The Daily Agenda: A Scottsdale dossier enflames school board wars
Do dossiers ever have a positive connotation? ... Talonya Adams keeps fighting ... And we feel confident the legislative session will go on for too damn long.
Jann-Michael Greenburg, the president of the Scottsdale Unified School District, is facing potential removal after the Scottsdale Independent reported that he and his father shared a Google Drive with a giant dossier containing dirt on parents and political enemies.
When school board members are keeping dossiers on parents, you know that partisan warfare has truly infiltrated the lowest rungs of civic involvement.
Scottsdale’s school district has become a flashpoint in the mask wars — it shut down its board meetings to the public briefly after administrators and police were concerned about the rising tensions. And like in other districts, there have been a fair number of threats against board members and racist and anti-Semitic rants from parents and agitators.
Greenburg, who was among the school board members we interviewed for a piece about the rising tensions at school board meetings, has seen his personal information posted online and claimed he has started wearing a bulletproof vest to board meetings.
So it’s not exactly surprising that Greenburg wanted to keep tabs on some of the people who are stoking the flames.
But the files go far beyond a simple list of the “most troublesome” parents.
The vast majority of the documents in the dossier are simply photos or videos of Facebook rants, including from parents saying truly horrible and racist shit. Other files are various seemingly public, but uncomfortably personal, documents, like divorce and property documents. Some contained photos of the parents and children.
Among the weirder documents in the digital dossier is video of Greenburg’s father, Mark, taking video of himself riding around and stalking parents outside of the August board meeting while bragging that nobody knew it was him.
Police are now investigating the dossier, which might qualify as cyberstalking, if investigators can prove the documents were used to harass people, and the district announced it is hiring a forensic auditor to get to the bottom of its origins.
The school board called an emergency meeting tonight to consider his resignation (it’s not clear if Greenburg, who initially tried to deny any involvement in creating the dossier, will voluntarily resign). His father, who has a long history of online harassment against his son’s critics, originally created the file and shared it with Greenburg and others, according to the Independent’s digital sleuthing.
As the Department of Justice increases its focus on parent groups that have become violent or harassing, expect to see a lot more blurring of the boundaries between cautious vigilance and political targeting.
School board members have every right to research their neighbors — especially when those neighbors are engaging in a campaign of sustained harassment against them. But parents have a right to engage in peaceful activism without fear of retaliation for them or their children.
Talonya Adams went on a tweetstorm after Katie Hobbs, the secretary of state and gubernatorial candidate who fired her, resulting in a $2.75 million verdict, blamed her firing on Senate Republicans.
Here’s the deal: While Senate Republicans technically control the hiring and firing of Democratic staffers, Democrats have almost full autonomy to hire and fire their staff as they see fit. Then-Senate President Andy Biggs and his chief of staff may have ultimately pulled the trigger, but they would only bother to fire a Dem staffer if Hobbs and her chief of staff requested it.
Hobbs is right, however, that Democratic staff has long been underpaid compared to Republicans staff — a fact the Senate tacitly acknowledged after Adams won her first trial by handing out five-figure raises to Democratic staff.
As predicted, the scandal is making waves in the governor’s race. Hobbs’ fellow Democratic contenders, Marco Lopez and Aaron Lieberman, took shots at her online, as did other Democrats, while the Arizona Democratic Party awkwardly blamed everyone but Hobbs.
A fitting goodbye for a good-humored guy: Hundreds gathered Friday at the Orpheum Theatre to remember former Attorney General Grant Woods, who died of a heart attack last month. Politicians, family and friends all shared stories of Woods’ life and injected humor and wit into the occasion, the Republic’s Mary Jo Pitzl reports. Pitzl also answers why flags weren’t lowered to half-staff at Woods’ death. It’s pretty straightforward: No one asked.
Don’t show her your papers: AZ Patriots, a splinter group led by Jennifer Harrison, is still harassing immigrants. Harrison has posted new videos in recent weeks at the U.S.-Mexico border, where she yells at migrants and asks them for documents while claiming to be helping Border Patrol, the Phoenix New Times’ Katya Schwenk reports.
By now, this kind of story is familiar: U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema was once far-left, but now she’s a darling of corporate donors and a centrist Democrat. The Associated Press dives into her big donors and how her politics have changed since she came to Congress. (Sinema didn’t do an interview for the story.)
Anime at your own risk: U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar’s anime mashup video where he depicted himself as a fictional character killing his colleague, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, could land him a censure from the House of Representatives. A Democratic lawmaker introduced a resolution to do so on Friday, and it’s gaining steam, The Hill reports.
What’s next for Sal?: Republican Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio is termed-out, leaving his seat open next year and his legacy up for debate, the Republic’s Jen Fifield writes in a profile of the bombastic councilman who often pissed off his colleagues.
Probably not a popular guy in a Republican primary: Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer got a profile by Jonathan Rauch in Persuasion, a Substack newsletter about, well, persuasion. Rauch described how Richer stood up to his own party as the Arizona audit rolled through town.
“If you ask me now, I would say that he and a decent percentage of his followers would happily press a button that would install him by means other than a democratic process as leader of the country. If he could choose to become an autocrat, I think he would. And I think many of his followers would not object to that,” Richer said of Trump and his followers.
We love a public resignation: Phoenix Police is losing officers at a high rate and is below its minimum staffing level, the department said. One cop announced his resignation over police radio after he was told he’d have to work past his shift, 12News’ Colleen Sikora reports.
Who even works there anymore?: There will be another opening in the Arizona Legislature to fill shortly, as Democratic Rep. Diego Rodriguez announced his resignation to run for attorney general. He is the 12th person in the legislature to leave an open seat in recent months, by the Republic’s calculations.
Speaking of resignations: Two directors at advocacy group Puente Human Rights Movement resigned last month, and the organization’s future is in question, the Republic’s Ray Stern writes. It’s not clear why they resigned or what comes next.
A hard but critical job: The number of new Arizona kids in foster care has decreased since last year, but there’s still a shortage of beds for new foster kids to stay in, the Republic’s Mary Jo Pitzl reports. Some nonprofits are trying to fill in the gap.
You need to add more pessimism to your pessimism: Projections for water levels at Lake Mead and Lake Powell are consistently too optimistic, even after the feds made their forecasts more pessimistic. The forecasts should be more realistic because it affects decisions on water conservation and cutbacks, the Arizona Daily Star’s Tony Davis writes.
Some news about the news: We know journalists love talking about other journalists, so bear with us for a few journalism updates. The Arizona Capitol Times has a new interim editor, Gary Grado after former publisher/editor Luige del Puerto left the state for Colorado Politics. The Phoenix New Times has a new top editor, Sean Holstege. And a retired newspaper editor from the Arizona Daily Star, Bobbie Jo Buel Carter, finished a project writing profiles of the people who died on the USS Arizona.
More reading material, if you need it: Randy Parraz, who successfully organized the recall of former Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce, has a new book out about the effort called “Dignity by Fire: Dismantling Arizona's Anti-Immigrant Machine.”
Choose your conservative columnist: Conservative writer Jon Gabriel wrote a similar column to one from other conservative writer Robert Robb last week, noting how candidates keep tying themselves to Trump like it’s 2020 instead of articulating why they should be elected.
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Several signs are pointing to a looong legislative session this coming year that will bleed into election season. We previously noted higher-than-expected state revenues, and that spending is harder for Arizona lawmakers to agree on than cutting. There’s also the court rulings saying Arizona’s budget logrolling, which gets more lawmakers to vote in favor of a budget, is illegal, throwing the budget process for a loop. (Attorney General Mark Brnovich wants Gov. Doug Ducey to call a special session to address the stuff that the rulings knocked down, but the resignations in the legislature make that prospect tough.) And a couple Republican lawmakers — Sens. Michelle Ugenti-Rita and Paul Boyer — are in open revolt against Arizona Senate President Karen Fann.
Add in all the new members of the legislature after its Great Resignation, and you’ve got some long days ahead. The only thing in favor of a shorter session, and it’s a big factor, is that 2022 is an election year, and a lot of these people are running for office.
Look, mom, Arizona made Saturday Night Live again! In the cold open on Saturday, Aidy Bryant did her Ted Cruz impression in a spoof of “Sesame Street,” a relevant joke as Cruz and other Republicans recently got mad at Big Bird for getting vaccinated. “The Recount Count,” a dig at the Arizona audit and an imitation of Count von Count, came on near the end and joked, “I’m moving to Arizona, ha ha ha.”
The Scottsdale Unified School District will meet at 6 p.m. tonight at 8500 East Jackrabbit Road, which will also be livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Salmon and Republican state treasurer candidate Jeff Weninger will talk to the Tempe Republican Women at 6 p.m. tonight at Native Grill and Wings at 5030 East Ray Road in Phoenix.