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A 55-plus community in Mesa is expanding its property to include room for new recreational areas.
Sixty years ago, Seton Catholic Prep was just a tiny school near modern-day Arizona Avenue and Chandler Boulevard where a Boys & Girls Club stands today.
It’s sometimes difficult to remove political or philosophical underpinnings from an artistic review. The goal is to judge a film or book or album or TV show on either artistic or intellectual criteria, but all evaluations are biased by their nature, and keeping the non-critical viewpoints from seeping into the process is a tremendous difficulty.
PHOENIX -- Rejecting claims his congressional privilege was violated, a federal appeals court on Thursday upheld the convictions of Rick Renzi on charges of extortion, fraud, conspiracy and racketeering.
The three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals acknowledged that members of Congress are entitled to certain constitutional protections from being questioned about their official acts. And that generally would extend to members of the congressman's staff.
But Judge Richard Tallman, writing for the unanimous court, said Renzi opened the door when he attempted to use his own legislative acts as a defense in the criminal case. And that, the judge said, allowed prosecutors to then question Renzi's staffers about the acts to make their case that he was lying.
"The rationale makes sense,'' Tallman wrote. "A congressman cannot claim the protections of the privilege when he himself introduces the volatile evidence.''
Thursday's action not only upholds the 17-count conviction following his trial in Tucson but the three-year prison term imposed on him last year. The appellate court, which had allowed him to remain free during the appeal, made no mention in Thursday's ruling when he would be ordered to report.
The main charge relates to efforts by Resolution Copper Co. to acquire land from the federal government it needs to begin mining near Superior.
According to testimony, Renzi, first elected to Congress from the sprawling district in 2002, agreed to sponsor legislation to authorize Resolution to get the land through a swap with environmentally sensitive land the federal government wanted. But Renzi said that land that Resolution had to buy and offer had to be a 640-acre parcel of land in Cochise County, adjacent to the San Pedro River, which was owned by James Sandlin.
Bruno Hegner, a former Resolution executive, told jurors of an angry phone call from Renzi in 2005 that "unless the Sandlin property were included in the exchange package, he would not sponsor legislation.'' And Hegner said when he attempted to explain the difficulties of such a deal, Renzi said, "no Sandlin property, no bill.''
Prosecutors said Renzi's interest in that property was that Sandlin, a former business partner, owed him $700,000 and needed the cash to pay off the debt. And when Hegner found out the pair had been in business together, the company opted not to purchase the Cochise County property and Renzi's swap legislation died.
He left Congress at the end of 2008 after his indictment but before his trial. To date, Congress has yet to approve a deal with Resolution to acquire the land it wants near Superior.
Renzi also was convicted of a separate effort to get Sandlin's property purchased by The Aries
Group as a condition of pushing a separate exchange of federal land the company wanted near Florence. Court records show Aries paid Sandlin $1.5 million in principal plus another $153,000 in interest but that a federal land exchange bill with Aries never was introduced.
And he also was found guilty of separate offenses that he embezzled insurance premiums paid by clients of his brokerage firm.
Thursday's ruling is unlikely the last word.
"We are disappointed with the court's ruling,'' said Kelly Kramer, one of Renzi's Washington, D.C. attorneys. "We intend to seek further appellate review.''
Among the arguments Kramer presented was that Renzi was interested in having Sandlin's land acquired because it was being leased to a farmer who was pumping a lot of water from the San Pedro watershed. And that drain of water, in turn, endangered the future of Fort Huachuca.
That is what made crucial the testimony Renzi sought to block from Joanne Keene, his former congressional district director.
She told jurors that Renzi "did not seem very excited and interested in the Resolution Copper exchange'' when the Sandlin tract was not longer part of it.'' And Keene also said Renzi told her he "wanted to put the brakes on'' the Aries exchange after Congressman Duke Cunningham had been indicted on charges of public corruption.
In Thursday's ruling, Tallman said both conversations were admissible because they went directly to counter Renzi's arguments there were different reasons for his actions.
Rejecting claims his congressional privilege was violated, a federal appeals court on Thursday upheld the convictions of Rick Renzi on charges of extortion, fraud, conspiracy and racketeering.
Q: Why are you running?
A: I want to grow our economy and provide a bright future for our children. Our Legislature needs to focus on long-term goals, not just short-term requirements.
I’m running because a strong economy demands a prepared workforce and a reliable infrastructure. For over 25 years, I’ve been in business. I’ve worked for multi-national corporations as a computer systems analyst, and I’ve been an entrepreneur. For 25 years, I’ve been building coalitions of parents and community members for quality public education. With a team, I co-founded the local group, Yes Public Ed, and the statewide group, the APPLE Coalition, to develop continuous dialogue between elected officials and community members — parents, teachers, retirees, and business leaders — for quality public education.
We need leaders who understand technology and collaboration because those are the keys to the innovation economy and the good jobs with great pay and a ladder to advancement. I will work to bring business and education leaders together to focus on preparing our most important resource, our people, for the challenges of global competition. I will always keep a keen eye for innovations that can support Arizona’s businesses, because when our businesses are strong, Arizona is strong.
Q: Arizona is predicted to be among the fastest-growing states in terms of job growth in the coming years. What can Arizona do to accelerate the growth and what industries should it target, especially for residents of your district?
A: There are several opportunities to accelerate job growth in Arizona, and growing jobs is my No 1 priority. We need high-paying jobs that have a ladder for advancement, and create positive economic ripple effects for all of Arizona.
The Research and Development Refundable Tax Credit has been a successful program to help startups in the innovation economy to grow. The return on investment has been beneficial. With a $15 million investment, we can attribute $2.26 billion of growth in our economy. From millions to billions is a good ROI! I have been meeting with innovation entrepreneurs in places like TechShop and Gangplank to learn more about the resources they need to grow manufacturing jobs here.
To encourage more companies to relocate or expand in Arizona, we need a great business environment that includes a full complement of factors: talented workforce, low taxes, reliable infrastructure and quality of life. We need a talented workforce to continue to attract companies, like Intel, Honeywell and Fuji Film, as economic anchors. In conversations with people who work in these large multinational firms, I’ve heard repeatedly that they want more Arizona graduates in STEAM — science, technology, engineering, arts and math. I’ve attended the Sci-Tech Festivals to learn more about how excellence in these important fields is being encouraged.
By supporting education, and certain capital programs for startups, we can help more and more people to not only get a job, we can help them to make more jobs!
Q: Given the state’s decision to back out of the PARCC test, should Arizona continue to follow Common Core standards? If not, what standards should the state implement for its students?
A: The ACCRS (Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards) are not perfect. We need an Arizona solution to prepare our students to be college and career-ready. We must have high standards in our schools so that we will have high standards in our workforce and quality of life.
Q: The approval of Gov. Jan Brewer’s Medicaid funding was a contentious issue in 2013. Now with a year gone, was the decision by Brewer and the Legislature the correct decision for Arizona?
A: It was the correct decision. With the AHCCCS Restoration, we have a healthier workforce and a healthier budget. Repealing the plan is and extreme reaction. That would leave a huge deficit in the budget and it would mean that our tax dollars — paid by Arizonans — would go to other states instead of helping our state.
With the plan in place, health care providers — that are major economic pillars — are reporting much better financial results. The math continues to work. The health care industry provides not only great jobs with high pay, but also helps to keep more Arizonans healthy and productive at work.
Q: Given recent protestations about “dark money” affecting political campaigns, is there a problem with the campaign finance system in Arizona? Similarly, would you vote to present campaign finance reform legislation to voters in the next two election cycles?
A: “Dark money” is dangerous because it can open the door to corruption. If we don’t know who is donating to a campaign, we cannot know the true intentions of the campaign.
Accountability and transparency have always been important to me. As a school board member, I worked hard with staff members to bring more community members into the district to be included in decisions, and I spoke up repeatedly for clear communications that did not hide the truth behind jargon. I will continue to stand for improving transparency in the state.
School districts across the East Valley educated their students at a rate above the state standards according to information released by the Arizona Department of Education on Aug. 4.
Tucson: Second Saturdays Downtown
You can almost smell it like a monsoon in the distance. It might not be on the horizon just yet, but there is something in the air that lets us know football season is almost upon us.
Tourism in Arizona is now back to where it was before the recession — and SB 1070 — hit, but it's nowhere near where it should be, according to the state's top tourism official.
Arizona is not going to take center stage this year in the battle over genetically modified foods.
On July 2, director Scott Derrickson adds “Deliver Us From Evil” to his cache of creepy horror films including “Sinister” and “The Exorcism of Emily Rose.” Based on the real-life experiences of former-NYPD-officer-now-demonologist Ralph Sarchie, the film stars, along with plenty of demonic possessions, a rich cast including Eric Bana as the pessimistic, skeptic cop Sarchie, Joel McHale as his joke-cracking partner and Edgar Ramirez as Mendoza, an undercover priest. GetOut had the chance to talk with Eric Bana and Joel McHale about the upcoming film.
It’s barely June and already there have been two incidents of children drowning in the East Valley, one in Mesa and one in Chandler. As the weather heats up, the need for heightened safety measures around pools becomes apparent.
On April 22, we celebrate Earth Day — a day devoted to education and action on environmental issues. As a citizen of the world, you may have a keen interest in protecting your physical surroundings. And as someone trying to reach long-term financial goals, such as a comfortable retirement, you’re probably also interested in improving your investment environment.
For a guy who didn’t enjoy preseason pressure put upon him, Ryker Seifert sure didn’t show it.
Chandler Councilman Jack Sellers this week was confirmed as the newest member of the Arizona State Transportation Board.
Arizona voters may get to decide if they want to know whether their cold cereal is made with genetically modified corn.
Arizona Ambassador Girl Scout Morgan Serventi made life a little better in Wamba, Kenya, a year ago. She brought the local people heat, light, pure water, and a way to clean up their environment. Her gift is sustainable, ecologically brilliant, and affordable for families who live on less than we can imagine. She calls her project, “The Power of Poo,” for which she earned the prestigious Girl Scout Gold Award.
In a year so rich with captivating cinema, it feels almost criminal to try and narrow it down to a mere 10 favorites.
In a year so rich with captivating cinema, it feels almost criminal to try and narrow it down to a mere 10 favorites.