Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Wrongly Fired Government Reformer Considering Running Against Arizona Governor

Tim Jeffries was a popular director of the Arizona Department of Economic Security, the state welfare agency, from 2015 to 2016. He became a colorful icon in Arizona government, with his smiley faces and practice of referring to employees as “colleagues.” He was likely the only state agency head to cut the size of his agency by 2 percent as instructed by Arizona Republican Governor Doug Ducey. He turned morale around at DES, making it a fun place to work — no easy feat at a welfare agency. The devout Catholic has a heart and passion for the poor and sick, coming from a poor upbringing himself. When the governor asked him if he wanted to be an agency head, Jeffries deliberately chose DES.

But this star reformer was pushed out in a highly publicized coup, spearheaded by the left-wing Arizona Republic which made him a target. After Jeffries fired 475 employees who were “bullies, racists, sexual harassers and slackers,” the newspaper featured some of the employees and wrongly made them out to be victims — even though some had actually been stealing from DES. The newspaper extensively covered Jeffries’ efforts to bring security in house, instead of paying for private contractors which were less accountable and not cost effective. The biased articles referred to it as “building an arsenal” and “stockpiling ammunition.”

With so much negative coverage, Governor Ducey caved to pressure, firing Jeffries in November 2016.

The firing was so unjust that one of the local left-leaning papers actually took Jeffries’ side. The Phoenix New Times expressed skepticism about the accusations brought against Jeffries. “Just before his ouster in late 2016, Jeffries reportedly bought alcohol for employees on state time, but the accusation was never proven.” As for the private security force, the paper said “much of the criticism was overblown.”

Jeffries observes, "I had the passion and courage to ‘run government at the speed of business’ as the Governor directed me. Unfortunately, it proved to be merely a campaign slogan for the Governor. Consequently, calcified bureaucracy and special vendor deals remain to the profound detriment of hard-working taxpayers that deserve good government."

Jeffries filed a $5.1 million libel claim against the state over the private security allegations. His former chief of security, Charles Loftus, filed a $2.6 million claim. Jeffries is represented by former Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne. Some of the bizarre, false accusations in the audit performed by the state Department of Public Safety are that Jeffries carried a gun on state property and wanted to arm every state employee.

Ducey is vulnerable to a challenge from the right. He is ingratiated with Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake who are disliked by the conservative base, in part due to their repeated undermining of President Trump. Ducey endorsed Flake. Ducey's lack of leadership was foundational to McCain's vote stopping the Obamacare repeal. Ducey himself failed to stand with other Arizona leaders behind Trump at his August rally in Phoenix.

If re-elected to a second term, Ducey may end up appointing McCain’s replacement after the senator passes away from brain cancer. There are concerns that he would replace him with another establishment Republican. In contrast, Jeffries says, “I would be open to appointing anti-establishment warriors like State Treasurer Jeff DeWit, who was Trump’s campaign COO/CFO, or true conservatives like current Arizona Congressman David Schweikert and former Congressman Matt Salmon.”

Ducey is also vulnerable with teachers’ associations. Prop. 123, which he championed, only provided a 2 percent raise for teachers over five years.

Jeffries explains the difference between Ducey as governor and how he would run the state, "I entered the public sector to do big things, not small things with big press releases." Jeffries describes Ducey as a “poll-driven politician.” Jeffries is fearless and unrelenting. He went after a corrupt Democratic legislator who fraudulently obtained food stamps — something his predecessor was too afraid to take on. He had another corrupt member in the sights of his Inspector General — which sadly will now be swept under the rug. He boldly called for the termination of the corrupt vendor of the State’s Obamacare Medicaid Eligibility System.

"If I run and I win, I will not play small ball like the Governor. I will massively reorganize and restructure state government,” Jeffries said. “Partnering with thousands of true public servants, I will free up approximately 200 million dollars a year to invest in classrooms, foster kids, senior citizens and the developmentally disabled. These great folks need us to be audacious in vision and fearless in execution." Jeffries says he does not have aspirations for higher office afterward; he is not seeking a political career.

Jeffries is the type of candidate the conservative Breitbart powerhouse Steve Bannon might get behind. Support like that — which might lead to support from Trump — could tip a race. Breitbart reports that a “broad anti-establishment coalition” has been formed nationally to replace establishment Republicans in Congress and in key gubernatorial races. Additionally, after a successful career in business, Jeffries is independently wealthy and has a network of wealthy friends. Add to that fair press coverage from Phoenix New Times and Jeffries has a real chance of defeating Ducey. Arizonans are in an anti-incumbent mood due to McCain and Flake, and Ducey is too closely associated with the pair.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Reporter Trying to Get Tucson Police Officer in Trouble for Viral Video on NFL Kneeling

Tucson Police Officer Brandon Tatum has a First Amendment right to free speech. But you wouldn’t know that from the way a reporter has targeted him. On September 24, Tatum made a video monologue expressing his dissatisfaction with the NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem. He did not identify himself as a police officer; he made it purely in his private capacity. The seven minute speech went viral, receiving over 70 million views on Facebook. His message resonated with Americans all across the country who are fed up with the disrespectful athletes.

Arizona Daily Star reporter Tim Steller published an article on Friday questioning whether the video violated TPD’s departmental rules. Titled “Tucson Police Officer Pushes Boundaries With Viral Rants,” he cites TPD’s policy which prohibits officers from posting anything discriminatory on social media.

Tatum’s video doesn’t discriminate against anyone, it merely discusses why kneeling during the anthem is disrespectful and an inappropriate way to protest. He says the National Anthem has nothing to do with what the athletes are protesting. He points out how the flag and the anthem have given people freedom and opportunities, but the protesters won’t talk about that. He observes that Martin Luther King, Jr., had bipartisan support for his protests, because he conducted them with integrity.

In contrast, Tatum says, “These clowns are doing things out of trendiness.” If they really care about black lives, then they need to be out there in the black community. He asks, “What has happened since Colin Kaepernick took a knee?” Nothing has changed, nothing is going to change. “Stop whining like a baby. … As an African-American in this country, I love the flag.”

Tatum contrasts the athletes losing and coming back again to play another game with those who died for the flag in military service. The latter don’t get a second chance once they lose their lives  on the battlefield. That is who these athletes are disrespecting. He warns the players about alienating their fan base of patriotic Americans, “When you spit in their face, they will no longer support you.”

Tatum recently began created monologues commenting on race issues that go viral. He has 33,552 subscribers to his YouTube channel. Conservative talk show host James T. Harris, who is also black and based out of Tucson, says the real story should be how a small town boy who moved to Tucson created multiple videos that went viral.

Since Tatum started issuing his videos, he and Harris have become well-known as the two conservative black guys out of Tucson. Harris’s own video criticizing the kneeling players also went viral receiving 22 million views. Harris laments that in left-leaning Pima County, the story isn’t about how successful the videos have been. Instead, he quotes SCOTUS Justice Clarence Thomas on the treatment, “It is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves.”

Harris observed, “If Brandon had made a video praising the kneeling which went viral, Steller wouldn’t have written anything critical.” The kneeling NFL players, as private players, have no right to free speech and violated an NFL rule. In contrast, Tatum properly exercised his right to free speech; he did not issue his monologue on police property or identify himself with his employer. Where is Steller’s criticism of the NFL players for violating the NFL rule?  

Steller castigated Tatum for participating in an interview with Alex Jones of Infowars. Steller may not like Infowars, but Tatum has a right to free speech and to choose who he gives interviews to. It is merely Stellers’ opinion what is considered an acceptable news outlet. Brandon responded and said crossing the line for him would be doing an interview with someone like Steller or CNN. Frankly, it sounds like Steller is upset he cannot control Tatum or obtain an interview with him. It is squelching free speech to tell Tatum who he can and cannot give interviews to.

Harris has been subject to “blacklash” harassment by the left for years, including by The Arizona Daily Star. Someone at the paper called him a Nazi. In a Facebook post, editorial cartoonist David Fitzsimmons said he was going to get Harris’s advertisers to boycott his radio show. Stellars responded eagerly, “tell me more.” Fortunately, Harris’s fans bombarded the Star, forcing Fitzsimmons to back down. Harris has received death threats since he became vocal as a black conservative, receiving threats to his family, and had clients turned against him. He ended up losing a business as a result.

The only thing the left dislikes more than conservatives are black conservatives. Let’s hope cooler heads prevail and the ungrounded, vicious attack by Steller is thwarted. Just because you’re black and conservative doesn’t mean you lose your right to free speech. As a reporter, Steller should know better when it comes to free speech.