Senate panel subpoenas EPA chief to appear at Colo. mine spill hearing in Phoenix

Publication: Arizona Republic

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, first told the Senate Indian Affairs Committee last week that it needed to subpoena EPA officials to get answers in its probe of the Gold King Mind spill.
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, first told the Senate Indian Affairs Committee last week that it needed to subpoena EPA officials to get answers in its probe of the Gold King Mine spill.

WASHINGTON — A Senate committee issued a subpoena Wednesday demanding that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy or an assistant administrator appear at an April 22 hearing in Phoenix on the Gold King Mine spill.

Both the agency and members of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs called the subpoena an “extraordinary” step in the committee’s investigation of the spill, which dumped 3 million gallons of toxins – including zinc, lead, iron and arsenic – into the Animas River, which is in the Colorado River watershed.

“When there’s a disaster caused by another agency of government and then we get this kind of response that we’re forced to subpoena, then there’s something really out of whack here,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, during the hearing.

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“McSally raises $3.2 million, but analysts still expect a tight race”

Publication: Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Rep. Martha McSally’s aggressive fundraising gives her an edge over her competitors in the 2nd District House race, say experts, but they caution that the district will likely still be competitive come November.

The first-term Tucson Republican raised more than $3.2 million last year, topping all but a handful of House members, and had $1.9 million on hand at the end of the year, according to the latest Federal Election Commission filings.

While $3 million is a lot for challengers to overcome, analysts say other factors, such as the eventual GOP presidential nominee and outside funding, could have a large effect in the district, which is almost evenly split between Republican, Democratic and independent voters.

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“Audit: 19 tribal schools in Arizona went uninspected for four years”

Publication: Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – At least 19 tribal schools in Arizona went four years or more without the inspections that are supposed to be performed every year by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, according to a recent Government Accountability Office audit.

A GAO official called the missed inspections a sign of a “systemic” issue, and one Native American advocate said the lack of action on the part of the bureau is “baffling” for a problem that has been known about among advocates for a long time.

When GAO officials visited bureau schools across the country, they found kids learning in buildings without fire extinguishers or sprinklers, with exposed wires, asbestos and – in one case – an overflowing sewer system.

“The broader concern is that we need to make sure that students and teachers are safe at these schools,” said Melissa Emrey-Arras, author of the report released last month. She added that school inspections are “not rocket science.”

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Salmon’s surprise retirement throws open the race for his House seat

Publication: Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Rep. Matt Salmon’s surprise announcement Thursday that he will not seek re-election to his seat in Congress shook up what was expected to be a sleepy campaign in a solidly Republican district this fall.

The Mesa Republican, who had no challengers from either party before his announcement, said he decided to step down after his latest two terms because he was no longer willing to trade time away from his family for congressional duties.

Political analysts said the announcement could open the floodgates to potential GOP candidates, attracted by an open seat in a district where there are more than twice registered Republicans as Democrats.

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Renewable energy, foreign money keeping the lights on in Nicaragua

Publication: Cronkite Borderlands Project

Cattle cross a field in Rivas, Nicaragua, in front of wind turbines on March 11, 2015. IC Power rents the land for Amayo from locals who still use it to ranch, Pentzke said. Danika Worthington/JMC 470
Cattle cross a field in Rivas, Nicaragua, in front of wind turbines on March 11, 2015. IC Power rents the land for Amayo from locals who still use it to ranch, Pentzke said. (Danika Worthington/JMC 470)

RIVAS, Nicaragua — Javier Pentzke rests at the base of wind turbine 17 watching paper-white blades chase each other against Nicaragua’s blue sky.

He pulls out his phone to take a photo of the sun poking between the spinning blades.

“I love to see the blades going right in front of me,” Pentzke said, imitating the sound of a turbine. “It’s kind of, I don’t know, it’s kind of relaxing — to me at least.”

The 263-foot tall machine and its 29 sisters at Amayo I and II wind farms contribute to a national electric grid that just 10 years ago regularly lost power for four to five hours a day to the 64 percent of the country with access to it.

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The economics of human rights: An unwelcome perception may hinder economic growth following same-sex marriage legalization

Publication: Phoenix Business Journal


The legalization of same-sex marriage here is expected to provide a boost of millions of dollars a year for Arizona’s wedding and tourism industries. But the state’s negative image regarding civil rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community could hinder any positive business impact.

On Oct. 17, the state dropped its legal efforts to protect a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman after a federal court ruled it unconstitutional. That stopped an exodus of LGBT couples who were traveling to other states to take their vows.

It also stemmed the loss of money to local businesses, said
Drew Coleman, event producer with Life Design Event Planning and representative of, a blog and business that specializes in same-sex unions.

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Side bar: Next targets for gay-rights activists in Arizona: same-sex benefits, employment protections

Tech-focused Phoenix high school aims to prepare students for entry-level jobs

Publication: Arizona Republic


Arizona’s first public high school specialized in technology, opening August 2016, will be primed to meet the needs of an emerging tech industry in the Phoenix metropolitan area, officials said.

Phoenix Coding Academy, on Central Avenue north of Indian School Road, will teach students industry-specific skills, such as computer languages, information security, Web and software development.

“The conversation (to start the school) was in response to companies releasing demographic information about low numbers of women and minorities in the tech-specific fields and also the high number of jobs projected in Arizona, in Phoenix in particular,” said Seth Beute, principal of Phoenix Coding Academy.

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