Friday, September 7, 2018

Zona Politics: Cartoonists Fitz & Rand, Former U.S. Rep. Ron Barber and Author Alice Hatcher

Posted By on Fri, Sep 7, 2018 at 4:48 PM

On this edition of Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel: I talk with Arizona Daily Star's Dave Fitzsimmons and Tucson Weekly's Rand Carlson about what it's like to be a political cartoonist in such a target-rich environment (and highlight their show of strips at Contreras Gallery this month). Then I talk to Ron Barber, the former Southern Arizona congressman, about his memories of John McCain and his thoughts about this year's race for CD2. Finally, we talk with Alice Hatcher, whose book The Wonder That Was Ours is excerpted in this week's Tucson Weekly.

A.G. Mark Brnovich is Shocked! Shocked! To Hear About Charter School Profiteering. (Does That Make Him the Education A.G.?)

Posted By on Fri, Sep 7, 2018 at 9:25 AM

  • Courtesy of
Who knew? Certainly not Attorney General Mark Brnovich. "I can't believe it's not a crime!" he said when he found out that charter school operators were pocketing and investing millions of dollars the state pays them to educate our children. "I'm not only shocked, but I'm disappointed."

Brnovich must be new to the concept of privatizing government and profiting handsomely from public funding. For instance, he probably doesn't know much about the Arizona's conservative/libertarian Goldwater Institute, which advocates for privatization and deregulation. Wait, check that. He was Director of the Goldwater Institute's Center for Constitutional Government. OK, so maybe he doesn't have any real world experience with for-profit businesses which make big money by performing government services. Wait, check that too. He was Senior Director for the Corrections Corporation of America, the private prison company.

I guess it's possible Brnovich hasn't read or seen the many news stories about charter schools misusing state funds during his years in Arizona, or heard the topic mentioned in the halls of government. Possible, but not likely.

So why this sudden concern about charter schools ripping off the public and his call for "a mechanism . . . to make sure that charter schools . . . are not enriching themselves at the expense of students"? Here are four good reasons.
1. He's running for office in a year Democrats look like they have a shot at winning statewide races.
2. He has an able, hard working Democratic challenger, January Contreras, who has a strong record of serving and protecting Arizonans.
3. Education is the top issue for most Arizonans.
4. He's one of 20 attorneys general who signed onto a lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act. If they're successful, insurance companies can refuse to cover people with preexisting conditions. He'd rather talk about how much he loves children and education than how he's working to deny people health coverage.
The first three reasons are self explanatory. Number four deserves more explanation.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Any Questions?

Posted By on Wed, Sep 5, 2018 at 4:30 PM

  • Graphic created from BigStock image

Across the country, teachers give up some of their earning power when they decide to enter their noble profession. Arizona tops the list in earning losses: 36.4 percent.

We're Number 1!   We're Number 1!   We're Number . . .   Oh wait, that's not a good thing.

According to an analysis in the Money section of Time, on average, teachers earn 18.7 percent less than other college grads working full time, factoring in education, age and years of experience. If you consider teacher's benefits, which are higher than in the private sector, the gap goes down to 11.1 percent.

But all pay gaps are not created equal, as we learn in the article's "Teacher Pay Penalty, State-By-State" chart. Scroll way, way down to the bottom, past Oklahoma, past North Carolina, and you get to Arizona, where teachers earn 36.4 percent less than people of similar education, age and experience.

Do you teach in Arizona? If so, slash a-third-plus-3-percent off your earning power.

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Tucson Man Indicted on Charges of Killing His Girlfriend Six Years Ago

Posted By on Wed, Sep 5, 2018 at 3:40 PM

  • courtesy photo
  • Genna Ayup

Toni Solheid never stopped hoping the man who shot and killed her daughter would see his day in court. And now, more than six years later, he is.

“For as much as I was never going to quit fighting, I wondered if it would ever happen in my lifetime,” she said.

In 2012, the Tucson Police Department booked Ronald Corbin Jr. on one count of manslaughter after he shot and killed Solheid’s daughter, 27-year-old Genna Ayup. But the Pima County Attorney’s Office declined to indict him.

When Ayup was killed, her and Corbin lived together with their 3-year-old son. Corbin told police the shooting was an accident, that he had been putting a new grip on his gun and it went off. When police arrived that night, the packaging for the new grip was on an ottoman in the living room, next to the gun, a barely touched plate of food, a fresh beer and a pile of their child’s toys.

Neighbors later told police they heard screaming coming from the house; some said a male and female yelling at each other. Police saw no signs of struggle and concluded the screaming must have happened after the shooting.

Last week Corbin was indicted on one count of manslaughter for the reckless killing of another human being, according to the Pima County Attorney’s Office. He's pleading not guilty to the charges. On Wednesday, he was arraigned in court. Until the trial is over, the County Attorney’s Office can’t address why they declined to try the case in 2012 or why they’re indicting Corbin now. But old case records suggest a reason.

A detective in the case wrote that she had TPD’s armorer review the scenario about how the gun could have accidentally fired.

“He not only advised me the scenario was possible, and that he was familiar with people, even officers making the same mistake, he actually demonstrated the scenario to me,” she wrote.

The report goes on to say Chief Deputy County Attorney Kellie Johnson said she was declining to file criminal charges against Corbin due to accidental circumstances.

An April 2018 TPD Crime Laboratory report for the case says the gun was test fired and “found to function as designed without any malfunctions” and that installation of the grip would not cause it to accidentally fire. Furthermore, the report says the gun’s trigger has two parts that both have to be pulled with a weight of about seven-and-a-half-pounds of force to fire the gun.

Solheid never believed the shooting was an accident, and about a year-and-a-half ago, she took her story to Tucson City Councilmember Steve Kozachik, who began pushing for the case to be re-opened.

“Even if you agree with what [Corbin] says, it’s irresponsible to go out drinking for three hours, come home with two other people in the room and try and change the grip on your gun and accidentally kill somebody,” he said. “That can’t be our standard for responsible gun ownership.”

Kozachik hired private investigator Weaver J. Barkman, a retired Pima County Sheriff’s Department sergeant with extensive experience in felony investigations.

In November 2017, Barkman met with Kozachik, Solheid and her husband Earl. Barkman agreed to evaluate the investigation, warning them his findings may not support their belief that Ayup was murdered. Two months later, he presented his assessment to TPD Police Chief Chris Magnus.

“The totality of the evidence provided establishes that Ronald James Corbin intentionally shot and killed Genna Louise Ayup...during a domestic violence episode,” he wrote as his conclusion.

“Mr. Corbin’s claim(s) that his Glock semi-automatic pistol ‘accidentally’ discharged while in his ‘lap’ as he was ‘changing’ or ‘attempting to change the grips’ is conclusively disproven. An accidental discharge by that weapon was and is objectively impossible.”

According to police reports, Corbin got off work at Tucson Electric Power at 2:30 p.m., June 26, 2012, and headed to O’Malley’s Bar and Grill. Over the next three hours, he ordered three 23-ounce Dos Equis and a vodka drink.

Reviewing Corbin and Ayup’s texts from that night, police concluded that she frequently texted him, asking him when he was coming home and if they could hang out together, and his replies were short and cold. Just before 6 p.m., Corbin got on his motorcycle and headed the 10 miles home.

At home, he put his backpack and TEP work shirt in on the kitchen counter. He changed out of his work clothes and sat in front of the TV with a beer and plate of food and, according to Corbin, began to change the grip on his Glock 27 semi-automatic pistol.

By 6:30, he called 911 and said his girlfriend had been shot.

When police arrived, Ayup was on the floor in the front entryway of the house, a large pool of blood under her head. Corbin was distraught. The police report says his demeanor was “an appropriate reaction to an accident.” He was crying and vomited twice. He told police it was an accident but that he wouldn’t say any more until he spoke with an attorney.

Police found a chunk of Ayup’s hair on the ground near her feet, by her discarded shoes and a broken wine glass. She had a bruise on the side of her face.

On an ottoman in the living room was the gun, grip fully installed, and the grip’s packaging.

While they handcuffed Corbin outside, one of the officers brought over a basket of toys for his little son. “Daddy get the gun and shoot mommy,” the boy told the police. “I think he did. Daddy’s a bad boy.”

The police report says the child told police his father hit his mother. Police wrote they believed the child was referring to the incident, that he was very verbal for his age and his details were consistent with evidence at the scene. Corbin was released on his own recognizance that night.

Barkman’s report draws attention to the neat placement of the gun, grip packaging and other key items on the ottoman.

Corbin told police he ejected the live round and set it next to him on the couch right before he began installing the grip. Police photos show a live round on the ottoman, under the empty holster and gun. Barkman points out that Corbin would have had to take the holster off the gun before ejecting the live round. This means the round wouldn’t likely be underneath the holster even if Corbin had set it on the ottoman rather than on the couch like he stated.

Barkman’s report also states that Corbin has “a history of attempting to avoid criminal responsibility by staging and misdirection.”

About six months before Ayup’s shooting, Corbin’s car was involved in a hit and run collision. Corbin told police he had been assaulted leaving the bar by three men who then stole his car. When police interviewed people in regards to Ayup’s shooting, several of them, including Ayup’s close friend, her cousin, and Corbin’s cousin, all said Corbin had told them he had crashed his car while drunk, filed a false report and made an insurance claim.

In both cases, Barkman writes that Corbin “provided no meaningful details about the facts and circumstances surrounding the events,” and when asked to do so, Corbin asked to speak with an attorney.

Corbin was a gun enthusiast, so he should have been familiar with gun safety, a number of people interviewed with the case, including Ayup’s family members and Corbin’s drinking buddy from work, told police Corbin had a gun collection and went out shooting on a regular basis.

Corbin’s cousin told police that due to Corbin’s knowledge of guns, he found it hard to believe he shot Ayup on accident, according to the police report.

Ayup’s close friend told police that Corbin had called her almost two weeks after the incident. He told her Ayup had been watching their son playing with a hose in the yard when the gun accidentally went off. Ayup’s cousin told police the same story, adding that Corbin said his son was playing in the mud.

Police photos show there is no water or mud on the ground outside the house. The hose is neatly wound.

In Barkman’s 16-page report, he writes that the bruise on Ayup’s right cheek, shown in police photos, may have come from a fist. He also writes that the clump of hair found near her body appears to have intact roots, suggesting it was yanked from her scalp. Also, the drywall by the front door is damaged, which he says is consistent with Corbin slamming Ayup against the door, causing the knob to smash into the wall.

Barkman concluded that it’s likely that Corbin assaulted Ayup before shooting her. In his report to TPD, he writes that the likely assault led to her dropping the wine glass she was holding and losing her sandals.

People in Ayup’s life — her close friend, her cousin and mother — told police that Corbin was emotionally and verbally abusive toward her, that he went out drinking every day, didn’t help her much with their child and that she was concerned he was doing cocaine. None of them were aware of any physical abuse. Corbin’s cousin told police Corbin was an angry person, had a drinking problem, drank and drove frequently and had been doing cocaine.

On Wednesday, during Corbin’s arraignment, a judge ordered that he’s prohibited from drinking alcohol or possessing firearms. According to Solheid, Ayup and Corbin’s child lived between both sets of grandparents, half-time each, for three years following the incident, but now he lives with his father full-time and Solheid only sees him for monthly visits.

A few weeks before Corbin’s arraignment, Solheid told the Tucson Weekly she would be elated to see Corbin indicted.

“I want him to be charged and convicted and I want him to go to prison,” she said. “I want justice for my daughter. And I want for the first time in his life, for him to realize that there are consequences in life, because in 25 years, never once did he ever have consequences for all the things he did.”

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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Former Arizona Senator Jon Kyl to Replace McCain

Posted By on Tue, Sep 4, 2018 at 11:14 AM

Former U.S. Senator Jon Kyl is appointed to fill John McCain's seat. - GAGE SKIDMORE
  • Gage Skidmore
  • Former U.S. Senator Jon Kyl is appointed to fill John McCain's seat.
Gov. Doug Ducey named former U.S. senator Jon Kyl to succeed the late Sen. John McCain.

Kyl said at a press conference that he would serve until the 2020 special election and not seek re-election.

There were rumors Ducey might appoint Cindy McCain to take the late senator's place. But Cindy McCain tweeted Tuesday morning that Kyl is a dear friend and it's a tribute to her husband that Kyl is "prepared to go back into public service to help the state of Arizona."

Kyl served with McCain as one of Arizona's U.S. senators from 1995 to 2013 and was Minority Whip starting in 2007. Before being elected to the Senate, he served in the House of Representatives.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate David Garcia said in a statement that he would have appointed someone with "a history of independence and bipartisanship," such as Cindy McCain or former Arizona attorney general Grant Woods.

“Jon Kyl has served as Brett Kavanaugh’s 'sherpa' through the nomination process and will undoubtedly vote for his confirmation, which puts many rights we take for granted at risk, chief among them are women’s reproductive rights, civil rights, voting rights, environmental rights and workers rights," Garcia said.

Kly has been leading Kavanaugh, Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, through the confirmation process, which started today.

Kyl could be sworn in on Tuesday or Wednesday.

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Monday, September 3, 2018

Stay Safe Out There: September is National Preparedness Month

Posted By on Mon, Sep 3, 2018 at 10:06 AM

click image The 2018 National Preparedness Month logo. - FEMA
  • FEMA
  • The 2018 National Preparedness Month logo.

September is National Preparedness Month which reminds everyone to prepare themselves, their communities and families from now and throughout the year for disasters that could happen. Prepare in advance to any situation by improving your skills such as CPR and first aid.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, is encouraging people to get involved on social media by helping others understand the need to prepare for emergencies. In 2017, Hurricane Harvey left the nation devastated. About 80 percent of households impacted by Hurricane Harvey did not have flood insurance.

The theme of this year's National Preparedness Month is "Disasters Happen, Prepare Now, Learn How." FEMA has releaased a calendar of four events, one per week of the month-long event. Homeowners can take these steps to make sure they are ready for any disaster that might come their way:

Week 1. Create an emergency plan that includes signing up for emergency alerts and making contingency plans for shelter, evacuation, and family communication.

Week 2. Learn life-saving skills. CPR is a good place to start, but also be certain you know how to turn off the utilities in your home and ensure your smoke and CO detectors are properly installed and working.

Week 3. Check your insurance coverage. Once the emergency is over, appropriate and sufficient insurance will be key to getting your life back to normal, or at least on track.

Week 4. Plan financially for the possibility of a disaster. This goes beyond having a “rainy day fund” for immediate needs. Gather and organize important home, business, insurance, financial, and personal documents and keep them up-to-date and stored in a secure, water-and-fire proof location.

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Friday, August 31, 2018

Primary Vote Numbers Don't Look Good For Arizona Democrats

Posted By on Fri, Aug 31, 2018 at 3:02 PM

  • Courtesy of BigStock

Depending on the day, the hour, the minute, I'm either riding a political merry-go-round or a roller coaster. Sometimes it's the regular emotional ups, downs, around and arounds of a horsey ride with insipid calliope music playing in the background. Other times it's a slow ascent to exhilarating heights followed by a stomach-dropping plummet into the depths of despair.

At this moment I'm riding the post-Arizona primary merry-go-round.

The winning Democratic candidates look promising, even if they aren't all my first choice. Analysts are coloring the state purplish. It's well within the realm of possibility that we'll see Democrats win statewide races — Governor Garcia, anyone? — not to mention the chance we could witness a no-McSally twofer, where she loses her Senate race to Kyrsten Sinema and her old congressional seat goes to Ann Kirkpatrick. Thoughts like that boost my hopes that we'll see some change for the better in this Republican-run state.

Then I take a look at the primary voting numbers on the Secretary of State website, and my hopes drop into a slough of despond. In the governor's race, Republican candidates pulled in a total of 553,000 votes. The Democratic total was 430,000. That's a 123,000 gap in Republicans' favor, more than a 12 percent difference. The U.S. Senate numbers are similar: 551,000 votes for Republicans, 433,000 for Democrats.

The numbers are a bit less dire in the Education Superintendent's race: 486,000 for Republican candidates versus 414,000 for Democrats, an 8 percent difference. Democrats held more of their voters down ballot than Republicans. But an 8 percent gap is still daunting.

Congressional District 2, a tossup district where Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick will face off against Republican Lea Marquez Peterson, raises my hopes a bit. Democrats cast 76,700 votes, Republicans 66,400. That's 7 percent in the Democrats' favor.

When I climb off the merry-go-round, plant my feet on solid ground and take a more objective look at the political landscape, my takeaway is, Arizona isn't a purple state, not yet. At best, from a Democratic standpoint, it's reddish-purple. Democrats can still come up winners if the predicted blue wave breaks just right and candidates have a favorable wind at their backs, but no question, Democrats are the underdogs. To win, they have to out-campaign and out-hustle their opponents, probably with a fraction of the money available to Republicans, and put together a sensational voter registration and Get Out The Vote effort.

Time for me to climb back on my Arizona merry-go-round. After some MSNBC and a little Bill Maher tonight, it'll probably be back to the thrills and chills of the national political roller coaster.

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Humane Society of Southern Arizona Aims to Adopt Out 25 Pets on Friday

Posted By on Fri, Aug 31, 2018 at 12:57 PM

click image Humane Society of Southern Arizona will be hosting an event on Friday, Aug. 31 in hope of adopting out 25 pets. - FACEBOOK
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  • Humane Society of Southern Arizona will be hosting an event on Friday, Aug. 31 in hope of adopting out 25 pets.
On Friday, Aug. 31, the Humane Society of Southern Arizona aims to adopt out 25 pets. The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 635 West Roger Road, Tucson.

The prices will lower by 50 percent for every pet during this event. The adoption fees for senior pets will be $25, $57.50 for puppies and kittens and $40 for adult dogs and cats.

The pets need a home and there are images and information on adoptable pets on 

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Staff Pick

Tucson Greek Festival

Eat, Drink & Dance Like a Greek! Authentic Greek food and pastries Family friendly activities Live Greek… More

@ St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church Thu., Sept. 27, 5-10 p.m., Fri., Sept. 28, 5-11 p.m., Sat., Sept. 29, 4-11 p.m. and Sun., Sept. 30, 12-5 p.m. 1145 E. Fort Lowell Road.

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