OLD – Passing laws that count…
Some of Ted’s actions that benefit many areas of Arizona
- Election Reform
- Educational infrastructure
- Rio Nuevo Accountability
- Wildlife management
- Protecting Victims of Hit and Run Drivers
- Energy and costs savings in schools
- Animal Rights
Protected the integrity of election systems and election reform, including giving Arizona voters the right to a hand-count audit of their paper ballots to compare to the electronic machine counts. His work continued after he left office, working with his former colleagues on both sides of the aisle, he spearheaded the closing of a serious loophole that he found in Arizona election law that did not permit observers into non-partisan elections – a lack of oversight for political parties and observers when billions of dollars of bond elections take place. In 2009 he was appointed member of Sec. of State Ken Bennett’s committee to revised the Arizona Election Procedures Manual, the regulations of state election law.
Supported knowledge-based economic development, particularly through the higher education, in the fastest growing state in the US. [At its dedication, the Speaker ProTemp recognized Ted's contribution to legislation for financing and construction of the University of Arizona's Bio5 Research Building. And the University of Arizona Alumni Association and the College of Education recognized his advocacy in 2005, presenting him with the Outstanding Legislative Achievement for Education Award.
Working with Republican State Representatives Bill Konopnicki, John McCommish, and Russ Jones, Ted also organized a coalition of businesses and educator to support an off-campus, work study that would have allowed students an opportunity to work with local businesses before graduation.
Rio Nuevo - Accountability for misuse of public funds
Tucson voters approved a 10-year tax-increment financing plan for Rio Nuevo in 1999. In 2006, the entire Southern Arizona legislative delegation, Republicans and Democrats, sponsored legislation to extend the funding of the Rio Nuevo project - save Ted Downing. Downing wanted to see voter approval and without an audit as a condition for extending a project which, by then, had done nothing. Standing alone for accountability and transparency, Ted amendments would have given the public a right to audit Rio Nuevo by placing its expenditures on the web and vote on a project plan were defeated in a roll call vote. That vote includes all Southern Arizona legislators - both Rs and Ds.
He opposed the Rio Nuevo extension until it became clear that he couldn't compel a vote of the people and an audit.
Insisted on fiscal accountability, including placing public expenditures on the internet, including the Tucson Rio Nuevo Project.
Ted feels the people are powerful auditors of government, if they have easy access to what their government is doing.
Alone against Southern Arizona legislative opposition, his reforms failed. In retrospect, such accountability might have protected RN from subsequent legislative attacks. These transparency measures were ultimately instituted by the legislature in 2009.
In both instances, Downing followed his conscience and represented his district, despite pressure from fellow local legislators.
In 2006, Democrat Senator Paula Aboud mailed out a political hit piece mailer accusing Ted of not supporting Rio Nuevo - citing this action. And Republican Jonathan Paton voted against Downing's amendment for transparency of RN expenditures but later an measures of his own - taking credit after the horses were out of the barn. By 2012, it is clear that Ted was right to demand accountability and transparency on Rio Nuevo spending.
By 2012, $230+ million has gone down a rathole - the precise details should soon appear in an expensive audit. The dollars may have been kept in Tucson, not Phoenix, but what happened to this money?
“Illegal” mountain lions
the origins of the Arizona Urban-Wildlife Interface Program
Do the Right Thing Law - Protecting Victims of Hit and Run Accidents
When hit-and-run drivers were killing our children, Ted
wrote and then passed into law the “Do the Right Thing Law”to encourage drivers not to abandon victims. He wrote an innovative “do-the-right-thing” law to protect hit-and-run accident victims, permitting judges to mitigate or aggravate sentencing based on how the violator treated the victim following the accident.The Republican majority liked his idea so much that they set partisanship aside, allowing Ted to substitute his law for one of theirs. Permitting the minority to "strike" the language of a majority bill and substitute it with their language rarely happens in the Arizona legislature.
Energy and cost savings through bipartisan cooperation
When Republican House member Randy Graf and Ted drafted and passed an energy-cost savings law for education - saving school districts and other public agencies tens of millions of dollars. It is now considered a model energy law by the EPA. Ted sponsored new bipartisan laws encouraged the use of alternative energy, energy conservation, and clean air technologies. Working with the Republic Majority Whip in the House, one of his laws, HB2324 (2003 session) set energy conservation targets for newly constructed state buildings, an idea that ultimately saved K-12 schools and other public buildings millions of dollars. The US Environmental Protection Agency singled out this law as “leading by example.” Read a Arizona Energy Office report outlining the energy and costs savings as of 2009.
Placing the US Constitution in every Arizona Classroom
Ted amended a Republican bill (Rep. Russell Pearce) to display the flag in every classroom. The ACLU had long desired to place the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights into every Arizona classroom. Ted successfully argued that it was important to “place the substance, not just the symbol” in the classroom. His colleagues agreed….well, almost.
His hyper-partisan, Democrat colleague Senator Aboud objected to Ted’s cooperation with the Republican majority, calling placing the US Constitution in the classroom a “gimmick” in 2006. Ted disagrees. He believes the Constitution the foundation of our system of government that should be seen and studied by students and all Americans.
Protecting our pets – “The Voice for the Voiceless”
When Pima County domestic pets were being stolen for dog fighting. Pima County Sheriff Dupnik brought a problem to Ted’s attention. Dog napping was not a serious crime, since a domestic dog, as property, is worth only a few dollars (yes, but they are very valuable to those of us who love them). He worked both sides of the aisle, writing, rewriting and negotiating to get passed in law an increased the protection of domestic pets from being stolen for dog fighting. At one point, he attached dog biscuits to his personal letter to each Senator, requesting their support.
For this work, Ted earned the “Voice for the Voiceless” Award from the Pima County Humane Society.
Protecting Due Process and Property Rights
Projects designed for public benefits often inflict economic to residents, tenants and property owners that are in their path. Ted acted even when not in office. Remember, he has an international reputation as a consultant working on displaced peoples (www.displacement.net).
The RTA Grant Road and 22nd Street expansions are examples of public projects that may, if improperly designed and underfinanced may inflict damages on businesses, homes, and property owners. In Arizona, properties being taken and tenants being moved by a federally funded project had, until Ted and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Gray (R-Mesa) noticed it, greater rights than those being taken by projects that were not federally funded. This was wrong.
Ted then worked with Senator Gray and with neighborhood coalitions, businesses, and homeowners associations to protect property rights. The new 2010 eminent domain law gives those in the way of nonfederally funded projects the same Constitutional 5th Amendment rights as if they were being harmed by a federal project.
With 1/3 of the state independent and most Republicans and Democrats feeling alienated from their party core, Isn’t it about time for this to happen? Isn’t Ted your choice?