BY LINDA BENTLEY | AUGUST 27, 2012
Tobin’s record comes back to haunt him
PHOENIX – Citizens may recall, in 2009, Speaker of the House Andy Tobin, who is running for reelection in the newly redrawn Legislative District 1, Tobin, a Republican, voted with the Democrats against anti-sanctuary city legislation sponsored by Rep. Russell Pearce; the same bill Rep. Nancy Barto and her cohorts walked out on "in silent protest" rather than have a vote against the bill on their records, causing the bill to fail.
Tobin and Rep. Karen Fann, R-Dist. 1, running on a slate for reelection with Tobin, began moving their signs over the weekend from locations where hundreds of arrow signs emblazoned with “Andy Tobin – Union Owned” sprouted up last week pointing to Tobin’s campaign signs.
The “Union Owned” signs state in fine print at the bottom, “This sign was placed here by an individual, not a political committee it is a class 2 misdemeanor for any person to knowingly remove, alter, or deface this sign without the sign owner’s or property owner’s permission. ARS 16-1019.”
Sen. Rick Murphy, R-Dist. 9, responding to concerns raised by Floyd Brown from Arizonans for Honest Government, stated, “I understand that you are interested in knowing the details about how the various union accountability bills managed to pass the Senate on multiple occasions, only never to see the light of day in the House. As the prime sponsor of most of them and the primary legislative member pushing their passage, I’m happy to tell you. Just be sure you’re prepared to be mightily disappointed in part of Arizona’s “conservative” leadership.
“The bottom line is that Speaker Tobin was so motivated to kill any bill that restricted public employee unions, specifically to protect the power of the fire unions (his brother is a long-time fire union boss), he was willing to use Arizona’s foster children as a human shield to try to bully me into dropping the bills. When that didn’t work, he intentionally killed bills to help foster children get adopted more quickly as a punishment to me for keeping the union issue alive.”
Murphy then detailed the bills, which passed the Senate but were either never released to committee by Tobin or released too late to be placed on the agenda and died as a consequence.
One such bill was SB 1484, paycheck deductions; employee authorization, sponsored by Sen. Andy Biggs, R-Dist. 22, was known as the “paycheck protection bill” and would have required public employee union members to reauthorize their union dues payroll deductions annually.
Another was SB 1485, unions; public employees; prohibitions, sponsored by Murphy, which would have banned collective bargaining by public employee unions.
Tobin held back SB 1486, public employees; activities; unions; compensation, otherwise known as the “release time” bill, sponsored by Murphy, which was also the subject of a successful lawsuit by the Goldwater Institute against the city of Phoenix regarding its contract with the police union.
Murphy’s SB 1487, government employees; union dues; withholding, would have banned any payroll deduction for dues by public employee unions.
Murphy stated, “While “paycheck protection” was certainly an improvement over the status quo, and worth passing, I can’t find any reason to justify allowing taxpayer funded payroll systems to be used to collect dues for a private organization.”
Even with 21 Republicans in the Senate, Murphy said they were unable to get the 16 votes necessary to pass the bill over to the house, so it was held.
What Murphy found out later was Tobin’s brother used to be the president of the Phoenix Firefighters’ Union and helped found the Phoenix Command Officers Union once he was promoted.
Murphy said he hoped this would not influence Tobin’s handling of the bills but also anticipated they might be assigned to Rep. Bob Robson’s committee and he might choose not to hear them.
So, Murphy had a backup plan consisting of a few unrelated bills that were likely to be assigned to Rep. Michelle Ugenti’s Government committee to be used as “strikers” and revive the union bills if necessary.
“Strikers” or “strike everything” bills are numbered bills in which the entire language is stricken and replaced with the language of the bill to be introduced after the deadline has passed to introduce bills.
Murphy said he met with Ugenti, whom “seemed genuinely enthusiastic about reviving the bills and agreed to work with Senate staff and keep it as quiet as possible until posting the revised agenda right before the afternoon deadline on March 9.”
He said Ugenti understood Tobin wouldn’t like her hearing the strikers but unfortunately a House staffer found out about the strikers “far enough before the deadline for Tobin to go ballistic on her. He basically threatened to make her look bad about an issue on an unrelated bill if she heard the strikers, so she relented and broke her word to me, letting me know by text too late for me to find any other options.”
Although Murphy scrambled and was able to initiate a “Plan C,” utilizing Sen. Judy Burgess’ HB 2103, introduced in the House before she was appointed to replace the seat vacated by Sen. Scott Bundgaard, to be used as a striker along with HB 2848, introduced by Rep. Steve Montenegro. The opportunity never arose for the bills to be passed and sent over to the House.
Murphy said, “So the summary is that Tobin used his position as Speaker to single-handedly kill all of the [anti-]union bills, all the while making excuses about the governor or House members not supporting the bills, none of which were true,” adding, “If it had stopped there, that would have been bad enough.”
Murphy went on to say, “But apparently, Speaker Tobin has a penchant for being vindictive. Out of pure spite that I had been persistent about the union bills and had forced him to continue to defend his actions to his caucus; he killed four of my other non-controversial bills which were all ready for House floor votes.
Because two of those bills were introduced in cooperation of non-union firefighter organizations, Murphy points out he is clearly not ‘anti-firefighter,’ while the other two bills were to help foster children.
Brown, disgusted by “all the sordid details” about how “Tobin has been working overtime to protect the unions” and his successful efforts to defeat a bill that would have eliminated public union collective bargaining, “whereby the unions get a chance every few years to shake down the public for lavish pensions and perks.”