Return to civility

By George Krebs, published in the Arizona Republic’s “Your Turn”, Feb. 2, 2018. Original title: “Older generation has a duty to restore comity”

I am a senior on Social Security and Medicare that is distressed and astonished at the current political environment our country.

I and my wife also have pensions, quickly disappearing for most Americans, that allow us a comfortable and financially stable retirement. The government Medicare program works well for me and other seniors.

We attended private colleges when the costs were manageable. We worked for employers who respected their employees and adhered to a social employee-employer contract that benefitted both.  The citizen-government relationship was similarly mutually trusting and supportive, with clear delineation of responsibilities for success by each.

Today’s environment has changed radically!

The “government is the problem” mantra espoused by president Reagan has become the new modus operandi. Government and the necessary revenue needed for it to properly support us are demonized.  Any taxes garnered are disparaged as more money to be wasted or to be redistributed to some unworthy “lazies” in our society.

Forget the need for government support for good education, improving our roads, bridges and infrastructure, disaster relief (hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, etc.), or military readiness. How about protecting our food quality, assuring adequate pharmaceutical effectiveness and other services best provided by a joint government effort rather than by individuals, cities or states?

We are now all for shrinking government support, at all levels, relying instead on profit-making “private enterprise”. We demonize those who push for more government as out-of-touch “liberals” or “elites” or some other derogatory name. Many of us have become brainwashed to these gut-instinct labels. We no longer look at what policies are being proposed or if they are worth supporting.

We now despise those who are the name-called and demonized, and like being on the “winning” team of the nastiest. We no longer value the basic tenets of democracy, at least as I understand it.

Democracy means active citizenship. It means working in a mutually respectful environment based on trust and fair play. Each side gets to argue its points, compromises are made, and we move forward together. Everyone is engaged and has skin in the game. Today, it is more like, “If I have the power, then I make the rules, and if they primarily benefit me, then join me or suffer!”

So politicians are driven to acquire this power to enable them to rule, demean the opposition and to personally acquire the perks and benefits of power. Working for the common good is not how the real world (of those who “succeed”) works. Join the strongest team and succeed with power and perks. Keep the opposition demeaned and powerless. This is the new criterion for success in government.

I long the good old days of my youth when we all worked together. We helped each other and had a vision of mutual progress, both for ourselves and our country.

Our new focus on “nationalism” and of “America first” is just expending the widely entrenched individual attitude of “me first”.

Most younger Americans have not experienced what I have in my earlier years. To reclaim what we had, more of us seniors and older adults need to speak up, move us back to a mutually constructive and progressive society.

Otherwise, other nations will keep catching up to and exceeding us.

We will not solve our problems like immigration reform, large deficits, extreme income inequality and variable social justice, but instead will continue to flounder, continue scapegoating, and wondering why it has to be this way….IT DOESN’T!  Become an active, involved citizen. The time is now!

George Krebs is an engineer who retired from Motorola.

SRP Board and Solar Energy


My name is Mark Mulligan. My wife Toni Ramsey and I are both native Arizonans and have lived in Tempe/LD 18 since 2000. In 2012, I had solar panels installed on my roof because I believed it would help my pocketbook and also help the environment. In fact, the solar panels do save us about $1500/year on our electricity bill and we generate about 54% of the power we consume.

But in 2015, Salt River Project threatened to eliminate our savings with a new mandatory rate plan for existing and new customers wanting solar power. Luckily, on the last day of a 3 month long public process, the SRP Board grandfathered existing solar power customers, allowing us to keep our existing rate plans. Unfortunately, they did enact a mandatory rate plan for new solar power customers that eliminates the return on investment for the majority of new solar power installations. Installations have plummeted 80% as a result1. This translates into SRP unilaterally taking away your choice to install solar power on your home, even as prices for the technology have fallen dramatically in recent years.

I think this is wrong. I would like to see my LD 18 neighbors, and all Arizonans, have the opportunity to install rooftop solar power and generate their own electricity from our abundant sunshine. Doing so will help their own pocket books, create jobs, while also helping the environment and climate.

On a related note, it is a bit shocking to learn that contrary to SRP’s extensive green advertising touting their concern for the environment, the reality is that SRP generates a scant less than 1% of its own power from solar.

Graphic credit: Sheila Motomatsu, Dennis Burke, both candidates running for the SRP Board

It seems very misguided to ignore a free energy source-a fusion reactor in the sky (our sun)-that has plenty of fuel and requires no maintenance. We can harness this free energy and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels with their negative and costly externalities including air pollution, greenhouse gas contributions, mining damage, and fuel transportation accidents.

Don’t get me wrong. SRP has done great things for the Valley over the last 100 years. SRP’s harnessing of the Salt River to minimize floods and provide a year-round reliable water supply enabled the valley to grow immensely in the 20th century. And SRP is a leader in providing low cost, reliable electrical power. But it is time for SRP to show energy leadership for the next 100 years. That is why I volunteered to help two clean energy minded candidates get elected to the SRP Board in 2016. And it is why I am helping five more new “clean energy” candidates running for the SRP Board, election being held April 3. The SRP election is a little known, special election. If you want to vote in SRP’s election, you must request a ballot from SRP. To request a ballot, check out the five qualified clean energy candidates, donate, or even volunteer with me, check out their website:

1) SRP Solar Installation data:

2018 Environmental Challenges and Opportunities

By Sandy Bahr, Chapter Director, Sierra Club – Grand Canyon Chapter

This year promises to be filled with challenges and opportunities. A key priority for Sierra Club will and must be to prevent environmental backsliding at both the federal and state level and to keep the state from further limiting the actions of local government relative to environmental protection.

Arizona is very lucky to have a multitude of public lands, roughly 28 million acres. These lands include six national forests, three national parks, eighteen national monuments, and nine wildlife refuges, as well as lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Our public lands provide important wildlife habitat, protect our watersheds, and give us ample opportunities for recreation, including hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, and more. They are important to our $20 billion tourism economy as well. Arizonans love our public lands, but unfortunately many in our congressional delegation and at the Arizona Legislature do not.

That is why we will be working overtime in 2018 to stop efforts to privatize or weaken protections for these lands, including preventing actions to remove national monument protections, efforts to rescind a ban on uranium mining on lands surrounding Grand Canyon and other actions to remove or weaken special designations and protective management.

Water is also a key priority this year and every year. We want to ensure that environmental flows are protected in our rivers and streams and prevent further weakening of the limited laws that keep water flowing and limit groundwater pumping. We also want to ensure that the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality does not weaken standards for surface water quality and that there continues to be strong protections for Outstanding Arizona Waters such as Fossil Creek, Davidson Canyon, and more.

Arizona must be a part of the timely transition from fossil fuels to clean renewable energy and energy efficiency in order to address climate change and put our state and our country on track. In fact, Arizona should be a leader. In 2018, there will be opportunities to promote clean energy as part of the utility resource plans at the Arizona Corporation Commission, in legislation, and possibly via a ballot measure. We will be working hard throughout the year to put the clean energy train back on track in our state.

Keeping the Endangered Species Act intact at the federal level and promoting stronger protections and recovery for species such as the Mexican gray wolf is also a top priority. We will be working to prevent Senator Flake from advancing legislation to erect roadblocks to wolf recovery and seeking to stop the multitude of bills aimed at weakening the Endangered Species Act, a key lifeline for many plants and animals. Also, relative to wildlife, Sierra Club strongly supports the proposed ballot measure to limit trophy hunting of mountain lions, bobcats, and other wild cat species. A lot of signatures are needed between now and July to ensure that it is on the ballot for the general election. We will be part of that effort.

Sierra Club and our partners are focused on keeping the Trump administration from erecting more walls along our southern border with Mexico and promoting more humane and rational borderlands policies. We must not let these hateful and environmentally destructive policies advance in 2018.

Our work to support tribal nations and protect Oak Flat, the Santa Ritas, and other sacred and sensitive areas threatened by ill-conceived mining projects will also continue in 2018. There will be environmental reviews and litigation and a concerted effort to protect these lands from foreign mining giants.

As if all of that were not enough, we are extremely concerned about backsliding on air quality for our state. Lately, Phoenix has experienced some of the worst air quality of the year. Rather than take additional measures to ensure that we all have healthy air to breathe, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) is supporting two bills sponsored by Senator Flake that will weaken the Clean Air Act and allow for more exemptions related to “exceptional events,” which frequently means the regular drought conditions we experience. Our lungs are not “exceptional” and should be protected from pollution as mandated by the health-based standards of the Clean Air Act.

That is a lot for 2018 and there will likely be more as well. We are up for the challenges and know that you are too. Our air, water, lands, wildlife, and certainly our health, are too important not to double down on our opposition to bad policies and the politicians who promote them.

Take action to support Clean Energy!

Keep the Grand Canyon uranium mining ban in place!

Sign up to participate in Environmental Day at the Arizona Capitol on February 7. or you can use this shorter bitly link

Sign up for Sierra Club weekly legislative updates!


Sandy Bahr is the Chapter Director, Sierra Club – Grand Canyon Chapter, and advocate for clean air, clean water, clean energy, our beautiful land, and its wildlife.