Chandler Prohibits Gender Identity, Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Chandler Prohibits Gender Identity, Sexual Orientation Discrimination

By Corinne Murdock |

On Thursday, the Chandler City Council established a nondiscrimination ordinance (NDO) to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. 

Two years in the making, the NDO prohibits the denial of public accommodations, employment, and housing on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The council passed the NDO unanimously.

Nine citizens submitted their support of the NDO ahead of Thursday’s meeting; only two submitted opposition. Among those who testified in favor of the NDO were women claiming to be Christians and a business advocacy nonprofit, Local First Arizona, who insisted on the NDO’s potential for increasing city revenue. Chandler Pride, an LGBTQ+ advocacy organization, complained that the NDO didn’t go far enough.

Chandler Pride co-founder Jude Schroeder argued that the NDO shouldn’t have religious exemptions for nonprofits. Schroeder argued further that the enforcement mechanisms and punishments weren’t strong enough.

“Chandler residents served with tax dollars are not to be discriminated [against] by anyone for any reason,” said Schroeder. 

Those who violate the NDO won’t be eligible for city contracts or grants. The NDO doesn’t apply to small businesses and private membership clubs.

Mayor Kevin Hartke assured citizens that the NDO came with plenty of religious exemptions. 

“It makes a statement and it’s a statement I believe has always described Chandler,” said Hartke. 

The NDO carves out an exemption for “bona fide religious organizations or persons who hold bona fide religious views.”

At the start of the council meeting, several citizens lamented that the current council agenda didn’t reflect the current issues or will of the people: other than the DEI policy, allowing backyard chickens, and expanding the number of days citizens may shoot off fireworks. The first citizen to speak expressed a desire for the council to focus more on addressing the inflation crisis and looming police hiring shortage. Almost a quarter of Chandlers’ police force is slated to retire in the next few years, and the pace of hiring hasn’t accommodated for that.

The council spent over $56,000 last year for the study to back this NDO. A survey of 33 percent of staff revealed that most city staffers are satisfied with the city’s diversity at present. 

60 percent believe the city recognizes staff diversity, while 15 percent disagreed; close to 80 percent believe the city values different backgrounds, while 10 percent disagreed; 55 percent believe the city encourages different viewpoints, while close to 20 percent disagreed; 60 percent believe the city supports diverse teams, while 15 percent disagreed. The remaining percentage of staff were neutral. On average, 68 percent expressed a positive outlook on the city’s diversity outlook and integration, compared to 13 percent expressing a negative outlook. 

Similarly, more city employees had a positive outlook on the city’s accessibility and availability of DEI education, events, and practices: 55 percent positive, 9 percent negative, and 17 percent neutral, and 18 percent didn’t know.

17 percent of employees disagreed with DEI implementation, 25 percent were neutral, 45 percent agreed, and 12 percent didn’t respond. 

Chandler’s NDO aligns with those established by localities across the nation, and resembles the antidiscrimination laws established by states. Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws resulted in the targeting of several Christian business owners. One, a baker named Jake Phillips, declined to make a wedding cake for a gay couple and then declined to make a gender reveal cake for a transgender individual. Another, a website designer named Lorie Smith, declined to design wedding websites for same-sex couples. 

Phillips won his Supreme Court (SCOTUS) case concerning the wedding cake, but remains in court for the gender reveal cake. Smith will appear before SCOTUS early next month to argue her case. 

Arizona nearly banned sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R-Mesa) introduced a bill to do so, though it never advanced to a committee.

In addition to this latest policy, Chandler’s other DEI efforts launched in 2020, prompted by the death of George Floyd, came to fruition this year. The city sponsored and hosted its first LGBTQ+ event, produced a video series highlighting Black families living in Chandler, and hosted its first Asian community conference.

Watch the Chandler City Council meeting here:

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

Don’t Confuse Meth Addiction with Homelessness 

Don’t Confuse Meth Addiction with Homelessness 

By John Huppenthal |

I recently observed a tent camouflaged behind freeway road bushes in Chandler. Curious, I looked around the corner. I caught a man heating the bowl of a meth pipe in the act taking a deep drag. There were two men there. The second man looked in terrible shape, like a character out of Breaking Bad. It was 2:30 in the afternoon. I called 911.

Catching him in the criminal act was pivotal. Court decisions have given meth addicts a constitutional right to occupy our right of ways, defecate on our streets, and urinate on our sidewalks.

But these court decisions don’t protect criminal behavior.

I volunteered for two years at the school for the homeless. I never found one of the students to be homeless. They were sleeping on couches, in a spare bedroom, on someone’s carpet. Their families found someone, a relative, a friend, willing to be helpful. In my opinion, most people on the street don’t want to be in someone’s house. They are giving in to their drug addiction. Each one of them, willing to abide by the rules, can immediately enter a shelter. Rules are the key: shelters don’t allow drugs. Most of these people we describe as homeless are really meth addicts and should be described as such, not as homeless.

Meth addiction is a horror beyond all description. Read the case studies. One woman, after three days of smoking meth, cut off her boyfriend’s head and took it to his mother in a bucket.

Meth culture is now everywhere. Several months ago, a friend and I drove to hike Peralta Canyon. Leaving the paved roads, we noticed a man running, flapping his arms. Then, further on, we encountered 50-foot-long skid marks on a dirt road leading to a snapped barbed wire fence. Beyond the fence, in the distance, we could see a truck with an attached travel trailer.

Over the next hour, we put together the story. The man flapping his arms had been smoking meth for several days when he suffered a full-blown psychotic break. Somehow, convinced the cartel had arrived to assassinate him, he threw his cards and driver’s license down into the dirt so that the cartel could not use the magnetic strips to track him. He took off in his truck at an incredible rate of speed along with the attached trailer and another trailer behind it with his motorcycle. Driving in tight circles so that he could dodge the cartel’s bullets, his vehicles were bouncing a half foot into the air as he crossed the berms of the dirt road. His rate of speed was such that he was hitting five-inch palo verde trees, snapping them off without slowing. Losing control, he ran full blast into the barbed wire fence, snapping all three strands. He continued out into the desert hitting so many cholla that the cactus limbs piled up on the hood of his truck more than half-way to the top of the windshield. Finally, the sand of a desert wash trapped him but not before he had destroyed the economic value of all the assets he could claim in this world. As the fire fighters checked him out and the police took him away, he proclaimed to the world “I’m having a bad day.”

That’s the abyss addicts slide toward as they take communities with them.

Meth culture spreads. I encountered a gentleman taking pictures of the water retention basin a little further north. His mother, whose home and fence backs up to the water retention basin, had become fearful upon hearing noises that they were setting up camp in that retention basin. I told him to have her call police. The retention basin is completely fenced but there is plentiful evidence of addicts in discarded clothing and bedding.

All totaled, there were seven of these meth camps along Price Road, both on the Chandler side and the Tempe side.

I interviewed one of their residents. Waking him up at 10 in the morning, I offered him $30 for a 15-minute interview. He couldn’t find his glasses. Mentally fatigued from a stroke (a side-effect of meth addiction), he couldn’t last beyond a few questions. However, he did mention that both his father and his sister had died from drug addiction. His mother lives in Mesa. His age appeared to be late 40s. He couldn’t remember when he was born. This man was living in a makeshift tent in the 2 feet between the freeway sound wall and the bushes on the side of Price Road. 

One of the camps was behind an SRP power transformer at the edge of Price Road. I got a garbage bag and just started cleaning it up. I took out 40 pounds of garbage. I didn’t have it in my heart to take out their foam mattress bed, their new running shoes, or their clothes. 

I also posted my observations on a neighborhood social media platform. It attracted considerable attention and alarm as people realized how close they were to children.

All seven of these meth camps are now gone.

Unfortunately, according to an article in the Arizona Republic and their sources, there are over 3,500 of these encampments in Phoenix, destroying neighborhoods.

Be disciplined in your thinking. These are meth addicts. You can be sympathetic, empathetic and because of your sympathy and empathy, demand that they not be allowed to slide into a meth culture. They must get off the street. At least they must get off our streets. They are learning to beg and where to steal. They are engaging more people in meth culture. Somewhere, they have a friend, a father, a sister, a relative who will help them get clean. Keep them moving toward a better future.

Three Arizona Cities Ranked In Top 21 Best Places to Raise a Family

Three Arizona Cities Ranked In Top 21 Best Places to Raise a Family

By Corinne Murdock |

Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Chandler ranked in the top 21 best U.S. cities to raise a family, according to the latest study from WalletHub. Scottsdale was number 10, while Gilbert was number 13, and Chandler ranked 21. 

Of all the Arizona cities included, Tucson ranked the lowest. Peoria ranked 49, Phoenix ranked 103, Tempe ranked 106, Mesa ranked 114, Glendale ranked 140, and Tucson ranked 156.

WalletHub assessed 182 cities: 150 of the most populated cities in the country, and at least two of the most populated cities in each state. 

The nine other best cities to raise a family were, in order: Fremont, California; Overland Park, Kansas; Irvine, California; Plano, Texas; Columbia, Maryland; San Diego, California; Seattle, Washington; San Jose, California; and Madison, Wisconsin. 

The 10-worst cities to raise a family were, in order: Detroit, Michigan; Cleveland, Ohio; Memphis, Tennessee; Birmingham, Alabama; San Bernardino, California; Newark, New Jersey; Fayetteville, North Carolina; Shreveport, Louisiana; Jackson, Mississippi; and Augusta, Georgia.

In its study, WalletHub factored family fun, health and safety, education and child care, affordability, and socio-economics. Each factor was weighted 20 points. 

Family fun accounted for: playgrounds per capita, ice rinks per capita, skate parks per capita, bike rental facilities per capita, mini golf locations per capita, parkland acreage, walkability, bike score, number of attractions, recreation friendliness, sports fan friendliness, ideal weather, share of families with young children, and average commute time.

Health and safety accounted for: air quality, water quality, access to healthy foods, pediatricians per capita, share of uninsured children, public hospitals ranking, infant mortality rate, pedestrian fatality rate, driving fatality rate, violent crime rate, property crime rate, family homelessness, and percentage of residents who are fully vaccinated.

Education and child care accounted for: school system quality, high school graduation rate, childcare costs, child day care services, childcare workers per children under 14, parental leave policy, and summer learning opportunities. 

Affordability accounted for: cost of living, housing affordability, and WalletHub’s “Best & Worst Cities for Wallet Fitness.”

Socio-economics accounted for: two parent families, separation and divorce rate, families living in poverty, families receiving food stamps, unemployment rate, underemployment rate, debt per median earnings, wealth gap, and foreclosure rate. 

Congressman Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05) expressed that he was honored to learn of Gilbert’s ranking. 

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

Chandler Conducting Mock Election So Residents Can Test A Mobile App Voting System

Chandler Conducting Mock Election So Residents Can Test A Mobile App Voting System

By Terri Jo Neff |

With tech companies like Intel and NXP Semiconductors located within its city limits, it is not surprising that Chandler is Arizona’s first municipality to conduct a mock election to test a mobile voting system using blockchain technology.

Chandler residents ages 13 and older have until Nov. 30 to download Voatz on a mobile device and then register via an encrypted system. A vote can then be cast in a fake special bond election, with city officials announcing the vote counts on Dec. 1 during a livestreamed event at Chandler City Hall.

Whether voters and city officials find an app like Voatz “valuable and viable” is part of the motivation for the mock election, according to Chandler Vice Mayor Mark Stewart. There will also be an opportunity for residents to comment on the process and the results will be audited.

However, there are no plans at this time for the city to utilize such a system for actual elections, Stewart has said.

Chandler, which is the fourth most populous city in Arizona, prides itself as the Community of Innovation. Among the mock election’s selling points is its timing right after the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office conducted Chandler’s official Nov. 2 special bond election. 

“Chandler is a technology hub and we’re constantly looking at innovations in the way we deliver services,” according to the city’s website. “This pilot is intended to offer the City insight regarding a mobile voting process and gauge interest among residents to determine if a mobile voting option is desired in the future.”

Not only does the mock election give residents a different way to vote, it also provides voters an opportunity test a new technology and compare voting methods without any potential negative impact on an actual election.

Public records show the city’s interest in mobile voting dates back several years, leading to a budget amendment in Fiscal Year 2020 to research blockchain technology applications. The city clerk and city attorney then held discussions with election officials in other states which had utilized mobile voting.

As to how Voatz came to be involved with Chandler’s test election, the city’s website notes the Boston-based company has experience using blockchain technology for mobile voting services in actual elections. Voatz was also willing to offer a demonstration pilot.

City officials are highlighting the state-of-the-art encryption techniques used with the Voatz program, including end-to-end encryption for secure data transmission as well as secure data storage. The city’s website notes that the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office twice turned down offers to participate in a mock election to better understand the technology, so the city council voted to sponsor the event.

“This pilot is intended to offer the City insight regarding a mobile voting process and gauge interest among residents to determine if a mobile voting option is desired in the future,” according to the website. “Today, voters can mail in their ballot, drop it off at a voting center or complete a ballot at a voting center. This test of the technology offers experience if mobile voting were to become another option in the future.”

Chandler residents ages 13 and older who have not yet participated in the mock election may still download the app via Google Play or App Store. Additional information and a tutorial in English and Spanish is available at https://www.chandleraz.gov/government/elections-and-voting/blockchain-mobile-voting