Fitch Rates Pinal Co, Arizona Excise Tax Revs ‘AA-‘; Outlook Stable

AUSTIN, Texas–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Fitch Ratings has assigned an ‘AA-‘ rating to the Pinal County (the county), Arizona’s following obligations:

–$39 million pledged revenue refunding obligations, tax-exempt series 2015A;

–$3.7 million pledged revenue obligations, taxable series 2015B.

The bonds are scheduled for a negotiated sale the week of March 30, subject to market conditions. Proceeds of series 2015A will refund outstanding series 2004 certificates of participation (COPs). Series 2015B proceeds will reimburse the county for monies advanced by the county to advance refund $3.6 million of the 2004 COPs on March 23, 2015.

Fitch affirms the following outstanding obligations:

–$52.7 million pledged revenue obligations, series 2014 at ‘AA-‘;

–$40.3 million pledged revenue refunding obligations, series 2014 at ‘AA-‘;

–$48.7 million (pre-refunding basis) COPs, series 2004 at ‘A+’.

Additionally, Fitch affirms the county’s implied unlimited tax general obligation (GO) rating at ‘AA-‘.

The Rating Outlook is Stable


THE DARK SIDE OF IPADS COMING TO LIGHT Electronics cause unexpected problems in toddlers, adults

An alarming trend is coming to light as psychologists and counselors see more and more young people addicted to the Internet and portable electronic devices.

The “floodgates of desperate youngsters” opened in 2010, said child psychotherapist Julie Lynn Evans in an interview with Britain’s Telegraph. “I saw my work increase by a mad amount and so did others I work with. Suddenly everything got much more dangerous, much more immediate, much more painful.”

Official figures confirm the picture she paints, with emergency admissions to child psychiatric wards doubling in four years, and those young adults hospitalized for self-harm up by 70 percent in a decade.

“Something is clearly happening,” says Evans, “because I am seeing the evidence in the numbers of depressive, anorexic, cutting children who come to see me. And it always has something to do with the computer, the Internet and the smartphone.”

Hard on the heels of Evans’ interview comes the story of a 12-year-old Colorado girl who twice tried to poison her mother with bleach after her mother took away the girl’s iPhone. The preteen was detained at the Boulder County Juvenile Center on two counts of attempted first-degree murder.

Children’s dependency and addiction to electronics have been worrying child-development specialists for years. Evidence is mounting that heavy use of iPads for toddlers interferes with play and cognitive development. Young children cannot use such basic toys as building blocks because they have not developed the necessary motor skills.

“Rising numbers of infants lack the motor skills needed to play with building blocks because of an ‘addiction’ to tablet computers and smartphones, according to teachers,” reports a Telegraph article. “Many children aged just three or four can ‘swipe a screen’ but have little or no dexterity in their fingers after spending hours glued to iPads.”

Older children are also reportedly having trouble with traditional pen-and-paper exams because they are unable to properly hold a writing instrument and “because their memory had been eroded by overexposure to screen-based technology.”

iPads seem to be particularly seductive to youngsters, with its bright colors and infinite variety of games and pictures. Because using it is so easy – a swiping movement is all that’s required – simple skills of even how to turn a page are often not acquired until children are much older.

Younger and younger kids are even receiving therapy for electronics addition. Preschoolers who are abruptly deprived of their iPads or smart phones exhibit tantrums, agitation and even depressive symptoms. Because the devices are often given to children as pacifiers, youngsters may not develop critical social or relationship skills. There is also the question of whether parents develop necessary social and emotional ties with their children by plugging the children into electronic devices rather than coping with normal childish stages and emotions.

“Perhaps this all begins with mimicry,” writes Chris Matyszczyk on CNET. “The children see their parents’ deep involvement in their machines and want to do the same.”

Evidence is emerging that even adults are forgetting certain motor skills, such as writing. Keyboard use has become so heavy with tech-savvy people that writing by hand gets pushed aside. Known as “character amnesia,” it’s becoming endemic in Asian countries where traditional writing skills are being lost to keypad savvy.

“Chinese schoolchildren grow up memorizing well over 3,000 different characters,” reports Breaking News English. “However, the study shows they rarely need to write them by hand and are forgetting their shape. Instead, young people are using their phones and computers to write. … University student Li Hanwei, 21, said: ‘I can remember the shape, but I can’t remember the strokes that you need to write it … It’s a bit of a problem.’”

Matters are no better in Western countries, with studies showing a typical adult has not written anything for almost six weeks, and one in three has not written anything “properly” for more than six months.

There are accompanying declines in the quality of handwriting and spelling, since more and more people rely on “text chat.”

Yet multiple studies suggest handwriting is “important for brain development and cognition – helping kids hone fine motor skills and learn to express and generate ideas,” notes the Week. “Yet the time devoted to teaching penmanship in most grade schools has shrunk to just one hour a week.”

Long-term repercussions of electronic usage remain to be seen.

ATRA Zombie Justin Olsen Attacks the Elderly!

Justin Olsen

We just saw that known ATRA (Arizona Tax Research Association) zombie and former ATRA employee, Justin Olsen, is pushing a bill (HB2653) that literally takes money away from low income elderly! We wonder if the low income elderly homeowners in his district are aware that he doesn’t care about their vote.

We are not sure why he hates the struggling elderly homeowner so much and no one will talk. It’s even difficult to find information on the program although we saw several commercials recently promoting it. None of the money comes from tax dollars and it goes to fund schools. He cleverly added a “legislative intent clause” to give him cover. He knows it’s worthless because the legislature will never give up general fund dollars. Doing so in this case might actually violate the gift clause of the constitution. But why should Olsen care as long as ATRA approves.

Where is the main stream media? Where is AARP? All missing in action!

You might remember Olsen helped lead the fight for ATRA’s prop 117. ATRA is a lobby group for big business. You might remember they supported Gov. Brewer’s 18% tax increase.  Most of ATRA’s clients will benefit from prop 117 and their tax reduction will be picked up by homeowners who will feel that tax increase when they get their next tax bills. Again, a clever tactic to confuse voters since it takes several years to feel the pain of the increase. Voters will not connect the dots between prop 117 and the increase in their taxes. Something Olsen is no doubt counting on.

Between prop 117, the new Betsy Bayless memorial county hospital ($1.6 Billion tax increase) and all the overrides, tax payers are in for quite the shock next year!

Maybe it’s time for legislative district 25 to elect someone that will represent them instead of ATRA’s special interest lobbyist.

Source:  Distributed by C O M M O N S E N S E , in Arizona Saturday,  March 21, 2015

By The Way, ICE Just Released 30,558 More Violent Criminal Illegal Aliens Onto American Streets

Back in 2013, Immigration and Customs Enforcement got ripped by Congress for releasing 36,000 violent criminal illegal aliens onto American streets. Those criminals had convictions of homicide, rape, child molestation drunk driving and more.

In 2013, ICE freed 36,007 convicted criminal aliens from detention who were awaiting the outcome of deportation proceedings, according to a document obtained by the Center for Immigration Studies. This group included aliens convicted of hundreds of violent and serious crimes, including homicide, sexual assault, kidnapping, and aggravated assault. The list of crimes also includes more than 16,000 drunk or drugged driving convictions. The vast majority of these releases from ICE custody were discretionary, not required by law (in fact, in some instances, apparently contrary to law), nor the result of local sanctuary policies

Now, the agency has done it again and released more than 30,000 of the same type of criminal alien onto American streets last year. More from the Washington Times:

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency that handles detention and removal of illegal immigrants, said it will no longer allow overcrowding to be the main reason a dangerous illegal immigrant is released, and will require a top supervisor to approve the cases of any serious criminals that officers want to release.

Overall, ICE released 30,558 criminal aliens in fiscal year 2014, which is down from the 36,007 criminals released a year before.

ICE didn’t release a breakdown of criminal offenses of the new 30,000 on Wednesday, but among the 36,000 released in 2013 were 193 homicide convictions, 426 sexual assault convictions, 303 kidnapping convictions and 16,070 convictions for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

ICE said that most of the homicide convictions were court-ordered.

Yesterday Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Sarah Saldana testified in front of Congress about the agency’s “catch and release” program, where she made all kinds of excuses for the release of the violent illegal aliens.

Last month, the Oversight Committee invited family members of those killed by criminal aliens to testify. A man named Michael Ronnebeck testified about the murder of his nephew Grant Ronnebeck, who was working as a Quik Trip clerk when an illegal alien shot him in the face and stole cigarettes from the store. Another man, Jamiel Shaw, testified about the murder of his son Andre Shaw by an illegal alien who had taken advantage of President Obama’s Dreamer program.Source:

Apache Junction schools go 4 days

APACHE JUNCTION, Ariz. (AP) — A suburban Phoenix school district is responding to a projected budget shortfall by switching switch to a four-day school week in the fall.

 The Apache Junction Unified School District board’s 4-1 vote Tuesday night to close schools on Fridays while lengthening schools on Monday through Thursday each week follows a similar move by another financially strapped Pinal County district, Coolidge Unified.

Meanwhile, Peoria Unified on the other side of the metro area from Apache Junction is also considering a switch to a four-day week to save money.

Apache Junction board members said the decision was difficult and caused them to lose sleep.

Besides switching to a four-day school week, the Apache Junction district also plans to increase class sizes and close an elementary school to close its projected $2.7 million budget shortfall.


Apache Junction High School JROTC is one of eight schools advancing to national competition

The AJHS Navy JROTC Academic Team, from left is students Mekaela Walters, Michael Preston, Pita Pilas, Caleb Smith and Abbigayle Davis. Not present is Nicholas Kelley. (Special to Independent Newsmedia Inc. USA/AJUSD)

The Apache Junction High School Navy JROTC Academic Team will compete in person at the final championship event of the 2015 Navy JROTC Academic Bowl in Washington D.C., June 26-30. AJHS is one of only eight teams, nationwide, advancing to the national competition, according to a press release.

The AJHS Navy JROTC Academic Team is composed of students Abbigayle Davis, Nicholas Kelley, Pita Pilas, Michael Preston, Caleb Smith and Mekaela Walters.

During the initial two rounds of competition, the AJHS Navy JROTC team earned top scores out of the 115 teams from around the world to win a place in the National Academic Bowl and the all-expense paid trip to D.C. In the two fast-paced preliminary rounds, students were tested on their knowledge of JROTC curriculum, English, Math, and Science. One of the main goals of the JROTC Academic Bowl is to prepare students for state exit/graduation exams as well as college entrance exams, such as the SAT and ACT, said the release.

The winner of the Navy JROTC Academic Championship will compete against the winners of the Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force JROTC Academic Bowls in the JROTC Joint Service Academic Bowl Championship.

The JROTC Leadership and Academic Bowl is a nationally recognized academic competition created exclusively for JROTC students. The competition creates tremendous opportunities for JROTC cadets by allowing them to demonstrate leadership and academic abilities.

College Options Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to enriching the academic development of high school students and assisting them in their preparation for higher education. Using academic competitions, college exam study guides, college admissions tutorials, and personalized counseling, College Options Foundation has assisted the nation’s JROTC cadets worldwide for over a decade.


Another Big Political Disappointment

Education or divisive, anti-American indoctrination in TUSD?

Tucson Unified School District and AZ SPI Diane Douglas form odd alliance

The Arizona Daily Independent recently ran this cogent report, “Douglas finds TUSD Ethnic Studies class in compliance.” Posted midweek, it began with this well-turned phrase, acknowledging waning support and unusual alliances:

“Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas found Tucson Unified School District’s Ethnics Studies Culturally Relevant classes to be in compliance of Arizona law. The Superintendent, who is trying to avoid a recall, hastily called a press conference to announce her decision.”

Diane Douglas ran for state Superintendent of Public Instruction and was elected as a grassroots conservative candidate based on her unwavering opposition to the federal mandates under- girding the Common Core curriculum and support for local control of public schools. Now those issues have fallen by the wayside as she works hand-in-glove with TUSD Superintendent Heliodoro Torres “H.T.” Sanchez to implement the anti-American,  La Raza-endorsed ethnic-studies programs.

The ADI report concludes:

“After several missteps, it is widely believed that Superintendent Douglas is making strictly politically motivated decisions to avoid a possible recall effort.”

In January, after barely two weeks in office, Douglas disappointingly exhibited a startling new position on the separatist studies. In a statement released following her initial meeting with Sanchez she indicated she is not, in fact, opposed to ethnic studies. Douglas hit a low note with this conclusion, “It is important to correct the misunderstanding that the Arizona Department of Education is opposed to ethnic studies. If any child educated in Arizona is not exposed to the suffering, trials and triumphs of all ethnic groups who have contributed to our state’s rich cultural mix, then we are failing to teach accurate history.”

Seeing Red AZ has been following the TUSD’s ethnic studies program since 2008. A sampling of the reports can be found following this post, “Diane Douglas disappointingly parses ethnic studies.”

In January 2011 even the leftist AZ Republic editorially lambasted the TUSD’s ethnic studies duplicity as “bogus.”  The editorial rightfully referred to the data used to buttress the claims “repeated constantly by [the program’s] defenders that students perform better academically as a result of taking ethnic studies classes and that they go on to college more often” –— “academically unsupportable.” Further the newspaper states that officials who make such claims “are acting irresponsibly in doing so.” The editorial goes so far as to say the results “appear rigged.”

In the intervening years, the only thing that has changed is we now have an irresolute superintendent fearful of being ousted and eager to make any concessions to avoid that embarrassment.


Editor’s Comment:  I wonder if Ms Douglas has considered that by disappointing so many of her constituents, they may well join in a recall effort against her?  Ms Douglas, DO WHAT YOU PROMISED YOU WOULD DO IF YOU WERE ELECTED.  That’s why we elected you.

We Elected You Diane. Why Has This Happened?

Weakened SPI Diane Douglas cedes power

Elected Superintendent of Public Instruction relinquishes authority to unelected state board

The Arizona Daily Independent does a fine job of explaining the current bizarre state of affairs involving recently elected Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, Diane Douglas, her Chief of Staff Michael Bradley, and their willing acquiescence in allowing the Senate Education Committee to eviscerate her authority in overseeing the State Board of Education’s staff.

Among other things, HB 2184 would remove any oversight of the unelected board and staff by changing the language defining her role with the board from “executive officer of the State Board of Education” to “executive officer responsible for the execution of policies of the State Board of Education.”

Attempting to put the best face on this abdication of duties in the wake of her public battles with Gov. Doug Ducey, in which Seeing Red AZ championed her efforts, Douglas now claims she supports the restraining measure in order to save legal expenses for the taxpayers.

Don’t skip over the concerns expressed by leading conservative and former Senate Majority leader Thayer Verschoor. He is quoted in the news report as referring to Douglas’ actions as an “abdication of power” and the revision of duties as  “VERY BAD POLICY.”


Editor’s Note:  VERY disappointed.