Richtman Interview – Podcast June 7, 2021

The Infrastructure Of Aging. Steve Williamson welcomes back Max Richtman, President and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare to discuss the $400 billion for elderly care included in President Biden’s infrastructure bill.

Though it’s not what many consider infrastructure, Richtman stresses the importance of the proposal as an additional 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day. At some point, most of those people will require some form of care. It’s more efficient and humane to care for them in their own homes. But, Richtman says, “There simply are not enough homecare workers in this country to meet the demand now, let alone in the future.”

Richtman explains that one of the reasons for the shortage is that salaries are so pitiful (the average salary is just $17,000 a year).  He adds, “One of the things I find that is so amazing is that we are relying on unpaid caregivers in this country. Mostly women. They often have to leave the work force.” According to Richtman, this compounds the problem, noting that when they leave the workforce, they’re not paying into Social Security. As a result, they’re sacrificing their own Social Security benefits in the future. He says the proposed bill would create a caregivers’ formula that would be applied to the Social Security structure so their benefits would not be reduced.

Richtman notes the proposal is about 20 percent of the president’s infrastructure bill. “I think it’s important to give Biden credit for trying to prioritize elderly homecare in this package,” he says. “We’re going to have more seniors requiring care with fewer young people around to provide it.”

Posted in Aging, Domestic Policy, Economic Policy, Fiscal Policy, Government, Health Care Delivery, Infrastructure, Interviews, Jobs and Employment, Labor Shortages, Medicaid, Medicare, National Politics, Pandemic, Pharmaceutical Pricing and Procurement, Public Health Policy, Public Policy, Public Private Collaboration, Social Insurance, Social Security, Women's Issues | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Comello, Segner Interview – Podcast May 31, 2021

Troubled Sedona: Rumors, Conflicts And Social Media. Democratic Perspective host Steve Williamson welcomes Al Comello and Steve Segner back to the show to discuss the many issues facing Sedona, one of the world’s premier tourist spots. Comello is Vice Chairman of the Board of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau and Segner is the owner-operator of Sedona’s El Portal hotel and President of the Lodging Council.

Lately, conflicts surrounding issues such as ATVs, short-term rentals, traffic, parking, and low-cost housing have exploded on social media resulting in much anger directed toward the City Council and the Chamber of Commerce. Segner says that it all may be a political reaction to how they view government and a lack of understanding of how government works. He says, “We’re not discussing problems. We’re fighting them. People blow things out of proportion. What it comes down to is that they just don’t want any change.”

“They say that the city doesn’t listen to the residents. They only listen to the tourists. But nothing could be further from the truth,” says Comello. Addressing the reluctance to build affordable housing in the city, Comello explains, “There are about 10,000 people who have jobs in Sedona. But only about 15 percent live here. Restaurants here are closing because they can’t find staff…Right now, the town is in a real bind.”

Segner notes that there are plenty of opportunities to provide real input to the city. He encourages more people to get involved, to discuss issues at City Council meetings instead of complaining on social media.

Posted in Civil Society, Community, Community Activism, Conservative Paranoia, Democratic Governance, Demographic Trends, Development, Disinformation, Government, Growth, Housing, Interviews, Jobs and Employment, Local Politics, Public Accountability, Scandal Mongering, Social Media, Sustainable Development, Tourism | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Derby, Williamson Interview – Podcast May 24, 2021

Hava And Steve One On One. The co-hosts spend some time chatting with one another to explain their differing approaches to politics and community. As the founder Democratic Perspective, Steve has been involved in politics for many years, while Hava is relatively new to politics. She describes herself as more of a community-interested person.

Reflecting on the current state of politics, Steve says, “I see a lot of divisiveness and anger. It’s local, too. I’m most disturbed by the lack of knowledge.” Hava looks at the divisiveness as more of a human issue saying, “We need to look at how our relationships are with each other. A lot of people are traumatized human beings. We have to really come to this with a compassionate heart. I’m really hopeful as we’re beginning to wind down lockdowns that people are going to talk to each other. I hope that things will get back to a more human level.”

The two go on to offer their thoughts on community, nationalism, the criminal justice system and more.

Posted in Civic Renewal, Civil Society, Community, Community Activism, Criminal Justice Reform, Cultural Change, Government, Interviews, Justice System, Local Politics, Policing, Political Polarization, Public Accountability, Social Contract | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Cole Interview – Podcast May 17, 2021

Advice From The Distant Past. Democratic Perspective welcomes Juan Cole back to the show to discuss his new book The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam – A New Translation from the Persian. Cole is a professor at the University of Michigan and commentator on the modern Middle East and South Asia through his website Informed Comment.

Cole’s research suggests Khayyam is what is often called a frame author. He says the poems were likely written by various people over centuries. But they were all attributed to Khayyam. Centuries later, the poems were discovered by Edward Fitzgerald who translated about 50 of them. They became beloved in Victorian England and the US during the Gilded Age. According to Cole, “By 1900 you had a new edition of the poetry coming out every day…it was tremendously influential. T.S. Elliot started writing poetry under its influence that was well thought of by all the modernists. And Robert Frost’s Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Night is actually an homage to this poetry.”

A careful reading of these 800-year-old poems shows another side of the Middle East and may dispel common stereotypes. They also have much to say about how to best live our lives. For example, by dismissing the “fear of hellfire and the hope of paradise,” Cole says the poetry seems to tell us not to worry about death and our own non-existence. “I think what Khayyam was saying is don’t spend a lot of time worrying about that. It’s that time you take away from living in the moment.”

Posted in Class Conflict, Ethics, Interviews, Middle East, Morality, Philosophy, Religion | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ploog, Williamson Interview – Podcast May 10, 2021

Cities In Chains. Democratic Perspective co-host, Steve Williamson welcomes Sedona City Council Members, Holli Ploog and Jessica Williamson, to discuss the Arizona legislature’s attack on the ability of cities to control themselves.

As an example, Ploog notes that the Arizona State Senate just passed a bill that, even though it has been vehemently opposed by the League of Cities and Towns, by the healthcare industry, and by the school districts, would allow advertising for cigarette use near schools. She says, “There are over 1,500 bills in this session so it’s hard for people to know what’s in each piece of legislation.”

The two guests cite other issues including plastic bags, short-term rentals, ATV use, and more that the legislature prevents cities from regulating on behalf of the cities’ residents. The pre-emptions are the result of bill 1487 which allows the legislature to take away state funding if the cities don’t concede their powers to the legislature. The result is to allow some industries and special interests to run amok.

By refusing to permit cities to regulate short-term rentals, Sedona is dealing with increasing noise, party houses, trash, and density. Williamson reports that there are now 488 single family houses that are short-term rentals within the city limits and an additional 243 houses in the area. The result is more rental rooms disrupting neighborhoods than there are hotel rooms in the city. And the City is powerless to control them.

Williamson offers a quote that sums up the problem: “…sticking it to city councils on behalf of special interests is a cherished tradition in the Arizona state capitol.”

Posted in Arizona Politics, Community, Environmental Issues, Ethics, Government, Housing, Interviews, Jobs and Employment, Local Politics, Public Accountability, Public Policy, Tobacco, Tourism | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Clark, Raiford Interview – Podcast May 3, 2021

Smart On Crime. Not Tough On Crime. Democratic Perspective co-host Hava Derby welcomes Charity Clark, a defense attorney who reached out to Hava following her arrest during last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests in Phoenix. Clark also took on the cases of other protesters to make sure the Constitution is protected. As for the outcomes, Clark says, “I got dismissals on all of them. They were just wrongful arrests – an organized attack on free speech.” She notes that the District Attorney’s office dismissed the cases as they should have. “You have to give them kudos for doing the right thing.”

Unfortunately, as a result of the BLM protests, the Arizona House has passed a bill (HB-2309) which is aimed at stopping protests.  Clark opposes the bill as unconstitutional and asks people to call Governor Ducey to veto the bill, explaining, “Legislators don’t know how these bills work in practice and all of their implications. We really do have to be careful about protecting the 1st Amendment.”

Later in the show, Clark discusses the implications of Prop 207 legalizing recreational marijuana and Jacob Raiford joins the conversation to discuss NOCAP (Neighborhood-Organized Crisis Assistance Program), first responders for noncriminal and nonviolent dispatches.

Posted in Arizona Politics, Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, Community Activism, Constitutional Issues, Criminal Justice Reform, Government, Human Rights, Interviews, Justice System, Law Enforcement, Legal Issues, Policing, Public Policy, Race and Class | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Husted Interview – Podcast April 26, 2021

Policing Paradise. Democratic Perspective welcomes Charles Husted, Chief of Police, Sedona, AZ. After 30 years of experience with the Sacramento Police Department, Husted now leads a department of 25 officers and is seeking two more. Asked about his hiring practices, Chief Husted responds, “I’m really looking for the people who are the right people for our city. Who they are as human beings? What’s in their hearts?”

Other questions range from traffic to use of force to the color of the department’s squad cars. One of the most important regards 911. Everyone knows to call 911 for emergencies. But what about other issues such as missing property, noise, and problems related to short-term rentals? The Chief replies “I encourage people to call our non-emergency number [available on the city’s website.] That’s still our dispatch, so it’s in our queue. But it doesn’t jump ahead of emergencies.”

He notes that the city is also looking at creating a 24-hour hotline for problems with short-term rentals.

Posted in Civil Society, Community, Ethics, Interviews, Justice System, Law Enforcement, Policing, Public Accountability, Public Policy, Public Service | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Kenworthy Interview – Podcast April 19, 2021

Common Sense Capitalism. Steve Williamson welcomes Lane Kenworthy, professor of Sociology at the University of California San Diego, to discuss his latest book, Social Democratic Capitalism.

The show begins with Kenworthy being asked to compare the US economy with those of the Scandinavian countries that are often called socialist. He responds that they are not socialist in the way that most people understand the term. “There are sectors in the countries that are socialist – healthcare for example,” he says. “But most of the economy is privately owned. So, in that sense, they’re structurally pretty similar to the United States and most other economies that we think of as capitalist.” Further he notes that the differences in taxes and domestic spending as a percentage of GDP are not dramatic.

Kenworthy goes on to list what he believes should be the goals of social democratic capitalism: 1 – Economic security so people can have a decent life, take some risks, and not find themselves in dire straits. 2 – To do right by the least well off to make sure their lives are at least okay. 3 – To make sure there is a lot of liberty.

When asked why the US should move further toward the Nordic system, he replies, “I think the simple answer is that it seems to work very well. Looking at our own society and seeing how much better it is now. And looking at how these other countries have gone much further and seeing how much more security they offer.”

Posted in Capitalism, Civil Society, Democratic Governance, Domestic Policy, Economic Policy, Economic Theory, Fiscal Policy, Government, Interviews, National Politics, Public Health Policy, Public Policy, Public Private Collaboration, Social Democracy, Socialism | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

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 , , , | Comments Off on Meglio, Merton Interview – Podcast April 12, 2021

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 , , , , , | Comments Off on Comello, Segner Interview – Podcast April 5, 2021