The Daily Agenda: The inevitable resignation
The race to replace Adel began the moment she resigned ... The toads make good medicine but want to be left alone ... And it's time for the annual exercise in changing car registration fees.
It has been more than a month since we first declared we were beginning “resignation watch” for beleaguered Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel. Yesterday, our watch ended.
Adel fired off a short resignation letter yesterday, following months of seemingly daily scandals from her office, which has hobbled from one crisis to another throughout her short, absentee tenure.
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors wasted no time in accepting her resignation just a few hours after it was publicly announced yesterday. The supervisors scheduled a special election (to coincide with the regular elections in August and November) to fill out the remaining two years on her term. Supervisors will have to appoint a Republican in her stead until the election. Former County Attorney Rick Romley is offering himself up after pressuring Adel to resign.
The election candidates are also already lining up, despite the fact that her resignation won’t be official until Friday. The compressed timeline means candidates need to file thousands of signatures from voters in a matter of weeks to qualify for the ballot.
But the abrupt announcement leaves lingering questions about what drove it, considering all the pressure on her to resign from political enemies and supporters alike didn’t seem to move the needle from the obstinate prosecutor.
A month ago, she had her top communications official perp-walked out of the building for daring to question her leadership in a resignation letter. A few days later, five criminal division chiefs detailed her failures and asked her to resign. She blew them off as a couple of disgruntled employees. A week after that, Adel said wasn’t going anywhere and the division chiefs should resign instead.
“Your choice is to do your job and stick it out or resign,” she wrote to the chiefs. “Instead, you have taken the rather extraordinary measure of publicly asking me to resign.”
As recently as last week, she once again passed the blame of the latest scandal to rock her office, the 180 cases where MCAO dropped the ball on filing criminal cases. That would have been another great opportunity to resign.
So why did Adel suddenly do an about-face on the whole “you can pry this office from my cold, dead hands” mentality?
The answer most likely lies with the multiple ongoing investigations at the State Bar of Arizona into whether she was ever drunk on the job and the office’s attempt to wrongfully prosecute dozens of people who protested against police brutality. As the Arizona Mirror’s Jeremy Duda confirmed, Adel met with Bar officials last week regarding the investigations — which could have cost her her law license — and told the Bar of her resignation before sending out a formal announcement yesterday.
Jeremy Duda @jeremydudaEmbattled Maricopa County Attorney @AllisterAdel resigns amid questions about alcohol problems, controversies at MCAO https://t.co/HWSTWUcNfM
As us residents of the Great State of Maricopa now ponder who we should elect to replace Adel, it’s worth recalling what came before.
Adel was first appointed in 2019 to replace Bill Montgomery, the politically savvy prosecutor who had held the office since 2010. Montgomery had almost single-handedly squashed any attempts to institute the kind of restorative justice laws that were sweeping the GOP in other states, as the mantra of “tough on crime” was giving way to “right on crime.” He’s now on the Arizona Supreme Court.
And Montgomery was a vast improvement over the previous resident of 225 West Madison: The now disbarred and disgraced Andy Thomas, who used the office to launch criminal investigations into judges and other political enemies. He was last seen running a laughable campaign for governor.
There was hope that Adel’s election to the office in 2020 would usher in a new era of transparency and openness, not only in how her office was run, but in trying a version of justice that fought crime through means other than locking more people up for longer. It clearly didn’t pan out.
As county supervisors head back to the candidate pool to replace her, and voters prepare to do the same, let’s hope for better vetting this time around for a position that literally decides between life and death.
Subpoena madness is great for our business model: Republican senators are threatening to issue another subpoena of election material after Attorney General Mark Brnovich started poking around about the “findings” of mismatched signatures from Cyber Ninja subcontractor and fraud huckster “Dr. Shiva” Ayyadurai, who previously produced several easily debunkable conspiratorial reports about signatures. His latest report declared that 10% of ballots in the county have possibly fraudulent signatures — a conclusion he came to without ever having seen the actual signatures on file.
Much ado about nothing?: The Arizona Secretary of State’s Office began updates to its E-Qual system that allows people to sign nominating petitions for candidates last week and is now in a partial outage, Arizona Capitol Times reporter Nick Phillips writes. The system ran into trouble with redistricting this year, and the battle over getting it up to date ended up in court before the updates even began, but Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office hasn’t taken any legal action since the updates began. He did, however, tell candidates they could file complaints in a tweet.
In terms of water, we have none: If there’s not enough water to run the generators at Glen Canyon Dam, there’s not a plan for where the electricity to replace that power could come from, the Arizona Daily Star’s Tony Davis writes. Everyone who uses water from the Colorado River stands to lose as the water supply dwindles further, so the states and tribes are now working together to figure out what the future should look like, the Republic’s Brandon Loomis reports. And for places in Arizona that don’t get water off the Colorado River, groundwater supplies are waning amid a decades-long drought, the Herald/Review’s Dakota Croog reports. Meanwhile, efforts at the state level to secure more water at a high pricetag need to address key questions, like how the whole state could benefit and how much additional water we really need, Republic columnist Joanna Allhands writes.
Been bad, isn’t getting much better: The COVID-19 pandemic exposed and exacerbated longtime public health problems, like a lack of primary care doctors and failures to reach communities of color, the Republic’s Stephanie Innes writes. Arizona’s physician shortage is among the bottom 10 states.
No one stepped up: New research shows that Arizona doesn’t have enough shelter beds for homeless youth at a time when more young people need them, a few years after a major provider for homeless youth went bankrupt, the Republic’s Jessica Boehm reports. Homeless youth are particularly vulnerable to trafficking as well, she noted.
Leave the toads out of it: More than 10,000 people in Maricopa County now got their marijuana records expunged as the county takes a proactive approach, but there are still a lot more who need it. Arizonans are smoking less pot these days — or at least purchased less marijuana from dispensaries in January 2022 than in any other full month of sales since recreational sales began. Is it maybe because you’re smoking secretions from the Sonoran desert toad to get a psychedelic effect instead? Because if so, the toad medicine demand is hurting the Sonoran desert toad population here.
We’re not alone, but that doesn’t mean we’re right: Arizona isn’t alone in switching to a weekly COVID-19 dashboard update instead of the daily updates that people became accustomed to throughout the pandemic. More than a dozen states now report less than daily, leading to concerns that the limited data will create blind spots if new waves emerge, the New York Times reports.
Early and often: Democrats need to keep their U.S. Senate seats in Arizona and Nevada, so they’re spending big and early on Spanish-language ads to woo Latino voters who they see as critical to maintaining the two battleground states, Politico reports. The early spends show some recognition of a problem in previous years of Democrats taking the constituency for granted and only doing outreach late in a race.
License lost: A residential rehab facility for kids age 11 to 17 had its licenses for both its boys and girls facilities revoked by the state after more than 40 violations were noted at the two sites in Sierra Vista and Hereford, the Herald/Review’s Lyda Longa reports. The Arizona Department of Health Services acted to revoke the licenses from Mary’s Mission, and an administrative law judge noted that the facilities provided “false and misleading documents.”
Local man is pissed: A Clifton man discovered that a ballot was cast in both Arizona and California in his name. Michael Pomaski moved from California to Arizona and voted, intentionally, in Arizona. But a ballot with his name on it was cast in California, too, in a matter which the California Secretary of State’s Office now says is “under investigation for potential criminal activity,” the Copper Era’s Dan Shearer reports.
There’s always money to be made in trash: It’s a good time to be in the recycling business since prices for discarded stuff like cardboard and plastics nearly doubled year over year, the Republic’s Russ Wiles reports.
Luckily, you have some friends in the garbage business — it’s us! We write about trash every day in this here newsletter, which you can financially support for $8 per month so we don’t have to become professional recyclers.
Republican Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita is no stranger to fighting fees to register your car. In 2019 she waged a war against a $32 “public safety fee” on car registrations and, after holding up the state budget proposal, she won.
This year, she’s setting her sights on the “vehicle license tax,” telling Capitol Media Services’ Howie Fischer that because most people don’t pay manufacturer’s suggested retail price for their cars, “taxpayers have been getting screwed,’’ by the inflated formula that determines your car registration price.
So instead of basing the tax on the MSRP, her Senate Bill 1148 would base the value on the actual price you paid. But as Fischer points out, you’d be lucky to pay MSRP these days with car prices soaring.
So Ugenti-Rita’s bill included an amendment to ensure that if you had to pay more than the sticker price for your new car, you’re held harmless. The tax would be based on “whichever is less.”
Today you can have a pretty bird on a pretty saguaro, as a treat.