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Julie Kent, an ASU alumna with a supply chain management background, said she never imagined herself entering the fashion world after college. Now, however, she’s become a local fashionista and the owner of a boutique in downtown Tempe.
PHOENIX (AP) — The U.S. Attorney for Arizona has found no evidence that Arizona's pension fund for public safety workers committed criminal misconduct when it valued some real estate properties in its $6.2 billion portfolio, pension officials announced Monday.
The board chairman for the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System, Brian Tobin, said the decision by the US Attorney for Arizona closes the books on the yearlong investigation of the pension fund.
The FBI and U.S. attorney's office launched the probe last year into whether real estate values were inflated to boost performance bonuses awarded to some senior investment managers. The allegations were brought to the attention of prosecutors by former pension system employees.
"This was and is a serious allegation," Tobin said. "It's not true and it never was true."
Tobin said the investigation, and two others done by its independent auditing firm and the Arizona Auditor General that also cleared the pension fund, are examples of the system's checks and balances working correctly.
Board lawyer James Belanger said the Justice Department is completing a review of several people he would not identify. But he said he expects they'll be cleared as well.
The pension plan released a letter from the U.S. attorney to Belanger confirming the decision. Cosme Lopez, spokesman for U.S. Attorney for Arizona John Leonardo, confirmed the contents of the letter but could not comment on any additional reviews.
The pension plan for public safety employees is facing a massive shortfall between its assets and what it expects to owe police and firefighters across the state when they retire. The latest projection as of June 30 shows $12.2 billion in liabilities compared to just $6.2 billion in assets.
The pension board also fired its top administrator, Jim Hacking, in July after it was revealed that he had illegally awarded pay raises to five senior employees.
Arizona Corporation Commission has initiated a process to eliminate utility energy-efficiency programs that are projected to save businesses and homeowners $9 billion in electricity costs through 2020. Such a move will increase energy costs for customers because saving energy through energy-efficient means is less than half the cost of building new power plants.
PHOENIX (AP) — A self-described graduate from the "new school of self-made moguls" has been convicted of money laundering and related crimes after earlier pleaded guilty to tax evasion charges.
NEW YORK — Planes are full. Passengers clamor for amenities. Investors want a payout. New planes are on order.
Fans of craft and local beer in Mesa are flocking to a new bar built specially for imbibers of the millennia-old beverage. The Brass Tap, tucked inside Mesa Riverview, opened its doors in March and, according to its owners, is thriving.
Although a slice of the project is already under construction, representatives from the town of Gilbert, Nationwide Realty and others broke ground on what will become the town’s most sizable business plaza.
Flagged by posters of empty buses, art classrooms and stages, Mayor Greg Stanton made a plea Wednesday to all residents of Phoenix to help fund extracurricular activities in Phoenix schools by taking advantage of the state tax credit.
WASHINGTON (AP) — A White House lunch aiming for cooperation boiled into a fresh dispute with newly empowered Republicans over immigration reform Friday, with GOP leaders warning President Barack Obama to his face not to take unilateral action. The president stood unflinchingly by his plan to act.
Republicans attending the postelection lunch at Obama's invitation said they asked him for more time to work on legislation, but the president said his patience was running out. He underscored his intent to act on his own by the end of the year if they don't approve legislation to ease deportations before then and send it to him to sign.
The Republicans' approach, three days after they resoundingly won control of the Senate in midterm elections, "seemed to fall on deaf ears," Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said in a telephone interview. "The president instead of being contrite or saying in effect to America, 'I hear you,' as a result of the referendum on his policies that drove this last election, he seems unmoved and even defiant."
"I don't know why he would want to sabotage his last two years as president by doing something this provocative," said Cornyn. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell earlier this week said the president's stance was "like waving a red flag in front of a bull."
Obama press secretary Josh Earnest said there was no reason that executive action on immigration should kill opportunities for the president and Republicans to find common ground.
"I could stand up here and say Republicans to vote once again for the 50th time to repeal the Affordable Care Act, that that's playing with fire or waving a red flag in front of a bull. I'm not really sure what that means," Earnest said.
The White House said lawmakers went home from the meeting with a parting gift — a six-pack of beer brewed at the White House. The White House also said Obama laid out three areas where he and Congress could work together before the end of the year — emergency funding to combat the Ebola outbreak, approval of a federal budget and quick action on spending to fight the Islamic State militant group.
House Speaker John Boehner's office said he told Obama he was ready to work with the president on a new authorization for military force against the IS group if the president worked to build bipartisan support. The White House announced soon after lunch ended that the U.S. was sending as many as 1,500 more troops to Iraq to serve as advisers, trainers and security personnel as part of the mission. Obama is also asking Congress for more than $5 billion to help fund the fight.
Friday's two-hour meeting was tense at times, according to a senior House Republican aide. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, about to lose his grip on the upper chamber, barely said a word, the aide said. The aide said at one point as House Speaker John Boehner was making an argument on immigration, Obama responded that his patience was running out and Vice President Joe Biden interrupted to ask how long Republicans needed. Obama angrily cut Biden off, the aide said.
The aide was not authorized to describe the back-and-forth publicly by name and spoke only on condition of anonymity.
Publicly Obama's tone was more upbeat as he opened the gathering. He pledged to work on ending long-running partisan gridlock and to be open to Republican ideas. The president said the lunch was a chance to "explore where we can make progress" after Americans showed in the midterm elections that they wanted to see more accomplished in Washington.
"They'd like to see more cooperation," Obama said, sitting at the middle of 13 lawmakers in the Old Family Dining Room set with the Truman china. "And I think all of us have the responsibility, me in particular, to try to make that happen."
Reporters were ushered out before any lawmaker spoke or the lunch of sea bass was served. Republican descriptions of the meeting were provided after they returned to Capitol Hill.
For the record, Boehner's office said he suggested that the president should back a Republican jobs bill as a starting place for bipartisan action.
Obama said at the start he was interested in "hearing and sharing ideas" for compromise on measures to boost the economy, then mentioned his personal priorities of college affordability and investment in road and building projects. He also touted improved monthly job growth numbers out Friday as evidence his economic policies are working, saying, "We're doing something right here."
Briefings on Ebola and the Islamic State from Pentagon officials dominated much of the meeting, and the immigration debate was said to have lasted about half an hour. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said Republicans told Obama that any executive order, particularly on immigration but any issue, would be a "toxic decision."
"He still hasn't come to grips with the reality of the election and the consequences of the election," Barrasso said. "His tone and tenor didn't seem to reflect that of somebody whose policies were just significantly rejected all across the country just three days ago."
County Manager Tom Manos has named former Arizona Department of Transportation Deputy Director and State Engineer Jennifer Toth as his appointment for the director of Maricopa County Department of Transportation.
PHOENIX (AP) — A Chandler man has been ordered to pay nearly $2.2 million in restitution for defrauding investors in business ventures.
The Arizona Corporation Commission on Wednesday ordered William N. Nordstrom to pay $2.1 million in restitution and a $100,000 penalty for securities fraud.
They say Nordstrom wasn't registered to offer or sell securities in Arizona and he fraudulently offered and sold investments in three different companies.
In a separate case, the commission sanctioned Randall Duane Simonson of Scottsdale and Karl Henry Rehberg of Florida for selling an investment in a Mesa storage facility that cost investors more than $1.6 million.
The two men were found liable for securities fraud in the sale of stock and a promissory note.
Simonson has been ordered to pay $1.4 million restitution and Rehberg $1.2 million.
Looking for movie stars and jet-setters on the Italian island of Ischia
Outside groups that want Doug Ducey as Arizona's next governor have spent enough to give every man, woman and child in the state a dollar — and still have $1 million left over. That doesn't count the $2.2 million that Ducey himself has spent in the general election, on top of the $5 million he expended just getting to be the Republican nominee in the first place.
PHOENIX -- Outside groups that want Doug Ducey as Arizona's next governor have spent enough to give every man, woman and child in the state a dollar -- and still have $1 million left over.
Only about one in four sexual assaults committed in Arizona is ever solved by police. One attack that hasn’t been solved by police is the brazen and savage attack by an unknown assailant on a 91-year-old woman in one of Tempe’s better neighborhoods.
Two Republicans and a pair of Democrats are seeking seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission in Tuesday’s election.
The Daily News-Sun asked them to comment on the top issues facing the ACC.
Name: Sandra Kennedy
• There is no longer a consumer advocate on the commission.
• I want to restore an emphasis on creating solar energy jobs.
Name: Doug Little
Occupation: Former computer software industry expert
• The aging water infrastructure in many communities.
• The negative impact on the economy associated with potentially significant increases in the cost of energy associated with the implementation of proposed EPA mandates.
I am committed to be the champion of the ratepayer and work to ensure that all Arizonans have access to clean reliable energy and water at the lowest possible price. We will achieve this with a balanced energy portfolio that leverages all of the different types of energy generation in the most cost-effective fashion.
Name: Jim Holway
Occupation: Land use and water resources planner
• We must ensure Arizona will have reliable and affordable water and power in an era of increasing costs, ongoing droughts and greater reliance on intermittent renewable supplies, changing technology and more stringent environmental controls.
Specific actions include: utility resource plans that address Arizona’s future uncertainty and changing needs; support for solar energy innovation, production and jobs in Arizona while also utilizing our coal, nuclear and natural gas resources; and assisting investments in conservation and efficiency.
• The current debate about solar energy in general and the new solar (net metering) tax on residential customers in particular. The ACC should commission an objective, long-term and comprehensive economic study looking at the costs and benefits of not only solar and other renewable supplies, but for other energy supplies as well.
Name: Tom Forese
Occupation: Current state legislator, owner of the Hive.
• We have nine different departments setting the price for utilities and we need to have balance to keep rates low as possible.
• I’m looking to keep things safe and fair but keep costs as minimal as possible. I have a voting record against unneccesary regulations and tax increases. My commitment is to find the balance. My background is technology and I think we’ll see amazing things for solar. We don’t want to harm the solar industry or the businesses. There’s balance in both areas.
Arizonans are painfully aware of the skyrocketing costs of health care. Both federal and state governments continue to ask for more tax dollars to pay for Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Taxpayers are contributing more than ever for health care for the less fortunate. Those below 133 percent of the federal poverty level now qualify for Medicaid and those using an ACA exchange receive a heavy subsidy. These programs will be inordinately expensive. Proposition 480 fails to acknowledge these massive changes and the sacrifices taxpayers are already making by asking for a 27-year, $1.6 billion bond and tax increase for the old way of doing health care business. At this point, the county hospital is only a true safety net for illegal immigrants because they do not qualify for AHCCCS or ACA, which begs the question why only Maricopa County property taxpayers should pay for a federal responsibility.
The Washitoni Rednecks, a moderately successful softball team in Washitoni, Kansas, has received some criticism this year. It seems that several laborers in and around Washitoni consider the logo “Rednecks” to be uncomplimentary, if not demeaning.
It’s not news when politicians try to get into our wallets. But this year, both the city of Phoenix and Maricopa Integrated Health System (MIHS) have crossed the decency line in their efforts to keep our money flowing their direction.
Two Ahwatukee Foothills residents and members of Save the Lakes have filed a lawsuit against the owners of the closed Ahwatukee Lakes Golf Course, hoping to get an injunction from the court that would force the owners to restore the land to its former condition.
This August, I began my 19th year as a public school educator in the field of American history and government. The message I convey to my students each year is that they can make an impact in the world that they live in. When they enter my classroom, they see the following statements on my back wall: Use Your Voice, Take A Stand, Make A Difference.
As a registered Republican one of the biggest things that worries me about Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Ducey is his climbing into political bed with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Why would a guy seek out the support and endorsement form a sheriff who is under federal scrutiny and court ordered regulation, has been shown to be an ineffective sheriff who blew off hundreds of cases involving rapes and child molests, has cost the taxpayers of Maricopa County well over $100 million dollars in misspent jail tax funds, has 30,000 unserved felony arrest warrants in his files, has cost us tens of millions of dollars related to lawsuits stemming from prisoners being abused and killed in his jail and who spent the last decade alienating Hispanics on both sides of the border?
It is exciting to experience. No, it is not a Cardinals football game, though it does get a little noisy. No, it is not the latest movie. Neither is it a trip to Disneyland, though it does involve a lot of creativity and imagination. It does have something in common with sporting events, movie theaters and Disneyland.
Q: Why are you running?