Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Great Canvass Quest, Day Four: The Perfect Celebratory Song

Tonight, as I finished playing my original song, "Absolutely Happy," I was stunned to realize, that I invented the last 14yrs of my life since moving to AZ exactly for that perfect moment--playing one of my favorite songs, w one of my best friends ever and truly absolutely meaning it. I was happy.

For those of you following this quest, let me reassure you, last night's blog was indeed written and preserved, right up to the moment where I went to save it into the blog and the whole computer died.

In my excitement over restoring my phone to working order, I had walked away from Yuma and left my computer charger behind. I know I will get it later, as will I get the blog from last night. Right now, I am working on a borrowed computer from my great friend, Kathy Svendsen. One of my favorite people in Prescott, Kathy has been fantastically supporting me and even housing me for over a year now when she is not working on her own progressive causes such as challenging the XL pipeline w protests and letters to the editor; weekly voter registration drives and weekly protests against war mentality in general w Grandmothers Against the War. Kathy is among their Prescott chapter.

My day started like the day before had started: waking up to remember I was worried about a terrible technological set-back--this time it was my computer not charging, not my phone not working entirely. Here I am working around the problem.
When I woke at the home of LD22 field guy, Frank Copple, I knew I would get the problem solved. The problem in question was this: like my blog mentioned above, my walk-lists that I had just created had gone down w the computer. Simple enough, Frank cut me lists for my canvasses for the day: Wittmann & Congress. That was that and away we go. Well, me. It's just a phrase, ya know?

Wittmann is a set of twisty streets stacking up to a community in the desert in the dark at nighttime.  I heard from 3 different people that they want street lights. They'd just like some parks for kids to hang-out in. Two of the people who talked about it, signed my petition, so there you have my word: I will do what I can to make something out of your issues. It's what we are supposed to do as candidates,

More soon--

Friday, May 23, 2014

Great Canvass Quest Day Two

“With Imagination, Even the Impossible—“
--said my fortune cookie at lunch today. I tell ya, when it comes to concept of “ impossible,” the prospect of “campaigning on a week-long multiple stop in multiple cities involving dozens of volunteers whose only connection w you comes through the phone” is probably the illustration Wikipedia could use to explain what “not-doable” looks like. But I type this at the end of day two, so gentle reader we all know everything worked out well enough for me to find Internet at 10:30p.

Despite waking up to find I was hugging Marshall Knauf’s bassett-eared boxer-faced bundle of love, Lando, the prospect of facing the impossible task of pulling and/or keeping everything together while phone less had me staying in the sack strategizing as long as possible. I had learned last night that my host had not brought me the petitions or donations that had been collected for me at the county meeting. But maybe the district chair had thought to bring them, if she was quick thinking.
I hopped on the VAN, found her address and off we went. There was a plumbing truck there, my old profession (in the 80s and early 90s). The guy was selling her a new filtering system and I recalled that at the moment Reagan was inaugurated and the hostages were being freed, my son was being born and I had my head stuck under someone’s sink installing a water purifier. Turns out the district chair had thought of bringing the petitions and donations to me, but hadn’t been quite quick enough to think of it before she had left the meeting and been on the road for several miles.
My county chair/LD5 candidate, Joe Longoria, was in town and she let me use the phone to call him and Beth. I couldn’t catch Beth, but I did get through to Joe and we arranged for lunch. I lit-dropped the parking lot while I waited, got a call into Beth on Joe’s phone after noshing, and received the fortune cookie above along w a sweet donation. Before I could leave town though I still had those two voter registration forms from yesterday and had to find the county offices and get someone to receive them. They don’t have an office for voter registration or elections in Havasu. They had one of the biggest, most stylized office buildings in the county, but not one office looking out for the voters. They eventually found me someone to get the forms to the Kingman offices in that day’s interoffice mail. I felt such a relief knowing I hadn’t let those brand new voters down. I saw I needed to start doing so many voter registration drives in LHC that they had to develop a protocol for making sure voters get service.
As I headed south out of LHC I saw this giant back pack bobbing down the shoulder, being hoisted by an even bigger red beard, huffing and puffing. The poor guy was stuck in one of the worst possible hitchhiking spots: two lanes 60 mph of traffic on curves, no shoulder w concrete curbs. There was no place to pull over at all for miles.
He’ll never get a ride, I thought, unless someone really goes through extra ordinary maneuvers to make it happen. & then right away, I started trying to figure out what those maneuvers might be. Dude’s name was Cameron Crow, like the famous director, but not, and w no “e” at the end. He was headed to I-10 to travel west to CA. He had just taken a dip in the Colorado and was at that moment in the middle of a transcendent mood from the experience. He didn’t hear me honking the first time I passed him, in fact. Didn’t understand the 2nd time why a guy now going the opposite direction was honking and gesticulating so. In fact, I had to pass him twice before I could figure out a place to safely pull over, a street away, to pick him up. I then had to park, honk, get out of the truck, jump up and down and yell repeatedly before he realized I was actually referring to him and actually offering him a ride, though parked a block away. Turned out we have a mutual friend in poetry, and a mutual poet friend, Damian Flores, one of the super-star slammers out of Albuquerque. It was a great and rousing ride, we talked of everything at once and shared poems. I drew his attention to the majestic melding of the Bill Williams and Colorado Rivers and the jungle of cattails whose gently waving stalks make the waters feel so blue. I also took him to one of my favorite offices away for the office, the Parker McDonalds. Sneer my dear if you choose, no body serves up more or better hot & ready Internet than the Golden Arches.
So I dropped him on the way out of town and after, some reconnoitering, went back into Parker and picked up a half a page for myself and for Sharon Thomas, who was a bit low on her La Paz County numbers. Cameron was on the side of the road ready for me when I came up. Before long I realized the thing he was tapping on and talking into was a working cell phone, so I got in another visit w Beth.
In Quartzsite, I got to visit w one of my most improbable fans, Jennifer “Jade” Jones, Quartzsite Tea Party leader and republican candidate for LD5. That’s right, she’s my wife’s potential opponent, depending on how the LD5 Republican primary plays out. Jade and her husband, Jack, have been friends of mine since I started going to Quartzsite on a semi-recurring basis starting in the 2012 campaign. I was one of the folks who encouraged her to run since Jones isn’t a typical “movement Republican” like Kelli Ward. 

After a nice visit w Jade and Jack, I had to hightail it to Yuma to get there in time to be functional before dark. As it was I only had time to unload & cut a quick list & then only get to one street before dark. But I did get my symbolically rewarding single signature out of Yuma and it was after dark before we were done.
I got to get into house clothes and share pizza w Mike and Dante, father and son. Dante is a brilliant driven leader in his school, statewide young Dems and the Junior Congress of Arizona and his local Democratic party, despite the fact that he is openly LGBT and only now turned senior. Dante says he intends to grow up to be my chief of staff. W luck we’ll be doing some traveling together this summer. He is the kind of guy I want to see advance, like Aaron Marquez. As I tapped this out and made up the silly pictures, the idea of the leader Dante is capable of being inspires me to build a Yuma program that is big enough to need a chief of staff. Of course, he'd be a good choice. He's already shown me he's good at directions.

Day Two: 190 miles
6 signatures--5 La Paz, 1 Yuma

The same hitchhiker twice

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Great District Wide Canvass Day One

When you ride down Union Pass over the Black Mountains and into the valley of the Colorado, there is a giant digit, some call it a thumb, some call it a finger. Either way, it points west and towards your first sight of Bullhead City. 

Today's canvass involved three locations: Dolan Springs where I got to dance w the wolf-like pup of  PC, Judith Lee. I saw my friends Archie, Julie and Perry and they were all thrilled to sign a page for me, Sharon Thomas, Miss Judith Lee, & Beth who has now announced she is ALSO running for Kingman School Board, now that her AZ House Rep. petitions have been filled. Picked up a two-fer and even a 3-fer and got a registration there as well. 

A quick stop at Grasshopper Junction got me another couple of signatures and a chance to start planning an event for the Chloride community this summer.
Having helped one PC get their wings, or more correctly, their required signatures to be an elected precinct committeeman, I dashed home, completed my packing, shot west across the Golden Valley and tumbled over the western slopes of the Black Mountains & into the sight shown above. Unfortunately, that is an earlier shot, My phone malfunctioned this afternoon and I have no access to any actual photos from today, just yet.
In BHC I worked w another new PC get his page and we got to visit w one of the best people in Mohave politics, BHC's Michelle Arnett, the GOP PC of the 41 Riverbend precinct, right at the western most bend in the river. Ever the gracious host, Michelle brought me and Gerald Ross a soda apiece and had me autograph a copy of one of my books. What fun.
But the real moving part of today was tonight at the Mohave High School graduation ceremony
Again no new pics of that, but here's a shot from last year:
Understand, this annual experience is one of my favorite religious holidays of the year. There is nothing more holy than the excitement of youth as they leap into their future. The joy of  the night is a wave of energy that can boost an adult for days and is one of the most massive experiences of a person's life--their graduation and their graduation night. As a teacher I have made a point of catching this graduation every year since I started having former students graduate. You have to wait for four years to find out who made it and who didn't. So far nine years of students have graduated out of my ten years of teaching. Of those nine years, six times I taught the valedictorian or class president 6 times. This year two former students of mine were among the six tied for the honor.  The mom of one of them cried w me and his dad's eyes beamed all the joy any heart could ever hold at the whole family's completeness of thrill of the moment. 

As usual I cried a couple of times w joy at seeing or talking to a former students and at hearing their name called when they got their walk across the stage. As usual I got hugs all over the place and got to pose w some very sweet graduates in the milieu after the caps have been tossed and the auditorium floods the field for the hugfest.   As usual I spent most of the time during the ceremonies wandering the aisles and embracing former students and parents alike ... and new babies.

Seeing my former students while running for Congress is even more moving. Tonight a former student registered to vote so she could sign my petition and former fellow teachers filled a page for Sharon Thomas on her quest to become the teacher who runs AZ schools. The biggest thrill from tonight, coincidentally came from someone in the very shot above from last year. The kid wide blue gown and prominent award, shown at center of this photo, is Aaron Marquez (not the LD candidate out of PHX w the same name) I taught two of his brothers as well. Aaron came up to me tonight and told  me he has already completed his basics in college and started down the road to become a history teacher. 

Day One:
170 miles
27 signatures for me, a page for Beth Weisser for School Board, 2 PCs getting their signatures, another 20 for Sharon Thomas, 2 registrations and a warm fuzzy welcome from the sweetest Star Wars named pooches on the planet. Hans and Lando licked me so much I may not need to shave in the morning, lol.

Parker & Yuma

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

"Every Day is a Winding Road"--Our Final District Wide Canvass

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I want to thank you all for joining me in the culmination of the 2014 petitioning season. It is your faith that has put me here. This cycle the Mikel Weisser for US Congress campaign has already collected nearly 1000 signatures for our campaign, in addition to collecting over 1500 signatures for other candidates around the district, in keeping w the Arizona Democratic Party’s effort to run in every race.

Along the way our campaign has collected signatures for nearly all of our statewide candidates Fred DuVal, Felecia Rotellini, Terry Goddard, Jim Holway, Sandra Kennedy & my great friend Sharon Thomas. In addition, our campaign has also served as support for legislative candidates in legislative districts 1, 5, 6, 8, 12, 13, 16, & 22, as well as consulting in one school board race and  two legislative races outside my area as well as a fellow congressional candidate’s run in CD5. How did we do this in a beat-up van w no paid staff? THX to you, we have created a regional grassroots network across the entire Congressional District and we are proudly marching on the GOP on our way to Congress.

Congress, AZ, that is.

 As many folks know, Congress, AZ is a small Yavapai County town on Highway 89, just north of Wickenburg. Spared by the Yarnell Hill Fire, the community served as a staging ground for the displaced families after last summer’s fire disaster that killed 19 Granite Mountain HotShots and leveled much of the Yarnell community. Jerry and Judy Stone run the Congress Mercantile, a craft mall & antique center that is itself so unusual the building itself is turning the town into a tourist attraction. Ever the lover of art, you know I had to do at least one day’s canvass in Congress.

SO, starting months back volunteers around the district began consulting w me about the best way to wrap up petitioning season w a trip that will cover most of the district. Many places wound up being left out, not all roads could be traveled in a timely fashion.

But when we began assembling the final schedule, it turned out among our network of volunteers in just the 27 cities we could logistically visit, there are more than 50 people on the email list of candidates and community leaders who are helping make this grand tour work.

You will notice the itinerary below includes all 9 LDs, 7 counties, 27 cities and will take 8 days. In many places volunteers have been collecting petitions and donations for me. If you wouldlike to donate online to do your part to make this process work click here.

& feel free to contact me for a visit: 928-234-5633,

PS: On Friday, in Verado in LD13, an LD candidate, the LD13 chair and two statewide candidates are joining me to canvass in support of my campaign. You are of course invited to join. If it is possible to have local volunteers work w me at any of these stops your please get back to me asap. 

THX again for being part of this, for having faith in my ability to make this extra-ordinary & having faith in our cause.


WednesdayLD5: Dolan Springs, Golden Valley, Bullhead City, Fort Mohave, Topock, Lake Havasu
ThursdayLD5: Lake Havasu, Parker, Quartzsite, LD13: Yuma
FridayLD13: Tonapah, Verado, North Buckeye, LD22: Wittman
SaturdayLD13: Wickenburg, LD1: Congress, Prescott, Prescott Valley
SundayLD6: Prescott, Jerome, Cottonwood, Payson, LD16: Apache Junction
Monday—Assist other candidates outside of district TBA
                   OR, LD8: Florence, San Tan Valley for me & Carmen Casillas, &                       
                    LD12: San Tan Valley for me & Scott Glover
TuesdayLD23: Scottsdale & Turn in, then Assist other candidates
Wednesday--Assist other candidates after turn-in

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Back Story on My Yuma Speech to the Colorado River Tea Party

So, the back story is this: I had an event in Casa Grande the night before and had started a leisurely trip to Yuma when I got the call from Yuma County Democratic Party chair Jesse Lugo--if I could make it to Yjma by 2, he wanted me to attend a candidate event Yuma's Colorado River Tea Party was hosting. I had to hurry and focused on the 3 hour to get to the show on time   ...
  Only to be told when I did indeed arrive on time, that, because I had not been on the original party paperwork, I would not be allowed to speak. Jesse said he'd talked to the stage manager and it was a no go. I found the stage manager, "What up?" I asked of course.
  He explained that the lady on the stage (whom you can briefly see trying to crowd me out of my own shot) was the person in charge. I looked up and she was grimacing my way, holding some of my campaign lit. I went ahead and set up a display immediately and then sat on the otherwise empty front row, right in front of her. A couple of speakers had their turns while I kept staring at her and her 2nd in command, while they pointed at me occasionally, mouthed remarks between themselves (on stage in public) and intensely scowled my way. I replied by mouthing the words, "You've got to let me speak," silently, repeatedly, the harder she scowled the more emphatically I mouthed, "You've got to let me speak."
[Author's note; was this polite? No, not at all. Was that the intention? No, It was all or nothing. Having just driven so far and so well, it was ridiculous to surrender. My job wasn't to support her idea of decorum which was designed to stop me. My job was to speak. I focused.]
   Before long the mistress of ceremonies stopped the show entirely and said we were going to take a short break. Before she finished her sentence telling the audience they had ten minutes, I was at the edge of the stage: "You've got to let me speak."
  "Why? You know your paperwork isn't in order. If you don't have the paperwork, you don't get to speak."
  "I just drove 3 hours to be here, this is a 600 mile trip to be here at this time."
  "It is not 600 miles," she scoffed.
  "Round trip: I live in Kingman, but I came here from PHX and I still have to get home."
  "That is not my concern." She started shuffling her papers.
  I went for broke: "If you don't let me speak it is going to look like you have chosen to stop my message."
  She laughed again, "Why would any one think that?"
  And I turned quiet and serious: "Because I am going to do everything in my power to make sure it looks that way."
 And there was a moment ...
  Then she gulped and looked away, "You have one minute."
  When I bounced up to the stage manager, grinning and told him she gave me a minute, he said, "take two."
  On the original tape, the speech runs 2:30, just saying.
  If all this helps explain the odd tension in the room, then it is worth reading first; though I feel the video production of Mike Means and Gerald Arizona stand for themselves.
  One last note: The video trails w shots of the largely empty hallway. Yuma areaTea Party organizers tell me that 2 yrs ago they had packed the house in this hall at a Yuma city park. There were over 400 chairs set up. We let the tape run just a bit, so you could see how popular the Tea Party message is becoming, even to their own crowd. Now is the time to fight. No wonder they're scared of us winning ... because we are.