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alex-3Their monkey wrench gang vitriol and antics are almost enough to get even us to reverse our opposition to the Desert Discovery Center.  Almost.  

But what can’t be denied is how swiftly the “NO DDC” group’s political stock has fallen since November 8th.  

They went all in for Bob Littlefield in his challenge to Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane.  He got trounced.  

The group sought the defeat of Councilmembers Suzanne Klapp and Virginia Korte.  They finished first and second in the voting.  Their chosen candidate, Guy Phillips, barely survived, narrowly beating back a challenge from Scottsdale newcomer Dan Schweiker.  

Then it was revealed here how deficient NO DDC’s self-professed leader Jason Alexander truly is.

But the resonant revelations about the group’s increasing impotency can best be found in an analysis of Scottsdale’s November 8th precinct tallies.  As Lane, for example, ran up more than 70% of the vote in some areas of the city he won narrowly in the two precincts where the Desert Discovery Center was an obvious concern.  Littlefield actually bested Lane by some 20 votes in DC Ranch but lost by 200 in the WestWorld precinct.  This is where it gets interesting.  Lane clobbered Littlefield in all other northern Scottsdale precincts.  Desert Highlands, Grayhawk, Granite Mountain.  Littlefield discovered scant votes in those and other desert centers.  

What’s that tell us?  

Beyond these two, proximate areas of the city voters just don’t care about the Desert Discovery Center.  And that’s a problem for the project’s opponents moving forward.  

Indeed, we can’t understand why congressional Democrats kept Nancy Pelosi around after so much failure.  And we don’t understand why the understandable opposition to this McDowell Sonoran Preserve imposition would cede itself to a gang that can’t shoot straight.  At a minimum they should get away from personal attacks and the belief they know how to operate like Axelrod or Carville.   The merits of the argument are, and should be sufficient.  It better be, because their standing as a political force looks more like a penny stock.  

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*Dan Schweiker may take another run for the Scottsdale City Council in 2018.  All three incumbents – Linda Milhaven, David Smith and Kathy Littlefield – are suggesting they will run too.

*As the Scottsdale City Manager saga turns . . .  it appears that new candidates will be interviewed in early December with a decision possible December 8th.

jim-norton*If lobbyist Jim Norton can find a way to get a massive tax break for a new Arizona Coyotes arena through the Arizona State Legislature Trump should immediately send him to the West Bank to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

*In an interview this week with John Gambadoro, the biggest radio voice in Arizona sports, Coyotes’ Minority Owner Anthony LeBlanc said he didn’t want a public vote.  Gee, wonder why?

*Phoenix City Councilman Daniel Valenzuela is not shying away from rumored mayoral aspirations and could assemble an interesting campaign coalition.

*Speaking of mayoral aspirations count Mary Hamway, Paul Dembow and Mark Stanton among the leading contenders to succeed current Paradise Valley Mayor Michael Collins in 2018.

brnovich*Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich has put together a very impressive host committee list for his first major fundraiser toward his 2018 re-election campaign.

 

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lane portraitIn Scottsdale even winners apparently whine too.

After the Scottsdale Mayor’s “Laneslide” victory Tuesday night and subject council election results the Arizona Republic and Parker Leavitt properly interviewed candidates for a story.
Expectedly Bob Littlefield didn’t congratulate Lane on a race well run. Indeed, he still to this day hasn’t had the class to call with congratulations.  Littlefield carped about not having the resources to compete with Lane even though he had had them to win all of his other races in Scottsdale.  Maybe it had to do with calling the city’s business leaders “scumbags” and warning all in the business community “you should fear me.”  Littlefield even included a missive on one of his mailers talking about all the “dark money” Lane was receiving in the race.  That was a lie.  Lane didn’t benefit from a dime of such support.  That Littlefield couldn’t raise sufficient money speaks to his own deficiencies. After all, Hugh Hallman ran for Mayor of Tempe in 2004 without taking a single contribution with those having interests before the City Council and won in an upset over the establishment candidate.  Sound familiar? Littlefield just couldn’t get it done.

littlefield at deskSimilarly, council victor Guy Phillips also lamented “dark money” in his race – it was limited – confusing what the Realtors Association did in support of his opponents.  Their support was fully transparent, listing the source of the money used on their mail pieces.

Note to Littlefield and Phillips:  dark money is anonymous.  Get your facts and terms straight before casting aspersions.  In the case of Littlefield it’s par for the course but in the case of Phillips it undermines his impressive re-election accomplishment.  Be a guy who’s a grateful winner not a whiner.

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Part I:  City Manager Search

A key rule in life and business is when something isn’t working don’t keep doing the same thing.  Change course.  That’s certainly in order now that the Scottsdale City Council has again failed to reach consensus on a new City Manager, which is long overdue.

It’s confounding that the apparent direction from council is to go back to the same process and outside consultants that have failed before.  Will the third time really be the charm?  We think not.

So here are some people and procedures that should be considered so this embarrassing saga for Scottsdale doesn’t continue.  The city’s leaders need to remember this is Scottsdale not Buckeye and act accordingly.  If you don’t like the people you’re being fed go recruit talent across Arizona and the country that can easily be identified to you.  Baseball teams don’t outsource General Manager searches to human resources.  Their owners and presidents identify and recruit.  The same should be done now by a subcommittee of the council that has yet to coalesce around one candidate.  This search committee might be made up of Mayor Lane, Councilwoman Korte and Councilman Phillips, each members of the conflicting caucuses.  Fritz Behring was a City Manager hired by acclimation.  It shouldn’t be this difficult.

Absent this new process go back to people that have well served the city in the past, or who could in the future.  People like Lisa Collins, Dan Worth, Dick Bowers or Topeka, Kansas City Manager Jim Colson who was passed over previously.

The city is badly in need of a permanent City Manager.  And badly in need of changing the way it’s going about it.


Part II:  Special Event Funding

In 2010 Scottsdale voters wisely chose to slightly increase hotel taxes to better fund Scottsdale tourism.  Part of those funds are dedicated to assisting new events become the next Barrett-Jackson, Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show or Waste Management Phoenix Open.  Results have been mixed, as can be expected of any new program.

But one recent approval should be repulsive to all.

Upon a recommendation from the Tourism Development Commission the Scottsdale City Council approved $82,500 for the azcentral Food & Wine Festival.  Notwithstanding there are 9,000 such festivals around Arizona (and this one is owned by USA Today & Arizona Republic who hardly need promotional help) the event was held in 2015 at Scottsdale Fashion Square.  But for its 2016 event held last weekend it decided to move to Salt River Fields.  The audacity to ask for Scottsdale monies as it exited the community is almost impressive if it weren’t infuriating. Unbelievably, a commission and council indulged.  Furthermore, the event was taking place on the exact same weekend the same groups decided to apporppriate $60,000 for the “Grand Prix” in downtown Scottsdale.  Notwithstanding the paucity of that event why would any Scottsdale leader subsidize an event outside of Scottsdale to compete with one it was contemporaneously funding in downtown?

Scottsdale has been duly recognized for being an effective run government.  This is an exception to the rule and should not happen again.

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alex-3Who is Jason Alexander? No, not the actor who played the neurotic yet lovable George Constanza on the hit sitcom Seinfeld. Who exactly is the man who has burst onto the local political scene, leading the charge against the Desert Discovery Center in North Scottsdale? He just makes it so difficult to join his crusade, even though we were staunch opponents of the DDC long before he was.

By all appearances, he appears to be a regular Scottsdale dude. He’s a “Senior QA Architect with 20 years of experience in software development and quality assurance for agile development teams.”

He also seems like a good father who’s also an outdoor enthusiast who enjoys biking, hiking and partaking in outdoor activities all across Arizona, but specifically in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. As someone who presents himself as a lover and defender of Scottsdale and the Preserve, it’s no wonder that he’s become the leader of NO DDC.

Further examination, however, reveals a hypocritical individual who may not really care for Scottsdale residents and the community he lives in. Since 2007, Alexander has kept a pretty active blog with vignettes of parenting and day-to-day life. In addition to these funny stories though, readers get a glimpse into why he’s full of contradictions.

In numerous posts throughout the years, Alexander refers to the city of Scottsdale as “Snottsdale," here, here and here.  A Princeton-educated computer engineer who is no doubt familiar with a keyboard, Alexander’s denigration of the city’s name can’t be anything but intentional due to the fact that the “C” key and “N” key are not very close to one another.

His dislike of the city isn’t limited to altering the name of the city in his posts. In other blog posts, Alexander also insults city employees and staff. In one, Alexander compares the lifeguards at the McDowell Mountain Ranch Aquatic & Fitness Center to “Hitler youth” because they enforce rules that ensure everyone, including Alexander’s two children, enjoys the pool safely. In another post, Scottsdale land managers are called asshats” and “eveeeil because while doing their jobs, they bulldozed a small hill on Gateway Loop, which Alexander liked to use for biking.

On top of this dislike for all things Scottsdale, Alexander appears to dislike Scottsdale residents, including the very same people who most likely form the basis of support for his NO DDC group. While writing on the problems of biking and distracted drivers, Alexander calls Scottsdale drivers dumbass egocentric North Snottsdale trash. In another post on his love of being active and outside, Alexander pokes fun at Scottsdale retirees who aren’t as active as he and writes that these retirees have mostly gotten here by indoor jobs . Showing disdain for those who enjoy the trails in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Alexander writes about a particularly intense bike ride and why he enjoyed it so much. Looks like he loved this bike ride due to the fact that there were “No nimby HOAs, no dodging herds of slack-jawed hikers around Sunrise and Lost Dog…”. In recent months, these residents, slack-jawed hikers, and retirees who are the object of his derision have become his allies. Maybe they’d resist doubling down on supporting his cause if they knew what he really thinks of them?

Alexander, who according to his blog, used to live in Legislative District 19, also demonstrates an apparent dislike for Mormons and members of Arizona’s active LDS community. In a post deriding Arizona’s stringent DUI laws, which are meant to keep the community safe from impaired drivers, Alexander describes writing to Mesa legislators State Senator Chuck Gray and Representatives Kirk Adams and Rich Crandall about why Arizona’s DUI laws are too stringent. When he fails to get a response from them, he posts that the letters won’t do any good when “all 3 legislators are Mormon, very very overtly Mormon”. He goes on to write that he believes that these legislators are “using political offices to promote a morality” and quips that due to their actions, he had to “seriously think about moving to Colorado, or at least Scottsdale.” Finally, he writes, “I will not vote for a Mormon legislator again, period.  I haven’t in years based legitimately on different politics, but this is now my single-issue.”.

Most quizzical of all is Alexander’s own political endorsements and views, which don’t jive with who he supports now. On explaining why he campaigned in support of Effie Carlson for her state legislative bid in 2014, Alexander writes that he and his wife were a part of “the last band of sane people in AZ LD23, standing against the Armies of Whiteness,” and writes that residents of Fountain Hills are “a bunch of scared white people, responding to a wingnut who sprouts teabaggery”. We can only assume that the “wingnut” he’s referring to is Jay Lawrence, but guess who else could be that individual? You guessed it: none other than Alexander’s supposed Preserve savior, Bob Littlefield, who was also running for that seat in 2014.

Not only does Alexander offend members of Arizona’s active Latter Day Saints community, but he also uses one of the English language’s most derogative terms in a joking and “comical” manner in numerous posts. That’s rarely wise for an Anglo. In one post while describing his reaction to an occasion when his wife spilled soda in his vehicle, he writes, “…I only yelled once when my wife spilled cherry soda all over the car. Cherry m*thafuggin soda IN.THE.CAR! Give a n*gga a break!!”. In another blog post where he criticizes Arizona’s inconsistent distracted driver laws, he writes, “N*ggaz was ready ta loot, bust caps off in dumbass egocentric North Snottsdale trash…”.  In a final post, Alexander criticizes in-car breathalyzers and again refers to himself with this vile term: I wanted to to yank the damn thing out of the car, but that anger lasted about 10 seconds til i forced the numbness back over me. Much better than looking at the calender and chafing. this is how n*ggaz do hard time.”

So who really is Jason Alexander? We may never know, but it seems that he may not really love Scottsdale after all. To form this contradictory viewpoint of how he loves and embraces his community, Scottsdale’s Alexander may have just adopted a mantra from Seinfeld’s Alexander, who playing the role of George Costanza once said, “Jerry. Just remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it.”

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lane portraitWinner:  Jim Lane.    The incumbent ran the best candidate campaign since Robert Pettycrew’s shoe-string council victory in 1994, one of Drinkwater’s waltzes, or perhaps ever.  He raised big money, the most in Scottsdale history.   That’s what good campaigns do.   He spent it wisely.  Lane messaged smartly and took it to Bob Littlefield, a name who had never lost a municipal race in Scottsdale.  Most impressively, he beat Littlefield at his own game:  grassroots.  Indeed, he had so many events at Scottsdale small businesses, restaurants and bars a voter joked online if he was running for “Chief Waiter?”  Lane also doubled up Littlefield on social media.

Loser:  Littlefield.  Pummeled so thoroughly the husband selfishly has jeopardized his wife’s city council re-election bid in 2018.  After losing his State House of Representatives race in 2018 it’s the end of the line for the loquacious one. But it's not the end of the line on being classless. Littlefield apparently hasn't even called Lane to congratulate him, something even Clinton did last night despite a more blistering and consequential election.

Loser:  John Washington.  Having lost himself to Lane by 30 in 2012 Washington boasted that Littlefield was the right guy at the right time to take down Lane.  Um, no.  Washington’s screeds even went so far as to badly damage Littlefield’s campaign with absurd criticisms of some of Scottsdale’s top business leaders.  Washington is now where he belongs . .  . crossing no rhetorical Delawares let alone the Indian Bend Wash, relegated to irrelevancy in Scottsdale’s lonely crazy caucus.

Winner:  Bill Crawford.  Opting to get out of the mayoral race during the summer Crawford became an avid and effective endorser of Lane.  In so doing he’s broadened his appeal and fundraising base for not just a likely run for City Council in 2018, but a successful one too.

schweikertWinner:  David Schweikert.  With much due respect to Dan Schweiker, a successful local businessman, Schweiker had lived in the community for about 5 minutes before deciding to run for City Council.  And the only candidate who spent less on a campaign was Guy Phillips.  Virginia Korte and Suzanne Klapp outspent him by several times.  Yet, Schweiker came within a whisker of defeating incumbent Guy Phillips.  Why?  Because of a name association with well-respected Republican Congressman David Schweikert who represents much of the Scottsdale area.

Winner, Sort Of:  Virginia Korte.  She’s now the heir apparent to the Mayor’s Office.  But to win in 2020 she’s going to need to improve her campaign and message significantly.  This time around it was vacuous at the beginning before finding its stride late.  That performance in the later innings will be necessary to beat back a strong challenge that will surely come.  Korte also deserves credit for standing by core principles.  It wasn’t convenient to stand by the Desert Discovery Center.  But she did.  It wasn’t convenient to champion a tax hike for Scottsdale schools contemporaneous with her re-elect.  But she did.  And won both of them.

Mixed: David Smith.  Smith thought possible that a Littlefield victory would make him a swing vote on the city council.  It’s aong other reasons why he didn’t endorse Lane.  But that was unfortunate political calculation rather than municipal patriotism.  Right thinking people know (and Smith is one for the most part) how comedic it would have been to have Littlefield as the face of the city.  Yet, Smith indulged the notion through a misguided lens that will hurt him, should he run for re-election in 2018.

City_of_Scottsdale_Script_Logo.svgWinner:  Scottsdale.  The inmates have never yet been elected in sufficient numbers to run the asylum. And this year was no different.  The city affirmed its personality of a progressive majority with always sprinkling in a little schizophrenia.

Loser:  Trolls.  Littlefield’s were maniacal. And ultimately ineffectual.

Loser:  Jason Alexander.  He is a lesson in the wisdom of quitting while you’re ahead.  Having largely won the debate over the Desert Discovery Center (DDC) Alexander and his acolytes went Monkey Wrench Gang with tactics and targeting of Lane, Korte and Klapp rather than simply stick to the issue at hand.  Now, he’s a cancer in the important conversation to shut down the DDC.  More on this topic soon . . .

Winner:  New contributions limits.  When the Arizona State Legislature increased them to a maximum of $6,250 for city council and mayoral races eyebrows were raised.  But the policy rationale involved allowing candidates to have more control over their own fortunes rather than be a message in a bottle bouncing on the waves of dark money and independent expenditures.  The reform worked.  Candidates had the resources to run and fight back and the amount of dark money was noticeably down from previous cycles.

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*He endorsed Trump, but he will likely be responsible for his demise.  He is Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, an impressive congressional nominee who is getting precious little help from national Republicans due to the GOP having to defend more seats than they had hoped this year.  Prediction:  If Babeu loses his congressional race look for him to move to Maricopa County and run against Paul Penzone in 2020 if the Democrat defeats Arpaio in November.

*Trump’s demise may strangely benefit U.S. Senator Jeff Flake too.  Not only has he distanced himself from Trump a big Democratic year likely portends a sizable GOP one in the off-election year of 2018.  Kyrsten Sinema is as talented as Arizona elected officials come but defeating Flake in a statewide election that year is likely going to be very difficult.

schweikert*Keep an eye on U.S. Congressman David Schweikert as a possible if not probable candidate for Arizona Governor in 2022.

*Speaking of Governor Doug Ducey . . . he’s not tall but some believe he will be on short lists in 2020.

*Who’s Congressman Trent Franks’ candidate for President in 2020?  Very likely Mike Pence.

*When downtown Phoenix is healthy the whole Valley benefits.  From stadiums to arenas to big urban projects thanks go to the politicians and pioneers that made the tough decisions yesteryear to pave the way for the exciting landscape today.  Special kudos to former Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon who was the champion for bringing Arizona State University downtown.  If there was ever a tipping point that was it.

*We opposed the proposed Desert Discovery Center long before the current angst.  But it’s incredibly sad to see the effort hijacked by the likes of Jason Alexander.  He’s one nasty dude that shouldn’t be the Pied Piper for anything.

*Look for downtown Scottsdale businessman Bill Crawford to emerge as a significant contender for the Scottsdale City Council in 2018.

*Sheriff+Joe+ArpaioFan or not of Sheriff Arpaio over the years sad to see all those he has helped and endorsed over the years do precious little now to help his campaign.

*Smart move by Arizona Corporation Commission candidate Bill Mundell, a Democrat, to be advertising on the Drudge Report.

*There are many local measures with financial ramifications on the November ballot.  But there may be none worse than Peoria’s Proposition 400 which is a 4/10 of one cent increase in the city sales tax.  Opponents have dubbed it the “Forever Tax” because it has no sunset.  Worse is that it essentially serves as a slush fund for the elected officials in Peoria to dole out money for pet projects.  This is a city that has clearly decided that big subsidies will be its competitive advantage.  Already being sued by the Goldwater Institute for paying millions to an out-of-state private college imagine what would happen if they got their hands on hundreds of millions more in taxpayer funds?

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Public Opinion Strategies, the polling company to Governor Ducey, Senator McCain, NBC and the Wall Street Journal, among many others, just concluded a October 17-18 survey among Scottsdale voters.

lane portraitAs they showed in their September survey Mayor Jim Lane maintains a big lead over former Councilman and failed State House of Representatives candidate Bob Littlefield.  Lane holds a 28-point advantage with undecided voters shrinking to 20%, many of whom are leaning towards Lane but who may choose not to vote in a down ballot race, underscoring the significant challenge before the flawed challenger.  Additionally, most people feel the city is headed in the right direction and Littlefield’s favorable/unfavorable ratings are weak.littlefield

There is little bad news for Lane in the survey who maintains strong, commanding leads in all parts of the city and with all subgroups.  And the notion of one Littlefield serving as Mayor while the other serves on the City Council at the same time remains very unpopular.  Indeed, after researching the matter Arizona Republic reporter Parker Leavitt was unable to find another example in America where a husband and wife were conjoined on a council.

The mayoral race stands in stark contrast to that for city council where four candidates are vying for three seats.  As it now stands:

Virginia Korte:  27%

Dan Schweiker:  27%

Guy Phillips:  25%

Suzanne Klapp:  23%

Phillips may yet garner one of the three seats but clearly made a strategic blunder so closely associating with Littlefield.  Schweiker continues to outperform with Republican audiences,  benefitting from his close name association with the popular Congressman David Schweikert representing the area.

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The Unbearable Lightness of Being was a 1984 work about two men and two women. It’s an appropriate reference to the tale of Scottsdale 2016 and the unbearable idea of two Littlefields serving on the City Council at the same time.

Mlittlefield at deskayoral candidate Bob Littlefield also likes to be on two sides of every issue. He was for the Desert Discovery Center before he was against it. He was for developer subsidies before he was against them. He was for tall apartment projects until he isn’t, unless they are big campaign contributors. The list really has no end, but the latest example is just too rich.

Earlier this year Littlefield threatened Notre Dame Preparatory High School’s non-profit status because they had the audacity to have Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane speak to some of their students about civics. Littlefield bizarrely thought he was entitled, as he does many things, to equal time even though Mayor Lane’s appearance was entirely apolitical.

Think how craven someone must be to threaten one of Scottsdale’s leading educational options this way?

Oh, the irony.

Over the weekend the head of the Scottsdale United Amateur Soccer League sent out an email encouraging people to vote for Littlefield. He might be the only one still left in Scottsdale encouraging votes for Littlefield, who, in a Friday night forum apparently now doesn’t mind the idea of “Satanists” praying at City Hall. So will Littlefield tell this organization, also a non-profit, to go to hell too? Of course not. But the good news for Scottsdale is that Bob Littlefield is going to have a lot more time to play soccer after the voters give him a red card on November 8th.

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lane portrait*A second candidate poll in Scottsdale this week finds the City Council races tight (as the poll before it did) with Mayor Lane maintaining his commanding lead over Littlefield.

*The real question now for Littlefield’s ill-conceived mayoral run is how badly it will hurt his wife re-election’s prospects in 2018?  It will likely be significant.  And with Councilman David Smith uncertain to run again, the council candidate field could be much deeper than 2016.

*Speaking of this year’s Scottsdale council races incumbent Suzanne Klapp has raised a stunning amount for her campaign, likely a new record for a seat – by a wide margin.

*Glendale shook up the West Valley and all of the Valley some 15 years ago when it started doling out public dollars for economic development projects.  That was made possible by city voters supporting an amorphous bond question which was ultimately utilized for sports facilities and other projects.  History seems to repeating itself.  Peoria is not only throwing millions in public funds to revitalize the struggling “P83” entertainment area but in November it has placed on the ballot a large city sales tax increase whose primary purposes seems to be a fund like Glendale had.

*The Summit Group is a well-regarded political consulting group in town.  But what will they be doing the night of November 8th if marijuana legalization passes but Sheriff Arpaio is defeated?  They’re both clients.

byran-jeffries*Phoenix City Hall was atwitter with talk this week that former Phoenix City Councilman and current United Phoenix Firefighters’s Association Bryan Jeffries could make a run for Mayor since Greg Stanton is in his final term.  Others who have expressed interest include Tom Simplot, Michael Nowakowski and even Phil Gordon, the last of whom would need to overcome legal obstacles.  Current Councilmembers Danny Valenzuela and Kate Gallego are said to be eyeing the seat themselves and certainly have formidable constituencies from which to wage a strong campaign.  Either will be in the discussion to be appointed as Mayor too if Stanton leaves early for a Clinton Administration or seeks another political office.

*The likely order of finish in the upcoming Arizona Corporation Commission race?  Burns.  Tobin.  Mundell.  But the race remains fluid as resources remain a challenge for all.

*Those backing the minimum wage hike that will be on the Arizona ballot November 8th are doing so in the name of worker’s fairness and rights.  Yet, the campaign behind it stiffed the petition circulators, the very people their measure is designed to help.

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