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One Star for Center for Arizona Policy – Truth Watch!

October 31st, 2014

Some of us who live in the Central Phoenix area recently received a direct mail piece that even made our jaded political souls chuckle. With that in mind we decided to publish our very own truth watch….

While we have often been frustrated with the “Pollyannaish” nature of the Republic’s truth watch, their mission of “Keeping Arizona Honest” is a valiant one.

It is in that spirit that we have decided to fact check the Center for Arizona Policy for their latest statement in support of Shawnna Bolick running for the Arizona House in LD 28.


While the Center for Arizona Policy (CAP) has a fine tradition of valiantly protecting “preborn children,” the imagery associated with the quote is not that of a child in a mother’s womb. No, that is a child most definitely post birth – and a really cute one at that!

In the mailer, Cathi Herrod, President of Center for Arizona Policy, says, “we need leaders who will stand up for the most vulnerable in our society.”

So is a child in a mother’s womb part of our society? There may be some room for debate here, like the last 40 years or so, but from Mrs. Herrod’s point of view that preborn child is definitely part of her business, err… society.

So, the quote is paired with a picture of a baby – not a preborn child, if they had the picture of a child in a mother’s womb, the HighGround truth watch would have had not trouble with that. The quote and the picture however, do not match. That’s a one star reduction.

Now, to be clear, babies outside the mother’s womb are still some of our most vulnerable members of “society.” Particularly vulnerable are children born to families who mostly do not live in Ms. Bolick’s Legislative District 28 – Paradise Valley, Scottsdale, Arcadia – or are dues paying members of the Center for Arizona Policy.

When it comes to CAP however, if you are in the womb, you are truly blessed with their favor and support. However, once you are born – particularly if you are from a low income demographic or don’t happen to attend the right church – you are most definitely on your own.

One only needs to look back to Medicaid Restoration to see how much CAP really cares about the “most vulnerable.” During the debate, Center for Arizona Policy did not support restoration. When Governor Brewer, the most pro-life governor ever in the history of Arizona, claimed that being “pro-life” meant taking care of all of the most vulnerable in our society, CAP balked.

Additionally, in an even more ironic twist of fate, CAP also ignored the “will of the voters” argument for restoration (Prop. 204 in 2000), only to roll it out when it more suited their ideological leanings during the recent court decisions about gay marriage.

At the end of the day, CAP was more than willing to allow 63,000 Arizonans, including 5,000 cancer patients in the middle of treatment, to be removed from AHCCCS when the federal authority was set to expire. They were also willing to cut off healthcare for over 10,000 of our veterans who had returned from war and were not yet receiving their VA benefits. We would argue, along with Governor Brewer, that these Arizonan’s certainly were some of the “most vulnerable members of our society.”

So in addition to a one star reduction misleading imagery, we must also unfortunately take another two stars away for the hypocrisy of saying that CAP supports policies which protect the “most vulnerable members of our society”.

If we knew the income demographic or the political affiliation of the parents of the baby featured in the ad, there is a chance that this statement could end up with Zero stars. However, with the information we have at this time, we have no choice but to give Center for Arizona Policy’s statement ONE STAR.

They do care deeply for preborn children.

Acting Big

October 10th, 2014

“Rhetoric is a poor substitute for action, and we have trusted only to rhetoric. If we are really to be a great nation, we must not merely talk; we must act big.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Time and again, the citizens of Arizona have proven that they want a government that actually works.  From Proposition 100 that balanced our budget to Medicaid restoration, the voters have stood up for an effective government that takes action to solve problems – one that acts in the public interest and serves the people of this great State.

In each of these challenges, there has been a lot of “small” talk – the same old rhetoric that drives the “do nothing” narrative.  It appeals to a small portion of the electorate, but it never seems to grow, because rhetoric is indeed a poor substitute for action.  A majority of Arizonans aren’t buying what they’re selling now – no matter how they package up their tired rhetoric.

Once again, voters have the opportunity to act in the public interest, this time by supporting our only public hospital by voting Yes on Proposition 480.

Since before Arizona was even a state, our public hospital was taking care of those most in need in Maricopa County. Today, Maricopa Integrated Health System is providing quality, affordable health care to everyone who enters their doors.  MIHS provides level one trauma care for adults and children, the Arizona Burn Center, and clinics in the underserved areas of Maricopa County.

There are countless reasons to support Proposition 480, but there are three key issues that demonstrate why MIHS is a significant part of the solution to our community health care challenges, not part of the problem:

First, treatment for the mentally ill.  MIHS is largest provider of help for the seriously mentally ill and the only provider of court ordered mental health evaluations.  This year’s resolution of the long-standing Arnold v. Sarn litigation, which challenged the State’s support for the SMI population, is directly tied to our community’s continued support for programs that serve this population.  Each day police officers and fire fighters are on the front line of this problem and it’s clear that they need help.  Adequate treatment for the mentally ill helps public safety and improves our quality of life.  Proposition 480 will help expand and improve treatment for those patients with mental illness.

Second, MIHS is our largest teaching hospital.  We have a critical shortage of medical professionals.  Maricopa Medical Center is the only teaching hospital and it needs to keep up with our region’s demand.  MIHS trains over 400 doctors a year with over 75% of them staying here in Arizona to continue their careers.  Ask your doctor or nurse where they received their training, they are very likely to say MIHS.  No other provider could pick up that slack.

Finally, the fiscal implications of MIHS on the state budget.  As Republic Columnist Bob Robb mentioned in his column on 10/8, as the public hospital, MIHS earns approximately $90 million in federal dollars per year in uncompensated care for the state.  The state in turns holds onto approximately $57 million of that money for their general fund purposes and awards the rest to hospitals throughout Arizona to compensate them for uncompensated care provided to those who cannot afford it.  Without MIHS, the state’s budget hole would be even deeper.

In addition, MIHS patient population is nearly 90% AHCCCS or charity care.  Reimbursement rates for AHCCCS patients are well below that of private insurance. MIHS provides the best care at the lowest possible cost of any health care facility in Maricopa County.  There has been a great deal of hospital consolidation over the past few years.  Without MIHS to keep costs down, greater consolidation could undoubtedly have the effect of raising the rates and reducing competition for the AHCCCS populations.

Our state and our nation are struggling between the ideological extremes of those who want the government to be in charge of everything and those who fiercely believe that the government should do nothing.

The truth is in the middle.  We live in the real world where people get sick, injured, or burned.  People are experiencing behavioral health problems and have no place to turn.  Maricopa County’s population continues to grow and we don’t have enough doctors and nurses to meet demand.  Standing on the sidelines and simply saying no won’t fix these problems.

Is there a cost?  Yes.  And it is right on the website at for all to see.  You can see the total financial obligation and how much it’s going to cost you.   When you cast your vote on Prop 480, though, the real question you should be asking yourself is, “What is the cost to our community’s quality of life if MIHS doesn’t exist?”

The elected board of the health system is asking for the resources to improve your safety net care hospital for those who most desperately need care. Thank God if you are not one of them, and then “think big” and vote “yes.”

Teddy Roosevelt, the President who is most responsible for our state’s existence, would be proud.

HighGround, Inc. was one of the public advocates for creation of the Maricopa County Special Health Care District in 2003 and continues to work on the District’s behalf.  HighGround Inc. is also the General Election consultant on behalf of the YES on 480 Committee.

Roosevelt Row Continues To Impress

September 19th, 2014

HighGround is very proud to be a part of the Roosevelt Row community and the amazing growth we’ve seen here over the past decade. From art galleries to new restaurants and boutiques, Roosevelt Row has become one of the most energetic art districts in the country and people from all over are taking notice.

USA Today just named Roosevelt Row as one of the Top 10 Best City Art Districts in America, a well-deserved honor that proves our community is thriving as the new place to work, shop and live in Arizona. USA Today writes:

“The Roosevelt Row Arts District (RoRo) in downtown Phoenix is a walkable, creative district bedecked with galleries, quirky shops and exhibits by both up-and-coming and old favorite artists. The monthly First Fridays Artwalk includes participation by more than 70 galleries and art-friendly businesses who open their doors, creating what may be the nation’s largest, self-guided art walk. From its humble artist beginnings in 1993, the neighborhood has developed to include award-winning restaurants, galleries, boutiques and live music venues.”

Congrats to the entire Roosevelt Row community on this outstanding recognition!

Read the USA Today article here.

Fighting Fires, Solving Problems

August 12th, 2014

We have known Bryan Jeffries for several years and have been proud to work with him many local and statewide issues.  He is a man of integrity and someone you can count on to listen, even when he doesn’t agree.  He has expressed these qualities in his work as a community member, leader of the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona, and on the city council.

All unions are most certainly not the same and Tim Hill and Bryan Jeffries have helped the fire fighters to take their own thoughtful path.  Bryan is a worthy successor to Tim and will continue to fight for smart reforms.

The New York Times featured Bryan’s latest efforts to solve the problems facing the long term viability of the pension system.  According to the article, his bold efforts are based on the notion “that emergency workers have a special obligation to protect the public not only from physical peril, but also from financial ruin.”  Read the article.

Today, the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona endorsed another problem solver – Mayor Scott Smith.

“Mayor Scott Smith prioritized public safety while leading Mesa through an economic recession and used innovation to improve response time for first responders,” stated Bryan Jeffries, president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona. “His commitment to keeping Arizona families and neighborhoods safe is exactly what we need in our next Governor. We’re proud to stand with Mayor Scott Smith and support his campaign.”

During his time as Mayor, Smith worked with first responders to reduce response times, increase safety, and improve efficiency.  They implemented innovations such as Transitional Response Vehicles (TRV) to respond to low level calls and get people the help they need.  Read the article.  It was reforms like these that helped Mayor Smith balance Mesa’s budget even in the depths of the recession.

Like Governor Brewer said in her endorsement of Mayor Smith, Arizona needs more people who are willing to tell Arizonans the truth and tackle the actual problems that face our state.

Wide open race: GOP voters holding on to their ballots

August 8th, 2014

Despite claims that the bid for the Republican nomination for Governor is a “two candidate race,” the fact is – the race hasn’t really even started.  The horses have barely left the gate and the Republicans appear to be waiting to see how they do down the stretch.

The first few days of early ballot returns in MaricopaCounty show that Republicans are taking their time to return their early ballots.  Through the first few days of voting, only 27,193 Republicans have cast their vote – a 36% decline compared to a similar period of time in 2012.

While Republicans are holding on to their ballots, Independents are turning theirs in at a much higher rate.  Through the first few days of voting, 3,925 Independents have cast a Republican Ballot.  That is a 48% increase in participation over the same period in 2012.

Only time will tell if Independent returns stay at such a high level.  However, based on an estimate of approximately 550,000 voters participating in the Republican primary, that would mean only 5.6% of the ballots have been cast.  In comparison, more than 8.8% of the total ballots were cast in the first few days of the 2012 Republican Primary.

So, there are 94.4% of likely voters who still have a ballot in their hand.  That certainly doesn’t bode well for the “too late” narrative that some pundits have ascribed to Governor Jan Brewer’s recent endorsement of Mayor Scott Smith.

The race for the Republican nomination for Governor remains wide open.  Smith will have a big dose of Brewer momentum going into the home stretch.