Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Arizona Voters Sue Secretary of State Ken Bennett Over Barber/McSally Congressional Bid

J.T. Waldron

A definitive outcome of Arizona's District Two congressional race between Democrat Ron Barber and Republican Martha McSally will now depend on the Arizona Supreme Court's decision to allow a tabulation system that is accurate enough to handle the task. Citizens from a variety of political affiliations have filed a lawsuit on the first of December against Secretary of State Ken Bennett because he intends to perform a recount with the same elections systems that have a margin of error exceeding McSally's 161 vote lead over Barber. The Defendant intends to proceed with another problematic count despite Arizona state law requiring that a different program be used for the recount.

AZSOS Ken Bennett
Bennett's erroneous path was revealed on November 25th in Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry's memo shooting down the unanimous decision by his own Elections Integrity Commission (PCEIC) to recommend the use of a more accurate system for counting the ballots. The PCEIC proposed a full hand-count of the paper ballots or no-error graphic scans of the ballots as the only viable means to remove any doubt about who wins the nationally publicized Barber/McSally race. In response to the Arizona statute referring to the use of a different program for any recounts, Huckelberry states:
"We have shared the EIC memorandum with the Arizona State Election Director Christina Estes-Werther and Deputy Election Director Kris Kingsmore. They have assured us the use of a different 'program' for a the recount means only that the tabulation program will be reset to count just the CD2 race and the program as changed will be subject to a new round of logic and accuracy testing by both the Secretary of State and the County. They said it is important to use the same equipment that was used in the General Election to ensure the ballots are treated exactly the same. A statewide recount of a ballot proposition in 2010 and a recount in a Congressional District primary in 2012 were both successfully conducted in this manner by Secretary of State."
In other words, Huckelberry attempts to confuse the public by mimicking the same flawed rationale coming from the Secretary of State's office. They might as well be explaining how a law requiring that a truck be weighed again on a different scale does not really mean 'taking the truck to another scale'. Bennett's crew instead suggests that 'different scale' means that the same scale be 'zeroed' before the weight is measured a second time by that same faulty scale. Since Pima County Elections have previously undermined attempts by the PCEIC to check results with a meaningful hand-count audit, there is no effective means to identify what Huckelberry claims as a "successfully conducted" recount.

The typically divided PCEIC's unanimous request is an anomaly. So is the ideologically diverse list of plaintiffs calling for a truly adequate recount as prescribed by the law. The list includes "Desert Speaks" Host David Yetman, who served ten years on the Pima County Board of Supervisors, former Democratic State Senator Ted Downing who is now a U of A professor, former Tucson Republican Mayoral Candidate Shaun McClusky, former Green Party Candidate for Pima County Sheriff David Croteau, Bisbee writer David Morgan and former Chair of the Democratic Party's Election Integrity Commission Sandra Spangler who co-founded AUDIT-AZ with fellow plaintiff Arlene Leaf, the uncompromising elections activist who co-produced the movie "Fatally Flawed". The plaintiffs hired Attorney Bill Risner, who filed the suit yesterday in Tucson.

Bill Risner's work in election integrity includes the paramount legal victory by the Democratic party against Pima County for electronic elections data in 2007 yielding the largest release of electronic elections data in U.S. history. His appellate court victory for the Libertarian party allowing prospective relief in the Courts ultimately revealed a judicial conflict of interest as it was overturned.  Risner's continued unfulfilled quest for justice in Pima County's 2006 RTA election fraud required the State Attorney General to manage the obvious cover-up for all to see in the movie, "Fatally Flawed". Ironically, his work is the foundation for an electorate now ready to move to a more accurate, easily verifiable means introduced by the PCEIC.

In this case, the plaintiffs only had time for a "Special Action Petition for a Writ of Mandamus" asking that "the court order the Secretary of State to require that a recount be conducted with a separate program as requested by plaintiffs and required by our Legislature."

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Close Congressional Race Between Barber and McSally Presents an Opportunity to Verify with a More Transparent Optical Ballot Scanning System

J.T. Waldron

The Arizona U.S. Congressional race between Democrat Ron Barber and Republican Martha McSally was alleged by the Pima County Elections Department to be such a close contest that they require a recount to determine the winner. Martha McSally's slim margin of 161 votes over incumbent Ron Barber falls within Arizona's "one tenth of one percent" rule that requires a recount after the state canvass. Despite one provision of the law calling for a different program, recounts are typically performed with the same machines that may have an estimated margin of error of over 0.13% or 250 votes. The most convenient, compliant means for confirming an election this close is through optical scanning of ballots as demonstrated in Humbolt County and with the more refined "Clear Ballot" system.  Clear Ballot takes photographic scans of each of the ballots, reads the ballots and separates them into precincts with a level of speed, accuracy and flexibility that has never been matched by any of the current voting systems.

Mickey Duniho, a former NSA analyst and member of Pima County's Election Integrity Commission, describes the problem with Diebold scanners used by Pima County:
Using Pima County’s 2012 Presidential Primary percentage as a guide, today’s scanners may have missed as many as 250 intended votes, almost double the number separating Barber and McSally in the original count. If you rescan the same ballots with the same scanners, you are liable to get different totals with every scan simply because of the technological imprecision of the scanners.
What was the cause of this 250 vote margin of error in 2012? In Pima County's elections system, voters use a black felt tip pen to fill in the ovals on a paper ballot to indicate their preferences. Diebold scanners recognize an actual mark inside an oval only if it contains what that particular scanner determines as a sufficient mark. Crosses, checks, center dots and any other effort by the voter to mark an oval may be interpreted as blank if the voter misses a portion of the white inside the oval.

Diebold's count is further hampered by stray marks or smudges errantly interpreted as another mark when the stray ink hits another oval. Pima County's Diebold machines are calibrated on a regular basis to provide some control over how these marks are interpreted. Unfortunately, the percentage of blank votes appears to be increasing over each election since 2004. Close elections like the Barber/McSally race turns this margin of error into a 'margin of disenfranchisement'.

Bev Harris, author of Black Box Voting, recalls the birth of our current electoral quagmire:
Vendors and lobbyists leveraged the Florida fiasco to persuade well-meaning legislators to enact a sweeping election reform bill, the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), creating a gold rush to purchase new voting systems, under tight deadlines, using federal money. Vendors did not disclose to lawmakers that their optical-scan systems and touch screens had a history of glitches, bugs and miscounts, and because their computer code was kept secret and proprietary, even U.S. senators and representatives could not know about security flaws or learn just how broken the “certification and testing” system really is.
Once this federal mandate was implemented, nationwide oversight has been abandoned as all the seats in the U.S. Election Assistance Commission remain vacant. Victoria Collier, the editor of votescam.org, describes the current electoral landscape as "a vast patchwork of electoral fiefdoms where laws, procedures and private-vendor technology change from state to state; even from county to county."

In the fiefdom of Pima County, effective verification is consistently undermined. In 2006, Arizona's hand count audit law saw its proposed sample size reduced to a mere one percent of early ballots thanks in part to the lobbying efforts of Pima County Elections Director Brad Nelson. In 2010, Nelson circumvented Pima County's Election Integrity Commission (PCEIC) by requesting that the Secretary of State waive his requirement for Pima County to presort early ballots by precinct before they are audited. Millions of taxpayer dollars were spent by the county in an effort to prevent election transparency. The video below explains some of the concerns that PCEIC members Mickey Duniho and Jim March had about lack of substantive auditing procedures for Pima County's elections.



Ironically, a hand count audit contradicting the official tally has no bearing on the election.

According to the tallies provided by opensecrets.org and the New York Times, over sixteen million dollars have been spent on the Barber/McSally race exceeding the cost of $70.00 per vote.
Incumbent Ron Barber's campaign asked the Pima County Board of Supervisors (PCBOS) to delay canvassing over concerns of rejected ballots, poll workers sending voters to errant polling places and at least 132 ballots thrown out due to mistakes by election officials. Pima's board supervisors have rejected far worse conditions in the past so Barber's team shouldn't be too surprised at their refusal to postpone this election's approval.

Both candidates should recognize why the winner of their nationally publicized, highly contested bid for Congress cannot be determined with certainty by the Pima County Elections Department.

Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett has the unique opportunity to preside over the inevitable advancement in elections technology by confirming the result of this congressional race. We would like to name Bennett among forward thinkers like Secretary of State Jim Condos in Vermont who is now using the new scanning technology developed by Clear Ballot. Condos, who recognizes that random audits are "an integral part of performing checks and balances of our voting system" provides substance to his claim "as Vermont's Chief Election Officer, I take this duty very seriously".

Arizona Revised Statute Section 16-664(A) seems to provide for Bennett to follow suite:
In the event of a court-ordered recount of votes that were cast and tabulated on electronic voting equipment for a state primary, state general or state special election, the secretary of state shall order the ballots recounted on an automatic tabulating system to be furnished and programmed under the supervision of the secretary of state.
Subsection (C) allows Bennett to use a different program:
The programs to be used in the recount of votes pursuant to this section shall differ from the programs prescribed by section 16-445 and used in the initial tabulation of the votes.
In 2009, Clear Ballot founder Larry Moore visited Tucson to talk about the level of transparency graphic ballot scanning could bring to the elections process. Here he met Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who attended his presentation at a meeting with the PCEIC. The video below shows Moore providing a brief presentation of what he learned from Humbolt County before his departing flight.


While Pima County was skirting a proper hand count audit in 2012, Larry Moore introduced his brand of election verification technology to a welcoming district in Florida. Here is a presentation by a local Fox affiliate.


Ushering in the new year with mid-term elections, Moore's development of Clear Ballot and its presentation finds larger audiences through talks like "TEDx".


For the first time in Arizona, a congressional race seems numerically impossible to resolve through our deficient tabulation systems. Ron Barber, Martha McSally and the Secretary of State have an opportunity to ensure the legitimacy of this recount by introducing a technology capable of the transparency so thoroughly eroded since the 2000 presidential election.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Santa Cruz County Elections Director Violates State Law by Refusing Libertarian Party Observers at the Polls


Twelve days earlier, Santa Cruz Elections Director and Board Clerk Melinda Meek (left) and
Supervisor John Maynard (right)  beat a hasty retreat as John Brakey (center) attempts to reassure
them that elections transparency is preferred over continued litigation.  Video available here.
J.T. Waldron

With only days away from the November 4th general election, Santa Cruz County Elections Director
Melinda Meek has refused elections observers appointed by the Libertarian party. To justify this exclusion, she provided the Libertarian party chair with a selective interpretation of state law placing the weight of party recognition onto the county itself instead of the Secretary of State. In her letter to Warren Severin, the Chairman of the Arizona Libertarian party, Meek wrote,
The Libertarian Party is not a recognized party in Santa Cruz County.  Only recognized parties through the  local party Chair have the authority to appoint official party observers. Therefore, pursuant to Arizona Revised Statutes and the State of Arizona Elections Procedures Manual, you do not have the authority to appoint an official party observer for the 2014 General Election.
Meek ignores Arizona Revised Statute Section 16-804 (C) which clarifies;
The secretary of state shall determine the political parties qualified for continued representation on the state ballot pursuant to this section by February 1 of the appropriate year. Each county recorder shall furnish to the secretary of state such information as the secretary of state may require no later than October 31 of the preceding year.
Santa Cruz has 130 active Libertarian voters in Santa Cruz, local Libertarian candidates running for the Board of Supervisors, and a Gubernatorial Libertarian Candidate Barry Hess on the statewide ballot. According to the Secretary of State's document "Continued Representation of Political Parties for 2014 Election Cycle", the Libertarian party has received enough votes to qualify for continued representation. That is why Barry Hess is on the ballot.

John Brakey, the founder of Americans United for Democracy, Integrity, and Transparency in Elections, Arizona (AUDITAZ), was requested as an elections observer by the gubernatorial Libertarian candidate. He was one of the Planiffs that recently won the election records lawsuit against Santa Cruz County. This suit revealed that, contrary to Melinda Meek's testimony under oath, programming of the database files appears to have been done by someone who's retrofitted the same database for five other counties in Arizona. The suit also revealed that someone inside of Meek's elections department generated summary reports. Premature peeking into election results is a class 6 felony under A.R.S. Sec. 16-551 (C).

Local Santa Cruz candidate Jack Scholnick has also nominated John Brakey as an election observer, but his request only allows his name to be entered into a lottery for the prospect of observing this election. When serving as an observer, Brakey is a bit more inquisitive than those we have caught snoozing on video in Maricopa county. Soon we'll have to find observers to oversee the lottery that picks the observers.

Meek seems to have adopted a tactic similar to Pima County. Provide the initial appearance of cooperation before last minute maneuvers skirt transparency on the cusp of election day. Citizens' objectives appear to be managed by the careful timing that precludes any legal remedy prior to the elections process.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Curious Business of William E. Doyle

J.T. Waldron

In the past eight years of litigation over election transparency in Arizona, William E. Doye's name has appeared only twice in court transcripts but Doyle and his company "Election Operations Services" play an unsettling role in most elections throughout the state.  Doyle's career in public service appears to have begun with the earliest public record connecting him to elections in Arizona as Deputy Recorder for Maricopa County in 1976.  His formation of a limited liability corporation to assist with elections a decade later mirrors the eventual privatization of key functions in the electoral process throughout the nation.
Picture with text courtesy of the Kingman Daily Miner-Wednesday, Feb. 27, 1991
Proficient in accommodating new technology, Doyle was firmly established as an authority for evolving use of punchcards in the late nineties and "Elections Operations Services" was a name for a handy source of consultation and problem solving for election workers. In Kingman, Arizona, Doyle was tapped to conduct a recount of a city council election that had a margin of two votes. The local Kingman Daily Miner reports:
"The recount will be done with a different computer, which Doyle will program before the punch-card ballots are processed."
In 2002, the year the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) was passed into law ushering in our new found era of black box voting, Doyle decided to change his limited liability corporation to a sole proprietorship. Some remnants in the public archives enable us to grasp the size of these contracts along with the exorbitant profits they must yield. Various sites, articles and municipal public records indicate close to $900,000 worth of business in Mohave County alone with the highest individual contract at over $112,000. Records won in litigation for the latest primary election in Santa Cruz drew our attention to William Doyle through the discovery of one invoice billing over $30,000 for the printing of ballots, which is another function provided by Elections Operations Services. The common perception among those following elections is that Runbeck Graphics prints the official ballots for elections in Arizona. Runbeck devotes a webpage (Runbeck Election Services) to describe their advanced facilities and services, but "it also works with a pool of subcontractors that add local production capabilities."

Two years ago, Pinal County awarded Doyle with a $425,000 contract to print election ballots. The county described their process for determining the award:
"Two responses to PC-120517 were received. Runbeck Election Services, Inc. submitted a "No-bid" letter as a response. As a "No-bid" is still a bid response, the bid submitted by Elections Operations Services is determined to be the lowest responsive bid. Elections Operations Services is responsible and the pricing submitted is fair and reasonable based upon previous/current contract pricing.
Try to imagine why a company so well equipped would turn away almost half a million dollars of business in such a finite market. Why would they bother going through the motion so the county can pretend to have a competitive bidding process? Perhaps Doyle is a member of that "pool of subcontractors".

Three years ago in Gila County, a Board Supervisor insisted that her lesser qualified secretary (Linda Eastlick) replace Dixie Mundy as the new Elections Director. The Rim County Gazette reported the consequences:
"The county has also contracted William Doyle with Elections Operations Services to do much of the election director's job through 2012. The county will pay $225,000 for his services, performing the same duties listed in the job description for the election director, a position that pays $51,000 a year. This means one consultant was hired to teach Eastlick the job, and now another is being paid a quarter million dollars to do the job."
Taxpayer dollars paid into this one vendor may rival the sum squandered by Pima County to avoid meaningful scrutiny of the 2006 RTA ballots. What's more distressing than monetary cost is the unique position and opportunity vendors like Elections Operations Services have in an election. Ironically, Dixie Mundy revealed this circumstance as she testified on behalf of Pima County in its effort to legally skirt the public records request brought by suspicion surrounding that 2006 RTA election. In the video below, she describes how Doyle programs and transmits the databases to Gila County's elections computer through a telephone modem.


Stephen Spoonamore, a key expert I.T. witness for the 'man-in-the-middle' attack of the 2004 presidential election in Ohio, provides an excellent account of how a once trusted elections vendor Smart Tech was provided an opportunity to compromise the election.

 

Author Marta Steele writes about similar 'man-in-the-middle structures' in other swing states like Iowa, Nevada and New Mexico in her book, "Grassroots, Geeks, Pros, and Pols: The Election Integrity Movement's Rise and Nonstop Battle to Win Back the People's Vote, 2000-2008".

Unlike L.L.C.'s, sole proprietors can plead the 5th amendment and decline to give self incriminating information.  How sinister is this seemingly helpful vendor now entwined in the electronic voting process for most of the Arizona voting districts? It probably doesn't matter. Transparent,verifiable elections are an inconceivable notion when a vendor has this kind of access and secrecy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

FATALLY FLAWED Reviewed by Marta Steele on OPED News



"I've been an activist all my life . . . but I've never done anything more important than what I've done now" (John Brakey)

"Every data point assured that the election was rigged" (Bill Risner)

"This is a third-world standard of justice" (Jim March)

J. T. Waldron's 2009 documentary Fatally Flawed: The Problems Are Inside, The Solutions Are Outside is (I can't say it better) "not only a character driven cinema verite but a moving journey of triumph and heartache in the face of monolithic government opposition." 
Ultimately, the Democrats succeeded in gaining the release of all of the election 2006 databases--the largest release of such files in U.S. history up until that time. But unfortunately this is hardly the end of the story.


Set in Pima County, Arizona, it begins innocuously enough with a situation posited for a primary election referendum: In Tucson, Grant Road, a six-lane highway, narrows down to a four-lane highway, causing a bottleneck. The six-lane width needs to continue beyond this point to improve traffic flow, from Swann Road to Oracle Road. This process will involve gutting homes and businesses. At least one nearby neighborhood association is understandably worried. There is no thought about their plight as the project moves forward; it's "Get them out of the way and then we'll make it better," says one local resident.  [Click here to read more]

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Santa Cruz Judge Kimberly Corsaro Rules in Favor of the Plaintiffs Seeking Election Records

J.T. Waldron

Yesterday morning, Sergio Arellanos, John Brakey, and a number of citizens concerned with elections in Santa Cruz County received a welcome judgment finding the Defendants (County of Santa Cruz) in violation of Arizona state public records laws.

"The court helped restore public confidence with this ruling because it upholds the laws that support transparency," Brakey declared on his cell phone while driving home from his radio interview in Nogales, Arizona. Although two out of ten items requested are allegedly unfulfillable, the judge declared that the Plaintiffs substantially prevailed and are entitled to be compensated for their attorney's fees.

One item the defendants claimed did not exist was invoices from any vendors who programmed the central count elections computers and the Accuvote memory cards. This pursuit is supposedly empty due to the dubious testimony by Santa Cruz Elections Director Melinda Meek who claimed under oath that all programming of elections databases are done "in house".

On the second day of the hearing, Santa Cruz produced a CD containing a portion of the data requested by the Santa Cruz Elections Integrity Committee in conjunction with AUDITAZ (Americans United for Democracy, Integrity and Transparency in Elections). In the 2014 Primary audit log of Santa Cruz's central tabulating computer, databases used previously for five other counties were displayed as backup files in alphabetical sequence prior to "Santa Cruz". Below is a map of the counties this GEMS database was constructed for:

This has prompted a second records request from the County of Santa Cruz. Today members of AUDITAZ appeared at the Santa Cruz Board of Supervisors, who held an emergency meeting to discuss their predicament caused by refusing to abide by state records laws.

"They didn't even allow for public input or a call to the audience," says Brakey. "I approached one member to remind him of the deadline and ask when we'll see it and he tells me to contact their lawyer." Below is a video of today's Santa Cruz Board of Supervisors' exchange with Brakey:

   

The other excluded item involves the inspection of network settings key to determining whether the elections department is truthful when it claims its central tabulator is free of outside connections.  Plaintiffs believe that network settings are a form of metadata allowed by the same statute that provides for the remaining nine items to be promptly disclosed when requested. 

Ironically, Judge Corsaro did not take the time to determine if this information qualifies as public record because "the Defendants have shown that the tabulators are not hooked up to any network". The Plaintiffs are not so sure.

Brakey summarizes in his radio interview: 
"We the people must have elections that are 100% transparent with a documented chain of custody and the elections verified. Nothing less. Government must not be the sole verifier of its own secret elections."  
And over his cell phone:
"They must give the candidates and public the due process that is their right under the law.  Yes, voting is a secret process.  However, counting is a public process.  It is our right under 16-621 and other statutes to to have observers in all processes where ballots are being handled."  
Adhering to this philosophy, the ever growing list of plaintiffs will join this transparency initiative in a mandamus action to be filed in the Santa Cruz courts this Thursday morning if the Board of Supervisors fails to order their elections department to follow the law as per A.R.S. Sec. 16-621.

Check out today's Maxima 99.1 radio appearance by John Brakey as he discusses the state of elections with host Macho Martinez.  Tomorrow (Wednesday), Brakey will return with the Plaintiff's Attorney Alex Kolodin and  Libertarian Candidate for Governor Barry Hess.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Santa Cruz Will Be Asked to Produce Additional Elections Records

J.T. Waldron

After examining the records finally released by the Santa Cruz Elections Department, AUDITAZ, a coalition of Arizona citizens concerned about election integrity, will make a request for additional electronic data from past elections. Last Saturday, in an email sent to the plaintiffs and those concerned with elections, John Brakey of AUDITAZ revealed:
Next Monday we’re filing a new public records request with an open letter to the Santa Cruz Board of Supervisors (SCBOS).   We’re asking them to do their job. Elections are their responsibility. The Board of Supervisors might as well be called the "Board of Elections".
Barry Hess, the Libertarian candidate for Governor, will be added to the list of those asking for records and, if necessary, to the list of plaintiffs if Santa Cruz continues to postpone the release of the records requested last July.

Of the ten items requested, Santa Cruz refuses to allow inspection of the network settings for their Windows run central tabulating computer. Reviewing the Windows operating system settings is a simple way for inspectors to confirm that the central tabulating computer is not compromised by an outside connection through wire hookups or wireless transmissions. Santa Cruz Elections took great pains to avoid this procedure. They tapped the head of Santa Cruz's I.T. department to hoodwink the Board of Supervisors by presenting network settings as a means to gather software codes, reverse engineer the software, and manipulate the elections.

 

 As in Brakey's email:
His unsubstantiated claim of our quest for GEMS software or its framework is in direct contradiction to what we had painstakingly spelled out to the elections department at the time of the request. This act of smoke and mirrors may cost the county $100,000 or more.  Sadly, we the taxpayers are the losers. If they continue with their refusal to follow the law, we must file a “Writ of Mandamus” in Santa Cruz Superior Court invoking existing state laws to hold both the bureaucrats and elected officials accountable.  Their continued noncompliance will require an emergency lawsuit using mandamus action which asks a court to mandate that government officials follow statutory law.
Why does Santa Cruz Elections so jealously guard what should amount to a very short list for a stand alone computer? The people of Santa Cruz may have found an answer in one of the records they finally have received. The 175-page audit log for the 2014 primary election indicates that somebody was illegally checking the results before the end of the election and holes in the timeline appear near that election's logic and accuracy test.   Ironically, the logic and accuracy test is often publicly touted as a means to ensure the accuracy and fairness of elections. This test has a reassuring title, but listen to Ex NSA analyst Mickey Duniho give his testimony in last Wednesday's hearing:



Monday, AUDITAZ and the Santa Cruz Election Integrity Committee will present an open letter to the Santa Cruz Board of Supervisors requesting elections database files and other items missing in the first records request. 

Sergio Arellano, John Brakey and Macho Martinez discuss the final hearing in an interview on Oscar Felix's 99.1 Maxima Radio Station - one of the rare media outlets for election integrity in Arizona.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Santa Cruz Fulfills Data Request With an Altered Audit Log


Citizens Against Rigged Elections (AUDITAZ) in Santa Cruz County, Arizona
J.T. Waldron

After months of delays and legal costs to taxpayers, the elections department in the small border county of Santa Cruz, Arizona, finally parted with a portion of their elections records. Santa Cruz's audit logs for last August's election are missing a portion of the entries and it appears they were deleted sometime before presenting them to Sergio Arellano, Chairman of Legislative District 2 and AUDITAZ, a coalition of Arizona citizens concerned about election integrity. Back in 2007, election computer files in Arizona were determined to be public records during a heated suit between Pima County and the Pima County Democratic Party. This case established that all elections data are public records subject to Arizona Revised Statute 39-121: Inspection of Public Records.

Santa Cruz has ignored this precedent and delayed the production of requested documents for over two months.  On September 24th, Santa Cruz Elections Director Melinda Meek testified in court that the decision to withhold information was ultimately made by the Board of Supervisors. 

"We were concerned that the integrity of the election process could potentially be compromised if this information were released," Meek recalls in her testimony.  Apparently Meek and the whole board of supervisors have a form of collective amnesia over what was established in neighboring Pima County.  None of the electronic elections data were found to compromise election integrity and that court case culminated into the largest release of elections data in U.S. history.   

Santa Cruz's alleged detachment from events in nearby Pima County seems superficial, especially when both counties' officials share the same habit of portraying those seeking public records as nefarious jackals intent on compromising the elections process. It's been over seven years since the records lawsuit in Pima County yet the need to distinguish application files from document files persists to this day.  It's as if the use of the word 'audit' wipes their brains clean of all knowledge of computers, applications and data familiar to practically every individual in the country on a day to day basis.  At least, that's what those in charge of Santa Cruz's elections would like you to believe.

They conjure Pima County's phantasm of "mayhem and chaos" by claiming that electronic elections data would somehow enable someone to hack into their central tabulator to alter an election.   With electronic elections, transparency is essential to remove the opportunity for everyone to cheat.

There seems to be a bit of communication between the two counties.  Pima County altered their elections database files but forgot to cover their tracks by altering the accompanying audit log.   The snail's pace of Arizona's bureaucratic crime culture led Santa Cruz to finally cut some of the more incriminating blips in their audit log.  Unfortunately for Meek and Company, clumsy disjointed audit logs can be even more incriminating than the erasures and overwrites of Pima County's RTA election.

Below is the portion of the audit logs in question:


John Brakey (pictured on the left above), once a resident of Santa Cruz himself, has been recently working in conjunction with Arellano who is also the Chairman of the Santa Cruz County Elections Integrity Committee (SCCEIC). This committee is made up of citizens from all sides residing in Santa Cruz County. Both Brakey and the SCCEIC are currently serving under the organization, AUDITAZ, which was founded during the years of scrutinizing elections processes in Pima and Maricopa voting districts. Brakey has provided the illustration below to indicate what should be found in the audit log.


During the court trial, AUDITAZ brought computer expert Chris Gniady to explain the purpose of audit logs in an election:
"The purpose of the audit log is so somebody at a later time can come in and check if there were any properties of the system any violation with the way the system should be used... have been used...detect potential malicious software, malicious files that have been modified. General verification of the system. That's why audit logs are used."
In Gniady's statement we find a better explanation for Santa Cruz's reason for denying the release of the audit logs.  They would prefer to avoid the public scrutiny especially when logs reveal the generation of a summary report on election day at 9:51 AM.   This is a class 6 felony under A.R.S. Sec. 16-551 (C).

Late last week, Santa Cruz released only half of what was requested on July 9th of this year.  Information they did release contradicts the testimony of Santa Cruz Elections Director Melinda Meek about the construction of ballots and databases.  First on the list of the records request was the contract with the "vendor who programs the central count election computers and the AccuVote memory cards".  Below you can see Meek telling her lawyer that there is no contract "because I do that myself. It's done in-house".


video

Near the bottom of the audit log you can see what's commonly called a 'fork in the database' where various versions are recorded as back-ups.  The illustration below is snapshot of that section of the audit log that reveals names (in red) of various counties including Apache, Gila, Greenlee, La Paz and Mohave.  This sequence indicates that whoever is constructing this database is also making files for these other various voting districts.  This is obviously the work of someone providing database files to other counties.  If Meek were to be programming her own database, it's doubtful she is moonlighting with her programming skills for numerous Arizona voting districts.  Somebody else is creating the database that ultimately generates the ballot.



Among the scraps of data thrown at AUDITAZ was this one invoice from William E. Doyle, a person who assists with elections in many of the voting districts in Arizona.  Working under the handle of Elections Operations Services, Doyle presumably provides consulting and elections expertise in such an expansive, lucrative fashion, it will take the next few articles to adequately cover this clandestine vendor. 

It's been seven years and counting since Pima County's electronic data transfer in 2007 and we have yet to see a cluster of villainous citizens rig an election from outside the tabulation room.  Maybe the real risk is the warranted erosion of public trust in the elections process itself.  Public outcry could change the current power structure and, for a while, give the majority of the population a more authentic elections process.  It's this fear of an informed citizenry that causes the defendants in this case to grope for every conceivable means, legal or not, to evade scrutiny.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Mickey Duniho Resigns from Pima County's Election Integrity Commission

Mickey Duniho's resignation letter to Pima County Board of Supervisor Ray Carroll, the elected official who appointed Duniho to a seat in the Pima County Election Integrity Commission.

Dear Mr. Carroll,

I have spent many years at your request and that of others researching numbers of ways that elections in Pima County and the state could be made transparently honest. I have invested a great deal of research, much of it with others of the Pima County Election Integrity Commission and also with many others knowledgeable about methods of assuring the validity of elections. Six years ago I was honored by your appointment, having hopes for effective auditing of ballot counting in Pima County, and with the past experience of having witnessed apparently dishonest counts in my community. I now realize that these hopes and efforts have been wasted.

 The Election Integrity Commission in its six years has made a number of clearly sensible recommendations for improving legal and accurate processes for Pima County’s elections. Each of the Commission’s lucid suggestions to the Board of Supervisors or to the Secretary of State has been rejected outright or put off to another day when it was ultimately rejected by one or the other. The most recent recommendation, a very simple trial of an improved auditing procedure, was rejected quickly and blatantly, adding to the belief that the Pima County Board of Supervisors, the Pima County Administrator and Election Director, and the Arizona Secretary of State are engaged in the (successful) effort to block any substantive effort to improve the public auditing of ballot counting.  The only reasonable surmise at this point, considering the concerted and continued effort to prevent election reform, is that a majority of our county and state officials have a sincere stake in continued support of election fraud.

 Coming to the understanding that the Election Integrity Commission has been thwarted in its serious and sane efforts for election integrity in Pima County and the state, and that there currently seems to be no hope for election integrity in Pima County, I tender my resignation from the Commission.

 Sincerely,

 Michael A. Duniho

Duniho discusses the matter in a recent interview on the local radio show "Wake Up Tucson".  Video courtesy of John Brakey.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Hernandez Encourages Pima County Election Integrity Commission "Don't Be Bullied, Don't Be Threatened" 



By John R Brakey AUDITAZ@cox.net

The Pima County Election Integrity Commission (PCEIC) was formed as a result of litigation surrounding the RTA election. In what appears to be a move intended to intimidate the commission and retaliate for their watchdog efforts,  Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry filed a complaint with Attorney General Tom Horne to subvert his group’s efforts. Then Huckelberry moved to have the attorney of record (who represented the RTA in election integrity trials) put on the agenda, and schedule an “executive session” for the upcoming July 11 commission meeting in an effort to discourage transparency.  What an amazing show of arrogance by Huckelberry. 

Huckelberry claims that on May 9th the PCEIC broke the opening meeting law. This after Richard Hernandez Chairman of Sunnyside Unified School District recall committee addressed the PCEIC, Hernandez, three candidates and others were asking them for their assistance to ensure a fair, honest, transparent and verifiable vote count in the Sunnyside Unified School. As seen in the video of the May 9th meeting, Hernandez and others pleaded with the commission not to count the votes five days out, but count it on Election Day


If a bureaucrat like Huckelberry wants to stop something from happening in Pima County, he forms a committee that lets some of his opposition participate. Ultimately, he controls the agenda with his team  while pushing an extreme interpretation of the open meeting laws.  After a while, it seems members are worried more about what you can’t say than what you can say. Many have stated to me that they lost their voice.   Sometimes, however, Pima County does not get its way.  Outside observers can tell when this happens by watching member Benny White's reactions.  He will usually have a temper tantrum or walk out when a majority of votes contradict the county's intentions (like in the video above).    

Pima County has a history of counting early ballots a week or two before election day, and has been accused of using early results to alter the election. That was the subject of the long-running lawsuit concerning the RTA election of 2006.

After the May PCEIC meeting, and thanks to Ally Miller, a member of the BOS, and the Arizona Daily Independent, the count was done on Election Day in only took 69 minutes to count.  

Pima County administrator Chuck Huckelberry along with Pima County supervisors Ray Carroll, Sharon Bronson, Richard Elias, and Ramon Valadez have all been previously accused in four open meeting law complaints in a four month period currently being investigated by the Arizona Attorney General’s office. 

Hernandez explained in the July 11th meeting that as an “individual - someone who lives in the city and the county,” and as a voter, he appreciated the work of the commission. Hernandez said, “The most fundamental right we Americans have is the right to vote and I'm really glad to see both sides,” engage in a robust conversation. “I don't know who's side you are on, or who has appointed you, because personally, it does not make a difference.” 

“I wish there were forty more Joe Q. Publics here, standing behind me to tell you that you are doing well,” said Hernandez. “We want you to protect us. To make sure that the process is fair.”

Hernandez urged commissioners to resist the efforts by Huckelberry to force them into an executive session and out of the public’s view at last week’s PCEIC public meeting. Some commissioners believed that Huckelberry was trying to force them into executive session backrooms away from public scrutiny, so that he could scare them into inactivity.

Pima County is the only county in the state where an unelected county administrator oversees completely the election department rather than the duly per the Arizona Revised Statutes delegates the responsibility to the Board of Supervisors (BOS) simply because these boards are  partisan  and made up of 3 to 5 persons. In Title 16 over 75 times it referees to the BOS.  

 Hernandez reminded the commissioners that they were the only entity the citizens had to protect their vote. “This it really upsets me,” he told the commissioners, “because I'm a voter, the one that you are representing and it's very important to me that you understand how what you do is so important.”



Sunday, July 13, 2014

Elections Remain Compromised



 J.T. Waldron

On May 21st of this year, the Maricopa appellate court denied the Libertarian Party's pursuit of injunctive relief for rigged elections.  Stemming from litigation over the 2006 Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) election in Pima County,  the Libertarian Party was well on its way towards pursuing their claim that the RTA election was fraudulent.  Once fraud was established in the courts, the Libertarian party would obtain injunctive relief for rigged elections.

Back in 2010, the Libertarian Party had won an appellate court decision for that same claim in Pima County's district. Pima County immediately requested the appellate court to reconsider its ruling,  describing the rigging of the RTA election asa discrete incident of past wrongdoing.”   The request was denied. 
Over the past four years, the promise of a resolution slowly withered as Pima County Superior Court judges kept ruling in defiance of the appellate court decision.  They refused to hear the case, so the Libertarian Party was forced to appeal for a second time.  

Pima County's next legal maneuver may have ended their eight-year war of attrition against transparent fair elections.  County operatives forced a change in appellate court venue by contriving an amicus brief through the Republican Party to develop a conflict of interest in the elections case.  As a result, Pima County's bureaucratic political machine finally achieved an appellate court decision to deny the pursuit of prospective relief for rigged elections in the courts. According to Rule 2.11 in the Arizona Supreme Court rules for judicial ethics:
A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in any proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned.
Not so for Kent E. Cattani, one of three appellate court judges who served with the Arizona State Attorney General's office until his appointment as a Maricopa appellate court judge on February 9th, 2013.  He had worked at the Attorney General's office at the time of Attorney General Terry Goddard's dubious investigation of the RTA election.

Critically fortified and influenced by the growth industry, Pima County has spent millions of taxpayer's dollars in a cover up that has soiled the Arizona Attorney General's office and the state's judicial system in an effort to prevent an authentic investigation of the 2006 RTA election.   This election authorized a two billion dollar construction project financed by a raise in the area's sales tax.

For the millions of taxpayers' dollars spent by Pima County, key evidence in the form of RTA ballots stored for eight years without a forensic exam or a meaningful comparison to precinct totals, will be destroyed.    

The money and effort spent to prevent these ballots from a simple hand lens inspection has become its own source of shame for not only the county, but for the press, for law enforcement and for the courts.

On that election day, May 16th, 2006, notable political party observers discovered suspicious activity in the tabulation room involving the manipulation of election database files. A lengthy records law suit confirmed that databases for that specific election were overwritten during the tabulation process.   Subsequent illegal summary reports were printed immediately following the overwrites and the computer operator was known to remove election data from the tabulation center and take it home with him on a daily basis.    Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, the person ultimately accountable for the elections division, is consistent in erroneously stating or implying that elections data was never taken home.   Court testimony, however, identified computer operator Bryan Crane as the individual who took home elections data and identified the type of medium taken as attributed only to elections data.  That same computer operator later made a barroom confession to a former Pima County employee who signed an affidavit with other witnesses.  The operator stated that he rigged the election on the instruction of his bosses.   Videotaped surveillance footage of the tabulation room during the key times in question were requested in litigation, stalled for an inordinate amount of time, then erased under the pretense that the requested footage was still in rotation and subject to normal recycling.   

Attorney General Terry Goddard conducted an initial investigation using a subcontractor IBeta to examine the RTA database files.  Pima County employee John Moffatt became involved with guiding the IBeta company through the investigation despite the fact that Pima County was formally named as the suspect.  Goddard was aware of this arrangement and didn't seem to mind how various inquiries suggested by Moffatt were either diversionary or irrelevant to discovering election fraud.  Goddard also chose to ignore suggestions by those who filed the initial complaint, despite their high levels of expertise drawn from University of Arizona professors, an expert from blackboxvoting.org and a former NSA employee.    

IBeta concluded in its report that the Diebold computer software used by Pima County (GEMS) "exhibits fundamental security flaws that make definitive valuation of data impossible."  The suspect's influence on the outcome became evident in IBeta's second key observation that the data was tampered with, but the lack of effort in covering their tracks suggests such tampering was a mistake.  

John Moffatt was later caught absconding with key evidence from the county vault.  He had somehow managed to obtain database records from that same 2006 RTA election in violation of a court order.    Electronic data was not the only evidence potentially compromised.  Attorney Bill Risner discovered through depositions that nobody was preventing access to the RTA paper election ballots, which were being held in storage during years of litigation.  Any Pima County employee could have accessed those paper ballots or other paper records associated with that election.  

When Bill Risner's litigation team was finally set to examine individual printouts of precinct totals (called poll tapes), Terry Goddard intervened and confiscated all the paper evidence for an ostensible second examination of the 2006 RTA election.  Initially, transparency activists were hopeful Goddard was acting in good faith and finally conducting a real investigation.  Not so.  Terry Goddard had initially promised to examine the poll tapes as part of his recount of the paper ballots in March, 2008.  Once the count began, however, he refused to examine the tapes throughout his investigation.  This move would postpone Risner's examination of these printed totals for another year 

Goddard knew of John Moffatt's previous mishandling of evidence in the court vault.   He was also aware of PIma County's ability to generate ballots on demand with a specialized ink jet printer.  Despite sufficient cause, Goddard refused to perform a forensic exam of the ballots.  Instead, he and his team performed a recount of the 2006 RTA ballots behind glass.   Observers noticed major differences in paper thicknesses, which suggests a different print run was used despite the original vendor confirming a uniform thickness for all the ballots at the time of the election.  During a press conference in April, 2008, Goddard announced that the count indicated similar results to the 2006 election.  He therefore concluded that the election was not rigged.   

Attorney General Terry Goddard's investigation of the RTA election was rife with errors and missing whole precincts.  Not only did it lack a forensic exam but there was no attempt to compare precinct totals to poll tapes or poll worker reports.  One year later, Bill Risner's team was finally able to access the poll tapes for that election.   They finally understood why Goddard suddenly changed his mind.  One third of the poll tapes were missing and more didn't match their precinct totals.  In totality, this discovery called into question almost half of the precincts counted.  Those missing and errant poll tapes were closely correlated with an abnormally high number of malfunctioning memory cards detected in the electronic files won by the first records lawsuit.  That same RTA records lawsuit revealed Pima County's purchase of a tool used for circumventing normal function of those unique types of memory cards.   That tool, sold to PIma County Elections as a "crop scanner",  was designed for measuring condensation on corn but demonstrated in 2004's hit documentary "Hacking Democracy" as a handy device for altering the way a memory card records and reports elections outcome on a precinct level.     

Database tampering was only one facet of this complex task to change an election outcome.    On the paper side of the RTA election, missing and errant poll tapes were statistically significant as they correlated with memory cards exhibiting malfunctions in the electronic files won by the first records lawsuit.  Malfunctioning memory cards indicate one rub in the mix when trying to rig an election in this fashion.  Only very skillful technicians can reprogram close to 150 memory cards within a short window of time.   Pima Elections obviously did not have the time to successfully perform the arduous task which is comparable to jamming copious amounts of code into a cheap calculator, but they certainly tried. Their failure required the Arizona State Attorney General and the entire local court system to help Pima County cover its tracks.    

Pima Elections' scheme began unravelling on election night as observers from behind the glass of the tabulation room noticed an open instruction manual that is banned from use in an official election.   Quick-thinking observers used a telephoto lens to capture images that not only identified the contraband manual, but revealed the book open to the area demonstrating a key task for altering electronic database files.   That night, observers requested that Elections Director Brad Nelson make a back-up of  the elections systems, place the resulting CD into a sealed envelope and hand it over to the police until their observed violations are investigated.   Brad Nelson refused.  By ten that evening, Nelson indicated to the observers that election work was finished for the evening and that there was nothing more to observe.  Electronic data would later reveal that once observers left, Pima Elections started up again at 10:13 pm and continued to tabulate votes until three the next morning.  

Thus began eight years of litigation.   Past articles in this blog provide a detailed history that starts with the RTA issue evolving into the pursuit of prospective relief in the courts.  After seeing the movie, "Fatally Flawed" and reviewing this site's coverage of past exchanges in the courts, at public meetings and behind closed doors. you will understand why there is no reliance upon the accuracy or fairness of elections within the United States.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Southern Arizona powers-that-be don’t want you to know Bill Risner

L. Hunnicut
Arizona Daily Independent

                                       Video by John Brakey


On Friday 13, 2014, an ideologically diverse group of Tucsonans gathered to honor their friend; attorney Bill Risner. The event was years overdue.
Over the years, Risner has exposed and fought the powers-that-be in the community on behalf of the members of the community. And because of that effort, the powers-that-be have worked hard to keep community in the dark about the man who fought to shed so much light on their behalf.
From his days challenging the Viet Nam War as student body president at the University of Arizona, to just this past May when he sued City of Tucson for public records, Risner has been under the scrutiny of the powers-that-be because the powers-that-be don’t like people who bring scrutiny to them and their friends.
Over the years, despite his best efforts and those of so many others, little has changed in Southern Arizona, which is a microcosm of America’s ills. The only real change in our little world is that secret government agents have been replaced by computers that gather every shred of metadata possible in order to keep the powers-that-be and their cronies in cash and control.
Risner, a democrat, has taken on all the power brokers, in and out of his own political party. He took on Attorney General Terry Goddard and fought tooth and nail for the truth behind Pima County elections and specifically the fraudulent RTA bond election. The powers-that-be-good in the Party didn’t appreciate Risner much, but he won the admiration and loyalty of the grassroots.
That fight, Risner’s role in it, and the vastness of the County corruption earned little air time or column space. We don’t air our dirty laundry when the boys’ boxers are in the hamper.
In 1975, when investigative reporting still existed, Fred Allison of KGUN 9 News did a story about Risner and the secret agent from the Pima County Sheriff’s Office who was assigned to shadow him. It is hard to gauge the impact the report had on viewers at the time. It aired once. No relics of a follow-up can be found.
(Today, in Tucson, it would not be covered by the mainstream media, or even the tragically hip tabloids. They all crawled into bed together sometime back in the 1980’s but the citizens were the only ones who got screwed.) `

The following is an account from Risner to one of Tucson other tireless transparency advocates; John Brakey:
In the fall of 1975 on Channel 9 News had press coverage over allegations by someone that the Pima County Sheriff had wanted deputies to be on the lookout for Pima County supervisor Ron Asta in order that they might catch him in a compromising condition and stop him for a DU. Asta, an urban sprawl foe, who had earned of the wrath of developers, had not supported a larger budget for the Sheriff’s Office.
Risner ran into a television reporter while visiting the Pima County supervisor’s office. The reporter asked Risner if he knew about the Sheriff’s Office targeting anyone for political reasons. Risner said he had been targeted. The reporter asked Risner if he would agree to an interview. Risner, who is more sophisticated than the average bear, refused but suggested that he interview “his agent” who had worked for the Sheriff’s Office while targeting Risner.
Risner gave the reporter the agent’s name and telephone number. The reporter called him and the agent agreed to be interviewed for TV but only with a camera on the back of his head. Bill Risner then agreed to be interviewed for the segment.
(Back then, as it is now, if you tell a story that exposes their corruption, you will be crushed if you are the only one telling the truth. Even if you aren’t the only one telling the truth, if no one else has the nerve to tell it publically; you are toast. You can count on the cronies of the powers-that-be to line up to lie about you and marginalize you in every manner available. It’s the Tucson way.)
Bill Risner first learned that he had a “personal” agent one evening while he was visiting the Pima County Jail to see a client. A person standing behind the desk asked Risner if he recognized him. Risner said no, he did not. The man told Risner that he should he had been “his agent.” Risner said “let’s talk.”
Risner asked as they walked outside, “What do you mean?”
Risner’s agent told him that he went anywhere he thought Risner would be or where he could hear who Risner was talking to and what Risner was saying. If, for example, Risner spoke to a college class, the agent would be there pretending to be a student with a spiral notebook to take notes.
The agent then wrote weekly reports that were distributed to the Sheriff’s Office, the FBI, the State Police, the Tucson Police, and military intelligence.
Fred Allison reported it all. Both men shared their stories and Tucson continued slouching toward 1984.
In 2014, Risner is now trying to expose what many believe was a deal to sell off valuable public property at illegal below-market prices to the cronies of the powers-that-be. He represented concerned citizens who wanted to see the records of the negotiations that they, as citizens, are legally permitted to view.
Although the number of developers have dwindled, in the 8th poorest metropolitan area in the country, guys like Don Diamond still pull the strings of the elected officials on every level of government in Arizona.
A Pima County Superior court judge ruled against the City, for its failure to comply with public records requirements and awarded plaintiffs $15,800.00. The judge found, “COT’s slipshod approach to Ms. Cruz’s request, unreasonably expanded and delayed the resolution of this matter….”
That is it in a nutshell.
The powers-that-be have unreasonably delayed so many possible resolutions to so many of our community’s problems in an effort to maintain the status quo. Guys like Bill Risner don’t divide and conquer; they uncover. And given the all the information, people of good will can make the right decisions and resolutions.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Court Sanctions City of Tucson for Withholding El Rio Records and Lying About It

J.T. Waldron

Judge Christopher Staring
Judge Christopher Staring has ordered the City of Tucson to fully comply with plaintiff Cecelia Cruz's public records request by June 4th, 2014.  Judge Staring made clear in his ruling last Friday that the city lied to plaintiff Cruz and to the court about "fully responding" to the records request in a hearing on July 8th, 2013.  This misrepresentation altered the ruling and outcome of continued hearings over this matter and earned a sanction by Judge Staring against the city.   On behalf of a variety of concerned Tucsonans, Cruz sought documents and correspondence surrounding the ill-fated attempt to sell off the historic city-owned El Rio golf course to a private university. 

Last year, Tucson citizens concerned about the predicament of the historic El Rio Golf Course were surprised to discover a fast-track deal that would fork over 100 acres to a private university for a fraction of the market value.  Citizens formed a powerful well-organized grassroots campaign waged by the newly formed "El Rio Coalition II" that managed to convince the Mayor and Council to forego the sale of El Rio Golf Course.  In spite of the public scrutiny, these elected officials insist the city's offer was a good idea and refuse to revoke their original approval for selling the land to Grand Canyon University (GCU). 

This exchange warranted further investigation to determine how El Rio found itself up for grabs, who was involved and who were the true beneficiaries.   On behalf of the coalition, Cruz filed a formal request from the City Clerk for all records surrounding the solicitation and proposal to sell El Rio.   Was this deal a beneficial development for all Tucsonans or only a few wealthy players?   The presence of TREO (Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities Inc.) requiring tens of thousands of dollars for membership suggests the latter.  With Mayor Jonathon Rothschild as a board member, this corporation helped solicit GCU and worked with the city to develop incentives for an enticing offer.  A full view of the circumstances involving the sale of El Rio will always be occluded because, unlike the city, corporations are not required to show their records. 

Records that have seen the light of day indicate the need to fully understand the extent to which city officials were forfeiting valuable assets for the benefit of wealthy investors.  Using a dubious appraisal that ignored existing development and infrastructure of El Rio's land, the city's offer would have yielded a purchaser's windfall of around 45 million dollars for a quantity of land that is five times the space needed to construct the university. 

Due to the careful attention of Tucsonans like Cecelia Cruz, Tina Pacheco, Bill Risner, John Brakey and Salomón R. Baldenegro, the city couldn't seal this deal faster than the public outcry that shouted it down.  Litigation arose out of the city refusing Cruz's request for information on May 12th, 2013.

One of the more popular excuses used by city officials involved an elusive "non-disclosure agreement".  Assistant City Manager Albert Elias claimed as he met with concerned citizens that his office was prevented from discussing the El Rio proposal because of a confidentiality agreement.   Some of the records finally acquired from the city indicated that GCU formally released Tucson from the confidentiality agreement three months earlier.  Bill Risner has become frustrated with their dishonesty:

"Whose responsible for the lies?  Do we have a Mayor and Council that is responsible to the citizens?...Maybe the city manager was a cop too long and thinks that that's what you do.  You lie about everything all the time.  I don't know.  We do know that he's a party to the lies.  That we know for sure.  We know the city Clerk is a party to the lies.  We know the Mayor and Council are party to the lies."

Staring's judgment contains a provision that opens the door to further litigation should the city fail to make its deadline:

"nothing in this ruling should be construed as precluding Ms. Cruz from making additional requests for public documents pursuant to ARS 39-121, or from seeking any remedy provided for by law."

The city must certify to the Court that they have completely fulfilled Cruz's request that was made over a year ago.   Judge Staring sanctioned the city $15,800 for the false statement on July 8th to Cecelia Cruz and the Court that it had essentially fulfilled the records request and was waiting to finish processing a mere seven documents to complete the task.  The Court later discovered that there was actually more than 800 pages of documents left to provide to the plaintiffs and the city's misleading statements led litigation down an errant path. 

Few are sympathetic to the city's newfound difficult circumstance, especially if Tucson officials continue to lie and withhold information past the June 4th deadline.  We shouldn't expect any complaints from the city about its small window of time given that brief moment afforded to those who successfully challenged the El Rio giveaway.  


Plaintiff's Attorney Bill Risner discusses the ruling.
Video courtesy of John Brakey
.