A couple of months back, the morning paper ran an article on the 18 men and women who represent Southern Arizona in the state Legislature. I didn't have a chance to read it at that moment, so I set it aside. How it got under that stack of sweats in my closet, I have no idea, but I found it the other day, read it and was amazed.
Do you realize that not only did ostensibly conscientious citizens vote for these people, but now taxpayers are giving them American money to sit up in Phoenix and pop yang?
Despite my being a lifelong Democrat, I have come to see a minimalist approach to government as a not-altogether-bad thing. Too much government leads to too much waste, too much duplication of effort and too much dependence on the gub'mint to handle what should be your own bidness.
I think that the state Legislature should adequately fund education, fix the roads that we already have, pay for prisons, take steps to make us safer on the aforementioned roads (more on that later) and do the obvious things that will have a long-lasting, positive impact on life in Arizona (like forbidding the building of 80,000 new houses that are planned in arid, far-northwest Arizona just so that Las Vegas can have a suburb).
Anyway, the article listed all of the legislators, their party affiliation, how long they've been in office and such things as the number of bills they've introduced, how many received hearings and how many have passed. It's one of those funny/sad things, like when white people try to dance in public.
On the front page, they had State Sen. Paula Aboud, who has introduced 25 bills, of which only 25 fell short of receiving a hearing in committee (albeit as a Democrat in a GOP-dominated Senate). There was also Rep. Linda Lopez, who once introduced a bill calling for full disclosure by people who aren't Hispanic and aren't married to a Hispanic person, but use a Hispanic surname when running for office in a mostly Hispanic district. Actually, she didn't introduce such a bill, because that would be, you know, not good for her.
Also listed were Rep. Manuel Alvarez and Sen. Victor Soltero. The latter introduced a bill that would allow simulcasting of dog races at Tucson Greyhound Park to tracks in other parts of the country and the world. Greyhound Park took a serious beating when the Indian casinos came in, and it seems reasonable to throw them a bone, so to speak.
Inside the article were listed the accomplishments, or lack thereof, of all the other legislators. Rep. Tom Prezelski, for example, introduced a bill that "would increase the maximum number of rooms hotels can have to still be considered bed-and-breakfasts."
At least someone's looking out for what's important. It reminds me of that scene in Blazing Saddles where Hedley Lamarr (Harvey Korman) is placing a bill to be signed in front of Gov. LePetomaine (Mel Brooks). When the governor asks what he's signing, Lamarr replies that the bill "would convert the state hospital for the insane into the William J. LePetomaine Memorial Gambling Casino for the Insane."
The governor then shouts, "This bill will be a giant step forward in the treatment of the insane gambler!"
Bed and breakfasts?! Who does that affect? Like, 10 people, maybe.
Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia wrote a bill scolding the Chicago White Sox for leaving Tucson Electric Park's spring-training facilities for nicer digs in Glendale. The White Sox were apparently so afraid of bumping into Garcia that they went back to Chicago.
Newly elected Sen. Charlene Pesquiera (who is from my district) wants everyone younger than the age of 21 who is caught drinking to undergo alcohol and drug treatment. No word as to whether she wants the state to pay for the treatment.
She was thinking of suggesting a bill that would require people running for public office to have at least registered and voted before, but she didn't know if the irony would have been lost on a voting populace that, collectively, is as dumb as a stick.
New Rep. Steve Farley proposed a crackdown on people who text-message while driving. It didn't even get out of committee.
I've been beating this drum for more than a decade. First, the cell-phone-industry-loving whores in the Legislature claimed that there was no solid scientific evidence to back up that claim. Then, when that evidence came out, the "studies were flawed."
Then, when more studies came out, they responded by talking about people who would change the radio in the car. I won't even answer that, because my mom told me that's it's not nice to pick on the handicapped. Now, while other states have effectively addressed the incredibly dangerous practice, Arizona won't even consider banning text-messaging while driving.
What if we lived in a world where every poor, innocent soul who is maimed or killed by a phone-talking driver had a doppelgânger who happened to be related to a state legislator? How long do you think it would take for them to act then?
Probably even less time that it takes to properly define a bed and breakfast.