Friday, December 07, 2018

Arizona Indigenous Peoples Caucus Statements on Murder of Amanda Dakota Webster

PHOENIX, State Capitol Current members and members-elect of the Arizona Legislative Indigenous Peoples Caucus today released the following statements regarding the murder investigation of Amanda Dakota Webster, a 26-year-old mother of three from Cameron on the Navajo Nation. Webster's life was taken Dec. 2 in Kentucky, where she was employed as a welder. A suspect is in custody.

From Senator Jamescita Peshlakai, D-Window Rock
“Amanda Dakota Webster, of the Diné people, child of Towering House and Bitterwater clans, was a daughter, granddaughter, mother and welder working for the American dream. Our country failed her with the nightmare of hardship and violence, but we cannot fail to act for her three children as they begin their journey of life motherless. Public safety, mental healthcare, social justice and political leadership are all equally up for scrutiny, accountability and change.”  

From Senator-elect Victoria Steele, D-Tucson
"We implore the State of Kentucky to fully investigate the death of Amanda Dakota Webster. The lives of Indigenous women are precious and should be honored, not dismissed or disregarded."

From Senator-elect Sally Ann Gonzales, D-Tucson
"We must honor Amanda's life by ensuring that her death is fully investigated, therefore we ask all the Kentucky State authorities to do their jobs to bring justice to Amanda, her three children, her family and community." 

From Representative Eric Descheenie, D-Chinle
"My heart goes out to the family of Amanda Webster, especially her sons, as they grieve during this very difficult time. The outpouring of sentiments expressed by those who knew Amanda show that we lost someone very special. May our Creator be with her soul and all those who begin the long road to healing and recovery. We must deliver justice to the neglected epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and ensure perpetrators are held fully accountable for their actions. We owe it to the many families who've suffered great loss."

From Representative Wenona Benally, D-Window Rock
"The Native community has lost another beautiful life, taken tragically by senseless violence. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family and children of Amanda Dakota Webster. We call on the state of Kentucky to join us in seeking justice for Amanda’s loved ones. We must continue to seek justice for her and the countless number of Indigenous women and girls whose lives continue to be stolen from us each day."

From Representative-elect Jennifer Jermaine, D-Chandler
"My heart aches for the family of Amanda Webster and the Diné people. We implore the State of Kentucky to fully investigate her murder." 

From Representative-elect Myron Tsosie, D-Chinle & Representative-elect Arlando Teller, D- Chinle
"Our sincerest condolences to Ms. Amanda Dakota Webster's Family, especially to her three children. We stand in unity to demand the State of Kentucky seek justice. We will address the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women. As Diné, we are obligated to care for Ms. Webster's three children and keep them close to our hearts.


Thursday, November 08, 2018

Fernandez Chosen to Lead Largest Arizona House Democratic Caucus in Decades

PHOENIX, State Capitol – House Democrats today elected Rep. Charlene Fernandez of Yuma to lead their expanded caucus in the 54th Legislature. Rep. Randy Friese of Tucson was re-elected Assistant Democratic Leader and Reps. Athena Salman of Tempe and Reginald Bolding of Phoenix were elected Democratic Co-Whips. House Democrats potentially added four seats in Tuesday's election and, pending final election results, could seat their largest caucus since 1966, which would shrink the Republican majority to a razor-thin 31-29.

"We’ve got a mandate from the State of Arizona that they want us to work together to solve problems for working families, to make sure they have access to quality healthcare and quality public education no matter where in our state they live. We will run with that mandate," said Fernandez. " I don't care what district you live in, what city or town, where you're from or how old you are, Arizonans just want their leaders to get things done. So, with the largest representation Democrats have had since the 1960s, that's just what we are going to do."

Fernandez was first elected in 2014 and served last session as Democratic Whip. She previously worked for both Congressmen Raul Grijalva and Ed Pastor, where she served as a constituent services coordinator and spearheaded an effort to bring a Veteran Administration clinic to Yuma County for the first time in history. She also served Governor Janet Napolitano's administration in the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.

Dr. Friese returns as the Democratic Assistant Leader and was first elected in 2014. This past session he served on the Appropriations Committee. Dr. Friese served on active duty in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps. He is a trauma surgeon and professor of surgery at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. He was one of the surgeons who cared for the victims of the 2011 shooting in Tucson that wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Bolding is an educator, community leader and social entrepreneur. He was first elected to the House in 2014 and last session was the ranking member on the House Education and served on the Ways & Means Committee. He has founded and led two community engagement non-profits. His legislative work has focused on education, business, criminal justice and civil rights.

Salman was first elected to the House in 2016. Last session she served as ranking member on the Banking and Insurance Committee and served on the Government Committee. In her first term as member of the House she successfully had the Arizona Department of Corrections revisit its policies to increase the number of feminine hygiene products for female inmates are allotted every month.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

We Are Hiring! Policy Advisor

The Arizona House Democratic Caucus seeks an experienced and hardworking individual to join our team of policy advisors.

Position Description:
A Policy Advisor provides strategic guidance to the chief of staff and elected officials regarding specific policy area issues. A policy advisor is required to research, analyze and offer advice about potential and existing legislation. The ideal candidate will be proactive, work well in a fast-paced environment, and have experience in public policy and the legislative process.

Duties and Responsibilities:
· Staff legislative committees and policy issues.
· Monitor bills as they proceed through the legislative process.
· Draft bills and amendments with assistance from legislative drafting attorneys.
· Compile information about the impact of legislation through research and discussion with stakeholders,
lobbyists, and allied groups.
· Brief Democratic House Members on legislation.
· Prepare written summaries and make oral presentations about legislation.
· Respond to constituent inquiries.
· Draft briefing papers and talking points on assigned issues and legislation.
· Assist other lead staff with community outreach and media relations efforts as needed in assigned
legislative subject areas.
· Support other team members on other duties as assigned or required.

Preferred Qualifications:
· Bachelor’s degree (Master’s degree or Law degree preferred).
· Knowledge of and experience with legislative processes and government institutions.
· Strong analytical, research, writing and oral presentation skills.
· Professionalism, confidentiality, and integrity.
· Ability to succeed in a busy and demanding work environment, juggling multiple projects and deadlines
· Willingness to be part of a team that works closely and collectively to advance the goals of Caucus
Members and colleagues.
· Knowledge of policy issues currently being considered by the Arizona Legislature.
· Knowledge of health, human services and/or veteran issues preferred.

Salary is negotiable based on experience and education. Benefits include health, dental, vision, and retirement.

To Apply:
Please submit a cover letter, resume, and three references to by Friday, November 2, 2018. Please include “Policy Advisor Candidate, YOUR NAME” in the subject line. For questions please call 602-926-5848.

Monday, September 24, 2018

House Democrats Statement on 'Disgraceful' Trump Refugee Cap

Sept. 24, 2018

PHOENIX House Democratic Leader Rebecca Rios, D-Phoenix, released the following statement regarding last week's decision by the Trump Administration to cap the number of refugees allowed into the country to a near-record low of 30,000.

“Arizonans take pride in being one of the most welcoming and supportive communities in the country for refugees fleeing war and famine around the world. Amid the largest human displacement crisis in modern history, President Donald Trump has made another disgraceful, arbitrary and self-defeating reduction in the number of refugees allowed into our country, reducing the number to its historical lowest of 30,000 for 2019, down from 45,000 in 2018, and 110,000 in 2017. Refugees are thoroughly vetted and eager to work and contribute to their new communities. Arizona is a stronger and better place because of their contributions.

We applaud the efforts of our Arizona Congressmen Raul Grijalva and Ruben Gallego for joining dozens of their colleagues in support of a resolution introduced by Congressman Hank Johnson of Georgia to increase the cap back to 110,000. Efforts like these show that we can and must be a better country for them, and for others still suffering who look to us as a beacon of hope and leadership.”


Friday, September 21, 2018

Lawmakers Press DHS to Protect Detained Kids After AZ Finally Cracks Down on Southwest Key


Sept. 21, 2018 

PHOENIX State Capitol – Democratic lawmakers today pressed state officials to take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of detained immigrant children after the Department of Health Services moved to revoke the licenses of 13 Southwest Key shelters this week. Democrats had been pushing Governor Ducey for months to investigate and inspect the shelters, and finally saw a response when it was revealed in August that an employee at a Mesa Southwest Key facility had been accused of sexually abusing eight boys and had no required background check.
"We are happy that DHS changed its position on using its authority to regulate these controversial facilities and is now enforcing the law," said Rep. Diego Espinoza, D-Tolleson. "We fundamentally disagree with the Trump Administration's decision to separate asylum-seeking children from their parents at the border. But our state government should at least make sure those children are safe and free from abuse if they are going to be held in Arizona."  

Rep. Kelli Butler, D-Phoenix, who has helped lead the push for inspections and state oversight of the facilities, added, "Our members have been pushing the Governor and state regulators throughout the summer to take action. Now that they have, our focus must remain on the safety and long-term wellbeing of these children. Our members will remain vigilant as DHS takes its next steps."

Background on next steps according to DHS: Southwest Key has the right to request a hearing before the Arizona Office of Administrative Hearings and to have an Administrative Law Judge review the Notice to Revoke. They have 30 calendar days after the Notice to Revoke was received to request a hearing and to respond. If they request a hearing, they may also request that the Department hold an informal settlement conference. If they choose to not request a hearing, the revocation of their license will be automatically effective immediately upon the expiration of the 30-day period following receipt of the Notice.


Thursday, September 20, 2018

Democratic Leaders: If Republicans Now Want Charter School Reform, Let's Start With Our Bills They Killed

September 20, 2018

PHOENIX, State Capitol – In the wake of explosive investigative reporting by The Arizona Republic, Governor Doug Ducey and some Republican lawmakers have recently raised concerns over fraud and rampant profiteering in Arizona charter schools and are now proposing reforms. Deep concerns about charter school accountability and fraud are not new, just new to Governor Doug Ducey and Republican legislators. House and Senate Democratic leaders today called for Republicans to revisit the numerous proposed charter school reforms that they blocked last session and in previous sessions.

"It's nice to see Gov. Ducey has seen the light on charter school reform," said Rep. Randy Friese, House Assistant Democratic Leader, and sponsor of several charter school reform bills. "We have several common-sense charter school bills that have been waiting in the wings during his entire tenure and are ready to be enacted. The public is rightfully outraged over the lack of accountability and we are eager to get to work."

Not only did Republicans block all attempts at charter school reform in 2018, Republicans reduced accountability with a late-session budget amendment from Speaker J.D. Mesnard that removed the requirement that charter schools publicly post their budgets.

“The tough talk on charter schools coming from Governor Ducey and his Republican legislators is nothing but an obvious election year ploy. For years they’ve passed and signed legislation to make the recently revealed corrupt dealings completely legal, all while shutting down debate on Democratic bills to require financial accountability for charter schools. But now that it’s an election year they’re talking tough on charter school reform after their friends and fellow lawmakers got caught making off with millions in Arizonans’ hard-earned tax dollars that were meant to educate our children,” said Senator Martin Quezada (LD29). “Their disingenuous efforts are fooling no one; the people of Arizona finally see through their get-rich-quick scam.”

In the House, charter school reform bills included:
·         HB 2358 (Blanc) charter school board members; conflicts – Prohibited family members of the charter holder from serving on the charter school board
·         HB 2364 (Blanc) charter schools; procurement requirements. requires charter schools to adhere to the same procurement statutes and rules that all district schools must adhere to.
  • ·         HB 2365 (Blanc) charter school governance; meetings; records. – requires all charter schools to adhere to state open meetings and records retention statutes.
  • ·         HB 2141 (Friese) charter schools; lunches; national acts. requires all charter schools to participate in the national free and reduced-price lunch program.
  • ·         HB 2142 (Friese) charter schools; closure; property transfer. Transfers all real property owned by a charter school to the local school district upon the closure of the charter.

And from the Senate:
  • ·         SB 1174 (Quezada) ADE; charter schools; assessments - Requires the Arizona Department of Education to prepare and publish on its website an annual assessment of the impact of charter schools on school districts.
  • ·         SB 1297 (Bradley) charter schools; profit distributions - Requires the State Board for Charter Schools to monitor and approve any distributions in excess of the charter school's net on an annual basis. Approval/disapproval must be done in an open meeting of the board.
  • ·         SB 1299 (Bradley) charter schools; financial information; audits - Requires charter school audits to include compensation of non-instructional personnel in an administrative or ownership capacity. Charter school financial reporting would be required to be shared with and monitored by the Auditor General.
  • ·         SB 1303 (Quezada) charter school omnibus - Adds charter schools to the Auditor General's audit schedule. Requiring charter schools to follow the same procurement rules that district public schools are subject to. Specifies in cases where a charter school closes, requiring those assets to be returned to the state.
  • ·         SB 1304 (Quezada) charter schools; public meetings; records - Requires all charter school board meetings and financial documents to be subject to open meeting law and be available to the public.
  • ·         SB 1305 (Quezada) auditor general; charter schools; audits - Requires Auditor General to monitor charter school classroom spending.
  • ·         SB 1306 (Quezada) schools; teacher omnibus - Requires charter school teachers and superintendents to meet the same minimum standards as public-school teachers.
  • ·         SB 1308 (Bradley) charter schools; financial reporting - Requires annual financial reports to be numerically identical to what is provided in Federal 990. Any inconsistencies must be explained in the audit with specific plans on how to remedy the deficiency in the future.
  • ·         SB 1309 (Bradley) charter schools; accounting; procurement; audits - Concerning procurement, requires charter schools to take the lowest most responsible and responsive bidder. Requires all related-party contracts to be public information.
  • ·         HB 2542 proposed amendment (Quezada) - Removes provisions allowing charter schools to be exempt from the financial and electronic data submission requirements and procurement rules outlined in statute. Removes the State Board for Charter Schools’ ability to authorize an exemption from public bidding requirements for charter schools sponsored by the board.


Monday, September 10, 2018

We Are Hiring! Deputy Communications Director and Constituent Outreach Liaison

The Arizona House Democratic Caucus seeks a talented, skilled and hardworking team player to serve as Deputy Communications Director and Constituent Outreach Liaison.

Position Description:
The Deputy Communications Director and Constituent Outreach Liaison provides deliverables and strategic guidance to elected officials, Chief of Staff and Communications Director regarding internal and external messaging and media to promote the work of the Arizona House Democrats, and is responsible for organizing and overseeing community and constituent outreach events. Applicants must have strong writing and social media skills, with multi-media capabilities (video, photography and graphic design) a definite plus, as well as ability to plan and staff events. The ideal candidate will be proactive and work well in a fast-paced, collaborative environment, identifying media opportunities, and helping grow the Caucus’ media footprint.

Duties and Responsibilities:
· Work with Communication Director to develop and implement weekly and long-term strategic communications plans, strategic messaging around specific legislation, and our digital strategy.
· Act as media liaison between members of the Caucus and members of the press.
· Monitor legislative committees for messaging and earned media opportunities.
· Monitor national and local media coverage of legislation and politics.
· Constant management and growth of social media platforms and website.
· Conceptualize and produce high-quality deliverables exhibiting a strong visual style, graphic design, and video editing.
· Search out and embrace new technology and best practices to promote innovative and engaging Caucus communications.
· Develop and maintain working relationships with press and constituents. Respond to media inquiries.
· Draft accurate and compelling press releases and media alerts, then pitch to media.
· Draft and pitch op-eds on behalf of members.
· Brief members of the public on legislative process and impact of potential legislation.
· Organize and coordinate press conferences and media events, community/stakeholder meetings, and townhalls.
· Draft accurate and compelling talking points on key issues and legislation.
· Manage and oversee our digital channels and social media accounts.
· Track social media and traditional media analytics and generate analysis.

Preferred Qualifications:
· Minimum of 3 or more years of communications experience.
· 1-3 years of experience working with high-profile public officials.
· Knowledge of Arizona and local political landscape.
· Understanding of digital media channels.
· Spanish speaking.

Salary range is $35,000-$47,000 based on experience. Benefits include health, dental, vision & retirement.

To Apply:
Please submit a cover letter, resume, and three references to Chief of Staff Cynthia Aragon, by Friday, September 28, 2018. Please include “Deputy Communications Director & Outreach Liaison Candidate, YOUR NAME” in the subject line. For questions please call 602-926-5848.