Although Super Bowl LVII will be played in Glendale, the residents, property owners, and business owners in downtown Phoenix must obtain permission from the NFL to place temporary signage on their own property before and after the big game.
Phoenix city officials passed Resolution 22073 earlier this year to designate nearly all of downtown as a Special Promotional and Civic Event Area in connection with the Super Bowl game being played at State Farm Stadium on Feb. 12.
The NFL has planned several pregame events at venues across the area, including downtown Phoenix. As a result, a little publicized provision of the city’s resolution restricts “all temporary signage” unless approved by city staff, the NFL, and the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee.
“In other words, the city has banned hundreds of businesses, and thousands of residents, from speaking freely without permission from the government and two of the government’s handpicked entities,” explains John Thorpe, an attorney for the Goldwater Institute which is fighting back on the constitutional restriction.
Thorpe sent a letter on behalf of a Phoenix property owner to City Attorney Julie Kriegh last week demanding an end to the unconstitutional free speech restrictions.
“The ordinance also violates constitutional guarantees regarding due process and improper delegation of government power by broadly authorizing two private entities—the NFL and the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee—to regulate private citizens’ speech with unfettered discretion and no procedural safeguards,” Thorpe wrote.
The signage restriction went into effect Nov. 1 with no fanfare from city officials. It remains in effect until Feb. 19, 2023, a full week after the Super Bowl. The Goldwater Institute became involved after Bramley Paulin sought to work with city officials so he could post temporary signage to advertise that his property is available to be leased.
Instead, Paulin was informed the property is within the “Clean Zone” covered by the Special Promotional and Civic Event Area. As a result, he cannot utilize the signage without authorization from the NFL and the host committee.
The city’s actions have already imposed substantial harm on Paulin, Thorpe told the city attorney. The letter seeks assurance that Paulin or his representatives may advertise on his property “without unreasonable restriction and without any input or review by the NFL or the Super Bowl Host Committee.”
It is unclear how city officials believe such an overreaching censorship deal is legal, let alone in the best interest of its residents. It does not appear that such restrictions were implemented in Inglewood, California during this year’s Super Bowl.
And there is no record of such restrictions back in 2015 when the Super Bowl was last played in Arizona, also in Glendale at what is now known as State Farm Stadium.
Thorpe acknowledges that hosting Super Bowl festivities is an exciting opportunity for many Arizonans, but he argues no benefits of any sporting event should come at the cost of forcing Arizonans to surrender their constitutional rights.
“And decisions about the free expression rights of downtown residents should not be delegated to unaccountable private parties,” he added.
AZ Free News has reached out for a comment about the free speech restrictions from Fox Sports and the Westwood One radio network, which are broadcasting Super Bowl LVII. A similar request was sent to Apple Music, the sponsor of the halftime show, as well as Roc Nation Management which represents Super Bowl halftime performer Rihanna.
No responses were received by press time.
Terri Jo Neff is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or send her news tips here.
The Phoenix City Council approved $1.5 million to fund climate-change friendly urban farming, with up to 60 percent of grant money exclusively for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). The grant term lasts up to five years.
The Biden administration prompted this program; they will fund it entirely, as part of their greater goal of equity. The city council revealed that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) selected Phoenix as a pilot location for this type of program.
In addition to creating jobs and innovating farming practices in an urban setting, the city will require farmers to “advance equity” in the food system, mitigate production and distribution-induced climate change, and adopt or expand upon sustainable food production or aggregation.
The deadline for the grant proposal passed earlier this month, Dec. 5. The city will announce grant recipients this coming spring.
In all, the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) may invest up to $43 million of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) into urban, underserved nonprofit or private farmers. Those classified as “underserved” include beginners, the socially disadvantaged, those with limited resources, and military veterans. The USDA will target areas where FSA hasn’t been present before to implement this funding, or Resilient and Sustainable Agriculture (RSA) grants.
The $43 million is the first portion of $75 million to “support a fairer food system” while expanding nutritional food accessibility and strengthening the crippled supply chain.
The FSA focus on urban farming expanded with the 2018 Farm Bill, which established the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production (UAIP). Over the past two years, the Biden administration’s USDA has allocated hundreds of millions in funding to urban, minority-focused initiatives.
The USDA has a county office committee devoted to urban agriculture in Phoenix, as well as in 16 other cities: Atlanta, Georgia; New Orleans, Louisiana; Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota; St. Louis, Missouri; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Cleveland, Ohio; Portland, Oregon; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Dallas, Texas; Richmond, Virginia; Chicago, Illinois; New York, New York; Detroit, Michigan; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Los Angeles, California; and Oakland, California.
These FSA committees recently held their elections. The deadline for ballots was the same day as the deadline for Phoenix’s grant proposal. A total of 506 people voted in the last FSA committee election in 2019.
The newly elected county committee members take office on Jan. 1.
President Joe Biden appointed former Democratic congressional candidate Ginger Sykes Torres to serve as the State Executive Director for FSA Arizona at the beginning of this month. Sykes Torres formerly served as chair of Phoenix’s Urban Heat Island Tree and Shade Subcommittee
Governor-elect Katie Hobbs’ transition team includes the leader of a nonprofit under investigation for pandemic loan fraud.
Chicanos Por La Causa (CPLC) President, CEO, and lobbyist David Adame was named to Hobbs’ transition team.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) is investigating CPLC for fraudulent pandemic loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The Democrat-led Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis issued a report at the beginning of this month revealing that CPLC’s nonprofit lending subsidiary, Prestamos, received approximately $7.7 billion in loans. That made Prestamos the third-ranked lender for PPP last year, after JP Morgan Chase Bank and Bank of America.
“As of late December 2019, Prestamons had provided ‘more than $50 million in loans supporting more than 400 businesses’ since its formal inception in 2000,” stated the subcommittee report. “In other words, in the two decades prior to the pandemic, Prestamos likely issued less than one percent of the funds that it issued in 2021 as part of the PPP.”
The subcommittee recommended the Department of Justice (DOJ) to act on their findings.
In a statement, Prestamos said that their compliance program resulted in the denials of 57 percent of PPP applications.
“Prestamos supports any effort to identify and correct fraud and to enhance controls, and we have been working with the SBA to strengthen the role of non-profit, community-based lenders in reaching those in need,” stated the lender.
Hobbs named her transition team about a week before the SBA report dropped.
CPLC’s website has a portal for its “Boards,” which currently houses a broken link. However, archived versions of the portal link include the word “Prestamos” in the URL.
In 2020, Adame served on Sen. Mark Kelly’s (D-AZ) transition team. Adame is also a board member of the Arizona-Mexico Commission appointed by outgoing Governor Doug Ducey, a member of the Dean’s Council at Arizona State University (ASU) W.P. Carey School of Business, and a board member of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC).
The GPEC President and CEO, Chris Camacho, has worked closely with CPLC and was also named to Hobbs’ transition team.
The co-chair of GPEC’s International Leadership Council, Sharon Harper, recently issued a $1.5 million grant to CPLC through her trustee role for the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust. Harper also named Adame to a Creighton University board.
Harper, the president, CEO, and co-founder of Plaza Companies, also sits on the boards of the McCain Institute and BioAccel, and serves as a vice chair for the Arizona Community Foundation.
A number of Hobbs’ other transition team members also have ties to CPLC.
Mary Rose Wilcox, former Phoenix City Council member and defeated 2014 congressional candidate, also has ties to CPLC and its loans operations: in 2009, the former Maricopa County Supervisor faced 36 felony counts for failing to disclose her CPLC loans and exercising a conflict of interest when voting on funding related to CPLC. The charges were dropped, ultimately, and Wilcox received about $1 million in settlement.
Mesa Mayor John Giles has worked closely with CPLC over the years. Most recently, the mayor helped establish a new affordable housing development, “Nuevas Vistas.” Giles also supported CPLC’s efforts to pass Proposition 308, granting in-state college tuition to illegal immigrants so long as they graduated from an Arizona high school. Arizona voters approved the measure last month. Leftist dark money heavily backed the proposition.
Bob Worsley, former state senator, and John Graham, chairman & CEO of Sunbelt Holdings, also signed onto Prop 308.
Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo has also partnered with CPLC in the past. Marlene Galan-Woods, a former Fox News and CBS News anchor, serves on the team and is the wife of Grant Woods: a prominent attorney awarded by CPLC for his work and campaign co-chairman for both former Governor Jan Brewer and Sen. John McCain.
CPLC’s political arm, CPLC Action Fund, endorsed Hobbs in October through its initiative “Latino Loud” or “Sí Se Vota.”
Adame then appeared in one of Hobbs’ TV campaigns released in late October.
Arizona’s Democratic legislature plans to introduce legislation this upcoming session to legalize assisted suicide again.
State Sen. Christine Marsh (D-LD04) announced this plan during a virtual meeting on Wednesday with the Arizona Education Association (AEA). A final draft is not yet publicly available.
Marsh said that fellow Democrats plan to market it as a “Death With Dignity” bill. This will be the eighth year that Democrats introduce a “death with dignity” bill, and their 14th year of proposing assisted suicide legislation overall.
The “Death With Dignity” movement has gained traction over the past 30 years. Arizona’s Democratic legislators have attempted to legalize assisted suicide almost every year since 2003, most recently in this most recent legislative session.
The first assisted suicide bill was introduced in 1996 by former State Sen. Peter Goudinoff (D-LD11). That year, the southern chapter of the ACLU held a Sunday panel featuring Goudinoff titled “Do We Have a Right to Determine When and How We Die?” Also present were lawyer Robert Fleming, University of Arizona political science professor Deborah Mathieu, and VP Hemlock Society of America representative John Westover.
Past legislation referred to assisted suicide as “aid in dying.” The term “death with dignity” first appeared on the bills in 2016.
Among those professionals in support of assisted suicide legalization is the Arizona Psychological Association. The League of Women Voters of Arizona has also signaled their support.
Below is the legislature’s history with assisted suicide bills, all of which except the initial few were held in committee:
1996: SB1007 – failed in the Senate Health Committee
Arizona’s first introduction of assisted suicide legislation followed shortly after the establishment of a nonprofit dedicating to national legalization. On December 30, 1994, the Death With Dignity National Center (Death With Dignity) formed in Portland, Oregon.
The nonprofit arose from the 1993 Oregon Right to Die political action committee (PAC) that formed and ensured the legalization of assisted suicide in Oregon.
Currently, Death With Dignity partners with an Arizona group petitioning to legalize assisted suicide, Arizona End of Life Options (AZELO).
From 1994 to 1997, Democratic dark money kingpin George Soros began his “Project on Death in America.” He has maintained interest in legalizing assisted suicide since then, and continues to bankroll efforts to accomplish that end.
At present, only 10 states and Washington, D.C. allow assisted suicide: Oregon, Hawaii, Washington, Maine, Montana, Colorado, New Jersey, New Mexico, California, and Vermont.
Normalization of assisted suicide has resulted in controversial uses of the practice.
In recent years, the Canadian government has turned to assisted suicide as a means of convenience: boosting health care costs savings, or “alleviating” the physically disabled and mental ill.
The perspective has consistently prompted widespread backlash.
A civil rights lawsuit has been filed by two Arizona nonprofits in hopes of having the recently passed Voters’ Right To Know Act aka Proposition 211 declared unconstitutional.
The Arizona Free Enterprise Club (AFEC) and the Center for Arizona Policy have joined forces to seek a preliminary injunction barring implementation of Prop 211 while the case is litigated. The groups are represented by the Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation at the Goldwater Institute.
In announcing Thursday’s lawsuit, AFEC issued a statement which argues that Arizona voters “were misled into passing Prop 211” by supporters like former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard who railed against the vague threat of “dark money” in the state’s elections.
Prop 211 received more yes votes than no votes in all 15 counties, and easily passed by more than 1 million votes. But the plaintiffs insist the new law jeopardizes and interferes with the right of all Americans to freely support campaigns and causes in Arizona without being intimidated.
The Voters’ Right To Know Act requires all entities and persons spending more than $50,000 in “campaign media spending” on statewide campaigns (or $25,000 on other campaigns) excluding personal monies and business income to disclose the original donors of any contribution over $5,000.
The Act involves the disclosure of those donors’ names, mailing addresses, and occupations. It also requires disclosure of the identities of those donors’ employers.
“This is just another attempt to target, harass, and dox conservatives who won’t submit to the Left’s agenda,” the AFEC statement reads. “And if you don’t think this happens, think again.”
The statement notes the experiences of its own staff “who have received numerous phone calls and voicemails threatening violence—including one staff member whose car was vandalized for engaging in public communications on our behalf.”
As required by state law, the Plaintiffs were required to provide notice to the Arizona Attorney General, the Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, and the President of the Arizona Senate that they are seeking to have Prop 211 declared unconstitutional.
There is recent precedent for the legal arguments put forth by the Goldwater Institute for the plaintiffs. A U.S. Supreme Court decision last year in Americans for Prosperity v. Bonta struck down a similar law in California on the grounds that the First Amendment protects the freedom to anonymously support organizations and nonprofits.
A central theme of the Arizona lawsuit against Prop 211 is the guarantee in the state Constitution that citizens have the right to speak freely, a right even broader than what is guaranteed under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The lawsuit notes the Arizona Constitution expressly guarantees that an individual’s “private affairs” will not be disturbed, particularly those that pertain to financial information and one’s choices when casting a ballot.
“Transparency is for government; privacy is for individuals,” the lawsuit argues.
Another problem with Prop 211, according to the lawsuit, is its definition of campaign media spending to include any public communication which “promotes, supports, attacks, or opposes” a candidate within six months of an election or “refers” to a candidate 90 days before a primary election.
That overly broad language means any article, blog, or social media post by groups like AFEC or Center for Arizona Policy about something as commonplace as a vote by a lawmaker could trigger compliance with the new law if that lawmaker is running for office or opts to soon after the communication.
“And if you think that by simply avoiding traditional campaign media spending (sending out a mailer, airing a TV commercial, etc.) will protect you from Prop 211, think again,” the AFEC statement notes. That is because the new law applies to all “research, design, production…or any other activity conducted in preparation for” a public communication about a candidate.
“Since writing articles and producing social media posts have a cost, we would have to calculate and regularly track how much staff time and office resources are used to produce these materials,” the statement notes.
Such an onerous level of accounting would force AFEC to drastically limit its public communications—even if a communications are not campaign related—“to avoid the absurd dragnet and complex regulatory labyrinth established by this Act,” the group noted.
Joining AFEC and Center for Arizona Policy as plaintiffs are “Plaintiff Doe I” and “Plaintiff Doe II,” both described as Arizona citizens and Maricopa County residents. The Doe plaintiffs allege that it is unconstitutional to require them to “reveal his or her identity when donating to charitable organizations that engage in public communications supporting issues and candidates” the two support.
Their lawsuit has been assigned to Judge John Hannah of the Maricopa County Superior Court. The defendants include Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs as well as the Arizona Clean Elections Commission, its executive director, and its five commissioners.
It is the Clean Elections Commission which is tasked with establishing and interpreting the new standards outlined in Prop 211. The Commission has often been at odds with AFEC in past ballot initiatives and litigation, including one case in which the U.S. Supreme Court significantly reduced the Commission’s power.
Terri Jo Neff is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or send her news tips here.
Governor-elect Katie Hobbs reaffirmed that she will hold to her campaign promise to abolish Arizona’s universal school choice program.
Hobbs issued the remarks last week in an interview with Arizona PBS, about two weeks after appointing two longtime teachers’ union lobbyists to her transition team. Marisol Garcia is a longtime lobbyist for and the current president of the Arizona Education Association (AEA); Stephanie Parra was a former lobbyist for the AEA, is a registered lobbyist for her nonprofit “All in Education,” and serves as a Phoenix Union High School District board member.
“I can tell you that the voucher scheme that we have set up is going to end up as an Alt-Fuels 2.0,” stated Hobbs. “It’s going to bust our budget. We can’t afford to do more.”
In a video shared within an AEA meeting reviewing the upcoming legislative session on Wednesday, Hobbs pledged to be the biggest ally of public schools in the state’s history.
“I’m ready to get to work as the most pro-public education governor in Arizona,” said Hobbs.
Garcia expressed confidence that Hobbs would be an ally to their teachers’ union. She also said that she and the AEA were completely against the state’s school choice program, the Empowerment Savings Account (ESA) Program.
“We have always been against any sort of vouchers, not just expansion but vouchers in essence,” said Garcia.
In September, Garcia stated that it wasn’t possible to support both public schools and private schools when it comes to funding.
“Funding AZ public schools & then being pro private schools vouchers is hypocritical,” wrote Garcia. “Union members have ALWAYS been against vouchers. They hurt our communities & funnel tax payer $ to private companies.”
Hobbs has been forthright about her opposition to universal school choice. Her education plan published through her campaign revealed that she would scale back the program to bolster public school funding.
Hobbs declared that universal school choice was an “attack” on public schools, reflecting an intent to eventually “do away with” them. Hobbs also claimed that the ESA Program lacked any accountability and oversight.
About 32,000 children applied for the ESA Program, according to the Arizona Department of Education. Students may qualify for up to $6,500 each — totaling about $208 million.
Save Our Schools Arizona (SOSAZ), an activist group opposed to universal ESAs, attempted to reverse the universalization through a ballot measure. In September, SOSAZ overreported its signature count to qualify for the ballot — something hawkeyed pro-school choice parents discovered immediately. However, Hobbs delayed counting the signatures for about five days.