Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Arizona Democrats - State and Federal - Proposing Action Against Police (ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS)

3:15pm: Democrats seem to have settled on a strategy to reframe the renewed debate about excessive force by police officers, and Arizona elected officials at the state and federal levels are on the same page.

After nighttime violence and looting in Arizona and around the country began to dilute the message of protesters, the Congressional Black Caucus met yesterday to discuss strategy. Today, speeches and actions reflect that strategy.

Democrats in the State House and Senate this afternoon sent a letter to Governor Doug Ducey and asked for a special session to address police reform measures. (below) They proposed five areas, including requiring body cameras be worn and used by all officers, and mandatory investigations of all uses of deadly force.


Meanwhile, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-CD3) joined 50 other U.S. Representatives in introducing a resolution condemning "police brutality, racial profiling, and the use of excessive and militarized force", and calling for the Department of Justice to take several actions. (below)

In addition, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) released a statement on yesterday's police actions outside the White House.













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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Scottsdale CC's Apology For Quiz Questions About Muslims and Terrorism Too Focused On Social Media Response, Ignored Own Findings (READ, Report)

When a student's complaints about a World Politics quiz that dealt with Muslims and terrorism went national a month ago, Scottsdale Community College focused on the social media reaction at the expense of the professor. The Maricopa County Community College District today made public an investigative report into the incident.

On April 29, a Muslim student complained about the impression that several questions may give to non-Muslim students in the class. He publicly posted the questions/answers, which immediately went viral when a well-followed Michigan comedian posted a video on his Instagram page.

These were the questions/answers at issue, according to the report:

SCC "deeply apologize(d)" for the questions and agreed that they were "inaccurate" and "inappropriate". However, immediately after the incident, Professor Nicholas Damask's quiz and course material were reviewed by his Division Chair and found to be "appropriate". SCC's Administration ignored that finding when issuing the apology.

MCCCD then stepped in and criticized the "rush to judgment". They asked well-respected Phoenix attorney Dan Barr at Perkins Coie to conduct an investigation into how the uproar was handled and whether SCC tried to interfere. with the investigation.

Today's report finds that the district's policies and procedures were not followed in this case.  It found that "the focus of the SCC administration was deciding how to respond to and placate critics on social media," while paying little attention to the actual quiz questions/answers or the exchanges between the professor and student.

SCC's Public Relations/Marketing Manager Eric Sells was in charge of the response.  "While Sells was motivated by good intentions to protect SCC's reputation, Sells has limited experience in higher education and did not appear to have an understanding of the District's policies on academic freedom or procedures for dealing with student complaints."

The report then notes that the Administration did not "give much, if any" consideration to procedures, nor did they attempt to consult with the College's legal office. The report also finds that the District "largely left the College to handle the response itself."

MCCCD says today that Interim Chancellor Steven R. Gonzales "will take the appropriate time to consider the full report and make a determination on the way forward with the best interest of the System in mind."





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UPDATE: Judge Expedites Hearing On House Republicans' Battle Against Proxy Voting - But, Not Until July 24

On Friday, House Republicans amended their lawsuit against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House's resolution allowing proxy voting during the current pandemic, and asked the Judge to set a June 19 hearing. Today, Judge Rudolph Contreras agreed to an expedited hearing, but set it for July 24.

The House also just filed their initial response to the suit, saying that the resolution permitting the 45 day period of proxy voting is constitutional, and suggested that the Republicans' case cannot be heard by the Court. They suggested that the Court set a slightly lengthier time schedule for the parties to brief the issues.

The Court favored that suggestion.



Also, Arizona Representatives David Schweikert (R-CD6) and Paul Gosar (R-CD4) joined the Republicans' Amended Complaint on Friday. Reps. Debbie Lesko and Andy Biggs were among the initial plaintiffs, and all of Arizona's Republican Representatives are now part of the suit.

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UPDATE, 5/29, 3:45pm: The group of Republicans suing over proxy voting today asked the Court to hold a hearing on June 19 on their request for a preliminary injunction. The plaintiffs - including Arizona Reps. Debbie Lesko and Andy Biggs, also amended their complaint today.





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AZ Reps. Biggs, Lesko Among GOP Group Suing Pelosi Over Proxy Voting (READ, Complaint)
Arizona Reps. Debbie Lesko (R-CD8) and Andy Biggs (R-CD5) are among a group of 21 Republican Representatives to file suit yesterday against the U.S. House of Representatives for changing its rules to allow for proxy voting and remote working during the pandemic.


The suit claims that the U.S. Constitution requires in-person voting. Democratic Arizona Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-CD3) and Ann Kirkpatrick (D-CD2) have given their proxies to other members, and Reps. Ruben Gallego (D-CD7) and Tom O'Halleran (D-CD1) have accepted proxy responsibilities for three other Representatives (from other states).

The Republican argument is similar to the one that the State of Arizona successfully made last month in opposing efforts to permit digital signing of initiative petitions using the state's E-Qual system. However, in that case, the Arizona Constitution explicitly said that the signature must be "signed in the presence of" the circulator. Yesterday's suit relies on traditional interpretations of the word "meet" and "assemble". (Odd side note: the Complaint also cites the Impeachment Clause for support.)

Here is the Complaint filed yesterday in the federal District Court in DC. Arizona's Politics will keep readers updated on the progress of this suit.
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Thursday, May 21, 2020

BREAKING: Trump Tells McConnell He's Concerned About McSally's Chances In Arizona --Politico

President Donald Trump pulled Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell aside today and expressed concern about Martha McSally's chances to win her U.S. Senate seat in November's special election. This according to three people familiar with the discussion, Politico reported this afternoon.


The pull-aside conversation took place near the end of their meeting at the White House today. A new poll this week shows presumptive Democratic nominee Mark Kelly leading McSally by 13 percentage points - a lead that has been growing.

McConnell reportedly told the President that the election is still a long way away. A McConnell spokesman said later, “Leader McConnell is fully supportive of Senator McSally and believes she’s on a path to victory in November.”

The same OH Predictive Insights poll shows Trump himself in danger of losing Arizona, trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, 50%-43%. 




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Wednesday, May 13, 2020

BREAKING: "Save Our Schools" Shuts Down Its Initiative Campaign After Today's Supreme Court Decision; "Invest In Ed" Keeps Going

Hours after the Arizona Supreme Court shut down the last hope for initiative campaigns to gather signatures through the state's already-existing E-Qual website, the Save Our Schools suspended its attempt to place a measure limiting Arizona's school voucher program on November's ballot. However, Invest In Ed promised to keep collecting signatures the old-fashioned way.

The Supreme Court came to the same conclusion that a separate case reached in federal court - that the Arizona Constitution requires initiative petition signatures to be collected in person.

Proponents of several ballot initiatives had brought the cases in light of the extraordinary stay-at-home Executive Orders. The state Supreme Court Justices, a U.S. District Court Judge and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals all found that that was not enough to overcome the in person language in the Constitution.

Save Our Schools expressed its disappointment late this afternoon, saying "Arizona voters have been denied their fundamental rights."
"Regretfully, we have decided to suspend our campaign. We know that the COVID-19 pandemic is far from under control in Arizona, and we do not want to put our amazing volunteers at risk."
Save Our Schools successfully collected referendum signatures a couple of years ago to halt a law passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor that would have significantly expanded the voucher programs. The law was tossed by voters.

Earlier today, Invest In Ed said "we never said it would be easy.... Despite the ruling, we are forging ahead. We remain 100% committed to this effort."

Other initiative campaigns suspended their efforts earlier, while Arizona's Politics reported last week that three campaign stepped up their efforts to hire paid petition circulators. In addition to Invest In Ed, those are the efforts to legalize marijuana and to revise prison sentences for non-dangerous offenses.

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*Now* He Is Done - Corporation Commissioner Boyd Dunn WILL NOT Be On Ballot, Rules Supreme Court

The Arizona Supreme Court rejected Corporation Commissioner Boyd Dunn's argument that two separate challenges of his nomination petition signatures could not be combined, and he will not be on the ballot for re-election this November.

The two court challenges had two separate sets of signatures that they believed to be invalid. Either one of them would have failed, but when Superior Court Judge Roger Brodman added the invalid signatures from each of the cases, he found that Dunn did not have enough valid signatures.

Dunn's attorneys argued that the plaintiffs' attorneys could have incorporated each other's claims, but failure to do that did not give the Corporation Commissioner proper notice of which signatures to defend.

The four Justices of the Supreme Court who considered the appeal (Brutinel, Timmer, Lopez, Beene*) unanimously decided that that argument fails.
"The Candidate had timely notice of the challenges to the signatures on his petitions in each of the two verified complaints. Therefore, his claims that the doctrines of estoppel, laches and due process preclude the combining of the results from both of the cases fail because the Candidate had timely and proper notice of each challenge to each signature as required by A.R.S. § 16-351(A), and because as a result of the challenges, the Candidate did not have a sufficient number of valid signatures to be placed on the ballot."
There is still one appeal to be determined to set the Republican primary battle for the three Corporation Commission seats. Lea Marquez Peterson was not challenged, and the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Eric Sloan yesterday. David Farnsworth withdrew his candidacy after being challenged, and Nick Myers was removed by a judge. That leaves Kim Owens' case to be determined by the Supreme Court.

To read the Supreme Court's Order in this case, please go to our sister site, "AZ Law" 

*These expedited appeals are heard by four-Justice panels. Justice Clint Bolick recused himself from being a member of the panel on this case.

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Thursday, May 7, 2020

BREAKING: Arizona Supreme Court Decides First Election Challenges, Leaves Glendale Mayoral and Council Races Intact

The Arizona Supreme Court decided the first pair of election challenges this afternoon, affirming the trial court's decisions and leaving the Glendale mayoral and city council races intact.
(from Twitter profile)

The Superior Court judge last week decided that mayoral candidate Michelle Robertson would remain on the ballot after finding that a petition circulator who had been convicted of a felony WAS able to gather signatures because his/her civil rights had been properly restored pursuant to A.R.S Sxn 16-321(D). The Supreme Court agreed.

In the Council race, Bryce Alexander's petitions had been challenged. The Superior Court judge heard testimony and decided that challenger Joyce Clark had not established that the circulator who signed the back of several petition sheets had not witnessed the voters' signatures. The Supreme Court today found that Judge Sanders had not abused her discretion.

The Supreme Court Justices have six more appeals to decide, including cases involving three of the six Republican candidates for the Arizona Corporation Commission.

To read the Court's Orders, please visit AZ Law, our sister site.

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