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Art livens up downtown Mesa storefronts
PHOENIX (AP) — An Oklahoma man was sentenced Tuesday to seven years in prison for his conviction on charges of mailing an inoperable homemade bomb to an Arizona sheriff in a plot to frame a former business partner.
PHOENIX (AP) — An appeals court on Tuesday revealed some of the reasons Jodi Arias refused to testify in an open courtroom during the penalty phase of her trial, including purported death threats she is getting in jail.
PHOENIX (AP) — An Oklahoma man is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday for his conviction on charges of mailing an inoperable homemade bomb to an Arizona sheriff.
Today is the busiest mailing day of the year, and the Postal Service’s Phoenix Processing & Distribution Center will process more than 3 million pieces of mail.
When it comes to wanting to live healthy, Tucson is a good place to be. That's according to the latest WalletHub survey which rated the 100 largest communities across the nation based largely on the opportunities and costs of being physically active. When the financial advice web site weighed everything, Tucson came out No. 8.
December is the season for giving, and Arizona's generous charitable tax credits make it easy and painless to help people in need during the holidays while also brightening your New Year by cutting your state tax bill. Mesa United Way is now certified to accept charitable foster care tax credit donations as well as the standard charitable tax credit, which allows you to double your giving as well as your tax break.
When’s the last time you went line by line through your bank or credit card statement?
Like filing your income taxes with pen and paper? The state is going to make it more difficult for you to get the forms you need. And if you don't have a computer, then be prepared to spend some time on the road to get them.
You may not realize it, but there are actually two ways to receive your Medicare benefits.
Another election season has come and gone. You might reasonably conclude that, once again, no ballot fraud occurred in Arizona, from the absence of any news accounts. But that’s almost certainly not true.
Brynlee Brown waits to put their letters in the Pony Express mail bag during the Pony Express opening ceremony on Friday, Nov. 7, 2014.
PHOENIX (AP) — After months of campaigning, candidates for Arizona's top elected offices will find out Tuesday if they persuaded enough voters to back them to win.
Democrats who hope to gain statewide offices for the first time in four years worked the days leading up to Election Day trying to get out the vote and overcome a Republican advantage in early ballot returns.
The slate of candidates vying for governor, secretary of state, attorney general and other constitutional offices will need a major turnout of Democrats Tuesday to win in a year shaping up as decidedly Republican nationally.
Meanwhile, the Republican candidates finished a four-day statewide tour Monday with stops in three northern Arizona communities, ending at the county courthouse in the onetime territorial capital of Prescott late in the evening.
Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 a.m., and the candidates and public should see the first results at 8 p.m. Tuesday. The deadline for returning early ballots by mail passed last week, so those ballots must be delivered to a polling place or county recorder's office by close of business to be counted.
Those who forget their polling places can find the correct location by using the secretary of state's website search tool at http://www.azsos.gov .
Republican Doug Ducey is casting himself as the front-runner in the governor's race, while Democrat Fred DuVal is hoping a high Democratic turnout will overcome the Republicans' early ballot advantage.
But DuVal wasn't saying he is behind, instead pointing to continued spending by outside groups backing Ducey, like the Republican Governors Association as proof the race is closer than many believe.
"This is a total tossup, and turnout will matter, and it will be close," DuVal said. "The fact that the RGA continued to increase its expenditure in the last 10 days of the campaign confirms what we know to be the case, which is this is going to be a close election."
Ducey and Duval have each spent about $2.2 million in their general election campaign, but Ducey has benefited from $7.9 million in outside spending compared to about $1 million for DuVal.
Ducey, in an interview Monday, said he's anxious to see the vote totals on election night but believes he has a path to victory.
"We want to see the returns, we want to see the totals," Ducey said. "That's why we're hopscotching all over the state today."
Other top statewide races on Tuesday's ballot include the battle between Democrat Felecia Rotellini and Republican Mark Brnovich for attorney general, Democrat Terry Goddard and Republican Michele Reagan for secretary of state, and Democrat David Garcia against Republican Diane Douglas for superintendent of public instruction. All nine congressional seats are also on the ballot, with close races expected in the 1st and 2nd Districts and possibly the 9th.
"I'm very excited about this election because the Democrats have taken this country off to the left somewhere I don't even know about. So we have to get rid of them and get this country back on track," said Phoenix resident Ted Cook, who voted about an hour after polls opened.
Ducey and Duval said Monday they were hoping voters hear their messages. Ducey went back to his business experience to make his final pitch.
"Put a business man and a job creator in the governor's office," Ducey said. "Put somebody who has built the broadest coalition in the race, someone who wants to bring people together and focus on the things the governor can do, like growing our economy and creating jobs that turn into fulfilling careers, and somebody who will return K-12 education to the greatness we expect here in this country, and will do it in a financially responsible way."
DuVal cast the race differently.
"Is Arizona poised for a change or going to double down on the existing policies that are not producing either a strong economy or good education outcomes?" DuVal asked. "Arizona's really got to decide whether we're going to keep doing what we're doing or whether we're going to move into the 21st century."
PHOENIX (AP) — After months of campaigning, candidates for Arizona's top elected offices will find out Tuesday if they persuaded enough voters to back them to win.
PHOENIX (AP) — Time is running out to request an early ballot for next month's general election ballot.
The Arizona Secretary of State's office says voters who want to request an early ballot for the general election must act by 5 p.m. Friday — the last day that an early ballot request made to a voter's county recorder's office can be honored.
Completed ballots should be signed, sealed and mailed by next Thursday in order to arrive in time to be counted in the Nov. 4 election. After that they should be dropped off at a polling place.
Voters who don't request an early ballot can still vote early by contacting their county recorder to find early voting locations. And ballots can be cast at normal voting locations on Election Day.
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.
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.
PHOENIX (AP) — A coalition of Arizona advocacy groups defended its practice Wednesday of dropping off early ballots for voters.
The grassroots organizations are facing an outcry in the wake of surveillance video posted last week that shows a volunteer hand-delivering numerous ballots to a Maricopa County elections office a day before the Aug. 26 primary.
"It's a nonstory. Nothing that they did was illegal," said Tony Navarrete, a spokesman for immigration advocacy group Promise Arizona. "It was them making the promise to voters that they were going to turn in their ballots during the primary."
The video has been viewed more than 360,000 times on YouTube.
A.J. LaFaro, the Republican Party's chairman for Maricopa County, said he witnessed the man, who is a canvasser for Citizens for a Better Arizona, dropping off a box full of ballots.
Lafaro said "ballot harvesting" raises issues about the security of those ballots before they're counted, even though signatures on ballot envelopes are checked by election workers.
"From the time those ballots are mailed to the time they're turned back in, lots of things can happen," LaFaro said.
Ramiro Luna, Citizens for a Better Arizona field director, criticized LaFaro and others for referring to canvassers as "thugs." According to Luna, canvassers knock on doors —mostly in Hispanic communities — and encourage voters to participate. But they are trained not to touch a ballot or mark it in any way, he said.
"The ballot is something we keep as sacred. It is between the voter and the election department. All we are doing is providing a service to make sure the ballot is counted and is turned in on time," Luna said.
LaFaro acknowledged the Republican Party has been doing the same thing when it sends get-out-the-vote volunteers to canvass neighborhoods.
"On occasion we offer to take their ballot and deliver it for them," LaFaro said. "If it's not illegal, we're going to make that offer."
But he argued it was on a much smaller scale compared to Democratic-leaning groups.
"We don't comprehend, nor do we subscribe to what we see out there on the progressive-socialist side," LaFaro said. "That gentleman bringing in several hundred ballots, what function does that serve? We still cannot comprehend why they do it."
Maricopa County Elections spokesman Daniel Ruiz said there is no law covering how a ballot gets to the poll. What counts is whether the ballot is signed and the signature can be verified. However, voters who don't plan on mailing a ballot or dropping it off in person should make sure to give it to someone they trust, Ruiz added.
LaFaro said he will urge the Legislature to change the law when it returns in January to make the process illegal.
The collection of ballots by groups like Citizens for a Better Arizona has become an issue in the Arizona secretary of state's race. The practice would have been banned under a major 2013 election law rewrite that the Legislature repealed this year after opponents collected enough signatures to send it to the ballot.
"I see no reason why any individual, whether it's a candidate themselves, a campaign operative, a party individual, myself, you, anybody, should be in possession of an extraordinary number of ballots," Republican candidate Michele Reagan said at an Oct. 7 debate. "It creates a system where there is an opportunity for fraud, and that is not acceptable."
Democrat Terry Goddard agreed that banning mass collections should be considered, within limits.
"I agree that what Sen. Reagan occasionally calls harvesting is wrong and whatever that means should be abolished," Goddard said, while warning that not all collections should be banned. "Let's look carefully before we jump, because the thing at stake is your right and my right to vote, and it seems to me that under every circumstance we ought to protect that right."
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne is warning consumers and businesses to be aware of phony bills for newspaper and magazine subscription renewals.
Consumers around the state have recently received mail claiming to be renewal notices or invoices for publications to which they regularly subscribe. The invoices claimed that the consumer’s subscriptions were about to expire and asked for a credit card account number to make the renewal payment.
The invoices were sent by companies that have no affiliation with the newspaper or magazine company listed on the invoice. This appears to be a mailer scam intended only to obtain consumers’ credit card information.
Here are some tips to avoid being scammed:
1. Be wary of any mailers or phone calls asking for a payment. Check to be sure you owe the amount demanded.
2. Research the name of the company that sent the mailer before sending them money. The Better Business Bureau’s website is a good place to start.
3. Contact the newspaper or magazine, or any company demanding payment, before providing any personal information. Never divulge any personal or financial information, including your credit card number, unless you are absolutely sure that you are sending the payment to the company you determine you owe money to.
4. Contact your bank or credit card company if you believe you have been scammed.
If you suspect a scam, report it to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office by filing a consumer complaint at www.azag.gov/complaints/consumer. You may also contact them by phone at 602-542-5763 (Phoenix), 520-628-6504 (Tucson), or toll-free outside metro Phoenix, 800-352-8431, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.