Leftist Agitators Hold Press Conference at State Capitol, Target Brewer, Arpaio

The sign shows that this group is now supporting Mike Shauffer for Sheriff.

Is Representative Tom Boone being investigated by the AG’s Office?

A state lawmaker, who also serves as a governing board president and as a self-appointed executive for a related government entity that acts on behalf of up to 21 school districts, is again being accused of conflict of interest violations. These allegations now include violations of open meetings laws, financial accounting irregularities and violations under the state procurement code.  The Attorney General’s Office has issued a written request to Deer Valley and Valley Schools Management Group (VSMG) to produce documents by October 13th related to the expanded allegations.  Also included in the letter is a request by the AG for more information about Solar Schools Arizona, LLC., a private entity believed to have a business interest affiliated with VSMG regarding the installation of solar panels on top of schools in Deer Valley and Scottsdale.

On September 8th, at a Deer Valley Unified School District Governing Board meeting, State Representative Tom Boone (R-Glendale), who also serves as Governing Board President, was asked by a parent to explain his association with VSMG, where Boone serves as Chairman and CEO.  Boone also appointed himself to serve on the VSMG Board of Management that oversees VSMG.  As a governing board member, Boone oversees the district’s contract with VSMG and was accused of using his role as a state legislator and governing board member to pass legislation that would benefit himself, his family and his business associates.

Boone’s role is attracting attention again because, as the former House Majority Leader and House Appropriations Chairman, Boone was accused in 2006 of other conflicts of interest in a related claim.  But in 2009, these claims have been expanded as more information about his business arrangements has surfaced.

Critics fear that Boone’s roles as a state legislator, governing board president, and board member that oversees his role as an executive for VSMG – a government entity, lack the appropriate oversight as prescribed in state law for a public entity that is funded using taxpayer funds and funds from district employees.

School business officials, teachers’ unions and parents have raised questions about the close relationship between Boone and other former district officials, such as fellow governing board member, Bill Maas, who was a former finance executive at Peoria Unified, and former governing board member and former state legislator, Ted Carpenter.  Allegations were levied against Boone and Carpenter in 2006 for sponsoring legislation that may have been a conflict of interest.

In an article from the Arizona Republic on March 01, 2006, Chuck Essigs, director of the Arizona Association of School Business Officials, said the relationship between Boone and the schools hurts public trust.  “The public wants decisions to be made solely on the basis of what is best for the citizen,” Essigs said. “Once the public feels that decisions are not based solely on that basis, then public trust in government is put at risk.”

When Boone was asked by a parent at the Deer Valley meeting in September about his alleged conflicts, Boone agreed that the appearance of his level of business activity didn’t look appropriate.  “I know it’s a fine line,” Boone said. “Am I concerned about the perception? Absolutely.”

Boone has not filed any conflict of interest statements at the Arizona Legislature since he began serving there in 2002.  He was appointed to the Deer Valley school board in 2007 to replace Ted Carpenter.  Boone had not filed any conflict of interest statements until August 12, 2009, where Boone wrote that “I have or may have a substantial interest in” contracts between VSMG and the school district.  He stated publicly at the September board meeting that the filing of these documents was intended to be ‘retroactive’ to 2007.

Boone has recruited former colleagues from the Arizona State Legislature to work at VSMG, including Michael Bradley, a former House policy advisor and longtime friend of Boone’s who doubles as his campaign consultant.  Boone has also hired Carpenter, Maas and former Paradise Valley Schools administrator Jim DiCello as members of the VSMG Board. Boone, Carpenter, DiCello and Maas are the only four members of the VSMG Board who oversee the business activity of VSMG.  To be eligible to serve on the VSMG board, a prospective member must have worked at one of the other entities that VSMG oversees.

VSMG oversees four other entities that provide financial services for district employees which include insurance, workers compensation, employee benefits and school construction services.  IGAs for these entities were discovered on the website for the Maricopa County Recorder under “Valley Schools,” but no IGA was located for the newer school construction services entity, which plans to install solar panels on school district buildings.

The Republic article also stated, “DiCello said the members of VSMG, particularly Boone, were acutely aware that allegations of impropriety could arise from their arrangement.”

“There are some things about this that don’t pass the smell test,” said John Wright, president of the Arizona Education Association.

Among the issues raised about Boone have been:

* Bradley, a lobbyist hired by VSMG to push legislation on behalf of VSMG, has also run Boone’s campaigns throughout his political career. Boone facilitated the hiring of Bradley in 2005 and handled payments to the lobbyist through the VSMG procurement arm. Boone said VSMG is only a middleman handling the procurement for the schools that wanted to work together on common goals at the legislature. Boone said he played no role in choosing Bradley, who was allegedly the only lobbyist who returned a bid, and said he gives him no direction.  Boone and Bradley are located in the same office, where Bradley now oversees the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust entity.

* Documents available at the Maricopa County Recorder’s website include the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) from 2005 that details the procurement guidelines under which VSMG operates.  VSMG states that they are exempt from state procurement statutes and have given VSMG the ability to ‘sole source’ goods and services at the discretion of VSMG board members.  As a government entity, VSMG is prevented from exempting itself from the state procurement code.

* VSMG may not have abided by the Open Meeting Law and may have restricted the release of financial information only to the VSMG Board, the Superintendent and the Arizona Department of Insurance.  Requests by members of the public to view public documents related to VSMG were met with a letter by an attorney for VSMG stating that documents will be available on or before October 20, 2009, one week after the deadline set by the Attorney General’s Office.  The letter also states that no further contact should be made to VSMG, but that all requests should be conducted through the VSMG attorney.

* Boone’s wife has been employed by Deer Valley Unified School District for a number of years, which is an alleged violation of state law.  School district policy also says that spouses of employees may not serve on the governing board.  Boone recently co-sponsored legislation in an attempt to amend state statute to reverse this policy.  Boone also has a son who works for the district and a son who works for VSMG.  Maas has a son who works for the Peoria Unified School District in financial services, where Maas also acts as a ‘consultant’ for that department and receives an income.

On Tuesday evening, September 29, the Deer Valley school board will enter into Executive Session to discuss these allegations and to hear from attorneys representing Boone and VSMG.

Arizona Department of Commerce Files Brief in Support of CityNorth

The Arizona Department of Commerce has filed an amicus brief attacking the Arizona Court of Appeals decision invalidating the gift clause in the CityNorth case.

Incredibly, a segment of the Brewer Administration has jumped into the CityNorth case on the side of Phoenix and the other advocates of taxpayer subsidies to private industries who are trying to get the Court of Appeals decision striking down these subsidies as illegal gifts thrown out.

The Department of Commerce, a state agency under Governor Brewer, thinks the Court of Appeals ruling calls into question some of its programs. If this is the case, it’s because the Department of Commerce has been giving taxpayer money away to private groups, in violation of our state constitution’s ban on such gifts.

It was bad enough when the Department of Commerce was just a waste of money, a parking lot for old, washed up Democrat politicos. But now it is actively fighting to undermine our liberties.

With the state in a budget crisis, the Department of Commerce should be the first to go. Unfortunately, the oldest trick in the book of the apologists for Big Government is to put popular things on the chopping block like police and education.

Hopefully voters will remember that this fall when all the Chicken Littles predict massive cuts to police and education and general Armageddon if they don’t vote to raise taxes. How come the cuts put on the table by apologists for Big Government never include wasteful programs like the Department of Commerce, Structural Pest Commission, Board of Cosmetology, etc.?

If our state leaders had made more of an effort to cut out these boondoggles they would be on much more solid ground in calling for higher taxes. But they haven’t.

Mary Rose Wilcox May Be Under FBI Investigation

The key words here are “may be.” Here is the story on News 15 (ABC Affiliate)
 

Surprise Council Hands $50,000 to Local Chamber

From the chapter on taxpayer-funded handouts, here’s a story on more of your local tax dollars being used to “help out” another private entity. In this case, the Surprise Chamber of Commerce.

Surprise to help Chamber finance new location” – Arizona Republic, June 13, 2009

According to the vote, the Chamber is to use $35,000 to help them relocate their office out of a strip mall to a new location and $15,000 is to be used to find and hire a new CEO.

I have to wonder how the council would vote if another organization like NFIB came asking for $50,000. Of course, the Surprise Chamber is now beholden to the Council to the tune of $50K.

Maricopa County Promotes Diversity!

Not that there’s anything wrong with this but Maricopa County recently sent out its Semi Annual Diversity Memo to make sure that all elected officials and Department Directors are completing their “Diversity Activity Plan” and checklist.

Putting aside any wild-eyed conservative notions about the definition of “diversity” in a politically correct culture, we have to wonder if this is an appropriate use of taxpayer money when budgets across the state are struggling.

How many man uh, person-hours each department and elected official will devote to creating their 19-point check list.

Will the checklist create an entirely new intra-county bureaucracy that creates all types of new problems for county employees? Here are the 19 points on the memo:

  • Encourage all employees to attend Diversity 1. F.A.I.R. & Diversity 2. M.E.E.T. training
  • Offer other Diversity awareness training
  • Host diversity celebrations
  • Encourage attendance at annual County Diversity Celebration
  • Encourage participating in Workforce Mgmt. & Dev., Leadership, or Supervision 101 Programs
  • Circulate relevant articles to management/supervisors
  • Utilize diverse interview panels for job applicants
  • Appoint a diversity coordinator (Please provide name/contact information)
  • Include diversity agenda items at management team meetingsDistribute/display diversity posters/materials
  • Include a diversity column in your department newsletterInclude a diversity component in your new employee orientation
  • Advertise job openings in non-traditional media sources
  • Send a representative to non-traditional job fairs
  • Establish student internship programs
  • Offer career mentoring program to all interested employees
  • Send a representative to the County’s Diversity Coordinators meetings
  • Coordinate a Diversity Council within your own department (Please provide diversity council chairman name/contact information)
  • Do you have a Diversity Action Plan on file with the Diversity office

 

 

Dismissed!

Credit to EspressoPundit who first posted on this.

Arizona Republican Party Executive Director, Brett Mecum, has had the charges of driving 109 dismissed with prejudice. That means that he cannot be charged again. The judge presiding over the charges is none other than John C. Keegan the former mayor of Peoria, a “moderate” Republican who ran against Trent Franks in the CD-2 primary in 2002 and the husband of former Superintendent of Public Instruction and Deputy County Manager, Lisa Graham Keegan. (It is fair to say that the Keegans are liberal on social issues.) Keegan was elected to the post in November, 2006

Keegan is outspoken on the issue of photo radar. He believes the system is unconstitutional. Many of us agree with Keegan. Although it is the law, Keegan decided to dismiss the case against Mecum based on his objection to the law. According to TheNewspaper.com, Keegan made the following statement on enforcement of photo radar:

The clear meaning of these provisions of the Arizona and United States constitutions is that it is unconstitutional to create one set of laws that applies only to a particular class of defendant and not to other defendants based solely on the mechanism employed by the government,” Keegan ruled. “Given the not uncommon set of circumstances where two drivers are traveling on the same highway, at the same speed in excess of the speed limit, at the same time, in essentially the same location and are cited by the same agency into the same court, [the freeway photo radar statute] ARS 41-1722 creates a distinction whereby one class of defendant is subjected to a significantly different array of penalties than another class of defendant based solely on the use of photo enforcement.

It is the determination of this court that the provisions of ARS 41-1722 are unconstitutional and unenforceable within the jurisdiction of this court.

It’s pretty clear what perception the dismissal of charges against Mecum signal:

  1. Anyone can drive whatever speed they want in Judge Keegan’s jurisdiction and a photo radar ticket will be thrown out. This doesn’t mean a traffic cop ticket will be dismissed.
  2. Photo radar will remain controversial in Arizona and will likely work its way through revisions in the legislature and courts.
  3. If you’re a party official, it “helps” to know someone in elected office to get you off the hook.
  4. Republicans with fast cars can ignore the conventional wisdom that driving at excessive speeds is dangerous.

Democrats are going to have a field day with this.

 

PR: School districts illegally stockpiled millions of dollars!

It’s great to see that some Republicans are fighting back against the lies and misinformation being propagated by the Arizona Education Association and their lobbyists down at the Legislature. Did I mention that the AEA does anything but represent the best interests of our school children?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 1, 2009

School districts illegally stockpiled millions of dollars 

(STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX) – As the rest of the state struggles with devastating economic conditions with cuts, layoffs and the associated financial and emotional trauma, schools have been illegally and secretly stockpiling millions of dollars.  

“I am outraged at members of the education community for their blatant deception and hypocrisy. They have launched huge attacks against cuts to education to balance the budget, while they hid the fact that they were sitting on hundreds of millions of your taxpayer dollars,” declared Sen. Pamela Gorman, R-Anthem.  

The Annual Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction indicates that school districts began the current fiscal year with more than $2.3 billion in the bank. A relatively small portion of this cash balance could be used to help balance the FY 2010 budget. 

This small portion of the cash balances that would be used to balance the budget resulted because districts deliberately and regularly overestimated their authorized property tax levy. This portion of the balances does not represent school district savings; it is not a rainy day fund that the districts prudently set aside for emergencies; it was a miscalculation of property taxes. Arizona statutes require the districts to refund this balance back to the property taxpayers. But many districts have ignored this law and accumulated this cash balance that they are not authorized to spend. 

Statutes even prohibit districts from increasing property taxes to account for estimated uncollected taxes. 

“Districts have been violating state law and illegally amassing larger and larger cash balances while crying out that we at the Legislature are decimating public education,” Gorman said. “It is shameless!” 

“At a time of Arizona’s worst fiscal crisis, we need facts not fiction. Taxpayers should demand to know why every fiscal year seems to be ending with a substantial surplus that nobody can really account for. Until those funds are accounted for, no one should be making reckless claims that education is underfunded without a full investigation,” said Dr. Vicki Murray, associate director of education studies at the Pacific Research Institute in Sacramento, Calif.  

The idea of using these funds to balance the budget is not new. In fact, the Legislature employed a very similar approach to balance the state budget in 1992.  

There is more information about K-12 education cash balances at: http://www.arizonatax.org/atra_special_reports.htm#Special%20Reports.

 

What took you so damn long?

We always knew you were a RINO. Our question is what took you so damn long?!?!

We should also thank President Bush and Senator Rick Santorum for helping get you relelected over a real Republican like Pat Toomey.

Good riddance to you Spec. Don’t let the door hit you on the backside on your way out.

The bad news is that Senate Democrats can  now completely shut the Republicans out of the process. No filibusters!

Here is Specter’s official statement.

Not to be caught off guard, Arizona conservatives are also speculating whether or not John McCain might also abandon the Republican party and join his good friend Joe Lieberman as an Independent heading into the 2010 elections.

For the best coverage of Pennsylvanial Politics, visits GrassrootsPA.com

PolitickerAZ shutting down – because it’s just another liberal media outlet

The liberal blog Rum, Romanism, Rebellion is reporting that PolitickerAZ is shutting down, its parent company is closing up shop in the various states it operates in. Even though PolitickerAZ had only two paid employees. When they first arrived on the scene, we were pleased to see a local newspaper type of publication debut only on the web. We were not pleased to see that PolitickerAZ had a decidedly left-wing bent. This came as no surprise, since it is run by the far left New York Observer. A model like this cannot survive, because there are already two liberal newspapers in the Valley that are migrating to the web, the Republic (with its 1000+ employees) and the Tribune. They have disproportionately provided the mainstream news to the Valley for years; trying to add yet another so-called mainstream news outlet with a liberal bias is just too much saturation for conservative Arizona. With the advent of online news from talk radio stations like KTAR and KFYI, which are less biased, as well as this blog, there are fewer people likely to go to a small biased online news outlet like PolitickerAZ.