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By Anonymous Mike, pseudonymously.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Political Hardball

Wow some of you didn't like the "bribery or extortion" remark.

Well that's too bad. Like I said, I'm not sure if the contribution to the WCI rises to the criminal definition of either of those 2 terms, but it definitely does stink and just because it might be legal doesn't make it ethical. Once again, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has the power to bring remedial action against an offender; when a special and completely unrelated project of the director of ADEQ then profits from the settlement with the offender, well what is one to think?

So let's speculate about next steps. First look at the context.

First the WCI-Honeywell contribution needs to be investigated at some level for the reason I stated above.

Second the Legislature has the power to subpoena under ARS 41-1151. I am not sure of the exact mechanics or even the legal specifics but it seems the raw statutory material is there for the Legislature to investigate this.

Third, while the primary targets are the names on the settlement; Honeywell, ADEQ, and ADEQ's director Steve Owens any investigation is sure to lead to the Governor. WCI is an initiative of the Western Governors Association; Steve Owens owes his position of co-chair of WCI to the Governor and the Governor has used WCI to toot her horn at the national level.

Fourth, the timing of all of this is critical because the Governor has never been more vulnerable.

The sheen of her political juggernaut has lost a bit of its luster. Her two main ballot initiatives for the November election have both failed to make the ballot due to signature snafus. She just reorganized her staff in a manner that smells of need for serious shake-up. She's about to enter the last two years of her second term. Whether these are serious cracks in her organization or just something temporary remains to be seen.

The budget situation remains tenuous. I know I sound like a broken record on this but the budget deals for FY2008 and 2009 involved alot of papering over of problems and those deals, especially the FY2009, are politically her deals. She's betting on either a quick financial recovery which brings the fiscal situation in FY2010 into the black or on an Obama victory in November so she can skip town. More than likely the FY2010 is going to be a bloodbath because Senator Burns, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, is forecasting a starting point of a $1 billion. We don't have to wait until January for the budget follies to begin because we'll have a good idea of where the FY2009 budget is heading in the next several weeks between the July revenue reports and the FY2008 ending balance. If the budget is out of whack, and my guess it is, then the Legislature is going to have to crack it back open, perhaps before January. Whether it's FY2010 or a FY2009 re-do, the Governor is exposed.

Finally... it's not really a secret is it? If Obama wins, the Governor wants to go to Washington. If Obama loses, the Governor may be eyeing an 2010 Senate run against McCain's replacement. Either way she's planning her next step, but with an Obama election the period between the November election and the end of December is critical because that's when the cabinet appointments will be taking shape.

Do you think President-elect Obama wants to appoint an AG someone who both is being investigated for the Honeywell-WCI chicanery and whose state fell into a fiscal meltdown under her watch? The Legislature has a major chance to pee in her pool just at the very moment she needs to take herself nationwide.

The Governor has never been more vulnerable and after nearly 6 years of her hardball tactics, the vials of wrath should be nearly full.

Drop the hammer.