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Pinal County Sheriff's Office officials are investigating reports of a suspicious vehicle near a bus stop in San Tan Valley.
PHOENIX -- Arizona gained 24,700 private-sector jobs last month, enough to push the state's seasonally adjusted jobless rate down a tenth of a point, to 6.8 percent.
ELOY, Ariz. (AP) — Authorities say a 65-year-old man is recovering after being attacked by a swarm of bees and stung more than 100 times near Eloy.
Pinal County Sheriff's dispatch received a call about the bee attack Monday afternoon.
Dan Cecil's son says his father was attacked while operating a back hoe on his ranch, but the man wasn't allergic to bee stings.
Emergency crews rendered aid at the scene.
Cecil then was transported by Eloy Fire Ambulance to Banner Casa Grande for further medical evaluation.
United Food Bank is working with Ike’s Love and Sandwiches’ locations in Mesa and Tempe to funds and food through the New Year to feed thousands of people.
FLORENCE, Ariz. (AP) — Pinal County authorities say a San Tan Valley man has been arrested for falsely reporting that he had been kidnapped.
County sheriff's officials say 22-year-old Justin Sarten was taken into custody Friday.
His mother told authorities that Sarten sent text messages to his girlfriend saying he had been kidnapped while in Tempe on Thursday night.
Sarten then reported to law enforcement he had been kidnapped and was in a vehicle heading south on the 202 freeway.
Authorities say Sarten sent additional text messages to deputies reporting the vehicle stopped on Hunt Highway in San Tan Valley.
Deputies located Sarten and three men inside a store and the men denied kidnapping Sarten, saying he was with them on his own free will.
Sarten later admitted to voluntarily getting in the vehicle.
Bob and Sallie Fay of Gilbert stay warm by the fire with son Lee, his wife Stephanie and grandson Zach at San Tan Flat,. Feb 22, 2007, as they listen to the music of local musician Lee Alexander. Alexander wrote a song poking fun at the Pinal County ruling about dancing at the establishment.
Sun City West resident Diane Douglas is maintaining a thin lead in her bid to become Arizona’s next state public schools leaders. However, rival David Garcia continues to creep up on Douglas as county recorders offices throughout the state reduce the number of uncounted early and provisional ballots.
Tens of thousands of outstanding ballots have left the results of several statewide races up in the air.
PHOENIX -- Tens of thousands of outstanding ballots have left the results of several statewide races up in the air.
PHOENIX (AP) — Voters in Maricopa County have ousted a Superior Court judge, making him the first Arizona judge to be rejected in a retention election in several decades.
Unofficial results show Judge Benjamin Norris lost his retention election Tuesday by 14 percentage points.
The state Judicial Performance Review Commission evaluated the performances of dozens of judges, rating only Norris and Pima County Superior Court Judge Catherine Woods as not meeting judicial standards.
Woods won her retention election.
Norris did not immediately respond to a call for comment Wednesday. He was appointed to the bench in 2008 by then-Gov. Janet Napolitano,
Judges on statewide courts and Superior Court judges in Maricopa, Pima and Pinal counties periodically must face retention elections. Superior Court judges in the other 12 counties run in regular elections.
PHOENIX (AP) -- The Republican and Democratic candidates for Arizona governor are making a final campaign push through the state as they try to seal a general election win and their parties pull out all the stops to get voters to the polls.
The efforts by Republican Doug Ducey and Democrat Fred DuVal are being mirrored by other statewide and congressional candidates who hope that voters will back them in Tuesday's elections.
Democrats are focusing on get-out-the-vote efforts, trying to mobilize voters who are seen as generally less enthusiastic than their GOP counterparts in a midterm election year.
That includes Democratic state Rep. Ruben Gallego, who is facing only token opposition as he races toward an expected win in Congressional District 7 in south and west Phoenix. He's trying to help statewide candidates by using the campaign machine that propelled him to a victory in the primary in the heavily Democratic district to turn out voters.
"We've had 60 people going out every day for the last month and a half," Gallego said. "There's never been an operation like this in this district â but this district alone cannot turn the whole state." Gallego pointed to similar efforts by Democratic Reps. Raul Grijalva and Ann Kirkpatrick to get Democratic voters to the polls as well.
The state Democratic Party has more than 150 paid canvassers contacting voters and is hiring more for the final push, Executive Director DJ Quinlan said Friday. That's on top of 60 organizers who have been in the field for months.
Democrats are targeting unmarried women, younger people and minorities, especially Hispanics, who tend to vote in lower proportions.
Republicans are also pulling out all the stops, and if registered Republicans haven't returned their early ballot, they can expect a phone call this weekend from one of hundreds of volunteers working phone banks, said Tim Sifert, the state party's spokesman.
"We've got a massive statewide get-out-the-vote effort involving phone calls to voters who have not yet voted their early ballots as well as voters we are encouraging to go to the polls on Election Day," Sifert said. "Clearly the campaigns are in addition to that. We also have canvassers going door to door, where it's practical."
Democrats acknowledge that nationally the election is likely to favor Republicans, with the Senate possibly becoming majority Republican and the GOP gaining more House seats to strengthen its current majority. But they still like their chances for victories in stateside, congressional and legislative offices in Arizona.
"We feel like across the board we'll certainly win statewide - it's really a crapshoot which we'll win because the races are so close," Quinlan said. "But my fundamental point is, in a year when it really should be favoring Republicans I think we have a chance to win at every level."
Ducey plans stops in Maricopa, Mohave, Pima, Pinal, Yavapai and Coconino counties between Friday and Monday. DuVal plans 22 stops across metro Phoenix and in southern Arizona over the weekend. Both will be joined by other candidates for statewide office on many of the stops.
Two individuals are in custody after a short pursuit south of the Valley.
FLORENCE, Ariz. (AP) — Pinal County authorities say a drug and human-smuggling investigation has netted nine arrests.
The Sheriff's office says the two-monthlong investigation was conducted with the assistance of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
According to the Sheriff's Office, the investigation also resulted in the seizure of vehicles used by smugglers as well as 276 pounds of marijuana.
Their plans to fix Arizona's economy may be hard to decipher, and neither Democrat Fred DuVal nor Republican Doug Ducey is precise on exactly how they think the state will permanently come up with more money for schools.
PHOENIX -- Their plans to fix Arizona's economy may be hard to decipher.
And neither Democrat Fred DuVal nor Republican Doug Ducey is precise on exactly how they think the state will permanently come up with more money for schools.
But anyone seeking clear distinctions between the major candidates for governor need look only at their positions on what might be called "morality'' issues to find some stark contrasts.
And given how often these issues translate into legislation, what the next governor believes could be the difference between when some measures become law and others are vetoed.
Consider of gay rights.
DuVal has come out forthright in favor of the ability of gays to wed.
Ducey, by contrast, wants to limit marriage to one man and one woman, as approved by voters in 2008, though he did say after Tuesday's ruling by the 9th Circuit overturning laws in Nevada and Idaho he will "follow the law.''
But he also opposes granting health insurance and other benefits to the domestic partners of gay state and university employees. And that's an issue where the views of the governor matter.
Jan Brewer is currently in federal court fighting a bid to permanently void a provision in a 2009 law which she signed that limits benefits solely to those who are married. That action overturned a rule adopted just a year earlier to the contrary.
Brewer has said this was a question not of bias but of saving state finances. But a federal judge already has issued a preliminary injunction, saying it appears to be a clear case of discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Whoever is the next governor could decide to keep the issue alive or simply drop the defense.
There are other issues of gay rights that divide the pair.
For example, existing Arizona law makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender, age, race, religion or national origin. Ducey said he opposes expanding that list to include sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
"I'm for equal protection under the law for everyone,'' he said. "But I don't want to continue to divide people up through these protected classes.''
Ducey said, though, he would not turn back the clock and try remove things like race or religion from that special "protected class'' status that gives victims of discrimination the right to sue.
DuVal conceded that new rights for gays may result in new litigation.
"But we need to constantly expand rights and opportunities in ways that broaden success and participation,'' he said. DuVal said the country, having provided legal protections to other groups, now needs to extend that to lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered individuals.
Along the same lines, the pair parts ways about whether Arizona should protect businesses and individuals from being required to provide services in a way that runs counter to their own moral or religious beliefs.
This became an issue following the decision earlier this year by Gov. Jan Brewer to veto SB 1062. It would have expanded existing laws on religious freedom to provide an absolute right of businesses to cite their "sincerely held religious beliefs'' as a reason to refuse service to someone.
Brewer said it was a solution in search of a problem. And both Ducey and DuVal have said they back her veto.
But Ducey said he does support providing some protections for religious beliefs from government intrusion, citing the case of Hobby Lobby which fought for and got the right to refuse to include contraceptive coverage for their workers.
"Private employers should be able to make a decision on which benefits are provided to employees,'' he said.
DuVal, however, said he sees the issue from a different perspective.
"You should not be allowed to discriminate,'' he said.
"I recognize that runs into conflict with folks' private businesses,'' he continued. But DuVal said those same arguments were made over passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act which forbade businesses from discriminating against African Americans.
"We've been through these issues before,'' DuVal said. "And we now must face them on gays and lesbians.''
The other perennial hot-button issue at the Legislature has been abortion.
Arizona lawmakers have in the last six years imposed impose new limits on what the U.S. Supreme Court has said is the right of a woman to terminate a pregnancy. That includes waiting periods, clinic inspection rules and restrictions on the use of RU-486 for medication abortions.
Ducey has made no secret he supports additional restrictions. In fact, he said that he is in favor of prohibiting all abortions except in certain narrow circumstances like preventing the death of the mother or in cases of rape and incest.
DuVal said the right to abortion is "established federal law'' and should remain. He also is opposed to new limits.
In other issues which have moral or ethical considerations, Ducey said he is opposed to legalizing marijuana for recreational use. DuVal said he thinks Arizona should take a wait-and-see attitude, watching how such laws are playing out in Colorado and Washington.
Ducey also said he opposes legalizing physician-assisted suicide. Oregon has such a law which permits a doctor to help someone who has a terminal illness.
DuVal said he has not really thought about the matter.
And Ducey said he wants Arizona to scrap its 40-year-old system of merit selection of judges for the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and trial courts in Pima, Pinal and Maricopa counties. That system requires the governor to make selections from a list of recommendations by a special screening committee.
Ducey said he favors allowing the governor to pick whoever he or she wants, subject only to Senate confirmation similar to the federal system. DuVal said the current system works to take much of the politics out of the process.
Follow Howard Fischer on Twitter at @azcapmedia.
PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona prison teacher has blamed state officials over an attack in which she says she was stabbed and raped by a convicted sex offender she was left alone with in a penitentiary classroom.
Her attorneys filed a lawsuit Tuesday saying the Arizona Department of Corrections failed to provide adequate security and the prison's health care provider didn't properly evaluate the prisoner charged in the assault.
The January attack has raised questions about prison security after reports showed she was put into a room full of inmates with no guards nearby. Authorities say the 20-year-old blamed in the assault had lingered behind after others left the room, then repeatedly stabbed the victim with a pen before raping her.
Arizona's workplace safety agency launched an investigation of prison policy after The Associated Press reported the details in June. The review is ongoing, a Division of Occupational Safety and Health spokeswoman said.
Corrections Director Charles Ryan, who is named in the lawsuit, was not immediately available, but prison officials have said they cannot comment on the lawsuit.
Corrections spokesman Doug Nick has called the attack "a cowardly and despicable crime, for which the inmate is rightfully facing prosecution."
He says the safety of all staffers is the department's "paramount priority, and we have reached out to the victim to offer our full assistance and support."
The lawsuit filed in Pinal County Superior Court doesn't seek specific damages. In a precursor July legal claim, attorney Scott Zwillinger asked for $4 million and wrote that the state could lose $10 million if the case went to trial.
Nick has said previously that "the department vigorously disputes allegations made in the employee's claim against the state, and new allegations being made to the media."
The lawsuit says Corizon Health, the state prison system's health care provider, improperly assessed Harvey's mental health. The lawsuit said that led prison officials to classify him as a relatively low-risk offender, allowing him access to the classroom. A Corizon spokeswoman said she could not immediately comment Tuesday.
In an AP interview, the 34-year-old teacher said she mainly blames Ryan, who she says allowed lax training, staffing shortages and poor security at the Eyman prison in Florence, south of Phoenix. The AP does not identify those who say they are victims of sexual assault.
Jacob Harvey, 20, has pleaded not guilty to charges of sexual assault, kidnapping and aggravated assault in the case. His lawyer has declined comment on the case.
At the time of the attack, Harvey was being held in a unit that holds about 1,300 rapists, child molesters and other sex offenders.
He was in the first year of a 30-year sentence after being convicted of raping a Glendale woman in 2011. Prosecutors said Harvey, who was 17 at the time, knocked on a woman's door asked for a drink of water, then pushed his way in and repeatedly forced himself on the victim, whose 2-year-old child was in the apartment at the time.
The prison teacher also describes a violent attack and says the department left her vulnerable and unprepared for it.
"I remember trying to fight him off," she said. "The only thing I remembered from self-defense was to tuck my head so he would not choke me."
She said she also remembers getting stabbed, screaming and being unable to activate a panic button on her two-way radio.
She said she had received only four hours of self-defense training before being placed in classrooms, which guards did not regularly monitor, despite regulations calling for three checks each hour.
During the interview, she said radios were prone to battery problems and in short supply. If one wasn't available, she'd be pressured to hold class anyway, she said.
The teacher says she feels traumatized by the attack.
"There's times where I think I'm doing good," she said. "Then I just come crashing down. I haven't been sleeping well."
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — The U.S. Border Patrol is targeting Mexican cartel scouts who get paid to live in the desert for days and help smugglers stay clear of law enforcement with the use of sophisticated technology.
A seven-month operation has so far netted 24 suspected "scouts," or look-outs, who live in the Sonoran Desert, with its blistering daytime temperatures and cold nights, for days, sometimes weeks.
The scouts use solar panels, encrypted radios and cellphones to warn smugglers when police or agents get close. They live in canyons and other remote areas, keeping a large supply of food, water and weapons on-hand. Many of look-outs are young men in their 20s and 30s, and most of their supplies come from the United States.
"The reality is what these scouts are doing — being up on the mountaintops, watching us and watching law enforcement activity — is that their job is vitally important to the cartels," Border Patrol spokesman Pete Bidegain said. "So by targeting these guys and their operations we can make a significant impact on cartel activity in southern Arizona."
Agents in most cases must use a Blackhawk helicopter to get to the scouts because they are in treacherous areas and because they are trained to evade authorities quickly. The agents descend from the helicopter using a fast rope.
The operation is similar to one earlier this year by the Pinal County Sheriff's Department that also targeted scouts.
That operation began in February after sheriff's deputies pulled over a 22-year-old man in Eloy, between Phoenix and Tucson. The man was driving a van carrying 600 pounds of food and other supplies. He told deputies he was being paid $4,000 to pick up the van in a Phoenix suburb and drop it off in the desert.
A month later, deputies and border agents arrested seven suspected scouts at a lookout post near Stanfield, about 33 miles west of Eloy off Interstate 8. Although some suspects ran and hid in a cave and behind rocks, all were apprehended.
Authorities say a man is facing felony charges in connection with a body found underneath an Apache Junction mobile home.
A body found underneath a mobile home in Apache Junction believed to be that of a missing woman still hasn't been identified.
Now it’s 11 year-old Samuel Epps shot and killed. And as the NRA says, “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” When adults put kids and guns together, intentionally or through neglect, they become responsible. So until parents are held accountable, Sheriff Babeu, children will continue to die and there will be no justice.
Reality has a habit of raining down hard and melting away the comforts formed by the kindness of imagination and the vagaries of memory. There’s the way a person wants to remember an event that occurred in his or her life, and then there’s the way the event actually played out, complete with details absent of sympathy.
A Poston Butte High School teacher was cited for public intoxication Wednesday, according to police officials.
Medical marijuana users have no right to grow their own plants once a dispensary moves within 25 miles as the crow flies, a state hearing officers concluded Tuesday. But some rural residents may get to start cultivating again next year.
While Pinal County “Sheriff Underpants” Paul Babeu has been out on the campaign trail touting gubernatorial candidate and “forensic accountant” Christine Jones, Pinal County Jail employees have been sweating bullets worrying about whether or not they’re going to have a job. All that thanks to the long running dispute between their boss and the federal government over the cost to house federal prisoners in the county jail and any number of other Babeu made up reasons to bad mouth the feds.
Glendale will get more than $25 million during the next two decade from the Tohono O'odham Nation in exchange for supporting its plans for a casino on the city's edge.