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.

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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.”

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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 , , , , | Comments Off on Ploog, Williamson Interview – Podcast May 10, 2021

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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