Tag: arizona

Intersection Accident Nightmare in Arizona

 

In criminal cases, it is not uncommon for courts to order restitution along with the criminal sentencing. My Arizona bar newsletter contained a story about a lawyer who got the statutory law changed so he could represent his daughter in seeking criminal restitution for the death of his son-in-law. The case began with a 7 AM traffic accident at an intersection. The decedent, Jeffrey Roof, turned left across several lanes of traffic. The accused, Jeffrey Meyn, sped up to get through the intersection on, he claims, a yellow light. Meyn t-boned Roof’s automobile. There were no drugs or alcohol involved. Meyn stayed at the scene and was released by the officers who told him that he was not at fault.

The police continued to investigate. Meyn cooperated with the investigation even testifying before a grand jury. Meyn’s lawyer notified the prosecutor in writing that if he were going to be charged, Meyn would voluntarily turn himself in. Instead, the police used Meyn’s six-year-old son to lie to Meyn to get Meyn outside where the police swarmed him with weapons drawn, ordered him to his knees and handcuffed him, all apparently in front of the six year old.

The grand jury indicted Meyn on a manslaughter charge, which carries a sentence of seven to 15 years in prison. He took a plea bargain. He pleaded guilty to negligent homicide to avoid the possibility of a long prison sentence. The plea-bargain contained a provision stating that he could be held responsible for restitution to the victims in an amount not to exceed $1 million. Because of the plea-bargain, he served 13 months in prison.

State Board of Education Ignores Pols, Parents; Rubber Stamps Common Core

 

After a raucous 2014 election year for Arizona’s office for Superintendent of Public Instruction, only 16,034 votes separated the outcome of the 2014 election results between Diane Douglas and David Garcia. One would like to suggest Douglas’ opposition to the top-down, federal, one-sized-fits-all standards helped ensure she was the victor. This was a coup for the parents who despised the unconstitutional federal outreach in their children’s classrooms – later only to learn the fox was in the hen house all along.

A quick history lesson on Common Core in Arizona. In 2010, the Arizona State Board of Education adopted Common Core standards for all public schools throughout Arizona. As these standards were being implemented, parents and practitioners alike started to have difficulty learning and teaching them.

This classroom battle came to a head in 2013 inciting a Republican primary challenge to then-Superintendent John Huppenthal who was fully engaged in implementing these standards that had to be rebranded to “college and career ready” due to public outcry.

School Choice Program Saved up to $3.4 Billion for Taxpayers

 

shutterstock_520970764By choosing Betsy DeVos as his nominee for the Department of Education, Donald Trump has proven his seriousness about increasing school choice and ending the Beltway’s micromanagement of local education. But whether the subject is charter schools, vouchers, distance learning, or education savings accounts, the teachers’ unions have cried foul. Their interest isn’t students, parents, or even individual teachers, but rather preserving their cut of the $670 billion K-12 market.

One set of programs that flies somewhat under the radar are tax-credit scholarship programs. Available in 15 states, they let individuals and corporations donate to scholarship granting organizations in return for tax credits. The organizations then use the donations to give scholarships to students to offset tuition payments at a private school of their families’ choice. A win-win, right? Well, union bosses don’t think so.

The National Education Association claimed that each tax-credit scholarship “threatens funding for public schools and other public services.” Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers and bête noire of educational reformers, alleged “they drain cash away from public school districts, particularly those that serve disadvantaged kids who can least afford it.”

My Afternoon with Donald Trump

 
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Prescott Valley Event Center just before the event began.

Donald Trump held a rally in Prescott Valley, AZ, this week. I figured that this more rural setting would feature less conflict than his many appearances in downtown Phoenix, allowing me to actually chat with some of Trump’s fans. I’ve been #NeverTrump since he descended the golden elevator last June, yet remain intrigued about his primary victory and the passion of his supporters.

Arizona AG 7, Freedom from Religion Foundation 0

 

Packer-PopeThe head of an Arizona agency visited France a few months ago, and offered to take employees’ “special intentions” on his visit to the Catholic holy site of Lourdes. Department of Economic Security Director Tim Jeffries’ email noted that he is a member of the Order of Malta, which is focused on “global works for the poor and the sick” and asked employees to reply with their intentions if they were comfortable doing so.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation (headquarted in Madison, WI, because of course they are) was deeply offended by the director’s kind offer and declared it a violation of the First Amendment (PDF).

It is unconstitutional to use DES staff and resources to promote your personal religious views. We request that you immediately cease promoting religion through DES email and do not involve DES employees in any future religious trips you take.

Summertime in Arizona: “No Identificado,” Unknown

 
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Sister Judy Bourg picks up rocks to help support a grave marker, while Margo McKinsey holds it upright. (Photo: Arizona Daily Star)

Summer has come to the Sonoran Desert. On June 2, we hit the 102° mark in my community located about 30 miles north of Tucson. The following day the temperature was 107°. Saturday, the high hit 108°. As has been said, it’s a dry heat; 107° feels like 105°.

Now That’s Real Progress: Conservatives Win in AZ

 

640px-Flag_of_Arizona.svgMy adopted state (one can never be a true Arizonan unless native born) has gone and done it again. This time it’s not about concealed carry — No permit? No problem! — immigration (we E-Verify everyone), tent jails and bologna sandwiches (were you expecting the Ritz and caviar?), guns set loose by the Feds so the Mexican Cartels can be properly armed (every proper drug lord should have a genuine, made in USA, semi-automatic rifle!), or our tendency to be a little hard headed. This time it’s about reeling in the academy’s political correctness coercion coalition.

It is now illegal in Arizona to restrict free speech in any way on our college campuses. Anyone can say anything, anywhere, anytime, even if someone’s precious PC ears find it distressing. This is all within reason, of course, holding to the “fire” exclamation and threats exceptions. We also made it illegal to attempt to obstruct the rights of others to speak or to listen to political speech anywhere, anytime. It will be interesting to see how that particular law will be enforced.

There’s been little reaction to this from the Left thus far, other than to say that both these new laws were totally unnecessary (that goes without saying). I can, however, tell you this: When my youngest returned from Northern Arizona University last weekend, despite my years of dogged conservative tutelage, she was quick to introject political correctness into our household conversations. For example, did you know that it is impolite to point out that heterosexual boys must overcome a “gay” bias when considering joining a high school chorus? (Me: Facts can’t be impolite), or that eating meat with every meal is boorish (Me: So what?). We’ve now ignored her for a week and she’s re-acclimated. Thank goodness.

Arizona Governor’s End Run Around Education Unions

 

1409113012000-Doug-DuceyArizona Governor Doug Ducey is not your typical politician. He rose to prominence as the CEO of Cold Stone Creamery, turning a sleepy local chain with a handful of stores into an international brand with nearly 1,500 locations in 31 countries. Having mastered business, he entered state politics, spending four years as Arizona’s treasurer until his landslide election as governor one year ago.

Since his inauguration, Ducey has already fulfilled several of his campaign promises, but his trickiest pledge remained: How could he give more money to classrooms without raising taxes? For decades Arizona has led the nation in school-choice initiatives, but a years-long court case mandated more money for the K-12 education. This summer, a judge ordered that an additional $336 million be spent at once and perhaps as much as $1.3 billion in back payments in the near future. As I note in my article for The Wall Street Journal (subscription required), Gov. Ducey knows how to wheel and deal while keeping his promises to the taxpayers:

Reviewing several poor options, the governor’s office noticed something curious about the results of the 2000 [schools] tax increase. Education spending had gone up 41%, but the share of funds eaten by non-classroom expenses, such as plant operations and student support services, had grown every year for the past nine. The state auditor’s office calculated that in 2013 Arizona spent only 54% of school funds in the classroom, compared with 61% nationwide. Several academic studies have shown a direct correlation between that figure and student achievement, so it’s no surprise that Arizona ranks near the bottom in educational success, too.

Legalize Weed. Or Don’t … Whatever, Just Pass the Funyuns.

 

shutterstock_241089598Last year, Colorado legalized the recreational use of marijuana, thanks to a popular initiative. I was happy with the voters’ decision, even though I’m not a fan of weed and would recommend people avoid it. Our society doesn’t need another way to avoid reality, but the drug war has staggering costs, both in personal freedom and government spending. That’s why I’m happy to see a few states roll back the restrictions on something as commonplace as pot.

Earlier this week, Ohio voters rejected a referendum to legalize grass, though this proposal also created an unwieldy cartel to distribute the product. I was fine with Ohio voters’ decision, as well. My own state of Arizona is expected to have a ganga legalization vote next year and, though I’m currently undecided, I wouldn’t be surprised if I voted against it. So why am I fine with Coloradans and Washingtonians passing around blunts, and also fine with Ohio and Arizona just saying no? It’s not as inconsistent as it seems.

The first reason is federalism. What works in Delaware might not work in Idaho, so we don’t want our betters in the Beltway issuing one-size-fits-all mandates for both states. Obviously, the federal government is essential in deciding national issues like defense and foreign policy, but whenever possible local and regional governments should decide local and regional matters. Reefer madness isn’t exactly the biggest issue on DC’s plate right now. If California wants a top state income tax rate of 70 percent and Texas wants no state income tax at all, fantastic. May the best economic theory win.

Little Church Bests Local Bureaucrats at Supreme Court

 

ReedChurchSign2In a unanimous decision Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that freedom of speech trumps the whims of local bureaucrats. Reed v. Town of Gilbert also provided a victory for religious expression as the plaintiff represents a small church in the Arizona community.

Clyde Reed is the pastor of Good News Community Church, a small Presbyterian congregation that uses innocuous temporary signs to advertise its weekly service. Since the church doesn’t own a building, it meets in various rented locations around Gilbert, a Phoenix suburb.

Reed ran afoul of ruler-toting compliance officers because the town specifically restricted the size, location, number, and duration of signs promoting “religious events.” Curiously, the Gilbert Sign Code is far more permissive of signs that are deemed ideological, political, or for homeowners’ associations.

A Capital Idea

 

Washington, D.C., has been the capital of the United States since 1790. In the intervening years, of course, the country has expanded to the Pacific, and the population has spread southward and westward. So isn’t it time to at least think about moving the capital to another region? Perhaps to a red state? Perhaps to a warm area? Perhaps to a city where it’s possible to drive for more than three minutes without becoming hopelessly lost? I’m sorry, Phoenix, Arizona, but I nominate you.

Now, before you Phoenicians get too upset, think about the upside. The capital rains money on those who live and work with, for or near it. According to most estimates, six if the ten richest counties in the country are in the D.C. metro area. Plus, the Feds already own over 74% of the land in Arizona, so you’re used to them, and there’s plenty of room for shiny new edifices. As for the old ones back in D.C., they’ll become museums and such, and the tourists will continue to flock there. They’ll even be able to get near the old White House again (or, as it would likely be renamed, the White House Museum). We’ll have plenty of time to create jokes about what will be exhibited there.

HS Football Coach Suspended for Joining a Team Prayer

 

It has been a tough few weeks for football suspensions. As lurid tales of players beating women and “whooping” children dominate the headlines, a successful Arizona high school football coach has been suspended for an even more shocking offense:

Tempe Prep football coach Tommy Brittain has been suspended two weeks for praying with his team after the Show Low [Ariz.] win two weeks ago, his wife, Melissa, confirmed.

A Conservative Statement in Arizona

 

Most view Arizona as monolithically conservative, but it’s anything but. In reality, the Grand Canyon State was monolithically Democratic until Barry Goldwater rebranded the GOP from its Rockefeller roots.

Just 10 out of Arizona’s 26 governors have been Republican, and for the past 35 years the office has seen a 50/50 split. Gov. Janet Napolitano was re-elected by a 2-to-1 margin just 8 years ago.

The Best Public Schools Embrace School Choice

 

All kids are weird — but especially mine. I can usually identify their personality traits as coming from me or my wife, but they’re all jumbled up. It’s like we’re the original track and our kids are the dance remixes.

My eldest is analytical and conscientious when work needs to be done, but fearless and funny in her down time. Her younger sister will procrastinate and goof off, but will create her own elaborate, amazing projects just for fun. They are definitely related, but very different.