We all know the big stories of the year---Gabby, Pierce, The IRC, Arpaio--but there are quite a few important stories that I thought needed a little more attention. I've decided to feature them as a "Best Of" reveiw of 2011. It's a long post, so here's the first half.
Most Ironic Moment:
The Arizona Republic announces a contest in which students write essays about civility...and on the same day, that same Republic runs a cartoon of Governor Brewer as Muammar Gaddafi. Then on the day that the winners are announced, the Republic runs an editorial in which they proclaim that the Republican Party is a "Fundamentalist Basket Case."
Finally, the winners are interviewd by Linda Valdez who has publicly voiced her support for laws that restrict "religious exhibitionism" such as wearing large crosses or "Jewish Skull Caps" in public. Awesome.
Coolest Guy in the State
Paul Bonavia is perhaps best known as the CEO of Tucson Electric Power. Most people don't realize that he was also the original drummer for Cheap Trick.
Most Unreported Story: Obama's Mass Deportations
Deportations under the Obama’s watch have increased in record numbers, according to the survey. Nearly 400,000 immigrants are deported annually since Obama assumed the Oval Office, a roughly 30 percent higher annual average than his predecessor George W. Bush.
The story is unreported because it doesn't fit the media narrative that the Repblicans are in danger of becoming a permanent minority because they are alienating the Hisapnic Community. If you watch any episode of Al Punto with Jorge Ramos, you will realize how disapointed the Hispanic Community is with the Obama Administration. In addition to deporting over a million people, he violated his promise to pass comprehensive immigration reform and instead forced through his health care plan.
Most Faithful Service
Spitzer was first elected to the State Senate in 1992 and served two terms at the Arizona Corporation Commission until President Bush appointed him to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. He's not a household name, but if you are looking for an Arizonan who has worked tirelessly behind the scenes for two decades and has tackled some of the most dificult issues of our time in a bipartisan manner, Spitzer is the guy.
The Republic's Michael Chow is my favorite photographer, but he didn't take my favorite picture this year. I've noticed that when people talk to me about an Espresso Pundit post that they have enjoyed, they say "so I logged on to Espresso Pundit...." and they often make typing motions in the air. I was at a breakfast meeting earlier this year and Governor Brewer told me about a post that she had enjoyed. I thought this picture was fun.
"US Attorney Dennis Burke will be unemployed by year end" Here's the original post.
Second Best Prediction: Medical Marijuana is a Bust. Here
Medical marijuana is supposed to be some sort of multi-million dollar new industry. Investors are putting millions of dollars into dispensories and the supply chains that lead to them. I don't know what these guys are smoking (well, actually, I do) but I don't think they understand the risk that they are taking.
Worst Prediction: "Trent Franks will replace Jon Kyl."
I made that prediction on a Friday taping of Sunday Square Off and within hours Franks announced he wasn't going to run. The papers spent the next two days speculating on why he wasn't going to run and who would ultimately win the race...and then at 8:20 on Sunday morning, there I was telling the world that he would win.
Best Organizational Leadership: Fred Duval's Chairmanship of the Board of Regents.
I've certainly been critical of the Board of Regents in the past, but I have to say that I think the Board is moving in the right direction and much of that has been atributable to Fred Duval's work as Chairman. Like any turn-around, the first step is to admit that there is a problem.
State support has declined to record lows. Tuition has reached record highs. And although enrollment is breaking records, thousands of qualified students are not finding their way to, or through, our doors to graduation.
Duval went on to lay out a path that will allow the Universities to be more effective and I certainly think it's the right path.
Best Talent Sequence: Hurwitz to Duval to Heiler
Fred Duval took over his Regents seat from Andy Hurwitz and Duval will be replaced by Jay Heiler-- that's a lot of talent in a row.
Most Effective Journalism: Doug MacEachern on the TUSD Ethnic Studies Program.
The courses ooze the sort of political indoctrination that would infuriate its supporters if some rival political faction attempted to foist an equally radical program - say, a curriculum espousing Tom Tancredo's immigration views - in some public-school district.
Biggest Flip Flop: Social Security no longer a Lockbox.
I thought that Social Security was supposed to be like a pension program, you paid in and then you got benefits...that was always fiction, but it has been part of the Democratic Party's Catechism for 70 years. Suddenly, we should be cutting the payments, but keeping the benefits the same...I guess it was just another entitlement after all.
Clearest Ethical Violation:
EJ Montini reworks a Dennis Burke quote in order make Brewer and Horne look bad
My Favorite Post of the Year. Why they don't let me conduct Orientation.
To Be Continued....