US Hispanic Chamber Selects Phoenix For 2022 National Convention

US Hispanic Chamber Selects Phoenix For 2022 National Convention

By Terri Jo Neff |

The United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) announced this week it will hold its 2022 national convention in Phoenix in October.

The USHCC promotes the economic growth, development and interests of more than 4.7 million Hispanic-owned businesses which employ 62 millions Americans while contributing over $800 billion annually to the American economy.

The 43rd annual national convention, described by USHCC as “the largest gathering of Latino business leaders,” serves as the meeting ground for thousands of community leaders and advocates; elected and appointed officials; a national network of more than 260 affiliated Hispanic Chambers of Commerce; members of the corporate, philanthropic, and academic communities; entrepreneurs; college students and more.

“The United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is excited to host our 2022 National Conference in Phoenix, a city fueled by the economic power, tenacity, and resilience of Hispanic-owned businesses,” said Ramiro A. Cavazos, USHCC President & CEO. “We are proud and honored to host our largest event of the year in one of the largest Latino communities in America.”

The three-day national convention will include more than 25 workshops, exciting keynote speakers, engagement from local, state, and federal government officials, informative plenary sessions, and inspiring remarks from leading business experts across several fields are at the center of a Conference experience that seeks to inform and empower our community and spotlight the integral role of Latinos politically, economically and socially.

The conference will also feature the participation of the nation’s leading elected officials and presidential appointees who will connect with an audience of more than 1,000 national stakeholders representing the fastest growing demographic in America—Latinos.

For Monica Villalobos, the CEO of Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, being selected the host chamber for the 2022 convention is an honor.

“It is an opportunity to not only showcase the success of small businesses in Arizona but also to bring valuable resources from around the country to our state,” Villalobos said. “This is a BIG win for us and the collaborative environment between community partners, other chambers plus business and corporate leaders will contribute to a very successful experience for all attendees.”

According to USHCC, the U.S. Latino community represents an annual economic impact of $2.7 trillion. And in Arizona, Hispanics in Phoenix comprised 42 percent of the population. In 2020.

Newt Gingrich Commended Governor Ducey on School Choice Program to Offset Remote Learning

Newt Gingrich Commended Governor Ducey on School Choice Program to Offset Remote Learning

By Corinne Murdock |

Former House Speaker and conservative pundit Newt Gingrich complimented Governor Doug Ducey for his leadership tactics concerning COVID-19 and K-12 schools. 

The governor announced that families may receive up to $7,000 to receive the education of their choice if their child’s school decides to cease in-person learning due to COVID-19. Ducey allocated $10 million to what he called a “preemptive action” program: the Open for Learning Recovery Benefit.

“Governor Ducey’s announcement that Arizona will give the education money to parents if their school is closed is the most creative response yet to the teachers union putting children last,” wrote Gingrich. “Chicago should follow his lead.”

Gingrich’s tweet referred to the decision by the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) on Tuesday night to return to remote learning. A day later, hours after Gingrich’s tweet, Mayor Lori Lightfoot appeared in a press conference to reemphasize the importance of in-person education. Lightfoot had pushed for school reopenings throughout 2021 in a constant battle with the CTU and Chicago Public Schools (CPS). 

As Ducey made his media rounds to discuss his program, he submitted an opinion piece with the Wall Street Journal criticizing the CTU, CPS, and Lightfoot’s administration the day after her press conference. Ducey challenged President Joe Biden to take a stand on school closures as well.

“Even Mayor Lori Lightfoot is unhappy, correctly noting that Chicago’s classrooms are safe and accusing the union of an ‘illegal work stoppage.’ She added that teachers who didn’t show up Wednesday would be put on no-pay status. We’ll see how long that lasts given how powerful the CTU is in Democratic politics,” wrote Ducey. “As for Mr. Biden, whose side is he on? The students whom he says will be safe in class according to all of the science? Or the unions who backed him politically but are doing terrible harm to America’s school children, including 330,000 of them in Chicago this week? How about leading for a change, Mr. President?”

Ducey’s program was prompted by teachers unions’ efforts to close in-person schooling, having children return from the holidays to remote learning for two weeks minimum. Ducey accused unions of disregarding children’s welfare for a political game.

On Thursday, the governor further claimed that his $10 million program would be “kryptonite” to teachers unions. He dismissed the activists as those opposed to science and challenged their true intentions.

“These unions are playing games with our children’s education. They aren’t following the science. Experts agree that kids should be in the classroom,” stated Ducey. “Our kids cannot afford any more time away from the classroom. Arizona children are in school and they’re going to stay in their classrooms. […] Kids need to get caught up. There’s too much focus on masks, and not enough on math. Arizona is showing the way to keep kids in school.”

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

Phoenix Police Officer Donated Lifesaving Kidney to Ten-Year-Old Girl

Phoenix Police Officer Donated Lifesaving Kidney to Ten-Year-Old Girl

By Corinne Murdock |

Two years ago, Phoenix Police Officer Jackie Ravelo gave one of her kidneys to her friend’s ten-year-old daughter, Lily Rios — a lifesaving measure Ravelo says she didn’t think twice about. Ravelo and Rios were only able to meet recently because of COVID-19. 

“As a parent, you know, I have three daughters. And you kind of put their face to that. I can’t imagine the pain that Becky felt, and you know wanting to make things better or do something that can help her — and not being able to, that’s heartbreaking for me,” said Ravelo. “I can speak for all officers that you want to help everybody, you want to solve problems and sometimes you can’t, so to me it was simple — how could I not do this?”

Rios suffered from focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), sometimes called “focal glomerular sclerosis” or “focal nodular glomerulosclerosis,” in which scar tissue develops on the parts of kidneys that filter waste from the blood. FSGS may be caused by a variety of conditions and can lead to kidney failure; according to Kopp, her daughter’s case was aggressive and unresponsive to treatments. 

Rios and Ravelo spent part of the day together, with Ravelo seating Rios inside her cop car and talking to her about her life since the surgery. Rios has been able to live a normal life since receiving Ravelo’s kidney.

“Being next to someone that almost saved my life, I start to think about how thankful I am,” said Rios.

Ravelo knew of the girl’s mom, Becky Kopp, through a recreational softball league. Kopp expressed gratitude for Ravelo’s selflessness.

“To Jackie: the gift that you gave my daughter is — I can’t express how meaningful it is, and how amazing it is, and how priceless it is. As a mother to a mother, you saved my baby,” said Kopp. 

Ravelo had seen Kopp’s Facebook post after a kidney intended for her daughter was no longer a viable option. She explained that she posted to explain what was happening — it wasn’t meant to be a call to action. However, that’s how Ravelo took it.

At exactly midnight last night, I got the call that a kidney was available for Lily. We rushed to PCH and were directly admitted. Her labs were drawn and she went to sleep. I didn’t. I couldn’t. The doctors just came in to let us know that the kidney looked great last night but has deteriorated and is no longer viable. We are being discharged. Yes, this sucks. Yes, it’s devastating to be so close yet so far away. But we are going to focus on the positives from the last 11 hours… we now know the process. I know what to do and what to expect the next time I get the call. Lily is at the top of the list. The fact that she has only been on the list for 13 days and is already getting called means we are very close. Lily is strong and healthy and ready for surgery. We will remain positive and hope for the next one. Please say a prayer for the donor. We may have lost the opportunity at this kidney but that person lost their life.”

Kopp posted an update on her daughter’s “kidneyversary.” According to Kopp, her daughter has been doing well ever since.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

Flagstaff Mayor Has COVID-19 and Symptomatic, Despite Vaccination

Flagstaff Mayor Has COVID-19 and Symptomatic, Despite Vaccination

By Corinne Murdock |

Flagstaff Mayor Paul Deasy announced Wednesday that he contracted COVID-19, despite being fully vaccinated. According to members of the Flagstaff City Council in remarks to the Arizona Daily Sun, Deasy had been getting tested secretly all week and knew his family had several COVID-19 exposures — yet decided to attend Tuesday’s meeting anyway. 

Councilman Austin Aslan criticized Deasy for deciding to put people at risk. Aslan added that Deasy shopped at the outdoor recreational store, REI, on Sunday.

“This all seems very ironic for a person that has been almost theatrical in his protestations about the needs for COVID safety protocols and aggressive funding,” observed Aslan. 

Deasy claimed that he didn’t know he had COVID-19, and called accusations from the council “pretty ridiculous.” He explained that he normally takes COVID-19 tests several times a week to ensure he’s not infected.

“I tested positive for Covid this morning after waking up with a mild sore throat. Thankful to be vaccinated so symptoms are mild,” wrote Deasy. “Please get tested if you have any symptoms whatsoever. What is mild to you can be deadly to others.”

Later on the same day he tested positive, Deasy shared the claim from Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) that unvaccinated individuals were 31.1 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than the vaccinated.

ADHS also noted that unvaccinated individuals were nearly five times as likely to test positive for COVID-19.

As AZ Free News reported, the latest death totals for COVID-19 reached over 24,300. Nearly zero percent of deaths occurred in those under 20 years old; the majority of deaths came from individuals over 65 years old. 

Last September, Deasy offered some advice to Flagstaff’s visitors with the “WTF” acronym — a version void of explicit language, instead reading “Welcome To Flagstaff[;] Wear The Face mask.”

Following Deasy’s test results, Flagstaff City Council decided to convene in a special meeting on Thursday to discuss returning to completely virtual meetings. 

Councilman Adam Shimoni said it was “embarrassing” that the council had to inform attendees, including a group of high school students, that they’d been exposed to COVID-19 at Tuesday’s meeting. He urged stricter safety protocols to mitigate the spread, especially with the outbreak of Omicron.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

Maricopa County Releases Report Countering Senate Audit Results

Maricopa County Releases Report Countering Senate Audit Results

By Corinne Murdock

On Wednesday, the Maricopa County Elections Department issued over 90 pages of a counter report to the Arizona Senate’s audit conducted by Cyber Ninjas, as well as nearly 30 exhibits to support their response. The county dismissed all claims by Cyber Ninjas and affiliated auditors: CyFIR, EchoMail, and the Senate’s audit liaisons. 

According to their breakdown of the auditors’ claims, 22 were misleading, 41 were inaccurate, and 13 were false. 

Misleading claims related to audit interferences, missing subpoena items, subpoenaed equipment not yet provided, voter registration system audit access, tally results for the presidential and senate races (counted as three misleading claims), machine counts, real-time provisional ballots, internet connections to the REWEB and REGIS, dual boot system discovery, failure to follow basic cybersecurity, management of software, patch, and credentials, lack of baseline for host and network activity, duplicate early ballot images, more envelopes processed and submitted than identified by EchoMail, daily duplicate numbers, ballots stamped in signature region or behind envelope triangle, and two different voter IDs on record.

Inaccurate claims related to no record of certain voters in the commercial database, commingling of damaged and original ballots, purging of EMS database, deletion of election files or user logs, corrupted or missing ballot images, no preservation of EMS logs, election data found from other states, no signatures, scribbles, and bad signature rates, and increase in envelopes but decrease in signature rejections.

False claims related to bleed-through rates on papers, improper paper being used, ballot printers out of calibration, questionable ballots, early votes not counted for in the EV33 file, batch discrepancies, inaccurate identification of Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) ballots, anonymous logins to operating system logs, internet connections to election equipment and EMS, and early ballot envelope image canvass requirements. The report noted further that no allegations about the election survived court scrutiny. 

Officials from the county elections department presenting on the report were Director of In-Person Voting and Tabulation Scott Jarrett, Assistant Director of Early Voting Celia Nabor, Senior Director of Voter Registration Janine Petty, and Information Technology Director Nate Young.

During the four and a half hour presentation hosted by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, elections officials explained their contention with 53,000 questionable ballots pointed out by the Senate’s audit report. They walked through the 90-plus page report at length. Their report claimed they found 37 potentially fraudulent votes total, and 50 ballots that were potentially counted twice. In all, the county reported finding less than 100 potentially questionable ballots out of the 2.1 million cast in the 2020 election.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates expressed a desire for public conversation of Arizona’s 2020 election to come to a close.

“Now, it’s my hope that this will be the last word on the 2020 election, because you’re going to hear the facts today in detail,” said Gates. 

The report explained that the county’s elections were reliable based on approval of their tabulation equipment by a federally accredited voting system laboratory, in-depth pilot and stress testing on Dominion Voting Systems equipment, and the bipartisan makeup of poll workers and central boards.

The county classified the false, misleading, and inaccurate claims as “faulty claims.” Their report said the roots of those claims were either: inaccurate methodology and analysis (e.g., soft data matching or use of the commercial database, or incorrect use of voter files), a lack of understanding of federal and state voting laws (e.g., protected voters, voter registration requirements for voters that move, or election management system patching), or lack of independence and objectivity (accusations of deleted data, paper and printer claims, and accusations of double-counted UOCAVA ballots). 

The county also released a short video to promote their report, titled “Facts Not Anomalies: Maricopa County Responds to Flawed #azaudit Report.” The video focused primarily on the frequent usage of the word “anomaly” by the Arizona Senate and Cyber Ninjas auditors to describe findings they found concerning.

“It’s all an anomaly if you don’t understand what you’re looking at,” stated the video. “Maricopa County hires and trains election experts. We’re fighting misinformation to protect your vote.” 

In a press release, Gates — voted Man of the Year by the Arizona Republic last week — criticized the state senate for backing a partisan audit. 

“The people who have spent the last year proclaiming our free and fair elections are rigged are lying or delusional. Unfortunately, the Senate’s inquiry made things worse by giving partisan auditors a platform to make damaging false claims based on their inexperience and biases,” said Gates. “I’m proud of our team for correcting the record with this comprehensive report; for looking deeply into each claim made by Senate contractors so that voters who choose to learn the truth can; and for a commitment to continued improvement that will make a strong election system even stronger.”

The remainder of the supervisors added various statements that summarily insisted that the county conducted near-perfect operations that resulted in a free and fair elections.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

Arizona Democratic Party Fundraising for One-Year Anniversary of January 6 Riot

Arizona Democratic Party Fundraising for One-Year Anniversary of January 6 Riot

By Corinne Murdock |

Ahead of the anniversary of January 6, the Arizona Democratic Party’s (ADP) tone concerning the fateful rally-turned-riot shifted from somber to opportunistic. The ADP sent out a fundraising email this week requesting $10 or more donations to flip voters like the January 6 incident did, they said. 

The ADP informed recipients that over 20,000 Arizona voters switched from Republican to Democrat following the January 6 riot, which they referred to as an insurrection. They emphasized the importance of financing their grassroots efforts ahead of Thursday’s anniversary. 

“Starting today, just before the one-year anniversary of the insurrection, we’re using our Project 15/30 organizing program to reach out to every single one of those 20,000. We want to thank them for their courage and for standing up for our democracy,” read the email. “Team, efforts like this show that through Project 15/30, we’re fighting for every single vote in AZ. But running special programs like this takes people and resources to work. Can you donate $10 today so voter outreach programs like this one are successful?”

Project 15/30 intends to increase voter registration and strengthen party numbers in the 15 counties and 30 legislative districts across Arizona. The ADP launched the initiative early last August. 

ADP’s latest messaging conflicts with its previous rhetoric on the subject of the Capitol Hill riot. Throughout last year, the ADP honored the Capitol police officers that responded to the break-in. 

“We will never forget the events that took place in our Capitol on January 6, 2021,” wrote the state affiliate. “We stand with the heroic officers who risked their lives.”

The ADP also called for the punishment of Congressman Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ-04) repeatedly. 

President Joe Biden plans to give an address on Thursday to commemorate last year’s riot. During the White House daily briefing on Wednesday, Press Secretary Jen Psaki promised that President Joe Biden would speak extensively on how former President Donald Trump was solely to blame for the January 6 riot.

The president is going to speak to the truth of what happened, not the lies that some have spread since — and the peril opposed to rule of law and our system of democratic governance. He will also speak to the work that we need to strengthen our democracy and our institutions to reject the hatred and lies we saw on January 6 to unite our country. I’d also note that President Biden has been clear-eyed about the threat the former president represents to our democracy and how the former president works to undermine basic American values and rule of law. And President Biden has spoken repeatedly about how the president has abused his office, undermined the Constitution, and ignored his oath to the American people in an effort to amass more power for himself and his allies. He sees January 6 as the tragic culmination of what those four years under President Trump did to our country and they reflected the importance to the President of winning. What he has called many times the battle for the soul of our nation. So just as you heard him say on January 6 of last year, I would expect that President Biden will lay out the significance of what happened at the Capitol and the singular responsibility that President Trump has for the chaos and carnage we saw, and he will forcibly push back on the lies spread by the former president in an attempt to mislead the American people and his own supporters, as well as in respect to his role in what happened.”

Psaki couldn’t answer as to whether Biden will call out Trump by name because they were finalizing the speech.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to