By Elisha Dorfsmith
Last September, Bruce Olsen (former Libertarian candidate for governor) came to Flagstaff to speak at an event at the Orpheum theater. Before he spoke, he gave me the inside scoop on his efforts to help start the Arizona Conservative Party. I made it clear that I was perfectly comfortable being a member of the Libertarian party but I strongly support more options on the ballot and would be happy to help spread the word about the Conservative Party when the time came. The time has come.
Today I received word that the Arizona Conservative Party adopted their Preamble and Platform and filed their documents with the Arizona Secretary Of State. The next hurdle is to collect 26,000 signatures from registered voters (Independents and members of any political party can sign). They are also looking to interview possible candidates for county, state and federal office.
Anything that helps break the two party monopoly has my approval. I think we disagree on some social issues but for the most part, the Conservative Party has more in common with Libertarians and the Tea Party than Republicans do. Republicans gave us Gosar and McCain and many other politicians who seem to spend all of their time trampling the Constitution and dismissing the concerns of their constituents.
I would love to see the Conservative Party eventually have more members than the Republican party in Arizona. Most conservatives that I talk to feel that Republicans no longer represent them. Having personally met and talked to three Conservative Party founders, (Bruce Olsen, Hugh Kealer, Steve Slaton) I know that while we do disagree on some things, they are sincere individuals who care deeply about the Constitution, states’ rights, and the people of Arizona. Unlike many Republicans, they actually believe in following our founding documents.
If you would like to help collect signatures, donate money or would like more information, you can email the Arizona Conservative Party at: AZConservParty@AOL.com
Speaking of politics and elections, I have learned that several potential Flagstaff candidates are already gearing up for what promises to be an interesting and exciting election cycle. We can expect quite a few openings and big changes at the county, city, and school board. If you ever considered running for office, now may be the time to take action. Let’s get some liberty candidates elected!
By Elisha Dorfsmith
A crowd of about 50 people, including representatives from a variety of activist groups attended tonight’s Flagstaff Unified School District work session on school bullying. The topic of school bullying has been in the spotlight in recent months with several high profile cases in the news. Everyone from President Obama to locals posting comments on the AZ Daily Sun website have been pushing for school policies to address the problem.
Much of tonight’s meeting was spent trying to identify exactly what the problem is. Should parents be afraid to send their kids to school? Are we doing enough to keep our kids safe? Are district schools full of bullies lurking around every corner? Some in the crowd seemed to have that impression (more on that later).
To combat this notion, the district gave a presentation titled Ensuring A Culture Of Acceptance. They explained that they already have an extensive anti bullying policy that addresses many bullying, intimidation, and harassment issues and ensures that district schools provide a safe environment for students.
Assistant Superintendent Dirksen said that if there is something missing, it is the fact that the district does not have a definition of bullying. He suggested that the district work on a definition, revise certain forms that relate to bullying and refine their general policy. He concluded by saying that the district should embrace an inclusive culture where everybody counts and is accepted. While he was the first to mention it, the phrase “inclusive culture” was echoed many times throughout the evening.
So what exactly is the definition of bullying? Board member Biggerstaff read the New Jersey definition which is very broad and has many free speech advocates nervous:
Full NJ policy HERE.
Statutory and Regulatory Requirements: The policy shall contain a definition of harassment, intimidation or bullying no less inclusive than:
“Harassment, intimidation or bullying” means any gesture or written, verbal or physical act, or any electronic communication* that is reasonably perceived as being motivated either by any actual or perceived characteristic, such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or a mental, physical or sensory handicap, or by any other distinguishing characteristic, that takes place on school property, at any school-sponsored function or on a school bus and that:
a) a reasonable person should know, under the circumstances, will have the effect of harming a student or damaging the student’s property, or placing a student in reasonable fear of harm to his person or damage to his property; or
b) has the effect of insulting or demeaning any student or group of students in such a way as to cause substantial disruption in, or substantial interference with, the orderly operation of the school. N.J.S.A. 18A:37-14, N.J.S.A. 18A:37-15(3)(b)(2), N.J.S.A. 18A:37-15.1(2)(b) and N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7.9(a)2ii.
A quick google search brings up many articles showing that districts across the country are struggling with this issue. There is even a potential national definition that has districts terrified of lawsuits. Any way you look at it, many of these definitions scream lawsuit and districts are going to be working overtime disciplining teachers who accidentally break the rules. It could get very interesting.
Board member Vasquez specifically mentioned tonight (as he has several times in the past) that teachers and staff are often bullies and bullying by adults cannot be tolerated.
Like it or not, teachers are going to be put under the microscope and they better start tiptoeing around their students.
Cyberbullying was also brought up several times by the board and no one really knew where to go with it. Board member Ells asked if the district may need a separate policy to address the problem. There was also talk about legal limitations on the district and their ability to search students phones. This is a recurring topic which I discuss in detail HERE. I am sure we will be hearing much more about it in the future.
Next came input from the public. Local activist Lisa Rayner spoke on behalf of PFLAG. She said she was made fun of in school for stuttering and being quiet and was also sexually harassed. She explained that this happened between the ages of 5 and 18 and that she has post traumatic stress disorder because of it. She said the district needs to create gay straight alliances in middle schools to help address the problems. She also said that the district should work to protect gender identity and expression, end name calling and show the film Bullied by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Hearing Lisa talk about the Southern Poverty Law center reminded me of a blog I posted a while back called Name Calling. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls tea parties “Hate Groups” and they consider Ron Paul to be one of the most dangerous men in America. They are known for calling anyone who disagrees with them names. Will FUSD protect the rights of tea party kids? Will they protect libertarians? Will they protect Ron Paul supporters? My guess is that the policy Ms. Rayner was endorsing is one sided.
Continuing the public input, Eric Souders of Friends Of Flagstaff’s Future talked about his childhood and how he had to deal with sexually explicit drawings and notes and other student’s coughing fits when he stood up in front of the class. He said that as time went on, anger shifted from his peers to his teachers and he is still angry now.
In all, there were seven members of the public who spoke. They told the board to stop violence in any manor and that no hint of violence should be tolerated (think zero tolerance policies). They said a comprehensive plan that is proactive against cyberbullying must be adopted. They explained that words hurt and certain attitudes should not be condoned. They concluded that policy drives change and it is up to the school board to create this change.
Board member Bavasi told the board that this is serious stuff and it should not be put on the back burner. He told the board that they need to get something together and if it’s not perfect, they can fix it as they go.
The board agreed to get their policy in order and come up with a bullying definition. Mr. Dirksen admitted that it will take time to address the school culture aspect. They plan to have a first reading of a suggested policy on the 26th of April.
Do you believe that a new policy is needed or is this just another distraction for FUSD? Please post in the comments section of my blog or send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to read your thoughts.
By Elisha Dorfsmith
Yesterday, while making my daily thrift store rounds, I ran into Congressman Paul Gosar at the east side Flagstaff Goodwill. He was on a quick tour of the weigh and pay section of the store and paused long enough to tell me that he was disappointed in my blog. I told him that I was disappointed in his votes. He said that if I looked closely, I would understand why he votes the way he does. I told him that I do look closely and I still don’t understand. He was friendly and all smiles and the group he was with seemed amused at our conversation. I didn’t have time to press him on the issues but I learned that throughout the day, others did.
At an afternoon luncheon, a friend of mine asked the Congressman if he would pressure congress to force the president to get their approval for bombing Libya as the Constitution requires. He also asked Gosar how he would vote when the Patriot Act comes up for renewal next month. My friend said he did not get a straight answer to either question. As is often the case, Gosar said a lot of words but like your average politician, never got to yes or no.
In the evening, Congressman Gosar went on the Mitch & Joe show where they also pressed him on the issue. This time, Gosar actually came out and said that he did not know how he would vote. He’s waiting for more information and some reports from law enforcement. My guess is that he will vote whichever way the Republican leadership tells him to vote (which means he will vote YES). So far he has voted 96% of the time with the GOP establishment.
You can listen to the whole Mitch & Joe interview HERE.
A couple months ago, when Congressman Gosar voted twice to extend provisions of the Patriot Act, Gosar apologists at the Flagstaff Tea Party told me that he had to vote yes because he did not have enough time to look into what the provisions did. I thought that was pretty funny. Were they saying that Gosar had to vote to extend the Patriot Act so he could know what was in it? They promised me that Gosar would NOT vote for it when it came up again. I made some people mad that night when I told them that they were being gullible. Anybody who has read the Constitution can clearly see that the Patriot Act violates the Fourth Amendment and if Gosar doesn’t understand what the Constitution says by now, he never will.
As many of you know, in the past I have complained on my blog about Congressman Gosar not responding to my emails. A couple days ago, the Flagstaff Tea Party had an online poll and I got into a discussion in the comments section with Clark Dierks, Chairman of the Coconino County Republican Party. I mentioned that Gosar had not even sent me a form letter in response to my opposition to the Patriot Act. To my surprise, a half hour later I received the letter posted below. All I can think is that somebody pulled some strings and told his congressional office to contact me. As of yesterday afternoon, several Flagstaff Tea Party members told me that they still have not received answers to their emails. Hopefully somebody from Gosar’s office is reading this and will get that taken care of. A lot of these people worked hard to get Gosar elected and they feel betrayed.
March 21, 2011
Dear Mr. Dorfsmith,
Thank you for contacting me regarding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Sunsets Extension Act of 2011. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.
On February 17th, 2011, The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 514, the FISA Sunsets Extension Act of 2011. H.R. 514 does not reauthorize the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act in its entirety; it only extends three key legal provisions, sections 215 and 206 of the Patriot Act and section 6001 of the Intelligence Reform Act, critical to the work of U.S. intelligence community. These three provisions, which were previously set to expire on February 28th, were only extended for ninety days, through May 27th, 2011. I voted to extend the expiration dates in order to give Congress and the American people time to evaluate these provisions to determine their usefulness and balance that with any concerns implicating civil liberties – without undermining current counterterrorism activities.
Section 206 of the PATRIOT Act authorizes the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to issue a single wiretap order to cover any communications device that a suspect may use. Terrorists and foreign spies use multiple communications devices, i.e., multiple cell phones over a short time span, to evade detection. This provision is critical to the intelligence and law enforcement community’s ability to keep track of suspects under surveillance in the twenty-first century.
Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act allows the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to apply for access to review business records of individuals in the context of intelligence or terrorism investigations. This provision does not allow the federal government to monitor activities of ordinary, law abiding citizens and the law contains several conditions including congressional oversight, procedural protections, application requirements, and a judicial review process to protect against abuse. Further, this provision is largely duplicative of existing procedures to obtain search warrants for records.
Section 6001 amends the definition of an “agent of a foreign power” to include a foreign national that may not be directly affiliated with a foreign power or internal terrorist organizations. Without this provision, investigators would not be able to monitor “lone wolf terrorists,” (people who act out of ideology and are not necessarily paid by or controlled by a foreign government) which have become more prevalent over the past decade.
From the initial passage of the Patriot Act there was concern over its constitutionality and debate whether it went too far in granting law enforcement investigatory powers. For the most part, the specific constitutional challenges that have occurred have been either found lacking or withdrawn or rendered moot after changes were made to the Act. The current version of this Act has not been found unconstitutional.
The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Committee on the Judiciary, the two house committees with jurisdiction over the PATRIOT Act, have committed to conducting a comprehensive review of the PATRIOT Act in the coming months. I look forward a full, aggressive and thoughtful review over the constitutional legal authorities necessary for the U.S. intelligence community to keep pace with the evolving terrorist threat facing our country.
Again, I appreciate your thoughts and concerns. It is an honor to serve as your United States Congressman. Your suggestions are always welcome, and if ever I may be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Member of Congress
Will Congressman Gosar vote to extend the Patriot Act and trample our constitutionally guaranteed rights when the vote comes up again next month? My guess is yes but we still have time to put the pressure on and maybe by some miracle we can change his mind. You can contact Congressman Gosar here:
The truth about the Patriot Act:
By Elisha Dorfsmith
Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the biweekly Flagstaff Tea Party meeting and Constitution Class. It was inspiring to see so many enthusiastic people show up to learn more about our founding documents. Instructor Robert J. Thorpe is teaching out of a well researched book titled The Original Constitution by Robert G. Natelson. I highly recommend it!
Throughout the evening, the name of Congressman Paul Gosar kept coming up. When Gosar was campaigning he would speak at tea party meetings and wave a pocket Constitution around saying that he would defend and uphold it and follow it to the letter.
Now that he has a voting record, tea party members are starting to realize that Gosar was all talk. Rather than defending and upholding the Constitution and being accountable to his constituents, he has been proudly voting the Republican party line.
Contrary to popular opinion, tea party members do not want elected officials who vote with their party 100% of the time. They want free thinking representatives who will stand up and fight for their freedom, their core values, and the Constitution. Gosar=FAIL.
Gosar voted to extend the Patriot Act, voted for the most recent funding CR, and it sounds like he plans on voting to extend the debt ceiling. These are all things that the majority of the tea party members I know oppose. In fact, tea party members flooded Gosar with emails and phone calls begging him to vote no on these bills and many (including myself) never received a reply of any kind…not even a form letter. I remember talking to people who were furious at Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick for always sending a simple form letter or email but at least she responded with something. Clearly, Congressman Gosar could care less what his constituents think. Even those who worked so hard to help get him elected.
After last night’s meeting, I talked to a several people who are seriously considering a campaign to recall Gosar. Gosar took an oath to uphold the constitution and then voted to take our 4th Amendment rights away. He promised fiscal sanity and now he’s voting for continuing resolutions that keep current spending levels high. He lied to the tea party and he betrayed them.
When I got home, I found this article waiting for me:
This is a terrible time to be a politician who does not represent constituents and core supporters. This is a bad time to trample the Constitution and lie to get elected. People are waking up. People are paying attention! Most of all, people are remembering every time their elected officials screw them over.
As soon as someone gets the ball rolling and the effort to recall Congressman Gosar is started, I will be happy to volunteer my time gathering signatures and spreading the word.
More information on Arizona recall laws can be found here:
I am not sure if those state laws apply to representatives who are elected to Congress. They may just apply to state office. I will be doing more research soon.
UPDATE: As I’m researching a possible recall of Gosar, I’m running into lots of articles that say you cannot recall a Congressperson. If that’s the case, we need to find a replacement and get ready for 2012 ASAP. If anyone has any information showing that a recall is possible, please let me know.
In the meantime, keep the pressure on Gosar and tell him to start defending the Constitution! You can contact him here:
By Elisha Dorfsmith
Have you heard the news? Flagstaff students are fighting weight issues! We have an epidemic of overweight children and once again our school district heroes have come to the rescue! Who needs parents or doctors when you have FUSD!
For those who have not been paying attention, the Flagstaff Unified School District has decided that medical examinations in the classroom should be part of your child’s education. I first complained about this last November when FUSD was making national headlines for sending “obesity letters” home to parents. Since then, they have taken even more steps to become parent and pediatrician to your child.
So what started the ball rolling? What made the district decide to start focusing so much energy on your child’s health? Here’s a hint: North Country Healthcare. There is money to be made in the health business and the district has something North Country Healthcare desperately wants to get their greedy hands on…patients.
In an article from last December, written by North Country Healthcare staff, we find them discussing the terrible problem of obesity in the district: North Country Healthcare: A national health crisis.
December was also the month North Country Healthcare was pushing for a mobile health van for district schools: FUSD Considers School Based Mobile Health Unit.
It’s easy to connect the dots. This has nothing to do with helping children and everything to do with making money and qualifying for federal grants.
I have learned that Flagstaff frowns on people who say anything negative about North Country Healthcare. Flagstaff liberals hate big business unless, of course, that big business is loaded with federal money and is working hard to transfer parental responsibility to the government. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, it was the big drug and insurance companies who joined the fight to pass national health care. They know what’s best for you and your kids so shut up and get with the program. Based on quotes in some of the articles I linked to above, the district believes that parents know absolutely nothing about their own children. We can’t even tell if our kids are obese or not.
I hate to say it but FUSD never met a good distraction they didn’t love. They’ll focus on every trend or “crisis” that comes along while at the same time making sure education stays on the back burner. All North Country Healthcare has to do is pimp a program “for the children” and the district is stumbling all over themselves in their rush to sign on. I thought that maybe they were starting to learn their lesson with their sudden interest in magnet programs and curriculum, but seeing FUSD obesity news on the front page of yesterday’s AZ Daily Sun confirmed my worst fear: Education is still an afterthought. Nice to see my tax dollars going to good use.
Not long ago, The AZ Daily Sun reported that FUSD was losing students because there was a supposed mass exodus from Flagstaff. Then the census numbers came out and we learned that Flagstaff’s population is actually soaring. Do the math, 2+2 actually does equal 4 and that does not bode well for FUSD. Clearly, with the population growing and the district losing hundreds of students a year (this year they could lose upwards of 1,000) people are sick and tired of the distractions. People are fleeing the district.
I receive a lot of emails from parents who have kids in district schools and they tell me that they want FUSD to focus on teaching their children. People expect teachers to teach healthy eating habits and exercise but they do not want anyone practicing medicine in the classroom!
A friend of mine recently defended the district by asking if I would be upset if a teacher or school nurse told me about a weird shaped mole on my child. I told him that I probably wouldn’t mind but I would be furious if every child in school was checked over for weird shaped moles.
I hope North Country Health Care is not reading this blog because if they realize that there is money to be made by checking children at school for moles, they will be stripping our kids down and looking them over before you can say “disgusting”!
Let’s not forget who is behind Flagstaff’s obesity panic in the first place. Follow the money. North Country Health Care sees overweight kids as giant piggy banks.
By Elisha Dorfsmith
Last week, local blogger Jeff Oravits reported that the Flagstaff City Council is considering a plan to implement energy caps on homes and businesses. This plan is being pushed by environmentalists and busybody activists who think they have the right to (figuratively or literally) come into your house or business and tell you to turn off your lights, turn down your thermostat and take shorter showers.
When I posted Jeff’s article on my Facebook page, one of my Flagstaff friends who supports the caps responded with the following:
“Leaving the lights on contributes to polluting the atmosphere with carbon causing climate change and global warming. That is making a mess outside your property and morally you must not do it even if you can afford to. You have a responsibility to the rest of us that your actions will not harm us.”
That got me to thinking. Every single member of the Flagstaff City Council drives a car, uses electricity, and takes a shower (or at least I hope they shower). Most even support using taxpayer dollars for Christmas lights during the holiday season. They also tend to fly to Washington DC fairly often to beg for money. Do they know how much energy they are using and how much pollution they are creating every time they make that trip?
Of course, they do those wonderful things for the public good so that pollution doesn’t count.
I’m sure it’s also clear that the energy I use in my house is not good for anyone. It’s for my own selfishness. Wanting to read a book at night or turning the heater up to keep my son warm during freezing weather is harming people and causing global warming and I cannot morally justify it.
While talking to energy cap proponents, I asked if they use electricity in their homes. Do they believe that we should have a zero tolerance light policy? Is there an acceptable amount of pollution that they are ok with? I never got a straight answer because they obviously use energy and answering those questions would prove that their position is hypocritical.
The simple truth is that most of the people who support energy caps are nanny state champions who want to bully people and regulate society to fit their extreme vision for the world. Nothing is off the table for these control freaks and any tactic that helps promote their agenda is considered fair and justifiable.
I’ll never forget picking my son up from Kindergarten a couple years ago and finding him in tears. When I asked what was wrong he said that if we didn’t turn off our lights, polar bears would die. I don’t know who was feeding him that garbage but it made me furious. It’s never too early to start teaching our kids to question and research everything. Fear and scare can go a long way but facts and truth will stop propaganda in it’s tracks.
Speaking of facts, this is the kind of hypocrisy you run into if you refuse to take the fear at face value and decide to scratch below the surface:
And people still take him seriously.
Before readers start accusing me of being insensitive and uncaring, let me make something very clear. I sincerely care about the environment and I go out of my way to conserve energy and use what I have wisely. I would never defend waste or pollution. I am also a big supporter of alternative energy and creative solutions to environmental problems.
What I don’t support is the government mandating “solutions”. More often than not, government is the problem. Oil subsidies certainly don’t encourage alternative energy. Corn subsidies don’t encourage healthy food. Local laws that say my yard is too small to raise chickens do not promote the food independence that many in Flagstaff are striving for. Get the government out of the way!
It’s been said that libertarians are the best environmentalists because we believe in taking responsibility for our actions. Russell Means sums it up well:
“A libertarian society would not allow anyone to injure others by pollution because it insists on individual responsibility. That’s part of the beauty of libertarianism.”
When the government starts mandating things like energy caps or environmentally friendly products, there are often unintended consequences. CFL light bulbs are a perfect example. They are anything but environmentally friendly. Don’t break one. Check out the cleanup instructions from the EPA! This is the kind of insanity that has been gaining steam across the country and especially here in Flagstaff. It’s time the people of Flagstaff stood up and said enough is enough.
Please contact the Flagstaff City Council and tell them that you are opposed to these proposed energy caps. You can find their contact information here.
Rand Paul on the topic:
By Elisha Dorfsmith
The Flagstaff Unified School District Governing Board voted unanimously tonight to proceed with a proposed APS Solar Project at Cromer Elementary School. By giving the project a green light, the district will enter into a 20 year contract with APS. More information on the pilot project can be found in this AZ Daily Sun Article.
There was not a whole lot on the agenda this week. Once again, the board voted unanimously in favor of all action items (meeting dates, Killip Elementary modified calendar, etc). Tonight’s full agenda can be found here.
As part of the Curriculum report, there was an excellent presentation from the CocoNuts Robotics Team. The CocoNuts are always enthusiastic and impressive. You can tell that they love what they do.
I strongly encourage the public to attend future FUSD board meetings. As parents and taxpayers, it is our responsibility to hold the district accountable. Meeting dates can be found here.