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The Mesa City Council has a new face on it this month. Kevin Thompson was elected to fill Scott Somers’ seat representing District 6.
Former Phoenix Suns forward Richard Dumas has been sentenced to three years of probation in a case stemming from thefts from a store on a military base.
NOGALES, Ariz. – As port director for the Customs and Border Protection port here, Guadalupe Ramirez has seen heroin smuggled into the United States in almost every place imaginable on a vehicle, not to mention the human body.
Here is a roll call of some of the famous people who died in 2014.
What defined Chandler in 2014? A lot of things, including the destruction of two notorious eyesores, the death of a pair of police officers within a one-week span, continuity among the city’s elected officials, and a near-gold medal for one Chandler native.
PHOENIX -- Jan Brewer is not sorry for signing bills authorizing tax cuts that will reduce state revenues by hundreds of millions of dollars over the next few years.
FILE - In this Dec. 24, 2012 file photo, U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Richard Scobie, right, his son Andrew, center, and wife, Janis, all take phone calls from children asking where Santa is and when he will deliver presents to their house, during the annual NORAD Tracks Santa Operation, at the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. Santa is poised for another monster year on social media. NORAD Tracks Santa has already attracted a record 1.49 million Facebook “likes” before the journey even begins. And for Christmas Eve 2014, there’s a website version for smartphones. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Volunteers at the North American Aerospace Defense Command are getting ready to monitor Santa Claus as he makes his storybook Christmas Eve flight.
PHOENIX (AP) — Republicans will have their largest U.S. House majority in 83 years when the new Congress convenes next month after a recount in Arizona gave the final unresolved midterm race to a Republican challenger.
Some years ago I read about Charles Brown, a World War 2 pilot on his first mission, just before Christmas, 1943. His B-17 had been shot to pieces by German fighters and anti-aircraft guns. Half his crew was wounded, his tail gunner was dead, and he was flying alone over Germany, barely able to keep the plane aloft.
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. (AP) — A rare weather phenomenon at the Grand Canyon had visitors looking out on a sea of thick clouds just below the rim.
PHOENIX (AP) — In a scathing critique of Arizona's criminal justice system, a state appeals court Thursday ordered the dismissal of murder charges against a woman who spent 22 years on death row for the killing of her 4-year-old son.
The Arizona Court of Appeals leveled harsh criticism against prosecutors over their failure to turn over evidence during Debra Jean Milke's trial about a detective with a long history of misconduct and lying. The court called prosecutors' actions "a severe stain on the Arizona justice system."
A three-judge panel of the appeals court said it agreed with Milke's argument that a retrial would amount to double jeopardy.
The failure to disclose the evidence "calls into question the integrity of the system and was highly prejudicial to Milke," the court wrote. "In these circumstances — which will hopefully remain unique in the history of Arizona law — the most potent constitutional remedy is required."
The court said the charges against Milke in the 1989 death of her son Christopher can't be refiled, but prosecutors could appeal Thursday's ruling to the state Supreme Court.
Authorities say Milke dressed her son in his favorite outfit and told him he was going to see Santa Claus at a mall in December 1989. He was then taken into the desert near Phoenix by two men and shot in the back of the head.
Authorities say Milke's motive was that she didn't want the child anymore and didn't want him to live with his father.
She was convicted in 1990 and sentenced to death. The case rested largely on her purported confession to Phoenix police Detective Armando Saldate, which he did not record.
Milke, 50, was on death row for two decades, and the Arizona Supreme Court had gone so far as to issue a death warrant for Milke in 1997. The execution was delayed because she had yet to exhaust federal appeals.
The appeals court said Thursday it wasn't expressing an opinion on Milke's guilt or innocence, though it heavily criticized authorities for staking much of their case on a detective with credibility problems.
A federal appeals court threw out Milke's first-degree murder conviction in March 2013, saying prosecutors knew about a history of misconduct by the detective but failed to disclose it. Maricopa County prosecutors were preparing for a retrial.
Milke's appellate attorney, Lori Voepel, was ecstatic at Thursday's victory.
"We're all thrilled," Voepel said. "We still have the gag order so we can't say much more than we're all thrilled with the opinion."
Milke has been free on bail since September 2013 as she awaited retrial.
"This is really a sock in the gut — it's a cheap shot," said Arizona Milke, Christopher's father and Debra Milke's ex-husband. "She shouldn't walk free, because she's guilty."
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, whose office is handling the case, said he plans to ask the Arizona Supreme Court to overturn Thursday's ruling. Montgomery said the accusations of misconduct happened well before he took over as the county's top prosecutor and would not happen today, citing safeguards such as having detectives record interviews with suspects.
Montgomery also said he would not be pursuing the case if he believed the evidence could not lead to a conviction in Christopher's killing.
"He should not be forgotten in all of this. Justice and due process for Christopher is a right that he has, too," Montgomery said. "And it's the job of prosecutors, unfortunately in situations like this, where we have to be the voice of the voiceless."
Milke has maintained her innocence and denied she ever confessed to the killing. The two men who led her child to his death in the desert were convicted of murder but refused to testify against Milke.
That left jurors with Saldate's word alone that she told him about her involvement. Saldate has since retired, and The Associated Press has made repeated efforts to reach him for comment.
In its ruling overturning Milke's conviction, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals cited numerous instances in which Saldate committed misconduct in previous cases, including lying under oath and violating suspects' rights. The federal appeals court also asked the Justice Department to investigate whether Saldate had committed civil rights violations.
Prosecutors insist Milke is guilty, but their ability to try her again was limited by the fact that Saldate said he wouldn't testify. He fears potential federal charges based on the 9th Circuit's accusations of misconduct.
In December, Superior Court Judge Rosa Mroz granted Saldate's request to assert his Fifth Amendment right, allowing him to refuse to take the stand.
The state Court of Appeals overturned that ruling in April and said Saldate would be forced to testify at the retrial. Both county and federal authorities said they don't intend to seek charges against the detective based on any of the accusations leveled by the federal appeals court.
Milke, whose mother was a German who married a U.S. Air Force military policeman in Berlin in the 1960s, has drawn strong support from citizens of that nation and Switzerland, neither of which has the death penalty.
Milke's mother died in Germany this year after a battle with cancer. A week before the August death, a judge had denied Milke's request for permission to travel to Germany to visit her mother.
Question: What is a denial of service attack and how can I protect myself from them?
Not even waiting until President Obama gave his speech Thursday night, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio filed suit in federal court seeking to block the announced plans to allow millions of people not in this country to remain and work here legally.
Two teary-eyed servers embraced. A sign was taped to the inside of the door, directing the remaining stragglers to exit out the side entrance. This door would never open to the same place again.
PHOENIX (AP) — The Pima County Board of Supervisors Tuesday rejected a request from Democratic Rep. Ron Barber to delay certifying election results as he challenges the reasons ballots that could shrink Republican challenger Martha McSally's slim vote lead weren't counted.
Kevin Hamilton, a lawyer representing Barber's campaign, said in a letter to the board that there are more than 130 rejected ballots that should have been counted. Barber's campaign has collected affidavits from voters who said they were qualified to cast a ballot but had their ballots rejected.
"As a result, if the board certifies the canvass without correcting all the errors in the vote count, there is a real possibility that the election for Arizona's second congressional district will be improperly certified for the wrong candidate," Hamilton wrote.
Barber trails Republican challenger Martha McSally by 161 votes out of more than 220,000 cast in Arizona's 2nd Congressional District.
McSally attorney Eric Spencer told the board that the only legal reason to delay the canvass was if votes were missing, and none were. He said Barber's challenge to the uncounted ballots properly belongs in court, in an election challenge.
Supervisor Ramon Valadez agreed. "We are not equipped to adjudicate these issues. We frankly are not. We're not the right body," Valadez said.
The election is headed for an automatic recount because the two candidates are separated by less than one-tenth of one percent — slightly more than 200 votes. That recount will be done early next month after the official statewide canvass and involve Cochise and Pima counties.
Hamilton said the next step is to challenge the statewide canvass. He would not speculate on possible court challenges.
"I'm disappointed that the board took that step," Hamilton said. "I think it's a mistake, and we'll be examining our options about where we go from here."
The board certified the election results Tuesday afternoon. Cochise County, the other part of the 2nd District, is set to certify its canvass Thursday, and Barber's lawyers expect to send a similar letter to those elected officials.
"Usually the results aren't as close as these, but when you have a race with a razor thin-lead and you have Americans whose votes have not been counted because of an honest mistake by a poll worker, that's something that needs to be fixed," said Rodd McLeod, a Barber campaign consultant.
The challenge is not the first of this election for Barber's district. McSally's lawyers unsuccessfully challenged the counting of some provisional ballots last week.
McSally has declared victory, but Barber hasn't conceded, saying a recount could change the outcome.
If McSally ultimately prevails, it would be the only victory by a Republican in the three Arizona congressional seats now held by Democrats that Republicans targeted this year. Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick and Kyrsten Sinema easily won re-election.
Barber won a special election in June 2012 to replace his former boss, Rep. Gabby Giffords, who resigned because of health reasons. She and Barber were both wounded in a 2011 assassination attempt.
McSally is a former Air Force pilot who lost to Barber in the 2012 general election but redoubled her effort this year.
NEW YORK — Planes are full. Passengers clamor for amenities. Investors want a payout. New planes are on order.
Fans of craft and local beer in Mesa are flocking to a new bar built specially for imbibers of the millennia-old beverage. The Brass Tap, tucked inside Mesa Riverview, opened its doors in March and, according to its owners, is thriving.
PHOENIX (AP) — Democratic Rep. Ron Barber Tuesday fell short of the votes he needed to overcome Republican Martha McSally's lead in Arizona's 2nd Congressional District race, barring a recount change or the late tally of a small number of outstanding provisional ballots that swings the race his way.
Barber was trailing McSally by 133 votes after Pima County election officials counted about 2,660 remaining ballots from the district Tuesday.
McSally said she was confident her lead would hold.
An estimated 200 conditional provisional ballots could still be counted if voters go to the county recorder's office and show needed identification by Wednesday. Not all of those are in the 2nd District.
McSally is a former Air Force pilot who lost to Barber in 2012 but redoubled her effort this year. National Republicans spent millions of dollars to back her, while national Democrats spent heavily to defend Barber.
If the count holds at less than about 200 votes between the candidates, it triggers an automatic recount. That would happen early next month.
A recount in a statewide race last occurred in 2010, when Proposition 212 failed by just 192 votes after nearly 1.6 million were cast. The results changed the total for each side by 33 votes but did not change the outcome
About 220,000 votes have been cast in the current 2nd District race.
Matt Roberts, a spokesman for Secretary of State Ken Bennett, said the swing in the 2010 race was tiny, and he would expect the same to happen if the Barber-McSally race goes to a recount.
"People should trust in the fact that elections officials will come up with the same number or thereabouts twice," Roberts said. "Our election equipment is something that works very well."
The race is one of only five congressional seats still undecided nationally. Three House seats in California and one in New York also remain too close to call.
Barber picked up 162 votes Monday and was trailing McSally by 179 votes on Tuesday morning. But he picked up just 46 votes after the final batch of verified provisional ballots were counted.
Barber spokeswoman Ashley Nash-Hahn in a statement said the race remained too close to call.
"This is the closest congressional election in Arizona history," she said. "The law calls for an automatic recount in a race this close, and that is where we are headed."
She also noted that nearly 800 provisional ballots were rejected by the county recorder.
McSally's campaign failed in an effort to challenge some provisional ballots on Monday, and both sides have lawyers watching the counting.
She said in a statement that she's grateful for the support she's seen during the weeklong vote-counting.
"There are still ballots left to count, but we are confident that when all ballots are in, our lead will hold," she said. "We will continue to provide oversight of the process until then."
If McSally wins, it will be the only victory out of three Arizona congressional seats held by Democrats that Republicans targeted this year. Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick and Kyrsten Sinema easily won re-election.
Barber had an early lead on election night, but the race swung to McSally early the next day when Cochise County began reporting its results and Barber has never regained the lead.
McSally was 509 votes ahead on Friday, but Barber picked up 168 votes on Sunday and 162 votes Monday, cutting that lead to the current 179. Elections workers counted 5,434 ballots on those days.
McSally and Barber faced off in a similar battle during the 2012 election. Barber trailed for days, finally taking the lead on the Friday after Election Day. The race remained too close to call for another week.
Barber had won a special election to replace his former boss, Rep. Gabby Giffords, just months before the November 2012 election. He was with Giffords the previous year in Tucson when she was shot in the head and ultimately had to step down from her seat. Barber was hit in the thigh and cheek.
Phoenix Veterans Day Parade
PHOENIX (AP) — The vote count in Arizona's 2nd Congressional District seat is shaping up as a near mirror of the 2012 race, when the two candidates didn't find out for more than a week who had won the race.
Democratic Rep. Ron Barber and Republican Martha McSally are keeping a close eye on the emerging vote tally in two southern Arizona counties that make up the district as they remain separated by a razor-thin vote margin.
McSally's lead of 363 votes grew to 509 votes Friday night with new votes counted in Republican-leaning Cochise County and Democrat-leaning Pima County.
McSally is taking 60 percent of the vote in Cochise County, and there are fewer than 1,200 provisional ballots to count here. Barber is taking 52 percent of the Pima County vote, and that county has 24,000 outstanding early and provisional ballots still to count.
Barber consultant Rodd McLeod said the trend is the same as in 2012, when election-night counts showed Barber trailing McSally before surging in late ballots to pull out a late victory.
"With more than 20,000 ballots to go, we're confident that Ron Barber will have been re-elected once the counting is all done," McLeod said.
McSally and Barber faced off in a similar battle during the 2012 election. Barber trailed for days, finally taking the lead on the Friday after Election Day. But the race remained too close to call for another week.
Barber had won a special election to replace his former boss, Rep. Gabby Giffords, just months before the November 2012 election. He was with Giffords at a constituent meet-and-greet in Tucson in January 2011 when a mentally ill man, Jared Lee Loughner, opened fire, killing six and wounding 13 others. Giffords was hit in the head and ultimately had to step down from her seat, while Barber was hit in the thigh and cheek.
McSally is a former Air Force pilot who was making her first run for political office. This year, she has emerged as a more polished candidate. With the swing district up for grabs in a Republican-leaning year, her efforts drew massive outside spending from GOP-leaning groups.
Barber also has benefited this year from a large amount of spending by Democratic groups and from Giffords' PAC.
PHOENIX (AP) — Sen. John McCain says the Air Force won't be able to retire the A-10 Warthog ground attack jet now that he's in line to become chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona voters have given Republicans another four years to lead the state, rejecting Democratic efforts to win statewide offices for the first time this decade.
Republican state treasurer Doug Ducey won the governor's office by a wide margin, beating Fred DuVal after a campaign that saw the Democrat fail to gain traction as he was hammered by nearly $8 million in negative ads paid for by outside groups.
Ducey takes over from retiring Republican Gov. Jan Brewer in January, but he will be faced with an immediate budget crisis as the state expects a budget deficit exceeding $1 billion.
Republican state Sen. Michele Reagan was elected secretary of state, making her the state's top elections official and the first in line to become governor if Ducey is unable to continue in the job. Mark Brnovich won the attorney general's race, Republican Jeff DeWit becomes the new state treasurer after an uncontested race, and two Republicans beat their Democratic opponents for the regulatory body known as the Corporation Commission to the secure the near GOP sweep of top statewide offices.
The lone statewide office that remained too close to call Wednesday — superintendent of public instruction — was being led by Republican Diane Douglas over Democrat David Garcia.
That left Democrats who had looked at the midterm elections as a way to grab a statewide constitutional office considering how they came up short.
Democratic Party spokesman Frank Camacho said the party's grassroots organizing efforts mainly fell short and its candidates lacked the fire to inspire young people. The exceptions were Ruben Gallego, who won the 7th Congressional District seat of retiring Rep. Ed Pastor, and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema's win in the 9th District.
Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick won her sprawling rural 1st District as well. Democratic Rep. Ron Barber was locked in a tight race with retired Air Force pilot Martha McSally in southern Arizona's 2nd District.
But statewide elected offices were nearly out of reach for Democrats, who last held one before the 2010 general election.
"You see how they can inspire young folks," Camacho said. "We just have to go out there, identify them and get them ready for state, local or national office. We have to give voters a reason to vote for Democrats."
Ducey's easy win came as Republicans gained across the nation, taking control of the U.S. Senate and solidifying their control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Ducey, the 50-year-old former CEO of Cold Stone Creamery, portrayed himself as the inevitable winner in the final weeks of the campaign, buoyed by heavy spending on his behalf by outside groups and strong Republican turnout in early voting. He emerged from a bruising six-way primary in August in the race to replace Gov. Jan Brewer and went on to outspend DuVal in the general election by a hefty margin.
He'll take office in January and face a fiscal crisis caused by lower-than-expected tax revenue and a court order that could put Arizona on the hook for up to $2.5 billion in new education spending. The state faces a projected deficit of $1.5 billion in the current and next budget years amid promises from both candidates to cut taxes.
"I'm grateful for the privilege you have given me, for the trust you have placed in me, and I pledge my best efforts as the governor of this great state," Ducey said in a victory speech. "Whether you voted for me or you voted for someone else, I intend to be governor for all and work to create opportunities for every single Arizonan."
Ducey thanked his campaign staff, his wife, Angela, his three sons, and his opponent, Fred DuVal, calling him "a good man."
DuVal, in a concession speech at the Democrats' election-night headquarters in Phoenix, also thanked his supporters, and he said he had called Ducey to offer his congratulations.
"A registration disadvantage and clearly a bad national environment were hard enough to overcome. But we were also reminded that unlimited money is a powerful thing in politics — and is not a healthy thing," DuVal said.
He took a swipe at the massive amounts of outside spending used to attack him in the race from outside groups. Ducey and Duval each spent about $2.2 million in their general election campaigns, but Ducey has benefited from $7.9 million in outside spending compared with about $1 million for DuVal.
"I would like to call and congratulate the other big winners tonight, but frankly the other big winners are undisclosed, unknown and out of state," DuVal said.