Barbara Rodriguez Mundell

Yesterday’s Candidate Forum was informative—even if most of the people in the room had already mailed in their early ballot.

Despite that probability, the Arizona Women Lawyers Association packed a banquet room at the Phoenix Wyndham Hotel. Perhaps in a state where arts funding has been cut so severely, people are hungry for the only theater still yielding long runs—political theater.

The event was moderated by former Maricopa County Presiding Judge Barbara Rodriguez Mundell.

Attending were two candidates for Attorney General: Democrat Felecia Rotellini and Republican Tom Horne.

Terry Goddard

Also speaking was Democratic candidate for Governor Terry Goddard. Appearing for the Republican ticket was, well, no one.

That fact didn’t trouble Goddard, who opened with what must be a practiced line by now: “I’m happy to wait a few more minutes for the Governor to appear.” Today, he reminded the audience, would be the 15th public event (by his count) that Gov. Jan Brewer had declined to attend to wrestle with issues in the company of her adversary.

Felecia Rotellini

“No problem,” said Goddard with a smile. “I’ll be happy to take both sides.”

He said that job-creation had to be “Job One.” In addition, “We will never recover our economy as long as our schools are dead last in the nation.”

“We have to put all the crazy political games aside,” he continued. “We must get more result-oriented and less interested in what Fox News cares about.”

He poked fun at the Governor’s billboard ads, in which her face is superimposed over that of Rosie the Riveter, rolling up her sleeves.

“Never has Rosie been so maligned. She was getting the job done, while Jan Brewer was borrowing $200 million every month.”

Tom Horne

His largest laugh? When he said, “I promise this: To keep Arizona off Comedy Central for at least four years.”

Perhaps because the AG portion of the luncheon enjoyed the attendance of both opponents, the conversation had more law and less rhetoric.

Rotellini and Horne each detailed their goals for the office. Number 1 on both of their lists? Border security.

(Here is Mary Jo Pitzl’s far better account of yesterday’s forum, as it appears in the Arizona Republic.)

I’ll leave you with:

  • Tom Horne’s best line today: “When I appeared at the Ninth Circuit for the oral argument of Horne v. Flores, I introduced myself as schools superintendent—and as the shadow Attorney General, because our elected AG would not pursue the case.”
  • Felecia Rotellini’s best line today: “Voters don’t want the office used as a battering ram for political ideology. They want results. I am the only candidate who has prosecuted a criminal in Arizona.”

Here are a few photos from the event.

A constellation of immigration stories in the past few days suggests the depth of Arizona’s immigration debate. But it also points us to a possible solution.

First off, this Sunday morning saw a unique spatial approach to the immigration argument. It featured hundreds of people standing in the parking lot of the Heard Museum and forming a human postcard to send to Washington.

Their message? “S.O.S. Congress.” The words conveyed the notion that Arizona is more than just SB1070, and that Arizona—or any individual state—is not the best constitutional laboratory in which to cook up an immigration regime. No, the organizers insisted, the federal government is charged with immigration matters, so get to work.

 

(Gazing at the news photo, it took me a minute to realize that the organizers had placed three people as the periods in the acronym “S.O.S.” That is an attention to detail—and grammar—that has been woefully lacking in our immigration debate. Well played!)

It was organized by Kimber Lanning, downtown businesswoman and Local First Arizona founder and front person. Her position is that a good result will not flow from boycotts, but from comprehensive immigration reform.

Attorney General Terry Goddard at Sunday's event

Standing in the early-morning heat at the Heard were families with kids, the young, the old, some pets, and even some politicos, including Attorney General Terry Goddard, former City Councilman Greg Stanton, and legislative candidate Ken Clark.

Read a news story here.

And here are some photos from the Sunday event. (Thank you to Kathy Nakagawa, Frances McMahon Ward and Madison Ward for the great photos. The overhead shot is by Tom Tingle at the Arizona Republic.)

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(This past Friday evening was yet another panel discussion on SB1070. This one was held at the Phoenix law firm Fennemore Craig, and it was sponsored by the Arizona Latino Media Association. I got the notice about it Friday afternoon, so I’m very sorry I couldn’t attend. Panelists were legislator John Kavanagh, lawyers Antonio Bustamante and Nancy-Jo Merritt, and the terrific writer Terry Greene Sterling. Read her blog here.)

But I promised a possible solution, didn’t I?

That came to me yesterday while I read yet another story about Governor Jan Brewer’s recent statement about the topic. She continues to allege that the majority of immigrants coming across the southern border are not coming for work. No, she says; they are ferrying drugs and fueling that criminal economy.

“And they’re doing drop houses, and they’re extorting people and they’re terrorizing the families. … The majority of the illegal trespassers that are coming (into) the state of Arizona are under the direction and control of organized drug cartels.”

The majority, eh? Even John McCain had to demurely dissent on that one. But it got me to thinking, especially when I read this morning’s story about the state’s crumbling health care infrastructure.

That story led with the tale of a woman who faced a terrible dilemma as state benefits end.

“[Deborah] Ferry is one of more than 12,000 adults with mental illnesses who do not qualify for Medicaid and will lose access to brand-name drugs, case managers, therapists, hospital care and transportation to their appointments when the cuts take effect Thursday.”

“When this all falls down, it’s going to be total chaos,” said Donna Hayes, who has received mental-health services in Arizona since 1979. “There are going to be more suicides, more hospital stays, more people living on the streets.”

I bet you’ve already figured out my brainstorm. Here are the steps to the modest proposal:

  1. Arizona has many immigrants coming across our borders every year.
  2. Whether they come from Mexico or Canada, they all have access to more inexpensive drugs than we do in the United States.
  3. If you were to believe the governor, many of those migrants are already accomplished at transporting drugs.
  4. Masses of Arizona residents are about to encounter a bleak future as our Legislature opts to end many medical benefits.

What does this add up to? Well, it’s a veritable Marshall Plan that can deliver inexpensive medication to Arizona residents.

Win–win, as they say in politics. And you heard it here first.

[This story contains corrected copy, identified below.] 

PhoenixLaw Dean Gene Clark

The Phoenix School of Law was the venue for an important event last evening. Amidst a panel of distinguished speakers, the school celebrated the launch of the newest volume of its Law Review.

What? Not enthralled yet? Well, pay attention.

The Phoenix Law Review has reached the grand old age of three—that’s 3! And already, its staff are jumping into issues of significance to the state and its legal community.

The new volume is called the “Arizona Government Issue.” It includes “A History of the Arizona Courts,” written by the Arizona Chief Justice herself, Rebecca White Berch. So right there, it’s worth the price of admission.

Vice Chief Justice Andrew Hurwitz

Her excellent article is surrounded by eight others, only some of which I have begun reading. And that is because I just got a copy last night. In fact, the volume wasn’t even printed until the day before the launch symposium. Now that’s called hitting a deadline!

A law review, as they say, takes a village. But everyone present last night took the time to praise 3L Anthony Tsontakis. It was his idea more than a year ago to publish a volume coincided with the centennial of the Arizona Constitution.

Tsontakis describes himself as “a history kind of guy,” and he says his interest in government and elections grew through clerkships and internships at the Secretary of State’s Office (working with Joe Kanefield (an editorial board member of Arizona Attorney Magazine), at the Arizona Legislature and at the Goldwater Institute. (And another shout out to board member Keith Swisher, an assistant professor at the school and the volume’s faculty advisor.)

Anthony Tsontakis

Anthony Tsontakis says that he contacted 50 to 70 people about possible articles, and then saw them through to publication. Preparations this week required “three consecutive all-nighters” and “53 straight hours” of work (Attention, legal employers! Hard worker on deck).

Tsontakis says that he hopes “the volume will demonstrate that today there are three bona fide law schools in the State of Arizona.”

The work—in the volume and in the launch symposium—paid off. (In fact, when I toiled away on law review as managing editor of the Hastings Comm/Ent, we never had lobster ravioli. All rise for the great catering!)

The evening began with PhxLaw Interim Dean Gene Clark talking about “the magic of the success of this book.” He then introduced Nick Dranias, an attorney with the Goldwater Institute.

[The following three paragraphs contain corrected copy.]

Dranias is one of the volume’s authors. He wrote “The Local Liberty Charter: Restoring Grassroots Liberty to Restrain Cities Gone Wild.” He wins for most evocative title, and for getting things off to a rousing start. In his remarks, he said that the Arizona Legislature “is designed to do one thing well: gridlock and stasis. Well done!”

Nick Dranias, Goldwater Institute

Of course, Dranias was being complimentary, for he appreciates a body designed to “throttle back public passions.” Any body that fosters caution—“looking before you leap”—in terms of legislation is close to the heart of the Institute. 

Dranias was humorous and ironic when he clarified, “As much as we would like to put the pedal to the metal and have the legislative process generate a conservative libertarian utopia, it tends to generate gridlock instead, and by design. But we must yield to temporary evils to secure the benefits of a written constitution.” (his corrected eloquent words, not mine).

Vice Chief Justice Andy Hurwitz was up next, and he spoke from his experience in all three branches of government. He admitted that “I learn something new every time I read our Constitution.” And so did we.

In his wide-ranging remarks, he talked about the constitutional provisions that involve judges, and the history of the State Bar sending names to the Governor for final selection.

He recalled that, when he was Chief of Staff to Gov. Bruce Babbitt, the then-conservative State Bar would send one name only for each opening. But Babbitt wasn’t going to be fenced in, and the Bar later would agree to send more.

Justice Hurwitz also remembered a time when electing judges was the norm—and not always such a good one.

As a young lawyer at the firm later named Osborn Maledon, Hurwitz arrived at court one day on a matter—only to find his opposing counsel already engaged in conversation with the judge.

“Drawing myself up to my full height, I said, ‘Your honor, this is highly improper.’”

Christy Smith, Office of the Governor

But, he laughed, the judge simply replied, “Sit down, sonny. We’re not talking about your case. He’s also my campaign manager—we’re talking about my election.”

The Vice Chief Justice declined to say how the matter turned out.

Finally, Christy Smith spoke. She is Deputy General Counsel to Gov. Jan Brewer, and she encouraged law students in attendance to consider a life in public service. In fact, she believes that there should be more lawyers serving in the Legislature (no word on whether the Governor shares that view).

March 2009: The AZ Constitution

All in all, a momentous evening to honor a great accomplishment. Congratulations, and well done.

Read more about the Law Review of the Phoenix School of Law.

And read our own March 2009 story on the history of the Arizona Constitution, written by Hon. George T. Anagnost.