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Maricopa City hall
Maricopa City Hall

Article VIII of the Maricopa City Code sets out a Code of Ethics for the Mayor and City Council:

ARTICLE VIII. CODE OF ETHICS

SEC. 2-131. Policy

(a) It is the policy of the City of Maricopa to uphold, promote and demand the highest standards of ethics from its Mayor and City Council. The Mayor and the City Council shall maintain the utmost standards of personal integrity, truthfulness, honesty and fairness in carrying out their public duties, avoid any improprieties in their roles as public servants, comply with all applicable laws and never use their city position or powers improperly or for personal gain. By operating with these values, the City shall build, maintain, and enhance the trust of the public, staff and fellow Council Members. This Code of Ethics has been created to ensure that all elected officials have clear guidance for carrying out their responsibilities.

(b) All City Officials shall obey and observe the letter and spirit of the constitution and laws of the United States of America, the constitution and laws of the State of Arizona, and the code, laws and policies of the City of Maricopa applicable to City Officials, including the City’s Code of Ethics.

(c) As a prerequisite for exercising any power of office, each City Official is required to read and agree in writing to comply with the provisions of these laws, regulations, policies and this Ethics Code.

SEC. 2-132. Definitions For the purposes of interpretation of this Article, the following words and phrases shall mean:

(a) City Official – the Mayor and members of the City Council.

(b) Ethics Code – the provisions set forth in this Article VIII. Except as otherwise provided herein, the words, terms, and phrases used in this Article shall have the meanings ascribed to them in Title 38 of the Arizona Revised Statutes and the City Code, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning.

SEC. 2-133. Code of Ethical Conduct

(a) Operate in an Open, Accessible, and Transparent Manner and Adhere to All Applicable Laws At All Times

(1) The citizens of Maricopa expect and deserve open government. City Officials shall comply with all open meetings and public records laws as set forth in A.R.S. §§ 38-431 through 431.09 and §§ 39-121through 121.03.

(2) City Officials shall conduct city business with transparency, seeking public input as advisable or appropriate, in a manner that fully adheres to and preferably exceeds state law regarding open meetings and transparency of actions and shall not circumvent the open meeting law, or the spirit of the law, by using technology, a “hub and spoke” 16 Added Article VIII by Ordinance 13-12 Adopted on 11/05/2013 scheme, or any technique involving less than a quorum yet designed to communicate with a quorum of the public body.

(3) City Officials shall be accessible, open and conduct city business with transparency.

(b) Conflicts of Interest

(1) City Officials shall not be involved in any activity which creates a conflict of interest with their responsibilities to the City and its residents as defined by Arizona law.

(2) City Officials shall disclose and make known actual or perceived conflicts of interest as required by Arizona law.

(3) When a known conflict of interest arises, the City Official involved shall disclose the conflict as soon as reasonably practical and shall refrain from participating in any manner in the city’s decision-making processes on the matter as a City Official, including voting on the matter or attending meetings with, having written or verbal communications with, or offering advice to any member of the City Council, or any city employee, contractor, agent, member of a city board, commission, committee, task force, other appointed advisory group or agency (other than the city attorney when the City Official is seeking legal advice regarding a possible conflict).

(4) During a public meeting when an agenda item in which a City Official has a conflict of interest comes up for consideration, the City Official shall state publicly that he or she has a conflict, recuse himself or herself, and leave the room while the matter is being discussed and acted upon by others on the public body.

(c) Serve Public Interests Over a Council Member’s Personal Interests

(1) City Officials have the obligation to put the interests of the City of Maricopa over all personal considerations.

(2) The goal should be to balance what is in the best interest for the broadest public good of the City, consistent with constitutional and other legal protection for minority, property and other interests.

(3) City Officials shall use discretionary funds and City resources for public interest rather than personal interests.

(4) City Officials shall avoid favoritism and retribution. (d) Undue Influence and Appearance of Impropriety

(1) No City Official shall use or attempt to use his or her official position to influence Council decisions or City staff actions in favor of individuals, organizations or companies that may directly benefit the individual City Official.

(2) Ask “Does this pass the headline test?”

(3) City Officials shall follow applicable gift policies and laws regarding disclosure and acceptance of gifts, including, but not limited to, gifts of travel, entertainment and sports/athletic activities and events.

(4) No City Official shall use or attempt to use his or her personal relationships with staff, businesses or others for inappropriate or personal benefit.

(5) City Officials shall avoid the appearance or reality of monetary gain or “quid pro quo”.

(6) No City Official shall use or attempt to use his or her official position to gain personal, professional, or financial advantage for the individual City Official or his or her direct family member. (As “direct family member” is defined in the City Code.)

(e) Professionalism and Courtesy

(1) During meetings and all public appearances, City Officials shall treat each other, speakers, invited guests, residents, businesses, staff and general public with professionalism, courtesy, respect and dignity, and shall:

  • Be attentive, respectful and polite
  • Avoid personal disparaging comments or references
  • Focus on the action, not the individual  Respect differences
  • Be cognitive of demeanor and appearance
  • Be respectful of schedules and agendas and responsive to all communications
  • Be on time, prepared and ready to execute the duties and tasks of the position
  • Avoid inappropriate actions and behavior that could reflect poorly upon the City or fellow City Officials

(2) At the City workplace, at any City event and at all times while representing the City, including traveling on City business, City Officials shall treat each other, staff and the general public with professionalism, courtesy, respect and dignity, and shall:

  • Respect and embrace the Golden Rule (treat others as you would like to be treated)
  • Be sensitive to differences in race, age, gender, disabilities, religious beliefs, political affiliation and national origin
  • Strive to create an environment that is productive and free from gossip, rumors, intimidation, harassment, threats, retaliation, violence, hostility, and other adversity
  • Avoid behavior and comments considered unacceptable in the workplace, such as inappropriate and demeaning comments, stories, humor and jokes
  • Avoid sexual harassment, such as sexual conversations, sexual innuendos, and other comments that may be perceived as sexual in nature
  • Keep personal and professional relationships separate

(f) Respect and Abide by the Council-Manager Form of Government

(1) Under the council-manager form of government, the City Council appoints a City Manager, who directs the day-to-day operations of all employees. City Officials should be sensitive to the role of the City Manager and shall not circumvent the appropriate chain of command by directing City staff.

(2) City Officials shall not interfere with the hiring, promotion, transfer, discipline, compensation or termination of any employee, other than those positions identified in the City Code that serve at the pleasure of the City Council.

(3) City Officials shall not interfere with or exert influence over the City’s procurement process, except in an official capacity acting as Council as a whole.

(g) Use of City Equipment, Property and Resources

(1) City Officials shall adhere to City rules and policies on the use of City property, City logo, and City letterhead or other approved City communication tools, materials or publications.

(2) City Officials shall use City issued equipment in accordance with City policies and shall not use City equipment or facilities for private purposes, unless such use is generally available to the public.

(3) Any personal emails, faxes or use of other communications generated by the use of City equipment should be considered public information. As such, City Officials shall use City-assigned electronic mail accounts for City business only and not for personal business or for campaign purposes.

(4) City Officials shall not disclose or use executive session information or other information deemed confidential under state law without proper authorization.

(h) Communications

(1) City Officials are never “off the record” and should be mindful of communication actions that create a public record.

(2) City Officials shall qualify public comments as either the official position of Council or as a personal opinion and clarify whether Council has or has not acted on the topic (i.e., state “Council hasn’t voted on this matter yet, however, I believe we should go in direction xyz”).

(3) City Officials shall not make public statements or take individual actions on behalf of Council unless expressly authorized by Council.

(4) City Officials shall use all communication platforms to constructively benefit the City.

(5) City Officials shall communicate to fellow Council Members, the City Manager and/or the City Attorney any information that could negatively affect the operation or image of the City Council or the City to avoid a situation where such information is first learned from the media or outside sources.

(6) When appropriate or advisable, City Officials should notify appropriate City staff regarding all media contacts.

SEC. 2-134. Reporting Ethics Violations

Council Members have a duty to report violations of the Code of Ethics or any misconduct that raises a substantial question as to a Member’s integrity or fitness as a public official. Council shall serve as a committee of the whole for purposes of Code of Ethics enforcement, which includes a reasonable process for investigating complaints that affords the subject of a complaint a full and fair opportunity to be heard. The City benefits from formal and informal reporting procedures that encourage prompt resolution of grievances and concerns.

(a) Informal Reporting Procedures

Before initiating the formal complaint process, a grievant should make every reasonable effort to resolve issues constructively in an informal manner, unless such efforts would be futile or inadequate to address the nature and severity of the alleged violation.

(1) Whenever possible, a grievant should first discuss concerns with the alleged violator.

(2) Either party may request the assistance of a neutral third-party to facilitate discussions about the complaint. Both parties must agree to use the neutral third-party.

(b) Formal Reporting Procedures A grievant may initiate the formal complaint process when informal efforts are futile, unsuccessful, or inadequate to address the nature and severity of the alleged violation. A person who knowingly makes a false, misleading, or unsubstantiated statement in a complaint may be subject to criminal prosecution for perjury and civil liability.

(1) The grievant shall inform the alleged violator of the intent to initiate the formal complaint process.

(2) The grievant shall submit a formal complaint to the City Manager and City Attorney within ninety (90) days from the date the grievant first became aware of the alleged violation or within one (1) year from the date of the alleged violation.

(3) The complaint shall provide:

i. The name of the grievant;

ii. The name of the alleged violator;

iii. The nature of the alleged violation, including the specific provision of the Code of Ethics or law allegedly violated;

iv. A statement of facts describing relevant conduct and dates;

v. Copies of relevant documents or materials and/or a list of unavailable, relevant documents or materials;

vi. A list of relevant witnesses; and

vii. An affidavit stating that the information contained in the complaint is true and correct, and stating the grievant has good reason to believe and does believe that the facts alleged constitute a violation of the Code of Ethics.

(4) The City Manager and City Attorney or designee shall gather relevant facts, documents, witness statements, interview the alleged violator, and gather other information relevant to the complaint.

(5) The City Attorney or designee shall prepare a recommendation to Council.

(6) The complaint and recommendation shall be submitted to the entire Council for review at a duly convened executive session. All laws pertaining to executive sessions shall apply, including the right of the alleged violator to an open hearing.

i. Council shall review the complaint and recommendation, and consult with the City Attorney or designee to determine whether there is reasonable cause to believe a violation occurred and whether sanctions are warranted

ii. If there is reasonable cause to believe a violation occurred, the matter may be placed on a Regular Council Meeting agenda for action.

(A) A 2/3 vote of the Council (of the Members Present) at a Regular Council Meeting shall be required for a determination that a violation of the Code of Ethics has occurred.

(B) A 2/3 vote of the Council (of the Members Present) at a Regular Council Meeting shall be required for sanctions.

SEC. 2-135. Sanctions Any Council Member found in violation of this Code of Ethics may face the following sanctions:

(a) Warning

(b) Letter of reprimand

(c) Public censure by the Council, which may include:

(1) Loss of assignments;

(2) Loss of power to appoint members to City Boards, Commissions and Committees;

(3) Loss of Council discretionary funds;

(4) Loss of City-related travel privileges;

(d) A demand for non-monetary restitution (e.g., a public apology, the return of gifts); and/or

(e) A demand for reimbursement of administrative, legal, and/or investigation costs and expenses incurred in investigating and prosecuting the violation of the Code of Ethics. Serious infractions of the Code of Ethics or other intentional and repeated conduct in violation of this Article VIII may result in other sanctions as deemed appropriate by Council. Violations of state law provisions described herein shall be punished as provided for in state law. The language used in imposing sanctions will be consistent and follow a specific format as established by the Council.

Scott Bartle City Council
InMaricopa owner Scott Bartle addresses City Council about his ethics complaint against Councilmember Julia Gusse at its May 19 meeting. (Source: City of Maricopa, via YouTube)

At its May 19 meeting, the Maricopa City Council addressed an ethics complaint I filed against Councilmember Julia Gusse. Here is the story from my perspective.

The history

In a nutshell, Article VIII of the City Code (Code of Ethics) states, “The Mayor and the City Council shall maintain the utmost standards of personal integrity, truthfulness, honesty and fairness in carrying out their public duties.” I believe a council member, Julia Gusse, violated the spirit and the letter of this Code, many times over.

If you disagree, and at least one Mesa lawyer did, that’s OK. Apparently, things like personal integrity, truthfulness, honesty and fairness are quite subjective.

You can form your own opinion, but here are a few of the reasons I thought violations occurred:

  • Gusse insisted on meddling in my business’ hiring practices “before our City moves forward with any advertising.”
  • Gusse demeaned and threatened a local job-creator, writing “I suppose that with this email you have mansplained my council job to me and have put me in my place? Am I to scurry away now with your permission? As you are well aware, the pen is mightier than the sword!”
  • Gusse doubled down, professing she (i.e. city government) is entitled to a say on who and how my business recruits and hires talent: “When you hire an individual that is to report on anything from kids sports to a local crime scene, who you hire is 100% my concern!”

For over a year, I hesitated to file a complaint in hopes I could avoid doing so altogether. Given Gusse’s decision to run for re-election, I felt compelled to give the council the opportunity to prove its mettle and the public an opportunity to see how one of their elected officials actually treats local businesses. (As it turns out, we got to know what six of the seven council members think is appropriate relative to how to treat local businesses and their rights to interfere with them.)

[Note: After submitting my complaint, a public records request revealed Gusse emailed the mayor, “My recommendation is to NOT advertise one dime of our City’s advertising budget in this publication” and that she “will fight for the discontinued financial support of his organization.” She backs that up in 2019, spitefully telling local businesses owners to cancel their advertising agreements with InMaricopa.]

The meeting

Gusse did a good job of moving the narrative away from her actions. The council fell in lockstep, receiving the gift of a flawed investigative conclusion to complement the strategy of claiming a non-conforming process.

I am bemused as to how the City’s outside investigator came to his conclusion. I can only surmise we have very different standards of right and wrong, or he understands where his bread is buttered. Maybe potential legal liability for the City was a consideration. Somehow, the investigating attorney did not even find Gusse’s behavior to be unprofessional.

But I don’t think the report mattered. Gusse had eight minutes of victory speeches already prepared – and it seems unlikely she could have written those on the one-floor elevator ride from the executive session meeting room to the regular meeting in the Council Chambers. Price, Smith and Vitiello all could have pointed to the report findings and had all the political cover they needed, then quietly amended the Code to prevent those pesky constituents from being able to accuse them of any wrongdoing in the future. But they couldn’t resist following through on the “process” strategy on which they committed to hanging their hat. Conspiracy theory? Yes, but a very plausible one.

Pre-planned or not, council focused on issues that had nothing to do with the ethics violations. In fact, not one question was asked about the appropriateness of her emails. Not one member expressed concern with her meddling in a private business, nor her disrespectful communication, nor her threat to a local employer to withhold city purchasing.

Her modus operandi of grandstanding, playing the victim and accusing people (possibly me) of being dim-witted, racist, misogynist and anti-veteran predictably held true. (see YouTube video, 14:02)

Like Gusse, Councilmember Vitiello accused me of taking advantage of the City code by having the nerve to even file a complaint. He addressed his fear someone would file a meritless complaint against him for political purposes, though that would be in conflict of current policy which states a complaint would only be placed on a council agenda for action “if there is reasonable cause to believe a violation occurred.”

Vitiello seemingly exonerated Gusse to protect himself from facing the same fate: “This could be a free-for-all, for anybody to come against anyone of us councilmembers for whatever reasoning they choose to during an election year. And that really worries me.”

Oblivious to the facts in the complaint, Vitello said, “Process is the most important thing here. … I struggle with even starting to read (the report) because, again, the process to me, I feel was not followed.”

Vitiello also questioned me on the timing of my filing, despite my previously having made a public statement explaining my reason. (Tell me again why I am on trial here?)

Mayor Christian Price and Vice Mayor Nancy Smith continued the effort to cast doubt on the process itself. Throughout, the mayor never asked the city attorney for clarification of whether the process was properly followed, as is his common practice.

Council should have taken its beef with how the process transpired to the mayor and city attorney. Turning the tables and blaming the Complainant is a page out of Gusse’s book.

Like Vitiello, Price and Smith failed to address, much less condemn, Gusse’s actions.

Councilmember Marvin Brown said nothing.

Councilmember Henry Wade focused on personalities instead of facts. Somewhat confused, he made the motion to exonerate Gusse to “move forward.”

And so it goes. The council had an opportunity to hold a colleague accountable – the intent of the Code of Ethics – and instead tried to shoot the messenger. I told them they had only two choices – condemn or condone her behavior. They chose to condone.

The future

Despite Gusse’s strategy of making the complaint about my business and me, it wasn’t. The council’s decision to let her off is of little consequence to me. If anything, the profoundly poor judgment by six council members makes me realize, in spite of COVID-19, InMaricopa should be paying closer attention to the decisions our elected officials make. And we will.

One unknown is the impact on economic development of the City’s acceptance of its officials trying to dictate policies and procedures of private businesses. Is government overreach a factor in companies’ decisions of where to plant their businesses? Maybe.

What is certain is Gusse will graduate from emboldened to bullet-proof, and her disdain for the Code of Ethics will turn into blatant disregard.

My goals Tuesday were to (a) give council an opportunity to set a high standard by condemning Gusse’s behavior and (b) prevent Gusse from using her position to attack other Maricopa businesses like she does mine. I accomplished one of the two and will, like Wade, move forward.

Maricopa City hall
Maricopa City Hall

In an indication City Hall is closing, the City of Maricopa introduced curbside service in a website announcement today.

“City Hall may be closing to the public, but that does not prevent our committed staff from serving you,” the City posted to its site. The curbside service is set to start Monday.

City spokesperson Ellen Buddington confirmed the decision. “City Hall’s physical doors will close to the public but we will be open for curbside service only starting Monday, March 23 during normal City Hall hours of operation. Most City business will continue via utilizing multiple electronic formats/media as well.”

While many services are already available online, those who need to come to City Hall are asked to pull up at the front entrance and call 520-568-9098 for service. Those services will be available during City Hall’s regular business hours, Monday-Thursday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m.

At the same time, City Manager Rick Horst posted a letter to the community. “While our physical doors may close, our virtual doors will open. While exercising sound virus containment practices, we remain ready, willing and able. We know there are varying opinions regarding what should and should not be done. We seek to balance the reality of the situation with the reality of human need.”

Maricopa City Councilmember Henry Wade. Photo by Kyle Norby

Henry Wade Jr. has been a member of Maricopa City Council six years and is also the director of housing counseling services for the nonprofit Chicanos por la Causa. He just spent one year as vice mayor. A native of South-Central Los Angeles, he spent 20 years in the U.S. Air Force before retiring to become a real estate broker. He spoke with InMaricopa about development and issues the city is experiencing.

Henry Wade Jr.
City of Maricopa councilmember
Age: 65
Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Maricopan since: 2008
Family: Wife Gayle, three sons, two grandsons
Politics: Former chairman of Pinal County Democrats
Military: U.S. Air Force 20 years
Worst-kept secret: Was the grand marshal of the 2019 Arizona Black Rodeo

Remind us of your background.
I’m Henry Wade, city councilmember for the City of Maricopa. That is my most cherished job. I enjoy doing that above everything. I also am actually the director of housing counseling services for the nonprofit Chicanos por la Causa (CPLC). CPLC is celebrating its 50th year of community service. It is a community development fund. My portion of it is a HUD-approved housing counseling agency. So what we do is first-time homebuyer education. We do loss mitigation to help people stay in their homes if they’re facing foreclosure. We do financial literacy education as well. We have an office in Phoenix, one in Tucson and then one in Las Vegas, Nevada, that I manage. I’ve been working with Chicanos por la Causa now, my eighth year with them, and thoroughly enjoy the atmosphere as a nonprofit. Its one of the largest Hispanic nonprofits in the United States. The No. 1 supplier of health and human services in Maricopa

See more Q&A’s from InMaricopa
MUSD Superintendent Tracey Lopeman
Arizona Treasurer Kimberly Yee
County Attorney Kent Volkmer
Pinal County Manager Louis Andersen
Fire Chief Brady Leffler
County Supervisor Anthony Smith
Police Chief Steve Stahl
County Superintendent of Schools Jill Broussard

County. A lot of people don’t know anything about it. They way I came about working for Chicanos por la Causa was through my real-estate background. Before I retired from the Air Force I spent time learning real estate, going to school, what have you. So, I was first licensed in 1980 here in Arizona. I was a licensed appraiser, Realtor, broker. Started a company called Northstar Homes. I chose the North Star because that’s what Harriet Tubman used to help guide slaves into freedom. My schtick was I helped guide people into home ownership. Thoroughly enjoyed doing that.

I’m married. We are a blended family. I have three sons, two that live here now and one in Colorado. I am currently raising my two grandsons. One’s 18, he’ll be graduating this year from Maricopa High School. And then one is 11. He’s over at Saddleback Elementary. He’s kind of gotten the political bug – he is the sergeant-at-arms for the Saddleback Student Council. We went through the process, did his flyers, did his speech and the whole bit. We’re real proud he got elected and so it was fun watching that. Lived in Maricopa since 2008. My wife Gayle Randolph and I were looking for somewhere to live. We went back and forth between Maricopa, Laveen, Chandler, all over the place. We wanted to settle down and have some roots. We settled on Maricopa actually for two reasons. One was that it was actually faster, believe it or not, to travel on the 347 to the 10 than it was on Baseline Road to come from Laveen over to the 10. Less traffic actually. And houses were $60,000 cheaper. That had a lot to do with our decision. Love Maricopa. Truly, thoroughly love Maricopa. At the point that I am here in Maricopa now, being on council, this will be my sixth year on council, I can’t think of anything better to do in a community that has embraced me and my family the way that they have than to be able to give back to the community is our joy. Both of us. I’m very fortunate to have a partner like Gayle, because not only is she helping me raise kids that are not her kids and not her grandchildren, but she’s also been engaged as my campaign manager when I run for office, and she’s been very successful helping me get elected twice. And didn’t know anything about politics before becoming engaged in the process, so, pretty smart lady.

Why did you first run for council?
I ran for council because I ran into a councilmember who was – I went to a council meeting and so he had mentioned to me about Planning & Zoning Commission. So, I put in the application for it and, of course, I was rejected. Nobody knew who I was, because they didn’t know my background. I tried it again and got selected. Served Planning & Zoning for four year, two years as vice-chair. Then actually ran for county supervisor for the fourth district when the five districts were first established. Ran against former Mayor Anthony Smith. It was a good contest, I would say. I think I did pretty well, particularly considering he certainly had name recognition and experience and whatever. Eventually I ran for city council and was successful the first time.

What can the council do better than it has been doing?
We have a good council. We really do. We have a sincere level of respect for each other. I say, for the most part. Of course, there are different personalities and dynamics and people have different motivations in what they’re trying to do what they think they should do. But having watched councils since 2008, I think we have a very good council. I think the majority of us, all of us, I would say, want Maricopa to prosper, want Maricopa to be a thriving community, want people of Maricopa to feel they are engaged, that they’re a part of what’s going on, that the City listens to them and satisfies their needs. As an African American on council, I have to say, and I don’t think I’m speaking out of school, that the African American community looks to myself as a leader and someone to speak for their concerns and on their behalf, and I don’t have a problem with doing that at all. I think the relationship I have with my fellow councilmembers allows me to be able to do that and feel comfortable about doing that. I don’t feel like I’m stepping on anybody’s toes or that someone’s going to get upset with me. Because we can talk. At any given time we can sit down and have a conversation if they want to. I’ve come to respect members of the council, very much so. Everybody is trying their best to make Maricopa a better place to live. They live here. City manager – I think that was one of our best hires since I’ve been on council. We have a city manager that is engaged, that’s intelligent, that’s creative and lives here. When you look at that, you look at the council and the kind of people that are involved in running the City, we’re vested in this community. I think that’s important.

What are you proudest of that has been achieved on council?
That the council could work together to get things done. The overpass is an example. I’m hopeful that the city is observing and paying attention to the beautification of Maricopa through the cleanup. The city manager has been an advocate, a staunch advocate, to make sure that the community looks good when people come through, and I like that. As we did the overpass, the little things that were discovered, the little junk places where people were hiding things, all came out. Here you are, from hundreds of feet in the air, people can see all those things. We just completed our strategic planning session, a briefing from the city manager on our financial position, and we’re doing pretty good for a little bitty city like this. I remember a time when it was kind of desert, nobody was looking at Maricopa. We weren’t getting developers and investors looking at Maricopa. We were going to trade shows trying to encourage people to come out and see Maricopa. And it’s come to pass, and we’re prospering from it.

The hospital companies have not been really excited about moving here …
That’s always a concern of mine. They said we needed to 45,000 [population]. So then we had 45. Then they say, “You need 50,000.” OK, so we did 50. “Well, maybe you need 55.” We’re pushing toward 55. Let’s stop making the excuses and let’s go ahead and get this done, because we need a hospital here, right? Gayle’s dad lives here. He’s 83 years old. He still lives by himself. He’s still ambulatory; he’s in great shape. He’s slow, he’ll tell you that. Having an emergency clinic here is important to us, as well, and something we need to be concerned with, particularly with Dad. I’m hopeful we can continue to push forward in that direction.

What was the most difficult decision you’ve had to make on council?
When we were deciding on whether you could carry guns in public places. That was the most difficult decision for me. I was very distraught with the decision that was the eventual outcome because I felt that people didn’t come out and express their views well enough to be able to give council a little more room to make that decision. So, it was kind of a slam dunk on the other side. I was disappointed in that. Just because people didn’t come out and say anything on it.

Why do you think that was?
I don’t know. We live in a fairly conservative area. I would say that a lion’s share of people would be in favor of allowing that to happen. I think it’s the minority that feels they don’t have the power to push it away, and so they don’t come. As it turns out, and as I came to understand from going through the issue and talking to people afterwards, there were a couple of councilmembers that were really on the fence about it. Had the people come out and shown more support, I think, for council in that regard, those of us who were wanting to vote against that, they would have had a little more fire power.

There were a couple of city employees who were kind of scared about it, saying they were in the line of fire, not the council.
That’s exactly right. That’s one of the reasons I was concerned about it. I still don’t quite get it. I’m retired military. I don’t have a problem with weapons and carrying them around if necessary, but I have a difficult time understanding why you need a 9mm in the library with a bunch of kids.

How would you describe your time as vice mayor?
Exhilarating. People would, of course, always ask you, “What’s the vice mayor do? What does that mean?” I’d say, well, when the mayor is too busy to go here or go there, he calls up and says, “Hey, can you take care of this for me?” By the same token, too, there is a little bit of a bump among the community when you’re vice mayor versus a councilmember. What was most amusing to me, though, was that when I came off of being vice mayor, people thought I was leaving the council as well. No I’m not going anywhere. It’s great the way the system is established because you get an opportunity to serve as vice mayor for a year and then we among our peers make the selection, which is very encouraging and very supportive. It was a unanimous decision when I was elected vice mayor. I was very humbled and respected that decision.

So far have you achieved the goals you wanted to achieve on council?
No. There’s so many things to do. There’s always something else coming up. We’ve got challenges with the 347. It was nice that the overpass came in. It was one of the special parts of being on council, knowing that you had something to do with that. I traveled to D.C. a couple of times with the mayor and put my two cents in wherever I was given the opportunity to talk about how important the overpass was. I’ll do the same thing with the 347 and others. The fact that we were able to see Propositions 416 and 417 pushed forward, still in the throes of decisions of other people who inflict their ideas on our community. There are many, many things to do, and I want to be a part of making sure those things get done.

What have you personally gotten out of being on council?
To be able to satisfy my public-service bug. My commitment. Most people know I’m retired Air Force. I spent 20 years – actually 20 years, 27 days – in the Air Force, and throughout that time I learned and honed those skills of public service and supporting the community and being involved and engaged. I think that’s what it is. It gives me the opportunity to give back, to do something. I grew up in Los Angeles, south-central Los Angeles, a very famous corner, Florence and Normandy, was one block from where I grew up and graduated from Crenshaw High School in south-central. I graduated from high school in 1973, so the things that I experienced with the Watts Riots in ’68 and then watch things happen throughout. The Rodney King thing, I was not there. Actually, I was here watching it on CNN, and my mother, who was a block away from all the activities, I was talking to her on the phone. So, when she was hearing the glass breaking and the sirens and the helicopters and all that, she was with a block of where these things were taking place. That’s my background. I don’t shy away from it. I’m very proud of where I grew up and where I came from, but I also want to be able to contribute in a positive way to the community I live in. Growing up in south-central, I got some skills out of there. Sometimes folks don’t even know. Sometimes people will say something, and they don’t have a clue as to how I got honed to be the person that I am, both growing up in L.A. to be part of the Air Force, starting my own business when I retired from the Air Force, starting a real estate company that was an appraisal company. People don’t know.

That could have gone a completely different direction.
Absolutely. I have a friend that we were going into the buddy program. We went to testing together, did physicals together, we did everything together as we were moving towards actually leaving to go in the Air Force. And the day it was time to go, he was a no-show. We’re still friends and still in contact with each other. He says, “The biggest mistake I ever made was not getting out of bed and going with you.”

How are race relations in Maricopa?
It’s just respect. Just respect that fact we’re all in this together. We’re all Maricopians. We’re all Arizonans. But I’m going to say something. Gayle’s going to kill me, but I’m going to say it. We live in a fairly conservative city, but there are people in this community that still use the term “colored” when referring to black people. That insults me. I love you, but don’t use that term to describe black people. That is something that is abrasive and is insulting to black people. I think that maybe no one’s ever said that and shared that, so I’m sharing that.

When you think about the residents and the amenities they’re demanding, are the plans in place to make that happen?
Yeah, I think they are. One thing that’s been a little controversial here of late, of course, is the multi-family housing. The apartments we’re moving toward. From a commercial perspective, a hotel is scheduled to be available to us in November of this year, so that’s pretty good. And there are many developmental projects on the horizon. The way the city has aligned itself with development in terms of connecting economic development with those pieces as well, so we can see the benefit from the growth of it as well as the benefit from the revenue that comes from it. I like the way the city manager operates. His idea is if it’s not profitable, it doesn’t make much sense to do it. He’s taken that position, and I think that’s a smart position to take.

In using your background, when the council gets projects like multi-family housing, what are you looking at specifically to make sure that’s going to be what Maricopa needs?
A credible developer, somebody that we can trust, somebody that’s going to be there through entire project, from start to finish, somebody that if there are things that don’t go the way that we would like them to go, that we can work it out, we can negotiate and improve whatever the situation might be. We are going to get apartments in the city of Maricopa. Now I’ve been saying that for two years. At one of my Councilmember on the Corner events, the largest event we had was about housing, and we had a really good turnout for that. And I said then, “We will have multi-family housing. Get used to that fact.” Sometimes people can be a little upset, and I appreciate that. I wouldn’t necessarily want to have a three- or four-floor apartment as my view outside of my backyard when I’ve been having mountains and everything for eight years. I get that. At the same time, there’s a need. And they are not HUD houses. They are not Section 8 houses. That’s the other thing. When we talk about the subsidy, people think we’re going to have inferior, Section 8 residents moving into Maricopa. We have firefighters, we have teachers, we have young people who have graduated from college and want to be around their parents but don’t want to live with their parents. We have people here that would be able to utilize those, that we don’t have to worry about the stigma of having apartments that have been subsidized that will bring in people that are less than whatever they might want to consider them. I call them constituents and citizens, and that’s what they are. They need space, just like I need my space, they need their space.


This story appears in part in the March issue of InMaricopa.

 

Ethics questions about AnnaMarie Knorr's relationship with state Rep. David L. Cook have led to accusations against Sheriff Mark Lamb, and the House Ethics Committee is bringing in outside attorneys to investigate the allegations.

By Raquel Hendrickson

Arizona’s House Ethics Committee has retained outside counsel to investigate complaints against Rep. David Cook (R-District 8), who has been accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a lobbyist.

That lobbyist from Western Growers Association is AnnaMarie Knorr, president of the Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board. Both Cook and Knorr have publicly denied a romantic or unethical relationship. The official complaints have also pulled Sheriff Mark Lamb into the fray. All involved are Republicans.

T.J. Shope, also a District 8 representative, earlier recused himself from the Ethics Committee.

The source of the complaint filed by Janell Alewyn of Coolidge were private letters allegedly from Cook to Knorr that suggested an intimate relationship. The letters were first given to Yellow Sheet Report, part of Arizona News Service, and could not be independently verified.

The complaint against Cook suggests the lawmaker was unduly influenced by his relationship with Knorr to support agricultural interests that benefited her employer. Knorr was placed on leave by WGA when the allegations arose.

“The public disclosure of this sordid correspondence underscores the unacceptable intermingling of apparent private, personal relationship with legislative business,” Alewyn wrote to the Ethics Committee.

Both Cook and Knorr have spouses and families. In her complaint, Alewyn called their relationship “disturbing,” “compromising” and “a clear conflict of interest.” She also stated Cook was vindictive toward Knorr’s father, Bas Aja, based on Aja’s claim in state media his agricultural organization was blocked from an ad hoc committee as retribution for allegedly interfering in the relationship.

The Ethics Committee retained Ballard Spahr LLP, led by attorney Mark Kokanovich, to investigate those allegations as well as another complaint from Kevin Cavanaugh, a former candidate for U.S. Congress, that alleges Cook promised campaign donations to Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb if he halted the seizure of Knorr property over a tax debt of $140,000, which occurred in 2018.

In an echo of emails sent anonymously to media last year, Cavanaugh claimed he has observed unspecified “criminal behaviors” by Lamb since before he was elected in 2016, though he said he worked hard to get Lamb elected. Alleging bribery via quid pro quo, Cavanaugh included political conspiracies and a Bible reference in his complaint, which mentions Lamb more than Cook.

The sheriff has denied wrongdoing.

According to campaign finance reports, Bas Aja gave Lamb’s campaign $250, and Knorr contributed $200. Knorr also gave $200 to Cook’s campaign, and Phyllis Aja gave $500.

Anyone who has information relevant to this investigation should contact the House Rules Attorney Office at tfleming@azleg.gov or 602-926-4615.

 

Maricopa is putting together its Complete Count plan for the 2020 U.S. Census.

Maricopa is gearing up for next year’s decennial U.S. Census.

Data from Census Bureau has become so important some cities, including Maricopa, funded special counts in off-years to try to prove their population. Population can help a company decide whether to invest in a community and it can decide if it’s time for a new congressional district.

There are changes to the way the census will be taken in 2020, and the City has formed a Complete Count Committee to educate the public and encourage them to participate. For instance, households will receive an “invitation” to complete the census survey online.

“Part of the encouragement,” said Dale Wiebusch, the City’s director of Intergovernmental Affairs, “is that the data is driven both by the monetary factor and political representation.”

Wiebusch heads the committee, which meets monthly to talk about strategy. He invited 50 participants, with up to 14, with a handful at any given meeting. The committee, he said, is comprised of people who can reach diverse groups, especially those who could be missed because of language barriers or lack of technology.

In the recent census campaigns, the city saw where portions of the population did not comply, including areas of the Heritage District. That is where committee members can step in to better explain the process and necessity of the census.

He said the census count would impact federal and state funding.

“There are 50 or more federal programs that rely on census data for disbursement of funds,” he said, adding that figure could be $3,000 per person.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 95 percent of households will receive census invitation by mail. Almost 5 percent will have their census invitation dropped off at their home. Less than 1 percent will be counted by a census taker.

“We do this in very remote areas like parts of northern Maine, remote Alaska and in select American Indian areas that ask to be counted in person,” the Bureau explained in unattributed documents. The department is based in Maryland and directed by Steven Dillingham.

Wiebusch said he would like to see the City have library computers dedicated to the census for those who do not have the Internet at home. The main census activity will take place in March and April, with reminders and other wrap-up activities into June.

Census invitations will begin going out in the mail in mid-March. If the household has not responded, a reminder letter will go out, and a reminder postcard, then a reminder letter and a paper questionnaire and then an in-person follow-up.

The project goes in stages, with Maricopa due to start its portion April 1.

“I find it hilarious we would do it on April Fool’s Day,” Wiebusch said.

Unlike a special census, the decennial census will count everyone who declares their main residence to be Maricopa, even if they live here only six months out of the year and even if they are not citizens.

Wiebusch emphasizes there is no “citizenship question” on the 2020 U.S. Census.

“I know a lot people think that’s about those without documentation,” he said, “but we have Canadians and we have a lot of other ‘snowbirds’ who live here a lot of the year.”

The City of Maricopa is working with Maricopa Association of Governments and Riester, a Phoenix-based advertising firm, to help with preparations for the census and outreach.


This story appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.

State Treasurer Kimberly Yee. Photo by Kyle Norby

Kimberly Yee is in her first year as Arizona’s state treasurer after serving as a state lawmaker and speaking at the 2016 Republican National Convention. She sat down with InMaricopa to talk about a new Financial Literacy Task Force and the goals of her office to help Millennials and others understand their finances.

KIMBERLY YEE
Age:
45
Hometown:
Phoenix
Education:
Greenway High School, Pepperdine University majoring in English and political science, ASU master’s in public administration
Family:
Husband and two children
Previous work:
Deputy cabinet secretary for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, policy analyst for Gov. Pete Wilson, executive team of Arizona State Treasurer Dean Martin, eight years as Arizona legislator in District 20, second woman (after Sandra Day O’Connor) to serve as Senate Majority Leader
Fun fact:
She is the first Asian-American elected to the Arizona Legislature. She is the fifth-straight generation of her family to own a small business in the United States.

Remind us of your background and how you came to the State Treasurer’s Office.
I was born and raised in Arizona, so I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, and went to Greenway High School, Pepperdine University for my undergrad. Majored in English and political science and earned my master’s degree in public administration from Arizona State University. One of the things I did right after college was start working for public policymakers. I had the privilege of working for two governors in California. I specifically chose education-related policies, so early on I worked on childcare and development issues, later serving for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger – I was his deputy cabinet secretary working on education-related issues. I came back to my home state to work for former state treasurer Dean Martin. He was our state treasurer for four years, back in 2007, ‘08, ‘09 and ‘10. It was a time where the state was going through a lot of financial-related issues, and the office was very helpful in trying to determine where our economic revenues were coming in and how they were being spent. We were able to use the Treasurer’s Office back then to warn the Legislature and the executive office that things were looking dim in the future, and from an economic forecast they needed to start spending down what they were previously spending on because the revenues were not coming in. Back then it was really the beginning of using the Treasurer’s Office for economic purposes in helping policymakers.

Were they listening?
Well, they did have our information available to them. Did they listen? No. Unfortunately, they didn’t. We asked them to spend $150 million less than they were spending, and then they created a budget that fiscal year to spend more than $150 million [more]. That’s not the way we anticipated they should go, but we did our due diligence by providing the information for them to know where we were in our budget and where we were in our economy.

“Well, they did have our information available to them. Did they listen? No.”

Now, fast-forward, around that same time, my state senator was looking to retire. So, it was a woman asking another woman to run for office, and I wanted to see if that became open and it did. I became a state House member first and then served in the Arizona Senate for three terms in District 20, which was northwest Phoenix, parts of Glendale. And I served as the senate majority leader in my last term. I was the second female to have that position since Sandra Day O’Connor served 44 years prior to that time. It was a real privilege to meet with Sandra Day O’Connor, the former justice, when she came to the Legislature and I invited her as my guest and we promoted civics education, which is a legacy she wanted to leave following her time on the bench.

This seems to be always circling back to education. What drew you to that in the first place?
My mother was a former schoolteacher in the public-school system in Phoenix for 38 years. It was easy for me to make that decision, because around the dinner table, as a young girl, we talked about education and the importance of making sure our kids have a high quality of education no matter what ZIP code they lived in. I carried that in my public policy behind the scenes working for elected officials, and then when I became elected that really was a priority for me and has been. So, I’ll continue working on education-related issues even out of the Treasurer’s Office.

Right off the bat, I promoted financial education in our schools, which is something that is very important. When I was working for State Treasurer Dean Martin 12 years ago, we were looking at our schools and unfortunately found we aren’t teaching kids the basics, these life skills, on how to manage their money. When I learned this wasn’t a requirement, while I was serving in the Legislature I tried to promote and sponsor legislation that would get us moving toward that direction. Early on in my legislative career, I sponsored a bill that requires the K-12 system to have academic standards which touch on financial education, age-appropriate of course. In kindergarten, a student can learn about savings in a piggy bank but have more concepts that are a little more complicated as they move on to high school. Simple skills that are really used once you get out into the real world.

“We were looking at our schools and unfortunately found we aren’t teaching kids the basics, these life skills, on how to manage their money.”

Finally, at the end of my term, we look at how do we incentivize a high schooler to take classes that teach you these basic skills? Because these other classes are much more inviting, like golf and art. Who would take a business class or something that would teach these things? So, I created a little seal at the end of my time in the Senate that allows for a student who takes these courses to have a seal of proficiency for financial education. So, that really would help them if they take – even if it’s just one semester – a class that would allow them to get that seal on their graduation diploma. Once I became state treasurer, it was important to deal with it more. We really want to teach students in high school those basic life skills to ensure they understand how to balance a budget, balance their checkbook, what it means to carry credit month-to-month on their credit card. We had a bill put before the Legislature that has now become law that requires a student who is in their econ semester to be taught financial education within that time period. They would have curriculum that would be embedded in that econ semester that teaches them these basic skills.

Is this going to be part of the Financial Literacy Task Force?
The Task Force will move forward to create more ideas. This was already done in my first six months and it’s now law, so this will be the first academic year that will be administered. We have a long line of items we want to continue to work on. I created a task force of 16 members, 17 including myself – I chair the task force – first-ever in the state that brought together experts in this field, individuals who will represent not only our K-12 system to advance educational options for financial education but also other vulnerable communities like our senior citizens who are on fixed-income budgets. Our veterans and those who have served in the military, we have a representative on their behalf.

We have teachers, we have individuals who represent vulnerable populations, for instance single-parent homes and those who are struggling to find jobs. We also wanted to be sure to hit a number of these groups who are dealing with issues in their finances, to provide them with a toolbox, resources that are free that will help them get on their feet. One of the reasons why we’re in Maricopa today is to talk to a group that will be able to advance that through nonprofit work. It’s exciting for me. This will be a priority for my administration. It’s something I’ve been passionate for over a decade.

How did you find the members of the task force?
A number of them I worked with over my time in the Legislature, those eight years working on bills that advance financial education in our schools but also looking at what we can do next. In talking to various groups, we need to open doors for individuals to find easy-to-find resources – something that’s free of cost. We need to put it into one place. I thought, “What better way to bring everybody together at one table for the first time.”

Our meeting was fantastic when we first met face-to-face. We have a lot of work to do. We’re going to provide proposals on how we’re going to roll this out in all these various communities. I’ve just come back from a treasurer’s conference where I’m learning from other states what they’ve done. We’re borrowing ideas, we’re looking for ideas. We have it open to the public so we can hear from others who aren’t at the table.

“When these young kids come out into the real world, they have to learn how to manage their money or it will affect your neighborhood.”

I think this is very important because if affects everybody. When these young kids come out into the real world, they have to learn how to manage their money or it will affect your neighborhood. We are looking at our Millennial population in particular, because these are young people who we see, the evidence shows, are $1.6 trillion in student debt. Roughly 39 percent of the Millennial population say they don’t pay their bills on time. That’s a significant number. If we keep going down that road, we will really be in trouble from an economic perspective. So, this is a conversation we should have had years and years ago, but let’s have it now.

After your years in the Treasurer’s Office, to come back as the treasurer yourself, did you find surprises there?
In a good way. There was very little transition time because I already knew the office and how it works. At the very beginning I wanted to create new structure in terms of our organizational chart. I moved various divisions into areas that fit better in terms of operations and performance from our investment side.

As you know, we manage roughly $40 billion in the state’s cash management of the budgets going in and out of the agencies throughout the year. We have roughly $17 billion in assets under management in our office. This provides investments for local governments, local jurisdictions that would like our office optionally to invest their dollars. It was important for me to look at what other administrations had done, what their performance has been in those areas, what we can do that can be improved. One of the things I wanted to improve was our local government investment pool.

“If we maximize every single dollar, that’s really what matters. That’s what people elected me to do.”

These are optional choices that local governments can make, but if they see that our returns are doing great, which they are, and they want to invest those local dollars, that means more to local taxpayers, which means more money for infrastructure, education, transportation. I want to provide that eye-to-eye conversation with our local leaders. I have been going out on the road, talking to mayors and council folks because they need to know when we’re managing their funds, that we’re doing a great job at it and we have various portfolio options they can continue to use or advance.

If we maximize every single dollar, that’s really what matters. That’s what people elected me to do. I’m looking out for the state level but for the local dollars as well. I also want to use the office to continue to advance our economic forecasts because what we see coming in and out of the office really does matter to the policymaker, whether it be at the state level or even at the local level, how they’re going to plan their out-going budgets year to year. If we can provide the information and that can be helpful to them, I’d like to use that economic forecast for their purposes.

How well do you think the average Arizonan understands what your office does?
I think probably not a lot of people know what the Treasurer’s Office does. That has been another goal of mine. I’ve been [making] the office available for tours, for children to come in to see what we do. It’s something I’m proud of. This office has done such great, great work over so many decades, and we need to acknowledge that from the taxpayers’ perspective. In fact, our investors in our office, they manage the state land trust proceeds. So, anytime state lands are sold, the proceeds come immediately to our office and investors invest that money, and most of it goes to K-12 education. That is something most people probably don’t know, but it’s important because the numbers are significant.

“Anytime state lands are sold, the proceeds come immediately to our office and investors invest that money, and most of it goes to K-12 education.”

What we invest goes right back into the K-12 system. As an example. All of the state lands that were sold in the last fiscal year, in this fiscal year 2020, which just began, we are going to roll out $342 million to the K-12 system on top of what they’ve already received from the legislative appropriations. Those are investments that came out of our office from the state lands sold. That is one that I would like to share, but also to talk about how well the investments have performed.

We really take a careful look at how we invest. It’s always safety first, because these are tax dollars. If you were to look at our long-term investments over 10 years, over a billion dollars, and you were to compare the National Association of College and University Business Officials that ranks the biggest endowments across the country, we out-performed Yale, Stanford, Columbia and Harvard, all of the big universities. We ranked in the 95th percentile. It shows that our office has done very, very well in its investment performance on behalf of the taxpayers


This article appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.

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Rep. Bret Roberts. Submitted photo

Bret Roberts (R-District 11) just completed his first session as a state representative. He shared some of his experience.

How was your first legislative session?

Rep. Bret Roberts
Age: 46
Hometown: Bowling Green, Ohio
Community of residence: Maricopa
Previous occupations: Detention officer, mortgage banker, constable
Committees: Regulatory Affairs (vice-chairman), Appropriations, Commerce, Judiciary
Primary sponsorship: HB 2521, which adds properly trained/certified constables to list of peace officers who may be allowed to carry a firearm; HB 2675, which validates unambiguous contract provisions negotiated by parties represented by attorneys.

I really enjoy being up at the Capitol representing District 11. Being vice chair of one and sitting on three other committees is a lot of work, but it does have its rewards. You get much more exposure to the issues you have come through your committees.

What have you learned that will help you in year two?

There was the obvious learning curve. The first few weeks to a month was a blur. Back-to-back, 30-minute meetings with individuals wanting to meet with you to discuss issues on bills. Learning who all the staff is and how they can help you. If you’re not in committee or on the floor, you’re in a meeting. The more committees you’re on, the more individuals want to meet with you. Which is great, you get to learn about so many issues. Next year, none of the day-to-day will be a surprise. Work can also be done in the interim to get a head start on any bills I may want to run.

How would you see the “Wayfair bill” (House Bill 2702) impacting Maricopa?

HB2702, or Wayfair, has to do with taxes being collected on products that are purchased online out of state. This would bring parity and fairness to any brick-and-mortar business that is currently collecting sales tax on products sold. Any time a product is purchased out of state online by an individual located in Arizona, that out-of-state vendor would have to collect sales tax and send it back to Arizona; just like our businesses are doing for those states. Forty other states have done this already, which means our businesses are currently at a disadvantage, meaning our businesses are collecting taxes for out-of-state vendors and sending taxes back to those states. Once we get this in place, those states will have to do the same for Arizona.

You were emotional during testimony about suicide prevention training for schools during this session. Share your thoughts on why that bill was important?

Yes, this was an emotional bill for many, including myself. This was also a great example of a bill that had tremendous bipartisan support. In my opinion this bill is important for many reasons but what stood out the most in my opinion [is that] today with social media, it’s a very different time than when most likely you or I went to school. Bullying is a much different animal today. Something could happen with a student and in mere moments it could be spread to pretty much the entire student body. This can lead to tremendous pressure on kids. The required training in the bill will help all school staff, not just teachers, to recognize signs that a student may be in distress, whether it be from an issue at school, home or anywhere for that matter and know how to act on that to prevent these tragic losses of life.


This story appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.

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Tom O'Halleran (center) speaks with Maricopans during a town hall in Maricopa Wednesday. Photo by Jim Headley

U.S. Congressman Tom O’Halleran (Arizona-D1) said he’s looking forward to seeing the Mueller report today.

“I am a former homicide detective,” O’Halleran said. “Until I see the facts, I am not anticipating anything other than being able to review it and see the consequences of what is in the report and what’s not in the report. Then move on from there.”

O’Halleran, a Democrat, said over the past few months many people have been talking about things they really don’t know about. He was at Maricopa City Hall on Wednesday to host a town hall and field questions from constituents.

“If we’re going to bring people in America back together again, we have to talk about real issues and real facts. Not just  somebody, who isn’t in the room when the investigation is going on, saying, ‘I believe this is what happened’ or ‘I think this is going to happen.’ None of that is relevant until you know the facts.”

O’Halleran said he is worried what might be redacted in the report when Congress finally gets a copy of it today.

“I am very concerned about the redactions. Across the entire spectrum of Congress, we want to see the whole report. It is not just the Democratic side or the Republican side. I haven’t found a member that doesn’t want to see that report,” O’Halleran said.

O’Halleran said he is coming to Maricopa a little more frequently lately because, “I have a lot of issues down here. Whether it’s a meeting on farm issues or a meeting with the mayor on city issues. The levy issues that we have been back and forth on for a long time. There is just a lot of issues when you have a community this size that is this close to a metropolitan area.”

WASHINGTON, DC – JAN. 10, 2019: White House protest over government shutdown by furloughed as well as unpaid working federal employees, union members, contractors and supporters after rally at AFL-CIO - By BAKDC

The longest federal government shutdown has had a wide impact. Central Arizona Governments (CAG), a regional planning district, has had to institute an unpaid furlough for the duration.

CAG is comprised of Pinal and Gila counties, their respective incorporated communities, including Maricopa, and Native American communities.

“With the federal government shutdown, many of our funding agencies are being affected,” said Andrea Robles, interim executive director. “We have learned that CAG does not have access to the majority of our reimbursable funding sources including EDA, USDA, some transportation funds and EPA project approvals. The billings are booked to be paid to CAG, but the funds have been ‘frozen’ for the duration of the shutdown.”

Robles said the Globe City Council approved an “advanced payment” of $50,000 to CAG on Jan. 8 for administration of projects to cover operating expenses for January.

The partial shutdown is now 25 days long, surpassing the 21-day shutdown during the Clinton Administration that cost the government $400 million, according to the Congressional Research Service. The current shutdown, which started Dec. 22, came about over a stalemate between the Trump Administration and majority Democrats in the House of Representatives regarding $5.7 billion in funding for a wall along the border with Mexico.

The unpaid furlough at CAG was put in place to decrease expenses while maintaining “the work that is required to keep up with our grants and projects,” Robles said. CAG staff will work a reduced workweek, Tuesday-Thursday 7 a.m.-6 p.m.

CAG helped coordinate planning of the Pinal Regional Transportation Authority and landed planning fund funds for a regional transit study. CAG’s Community Development Block Grant planning program distributes funds through the Arizona Department of Housing.

“Staff continues to look for additional funding sources to enable us to provide the best possible services to our cities and towns throughout the region,” Robles said.