School Districts Respond To Mask Mandate Controversies As Outsiders Are Accused Of Political Manipulation

School Districts Respond To Mask Mandate Controversies As Outsiders Are Accused Of Political Manipulation

By Terri Jo Neff |

The Vail School District abruptly cancelled its Tuesday night board meeting after nearly 200 people showed up to push for an end to the district’s mandatory mask policy for staff, volunteers, and 13,500 students.

Deputies with the Pima County Sheriff’s Department were called to the Vail Education Center when dozens of people refused to leave the building once the meeting was cancelled. Officials noted that the crowd exceeded the building’s adjusted COVID-19 occupancy limit and the majority of the attendees refused to abide by the district’s mask-wearing and social distancing policies.

Some among the crowd then decided to elect a new school board based on nomination offered and a vote taken right in the lobby of the building. The first act taken by the “new board” was to do away with the mask mandate.

Several participants claim the election was legal due to the fact they followed Robert’s Rules of Order. However, several attorneys have come forth to point out Arizona has strict open meeting laws and election laws, thus making whatever vote took place Tuesday night irrelevant.

But while the Vail District’s board meeting never got started Tuesday night, the governing board of the state’s largest district heard argument for and against its plans to phase out mask mandates in the coming days.

Mesa Public Schools announced the mask phase-out shortly after Gov. Doug Ducey rescinded his executive order which had required the wearing of masks for its staff, volunteers, and 63,000 K-12 students. Masks are current strongly recommended” but not required for students when they are outdoors, but are mandatory on school buses and all school facilities including gyms.

District officials will announce Friday whether the mask mandate will be dropped next week on Mesa buses. In the meantime, staff continue to promote physical distancing and personal hygiene practices despite the fact current district COVID-19 policies are more restrictive than those being recommended by many in the science and medical communities.

The Maricopa County Public Health Department “strongly recommends the use of face coverings” by students and staff in schools and on buses or other public transportation, according to its website, but does not mandate such use. Those policy decisions “will be made by the local school or school district authority,” according to the department.

A board meeting of the Dysart School District in Surprise also experienced a larger than usual turnout for its Wednesday night meeting. At one point district personnel locked the doors from the outside to stop people from entering the building when occupancy and social distancing capacities were met, and local police officers provided security.

One school board attorney told AZ Free News that knowingly allowing more people into the building than legally allowed puts district officials and employees at risk of being held personally, even criminally, liable if anyone is injured.

That appears to be one of the reasons behind the Tanque Verde Unified School District’s cancellation of its Wednesday evening board meeting after reports that a similar mask “protest” was planned. A statement from the district announcing the cancellation noted officials first conferred with the Pima County Sheriff’s Department before determining the district would “be unable to conduct the meeting safely.”

With district officials from Vail to Tanque Verde to Surprise and beyond aware of reports of future the mask-mandate protests, the question is whether they will move their public meetings to larger venues, such as cafeterias and gymnasiums, instead of cancelling meetings.

Since Tuesday night, nearly 100 parents in the Vail District have used social media to express their frustration about losing the opportunity to express their opinion to the board.  At the same time, others wrote of concern that so many parents lack a basic understanding of how school districts are governed.

They say that lack of awareness makes those less-informed parents vulnerable to manipulation by people from outside the district who have political agendas. And they point to self-identified members of the upstart Patriot Party of Arizona who do not live in either Surprise or Vail who posted about their involvement in trying to force entry into those board meetings.

Record Corrected On Senator’s Inaccurate Explanation Of Election Integrity Bill

Record Corrected On Senator’s Inaccurate Explanation Of Election Integrity Bill

By Terri Jo Neff |

Sen. Kelly Townsend was recently interviewed by Breitbart News about her refusal to vote for one of the Republican caucus’s most impactful election integrity bill, but she provided significantly incorrect information while explain the legislation, according to an election law expert.

Townsend surprised her colleagues earlier this month by voting “no” on SB1485, which Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs has the potential to remove more than 207,000 voter names from the Permanent Early Voter List (PEVL) due to inactivity. Removal from PEVL does not impact a voter’s registration status.

At the time, Townsend swore she would not vote for any election-related bills until the Senate received a final report on the ongoing audit of Maricopa County’s 2020 General Election. She also made a disparaging personal comment against SB1485 sponsor Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, a fellow Republican whom Townsend blames for “killing” all 18 election-related bills Townsend introduced this session.

“Mark my words, and my actions, I will not bend,” Townsend after the April 22 vote.

In her subsequent interview with Breitbart, Townsend is quoted as pushing back on criticism of her vote, contending that the changes to PEVL contained in SB1485 would not kick in until 2026 so there is no hurry.

“I demand reform for the 2022 election, and will only vote ‘yes’ on the 2026 election reform bill after the 2022 election reform bills are passed,” Townsend is quoted in the April 27 article. She also said it will take “four years from passage before voters who miss elections will be purged” from PEVL.

The problem, according to election legal expert Hans von Spakovsky, is that Townsend grossly misunderstood how soon the PEVL could be cleaned up if SB1485 is approved and signed by Gov. Doug Ducey this session. He notes that county recorders must advise those voters identified for being dropped “no later than” January 2023 but the process could be done well before the critical 2022 election.

“SB1485 will go into effect immediately after passage, not in 2026 as some have claimed,” said von Spakovsky. “County recorders can, and should, lawfully begin cleaning up the early voting list well before the 2022 midterm election, based on voter participation in the 2018 and 2020 election cycles.”

Townsend’s no vote on SB1485 was set to kill the legislation on a 15 to 15 ties but Ugenti-Rita voted against her own bill on the chance a reconsideration vote can be arranged yet this session. Meanwhile, Townsend’s threat to hold all of her party’s election legislation hostage has garnered attention from several organization which support more election integrity in Arizona.

One of those is Heritage Action For America.

“All conservatives should support this bill — we cannot delay in strengthening Arizona’s election system and restoring trust to voters,” said Jessica Anderson, executive director of Heritage Action.

The Worst COVID Tyrant You’ve Never Heard Of

The Worst COVID Tyrant You’ve Never Heard Of


How Phoenix Mayor “Queen Kate” Gallego mismanaged (and exploited) the COVID-19 pandemic.

As normal life returns and Americans look back at the past year with clear eyes, it’s almost difficult to believe the actions that some local officials took to undermine their constituents’ recovery efforts.

Bill de Blasio at the gym. Muriel Bowser at a Delaware campaign event. Eric Garcetti’s threat to shut off water to families who invite private guests into their own homes. We remember these names. Throughout the country, though, local mayors outside of the spotlight followed similar paths, privately dismissing the gravity of COVID-19 while publicly leveraging ‘pandemic porn’ in order to advance political goals—and nowhere was that mismanagement (and personal exploitation) more prevalent, or less covered, than in the U.S.’s fifth-largest city.

There is a reason Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, who presided over a coronavirus hotspot in 2020, glossed over the pandemic during her second inaugural speech last Monday.

Gallego—née Widland, prior to her marriage to her now ex-husband, Congressman Ruben Gallego—always had her eyes on this prize. After working for the state party in her 20s, the Democrat’s career followed the trajectory of Peter’s Principle, by which people inadvertently are promoted to their level of incompetence. Gallego’s allies ushered her into various political positions for which she was little-qualified until finding a sweet spot: a safe-blue district on the Phoenix City Council, set to the backdrop of a low-turnout, odd-numbered-year election.


Arizona Legislature Passes Landmark Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform

Arizona Legislature Passes Landmark Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform

On Wednesday, the Arizona Senate overwhelmingly voted to pass House Bill 2810, landmark legislation that would reform the state’s civil asset forfeiture law to significantly strengthen innocent Arizonans’ due process and property rights. The bill, HB 2810, sponsored by Rep. Travis Grantham, requires law enforcement to secure a criminal conviction before an individual’s property may be forfeited under the state’s civil asset forfeiture law, under most circumstances.

Currently, law enforcement may seize and keep property from individuals that are never charged or convicted of a criminal offense.

The bill previously passed the House with a strong 57-2 vote, and now heads to Governor Doug Ducey’s desk for his signature.

“This is an historic moment for the due process and property rights in the state of Arizona,” said Lauren Krisai, Senior Policy Analyst for Justice Action Network. “House Bill 2810 ensures that law enforcement cannot permanently take property from innocent Arizonans never charged or convicted of a crime—an egregious process that has gone on for far too long in the state. We thank Rep. Grantham for sponsoring this important bill, and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle for coming together to pass this critical reform. We hope Governor Ducey will sign this bill that better protects the constitutional rights of all Arizonans.”

Currently, Arizona police are under no obligation to return property seized from someone suspected or accused of a crime, regardless of whether a conviction is obtained. In 2018, 54% of all forfeitures in Arizona were not tied to a criminal conviction. To address this crucial issue, House Bill 2810:

  • Requires a criminal conviction before most forfeitures may take place;
  • Ensures that seized property is linked to a suspected crime;
  • Requires law enforcement to return seized property in a timely manner if they decide not to pursue criminal charges or lose the case in court;
  • Strengthens innocent owner protections by requiring the state to prove that the property is linked to a crime, and return property if it is not. Current law requires innocent owners to prove that their seized property *is not* connected to a crime.
Natural Resource Committee Members Urge Biden “To Stop Selling American Mining Jobs To Foreign Nations”

Natural Resource Committee Members Urge Biden “To Stop Selling American Mining Jobs To Foreign Nations”

Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar joined his fellow Republican members of the Natural Resources Committee in urging President Biden to support American mining jobs. Gosar, Committee Ranking Member Bruce Westerman and other members of the Committee sent a letter to Biden calling on his administration to “stop selling out those mining jobs to Canada.

According to the Committee members, the Biden Administration has started an effort to meet with representatives from Canadian mining companies to arrange for Canadian mining to displace new American mines in the supply chain for critical minerals and new renewable technology manufacturing. The reports on the meetings highlighted “more-than 30 attendees at Thursday’s meeting who discussed ways Washington can help U.S. companies expand in Canada and overcome logistical challenges, according to the documents.” Additionally, an attendee at the meeting noted that the Commerce Department had not indicated whether they would provide monetary incentives to Canadian players in the mining sector, or to other companies in the supply chain.

Earlier this month, Rep. Gosar wrote an op-ed that highlighted this issue and the importance of critical minerals.

“It is unacceptable that this Administration is bartering the jobs of American miners, steelworkers, and laborers to Canada to make up for a decision it made killing thousands of American pipefitting and welding jobs. American miners and American mineral security should not be used as a trading tool to make up for Mr. Biden’s disastrous foreign policy decisions. The Biden Administration, beholden to radical environmentalists, is shutting down domestic mining while holding secret meetings with Canadian mining companies about opening new mines in Canada,” said Gosar.

“Meanwhile, House Natural Resource Committee Democrats are attempting to undo a bipartisan, bicameral agreement to develop one of the largest copper and tellurium mines in the United States. Our nation has been blessed with tremendous resources, the strongest environmental protections and the best workforce. The Biden Administration and House Democrats should support these good jobs, not pass along those benefits to foreign nations,” argued Gosar.

That this Administration, through the Department of Commerce, is working to trade the jobs of American miners, steelworkers, and laborers to Canada to make up for a decision you made that killed thousands of American pipefitting and welding jobs and tens of thousands of Canadian oil and gas jobs is unacceptable. American miners and American mineral security should not be used as tools to be traded away to make up for your disastrous foreign policy decisions. American mining and smelting jobs are some of the highest paying jobs in our nation and your Administration should be fighting to create more of these jobs domestically, not using taxpayer resources to encourage Canada to steal our jobs and the opportunity they present to America. It makes no sense to actively kill mining jobs in Minnesota, Arizona, and Alaska while turning to Canada and asking them to open mines to fill the gaps. READ THE FULL LETTER HERE

“America leads the world in clean, safe mining. We should keep it that way. While our Democrat colleagues attempt to ban, prohibit and regulate the mining and energy industries into oblivion, we want to incentivize new innovation and more jobs right here at home. There’s no reason to outsource our mining needs overseas, where we have no control over environmental standards. American workers deserve better,” said Westerman.

“President Biden supports Canadians mining just miles from my district and in our very same watershed. Why are Canadians allowed to have high-wage, high-quality jobs, but Democrats oppose jobs within our borders? We have America’s domestic mineral needs in Minnesota, Arizona, and throughout the country. Let’s do it here with our workers earning high wages for their families and providing funding to our schools and communities,” said Rep. Pete Stauber.

Rep. Lauren Boebert stated, “I’m disappointed but not surprised at the Biden administration’s efforts to destroy America’s mining industry. Biden’s America last policies take jobs away from American workers, hurt rural communities, and decimate our economy while strengthening China’s. The Green New Deal and Biden’s environmental schemes would require a large amount of mining and minerals. Democrats have repeatedly made clear they would rather have children mining with their bare hands in the Congo and other countries than good and safe jobs in America.”

“The Administration policy to increase demand for minerals and then export the mining jobs needed to produce those minerals is another example of President Biden snubbing America’s working families, trashing the global environment and decreasing energy security. In order to power America’s clean energy future, we must fully utilize our own domestic supply of critical minerals and put Americans to work to do so. Our national security and economic prosperity depend on us advancing smart policies that promote American labor and American resources, not increasing U.S. reliance on foreign adversaries with abysmal environmental records – like China – for such vital resources,” said Rep. Garret Graves.