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They are everywhere. They are some who watched the Towers fall and chose to hold forgiveness in their hearts. They are those whose dreams died that day, but knew to keep living in gratitude.
Arizona gained 24,700 private sector jobs last month, enough to push the state's seasonally adjusted jobless rate down a tenth of a point, to 6.8 percent. But all indications are that many of these aren't necessarily the best jobs in the world.
The successful gubernatorial candidate who promised to balance the budget without tax hikes or borrowing won't be presenting a truly balanced spending plan to lawmakers in January.
Disingenuous or dumb?
A Mesa preschool employee was sentenced to eight months in county jail and lifetime supervised probation on Oct. 31 after pleading guilty to accusations she wrapped a student in a blanket tightly.
Arizona's statewide races reflect the national campaigns — an almost complete Republican victory, and an almost complete rejection of Barack Obama. Six years ago, who'd a thunk it? The guy was on top of the world. Now, he might slink off the world stage in a couple of years, as an afterthought. A conflation of events, opposition, and, frankly, incompetence, seem to have ruined his second term.
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.
The Department of Veteran Affairs released information this year on what some call a startling number of veteran suicides — 22 U.S. veterans commit suicide every day, and many of them had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
‘Human trafficking is homegrown here,” said Cindy McCain, co-chairperson of Gov. Brewer’s Arizona Human Trafficking Council and wife of U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), in a recent phone interview.
Arizonans are painfully aware of the skyrocketing costs of health care. Both federal and state governments continue to ask for more tax dollars to pay for Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Taxpayers are contributing more than ever for health care for the less fortunate. Those below 133 percent of the federal poverty level now qualify for Medicaid and those using an ACA exchange receive a heavy subsidy. These programs will be inordinately expensive. Proposition 480 fails to acknowledge these massive changes and the sacrifices taxpayers are already making by asking for a 27-year, $1.6 billion bond and tax increase for the old way of doing health care business. At this point, the county hospital is only a true safety net for illegal immigrants because they do not qualify for AHCCCS or ACA, which begs the question why only Maricopa County property taxpayers should pay for a federal responsibility.
With the 2014 election less than a week away, it’s important to remember that an election is a job review for legislators and elected officials. Let’s review.
As we begin National Bully Prevention Month, I feel it would be pertinent to put some thoughts on paper that would bring to light an important aspect of the bullying issue that is not usually addressed.
Students from elementary schools across the East Valley will receive additional lessons about nutrition and health this winter as part of a free annual program organized by Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Roughly two years ago, I came home from work to find a letter on my front door. That letter was to inform me about a junior high school in my neighborhood that was closing. As any community member would, I simply asked why?
It is exciting to experience. No, it is not a Cardinals football game, though it does get a little noisy. No, it is not the latest movie. Neither is it a trip to Disneyland, though it does involve a lot of creativity and imagination. It does have something in common with sporting events, movie theaters and Disneyland.
PHOENIX -- Same-sex weddings in Arizona could be less than a week away.
In a brief order made available Friday, a federal judge considering challenges to the Arizona ban said he's all but convinced that Arizona's laws and constitutional provision against gays being able to marry are illegal.
Judge John Sedwick said his conclusion follows a ruling earlier this week by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals striking down similar bans in Idaho and Nevada. The three-judge panel ruled unanimously those restrictions violate the rights of homosexuals who want the same rights to wed granted to heterosexuals.
Sedwick said it appears that decisions "controls the outcome'' of challenges here.
In essence, the judge gave attorneys for the state through this coming Thursday to convince him that's not true. If they cannot, the judge indicated he will grant a motion by challengers to summarily rule the Arizona restrictions illegal and reject a separate request by the state to dismiss the challenge.
That could come as early as Friday.
Jennifer Pizer, attorney with Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, who is handling one of the two challenges in Sedwick's court, said she sees his action as a good sign.
"The order ... confirms that Judge Sedwick is prepared to apply the 9th Circuit decision and vindicate the basic rights of lesbian and gay Arizonans and their families,'' she said.
Pizer pointed out that last month, it took the judge just hours after oral arguments to decide that Fred McQuire was entitled to be listed by Arizona authorities as the surviving spouse of George Martinez who he married in California.
"Judge Sedwick doesn't dawdle when he's been persuaded,'' she said.
Less clear is how quickly gays would be able to marry.
Sedwick could follow the precedent set by the 9th Circuit and make his ruling effective immediately. Efforts by other states to delay similar orders have been rebuffed by the U.S. Supreme Court, with the high court on Friday dissolving the temporary stay it had given Idaho officials from that appellate ruling, requiring that state now to also start letting gays wed.
Attorney General Tom Horne told Capitol Media Services his office is still reviewing that 9th Circuit ruling. Horne said he has not yet decided whether any of the arguments Arizona is making to preserve its restrictions are sufficiently different than what the appellate judges already have dismissed in the other cases.
More to the point, Horne said any decision of whether to appeal of Sedwick's ruling will depend on whether he believes Arizona would have more success defending its ban than any of the other states have had.
It may be difficult to prove that the arguments here are any different than have been made -- and rejected -- elsewhere.
In defending Arizona's restriction, lawyers said that defining marriage as solely between one man and one woman "furthers the state's compelling interest in connecting children to both their biological mother and their biological father.''
"The most reliable studies on alternative family structures show that, in general, the optimal childrearing environment is a home headed by a married biological mother and biological father,'' wrote Byron Babione. He is an attorney with the Christian public interest law firm Alliance Defending Freedom who Horne has allowed to take the lead in making Arizona's arguments.
"Moreover, every set of biological parents provides their children with a parent of each sex, and much social science indicates that gender-differentiated parenting is important for human development,'' Babione wrote.
But in the 9th Circuit ruling just this past Tuesday, appellate Judge Stephen Reinhardt said Idaho and Nevada were making the same arguments: that marriage laws "promote child welfare by encouraging optimal parenting.'' That included the idea that children raised by two parents of opposite sex are "most likely to thrive'' because mothers and fathers have "complementary approaches to parenting.''
Reinhardt said, however, there was nothing presented to the court supporting those contentions.
In the brief Sedwick said he will rule on, Babione also said it is "logical'' to assume that if gays can marry "that marriage between man-woman couples having or raising children will decrease.''
"As fewer man-woman couples marry and as more of their relationships ends prematurely, the already significant costs associated with unwed childbearing and divorce would further increase,'' Babione wrote.
Reinhardt, however, addressed that specific contention in the appellate court ruling by citing data from Massachusetts where gays have been able to marry since 2004. He said there was no decrease in marriage rates or increase in divorce rates in that time.
And the judge said allowing gays to marry actually might have the opposite result predicted by foes.
"It would seem that allowing couples who want to marry so badly that they have endured years of litigation to win the right to do so would reaffirm the state's endorsement, without reservation, of spousal and parental commitment,'' Reinhardt wrote.
Babione also contends that that if gays can wed "it is logical to project that fewer fathers will commit to their children's mothers and jointly raise their children.''
But Reinhardt, addressing the same arguments from Idaho and Nevada, said that comes down to a contention that a man who has a child with a woman, seeing a child raised by two women allowed to marry by the state, will somehow conclude that it is unnecessary for his own child to have a father.
"This proposition reflects a crass and callous view of parental love and the parental bond that is not worthy of a response,'' Reindardt sniffed. "We reject it out of hand.''
Along the same lines, Reinhardt brushed aside arguments by Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch'' Otter than that allowing same-sex marriage will lead to bad behavior by heterosexual couples.
"We seriously doubt that allowing committed same-sex couples to settle down in legally recognized marriages will drive opposite-sex couples to sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll,'' the judge wrote.
Finally, Babione said the people of Arizona, who approved a constitutional amendment in 2008, have a right to define marriage for their community. But Reinhardt, in the earlier ruling, said that does not trump the fact that, absent some legitimate purpose, "laws that treat people differently based on sexual orientation are unconstitutional.''
On a strictly legal question, Babione contends Arizona's restriction should be upheld if the state can show a rational basis for it. But the 9th Circuit, saying fundamental rights are at issue, already has said it examines these kind of laws on a "strict scrutiny'' basis which require states to show some compelling reason for them.
PHOENIX -- Having won benefits for current of gay state and university employees, attorneys are back in court demanding the same for everyone hired in the future. And if they win, count on them to start going after cities, counties, school districts and all government employers in Arizona.
Tara Borelli of Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund wants U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick to permanently void a 2009 Arizona law that says benefits like health insurance are available only to those who are married. Borelli, the lead counsel on the case, said gay employees need benefits for their partners and children just the same as those who are married.
But Assistant Attorney General Charles Grube, in his own legal filings, effectively is urging Sedwick to butt out.
"Domestic-partner health coverage is not a fundamental right,'' he told the judge.
He said that means state lawmakers were free to decide to pass a law saying that benefits are limited to those who are wed. Grube said that is a financial decision well within the powers of legislators.
Grube said because the state provides no benefits for any unmarried partners, gay and straight, there is no discrimination against anyone because of sexual orientation.
But Borelli said that ignores one key fact: Straight couples have the option to get those benefits by marrying; a 2008 voter-approved state constitutional amendment denies that same right to gays, thereby making those same benefits inaccessible.
And that remains the case in Arizona unless and until federal courts rule gays can wed.
Gov. Jan Brewer is defending the law as one based not on sexual orientation but on budget considerations. She told Capitol Media Services the state needed the money it was spending providing benefits to the partners of its gay workers -- benefits Sedwick blocked her from cutting.
Borelli, however, said the effects are minimal, saying gays make up just 0.2 percent of all state employees getting benefits.
Arizona first provided domestic-partner benefits in 2008 when then-Gov. Janet Napolitano ordered state personnel rules rewritten to expand the definition of who is a "dependent'' for purposes of getting benefits. Those rules, which did not specify the gender of the partner, required a showing of financial interdependence and an affidavit by the worker affirming there is a domestic partnership.
But in 2009, after Napolitano resigned to take a post in the Obama administration, the Republican-controlled Legislature approved, and Brewer signed, a state law narrowing the definition -- and specifically excluding unmarried couples.
Sedwick issued a preliminary injunction blocking the change, at least as it applies to gay employees.
The judge acknowledged the change in law, tucked into a provision of the state budget, is not discriminatory on its face. But he said the denial has to be examined in light of the ban on same-sex marriage.
"As a result, (the law) denies lesbian and gay state employees in qualifying domestic partnership a valuable form of compensation on the basis of sexual orientation,'' he wrote in 2010.
Sedwick has since given the case class-action status. That sets the stage for the fight over whether the law should be permanently blocked.
Grube told the judge there's no basis for such an order. He said any disparate impact on gays is the result not of this law but of the other statutes and constitutional provisions which bar gays from marrying.
On a more practical level, Brewer said there's the question of cost.
"I think we all know that Arizona was in dire shape financially,'' she said of her 2009 decision to sign the law voiding the change in rules.
"We had to make some tough choices,'' the governor continued. "I believe that was one area we could cut costs, just like we had to do in behavioral health or education.''
Borelli, however, gave Sedwick figures -- produced by the state -- that show the cost of benefits for the partners of gay workers now covered is less than 0.3 percent of the total program, with the cost of claims for children at about 0.01 percent.
Brewer also brushed aside questions of whether the state should reconsider now that its finances are vastly improved from 2009.
"I would tell you that, almost today, no one can afford insurance,'' saying that is a question that can be taken up by the next governor and the next crop of legislators.
Finances aside, Grube said there's a rational reason for lawmakers providing benefits to those who are married versus those who are not.
"Under Arizona law, married persons have a legal duty to supply support to their spouses,'' he told the judge.
"A married person who fails to provide a spouse with necessary medical attendance actually commits a crime,'' Grube continued. "There is no such criminal statute for unmarried persons.''
But Borelli noted it is the state itself that prohibits gays from marrying in the first place and being subject to laws governing marriage. Beyond that, she said this is not a matter of criminal law.
"Plaintiffs rely on family coverage as an important part of their compensation for the same reason as their heterosexual colleagues: to provide shelter and protection to their families from the potential extreme stress of untreated illnesses and attendant financial burdens,'' she wrote.
And that, she said, goes to the other part of her discrimination argument. She said the gay workers are doing the same job as their heterosexual counterparts.
Brewer had one more reason to justify the Arizona law.
"The federal government also does not provide insurance to domestic partners,'' she said.
Borelli said that's true. But she also said it's unnecessary since the federal government recognizes the marriages performed in states where that is legal, allowing gay employees to get benefits for their partners.
It is only in states like Arizona, she said, where that is an issue.
Q. Would you say your district is delivering quality services now and what, if any, changes would you make?
Maricopa County residents will decide next month the role the county should play in Arizona’s health care system, which is already affected by state and federal health care programs.
Having won benefits for current gay state and university employees, attorneys are back in court demanding the same for everyone hired in the future. And if they win, count on them to start going after cities, counties, school districts and all government employers in Arizona.
The Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce has announced the nominees for the 2014 Palo Verde Women in Business Award.
>> This information is provided in community partnership with Harkins Theatres. For showtimes, theater locations and tickets, go to HarkinsTheatres.com.
Former Highland High School Junior ROTC instructor Joseph Stephenson faces possible prison time in November for having sex with an underage JROTC member.
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Thirsty hikers have to wait. The elk are first in line.
The animals are helping themselves to water from bottle-filling stations set up around Grand Canyon National Park by lifting the spring-loaded levers with their noses and letting the water flow. It's not exactly the kind of use officials had in mind when they installed the stations and dropped the sale of disposable water bottles.
Now, they are elk-proofing the stations to outsmart the animals, conserve water and protect visitors from aggressive behavior.
About a dozen filling stations are set up throughout the park. The elk favor the one at popular South Kaibab Trail.
Chief resource manager Martha Hahn says caging in the water spout and changing up the way of turning on the water should keep the animals away.