An upcoming State Bar of Arizona program explores the continued barriers to Native American electoral participation.

An upcoming State Bar of Arizona program explores the continued barriers to Native American electoral participation.

Still unsure what barriers prevent or dissuade Native American participation in the electoral process? As we head into election season, the barriers to exercising the franchise—and progress eradicating those barriers—will be addressed in a Phoenix program on Thursday, October 20.

Titled “Political Buy-In: A Look at the Barriers to (and) Participation of Native Americans in Tribal, State and Federal Elections,” organizers at the State Bar of Arizona describe it this way:

“This program will examine both the advances in Native American participation in all levels of elections and the continued barriers to effective participation in the election process. Participants can expect to gain a broad overview of how redistricting efforts, voter ID laws, and language barriers continue to marginalize Native Americans at the polls. The program will also look at possible changes to Native American participation at the federal level.”

A public radio program this week illustrates just how basic some of those barriers can be. In this story, journalist Carrie Jung spoke with Native Americans who face clear and existential obstacles to participating in elections.

Among those barriers are language challenges; traveling large distances, perhaps without a car; and even obtaining a voter ID when you have no formal address.

As Lori Riddle told Jung, “We’re used to giving directions out here by landmarks. There’s a tree. There’s two trees. There’s a big bush with purple flowers on it. [Poll workers have] tried to turn me away on a few occasions, even though they knew me.”

Among the topics to be discussed at the October 20 seminar are:

  • Voting Accessibility Act
  • Voter treatment in the polling places
  • Current lobbying trends in Native American Country
  • Implications of lack of early access voting for Native American voters
  • Constitutional guarantees

Panelists will be:

  • Heather Sibbison, Dentons LLP, Washington, DC
  • Patty Ferguson-Bohnee, ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law
  • James T. Tucker, Armstrong Teasdale LLP, Las Vegas, NV
  • Mary O’Grady, Osborn Maledon PA, Phoenix

The seminar chair will be Virjinya Torrez, Assistant Attorney General for the Tohono O’odham Nation.

You can register here.

If you’re wondering why all this still matters in 2016, Patty Ferguson-Bohnee breaks it down as she speaks to KJZZ’s Carrie Jung:

“We’re the first people of the United States. And when people face these roadblocks, sometimes they’re not empowered. And we want to empower people. We’re a democracy.”

Speaker photos are below (click to enlarge).

UA Law Professor Robert Glennon

UA Law Professor Robert Glennon

We have done stories in Arizona Attorney Magazine on water resources, but they involve concepts that are difficult to wrangle. For instance, we have to ask if, at its base, it’s a story about:

  • Environmental resources
  • Agriculture
  • Regulatory and administrative law
  • International trade
  • Sustainability
  • Domestic security
  • The Corporation Commission, the Legislature, the courts

Unfortunately for us, the answer is usually “Yes.” And that’s because water—especially in the arid west—can involve all of those things.

That’s why I was struck when I heard an NPR story this week on a unique take on water use: The claim that using scarce water to grow crops to ship overseas may be inappropriate.

The question is raised by Robert Glennon, a University of Arizona Regents Professor (whom I’ve covered here and here).

To illustrate the stream of water (if you will), NPR’s Fronteras Desk created the following image:

Water use and exports. (Image: NPR Fronteras Desk).

Water use and exports. (Image: NPR Fronteras Desk).

Before anyone gets fired up about capitalism or some such, Glennon is not recommending a prohibition on crop sales overseas. But he does ask: When water is scarce, should  water-hungry cities get the opportunity to purchase agricultural water, rather than see it be used on water-hungry crops that are then packed on container ships and ultimately offloaded in China to feed cows?

Here is the story, including the audio clip.

What do you think? Do thirsty Chinese cows get your goat? Should the dialogue about scarce resources include a broader conversation that may transfer some uses from agricultural to residential and commercial?

Who knows? Your insight could be the seed for a magazine article.

So: Water --> alfalfa --> Chinese cows.

So: Water –> alfalfa –> Chinese cows.

Juan Williams

I wrote before about the State Bar of Arizona’s choice for this year’s keynote speaker at the annual convention.

As we all know, Juan Williams was embroiled in controversy while commentating at Fox News, which led to his leaving National Public Radio (which led to his getting hired at Fox News).

A few Arizona lawyers have contacted me offline to voice their opinion of Williams as the Bar’s choice. (More on the convention, including registration, is here.) But love him or the opposite, he’s likely to put butts in the seats, which is a primary goal.

Here is some of the PR copy that the Bar has used to describe Williams (and I am sorry to say that it is word-for-word identical to the PR copy that Williams’ own speakers bureau posts on its website to sell his services):

“With uncompromising integrity and insight into issues and ideas that dictate our nation’s discourse, Juan Williams has risen to the top of the media as one of our most accomplished writers, thinkers, and journalists.

“Bridging the political spectrum with ease, Williams conveys a knowledgeable perspective of the news that is grounded in the truth and the facts. With a breadth of experience spanning over 20 years at The Washington Post, where he served as an award-winning editorial writer, op-ed columnist and White House correspondent, to his current role as Senior Correspondent for NPR and a political analyst for FoxNews, Williams understands the hot button topics that affect the way we live and do business.

“As an Emmy winner for television documentary writing, Williams has won widespread critical acclaim. He has written six highly regarded books on the state of our nation, including Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That are Undermining Black America—and What we Can Do About It, igniting nationwide debate with his point-blank analysis of black leadership.

“Williams generates informed and intelligent discussion, whether engaging an audience or appearing on Nightline, Washington Week in Review, Crossfire, or Capitol Gang Sunday. Stimulating and compelling, he is a credible and experienced voice of the media.”

A bit much, do you think? Or does that sound about right to you? Will Williams be a convention draw for you? Take the poll:

Juan Williams

Late last week, I learned whom the State Bar of Arizona has slated for its keynote address at its annual Convention in June: political commentator Juan Williams.

Williams made quite a splash in the past year by using his free speech during his sideline job at Fox News, which led to his leaving National Public Radio, which led to his getting hired at Fox News.

Time will tell how his new employer views free expression. Take it or leave it, there is more on Williams’ background here.

I have heard great things about his speechifying. Here’s looking forward to a great event.

More Convention news, as it develops, will be online.

And as we get close to Convention, we’ll pass on more detail about the speaker and his intended topic.

Alec Baldwin pitches public radio

This is Friday, Change of Venue Day, when we broaden our horizons beyond the big sky of the Arizona legal community. Today, we give a nod to another media outlet—those hard-working folks at public radio.

Pledge drives are one of the more annoying aspects of a radio-listener’s life, but we have no one to blame but ourselves for the relentless pitch for dollars. If more of us contributed, that staple of the airwaves would be reduced and maybe disappear.

The NPR program This American Life knows how much people dislike the pledge drive. But instead of running from it, they embraced it. The actor Alec Baldwin stepped up and created a series of pitches that make you smile and maybe even laugh out loud. They are witty, well written and snarky.

Begin listening here.

A few examples of the eight spots:

  • If listeners really don’t care enough to pay to keep talented correspondents on their beats, maybe we should move them around. Listen to Supreme Court reporter Nina Totenberg after she is reassigned to sports (and yes, that’s her voice).
  • The same goes for the talented Terry Gross, taken off the award-winning “Fresh Air” and herded into the annoying “Wine Fancy.”
  • “Always Be Pledging” demands the hard-driving Baldwin, in a reprise of his sales director role in Glengarry Glen Ross (minus the cuss words): “Put that coffee down; coffee is for pledgers only.”

Just the ticket for a Change of Venue.

Listen to a few of the bits here. And then contribute to your local public radio station. And then—and only then—enjoy your weekend.

(A hat tip to my wife and fearless scourer of the airwaves, Kathy Nakagawa, for this great link.)

Quinn Fabray wants to know your favorite song

For those in our numbers who are pleased that the Fox TV program Glee is launching new episodes starting tonight (Sing it out, brothers and sisters!), you may want to provide your own feedback.

NPR Music is asking:

“What song do you wish were on Glee? Tell us the song, set the scene, pick the singers and – why not? – orchestrate the choreography in the comments below. We put together our own picks to get you started.”

Post your own musical wish-list here.

Oh. Sorry. Not law-related enough for you?

Then how about some quotations from a Glee character whose first name is “Sue.”

As Sue Sylvester says,

“You think this is hard, try being waterboarded. That’s hard.”

“Hey buddy! I thought I smelt failure.”


“What if I were to innocently murder you, Will? I’d still have to go to trial. I’d still probably get off for justifiable homicide.” (an official legal quotation, from our official legal blawg). 

Sue Sylvester billing her time

Have a gleeful evening.