Navajo Generating Station

 

For decades, fossil fuel was the only game in town for the Navajo and Hopi. Now, even that is threatening to disappear.

 

Profits of Policing

 

Civil asset forfeiture laws let Arizona police seize tens of millions of dollars in cash and property each year, even if suspected criminals aren’t convicted, and with little oversight of how the proceeds are spent.

 

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Model Government

Arizona lawmakers outsource legislative ideas

At least a handful of the 1,361 bills introduced in Arizona this year match bills introduced in other state legislatures, according to an AZCIR analysis comparing Arizona legislation to more than 500,000 bills, proposed in other states over the past eight years.

Nearly identical legislation introduced in multiple states, or “model legislation,” comes from national or regional industry associations, individual companies, or policy think-tanks and advocacy groups.

Sonora River: Massive mine spill continues to impact Sonora River Basin

It’s been more than a year since the Buenavista del Cobre copper mine, owned by mining conglomerate Grupo México, spilled 11 million gallons of toxic chemicals into the Bacanuchi and Sonora Rivers. The mine is in Cananea, a city in northern Sonora, which is also the headwaters for Arizona’s San Pedro River. The mine and authorities from the Mexican government claim the water is now clean, but people with illnesses related to heavy metals contamination continue to emerge.

Part I: Sonora River 1 year later

ArmandoEnriquez-01-webIt’s been more than a year since a toxic mine spill, dubbed as the worst environmental disaster in Mexico’s history, contaminated the Sonora River. The toxic metals reached nearly 200 miles and impacted seven municipalities. Communities are now pushing back against the mine and the government to protect their families and the lands they call home.

Part II: A community still healing

Since a toxic mine spill in 2014 impacted nearly 25,000, Mexican authorities say the Sonora River is clean. The government has identified nearly 400 people with illnesses tied directly to heavy metal contamination. As new cases continue to emerge, experts warn that the problem could be much greater than the government admits.

ELECTIONS


Secretary of State vows to maintain voter notification records

Every day, the thousands of voting jurisdictions in the U.S. share information about current voter registrations to guard against people being registered in multiple places. Up until earlier this year, The Arizona Secretary of State was not keeping copies of those voter registration notifications.

State election chief seeks new funds for hobbled campaign finance website overhaul

Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan campaigned on making it easier for people to see how money flows into political campaigns, and she has a plan for a website that will help.

But after spending $494,000 in 2015 and 2016 to create a new campaign finance reporting website that never saw the light of day, her office is now asking the Citizens Clean Election Commission to pay $200,000 of an estimated $462,000 cost to develop a new campaign finance website, plus $50,000 per year in maintenance.

County recorders call relationship with Secretary of State ‘dire’

Arizona’s 15 county recorders this week delivered a letter to Secretary of State Michele Reagan in which they said communication between their offices and hers are “in a dire state” because state Election Director Eric Spencer has been “ineffective and disrespectful.”

Secretary of State floats election law overhaul

Secretary of State Michele Reagan has begun circulating a memo detailing a proposed overhaul of the laws governing virtually every aspect of how elections are conducted in Arizona, from data protocols and recount procedures, to “sore loser” candidates and voter fraud investigations.

EDUCATION


AZ Board of Education disclosed student names, birthdays, test scores

The Arizona State Board of Education violated federal student privacy law by disclosing the names of more than a thousand Arizona students, in some cases along with their birthdays, and their scores on the AzMERIT exams in response to a public records request filed by AZCIR.

Arizona wrongly distributed $62 million in federal aid for poor students over 4 years

The Arizona Department of Education was alerted in March 2015 that it was improperly distributing federal funds intended to help low-income students, but the department didn’t undertake serious efforts to identify and fix the problem until early 2017.

As a result, the amount given to every school district and charter school that qualifies for the funding, known as Title I, received the wrong amount of funding for four school years. In all, the department misallocated $62.2 million, according to AZCIR’s analysis of data provided by the department.

POLITICS


Arizona wrongly distributed $62 million in federal aid for poor students over 4 years

The Arizona Department of Education was alerted in March 2015 that it was improperly distributing federal funds intended to help low-income students, but the department didn’t undertake serious efforts to identify and fix the problem until early 2017.

As a result, the amount given to every school district and charter school that qualifies for the funding, known as Title I, received the wrong amount of funding for four school years. In all, the department misallocated $62.2 million, according to AZCIR’s analysis of data provided by the department.

Arizona legislative voting analysis

Every year, Arizona’s 30 Senators and 60 House members vote hundreds of times. The Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting analyzed every floor vote from the 2017 legislative session to determine levels of agreement among lawmakers in each chamber.

ENVIRONMENT


Federal report recommends overhaul of U.S. chemical safety oversight

A federal task force identified sweeping shortfalls in the oversight of hazardous materials in the U.S., showing that short and long-term challenges exist to protect communities from the toxic and explosive chemicals stored at facilities across the nation and in Arizona.

U.S. oversight of ammonium nitrate insufficient, GAO says

Government agencies across the U.S. can’t regulate ammonium nitrate, the hazardous chemical compound that detonated in West, Texas, killing 15 people and injuring hundreds more, a congressional investigation has found. Emergency management agencies at the local, state and federal levels don’t know how many facilities in the U.S. store the hazardous chemical. A patchwork of outdated regulations, lack of communication between agencies, and a series of exemptions exist for reporting storage of ammonium nitrate, the U.S. Government Accountability Office report stated, which was publicly released May 21. These findings mirror a recent AZCIR and ABC15 investigation into Arizona oversight of ammonium nitrate.


Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting
P.O. Box 3665
Phoenix, AZ 85030-3665