jEFFSTANA on August 2nd, 2014

Puritans

Senator John McCain Embraces Congressman Trent Franks’ Anti-West Valley Casino Bill

Who’s backing McCain to oppose the Glendale Casino? Sen. McCain forsakes logic while maintaining his opposition to the building of a casino near Glendale, AZ.

As local sentiment and legal opinion evolved over the course of five plus years; as grassroots support for the casino slowly overcame targeted advertisement by special interests in opposition to the planned casino/resort – all on dubious and falsely manufactured grounds – McCain and other big hitting politicos have continued their stance against casino construction in Glendale, even as their arguments have been shot down, one by one in the court of law and the court of public opinion.

Since the game cannot be won through existing legal channels, casino opponents seek to change the rules in their efforts to block the creation of a casino/resort in the west valley. Clearly, special interests have doubled-down and purchased the support of the likes of McCain, even as they recognize defeat at the local level.

To purchase the influence of a Senator, demonstrates the financial strength of the anti-casino crowd. Players include east valley casino holding tribes and blue-nosed moralists with nativist tendencies – the deep-pocketed constituents of Congressman Franks, the originator of “the keep the promise act” (U.S. House Bill 1410), which seeks to rewrite history and postpone west valley casino construction for many years – legislation which won approval in the Republican controlled House and now languishes in the Democratic held Senate.

It’s still a gamble how all this will end.

Tags: , ,

jEFFSTANA on April 8th, 2014

Ignore

A friend with conservative inclinations forwarded a story concerning Patrick Moore, identified in the brief as a co-founder of the environmental group Greenpeace, who spoke out against man-made global warming before the US Senate. The Congressional findings were published February 25, 2014. Mr. Moore died in 2012, making cross-examination of this known radical, ultra-right winger a mute point. Moore once famously said, “I may be accused of being a dinosaur, but I would remind you that dinosaurs ruled the Earth for a very long time.” Perhaps Fox News may next question the extinction of dinosaurs, since they failed to mention the passing of Mr. Moore.

The ploy of conservative Fox News could not be more transparent. Quoting from a dead curmudgeon attempts to sway opinion based on progressive association about subjects of which Moore had no particular expertise, is a non sequitur. Others opposed to notions of global warming, should not confuse science with politics, for this is a game played by purely anecdotal means, without evidential support.

When social advocates use science as an aid in shaping human behavior, the procedure becomes muddy from all the back-dealing and underhandedness required to pass political legislation. Such action does not take away from the work of science, nor can opinion alter the facts. Politics is the ugly step-sister made up to be the prom queen, doing all the heavy lifting to influence human judgment.

Examine the historical process which campaigned successfully to stigmatize tobacco. Cigarette companies offered similar counter-arguments, lack of proof, large costs to the economy, etc. in a fight against what today is commonly acknowledged to be unhealthy behavior, and that which we as a society discourage through enforced sanctions and limited product accessibility.

Science made the unquestionable connection between tobacco and disease and life expectancy, but the social/political arena had the tough job of selling the cure to the public at large. This is not a black or white issue. Personal freedom becomes restricted through prohibitive legislation. Is this justified by a nod to the common good? Opinions vary. But the science is correct. How this evidence is applied; there is the rub.

Knocking science in the twenty-first century is a losing battle. Superstition or denial, both are mind-killers, unworthy of discussion. Let us argue application instead, cost vs gain for the individual and society in general.

Tags: , ,

jEFFSTANA on October 23rd, 2013

Casino

This past Sunday, October 20th, in the pages of the Arizona Republic “Valley and State” section, cub reporter Caitlin McGlade summarized arguments pro and con concerning the future of Indian Gaming on Tohono O’odham reservation land — property surrounded by Glendale, Arizona and adjacent to the Westgate sports district at 95th Ave and Northern.

For those of us following this saga closely, little new was offered. Significantly, Glendale city council now offers up mixed signals over construction of the proposed casino/resort. Opposition by city officials toward allowing an un-taxed business entity near the Glendale subsidized hockey arena, seems to be weakenig. The continuous fiscal drain of an expensive legal campaign waged across multiple years is reason enough for dissension among council members. Many residents have long favored the $600 million casino/resort project with its demand for thousands of temporary construction jobs and its promise of numerous long term service employment wages for the citizens of the West Valley.

Meanwhile, Glendale Sports Complex remains an economic asterisk due to its glamorous appeal minus substantial return on investment. A steady draw of tax dollars toward the city funded arena and subsidized National Hockey League team, has fueled cutbacks to city safety personnel and necessitated diminished city services; notably curtailment of library hours. While the Indian run casino/resort would not provide direct tax dollars into Glendale coffers, neither would the city bare any construction costs. Some would argue that a multi-million dollar resort facility would draw visitors to Glendale, who might not otherwise venture into the West Valley. Such guests might also spend money at neighboring Westgate shops and entertainment venues.

Before Jerry Weirs was elected Glendale Mayor in 2012, former Mayor Elaine Scruggs accused Weir’s of working against Arizona cities, in his role as an Arizona Legislator from District 12. Mayor Weirs recently co-signed an AZ Republic op-ed, along with several other Maricopa county mayors, opposed to the West Valley casino, taking cover behind “Keeping the Promise“, a anti-gambling coalition expressing an overtly religious viewpoint. KtP believes the Tohono O’odham implicitly agreed not to pursue building a Maricopa County based casino.

These misguided assumptions derive from Arizona gaming compact requirements limiting Indian run casinos to locations on land with reservation standing. What KtP fails to grasp, the Tohono O’odham property in the West Valley has been awarded reservation status, as replacement land. This fact destroys the KtP narrative, so they simply choose to ignore it.

All court judgments to date have ruled in favor of the Southern Arizona tribe, finding no basis for consideration of specious arguments like those held by KtP. This has not deterred KtP zealots from seeking new advocates for their discredited agenda, such as Mayor Weirs.

McGlade produced one golden nugget, when she states:

“The arguments for and against the casino in Glendale have mainly hinged on whether its presence would help or hurt nearby shops and restaurants at Westgate.”

So we ask:

  • When will an end to the battle against this casino allow city officials to focus on the upcoming Super Bowl, as sharply requested recently by NFL league officials?
  • When will Glendale staunch the legal bleeding of taxpayer dollars and cease fighting a losing cause against the Tohono O’odham?
  • Whwn will a $600 Million construction project paid for by the TO tribe bring jobs to Glendale and the West Valley?

That folks is the crux of the matter. When will Glendale end their narrow focus on a pet project, the Sports Complex at Westgate, which has stubbornly refused to yield net revenue for the city? While spawning ruin for those financially vested in its success, the citizens of Glendale have paid greater sales tax than any surrounding West Valley community and have been saddled with shrinking numbers of safety personnel and shorter library hours.

Glendale residents are owed greater consideration by their elected officials, and a solution to the flow of taxpayer dollars into the money pit which is the Westgate Sports Complex. Enough already.

Tags: , , , ,

jEFFSTANA on September 27th, 2013

Cruisin' for a bruisin'

My starboard friends are becoming frantic as the enrollment for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) draws near. Wishing for a program to go away that was argued successfully, legislated in Congress and adjudicated before the Supreme Court seems the height of denial, but never let it be said that the rabid right holds reasonableness close to their cold hearts. More like a drowning man clutching for a life preserver than a student seeking understanding, one Obamacare hater asks some late questions.

One favorite:
“If the ACA is so good, why are Congressmen (or fill in some other niche group) not signing up?”

This question misses the point of the health care mandate, which is to insure those who are not insured at present. Secondly, by requiring all health care insurance providers to meet certain standards, even those who already carry health insurance, realize extended benefits of coverage such as, umbrellas for children until age 26, no exclusions for pre-existing conditions and no maximum payout for continuing health care problems. These universal protections cannot be overstated, especially before the freedom-first crowd.

Another question equally misinformed:
“Why are some groups being issued waivers or exclusions?”

This runs to the heart of opposition to the Affordable Care Act. Show that some groups escape compliance, proves ordinary folks carry a burden, while special interests catch a bye. No so however. Waivers do exist under the ACA, but exclusions allow large companies time to meet mandates prescribed under the ACA. And these exemptions are temporary, not long term opt-outs. Universal coverage means just that, and everyone shares healthcare costs and benefits in the long term.

Some opponents claim that worker’s unions and others friendly to the Administration are receiving special considerations, but this appears to be vicious rumor without facts to support their accusations. Easy to believe, hard to prove. See <this> and <this>. Also, like most lies, they are old arguments under heavy cycle. (Complaints from 2010 when passage just occurred and information was scarce among the general public.)

A more pernicious rumor in the guise of a question:
“What happened to the $2500 decrease we were promised under Obamacare?”

Context is king here. $2500.00 sticks in the minds of those focused on the money. What was really said, a comprehensive national health care bill when passed, will save American families $2500.00 a year over doing nothing and watching rampant increases continue in health care costs. Debatable? Of course. But moderating health care costs, have already reduced national debt projections. In part, this reduction can be attributed to Obamacare. We can hope these predictions play out, for the sake of all Americans.

Tags: , , , , ,

jEFFSTANA on August 27th, 2013

Microsoft vs Apple

A good friend pointed me to a New York Times opinion piece for Monday, August 26, 2013 by noted economist Paul Krugman entitled: The Decline of E-Empires. The catalyst for the article was the forthcoming resignation of Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft. The scope of the article remarked on the long running rivalry between Bill Gates (Microsoft) and Steve Jobs (Apple). Though neither icon holds the helm of either company today, Paul Krugman presents a lesson in how rigid monopolies eventually lose the ability to adapt to changing technologies.

I have always liked reading Mr. Krugman. My take this time; Paul oversimplifies the dynamics of technology. Yes, from a dollars and cents aggregate (how economists view things), today Microsoft is down and Apple is up, which is opposite how the war played out in the late twentieth century.

Barbarians at the gate aside, I see “Microsoft vs Apple” as more of a question of purpose. Microsoft functions better as a boring yet highly efficient work tool. While Apple has mutated from an artsy-fartsy graphic-design machine, into the technical choice for personal-time activities — music, movies and games. It seems less a black or white choice between companies, than a reflection on how and where Americans spend their disposable income. With lots of time and money, the US has become the opulent purveyor of leisurely pursuit and Apple chose to be king of this domain, while Microsoft maintained the lions-share of the personal computer business.

BTW: the transformation of Apple from geeky to sexy, started with the iPod (a music player), which improved upon the Sony Walkman (itself a game-changer) and earned Apple bushels of $$. The technical zinger capitalized upon by Apple was touch screen display. The consumer market ate up touchy-feely. It introduced a simplified user interface, much as mouse-based desktop PCs revolutionized in its day, previously controlled menu-driven keyboard clicks. One big problem: touch screen seems less handy creating detailed documentation for print-based work – a necessity in the business world.

Apple’s dominance will continue only with additional innovation. Apple iPods, iPhones and iPads all sell well because of a masterful touch screen interface. Android devices – also employ touch screen control, with open source design and naturally occurring, continuous minor innovation, and these Google-inspired devices have largely overtaken Apple in the hand-held field at a reduced price point.

Agreeing with Paul Krugman about the rigidity of monopolies; the surge by Android (and possibly Windows Phone), is largely due to Apple insisting on controlling the entirety of the production cycle (hardware, software and service) — a business plan which is a repeat of the PC vs McIntosh wars, which Apple famously lost, in my opinion. Apple demands top dollar for their innovations, but this past year has not been that sort of year. Apple’s stock price is down 45% from a year ago, when they were the largest capitalized company in the world.

There is an upsurge in other touch screen devices, and it would be foolish to assume that the current US leader in leisure time products will necessarily rule business grade products. That is not the case presently, nor does it look to be the case going forward.

Please note, the demise of Ballmer is not the passing of Microsoft. Ballmer is out because he failed to properly address the consumer branch of the company with enough flair and sufficient profit. Business is still good at big blue and could be coming back with the introduction of Windows 8, a touch-aware operating system. Still, it is too little, too late for Steve Ballmer.

Tags: , ,