Occupy Phoenix Endures,
Plans Feb. 29 Action
Although No Longer Omnipresent At Cesar Chavez Plaza, The Valley’s Occupy Movement Joins National Action Against ALEC
The American Legislative Exchange Council counts the above companies as contributors.
By John Guzzon
Modern Times Magazine
Feb. 25, 2012 — Even though the occupation of Cesar Chavez plaza ended in January, Occupy Phoenix is keeping the movement alive in the Valley and have organized a day-long set of activities Feb. 29 to protest the American Legislative Exchange Council.
Occupy Portland called for the ALEC action Jan. 2 and Occupy Phoenix is one of 70 cities and towns across the U.S. where actions are planned. Participating Occupy cities have targeted American Legislative Exchange Council companies. In Phoenix, a press conference and rally will be held at the state capitol at noon Wednesday, Feb. 29. A march to Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold at Van Buren and First streets will begin from Cesar Chavez plaza at 3 p.m. Arizona companies involved in ALEC include Apollo Group, Arizona Public Service, Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold, Raytheon and SRP. A “scenic tour” of other ALEC companies in downtown Phoenix will begin at 5 p.m.
“Occupy Phoenix invites all Arizonans to speak out on #F29, a national day of action against the member corporations who make up the American Legislative Exchange Council,” according to a release from Occupy Phoenix. “ALEC writes "model" bills and then wines and dines state legislators all across the country in order to circumvent the democratic process and push their own agendas. They create legislation to maximize their own profit at the expense of democracy, the environment, and the real people who their laws affect.”
According to ALEC statistics, their task forces have, “considered, written and approved hundreds of model bills on a wide range of issues, model legislation that will frame the debate today and far into the future. Each year, close to 1,000 bills, based at least in part on ALEC Model Legislation, are introduced in the states. Of these, an average of 20 percent become law.”
Some of the high-profile topics that ALEC has helped to shepherd include mandatory minimum sentencing, teacher competency testing, pension reform, immigration, and enterprise zones.
Operating mostly out of the limelight throughout the 1990s, ALEC came under scrutiny from national publications and activist organizations such as Common Cause after the millennium. Common Cause is currently fighting to have ALEC’s non-profit status revoked since they claim that the group is little more than an effort to circumvent lobbying restrictions.
According to the Arizona Capitol Times, ALEC claims Arizona passed 19 of the 36 ALEC model bills that were introduced in the legislature in 2010.
Occupy Phoenix led a slew of protests when ALEC held a conference at the Scottsdale Kierland Resort in November.
Giant puppets are expected to be utilized at the #F29 day of action events in Phoenix and a workshop to help build the puppets is scheduled from 2 to 5 p.m. this Sunday at the Indie Arthouse, 1504 NW Grand Ave., Phoenix.
When the occupation of Cesar Chavez plaza ended a month or so ago, some might have thought the Occupy movement was dead in the Valley of the Sun. Participation might not rival the enthusiasm exhibited in October and November — less than 200 people have confirmed their attendance for the Feb. 29 action via the group’s Facebook page — the surviving movement within the Valley has become a more diverse effort. Besides Occupy Phoenix, there are also newly emerging Occupy-associated groups, including Occupy Tempe, Occupy ASU and Occupy the Valley. The Cyber 99, the group of Occupy Phoenix participants that are involved with the movement mainly through social media, is also still flourishing.
Occupy Phoenix general assembly meetings are currently being held at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and 5 p.m. on Saturdays at Cesar Chavez plaza.
Each Sunday since late December, members of Occupy Phoenix have been descending on the town of Guadalupe to help the community in their fight against trash. The cleanup group meets at noon on Sundays at 5445 E. Calle San Angelo, Tempe.
A splinter group of Occupy Phoenix activists have formed a Phoenix May Day Action Committee. The aim of this group is to engage a general strike throughout Phoenix on May 1. Although many members of this committee are also part of Occupy Phoenix, the May Day General Strike is not “sanctioned” by Occupy Phoenix. This group will hold their next meeting at 5 p.m. March 3 at Conspire Cafe, 901 N. 5th Street, Phoenix.
John Guzzon is editor of Modern Times Magazine. Follow him @johnnyguzz.