AFL-CIO screws up EFCA litmus test

Related story: "Republican is proud of union endorsements"
Related story: "National litmus test for local candidates"

Rogue endorsement 'dilutes credibility' of AFL-CIO

One of the Miami trade unions that denied it was endorsing U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, after the congressman said he had the group's support, has switched tracks and now says it is backing the Republican incumbent. The president of the Transport Workers Union Local 291, who last week told The Miami Herald that the union had ''absolutely not'' endorsed Diaz-Balart, said Wednesday his union has backed Diaz-Balart all along.

''They've been instrumental on our issues,'' Wessell Clarke said, referring to the congressman and his brother, U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, who both face aggressive Democratic challenges.

J.W. Johnson, a past president of the local and the international vice president of the Transport Workers Union, said Clarke had erred earlier because he hadn't understood that the local could go its own way and back the Republicans even though the Florida AFL-CIO, to which the local belongs, is endorsing the brothers' Democratic challengers. Diaz-Balart had touted the union's support in a news release.

''We showed [Clarke] what it was,'' Johnson, whose international union oversees the local chapters, said on a conference call with Clarke. ''The local from the beginning, at each juncture . . . has always stated that they support the Diaz-Balart brothers.''

Diaz-Balart's campaign issued a news release from Johnson that says ''the local AFL-CIO's decision to back other candidates in these races will not dissuade us from our endorsements or our work on behalf of our chosen candidates.''

The dispute arose when Diaz-Balart's campaign laid claim to a dozen union endorsements the same day his Democratic challenger, former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez, picked up the backing of the Florida AFL-CIO, which brings with it campaign contributions and campaign volunteers.

One other union that Diaz-Balart claimed supported him -- the International Longshoremen's Association Local 1922 -- said Wednesday it stands by the AFL-CIO support for Martinez, despite the longshoremen's friendship with Diaz-Balart.

''If we don't respect our own organizations, it just dilutes your credibility,'' said Luis Meurice, a longshoremen district vice president with the South Florida AFL-CIO.

Diaz-Balart's campaign manager, Ana Carbonell, said the campaign has ''support'' from the longshoremen and did get the endorsement of nearly a dozen unions -- ''unusual for a Republican.

''We're very grateful for the endorsement of our teachers, our firemen, our carpenters, our police, our transport workers and for the support of our longshoremen,'' she said.

Martinez's campaign questioned the transport support, noting that several transport officials attended a news conference last week at which the AFL-CIO backed the Democratic Party candidates.

''All I know is we had a press conference and the transport workers were there, they stood next to Raul,'' said Martinez spokesman Jeff Garcia. He called on the Diaz-Balart campaign to apologize to the longshoremen.

South Florida AFL-CIO President Fred Frost said he was disappointed with several unions that dissented. He said two-thirds of the AFL-CIO delegates voted to support the Democrats who back their chief issue -- the Employee Free Choice Act, which makes it easier to form unions.

'In my opinion, once the transport voting members find out [the incumbents'] voting records, it's over,'' Frost said.

'I love the fact that a union would stand by a public servant who has done well for them. But if you take everything in its entirety, it needs to be a 'we' vote, not an 'I' vote. If labor continues to do this we're never going to get anywhere.''

The controversy over the union endorsements comes as Diaz-Balart, his brother and fellow Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen face their first significant reelection challenges.

Republicans lost two U.S. House seats in Florida in 2006 and the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, which tracks congressional races, recently changed its ratings on the two Diaz-Balart races, moving both seats from ''solid Republican'' to ''likely Republican.''

The Diaz-Balart brothers' Democratic challengers, Martinez and former Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chairman Joe Garcia were named last month to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's Red to Blue program, giving them headliner status as the party tries to expand its majority in the House.

The designation means technical campaign support from the national party and, according to some estimates, at least $500,000 in campaign contributions.

Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart are also getting a boost from House Republicans: they were added this week to the GOP's Regain Our Majority Program.


Soros - SEIU combine collectivist cash

Partisan leftists unite to oust GOP Senators

A liberal group is airing ads that target U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole. Majority Action, a 527 group started in 2005 with help from the foreign collectivist billionaire investor George Soros, is spending $25,000 to $30,000 airing radio ads statewide this week that highlight Dole's record on gas-related issues. Dole's campaign noted its earlier call for Democratic rival Kay Hagan to disavow third-party ads.

"Now we know why Kay Hagan refused to disavow third party attack groups — she's been planning on using them all along," said Dole spokesman Hogan Gidley in a statement.

He noted that Majority Action uses the same law firm as Hagan's campaign, Perkins Coie.

But Bill Buck, a Democratic consultant who serves as executive director of Majority Action, said the group has no ties to Hagan's campaign and is simply an "issue advocacy" ad.

"Perkins Coie is a huge national firm with a ton of clients," he said. "That's a goofy statement to make."

Majority Action is also airing ads targeting Oregon Sen. Gordon Smith, who faces a tough re-election fight. Buck said they have not decided whether they will air more ads in North Carolina.

The group has also received money from the Service Employees International Union, which is taking an increasingly active role in North Carolina races.


Collectivist Barack gets CPUSA nod

Fellow travelers, useful idiots climb aboard Barack's bus

Barack Obama’s patriotic tour has run into a snag. More evidence of communist backing for the candidate has surfaced. The latest to emerge publicly in Obama’s camp is Joelle Fishman, the chairman of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) Political Action Commission. In a column titled, “Big political shifts are underway,” Fishman says that Obama could lead “a landslide defeat of the Republican ultra-right” this November and that he is “ready to listen” to the “left and progressive voters” backing him. Fishman makes it clear that the CPUSA is part of this coalition.

Meanwhile, admitted CPUSA member Alan Maki, writing on the official Barack Obama website, in the “community blogs” section under an “Obama 08” banner, has mentioned the unmentionable. That is the role of CPUSA member Frank Marshall Davis in mentoring Obama during his formative high school years in Hawaii.

Although fine print at the bottom of the page says that “Content on blogs in My.BarackObama represents the opinions of community members and in no way should be interpreted as endorsed or approved by the campaign,” the information provided by Maki is deadly confirmation that a hard-core CPUSA member played a key role in helping raise Obama. It is a story that most media, including some “conservative” news outlets, have shied away from.

Davis, who died in 1987, was a Stalinist who stayed with the CPUSA when others were abandoning it, and he refused, as late as 1956, to deny his membership in the party. He was selected by Obama’s white grandfather to be the future candidate’s role model and father-figure.

Obama showed his gratitude by going to socialist conferences and selecting Marxist professors as his friends in college. Later, of course, he would arrive in Chicago and launch his political career in the arms of communist terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, who, according to declassified intelligence information (PDF), were members of a group with connections to the CPUSA, foreign communist regimes, and even the Soviet KGB. The information shows that their close terrorist associate, Kathy Boudin, attended Moscow University and was subsidized by the Soviet government. Her father was a CPUSA member and a registered Cuban agent, documents show.

Praise for the CPUSA Figure

Announcing the “Frank Marshall Davis roundtable for change” on the Obama website, Maki, a Democratic Party activist and casino worker organizer, explained, “Reading Barack Obama’s book I learned about his mentor, Frank Marshall Davis.” He went on, “Of course, as we all know, Frank Marshall Davis was a Communist and he had a very good understanding of the underlying source of problems which all too often goes unstated and unchallenged and remains hidden because of the high fear-factor level in this country; I am referring to capitalism―a thoroughly rotten system. Frank Marshall Davis also understood through his thorough studies of the situation that socialism provided the only workable alternative to capitalism.”

Saying that he has been “active in the Minnesota DFL and the Democratic Party most of my life,” Maki still wants to know about the specifics of the “change” Obama is promising.

Maki goes on to say, “There really isn’t much for us to learn about ‘change’ from Obama, but there is quite a bit to be gleaned from the writings of Frank Marshall Davis and I thank Barack Obama for bringing him to my attention… now I can say that Frank Marshall Davis is in many ways my mentor, too.”

In a telephone conversation, Maki admitted being a CPUSA member and claimed the FBI had thousands of pages on him. A friendly fellow, he maintains more than a dozen blogs. One of them is simply titled, “Communist manifesto.”

For her part, CPUSA official Fishman seems to have more insight into Obama’s notion of change. “In sharp contrast” to John McCain, Fishman writes, “Obama speaks of strengthening government to provide health care and jobs, address global warming and end the war in Iraq.”

Drudge Plays Role of Censor

While Obama’s far-left support seems to be worthy of news and comment, Matt Drudge of Drudge Report fame has just rejected two paid ads submitted by my group America’s Survival, Inc. about the influence that CPUSA member Davis exerted over a young Obama. The ads featured a photo of Davis and a communist hammer and sickle. They asked, “Who is this man?,” and urged viewers to click to “Meet the mysterious Red Mentor” so they could be directed to two reports on the subject. The ads were “too controversial,” Drudge’s representative told me.

A recent article in Politico suggested Drudge was moving into the Obama camp. Matt Drudge, the article said, has been “trumpeting Obama’s victories and shrugging at his scandals.” The rejection of my ads is proof of that.

While Drudge protects Obama to the extent of rejecting paid advertising which draws attention to his Frank Marshall Davis connection, the “progressives” are openly talking about it. A “progressive” blogger named Rita responded to Alan Maki and says she checked out a copy of Davis’s book, Livin’ the Blues, from the library, and has been “reading it every day and sharing this with my kids…Frank Marshall Davis was a journalist and social activist of tremendous courage. I want to point out that Frank Marshall Davis was not only a voice for civil and human rights; his voice was a solid voice for the rights of all working people.”

She reproduces Maki’s email on Davis, which notes that copies were sent to such left-wing luminaries as Rep. Keith Ellison, Carl Pope of the Sierra Club, and Robert Borosage of the Institute for America’s Future and the Campaign for America’s Future. Borosage, who writes for the Huffington Post, is also the founder and chairman of the Progressive Majority Political Action Committee, which “recruits, staffs, and funds progressive candidates for political office.”

If Davis was indeed a “voice for civil and human rights,” why didn’t Barack Obama proudly identify Frank Marshall Davis by his full name in Dreams From My Father? Instead, Obama refers repeatedly to somebody named “Frank” giving him advice on various matters. Obama does note, however, that “Frank” was a contemporary of black poets Richard Wright and Langston Hughes. This is a hint of his real identity. The reference is significant because Wright and Hughes broke with the CPUSA while Davis did not. Indeed, Davis, in Livin’ the Blues (page 243), refers to Wright’s “act of treason” for exposing the CPUSA. Davis favored cooperation between what he called “Reds and blacks.” This demonstrates how much of a committed communist Davis really was. And this may be why Obama didn’t want readers to know his true identity.

A writer for a communist publication, Gerald Horne, first identified the mysterious “Frank” as Frank Marshall Davis. The identity was confirmed by Dr. Kathryn Takara of the University of Hawaii. Now, Alan Maki confirms it as well, saying that “progressives” should be proud of his legacy.
Praising Foreign Reds, Too

In addition to glorifying Davis as a source of sound ideas, the “progressive” Minnesota blog that favorably cites Maki also features a picture of “Raul Reyes…heroic leader of the Columbian resistance.” This is the dead leader of the communist narco-terrorists known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Documents found in Reyes’ computer after his death disclosed that “gringos” representing Barack Obama wanted to meet with the FARC and that they were opposed to U.S. military aid for the Colombian government. Obama had been publicly critical of the Colombia government’s human rights record.

By contrast, the Bush Administration has helped the Colombia government in its war with the FARC. Fortunately, and no thanks to Obama, the FARC has suffered a series of setbacks, the most recent being the spectacular liberation of 15 people, including 3 Americans, held by the group. Just a decade ago, there was speculation that the FARC might be getting so strong as to actually be able to defeat the military forces of the government of Colombia.

The FARC is now in ruins, but their “gringo” friends with communist and “progressive” support might be able to take power in the U.S. The communists and their “progressive” allies appreciate the stakes. It’s too bad that Drudge does not.


Strikers shut down Oklahoma construction

Statewide solidarity for stadium work stoppage

One day after a pair of picketers stood outside the construction site at Boone Pickens Stadium, they were noticeably absent Wednesday. Joshua Radford and Terry Willis are members of Sheet Metal Workers International Association Local 124. They worked on the project until the strike began Monday night. On Tuesday, they carried signs just outside of the site’s fence. Michael London, president of Local 124, said the strike features 541 workers at projects across the state and, though the work stoppage continues, picketing has not been authorized.

“I don’t feel like it was ever needed,” he added during a phone interview.

London said the union has a meeting scheduled with contractors Monday.

“We are negotiating again and we could ratify a new contract Monday,” London said.

“As long as we’re talking, we don’t feel like we should picket. We have always taken care of business. I’m not sure why it didn’t get taken care of (before the strike) this time.”

Tuesday’s picketers said more than 25 union members were working at BPS before the strike.

Their complaints include having to drive from the Oklahoma City metroplex and pay increasing gas prices without what they consider a sufficient raise.

Flintco, the contractor for the stadium work, declined to comment Tuesday. A voicemail left Wednesday for Jim Healey, senior project manager, was not returned.

The subcontractor is United Mechanical Service. Voicemails left Tuesday and Wednesday for Vice President Kyle Bellmon were not returned.

Gary Shutt, OSU’s director of communications, reiterated the university is hoping for a quick resolution.


Newspaper backs forced-labor unionism

Big Print class-warrior boasts ties to unions

by Bob Ewegen, deputy editorial page editor of The Denver Post

George Santayana's maxim, "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it," may be the epitaph for the Colorado Republican Party's dream of recapturing control of at least one chamber of the Colorado legislature in this fall's election. Democrats control the House 40-25 and the Senate 20-15. Simple arithmetic means the GOP could regain control of the Senate by seizing just three seats — thus gaining a veto over initiatives by Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter and his allies in the House. But Republican hopes for picking up those three seats may run afoul of three little words that have led the GOP to ruin before: "right to work."

Thanks to $200,000 from 28-year-old trust fund baby Jonathan Coors that hired professional petition circulators for a supposed "citizen" initiative, that misnamed union-busting measure may well be on the ballot in November.

Despite the label, "right to work" laws don't guarantee anybody a job — unless you're a lawyer. Unions have filed a lawsuit alleging widespread fraud by the petition gatherers hired by the anti-union forces. The challenge could knock the initiative off the ballot, though sponsors have asked for the right to seek extra signatures to "cure" those defects.

It's not often you'll find Republicans cheering on a union lawsuit, but among those elephants who haven't forgotten 1958, that is precisely the case this year.

The 1958 election was the last time right to work was on the Colorado ballot, part of a six-state offensive by anti-union forces that succeeded only in Kansas. In Colorado, the right-to-work drive awakened the sleeping giant of organized labor, which helped Democrats re-elect Gov. Steve McNichols and seize both houses of the legislature from the Republicans. Democrats wouldn't repeat that political hat trick until Ritter led the 2006 Democratic sweep.

Colorado AFL-CIO chief Mike Cerbo is keenly aware of that history, but cautioned me, "A lot of things have changed since 1958."

Indeed they have. For one thing, union membership as a share of the work force has dwindled to about 8 percent in Colorado. I don't have exact numbers for 1958, but it was probably close to the high-water mark of 35.7 percent of the work force in 1953.

So, yes, union membership has dropped. But — ominously for Republicans' legislative hopes — campaign finance laws have also changed, in a way that reinforces the still sizable clout of organized labor.

Amendment 27, the 2002 Colorado campaign finance law written by Common Cause and the League of Women Voters, allows labor unions to contribute up to $4,000 to candidates to the legislature. Businesses and private citizens are limited to one-tenth as much as unions can contribute, no more than $400 per election season.

That's because Amendment 27 allows "small donor committees" to give politicians 10 times as much as any other person or group if they get only $50 or less per contributor. Unions are well positioned to exploit that loophole because, for example, the Colorado Association of Public Employees/Service Employees International Union, can deduct $4 a month from a member's $15 monthly dues for political purposes and count the resulting $48 a year as a "small donor" contribution from a member who may not even be aware that she made that particular "donation."

Cerbo, himself a former legislator, has keen political instincts and is acutely aware of the importance to labor of maintaining a union-friendly Democratic legislature. On Cerbo's watch, unions are enjoying something of a revival in Colorado, especially in the public sector, and they are a vital source of political volunteers and campaign funds.

That's why spitting in labor's face in the name of "right to work" may well awaken the sleeping giant of the Colorado union movement in 2008 just as it did a half-century ago — with similar woeful results to the GOP.


Jesse A. Helms, Jr. (1921- 2008)

Ex-Senator was a fierce defender of worker-choice

Reaction to the death of former North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms, who died on the Fourth of July at age 86:

"Jesse Helms was a kind, decent, and humble man and a passionate defender of what he called "the Miracle of America." So it is fitting that this great patriot left us on the Fourth of July. He was once asked if he had any ambitions beyond the United States Senate. He replied: 'The only thing I am running for is the Kingdom of Heaven.' Today, Jesse Helms has finished the race, and we pray he finds comfort in the arms of the loving God he strove to serve throughout his life."

- President Bush.

"Jesse Helms, my friend and long-time senator from my home state of North Carolina, was a man of consistent conviction to conservative ideals and courage to faithfully serve God and country based on principle, not popularity or politics. In the tradition of Presidents Jefferson, Adams and Monroe — who also passed on July 4th — it is fitting that such a patriot who fought for free markets and free people would die on Independence Day. As we celebrate the birth of our nation, I thank God for the blessings we enjoy, which Senator Helms worked so hard to preserve."

- The Rev. Billy Graham.

"He stood by the things that he believed in, and the incredible thing (that) was so wonderful about him is that he never, whether you agreed with him or not on issues, it never affected his personal relationship with you. He believed he had a right to stand for what he believed in, and he believed you did, too."

- Former North Carolina GOP Rep. Bill Cobey, chairman of The Jesse Helms Center.

"Whether you liked his politics or not, Jesse Helms was a national force able to deliver for his constituents. We last appeared together when the Navy named a submarine after North Carolina at his request. He certainly didn't shy away from controversy and you always knew what his positions were. Whether we were working together to stop international drug trafficking or opposing each other on the campaign trail, he was always a gentleman to me."

- North Carolina Democratic Gov. Mike Easley.

"At the height of his power, he fought for the values of the old confederacy. He resisted the new South. He resisted the opportunity to fight for a more perfect union."

- The Rev. Jesse Jackson.

"Bob and I are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our longtime friend Senator Jesse Helms. We extend our heartfelt sympathies to his precious wife Dot and their family. In succeeding Jesse to represent North Carolina in the United States Senate, I knew I could never replace him, but I continue to strive each day to provide the dedicated constituent service he provided the people of our state for 30 years. As my father would say, Jesse was indeed a watchdog — for North Carolina and for the nation."

- North Carolina GOP Sen. Elizabeth Dole.

"Jesse Helms' legacy is one of hatred, homophobia and racism. Although not its intent, that legacy has made our community stronger and more able to forcefully respond to bigotry and prejudice. As a community, we are more committed than ever to securing full equality for all GLBT people."

- Joe Solmonese, president of the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign.

"Today we lost a Senator whose stature in Congress had few equals. Senator Jesse Helms was a leading voice and courageous champion for the many causes he believed in.

- Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky.

"No great man, no matter his era, is short of controversy. I know Jesse would have expected as much. Those who knew him personally knew him to be a man with a kind, gentle soul who exuded warmth and lifted up those around him. The truly great legacy of Senator Helms is that he left behind so many great leaders who have been inspired by him to pursue the conservative vision for North Carolina."

- North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Linda Daves.

"Senator Helms dedicated his life to serving the people of North Carolina. Whether people agreed or disagreed with him, Senator Helms would always let his constituents know where he stood on the important issues of the day. My condolences go out to his family, his wife, his children and his grandchildren."

- North Carolina Democratic Rep. Bob Etheridge.

"Jesse was a mentor and good friend and his contributions to North Carolina and to the nation were countless. We will miss him tremendously. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dot and the entire Helms family."

- North Carolina GOP Sen. Richard Burr.

"As a friend, I will miss Jesse's warm smile and genuine hugs and friendly demeanor. It is an ending tribute that Senator Helms passed on Independence Day, as he was a strong defender of our country's security and family values. His passing is a great loss for our state and country."

- Charlotte Mayor and GOP governors' nominee Pat McCrory.

"Senator Helms was the truest of patriots. His passion for conservative principles and the vigor with which he pursued them was second to none. I consider Senator Helms to be a mentor and dear friend. He dedicated his life to ensuring that the America he knew and loved would remain a strong beacon of freedom in a tumultuous world. Senator Helms leaves behind a strong legacy of fighting for the freedoms that make America great, even in the face of the strongest of foes."

- North Carolina GOP Rep. Virginia Foxx.

"I am deeply saddened by the passing of Senator Helms. He loved his country and he loved his home state of North Carolina. He set the standard for constituent service — with no problem being too small or too big for him to tackle. Senator Helms will be remembered for his work to spread freedom around the world and his unmovable core convictions that guided him through his career. I am proud to have called Jesse Helms a friend and a mentor."

- North Carolina Rep. Robin Hayes.

"Known for his conservative views and fiery style, Senator Helms was an icon in the Senate. I had the pleasure of serving with him for a number of years and appreciated his passion as a lawmaker. Kathy and I send our deepest sympathies to Dorothy and the rest of their family and wish them comfort during this difficult time."

- New Hampshire GOP Sen. Judd Gregg.


NLRB tips to UAW in Casino War skirmish

Related Casino War stories: here

No surrender: Mashantucket Nation will challenge ruling in federal court

The National Labor Relations Board released a long-awaited decision Thursday, certifying a union election held at Foxwoods Resort Casino in which a majority of table-games dealers voted in favor of representation by the United Auto Workers union. With the decision, the UAW can now request that the casino, which is owned and operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, bargain a contract on behalf of nearly 3,000 dealers.

But the tribe, as it has throughout every stage of the unionization process, again vowed Thursday to fight the union all the way to the U.S. Court of Appeals, a course that would mean it will refuse to negotiate with the UAW.

Dealers continued to call on their employer Thursday to negotiate with the union and recognize the results of the election, in which 1,289 of 2,141 votes cast were in favor of unionization.

”We voted, we won, we've been certified,” said Steve Peloso, a dealer at Foxwoods, in a prepared statement issued by the UAW. “It's way past time for Foxwoods to come to the table and work with us on a fair contract.”

Bob Madore, the director of UAW Region 9A, which includes Connecticut, also urged Foxwoods to listen to workers. “There's no excuse for further delay,” he said in a statement.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal urged Foxwoods to forgo an appeal and to negotiate instead.

”This decision reaffirms indisputable law that now requires the Foxwoods Resort Casino to bargain in good faith,” Blumenthal said in a statement. “I urge the casino now to accept its legal obligation without more costly, time-consuming appeals that ultimately are doomed.”

The Mashantuckets argued prior to the vote that federal labor laws did not apply and that the NLRB did not have jurisdiction to administer the union election because the tribe is a sovereign nation with its own labor laws. The NLRB ruled against the tribe and set an election date.

Following the election, held at the end of November, the tribe filed more objections. One of the main points it argued following the election - and again Thursday - was that ballots were printed only in English despite “evidence that hundreds of the dealers were born in China and required assistance on a daily basis in reading and understanding written English.”

”Although the dealers can speak enough English to work at the tables, Foxwoods has always made translators available for workplace documents,” said Foxwoods President Barry Cregan in a prepared statement. “We are disappointed that the Board ignored those undisputed facts and disregarded the rights of Foxwoods workers.”

An administrative law judge ruled in March that the election should be certified. The tribe appealed that decision to the NLRB in Washington, which resulted in Thursday's decision.

A spokeswoman for the UAW said the union has already sent a letter to Foxwoods officials, requesting that they bargain. A tribal spokeswoman said the tribe will refuse to do so.

In the statement released Thursday, the tribe said it does intend to appeal “all aspects of the case” to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

The tribe also reiterated a point it has made in the past in which it urged the UAW to consider organizing under tribal labor laws.

”We continue to believe that tribal law should apply in these matters,” said Jackson King, general counsel for the tribe in a statement. “The union could already have a contract by now if they had followed tribal law.”


Pesky Arizona voters put unions on defense

Campaign-fraud group BISC works behind the scenes against voters

Voters: Here are issues you'll be asked to decide The measures headed to the November ballot for Arizona voters to decide are:

Constitutionally bar preference in public employment, contracts and education based on race, sex, other factors.
• Reason: Backers seek end to affirmative action and other programs that provide special consideration for minorities and women.
• Major backers: American Civil Rights Coalition, headed by Ward Connerly, who got first version approved in California in 1996. Total funding so far about $850,000.
• Likely opposition: By All Means Necessary, a group formed in Michigan to unsuccessfully battle 2006 measure there; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Prohibit forced enrollment in health insurance programs.
• Reason: Concern that future health care reforms will include systems that preclude patients' choosing their own doctors or that will force them to purchase health insurance.
• Major backers: Medical benefit firms, doctors, Kenneth Levy (New Jersey investment manager).
• Likely opposition: Groups that want to push single-payer health plans.

Require majority of registered voters, not just of those going to polls, to approve future tax hikes.
• Reason: Concern that state budget crunch and demands for special programs will lead to ballot initiatives to increase taxes, as did this year's road tax measure.
• Major backers: MJKL Enterprises, which owns the Carl's Jr. franchises in Arizona; TCAG Management Services (auto dealer Jim Click's California corporation); beer and wine distributors. About $650,000 raised.
• Likely opposition: Unclear. Possibly groups that might want to take tax measures to the ballot in the future for health care and other issues.

Constitutionally define marriage as between one man and one woman.
• Reason: Arizona law already says this, but this measure is designed to prevent courts or future Legislatures from declaring a right to wed for gays.
• Major backers: Center for Arizona Policy, Arizona Catholic Conference. No financial donations so far.
• Likely opposition: Gay rights groups and others who contend there is no need for a constitutional amendment.

Keep payday loan industry alive past 2010.
• Reason: The law authorizing short-term, high-cost loans expires that year. The industry contends its services are needed, and it is willing to make some changes in operation.
• Major backers: Arizona Community Financial Services, composed of payday lenders. Contributions so far total more than $2.9 million.
• Likely opposition: Community groups, Service Employees International Union, United Food and Commercial Workers Union. Funding so far about $95,000.

Ban tax on transfer of real estate.
• Reason: There is no such tax now, but backers fear future efforts to broaden the tax base will include a real estate transfer tax.
• Major backers: Arizona Association of Realtors. Donations so far $1.4 million.
• Likely opposition: Unclear.

Require 10-year warranty on new homes.
• Reason: Current law has no warranty requirement. Also, this is an outgrowth of a dispute between a major financial backer and home- builders.
• Major backers: Sheet Metal Workers International Association. Total so far about $360,000.
• Likely opposition: Home- builders.

Ease some provisions of employer sanctions law.
• Reason: Business groups contend the state law that took effect Jan. 1 is unfair and penalizes companies for innocent mistakes.
• Major backers: Wake Up Arizona, an organization of business owners.
• Likely opposition: Rep. Russell Pearce, architect of the state law, and others opposed to illegal immigration.

Impose 1-cent hike in state sales tax for 30 years, to 6.6 percent, to pay for $42.6 billion in transit improvements.
• Reason: Supporters say the current source of funds — gas taxes, vehicle registration fees and federal dollars — won't be enough to meet needs of this growing state.
• Major backers: Construction companies, many of whom get contracts for road and light rail construction. About $700,000 collected so far.
• Likely opposition: Goldwater Institute (tax hike not necessary), some legislators (too much for mass transit), Sierra Club (too little for mass transit).

Put 570,000 acres of state trust land off-limits to development, and allow communities to buy at appraised price instead of having to bid at auction.
• Reason: Current mandate to Land Department to get most money for trust lands requires sale or lease for development to highest bidder.
• Major backers: Nature Conservancy, former state Democratic Party Chairman Jim Pederson. About $800,000 so far.
• Likely opposition: Arizona School Boards Association, which fears undermining of funds for schools.

Mandate local elections in more than 70 school districts to decide if they should consolidate into about 20.
• Reason: Proponents contend that larger districts have proportionately smaller administrative costs.
• Major backers: None identified yet, though some businesses that are major taxpayers are expected to support it.
• Likely opposition: Board members in several affected school districts already are saying it would reduce local control.


NEA convention, episode 2

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