The Farley Report from Phoenix #119 -- 1-11-11

Howdy,  Friends O'Farley,

I have spent a lot of time talking to various media outlets about the recent horrific events that have changed us forever. Until now, I have not sat down to write about it.

Turns out, writing about it is pretty hard to do. For the last couple of hours I've tried to write this without success. I find myself drawn to reading all the stories of the last few days that I have missed while living them. Maybe you are doing the same.

The stories of heroism continue to take my breath away

Daniel Hernandez you remember as my greatest-ever campaign manager who spent much of his time in the last year signing you up to volunteer for my re-election. It used to be that just us folks in Tucson knew what a treasure Daniel is, but now the whole world knows after his heroic actions saved Gabby's life.

Gabe Zimmerman also ran toward Gabby to help when the shots rang out, but he was cut down by the murderer's bullets on the way. He was one of the kindest, smartest, most dedicated people I have ever met, and we all suffer greatly from the loss of his overflowing spirit.

There is so much more to tell about the events, but I don't want to go there tonight.

I am trying to make some sense of all this -- to develop evidence that we are going through this for a reason. Actually, I think that reason is that we now have it within our grasp to change our political climate from one of anger and division to one of love and reconciliation.

That's a lot to swallow for a regular Farley Report reader, I know. I have been regaling you over the last four years with tales of bad bills and bad behavior with occasional instances of good work being done. And I have not always spoken kindly of my colleagues from across the aisle. I have tried to be fair, and focus my ire on the policy disagreements rather than the disagreeable policymakers. But I confess I have not always succeeded.

Before 10:11am, Saturday, January 8, 2011, we had the luxury of being less than charitable toward our political rivals. Some of us -- on both sides -- lashed out at one another in ways that were extremely hurtful and sometimes hateful.

But now everything must change. Not because these murderous acts were caused by bad politics -- the killer was clearly so deranged that it is impossible to ascribe rational political motives. Things must change because the opportunity is here. We are now so focused on who we want to be as a community that we can seize redemption from the abyss.

That redemption will be a reclamation of our civil discourse from its recent degenerate state filled with anger, hatred, and sometimes references to violence. While such a climate possibly plays a part in pushing a disturbed individual over the edge, the main reason why we must change is so that our renewed Arizona -- yes, the Arizona that has earned a permanent spot on the Daily Show website -- can turn around and transform the entire United States into ONE nation once again.

If you think that sounds naive, you probably weren't in attendance at the opening of the House of Representatives yesterday.

Last Sunday, I called Speaker Kirk Adams and asked him for forgiveness for anything I have ever said to or about him that seemed to him to be hurtful or hateful, and implored him to let me know if I ever do that in the future so that I can make amends immediately.  He told me I should do the same for him.

I had the same exchange with Majority Leader Tobin and Governor Brewer in person on Monday. In fact, you may have seen a photo of me sharing a hug with the Governor on the front page of Yahoo News this morning, which some might see as a sure sign of the pending apocalypse?

In their opening speeches, both the Speaker and the Governor spoke of their commitment to a new era in political dialogue. Speaker Adams told us, "The question shouldn't be:  Why did this happen?, but What do we do now?" And he concluded that what we must do is change the way we talk about each other and act around one another.

Will these nice words translate into reality? Well, today, we introduced a bill at 1:45pm a bill to create funeral protection zones so that demonstrators cannot disrupt a memorial service like those we will see in Tucson in the next weeks. It had 53 co-sponsors in the House, 27 co-sponsors in the Senate, and the vote was unanimous in both houses. The governor signed it, and an hour and a half later, it became law.

I am not under any illusions that the budget -- or anything else, for that matter -- will go this smoothly. Nor should it. A healthy democracy is dependent on strident and continuing debate -- no one of us has all the answers, and there are real differences between the parties. But we must focus our debate on the policies, not the people. And I believe we will.

Whether we do or don't I will continue to report on our successes and failures. I will continue to write about good and bad bills and how things work or don't work around here, and I will continue to try to make this an entertaining read. I do have some very interesting policy ideas in the form of bills, but I'm focusing on the healing of our community this week, and we need time to make that happen.

In this time of tragedy, please take the time to take care of yourself and your friends and neighbors. Little things mean a lot right now -- a wave, a hug, a kind word. Breathe. Celebrate all that we have going for us. And pledge to make our world a better place -- sharing whatever gifts you have -- together.

Thanks for your continuing faith in me as your Representative.

Steve Farley
Arizona State Representative, District 28
Assistant Minority Leader
Ranking Member, Transportation Committee
Ways & Means Committee
Ethics Committee
Legislative Council
Capitol office: 602-926-3022
Tucson office: 520-398-6000
Official email: sfarley at

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