Cronkite News

Advisory: Homeless Veterans

The story on homelessness among veterans in rural Arizona will move Thursday.

DEA offers Arizonans ability to provide tips about prescription drugs via text, website

  • Slug: Prescription Drugs,450
  • Sidebar: Submitting tips.
  • Photo available (thumbnail, caption below)

By ALEXA ARMSTRONG
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – A challenge in trying curb illicit prescription drug trafficking is that people who have tips are afraid they will be identified and harmed, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s top official here says.

“A lot of people have a little bit of animosity or fear of calling us directly because they are afraid that something may happen to them,” said Doug Coleman, DEA special agent for Phoenix.

Because prescription drugs are often a gateway to heroin use, he said, those fears make it more difficult to combat the epidemic use of that drug.

At a news conference Wednesday, Coleman announced TIP411, which features a technology allowing doctors, nurses, pharmacists and others with knowledge of illegal prescription drug transactions to submit tips anonymously via text (to TIP411) or a form on the Phoenix DEA website.

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Fitness trail has travelers walking through Sky Harbor terminal

  • Slug: Airport Trail,450
  • Sidebar: Exercise and the traveler.
  • Photo and graphic available (thumbnail, caption below)

By HELEN TRACEY-NOREN
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – During the best of conditions, travelers typically don’t stroll 2 miles through throngs of people with their carry-on bags in Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport’s busiest terminal.

However, some jet-setters are doing just that – for their health.

After downloading a PDF or logging onto Sky Harbor’s mobile site, travelers beyond Terminal 4′s security checkpoints can follow a fitness trail and get some exercise while viewing local landmarks. The U-shaped route is a little more than a mile long each way, running from gate A30 at the terminal’s northwest corner to D8 on the southwest side.

The Sky Harbor Fitness Trail, which opened in May, was developed as part of the city’s FitPHX initiative started last year by Mayor Greg Stanton, Councilman Daniel Valenzuela and Olympic swimmer Misty Hyman.

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Report: Arizona ahead of the game on its after-school programs

  • Slug: BC-CNS-After School,530
  • Sidebar: Top 1o states in report
  • Photos available (thumbnails, captions below)

By MIRANDA RIVERS
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Arizona ranked sixth in a new national report on the quality of after-school programs, with the state’s score driven by the large number of poor kids enrolled and by relatively high parental satisfaction.

The Afterschool Alliance’s “America After 3PM” looked at how children spend their hours after school and before parents come home from work, focusing on participation, public support and benefits associated with after-school programs.

In Arizona, 97 percent of parents said they were satisfied with their child’s after-school program, compared to 89 percent nationally, and low-income children in the state accounted for 53 percent of participants. Nationally, the number was 45 percent, according to the report. Read More »

Oakland Athletics show off new training facilities in Mesa

  • Slug: Mesa Stadium,650
  • Sidebar: Hohokam Stadium upgrades.
  • Photos available (thumbnails, captions below)

By BETHANY REED
Cronkite News

MESA – The Oakland Athletics’ new spring training home at Hohokam Park features an upgraded clubhouse, a high-definition scoreboard, new seats and shaded party decks.

Developers gave team officials and Mesa leaders a tour of the stadium Wednesday as well as showing upgrades to minor league training facilities nearby in Fitch Park. In all, the project will cost $26.9 million with Mesa providing up to $17.5 million and the team putting up the rest.

Built in 1997, Hohokam Stadium was home to the Chicago Cubs until the team moved to brand new Cubs Park, also in Mesa. The A’s signed a 20-year agreement with the city to relocate from Phoenix Municipal Stadium and will play their first Cactus League game here next year.

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Secretary of state candidates seek more dark money disclosure

  • Slug: Dark Money,750
  • Sidebar: Candidate bios.

By ANASTASIA REYNOLDS
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – With shadowy nonprofit groups expected to spend millions this year to influence Arizona voters without disclosing the sources of their money, both candidates for the state office overseeing elections are offering plans to address the practice.

Democrat Terry Goddard and Republican Michele Reagan say they want laws taking a harder line with so-called dark money groups and requiring them to register with the Secretary of State’s Office.

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Cronkite News Digest for Wednesday, Oct. 22

Here is the Cronkite News lineup for Wednesday, Oct. 22. Please contact Steve Crane in the Washington, D.C., bureau at 202-684-2398 or steve.crane@asu.edu or Steve Elliott in the Phoenix bureau at 602-496-0686 or steve.elliott@asu.edu if you have questions. Stories promised for today along with photos and links to multimedia elements will move on our client site at cronkitenews.asu.edu/clients.

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Social-themed website aims to create links between businesses in Arizona, Canada, Mexico

  • Slug: International Trade,350
  • Sidebar: BIEN partners.
  • Video story available on YouTube.
  • Photo available (thumbnail, caption below)

By IMELDA MEJIA
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Handling community outreach and client relations for DIRTT Environmental Solutions, a Canadian firm that manufactures in Arizona, Mary Wolf-Francis typically attends business events or pays for a service to help make industry contacts.

Now she is going to work and logging on to the social network website BIEN, or Building an International Economic Network. On it, she can see profiles for companies in Arizona, Mexico and Canada and send them personal messages to create relationships that might not have been possible before.

“It’s a venue for companies like ours and other international companies to coalesce and hang out together and get to know each other in a virtual environment,” Wolf-Francis said. “So when those opportunities for business come up, we have a solid relationship already built.”

On Tuesday, the Maricopa Association of Governments formally launched BIEN (www.connectbien.com) after Wolf-Francis and others participated in a soft launch that began in April.

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Shop owners: Tempe ban on e-cigs in public spaces not hurting business

  • Slug: Tempe E-Cigs,750
  • Sidebar: About e-cigs.
  • Photo available (thumbnail, caption below)

By CARLENE REYES
Cronkite News

TEMPE – Thick layers of vapor fill Carl Dewberry’s e-cigarette shop Valor Vapor on a recent afternoon. Some customers chat with one another on couches with slim e-cigarette devices in hand, exhaling vapor into the air, while Dewberry and an employee help others create custom-flavored liquids they will soon “vape.”

Dewberry’s shop has been busy, and he said a second location is set to open soon.

In August, Tempe became the first city in Arizona to pass an ordinance restricting the use of e-cigarettes, or e-cigs, in enclosed public areas including restaurants and bars. Despite the new limitations, Dewberry and others say Tempe’s e-cig industry isn’t slowing down.

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Many Arizona national parks trying to address drops in visitors over decades

  • Slug: National Parks,950
  • Note: CORRECTS to Burr sted Barr throughout.
  • Sidebar: Park numbers.
  • Photos available (thumbnails, captions below)
  • Video story in YouTube

By STEPHEN HAMWAY
Cronkite News

FLAGSTAFF – James and Kay Burr had visited 20 national parks over the course of their seven-week vacation, ranging from Olympic National Park in coastal Washington to Badlands National Park in South Dakota.

When the Los Angeles couple spotted a sign for Sunset Crater National Park on the way home from the Grand Canyon, they decided on a whim to visit a 21st.

“We saw it on the side of the road, and figured we might as well visit,” Kay Burr said.

While the Burrs made a point of visiting more of these wonders, visitor counts show that fewer people overall have been visiting Arizona’s national parks than they did in previous years.

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Cardinals rookie kicker exceeds expectations with record-tying start

  • Slug: Cardinals-Catanzaro,475
  • Sidebar: Bio.
  • Photo available (thumbnail, caption below)

By BETHANY REED
Cronkite News

TEMPE – Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said he had confidence in kicker Chandler Catanzaro when he chose him over veteran Jay Feely back in August. But the rookie has surpassed his expectations.

Catanzaro tied the NFL rookie record for the longest streak to start a season by making his 15th straight kick in Sunday’s win against the Oakland Raiders. His 56 points for the season are the second-highest in the NFL.

“You never expect anybody to come out and kick 15 in a row,” Arians said Monday. “This was a big one for me.” listen

With 33 seconds left Sunday, Catanzaro put the game out of reach by hitting from 41 yards. The 24-13 win lifted the Cardinals to 5-1, their best start since 1976.

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Autoimmune disorder PANDAS gaining attention in medical community

  • Slug: PANDAS,950
  • Sidebar: About PANDAS.
  • Photo available (thumbnail, caption below)

By HELEN TRACEY-NOREN
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Abby Pulse has been in pain every day for the past three years. At first, nobody knew what was wrong with the 15-year-old.

“It’s one of those things that, when you become a parent, you know your child,” said her mother, Debbie Heckmann Pulse. “I knew there was something wrong. In 2013, when she was really, really bad. She was stuttering and tripping down the hallway.”

Last year, Pulse was diagnosed with pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections, or PANDAS. When the disease is triggered by a different infection, as was the case with Pulse, it is considered a subset of the disorder called pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndromes, or PANS.

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Couples rush to get married after state’s same-sex marriage ban overturned

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Same Sex,910
  • Sidebar: Text of laws, court ruling
  • Video story available on YouTube.
  • Photos available (thumbnails, captions below)

By LAURIE LILES
Cronkite News

Gay couples rushed to Arizona courthouses to get married Friday, just hours after a federal judge struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage as a violation of the right to equal protection.

U.S. District Judge John Sedwick declared the ban unconstitutional early Friday and Attorney General Tom Horne said later in the morning that clerks could begin issuing marriage licenses immediately.

Horne – who had defended two state laws and a voter-approved constitutional amendment banning gay marriage – was widely expected to appeal the judge’s ruling. But he said Friday that a legal challenge now would be “an exercise in futility” since Sedwick based his ruling on recent decisions by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court.

The lightning-fast series of developments left some clerks scrambling to get the paperwork going for same-sex unions, while others in the state began issuing the licenses Friday. Read More »

Whether, when schools get extra $317 million an issue in governor’s race

  • Slug: Governor-Schools,850
  • Sidebar: Bios.
  • Photos available (thumbnails, captions below)

By RACHEL LUND
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – State courts have ruled that Arizona owes public schools a first payment of more than $300 million for failing to make annual inflation adjustments to base funding as called for by a voter-approved law. Over five years, the bill could be $1.6 billion.

Whether and when schools get that money may depend in large part on who occupies the governor’s office come January.

Democrat Fred DuVal says the state should make the first payment. Republican Doug Ducey says he agrees with Gov. Jan Brewer’s decision to appeal the ruling, though he isn’t ruling out the possibility of a settlement.

“My most important priority is that we adequately fund our schools, and the Supreme Court has now ruled in this case,” DuVal told Cronkite News. “I believe we have cut K-12 education too deeply. This court order gives us the leverage that we need to get back into the business of our schools and better outcomes for our kids.”

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Proposition 122 aims to allow state to reject certain federal laws, rules

  • Slug: Proposition 122,590
  • Graphic available (thumbnail, caption below)

By HELEN TRACEY-NOREN
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Rep. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, says too many laws and edicts from Washington are interfering with the individual rights of Arizonans. To combat this, he suggests Arizona assert its sovereignty when state leaders or voters determine that one is unconstitutional.

“There’s so many federal intrusions and encroachments that we have to take a stand and say enough is enough,” Borrelli said. “We should be able to fight back. It goes back to the original intention of the Constitution.”

That’s the essence of a ballot measure to be decided in November. Proposition 122 would amend the state Constitution to say that Arizona may exercise its “sovereign authority” to restrict the use of its money and personnel to purposes consistent with its Constitution.

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Report: Deportations near border surged as interior removals dropped

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Deport Report,590
  • Video story available on YouTube
  • Photos available (thumbnails, captions below)

By LAURIE LILES
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Deportations of immigrants caught at the U.S.-Mexico border surged under the Obama administration even as the number deported from the interior of the country fell sharply, according to a study of a decade’s worth of government data.

The report Thursday by the Migration Policy Institute also confirmed criticism by immigration-reform advocates, impatient for action by the White House, who have labeled President Barack Obama the “deporter in chief.”

The total number of deportations has reached record levels under the Obama administration, said Marc Rosenblum, an MPI deputy director who authored the report.

“The lowest year of removals during the Obama administration is higher than the highest year for any other president,” Rosenblum said Thursday. “There is no ambiguity that removals are at an all-time high.” Read More »

Arizona schools saw some of nation’s steepest spending cuts, report says

  • Slug: BC-CNS-School Funding,570
  • Sidebar: How Arizona ranked
  • Photos available (thumbnails, captions below)

By MIRANDA RIVERS
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Arizona’s per-pupil spending has fallen 17.5 percent since 2008, the third-deepest rate of K-12 education cuts in the nation, according to a report released Thursday.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report said most states saw a drop in per-student spending from the start of the recession to the current fiscal year, but Arizona was one of the few above 15 percent.

Arizona trailed only Oklahoma, at 23.5 percent, and Alabama’s 17.8 percent drop.

Advocates said the impact of the cuts can be seen across the state in larger class sizes, teacher shortages and what one called the “unthinkable” elimination in 2010 of full-day kindergarten. Read More »

Arizona Fall League players testing rule changes to speed up MLB games

  • Slug: Play Faster,600
  • Photo available (thumbnail, caption below)

By THOMAS MITCHELL
Cronkite News

SCOTTSDALE – As Texas Rangers prospect Sam Wolff walked out to pitch the sixth inning of a recent Arizona Fall League game, he faced more than just the batter at home plate and the umpire behind it. On both sides of his view, timers counted down 20 seconds to tell him how long he had to deliver his next pitch.

“At first, the pitch clock was kind of in the back of my mind a little bit,” said Wolff, a 23-year-old pitcher for the Surprise Saguaros. “But 20 seconds is a long time.”

He and others playing at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick are the first to test one of six rule changes Major League Baseball has proposed to speed up games. This is the only stadium testing the pitch clock, but the other rules, applying to the time allowed for pitching, hitting and conferences, apply to all parks.

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Arizona voters deciding whether lawmakers get first raise since 1998

  • Slug: Proposition 304,750
  • Sidebar: About the measure.
  • Photos available (thumbnail, caption below)

By BRITTANY DUCKSWORTH
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – During his 12 years as a state lawmaker, Sen. Steve Gallardo found that the only thing part-time about the job was the pay.

“In order to serve in Legislature and be a good lawmaker and produce quality work, it has to be a full-time job,” said Gallardo, a Phoenix Democrat who recently won election to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

In November, voters will decide whether to increase lawmakers’ salaries from $24,000 a year to $35,000 a year based on a recommendation from the Commission on Salaries for Elective State Officers. It would be the first raise for state lawmakers since voters approved one in 1998, the only time a raise has been approved.

Gallardo, who supports Proposition 304, said a lawmaker’s days at the statehouse often begin at 7:30 a.m. and ended at 9. Then there’s work with constituents.

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Court overturns law denying bail to immigrant felony suspects

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Alien Bail,580
  • Sidebar: Text of Proposition 100
  • Photo available (thumbnail, caption below)

By CAMARON STEVENSON
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court Wednesday overturned Arizona’s Proposition 100, saying the voter-approved law banning bail for felony suspects who are believed to be in this country illegally is unconstitutional on its face.

A divided 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the law violated due-process rights of suspects and was not narrowly tailored enough to serve a compelling state interest, but instead was a “scatter-shot” attempt to rein in all immigrants.

But in one of two dissenting opinions, Judge Richard Tallman wrote that throwing out a law that was approved overwhelmingly by state voters “leaves Arizona nowhere to turn.”

The decision by the full circuit court reverses previous rulings by a three-judge panel of the court and by a district court that upheld the law. Read More »