Gov. Hobbs Used Transportation Department’s Drone To Film Pride Flags

Gov. Hobbs Used Transportation Department’s Drone To Film Pride Flags

By Corinne Murdock |

Gov. Katie Hobbs’ office used the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) drone to film the Pride flags on the Executive Tower last June.

AZ Free News is only now reporting on these facts because it took nearly nine months for the governor’s office to respond to our public records request.

Public records revealed that ADOT’s lead drone pilot captured at least 15 clips — over 21 minutes of raw footage — of the Pride flags hanging on Hobbs’ office. The displayed flags were the version of the rainbow Pride flag known as the “Progress Pride” flag, due to their inclusion of white, pink, and blue to represent transgenderism, and black and brown to represent both non-white individuals and those who died from HIV/AIDS.

The display was the first of the kind by the governor’s office. Hobbs previously hung a mainstream Pride flag while secretary of state in 2019, but legislative leadership removed it after several hours. Hobbs revealed the Pride flags on the first day of Pride Month.

“Kicking off pride month leaving no room for doubt that in Arizona, we celebrate the light and energy the LGBTQ+ community brings to our state,” said Hobbs. 

ADOT drones are intended for inspections and surveying work on state infrastructure, such as highways and bridges. They were acquired about six years ago through a combination of state and federal funding.

ADOT received much of its drone fleet through a Federal Highway Administration-sponsored Arizona Council for Transportation Innovation program in 2018. At the time, the drones cost $18,100 in federal funds and over $4,500 in matching state funds. 

According to public salary data from 2022, ADOT’s lead drone pilot makes over $79,200 a year: an average of $41 an hour on a 40-hour workweek. Drone piloting also requires certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which generally costs around $200. 

As part of the display, public records documented how Hobbs invited guests to watch her unfurl the flags from the balcony and stand with her on the ground floor to admire the flags from below. Hobbs then hosted an hour-long “Pride Roundtable” with those guests.

Among those present at the roundtable were advocates of transitioning children’s genders, including those with personal experience like Lizette Trujillo. She was accompanied by her daughter, 15-year-old Danny, who identifies as a boy.

Other advocates present included two men identifying as women: Gaelle Esposito, lobbyist with Creosote Partners, and Jeanne Woodbury, interim executive director for Equality Arizona.

Additional public record requests revealed that the governor’s office sourced the flags from Phoenix Pride, the LGBTQ+ activist organization behind the annual Pride Festival. The organization reached out to the governor’s office last Easter. 

Last year’s Pride Festival drew controversy for including overtly sexual displays such as genitalia and fetish costumes, nudity, and condom bars. Conversely, Hobbs’ takeaway from the festival last year was that the LGBTQ+ community was one of love and light.

Hobbs identified LGBTQ+ policies as her main priorities throughout her gubernatorial campaign. Her first executive order prohibited gender identity discrimination in state employment and contracts; however, Hobbs campaigned on taking anti-discrimination protections even further.

The governor promised to enact protections similar to those in Civil Rights laws: bans on LGBTQ+ discrimination in housing, education, adoptions, foster care, insurance, public accommodations, and credit procurement, as well as a ban on law enforcement profiling based on gender identity and sexual orientation. 

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

Rep. Cook Calls On ADOT To Address MVD Third-Party Service Provider Issues

Rep. Cook Calls On ADOT To Address MVD Third-Party Service Provider Issues

By Daniel Stefanski |

A legislator is speaking out and demanding action just days after the release of a concerning report from Arizona’s Auditor General about the Arizona Department of Transportation’s oversight of Motor Vehicle Division’s third-party service providers.

On Monday, Republican Representative David Cook, who is the Chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, transmitted a letter to Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) Director Jennifer Toth, outlining his fears over the issues raised by the Auditor General’s report and demanding action to address the matters.

In a statement that accompanied the release of his letter, Cook said, “When state agencies outsource their important government functions to third parties, and those third parties fail to meet their legal obligations and are not properly supervised as required by law, Arizonans suffer the consequences. In this instance, those consequences are particularly severe and threaten the public safety.”

Chairman Cook, in his letter to Director Toth, expressed alarm over the report that was published last week by the state’s Auditor General, who found that the “Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) failed to ensure authorized third party companies consistently issued vehicle title, driver licenses, and identification cards only to qualified or authorized individuals and entitles, increasing public safety risks such as unsafe drivers, vehicle and identity theft, fraud, and terrorism.”

The lawmaker noted his appreciation that the Department “agrees with the Auditor General’s findings and plans to implement all the recommendations.” Yet Cook was unwilling to allow ADOT to fall back into its shortcomings over a lack of oversight, stating his belief that “it is imperative that you exercise your statutory authority to take immediate remedial action to prevent an increase in the public safety risks that the Auditor General has already identified.”

Cook highlighted that ADOT’s proposed changes to the Auditor General’s findings were “drafted and are in the pilot phase,” pointing out that “it does not appear that MVD made any significant process during the six months following the Auditor General’s audit.” He asked Director Toth why MVD “hasn’t simply adopted its previous oversight procedures that were consistent with the Auditor General’s 2015 recommendations.”

The Chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee didn’t hold back his feelings, writing that “these astonishing results are unacceptable and require an immediate response.” He requested that ADOT “(1) suspend or cancel the authorization of the three third-parties deemed ‘high-risk’ in the Auditor General’s report; (2) direct your Office of Inspector General and/or another appropriate division in your office to investigate all third party companies for compliance with A.R.S. Title 28, Chapter 13, article 1; (3) rescind the defective quality assurance process adopted by MVD in February 2022; and (4) immediately implement a revised oversight process per the Auditor General’s recommendations.”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

Carter Bill Would Curb ADOT Messaging On Roadways

Carter Bill Would Curb ADOT Messaging On Roadways

By Daniel Stefanski |

A bill to limit a certain government agency’s arsenal of communications is advancing through the Arizona Legislature, though it became a tough sell for Democrats on the House floor after earlier bipartisan votes in committees.

HB 2586, sponsored by Representative Neal Carter, “restricts the Arizona Department of Transportation’s (ADOT) dynamic message signs (DMSs) to display only messages that are directly related to transportation or highway public safety and outlines exceptions,” according to the purpose provided by the State Senate.

During his testimony to the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, the bill sponsor, Representative Carter, explained that “this bill is the law in other states.” His reasons for introducing the bill were that some of the ADOT freeway signs are a “little bit distracting” because there are messages that may not be related to transportation and otherwise inappropriate to share with commuters; and that there was good cause to worry “about government effectively using it as an advertisement for other things.” He told the committee that this would be worrying “because the people making those decisions should be elected people,” and it would be a “slippery slope” to have bureaucrats at ADOT deciding what to market or message.

When questioned about the legislation by the committee chairman, Representative David Cook, Carter clarified that it would not be the intent of HB 2586 to “specify how to make the messaging” – for example, limiting the creativity of the content as long as it was directly related to transportation. Representative Carter’s chief concern was signs that aren’t communicating directly about transportation – like “No Burn Days.”

Chairman Cook and Carter both agreed that ADOT messaging about vaccines would be a good example of what should not be included on the signs for passersby.

Representative Carter amended his bill to allow “the Arizona Department of Transportation to display reminders to vote on dynamic message signs.”

The bill passed out of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee with a 7-4 vote, with one member absent from the final deliberation. One Democrat voted in support. The Rules Committee unanimously approved the legislation with an 8-0 tally.

On the House floor, Democrat Representative Cesar Aguilar highlighted his opposition to the bill, arguing that the policy “would impact Arizona’s culture of signs we see on the road,” noting his perception that the ADOT “Don’t Drink and Drive” signs would be banned should this legislation be signed into law. Carter rejected that assertion, saying that the aforementioned signs were transportation-related and would not be subjected to the updated regulations of his bill. Carter also touted the bipartisan support for the bill during the committee process. Unlike in committees, though, HB 2586 did not receive any support from Democrats on the House floor, passing 31-28 – with one Democrat member not voting.

HB 2586 was transmitted to the Senate and was approved by the Transportation and Technology Committee earlier this month with a party-line 4-3 vote. It awaits further action from that legislative body.

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

Arizona Leaders Advance Electric Vehicles Despite Evidence Debunking ‘Green’ Benefits

Arizona Leaders Advance Electric Vehicles Despite Evidence Debunking ‘Green’ Benefits

By Corinne Murdock |

Despite mounting evidence debunking the environmental friendliness of electric vehicles (EV), Arizona’s leaders continue to roll out EV infrastructure.

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), Tucson, and Phoenix have all rolled out plans to expand EV infrastructure, as well as encourage citizens to switch to electric while transitioning government vehicles to electric. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs pledged to electrify all state vehicle fleets as part of her “clean” energy plan. The state legislature also considered bills to advance EV usage earlier this year, such as SB1102 to require new homes to have EV charging.

In the latest episode of acclaimed reporter John Stossel’s “Stossel TV,” Manhattan Institute physicist Mark Mills shared that EVs won’t change oil use and carbon dioxide emissions “in any significant way.” Mills revealed that even 300-500 million EVs would only reduce world oil consumption by 10 percent. That’s the entire US population, and 5-8 percent of the world population over 16 years old. There are approximately 15-18 million EVs in the world presently.

Most oil use comes from airplanes, buses, and big trucks — even the mining equipment to obtain copper required for EVs. 

“It won’t change because those trucks last 40 years,” said Mills. 

That’s another debunked claim of EV’s environmental friendliness: the mining process requires a lot of the earth for very little. One battery requires about 500,000 pounds of minerals and rock to be mined. The mining process pollutes the surrounding environment, resulting in most operations to take place abroad in Chile and the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Altogether, the mining, manufacturing, and shipping process for EVs emits 10 to 20 tons of carbon dioxide. 

Claims that EVs reduce carbon emissions are only true insofar as an EV is driven 100,000 miles at minimum. Even then, that mileage reduces emissions by up to 20 or 30 percent. The average EV battery lasts around 200,000 miles, though an EV warranty is 100,000 miles. (Tesla projects that it may develop a million-mile battery, though their cars are among the most expensive on the market). With every charge cycle, the battery pack loses capacity and reduces driving range. 

Further, only 12 percent of electricity production comes from wind or solar power. Most comes from burning natural gas or coal. That’s nothing to say of the potential strain on the country’s energy grids under the Biden administration’s planned EV network, or under varying weather conditions such as cold snaps and heat waves.

EV sales increased 66 percent this year, following government and corporation efforts over the past several years to eradicate gas-powered vehicles and encourage EV buying through incentives like tax credits. California banned the sale of gas-powered cars by 2035, with Massachusetts and Washington following via trigger laws. Other states are on track to phase out gas vehicles over the next few decades, including Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, New York, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, and Rhode Island.

That’s in addition to nearly all major car brands pledging to shift toward mostly or exclusively EV within the next several decades, including General Motors (Chevrolet, GMC, Buick), Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Rolls-Royce, Volvo, and Audi.

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

ADOT Launches Survey Ahead Of 2050 Transportation Plan

ADOT Launches Survey Ahead Of 2050 Transportation Plan

By Terri Jo Neff |

What will Arizona’s highways and other roadways look like 25 years from now, and what will the transportation needs be across the state?

Those are the key questions the Arizona Department of Transportation must answer as the agency begins updating its 2050 Long Range Transportation Plan, and state officials are turning to the public for help with the answers.

ADOT has launched a survey to seek the public’s input on what priorities should be included in the Long Range Transportation Plan for how ADOT should invest limited resources to meet future transportation needs across the state. The survey is available here and will be open through Dec. 21.

The Long Range Transportation Plan, which ADOT expects to be finalized in May 2023, is not project-specific. Instead, it establishes the strategic priorities, goals, and objectives which will guide ADOT’s transportation investments based on anticipated funding levels. The plan will also identify projected funding gaps to meet transportation system needs.

According to ADOT, the plan will include recommended investment choices, which will define how ADOT intends to allocate future resources across three major investment types:

  • Preservation: Activities to maintain the current state highway system, such as replacing, repairing, or maintaining pavement and repairing or replacing aging bridges.
  • Modernization: Activities to improve safety and operations of the existing state highway system, such as adding shoulders and implementing smart road technologies.
  • Expansion: Activities to add new highways, add lanes to existing highways, or add interchanges.

More information about the plan is available here. The website also includes an option for being added to the mailing list for future updates.