Arizona Cities Rake in Tens of Millions from Biden Infrastructure Bill

After Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg last week visited Tucson and Phoenix to tout the Biden Administration’s infrastructure bill, those cities have announced that they will receive tens of millions from the federal government for projects. 

“The Federal Transit Administration has awarded the City of Phoenix Public Transit Department a $16.3 million grant for greener (low and no emissions) buses and supporting infrastructure,” according to the city of Phoenix. “The grant is made available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law under the Low-No Emission and Buses and Bus Facilities highly-competitive grant programs. The programs’ goal is to support the transition of the nation’s fleet to more energy efficient and cleaner transit vehicles.”

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Arizona and Florida U.S. Representatives Introduce Bill to Fight Inflation, Boost Retirements

Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.-06) is concerned that Arizona is undergoing the highest level of inflation within the continental states (urban Alaska is the only part of the country with a higher level). To combat the problem, he co-sponsored H.R. 8579, the Retirement Protection Act, with Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.-19).

In a statement, Schweikert said, “This bill would play a critical role in fighting inflation while helping Americans protect their savings.” He told The Arizona Sun Times, “It improves people’s retirement future so they stay even and don’t become a victim of inflation.” 

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The Phoenix Aviation Department Launches Airport Worker Child Care Scholarship Program

The Phoenix Aviation Department launched its City of Phoenix Airport Worker Child Care Scholarship Program Aug. 2.

The program supports workers in the aviation industry who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years, according to a press release. A $4 million investment with funds from the city’s American Rescue Plan Act strategic plan will fund the child care program for workers at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

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Arizona Mayors Say They Won’t Use City Resources to Uphold Abortion Laws

Mayors in two prominent cities in Arizona have signaled that they will not follow the state abortion laws after last week’s Supreme Court reversal of Roe V. Wade.

“I am deeply disappointed by today’s Supreme Court decision,” said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego (D). “Phoenix is a pro-choice city. A majority of the city council and I have no interest in using city resources to prevent women from accessing health care.”

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Protests Rage Nationwide after Roe Reversal, Arizona Lawmakers Say ‘Insurrection’ Thwarted by Police

Protests erupted across America Friday night as abortion rights activists objected to the Supreme Court’s reversal of the Roe v. Wade decision, creating a particularly tense stand-off in Arizona’s Capitol where lawmakers reported being trapped by an angry mob that had to be dispersed with tear gas.

“We are currently there being held hostage inside the Senate building due to members of the public trying to breach our security,” Arizona state Sen. Kelly Townsend tweeted Friday night. “We smell teargas and the children of one of the members are in the office sobbing with fear.”

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Five Arizona Cities, Led by Queen Creek, Are Among 15 Fastest-Growing Cities in the Country

New census data reveals that Arizona has five of the fastest-growing 15 cities in the U.S.

The five areas are Queen Creek, Buckeye, Casa Grande, Maricopa City and Goodyear. While Phoenix was further down on the list, it was one of only two of the largest 10 cities in the country to gain residents.

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Drug Cartels Use Social Media to Lure American Teenagers into Human Trafficking

Dora Ortega knew her teenage son was hiding something when he arrived home at 2 a.m. He was wearing expensive new clothes that she knew he couldn’t afford with his warehouse job.

But it wasn’t until Ortega’s son finally admitted what he’d really been up to that she realized the gravity of the situation.

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Arizona Gubernatorial Hopeful Discusses Her Candidacy and Her Path to the Governor’s Office

Neil W. McCabe, the national political editor of The Star News Network, interviewed Arizona Republican gubernatorial hopeful Kari Lake on the grounds of the statehouse in Phoenix.

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Buyers Need 40 Percent More Income to Buy a Home in Top Metro Areas: Report

Demand for homes in certain areas of the country has caused supply to dwindle, prices to skyrocket and buyers needing nearly 50% more income than they would have last year to even enter top markets, according to a report by the real estate brokerage firm, Redfin.

“Housing is significantly less affordable than it was a year ago because the surge in housing costs has far outpaced the increase in wages, meaning many Americans are now priced out of homeownership,” Redfin Deputy Chief Economist Taylor Marr said.

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Phoenix City Councilman Sounds Alarm on Lack of Police

A Phoenix City Councilman is sounding the alarm on the lack of police presence in the city. 

“Our Phoenix Patrol Officer count is below 1,000 and crime continues to rise,” Councilman Sal DiCiccio (R-District 6) said on Twitter. “We are way below the amount of patrol officers a city our size should have and morale is at an all time low.”

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San Francisco Tech Company Moves Headquarters to Phoenix, Bringing Nearly 1,000 Jobs

Sending management platform Sendoso plans to send its corporate headquarters from San Francisco, California, to Arizona effective November 2022.

The company has a new office at The Grove in Phoenix, Arizona, and plans to bring nearly 1,000 jobs to the area.

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State Rep. Espinoza Sponsors Bill to Fight Back Against 6,500 Percent Surge in Catalytic Converter Thefts

Diego Espinoza

The theft of catalytic converters has become a big problem in Arizona, and State Rep. Diego Espinoza (D-Tolleson) is sponsoring legislation to expand the law against it. Current law only prohibits buying or selling a used catalytic converter outside of regular transactions; HB 2652 goes beyond that to make it illegal to possess, solicit, or advertise a used catalytic converter outside of regular transactions. It would also mandate reporting sales to DPS and tracking.

HB 2652 looks very likely to pass, as 49 members of the House voted for it and only 10 Republicans voted against it. It passed the Senate Committee on Transportation and Technology 9-0, and is now headed for the Senate Rules Committee. 

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Phoenix Police Forced to Transfer Specialty Officers to Patrol to Deal With Shortage

The Phoenix Police Department (PPD) announced on Wednesday that around 100 officers and detectives from specialty divisions such as Violent Crimes are being transferred to patrol units due to a severe lack of officers on the streets and handling 911 calls. Their goal is to get the number of officers on patrol duty back up over 1,000. 

The PPD acknowledged officer attrition reached an “unprecedented” rate in early 2021. “These trends indicated the loss rate would become critical due to insufficient hiring and increased employee separations,” Phoenix Police Department Chief Jeri L. Williams said in the plan. 

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Veteran Phoenix School Teachers Protest Pay Cuts to Oust Them for New Critical Race Theory-Supportive Teachers

Phoenix Elementary School District 1 is cutting the merit-based pay of veteran school teachers, which accounts for 15% of their salaries, while offering $1,500 bonuses to new teachers who join the district. Some of the teachers believe it is in part due to the fact more experienced teachers are less likely to support CRT and other radical curriculum. Teachers at one of the district’s schools, Shaw Montessori, held a protest in front of the district’s administration building Wednesday night while its leadership was meeting.

The teachers found out in early February about the pay cuts. Administrators, principals and other staff are getting pay raises, veteran teacher Vanessa Stricker told the Arizona Sun Times. And Phoenix Elementary School District 1 School Superintendent Larry Weeks got a 12% pay raise last year, just in time to substantially increase his retirement pay when he retires in May. 

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Arizona and Three Other Red States Have Gained All Jobs Back That Were Lost Due to COVID-19

As the economy turns around with the COVID-19 pandemic receding and lockdowns and restrictions fading, some states are recovering better than others. Only Arizona, Texas, Utah, and Idaho, some of the reddest states in the country, have all returned to pre-pandemic job levels. 

According to Adam Kamins, director of regional economics at Moody’s Analytics, this is largely due to people wanting to move to those states. “Those four states have experienced persistently strong population growth, which really wasn’t dented by the pandemic,” he told The Wall Street Journal. “More and more people keep coming from expensive coastal cities to places like Dallas and Phoenix, which have a relatively lower cost of living and higher quality of life.”

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Phoenix Six-Figure Job Growth Ranks Second Among Large U.S. Metros

Phoenix has the second highest percentage change in high-paying jobs out of a list of large U.S. metros, according to a Stessa report. 

Phoenix saw a 217.1% increase in six-figure jobs from 2015 to 2020, marking the second-largest percentage increase among the nation’s largest metropolitan areas. 

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Charlie Kirk and Tucker Carlson Kick Off Turning Point USA’s AmericaFest 2021 Conference in Phoenix

Tucker Carlson and Charlie Kirk

Turning Point USA is holding their annual AmericaFest 2021 conference this weekend in Phoenix, where they are based. Founder Charlie Kirk and Fox News personality Tucker Carlson spoke Friday on opening night. 

Kirk opened the event, hitting on a lot of social and cultural issues during his speech. He told the attendees not to let it bother them when the left calls them names for saying something true. He acknowledged that it’s so bad that if you speak out, “you might not be able to get a job in your field.” 

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Some Arizona Residents May Need to an Annual Fee for Their Home Security Systems

Arizona TV personality Kristen Keogh discovered a little-known fee for her home the hard way. 

Keogh, a 12News contributor, tweeted Wednesday she had police respond to her residence after her home security system went off, triggering a fine from the city of Phoenix. 

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Phoenix to Use Federal Funding for Universal Basic Income Pilot

Phoenix City Council Building

One thousand lucky Phoenix families will get $1,000 in taxpayer funding a month in 2022. 

The Phoenix City Council has approved $12 million for a “Financial Assistance for Phoenix Families Program,” a lottery-based form of universal basic income that will begin in January 2022 if not sooner.

The program, which has yet to be finalized, will send approximately 1,000 families a monthly stipend of $1,000 for all of 2022. According to a city document, the funds would be limited toward “basic household necessities” such as housing, childcare, food and other staples. 

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Phoenix Small Business Owners Say Light Rail Expansion Is Trying to Deliberately Shut Them Down

The construction of light rail began in Phoenix in 2005, and was fought by property owners located in the way who thought it was too late to set up mass transit in such a densely populated city. Not very many miles have been built since then, only 28, in one straight shot in an L-shape throughout the Valley, with businesses and residences still fighting weak expansion efforts. The South Phoenix expansion won’t be completed until 2024.

Celia Contreras, who owns Tony’s Window Tinting in South Phoenix, says the construction effort in South Phoenix is harassing her business in order to shut it down, tired of her complaints. She says large trucks deliberately block the entrance to her business so customers can’t stop by, and have flooded her building twice. She posted photos of drains stating that the construction company was blocking it with cement, unwise during the monsoon season. Officials refuse to help her, and she caught workers on video making fun of her for having to temporarily close her businesses due to the problems.

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Biden Commends Phoenix School District That Violated Ban on Mask Requirements

Biden Commends Phoenix School District

President Joe Biden called the head of Phoenix Union High School District after the district implemented mask requirements that may be contrary to state law, praising Superintendent Chad Geston for the move. In a statement, Biden said he told Geston during his Friday phone call that he “did the right thing.” 

The issue is currently under litigation in Maricopa County Superior Court. Numerous state legislators asked Governor Doug Ducey a few days ago to take action against the school districts in violation, and Ducey responded on Tuesday with a directive financially penalizing the districts. They will not receive any of the $163 million that the state got through the American Rescue Plan to boost per-pupil funding. Students in those districts will receive vouchers to attend schools elsewhere.

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Moses Sanchez Announces Campaign for Phoenix City Council to Replace Term Limited Sal DiCiccio

With popular conservative Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio term limited, local activist and professor Moses Sanchez, a Republican, announced he is running for the District 6 slot based in Ahwatukee. He ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Phoenix in 2018, a difficult race for Republicans since Phoenix has more Democrats, but District 6 leans Republican. 

“I’m proud to call Ahwatukee home,” he said in a statement on August 11. “I’ve raised my family in Phoenix, served on our local school board, run for Mayor, and worked to grow a small business. I’m running for Phoenix City Council to provide the same opportunities this city has given me and stand up for the most overlooked community in Phoenix.”

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Arizona Ranks First in Nation for Small Business Growth

A new report from the payroll company PayChex ranked the states in order of small business job growth and Arizona came out No. 1, with nearly 6% growth over the past year. Phoenix ranked third among the country’s 20 most populated cities. The Arizona Legislature released a report shortly before that showing Arizona is in great condition, breaking records. The state passed historic tax cuts this year, preventing a 77% increase on small business taxes, reducing small business property taxes by 10%, and capping the maximum tax rate on businesses at 4.5%.

Frank Fiorelle, vice president of risk, compliance and data analytics at Paychex, explained that a lot of the job growth is due to the pandemic ending. “A lot of those restaurants are coming back online, opening the doors and turning on the lights, he said. He added that states which reopened their economies earlier have higher job creation rates.

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Phoenix Housing Market Booms as Migration from California Continues

Phoenix was the most popular migration destination in the second quarter of 2021 for users of Redfin.com, a technology-powered real estate broker, who were looking to move to a different major city. 

In Phoenix, institutions or businesses that purchase residential real estate, known by Redfin as investors, purchased 24.5% of homes sold in the second quarter of 2021. Redfin said that out of the 41 U.S. metropolitan areas analyzed, Phoenix had the highest percentage of home purchases by investors. The Valley was followed closely by Miami, Atlanta, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Las Vegas.

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Phoenix Ranked 40th Best Place to Live of 150 Biggest Metropolitan Areas

U.S. News & World Report issued its list this week of the annual best places to live, and Phoenix came in at No. 40 of the 150 most populous metro areas. The city jumped up 13 places from last year. The report emphasized Phoenix’s relatively low cost of living, warm weather, and thriving job market. The rankings are based on quality of life, job market, value of living, and desire of people to live there. 

Phoenix may have scored well this year due to a stable economy. Devon Thorsby, real estate editor at U.S. News, said in a news release, “It shouldn’t be a surprise that many metro areas that saw unemployment levels skyrocket in 2020 fell in the rankings, but those with greater employment stability tended to fare well.”

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New Arizona Law Aims to Improve Civilian Review Boards on Police Misconduct

One of the bills passed this year in the Arizona Legislature and signed by the governor, HB 2567, adds rules for independent community oversight of Arizona police departments. Although Arizona isn’t plagued like some states by high-profile incidents involving law enforcement, overall community concern led to the legislation.

John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, who comes from a law enforcement background and sponsored the bill, said, “I’m not throwing cops to the wolves, especially politically motivated wolves.

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