Arizona government corruption
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They submitted public record requests for documents related to the issue from 29 officials around the state, receivng the requested reply from 28 of them. The only official who failed to comply was Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup. The initial request letter was sent to the Mayor's office on April 1, 2008.
The city has acknowledged in writing that the reply was received, but no action was taken. After follow up phone calls and emails received no response, another letter was sent in June. When another batch of phone calls and emails went unanswered, a final letter was sent in July, threatening to sue if the information was not provided by July 23. When the date came and passed, the Institue took the matter to court.
"Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio filed a lawsuit against the Board of Supervisors on Thursday night, the second the sheriff has filed against the county's governing body in a week. The most recent legal action deals with a law-enforcement communication system. The suit, filed in Superior Court, claims that only criminal-justice agencies should have access to the system. According to the Sheriff's Office, the board violated state and federal law when it gave control of the county's communication system to a civilian agency last year." Read the full article here. http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/2009/05/02/20090502mcsovcounty0502.html
"Auditor letters that reportedly contain a list of the Salt River Project's Verde River-related lawsuits continue to be a sticking point between the Phoenix-area utility company and local municipalities.
On one hand, SRP contends the letters are subject to attorney-client privilege and are not public records.
But on the other hand, Prescott and Prescott Valley say the confidentiality privilege does not apply to the auditor letters, and they are asking the court to require the release of the documents." Read the full article here.
"After numerous requests, Benson City Attorney Thomas Benavidez refused to provide complete copies of billing invoices totaling more than $44,000 submitted to the city since being hired in October.
The San Pedro Valley News-Sun has submitted several requests to City Clerk Vicki Vivian regarding the attorney's billing process."
"The state Senate gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a bill that would make public the disciplinary records of state employees.
On a voice vote, the Senate approved House Bill 2159 and amended it to say that employee phone numbers and addresses would remain private.
The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Jonathan Paton, a Tucson Republican, was introduced as part of a series of reforms to Child Protective Services following the deaths of two Tucson children, and the presumed death of a third local child, who were being monitored by the state agency."
"The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office tries to stifle almost anyone checking on its operations.
It keeps secret the most basic data about its police work that other departments publish every year. It refuses to release public records - or tries to remove information from those records - without any legal right to do so.
And even agencies that oversee Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office cannot pry free documents that MCSO wants to keep from the public."
This law is intended to ensure that the public will have access to records at public agencies, but the reality is that agencies can still find ways to make it difficult to get the information."
"Pinal County Sheriff Chris Vasquez used his work computer to research his opponent and pass the information onto his campaign staff, according to records of his e-mails.
In August, Vasquez sent an attachment containing a Scottsdale speeding ticket for political opponent Paul Babeu to his personal e-mail account and to the account of his campaign treasurer using his county e-mail, records say.
Arizona law prohibits the use of public resources, including computers, for campaign purposes."
Town officials declined resident Cynthia Buffington's request to obtain a copy of videotaped mock interviews made during a training session on how to deal with the media due to privacy interests of the individuals involved, according to an e-mail exchange between Buffington and the town's clerk."
"The regional transportation plan and sales-tax ballots have been in secure storage for more than 2 1/2 years.
But an attorney for the Regional Transportation Authority argued in court Wednesday that the ballots, which normally should have been destroyed two years ago, instead should be made available for inspection just like any other public record.
The RTA is hoping Pima County Superior Court Judge Charles Harrington will release copies of the ballots so it can put to rest years of allegations about the validity of the election."
"Maricopa County attorney candidate Tim Nelson kept up his call for the release of records related to the arrest of New Times publishers Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin, holding a press conference at Arizona Democratic Party headquarters Thursday to demand the office of incumbent county attorney Andrew Thomas reveal the records."
The center sent out a press release about the lawsuit after 5 p.m. Wednesday. Attempts to reach three city officials at home and on mobile phones after work hours were unsuccessful."
The leader kept records of the process, which allegedly ran between July 4, 2006 and Oct. 30, 2007, with handwritten notes. The notes show much personal, quantitative information of up to 136 straw people involved in the scheme. None of those who applied for these loans in this group were active students, nor did they indent to become so.
She allegedly charged the straw people between $500 and $1,500 each for her help in attaining the grants and loans. They could keep most of the loan money.
The investigation was a joint effort between Maricopa County Attorney's Office and the Sheriff's Office. They allege Stapley failed to disclose millions of dollars in loans, hundreds of thousands of dollars in deposits from checking accounts to business accounts, along with real-estate deals and other assets.
The transactions specifically cited include a $10 million loan received by companies owned or controlled by Stapley, and land sales involving Conley Wolfswinkel, who was convicted of bank fraud in the early 1990s. It is alleged that both of these were improperly reported on annual financial-disclosure statements mandated by state law.
The Goldwater Institute requested records for all current and future documents related to the negotiations of potential new ownership of the Coyotes. Glendale denied the entire request, noting the negotiations were confidential. The city also mentioned it would be burdensome to send future records.
"The denial of this records request is a clear violation of Arizona's public records law," said Carrie Ann Sitren, an attorney with the Goldwater Institute. "Courts have given clear instruction about how to handle sensitive information in public records and how to handle on-going requests for public records. Glendale followed neither instruction. The city is deliberately keeping public records from the public, and $20 million in taxpayer money could be at stake."
Sitren also said that the cases the city provided as the basis for their denial were not sufficient.
"Creating and using documents and records are not difficult. When it comes to saving them in an economical and efficient manner things can get complicated, said Jerry Kirkpatrick, Records Management specialist with the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records.
"A records management person spends a lot of time in the basement, and they are usually rather dusty," Kirkpatrick said.
While all records have value to the organization that creates or receives them, not all have permanent value that warrants preservation in archives. All have specific retention periods before they can be destroyed or disposed.
The whole basis for saving public records is accountability, said Assistant Ombudsman Liz Hill."
Tucson, AZ On October 29, 2009, the Arizona Supreme Court delivered a landmark FOIA decision in Lake v. City of Phoenix, determining that electronic "metadata", like creation dates and time stamps of electronic files, are subject to the same records laws as the documents themselves. The decision came about as a result of a public records request made by a police officer for filed performance reports.
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