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Arizona public records aren’t so public

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AttorneyGeneral_PRR PHOENIX – More than a month ago, 19 Arizona agencies were given simple public record requests seeking data on the numbers of  those requests those agencies received in 2015 and 2016. Less than half responded. Of the 19 agencies requested, nine responded, three on the same day it was sent. Only one agency — Arizona Attorney General’s Office — provided everything requested. Officials there explained they did so because their response was required by law. The Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission responded in full with all the records requests they received in 2015 and 2016 but did not send the exact numbers of those who did respond to fully, partially, or not at all, because they did not have that exact data on record. By law they are not required to make this record if they did not previously have it.  So why...

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The last legislative roundup

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PHOENIX – This marks the last week the Arizona state legislature was supposed to meet. Instead, there will be additional special sessions to review the rest of the bills out there and go over the long awaited budget from Gov. Doug Ducey. No bail for accused rapists Appellate Judge Jon Thompson ruled that people who are charged with rape are no longer eligible for bail because he says rape is a different crime and should be treated as such. This comes not even a full year after the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that people charged with statutory rape can’t be automatically denied bail. Despite this, which Thompson acknowledged, he still wrote that “sexual assault remains a non-bailable offense.” Bye Renzi Former U.S. Rep. Rick Renzi requested to appeal his 2013 conviction on corruption and was denied by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals...

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One in 11 million: life and times of an undocumented resident

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   When the words “build a wall, “illegal aliens,” “Trump” or “deportation” blast from the television screen, Juan sends his 9-year-old U.S. citizen grandson outside to play. Juan, a long-term undocumented immigrant, doesn’t want him to worry.        Juan first came to the United States when he was 19 and has lived in Tucson since, calling it his home for 25 years.         “To be honest, I wasn’t even thinking about the U.S. in my life,” Juan says. “My thinking back then was to keep going to school, become a teacher and do something with my life. But you never know what’s going to happen next month, right?”         For Juan, one thing is always clear:  There is no use worrying about what will happen tomorrow, in 10, or even 20 years. He lives a day-to-day life in...

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A wall within a wall: How Trump’s plan affects already divided Tohono O’odham nation

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For the Tohono O’odham nation, a border wall already exists, it just hasn’t been built yet. In the desert of southern Arizona, the federally recognized O’odham reservation occupies 4,464 square miles of desert that half of its 34,000 enrolled population call home. But, the original tribal land — roughly the size of Connecticut — extends far past southern Arizona into Sonora, Mexico. Some tribal members still make the journey across the border to practice traditional migratory patterns and visit family members and sacred grounds in northern Mexico. Donna Garcia, 31,  a mother and lifetime resident on the O’odham reservation, said her mother, Janet, makes the trip to the border from Sells on foot. Her mother is only one of a large group of O’odham people who migrate in early October to celebrate the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi in northern...

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In the shadow of the wall: A tribe divided

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An in-depth look at how President Trump’s border wall threatens to separate the already divided Tohono O’odham Indian...

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Dogs make the best listeners

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Eight-year-old John Tittle selects a book from a shelf at the Nanini Library in Tucson. Excited over his serendipitous find, he skips over to 7-year-old Bree crouched at a table nearby, proudly showing her the colorful illustrations of a miner and his donkey. “Can I read to you?” he asks her. Bree wags her tail and holds out her paw to shake. John takes that as a yes. Bree is a 7-year-old Goldendoodle – a Golden Retriever and Poodle mix. A therapy dog registered with Pet Partners of Southern Arizona, she and her owner, Kaye Caulkins, come to this library every Monday as part of the Read to a Dog Program. The program, offered at more than a dozen local libraries in Pima County, looks to promote a creative environment for children as they learn to develop reading skills....

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The ‘Ambos Nogales’ divided by Trump’s wall

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  Saturdays and Sundays bring families to the steel beams of fence, dividing Ambos Nogales, a Spanish term to describe the community of Nogales north and south of the border. Families and loved ones come together at the border to talk, eat and relax. Despite being separated by the fence, they find shade under mesquite trees and spend hours visiting. Jiovana Aldez, a factory worker from Nogales, Sonora, meets her husband every two weeks. When they say goodbye, they kiss between the rusty beams. Aldez’s husband is Cuban and has asylum in the United States and lives in Phoenix. However, Aldez’s visa expired, keeping them apart. “If there was a wall, I wouldn’t be able to see him,” Aldez said. “It would be by phone. If there’s an actual wall, he won’t be able to come down and see me.”...

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Tucson seeking to curb distracted driving

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One quick text behind the wheel can end in a lifetime full of guilt. Since the invention of cell phones, distracted driving accidents have become increasingly more common around the world, causing 1.6 million crashes each year. Nearly 2,600 people die and 330,000 are injured every year from motor vehicle accidents, according to The National Safety Council. Arizona does not have a law against texting and driving as some other states do. Local jurisdictions, such as the City of Tucson and Pima County have statutes against it within their jurisdictions, according to Quentin Mehr, the public information officer for the Arizona Department of Public Safety public affairs unit. The City of Tucson recently passed an ordinance that makes any mobile handheld device use while driving a secondary offense. Under the ordinance, 11442, the driver must be pulled over for another...

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Students leave teacher with lasting message

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Walking into the administration offices of Agua Fria High School in Avondale, Arizona, Joshua Murray, 25, had no idea he would become known as the crazy teacher. What Murray has accomplished in his three-years at Agua Fria is as eclectic as the man himself. He covered the walls with photos of sloths. He believes it is his spirit animal. Each class begins with a Justin Timberlake song playing. Murray is the teacher of the Agua Fria High School AVID Program which is set towards preparing students for college. The Advancement Via Individual Determination Program is a nation wide program catered to steer students through high school entering higher education. Agua Fria started the program four years ago and the students graduating May, will be the first to complete the program. The AVID program trains educators the necessary skills to...

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Legislative roundup: Far from being done

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PHOENIX – The legislature passed its 100 day mark this week with still no budget – or solution to budget issues – in sight. The legislative session was scheduled to come to a close at the end of April, but an extra special session or two looks to be on the horizon if the budget can’t be delivered soon. Take some initiative Gov. Doug Ducey has been digging into initiative bills with fervor this session. Within the day that the legislature gave final approval to HBill 2244 and just two days after its renaming, Ducey signed the bill into law. HB2244 modifies the current standard for initiatives from substantial compliance to strict compliance. Basically, the bill will hold citizen-driven ballot measures to a higher legal standard and makes it more difficult for citizen-driven ballot measures to make it to the voters....

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Understanding the most powerful objects in the universe

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Usually when people observe hot gas coming out of something, they are watching a politician deliver a speech. Astronomers have found objects that do the same thing but in a far more spectacular fashion. Quasars contain a supermassive black hole, with a disk of gas orbiting around the black hole and are most commonly found near the center of galaxies. As the gas orbits the black hole, it becomes charged and energy is released in the form of electromagnetic radiation. Astronomer Paul Smith of the Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona has dedicated nearly a decade to observing these extraordinary objects. Using the 2.3m Bok telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory, Smith has spent many nights viewing quasars. “This plays into my love of working at a telescope and obtaining accurate information with specialized instruments,” Smith said. According to Smith, other...

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Joining the breakfast club

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Breakfast in bed may be more productive than you think. According to a National Center for Biotechnology informational study, skipping breakfast can lead to an appetite for high-calorie foods such as pancakes, waffles, and eggs Benedict, rather than something healthy or low-calorie. Everyone remembers sitting at the kitchen table as a child trying to stomach every last bite of oatmeal that their parents told them they had to eat. Their reason inevitably was “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” According to Tucson nutritionists, this idea still holds true. “That is because if we don’t eat it, typically our blood sugar is unstable and our adrenals will have to work a lot harder, and people can end up being exhausted,” said Lauren Kanzler, a certified clinical nutritionist who owns her own online private practice. There is a pop-culture term...

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Hayden sees its dying days

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It’s not a ghost town, but it feels like one. The streets of Hayden, Arizona, are lined with boarded-up businesses — Grimebusters Laundry, Casa Rivera Restaurant, an appliance store — and abandoned schools. Crumbling churches have “for sale” signs nailed to the doors, their crosses still beckoning worshippers for prayer. Traffic signs, symbols and road markings are rare. The Rex Theater hasn’t shown a movie since 1979. The foundations of former homes are charred pits, burned to the dusty ground with nothing salvageable to find in the rubble. If the wind could carry whispers from the past, what would Hayden have sounded like? Today, Hayden is quiet. Noises from the copper smelter chink and clang in the distance.                 Founded in 1911, Hayden was a company town owned by the Kennecott Copper...

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Bordering 110°: Stories from Mexico to Canada along the 110th meridian

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  The US-Mexico border will play a key role in local, national and international geopolitics in 2017, just as it did during the 2016 presidential campaign. Yet, the US-Canada border, which is more than twice the length of the southern border is often left out of the political and media landscapes. Reported and produced by University of Arizona journalism students, this project explores and investigates the relationship between two key points along the country’s southern and northern borders. Bordering 110 degrees focuses on the people who live along the longitudinal line known as the 110th meridian – that runs through Ambos Nogales (Nogales, Ariz. /Nogales, Sonora), crosses north through the United States, and 1534 miles away continues through the community of Sweet Grass, Mont., and into Coutts, Alberta, Canada. The communities of Ambos Nogales and Sweet Grass/Coutts represent two...

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High-speed internet access could reach half of Arizona rural schools

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PHOENIX – Another $8 million will be combined with Gov. Doug Ducey’s proposed $5 million to give rural schools access to high-speed internet – but even including the state funds by the corporation commission, around half of the schools in Arizona won’t be served. Utilizing data from the census and the Arizona Department of Education, of the 222 districts in Arizona, 70 are considered urban and 152 are rural. Map created by Chrisitanna Silva/ Arizona Sonora News Service. Red dots are districts with below average scores. Green dots are districts with above average scores. The ARSA and federal e-rate programs are working together with the government to create contracts that will show how much money it will take to give every rural school high-speed internet access. Most schools that do not currently have high speed internet will require some sort of construction...

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