Friday, December 4, 2015

Lack of public information from media and Secretary of State about Prop 123 publicity pamphlet is a scandal

Pick your descriptor: (a) scandalous, (b) incompetence, (c) conspiracy, (d) collusion, (e) some of the above, (f) all of the above. "None of the above" is not an option.

You would think that there would be a concerted effort on the part of the media and the Secretary of State (SoS) to educate the public about an opportunity for public input on Proposition 123 (the education "deal"). Come on. Why would you think that? This is Arizona.

To my knowledge there was no announcement by the SoS office. None. Never. And I heard from one of the staffers yesterday that there was no information on their website.

To my knowledge, the first media attention was a December 1st article at azcentral.com (aka The Republic, a Phoenix newpaper). The second article appeared in the December 3rd Daily Star, a Tucson paper (covered yesterday in this blog). The third article appeared this morning by AZBlueMeanie at Blog for Arizona. Other than for this post, that's it.

I'm going to rely on reporting by Mary Jo Pitzl in that first media mention at azcentral.com on the 1st. Here's the byline.

POLITICAL INSIDER
Mary Jo Pitzl, The Republic | azcentral.com 10:48 a.m. MST December 1, 2015

I trust I am not the only one to note the irony of "POLITICAL INSIDER". Sure enough, as is revealed in Pitzl's report, you have to be an insider in order to know that there is an opportunity for your input on this matter of great public importance. Let's continue with Pitzl's full report with added emphases and comments - all mine.

It's a $3 billion question with big consequences for Arizona schools, but there's been no publicity about the publicity pamphlet for Proposition 123.

Friday [Dec 4] is the deadline for individuals or groups to submit arguments for or against the school-funding measure, the subject of a May 17 statewide special election.

But the Arizona Secretary of State's office, which produces the pamphlet that is sent to voters statewide, has not let the public know about the deadline.

"We didn't send anything out related to the arguments," said Matt Roberts, a spokesman for Secretary of State Michele Reagan. "It wasn't on our radar."

But the SoS is the one governmental entity that has that "radar" when it comes to elections. This is their F&$king job!

The deadline was on the radar of a few folks, most notably the people who wrote the ballot measure.

"It is written in the state law," said Christian Palmer, a spokesman for the campaign for Proposition 123. The campaign's main champion is Gov. Doug Ducey, who negotiated the settlement between lawmakers and education officials, hoping to end a five-year old lawsuit over the Legislature's failure to fully fund inflation costs for schools.

This is a crap excuse. Have you ever tried to find anything in the Arizona Revised Statutes? And to just find it, let alone understand the jargon it would be wrapped in, means that you already know what to ask for.

The campaign has filed two statements in support of the measure, one on behalf of Ducey and another for campaign chairwoman Sharon Harper. A third supportive statement is on file but Roberts said he couldn't disclose who submitted it; there were no opposition statements as of late Monday.

Of course not. And he's not disclosing the third - only the third! - "supportive statement." We have to file a Freedom of Information request to get it?

The deadline to file statements is 5 p.m. Friday. They must not exceed 300 words and must be accompanied by a $75 check. Arguments can be filed electronically to elections@azsos.gov but the office must have a hard copy as well, which must be postmarked by Friday.

And we still don't have in any of these reports the mailing address of the SoS. What was published yesterday by Howard Fischer (printed in the Star) was the wrong email address, "elections.azsos.gov".

The failure of the media to report on the opportunity to submit arguments is scandalous. But the failure of the SoS office to advise the public is beyond incompetence. It smells of a purposeful attempt to withhold information from the public. It smells conspiratorial.

Related: AZBlueMeanie writes about the legal basis, or lack thereof, of Prop 123 - and the failure of the media to hold governmental officials responsible for making the legalities known.

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