Letters To The Editor The Chandler Arizonan

Letters To The Editor

Letters To The Editor

Independent voters should be allowed in presidential primary

I’m not allowed to vote in Arizona’s presidential preference election (PPE) on March 17.  It’s a tough pill for me to swallow.

I served more than 30 years on military active duty followed by 14 years in Arizona State service. Throughout both careers, I remained apolitical.

To vote in Arizona’s closed PPEs, one must be a registered Republican or Democrat. It’s a difficult ask for most of Arizona’s 1.4 million registered Independents.

  I chose not to change my registration. I could not add my name to the partisan divide polarizing our democracy, even if it would have given me the opportunity to vote.

Barring registered Independents from voting in PPEs created a perception of voter disenfranchisement and voter suppression.  The Legislature tacitly supports this by funding closed PPEs with public money from Republican, Democrat, and Independent taxpayers.

Fortunately, closed PPEs can be remedied if there is a will to do so.  Our elected officials can eliminate public finding and compel the parties to use their own money.

Or better yet, pass legislation opening PPEs to all registered voters.  Democracy matters!

-Dennis Flaherty

Chandler engineer fights rigged Arizona system

If Greg Mills is not an engineer, it would be a surprise to General Dynamics.

The aerospace and defense contractor hired him from Rayovac in 1996, and put him to work designing electronics for satellites and other sophisticated systems.

As a “responsible design engineer,” he even supervised teams of other engineers at the Fortune 100 company.

But now Mills has gone solo as co-founder of his own electrical design shop in Chandler, industry insiders on a government board have decided to shut him down.

They assert any independent agent in Arizona who uses the “engineer” label or does any kind of engineering work must first obtain permission from the state – even when someone like Mills has more than 30 years of relevant experience.

The Arizona Board of Technical Registration does not care about such accomplishments.

It will not let entrepreneurs break free from existing firms and spin-off potential rival firms without first accumulating eight years as an apprentice to a state-licensed engineer.

Mills never did this before starting his company, Southwest Engineering Concepts. Neither did the founders of Amazon, Apple, Google and HP.

They just opened shop and went to work. Apparently, Arizona cannot tolerate this kind of entrepreneurial spirit.

Fortunately, Mills decided to fight back. As SanTan Sun News writer Kevin Reagan reported earlier this year, he partnered with the nonprofit Institute for Justice and filed a civil rights lawsuit to defend his free speech rights and freedom to earn a living.

Among other issues, the complaint highlights a double standard allowing Mills to work as an engineer for someone else in Arizona, but not for himself.

The loophole, set up for big companies like General Dynamics, allows the vast majority of Arizona engineers to work without a license as long as their employer manufactures products.

Mills does not do this at his small business because he is an engineer, not a manufacturer. But he worked for 20 years as an employee under the exemption.

Even if he had stayed in the corporate world for another 20 years, he never would have met the apprenticeship requirement because Arizona manufacturers don’t keep licensed engineers on their payrolls.

The rule only applies to others, not themselves.

Mills rejects this unequal protection under the law.

He does not even engage in the kind of engineering requiring a license. Most licensed engineers work on construction plans—signing and stamping plans for bridges, buildings and public works.

Mills does not do any of this, nor does he design anything going into such projects.

Instead, he helps small businesses, startups and other entrepreneurs turn their ideas for new electronic products into prototypes for manufacturing. This was his dream when he took off his employee badge and hired himself in 2008.

Since then, his essential job functions have not changed. But now, after more than 10 years, the state board wants to shut him down and fined him thousands of dollars.

This interference is not right.

Mills’ ability to earn an honest living should not depend on whether he receives a W-2 or 1099 tax form.

A law based on such an arbitrary distinction cannot stand.

If he is qualified to work for a manufacturer, he is qualified to work for himself.

–Adam Griffin

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