Flake, Hughes, dog deaths case back to Grand Jury?

November 13, 2015

With the weather cooling to the point of making Arizonans remember why we’re grateful to live here, most of us prefer not to dredge up recollections of the merciless summer heat in the Valley.

But the sweltering 106 degree scorcher of June 20, 2014 is exactly where we need to focus our attention. It is being reported that a Maricopa County Superior Court judge is considering whether another grand jury should take another look at the case of the gruesome heat related deaths of nearly two dozen dogs crammed in a steamy utility room at the Green Acre boarding kennel in Gilbert. County Attorney Bill Montgomery sat on this case for an unconscionably long time.

If a new indictment is issued against vacationing kennel owners Todd and MaLeisa Hughes, what about the actual caretakers Logan and Austin Flake who were entrusted with running the facility and tending the family pets left in their care while Logan’s parents were in Florida?

The foursome was indicted October 16, 2014. From there, a scorecard is needed to keep up with who was charged and who was dropped.

Then as a grandiose 2014 Christmas Eve gesture, Montgomery dropped charges of animal cruelty against all four defendants, leaving a single fraud charge against the Hughes.

A Maricopa County Grand Jury reinstated charges against the Hughes May 6. The Flakes were mysteriously excluded. Politics abounds. Did we mention Austin Flake is the son of Sen. Jeff Flake?

When they returned from their vacation, Todd Hughes initially told the pet owners their dogs had all run away.  Later he and his wife MaLeisa claimed the deaths were the result of an accident when a dog chewed through an air-conditioning electrical cord, disabling the unit. The dogs died agonizing deaths, suffocating in the small room where they were left overnight without cooling, food or water. When the dead and dying dogs were discovered the following morning, the Flakes did not call for veterinary assistance, opting instead to hose down the dogs and then callously pile their carcasses in a shed.

The indictments caused Brigham Young University to expel Austin Flake, which allowed him to recast himself and his wife Logan as victims and sue the taxpayers of Maricopa County for $8 million dollars. If this obscene settlement is awarded, it will ease the reentry into the single world for the now divorcing Jr. Flakes. 

AZ and MC GOP: Grownups in short supply

November 7, 2015

In what appears to be a badly timed ongoing saga as crucial 2016 elections approach, the competing egos and general disarray within the AZ and Maricopa County Republican Party leadership is setting party activist’s teeth on edge.

Briefs Editor Frosty Taylor rightly refers to this past Wednesday night’s Maricopa County Republican Committee’s Executive Guidance Committee meeting (MCRC EGC) as a “Donnybrook.”

Just prior, she posed a series of pertinent questions, asking, “What is really going on behind the scenes? Many of us would like to know, but the answers have been less than forthcoming.

Meanwhile defining political battles that will determine the future of our state and its most populous county fall prey to arrogance and pettiness.

We’ve written extensively about the overreaches of state chair Robert Graham, whose close ties to John McCain-have riled many Arizona Republican activists. A few examples are here, here, here, and here.

Maricopa County GOP has also been in turmoil under the iffy leadership of chairman Tyler Bowyer. After less than a year in office, and being secretive on issues ranging from financial disclosures to where the EGC meetings will even be held, he survived a no-confidence resolution Wednesday by a single vote. The document titled “Resolution for Vote of No-Confidence with Call for Independent Audit,” charged Bowyer with “chronic deceptiveness and duplicity in word and deed.”

Party officers ran on their leadership abilities. Honesty was assumed. We’re ready to see some integrity displayed.

But, but….it’s for the children

October 20, 2015

Never ending tax increases

A recent editorial in the local newspaper clearly defines the definition of going ballistic. At issue is the Maricopa County Republican Party’s opposition to the nearly thirty school districts across the Valley asking for voters to approve school bonds and overrides.

This is the October 16, 2015 press release that caused the commotion:

Republican Party of Maricopa County Calls For Sweeping Reforms To Override Election Laws

The Maricopa County GOP is calling for sweeping reforms to school district override election laws, in order to ensure that the voting public is no longer misled regarding how the money will be spent should the tax increase be approved.

The overwhelming majority of voters in Arizona are unaware that school districts are only legally obligated to spend override monies on the priorities outlined in the official voter pamphlets and promoted by pro-tax political action committees in the first year. After year one, school districts are free to waste the override dollars on whatever non-essential, non-classroom purposes they choose.

“Legislation to correct the widespread voter confusion as to how override dollars can be spent and the manner in which those expenditures are communicated to the public prior to the election is long overdue,” said Republican Party of Maricopa County Spokesman Jake Hoffman. “As a former elected school board member, I have sat in public meetings where in response to that these very district leaders intend to squander the money on non-classroom expenditures.

County GOP leadership is right. Regardless of the habitual, plaintive pleas from schools and cities for ever more funding, citizens are not golden egg laying geese. Arizona school children and the education they receive are too important to be left to these bait-and-switch tax schemes pushed by public school district administrators under the guise of teacher pay and smaller classes.

In a suspiciously timed August election — when low city voter turnout is guaranteed to be even lower — residents of Phoenix were asked to double the city transit tax over 35 years and spend $31.5 billion on an unaccountable light rail expansion — which is actually used by less than one percent of city residents. Thanks to solid union voting blocs — police, fire fighters, unionized teachers and city employees — this unconscionable monstrosity passed as special interest groups disproportionately skewed the vote to the left.

Now we are being told that a disaster of apocalyptic proportions will be visited upon our children if we don’t loosen up even more cash via higher property taxes. It’s a never-ending saga.  As cash-strapped families are forced to get by on less, school districts think they are exempt from such belt-tightening.

Schools are teaching climate change instead of American history and recycling rather than the U.S. Constitution. Cursive is gone, ensuring the end of handwriting. College students can’t find Japan on a map, and if your math challenged child lands a job at McDonald’s he can push the pictures on the computerized screen in front of him to process the order and dump the correct change in the customer’s hand. Public school grads are unable to count back change. 

We did find some humor in the newspaper’s editorial tantrum. They are still miffed that GOP County Chairman Tyler Bowyer hosted Donald Trump’s Phoenix appearance. They call Trump a “gadfly mogul” whose comments are offensive to the voters the Republican party needs to win elections  — as if the newspaper liberals care whether we win elections. The censure of John McCain in numerous counties and by elected statewide Republican delegates also doesn’t sit well with the editorial board. The editorial says it was because “McCain had the good sense to pursue immigration reform,” code jargon for amnesty. 

The Arizona Republics ranting fools fool no one.

Robert Graham promises to leave you alone — for a price

July 26, 2015

A bribe from Bobby

That Robert Graham!  The McEstablishment toady never seems to run out of clever ideas in his quest to attract new people to the Arizona Republican Party.  

In a post titled, “AZ GOP’s Robert Graham’s spiteful retribution,” SRAZ recently reported on his slippery deeds against the Maricopa County GOP, stopping payment on the rent for the Tempe office, within days after the ribbon-cutting grand opening. So committed is he to winning elections, Graham engaged in this trickery as the 2016 campaign season gets underway, and the city early ballots are hitting Valley mailboxes. And in a display of exquisite propriety, Graham neglected to notify either Maricopa County Republican Chairman Tyler Bowyer or Treasurer David Ludwig of his dastardly deed.

Now comes another first-rate idea. Graham promises to leave Republican activists alone — for a price.  For an $8.25 monthly deduction from your credit card, or a one-time donation of $99 to the Redroots Club, members are promised “the perks” of not receiving fundraising letters or phone solicitations from the AZGOP. Additionally he throws in the hook of 50% off all AZGOP events

There is even a mechanism for supporting your county. Given the dirty trick Graham pulled on Maricopa County’s Republican office, officers, and conservative base, our suggestion is to fill up the coffers with donations for Maricopa County Republican Party. It’s a good bet Graham’s deep pocket pals at the Chamber of Commerce will keep the state party’s doors open and the air conditioning humming.  

There is a catch. If you sign up, you’ll still have to endure a quarterly conference call with Chairman Robert Graham and a “special guest.”  If that includes John McCain, Jeff Flake, or Jon Kyl, you might want to request a refund.

AZ Justice? Short time for major crime

June 15, 2015

As Americans await the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions on same-sex marriage, Obamacare,  Arizona’s challenge to the so-called “independent” congressional redistricting commission and other issues under consideration, Valley residents can ponder the odd sentence handed down closer to home last week by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Joseph Welty.

Vrouyr Manoukian, a cocky 24-year old who reportedly entered the courtroom smiling and waving at his family, killed his roommate Matthew McMaster, 24, in July 2013. According to this news report, McMaster died of blunt-force trauma to his head. His body was set on fire and dumped in the desert.

Manoukian was convicted of negligent homicide and abandonment of a body. While awaiting trial, he was jailed for 740 days. That time will count toward his paltry 4 ½ year sentence —- giving him roughly 2 ½ more years in prison.

Judge Welty determined  the aggravating factors in the case were the harm done to McMaster’s family, the fact that another roommate, Randall Lee Young, acted as an accomplice, and the evidence that McMaster’s body was dumped and burned beyond recognition. Young, who has an extensive criminal history, was charged with a probation-only offense.

The mitigating factors? Manoukian’s lack of criminal history, his “sniffling” display of remorse, and his acceptance of responsibility for his actions.

Welty was appointed to the bench in 2007 by Gov. Janet Napolitano.

Sheriff Arpaio makes nat’l news for speaking truth

June 8, 2015

Sunday’s edition of The Drudge Report headlined this WND report detailing an interview with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

During the interview on the “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio,” broadcast heard on New York’s AM 970 The Answer and Philadelphia’s NewsTalk 990 AM, Sheriff Arpaio said Democrats are mostly interested in immigration reform because the newly legalized residents will eventually obtain voting rights and will vote for Democrats.

“That’s common sense,” said Arpaio. “I don’t think that’s something that nobody knows. You make them here legally so they can vote.”

WND reported last year Eliseo Medina, a former immigration adviser to Barack Obama, boasted in 2009 that granting citizenship to millions of illegal aliens would expand the “progressive” electorate and help ensure a “progressive” governing coalition for the long-term.

Medina is the current secretary-treasurer of the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU. During Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, Medina and Jeff Flake’s radical leftwing pal, U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, served on Obama’s National Latino Advisory Council.

During the radio interview, Arpaio urged Republican president candidates to discuss the issue of drug trafficking when talking about border security.

Arpaio, whose office deals with criminality and runs the county jails, addressed the illegal drugs flooding into the U.S. from Mexico, saying “Ninety-nine percent” of those arrested for bringing drugs into Maricopa County, Arizona are illegal aliens.”

 “Everyone talks about immigration. What about the drugs destroying our young people? Heroin is increasing. So if I were advising the (Republican) candidates, I’m sure they will be calling me even though I’m taking heat again, I’d say start talking about the drug problem coming from Mexico. Forget just the illegal immigration. Put it together. There is a combination of both problems. That’s what I would talk about.”

Sheriff Arpaio asked, “Where’s the president? How come he is not talking about the drugs coming across the border?”

This U.S. Department of Justice National Drug Intelligence Center Report, is five years old. The deplorable statistics have not improved in the intervening years, as drug cartels and gangs have become even more emboldened. Read  Sect.2:11  (17 of 20) under the heading “Phoenix” for a more complete snapshot of the Mexican drug trafficking organizations or DTO’s.

At the time of the report’s release, authorities estimated that there were more than 10,000 gang members in the Phoenix metropolitan area. It stated, “Much of the violent crime and property crime in Phoenix is drug-and/or gang-related.”

In addition to Phoenix, Maricopa County —- one of the nation’s largest counties —- encompasses numerous other cities.

Dog death: Double standard or equal treatment to Flake case?

June 1, 2015

Last week a 31-year-old Phoenix man who had temporary responsiblity for the care of his recently deceased brother’s dog was arrested for allowing the pet to dehydrate and ultimately die. The dog was caged outdoors and succumbed to heat related dehydration, according to a veterinarian’s post mortem examination.

The man told officers he had given the female pug food and water when he came home during his lunch break. When he returned later that day the dog was dead. He was arrested on a charge of animal cruelty and subsequently posted bond. His initial court appearance is set for Thursday, June 4.

He is not related to any politicians. 

Will he be treated in a similar manner to U.S. Senator Jeff Flake’s son Austin, and daughter-in-law Logan, who were solely responsible for the agonizing heat related deaths of nearly two dozen family pets entrusted to their care at Green Acre Dog Boarding in Gilbert? The pets were crammed into a small room overnight without food, water or air-conditioning. As the horrific situation unfolded, numerous lies were told to the pet owners.

The now closed facility, advertised as “cage free,” was owned by Logan Flake’s vacationing mother and step-father. That appalling incident took place just a year ago this month. Both couples were indicted by a Maricopa County Grand Jury. Defendants Austin and Logan Flake were each charged with 21 felony counts and 7 misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals. Todd and MaLeisa Hughes, Logan Flake‘s parents were also charged.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, who saw his future political ambitions evaporating before his eyes, diddled and dawdled over this problematic case, finally dismissing all 21 felony counts and 7 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty against Austin and Logan. To express their gratitude, they’re now suing the taxpayers of Maricopa County seeking $8 million to resurrect their formerly pristine reputations, claiming they were targeted and their sterling characters were besmirched by the investigation. 

Will the Phoenix man caring for his brother’s pet get the same kid glove treatment if his case is forwarded to the Maricopa County Attorney?


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