Phoenix Union High School District (PXU) issued a mask mandate on Friday, in violation of state law. The mandate was issued three days before the district began its fall semester.
“We teach and trust science, follow guidelines and recommendations from health experts, and use health data to drive our decisions. The science is clear that the best way to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19 and known variants is to get vaccinated,” announced PXU. “In an effort to protect our staff, students, and community, PXU has a good faith belief that the following guidance from the CDC and other health agencies regarding mitigation strategies is imperative. Therefore, Phoenix Union will begin the school year on August 2 enforcing our existing Board-adopted mask requirement of universal indoor masking only, regardless of vaccination status.” Read More
The cities of Phoenix, Tucson, Peoria, Tempe, and Flagstaff have all announced reinstatement of their mask mandates following the updated CDC guidance. The mayors of these cities directed their officials to mandate masks in city facilities regardless of vaccination status. Tempe and Tucson’s mandate went into effect on Wednesday, Peoria’s mandate on Thursday, and Flagstaff’s mandate on Friday. Phoenix’s mandate will go into effect on Monday.
As The Arizona Sun Times reported, the CDC recommended on Tuesday that everyone – even fully-vaccinated individuals – wear masks inside public spaces where high transmission rates exist. The CDC claimed that this reversed guidance was influenced by the surge of Delta variant cases. The CDC mentioned that certain data necessitated this change, but hasn’t published it. Read More
The former Secretary of State serving as the liaison for the Arizona State Senate Audit, will remain in his capacity as liaison after all. This is the second time that Senate President Karen Fann (R-Prescott) has apparently walked Bennett back from the brink of walking away from the audit. Their latest agreement to keep Bennett on was less publicized than the first; no official statements have been put forth concerning the new terms of Bennett’s role. Per their agreement, Bennett will regain access to the building and may obtain information from the auditing company, Cyber Ninjas, upon request.
As The Arizona Sun Times reported on Thursday, Bennett has gone back and forth over his decision to bow out of the audit. Bennett relayed those sentiments twice this week: once on Monday, then again on Wednesday. Both times, Bennett discussed stepping down from his role with the radio host James Harris on morning episodes of The Conservative Circus. Both times, Bennett said he was liaison “in name only” because he was repeatedly excluded from overseeing critical aspects of the audit. Read More
On Wednesday, the Arizona Senate’s audit liaison Ken Bennett announced he will step down from the audit. Bennett issued the announcement on Wednesday morning in a radio interview.
Bennett said it was “impossible” to function as liaison, and revealed that volunteer consultant Randy Pullen would be assuming his duties. He said he would be a liaison in name only. Bennett refused to approve any final report on the audit, since he wasn’t allowed inside any longer. Read More
Reverend Jesse Jackson and 38 others were arrested during a protest of Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s (D-AZ) stance on the filibuster rule outside of her Phoenix office on Monday.
The arrested protestors were charged with trespassing, according to Phoenix Police Public Information Officer Mercedes Fortune. The protestors were voicing opposition to Sinema’s lack of support for the proposed filibuster reform. Without reform or abolition of the 60-vote filibuster rule, Senate Democrats can’t pass massive election reform in the For the People Act. Read More
Pima County Recorder Gabriella Cázares-Kelly claimed Monday that white supremacy caused fear of Indian reservations and Tucson’s Southside area – not the high crime rates.
One way that white Supremacy impacts organizations is when the [people] in charge are scared of certain locations [because] the residents don’t look like them and/or their communities are structured differently. ‘It’s not safe to go on the Southside.’ ‘The reservation is kinda scary.’ A decision is made at the top because of an individual’s comfort level and the priorities to engage or not engage with that community stop before any attempt can ever be made. ‘We’ll, [sic] they don’t even vote.’ Those sentiments are transferred to staff and opinion can become a practice or policy. ‘We don’t do outreach in this region because it’s not considered safe.’ ‘We require two staff members to travel there and we can’t spare anyone right now.’ ‘We don’t usually do outreach there.’ The fear of engaging in certain areas populated by Black, Indigenous, People of Color is then justified by the concept that those regions are dangerous or unsafe. The white Supremacy is believing that communities must look a certain way before they can be engaged. Read More
The CDC awarded the University of Arizona (UA) $15 million to study COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness and immunity in children and underserved communities. Children as young as 4 months to minors as old as 17 years will be eligible for study of the emergency use authorization vaccine. The announcement didn’t specify who qualified as an “underserved community.” The grant was awarded specifically to the Arizona Healthcare, Emergency Response, and Other Essential Workers Surveillance (AZ HEROES) study, originally designed with a focus on frontline workers such as firefighters.
AZ Heroes lead official and associate dean for research and professor at Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, Jeff Burgess, asserted that this research would offer a better understanding of how effective COVID-19 vaccines are in youth. Read More
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich responded to the Biden Administration’s interest in potentially reviving a pre-K and K-12 discipline policy based on race. The U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a request for information early last month, asking the public to submit written comment on the state of discipline in pre-K and K-12 schools. In the accompanying press release, ED alluded that it would form policy to reduce the number of certain demographics being disciplined at higher rates, specifically citing Black and disabled students. Public commentary for ED’s request for information closed last Friday.
In response, Brnovich organized a coalition of 15 other attorney generals to submit a letter to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona opposing any discipline policy based on race. Brnovich asserted that a policy similar to the Obama-era discipline policy would be illegal. In 2014, the Obama Administration imposed a policy requiring schools to include disparate impact requirements within their disciplinary guidelines, referred to as the “2014 Dear Colleague Letter.” Brnovich recounted the history and cited several stories detailing failures of the policy, like students receiving no discipline for assaulting teachers. Read More
A federal court dismissed a lawsuit filed by former State Representative Donald Shooter claiming that his expulsion from the legislature due to sexual harassment allegations was conspired. Circuit Court Judge Daniel Collins issued the ruling last Thursday in the case, Donald Shooter v. State of Arizona, et al.
Shooter alleged that former speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives and current state senator, J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler), and Governor Doug Ducey’s former chief of staff, Kirk Adams, orchestrated his expulsion from the legislature. He claimed that he was targeted while serving as the Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman after he attempted to investigate further the possibility that the state was engaging in no-bid contracts for technology purchases. Due to this, Shooter asserted that he was deprived of equal opportunity and due process. Collins dismissed the case for a failure to state a claim: the judge found no plausible inference of sex discrimination, and opined that no due process claim could be present because Mesnard and Adams were entitled to qualified immunity. Read More
The Tucson City Clerk approved the signatures for a petition to adopt a $15 minimum wage citywide, meaning it will be placed on this November’s ballot. If approved by voters, the minimum wage would increase incrementally for the next four years, starting in April of next year. The minimum wage would first increase to $13 next year, $13.50 by January 2023, and $14.25 by January 2024. That means the $15 minimum wage would be established in January 2025.
The city clerk’s office verified with The Arizona Sun Times that they certified the petition on Thursday, called “The Tucson Minimum Wage Act.” The petition needed over 14,800 signatures; the campaign reportedly gathered over 25,000 signatures. The campaign, Tucson Fight for $15, submitted the signatures at the beginning of this month. Read More
Arizona State University (ASU) announced Wednesday that its latest hire is a Critical Race Theory scholar. ASU said that the new assistant professor of music learning and teaching, Dr. Joyce McCall, focuses her research on Critical Race Theory and other related disciplines.
“McCall is one of the few scholars whose music education research focuses on race and racism through critical race theory and double consciousness theory, as well as culturally relevant pedagogy,” reported ASU. Read More
State Senator Paul Boyer (R-Glendale) won’t hold Maricopa County election officials in contempt for noncompliance with the Senate’s subpoena for election equipment and materials needed to complete the audit. This was revealed by Senate President Karen Fann (R-Prescott) after Senate Liaison Ken Bennett shared that one of sixteen Republican senators wouldn’t hold the county accountable.
The auditing company, Cyber Ninjas, explained in a hearing last week that they still lack the splunk logs, chain of custody documents, portable media and external drives, router configuration files or data, network diagram, backups of election management data, digital copies of all election policies and procedures utilized, files transmitted for duplicating or spoiling ballots, records of all paper distributed to vote centers, information and guidelines on adjudication of ballots, total count of all ballots sent to eligible voters on the state’s voter information portal (UOCAVA), and a full backup copy of database of voter rolls. Read More
The Phoenix Suns Arena will now be known as the “Footprint Center,” named after their new partner: local material science and environmentalist company, Footprint. This partnership will reportedly advance environmentalist initiatives concerning plastics. The company’s main initiative is eliminating single-use plastics entirely.
Included in the partnership are the valley’s professional men’s and women’s basketball teams, the Phoenix Suns and Mercury, as well as the professional men’s soccer team, Real Mallorca. Read More
During the Arizona Senate hearing on the election audit in Maricopa County Thursday morning, audit officials reported discovery of issues such as ballot duplicates and surpluses, voter roll data, and machine security. The audit officials testifying were Senate Liaison Ken Bennett, Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan, and digital security firm CyFIR founder Ben Cotton. Cyber Ninjas is conducting the audit.
The Arizona Sun Times checked the Arizona legislature website at 8 am MST. The website was down. All that was displayed was an error message that said service was unavailable. The website remained that way until sometime after the Senate hearing began. Read More
Mesa Public Schools (MPS) updated their dress code policy to make it more equitable and prohibit “hate speech.” Nowhere in their current policies does MPS define “hate speech.”
As reported by The Arizona Sun Times last month, MPS General Counsel Kacey Gregson said that students would have a right to express their political beliefs unless it could be perceived as “hate speech,” promoting violence, or immediately or potentially causing substantial interference with the learning environment. Read More
U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Pete Buttigieg will visit Phoenix on Thursday to discuss the Biden Administration’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan. The Arizona Sun Times inquired with the DOT for further details of Buttigieg’s visit. They didn’t respond by press time.
Buttigieg is scheduled to host a press conference at 10 am MST. During the press conference, Buttigieg is expected to address the infrastructure plan’s impact on tribal communities. In April, Buttigieg promised that tribal communities would benefit from the infrastructure plan’s investments into roads, broadband, water, higher education, and transportation. Read More
The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) awarded Northern Arizona University (NAU) $1 million to teach culturally responsive education in tribal schools. The grant, awarded at the beginning of last month, will apply to professional development programs and fellowships for tribal educators.
“Believing in the power of teachers and the desire to grow their capacity to write and teach curriculum that is culturally responsive is at the forefront of the Institute for Native-serving Educators (INE)[,]” read NAU’s press release. Read More
An Arizona State University (ASU) professor asserts that parents shouldn’t have a say when it comes to their children’s transgender medical decisions. These sentiments appeared in an article by ASU assistant philosophy professor and bioethicist Maura Priest, published early last month by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Priest argues that only the child can decide what’s best for them when it comes to medical treatments for transitioning genders. Read More
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is seeking an injunction on President Joe Biden’s executive order halting the border wall construction. Brnovich wants the Biden Administration to reverse their current border policies and refrain from any further action until they analyze the environmental impact of those policies per the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
The attorney general’s office submitted the injunction request in an amended complaint. The original lawsuit, State of Arizona v. Mayorkas et al, argues that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and federal officials violated NEPA by not providing environmental impact statements or assessments when they halted construction of the border wall and permitted additional migrant entry by ending the “Remain in Mexico” policy. Read More
The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) informed The Arizona Sun Times that the White House hasn’t contacted them about the Delta variant response teams.
The Biden Administration announced in a press briefing last week that it would be launching these response teams due to the expectation of a surge in the COVID-19 Delta variant, which they claim is more infectious and dangerous. White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients explained that these response teams would have five focuses: increase testing and contact tracing; provide therapeutics for the infected; deploy federal personnel for vaccination, testing, and therapeutics; assist with public health response work like epidemiology, data analysis, field investigations; and increase vaccinations through campaigns. Read More
U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton denied Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s request to require timely deportations from federal authorities. Federal law states that authorities must deport illegal immigrants within 90 days.
In the ruling, issued last Wednesday, Bolton conceded that the law does require deportations within 90 days at first glance. However, Bolton explained that closer inspection of the law and history rendered its intent dubious. Read More
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich called President Joe Biden’s plan to go door-to-door encouraging COVID-19 vaccinations “alarming.” In a letter submitted to the president Tuesday, Brnovich told Biden that he wouldn’t tolerate breaches of privacy concerning Arizonans’ vaccination status.
“I, along with many Arizonans, was greatly alarmed by your White House indicating that it might be in possession of medical records revealing the contact information for Americans who have not been vaccinated,” wrote Brnovich. “If this is the case, this is a severe breach of privacy, and I will not tolerate such intrusions within Arizona.” Read More
Phoenix City Council approved $8 million in CARES Act Funding for two nonprofit organizations to provide homeless shelter services. The contracts began on Thursday and end June 2023.
These contracts are the latest effort to mitigate over 7,400 individuals that make up Phoenix’s homeless population – an estimated 11 percent increase from the 2019. Currently, there are only enough shelter beds for approximately 23 percent of the city’s homeless population. Read More
Arizona State University (ASU) debuted a new undergraduate degree geared toward social justice activism, called community development. The course description describes education on the basics of activism, citing concepts like diversity, inclusivity, sustainability, equity, and social and environmental justice. If students enjoy studying community development, they may also earn a graduate degree in it.
“The BA program in community development equips students with tools to collaborate with, empower and educate diverse community constituents by drawing on grassroots and inclusive frameworks such as sustainable development, social and environmental justice, participatory democracy, social and economic equity and social accounting,” reads the course description. Read More
Tucson’s latest budget included a $500,000 allocation for the creation of an Office of Equity to advance social justice and eliminate racism.
Mayor Regina Romero included news of the allocation in an announcement about the budget approval last Monday. Read More
One of Arizona’s largest newspapers is suing the state Senate and the contracted company running the audit, Cyber Ninjas, for access to their election audit records and financial records. The Arizona Republic, part of the Gannett mass media company, filed a special action on Wednesday in the Maricopa County Superior Court – case number LC2021-000180. Reportedly, the Senate denied the paper’s request for access to the audit and financial records, saying they weren’t public record. The specific information they hope to obtain includes the process for the audit, businesses involved, funding sources, and all communications of those involved.
The plaintiffs in the case are Phoenix Newspapers and Kathy Tulumello, news director for The Arizona Republic. Including the state Senate and Cyber Ninjas, the other defendants named are Senate President Karen Fann (R-Prescott), Senate Majority Leader Warren Petersen (R-Gilbert), and the secretary for the Senate, Susan Aceves. Read More
The Arizona audit is wrapping up its operations and has moved out of its three-month home: the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. For about another week, audit workers will finish up in another building on the fairgrounds, the Wesley Bolin Building. Auditors will be able to use the building until July 14.
Although officials told The Arizona Sun Times that they would be finished by last Saturday, more work popped up after the county submitted additional resources that required review. Randy Pullen, a volunteer consultant to the Arizona Senate for the audit, estimated that they would be done sometime next week. He explained to The Sun Times that the slight delay occurred because the county submitted log reports on duplicate ballots last minute. Those logs showed how many from every batch were taken out by the county for duplication. Read More
Thursday, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) upheld Arizona law prohibiting ballot harvesting and out-of-precinct voting. The three dissents in the case, Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee (DNC), came from Justices Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor. The DNC had argued that the state’s bans on ballot harvesting and out-of-precinct voting discriminated against minorities, thereby violating the Voting Rights Act. SCOTUS rejected that assessment.
Arizona law prohibits individuals from casting provisional ballots in person on Election Day outside of their designated precinct. It also prohibits ballot harvesting, meaning that only family and household members, caregivers, mail carriers, and election officials can handle individual’s ballots. Read More
Tucson will side with the federal government over state law when it comes to gun regulations, according to its city council’s latest resolution.
According to the resolution, passed last Tuesday, states don’t have the right to reject federal law. The city council directed the city manager to continue using city personnel and financial resources to carry out any federal actions or programs regulating guns. It also directed the city attorney to engage in litigation concerning Second Amendment sanctuary laws or proclamations. Read More
Maricopa County intends to replace all of its election machines, due to concerns that the audit compromised the equipment. The county’s Dominion Democracy Suite 5.5B voting system was turned over to Arizona Senate President Karen Fann (R-Prescott) and Senate Majority Leader Warren Petersen (R-Gilbert) through subpoena earlier this year. The Senate contracted with a private company, Cyber Ninjas, to conduct the audit.
Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel confirmed on Monday the county’s intent to replace their entire fleet of voting machines in a reply letter to Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. Read More
Tucson will require all new constructions of one- and two-family homes, as well as townhomes, to be outfitted with electric vehicle charging outlets. The Tucson City Council finalized this decision in a unanimous vote during last Tuesday’s regular meeting.
According to the new requirement, Ordinance 11844, each one- to two-family dwelling and townhouse unit should have at least one “EV [Electric Vehicle] Ready Space,” with markers identifying the outlet as such. Builders wouldn’t have to provide any EV Ready Spaces if there aren’t on-site parking spaces. Read More
State Representative Daniel Hernandez (D-Tucson) voted against a requirement for K-12 students to learn about the dangers of communism, saying that white nationalism poses the bigger threat.
Hernandez issued those remarks during the House floor vote on the K-12 budget last Friday. In just over a century of existence, communism has claimed over 100 million lives. However, Hernandez claimed that the existence of white nationalism, which he attributed to the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, was far worse. Read More
PHOENIX, Arizona – Last week, the Arizona legislature banned the state from mandating COVID-19 vaccine passports. These were provisions packed into legislation concerning the budget – a version of which was passed by the House on Friday.
The legislation banning COVID-19 vaccine passports applies to the state and all cities, towns, and counties – it passed along party lines. That legislation also bars government entities from requiring businesses to obtain proof of vaccination in order to allow patrons to enter. An amendment adopted onto that bill also specifies that emergency use authorization (EUA) vaccines may not be required for school attendance, and obligates employers to accommodate employees who decline the COVID-19 vaccine based on religious beliefs, practices, or observances. Read More
Mesa Public Schools (MPS) is looking to adopt more equitable changes to their dress code policy – details of which the governing board hasn’t shared. The MPS Governing Board didn’t respond to request for comment from The Arizona Sun Times by press time – their communications staff told The Sun Times that district offices closed on Friday.
This week, MPS introduced a revamped policy that specifies certain, explicit restrictions, such as an outright ban on clothing that depicts “hate speech,” and limits any enforcement that might “reinforce or increase marginalization or repression of any group,” such as gender identity or expression and body type or size. Read More
PHOENIX, Arizona – Three Arizona House Republicans voted against an amendment to significantly expand school choice during Friday’s budget discussion. State Representatives Joel John (R-Buckeye), Michelle Udall (R-Mesa), and Joanne Osborne (R-Goodyear) all voted against the school choice legislation sponsored by State Representative Regina Cobb (R-Kingman) as amended by State Representative Shawnna Bolick (R-Phoenix).
HB 2898 as amended under Bolick would have added 14 provisions addressing Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) Program. In part, Bolick’s amendment would have opened up children of veterans and children in free or reduced-price lunch programs to ESAs, decreased the amount of time students must attend government schools full-time to be eligible for ESAs, allowed ESAs money to be used for educational therapies not covered by insurance and public transportation services, entitled children to equitable shares of funding otherwise allocated to school districts or charter schools for that child, and mandated the state to include ESA children in the statewide weighted student count for calculation of per pupil amount from the Classroom Site Fund (CSF). Read More
PHOENIX, Arizona – State Representative Diego Rodriguez (D-Phoenix) has joined the attorney general race. Rodriguez made the announcement as the Arizona House convened once more to discuss the budget. As The Arizona Sun Times reported this week, House Democrats staged a walkout on Tuesday in protest of the budget.
“For too long, corporate lobbyists have been the ones calling the shots in our AZ. It’s time working families have someone fighting for them,” wrote Rodriguez. “I’m running for Attorney General to bring integrity, accountability and compassion to our justice system.” Read More
PHOENIX, Arizona – Thursday, the Arizona House passed tax reforms to implement a flat tax rate and reduced income tax during the ongoing debate over the budget. With it, they ushered in a $1.9 billion tax cut and lowered taxes to about 2.5 percent.
House Republicans announced their victory early that afternoon. Read More
PHOENIX, Arizona – In an effort to speed along passage of the budget, Arizona House Republicans pushed through a rule change to limit debate on bills to 30 minutes. After that, amendments on that bill would be moved, explained, and voted on without debate, explanation of vote, or questions. Additionally, all protests were directed to be made in writing and submitted to the chief clerk.
The rule change passed along party lines, 31 to 29. Read More
PHOENIX, Arizona – The most eventful aspect of the Arizona audit appears to have had nothing to do with the audit itself – rather, it was antics from the mainstream media who came to cover it. Officials recounted to The Arizona Sun Times one incident in which several reporters left their designated seating, returned to the entryway, propped open the doors, and took pictures. Later, those reporters published stories claiming that the doors were left wide open during the audit.
After that, The Times was told, officials had to direct some of the Arizona Randers serving as security to escort media and ensure they didn’t roam freely. Read More
PHOENIX, Arizona – Longtime Fox News Emmy Award-winning anchor Kari Lake discussed faith, media bias, and her plans for governorship in an interview with The Arizona Sun Times. The governor hopeful offered insight honed from nearly 30 years of reporting in the state – how it was the people’s stories and needs that inspired her to take the leap from reporting to running for office.
“I have no special interests except for the people of Arizona,” said Lake. Read More
PHOENIX, Arizona – In a move mirroring the Texas House Democrats last week, the Arizona House Democrats walked out of the budget hearing on Tuesday. House Minority Leader Reginald Bolding (D-Laveen) and House Minority Whip Domingo DeGrazia (D-Tucson) reportedly committed to Republican House leadership that they wouldn’t stage a walkout.
In an interview with The Arizona Sun Times, State Representative Jake Hoffman (R-Gilbert) asserted that the Republican side of the House showed up willing to listen to and discuss the Democrats’ amendments. He said that this latest stunt was an indicator of who had the people’s best interest at heart. Read More
Lipscomb University, a self-proclaimed Christian institution, chose “How to Be Antiracist” author Ibram Kendi as a featured speaker for its 2021 Christian Scholars Conference (CSC). The Tennessee Star reached out for more details to CSC Chair David Fleer, Lipscomb University spokespersons, Lipscomb University President Randy Lowry, and Lipscomb University Board of Trustees Chair David Solomon. None of them responded by press time.
After The Star reached out to each of those individuals, Lipscomb University completely scrubbed the original contents of its CSC page. An archived version of the website from Tuesday shows that the original CSC page was largely dedicated to Kendi’s appearance as a featured guest speaker. It also included positive remarks from Fleer about Kendi. Read More
An apparent break-in occurred at the ballot-holding warehouse where the ballots for the pending Fulton County, Georgia audit were housed. According to reports, security guards hired by Fulton County left the facility. About 20 minutes later, the facility’s alarm was set off. A security detail hired by the plaintiffs’ attorney, Bob Cheeley, relayed to reporters that the facility door was wide open.
The audit concerns over 145,000 ballots from the presidential election. President Joe Biden won Georgia with just over 12,600 votes. Read More