The Daily Agenda: Hobbs takes responsibility for not discriminating
At what point does a hole become a grave? ... More new faces at the Capitol ... And it was chicken lo mein, duh.
Katie Hobbs finally spoke about the Talonya Adams case — telling the Arizona Mirror’s Jeremy Duda there was a “pattern of issues” that she couldn’t disclose at trial that led to the firing — then promptly switched into damage control, firing off a statement that she “takes responsibility” for the firing.
In both instances Hobbs denied what two juries have found: Adams was discriminated on based on her race and gender.
The Republic’s Laurie Roberts said Hobbs’ “bumbling response” turned what could have been a one-day story into a “full-blow catastrophe” for the Dem gubernatorial contender and called on Hobbs to drop out of the race. (So did the Republic’s E.J. Montini.)
“Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner Katie Hobbs is trying to climb her way out of a hole that is beginning to look like a political grave,” Roberts wrote.
Adams wasn’t having any of Hobbs’ explanations. She went on 12 News’ Sunday Square Off with Brahm Resnik yesterday to continue to slam Hobbs as “culturally incompetent” and having a “reckless indifference” to issues people of color face.
It was a damning interview, to put it lightly, and Adams declared the firing disqualified Hobbs from the governorship, saying Hobbs wouldn’t even meet with her after the firing and is now dodging responsibility. “Leaders don’t hide,” she said.
“Her statements are very indicative of somebody that has racial animus to African American women, including myself. It’s in furtherance of the retaliation and the discrimination that sent me to that federal courthouse in 2016,” Adams said.
It’s worth noting that Hobbs only confronted the biggest issue dogging her campaign after U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton, an early rumored Democratic candidate for governor who’s now rumored to be eyeing the office again in light of Hobbs’ problems, called her out for dodging the press and refusing to comment on the firing.
That whispering you hear is the sound of Stanton gearing up for a gubernatorial run.
And it’s also worth pointing back to Hobbs’ platform of transparency and “accountability” that she launched just two weeks ago. Despite the single interview to the Mirror, Hobbs is still dodging other reporters, including those at the Republic — that’s a far cry from transparent. Accountability means not only “taking responsibility” for the firing, but calling it what it is: discrimination.
Time for the jab, Phoenix PD: The City of Phoenix will require its employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine by January because it has a lot of federal contracts and therefore must follow the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate. The city manager, not the city council, made the decision and that raised eyebrows. At first, when asked at an event on Friday, Mayor Kate Gallego wouldn’t answer questions about the decision, but then later weighed in, saying she approved of the requirement. More than half of the city’s employees have submitted proof of vaccination voluntarily already because they received a $75 award for doing so, though most cities don’t actually track employee vaccination rates.
Get well soon: Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry is out of the hospital after spending nearly a month there recovering from injuries after he was hit by a car while riding his bike. He is now in a rehab facility continuing to recover and getting physical and other therapies for his injuries, his wife said.
Screw something up, then keep it to yourself: More than 34,000 Arizona drivers were driving around on suspended licenses without knowing it because the Motor Vehicle Division erroneously didn’t send out letters to people to let them know, the Republic’s Robert Anglen reports. The state was slow to notify others of this error and it put drivers at risk of prosecution; there are already many cases where the problem is cropping up, Anglen writes.
A subscription to the Arizona Agenda is definitely worth $70 a year, but don’t take our word for it.
Sitting on a treasure chest: A Maricopa County Superior Court judge’s decision over whether Gov. Doug Ducey broke the law when he cut off the federal unemployment benefits is expected soon, including whether the state owes backpay to people who cut off, the Republic’s Stacey Barchenger reports. As we’ve previously reported, Ducey’s return-to-work bonus plan in place of the federal unemployment add-on has not worked out well, and there are hundreds of millions of dollars unspent.
The new seating chart will be very helpful to remember all these freshmen: There’s another new face at the Capitol. Lupe Diaz, a Republican and city councilman in Benson, replaced Becky Nutt, who resigned her seat in Legislative District 14. By now, if you’re a regular reader of ours, you know that there have been a shit-ton of legislative vacancies and a bunch of new people, just in time for the new legislative session.
Live from the courtroom: The Republic’s Jimmy Jenkins has been providing daily updates on the trial over health care in Arizona’s prisons over the past three weeks. Each day, he writes up what happened in court and why it matters for the overall case, and it’s incredibly helpful reporting. Here’s the ongoing post with daily updates.
Fashion tells a story: Sinema did an interview with Politico last week, telling writers Burgess Everett and Marianne Levine that congressional Republicans have tried, unsuccessfully, to recruit her to their caucus and that she regularly talks to Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell on the floor because “he has a dry sense of humor.” She criticized coverage of her clothing choices, while three other female senators also spoke out against a series of New York Times’ columns by sociologist and writer Tressie McMillan Cottom related to Sinema’s fashion and how it relates to her overall political positioning.
Help me out here, guys: Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich wants the feds, who he also is suing for a couple other things, to look into the dossier containing information on district parents and children linked to Scottsdale school board member Jann-Michael Greenburg. Brnovich asked both the U.S. Attorney and the FBI (which Kari Lake does not control) to investigate the issue, the Republic’s Athena Ankrah writes.
It’s paper: Audio of an interview between Brnovich’s investigators and former Maricopa County Attorney Adrian Fontes, obtained by NBC News reporter Vaughn Hillyard, shows that the AG’s office doesn’t quite understand how the election process works here, including whether we use paper or machine voting.
Crimes on top of crimes: The former CEO of Hacienda HealthCare, a facility where a woman in their care was raped and became pregnant, committed Medicaid fraud and must pay the state restitution of $500,000, plus pay other fines, the Republic’s Stephanie Innes reports. But he’s not going to prison, instead serving three years of probation.
How much does one supply chain cost?: U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, flanked by U.S. Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema, touted the new Biden infrastructure plan at a tour stop in Phoenix on Friday. Meanwhile, area cities are putting together wishlists for projects they want to be funded by the plan, the Republic’s Joshua Bowling and Paulina Pineda write.
Public education requires broad access: On Friday, a court in Wisconsin decided Kyle Rittenhouse was not guilty of charges related to his killing of two people and injury of a third, but regardless of the trial’s outcome, he could have remained a student at ASU, where he’s taking classes, the Republic’s Alison Steinbach reports. Criminal backgrounds aren’t part of the application process because education is part of rehabilitation, the university told Steinbach.
To state the obvious, college students are loud: We’ve mentioned the lawsuit filed by upset residents at Arizona State University’s retirement community, Mirabella, over noise issues in the heart of the Tempe campus. The State Press’ Haley Tenore cuts to the heart of the dispute: Why would a university build a retirement community in a busy area that it knows is loud, and why isn’t the university instead using its money to help its students?
“It's a slap in the face to students who are struggling to find affordable housing as ASU builds a 20-story high-rise building that can be seen from across Tempe,” Tenore writes.
It’s really not that hard to know which words to capitalize: Republicans in office are so afraid of their base of voters that they won’t call out their colleague, U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, for his repeated ridiculousness, the Arizona Mirror’s Jim Small opines. In related news, former President Donald Trump endorsed Gosar a day after his censure, using the random capitalization approach characteristic of a Trump statement.
Don’t put all your stock in political rankings: Cook Political Report shifted its rating on the U.S. Senate race in Arizona next year from “leans Democratic” to “toss-up,” along with Senate ratings in two other swing-y states, Georgia and Nevada. U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly’s seat is up for grabs, and a bunch of Republicans are making a run for it.
Drugs are church, church is drugs: The Phoenix New Times’ Katya Schwenk delves into the case of a Phoenix man, Clay Villanueva, who uses ayahuasca (a psychoactive brew made from plants and common to people in the Amazon) as part of spiritual ceremonies and who faces charges from Maricopa County that place him as a drug dealer.
Austin Steinbart, a leader in the QAnon movement sometimes known as “Baby Q,” appeared on the security list as an employee of Cyber Ninjas. He spent 225 days in prison for trying to extort a file-sharing company. He was released in April and joined the ballot review not long afterward.
Another political party for us to keep track of?: Supporters of creating a new political party in Arizona, the Patriot Party of Arizona, are collecting signatures for the effort, and apparently paying a hefty sum to try to get enough to make their party recognition official.
Welcome: State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman gave birth to her first child, a baby girl.
The state coffers keep getting fuller. As we noted last month, September revenues far exceeded the previous year and projections, setting the course for more money for lawmakers to play with. Well, October revenues did the same. The newly released report on October revenues from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee shows collections were more than 19% higher than last October and $100 million above forecasted amounts. It isn’t quite as high as September was, but we’re on track for a long legislative session filled with battles over how to use the higher revenues and all the funds from the federal government for COVID-19 relief.
The Republic spent roughly 35,000 words telling the story of the Arizona audit in their longform series. Much of that ink was spent describing Arizona Senate President Karen Fann as a lost soul undermining democracy in a sad attempt to cling to power and the bit of fame that being the “Audit Queen” has afforded the former small town mayor.
But in all those words and sentences and paragraphs, Fann, who refused interviews for the project, zeroed in on one passage, outraged that the Republic would spread such lies about her.
“Wow. Now you’re just making things up...” she tweeted with a screenshot of the offending 10 sentences.
That passage contained two material facts about Fann: that she suddenly split with her plans to do a joint audit with the House of Representatives, and that Fann sipped wine and cooked chicken chow mein during a Zoom meeting.
The Yellow Sheet Report asked Fann what, exactly, she was accusing the Republic of making up.
“I have never cooked chicken chow mein in my entire life, and I seriously doubt that I was drinking wine when I was supposedly cooking,” she said.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake will address the Leisure World Republican Club at 7 p.m. at the Hopi-Pima Ball Room at 908 S. Power Road in Mesa.
Democratic Corporation Commissioner Sandra Kennedy will address Democrats of Greater Tucson virtually at 1 p.m. Register here.