P.L.A.N. Gives Point-and-Click Power to the People; Plus Check Out the GOP's Sleazoid Campaign Ad for Arpaio

By Niki D’Andrea

The November elections are right around the corner, and early voting is just under way. There are several ballot measures that will affect Arizonans, including Proposition 102 (a proposed amendment to the constitution that defines marriage as a union between a man and woman), Prop 202 (which eases the state's employer sanctions law for businesses), and Prop 300 (which proposes a salary increase for state legislators). And while there’s plenty of propaganda about these propositions on the telly, they never include the fine print. Hence, navigating through the legislative process and ballot measures often feels like this:

Thankfully, the Government Relations Office at City of Phoenix has made it easier to stay on top of local elections and proposed amendments, without having to dig through a pile of propagandized jargon. There’s a new Web site called the Phoenix Legislative Action Network (P.L.A.N.), where voters can go to learn all about this year’s ballot measures in detail.

Getting the straight gist of ballot measures and any given candidate’s political platform can be difficult, since candidates love slinging mud at each other. It can be hard to discern what a candidate really stands for beyond making his or her opponent look as incompetent as possible. Anymore, seeing a campaign ad that doesn’t mention the other candidate is like seeing a unicorn astride a UFO.

Below are campaign videos for Republican Joe Arpaio and Democrat Dan Saban, opponents in the race for Maricopa County sheriff.

The ad endorsing Arpaio's the most reprehensible campaign commercial we've ever seen. As far as we can tell, there's nothing in it that's provable, much less true. Of course, the sheriff says he had nothing to do with the ad (sure Joe), that the ad's the work of the local Republican Party. Well, the GOP does claim it, and though the party says it's pulled the TV ad, its leaders should be ashamed of themselves. The crux of the ad is based on a smear campaign that Arpaio's people pulled four years ago -- which was totally discredited. It insinutates that Saban raped his mother. That's a lie. First of all, the woman involved wasn't his mother but his foster mother. And, more importantly, it was Saban who was sexually abused when he was a young teen-ager. The GOP obviously doesn't mind holding a juvenile sexual-abuse victim up to ridicule, as long as it serves Joe's purposes. Hold your nose and take a look:

This video that Saban's posted on his Web site asks the question: “Is Joe Arpaio Afraid of Dan Saban?” and shows the sheriff waving off questions from the Phoenix citizen behind the camera. At least this one's true. Joe most definitely has refused to face his opponent, and has sneered at members of the public who've challenged him on why. You know, always the public servant, Joe likes to say, "nobody tells this sheriff what to do!" Here's Saban's campaign video:

Voters who want a little more meat with their mudslinging can check out P.L.A.N. In addition to Maricopa County sheriff, several other political offices are up for grabs this election year, and local voters need to know where the candidates really stand on issues. In addition to voting for a new U.S. president, Arizona voters will decide who’ll fill our congressional, state legislative, and state Corporation Commission seats. Voters who want to dig deeper than candidates’ bitch-slapping campaign ads can do so at P.L.A.N. The site also includes contact information for elected officials, and the 2008 Federal Legislative Agenda.

To provide Valley residents with an even clearer picture of the eight initiatives appearing on the November ballot, the city’s Government Relations staff will hold a brown bag meeting at Phoenix City Council Chambers, 200 W. Jefferson Street, at noon on Friday, October 10. They’ll discuss initiatives like Medical Choice for Arizona, Protect Our Homes, Payday Loan Reform Act, and the Homeowners Bill of Rights. After a presentation on the amendment initiatives, staff will participate in a Q&A.

Signing up for the P.L.A.N. site is free. Once you do, you'll receive information on issues that affect the city of Phoenix and e-mail reports on legislation. It's even possible to schedule a tour of City Hall on the site.

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Niki D'Andrea has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and Phoenix Magazine, and is now a freelancer.
Contact: Niki D'Andrea