Segner Interview – Podcast September 20, 2021

Replacing Misinformation And Fighting With Dialogue. Democratic Perspective host Steve Williamson welcomes Steve Segner, hotel owner and president of Sedona Lodging Council, to discuss changes in the City of Sedona.

Segner begins by announcing an upcoming panel discussion on short-term rentals intended to correct misinformation and disinformation. “We need to get the information out there that’s correct in a way that’s not slanted and not one-sided,” he explains. “We’re not thrilled that there’s short-term rentals. But we’re also pragmatic that the law got passed and does, in fact, make it legal.”

The panel discussion will include the City Attorney, the City Manager, the Chamber of Commerce, and a man who manages 500 AirBnBs in four states. “We’re trying to get all the facts on the table,” Says Segner. “Then we’re going to open it up to the floor so people can ask questions. If we can get this panel format to work, we can use it for other things in the city.”

The event is part of Segner’s long-standing desire to end the angry rhetoric between community and political tribes. “Instead of everybody screaming at each other, let’s have some dialogue. I’m just sick to death of people just fighting and not having dialogue,” he says.

Posted in Capitalism, Civil Society, Class Conflict, Community, Community Activism, Cultural Diversity, Disinformation, Domestic Extremism, Government, Housing, Interviews, LIberals and Conservatives, Local Politics, Political Polarization, Public Policy, Social Media, Tourism | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Martinez, Williamson interview – Podcast September 13, 2021

Workers Priced Out Of Sedona. Steve Williamson welcomes Linda Martinez and City Council member Jessica Williamson to discuss a long-standing problem for Sedona – affordable housing. According to Williamson, affordable housing is defined by income based on a household spending no more than 30 percent of its income on rent. The problem is that the median cost of housing in Sedona is $850,000 while the median income for the area ranges from $41,400 to $48,150. So, only the very wealthy can afford a home in Sedona.

An Arizona law that has taken away local control of short-term rentals has further compounded the problem by turning apartments into condos and converting homes to mini-hotels.

Martinez sums up the impact this way: “When we don’t have diversity of housing, we lose what it means to be a community.” She says Sedona needs housing for ordinary workers – plumbers, electricians, people to work in groceries and hardware stores, people to cut hair. “We are all dependent on one another. It’s important to all of us.”

Posted in Civic Renewal, Class Conflict, Community, Cultural Diversity, Development, Disinformation, Government, Growth, Housing, Income Inequality, Interviews, Jobs and Employment, Labor Shortages, LIberals and Conservatives, Local Politics, Political Lies, Public Policy | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ruby, Lutes Interview – Podcast September 6, 2021

Fighting The Good Fight. Back from an extended vacation, Steve Williamson welcomes John Lutes and Jay Ruby to the show. Lutes is chair of the Yavapai Democratic Party, a business owner and manager who ran for Yavapai County Supervisor against one of the extreme right Oath Keepers. And Ruby is events chair of the Yavapai Dems who recently campaigned to remove far right Congressman Paul Gosar from office.

Located in one of the reddest areas in the country, represented in Congress by an anti-government conspiracy theorist, and surrounded by the nation’s largest chapter of Oath Keepers and other far right militias, the two men are attempting to bring some political sanity to an area that has experienced three decades of Republican rule. As Lutes says, “Our nation’s built on dialogue, and if you have too much of one-party rule – and it doesn’t matter where you are in the world – one party rule begins to corrupt.”

Lutes and Ruby have organized R&R (Referendums and Redistricting) meetings throughout the county to inform and activate residents about issues that will impact Arizona for years to come. The referendums involve seven petitions – three about public education and four about voter suppression and dirty money. And redistricting, of course, refers to the realignment of congressional and legislative districts based on the 2020 Census.

Posted in Arizona Politics, Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, Community Activism, Corruption, Dark Money, Democratic Governance, Government, Interviews, Labor Movement, Labor Unions, Local Politics, Paul Gosar, Political Clubs, Political Polarization, Public Education, Tax Law, Taxation, Voter Suppression, Voting, Water Policy | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Deardon, White Interview – Podcast August 30, 2021

A Master Class On Sedona And Arizona Schools. Guest host Karen McClelland, a former school board member, is joined in the studio by Sedona-Oak Creek School District Superintendent Dennis Deardon and Sedona Red Rock High Junior, Hunter White.

Faced with the pandemic and declining enrollment, Deardon took on the dual role of Superintendent and Principal. The move seems to have paid dividends for the school. Despite the disruption caused by Covid-19 and a housing shortage, the school has added 75 students!

The turnabout seems to have come about, at least in part, as a result of innovation. For example, the school added White to the school board as a student representative, giving young people the opportunity to have their voices heard and their questions answered. For more, check out our podcast. Class is now in session.

Posted in Community, Community Activism, Cultural Diversity, Education, Education Funding, Education Policy, Innovation, Interviews, Pandemic, Public Education | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Gunnigle Interview – Podcast August 23, 2021

Holding Police Accountable. As the next in our eight-part of our series on criminal justice, Hava welcomes attorney Julie Gunnigle to discuss the DOJ investigation of the Phoenix Police Department and a variety of other civil rights issues.

Gunnigle begins by noting, “The story of this investigation goes back years because Phoenix Police Department and some of those in the outlying areas have been some of the most violent in the nation. That violence hasn’t been met with any kind of accountability within our prosecutor’s office. But that was just one of 5 different issues that made the DOJ step into our county.”

She says the other issues included charging protesters with criminal gang enhancements for exercising their first amendment rights, ongoing issues with respect to our unhoused population and those experiencing mental health incidents, and the 2017 death of Muhammed Muhayim who died in the same way as George Floyd. “It’s been shameful, and I think it really show that police are unable to police police and, for that reason, you have to have the feds step in,” says Gunnigle. “Now I’m not really optimistic as to what happens next. But it is a step, and it speaks to exactly how urgent and dire the situation in Arizona is.”

On the other hand, one issue that does give Gunnigle hope is the HR4 John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Bill to restore parts of the voting rights act gutted by SCOTUS. Congress is expected to vote on the bill this week.

Posted in Arizona Law Enforcement, Civil Rights, Civil Society, Community Activism, Criminal Justice Reform, Criminology, Cultural Change, Department of Justice, Government, Housing, Human Rights, Interviews, Justice System, Law Enforcement, Legal Issues, Mental Health Programs, Morality, Policing, Public Accountability, Race and Class, Racial Discrimination, U.S. Court System, Women's Rights | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Hoffman, Constabile Interview – Podcast, August 16, 2021

All Things Elections. Guest host Kathy Kinsella welcomes Yavapai County Recorder, Leslie Hoffman, and Elections Director, Lynn Constabile, to discuss election procedures and election security in Arizona.

In a few minutes, these experienced professionals explain everything you need to know about voter registration, how elections are conducted, how mail-in ballots are verified, how ballots are secured, and how ballots are counted. Their expertise should give voters everywhere assurance regarding the integrity of our elections.

Posted in Arizona Politics, Democratic Governance, Elections, Government, Interviews, Local Politics, National Politics, Political Parties, Presidential Elections, Public Service, Voting | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Hoffman, Constabile Interview – Podcast, August 16, 2021

Michaels Interview – Podcast August 9, 2021

The Importance Of Stewardship. Democratic Perspective co-host Hava welcomes Donna Michaels to discuss her first six months in office as a Yavapai County supervisor. She begins by noting that stewardship is the key to a healthy community. To that end, she is focused on creating a ten-year plan with input from the public – “A document that guides us for the next ten years.”

“I urge everyone to go online to take the survey,” she says. “Hopefully, by 2022, we’ll have a document that reflects who we want to be.”

Michaels lists some of the issues facing the county are homelessness on forest lands, affordable and attainable housing, and destruction caused by off-road vehicles (ATVs). “What we’re seeing is an unprecedented destruction of our forest lands,” says Michaels. “I had no idea the kind of damage that is occurring around the clock by these vehicles. Had I not seen it, I would not have believed it.” To address the issue, she intends to look at how other communities are addressing ATV use and abuse. “I’m hopeful we’ll benchmark best practices,” she says. “There is nothing we can’t do together.”

Posted in Civic Renewal, Community, Community Activism, Environment, Environmental Issues, Federal Lands, Government, Housing, Interviews, Local Politics, Policing, Public Accountability, Public Lands, Public Policy, Public Service, Tourism, U.S. Forest Service, Wilderness Preservation | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Michaels Interview – Podcast August 9, 2021

Goodwin Interview – Podcast August 2, 2021

Philosophy And Climate Change. Filling in for Steve and Hava, Holli Ploog welcomes Matthew Goodwin, PhD to the show. Goodwin is a professor at Northern Arizona University, founder of Sedona Philosophy and an activist for addressing the climate crisis.

He begins by explaining that philosophy literally means love of wisdom. “It’s not the same thing as knowledge,” he says. “Wisdom is about what we do with our knowledge. It is something we spend our lifetime trying to achieve. And we never really know when we have achieved it.”

“That’s where I think global warming is a philosophical issue. We have quite a bit of knowledge about what we can do. But it’s not necessarily what we should do. We need to start thinking philosophically about what kinds of technologies we’re using…we’re relying on very old technology. And there’s a lot of current technology that we should be using more of. Science tells us that we have the technology available to replace all of our energy demands. So, renewables…mainly solar, wind and hydro are currently capable of replacing all of our fossil fuels. It doesn’t mean that it’s cheap. So, I’m not trying to say that it’s a free technology. It does require an investment. But it is a long-term investment that means in the long run we will be making cheap electricity. The difference is that the cost is up front. And that’s one of the big challenges.”

Goodwin goes on to discuss Sedona’s action plan to achieve 50 percent carbon reduction by 2030, the resistance to addressing climate change, misinformation, and more.

Posted in Climate Change, Community, Community Activism, Disinformation, Domestic Policy, Education, Environment, Environmental Issues, Global Warming, Infrastructure, Infrastructure Investment, Innovation, Interviews, Mass Migration, Philosophy, Public Policy, Public Private Collaboration, Renewable Energy, Technology, Water Policy | Tagged , | Comments Off on Goodwin Interview – Podcast August 2, 2021

Richtman Interview – Podcast July 26, 2021

The Impact Of Biden’s Spending Plan On Medicare And Social Security. Democratic Perspective co-host Steve Williamson welcomes back frequent guest Max Richtman, President and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, to discuss the proposed $3.5 trillion spending plan for human infrastructure.

“The impact on Medicare is huge,” says Richtman. “If this actually happens…it would be the first major expansion of Medicare benefits in nearly 20 years. Now we have an opportunity to add hearing, dental and vision to the program. These are such important components of healthcare that have been neglected over the years.”

Richtman also hopes the bill will include a provision that mandates the federal government negotiate drug prices – an idea supported by 70 -80 percent of voters across party lines. He explains that would save Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries $450 billion over 10 years. But Richtman says that is certain to be opposed by Big Pharma. “The argument that pharmaceutical companies use is that this is socialism. But I thought that negotiating for the best price for anything…to me that’s capitalism.”

Their other argument is that negotiating prices would limit Big Pharma’s ability to do research. But Richtman counters that a lot of the research money that goes into developing drugs comes from the federal government. “I have seen analysis of how much pharmaceutical companies spend on lobbying…tens of millions of dollars. They’re putting money into stock buybacks. They’re putting it into enormous salaries for chief executives…and ads. It’s a phony argument. It’s designed to scare people.”

Richtman notes that the budget proposals do not specifically deal with Social Security. But he says he’s confident that we have a President who has made a commitment to improve Social Security.

Posted in Aging, Budget Negotiations, Capitalism, Economic Policy, Fiscal Policy, Health Care Policy, Interviews, Medicaid, Medicare, National Politics, Pharmaceutical Pricing and Procurement, Pharmaceuticals, Public Health Policy, Social Security, U.S. Budget | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Richtman Interview – Podcast July 26, 2021

Ploog Interview – July 19, 2021

Making Sure Voters Select Their Representatives. Not Vice Versa. Democratic Perspective co-host Steve Williamson welcomes Holli Ploog to the show to discuss the once-every-decade redistricting of legislative and congressional districts in Arizona. Ploog is currently a member of the Sedona City Council.

She begins by explaining that Arizona is one of only 13 states that have an independent redistricting commission to create the districts based on the census. According to Ploog, the commission is comprised of five members – two each appointed by the legislative leadership of the Democratic and Republican parties, as well as the chairperson who must be an independent. There cannot be more than one member from a single county. Additionally, members cannot be active in a political party or have run for office within a certain timeframe before the process.

The redistricting process begins with grid maps of contiguous districts with equal population. The commission then modifies the maps according to other factors such as communities of interest (healthcare, transportation, tourism, commerce, education, etc.), as well as geographical boundaries, and competitiveness. Finally, the commission requests the public’s input. It’s a complex, but necessary process to prevent partisan gerrymandering.

Posted in Arizona Politics, Community, Elections, Government, Health Care, Interviews, Political Parties, Public Accountability, Tourism | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Ploog Interview – July 19, 2021