Remembering John Roll

To those close friends and families of those slain last Saturday morning outside the Safeway grocery store, January 8 will mark a profound loss that will – even with the passage of time – likely leave an indelible imprint for years and decades to come. The unjustified taking of any life at the hands of another is never acceptable – whether that person be a politician, a judge, a nine-year-old girl, or an elderly retiree.

Some pundits have listed Arizona as the epicenter of violence – from the passage of SB-1070 to Judge Roll’s certification of a lawsuit brought forth by illegal immigrants against ranchers here in Southern Arizona. Even Sheriff Dupnik – in his official capacity – outrageously decried Arizona as the “Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”

While unfortunate that this tragedy has resulted in political finger-pointing, it’s important to remember those lives so indiscriminately taken – among those Chief Judge John Roll. Though I have met Judge Roll personally, I better knew of him through reputation. In 2008, he lectured during my Blackstone Internship and also at the law school.

Many others can, and have, extolled his soundness as a lawyer and jurist; but I knew of his character commitment to the faith. Anytime a solid Christian passes away, a time for mourning is all but inevitable – not only at death, but also for the void that is left from that pillar in the family and the community. If there is a ever a glimmer it is this: for those in Christ, death is not the end. Even the worst tragedies can birth well-springs of life, of hope, and of a stronger future. May God raise up other lawyers and defenders of truth to take his place.


Update: In a powerful tribute to Judge Roll, federal courthouses around the nation lower flags to half-mast.

Arizona’s Budget Deficit: More Cuts to State Programs

Lest ExDeserto drift into blog heaven, I am pleased to finally post this month. At least I can check the box for “September Postings” even though it is a meager meal for voracious readers.

Earlier this morning, I am across this article on the Arizona budget deficit. Arizona is now in $850 million dollar deficit. That’s the good news because the next year, it gets worse with the projected budget next year at $1.4 billion dollars. I have stated before that raising taxes is not the appropriate response to this budget crisis.

Reliance on state funded programs – particularly on non-essential services – creates a welfare state. It’s not uncommon to confuse the non-essential with the essential. Without a doubt, government is needed to police its citizens and maintain stability. When it grows beyond those confines, it risks creating unsustainable benefits or committing superfluous expenditures, even if it is well-intentioned.

To cut this deficit, certain programs will be reduced. To a certain extent, this is unfortunate because corporately, Arizona citizens have become accustomed to certain benefits. Still, while budget and service cuts are inevitable, these cuts will hopefully stimulate the private sector to profitably operate a previously subsidized operation.

So where are we looking to trim these costs? The state-funded universities are not out of the clear yet. In fact, they are probably among the first on the chopping block – rightfully so too. Over-funding public education risks watering down the quality of education. It’s the same problem with socialized medicine.

Speaking of health care: the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) – the state and federally funded health care program – will receive its share of benefit reductions too. These are not easy cuts, especially with healthcare. Nonetheless, a time existed when these programs did not exist, yet we managed; and we will continue to do so.