In her column, “Citizens misled in Pearce recall,” Linda Turley-Hansen, a self-declared “outsider,” has accused Mesa residents of being “staggeringly ignorant” and said she has a few questions for those who support the recall.
I’m going to take her up on her inquiry and answer a few of them.
She says the “recall is a game of dangerous proportions,” by which she means that the framers of the Arizona Constitution didn’t quite know what they were thinking when they put that provision in our state’s founding document. Unfortunately, Linda, it’s in there and no one thinks it’s a game. The bottom line is the requirements for the recall were met, the signatures of LD18 residents were certified and Gov. Jan Brewer called the election. That’s the “rule of law.”
She asks if we want to get rid of “a strong legislative leader who took Arizona out of the red and into the black in a time the nation is floundering economically?” This again points out she’s no Constitutional scholar because Arizona’s Constitution requires a balanced budget, every year. What Pearce did was use smoke and mirrors, accounting tricks and a bad lease deal and raided dedicated funds from our schools, state parks and health care to make it LOOK like he balanced the budget. That’s not leadership, that’s ineptitude and chutzpah.
Even on Pearce’s own pet issue of immigration, Turley-Hansen still can’t check the facts. According to the National Council of State Legislators, SB1070 bills were introduced in 25 states, not 30. And out of that 25, it only passed in four. That’s an 84 percent failure rate. So why did SB1070 fail in 21 out of 25 states? Because those states looked at the real impact of SB1070 on business, jobs, tourism and the economy and said “no way.” Of the four states that passed similar bills, all of their economies tanked immediately after passage, as every news story coming out of Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Indiana tell you.
When it comes to crime statistics, Turley-Hansen doesn’t know what she’s talking about and PLEA knows better. Crime rates have been declining for years and there is no data anywhere to support her claim. Even if you look at Arizona prison data for criminal aliens (which includes green card holders as well as undocumented), their numbers have declined 1.2 percent since SB1070 despite a 25 percent drop in their total numbers. This says what every serious law enforcement official knows and that is they don’t commit the amounts of crimes the rhetoric of Pearce prays we believe.
As for education, Pearce voted for $450 million in education cuts, which led to schools laying off teachers and drops in student achievement. Under Pearce’s “leadership,” tuition at ASU increased 38.8 percent and U of A 33.4 percent in just the last two years. If that’s Pearce’s definition of success and “as close to free as possible,” someone needs a new dictionary.
Russell Pearce isn’t being recalled by Democrats. He’s being recalled by the over 10,000 Mesa voters who look at his abuse of the Fiesta Bowl, his family and campaign team running a sham candidate, his record of budget mismanagement, destruction of our educational system, his vote to raise taxes on every Mesa property owner, stopping 42,000-plus kids from getting medical care, and watching as Mesa businesses close left and right.
Russell Pearce can run from his disastrous record, but he can’t hide from the fact that tens of thousands of Mesans saw fit to exercise their Constitutional right to remove him, whether he likes it or not.
Though I have philosophical differences with Jerry Lewis, I believe Mesa will be much better served by someone who listens to businesses and schools, and who has credibility as an educator — and who doesn’t use hateful rhetoric to pander for votes.
• Andrew Sherwood is Democratic Party district chairman for Arizona’s Legislative District 18.