Anyway, here's my list of the top Arizona-related stories of the year (and not-too surprisingly, this list has a political bent to it) -
...In April, Arizona prisoners who were sent to a private prison in Indiana rioted, injuring at least two staff members and causing serious damage to the facility.
My original post on the topic is here.
I've got a phone call out to the Arizona Department of Corrections asking for an update, but called too late in the day for their PR folks to obtain an answer; I'll update tomorrow.
Edit to update: According to Bill at the DOC's media relations office, the contract with the Indiana prison is still active and prisoners are still being rotated through it.
...In March, State Rep. Trish Groe was busted for a DUI in La Paz County. After various twists and turns to the case (including a stint in rehab shortly after the arrest, an abortive plea deal in May, and a felony indictment in September), Dennis Wilenchik, personal fixer for Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, arranged for Groe to pay a fine and to serve 10 days in the Maricopa County lockup.
...Also involving Wilenchik was the story of the County Attorney and the Maricopa County Sheriff, Joe Arpaio, leading a jihad against the New Times, resulting in a grand jury inquisition of the New Times, led by Wilenchik, and the arrests of two of the New Times' journalists/publishers, ordered by Wilenchik.
The charges against to New Times' employees were dropped after the ensuing public outcry and criticism from all directions.
Don't fret about Wilenchik, though - his firm has received over $220K from the County Attorney's office since the whole New Times debacle.
...The economic slowdown has caused the state to have a revenue shortfall with the resulting budget deficit growing to more than $1 billion. This has led to plans for a 'pre-session' session of the Legislature in order to deal with the budget crisis.
The idea that the Republicans in the state senate have proposed to address the revenue shortfall? Among other things, reduce revenue...
Anyway, we're coming into an election year; expect any legislative proposals to deal with the deficit in a responsible way to be beaten back by the "any government is too much" clique in the Republican caucus. (Don't believe it? Read the already-submitted SB1002, a bill to repeal the state equalization property tax, a source of revenue for public education. It already has 17 primary sponsors, Republicans one and all.)
BTW - I wonder if Tim Bee is reconsidering his decision to only 'explore' a run against Gabrielle Giffords in CD8? Something tells me that stumping around Tucson and southern AZ is going to be more fun than running the state senate in Phoenix this coming year.
...John McCain's campaign for the Republican nomination for President was moribund and all but DOA this summer, but with the decline of Mitt Romney in the face of Mike Huckabee's rise has unexpectedly given McCain's campaign new life. His candidacy may fall eventually fall by the wayside, but at least for the next six weeks, he's back to being a contender.
...Of course, perhaps the biggest local political story was the passage and implementation of Arizona's employment sanctions law. The law would suspend then revoke the business licenses of businesses that hire undocumented immigrants. While overly draconian, the law was written skillfully enough to withstand lawsuits.
As expected, the nativist wing of the Republican Party is rejoicing in the broken lives and shattered families.
Note: Immigration in general was a hot topic all year; Man Eegee does a great job covering immigration issues in Arizona and beyond.
Stuff to watch in 2008 -
...Of course, one of the biggest stories of next year will be the elections...
- Who will win the presidential nominations for each party, and who will win the general election? When a Democrat wins the White House, will they offer Governor Napolitano a cabinet slot? And if one is offered, will she take it?
- Who will come out of the crowded Republican field in CD5 to challenge Harry Mitchell in November?
- Who will succeed the soon- (but not soon enough!) to-be-departed Rick Renzi in CD1? Things have been relatively low-key so far, but are certain to start heating up early in the new year.
- Will Dan Saban defeat Joe Arpaio for the Sheriff's job? Has Maricopa County finally had its fill of Arpaio after 16 years?
...Next year's state budget cycle looms as a far more contentious one than this year's, with the inevitable Republican demands to balance the state budget by cutting corporate taxes deep and public services even deeper. Who among the Reps will step up and place the fiscal future of the state above partisan bickering? And which among those Reps will pay for their apostasy by facing a primary challenger?
...What kind of legislative torture will Russell Pearce and his ilk try to inflict upon immigrants in 2008?
...Lastly, my deepest condolences go out to the friends, families, and loved ones of Benazir Bhutto (former Prime Minister of Pakistan) and those murdered in the suicide bombing in the aftermath of her assassination.