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On Sundays you will usually find me in a church somewhere talking about issues of Christian faith.
In the commentary by Barry Goldwater Jr., “Yet another ‘dark money’ group attacks Arizona solar,” printed in the Dec. 7 East Valley Tribune, he makes a false claim that “rooftop solar represents the only real competition utilities have ever faced.”
In Kathleen Murphy’s Inbox letter on Nov. 30, she’s correct that many stupid voters don’t do, or are too lazy to do, research. They get their info from “conservative TV or radio”? What about ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, HLN, MSNBC or “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report”? Are they all conservative? I don’t think so.
December is the season for giving, and Arizona's generous charitable tax credits make it easy and painless to help people in need during the holidays while also brightening your New Year by cutting your state tax bill. Mesa United Way is now certified to accept charitable foster care tax credit donations as well as the standard charitable tax credit, which allows you to double your giving as well as your tax break.
There is no shortage of “dark money” groups willing to do the bidding of utility monopolies such as Arizona Public Service (APS). The 60 Plus Association, The Free Enterprise Club, and Arizonans for Jobs hide behind conservative-sounding names while arguing against energy choice and energy independence. Add one more group willing to do the bidding of utility monopolies. The Taxpayers Protection Alliance, based in Virginia, seemed compelled to write a guest editorial published Nov. 30 in the East Valley Tribune, which slams solar power.
Each year as part of its nationally recognized and highly successful program to manage and conserve bald eagles in the state, the Arizona Game and Fish Department asks outdoor recreationists and aircraft pilots to help protect important eagle breeding areas by honoring the closure of 23 areas across the state.
With the recent release of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1,” interest in target archery has soared, especially among young people.
The letter from Mr. Murphy about stupid Americans was correct to an extent. Really stupid Americans are too dumb to vote. Our biggest problem is those who are willfully ignorant and too lazy to research anything. They get their information from conservative TV or radio, or simply vote the same way they have always voted — by party. That is why we had an election in which the Republicans won seats in Congress, but “liberal issues” such as higher minimum wage, background checks, reproductive rights and legalization of marijuana, among others, did pass. So it seems that American voters know what they want but don’t know who will give it to them.
A Tucson fifth-grade teacher who has been a vocal opponent of Common Core claims his First Amendment rights were violated by state School Superintendent John Huppenthal.
PHOENIX (AP) — If Christian Avila lived a few hundred miles to the west, he would have a driver's license and qualify for in-state college tuition and a host of other opportunities available to young people granted legal status by President Barack Obama two years ago.
But Avila lives in Phoenix, and the 24-year-old immigrant who was brought here from Mexico by his parents at age 9 still has to navigate the sprawling city in fear as he drives to school or work.
"You get nervous, your legs start to tingle a little bit when there's a cop behind you, when you're doing nothing wrong by driving to work,' said Avila, a community college student and immigration activist. "You're not breaking any rules, you're following the law. But unfortunately it's where we live."
With last week's action by Obama that expanded the deferred action program and added millions of other immigrants, Avila's plight highlights a harsh reality about the president's changes. The president may be allowing them to remain in the U.S., but it doesn't mean their state will let them drive a car, get an education at an affordable rate or obtain health insurance.
A patchwork of rules began to form in states — largely along political lines — after the president allowed some young immigrants to stay in the country. Conservative states like Nebraska and Arizona kept them from getting driver's licenses while liberal locations were much more welcoming in terms of state services and benefits.
Now, states must make new decisions on how to respond to the president's action that allows millions more immigrants to remain in the U.S.
In California, Democrats, immigration groups and health care advocates are pushing for the immigrants to receive health care under the state's version of the Medicaid program. The California Department of Health Care Services is deciding how to proceed. The president's action excludes immigrants who came to the country illegally from qualifying for federal health benefits.
In Nevada, officials are drawing up a bill for the Legislature making clear that unauthorized immigrants can become teachers in the state. Current rules specify that a prospective teacher must be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident before they can receive a teaching license in Nevada.
A new gubernatorial administration in Arizona will have to decide whether to continue a hard-line approach toward state benefits that outgoing Gov. Jan Brewer took.
After Obama took action in 2012 granting legal status to 1.8 million young people brought to the U.S. as children, Brewer issued an executive order denying them driver's licenses or other state benefits, including in-state tuition at the state's public universities. A federal appeals court ruled the license ban was unconstitutional, and Brewer is considering an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"Our position is unilateral action by the president does nothing to change the fact that an illegal alien's presence is the United States is not authorized under federal law," Brewer spokesman Andrew Wilder said.
Arizona's Republican Governor-elect, Doug Ducey, has said he intends to continue Brewer's current ban, if it survives court challenges.
Maryland's Democratic governor, Martin O'Malley, has taken a decidedly different tack. He's a supporter of state laws granting in-state tuition to people without legal status and grants them driver's licenses. He has even been willing to get into a policy fight with Obama on the stream of unaccompanied immigrant children from Central America over the Mexican border, criticizing the White House proposal earlier this year that could have expedited the deportation of the children.
Arizona remains an outlier in its treatment of immigrants granted work permits and is among the most harsh when it comes to those who remain in the U.S. without legal authorization.
States surrounding Arizona provide in-state tuition to all residents, regardless of immigration status. And in January, California joins nine other states in allowing immigrants who can't prove they're in the U.S legally to get a driver's license.
Utah provides leniency when it comes to driving privileges and education, despite passing a law in 2011 that mirrored Arizona's landmark immigration crackdown, SB1070. The state issues driving-privilege cards that must be renewed annually for those who cannot prove they're in the country legally.
Nearly 36,300 were issued last year, said Nannette Rolfe, the director of Utah's Driver License Division. Utah also offers in-state tuition at public universities and colleges to residents not in the U.S. legally.
To be eligible, students must have attended a Utah high school for at least three years and earned a diploma or GED. They can't hold a non-immigrant visa and must file an application to legalize their immigration status when eligible to do so. In the 2012-2013 academic students, 929 students took advantage of the program.
Despite the fact that life would be easier if he left the state, Avila said he's staying put.
"This is where we got dirty as kids, this is where we learn how to speak English, this is where we learn how to do a lot of stuff," he said. "Here in Arizona is where my friends, my family, live and I don't see it as an option to run away, but rather stand up and change the conditions that we live under."
The city of Tempe has become a national front-runner in LGBT equality after scoring a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index.
PHOENIX (AP) — Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has often clashed with the federal government over the enforcement of immigration laws, has filed a lawsuit to stop new policies announced by President Barack Obama.
The suit filed Thursday in federal court in Washington on Arpaio's behalf contends Obama acted outside his constitutional authority by not going through Congress.
It asks the court to block the changes that include making an estimated 5 million immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally eligible for work permits and for protection from deportation.
Arpaio said he went to court on behalf of himself and all Americans.
"I am not seeking to myself enforce the immigration laws -- as this is the province of the federal government," he said in a statement. "Rather, I am seeking to have the president and the other defendants obey the U.S. Constitution."
The lawsuit said Obama was "hijacking" previous immigration regulation and law by changing the definition of key terms to "create a radically new and different regime of immigration law and regulation."
Arpaio's lawsuit was filed by Larry Klayman, a conservative activist and attorney who has filed hundreds of lawsuits against the federal government. He founded the government-watchdog group Judicial Watch in 1994 and left the group in 2003.
Obama's administration previously stripped 100 of Arpaio's deputies of their powers to make federal immigration arrests and filed a pending lawsuit against the Sheriff's Office alleging racial profiling and other civil-rights violations.
Arpaio, a frequent critic of the administration's deportation policies, has said the lawsuit against his office was a politically motivated attack by the administration aimed at courting Latino voters.
Arpaio's volunteer cold-case posse also has investigated the authenticity of Obama's birth certificate.
Obama laid out his executive actions during a prime-time television address Thursday.
His changes would mainly cover parents of U.S. citizens and of legal residents as long as the parents have been in the U.S. for five years or more.
Obama also changed enforcement priorities by emphasizing the deportation of new illegal arrivals and criminals.
Congressional Republicans have accused Obama of exceeding his authority by not going through Congress. Obama said in his televised speech that his hand was forced by congressional inaction to fix the broken immigration system.
A small group of local Republican lawmakers gathered outside the Mesa Arts Center on Wednesday morning for a press conference on immigration reform ahead of President Obama’s speech on Thursday.
WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker John Boehner declared Friday that President Barack Obama was "damaging the presidency" with his unilateral action on immigration. He said the Republican-run House will not stand by, but gave no hint of what the response would be.
Tempe Prep senior quarterback Jesse Brittain connected with junior Isaiah Brittain for a 23 yard touchdown on fourth and 3 to put Tempe Prep up 14-7 over Joy Christian.
PHOENIX (AP) — Several major education groups say they're interesting in learning more about Diane Douglas' positions on education issues, including more about her views regarding the new school standards known as Common Core.
Douglas is a Republican who was elected state superintendent of public instruction, defeating Democrat David Garcia in last week's general election.
Garcia conceded Monday, the same day that Douglas issued a statement saying her victory is a mandate to end Common Core.
Douglas is former Peoria school board member who ran a low-key campaign in which she largely avoided public events in favor of tea-party gatherings and interviews on conservative talk radio shows.
Arizona School Boards Association President Tim Ogle said his group is going to try to arrange a meeting with Douglas. "I think the purpose of a conversation like that is to become familiar with her beliefs because we're really not very familiar and to give her the opportunity to converse with us about her hopes and fears for the Department of Education," Ogle said.
As superintendent, Douglas will oversee the state Department of Education and be a member of the state Board of Education. That board, along with the Arizona Legislature, sets education policy for the state's K-12 public school system. It adopted Common Core in 2010.
Some Arizona lawmakers tried unsuccessfully to pass legislation to either repeal the standards or change them during the last legislative session.
Ogle said his group wants to know whether Douglas has an alternative to Common Core. "If Mrs. Douglas has another strategy, then we're anxious to know what it is," he said.
Andrew Morrill, president of the Arizona Education Association, said educators didn't learn much about Douglas during the campaign aside from her opposition to Common Core.
"She was very clear on that issue, and yet there are questions even about her thoughts on our academic standards," the union president said. "I think a lot of folks are waiting to hear the answer. There are a million public-school students, and they are creating the urgency."
Arizona's next Superintendent of Public Instruction says her victory is a mandate to end new school standards known as Common Core.
Arizona's statewide races reflect the national campaigns — an almost complete Republican victory, and an almost complete rejection of Barack Obama. Six years ago, who'd a thunk it? The guy was on top of the world. Now, he might slink off the world stage in a couple of years, as an afterthought. A conflation of events, opposition, and, frankly, incompetence, seem to have ruined his second term.
PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona has approved an effort designed to push back against the federal government for any actions the state considers unconstitutional.
Proposition 122 arose from growing angst in Republican states over what conservatives view as heavy-handed tactics by the Obama administration. Opponents called it a waste of time and money to decide questions that the courts are designed to handle.
It was one of a few unsettled races from Election Night, but the yes votes pulled away as late ballots were counted.
The measure would allow the state to withhold money and staffing in carrying out any federal program or effort that voters or lawmakers deem unconstitutional.
PHOENIX (AP) — Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Thursday he is preparing for a strong primary challenge if he moves ahead with a re-election bid in 2016.
McCain said after a meeting with longtime supporters at a Phoenix hotel that he is leaning toward a run for a sixth term in 2016, the year he turns 80.
McCain said he will likely make the decision early next year. If he decides to run, he said he'll plan for a very difficult campaign with good competition.
"We have to prepare, we have to prepare for ... the greatest challenge," McCain said after the breakfast meeting. "Every campaign I've been in I've said, look, this is going to be the toughest. And you have to assume that. And we have seen historically that people who take anything for granted, then they put that election in jeopardy. I've never done that."
No Republicans or Democrats have yet indicated that they plan to run for McCain's Senate seat. But he faced a primary challenge from former U.S. Rep. J.D. Hayworth in 2010 and said he expects another challenge from within his own party.
"I think I certainly anticipate it," McCain said. "If you're going to win a campaign, you have to plan for all scenarios, including significant primary opposition. I wouldn't like to see it, obviously."
McCain has angered the conservative wing of his own party by backing immigration reform. The state Republican Party censured him in January for that position and other stances they say weren't sufficiently conservative. McCain said after the January vote by the Arizona Republican Party that he had fought President Barack Obama and that the rebuke came from a "very extremist element" that has taken over the state party.
A handful of Republican protesters opposed to McCain picketed outside the hotel, holding signs that said "Time to Retire" and Hell, no, McCain must go."
"He's been in office for five terms as senator and if he ever did understand the Republican Party platform, he certainly does not understand it now," party activist Andrew Constanzo said.
McCain is in line to become chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee when the new Congress convenes in January. Republicans took control of the Senate in Tuesday's midterm elections, boosting their power to control the agenda.
McCain also discussed immigration reform, and he warned Obama not to go forward with an executive order legalizing many of the 11 million immigrants who lack proper documentation to remain in the U.S.
"If the president really wants immigration reform, he should know that if he acts by executive order it will be a tremendously serious blow to accomplishing it," McCain said.
PHOENIX (AP) — Republican Sen. John McCain said Thursday he is preparing for a strong primary challenge if he moves ahead with a re-election bid in 2016.
A Sierra Vista Republican will become the first House speaker from Southern Arizona in a quarter century.
Republicans believe their message --- failures of the Obama administration on a range of issues as well as their plan to fix those problems --- played a key role in Tuesday’s sweeping wins both nationally and in Arizona.
PHOENIX -- A Sierra Vista Republican will become the first House speaker from Southern Arizona in a quarter century.
PHOENIX (AP) — The Republicans who control the Arizona Legislature are meeting to elect new leaders as they appeared poised to gain seats and boost their majority.