Small Businesses Continue To Struggle To Fill Job Openings

Small Businesses Continue To Struggle To Fill Job Openings

By Terri Jo Neff |

The struggle to fill job openings continues for mom-and-pop enterprises and other small businesses across the country, according to a report issued Thursday by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).

“The labor shortage remains a challenging problem for small business owners,” NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg said of the group’s Jobs Report for October. “Because of staffing shortages, small business owners are less able to take full advantage of current sales opportunities and continue to make business adjustments to compensate,”

The Jobs Report is a monthly, national snapshot of the small-business-owning membership of NFIB in 9 industries — agriculture, construction, finance, manufacturing, professional, retail, services, transportation, and wholesale.

The October 2022 report released Nov. 3 shows that:

  • 23 percent of owners report labor quality as their top business problem, second only to inflation;
  • 61 percent of owners reported hiring—or trying to hire—in October;
  • Of those hiring or trying to hire, 90 percent of owners reported few or no qualified applicants for the open positions;
  • 40 percent of owners have openings for skilled workers while 22 percent are seeking unskilled labor;
  • Transportation (68 percent) and Construction (63 percent) had the most difficulty in October filling job openings.

There are several programs available to Arizona small businesses to assist with hiring issues. One is the Arizona Small Business Development Center Network funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration. There are 10 SBDC Centers in Arizona served through the local community college districts.

Another is Arizona@Work sponsored by the Arizona Commerce Authority and Arizona Department of Economic Security.

Richer Digs In While Public Awaits Decision Of Complaint To Attorney General

Richer Digs In While Public Awaits Decision Of Complaint To Attorney General

By Terri Jo Neff |

AZ Free News has confirmed at least two of Arizona’s 15 county recorders did not put forth an “aye” vote when deciding whether to oppose Proposition 309, despite public assertions by Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer of a unanimous vote.

Prop 309 would tighten the identification requirements for in-person and early ballot voting. On Sept. 29, the Arizona Association of County Recorders (AACR) conducted a “aye or nay” voice vote on issuing a statement in opposition of what is often referred to as universal voter ID.

Many boards and associations make decisions and take positions on a majority-rule basis, but those votes are not publicized as representing the position of each individual member. There was no role call nor record kept of how any of the county recorders voted, yet Richer, who is AACR’s President, listed the names of all 15 recorders on the anti-Prop 309 statement.

As previously reported by AZ Free News, Cochise County Recorder David Stevens took issue with that, as he was out of the country at the time and had not given his chief deputy recorder authority to vote his proxy. In fact, Stevens is pro-Prop 309.

Public records obtained by AZ Free News also show at least one other recorder reported not expressing any vote on the AACR position but opted to not go public, given that the majority of members did vote “aye.”

AACR met on Sept. 29 and took the voice vote about Prop 309 despite nothing on the agenda indicating a vote would be taken. Then on Oct. 4, Richer used his Maricopa County email account to distribute a draft version of the AACR statement to a handful of members for review.

He also used the Maricopa County website and a staffer’s time on the AACR’s anti-Prop 309 letter.

Richer has acknowledged this was an improper use of public resources to influence a ballot measure, and has expressed hope his mea culpa is sufficient to stave off criminal charges in light of a complaint filed with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office (AGO).

The AGO has the authority to expand the investigation from Richer’s use of public resources into whether his refusal to correct the record about the AACR vote falls under Arizona’s criminal statutes related to a fraudulent scheme or artifice.

Other public records show the draft version of the anti-Prop 309 statement Richer sent, however, did not include the names of all the county recorders. That feature was added at the suggestion of Pima County Recorder Gabriella Cazares-Kelly.

Richer released a revised draft statement about Prop 309 to the full AACR membership on Oct. 10. The next day, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs received an email from Richer with an advance copy of the statement about 90 minutes before it was released to the public.

Stevens, who did not see the draft, immediately emailed Richer and the other recorders upon learning of the statement’s content. He made clear his position on Prop 309 (he supports it) as well as on the use of his name.

The email also requested Richer “remove my name from this list and issue a retraction immediately.” Richer ignored that request as well as subsequent requests by Stevens.

For now, Stevens is waiting for the outcome of the AGO investigation. There is also a possibility of civil liability under Arizona law for the use of Stevens’ name without his consent.

Court Issues Restraining Order Against Ballot Drop Box Monitors

Court Issues Restraining Order Against Ballot Drop Box Monitors

By Corinne Murdock |

On Tuesday, the Arizona District Court issued a temporary restraining order against drop box monitors with Clean Elections USA. The order lasts through Election Day for fourteen days.

The court consolidated two cases against the drop box monitors: League of Women Voters of Arizona v. Lions of Liberty, et al and Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans, et al v. Clean Elections USA et al.

Judge Michel Liburdi ordered Clean Elections USA to refrain from engaging in or training, organizing, or directing others to monitor drop boxes. They may not enter within 75 feet of a ballot drop box or entrance to a building where a drop box is located, or follow individuals delivering ballots to a drop box outside that 75-foot margin. They may also not speak first to individuals dropping off ballots within 75 feet of a drop box. They may also not openly carry firearms within 250 feet of a ballot drop box, but may conceal carry. 

READ HERE: SUMMARY OF THE HEARING

Liburdi also ordered Clean Elections USA and its founder, Melody Jennings, to post the following on the organization website and her Truth Social account:

“It is not always illegal to deposit multiple ballots in a ballot drop box. It is legal to deposit the ballot of a family member, household member, or person for whom you are the caregiver. Here are the rules for ballot drop boxes by which I ask you to abide…”

Followed by a copy of state law concerning voter fraud or a link to the law, Jennings complied. Although on Wednesday, Jennings responded to Republican secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem that she and others would continue to watch drop boxes “lawfully and peacefully” as he requested.

In an interview with controversial pundit Steve Bannon, Jennings described the restraining order as an “infraction of the First Amendment.” Jennings said she would be relying on eyewitnesses to file affidavits if they see suspicious activity. 

One of the major firms representing the plaintiffs in the cases was the Elias Law Group: Russiagate lawyer Marc Elias’ firm. The Department of Justice (DOJ) also joined the case on Halloween, which was Monday. 

Those who sued to stop the drop box watchers included the League of Women Voters of Arizona, Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans, and Voto Latino.

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

Hobbs’ Campaign Office Burglar An Illegal Immigrant Fugitive Sought by ICE

Hobbs’ Campaign Office Burglar An Illegal Immigrant Fugitive Sought by ICE

By Corinne Murdock |

The man allegedly behind the burglary of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs’ campaign office is an illegal immigrant sought by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Sources informed the Arizona Daily Independent this week that the fugitive, a 36-year-old Portuguese citizen named Daniel Mota Dos Reis, failed to maintain his immigration status through a student visa. Reis earned his MBA from Grand Canyon University (GCU) last December. According to ICE records, Reis entered the country on a student visa in 2018, when he started at GCU. 

As AZ Free News reported last week, Hobbs alleged that Reis was prompted to burglarize her campaign office due to rhetoric from her opponent, Kari Lake. Reis likely wasn’t motivated by the gubernatorial race or politics at all. 

Rather, the timeline of events offered by Reis’ social media accounts indicates that he was motivated by financial distress. Reis worked as an accountant for four years until March, when it appears that he either left or lost his job. At that point, Reis began searching for other job opportunities abroad. It is unclear whether his immigration status was a factor in his job status.

In April, Reis posted to social media that it was difficult to obtain work authorization papers.

“Work authorizations and work-related paperwork can be a huge issue in the US,” stated Reis. “I see friends deeply impacted by these policies on a daily basis.”

Police relayed that Reis was homeless at the time of his arrest for several burglaries, including that of Hobbs’ campaign office.

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

Katie Hobbs’ Husband Helps Kids Transition Genders at Phoenix Children’s Hospital

Katie Hobbs’ Husband Helps Kids Transition Genders at Phoenix Children’s Hospital

By Corinne Murdock |

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs’ husband, Patrick Goodman, serves as a counselor for Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s (PCH) Gender Support Program (GSP).

As AZ Free News reported in August, PCH’s program provides the only comprehensive “gender-affirming care” via transition in the state. After widespread reporting of the program, PCH removed much of the content related to its programs and services from its website.

Goodman and his colleagues within the GSP consult with children for the application of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones. Goodman also testified in an ongoing lawsuit to force the state to issue corrective birth certificates based on gender identity, filed by several transgender children and their parents against the state, Roe, et al v. Herrington, et al.

Goodman was the mental health provider for one of the children in the case, then a 10-year-old referred to as Jane Doe. The lawsuit was filed almost exactly two years ago, in November 2020. The latest action to occur in the case concerned the depositions of the Arizona Department of Health Services interim director Don Herrington this week. 

Goodman’s medical notes concerning Jane Doe are sealed in the court case.

The state allows birth certificate changes after a sex change operation. The state doesn’t allow minors to undergo gender transition surgery, though they may still take puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones.

Hobbs opposed the most recent law banning gender transition surgeries for minors, as well as a law excluding males from female sports.

Hobbs said that preventing children from transitioning genders wasn’t protecting them.

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

Pro-Life Grassroots Activists Mobilizing Voters in Mesa and Scottsdale

Pro-Life Grassroots Activists Mobilizing Voters in Mesa and Scottsdale

By Corinne Murdock |

In the final six days before Election Day, young pro-life activists are deploying in Mesa and Scottsdale to mobilize voters. 

That impacts State Senate Districts 4 and 9, both swing districts. District 4 candidates are Republican Nancy Barto and Democrat Christine Marsh. District 9 candidates are Republican Robert Scantlebury and Democrat Eva Burch. 

Behind the grassroots activists is Students for Life Action (SFLA), the political action committee (PAC) arm of the Students for Life (SFL) nonprofit. SFLA stated in a press release that their goal in Arizona is to inform voters about the abortion lobby’s endorsed candidates and Senator Mark Kelly’s record on abortion. 

SFLA comes into play weeks after it was revealed that Kelly campaign staffers were likely telling voters that the senator is pro-life for months. Kelly supports abortion.  

SFLA also deployed groups into 10 other states: Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Minnesota, Ohio, Iowa, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Washington. Notably, one SFLA captain, 18-year-old Kaitlyn Ruch, is the Republican candidate for the Montana House.

Arizona won’t enforce its ban on abortion until next year. In response to the agreement with Attorney General Mark Brnovich last week, Planned Parenthood resumed abortion services throughout the state (with the exception of a Tucson clinic, which continued operations prior to the agreement).

Even if the state’s abortion ban goes into effect, there’s no guarantee of uniform enforcement. The cities of Tucson and Phoenix both passed resolutions effectively decriminalizing abortions. Pima County Attorney Laura Conover also pledged to not prosecute violations of abortion law.

The upcoming election will further determine the fate of the state’s abortion law. Democratic Maricopa County Attorney candidate Julie Gunnigle pledged to disregard state bans and restrictions on abortion.

“I will #NotNowNotEver prosecute people or their providers for performing abortions or undergoing an abortion procedure,” tweeted Gunnigle last month. 

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs supports elective abortions without any restrictions, even up to birth. 

Hobbs told CNN on Wednesday that she would veto any new legislation further restricting abortion in the state.

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