3rd District Independent States Case

By: Paul Giblin, East Valley Tribune

Congressional candidate Annie Loyd largely laid out her political agenda 18 months ago when she founded the online magazine One Planet. The e-zine, which calls itself a “social entrepreneur publican,” serves as a forum on topics that includes the arts, education, economics, water policy, justice, energy and more.“We’ve had such a focus on what the problems are, but very little focus on what good solutions are. And that’s why we created it,” said Loyd, who serves as co-publisher.

This month’s cover story: “Gratitude: Maintaining Moments of High Resolve.”Her political campaign is built upon similar principles. Loyd, a 43-year-old Phoenix resident, is running as an independent in Arizona’s 3rd Congressional District. Republican incumbent John Shadegg and Democratic challenger Bob Lord also seek the U.S. House seat.Loyd said she plans a serious campaign in the urban district that takes in central and north Phoenix, plus Paradise Valley, Cave Creek and Carefree. She formally launched her campaign with a rally at Paradise Valley Park in Phoenix last weekend, but she essentially has been on the campaign trail meeting and greeting voters since February.Shadegg and Lord may spend more than she will during the next 12 months, but she promises she’ll campaign harder. She said she has a core committee of 30 volunteers and a broader network of 300 volunteers already in place.“Nothing seems insurmountable to me,” said Loyd. “It’s not that I’m not realistic, and it’s not that I’m not pragmatic.

There’s an old saying that says you don’t know what’s possible unless you reach for what is seemingly impossible.” The idea of voters electing an independent candidate to a major office seems more possible all the time.Voter registration records compiled by the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office show that independents comprised 27 percent of all voters in the district on Sept. 30.That marked a 1 percentage point increase for independents, and conversely, a 1 percentage point drop among Republicans since June 30.Independent voters are engaged with their communities, but they’re fed up with the current state of politics, Loyd said. She plans to reach out to independents, at school board meetings, charitable events, cultural actives and youth sports events.“From the two-party system, the political spin has been independents don’t care, that they’re not active, that they’re not affiliated because they don’t want to make a commitment.

That’s not what they’re saying at all. They’re saying, ‘Neither party represents fully what I believe.’”The very fact that voters are ditching the established parties to re-register as independents illustrates that they care deeply about politics, she said.Loyd’s primary goal is bridging the partisanship among sitting elected officials. Republicans and Democrats alike, she said, are at fault for creating gridlock that has stalled progress on any number of national issues ranging from education to Iraq, immigration, health care and taxes.“It’s not what you typically hear from political consultants. ‘It’s taxes. It’s the war.’ All of those issues are of concern, but No. 1 on people’s minds is how ugly politics has become,” she said.She plans to take what she calls a “transpartisan” approach — and she has experience in that realm. She has worked on both sides of the aisle for years.In addition to working in the public and mental health arenas mostly in California, and running a design/build residential construction firm in Arizona, she has served as a volunteer, paid consultant and staff member for more than 20 years in local, state and national campaigns for both Democratic and Republican candidates.Now, she said, it’s time for a fresh perspective.

Court Rejects Weak Bush Rule on Fuel Economy for Light Trucks

Ninth Circuit Ruling Is Major Win for Consumers, Environment

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Consumers and the environment both scored a tremendous victory today when a federal court threw out the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) rule on the fuel economy of light trucks – a category that includes SUVs, minivans and pick-up trucks.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of consumer and environmental groups that challenged the Bush administration’s 2006 fuel economy regulation for light trucks. The groups argued that the administration’s increased fuel economy standard was unacceptably paltry in view of what manufacturers can do to increase fuel economy and what the government can do to decrease the impact of large vehicles on global warming.

“The ruling is a strong rebuke to the Bush administration, which has been missing in action on both global warming and vehicle fuel economy,” said Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen. Claybrook was head of NHTSA when the agency issued the first fuel economy standards in the 1970s. “NHTSA’s light truck rule missed out on critical opportunities to decrease our dependence on oil, save money at the pump and reduce carbon emissions – and the court agreed that more must be done.”

The petitioners, which included Public Citizen, Sierra Club, Environmental Defense, Natural Resources Defense Council, 11 states and the District of Columbia, argued that the rule was arbitrary and capricious for a number of reasons, including its failure to close “the SUV loophole” that allows far laxer standards for light trucks than for cars. The Ninth Circuit agreed with most of the groups’ arguments, sending the final rule back to the agency for reconsideration and issuance of an improved – and legal – standard as quickly as possible.

Specifically, the court held that the rule was contrary to law because it: 1) failed to adequately consider the reduction of carbon emissions from vehicles; 2) failed to close the SUV loophole; and 3) failed to apply any fuel economy standards to vehicles between 8,500 and 10,000 pounds.

The court also held that it was arbitrary for NHTSA to create a sliding scale for light trucks, in which fuel economy standards vary by the size of the vehicle, without any “backstop” – a measure needed to ensure that the Bush administration’s sliding scale would not result in a downward slide in actual vehicle fuel economy as manufacturers game the standards and produce more large vehicles over time. Public Citizen recently exposed the behind-the-scenes meetings that led to the development of the sliding scale approach, revealing that senior-level White House officials, including staff of Vice President Dick Cheney, strong-armed the Department of Transportation into adopting that approach.

In addition, the court found that NHTSA should have conducted a full environmental impact statement to measure the consequences of its rule and ordered that one be completed.

“This victory should spark some serious reconsideration in Congress,” Claybrook said. “While gas prices increase, this is no time for Congress to dither over the weak fuel economy proposal in the Senate’s energy bill that would, among other things, mandate the Cheney sliding scale approach without a backstop – a scenario the court threw out. Americans are rightly growing impatient with half-measures.”

Added Robert Shull, deputy director of auto safety and regulatory policy, “We urge the agency, as it moves forward to issue a new rule, to do something substantial that truly improves vehicle fuel economy. With 60 percent of domestic oil consumption related to transportation, no global warming priority should be more important.”

READ the court’s ruling.

Government Is Illegally Taking Money From Soldiers and Veterans Who Used Military Credit Cards, Lawsuit Alleges

Public Citizen Files Class Action on Behalf of Soldiers and Veterans Nationwide
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) is breaking the law by taking money from soldiers and veterans who have military credit card debts that were either improperly calculated, too old to collect or both, Public Citizen said today in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco.
Public Citizen, with San Francisco consumer lawyers Chandler Visher and Marie Appel, filed the suit on behalf of veteran Julius Briggs and a class of soldiers and veterans nationwide.
For years, the AAFES has offered credit cards, known as Military Star cards, to military personnel to purchase uniforms and other items from the stores it operates on military bases. If a service member is delinquent in paying a debt, the government has the right to deduct the money owed from the member’s government benefits or tax refunds. The government can add interest, penalties and administrative costs as permitted by the credit card contract or federal law.
AAFES, however, is not permitted by law to collect debts that have been outstanding for more than 10 years or amounts in excess of what the contract allows. In improperly collecting these debts, the AAFES has steadily appropriated millions of dollars from soldiers and veterans nationwide, Public Citizen says.
“It is shocking that a U.S. government agency would illegally take this money from veterans who have served our country well, particularly from those veterans who may be depending on government benefits,” said Deepak Gupta, an attorney for Public Citizen who is working on the lawsuit.
Briggs, the plaintiff, is a 21-year veteran of the U.S. Army and Army Reserves with an honorable record. He served in Germany and later in Saudi Arabia in the aftermath of Operation Desert Storm. While on active duty in 1977, he suffered a back injury that has since limited the number and types of jobs he can take.
Since 2004, the U.S. government has withheld more than $2,300 in federal payments to Briggs to pay an AAFES debt that was outstanding more than 10 years. The withheld payments have caused Briggs to be unable to pay his housing costs, leaving him homeless for several periods over the past few years. Not only has the government collected money beyond the time limit, but it also has inflated the amount due through improper interest rate calculations.
“With any luck, this lawsuit will force AAFES to stop collecting money that it has no right to take,” said Briggs.
The lawsuit seeks an injunction against further illegal collection of debts by AAFES and restitution of all funds inappropriately collected.
READ the complaint.

Join us in an exceptional, intimate celebration.

Annie Loyd, the future congresswoman for Arizona District 3, will inspire, challenge and empower your leader within. Take this special opportunity to spend an evening that will change your life. Take this opportunity to be a part of the new politics of change and recapture the faith, dedication, excitement and spirit that built this county.

So often we complain that our leaders do not lead and that our vote doesn’t count.

Now is the time for all of us to lead our country – of the people, by the people and for the people.

With more than half of new voters registering as independents we have the opportunity to make positive change. It is no longer about being Democrats or Republicans it is about being Americans – engaged, committed and innovative.

To run a campaign takes money. The Annie Loyd for Congress campaign does not have a party machine behind it. It takes people like you, who believe in the American dream, to help get Annie elected. We can’t do it without your support and you can’t afford to let this opportunity pass you by.

Come join us!

There will be incredible art, music by Grammy Award winning musicians, food by Robert McGrath, owner of the new restaurant R.E.M. and of course Annie Loyd in the beautiful Paradise Valley home of Steve and Veva Eickelberg.

Space is limited to 100 people.

This is the place to be. Don’t miss it!

WHEN: Sunday, November 18, 2007
5 to 9 p.m.

WHERE: 6316 E. Arabian Way
Paradise Valley, AZ 85253

COST: Seating limited to 100, $500 per person.

RSVP: call 602-909-0409

or email YogiVeva@aol.com

Majority of House Democrats Stand up for Constituents

Majority of House Democrats Stand up for Constituents, Vote ‘No’ onPeru NAFTA Expansion, Demand a New Direction on Trade
Statement of Lori M. Wallach, Director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch Division Despite intense pressure and lobbying from some Democratic leaders, a massive corporate coalition and the White House, a majority of Democrats in the House of Representatives today opposed Bush’s Peru NAFTA expansion agreement, echoing the American public’s widespread discontent with the status quo trade policy. That a majority of Democrats opposed the Peru NAFTA expansion – theoretically the least controversial of Bush’s remaining trade deals – will put the final nails in the coffins of any further Bush administration expansions of NAFTA to Panama, Colombia or South Korea. The opposition from 117 Democrats – including nearly three-fourths of Democratic freshmen and a majority of the party’s committee chairs- shows that significant work remains to create a framework for trade agreements that can earn public support nationwide and thus bipartisan support in Congress. Despite the fact that many more Democrats occupy House seats, the Peru “free trade agreement” (FTA) obtained less Democratic support than the 2004 Australia FTA, the 2004 Morocco FTA, and the 2005 Bahrain FTA. The Peru FTA, because it fell short of approval by the Democratic majority, has proven itself an unacceptable framework for future trade deals. Hopefully the next trade debate in the Congress will be about how to create a new template for future trade agreements that will benefit the majority of Americans and thereby be able to win the support of the Democratic majority. In light of the 2006 elections, when Democrats took control of Congress after 37 freshmen successfully campaigned against the Bush trade agenda and replaced 37 anti-fair traders, many Americans likely will wonder how President Bush managed to eke out this rare victory and get a NAFTA expansion agreement through the Democratic-majority Congress. That a Democratic-majority Congress would pass a Bush trade agreement opposed by most Democrats may be especially puzzling since the vote came a week after Bush announced he would veto Democratic legislation to help workers who lose jobs to trade, and after Bush vetoes of Democrats’ priorities – children’s health insurance and anti-war legislation. This vote reveals that many in Congress understand that what determines the effects of a trade agreement is not mainly the economic size of the country involved but instead the scope of the extraordinary corporate rights established under the agreement – rights that undermine U.S. domestic and foreign policy goals. Trade per se was not the issue today. The Peru NAFTA expansion was opposed by so many Democrats because it establishes new corporate rights that promote offshoring of U.S. jobs; expose our environmental, food safety and health laws to challenge in foreign tribunals; empower foreign corporations to skirt Buy America and anti-off-shoring policies; provide Big Pharma with extended patent rights that undermine affordable access to medicine; and empower U.S. firms, such as Citibank, to demand compensation if Peru reverses its disastrous social security privatization. No U.S. labor, environmental, consumer, faith, family farm or development group supported this agreement, which also is opposed by both of Peru’s labor federations, its major indigenous people’s organization and its archbishop. The passage of the Peru NAFTA-expansion, which was overwhelmingly opposed in the United States and Peru, is bad foreign policy, bad domestic policy and egregiously bad politics.

Activists Rally Nationwide in Support of Fair Elections

House Parties, Town Meetings in Support of Publicly Funded Elections
Washington, DC — Organizations and activists next week will hold rallies, host house parties, attend town hall meetings and participate in panel discussions nationwide in support of the Fair Elections Now Act, legislation that would create a voluntary system of full public financing for congressional races.
Throughout the week of action Nov. 12-16, activists and supporters will be gathering and educating citizens about the need for Fair Elections. People are knocking on doors in Rhode Island, holding a town hall meeting in Iowa, and asking people to sign petitions in Minnesota. Over 50 events are happening in nearly 20 states.
The Fair Elections Now Act, introduced in March by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Arlen Specter (R-PA), would provide candidates an option to seek office with a public grant. Qualifying candidates would also have to adhere to strict spending limits and forgo all private fundraising in order to accept the public money. Modeled on successful Clean Elections systems in place in Maine, Arizona, Connecticut and four other states, Fair Elections style systems make elections about volunteers and voters instead of campaign contributors and special interest donors.
“Americans recognize that money sometimes plays a warping role in electoral politics and hobbles progress on issues crucial to our country. It’s clear now that the remedy that will make the biggest difference is a move toward public funding. It’s constitutional, it’s simple, and based on experience across the country, it works,” said Michael Waldman, the Brennan Center’s Executive Director.
“If we want solutions to tough issues like the health care crisis and global warming, we need to take the flood of special interest money out of our political campaigns,” said Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause. “Public financing would restore voters’ voices to the political process and then we would have policies that serve the public’s interest.”
“Students at universities all over the country are rallying behind the promise of Fair Elections,” said Joan Mandle, executive director of Democracy Matters. “This reform will mean that young people can run for office and can elect representatives who will listen to and address their concerns.”
“In a corruption-ridden Washington DC, the biggest scandal is the fundraising system itself,” said Nick Nyhart, president and CEO of Public Campaign. “Next week, all across the country, ordinary citizens will stand up and demand their voices be heard above the ‘ka-ching’ of the political money chase.”
“How can the United States be a global champion of democracy when our own elections demand such a high admission fee?” asks Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen. “It is time to take the price tag off the democratic process and return elections to their rightful owner: the American citizen.”
“Voter frustration over the flood of special interest money in political campaigns has reached historic highs while confidence in Congress has reached historic lows,” said U.S. PIRG’s Gary Kalman. “Lawmakers can reverse the trend but only if they listen to their constituents and replace the campaign cash they now take with public funds.”
The Fair Elections Action Week is sponsored by the Brennan Center for Justice, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Government, Common Cause, Democracy Matters, League of Young Voters, Public Campaign, Public Citizen, and U.S. PIRG.
In 2006, more than 200 officials elected under Clean Elections systems took office free of the influence of special interest campaign money. Eighty-four percent of the Maine legislature is made up of Clean Elections candidates. In Arizona, 9 of 11 statewide officials used the system, including Gov. Janet Napolitano.