Pressure is building on Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen to resign following his arrest this week in an alleged multi-state adoption fraud scheme.
Prosecutors in Arizona, Arkansas and Utah allege Petersen committed a wide range of illegal offenses in his private-sector career as an attorney, including running an elaborate black-market adoption business and bilking Arizona’s Medicaid program out of over $800,000.
While the Governor and the Board withheld judgment on Petersen’s guilt or innocence, both cited concerns the investigation will prevent him from effectively carrying out his elected duties. Meanwhile, Petersen is now in federal custody and headed to Arkansas to face additional charges.
Petersen’s predicament puts the County Assessor’s office in an awkward position. It doesn’t appear the Supervisors have authority to remove Petersen from office, though the Board is reportedly seeking legal advice on the matter. Petersen could also be recalled by voters.
But it may be simpler (and cheaper) to simply wait until he faces re-election in 2020. Just 389 short days away!
Phoenix Business Journal
Of that investment, $1 billion is underway, said Christine Mackay, director of economic development for the city of Phoenix.
During the next two years, more than 7,000 health care and bioscience jobs will be created. A multiplier effect, which includes the creation of support jobs and service industry jobs in the region to support those workers pushed the total of new jobs nearly three times higher, she said.
The multiplier of traditional office jobs is 1.7 — for every office job, another half position is created, she said. But when looking at medical schools, hospitals, research institutes and bioscience companies, those jobs create three to five more jobs for every health care job.
“The 7,000 jobs aren’t really 7,000 but more like 21,000 jobs in the region,” Mackay said.
Contributing to that growth is Omaha, Nebraska-based Creighton University, which is establishing a medical school at the former Park Central Mall in midtown Phoenix, while Arizona State University and Mayo Clinic will partner on bioscience efforts near Mayo’s north Phoenix hospital.
Meanwhile, Maryland-based Wexford Science & Technology LLC is building a $77 million research center on the north side of the Phoenix Biomedical Campus in downtown Phoenix. ASU, which will anchor that facility, is investing $40 million in tenant improvements. […]
Throughout the capitols of the world, the halls of government are often buildings of prestige, works of art. The buildings reflect an appreciation for the people and places they represent. Such grandeur has never had its place in Arizona.
[…] For decades, republicans and democrats have debated, pleaded, yelled, and threatened in the mosh pit known as the floor of the Arizona House of Representatives.
There were attempts to spruce up the room. In 1979, the House Administration Committee approved installing a mural of the Grand Canyon along the House Walls, but it was not meant to be. The artist commissioned to do the work apparently ran into what was described as logistical problems, including a lengthy illness.
By 1982, the deal was off.
“The wheels came off that bus,” House Speaker Rusty Bowers said, “But it was never rescinded.”
About a year ago, Bowers, whose family history is interwoven with Arizona’s and the Grand Canyon, personally took on the mural project. Members of his staff, and State Representative Jennifer Longdon, were among a group who looked through hundreds of pictures before choosing a 2017 photograph by artist Chris Collacott.
It was transformed into a 22-panel high definition mural of the Grand Canyon from Hopi Point, where the picture was taken, to Phantom Ranch. At 13.5 feet high and 88 feet long, it transforms the House floor.
“Ms. Longdon mentioned it just gives the air of gravitas and majesty,” Bowers said, “This is something that we could do, and we did do, and I think it lends a who lot to the building and making laws to the people of Arizona.” […]
In Maricopa County, Obamacare choices are expected to be plentiful: five companies confirmed with The Arizona Republic that they will be selling marketplace plans for 2020 coverage, an increase from four this year.
Ambetter from Arizona Complete Health, a company that in 2019 sold Obamacare plans only in Maricopa and Pima counties, will expand to sell 2020 plans in Gila, Graham, Greenlee, Pinal and Santa Cruz counties, officials confirmed this week.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona will sell plans in all 15 counties, said Jeff Stelnik, who is the company’s general manager for individual and family segments. It will mark the first time since 2016 that Blue Cross Blue Shield will be offered on the marketplace to Maricopa County residents.
Open enrollment — the seventh consecutive year that Obamacare insurance marketplaces will be selling plans — starts Nov. 1 and continues through Dec. 15.
[…] Arizona consumers on average should not notice an increase in premiums and deductibles over 2019 rates, insurers and enrollment experts say. […]
Veridus Clients in the news
PHOENIX – If you use Uber and Lyft to get to and from Sky Harbor, you could soon be paying a lot more to do so. The airport wants to increase the fees by as much as $5. This would make Sky Harbor one of the most expensive airports for rideshare users.
We mentioned this to travelers at Sky Harbor and they all had a strong reaction. Now, this hasn’t passed, but it is up for a vote. As you can imagine, many people we spoke to were not happy about this.
Airports want to raise Uber and Lyft prices and fees could go up as much as $5. People waiting to be picked up at the airport are responding to the news that they may be paying a lot more for a ride to and from the airport.
“It would be nicer if they could do it a little more gradual than a big bump,” said Becky Phelps.
“I usually take an Uber of a Lyft because it’s reliable, fast, and economical — [it] makes my trip easy,” said Carla Rotering.
Right now, riders pay $2.60 for pickup only, but the airport is now proposing a fee for both pickup and dropoff. It’s $4 both ways, making it $8 total roundtrip by 2020, increasing to $10 roundtrip by 2024.
[…] This would be a 200% increase in fees and the airport says 80% of the funding would go toward the costs for the sky train. Both Uber and Lyft have responded in a statement.
“These fees would make Sky Harbor one of the most expensive rideshare airports for rideshare users in the country. Lyft urges the council to consider a more fair and equitable solution.
Uber responded by saying:
We support paying our fair share at airports across the country, but the city’s plan is irresponsible to riders.
This vote will be scheduled to go to Phoenix City Council on Oct. 16. We reached out to the city and city councilors and did not hear back.
Lego is looking to keep its plastic bricks out of the trash.
The Danish toymaker is testing a way for customers to ship their unwanted bricks back and get them into the hands of other kids.
It said Tuesday that customers in the United States can print out a mailing label on its site, dump their used Lego bricks in a box and ship them free. Lego said the pieces will be cleaned, put into boxes and given to Teach for America, a nonprofit group that will donate them to U.S. classrooms. Some bricks will be also sent to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston for their after-school programs.
Lego said if the test is successful, it may expand the program beyond the United States next year.
The company typically tells its customers to keep their bricks or pass them on to others. But some have asked for another way to donate them, said Tim Brooks, Lego’s vice president of environmental responsibility.
Lego, like other big brands, is looking to please customers worried about discarded plastics’ impact on the environment. Plastics don’t disintegrate but can break down into tiny pieces and be eaten by birds or other wildlife, endangering their health. […]
Maricopa Integrated Health System and the Arizona Public Health Association are joining forces to warn Arizona residents about the dangers of vaping. The organizations also urged health care professionals to begin screening patients for vaping related illnesses.
“We have seen severe respiratory illnesses in several patients that are most likely related to vaping,” said Dr. Dan Quan, a medical toxicologist and interim chair of Emergency Medicine at Maricopa Medical Center. “We want to get the word out to Arizonans that using e-cigarettes and vaping can be dangerous.”
Will Humble, AzPHA Executive Director, said the only way to prevent severe lung disease linked to electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices is to stop using the products. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Friday reported 450 cases in 33 states.
[…] While Arizona has not formally reported a case, Dr. Quan said he has seen at least two patients with pneumonia likely related to vaping in the last week. He believes there are more cases and urged Arizona health care professionals to ask patients with respiratory issues or illnesses about a history of vaping or e-cigarette use.
According to the CDC, in many cases, patients have acknowledged to health care personnel recent use of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-containing products called “wax.” However, no specific product has been identified in all cases, nor has any product been conclusively linked to illnesses. Even though cases appear similar, it is not clear if these cases have a common cause or if they are different diseases with similar symptoms.
NEWTOWN – Sandy Hook Promise, the homegrown nonprofit that’s been in the national headlines for the last month, got a $50,000 boost from the communications giant Motorola.
Chicago-based Motorola Solutions’ grant to Sandy Hook Promise will help the nonprofit extend its training programs about stopping gun violence before it happens into more schools, according to a release.
“We are so grateful to Motorola for standing up for youth and investing in making schools safer,” said Nicole Hockley, the mother of a first-grader who was slain in the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre and a co-founder of the Newtown-based nonprofit. “With their support, we will empower even more students to ‘Know the Signs’ to prevent school shootings and suicides.”
Some 7.5 million adults and students have been trained in the nonprofit’s signature programs, which teach the warning signs that a youth is about to commit harm, and ways to intervene.
An executive for the charitable arm of Motorola Solutions said Wednesday that Sandy Hook Promise’s work is promising.
“We believe in organizations that foster innovation and drive change, and we’re proud to be part of the positive impact they are making in the community,” said Monica Mueller, executive director of the Motorola Solutions Foundation, in a prepared statement. “We are very pleased to support the work of Sandy Hook Promise,” […]
Chamber Business News
Tomato growers in Mexico came to terms with the U.S. Department of Commerce on Thursday, September 19, signing an agreement to suspend an anti-dumping investigation into tomatoes coming into the U.S. through Arizona’s ports of entry. While the new deal raises the floor price for Mexican tomatoes, it also ends a 17.56 percent duty that was set in motion in May when the Tomato Suspension Agreement was originally cancelled. Without the new deal, the duty was set to raise by an additional two percent.
Following the end of the agreement heading into the summer, officials from the Commerce Department and their Mexican counterparts discussed cutting a completely new suspension agreement, a move spearheaded by the Florida Tomato Exchange. But for the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas (FPAA), the Nogales-based produce corporation led by Lance Jungmeyer, the move has not been well received.
Leaders at the FPAA and importers here in Arizona are concerned about the inspection requirements that could end up leading to more delays at the border where wait times for trucks bringing produce in are already high. For perishable commodities, such as tomatoes and other produce items, this could end up being a major loss in product, money, and solid working relationships.
Now, the FPAA, Mexican exporters, and Arizona importers all have another shared concern on their hands: the construction of new warehouse spaces along the U.S.-Mexico border, namely in Nogales.
[…] According to the new agreement, 92 percent of Mexican tomato trucks will be subject to quality control inspections. The Department of Commerce, which worked with the Florida Tomato Exchange to end the Suspension Agreement in May, argued that the inspection centers would help to prevent imports of tomatoes of poor quality or poor condition that have price suppressive effects for the entire tomato market in the United States. That hasn’t settled well with Jungmeyer and his constituents.
“Because of the increase in tomato inspections, the importers’ tomatoes will require up to an extra 24-48 hours in staging at the border. Holding tomatoes adds costs and reduces shelf life. It is a completely ridiculous set of requirements that amounts to a Technical Barrier to Trade (TBT),” said Jungmeyer. […]
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