into her first term?

Jason
Jason

Probably. She'll pull the whole "I think there's ambiguity"  card and think she's entitled to run again.

I guarantee you if Goddard had won, this state would've been going in a FAR different direction. But no, GED Jan's hero, mentor, and savior, Russell Pearce, got her to sign SB1070 and she won election becuase she played politics with the criminal illegals.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

What took place at that posh resort is no different in principle from the business transactions conducted on the sidewalks of Van Buren. The whores gather, the clients pass out their cash and the whores put out.  Ain't pure unrestrained capitalism grand? Why weren't the folks who were involved with Lincoln Thrift and Enron there to gush about the benefits of deregulation?

Gordon Gecko is alive and well in Sand-land...

Jason
Jason

You are absolutely right about that Mike.

"Gordon Gecko is alive and well in Sand Land..."

Rob
Rob

I don't see the fuss?

Lori Klein is not an "unattractive woman".

Not Surprised
Not Surprised

Have you ever listened to Klein speak?  Sometimes she can be extremely unattractive when she speaks.

Jason
Jason

She is an unattractive woman, and I don't even have a bottle of Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum...

Rob
Rob

I think it'd be bottleS for her to become attractive...

VIMIIS
VIMIIS

When Brewer pushed for the 1% sales tax hike, did she not say it was to be used for education?  That was her big selling point for getting this approved by the voters.  Then the legislature ripped education funding apart.  And then she has the gall to claim that we need state universities to better prepare public sector leaders?  How?  With the quality of education being given to our future leaders, we will be lucky if they graduate high school.  Oh but wait a minute.  This is the governor who never took a college course in her life.  X-ray tech certificate Jan. I pray for our children's future.......      

Reggie VV
Reggie VV

Watch Fox News for 10 minutes if you can stand it.   This is the demographic ALEC needs and want.  Their motto is, 'Git em old, scare them to death, and make sure they are dumb and proud of it.

Rob
Rob

"But paying more in taxes doesn't go over big with the ALEC crowd, so Brewer didn't mention her 2010 temporary one-cent sales tax hike, which expires in 2013, leaving the state looking at a possible shortfall in 2014 of anywhere from $600 million to $1.2 billion, according to the JLBC."

Nor will she mention that the "Jobs Bill" passed this last session and signed by her will remove up to $600M in corporate taxes currently being realized by the State of Arizona.  Combine this with drop off from the temp sales tax, and 2014 is going to be an interesting year.

Jason
Jason

Hopefully by then, Arizona gains some sanity in its leadership. Right now Arizona has the most corrupt and inept leadership I have ever seen.  

Then again, voters in this state have proven, repeatedly, that they are as mentally sick as the politicians they hire and pay to represent them...

teknik1200
teknik1200

we had more corrupt leadership in alaska, but most of those guys got sent to prison.

There was a group taking bribes to pass legislation favorable for an oil field service company.  They called themselves the "CBC" or Corrupt Bastards Club.  They had hats made and everything.

Hard to top that.Sarah Payme claims to have broken up the CBC,but it was actually the FBI that did that in 2005, before she was even in office.

Phoenix Justice
Phoenix Justice

Even with sane leadership, it will not be easy to repair all of the damage.  Consider that it only takes a simple majority of the legislature to lower taxes, but it takes a super majority to raise them.

Jason
Jason

I will be happy when sanity returns to Arizona politics.

We got the ball rolling with the successful recall and ouster of corrupt and mentally sick Pearce and replaced him with Jerry Lewis.

The MCSO shurf will be the next one to fall. Either through indictment by the feds for abuse of power (where are you on those indictments Eric Holder?), being booted out by Mike Stauffer, or when he kicks the bucket.

GED Jan is term-limited and cannot run again in 2014. Then again, she may join her good buddy and savior Pearce in the unemployment line. You know, the same unemployment that Pearce & Co. refused to extend by changing ONE WORD in a state statute.

Tom Horne will be booted out in 2014 by Felecia Rotellini. I mean, who wants an AG who cries conflict of interest at every case his office is either asked to take or legally required to take?  

Monty has done a relatively good job and I think he may win re-election next year when he completes the rest of mentally sick and corrupt Candy Andy's term.

As for taxes, raise them. Social Security is in the red by about 500 billion or so. The national deficit stands at $15 trillion. And Congress wants to pass a "balanced-budget" Constitutional amendment?!

Ladmobagparty
Ladmobagparty

If 16 Republican state senators and 33 republican state representatives meet behind closed doors, isn';t that a violation of the state's open meetings laws? The Arizona senate voted last month to remove the redistricting commission chair for meeting with other commissioners outside regular public meetings. Isn't that exactly what they're doing at ALEC?

Reggie VV
Reggie VV

Do as I say, not as I do. They have exempted themselves from laws every other agency of government must follow.  Mecham was a genius compared to the addled one.  I tried to think of a worse legislature in this State's history, but for the 35 years of my citizenship, I just cannot do it.

AZDem9933
AZDem9933

We're trying to find that out, Ladmo.  My reading of the Open Meeting law is that legislative caucuses are (conveniently!) exempt from it.  I take it to mean any and all meetings but others think the exemption is narrower in scope than that and these ALEC meetings run afoul of the law.  I hope they're right.  

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...