Politics

Friday, May 29, 2020

Election 2020: Where the District 2 Board of Supervisor Candidates Stand on Restaurant Regulation and Other COVID-19 Prevention Efforts

Posted By on Fri, May 29, 2020 at 3:30 PM

The Pima County Board of Supervisors has taken several steps in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Pima County, including voting on March 19 to close down all nonessential businesses, and later when the state reopened the economy, voting to implement and then revise new health regulations for restaurants and bars offering dine-in service once again.

The board’s decisions have been met with some criticism across the political spectrum, with some critics saying the county has not done enough and others saying it has gone too far, according to Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.

Democratic Supervisors Ramon Valadez, Sharon Bronson and Betty Villegas said they voted for the regulations to ensure public safety, while Republicans Steve Christy and Ally Miller say the new rules make it harder for beleaguered businesses to reopen. At the request of three GOP lawmakers, Attorney General Mark Brnovich investigated whether the county exceeded its legal authority by enacting the regulations but the AG’s Office dismissed the case on a legal technicality.

Tucson Weekly asked the candidates running for Board of Supervisors seats this year if they approved of those decisions and if they would have done anything differently. You'll find responses from candidates for District 3 here and candidates for District 5 here.

In District 2, which includes southern parts of Tucson and stretches down to Sahaurita, Supervisor Ramón Valadez is facing two challengers in the Democratic primary: former state lawmaker Matt Heinz and political activist Richard Hernandez.

Valadez said the closure of nonessential businesses within Pima County had the goal of making sure there were enough resources to deal with the impending increase in cases.

“Most people think we did the stay-at-home order to actually lower the amount of people that got the disease, and that’s part of it, but the truth is was we needed to make sure that the hospitals in our region had the capacity to handle any surge,” he said.

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Electionland 2020: Trump on Vote by Mail, Poll Worker PPE, Naturalizations and More

Posted By on Fri, May 29, 2020 at 2:00 PM

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This article is part of Electionland, ProPublica’s collaborative reporting project covering problems that prevent eligible voters from casting their ballots during the 2020 elections. Click here to read updates about our voting coverage and more each week.

Trump’s Crusade Against Vote by Mail
In both his public appearances and on Twitter, President Donald Trump has continued to rail against mail voting, and has accused Democrats of trying to rig the election. This set off alarm bells among voting rights advocates and experts who believe the president is setting the stage to delegitimize the election if he loses. Then, this week, the president tweeted again about mail voting, and Twitter labeled his tweets with a message “Get the facts about mail-in ballots,” which linked to this fact-check page. After falsely accusing Twitter of interfering in the election and stifling free speech, Trump threatened “Big action to follow!” On Thursday, Trump signed an executive order that aims to limit the power of social media companies.

The Latest on Vote By Mail
  • “Wisconsin shows that you can’t adopt vote-by-mail overnight,” Nathaniel Persily, a Stanford law professor and the head of the Healthy Elections Project, told The New York Times Magazine. “It’s not as easy as people think. The boring stuff matters — the scut work of supply chain and logistics and management is crucial.” (The New York Times Magazine)
  • The Illinois legislature is debating a bill that would withhold election funds from local officials if they fail to implement the expansion of mail voting. (The Center Square)
  • Texas’ lieutenant governor said expanding vote by mail was a “scam by Democrats to steal the election” and claimed seniors are more at risk of dying in a car crash than from getting coronavirus at the polls. (Texas Tribune)
  • “The shortest line that I’ve seen so far is the one at your kitchen table when you have your absentee ballot and fill it out at your convenience,” said Georgia’s governor, urging voters to return their ballots on time during the state’s primary. (GBP News)
  • Wisconsin will send absentee ballot applications to all registered voters for the November election. (WPR)
  • Absentee ballot use has spiked in Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Mexico and DC ahead of the states’ June primaries. (Talking Points Memo)
  • A West Virginia mail carrier was charged with attempted election fraud for reportedly altering absentee ballot applications. The mail carrier claims he did it as a joke. (WHSV)

Coronavirus Voting Impacts

  • Unless the federal government begins holding citizenship ceremonies again, hundreds of thousands of potential voters will be ineligible come November. (The Washington Post)
  • Some Atlanta polling places are offering free coronavirus tests, while another Georgia county’s only early voting location closed after a voter tested positive for COVID-19. (Fox 5, GBP News)
  • A reduction in in-person voting sites is likely to negatively impact New Mexico’s Native voters. (NM In Depth)
  • Furloughed county employees and volunteers are helping Pennsylvania’s York County handle thousands of absentee ballot requests. (York Dispatch)
  • Voter registration, which often takes place in person, is tanking in the midst of a pandemic. (NPR)
  • The proposed VoteSafe Act bill in the Senate would provide $5 billion to facilitate early and absentee voting, as well as curbside voting. (WKSU)

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Claytoonz: Safe To Go Out?

Posted By on Fri, May 29, 2020 at 7:00 AM

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Click here for more Claytoonz.

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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Hidden in the New House Coronavirus Relief Bill: Billions for Defense Contractors

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2020 at 3:00 PM

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ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Click here to read their biggest stories as soon as they’re published.

When they passed another bill this month to help the tens of millions of Americans left unemployed and hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic, Democrats in the House of Representatives touted the $3 trillion legislation’s benefits to working people, renters, first responders and others struggling to get by.

They made no mention of the defense contractors.

Tucked away deep in the nearly 2,000-page Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions, or HEROES, Act, is a section that will funnel money to defense and intelligence companies and their top executives, according to experts.

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New Poll: Arizonans Split on Whether the State Is Reopening Too Quickly But Eager To See Friends, Get the Hell Out of the House

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2020 at 2:45 PM

There's a big partisan divide on whether the state is reopening too quickly, but most Arizonans are ready to get the hell out of their houses, according to a poll out today.

Roughly 41 percent of voters surveyed by political consulting firm HighGround say the state is moving "too fast" to reopen and get back to business. But roughly 39 percent say the reopening pace is "just about right." Another 19 percent say they don't know.

Despite that split, the poll found most Arizonans are ready to resume at least some of their normal activities. Three-fourths of those surveyed say they are at least probably ready to get back to hosting friends and family, 74 percent say they are probably ready to gather in groups of 10 or fewer, about two-thirds are probably ready to go shopping and nearly 60 percent are probably ready to go back to restaurants.

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“Despite some pressure from a small vocal constituency, the slow and steady approach to reopening the state should be viewed as a success in the eyes of the Arizona electorate,” said HighGround CEO Chuck Coughlin said in an analysis of the polling numbers. “Granted there is still a significant portion of the state that believes things are moving ‘too fast.’ At the same time, many of them expressed a willingness to get back out in public to shop, eat, and visit friends and family."

On another major question, a slight majority—52 percent—are ready to send kids back to school in the fall, while about 14 percent say they probably are not ready and nearly 21 percent say they definitely are not ready to allow kids back in school. Coughlin said he expected those numbers would move as schools roll out safety precautions.

“Getting kids back into the classroom is the next critical step to re-ignite our economy," Coughlin said. "Voters understand this—parents with kids at home especially—and will be ready for that to happen starting this fall.”

The survey notes significant divides on the questions between Republicans and Democrats, as well as between younger and older voters and between women and men.

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On the political side: just over half (53.3 percent) of Republicans in the state say the reopening is moving along just about right, while 30 percent of Republicans say it is moving too slow. But among Democrats, nearly 70 percent say the state is reopening too quickly, while roughly one in four say it's just about right. Among voters outside of the two major parties, 42 percent say the state is reopening too quickly, while roughly 36 percent say it's just about right.

On the age side: 45 percent of voters 39 and younger say the reopening is going too fast, which is about 10 points higher than voters 50 and older. "I believe that reflects their own concern about the country’s economic recovery in relation to their own retirement plans," Coughlin said. "Time will tell if the younger, more progressive cohorts start to become more comfortable with reopening or if it truly is a more partisan response.”

On the gender side: 46 percent of women surveyed said the state was reopening too quickly, which was about 11 points higher than men.

HighGround's methodology:

The N=400 survey was conducted among likely voters 5/18 through 5/22. The poll surveyed likely Arizona 2020 General Election voters who have a history of electoral participation and was balanced to model the likely turnout of voters across party, age, region, and gender. The live interview survey of voters was conducted by HighGround Public Affairs to both landline and cell phone users. The partisan advantage was set at +4% GOP based on previous election trends and expected Presidential Election turnout. The margin of error is ±4.9%.

Cities, counties to get $441 million in direct COVID-19 relief funds

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2020 at 2:00 PM

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WASHINGTON – Arizona cities and counties will get access to nearly $600 million in COVID-19 relief funding, part of the more than $1.8 billion awarded two months ago to Arizona under the federal CARES Act.

Larger jurisdictions received their funds directly from the federal government, but Gov. Doug Ducey said Wednesday that the remaining cities and counties in the state will get $441 million directly, based on population. They will also have access to another $150 million in emergency relief funds.

“Our office has met with mayors and county leaders to hear directly how COVID-19 is impacting their communities, and this plan delivers for them,” said Ducey, during a roundtable with a half-dozen mayors and county officials from around the state.

“It maximizes flexibility and prioritizes getting dollars quickly to where they’re needed most,” he said. “Key points the plan is focused on are maximizing flexibility, minimizing red tape and getting needed relief funds to local communities faster.”

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House Democrats Demand Trump Administration Stop Rushing Through Deportations of Migrant Children

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2020 at 1:30 PM

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ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Click here to read their biggest stories as soon as they’re published.

This article is co-published with The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan local newsroom that informs and engages with Texans. Click here to get up to speed on their essential coverage of Texas issues.


Democratic congressional leaders expressed alarm Wednesday at a sudden acceleration in the deportation of migrant children and in a strongly worded letter requested that the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement “cease this practice immediately.”

The letter signed by five key House leaders overseeing immigration cited a May 18 ProPublica/Texas Tribune story that found the U.S. government has aggressively begun to rush the deportations of unaccompanied children in its care to countries where they have been raped, beaten or had a parent killed, according to attorneys, court filings and congressional staff.

That comes on top of more than 900 unaccompanied children the government has turned back at the border under an emergency declaration in March by President Donald Trump’s administration to stop the spread of COVID-19. Usually children traveling alone qualify for expansive protections under the law.

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District 3 Board of Supes Candidates React to New County Regs and COVID-19 Response

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2020 at 12:30 PM

The Pima County Board of Supervisors has taken several steps in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Pima County, including voting on March 19 to close down all nonessential businesses, and later when the state reopened the economy, voting to implement and then revise new health regulations for restaurants and bars offering dine-in service once again.

Pima County Supervisor Sharon Bronson: “The primary concern that I have for rural communities is that we ensure that they have some food security." - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Pima County Supervisor Sharon Bronson: “The primary concern that I have for rural communities is that we ensure that they have some food security."
The board’s decisions have been met with criticism across the political spectrum. Democratic supervisors Ramon Valadez, Sharon Bronson and Betty Villegas said they voted for the regulations to ensure public safety, while Republicans Steve Christy and Ally Miller say the new rules make it harder for beleaguered businesses to reopen. At the request of three GOP lawmakers, Attorney General Mark Brnovich investigated if the measures imposed by the board exceeded their authority, but the complaint was dismissed yesterday on a legal technicality because the Board of Supervisors released the proclamation that was the source of the complaint when they passed revised regulations.

Tucson Weekly asked the candidates running for Board of Supervisors seats this year if they approved of those decisions and if they would have done anything differently. Here’s what the candidates in District 3 had to say.

In the District 3 Democratic primary, six-term Supervisor Sharon Bronson is facing Juan Padres, who is making his first run for public office. Padres, who previously worked for the autonomous trucking company TuSimple, is now operating his own business, a courier service between Tucson and Nogales. He is also involved in bringing Mexican craft beers to the Tucson market.

Bronson, who voted in favor of closing bars and limiting restaurants to take out and delivery in March, said responding to the virus has been challenging because of a lack of resources coming from federal agencies.

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