New Tax Break for Religious Groups, Once Vetoed by Jan Brewer, Makes a Comeback

Categories: News

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A proposed tax break for some religious groups could be the first test of Governor Doug Ducey's allegiance to the state's powerful Religious Right forces.

Former Governor Jan Brewer last year vetoed a bill that would have made a property-tax exemption for religious groups that lease their places of worship. An extremely similar version of that bill, backed by the notorious Center for Arizona Policy, is already gaining momentum again this year.

Perhaps the Center for Arizona Policy is expecting Governor Ducey to be a little more friendly to their cause than Brewer.

"I can't imagine why it would be back otherwise," Secular Coalition for Arizona lobbyist Tory Anderson tells New Times.

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Phoenix Not Yet Advancing in the Google Fiber Sweepstakes

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Google announced today that four more U.S. cities will be getting Google Fiber, and Phoenix isn't one of them.

The company had announced nearly a year ago that Phoenix was one of nine metro areas in the United States where it wanted to bring Google Fiber, its Internet service advertised as being "100 times faster than today's basic broadband."

Google announced today that Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, and Raleigh-Durham will get Google Fiber service, while the other cities -- including Phoenix -- remain "potential Fiber cities."

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Arizona Considering Labeling Law for Genetically Modified Food

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DawnOne/Flickr

Advocates for GMO labeling are getting another shot in the Arizona Legislature. Six representatives submitted a bill to require food containing even just one genetically engineered ingredient be labeled as such.

Modeled after Vermont's legislation, HB 2462 will also prohibit manufacturers from advertising GMO products as "all natural." (Prepared food would be exempt from labeling.)

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Phoenix Airport Still a Top Spot for People Trying to Carry Guns Onto Planes

Categories: News

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Ken Lunde
One of the most basic rules of air travel is that you can't bring your gun with you on a commercial flight.

And yet, here we are again to let you know that Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport made the annual list of airports with most attempts to carry guns onto airplanes.

The Transportation Security Administration today released its annual statistics on items intercepted at the nation's airports, and particularly, the number of firearms discovered on people or in carry-on bags. The TSA reported an annual increase in firearms found, and has reported an annual increase every year since 2007.

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Jail Video-Visitation Systems, Like Those in Maricopa County, Blasted in Report

Categories: News

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MCSO
Sheriff Joe Arpaio using one of the video-visitation machines.
The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office has really trumpeted its new video-visitation system for jail inmates, but such systems are heavily criticized in a new report from incarceration policy researchers.

According to a national look at the systems by the Prison Policy Initiative, this "technology is poorly designed, does not work well, and makes a trying time for families even more challenging."

MCSO just recently rolled out the video systems that replace in-person jail visits, as part of a contract with a company called Securus Technologies.

"There have been a lot of complaints about Securus," Prison Policy Initiative researcher Bernadette Rabuy tells New Times. "We tried ourselves to do a Securus video visit, and it wouldn't work for some reason."

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Phoenix Bus Strike Averted

Categories: News

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Wikimedia
Concerns about a possible bus-driver strike in Phoenix have been put to rest, now that union heads and the city's contracted bus service have come to an agreement.

A possible strike has been looming for a couple of months now, as members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1433 last month rejected the collective bargaining agreement offered by First Transit Inc. The company had called the proposal its "best and final offer," although the drivers' union voted against going on strike.

Today, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton announced that both sides finally came to an agreement, thus effectively ending the threat of a strike.

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ASU Student Dies in Rappelling Accident

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Katelyn Conrad
A 21-year-old Arizona State University student died on Saturday in a rappelling accident near the Salt River.

A Maricopa County Sheriff's Office spokesman says Katelyn Conrad died from a 150-foot fall while rappelling in an area near the Coon Bluff Recreation Area, which is a popular access point for people who go tubing on the Salt River.

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Pro-Police Demonstrators Clash With Protesters at Scottsdale PD Headquarters; W/Video

Categories: News

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Ray Stern
The mood became heated for a time during today's rally for police at Scottsdale police headquarters, which included a counter-demonstration.
A Scottsdale Police Department parking lot became the arena for a dust-up today between pro-police and anti-police brutality demonstrators.

We're talking shoving, shouting, bullhorns, goose-stepping, leather-wearing cop-biker club members, plus the police chief, mayor and professor-busting college Officer Stewart Ferrin, all within a few feet of each other.

See our photo, videos and more details below.

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Linking Bryan Patrick Miller to Other Crimes to Take Considerable Time

Categories: News

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Anoush Dehkordi
It will likely take months for investigators to try to link Bryan Patrick Miller to other crimes.

Miller was arrested by Phoenix police this week in the cold-case murders of two women, 22-year-old Angela Brosso and 17-year-old Melanie Bernas, who were found in and around the Arizona Canal in 1992 and 1993, respectively.

Despite plenty of speculation of what else Miller may have done, Phoenix Police Sergeant Trent Crump tells New Times that homicide investigators have not even begun trying to make any other connections at this point.

"Our primary focus right now is [Miller's] home," Crump says, where police have been serving a search warrant in what the department's described as a hoarding situation.

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Kidnapping Victim in Florida Busted After Cops Find He's Wanted for '93 Mesa Kidnapping Rap

Categories: News

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Port St. Lucie PD
Guido Puccini
A Florida man was kidnapped with his ex-wife last month, beaten, held in a trunk overnight, released -- then arrested as a fugitive for a 23-year-old Mesa kidnapping.

Guido Jesus Puccini, 56, now enroute to Maricopa County following extradition proceedings, Florida police confirm.

The December 4 kidnapping has no connection to Puccini's conviction in the early 1990s for attempted child molesting and kidnapping, authorities say.

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