Today is Juneteenth. My family celebrated this holiday together throughout my childhood, and we (my siblings and I) were required to be part of the program, not just in attendance. I was always curious why something so integral to American history and my family’s life, went largely unnoticed outside of the Black community. We are expected to participate fully in American life as assimilated citizens, but our experiences have been an addendum to the American experience — set apart from, instead of integrated into, the larger historical narrative. As we grapple with the complex racial history of our nation, context matters. Reconciliation starts with acknowledgment and education. Acknowledgment that not every community in this country has had the same experience in America, and education on why that is. For African Americans, nearly every quintessential American experience is accompanied by an asterisk.

The U.S. celebration of Independence Day has an asterisk. I love the fireworks, I enjoy the cookouts, I participate in the parades, I revere the pluckiness of our founding fathers and the colonies to stand up to King George, but I know that this beloved holiday, this memorialization of our freedom from the British Monarchy, is not fully applicable to me, it comes with the asterisk: not my ancestors. My great-great-grandparents were not free for nearly 100 more years, and even then, it was only the beginning of an uphill battle toward equal rights.

We love to hold up our veterans as a group we honor. Support of our veterans is one of the last non-partisan issues. This too is mired in a complicated past. My Great Uncle served in the military, his reception home was not the same as those he served with. Black veterans did not enjoy the same warm welcome, benefits, and support, it was a bitter reminder that though they were willing to die to protect the freedoms of their countrymen, their skin color made them unsafe from the very citizens they fought to protect. The Nazis even used the treatment of African Americans in their home country as a propaganda tool to incite desertion. The ticker-tape parades that greeted their returning brothers in arms, were not meant for them.

My Great Uncle, Lee Garner
My Great Uncle, Lee Garner

Today, I would encourage you to help remove the asterisk that Juneteenth is a “Black holiday.” It should be celebrated by ALL Americans. If you agree, take a small action: sign the petition to make Juneteenth a Nationally recognized Federal holiday.

*The celebration by the Black Community commemorating the day on June 19, 1865, that the last of the enslaved Africans in the U.S. were finally informed of their emancipation, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation had passed.

Deceptive Marketing

I am a skeptic. Not with everything, but when it comes to any form of marketing, especially those that do not name a specific company or entity and make unsubstantiated and vague claims about available offers, I am (skeptical).

I just want to post a PSA. I received this “notice” on my door today:

 My suspicion was immediately aroused. I did a reverse look up of the phone number on the Yellow Pages, but it yielded no results. I then researched the Arizona Renewable Energy Standard, which states that utility companies have until 2025 to generate 15% of their energy from renewable resources. Clearly, I am not a utility company. I was greatly annoyed that someone would attempt to bait me into calling by posting an official looking notice on my door stating I was eligible for a rebate. I figure that they papered the entire neighborhood in the hopes that some (poor soul) would call. I am not the one. In fact, quite the opposite. I have filed the following complaint with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office:

To Whom It May Concern:

I received the enclosed letter from an unnamed company/entity on or around December 4, 2013. The letter does not state who they are, however, the language used is both deceptive and incorrect.

As a private residence, I do not qualify for any form of incentive under the Arizona Renewable Energy Standard, which states that utility companies have until 2025 to generate 15% of their energy from renewable resources. Moreover, the code cited, AAC R14-2-1801, explicitly defines “Affected Utility” as “A Public service corporation serving retail electric load in Arizona.”

I would like to file a complaint against whomever is posting these letters on the doors of homes in my community. I did not call the phone number, but strongly suspect that if I did, I would be subjected to a hard sale, attempting to use an incorrectly cited law to lure me into purchasing a good or service under the guise of receiving a rebate.

I appreciate your attention to this matter.

If you receive this notice, or anything like it, I would advise that you also file a complaint. We have protections as consumers. I will not be lied to or bullied. Civic duty for the day — done.

With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility

“Whoso causeth the righteous to go astray in an evil way, he shall fall himself into his own pit: but the upright shall have good things in possession.” — Proverbs 28:10

I have been concerned for some time by the deepening division and the lack of civility in our country’s public discourse. The heightened sense disenfranchisement and the inability to come together and find common ground has troubled me. I have feared for the lives of our President and his family and I have prayed for the safety of elected officials across the country. Sadly, I was not surprised by the shootings in Tucson yesterday.

I say this with conviction: Words. Have. Power. Words can inspire hope, break hearts, move nations. Anyone who has been placed in a position that grants them a large audience whose actions they can influence through their words has a responsibility to weigh them carefully and consider their consequences before speaking.

Whoso causeth the righteous to go astray in an evil way, he shall fall himself into his own pit.

We cannot expect that the words we speak do not galvanize people to take action and we cannot absolve ourselves of any accountability simply because the action taken was not performed with our own hand. If a commander in chief sends his troops to war, is he not responsible for the blood shed as a result of his directive?

“An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.” — Proverbs 29:22

If we know that encouraging anger devolves people to their baser instincts, why feed that emotion? Our energy would be better served finding a positive outlet to express our frustrations instead of yelling and screaming about what isn’t being done.

“The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression” — Proverbs 19:11

I would strongly admonish those in positions of power at this time, not to avoid having a critical discussion on the tone of messaging in all arenas of public discourse. The people are watching and will take note of what decisions are made at this juncture. I only hope that this tragedy can be the catalyst for a change in the way we treat those who do not agree with our points of view.

Arizona Corporation Commission


Hello my legions of followers (ha!) I know you are not used to me waxing political, but, for the next couple of weeks, I am doing a political series. Why? Because I think voting is important, I want to provide some insight for my fellow voters in AZ. I have decided that as I go through my ballot, I will post blog entries on my decisions on who to vote for. Take it or leave it. I am a registered Democrat, and an elected Precinct Committeeman in Legislative District 20, so keep that in mind. I do have a bias, but ultimately, I want to elect officials who will do the job, and do it well. These are my candid opinions, do with them what you will. This blog post is my summary of the Arizona Corporation Commission.


What Is The Corporation Commission?

Article 15 of the Arizona Constitution establishes the Arizona Corporation Commission. Only 7 states have constitutionally formed Commissions. Arizona is one of only 13 states with elected Commissioners. In the 37 other states, Commissioners are appointed by either the governor or the legislature.


In most states, the Commission is known as the Public Service Commission or the Public Utility Commission. Our Commission, however, has responsibilities that go beyond traditional public utilities regulation. These additional roles include facilitating the incorporation of businesses and organizations, securities regulation and railroad/pipeline safety.


By virtue of the Arizona Constitution, the Commissioners function in an Executive capacity, they adopt rules and regulations thereby functioning in a Legislative capacity, and they also act in a Judicial capacity sitting as a tribunal and making decisions in contested matters.


What are it’s term limits?

Officials elected to the Corporation Commission serve a four year term, as determined by the Arizona State Constitution, Article 15, Section 1.


How many people make up the Corporation Commission?

There are five members of the Corporation Commission.


What are the qualifications for this office?

There are none.


How does partisanship play out for the commission?

It would seem that because of the ability to regulate industry, politicians that favor business may be swayed to work in favor of the companies at the expense of the consumer. Inevitably we have to pay the rates, so this is an important office. It means your bills can go up or down depending on who you vote for, and the type of energy available to you (renewable, etc.) will be determined by your vote here.


Why do I care about this office?

I care about the environment. I also do not want my bills to go through the roof, and I believe that when I have a choice of utility providers, meaning COMPETITION in the market, this will provide better rates. I feel that consumers of energy have a responsibility to help pay for it’s cost, including chipping in a bit for Research and Development. The Corporation Commission is one legislative body that can do more than many others to get the ball moving on renewable energy. It is my opinion that we need a little risk taking to make that happen, and someone who will stand up to corporations. I think that it is important to be well versed in business and industry to sit on this commission, I feel that energy does not have to have such a high environmental cost.



Terms to note:

RES – Renewable Energy Standard, which in short mandates that 15% of Arizona’s energy be generated from renewable sources by the year 2025. You can read more about this here:


A good FAQ with a little more information on the Commission can be found here:


Also, if you have time, give a listen to KJZZ’s coverage: – Republicans – Democrats



Meet the Candidates

My method for assessing the candidates and gathering information is as follows (in this order):

  1. I watched the Clean Elections Debates:
  2. I read the candidate statements:
  3. I looked at the candidate endorsements to see who supports them
  4. I did a google search to get a sense of what people on either side of the aisle were saying about the candidates.


Below is my take on each candidate, and finally, how I am voting for this position.



Brenda Burns (R)

Endorsements: AZ Chamber of Commerce and Industry, NRA, John McCain, The rest you can find here:

Clean Elections Debate Summary

Brenda is a former state legislator who states her accomplishments as regulatory reform, former House Majority Leader and former Senate President. Brenda feels it is important to ensure that the industry has a reasonable rate of return, and the commission should look out for the employees of the companies. She would like to work with the legislature on overlapping issues to provide stability to the industry. Brenda would like to explore deregulation to have free-market principles, but wants to be cautious to avoid harming the ratepayers or companies. She agrees with RES and feels it is important to keep the energy diversified. Brenda thinks nuclear should be pursued and would listen to the company’s recommendations on nuclear. She feels that nuclear can be considered renewable. Most important issue facing the commission: Planning for the future to provide energy needs at the lowest possible rates


My opinion: Brenda consistently discusses her concern for the energy companies and mentions deferring to them on several issues, I am a little uncomfortable with that. Her endorsements include several business advocacy organizations and industry players. While I think that the Corporation Commission should work with energy companies to provide Arizonans the best rates and service, they should be independent thinkers. I respect the fact that she disagreed with Barry Wong (who THANKFULLY did not make it through the Republican primary) using the utility companies as a form of immigration law enforcement. In the articles that I read online. Burns is respectful in her disagreements and does not make inflammatory statements or derogatory commentary in a hard partisan manner. She stands on the merits of her own accomplishments and leaves it to the voters to decide what party they would like to represent them. I thought this article was a good summary of where she stands:


David Bradley (D)

Endorsements: Sierra Club, AFL-CI to name a few, the rest you can find on the main page of the candidate’s website


Clean Elections Debate Summary

David Bradley’s focus is on developing clean energy standards and planning ahead for growth. He wants to push new industry standards to facilitate green industry growth. David feels that the Commission should not defer to the legislature and thinks it should set the tone, and then work with the legislature. He Agrees with RES, and does not think that nuclear energy is a good investment, it is too unstable. He states that the projects using it have gone over budget and that rate and taxpayers would bear the burden. He feels the most important issue facing the commission is planning for the future and jobs.


My Opinion

I really like that Bradley consistently articulates his desire to use the Commission to champion exploration into new forms of energy, instead of relying on finite resources. In some instances he is a little overzealous in his desire to cut out the legislature, it is unrealistic to think that the Corporation Commission can make any strides toward change without having them on board. Bradley speaks knowledgeably about the issues facing Arizona including planning for future growth and the importance of ensuring that considerations are made when communities are built, not just afterward. A good article to read:


Gary Pierce (R)

Endorsements: AZ Chamber of Commerce, AZ Right to Life, Arizona Realtors Association to name a few, endorsements are not listed on his site. Google it.


Clean Elections Debate Summary

Pierce is the only incumbent on the ticket. He is a former small business owner and former AZ House Representative. He feels that the role of the Commission is to push agenda items and do rate making. Pierce thinks that the Commission should work with the legislature on overlapping issues, and help them implement policies. He stated that utilities have a fixed cost no matter if they are deregulated. Pierce agrees that RES is a good idea. He believes renewable energy, starting out, needs a tariff to offset the cost of infrastructure, research, and development as long as the cost does not increase out a reasonable range. Pierce states that line extension should be a compromise between the company and the consumer, local generation of power would benefit both parties. He feels that the most important issue facing the commission is keeping rates low to encourage economic development.


My Opinion: I think that Gary Pierce is well versed in the legalese of the Corporation Commission and has a firm grasp on the important issues that should be addressed. Gary Pierce is the only candidate on the ticket who resorted to party bashing in his statement, he uses the term “Obama-ites” to refer to his opposition, and in articles I found online, threatened to cut off power to Los Angeles (who gets 25% of their power from Arizona) when they boycotted the state over SB1070 ( I have no issue with people disagreeing, however, politicians should be respectful and recall that they represent a diverse constituency and should not alienate the people who they are supposed to represent. I don’t think that the Corporation Commission should be used for political grandstanding, stick to its charter, deliver energy at a reasonable cost.


Jorge L. Garcia (D) – Deceased 10/15/2010

My prayers go out to his family. Out of respect, I will refrain from providing my analysis of this candidate.


Rick Fowlkes (L)

Endorsements: I could not find any except for 2008 (when Fowlkes ran as a Republican)


Clean Elections Debate Summary

Fowlkes has an MBA from ASU and is a Structural Engineer by profession. He states that he has industry experience in the areas the commission regulates and wants to bring competition to the electric power provider slate. Fowlkes feels that it is most important lookout for the ratepayers and thinks that industry should not have a monopoly status. One of his primary goals, if elected, would be to end the monopoly system for the electric power industry in this state. He states that the legislature should work with the Commission, and reminds voters that the Legislature has already acted to end the monopoly system, but the commission has not followed through. Fowlkes feels that the industry is rewarded for being inefficient. He thinks that competition will hold down rates better than the Corporation Commission can. He has done over 30 projects with solar, disagrees with RES because of tariffs, and thinks nuclear energy is more economical and should be considered, as well as hydroelectric. Fowlkes considers nuclear to be a legitimate alternative to fossil fuels, and nuclear should be considered in the 15% for RES. Fowkles thinks that offline power generation should be considered in rural Arizona. He feels that the most important issue facing the commission is to end the monopoly system and bring about competition.


My Opinion

I am an engineer by profession, and thus, have a great deal of respect for Mr. Folkwes because he is not a career politician. He has really studied this material, and is passionate about making important changes. I do not like that he such a champion for nuclear energy. While I understand that over time, the cost of nuclear (in dollars) levels and becomes cheaper, the cost in the grand scheme is not worth it to me.


The other two

You’ll notice on your ballot that there are two other candidates from the Green party: Theodore Gomez and Benjamin Pearcy. For those of you who follow Arizona politics, you will chuckle, because you will remember the controversy. The story goes that they were recruited by “Republican Party operatives” to “steal votes from the Democrats. ” I have no opinion on the matter, however, Neither has a web site, and it is difficult to find ANY information on them. Their statements in the clean elections guide are summarized as such:

Pearcy: “I am a musician, not a politician”

Gomez: “We are homeless and live on Mill Ave”

That’s all I have to say about that.


My Conclusions

During the debates, none of the candidates discussed new technologies for enabling consumers to monitor their energy use or incentives for builders to include infrastructure that will allow them to do so. I think that the Corporation Commission should try harder to engage the ratepayers around taking accountability for energy use and educating them on effective ways of saving energy. Now, the good part, who am I voting for?

David Bradley and Rick Fowlkes.

Why? I respect Brenda Burns and any of my Republican friends who choose to vote for her have my stamp of approval, however, I am cautious about her constant mention of deference to the industry. I would never vote for Gary Pierce. While I do believe he is good at what he does, I think that the reason why so much does NOT get done in this country is because of the divisive practices in the two-party system. How can you sit down to work at a table of people who you publicly disrespect and alienate? I do not have a problem with anyone expressing their belief system, but in any other job interviewing process, would it be your strategy to bad-mouth all of the other candidates in order to make yourself look good? No. You would do your best to represent who you are and what you stand for, and keep anyone else out of it. I am very tired of people who have no respect for their leadership and practice fear-mongering and division. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. I hope it helps you!

can we?

tomorrow is “super tuesday.”

i sit at my computer wondering what i can write to convey the emotion that i feel… how can we expect change if we are not the catalyst? i have heard people say that they will vote for barack obama if he receives the presidential nomination, but not tomorrow. have we become so afraid to dream? from a very young age we are taught that statistically, the odds are not in favor of the dreamers. the first time you lose a love, the first time you try and fail, it hurts. and it never stops being hard to go out on a limb because the higher you climb, the more broken you will be if you fall. it is not easy to get back up and keep trying when you have constantly been knocked down, but happiness is not the absence of discomfort, it is the presence of joy. there are many things in my life that i am not proud of because of the cowardly route i have taken, but tomorrow will not be an addition to that catalog.

i will not stand idly by in this monumental moment in history because i thought that my voice did not matter. alone, maybe no one will hear me sing, but i am not alone. i am joining a chorus of voices that is loud and resounding and the message is: “yes we can.” i say to those who will vote their heart in the general election, but not tomorrow that without tomorrow, there is no nomination.

nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change. we have been told we cannot do this by a chorus cynics. they will only grow louder and more dissonant. we have been asked to pause for a reality check. we have been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope, but in the unlikely story that is america, there has never been anything false about hope.

–senator barack obama

YES. WE. CAN. but not without you. vote.

obama for president?

as much as i love the man…not in 2008.

i have been on both sides of the fence, debating myself about the pros and cons of senator obama running in the upcoming presidential election, and i have come to the conclusion that it is too soon. while i think that he is an extremely charismatic and talented individual, i am hesitant to sign off on a person with so little experience in the national political arena. i would prefer to see him finish out his term in the senate, have a track record, and get some time on the hill before making a bid for the presidency.

do not think that i would not support him if he did make it through the democratic primaries. maybe it is my fear that obama’s bright star could be extinguished should he make too hasty a decision and do too much too soon. i have refrained from reading (what i know has to be) the countless news stories, blogs, etc. regarding this issue because i want my response to be genuine and not tainted by what i have read elsewhere. what i am about to admit is going to make me vulnerable, but so be it…

i do not hold very many people in high regard, least of all politicians. barack obama gives me hope. i know that the man is not perfect, politics is a dirty game, but something about him makes me believe that all is not lost, that unity can prevail, and that maybe, just maybe this country can redeem itself from the downward spiral it has entered. perhaps it is naive of me to pin so many hopes to a single man, and this is probably why i am so guarded. it is like finding love the second time around, you proceed with extreme caution, and every step toward admitting that you feel and giving in to being vulnerable makes you open to pain. it is easier to be apathetic…to not care, to be safe. it is when you become involved that you start to have something to lose.

i used to be this glowing optomist, with a save the world mentality and i see everyday that i have become more jaded in all aspects of my life, and that is hard to accept and even harder to admit. i want to care and to love, and to be invested, but i don’t want to have my hopes dashed and come crashing down with disappointment. this is why so many things in my life are further from the path i intended to take. if i do something that i don’t care about, it doesn’t hurt me if things don’t come to fruition because i have very little emotional capital involved.

the person inside of me who dares to dream, wants nothing more than to see barack obama run, win and succeed, but the logical pragmatic person that has taken over would rather see a solid successful career as a senator *maybe* followed by a presidential bid *if* everything is in place. but who is to say that barack obama’s time is not now? who is to say that this tide that is so strong in his direction could not turn in the next 4 years, and what if all of the elements that have built him up to this moment, his moment, never come again? maybe i should just sit back and see how this plays out…keep my cards in my hand and play it safe, but that little glimmer inside of me, the person i used to be is sitting in the back of my mind, holding her breath, and praying. you see, *she* has the audacity…to hope.

linda stasi is an idiot.

in her recent article in the new york post, linda stasi attacked oprah for spending $40 million to build a school for girls in south africa using the argument that there are too many children here in the U.S.A who needed that assistance:

“Yeah, I’ve about had it with you and anyone else who relates more to the country of their ancestors than with the USA where we were all were raised, fed and educated well enough to earn enough dough to run back “home” to lend these helping hands. “

first things first, oprah is a private citizen who can do with her money whatever she pleases. why isn’t stasi attacking an administration who has cut funding to education, resisted pay increases to teachers, and consistently avoided taking action to curb the downward spiral of education as a whole? i find stasi’s indignation sadly misplaced. the continent of africa, one of the wealthiest in natural resources, has long been plundered by the west with NO regard for the native inhabitants, why begrudge a school? it is the least that anyone in this country can do to help rebuild what our country tore asunder.