Cindy Resnick doesn't think state health director Ted Williams should set himself up as some sort of morality cop.
The Tucson Democratic lawmaker is squabbling with Williams over his refusal to record birth certificates when a married woman won't list her husband as the father of the child. Williams, an Evan Mecham appointee whom Governor Rose Mofford has kept on board, insists he's just trying to preserve the accuracy of state records. Resnick says the health director is more interested in poking his nose into other people's business.
"His job is to record, not to determine the legal validity of the documents," complains Resnick, the ranking Democrat on the House Health Committee. "He sees himself as the moral cop at the department. That's not his job."
Arizona has had laws on the books for many years about what names are supposed to be listed on birth certificates. But the laws went largely unnoticed until last year, when Department of Health Services employees began refusing to issue birth certificates.
That refusal is more than academic. A youngster cannot enroll in school without one. The same goes for trying to get a Social Security number.
The new policy affects more than women who are married when they give birth. Williams says if a woman was married at any time during the prior ten months--regardless of whether she is married at the time of birth--she must list the husband's name as the father of the child. Williams said it is unimportant whether the mother actually had sexual relations with her husband during that period of time and there is no way he could be the biological father. "If the father is not the husband, the husband's name still goes on the certificate," he says. "It's the law."
Williams insists it's simply a matter of maintaining accurate records. That theme is echoed by Renee Gaudino, his manager of vital records. She contends it would be inaccurate to allow a new mother to list "unknown" under the name of the father if she was married. Gaudino is undeterred by the fact that the mother may know that her husband or her former spouse is not really the father. Thus, by following the department's demands, mother would make the records inaccurate.
Gaudino admits that may be true but says there are other issues at work here. "What about the rights of the child?" she asks, now clearly agitated at the questions. "If we don't establish who the father is, where does the state go to fight for child support? How does the state get away from paying welfare because there is no father?"
Resnick retorts that it's not the health department's job to worry about issues of paternity and child support.
But what if the husband or ex doesn't want to be listed as the father? "He can hire a lawyer and get a court decree," Gaudino replies. "It doesn't really cost that much money to do those things these days."
But for all the concern she and Williams profess to have for the accuracy of the records, Gaudino admits no one really checks them. That means a woman giving birth can simply say she's not married. That not only allows her to leave blank the name of the father but in fact prohibits her from actually naming anyone. "We assume people are telling the truth," Gaudino says, "but it's always possible to lie."
Resnick says she ran into a stone wall in trying to get Williams to cooperate in solving the problem. So she crafted legislation to bar Williams from refusing to record a birth certificate where a married woman leaves the name of the father blank. The bill with her amendment passed the House last week and is now awaiting action in the Senate. And what does Williams think of Resnick's action? As of last week the only official word from the health department was that they have yet to take a position on the measure.
Williams says he will keep enforcing the law as he sees it. "It's not my job to decide which laws to enforce and which to ignore," he says. But that philosophy doesn't extend to other areas of Williams' domain. Assistants admitted earlier this year that they were just too busy with other things to enforce state laws that require them to make sure mattresses offered for resale have been fumigated and that consumers are told when they're not buying new products. Williams' staff, uncomfortable simply ignoring the law, asked the legislature to repeal it. Lawmakers refused. But the inspections still aren't taking place.
MDRVDOES EMILY LOVE ROSE?
If you still don't think Rose Mofford is running for governor next year, just ask Emily.
Actually, it's EMILY to you: Early Money Is Like Yeast.
When the governor was attending meetings last month at the annual National Governors Association convention in Washington, aide Karen Scates wasn't just sitting on her duff. The former aide to Congressman Mo Udall was busy renewing old acquaintances in the D.C. area who might be interested in providing financial support for Mofford's race.
One of those stops was with the EMILY List, a coalition of women who raise money for Democratic women candidates across the country. Scates, a member of EMILY, says she hopes to add Mofford to the list of beneficiaries of that largesse.
Scates says Mofford still benefits from the "curiosity factor" in Washington, partly because of the publicity generated when Evan Mecham was governor and partly because people want to know more about Mecham's beehive-topped successor. "These folks want to know who she is and what she's about," Scates says. "Is the potential there to raise money? Sure."
Scates' job wasn't hurt by the fact that Mecham was back in the news right at that time, agreeing to make--and then canceling--a speech to the right-wing Populist party.
The interest of the EMILY List doesn't necessarily translate into dollars. The group, formed about a decade ago, has supported only congressional candidates so far. "But there's a lot of interest, growing interest, in gubernatorial campaigns," Scates says.
Getting the blessing of the EMILY List wouldn't mean a single large check for Mofford. What the group does is screen candidates and then send fliers to members, asking them to send money to five people on the list, explains Scates. "It's like a pyramid, it's like a venture capital thing," she says. "It's a network to generate individual checks."
That "network" could present one problem for Mofford: Arizona's Proposition 200 restricts how far groups can go in coordinating contributions by their members. Scates says she is aware of that and is attempting to find out whether Arizona laws apply to actions that take place out of state.
Barring legal problems, Scates hopes that her boss can tap into EMILY--and take advantage of what the acronym means. "The reason they call themselves Early Money Is Like Yeast," Scates explains, "is the fact that it rises and rises."
MDRVSTRIPPED FOR ACTION
Two weeks from now, if you want to drink while watching totally nude women dance in the altogether, your beverage of choice is going to have to be Coke instead of Coors. And if you want someone to blame for it, call Bobby Raymond.
On April 1 new rules take effect that will do away with places like the Great Alaskan Bush Company, where nude dancers entertain beer-guzzlers. The rules are the final chapter in the multiyear effort by Raymond, a west Phoenix legislator, to get the Grand Avenue establishment and a handful of copycats across the Valley to cover up or cork up.
Jack Cox, owner of the Bush Company, discovered he could skirt state regulations that prohibit total nudity in bars by simply opening a place that provides nude entertainment while allowing customers to bring their own refreshments. And, because he didn't serve beer, he didn't have to comply with liquor department rules. When residents came unglued, Raymond designed legislation to regulate all places where alcohol is sold or consumed. The law passed last year; it has taken until now to enact the necessary rules.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Cox hasn't said whether he'll keep the all-nude policy and end the drinking or keep the booze and cover up the dancers. Actually, there's not much cover-up required: a G-string and tape over the nipples, which actually can be painted to look like the real things.
Raymond, who should be crowing about his success, now isn't sure he wants to be remembered as the man who closed down the all-nude bars. He points out that the final bill actually was tacked onto someone else's legislation, though he admits he voted for it in the end.
Raymond doesn't want a reputation as one of those prissy spoilsports who already are in long supply at the capitol. In fact, he has tried to distance himself from those people, as he did last year, when lawmakers were debating a bill to limit the number of dildos anyone could have to only five. Cracked Raymond, "Which one of my hands do I have to cut off?"
Resnick says the health director is more interested in poking his nose into other people's business.