The Daily Agenda: Hobbs' discrimination costs AZ millions
If at first you lose $1 million, try again ... Our records requests reverberate ... And of course there's an Arizona angle.
Talonya Adams, a senior policy advisor for Arizona Senate Democrats who sued for racial and gender pay discrimination and alleged she was fired in retaliation for complaining about earning less her white male colleagues, won her federal jury trial yesterday and was awarded $2.75 million.
You’ll likely be hearing a lot about Adams’ case in the next year, because Secretary of State and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs was the one who fired her. That was back when Hobbs was the leader of Senate Democrats.
Adams, who is Black and a lawyer with an MBA, earned $60,000 per year during her first round working for Senate Democrats, nearly $30,000 less than a white, male Republican staffer with a similar job.
This is actually the second such lawsuit she has won. She was awarded a $1 million verdict in 2019. (Though as Julia Shumway, formerly of the Arizona Capitol Times, previously noted, federal discrimination cases have a cap on damages.)
She won that case after putting Hobbs on the stand and arguing Hobbs didn’t trust Black women. She caught Hobbs flat-footed when she asked how many Black women work at the Secretary of State’s Office. And the Senate chief of staff, a Republican, also testified she thought Hobbs had discriminated against Adams.
As part of the settlement in that trial, the Senate gave her her job back and paid her $113,000.
Hobbs publicly apologized, but the Senate refused to admit wrongdoing, and was able to get a do-over on the case by arguing Adams hadn’t actually proved discrimination.
Hobbs took the stand again this week, and Adams won again — representing herself both times — and she nearly tripled her award this time.
Two years ago, Democrats were already chattering about what a liability the case creates for the Dem frontrunner for governor. But with the allegations now re-affirmed, the award tripled and the entire issue renewed in the press, it’s very bad news for Team Hobbs.
Republicans and Democrats alike praised Adams’ lawyer skills and perseverance, and took shots at Hobbs, following the verdict in what is sure to become a theme of the 2022 gubernatorial race.
It’s worth noting that Adams found out about her low salary compared to her colleagues because of a public records request we filed in 2015. Support local journalism so we can keep requesting those kinds of records. An annual subscription is just $70.
No dice: U.S. District Court Judge Michael Liburdi (a former Ducey staffer) rejected Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s request to block Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal employees and contractors, Capitol Media Services’ Howie Fischer writes.
Leave anime out of this: U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar should be investigated by the ethics committee and law enforcement over his anime mashup video where he’s depicted killing U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The video isn’t on his Twitter anymore, and Gosar released a statement saying the video was a symbolic reference to immigration debates, not a literal threat against AOC or President Joe Biden. "It is a symbolic cartoon. It is not real life, Congressman Gosar cannot fly. The hero of the cartoon goes after the monster, the policy monster of open borders,” Gosar’s statement said.
Get things done unless they’re things you don’t want done: U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema shared her thinking behind negotiating over infrastructure and the Biden spending plan with the Republic’s Yvonne Wingett Sanchez,1 saying the public just wants lawmakers to “work together and get stuff done.” The statement contradicts her actions: She has largely hamstrung the Biden agenda, alongside moderate Democrat Joe Manchin.
“Voters are looking for people who just want to solve problems and get things done and are talking about how to do it in a very practical and pragmatic way that is within the circle of what’s normal,” Sinema told the Republic.
Being governor means knowing state policy: The Republican candidates for Arizona governor aren’t running strategically to forge their own state-focused messages and are instead acting like mini-Trumps, a path that won’t help them in a general election, the Republic’s conservative columnist, Robert Robb, writes.
The numbers confirm reality: A data analysis by Republic reporters Joseph Darius Jaafari and Justin Price showed that people of color got convicted for marijuana crimes more often and had longer sentences than white people. And the new marijuana legalization law’s expungement provision doesn’t do much to help people whose initial pot charges led to longer sentencing for subsequent cases.
Make Gosar run in South Phoenix: As we noted previously, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission’s draft maps drew some state lawmakers out of their districts and into unfavorable ones. The same thing happened to members of Congress here, though they aren’t required to live in the districts they run in. Still, some incumbents will have to decide where to run based on which districts favor their electoral prospects, the Arizona Mirror’s Jeremy Duda reports.
No more emergency, just a regular ol’ pandemic: Lake Havasu City ended its public health emergency proclamation, which was put in place in March 2020 for COVID-19. Vaccination rates in the county there are the lowest in the state, but the town’s mayor made clear the pandemic isn’t over, the Republic’s Stephanie Innes reports.
Thanksgiving is in two weeks: Phoenix Police have dozens of security cameras around downtown, but the images these days are pretty crappy, KJZZ’s Christina Estes reports. They want better cameras by the time the Super Bowl comes to town in 2023, which sounds like it’s really far in the future but is actually only about a year away.
Road trip potential: The Pima County Courthouse is back open to the public, though the beautiful historic building won’t be a court anymore. It’s now home to a memorial for the Giffords shooting, some museum exhibits and a tourism nonprofit, KJZZ’s Alisa Reznick reports.
You can chime in on policy changes that the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, Arizona’s Medicaid program, is considering. The agency puts its proposed policies on its website and provides ways to comment on each one at this link. As of today, there are eight policy changes open for public comment. (Hat tip to Beth Kohler, the former deputy director of AHCCCS, for tweeting about the public comment options.)
OK, so we’re struggling with the laugh section a bit, and we could use your help. First off, it’s harder to feed than we thought it would be. Please send us the craziest Arizona politics stuff you see on the internet. You can reply to any of our emails to contact us.
Secondly, we think the heading “What we’re laughing at” isn’t exactly what we mean here, because a lot of the stuff isn’t really ha-ha funny, but funny in a is-this-where-we-are-now kind of way.
What would you call that? “What we laugh at that also brings us some despair”? “Dumb shit we saw on the Internet that isn’t quite news”? Leave us a comment on today’s newsletter to let us know what you think we should call this, or if you get what we mean and we don’t have to explain it in more words.
On that note, today’s “laugh” relates to the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, which isn’t a joke. But the local story gave us a laugh because it somehow has an Arizona angle, which happens with seemingly every big news story.
On the witness stand in his trial for shooting and killing two people and wounding a third person in Wisconsin, Rittenhouse said he was an Arizona State University nursing student. He isn’t quite that, but he is enrolled as a non-degree-seeking student at the university online, meaning he hasn’t been admitted as a student but is just taking some classes, the university said.
It reminds us of when ASU had nothing to do with the college admissions scandal — except that one of the parents was breaking laws to help get their kid “into a school other than ASU!"
Phoenix’s Veterans Day parade starts at 11 a.m. today. You can find the parade route and information on how to watch at this link.
Several female candidates for office will attend an Arizona List event at a private home in Tucson today at 6 p.m. Tickets and information can be found here.
Republicans in Legislative District 23 will meet at 6:30 p.m. tonight at Christ’s Church of Fountain Hills to hear presentations from multiple candidates for office.