This week brought the release of a long-awaited report on prison security and operations within the Arizona Department of Corrections.
Governor Doug Ducey tasked former Arizona Supreme Court Justices Rebecca White Berch and Ruth McGregor with looking into ADC after video surfaced that showed inmates escaping their cells and assaulting correctional officers and each other.
According to the 52-page report: “There was, and still is to some extent, disagreement about whether the locks are broken . . . or whether the doors are fine, but the inmates manipulate, tamper with, or ‘cap’ them so that they fail to fully secure.”
The investigation concluded that the answer lies somewhere in between – some cell locks/doors are malfunctioning, especially at Lewis Prison. And many others have been manipulated by inmates into not functioning property. Regardless of the reason, the former justices found, too many inmates are leaving their cells without authorization.
The report makes a series of recommendations, including:
- Installation of a new locking system, and improved monitoring and maintenance procedures;
- Increased staffing, with an emphasis on retaining employees through better pay and training;
- Implementation of a streamlined, modernized system for reporting security deficiencies and related incidents; and
- Improved communication between officers and ADC leaders so that the department can better track and respond to incidents in the future.
The report comes just days after the announced retirement of longtime ADC Director Chuck Ryan. Gov. Ducey has said the state will conduct a nationwide search for his replacement.
PHOENIX — Arizona’s public schools chief announced Thursday that she is launching new efforts for improving the state’s education system.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bruce St. James & Pamela Hughes Show she is creating a student advisory council.
[…] Students from grades 5 to 12 may apply to join the council. Fifteen students will be chosen and serve from October through the end of the school year.
Hoffman also announced what she hopes will be a solution to Arizona’s teacher shortage.
“We are going to be creating two new positions within the department that are solely focused on teacher recruitment and retention issues,” she said.
She said she has also been working with the Arizona Department of Economic Security to fill other positions in schools.
[…] Hoffman said while the state’s school system has historically been underfunded, things are improving.
“Oftentimes teachers are hearing, ‘Our schools are broken,’ or ‘Our schools are the worst,’” she said.
“But that’s not always the case. Our teachers and students are working so hard. It’s just making sure they have the right resources and training to be successful.”
PHOENIX — The Office of the Arizona Secretary of State is gearing up for some significant election updates, including an earlier primary election date.
“We are rapidly approaching the 2020 election season,” Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said. “Work has already begun in earnest by a number of potential candidates and citizens interested in the initiative process.
“I want to make sure everyone knows the rules are changing, and they are prepared to take the necessary next steps,” she said.
Legislation has moved next year’s state primary election up by several weeks to Aug. 4. Passage of the bill, SB1154, raised questions about the status of nomination petition signatures for candidates already collecting signatures to qualify for the 2020 ballot.
The new laws take effect this month on Aug. 27.
“People working to get on the ballot don’t have to start from scratch,” Hobbs said. “We can accept petitions with the former primary date, but candidates should use the new petitions with the revised date moving forward.”
The same applies for candidates using online E-Qual petitions.
“E-Qual petitions with either primary date will be accepted during the filing period,” Arizona Elections Director Sambo ‘Bo’ Dul said. “Candidates should close out, but not void any preexisting E-Qual petitions, and open new ones as soon as possible.”
[…] Changes to the petition circulation and filing process for statewide initiatives and referendums will also go into effect.
Soon, all paid and out-of-state circulators of statewide initiative and referendum petitions will need to register with the Secretary of State’s Office and submit a notarized affidavit as part of the registration before gathering signatures.
[…] For more information about elections or the initiative process, please visit www.azsos.gov.
An assault weapons ban is picking up steam in the House and on the 2020 campaign trail as Democrats search for a way to respond to two recent mass shootings while putting greater political pressure on recalcitrant Republican leaders.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the front-runner in the Democratic presidential primary race, this week vowed to reinstate and strengthen the 1994 ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines if he’s elected president, declaring in a New York Times op-ed: “We have to get these weapons of war off our streets.”
And nearly 200 House Democrats have now signed on to legislation — authored by Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), the head of Democrats’ messaging operation — banning semi-automatic firearms and large-capacity magazines. With 198 co-sponsors, the bill is just 20 votes shy of the number needed to push it through the lower chamber. […]
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Chamber Business News
Tomato imports to the United States from Mexico have caused more controversy this year than you would expect for a piece of produce.
Earlier in the year, the Commerce Department severed the quarter-century-old Tomato Suspension Agreement with Mexico in favor of Florida lawmakers looking to get more attention for their local tomato farmers.
But, now the Commerce Department has announced a preliminary dumping margin of nearly 26 percent on Mexican tomato imports following its own investigation into whether tomatoes from Mexico are being dumped. While preliminary, it could move up or down before Commerce announces its final decision on September 19. From there, the International Trade Commission will determine if there is any negative impact as a result from Mexico tomatoes coming into the U.S.
[…] The concern on both sides of the border was that ending the agreement would increase prices and limit imports. After an 18-percent duty was imposed on imported Mexican tomatoes following the nixing of the agreement, volume actually rose a bit, by half a percent, to 120.7 million pounds in Nogales in May.
While things hover for the next six weeks or so, the Commerce Department and Mexican growers can still bring negotiations to the table for a new suspension agreement that would stop the investigation into dumping.
Florida-based tomato advocates at the Florida Tomato Exchange (FTE) have been pushing for harsher duties on Mexican imports to favor their own product. Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas (FPAA), called their efforts an attempt “to regulate their way to profitability.”
“We strongly agree that U.S. farmers must be protected but the FTE actions go well beyond the intent of the law,” Jungmeyer wrote in a letter earlier this summer. “They are attempting to create a seasonal monopoly to force their products onto the American public to make up for their lack of foresight and innovation.”
The FPAA’s home base, Nogales, is a port of entry location for Arizona that usually sees around $600 million-worth of tomato imports come through its border during a full import season. The concerns raised by the FPAA, local economists, and lawmakers have been that not only will those numbers reduce but jobs will also be cut down. […]
Phoenix Business Journal
It’s been a rough few years, but Kim McWaters sees light at the end of what has been a dark tunnel at a company where she practically grew up.
The president and CEO of Scottsdale-based Universal Technical Institute Inc. (NYSE: UTI) started out as a receptionist in the summer of 1984 at the age of 20 and has been dedicated to the company ever since, even during times when enrollment dropped and losses mounted.
McWaters has worked on a transformational plan for the technical training school since 2016 in an effort to stem losses and boost enrollment.
[…] Even though enrollment started improving then, quarterly losses were still in the millions of dollars.
But now, those efforts are starting to show up on UTI’s earnings statement with a near break-even performance in its latest results.
For the third quarter of its fiscal year ended June 30, UTI reported a net loss of $365,000, an improvement from $11.7 million in losses during the third quarter in 2018. Revenue increased 5.5% to $79 million, up from $74.9 million during the third quarter of 2018.
For the three months ended June 30, undergraduate full-time student enrollment was 9,462, up 5.1% from 9,000 during the same three months in 2018, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
“What’s most significant about this third quarter is that it’s seasonally our lowest from a population and revenue standpoint,” McWaters said. “Next quarter will be even greater. What we delivered inside of this quarter is an indication of the business begins to level out and have a strong platform or foundation to grow on. That will strengthen.”
McWaters is feeling so good about the turnaround she has raised guidance for fiscal 2019 across the board.
While she still expects to show a net loss ranging between $8 million and $12 million, adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) is now expected to range between $14 million and $17 million, compared with between $9 million and $15 million, per the company’s prior guidance.
In 2020, McWaters expects to increase revenue through growing new student starts and average student population. She also expects to drive further efficiencies in UTI’s operating model — building on the cost reductions executed in 2019 — to help drive significant improvement to cash flow and operating results in 2020. […]
PHOENIX — Governor Doug Ducey today joined families, tribal leaders, members of law enforcement, elected officials and more to sign H.B. 2570, legislation establishing a 21-member Study Committee on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The new committee will consist of members of law enforcement, Arizona’s Native American tribes, family members of the murdered and missing and additional victim advocates.
H.B. 2570 passed both the Arizona House and Senate with unanimous support earlier this year.
“The crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls is a heart-wrenching reality that tribal communities have been experiencing for far too long,” said Governor Ducey. “So many families have been subjected to the grief and pain of losing a loved one who was killed or sadly vanished. Today, Arizona says ‘no more.’ My compassion and thanks go out to these families and advocates involved in leading this fight for answers, action and justice. And my thanks to the many lawmakers around the state, especially Senator Victoria Steele and Representative Jennifer Jermanie, for leading to get this bill passed.”
[…] More than 4 in 5 American Indian and Alaska Native women have experienced violence in their lifetime. The U.S. Department of Justice has reported that in some communities across the United States, the murder rate of indigenous women exceeds 10 times the national average.
Chamber Business News
In 1994, Arizona became just the eleventh state in the nation to enact a law that would establish public charter schools in the state. The following year, 67 charter schools opened and enrolled under 8,000 students combined.
Twenty-five years later, these numbers have skyrocketed; Arizona hosts roughly 550 charter schools that teach over 200,000 students. With 18 percent of the population attending a charter school, Arizona has the highest proportion of charter attendees in the nation.
“District schools are offering so much more variety of programming that they probably weren’t 25 years ago, and charters do the same thing,” Arizona Charter Schools Association president and CEO Jake Logan said. “We have this long list of innovations that charters have brought to the institutional marketplace, and we really think that’s been a net positive of having charter schools in Arizona, both for charter schools and districts, because parents and students have all different kinds of choices.”
Charter schools offer unique programs and curricula that were unprecedented by the time of their development. For example, Arizona School for the Arts in Downtown Phoenix offers focused classes in ballet, musical instruments, singing, and more. These programs allow students to pursue interest areas and potentially turn them into viable careers.
[…] In U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Charter High Schools,” seven Arizona charter schools landed in the top ten, including the number one: BASIS Scottsdale. In fact, Arizona charter schools hold two spots in the top twenty of all high schools in the nation. “To a national audience, it shows that there is something going on here,” said Kelly Powell, ACSA director of research and evaluation. “It’s a cluster of schools; it’s not by chance.”
[…] “The theme of the day for us is how excited we are for 25 years of charter schools in Arizona and how excited we are for the next 25 years,” Logan said. “We really feel like it’s made a positive impact for Arizona students, and we’re going to continue working hard with our schools and do everything we can to continue that trajectory.”
Funding is part of Healthier Kids For Our Future, a five-year, $25 million global initiative to improve the health and well-being of children
BLOOMFIELD, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Cigna Foundation is inviting nonprofit organizations working to reduce child food insecurity to apply for funding through its Healthier Kids For Our Future grant program. The program will provide grants to community organizations totaling up to $5 million over the next year.
Regular access to nutritious and sufficient food is the starting point for a healthier, more productive life. More than 12 million children in America experience food insecurity, which can significantly impact their physical and mental health. Lack of quality nutrition can lead to physical and mental health problems, emotional and behavioral problems, obesity and preventable chronic conditions that may be carried into adulthood.1
The Cigna Foundation seeks to immediately address this challenge by funding programs that bracket or augment school-related efforts to provide food and nutritional education to children. U.S. schools are a focal point for addressing child health issues, and many already have programs and partnerships offering food and nutrition support.
“We want to make an immediate impact on the health and well-being of children, and feel we can best do so by supporting organizations that are working to reduce hunger and food insecurity in their communities and schools today,” said Susan Stith, executive director, Cigna Foundation. “Collaborative efforts between public, private and nonprofit organizations are key to sustainable improvements, and we look forwarding to working together to help reach more children in need, quickly.”
[…] To determine grant eligibility, start here.
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