Rep. Gallego Lobbies For More Federal Funding To Address ‘Extreme Heat’

Rep. Gallego Lobbies For More Federal Funding To Address ‘Extreme Heat’

By Corinne Murdock |

The Arizona desert’s classic dry heat should now qualify as an “extreme heat,” according to Democratic lawmakers and leadership.

Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ-03) is lobbying for more federal funding to counter the desert heat. Democrats at all levels have recharacterized summer temperatures as “extreme heat” in an attempt to pull more funding for a variety of progressive initiatives ranging from climate change to social justice. Trending usage of the word “extreme heat” has increased dramatically over the past 20 years, spiking with increased regularity every summer.

In a press release, Gallego commended President Joe Biden for increasing heat-related worker protections on Thursday. As part of the changes, Biden met with Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, the congressman’s ex-wife, and San Antonio, Texas Mayor Ron Nirenberg. Yet, those changes fell short of Rep. Gallego’s ultimate goal: he urged the Biden administration to go one step further by classifying heat as an emergency.

“Far too many people are dying or falling ill from these extreme temperatures,” said Rep. Gallego. “[M]ore must be done. We need a swift, immediate deployment of resources, and that requires FEMA declaring extreme heat as an emergency. I will continue pushing the administration and Congress to get that done.”

Both Gallegos have worked together to lobby the federal government to declare summer heat as an emergency. 

During her annual state of the city address in April, Mayor Gallego petitioned the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to qualify extreme heat as a disaster by adding the regular seasonal occurrence to its national emergency declarations categorization.

A FEMA recognition would bring in more federal funding. The city has a number of heat mitigation projects that would likely benefit from such funding, like the manufactured shade and drinking water access areas known as “cool corridors,” which are determined on an equity basis, and the special sunlight reflective streets known as “cool pavement.” (Which, as AZ Free News reported, actually makes people hotter). Those initiatives were unique creations under Mayor Gallego’s administration.

Mayor Gallego was also responsible for the creation of one of the first heat mitigation offices within city government: the Office of Heat Response and Mitigation (OHRM). The city established the office with $2.8 million in 2021, with the explicit attempt to combat urban heat: the theory that urbanization causes higher temperatures. 

Presently, the OHRM doles out COVID-19 relief federal funding provided by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) for annual heat relief grants. These grants are earmarked for nonprofit, charitable, small business, and faith-based organizations existing within the city-recognized Maricopa Association of Governments Heat Relief Network that claim negative impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. OHRM will give out a maximum of $450,000 total, with each recipient receiving anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000. 

A major focus of the OHRM is providing heat respite for the homeless. The latest update from OHRM, issued last summer, announced initiatives costing millions to increase the comfort of the homeless residing within the infamous mass homeless encampment known as the Zone: the creation of seven new shade structures; distribution of insulated and reusable water bottles, hats, sunscreen, personal misters, towels, ice chests with water; and 475 shelter beds for 24/7 heat respite.

The first and current OHRM director is Arizona State University (ASU) professor David Hondula, who teaches within the Global Institute of Sustainability. ASU worked with the city of Phoenix on the trial run and report ahead of the full launch of the cool pavement program.

After the mayor, Rep. Gallego introduced the Extreme Heat Emergency Act last month. Rep. Gallego said that extreme cold weather warrants federal disaster relief and contended that the same should be the case for the opposite of extreme heat.

“If you’re in Chicago and you have two weeks of extreme cold weather and snow and 400 people die, and Chicago calls the federal government, they will get money from the federal government,” said Gallego.

As AZ Free News reported this week, a majority of heat deaths in Maricopa County last year were due to meth.

Rep. Gallego also introduced similar legislation last year alongside Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12). Last year’s version, the Excess Urban Heat Mitigation Act of 2022, would establish a grant program through the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It never made it past introduction.

In this latest announcement from Biden on Thursday, the president directed the Department of Labor (DOL) to issue a Hazard Alert for heat and ramp up workplace heat-safety violation enforcement, allocated $7 million in Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) funding to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for weather prediction improvements, and allocated $152 million in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) funding to expand water storage and equity-based climate resilience efforts in California, Colorado, and Washington. 

The Biden administration has invested over $50 billion so far to address climate issues like heat waves. They have also established a website providing information on federal funding opportunities to mitigate health risks from heat, the #SummerReady awareness campaign, established the new Office of Climate Change and Health Equity, funded 10 community groups and localities for equitable heat relief, and launched heat mapping campaigns in 154 communities across 14 states.

Earlier this month, the Biden administration announced other heat mitigation initiatives: $5 million to NOAA for two virtual research centers providing technical assistance and information to historically marginalized and underserved communities, a National Heat Strategy focused on equity and environmental justice developed by the White House Interagency Working Group (IWG) on Extreme Heat, meetings with local and tribal leadership to offer federal support for summer heat, and affordable housing opportunities using IRA and BIL funding.

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

Activists Beat Effigy Of Mayor Kate Gallego During Her Annual Address

Activists Beat Effigy Of Mayor Kate Gallego During Her Annual Address

By Corinne Murdock |

Leftist activists beat an effigy of Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego during her annual address last week. The effigy was a piñata filled with candy; on the front was the mayor’s name, and on the back was written “Kate (Sinema) Gallego,” referencing controversial Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). 

The activists situated themselves outside of the venue for her State of the City address, the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel. They protested the evictions of the residents of several mobile home parks — Periwinkle, Las Casitas, and Weldon Court — as well as their general discontent with Gallego’s administration. 

Fueling the activists’ discontent with Gallego was the city’s rejection of a proposal to rezone the contested properties last month. Instead, the city approved $2.5 million to help the displaced residents find new homes. 

Two of the principal organizers behind the protest and the effigy beating were residents impacted by the evictions, Alondra Patricia Ruiz Vazquez and Salvador Reza. The protestors livestreamed the beating of Gallego’s likeness to Facebook. The protesters spoke and chanted mainly in Spanish.

“¡Pégale, pégale por la lucha, pégale!” chanted the protestors, which translates roughly to, “Hit it, hit it, for the fight, hit it!” 

Members of Maricopa County Young Democrats were also present at the protest.

In a post following the protest, Reza responded to an alleged offense that Gallego took to the destruction of the effigy in her likeness. Reza said that the effigy was symbolic, and that she shouldn’t take offense to it. 

“Breaking a piñata with the image of Kate Gallego is not only against her character flaws, but against the greed of large corporations and large universities that [are] not satisfied with what they have, lash out against vulnerable families who only ask for a home to live,” stated Reza. “Breaking a piñata is symbolic. However, losing a home is catastrophic and traumatic for the families who are living it firsthand. Neither the state’s $5,000 nor a handful of piñata candy will be able to compensate them. So, looking at things clearly, who has the most to lose? A politician offended by a piñata, or 150 families thrown with their belongings into the street.”

Symbolic violence against effigies of contested public figures has been a popular move for leftist activists over the past several weeks.

On Tuesday, rioters protesting an event featuring Daily Wire pundit Michael Knowles burned an effigy of him at the University of Pittsburgh. 

Knowles was at the university to engage in a debate on transgenderism. 

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

Phoenix Built $12 Million Community Center While Refusing To Clean Up Homeless Encampments

Phoenix Built $12 Million Community Center While Refusing To Clean Up Homeless Encampments

By Corinne Murdock |

On Thursday, Phoenix had the grand opening of a $12 million community center, days after a court ruled that it had refused to clean up the massive homeless encampment downtown.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego announced the 34,000-square-foot community center, noting that she’d been working on the project since her election in 2019. That was the same year that the homeless crisis began. 

Funding for the community center came from the Parks and Preserve Initiative, which sets aside one cent of sales tax for every $10 spent to improve and renovate parks, as well as to expand and improve the city’s desert preserve system. 

As AZ Free News reported in its investigative series on The Zone, the homeless crisis has a devastating impact on Phoenix’s ground and waterways. 

The community center is located about eight miles south of the homeless encampment (The Zone). It has an elevated track, basketball court, kitchen, fitness center, gaming room, outdoor movie theater, art installation, and a sensory room.

The city opened the community center a day before the holiday celebrating its namesake: the civil rights and union activist Cesar Chavez.

During the grand opening ceremony, Gallego called the community center a “showpiece” that represents city values. Gallego disclosed that the city had to jump through a lot of hoops to find the funding to finish the project. 

“We put inclusivity at the forefront. This building really shows our values,” said Gallego. “[W]e really had to work as a team to find out how to fund this project. Most city projects have fairly simple funding resources, but this one was quite complex with bond funding, impact fees, [and] a little bit of federal funding.”

The city held its groundbreaking for the community center in September 2020. That was eight months after the residents and business owners within The Zone, the massive homeless encampment downtown, presented a plan to mitigate the burgeoning homeless with outdoor shelter or camping spaces on city land. According to the Maricopa County Superior Court ruling, the city generally ignored their pleas and their plans.

The Maricopa County Superior Court ruled on Monday that the city of Phoenix was at fault for the homeless crisis, which began around 2019 after the city essentially stopped enforcing laws on the homeless.

The city initially projected the community center to be completed last spring or early summer. It’s the city’s first community center established since 2007.

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