The Daily Agenda: It really is the slow season
He doesn't even go here ... Did someone say converted golf course? ... And real Arizonians don't exist.
Kyle Rittenhouse, the teen who killed two people at a protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year, has become an issue in Arizona’s gubernatorial race.
A bit of background if you’ve been willfully ignorant of the whole affair: During the trial this month, in which he was found not guilty of all charges, Rittenhouse announced he was a nursing student at ASU. Turns out he was an online non-degree-seeking student, not admitted to the nursing school.
Then last week, Rittenhouse told Tucker Carlson that he wanted to live a “quiet life” on campus in Tempe. The outrage machine fired back up, and ASU’s “Students for Socialism” group demanded he be kicked out and planned a protest for Wednesday — sparking a round of international news coverage.
The thing is, Rittenhouse is not even a student. Piper Hansen at ASU’s student paper, State Press, has the important context that lots of reporters that ran with the protest story didn’t bother to: Rittenhouse withdrew from his classes during the trial and is no longer a student of any kind.
GOP gubernatorial candidate Matt Salmon also didn’t bother to ask if Rittenhouse was a student before he demanded ASU launch an investigation into the “dangerous, ongoing harassment campaign” against Rittenhouse and accused “university bureaucrats” of “sit(ing) on their hands.”
(It’s worth noting that up until he decided to run for governor again, Salmon was among the best-paid university bureaucrats, making $320,000 per year as an ASU lobbyist.)
For added emphasis, Salmon blamed Dem gubernatorial candidate and Secretary of State Katie Hobbs for inciting the students, presumably referencing her tweet following Rittenhouse’s acquittal earlier this month.
The latest round of knee-jerk reactions shows once again how issues that have no bearing on our state somehow end up affecting our biggest public university and the race for top elected official in Arizona.
All roads lead back to Arizona, as always, but it would be nice if we had some substantive policy debates about actual Arizona issues among our potential state leaders at some time.
Not a fun time for parents or kids: Students in more than 100 classrooms have experienced quarantines because of COVID-19 cases and exposures among students or staff, making school difficult for families whose kids are brought in and out of in-person schooling, the Republic’s Yana Kunichoff reports. Sometimes, entire classrooms have had to quarantine.
All these billable hours for nothing: Arizona Sen. Vince Leach isn’t pursuing his complaint against the City of Tucson’s employee vaccine mandate at the moment, which could have crippled the city budget if the Arizona attorney general decided the city was flouting state law. Leach told Capitol Media Services’ Howie Fischer that he was waiting on federal lawsuits over the vaccine mandates that could affect his complaint.
Vote the whole ticket: Former President Donald Trump doled out another round of Arizona endorsements yesterday, giving the nod to Arizona Sen. Wendy Rogers and former lawmaker and Brady List “code enforcement officer” Anthony Kern. Already on the list of Trump-approved candidates were secretary of state candidate and state Rep. Mark Finchem and GOP gubernatorial contender Kari Lake. The common thread? Blind allegiance to Trump’s Big Lie.
Speaking of low-level endorsements: Time explored why Trump is making “extremely local endorsements” and came up with basically that he’s vindictive and likes people who are loyal to him.
We also like people who are loyal to us. Subscribe now for just $80 per year and we won’t endorse your opponent.
Just asking big questions: Could Bob Iger, the chairman of Disney, be the new owner of the Phoenix Suns? Well, who knows really, but Puck’s Matthew Belloni is asking the question. Iger is friends with both NBA commissioner Adam Silver and Phoenix Sun Chris Paul. Iger apparently wants to own an NBA team. The Suns are, of course, not for sale, but the league is investigating current Suns owner Robert Sarver after allegations of racism and misogyny.
It’s that damn supply chain again: Plans to revamp the U.S. Geological Survey campus in Flagstaff are on hold because the costs for the project skyrocketed, the Arizona Daily Sun’s Adrian Skabelund reports. The agencies are now deciding how to move forward, given the aging buildings, remote work and increasing costs.
New people in charge: If you’re deep enough into the weeds to monitor the makeup of legislative committees and their chairmen, the House’s list of who’s on what and who’s in charge is out. The Arizona Capitol Times’ Nathan Brown has a rundown. The leaders of committees are important — they decide which bills get heard and which don’t move forward in the process.
Ask the candidates who won Arizona: And there will soon be a new Maricopa County supervisor as well. The supervisors narrowed its list of potential coworkers down to seven and will interview them later this week, the Arizona Mirror’s Jeremy Duda wrote on Twitter. The newbie will replace Steve Chucri, who resigned his seat after being caught on tape shit-talking his colleagues and promoting election conspiracies.
It’s not a disc golf course, but it’ll do: A group of neighbors in Oro Valley raised $1.8 million to buy an abandoned golf course and turn it into a nature preserve, the Arizona Daily Star’s Henry Brean reports.
A law for no reason: There’s a shitload of laws on the books that no one could really cite, that are difficult if not impossible to enforce and that the majority of the state has pretty much forgotten. Take, for example, a 1961 law dug up by elder statesman Howie Fischer that requires “schools, colleges and universities teach objectively and critically the governmental and social forms of past and present totalitarian slave states.”
More law firms = more billboards: Arizona’s quest to loosen regulations on lots of industries could bring some law firms owned by non-lawyers to the state, Bloomberg Law’s Sam Skolnik reports. In this case, though, it wasn’t the legislature or the governor that lightened regulations — it was the Arizona Supreme Court.
Good riddance: Dozens of Arizona locations on federal lands will be renamed after U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland ordered the removal of a derogatory term for Native American women (remember what it was called before Piestewa Peak?) from federal land names, the Arizona Mirror’s Shondiin Silversmith reports.
From bad to worse: Large wildfires scar the Arizona landscape, leading to flooding as they destroy the soil. The Republic’s Zayna Syed explores how the Schultz fire in 2010 shows the impacts to the land and the people who live on it after a massive fire comes through an area.
Bring a snack from home: Airport concession workers are still on strike this week as their quest for better working conditions enters its second week.
The Morrison Institute for Public Policy, an influential political think tank housed at ASU, has been around for 40 years next year, and to prepare for its birthday, the institute released a history of its past four decades. You’ll recognize some familiar names throughout the book, including Bob Burns, Russell Nelson, Steve Twist, John Shadegg and Susan Bitter Smith. It’s available online here and was written by Jennifer Dokes, a former member of the Republic’s editorial board.
Generally, if you make fun of someone’s grammar or spelling online, you’re just an asshole. But we get a real kick out of politicians and political parties leaning into what “real Arizonans” want while also calling us “Arizonians.” Kari Lake has made the mistake before, and now the Arizona Republican Party has done it. “It's no secret that Arizonians are unsatisfied with the current border policies,” the AZGOP tweeted yesterday. It’s also no secret that we’re called Arizonans.