Pinal County Massacre, Part II

In a stunning election night surprise, incumbent Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles was soundly defeated by political newcomer Kent Volkmer (results here).

There is no exit polling but the chatter is that Lando lost because he noticeably increased spending soon after taking office. His actions seemed to cost the county money from day one, including summarily firing a merit protected employee in what was called The Pinal County Massacre and choosing a chief deputy mired in controversy.

Voyles rarely showed up to candidate forums and Volkmer took full advantage of that fact to list the mistakes and shortcomings of Voyles.  Volkmer did not hold back and his charges against Voyles went unanswered by the absent Voyles.

Mark LambAn even greater election night beat-down took place in the race to replace outgoing Sheriff Paul Babeu. His hand-picked successor, Chief Deputy Sheriff Steve Henry, was resoundingly defeated by another political newcomer Mark Lamb.

Voyles and Henry continued using the Law and Order moniker that Babeu and Voyles rolled out in 2012 but the tag line was of little help this year. Henry was not an incumbent in the race but as the current chief deputy, he came pretty close.

Not only was the defeat of an incumbent and an anointed successor a surprise but the margin of victory for the two challengers was a surprise. Few people know how the two new elected officials will run their offices but clearly the voters chose a change in direction for law enforcement in Pinal County.

The Jana Jackson Saga Continues

This past week Sonoran Alliance reported that Janifer “Jana” Jackson, a candidate for the Superintendent of Maricopa County schools, has a serious ghost in her closet that voters deserve to know about. Years ago, when she was living in Indiana, she was taken to court over “check deception.” The plot twist? She failed to appear in court and subsequently had a warrant out for her arrest (see case number 53C06-9309-CM-04018).

Today, however, we are ready to divulge that this was actually neither the first nor the last time Jackson was charged with a crime, taken to court, and failed to show up. To be exact, while she was living in Indiana, she failed to appear in court on six other occasions. See the end of the article for the case numbers for further information.  

These cases range from Jackson being taken to court by her former home-county, the Monroe County Bank, the Bloomington Herald Times, all the way to being sued by the State of Indiana. Ladies and gentlemen, this may be the year of the outsider to run for office, but it is not the year of the criminal. We must hold our elected officials to a higher standard, especially those who influence our children, their education, and their subsequent futures. Jana Jackson is absolutely unqualified to be the next Superintendent of Public Instruction for Maricopa County.

 

Case numbers: 53C05-5903-SC-00591, 53C05-9408-CP-00841,  53C01-9405-CP-00556,  53C02-9311-SC-03072, 53C06-9311-CP-01378, and 53C03-9308-CP-00940.

Jana Jackson: The Wrong Choice for Superintendent of Maricopa County Schools

Amidst this year’s biggest political races ranging from Arizona’s heated U.S. Senate race to different Congressional races, we often overlook other, important elections. For example, the election for Maricopa County Schools’ next superintendent is absolutely critical to the county and all of our children. According to Wikipedia, Maricopa county is the “most populous county in the state, and the fourth-most populous in the United States. It is more populous than 23 states.” These statistics only add to the increasing importance of electing the right person for the job, which in our opinion is not Jana Jackson.

Why, you ask? Because as an education leader for this nation’s 4th largest county and someone who will influence our children’s’ futures, we expect nothing short of complete honesty and integrity. Let’s start off with this simple requirement: we expect the Superintendent to never have a warrant out for his or her arrest due to failing to appear in court for charges of any kind. Janifer “Jana” Jackson, previously Janifer Mayden, would not fulfil such a requirement back when she lived in Indiana (click link to see more). Besides, “check deception” is not exactly a speeding ticket or two… this is a serious charge. A charge which Jackson evidently avoided and ran from seeing as she never appeared in court.

We all make mistakes, yes. However, what sort of example would Jackson be setting for our children and for the county if she is elected? This is not a record suitable for a public official in charge of our schools.

Gilbert Mayor John Lewis Endorses Steve Chucri for Maricopa Supervisor

Steve ChucriScottsdale (July 18) — Today, Gilbert Mayor John Lewis endorsed Steve Chucri’s re-election for the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. Mayor Lewis has served as Gilbert’s Mayor since 2009, and he and his wife have both lived in the town for thirty years.

“As Mayor of Gilbert, I have worked extremely hard to foster working relationships with the elected officials who also represent our town,” Lewis said. “Steve Chucri has gone above and beyond to work with us and to ensure that our constituents receive the attention and service that they deserve. I am proud to stand with Steve Chucri and endorse him for re-election to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.”

“I’m thankful for this endorsement from Mayor Lewis,” Chucri said. “It has been a privilege to work alongside him and I look forward to continuing to provide the best possible service to Gilbert in the years ahead.”

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About Steve Chucri:
Steve Chucri is a native Arizonan who was born and raised in Mesa, but his family’s Arizona roots started in the mining town of Morenci. His family taught him the values of faith and trust, essential elements to running an honest and transparent business. In addition to serving on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, he is also President and CEO of the Arizona Restaurant Association, the key voice for the $11.5 billion restaurant industry in Arizona. Representing restaurants on a multitude of industry issues while maintaining small business success has proven to be one of his top strengths. Chucri resides in Paradise Valley with his wife of 17 years, Christine, and their two young sons.

ABC15: Paul Babeu – Abusing The Truth

ABC 15’s special coverage of Sheriff Paul Babeu

Paul Babeu ABC15

Wendy Rogers to Paul Babeu: Come Clean to Pinal County

Wendy Rogers

Wendy Rogers to Paul Babeu: Come Clean to Pinal County

(Flagstaff, AZ) – Today, Col. Wendy Rogers, Republican candidate for Congress, issued the following statement calling on Sheriff Paul Babeu to make amends to the citizens of Pinal County for using his position to play politics:

“Sheriff Babeu displayed a profound lack of judgment. He showed poor faith and a callous disregard for the people of Pinal County and the 1st Congressional District.” Col Rogers said.

“Mere hours after warning the citizens of Pinal County about a grave threat to their safety from Mexican cartels on local television, Sheriff Babeu sent out a fundraising email to capitalize on the threat. Then Sheriff Babeu later admitted to a reporter that his warning was a calculated element of his campaign for Congress.”

“For an elected official, especially a member of law enforcement, to prey upon the fears of good people to advance his own political agenda is absolutely base and reprehensible. He exploits as a political football the very citizens he swore to protect. Sheriff Babeu must atone and come clean to the people of Pinal County.”

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Lt Col (ret) Wendy Rogers was one of the Air Force’s first women pilots. She and and her husband Hal are both retired career US Air Force officers. Since 1997, they’ve owned a home inspection business covering four counties spanning northern to southern Arizona. Col Rogers is a businesswoman, teacher, social worker and grandmother. She and Hal own their retirement home in the midst of where they do business in Flagstaff, Arizona.

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Fear and Fundraising in AZ01

Elected law enforcement officials are in the precarious position of approaching their job from either a half-empty or a half-full position. As we’ve seen from many a sheriff, fear is a tremendous motivator when it comes to driving an agenda. Some sheriffs might cast their office as the object to be feared. Other sheriffs cast the outside world as the source of all danger.

The latter is what we witnessed in the public arena from Sheriff Paul Babeu on Tuesday.

Babeu Press Conference

In a press conference (which turned into a political speech), Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu claimed he has “additional intelligence” that Mexican hit men or “sicarios” were heading into Arizona to assassinate rival drug cartel members. Those attacks would likely take place over Memorial Day weekend. He cited several incidents south of Pinal County and advised campers and hikers to be fully armed and prepared to protect themselves. The press conference turned political when Babeu blamed the Obama Administration for not protecting our southern border (a point we agree on).

Sicario

Members of the media immediately picked up on the sheriff’s advisory and ran with stories of impending threats and attacks to American citizens in the Arizona desert. Several media outlets didn’t quite take the bait (KTAR, KPNX)

What was barely mentioned was that hours after the warning, congressional candidate Paul Babeu sent out a fundraising letter mentioning his press conference and advisory. The timing couldn’t be more obvious: Fear is a tremendous motivator for fundraising.

Babeu even appeared on Your World with Neil Cavuto talking up the threat and danger of Mexican assassins running rampant through the Arizona desert.

Babeu Cavuto

Photo courtesy of Paul Babeu’s Twitter feed.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The timing couldn’t be more obvious: Fear is a tremendous motivator for fundraising.[/pullquote]

Some of us aren’t buying Sheriff Babeu’s ploy. Here’s why:

First, any threat of this nature would be announced from the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, Border Patrol and Arizona Department of Public Safety. When a threat is this serious and credible, it is vetted at all levels of government and is passed through multiple chains of command and communications. Governor Doug Ducey would be one of the first to know and to issue warnings through Arizona DPS. The Sheriff claims he was informed about the threat but failed to share it with other law enforcement agencies?

Second, Paul Babeu is a candidate for congress running on a single-issue – immigration and border security. Even though Pinal county does not border Mexico, illegal border crossers still make their way through his jurisdiction – just like they do in every other county in Arizona. We certainly won’t disagree that immigration and border security has become a national security issue we should take seriously, but some politicians have used the issue as a fear-for-votes political strategy. For Paul Babeu, it’s the only issue he knows and he’s using it at every opportunity for pure political gain. Multiple media appearances and fundraising letters from Babeu are evidence of this.

Finally, in law enforcement matters, every serious credible threat demands a serious credible response or action plan. According to reports, during his press conference, Sheriff Babeu made no request for assistance from the Governor’s office, Arizona DPS, Homeland Security, the National Guard, the FBI, etc. Instead, he told private citizens to arm themselves. A review of several Arizona law enforcement agency websites including the Governor’s office, shows no mention of public safety threats by sicarios in the Arizona desert.

We’re not buying it.

The truth is, we have a county sheriff running for Congress who is sensationalizing on the only issue he knows in order to grab media attention and raise money for his political campaign.

In the meantime, private citizens have been told to pack heat in the badlands of Arizona by a sheriff who apparently is finding it difficult to protect his own constituents.

This Memorial Day weekend, we recommend being vigilant of all threats – whether they’re credible or presented for pure political profit.

But most importantly, we ask that you remember and honor those, who against all fear and personal gain, paid the ultimate price through their selfless sacrifice to protect and preserve our freedoms.

Andy Biggs’ Special Fire District Still Burned In My Memory

By East Valley Evan

They say an elephant never forgets. This Republican certainly doesn’t but sometimes it takes an incident to help recall.

The massive fire in Gilbert recently stoked my memory about one of our local politicians who tried to take advantage of a serious public safety threat.

Andy BiggsBack in 2005, Rural Metro notified the Town of Gilbert that they were ceasing operations in Gilbert because it was becoming too expensive to service the town due to the numerous county islands. That provoked a political fight between Gilbert and the county islanders.

In early 2006, county islander and State Representative Andy Biggs jumped feet first into the fight by sponsoring legislation allowing his fellow islanders to form a special fire district that would also pay back the Town of Gilbert for use of their municipal fire service. There was only one problem. The town of Gilbert was not going to recover the full cost of providing that service – an additional $5 million! Gilbert taxpayers like me would have had to pay the difference and subsidize all the folks in the county islands who were receiving Town of Gilbert services.

To add insult to injury, we would have had to pay the start up costs for a year and a half for Biggs’ special district before we even saw any reimbursement for our up front costs.

The Town of Gilbert decided to sue based on the grounds that Biggs’ law was specially catered for his county islanders.

After Gilbert filed the suit, Andy Biggs snuck in another special amendment that would force Gilbert residents to pay the legal fees in lawsuits against the formation of his special fire district. It was written specifically to apply to the Town of Gilbert.

In the first round of legal battles, a judge saw through the special legislation and shot down Biggs’ special law. Unfortunately that the same judge made us pay for the legal costs in stopping Biggs’ unconstitutional law. It ended up costing us over $292 thousand.

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, under Don Stapley’s lead, filed an appeal against the lower court’s decision but that case also ended up losing in court. In it’s decision, the Arizona Court of Appeals stated that Andy Biggs’ law failed to be written in a constitutional manner.

This battle over Biggs’ expensive unconstitutional fire district became so heated that it spilled over as an issue in the 2006 elections. Biggs was challenged by a Gilbert resident but ended up winning reelection because most voters thought the issue was settled and other issues dominated. But not this voter.

Fast forward to 2016 and Andy Biggs is now running for Congress in my district. Ten years may have passed and the memories of some voters may have faded but I won’t be voting for Andy Biggs. He’s proven himself time and time again to be the ultimate career politician who’s only interested in one thing – what’s best for Andy Biggs.

It might seem like an eternity in politics but this Gilbert Republican won’t easily forget what’s been seared into memory of how another politician divided a community to serve his own personal interests.

Sheriff Touchy Can’t Handle Mockery of his Pansy Logo

Guest Opinion by Sam Stone

Pima County Sheriff Chris Nanos is running for re-election after taking office a little over a year ago when his 79-year old boss – Clarence Dupnik – handed him the keys to the castle after 35 years at the helm. It was a apt promotion: Nanos had been reportedly running the office for his aging Sheriff for a number of years – proving conclusively that he could effectively maintain the bureaucratic bloat, insider favoritism, and mediocre results his predecessor had become known for.

Since taking office, Nanos has overseen at least one scandal: giving almost $20,000 to the niece of one of his detectives so she could buy the equipment to run for-profit cafes at their headquarters and the county jail.

He also defended the actions of deputies when they shot and killed decorated Marine veteran and father Jose Guerena – actions that resulted in a $3.4 million dollar settlement against Pima County.

All that, of course, while his Deputies get stiffed.

But none of that makes Sheriff Nanos mad. What really gets Chris Nanos mad? People mocking his pansy ass logo.

ChrisNanosFB1

After the first few, more people chimed in, including yours truly…

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That’s when Sheriff Touchy stepped in to regulate!

ChrisNanosFB3

I mean, good advice, I thought…

ChrisNanosFB4

And he did “like” it….

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But, no, Sheriff Touchy couldn’t let it go at that.

A couple of points:

  1. I think he’s referring (one sided-story) to the café. Maybe they had really, really good sandwiches. Or something.
  2. I wasn’t actually referring to his website, just his Pansy logo.
  3. If I was running his campaign, I’d probably be running for the hills right about…now…

Let’s hope Pima County voters do the same in November.

(In case you were wondering, Mark Napier, who narrowly lost to Sheriff Touchy’s boss in the last election, is vying for the office again.)

Thank You Maricopa County Supervisor Andy Kunasek

Reposted from HighGround Blog

By  J. Charles ‘Chuck’ Coughlin

The Crucible of Public Service

Steady, purposeful, compassionate, thoughtful, quiet, humble, kind, joyful, patient, dignified and… funny.

It is understandable that this past week, a momentous announcement took place. But it passed with very little attention. Announced the same day that several other elected officials grabbed the spotlight announcing their own plans, Maricopa County Supervisor Andy Kunasek announced his retirement from representing District Three on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors for the past nineteen years.

Unfortunately, in today’s political environment, announcements like this are often followed by speculation that something else is afoot; that the elected is stepping down for some other troubling reason. That, of course, is not and has never been true, about Andy Kunasek.

During some of the stormiest of periods in Maricopa County government history, when the very foundations of the County government were being rocked by a County Attorney and a Sherriff who were clearly using their own powers to undermine the authority of the County Board of Supervisors, one man held STEADY: Supervisor Andy Kunasek. While the hint and fact of criminal prosecution from the hands of an unethical and now disbarred County Attorney were real, Andy Kunasek stayed calm and worked with his colleagues to steer the county ship into a safe harbor, avoiding outright disaster.

He acted in a PUPROSEFUL manner, being COMPASSIONATE to his colleagues, and was THOUGHTFUL in avoiding the hot political rhetoric which could have inflamed the situation further. He QUIETLY went about his business of building a governing consensus, in a HUMBLE way which did not seek attention or headline.

It is said that the crucible of public service, those hot contentious moments where everything in your soul says do A, but your character says do B, reveal your true character.

As a 30-year veteran of the elected politics in Arizona, I can say that I have personally witnessed such character in only rare circumstances: Matt Salmon supported the first Martin Luther King Holiday as a first time candidate for the State Senate in an overwhelming Republican conservative district in the East Valley. Attorney General Grant Woods chose to pursue the first hate crime statute in Arizona in 1991. Senator John McCain stood up for campaign finance reform when the Washington money machine was steadfast in its opposition. Governor Jan Brewer vetoed five straight Republican budgets before she had even been elected Governor – because she knew in her heart cutting that much from state government would jeopardize the health and welfare of our most vulnerable populations and damage Arizona’s hope for economic recovery.

While moments such as these reveal the underlying individual character, the equally important question is what do those events do to the person who has endured that crucible? Does it change them for the good or does it damage them and their ability to handle conflict over time? Do they become testy, short tempered, arrogant, and dismissive? Or do they become a better version of the person they were before the conflict?

Again, and without exception, Andy Kunasek stayed the Andy Kunasek I had always known; KIND, PATIENT, and DIGNIFIED.

Sure, the hair thinned and got grayer, the words came more slowly and the demeanor a bit more somber and mature. But, weeks and months later, the laugh was still there, the humor surfaced and the absurdity of political life mixed with those character traits and a newer, better version of the guy I knew before stood in front of me.

As he leaves his distinguished County service, all of my colleagues and I here at HighGround just want to say thank you. Thank you for your public service. Thank you for the self-sacrifice and the honor you bestowed upon everyone around you.

You bring out the best in all of us, you made us all better. Godspeed Andy Kunasek.