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Thu, Feb. 25

Briefs | Finchem complaint against Dems dismissed

The head of the Arizona House Ethics Committee on Friday dismissed a complaint filed by Republican Rep. Mark Finchem against 28 Democrats who accused him of promoting the violent overthrow of the U.S. government. The state capitol in Phoenix is shown. (Photo by Visitor7, cc-by-sa-3.0, https://bit.ly/3o0fG5x)

The head of the Arizona House Ethics Committee on Friday dismissed a complaint filed by Republican Rep. Mark Finchem against 28 Democrats who accused him of promoting the violent overthrow of the U.S. government. The state capitol in Phoenix is shown. (Photo by Visitor7, cc-by-sa-3.0, https://bit.ly/3o0fG5x)

PHOENIX - The head of the Arizona House Ethics Committee on Friday dismissed a complaint filed by Republican Rep. Mark Finchem against 28 Democrats who accused him of promoting the violent overthrow of the U.S. government.

Ethics Committee Chair Becky Nutt wrote in a letter that the panel “is not an arena for waging political contests.” Most House Democrats have pushed to expel Finchem and demanded a federal investigation into his role in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Finchem filed his complaint against the Democrats after Nutt last week dismissed 82 complaints against him filed by lawmakers and members of the public.

Finchem was near the Capitol to speak at a rally supporting former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory. But Finchem says he didn’t participate in the insurrection and didn’t learn the Capitol had been breached until hours later.

Maricopa to close 2 regional vaccination sites

PHOENIX – Maricopa County plans to close two of its six regional COVID-19 vaccination sites in coming weeks as public health officials put increased emphasis on smaller sites and events to put more shots in arms.

The county's northeast site operated by Honor Health in north Phoenix will last operate on Feb. 28 and the southeast site run by Dignity Health in Chandler will close in early March.

Officials say current appointments at each site will be honored.

Marcy Flanagan, executive director of the county Department of Public Health, said the regional sites were the best way initially to get large amounts of vaccine to priority populations such as health care workers and emergency personnel.

The department now plans to administer more vaccinations through pop-up community events and locations such as long-term care centers, schools and child care facilities.

Some of those efforts are aimed at vaccinating older people who don't have transportation or internet access and people whose primary language isn't English.

According to the department, “the smaller, targeted events complement larger vaccination sites that serve the broader public."

Arizona man accused of faking own kidnapping to evade work

CASA GRANDE – Arizona police said a man who claimed he had been kidnapped later confessed during an interview that he made up the story up to avoid work.

Police said they found Brandon Soules near a water tower with his hands bound behind his back and a bandana stuffed in his mouth, the Casa Grande Dispatch reported Wednesday.

Soules told police that two masked men had kidnapped him, knocked him unconscious, then left him where he was found.

Coolidge detectives conducted an investigation that found no evidence that a kidnapping or assault had occurred. Soules reportedly admitted to police that he made the story up as an excuse to not have to work. He was arrested Feb. 17 for false reporting to police.

Online court records did not list an attorney for Soules who might comment on his behalf.

Regents select new president of NAU

FLAGSTAFF – The Arizona Board of Regents says it plans to appoint Jose Luis Cruz, executive vice chancellor and university provost of The City University of New York, as the next president of Northern Arizona University.

The board announced Thursday night in a statement that Cruz had “accepted the opportunity to be the next president of of NAU” and that the regents would approve contract terms and formally appoint Cruz as the new NAU president at a subsequent meeting.

The regents on Tuesday announced interview invitations to Cruz and Bret Danilowicz, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Florida Atlantic University, and board the same day posted a public notice for a special meeting that included closed-door interviews and discussions late Wednesday and Thursday.

The NAU presidency opened up last fall when current President Rita Cheng announced she would not seek a contract extension. She will stay on pending appointment of her replacement.

“Dr. Cruz has an extraordinary record of academic leadership, and I am confident he is the right leader to build on NAU’s success and ensure a bold and boundless future for this beloved and historic university,” said Larry E. Penley in the board’s statement.

Penley also said Cruz is a “proven innovator” and that “his unsurpassed commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, coupled with a long track record as a leading national advocate to improve educational outcomes for all students – especially those who have historically been underserved – will serve Arizona and NAU well.”

Cruz said in the board’s statement that he was honored to be selected “as the finalist” for the NAU presidency.

Cruz previously served as provost of California State University, Fullerton, is a former vice president of higher education policy and practice at The Education Trust in Washington, D.C., and a former chief student affairs officer for the University of Puerto Rico system. He began his career as an engineering faculty member in engineering at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, later serving as a department chair and dean of academic affairs.

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