March isn't even over and we have a winner for Hypocrite of the Year!
First a little background. The political world is all abuzz over the hit piece that Channel 5 did on the legislators who attended the ALEC dinner. Channel 5 spent a full week with wall-to wall breathless promos about legislators selling their votes for free steak etc.
The piece is an example of the lowest form of journalism--legislators of both parties attend dinners and conferences all the time. None of them are selling their votes and ALEC is one of hundreds of organizations that try to influence public policy.
The funniest part of the hit piece was that reporter Morgan Loew was either too ignorant, or was simply being ironic when he asked Andrew Morrill to comment of how influential ALEC is. Morrill is the head of the Arizona Education Association which is, of course, one of the State's most powerful unions. The AEA has much more power in Arizona than ALEC.
But the AEA isn't a special interest group because it's working, you know, "for the children." Groups like ALEC advocate on behalf of businesses and encourage lower taxes and less regulation...so they are evil.
ALEC is more like a Chamber of Commerce. You know, like say, the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber is one of the most influential political organizations in Arirzona; for example, the Phoenix Chamber just hosted Mayor Stanton's State of the City Address. The Phoenix Chamber is a special interest group that employs a host of highly paid and talented lobbyists who meet privately with legislators in order to advance the agenda of its members. Kind of like ALEC, but more effective and certainly more active in Arizona.
Which brings me back to the hypocrite of the year.....The incoming Chairman of the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce is Ed Munson who also happens to be the General Manager of--wait for it---Channel 5.
Dude, that's awesome. Because I'm sure that under Munson's leadership the Phoenix Chamber is going to adopt the same standards that they are trying to hold ALEC to:
The first change of course, will be that the Phoenix Chamber will no longer employ lobbyists. Paying people to influence Legislators in order to advance a special interest agenda is, well, evil. It must be evil, I saw a report on Channel 5 about how evil it is.
Second, under Ed Munson's leadership, the Phoenix Chamber will obviously have to discontinue its practice of offering free meals to legislators. The Channel 5 piece said that legislators were selling their votes for $70 meals. Lunch at the Phoenix Chamber's State of the City Address cost $90. I'm sure the legislators who attended the lunch, did so for free. That's outrageous and I'm sure that Munson will put a stop to it.
Finally, I'm wondering about the event itself. Doesn't it seem kind of cozy that Mayor Stanton is raising money for the Phoenix Chamber? How many of those sponsors were corporations? What are their interests? I'm sure that under Ed Munson's leadership the Phoenix Chamber will discontinue its (highly profitable) role in facilitating this relationship between Phoenix Business Leaders, Phoenix Political Leadears and the money that lubricates them.
Once the standards that Ed Munson demands of ALEC and its supporters are applied to the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce and its supporters we will see how effective the chamber can be in its new role as a Rotary Club.
Or maybe Ed Munson is actually going to continue the practices that he just spent so much air time vilifying. Maybe he is going to try to influence Legislators behind closed doors. Maybe he is going to invite them to expensive lunches. Maybe he's going push special interest legislation for his members. Or maybe he will just hire the state's best lobbyists to do those things for him.
Maybe it was all BS. Maybe the outrage was all fake. Maybe the folks at Channel 5 just made all that stuff up because it's sweeps week. Golly, that can't be right. I can't be that cynical.
I'm sure we will be able to watch Ed Munson's actions as Chair of the Phoenix Chamber and find out if it was all about the ratings or not. As they say....