The Daily Agenda: Dossiers aren't illegal ... yet
The IRC is back in action ... Arizona and Roe v. Wade ... Welcome to Kari v. The Media.
The Scottsdale Police Department announced that its nearly three-week investigation into former Scottsdale school board president Jann-Michael Greenburg’s digital dossier on problem parents came to the same conclusion as our 30-minute investigation: It appears that all of the information was public, and no crime was committed.
Still, it’s clear the issue isn’t over, as Gov. Doug Ducey teased upcoming legislation related to the episode, declaring “bureaucrats will be held accountable” and that “parents will have their rights respected” and “you’ll hear about it in the State of the State (speech).”
In case you need a refresher, the formerly obscure school board president made international news and was stripped of his title (though not his office as a board member) after a group of activist parents with whom he had been at odds found a link to a Google Drive file containing all sorts of junk — though mostly screenshots of Facebook posts — about dozens of parents involved in a local school group.
Everyone wanted to get in on the investigations: the Scottsdale Police Department, the school board, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and Attorney General Mark Brnovich (who didn’t investigate but ran to Fox News to invite the U.S. Attorney General and FBI to get in on the action). Greenburg clammed up publicly after blaming his dad for creating the file, and to be fair, it wouldn’t be out of character for his father, Mark Greenburg.
Republican candidates across the state pointed to the dossier as evidence that out-of-control school bureaucrats need to be reined in. The outrage found bipartisan support, including from liberal Republic columnist Laurie Roberts, who was among those who repeated the claim that the file included parent “Social Security numbers.” (We never saw any, and apparently neither did the police.)
We get that the dossier was a bad look. But as far as we know now, it wasn’t illegal. And it wasn’t surprising. Anyone who has ever been involved in a life-consuming fight — be it legal, political or neighborly — has probably started keeping tabs on their opponents. Journalists do it. Lawyers do it. Feuding neighbors do it. And politicians and political campaigns do it all the time.
And let’s not forget what sparked the dossier. Greenburg, like other school board members, has faced a wave of politically charged hate, likely from some of the same parents he was keeping tabs on. They’re certainly watching him. It’s reasonable, even if it’s distasteful, for him to watch back.
Republican Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita has drafted legislation to do away with the “nonpartisan” elections for school boards, saying that making school board candidates own a partisan label “helps communicate their beliefs & values to voters.” She’s probably right.
Both state parties are recruiting and training school board candidates, and in this hypercharged political atmosphere, school board members are politicians — like it or not.
We’ve been keeping tabs (legally!) on the school board wars for months now, and we’re sure we’ll have plenty to keep reporting on in that area as the election nears. To become a paid subscriber and support our work, it’s $8 per month or $80 per year. You get access to commenting, an occasional paywalled story and the satisfaction of supporting truly local journalism.
There are some other Arizonans they’ll want to speak to, too: U.S. House investigators with the Jan. 6 committee have interviewed some key Arizona officials who have already publicly spoken about their experiences working against efforts to overturn or undermine the Arizona election results, including Maricopa County Supervisors Clint Hickman, Jack Sellers and Bill Gates; House Speaker Rusty Bowers; Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, the Republic’s Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Ronald J. Hansen report.
Break out the atlas: The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission comes together this week to discuss what it learned from public comment meetings around the state as the work of drawing up final maps nears its completion. The Arizona Mirror’s Jeremy Duda has a rundown of each sector of the state, how its maps are looking and any controversies over their makeup.
Wasn’t the IRC supposed to limit incumbent influence?: The Arizona Democratic Party and Democratic legislative leaders dug more into the letter that swayed the Independent Redistricting Commission to create a more GOP-friendly Pima County district, saying public records showed Republican Sen. Vince Leach and a Senate staffer masterminded the attempt to influence Leach’s district, Duda reports. Republicans said the Constitution allows them to weigh in, as Democrats did, but Dems argued the way Leach did it was shady.
Everyone’s got a camera in their pocket all the time anyway: Matt Salmon doesn’t support the idea of putting cameras in classrooms, contrary to his GOP gubernatorial primary opponent, Kari Lake, who has pushed the idea. Salmon, writing in the Western Tribune, said there should instead be more parent involvement instead of “an endless, misguided, and dangerous program that would invite around-the-clock surveillance by Big Tech and enable Big Government to inject itself even more into our lives.”
Don’t drink and boat: Yavapai County Sheriff David Rhodes got probation after he pleaded guilty to driving a boat while over the legal limit for alcohol, something elected officials don’t lose their jobs for because they’re elected by the public, the Associated Press’ Felicia Fonseca reports.
A public job interview process must be so weird for the candidates: One of the seven contenders for the replacement spot at the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, Dan Mahoney, took himself out the running, the Yellow Sheet Report writes. If our math is correct, there are six people left who could get the new job.
Follow the Twitter thread: After Republic columnist Laurie Roberts asked how much the Senate is willing to spend to keep public records secret (answer: at least $400,000 in legal fees and counting), Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, fresh off being sworn in as the new ALEC boss, complained that it’s the Republic that’s wasting taxpayer money for suing for public records. KJZZ’s Dillon Rosenblatt noted we could all be spared the expense if Fann would just turn over the records, and Fann repeated the same line that has failed with every judge who has heard it: They’re not public records.
Fingers crossed: Home prices are still on the rise in the Phoenix area, but investors are pushing us normal folks out of the market, meaning prices could soon start to slow down a bit, the Republic’s Catherine Reagor reports.
Lives at stake: A study committee tasked with figuring out how to best oversee nursing homes, put together after Gov. Doug Ducey disbanded the previous board, recommended that the board continue anyway, with some additional guardrails, the Republic’s Caitlin McGlade reports. But the Ducey administration may not accept the recommendations.
Rural wants to stay rural: A huge development proposed for Tonopah would alter the rural community (it’s not incorporated, so it’s not a town), though locals are skeptical it will actually come to fruition, the Republic’s Taylor Seely reports. Still, they worry the influx could hinder the feel of the area and their ways of life.
Vaccine mandate update: The City of Tucson’s employee vaccine mandate was successful at getting employees vaccinated, KOLD reports. All but a couple dozen people complied, with a few hundred in addition receiving exemptions. And while Arizona Sen. Vince Leach withdrew his request to the AG to investigate the city’s vaccine mandate, Sen. Kelly Townsend filed her own request along the same lines. Meanwhile, in Phoenix, firefighters had the highest rates of COVID-19 among city employees, 12News’ Brahm Resnik reports.
More vax news: Vaccination rates among younger children in Arizona are lower than surveys expected, though the lower doses and some hesitancy may play a role in why only 13% of kids age 5 to 11 have gotten one shot so far, the Republic’s Stephanie Innes reports.
The election is still 11 months away: Progressive columnist Julie Erfle, writing for the Arizona Mirror, argues that Katie Hobbs’ handling of the Talonya Adams verdict makes her a weak frontrunner who won’t be able to withstand a general election filled with attack ads over the discrimination case.
“But the question for Democrats shouldn’t be whether Katie Hobbs is a better option than Kari Lake, but if Katie Hobbs is the best Democrats can do,” Erfle writes.
We thought there was a worker shortage: U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema penned an op-ed for the Republic detailing why she pushed so hard for the infrastructure bill, saying it amounted to a jobs program at a time when the economy needed a boost.
Remember, filmmakers, we’re Arizonans, not Arizonians: The mistaken text message that led to six years of Thanksgiving dinners in Arizona will be made into a Netflix movie.
Last week, we mentioned an Arizona law on the books that could be enforced again if the Roe v. Wade standard is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in a Mississippi case the high court is considering now, but there’s some more context on abortion laws in Arizona we wanted to share. The Republic’s Ray Stern writes that lawmakers removed a second part of that law, which penalized women who got abortions, earlier this year with Senate Bill 1457, which sought to limit abortions and is currently working its way through the courts. A different state law makes abortion advertising illegal.
An abortion ban, currently unenforceable, has been in place before Arizona was even Arizona, dating back to territorial days.
Meanwhile, if Roe is overturned, two Arizona AG candidates told the Washington Post how their administrations would handle it. If Republican Rodney Glassman wins office, he will work to “(protect) the sanctity of life at all stages.” If Democrat Kris Mayes wins office, she will not prosecute people who get abortions and will work to repeal the abortion laws still on the books.
The audio is remarkably clear for a gaggle of people outdoors. The camera angles are unobstructed. Signs point to a planned campaign attack video by Kari Lake, who lashed out at Republic reporter Stacey Barchenger for asking a question at an event last week.
In the video, which spelled the word “journalists” wrong, Lake won’t answer a simple question from Barchenger and instead flips the script, saying the newspaper is biased and pointing to its editorial pages, which the former journalist surely knows operate separately from the news side of the operation.
Lake said the Republic didn’t cover Republicans fairly, so she wouldn’t do an interview. When Barchenger asked who wrote an article Lake found inaccurate, Lake said it was written by “that goofball that writes for your media. That guy. Yeah.” Kudos to Barchenger for her professionalism during this silly exchange. Who will be the next journalist who ends up in the next attempt at a “media gets owned” Lake video?