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PHOENIX — Interstate 10 eastbound has partially reopened about 20 miles east of Quartzsite following an earlier crash
Last Tuesday night’s fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by a Phoenix police officer has once again shined the light on policing. An officer investigating a report of drug dealing shot and killed Rumain Brisbon when the officer believed he was pulling a gun from his pocket.
PHOENIX (AP) — Outgoing Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said Monday she is preparing a budget proposal that protects her top priorities but that she acknowledges can be ignored by governor-elect Doug Ducey.
Brewer said her budget will spare education, child welfare and mental health services from big cuts that will be needed as she seeks to fill a projected $1 billion deficit for the budget year that begins July 1. But she said it will difficult to avoid including big spending cuts in other areas.
"There are several things that are very protected in that budget, that I'll be guarding very carefully," Brewer said, ticking off the three top priorities. "So I've got those priorities, they've always been my priorities and they will continue to be my priorities."
But the Republican governor said it will be "probably be very, very difficult," to avoid major cuts in other programs, especially since Ducey has promised not to raise taxes. And she acknowledge that Ducey can take her proposal and change it however he likes, even if that means cuts to the new Department of Child Safety or behavioral health services.
"I think they will probably take my budget that's been drafted by my staff and then go in there and address the issues that they feel are important or not so important," Brewer said. "He'll be governor, he can do whatever he wants to do."
Ducey, also a Republican, takes office Jan. 5 and will roll out his budget on Jan. 16, meaning Brewer's efforts will save him time. Brewer budget director John Arnold is leading the effort to craft her new budget, and he also is part of Ducey's transition team. That means he'll likely leave plenty of options available for Ducey as he takes charge.
The budget proposal won't be made public, Brewer spokesman Andrew Wilder said.
Ducey spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said Ducey welcomes the governor's input, but he did not give any additional comment.
Brewer called the looming budget crisis — a revenue shortfall of more than 10 percent of this budget year's $9.3 billion in spending — a challenge that Ducey can overcome. She herself faced a much bigger shortfall when she became governor after Janet Napolitano resigned in 2009 to take a job in the Obama Administration.
"Coming from where I came from it doesn't seem like such an enormous task — we were faced with a $3 billion deficit," Brewer said. "You just have to get a plan and you have to decide what it is and what your priorities are and move forward and then stick to your guns and get it done."
Brewer didn't have the chance to work with Napolitano on a budget proposal when she took office. Napolitano had stayed in office and presented her own budget proposal after accepting Barack Obama's offer to become his Homeland Security secretary, then resigned.
The state, mired in the throes of the Great recession, made massive spending cuts in Brewer's first years in office, including cuts to those top priorities Brewer is now trying to protect.
The spirit of Thanksgiving was alive and well in Mesa on Monday night as dozens of volunteers put on a Thanksgiving feast for more than 300 kids in foster care who might not have had one otherwise.
Gilbert has found itself listed as one of the safest cities in America for the second year in a row, although that doesn’t mean residents should rest too easily on their laurels.
The Arizona Highway Patrol Association wants to ensure all families make it to and from their holiday destinations safely.
PHOENIX (AP) — A Scottsdale woman is accused of several DUI charges for allegedly driving the wrong way on Interstate 17 in north Phoenix.
Authorities say 44-year-old Carmelina Long was arrested late Monday after her vehicle was stopped by the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
She was arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault, endangerment, criminal damage, DUI and extreme DUI for having a blood-alcohol level well above the state's legal limit of .08 percent.
Long's bond was set at $5,000 after her initial court appearance Tuesday.
She doesn't have an attorney yet and the court is appointing a public defender to represent her with a Dec. 3 status conference scheduled.
PHOENIX (AP) — Authorities say an Arizona legislator has been arrested and accused of driving while intoxicated.
PHOENIX (AP) — The U.S. Attorney for Arizona has found no evidence that Arizona's pension fund for public safety workers committed criminal misconduct when it valued some real estate properties in its $6.2 billion portfolio, pension officials announced Monday.
The board chairman for the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System, Brian Tobin, said the decision by the US Attorney for Arizona closes the books on the yearlong investigation of the pension fund.
The FBI and U.S. attorney's office launched the probe last year into whether real estate values were inflated to boost performance bonuses awarded to some senior investment managers. The allegations were brought to the attention of prosecutors by former pension system employees.
"This was and is a serious allegation," Tobin said. "It's not true and it never was true."
Tobin said the investigation, and two others done by its independent auditing firm and the Arizona Auditor General that also cleared the pension fund, are examples of the system's checks and balances working correctly.
Board lawyer James Belanger said the Justice Department is completing a review of several people he would not identify. But he said he expects they'll be cleared as well.
The pension plan released a letter from the U.S. attorney to Belanger confirming the decision. Cosme Lopez, spokesman for U.S. Attorney for Arizona John Leonardo, confirmed the contents of the letter but could not comment on any additional reviews.
The pension plan for public safety employees is facing a massive shortfall between its assets and what it expects to owe police and firefighters across the state when they retire. The latest projection as of June 30 shows $12.2 billion in liabilities compared to just $6.2 billion in assets.
The pension board also fired its top administrator, Jim Hacking, in July after it was revealed that he had illegally awarded pay raises to five senior employees.
In January, new Gov. Doug Ducey will appoint a new director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety. The director’s term coincides with the governor’s.
County Manager Tom Manos has named former Arizona Department of Transportation Deputy Director and State Engineer Jennifer Toth as his appointment for the director of Maricopa County Department of Transportation.
Only about one in four sexual assaults committed in Arizona is ever solved by police. One attack that hasn’t been solved by police is the brazen and savage attack by an unknown assailant on a 91-year-old woman in one of Tempe’s better neighborhoods.
PHOENIX (AP) — The state Department of Public Safety says one of its Highway Patrol officers has been injured in a collision on a Phoenix-area freeway.
The DPS says a motorcycle officer suffered injuries not considered life threatening during a two-vehicle collision Thursday morning on Loop 101 in north Phoenix.
No further information was immediately available.
Proponents of Proposition 122 insist that a potentially far-reaching amendment to the Arizona Constitution is necessary to ensure the public gets to monitor how well — or poorly — Arizona does in protecting children.
Three people were displaced from a Mesa home Wednesday after a fire ignited in the kitchen.
PHOENIX -- Proponents of Proposition 122 insist a potentially far-reaching amendment to the Arizona Constitution is necessary to ensure the public gets to monitor how well -- or poorly -- Arizona does in protecting children.
Postcards being paid for and mailed to voters by the Arizona Republican Party declare that "an unconstitutional federal law'' forces Child Protective Services -- which technically no longer exists -- "to hide botched investigations of abused kids.'' It features a photo of a young girl with a bruise on her arm crouching in the corner with her teddy bear.
The measure on the November ballot would allow the Legislature -- or voters -- to declare that the new Department of Child Safety will not follow the federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act which includes provisions about what can and cannot be publicly released.
But it may not be necessary to amend the state constitution to do that.
"We could get out of CAPTA now if we reject the federal funds,'' said Dana Naimark, president of the Children's Action Alliance. Naimark, whose organization has taken no position on Prop 122, said she objects to proponents of the ballot measure using child-abuse issues to gain support, calling it a "distraction.''
Rep. Kate Brophy McGee, R-Phoenix, who has been at the forefront of demanding more transparency at DCS, supports Proposition 122. But she acknowledged the problem may not be with CAPTA, the federal law which the ballot measure would let legislators decide they don't want to enforce here -- and the one the mailer claims without backup is "unconstitutional.'' In fact, she said CAPTA specifically mandates disclosure of information in cases of deaths or near-fatal cases of abuse.
The big problem, she said, is how the state attorneys assigned to the child-welfare agency have chosen to read the federal law -- and to use it as a shield to reject requests for public records.
"They interpret CAPTA so broadly as to make it shut down the access to and flow of information, as opposed to do what CAPTA was intended, which is to facilitate the sharing of information in the case of the death or the near-death of a child,'' Brophy McGee said.
So is Proposition 122 needed to open up records?
"It's another tool in the tool box,'' she said, to ensure the new DCS she helped create -- and the lawyers that advise it -- err on the side of disclosure. "I'm fully prepared to use it.''
In essence, Proposition 122 would permit lawmakers or voters to decide that some federal law or program is not "consistent with the (federal) constitution.'' If that happens, all state and local governments and school districts would be prohibited from using their workers or funds "to enforce, administer or cooperate with the designated federal action or program.''
Where child abuse comes in is with CAPTA.
On one hand, the law which provides federal dollars to states for child-abuse programs specifically allows disclosure of information in instances of abuse that result in a fatality or near fatality. But other information is considered off limits.
More to the point, officials at Child Protective Services for years have cited CAPTA restrictions in rejecting requests for public records.
Brophy McGee said recent amendments to the law on confidentiality were designed to address some of that.
For example, the statute says records have to be maintained as required by federal law. But they also have declared that "all exceptions for the public release of DCS information shall be construed as openly as possible under federal law.''
"Every time we 'fix' (the law), they go right back to where they were and they cite CAPTA,'' Brophy McGee said. And she said that the new DCS is "not doing any better'' than the old CPS at being transparent about its operations -- even after she inserted a provision into the law creating DCS allowing the agency to hire its own attorney who might be willing to approve more disclosure.
That still leaves the question of whether lawmakers need Proposition 122 or can simply alter the existing Arizona law to demand fuller disclosure, regardless of federal law.
Businessman Jack Biltis, who is financing much of the pro-122 campaign, said he doubts that a simple amendment to state law would do much.
"CPS has really just been creating excuses not to disclose anything they didn't want to,'' he said, with the agency claiming the supremacy of the federal law. He said Proposition 122 would solve that by allowing lawmakers, citing the Arizona Constitution, to preclude precluding the DCS from participating in the federal CAPTA program if that is what is keeping records secret.
Biltis acknowledged that part of the decision lawmakers would have to make is whether such a mandate is worth the risk of losing federal dollars.
It's not a lot: Jennifer Bowser Richards, spokeswoman for DCS, put CAPTA aid to Arizona at just $670,000.
Biltis contends there is precedent that Washington cannot take away funds simply because Arizona refuses to follow federal law. That comes from the U.S. Supreme Court ruling two years ago which blocked the Obama administration from cutting off Medicaid dollars to states that refuse to expand their programs as part of the Affordable Care Act.
But that ruling dealt with a new requirement being superimposed on existing Medicaid law. This would involve Arizona trying to unilaterally alter an existing agreement.
Brophy McGee said she doubts there would be a legal fight if Arizona were to say it is going to make more information public, with or without Proposition 122.
"No state has ever lost funds because of CAPTA violations,'' she said.
DCS Director Charles Flanagan declined to be interviewed about the issue.
BUCKEYE, Ariz. (AP) — Three Arizona Department of Corrections employees going to work were critically injured and four others also were hurt when their van overturned in a traffic accident in Buckeye.
Department of Public Safety spokesman Bart Graves says the DOC van rolled on its side when struck by a pickup truck which ran a stop sign at an intersection Monday night.
Graves says three of the workers were reported in critical or extremely critical conditions while injuries to the other four were less serious. The Department of Corrections says those four were released after treatment.
The pickup's driver wasn't hurt, and Graves says there's no indication she was impaired.
The accident occurred on State Route 85 as the DOC workers were going to work at the Lewis prison complex in Buckeye.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — An Arizona Department of Public Safety motorcycle officer is recovering after being struck by a teen driver.
Authorities say that 19-year-old driver is now under investigation for suspected driving under the influence.
The officer was headed north on Miller Road in Scottsdale on Saturday when a southbound vehicle failed to yield and turned into an intersection. The vehicle hit the officer and threw him from his bike. The vehicle then hit another car.
The officer, who was alert after the crash, was rushed to a Scottsdale hospital.