Wednesday, October 31, 2012

New Arizona Commerce Authority president offered $250,000, bonuses


 
New Arizona Commerce Authority president offered $250,000, bonuses
Campbell: ‘There is no way to describe this compensation package other than excessive’


STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 14), released the following statement after a news report revealed that the Arizona Commerce Authority’s Chief Executive Officer Sandra Watson today was offered a compensation package that includes a $250,000 salary and up to $87,000 in bonuses.

"There is no way to describe this compensation package other than excessive," Campbell said. "This is nothing against Sandra Watson, I believe she is qualified for the job, but a two-year salary package that could potentially cost taxpayers $674,000 is not warranted for this position.

“Watson stands to make significantly more than any state agency director, even without the bonuses. My guess is most Arizonans would be thrilled with a $250,000 base salary, with or without a bonus structure of any kind. The only good news is that apparently Team ACA, a private fundraising organization for the Commerce Authority, will not be contributing to Watson’s compensation. This will help prevent the potential for a conflict of interest. But that one good piece of news is overshadowed by this incredibly expensive and outrageous taxpayer funded salary package." 


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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Republican leaders remain silent on calls to improve CPS


Republican leaders remain silent on calls to improve CPS

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – More than a month has passed since Rep. Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix (District 15), asked Speaker of the House Andy Tobin, R-Paulden (District 1), and Senate President Steve Pierce, R-Prescott (District 1), to convene the Child Protective Services Oversight Committee and fulfill a legal obligation to find solutions for the challenges the agency is facing. The request has gone unanswered.
 
This week, Hobbs renewed the call to Tobin and Pierce, and she also sent the request to Gov. Jan Brewer. Hobbs’ second attempt to encourage the creation of the committee follows a Department of Economic Security budget request in early October that highlighted a need to hire 200 more CPS employees to maintain current workloads in the upcoming year. This number is in addition to the 200 CPS employees hired earlier this year.

“CPS will need to hire more employees because of the growing number of abuse and neglect cases being reported and the shocking increase in the number of children in foster care,” Hobbs said. “The CPS system is being pushed to the brink.”

DES reports indicated that there were more than 14,000 Arizona children in foster care in August 2012. An Arizona Children’s Action Alliance analysis of DES data indicates that reports of child abuse and neglect have increased 24 percent since October 2009. As of September 2012, more than a third of the abuse and neglect investigations started between July 2011 and May 2012 were still open. An article published in The Arizona Republic on Oct. 21 reported that more children have died from child abuse in 2012 than in 2010 or 2011. Also, there are 37 percent more Arizona children in foster care since October 2009, while the number of foster homes is decreasing at an alarming rate.

“CPS needs support, and we have a moral and a legal obligation to find ways to help this agency provide services to children,” Hobbs said. “The CPS Oversight Committee was established so that we would have a framework for working together to ensure that CPS is operating as efficiently and effectively as possible. This should be a priority.”

The CPS Oversight Committee, created by HB 2249, is mandated to identify areas of improvement for the agency and to make recommendations by Nov. 15, 2012. To date, the committee, which is supposed to include several state legislators, a representative from DES, a member of a law enforcement agency, a CPS caseworker, a foster parent, and a guardian, has not been created.

“CPS plays a vital role in keeping Arizona kids safe.  Speaker Tobin, President Pierce and Gov. Brewer should take the lead in forming this committee,” Hobbs said. “The deadline for the committee’s report is less than a month away, and the Republican leadership has been silent on this issue. This is about the safety of Arizona children. It can’t wait any longer; the stakes are too high and the Republicans have dropped the ball on this.”

To see the Arizona Children’s Action Alliance analysis of DES data, go to http://www.azchildren.org/display.asp?pageId=75&parentId=23.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Republican reportedly caught on video damaging security barrier, never held accountable




Republican reportedly caught on video damaging security barrier,
 never held accountable 

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Republicans at the Arizona House of Representatives are under fire for failing to hold a member accountable for allegedly removing a large planter, serving as a security barrier, from its place at the Capitol.

A video recently surfaced that reportedly shows Rep. Jerry Weiers, R-Glendale (District 12), using a truck to haul the planter/security barrier away from the Arizona House of Representatives building, so that he could park his motorcycle on the sidewalk.

House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 14), said that he is shocked by the lack of accountability.

“There are so many things wrong with this scenario, it is difficult to decide where to start,” Campbell said. “For starters though, it begs the question - what is going on at the Arizona House of Representatives?  A sitting representative breached protocol and potentially damaged taxpayer property, and we have to learn about it because he was caught on a security tape that was uncovered by his political opponent?  What did Speaker Tobin know about this and what, if anything, was done to rectify the situation and hold Rep. Weiers accountable?

"Those planters were put in place as part of a security protocol, yet Rep. Weiers decided to remove one without the permission of the Department of Public Safety or anyone else?  Additionally, why did Rep. Weiers think he was entitled to endanger public safety by parking a motorcycle on a sidewalk that is used by the general public, legislators, staff members and others?”

It reportedly took a forklift to move the planter back into place.

“Who paid for that?” Campbell asked. “If taxpayers were forced to foot the bill for what amounts to a grown man’s temper tantrum, I have a big problem with that.  The person responsible for those actions should reimburse the state for any costs incurred.  And what if someone had been injured during Rep. Weiers' unauthorized move of a very large and heavy piece of property paid for by taxpayers? What would've happened then? These types of questions need to be immediately answered by Speaker Tobin and Representative Weiers.”

Campbell added that this incident should have been made public sooner.

“We are just hearing the details of this event months after it happened,” Campbell said. “Why did the Speaker not make this public?  And if this was hidden, what else is happening at the Arizona House of Representatives that we don't know about?”


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Elections department prints wrong date on Spanish documents … AGAIN



Elections department prints wrong date on Spanish documents … AGAIN
Campbell: ‘If just one person shows up to vote on the wrong day, that is the elections department’s fault’

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – For the second time this month, the Maricopa County Elections Department is facing criticism for distributing more documents with the wrong election date printed in Spanish.

According to a recent news report, the elections department was circulating bookmarks with the correct election date printed in English on one side. The date was listed incorrectly in Spanish on the opposite side of the bookmarks.

After this incident, House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 14), said elections department officials should review all election materials to ensure that nothing else has the wrong election date listed. He added that the department should be making additional efforts to ensure that the people who rely on the Spanish translation know that Nov. 6 is Election Day.

“This is the second time in as many weeks that we have seen election documents with errors in the Spanish translations. This cannot continue. A complete and immediate review of all election materials is absolutely necessary,” Campbell said. “The election is just a few days away, and errors like this could have serious repercussions. If just one person shows up to vote on the wrong day, that is the elections department’s fault and there is no way to fix that. The Maricopa County Elections Department needs to take steps now to ensure that does not happen.”

Earlier this month, the Maricopa County Elections Department garnered national media attention for printing the wrong election date on some Spanish documents attached to voter registration cards.

“There is no excuse for this,” Campbell said. “We must protect the integrity of the voting process.”

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Team ACA should embrace transparency, accountability


 
Team ACA should embrace transparency, accountability
Campbell: ‘Job creation and economic development are top priorities
…do both without sacrificing transparency’

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 14), is encouraging Team ACA, the private organization tasked with raising additional money for the Arizona Commerce Authority, to be more transparent.

 
According to an Arizona Capitol Times article, Team ACA board members said they would comply only with the legal disclosure requirements, which apparently do not obligate them to identify the names of contributors. Campbell is urging Team ACA to voluntarily disclose its contributors and to work with him to develop ways to increase accountability requirements for entities that deal with both public and private money.

 
“The mission of the Arizona Commerce Authority is an important one. Job creation and economic development are top priorities for this state. We should be able to do both without sacrificing transparency and accountability. Team ACA has already named some of its contributors, why not finish the list?” Campbell said. “When entities are dealing with both public and private dollars there must be oversight and accountability. It is the best way to ensure the public’s trust. This is why I will continue to ask the members of Team ACA to work with me to find ways that will ensure increased transparency. Team ACA should embrace these practices as an opportunity to maintain public trust and protect the important work of the ACA.”

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Misinformation on Spanish election documents of ‘grave concern’ to House Minority Leader Campbell


 
Misinformation on Spanish election documents of
‘grave concern’ to House Minority Leader Campbell

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX –  Maricopa County elections employees earned national media attention for printing the wrong election date on some Spanish documents attached to voter registration cards. Following this incident House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 14), is calling for a comprehensive effort to correct the misinformation given to voters.

“The county should be making every possible effort to contact the voters who were given the wrong information – they should be making phone calls to and knocking on the doors of the people who received that misinformation. We have to protect the voting process,” Campbell said. “Reaching out to voters to ensure that they are properly informed is of the utmost importance. Going forward, the Maricopa County Elections Department must do everything possible to prevent this from ever happening again. Any action that could potentially disenfranchise any voter is of grave concern and must be taken very seriously. ”

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

McCune Davis: Judge’s ruling on mortgage settlement fund ‘not the final word on the matter’

McCune Davis: Judge’s ruling on mortgage settlement fund ‘not the final word on the matter’


STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Recently, a Maricopa County judge dismissed a lawsuit that would have prevented Republicans in the Legislature from sweeping $50 million from a fund intended to help Arizonans struggling as a result of the foreclosure crisis.

“This is not the final word on the matter,” Rep. Debbie McCune Davis, D-Phoenix (District 14), said. “The judge may think this sweep is legal, but it certainly does not make it right. I am disappointed that my Republican colleagues put their special interest priorities above the needs of Arizona residents and local communities affected by home foreclosures. The settlement clearly stated how this money should be used. That should be reason enough for the Republicans to keep their hands off it.”

McCune Davis vehemently opposed Tea Party Republicans’ decision to raid $50 million from the mortgage settlement fund earlier this year. This fund was created by a joint state-federal settlement with the country’s five largest residential mortgage loan servicers who engaged in fraudulent loan and foreclosure practices. The money was supposed to help Arizonans who lost homes, or are in need of home loan modifications, or are current on mortgage payments but are underwater as a result of the mortgage crisis. Instead, Republicans put $50 million of the settlement into the general fund to pay for things like new contracts with private prison companies.

“We know that people are still struggling to keep their homes and trying to recover from the housing crisis. Helping them should be a priority. The mortgage settlement fund is an important resource to that end,” McCune Davis said. “Apparently, the Republicans at the State Legislature would rather see the money spent on other things, like for-profit, private prisons. Such callous decisions show that the Tea Party Republicans here do not understand the priorities of the people of Arizona.”


For more information on the mortgage settlement fund, go to www.azag.gov/consumer/foreclosure/settlement.html.



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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Campbell concerned about adequate training for Babeu’s armed posse

Campbell concerned about adequate training for Babeu’s armed posse                                        ‘Anything less than full and complete law enforcement training is inadequate for this type of dangerous work’

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 14), released the following statement after reports that Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu created an armed, volunteer posse to assist in drug and human trafficking arrests.

“Putting a stop to human and drug trafficking is essential but arming volunteers and putting them in harm’s way without complete training is reckless. If these volunteers are going to be given the same kind of power and take the same kind of risks law enforcement officers take, then they should receive the exact same kind of training.”

A release issued with a statement from Babeu indicates that posse members will be required to pass a full background investigation and will receive tactical and weapons training. Campbell said that is not enough.

“Anything less than full and complete law enforcement training is inadequate for this type of dangerous work. It will put the volunteers and the law enforcement agents they are working with in jeopardy. This is irresponsible. Instead, we should be ensuring that law enforcement agencies have the tools and the resources needed to protect our communities and to ensure the safety of the agents and officers.”



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