The Daily Agenda: Still no wins for the Ninjas
Another court loss over public records for the Arizona audit ... Another set of embarrassing tweets from embarrassing politicians ... Another report about COVID-19 money.
The Cyber Ninjas have lost every single attempt to keep records secret in its “most transparent audit in history,” and yesterday was no different.
A bit of background: There are two ongoing public records cases seeking tens of thousands of records from the audit — one from the Republic suing both the Senate and Cyber Ninjas, and the other from American Oversight, suing just the Senate. The two cases are intertwined.
After the Republic won its lawsuit demanding records at the trial court, Cyber Ninjas turned to the Court of Appeals hoping for a more favorable audience. Yesterday, a three-judge panel unanimously shot them down.
The heart of the decision was that while Cyber Ninjas isn’t a government entity (and therefore wouldn’t usually be subject to the public records law), it is the “custodian” of public records, and so it is legally responsible for turning over the records. (Cyber Ninjas vowed to appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court.)
The judges took pains to say this isn’t a sweeping ruling that means every office supply store that contracts with the government needs to create a public records department.
But the judges said because the Senate had outsourced its auditing authority to Cyber Ninjas, and because the Ninjas have refused to turn the documents over to the Senate, the court had no choice but to declare company on the hook for maintaining and providing public records.
“Cyber Ninjas would not be a necessary party if it had turned over the public records requested by the Senate — it is a necessary party by its own actions,” the panel of judges wrote.
That’s judge-speak for “the Cyber Ninjas screwed themselves.”
It’s also worth noting, in case the Ninjas are reading, that destroying or falsifying a public record is a felony.
But the best part is that by declaring that the Ninjas have to turn over records to the Republic directly, the court created an open season for public records requests to the Ninjas.
That means you can request records from Cyber Ninjas, too. Here’s our public records request template. You can fill it out with whatever documents you want and send it to attorney Jack Wilenchik, who is representing the Ninjas in court.
Even if the court forces the Ninjas to turn over records to the Republic, it will probably be tough for anyone else to get records without also going to court. But it’s worth filing a public records request just to make a point.
And if you do want to go to court to fight for those records, you’re on solid legal footing thanks to every legal decision in these two cases.
Is there any actual person named John Doe out there?: The federal government wants a worker who’s suing over the federal vaccine mandate in a joint lawsuit with Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich to reveal who he is instead of proceeding with the case as a John Doe, Capitol Media Services’ Howie Fischer reports.
Something that worked: A few years ago, Phoenix Rescue Mission shifted from providing emergency shelter to helping people get treatment for addiction and mental health issues. The shift has helped more of their clients find permanent housing, the Republic’s Jessica Boehm reports.
Your vote matters: We mentioned this in a footnote yesterday, but a measure to increase the salaries for Tucson’s mayor and city council failed by less than 1,000 votes. That’s surprising because these measures usually fail handily, and it’s also a good confirmation that your vote goes a long way, especially in local races.
Our success or failure will also come down to your vote — with your credit card. We need fewer than 2,000 paying subscribers to make this thing work. Subscribe now for just $70 annually and ensure we can keep doing this.
It’s a daily disaster at this point: Arizona Rep. Wendy Rogers took it too far with some anti-gay tweets in the past couple days, leading her colleagues to lend support to the Log Cabin Republicans, an LGBT conservative group, the Yellow Sheet Report wrote. She accused the Republican National Committee of “going WOKE” for celebrating Pride. She has since tweeted several times declaring Big Bird, a fictional character on a children’s TV show, a communist for getting vaccinated.
Really, daily: Speaking of things you can’t believe are real, in response to backlash from his violent anime video where he is depicted killing a Democratic member of Congress, U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar’s office said, “The left doesn’t get meme culture.” Gosar fancies himself a hero, but his video can’t be removed from the context of past violence against politicians, and it’s not normal, the Arizona Daily Star’s editorial board writes.
A bully pulpit in exchange for unending harassment: After Steve Chucri resigned from the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors over his leaked comments about his colleagues, 22 Republicans are seeking to replace him. The board will ultimately decide who to hire as their new colleague. The list of potential supervisors includes many familiar names — former elected officials, people who’ve run for office before, lawyers, activists and a poet laureate emeritus whose name is Bob Frost.
Border businesses still need more shoppers: The reopening of the southern U.S. border to nonessential travel into the country drew slow but steady crowds, some of whom went shopping and some of whom reunited with loved ones on the U.S. side, KJZZ’s Murphy Woodhouse and Kendal Blust report. And the reopening also led to a protest by asylum seekers who called out the Biden administration for allowing tourists, but not people needing asylum, the Republic’s Clara Migoya reports.
And this was before the price of vehicles increased: A man whose story helped change Arizona laws around civil asset forfeiture still doesn’t have his money back, which was seized during a trip to Arizona to purchase a vehicle. But Jerry Johnson’s case goes before the Arizona Court of Appeals this week as he keeps fighting to get it back, the Republic’s Perry Vandell reports.
Get off their lawns, too: There’s now a legal battle between a retirement community and a music venue in the heart of Tempe’s entertainment area. Mirabella at ASU, a senior living tower, wants Shady Park, which hosts live music, to turn the volume down, reports Phoenix New Times’ Lynn Trimble. This is the most predictable outcome of placing a retirement community in the middle of a college town.
If memory serves, we’ll do nothing about this: COVID-19 cases are increasing faster in Arizona than they are in most other states, but there’s not a clear understanding of why, the Daily Star’s Alex Devoid reports.
There’s another update on where the billions in federal COVID-19 relief funds are going in Arizona government. Like we mentioned before, the requirement for reporting American Rescue Plan Act spending was in a budget bill that was ruled unconstitutional, so some of the reporting is missing. The latest report from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee gives updates on money spent for education (including funds for schools that aren’t requiring masks), criminal justice, employment, housing, health, tourism and water.
It’s possible that after next year’s statewide election, the state has a Republican governor and Democratic attorney general (or vice versa). And Twitter offered us a preview of the possible political fights as a purple state yesterday and, man, we could be in for a wild couple of years.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake threatened on a local talk show to arrest federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration employees, who would be tasked with carrying out President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate, should it go into effect.
“If I were governor right now and he sent his OSHA goons to this state to violate our civil rights, I would meet them at the airport with our DPS and state police and arrest them,” she said, later tweeting out a clip.
Democratic AG candidate Kris Mayes saw her opportunity to jump in.
Kari Lake for AZ Governor @KariLakeAs Governor, I will instruct the State Troopers to make certain that Federal OSHA Officials are greeted with handcuffs at Sky Harbor President Trump endorsed me because he knows I will not tolerate Arizonans liberties being trampled Consider this a warning, @JoeBiden https://t.co/jLnZB85sgH
The drama of a Republican governor and Democratic AG would be rich, but it wouldn’t be unprecedented. In 1998, Arizonans elected Republican Gov. Jane Dee Hull and Democratic Attorney General Janet Napolitano.
U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego will discuss his new book, “They Called Us ‘Lucky,’” with Olivia Nuzzi, a journalist for New York Magazine, at 6:30 p.m. tonight at a Changing Hands virtual event. We picked up a copy of the book and will read it, then write about it for you all, in the coming week or two.
The Chandler Unified School District’s board meets at 7 p.m. tonight for its first meeting after antisemitic comments from a public commenter made the rounds. The meeting is livestreamed, or you can attend in person at 1525 W. Frye Rd in Chandler.