Meglio, Merton Interview – Podcast April 12, 2021

A More Effective, Efficient Alternative To Policing. Though “defunding the police” has become politically divisive rhetoric, it’s true that the majority of incidents that generate 911 calls are better handled by responders other than the police. Amy Meglio and Sam Merton join the show to discuss their plans for the Neighborhood Organized Crisis Assistance Program (NOCAP), a program similar to CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets), which has operated successfully in Eugene, Oregon for nearly 30 years.

According to the guests, NOCAP is based on responding to non-violent, non-criminal 911 calls with teams consisting of an EMT or other medical professional and an experienced behavioral specialist. Not only are they better capable of dealing with the vast majority of calls. They can do so more efficiently and inexpensively than law enforcement.

For example, Meglio reports that each year approximately 60,000 of the 911 calls in Phoenix are for welfare checks – family members or neighbors who are concerned that they have not seen or heard from someone as expected. Many other calls involve mental illness, drug abuse, trespassing, and similar non-violent situations that are too often escalated by the presence of law enforcement. In such cases, it’s important that responders are non-judgmental and non-threatening. People in crisis need to trust that the responders are there to help them. Not to control them and incarcerate them.

Posted in Arizona Law Enforcement, Civil Society, Community Activism, Criminal Justice Reform, Criminology, Innovation, Interviews, Law Enforcement, Mental Health Programs, Policing, Public Policy | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Comello, Segner Interview – Podcast April 5, 2021

The Future Of Real Estate Development In Arizona’s Verde Valley. Democratic Perspective co-hosts Steve Williamson and Hava Derby engage in a lively discussion with guests, Al Comello and Steve Segner, over some of the area’s proposed developments.

Segner is owner of El Portal Hotel and President of the Sedona Lodging Council and Comello is a former candidate for Sedona’s City Council. Both are sympathetic to developers. “I’m supportive of almost all progressive issues. But there is a side of me that will make me sound like a staunch conservative,” says Comello. “I’m a supporter of development.” He adds, “The county is as big as a state. It’s going to grow.”

Segner describes the need for development in the area, saying, “We need medium priced and low-income housing. But we tend to fight every single development. We have got to stop being so negative.” On the other hand, he points to the lack of long-range planning, saying, “Yavapai County doesn’t have a master plan. So, when something comes up, everyone fights it. Development should be thought out ahead of time. Now it’s piecemeal.”

As Hava raises concerns with citizen input, fire danger, and limited water resources, Comello and Segner respond by stating that the County Board of Supervisors and City Councils are bound by state laws which don’t cover those issues. But it’s fair to say that, too often, developers and realtors have helped write those laws as a result of disproportionate representation in legislative bodies.

Posted in Arizona Politics, Community, Community Activism, Development, Environment, Government, Interviews, Labor Shortages, Local Politics, Public Lands, Public Policy, Regulatory Agencies, Sustainable Development, Tourism, Water Policy, Wilderness Preservation | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stienstra Interview – Podcast March 29, 2021

Restoration Versus Retribution. Co-hosts Hava Derby and Steve Williamson welcome Dustin Gilman Stienstra, Executive Director of Northern Arizona Restorative Justice, to address the failures of our current justice system and how restorative justice can help break the cycle of crime.

Stienstra explains that communication between the offender and the victim are key, to help the offender understand the harm done. “Often they don’t have a perspective of the harm they caused by their actions,” he says. “Good communication starts with listening, hearing the perspective of the person harmed is impactful. It’s very common for offenders and those who commit harm to minimize their actions. We are changing the culture by allowing them to have a safe place for that conversation, to allow them the space to see themselves. It’s not about casting accusations against you. It’s about helping you understand your actions. Shame and blame are not part of the process.”

Stienstra adds, “Many criminals feel remorse. It’s uncommon not to see remorse. Many are ordinary citizens who have made mistakes.”

In discussing the failure of the current system, Stienstra notes the large number of our citizens in prison – more per capita than anywhere else in the world. Only 3 percent of those in jail have had a trial. The rest have plea-bargained under threat of draconian sentences. “That kind of coercion causes people to say and do things that haven’t even happened. That’s not justice,” he says. “We have people locked up and no one is getting the help they need.”

Moreover, Stienstra believes the concepts of restorative justice go beyond criminal justice. “Restorative practices work anywhere we find conflict,” he says. “Too often, the way people deal with conflict is conflict.”

Posted in Civil Society, Corrections Policy, Criminal Justice Reform, Criminology, Cultural Change, Education, Interviews, Jurisprudence, Justice System, Mass Incarceration, Penology, Social Contract, Social Psychology | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Abramsky Interview – Podcast March 22, 2021

The Impact Of Covid-19 On American Society. Democratic Perspective welcomes back author and journalist Sasha Abramsky to discuss the consequences of the pandemic. He begins by addressing the impact on the economy, saying that those at the bottom of the economy are suffering in a way we didn’t even see in the Great Recession. But, at the macro level things are going relatively well. The stock market is soaring, which has added to the concentration of wealth at the top of the economy.

Asked about the rising crime wave, Abramsky notes that, at the beginning of the pandemic, there was absolute dislocation with 15-20% of workforce out of work. There has been psychic dislocation, as well, caused by profound isolation. “Psychologists and criminologists will be talking about this for decades to come,” he says.

Abramsky expects the effects to linger for a generation, much like the aftermath of the Great Depression, WWII and the Cold War. But, according to Abramsky, not everything about the pandemic is negative. “When we look back on this, in addition to all the trauma and the horror, I do think we’ll find lessons…at the simplest level I doubt any of us will take those we care about for granted. I think we’re going to take a lesson from the pandemic and realize that’s what’s important.”

Posted in Business Cultural Change, Capital Accumulation, Class Conflict, Criminology, Cultural Change, Government, Health Care, Income Inequality, Interviews, Jobs and Employment, Pandemic, Public Health Policy, Unemployment | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Benes Interview – Podcast March 15, 2021

Our Fractured Nation. Co-hosts Hava Derby and Steve Williamson welcome Ross Benes, author of Rural Rebellion, to discuss the urban-rural divide. Benes explains it’s a relatively recent phenomenon and partially the result of political parties targeting voters over geography, noting that Republicans have also made a real effort to involve churches.

According to Benes, the divide has gotten much worse in recent years as the GOP has rallied rural voters against the government and against immigration. “Just 20 years ago,” he says, “Republican stances on issues weren’t what they are today. In rural Nebraska, it would be very difficult to evangelize liberal causes. The divide has become even starker since I moved to New York the last 6 years.”

Benes notes that the divide has been made even worse by Facebook where “The most ridiculous things shared get the most eyeballs. People with mild feelings or those who don’t post get lost in there. We become caricatures of each other.”

Posted in Class Conflict, Cultural Change, Demographic Trends, Domestic Extremism, Elections, Government, Immigration, Interviews, National Politics, Political Parties, Political Polarization, Religion, Voter Suppression | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Bacevich Interview – Podcast March 8, 2021

Examining America’s Role In The 21st Century. Democratic Perspective welcomes Andrew Bacevich, Jr., author, historian, professor emeritus at Boston University, and retired military officer to discuss U.S. foreign policy.

Bacevich begins with unrealistic expectations following the Cold War, explaining that fall of the Soviet Union led to the misperception that capitalism had triumphed and that everyone would have to conform to our ideals. Instead, it eventually led us to seemingly endless wars and the presidency of Donald Trump. He addresses the misguided beliefs that led to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the polarization caused by globalization, saying, “We’re told that either you’re in favor of American global leadership or you’re in favor of isolation as if there’s no middle ground. We would do better as a nation if our leaders would focus on those opportunities in the middle.”

It’s a fascinating conversation that explores our recent past, our relations with Saudi Arabia, and our future relationship with China. To learn more, check out The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory or his upcoming book, After the Apocalypse: America’s Role in a World Transformed.

Posted in Capitalism, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Government, International Relations, Interviews, Middle East Policy, Military Policy, National Politics, Political History | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Bacevich Interview – Podcast March 8, 2021

Jordahl, Rhodes Interview – Podcast March 1, 2021

Model For A Reformed Criminal Justice System. Democratic Perspective co-hosts, Hava Derby and Steve Williamson, welcome Mik Jordahl and Yavapai County Sheriff David Rhodes in the third segment of our continuing examination of the criminal justice system.

Jordahl is a local prosecutor who was encouraged to look at alternatives for dealing with non-violent offenders who suffered from mental illness and substance abuse when he realized both the jails and justice system were being flooded. That’s when he met Sheriff Rhodes. Working with Spectrum Healthcare and others, they helped establish a new program based on the sequential intercept model that helps violators find the services they need. Called Reach Out, the program screens every single person jailed for risk factors such as mental health, addiction, homeless and other contributing factors. It then sets up what they call a “Warm Hand Off” for treatment and services. If the violators complete their programs, their arrest record is erased, they can get back on track and get their lives back. And, since Rhodes notes that 96 percent of those arrested return to the community, this type of response improves the community, saves lives, and saves money.

The results have been so successful, the program is serving as a model for other communities.

Posted in Civic Renewal, Community, Compassion, Corrections Policy, Criminal Justice Reform, Criminology, Innovation, Interviews, Justice System, Law Enforcement, Mental Health Programs | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Jordahl, Rhodes Interview – Podcast March 1, 2021

Baker Interview – Podcast February 22, 2021

Assessing Biden’s Pandemic Relief Package. Democratic Perspective welcomes Dean Baker, author, macroeconomist, and co-founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. to discuss the $1.9 trillion bill. “It’s a large bill. No two ways about it,” says Baker. But he reminds us that the stimulus following the housing crisis was clearly inadequate and Democrats paid a huge political price as a result. “Biden knows this history. He lived it,” says Baker.

Addressing the more controversial parts of the bill, Baker dismisses the threat that it will lead to inflation. If that were to happen, he explains, “The Fed will raise interest rates and that will slow the economy. We know it’s been done again and again. So, we have the tools.” Baker is sympathetic to those who oppose the $1,400 checks. But he notes that many people have paid a big price for the pandemic with some being unemployed for 26 weeks. On the other hand, some are doing very well. “I would not be bothered if they lowered that cutoff,” he says.

Asked about the minimum wage, Baker replies, “That has been a real flash point. It certainly has a lot of people concerned. But it’s not happening tomorrow. This is going to be phased in over time. It will make a huge difference in lives. There’s a lot of research on this,” he says. “We’re not going to see a lot of people unemployed. On the whole, I think the package is very good, especially the $3,000 tax credit. When you have kids growing up in poverty, and now their parents are going to get another $3,000, that will make a big difference.”

Posted in Domestic Policy, Economic Policy, Economic Stimulus, Financial Crisis, Fiscal Policy, Government, Interviews, Jobs and Employment, Labor Unions, Minimum Wage, Monetary Policy, National Politics, Pharmaceutical Pricing and Procurement, Political History, Small Business, U.S. Budget, Unemployment | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Baker Interview – Podcast February 22, 2021

Michaels Interview – Podcast February 15, 2021

Setting The Record Straight. Democratic Perspective co-hosts, Steve Williamson and Hava Derby, welcome Yavapai County Supervisor Donna Michaels to address recent media attacks. Michaels explains her point of view and dismisses the attacks saying, “I’m honored to be in the company of all those who have suffered the indignity of this journalist. It’s my turn in the barrel. My focus is on how we grow a healthy community.”

She goes on to address many of the real issues facing the county, such as infrastructure, creating a plan for growth and development, delivering vaccine to county residents, and much more.

Posted in Agribusiness, Arizona Politics, Community, Development, Disinformation, Environmental Issues, Government, Growth, Infrastructure Investment, Interviews, Journalism, Local Politics, Pandemic, Polling, Public Policy, Water Policy | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Michaels Interview – Podcast February 15, 2021

Podcast February 8, 2021

Unequal Under The Law. Steve Williamson, Hava Derby and Gary LaMaster continue the discussion on criminal justice reform. To begin the conversation, they note that the U.S. incarcerates more people than any other nation – 2.1 million as of 2018. Lest you think that’s an aberration based on population, the U.S. also incarcerates a higher percentage of its citizens than any other nation – 639 per 100,000. And these numbers don’t even take into account the thousands of refugees and immigrants now languishing in detention centers.

Hava explains that many of those incarcerated have never been convicted of a crime because many of those living in poverty can’t afford legal representation. So, they too often accept plea bargains to ensure that they don’t risk more severe sentences, even if they are innocent.

The conversation then turns to racial disparities in policing, noting that people of color are punished more severely for the same offenses as whites. And that the disparities begin as early as pre-school.

To solve the inequities, we must address systemic racism and reimagine the entire system from top to bottom: Better leadership for law enforcement, higher standards for hiring officers, better training, relieving police from responding to incidents involving mental illness or addiction, reducing easy access to guns, better legal representation for the poor, more court personnel to relieve case backlogs, a new focus on rehabilitating prisoners, an increased focus on finding off ramps for young people who get caught up in the criminal justice system, and more.

The system is broken. And it will take many years of effort to fix it.

Posted in Bigotry, Civil Liberties, Class Conflict, Compassion, Corrections Policy, Criminal Justice Reform, Criminology, Cultural Change, Domestic Violence, Drug Trafficking, Education, Government, Human Rights, Income Inequality, Judicial System, Justice System, Law Enforcement, Mass Incarceration, Mental Health Programs, Morality, Penology, Policing, Race and Class, Racial Discrimination, Racism | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Podcast February 8, 2021