Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Arpaio again shows his contempt for victims, public safety

Sen. Steve Gallardo

State Capitol, Phoenix – Sheriff Joe Arpaio is once again demonstrating his contempt for crime victims and the public he is sworn to protect by traveling through Iowa with Texas Gov. Rick Perry instead of addressing the over 400 neglected sex-crime investigations and leadership failures by his office.
Arpaio's decision to spend this week grabbing more of the national spotlight for himself shows his utter disregard for the recent high-profile failures of his office:
  • On December 23rd, Federal Judge Murray Snow set the grounds for a class action lawsuit against Maricopa County with his ruling that the Sheriff’s Office engaged in racial profiling.
  • On December 16th, Gulf War veteran Ernest Atencio was tasered in a Maricopa County jail, left unconscious and not breathing in a cell, and died five days later after being removed from life support.
  • On December 15th, the U.S. Department of Justice accused the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office of unconstitutional policing, discrimination of inmates and a systemic culture of disregard for basic legal rights.
  • A 2008 East Valley Tribune Pulitzer Prize-winning series and a December 4th Associated Press report revealed the failure of the Sheriff’s Office to adequately investigate more than 400 sex-crime cases between 2005 and 2007.
  • In October, Arpaio testified in the Andrew Thomas disciplinary hearing that he was unaware of the rampant corruption of his office and immediate subordinates, stating, “I was confused then. I’m confused now.”
“With all of these pending matters, why is Sheriff Arpaio in Iowa campaigning for Gov. Perry when he should be working to meet the Department of Justice’s January 4th deadline? He is risking the loss of millions in federal assistance for the sake of serving his ego and a presidential candidate." said Sen. Gallardo.
"It is easier for Arpaio to continue to pretend that he is the victim of a "sneak attack" by the federal government instead of making true changes in his office that will protect the citizens of Arizona.
"I call on Arpaio to immediately return to his duties and deal with a sheriff's office that is in disarray, or step down and let a law enforcement professional come in and straighten things out."

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Legislature must quickly enact meaningful ethics reform

Senate Minority Leader David Schapira

December 21, 2011

State Capitol, Phoenix – Senate Minority Leader David Schapira released the following statement regarding Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery’s Fiesta Bowl investigation:
"The public deserves to know that the actions of their elected officials are transparent and responsive to their concerns, not those of special interests," said Sen. Schapira.
"The Legislature should pay close attention to the Maricopa County Attorney's findings and his recommendations for reform. I plan to introduce legislation to enact meaningful ethics reform and urge my colleagues to offer bipartisan support. It must be a priority for the upcoming session."

Monday, December 19, 2011

No more easy rides for domestic violence offenders

Sen. Steve Gallardo
December 19, 2011

State Capitol, Phoenix – Senator Steve Gallardo introduced Senate Bill 1027 to enact tougher penalties for domestic violence offenders, including fines that would fund services that help victims of domestic violence.

Currently, a person who is convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence can be sentenced to counseling alone. Sen. Gallardo’s bill would increase penalties to include:
  • Mandatory completion of a domestic violence offender treatment program at a DHS-approved facility. Offenders would be required to pay for the cost of their treatment.
  • Mandatory supervised probation.
  • Mandatory sentencing to not less than 48 consecutive hours in jail. Offenders would not be eligible for probation or suspension of sentence unless the entire 48 hours is served.
  • Mandatory fine of not less than $50. Funds collected from offenders would be placed in the state’s existing Domestic Violence Shelter Fund, which provides financial assistance to shelters for victims of domestic violence through contracts for shelter services.
These harsher penalties would be expanded to apply to those who plead guilty or no contest.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Even more startling is the fact that in Arizona one or more children witness a domestic violence incident every 44 minutes. It’s important to realize that this behavior can be triggered by alcoholism, drug abuse or, especially in these difficult times, the added stress of joblessness and financial instability.

Early intervention, such as treatment and supervised probation is key for first-time offenders of domestic violence. The 2007 study “System Alert: Arizona’s Criminal Justice Response to Domestic Violence” from ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy reported:
“A frequent criticism voiced especially by lower-court professionals was the dearth of supervised probation for misdemeanor DV offenders. A number of practitioners cited this lack as a key reason for recidivism, arguing that early intervention with lower-level offenders offers a greater chance for success in preventing an escalation of violence.”
“Right now in Arizona, someone who beats their dog can face harsher punishment than someone who beats their girlfriend. This legislation sends a strong message to those who engage in domestic violence. Arizonans won’t put up with that behavior, but we will help domestic violence victims escape abusive situations,” said Sen. Gallardo.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Time to consider ending taxpayer-funded political party presidential preference elections

Sen. Steve Gallardo

December 9, 2011

The Honorable Janice K. Brewer
Arizona Govemor
Executive Tower
1700 West Washington
Phoenix, AZ 85007

Dear Governor Brewer:

It is time to look at eliminating the presidential preference election in Arizona. The preference election costs taxpayers millions of dollars for what is really a political party function. Moreover, about one third of registered voters in Arizona, those who are independent, cannot even participate yet must still help pay the bill.

The state has budgeted $3.4 million for the election. While these funds help reimburse the counties, they cover only a portion of the total costs. The money should be used to create jobs and improve education in Arizona. There are alternatives to the presidential preference election that as a state we should explore.

The Arizona Democratic Party just announced that it will not participate in this year’s presidential preference election to save taxpayers money. The party will instead choose its nominee and convention delegates through party-funded caucuses. A number of states use the caucus system, including Iowa, Nevada, Colorado, Minnesota, Washington, Idaho and Maine.

If you believe it is too late for the state to abandon this year’s presidential preference election, we should use the upcoming legislative session to consider a new system after 2012. The political parties in Arizona can decide their preferred candidate for the Presidency in some other fashion. Arizona taxpayers should no longer be asked to foot the bill, especially when more than one million registered voters are left out.

I hope to work with you and other Republican leaders to get this done.

Senator Steve M. Gallardo
District 13

Original letter can be downloaded here.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Support Legislative Change to Allow Tribal Governments to Directly Apply for Federal Disaster Aid

Senator Jack Jackson Jr., D-2
December 8, 2011

State Capitol, Phoenix – Senator Jack Jackson Jr. supports the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) call to amend federal law to allow tribal governments to directly apply for federal disaster aid.

In a statement released yesterday, FEMA announced that it supports amending federal law to allow federally recognized tribal governments to make disaster declaration requests directly to the president. Currently, only states – through the governor – can make these requests.

According to the FEMA statement:
“Amending the law would acknowledge the sovereignty of federally recognized tribes and the trust relationship of the United States, and enhance FEMA’s working relationship with tribal governments. Such a change would be another step in fulfilling the promise of a presidential memo issued by President Obama to improve the administration’s support for tribal governments. Such a legislative change to the Stafford Act would allow a tribal government to choose whether to directly request a separate declaration or to receive assistance, as they do presently, under a declaration for a state."
FEMA’s support of this change to the Stafford Act would not lessen the Arizona Division of Emergency Management’s commitment to serving Arizona’s Tribes in time of emergency.
“As we saw in last summer’s devastating floods on the Havasupai Reservation, and having personally observed the Arizona Division of Emergency Management’s recent Vigilant Guard emergency preparedness exercise, the importance of eliminating hurdles to emergency response is crucial,” said Sen. Jackson.
“Eliminating this one step in the process will not only create a stronger relationship between tribal governments and FEMA, but will help ensure quick emergency responses for our isolated tribal communities.”

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Arizona facing challenges on World AIDS Day

Sen. Jack Jackson Jr.
Press Release Senator Jack Jackson Jr., D-2

State Capitol, Phoenix – In observance of today's World AIDS Day, Senator Jack Jackson Jr. recognizes the important efforts of the Arizona Department of Health Services' Office of HIV, STD and Hepatitis Services to bring awareness of HIV/AIDS in Arizona.

The theme for World AIDS Day through 2015 is “Getting to Zero”: zero AIDS-related deaths, zero new HIV infections and zero discrimination.

Senator Jackson, currently a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, and the Office of HIV, STD and Hepatitis Services are collaborating with those who are on the front lines of preventing and treating HIV/AIDS in Arizona, including county health departments, tribal representatives, members of the faith community, healthcare workers and the state Department of Education. Combining the National Strategy on HIV/AIDS and their own expertise, they are coordinating a statewide Arizona HIV/AIDS Plan, with the goal of implementation in 2012.

“The ADHS’ Office of HIV is crucial to preventing the spread of HIV in our communities. This cooperative effort is a significant step toward the global goal of 'Getting to Zero' and their effort is a vital part of Arizona's commitment to conquering this epidemic,” said Sen. Jackson.

For information on World AIDS Day activities across Arizona, go to: