The Arizona Agenda’s Daily Agenda: Biden doesn't like Ducey's super-spreader classrooms plan
The presidential response to some, uh, innovative Ducey budget ideas, and a plea to send us your favorite government websites. We’re fun at parties!
Well, that was fast. The Biden administration said Gov. Doug Ducey’s plans to use federal COVID-19 relief funds to spread more COVID-19 is not, in fact, the intended use of said funds.
Ducey announced two pots of money yesterday for schools courting the virus, one that provides more funding for schools that don’t institute mask mandates and one that created vouchers for students to leave schools if there’s not enough COVID-19 going around.
Two federal agencies said Arizona’s anti-masks-at-schools crusades should stop. The U.S. Department of Education sent a strongly worded letter, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury said Ducey’s creativity with federal funds was dicey.
Arizona isn’t alone in getting on Biden’s bad side. A handful of other states (Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah) will also be on the receiving end of some mean letters from the feds, the New York Times reported. The Education Department may use civil rights enforcement powers to come after states that restrict mask mandates in schools.
The Department of Education’s letter to Ducey says efforts to block schools from instituting mask requirements might not be legal. The new state law blocking mask mandates in schools could violate a federal law that requires schools that receive American Rescue Plan funds to create safe return-to-school plans, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona wrote.
And the Department of the Treasury also responded to Ducey’s plans. The agency similarly was … not a fan. U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton, a Democrat, called on the Treasury to put a stop to the governor. A Treasury spokesperson said no state should use these funds to prevent or discourage efforts to stop the spread of the virus. And they’re watching:
“Treasury is monitoring all proposed expenditures and expects any state or local government that uses State and Local funds in violation of the eligible uses to repay the misused funds to the federal government.”
So where does this go from here? Ducey spokesman C.J. Karamargin told the Republic that everything’s cool — they’re confident the money can be used for the thing the feds say the money can’t be used for. The Biden administration could come back harder if Ducey doesn’t back down.
Compassionate conservatism: While fringe Arizona Republicans are comparing Afghan refugees to terrorists and “bio weapons,” Ducey and Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers issued a joint statement this morning “wholeheartedly” welcoming them, while also taking shots at Biden.
Try again in January: The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is ignoring the state Senate’s latest subpoena for election-related material to be used in the audit, saying the Senate isn’t in session, and therefore can’t enforce the subpoena by holding the board in contempt. They were kind enough not to rub it in that even if the Senate were in session, Senate President Karen Fann can’t muster the 16 votes needed to haul supervisors off to jail.
You break it, you buy it: Meanwhile, Maricopa County is preparing to sue the Senate to make it pay for the $2.8 million it will cost to replace the voting machines that Cyber Ninjas had its grubby, clueless hands all over.
Show us the money and everything else: A Maricopa County Superior Court judge ordered the Senate to release audit records to liberal watchdog group American Oversight by the end of the month. Still, it’s not clear what exactly we’ll see, as the Senate has claimed it doesn’t have many of those documents, Cyber Ninjas does. The question of whether Cyber Ninjas is also subject to public records laws is up for debate in the Court of Appeals.
The Republic’s obsession with Meghan McCain continues: The daughter of the late senator has another book coming out. The Republic’s Bill Goodykoontz has the details of “Everything we know about Meghan McCain's upcoming memoir, 'Bad Republican,'” which is basically that it’s an audiobook titled “Bad Republican” that comes out in October and costs $20.96.
Ahh, there’s the attention you’re seeking: After a round of bad headlines yesterday, Ducey attempted to show that he is, in fact, all over the “escalating man-made crisis.” No, not COVID-19, silly. The border. He’s keeping the Arizona National Guard there for another year.
The conspiracy theories write themselves: The Attorney General’s Office said the Litchfield Elementary School District violated open meeting law by having its Diversity Empowerment Team craft equity policies on student discipline, and district hiring and retention practices. One school board member individually violated the law by holding up a sign during the call to the audience portion of the meeting saying claims about critical race theory were “not true,” the AG’s Office said.
Reality-resistant Republican Sen. Wendy Rogers wants to ticket the fake news for dropping free junk papers in her yard. It’s not her worst idea (but don’t flush them down the toilet, as her emojis suggest — that’s a plumbing nightmare in the making). But while we’re at it, let’s ticket politicians for littering our doorsteps with their propaganda!
This isn’t really about today’s news, but we stumbled upon the best government website we’ve seen in years. We were just doing some reporting when we were transported back to the early 2000s by the Mohave County Clerk of Superior Court’s website. It’s got all the information you need, but exactly no more than that.
It got us thinking: What’s the best government website you’ve seen? Interpret that however you want. We wanna see ’em.
Anticipating the Cyber Ninjas’ report will be released soon, a panel of election officials and experts plan to preemptively tell us why it’s trash. The Center for Election Innovation and Research is convening the group of experts at 10 a.m. today. Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer will be there for the prebuttal, as will Maricopa County Director of Elections Rey Valenzuela.
The Arizona Supreme Court will release its ruling on the constitutionality of Prop 208, the voter-approved law that would tax high-income earners to fund schools, at 10 a.m. today. You can find it posted on the Court’s website at that time.
Chandler Unified School District will discuss its “current mitigation strategies” at a special board meeting tonight at 5 p.m. The agenda for the meeting includes links to Ducey’s two new programs and a copy of the lawsuit confirming school districts’ ability to institute mask mandates.