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The Silicon Valley used to be thought of as the mecca for any tech junkie, the ideal place to live. Large tech companies like Google advertise the high living standards and quality of life offered by their companies and the location. Now, however, some of those same higher ups are questioning whether the valley is worth the cost, and they’re the ones making the most money. Even if the companies won’t leave, the employees will. So, where will these corporations move? Hopefully, Phoenix.

The state is business friendly, with one of Governor Ducey’s favorite taglines even being, “Arizona is open for business”. He is a fan of smaller government and limited interference with innovation. Taxes are low and business is thriving. So, what’s the issue? In an article written for the Phoenix Business Journal, reporter Eric Jay Toll talked with two executives who considered moving their companies to Phoenix, but decided against it, citing Arizona’s reputation for a poor education system as one of the main reasons. Executives don’t want to move their companies to a city that doesn’t offer a good educational system for the children of potential recruits and employees, not to mention their own. However, Arizona’s reputation for a weak education system may soon be a thing of the past. Proposition 123 is a measure that, if approved, would provide $3.5 billion in educational funding to the state from the State’s General Fund and the Land Trust and is up for a vote in May. If the bill passes, corporations will have no reason not to move to the sunny city.

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Scottsdale, AZ – The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation today announced the appointment of Stuart I. Graff to lead the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation as its new President and CEO. Graff will assume this role on February 1, 2016.

As CEO, Graff will be responsible for the overall direction and leadership of the organization toward the achievement of the Foundation’s mission: to preserve Taliesin and Taliesin West for future generations and enrich society through an understanding of Frank Lloyd Wright’s ideas, architecture, and design.

Trained in intellectual property law and with a stellar reputation as a business leader, Graff has demonstrated his ability to develop and execute cross-functional strategies that integrate organizations through strong and engaged teams. His leadership resulted in rapid, sustainable turnarounds of the businesses he led.

Graff studied engineering at Northwestern, and received his JD from Loyola University and his MBA from Emory University. After practicing intellectual property law for many years, he became in-house counsel at Newell Rubbermaid in 1999, where he was responsible for protecting innovation and monetizing brand equity through licensing. He was later promoted to Group Vice President and General Counsel of Newell’s largest global business group, and then moved to become General Manager of the Parker and Waterman fine writing brands, turning those businesses around in a matter of two years. Since 2009, he has been a Vice President at Valspar Corporation, leading its Guardsman consumer division.

In addition to his career activities, Graff has an extensive history of board leadership and fundraising, primarily for arts and social justice organizations. Growing up in Chicago, he has a lifelong passion for 20th-century architecture – inspired by his first encounter with Frank Lloyd Wright’s work at age 8 – and cares deeply about the need for affordable housing and sustainable architecture in the 21st-century.

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Back in May of this year, Arizona lawmakers made it illegal for cities to impose plastic bag bans. Tempe has since decided to try and stand up and change this law to allow the banning of single-use plastic bags.

Not only does this law prevent any city in the state from banning plastic bags, it also prevents any city in the state from requiring any type of recycling programs. That’s right, recycling in Arizona is an option not a requirement, one that many businesses choose to opt out.

Arizona lawmakers no longer have an idea of what is healthy for this great state, but would rather impose laws that prevent anything from becoming too much of a hassle.

Thankfully one city council member from one of the cities in the State realized the ridiculousness of this law and how unreasonably it really is. A Tempe city council member plans to fight this law. This member reached out to a judge and asked for the law in question to be voided, at least in the city of Tempe.

Tempe is what is known as a charter city and is given certain rights that allows it to use its own legislature and is not forced to use the legislature provided by the state. That is the loophole Tempe plans on using when fighting this state law.

The ban of the plastic bag is not a new concept. Hawaii went statewide plastic bag free in 2013. In 2014, California also imposed a statewide ban against single use plastic bags, especially in grocery stores. The ideal alternative to both plastic and paper bags is the reusable canvas bag.

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Who hasn’t woken up with the sniffles and debated whether or not it is worth taking the day off and losing pay, or going to work sick and being miserable? The latter option exposes everyone you come into contact that day with your germs but it might be your only choice if you can’t lose any portion of your paycheck.

As consumers, we can unanimously agree that we don’t want a sick person to be serving us, or have a sick child at day care because their parents can’t afford to miss a day of work. When walking into a store you don’t want to hear that the clerk helping you was throwing up that morning but was forced to come in. Giving sick days to each employee is beneficial for all of humankind.

Tempe might have the solution to this issue by making it mandatory that businesses give each one seven paid sick days each year. The City of Tempe is exploring a possible new ordinance that would require private companies to provide both part-time and full-time employees with sick leave.

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By Solaris Liberatas

Arizona has an abundance of renewable energy, especially when it comes to solar, but has zero ambition when it comes to actually powering itself on renewables. What a waste of clean energy.

Renewable energy, such as solar, wind, and hydropower, are no longer seen as the alternatives to fossil fuels, they are now seen as competitors. So why are so many states, like Arizona, dragging their feet when it comes to using the resources the planet is ready to provide?

The United States Energy Information Administration reports that in 2014, only 10 percent of the energy consumed in the United States was renewable energy. Renewable sources also generated just 13 percent of the nation’s electricity. What a tiny number in comparison to the wonderful resources that are handed to us every day. Between all the different renewable energy sources, the United States could produce enough power to run itself and then some.

Hawaii, has decided to switch things up and make the commitment to renewables. Governor David Ige has announced the plan for Hawaii to run exclusively on renewable energy by 2045. He also announced that the University of Hawaii must have a net zero carbon footprint by 2035.

In 2014, Hawaii was able to run 21 percent on renewables, a head start to their goal of 15 percent by 2015. In order to reach their goal of using 100 percent renewable energy, Hawaii will use a combination of different sources of renewable energy such as: solar panels on houses, floating wind turbines, and possibly geothermal energy that would be collected from the volcano.

On the other hand, Arizona has a goal of running on 15 percent renewable energy by 2025. A state with 300 sunny days a year, the Hoover Dam with over 1.5 million gallons of water running through it per second and a possibility of wind turbine zoning should have a much bigger percentage of clean energy usage.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) website shows that California is the number one producer of solar energy with 1.5 million homes with installed solar panes. Arizona is ranked at number five with only 35,000 homes with installed solar panels. These solar homes and the few solar plants that have been built are capable of powering 294,000 homes. Imagine what Arizona could power if it made the commitment to solar energy.

 

 

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By Charles Krauthammer

Israel accepts an Egyptian-proposed Gaza cease-fire; Hamas keeps firing. Hamas deliberately aims rockets at civilians; Israel painstakingly tries to avoid them, actually telephoning civilians in the area and dropping warning charges, so-called roof knocking.

“Here’s the difference between us,” explains the Israeli prime minister. “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”

Rarely does international politics present a moment of such moral clarity. Yet we routinely hear this Israel-Gaza fighting described as a morally equivalent “cycle of violence.” This is absurd. What possible interest can Israel have in cross-border fighting? Everyone knows Hamas set off this mini-war. And everyone knows the proudly self-declared raison d’etre of Hamas: the eradication of Israel and its Jews.

Apologists for Hamas attribute the blood lust to the Israeli occupation and blockade. Occupation? Does no one remember anything? It was less than 10 years ago that worldwide television showed the Israeli army pulling die-hard settlers off synagogue roofs in Gaza as Israel uprooted its settlements, expelled its citizens, withdrew its military and turned every inch of Gaza over to the Palestinians. There was not a soldier, not a settler, not a single Israeli left in Gaza.

And there was no blockade. On the contrary. Israel wanted this new Palestinian state to succeed. To help the Gaza economy, Israel gave the Palestinians its 3,000 greenhouses that had produced fruit and flowers for export. It opened border crossings and encouraged commerce.

The whole idea was to establish the model for two states living peacefully and productively side by side. No one seems to remember that, simultaneous with the Gaza withdrawal, Israel dismantled four smaller settlements in the northern West Bank as a clear signal of Israel’s desire to leave the West Bank as well and thus achieve an amicable two-state solution.

This is not ancient history. This was nine years ago.

And how did the Gaza Palestinians react to being granted by the Israelis what no previous ruler, neither Egyptian, nor British, nor Turkish, had ever given them — an independent territory? First, they demolished the greenhouses. Then they elected Hamas. Then, instead of building a state with its attendant political and economic institutions, they spent the better part of a decade turning Gaza into a massive military base, brimming with terror weapons, to make ceaseless war on Israel.

Where are the roads and rail, the industry and infrastructure of the new Palestinian state? Nowhere. Instead, they built mile upon mile of underground tunnels to hide their weapons and, when the going gets tough, their military commanders. They spent millions importing and producing rockets, launchers, mortars, small arms, even drones. They deliberately placed them in schools, hospitals, mosques and private homes to better expose their own civilians. (Just Thursday, the U.N. announced that it found 20 rockets in a Gaza school.) And from which they fire rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Why? The rockets can’t even inflict serious damage, being almost uniformly intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system. Even West Bank leader Mahmoud Abbas has asked: “What are you trying to achieve by sending rockets?”

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A friend of mine's brother was convicted of a felony for growing marijuana plants in his college dorm. Thirty years later he still can't vote and his felony record prevents him from getting a good job.

Because of his story and others like it, I introduced bipartisan legislation to restore federal voting rights for non-violent offenders upon release from prison.

This week, I introduced another piece of legislation with Senator Cory Booker to make some reforms to the criminal justice system that will help non-violent individuals reintegrate into society and secure employment.

Both of these bills will reform existing federal law to allow low-level offenders a second chance. These ideas will both allow the restoration of the right to vote and the opportunity to remove a permanent blot preventing employment for those released after non-violent punishment.

First, we should restore voting rights to non-violent ex-offenders upon release, so they can vote in federal elections. This is an issue that I feel strongly about.

This past February, I testified before the Kentucky Senate to urge a Kentucky constitutional amendment to restore voting rights to many ex-offenders upon release.

The war on drugs has disproportionately affected men and women of color; minorities are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for certain nonviolent drug offenses, like drug possession, even though surveys show that white Americans use drugs at the similar rate. This is a travesty.

I think that drugs are a scourge and are bad for young people, but a lifetime in prison as punishment is not the answer.

The war on drugs has not lessened drug use. It has simply transformed a health problem into a prison problem, and ultimately an employment and voting rights problem.

While drug use is a problem, I also think it is a mistake to lock people up for 10, 20 or 40 years for youthful mistakes.

If you look at the war on drugs, most of the people locked up are minorities. Yet, drugs are being used by kids of all colors and from all socio-economic backgrounds. So, why is it then that prisons are loaded up with minorities who were prosecuted for drug crimes?

The answer is because it is easier to arrest kids who gather in the city rather than in the suburbs. There are more patrols in the city. We give federal grants based on conviction rates, and frankly, kids who live in impoverished areas have less access to a good attorney.

If you go to the African-American community and ask them if the war on drugs is fair, they will say no. The restoration of voting rights is part of the answer, but we should also reclassify many of these crimes as misdemeanors so youthful mistakes do not prevent voting or employment.

I think non-violent criminals should be treated differently than violent criminals. Long sentences for non-violent crimes should be shortened and efforts should be made to reintegrate these folk into the workforce.

Republicans are the party of family values, yet the war on drugs has led to an increasing number of fatherless families due to drug crimes. According to the Pew Charitable Trust, 2.7 million kids now have a parent behind bars and for African American children one out of every nine have a parent in jail. These numbers have risen dramatically since 1980.

I believe in redemption and forgiveness for the 19-year-old kid who made a mistake by purchasing drugs. I think that young people deserve a second chance.

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But Republicans are too busy cheering her gaffes to notice

By Brian Beutler
The downside, and the upside, and the other downside of Hillary Clinton's overwhelming popularity among Democrats, and the related likelihood that she will avoid a divisive primary campaign, is that she's absorbing a tremendous amount of partisan opposition far ahead of her expected official candidacy. Her status forces Republicans to expend ammunition earlier than they'd ideally like, but it also carries the potential to weaken her favorables—to puncture her aura of inevitability—and a risk that she'll make an irreparable error on the public stage. Hilary-Benghazitestimony_zpsb036f29c

There's a mitigating corollary to that latter risk, which is that Republicans have a tremendous incentive to treat every misstep or perceived misstep as a grave, self-inflicted wound, whether that's really the case or not. As Clinton has traveled the country promoting her book Republicans have filtered her every utterance through their gaffe-o-meters, hoping a new blunder will crowd each news cycle. In the process, they've successfully fostered the narrative that Clinton's political chops are rusty, and her instincts ill suited for the current political moment.

On the right, the result is a sincere but mistaken belief that Clinton's candidacy is tanking. That she's an informidable opponent. An all but vanquished foe.

The latest episode reinforcing this belief occurred Saturday, during an interview with the Guardian, when Clinton attempted to explain why her personal wealth isn't a drag on her credibility as an advocate for addressing economic inequality.

"[T]hey don't see me as part of the problem," she said, "because we pay ordinary income tax, unlike a lot of people who are truly well off, not to name names; and we've done it through dint of hard work."

Count me among the many who think she could learn a thing or two from the current president, who is also a rich person, about how to publicly grapple with the apparent—though not genuine—contradiction between being wealthy and speaking to the concerns of the poor and middle class. It is possible to make a politically resonant case for noblesse oblige, and I assume she'll eventually figure that out. Count me also among the many who believe that Bill Clinton's substantive record on this score is pretty mixed.

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Community Update

Sentinel Award
Last month, I was honored with the Sentinel Award from the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce for my efforts to reduce burdensome regulation and promote government efficiency since joining the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. I was thrilled to receive the honor with fellow awardees Arizona State Senator Steve Pierce and Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal (not pictured). I will continue to champion efforts that ensure our state’s business climate is competitive.

Marc Community Resources
Marc Community Resources is a nonprofit organization that provides educational, rehabilitation, and social services to over 8,000 children and adults with developmental, physical, or behavioral challenges each year. I was afforded an opportunity to tour Marc’s facility in Mesa with Marc’s President and CEO, Randy Gray; Marc Board of Directors member Diane Hough; and former Maricopa County Supervisor and current Marc Board of Directors member Tom Freestone. I was humbled by the work Marc employees do and by the invaluable services they provide to so many throughout my district and the entire county.

State Route 24 Ribbon Cutting
As many East Valley residents may know, the new section of State Route 24 opened to motorists this spring, providing a direct connection between the Santan Freeway and Ellsworth Road. Adequate infrastructure is essential in continuing to grow a vibrant community and economy, especially as business and residential growth continues in the East Valley.
I was honored to participate in the ribbon cutting for this exciting project that will enhance access around southeast Maricopa County and the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. Here, my sons Grant and Will are pictured with me and Supervisor Denny Barney from District 1.

Welcome Home Ceremony for Gilbert Veterans
I was honored to attend and participate in a welcome home ceremony for three returning Gilbert veterans with Mayor John Lewis, Town Councilmember Jenn Daniels, Supervisor Denny Barney, and Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. Operation Welcome Home, in partnership with the Town of Gilbert, hosts the events to recognize these brave men and women and show appreciation for their service and sacrifice. With the support of veterans organizations, service groups, and employers the returning veterans are reintroduced to the community. I valued the opportunity to show my personal appreciation and remain ever grateful for the service of the men and women who serve this country both at home and abroad.
Red Mountain High School Junior ROTC Pass and Review Ceremony
In April, I was able to attend the Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) Lion Battalion of Red Mountain High School’s Pass and Review Ceremony with the families of the students and community leaders from Mesa. I enjoyed the ceremony and respect the students’ leadership and dedication to the program. Here, I’m pictured with Councilman David Luna of Mesa and other event participants.

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By Junkman Uncaged

Although the scope of this blog and podcast will be national, from time to time I’ll write or talk about issues here in my home state of Arizona, particularly when the story, though local in scope, exemplifies a fundamental that applies nationwide.

A number of newspapers and blogs across the country have established “fact check” features: ostensibly unbiased examinations of statements made by politicians or their supporters, intent upon showing whether the statements are objectively true or false. These monuments to cynicism were, in fact, developed to facilitate bias while denying it outright. Some are more clever than others and some are more subtle than others, but generally speaking, they have all, at one time or another, employed carefully-worded deception and even outright logical fallacy to advance or damage a political position or candidate.

AZ Central has their own such fact check feature, and they have deployed it on occasion to either advance the Democrat agenda or harm the Republican agenda in ways that I must concede are sometimes admirably clever. As the drumbeat of the 2014 election begins to pick up, they have realized something that many of us have seen coming for quite some time; Doug Ducey is emerging as the likely GOP gubernatorial candidate for 2014. At the very least, there are more than a few among the AZ Central editorial staff who strongly oppose his election. They also know that there is not a Democrat candidate that can defeat the GOP candidate in the general election, so they will use their fact check feature, among other devices, attempting to either wound Ducey’s candidacy or help a more moderate Republican win the primary (and hence the general election).

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