The Daily Agenda: Clean up your act, Phoenix
Or the NFL will be mad ... The return of the Kleenex budget ... And TT Roadhouse is our Park Place.
With the Super Bowl coming to town next month, the Phoenix City Council wants downtown Phoenicians to clean up their acts — or, at least, not say anything that could embarrass or financially threaten the big game.
The council voted to enforce a “clean zone” between 7th Street and 7th Avenue, from Lincoln Avenue to McDowell Road1, banning the hundreds of residents and business owners from putting up any “temporary signage” that is not expressly approved by the National Football League and the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee in the month leading up to the big game. (It’s worth noting that the game is at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, about 15 miles away from Phoenix “clean zone.” Phoenix is simply hosting a few Super Bowl-related events downtown.)
But banning signs that the city, Super Bowl committee or the NFL doesn’t like is a clear violation of people’s First Amendment rights, the Goldwater Institute argued in a lawsuit filed last week. The plaintiff in the case is Bramley Paulin, an enterprising Phoenix resident who owns two properties in the clean zone and wants to rent his rooftops out for signage for the estimated 1.5 million people who will attend Super Bowl parties at Margaret T. Hance Park downtown. He couldn’t find willing customers because of the regulations.
The ordinance is so vague that it would prohibit all signage — not just a Paulin’s roof-for-rent advertisement scheme, Goldwater argued. The NFL would seemingly have to approve a restaurant taping its menu in its window, a political sign or for sale sign in somebody's front yard, or even a leftover “Merry Christmas” sign in someone’s yard.
The content-based restrictions alone are unconstitutional, according to Goldwater attorney John Thorpe, who is handling the case. But what’s worse is the city had also essentially delegated veto power over residents’ speech to the NFL, a private entity which Phoenicians cannot hold accountable.
“The city is supposed to be the guardian of our sacred constitutional rights, and instead they've essentially sold them out to their business partner,” he said. “We can only guess how [the NFL] might choose to censor our speech. And when the city puts the power in their hands, we have no recourse.”
City officials initially contended that the "clean zones" are common around big events like the Super Bowl and are an expectation of host cities to protect event organizers from “ambush marketing techniques” and “counterfeit products.” But at a hearing yesterday, the city backed down, agreeing to a temporary injunction halting enforcement of the ordinance until next week, when the city council will meet to reconsider the ordinance.
Thorpe said the city is right that “clean zones” are pretty common. A decade ago in New Orleans, for example, the American Civil Liberties Union went to bat for a Bourbon Street street preacher and an Occupy protestor who were pushed out of the Clean Zone for displaying non-commerical signage. A similar case played out more recently in San Antonio, where a preacher was ticketed for handing out religious material. In both cases, when someone challenged the ordinances, the regulations were scaled back.
Although Phoenix has backed down, Thorne said his work likely isn’t done. Glendale, which is actually hosting the Super Bowl, also enacted a one-mile-radius “clean zone” around the stadium, though it’s more narrowly tailored to commercial speech. Thorpe said they’re keeping an eye on that ordinance and looking for a plaintiff.
“We’re extremely concerned about this ordinance, so if anybody is affected by this and would like to challenge it … we’re certainly game,” Thorpe said.
New names to add to your lobbying list: Gov. Katie Hobbs announced two handfuls of policy advisers in her office. These positions work closely on the governor’s legislative and policy agenda and with agencies to advance her priorities. Selianna Chang, a former Democratic legislative staffer, will advise on K-12 education, and Erin Hart of Education Forward Arizona will advise on higher education. On health, Hobbs tapped Zaida Dedolph Piecoro of the Children’s Action Alliance, and on human services, she hired Andrew Sugrue from the Arizona Center for Economic Progress. Julieta Cruz will be the transportation adviser, coming from Valley Metro. Kennesha Jackson, the former state victims’ rights administrator at the AG, will serve as public safety and military affairs adviser, while Molly Murphy, a Democratic organizer and former economist for the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, will advise on judiciary and corrections policy. May Mgbolu of the Arizona Center for Economic Progress will advise on financial institutions, real estate and revenue. Ian O’Grady, whose background is in inclusive economic development, will serve as trade, commerce, tourism and arts adviser. John Owens, formerly with the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, will be the regulatory affairs policy adviser.
Swept up in the dragnet: The Arizona Attorney General’s Office in 2014 set up a database that includes money transfers between residents in the U.S. and other countries, ostensibly to investigate drug trafficking, though tons of law enforcement agencies can access these documents, the Wall Street Journal reports. The information stemmed from an investigation by U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, and the ACLU also got a cache of documents related to the program, which they say raises concerns about privacy and due process.
Housing roundup: Researchers at Arizona State University surveyed developers about what problems they run into with projects and how to fix them, with developers citing zoning laws, money and NIMBYism as problems, the Republic reports. A Maricopa County judge denied the City of Phoenix’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit from residents and businesses around the Phoenix homeless encampment. And Democrats in the Legislature are proposing several bills to address the housing crisis, including allowing cities to institute rent control rules, which are currently outlawed by the state, the Arizona Mirror’s Caitlin Sievers reports.
Kids aren’t in school: A new report from the Helios Education Foundation found that Arizona kids were chronically absent from school at higher rates than before the pandemic, with 22% of them missing at least 18 school days per year, KTAR reports.
“Election integrity”: Jennifer Wright, the attorney who used to work in the attorney general’s election integrity unit before quitting and then threatening to sue the new AG over her leaving the office, has joined losing AG candidate Abe Hamadeh’s legal team as he continues to try to get in office.
She’s doing the filibuster’s PR: U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema told an audience at Davos, the World Economic Forum confab in Switzerland, that Democrats’ desire to override the filibuster after the Jan. 6 insurrection to protect democracy and pass a voting rights bill was “premature or overreaching” since election deniers lost their races in 2022, the Republic’s Ronald J. Hansen reports.
Tipping points and shipping containers: Groups that provide services to incoming migrants in Yuma County say they’re not able to sustain the level of demand the influx of people has put on their organizations, the Republic’s Rafael Carranza reports. Meanwhile, though journalists have been able to see the shipping container border wall being dismantled, they’ve faced a lack of answers from state and federal agencies, and environmentalists watching the takedown have reported some tension, the Herald/Review’s Emily Ellis reports. The Border Chronicle’s Melissa del Bosque reports from the shipping container removal as well, noting that environmental damage from the failed program has already been done.
The governor is an actual Democrat: Abortion foe and school choice proponent Cathi Herrod of the Center for Arizona Policy rips Hobbs’ budget proposal for axing vouchers and directing funds toward Title X programs that could be used to fund abortion clinics, she writes in the Republic. Conservative columnist Robert Robb, on the other hand, calls Hobbs’ budget “cautiously liberal” and says he believes the voucher rollback is a political gesture rather than an actual point of negotiation.
A food truck conflict is so 2010: A “food truck park” (basically a place where several food trucks join together so people can choose to eat from a few options) has run into issues with Tucson city inspectors and was ordered to close, then allowed to reopen for a short period with a set of conditions, the Arizona Daily Star’s Tim Steller reports.
Today in bills: Freshman GOP Rep. Rachel Jones wants to get rid of property taxes for people who’ve paid off their mortgages, Capitol Media Services’ Howie Fischer reports. A bill that would strengthen requirements for marijuana testing doesn’t go far enough to protect consumers, the Republic’s Ryan Randazzo reports.
Teacher bullies student: A former Gateway Community College instructor participated in a group chat with students that made fun of another student, 12News’ Bianca Buono reports. The student filed a complaint, and the instructor resigned once the Maricopa Community Colleges informed her an investigation was started.
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