The verdict is in.
On Wednesday, Governor Doug Ducey took to Twitter to announce his highly-anticipated nomination to the Arizona Supreme Court: Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery
Easily the highest-profile of the finalists, Montgomery’s appointment came in the face of the most aggressive and organized opposition campaign in our high court’s history. Tabbed “unprecedented” by Arizona Republic columnist Bob Robb, the effort to block Montgomery’s appointment included picketers outside his office, a messaging war launched by a veritable smorgasbord of left wing advocacy groups – even an 11th-hour ethics complaint filed with the Arizona State Bar.
As Maricopa County’s top prosecutor of nine years, Montgomery’s socially conservative politics and tough-on-crime policies made him a target. His initial bid for the bench this spring was met with resistance in some quarters, which only escalated when he later earned a spot among the short-list of candidates to replace retiring Justice Scott Bales.
Despite the opposition efforts, Montgomery’s nomination garnered bipartisan praise from some Arizona leaders, ranging from GOP former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl to Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone, a Democrat. Montgomery’s appointment was made official during a swearing-in ceremony Friday morning.
Perhaps fittingly, local media was not invited
Phoenix Business Journal
It’s no secret Phoenix is a popular destination for people looking to relocate from around the U.S. But a new analysis of U.S. Census data from Bloomberg shows how many on an average day are moving to the Valley of the Sun.
According to Bloomberg, 200 people arrive in greater Phoenix on a daily basis. That was the average number of new arrivals to the Valley from 2017 to 2018, according to Bloomberg’s analysis. That represents a 26-person gain from the previous period of 2016-17, when metro Phoenix welcomed 174 daily new arrivals.
[…] While the entire metropolitan area draws hundreds a day, the city of Phoenix itself is the fastest-growing city in the U.S., according to Census data released earlier this year. From 2017 to 2018, Phoenix proper welcomed more than 25,000 new residents.
Since the 2010 Census, Phoenix has added more than 200,000 residents, surpassed only by Houston in that time frame, according to Census data. Since the previous Census, only four cities have added more than 100,000 in new population — Houston, Phoenix, San Antonio and Dallas.
Last year was a big year for population growth in Arizona. The state was the fourth fastest-growing in the U.S., while and Maricopa County — which is home to metropolitan Phoenix — was the fastest-growing county.
Arizona Capitol Times
Gov. Doug Ducey appointed Bill Montgomery to the Arizona Supreme Court on Wednesday afternoon, making the controversial Maricopa County attorney Ducey’s fifth selection to the state’s highest court.
Montgomery’s appointment is Ducey’s second to the Supreme Court in 2019, and it’s also the second time Montgomery was up for the job. Montgomery failed to make it past a vetting procedure by the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments, but a revamped commission – with a number of new commissioners appointed by Ducey – advanced Montgomery as one of seven candidates for the governor to consider in July.
The governor, who tweeted his announcement, said he was looking for a justice who “had an understanding of the law, a well-developed judicial philosophy, appreciation for the separation of powers and a dedication to public service… More broadly, I was looking for an individual who wants to interpret the law – not someone who wants to write the law.”
“Bill Montgomery is that candidate,” Ducey wrote.
Ducey has already appointed Justices Clint Bolick, John Lopez, Andrew Gould and – earlier this year – James Beene.
[…] Montgomery’s appointment leaves a vacancy for the Maricopa County attorney. A temporary replacement will be chosen by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to hold the seat until the next election in 2020.
So far, only four Democrats have filed to run, but a Republican must be appointed to the seat to finish off Montgomery’s term.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday discouraged people from using e-cigarettes as it investigates 450 possible cases of lung disease linked to vaping.
That’s double the number of cases the CDC said it was investigating last week.
Indiana reported its first vaping-related death on Friday, bringing the nationwide death toll to three following similar deaths in Illinois and Oregon.
[…] Officials said it’s unclear what is causing the illnesses, but many cases appear to involve vape products containing THC, a compound found in marijuana.
But no one product, device or substance has been linked to all cases.
[…] New York state health officials reported Thursday that nearly all of the vape products that it has tested containing THC also contained vitamin E acetate, an oil-like substance that can be harmful if inhaled.
But the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is running its own tests on 120 samples of vaping liquids, said vitamin E is “one piece of the puzzle.”
“No one substance or compound, including vitamin E, has been identified in all samples tested,” said Mitch Zeller, deputy director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products.
VERIDUS CLIENTS IN THE NEWS
West Valley View
When Kathy Hoffman, Arizona’s superintendent of public instruction, visited the Legacy Traditional School in Avondale, she got a firsthand look at the traditional, well-rounded education for which the network of high-performing public charter schools is known.
Aaron Hale, the founder of Legacy Traditional Schools, and Legacy Avondale Principal Kristen Smith shared with Hoffman some achievements of the “A-rated” campus, which opened in 2011.
“We started with 450 kids and now we’re at 1,350. One of the things we’re extremely proud of is that we’ve been able to maintain the same structure, curriculum, instruction and culture of our school,” Smith said. “That’s, I think, remarkable; being able to keep that small-school feel.”
Smith described the culture on campus as “positive,” something she attributes to the Legacy format.
“Kids love to be here. It’s not just our academic side, but that it’s a safe place. Our parent input and students’ responses — as far as how they’re feeling on campus — they want to come to school every day,” she said.
LTS programs that promote the arts and fitness also contribute to that positive culture, Hale told Hoffman.
[…] Hoffman, who toured a handful of classes, including Heidi Decker’s third-grade Saxon math class, which is taught one full grade level above that of her students, learned about the rigorous curriculum students have access to at LTS.
[…] Hoffman also heard about some of the extracurriculars available at Legacy Avondale, including robotics and musical theatre classes.
“It’s great to see that all students’ needs are met, while also keeping rigor and (aiming) high. As far as the extracurriculars, that’s critically important for students’ … skills. We know students are not ready to learn if those needs are not also met. It’s great to see that they have access to that here,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman, who was elected superintendent in 2018 and assumed her position in January, oversees the state of Arizona’s public school system and directs the state’s department of education.
But she told students her favorite part of her job is interacting with students and teachers from different schools.
[…] And when a student asked Hoffman if her job is difficult, she admitted, “I have a really long day sometimes. Sometimes I travel a lot … sometimes it’s hard to be away from home.
“But it’s worth it. It’s more fun than hard.”
Arizona classes are back in session.
For parents of the more than 1.1 million Arizona students enrolled in a public school, it’s hard to imagine that less than a generation ago, the decision about where your child would attend school was made for you, not by you.
Indeed, many of us are old enough to remember a time when school assignment was dictated not by a student’s needs, but by the neighborhood in which his or her parents could afford to live.
In Arizona, that was the reality until 1994 when Arizona enacted charter school legislation. Together with the adoption of district open enrollment, the statutory changes affirmed a simple principle: Parents know best when it comes to picking the right school for their child.
Nearly 1 in 5 students attend charter schools
This fall marks 25 years since the first public charter schools opened in Arizona. Enrollment trends show public support for these schools remains as strong as ever. In fact, nearly 1 in 5 Arizona students – more than 200,000 – are returning to class at one of 550 public charter schools across the state. Statewide charter enrollment has more than doubled in the last decade alone, during which time district enrollment has been flat.
[..] Charter schools beat the state average
Between 2015 and 2018, Arizona charter students who took the AzMERIT assessment topped the statewide average in nearly every grade level and subject area tested, and charter students of every racial and ethnic group did better than their statewide peers.
Keep in mind that Arizona charter schools, by law, are open to every student; no “cherry-picking” allowed. On average, research by the Center for Student Achievement has demonstrated students who transfer to a charter from a district school have lower initial AzMERIT scores than students who migrate the opposite direction. The center is a nonprofit partner of the Arizona Charter Schools Association.
Nationally, students who attend charter schools are more likely to graduate from high school, attend college, and have higher future earnings than their peers. Low-income students are particularly benefited by a charter education, where educational opportunities are not defined by their ZIP code. […]
Jake Logan is president & CEO of the Arizona Charter Schools Association and Nina Rees is president & CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Reach them at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
West Valley View
We hear a lot of talk these days of health care reform, but it’s important to consider the hundreds of millions of Americans who currently receive quality care thanks to their health plans. I am one of those Americans, and I think my story represents the peace of mind — in otherwise traumatic situations — that quality coverage can provide Arizonans.
On one Sunday morning in 2016, I was getting ready to drive our family to church. I suddenly had this shooting pain in my back, and it felt like someone was squeezing my chest. I couldn’t breathe, and I thought I was having a heart attack.
We immediately went to the hospital and, after a battery of tests, the doctors determined I would need surgery to remove my gall bladder. Fortunately, the procedure went smoothly, and thanks to my health plan I paid next to nothing. Without my health plan, this emergency would have been a major financial challenge for our family. Total costs would have exceeded $36,000. With our health coverage, we only owed $80.
As policymakers look for ways to improve the health care system, it’s important they not disrupt coverage for those of us who are happy with our health plan. Families like mine.
Jason Barraza and his family live in Phoenix.
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