Energy and water story ideas wantedWhen you tell Arizona folks you want to talk about water resources, they listen. In fact, they may well want to chime in themselves.

That’s what I discovered recently when I drafted my April 2013 Editor’s Letter for Arizona Attorney Magazine. Like every editor, I am always seeking content that advances the conversation, and we’re always on the prowl for stories that are pertinent and timely.

Based on numerous dialogues I’ve had in the past six months, it occurred to me that a few of the areas we should be covering are water resources and energy generation. So I asked.

Happily, I heard from a good number of people with their ideas. But I’d like to hear from even more. And that’s why I’m including that April column below (you can read it and the complete issue here). If you want to be part of the conversation—either as a published author or as someone we should quote in a story—write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Dept. of Power, Water, More Power

In a desert climate, more effort may be expended on energy issues than in other places. And the horse-trading among powerful interests will only increase in 2013.

Back in 2010, we heard from University of Arizona Law Professor Robert Glennon. The water expert said, “What we do to water is what we did to the buffalo: Harvest it to the brink of extinction.”

Even with H2O, what we value is connected to how much we pay: “Water lubricates the American economy just as much as oil does, but Americans pay less for water than we do for cellphone service or cable television.”

The Navajo Generating Station near Page is at the center of a legal dispute that involves the Salt River Project and the Navajo Nation.

The Navajo Generating Station near Page is at the center of a legal dispute that involves the Salt River Project and the Navajo Nation.

An intriguing panel last month on water in a desert climate addressed that and other issues. It opened with the question, “Do we really have enough water? Really?” (I also wrote about the panel online at http://wp.me/pEOwt-2rX).

The interrelatedness of energy issues was clear as speakers addressed the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station, for which the EPA has advised requires huge and expensive changes. Assuming improvements cost $1 billion (with a b) or more, we may have to reassess water pricing.

Historian Paul Hirt relayed a humorous story demonstrating that water in Arizona is even cheaper than dirt. He got estimates on having a ton of clean topsoil delivered to his house. A ton of clean water (according to WikiAnswers, about 240 gallons) delivered from SRP would cost about 20 times that.

“20 times cheaper,” Hirt marveled, “to get this precious, life-giving resource.”

Heather Macre, a lawyer and Central Arizona Conservation Water Board member, reexamined relations we thought we understood. For instance, she says, “When you turn on a lightbulb, you’re using water. When you turn on your faucet, you’re using electricity.”

Are we trapped in a “relentless cycle of overuse,” as Glennon says? What next steps make sustainable sense, legally or otherwise?

This year, we’d like to cover more energy topics in the magazine. To do that, we need your help.

What issues related to water or other resource should be our focus? What are the legal developments we should follow? And who are the lawyers who should be on our list of sources and authors? Write to us at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

“Do we have enough water?” panelists were asked? One responded, “Yes, but ….”

What’s your answer?

A plastic bag ban has been proposed in Califormia. How would the idea float in Arizona?

A plastic bag ban has been proposed in California. How would the idea float in Arizona?

The other day, I dropped into Safeway for four items, none of them all that heavy. And when I looked up from my transaction with the cashier, my four items were in four separate plastic bags.

Really? I mean, really?

I was able to rectify that, first by handing over my reusable shopping bag to be filled. Better late than never, I guess. And second, I gently suggested to the bagger that all of it could have fit in one bag.

I’d like to say that it is solely my heightened environmental awareness that led me to my plastic bag shock. It was, but only a little. The bigger impetus was having worked for years at a grocery store, much of it bagging groceries. Decades ago, the job required skill and a certain spatial adeptness, to know how much to fit (well) in a bag.

With a downswing in paper-bag use and an upswing in plastic petroleum-based bags, those skills have disappeared. (Do I sound curmudgeonly yet?)

But today’s post is not about the altered training regimen in the service industry—it’s about those plastic bags.

I was thinking of all that as I read an L.A. Times story yesterday about the movement in California to create a full-on plastic-bag ban. It opens:

“A drive to ban most stores from handing out single-use plastic bags got an important boost Monday when the California Grocers Assn. announced its support for a bill. The measure by state Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) would prohibit the bags in grocery stores and pharmacies beginning on Jan. 1, 2015. Shoppers would be urged to bring their own reusable cloth or plastic bags or would have the option of paying the actual cost of a paper bag, estimated at 10 cents or less.”

One item per petroleum-based bag = a lot of plastic bags

One item per petroleum-based bag = a lot of plastic bags

Read the whole story here.

What do you think? Would you prefer to carry a reusable bag? Do you already?

And what are the prospects of similar legislation in Arizona? On the off-day that you forget your own carryall, would you be pleased, or bugged, to pay for a plastic bag?

Today is more Change of Venue than ever before. On this casual Friday, I am pleased to share a guest post from someone who knows what it means to get off the beaten path.

Kate Mackay, today’s author, is the deputy director of the Arizona Wilderness Coalition. Below, she explains how everyone—even lawyers—can get involved in the great Arizona outdoors. She even tells us about the experiences of one attorney from Phoenix. Here’s Kate (all photos courtesy of the AWC):

AZ Wilderness Coalition logo.jpgThe Arizona Wilderness Coalition’s volunteer Wilderness Stewardship ProgramWild Stew, as they like to call it—offers a customized volunteer experience that allows individuals to make a positive impact in managing our wilderness areas simply by doing what many people already enjoy—being outdoors. With more than 4.5 million acres of designated wilderness in Arizona and diminishing federal budgets, our land management agencies need help. This unique service-oriented program leads individuals out into wilderness areas, often for a weekend overnight trip, and engages volunteers in tasks that help AWC collect critical data on the vegetation, wildlife, visitation impacts and condition of the wilderness areas, which is then reported the U.S. Forest Service to improve how they manage the lands. Past trips have monitored for non-native plant species, cleaned up backcountry trails, removed fencing to assist wildlife in reaching water sources, and collected trash from fragile riparian areas. Since its inception, AWC’s Wild Stew program has logged nearly 1,000 volunteer hours on trips to 25 different wilderness areas on the Prescott, Coconino, Tonto and Coronado national forests.

AZ Wilderness Coalition Wild Stew logo

AZ Wilderness Coalition Scott Hulbert Engelman Berger

Scott Hulbert of Engelman Berger

No experience is necessary. Volunteers can either join AWC for a guided volunteer event, or become a trained, individual steward who monitors a wilderness area on their own time. Individual Stewards receive a one-day training on wilderness history, federal wilderness management policy, field protocols and techniques, first aid, backcountry travel preparedness, and more. AWC simply requests your commitment to monitor wilderness conditions twice per year, either in different locations or at an adopted area.

Phoenix-based Engelman Berger litigator Scott Hulbert joins Wild Stew trips about four times a year. In 2009, Scott helped AWC haul more than 100 pounds of trash out of Fossil Springs Wilderness. “AWC does a great job of making the trips fun and worthwhile,” says Hulbert. “Sunday rolls around and you feel like you’ve escaped civilization for awhile, but you’ve also given back to these amazing wild places that make Arizona so unique.”

Read more about why Scott helps out in the Wilderness Stewardship program here.

Cutting in a trail in Arizona's Sycamore Canyon.

Cutting in a trail in Arizona’s Sycamore Canyon.

AWC is leading another trip to Fossil Springs in honor of Earth Day this year, April 20-21. Visit the awzwild website for trip details and a complete list of adventures through December 2013 (listed below too). Find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Hardworking volunteers with the Arizona Wilderness Coalition

Hardworking volunteers with the Arizona Wilderness Coalition

April 20–21

  • Earth Day
  • Fossil Springs Wilderness
  • Coconino National Forest, near Payson
  • Two-day, Backpacking

May 4–5

  • Wet Beaver Wilderness
  • Coconino National Forest, near Camp Verde
  • Two-day, Backpacking

May 18

  • Munds Mountain Wilderness
  • Coconino National Forest, near Sedona
  • Single-day, Hiking

June 22–23

  • National Trails Day
  • West Clear Creek Wilderness
  • Coconino National Forest, near Camp Verde
  • Two-day, Backpacking

September 14–15

  • Kachina Peaks Wilderness
  • Coconino National Forest, near Flagstaff
  • Two-day, Backpacking

September 28–29

  • National Public Lands Day
  • Apache Creek Wilderness
  • Prescott National Forest, near Prescott/Paulden
  • Two-day, Backpacking

October 12–13           

  • Castle Creek Wilderness
  • Prescott National Forest, near Crown King
  • Two-day, Backpacking

October 26 – 27

  • Mazatzal Wilderness
  • Tonto National Forest, near Payson
  • Two-day, Backpacking

November 9–10

  • Mount Wrightson Wilderness
  • Coronado National Forest, near Tucson/Patagonia
  • Two-day, Backpacking

November 23–24

  • Sycamore Canyon Wilderness
  • Coconino National Forest, near Flagstaff/Williams
  • Two-day, Backpacking

December 7–8

  • Superstition Wilderness                     
  • Tonto National Forest, near Phoenix/Superior
  • Two-day, Backpacking
Arizona Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch uspeaks to the need for more special advocates for children, April 3, 2013. (Mary K. Reinhart/Arizona Republic)

Arizona Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch speaks to the need for more special advocates for children, April 3, 2013. (Mary K. Reinhart/Arizona Republic)

Just a short note this Monday morning to remind all that April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. To honor the justice system’s commitment to some of our most vulnerable, Chief Justice Berch held a press conference on the steps of the Arizona Supreme Court.

The April 3 event shone a spotlight on the state’s CASA program: Court Appointed Special Advocates. As the organization describes itself:

“CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. CASA volunteers are everyday people appointed by a judge to speak up for abused and neglected children in court. In Arizona, there are 15 county CASA programs administered by the CASA of Arizona office which is a program of the Dependent Children’s Services Division of the Arizona Supreme Court Administrative Office of the Courts. CASA of Arizona and its volunteers have been advocating for abused and neglected children in Arizona for over 25 years.”

As the Chief Justice reiterated CASA’s call for help: “Don’t wait. Advocate.”

You should more about the organization—and sign up to help—at their website.

Arizona Court of Appeals Judge Maurice Portley speaks at press conference, Phoenix, Ariz., April 3, 2013 (Mary K. Reinhart/Arizona Republic)

Arizona Court of Appeals Judge Maurice Portley speaks at press conference, Phoenix, Ariz., April 3, 2013 (Mary K. Reinhart/Arizona Republic)

You also should read the Arizona Republic article by Mary K. Reinhart on the presser and the need for more advocates.

Here is the opening of Mary’s article:

“Arizona has never had enough volunteers to work with children in foster care, and judges this week made an appeal for more court-appointed special advocates.”

“The volunteers, or CASAs, act as advisers to juvenile-court judges who oversee the cases of children removed from their homes because of suspected abuse or neglect. Each volunteer is paired with a foster child, and often becomes the one, consistent adult during a child’s time in care. They represent the child in court and make recommendations to judges about their best interests.”

“There are about 850 CASAs for more than 14,300 foster children.”

Recall has been a part of Arizona since it attained statehood, and the past few years have seen some remarkable instances of its use. This very week, organizers launched a recall effort against a legislator.

In that context, I’m pleased to provide space for an insightful guest post today, by attorney Joshua Spivak. Among other accomplishments, he wrote his master’s thesis on the subject of the history of the recall (“back in 1998 when no one was paying attention to the subject”). He has authored one of the very few peer-reviewed academic articles on the subject for California History, and he has begun work on a book on the subject. I welcome Joshua, and invite your own thoughts and comments. More of his bio, and link to his own blog, are below the post.

Here’s Joshua:

Following on the success of the 2011 ouster of State Senate President Russell Pearce, immigrants’ rights groups and others are now aiming at a more prominent official—Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The recall attempt has already seen some bizarre theater, but a look at the use of the recall around the country will show that the anti-Arpaio forces have a massive hill to climb in order to get anywhere near the ballot.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio (photo by Gage Skidmore)

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio (photo by Gage Skidmore)

The recall fight itself has already been the scene of some absurd behavior, with some pro-Arpaio groups looking to the courts to stop the recall. A pro-Arpaio group called the “Citizens To Protect Fair Election Results” sent a cease and desist letter to recall petitioners, claiming that the recall attempt “rises even to the level of criminal conspiracy and enterprise” and that it “violated the free speech, equal protection and due process rights of the majority of county voters who re-elected the sheriff.” While this type of argument is frequently made against recalls as a political statement, it is rare to see it used to threaten legal action. Most likely any such claim would eventually be laughed out of court.

There is also a more legitimate question of whether Arpaio can be recalled so soon after being reelected. Arizona has provision, which mimics that of many other states, stating that recalls cannot be launched until six months after an official is elected. However, unlike in most states, Arizona law appears to say that does not hold true for a reelection. Under this reading, there shouldn’t be any concern for the petitioners to start gathering signatures. In fact, they claim to already have 150,000.

These legal issues may not stop the recall—though they are likely to cost the recall proponents some money in battling them—it is actually practical considerations that are the bigger concern. The sheer number of signatures needed to get on the ballot—335,000 valid signatures from registered voters—is incredibly daunting. To put that in context, only three recalls in U.S. history have gotten on the ballot needing more signatures—California Governor Gray Davis in 2003 and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch in 2012. This would be by far the largest numbers of signatures ever needed to recall a local official.

There have been plenty of recalls attempted—47 of California Governors alone—but they rarely get on the ballot. Even those that do make usually need fewer signers. The recall attempt against Arizona Governor Evan Meacham in 1988 (which was short-circuited by his impeachment and conviction) needed only 216,746. There have been plenty of attempts to get massive amounts of signatures for other officials, but they invariably fail. In Michigan, petitioners reportedly got 500,000 signatures to recall the Governor. But that was nowhere near enough to get on the ballot.

But it is not just the sheer number of signatures that will cause a problem. Ancillary evidence suggests Arizona’s election commissions may take a stricter approach to signatures than in other states. In some recent recall attempts, Arizona seems to have tossed out signatures more frequently than other states. This would mean that the signature gatherers would need significantly more than 335,000 signatures to get on the ballot.

There is no clear answer on how many signatures are likely to fail. One Michigan observer claims that a 15 percent failure rate is a good rule of thumb. In California in 2003, the signature failure rate for the Gray Davis recall was 18 percent. Due to a quirk in Wisconsin’s law—the state allows all eligible voters to sign, as opposed to Arizona and other states that require the signers to be registered—the Scott Walker recall is not a good comparison.

In the Russell Pearce recall, where petitioners submitted more than 18,000 signatures, they eventually ruled that 10,365 were valid, a more than 40 percent failure rate. The attempted recall of Phoenix City Councilman Michael Nowakowski is an even stronger example. The petitioners needed 2,329 signatures. They originally handed in more than 5,000, and they missed by 24 signatures. If these two notable rejection rates are a guide, the anti-Arpaio forces may need more than 500,000 to get to Election Day.

Another potential hurdle is that sheriffs are rarely the subject of recall vote. Since 2011, there have been well over 325 recalls that have taken place in the United States. Research suggests that only two have been against sheriffs, one in Colorado and the other in North Dakota (and both sheriffs survived the vote). There have been a number of attempts against sheriffs or other police chiefs, including one prominent attempt against the San Francisco Sheriff after he was nearly kicked out of office, but they have not gotten the signatures to get on the ballot. It could be Arpaio, who is likely the most well-known local law enforcement officer in the country, is different. The Arpaio recall would not be based on malfeasances but on more straightforward political or policy reasons. There are not too many voters who don’t have an opinion on Sheriff Arpaio, and, as he may be seen as more of a political figure than many of the other sheriffs, he is not likely to gain the deference from possible signers.

We are already seeing the problems with the Sheriff Arpaio recall play out. The recall group has already said that it cannot afford any more paid signature gatherers, and will rely on volunteers. Not having enough cash is always the big sign of a sputtering recall effort, so the recall may already be succumbing to the difficulties of gathering so many signatures.

The potential recall of Sheriff Arpaio is a sure-fire political maelstrom for the state. However, the basic hurdles endemic to the recall mean that the anti-Arpaio forces have their work cut out for them.

This guest post was written by Joshua Spivak, a Senior Fellow at the Hugh L. Carey Institute for Government Reform at Wagner College. He blogs at http://recallelections.blogspot.com/

Prop 207 Blooming Rock panel

Does Prop 207 protect or harm neighborhoods? It may depend on where you hang your hat.

This evening, another panel that has had a lot of engagement will occur. The topic is the controversial Proposition 207 (which you can read here, at A.R.S. § 12-1134).

Titled “Diminution in value; just compensation,” the law has done more to protect property owners from a loss in value—or to doom neighborhoods to zero improvements, depending on your position—than almost any statute.

The panel discussion includes Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and runs from 6 to 8 p.m. It is sponsored by Women Design Arizona and Blooming Rock Development. I covered a previous panel of theirs on water use and conservation, in their “sustainable urbanism” series.

It will be held at the Downtown Phoenix Public Market. (I understand a fleet of food trucks will be available to increase the value of the parking lot and to meet our every culinary need.)

Over here at Arizona Attorney, we haven’t covered eminent domain and property issues like this since 2006. Kelo v. City of New London (remember Kelo?) changed the landscape, you could say, quite a bit. Shall we cover it again? What’s changed? (You can see our opening spread below.)

Here is more detail from the panel’s organizers. I hope to see you there. But I’ll also be tweeting with the hashtag: #Prop207Phx

“Join panelists of the March 20 Sustainable Communities Lecture Series in a discussion about the status of Proposition 207, enacted by Arizona voters in 2006, and its impact on property rights, neighborhood blight and safety, and historic preservation. Does Prop 207 really protect property owners or does it make it harder for municipalities to protect themselves from slumlords, criminals, and developers with little or no interest in neighborhood and community revitalization?

Panel:

  • Mayor Greg Stanton, City of Phoenix
  • Christina Sandefur, Staff Attorney at the Goldwater Institute
  • Grady Gammage, Jr., attorney, real estate developer, author, Morrison Institute for Public Policy

More information (and Join-ability) is on Facebook.

Tickets are $5 in advance (supposedly by March 19), and $10 at the door. Buy them here, if you’re still able.

AZ Supreme Court logoToday, I share some news and request for comment from the Arizona Supreme Court. Your input could have an impact on the disposition of future cases as they proceed through Arizona courts.

Here is the news from the Court:

In 2011, the National Center for State Courts published the “Model Time Standards for State Trial Courts.” These standards for the disposition of cases in the state courts were developed and adopted by the Conference of State Court Administrators, the Conference of Chief Justices, the American Bar Association House of Delegates, and the National Association for Court Managers.

Model case processing time standards provide a reasonable set of expectations for courts, lawyers and the public. Part of the vision for Arizona’s Judicial Branch, as set forth in its Justice 2020 Strategic Agenda, is to strengthen the administration of justice. Timely justice promotes public trust and confidence in the courts. The establishment of case processing time standards emphasizes the need for judicial officers and court personnel to renew focus on this essential part of their work.

The Arizona Supreme Court Case Processing Standards Steering Committee is gathering input and feedback from all key justice partners regarding the establishment of case processing standards for Arizona courts.

Steering Committee Preliminary Recommendations

The Steering Committee has completed a review of the national time standards, statutory requirements, court rules, court jurisdiction and other relevant factors in the development of case processing standards for Arizona. The preliminary recommendations for case processing standards in the superior, justice and municipal courts have been posted on the link below and you are invited to post your comments. Please feel free to share this website with members of the legal community in your jurisdiction.

Comment Period

The comment period runs through March 29, 2013. The Steering Committee will review the comments posted on the website and make the appropriate revisions to the proposed case processing standards. A final draft of the proposed case processing standards will be presented to the following standing committees for recommendation to the Arizona Judicial Council: Committee on Superior Court; Limited Jurisdiction Committee; Committee on Juvenile Courts; Commission on Victims in the Courts; and Committee on the Impact of Domestic Violence in the Courts.

Submit Your Comments Online Here.

The link above will take you to the registration page. To view the case processing standards webpage you will need to register first. Click on register and complete the information on the page. If you have previously registered on the website enter your username and password.

For more information contact:

Committee Staff:

Cindy Cook at ccook@courts.az.gov

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