Tag Archives: Paul Johnson

Author Paul Johnson, former mayor of Phoenix, is chairman of The Nonpartisan Movement's 501c4 in Arizona.

Partisan system: Is it working? Is it fair?

The evidence says that we should be optimistic about the future.  Through innovation, entrepreneurs and dynamic businesses, we are on get verge of driverless cars, new energy sources, a cure for cancer, extending human life and untold millions of other wonderful discoveries.  Here in Arizona we have an amazing potential for job growth and an expanding economy. 

If businesses and entrepreneurs are our greatest hope, our political system is our greatest threat.

Burdensome regulations, a mounting $17 trillion debt, the possibility of not extending the debt ceiling, and destroying the good faith and credit of the United States. The failure to pass immigration reform.  An educational policy where one party continues to cut spending while the other wants more money but fights any meaningful reform to hold the system accountable.  And Arizona elected leaders pass laws that make us the ridicule of the nation and cause us real losses in economic development.

The partisan system provides incentives to elected officials to look out for small factions within their political parties, while ignoring the broader interests of the full public they represent.  With gerrymandering, stacked districts and low turnout primaries, special interests have disproportionate power over the majority.  But it doesn’t have to be this way!

The partisan system is exactly what the Founders of the United States of America wanted to avoid. They warned us about it.

Before he left office, President George Washington warned his countrymen about parties: “The common mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.”

Washington and his fellow Founders believed that wise leaders focused on the public interest are most likely to appear if they avoided the divisiveness of “faction” created by political parties.

To any wise person today, it is clear that we have moved far away from the ideal framed by our Founders.

Our Founding Fathers challenged the status quo, asking two key questions about the Monarchy: “Is it working?” and “Is it fair?”  These are two questions Americans across the country are asking about today’s Partisan System. 

Disdain for the partisan process is evident as large numbers of regular Americans are abandoning the two political parties and registering as nonpartisan, independent, or unaffiliated.  In Arizona, independents comprise the largest segment of the electorate: 35% of registered voters. And this number is more than 3 times as high as it was 30 years ago. Furthermore, national surveys indicate that 70% of the newest voters – 18 year olds – are registering as independents. In time, independents will be a majority of voters.

Washington’s warnings have become reality.  The partisan system is not working. 

Satisfaction with Congress is at an all-time low, while candidates from both parties drive towards the ideological fringes.  A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll last summer found that despite the steady pace of hiring, 76% of adults lack confidence that their children’s generation will have a better life than they do—an all-time high. The only issue that ranked higher than the economy as a major problem in a recent Gallup poll was the lack of leadership.  It also showed the partisan system was failing on immigration, education and healthcare.

The failure is the most evident when it comes to debt and deficits.  A $17 trillion debt eventually will result in the need to raise the yield to attract new investors.  This will reduce tax revenue and thus other governmental services.  American corporations, viewed as riskier, will face increased costs to borrow, which will increase costs for goods and result in inflation.  The net worth of homeowners will decrease as the cost of borrowing money to purchase a home increases.  The American people are right.  If nothing changes, our future generations will experience a lower standard of living.  Is that working?

To solve this problem, pragmatic Democrats should support entitlement reform to ensure the sustainability of programs they claim to hold dear.  Fiscally responsible Republicans should support reform to restore the good faith and credit of the United States.  Leaders in both political parties understand this, but it doesn’t change anything.  Is that working? 

In a partisan environment all that matters is who has a majority and who wants the majority.  Compromise is avoided to protect partisan causes.  So Democrats oppose entitlement reform and Republicans refuse to raise the debt ceiling, resulting in the possibility of defaulting on the national debt.   Meanwhile, we’re facing an impending crisis of default which would create a crisis as big as the hyper-inflationary period prior to World War II.  Is that working?

This isn’t just a national issue.  Arizona has also been ravaged by partisan politics.  Our partisan process elected Evan Mecham, we grew our state budget to unsustainable levels at the height of the housing bubble, passed SB1070, narrowly avoided the SB1062 embarrassment, and defunded education.  In the past few years, our legislature considered bills that looked like secession movements, questioned the right of the Supreme Court to interpret laws, and opposed higher educational standards.  Is that working?

Why does the partisan system fail to match up with the will of the general public?

It is because many of our elected officials are elected in primaries where less than 5% of the public vote in either primary.  Stacked districts eliminate any real competition in the General Election.  So these politicians never really face a majority of the public.  If they did, they could not sustain these extreme views.  Is that fair?

Out of 435 elected members of Congress, because of gerrymandering, only about 35 districts have real competition in the General Election. That means that in the overwhelming majority of districts, a small minority of people has control over the direction of the United States. Is that fair? 

Meanwhile, voters not registered in a party have fewer voting rights than those who are in a party.  Nonpartisan voters have to re-register every election to receive an early ballot in a primary.   Nonpartisan candidates must collect ten times as many signatures for the same office as their partisan counterparts.  Is that fair?

The most insulting of all is that the parties take taxpayer dollars from independents and nonpartisan voters to fund their primary elections at the same time some are pursuing efforts to prevent those independents from even voting.  Is that fair?

This partisan system is destined to fail.  Our founders called those men who advocated for such a system where the few controlled the many as “tyrants.” 

Arizona needs a system that will grant the right of every voter to vote in every election.  In 2016 the nonpartisan movement will propose just such a measure in Arizona designed to pull people together as opposed to split them apart.

The public understands you can’t be pro-labor if you’re not pro-business.  You can’t be pro-business unless you are pro-education and you can’t be pro-education unless you are pro-funding and pro-reform.  But alas, today our politicians are not accountable to the public, but instead care only for the small factions that vote in their primaries.

As popular business author Jim Collins writes, you must “face the brutal facts” to succeed. The facts are clear. 

It’s time to reawaken American pragmatism, heed George Washington’s advice, and move away from the partisan system that threatens the future of our republic.

 

Paul Johnson, former mayor of Phoenix, is chairman of The Nonpartisan Movement’s 501c4 in Arizona: the Open Nonpartisan Elections Committee. For more information, visit www.openprimariesaz.org.

technology

ASU adds Cutting-Edge online Engineering Degree

The Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University (ASU) announced plans to offer its renowned Bachelor of Science in Engineering (B.S.E.) in Electrical Engineering in an online format beginning in the fall 2013 semester.

“Today’s rapidly changing world requires innovative approaches to education,” said Paul Johnson, dean and professor of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. “We offer an impressive online platform that delivers science and engineering fundamentals, technical training, practical experience and student support. Our goal is to ensure that anyone who is motivated to pursue an electrical engineering degree, but needs a flexible format, has the opportunity to achieve their educational and career goals.”

The 120-credit hour degree program includes core-engineering courses and a minimum of 45 upper division credit hours in specialty courses. Upper division specialty courses examine topics such as analog and digital circuits, electromagnetic fields, microprocessors, communications networks, solid-state electronics and electric power and energy systems.

“Students in our program, whether on campus or online, learn and work with faculty who are leaders in their fields – from nanoscale electronic devices to the U.S. electric power grid,” said Stephen Phillips, director of the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering.

The new online program’s labs and simulations will also leverage some of the latest and most innovative learning technologies and platforms. This includes a combination of practical hardware and industry-standard design with simulation tools that will provide students with the applied skills needed in today’s global engineering environment.

“Our program integrates science and engineering fundamentals with real-world experience and state-of-the-art learning tools from the first day,” said Phillips.

ASU first offered an online graduate degree program in engineering in 2002. It has continued to expand availability of both graduate and undergraduate online engineering programs to provide flexible “any time/any place” learning for students in Arizona and around the world.

Civil Discourse

Civil Discourse: What, How And Why Now?

It seems to be the topic of many conversations these days. But what is civil discourse, and how can we achieve it? More importantly, why has the call become increasingly louder for a concerted effort to find a different way of electing our leaders, solving our problems and interfacing with each other?

What is Civil Discourse

Civil discourse is our ability to have conversation on topics about which we disagree and to listen to each other’s perspectives. Civil discourse requires respect of the other participants and an appreciation for others’ experiences.

To advance society and improve the quality of life in Arizona, we must be prepared to discuss important, yet potentially contentious issues, such as growth, transportation, healthcare and education. Our democracy is dependent upon responsible residents that can, and will, wrestle with these tough issues, without partisanship, while maintaining respect for the need to hear, understand and take into account different viewpoints.

Join the Discussion

An interactive panel of local experts will be discussing civil discourse, what it is and why it’s important at Valley Forward’s luncheon on Wednesday, Jan. 25 at the Tempe Mission Palms Hotel.

Panelists include Paul Johnson, former Mayor of the city of Phoenix and manager of Southwest Next Capital Management; Chuck Coughlin, president of HighGround Public Affairs; and Steve Rizley, senior vice president and general manager of Cox Communications. Tarah Jackson, president of Arizona Town Hall will serve as moderator.

These speakers will be engaging attendees in a conversation on civil discourse, the shifting of politics in Arizona, consensus building and regional thinking. It’s especially important in this presidential election year, which also marks Arizona’s centennial celebration and the 50th anniversary of Arizona Town Hall. Come hear for yourself why listening to others’ opinions is so integral in our society.

For more information about Valley Forward, visit valleyforward.org.

IMG_8656

Claude Mattox Continues to Build Financial Support in Mayoral Race

Campaign more than half way to goal of $1 million

Bolstered by a successful early morning fundraiser held Wednesday, the Mattox for Mayor campaign has surpassed the $500,000 mark – halfway to its goal of $1 million.

“At this still‐early stage, our campaign is not only resonating with voters, but it is also resulting in strong and generous financial support,” Mattox said. “To be half way toward our goal of $1 million at this point has invigorated our volunteers and supporters, while further motivating me in my commitment to make a difference.”

Led by Campaign Co‐Chairs, former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson and former Congressman Matt Salmon, over 200 civic and business leaders attended the gathering held in the Ballroom at the Phoenix Airport Marriott.

Mattox marks the half‐million dollar milestone just three months since announcing his bid for mayor. Perhaps more significantly, the Mattox campaign has more than $400,000 on hand in its coffers, providing it with a solid financial edge unsurpassed by other candidates in the field.

Mattox is currently serving his third term on the Phoenix City Council.

“Working together, we have layed the strong foundation of a diverse economy with high paying jobs, exceptional quality of life, and an efficiently run and well managed city offering services of the highest quality. I am confident, with the support and help of the people of our city; I will lead Phoenix forward by building on our success through my ongoing commitment to strong neighborhoods, quality schools, and career jobs.

For more information, visit www.mattoxformayor.com. Follow Mattox on Facebook facebook.com/mattox2k and Twitter @mattoxformayor.

Paid for by Mattox for Mayor.

Claude Mattox Gains Figher Fighter Support

Mattox ‘Staunch Supporter Of Public Safety’ And ‘Champion of Keeping Citizens Safe’

The Fire Fighters have endorsed Phoenix City Councilman Claude Mattox as the next mayor of Phoenix because of his support of public safety issues and tireless commitment to keeping citizens—and neighborhoods—safe.

On Wednesday, fire fighters held a press conference at the Phoenix City Employee Memorial in downtown Phoenix to publicly endorse Mattox. The mayoral election is on Aug. 30.

Mattox currently is chair of the Phoenix City Council Subcommittee on Public Safety and Veteran’s Affairs. He also was instrumental in securing the Safer Grant, a federal grant awarded in 2008 which allowed the city to hire more than two dozen firefighters in January with an additional 40 firefighters to begin in October.

MaFire Fighters endorse Phoenix City Councilman Claude Mattox as the next mayor of Phoenixttox also regularly spends time walking door-to-door with local fire fighters educating his constituents on the importance of working smoke detectors as well as water safety and drowning prevention. When Mattox was first elected to the City Council in 2000, his district contained the highest number of child drownings in the country. That number has been reduced dramatically and continues to improve.

“Claude is so committed to this effort that he regularly fundraises on our behalf to quell the number of drownings in our community,” said Rich Woerth, PFFA representative. “He raises money for pool fences and water safety programs and gives to the fire fighter charities and Phoenix Children’s Hospital. That just tells you what kind of a guy Claude is, and what kind of a mayor he will be.”

The fire fighters’ endorsement is the latest addition to a lengthy list of business icons, community leaders and elected officials to give their nod to Mattox, including Jerry Colangelo and former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson.

Mattox’s campaign is focused on safe neighborhoods, quality schools, and career jobs. This is what Mattox has focused his efforts on ever since joining the Council in 2000 as he has represented the most economically-diverse district in the city.

WHAT: Fire fighters endorse Claude Mattox as next mayor of Phoenix
WHO: Rich Woerth, Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona representative Claude Mattox
WHEN: 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, March 9
WHERE: City Employee Memorial (just east of Phoenix City Hall)

Claude Mattox is competing with City Councilwoman Peggy Neely, former City Councilman Greg Stanton and political consultant Wes Gullett in the mayor’s race.

For more information

  • visit www.mattoxformayor.com
  • Follow Mattox on Facebook facebook.com/mattox2k
  • or on Twitter (@mattoxformayor).

Read more: Firefighters back Mattox for Phoenix mayor | Phoenix Business Journal