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Americans from President Joe Biden on down have paid tribute to the late Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor since her passing on December 1, 2023.  Most of the tributes and memories have understandably focused on her time on the court. She was historic, after all, as the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court.  But she was fiercely proud of her roots as an Arizona ranch girl. In fact, she wrote a book about that period of her life with her brother, Alan Day.  In this episode of The Gaggle we hear from Alan Day as he takes us to the family ranch, Lazy B. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Sandra Day O’Connor, the Arizona ranch girl who was a fixture in Arizona’s statehouse and judiciary before becoming the first woman to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, died Friday December 1, 2023 of complications related to advanced dementia and a respiratory illness. She was 93. In this bonus episode of The Gaggle, Ron Hansen shares her life story and her impact on Arizona and US politics. He is joined by former justice of the Arizona Supreme Court Ruth McGregor, her brother Alan Day, her biographer Evan Thomas, and more. The Gaggle looks back on the life and legacy of first woman Supreme Court justice. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Mesa is one of the fastest growing cities in Arizona. The East Valley is now just shy of half a million residents and has been a magnet for growth. For the the last decade, this boom has been shepherded by Mayor John Giles. He chalks up Mesa's success to several factors including smart investments in the city's properties. This in turn has paved the way for many of the world's biggest companies – Amazon, Apple, Google – to laid down roots here. As Giles begins to wrap up his tenure as mayor of the Valley's largest suburb, he stopped by The Gaggle studio to reflect on how Mesa has evolved, the challenges its overcome and ones it still has, and where he sees himself going next.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
When it comes to the holidays, the last thing most people want to think about are politics. The plethora of stories, memes, jokes, and comedy skits about "don't bring up politics at family gatherings" are a testament to the unspoken taboo. But sometimes its easy to forget that our elected officials are people too. And being a politics podcast, we here on The Gaggle wanted to bring you a different side to the men and women who help run our state. In this Thanksgiving episode, we'll hear from legislatures, mayors, and more about their family traditions, new recipes, and cherished holiday memories.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
The podcast team at the Arizona Republic is busy working on season 4 of our investigative show "Rediscovering." In season 1, Richard Ruelas uncovers more to the mystery of murdered journalist Don Bolles. In season 2, Ron Hansen and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez broke down how legendary racist law SB1070 came to be and its impact on Arizona. Last season, Rafael Carranza told the tale of José Antonio, a Mexican teenager who lost his life at the hands of a US border agent who shot through the border fence into Mexico. Coming soon is season 4: Roots of Radicalism hosted by The Gaggle's Ron Hansen and Mary Jo Pitzl. We'll bring you back to Arizona's beginnings and explore how extremism has become intertwined with the state's politics.  This week, in lieu of a new episode, is Ron's interview with the host and reporters of season 3 that aired last year. They discussed how Rafael spent a decade covering the shooting and what was learned in talking to attorneys, the boy's family, and other experts during season 3.  If you're not already, please subscribe to Rediscovering, an Arizona Republic and investigative podcast, wherever you listen and stay tuned for season 4. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Looking for ways to fatten up your bank account? Or eyeing some home improvements? This episode of The Gaggle shares tips on where and how to cash in. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Maricopa County has been one of the fastest-growing counties in America for almost a decade. It has about 4.6 million residents. While downtown Phoenix is rapidly building apartment buildings and Phoenix and its suburbs are adding new subdivisions, the unhoused population also has grown. At the beginning of the year, 9,642 people were experiencing homelessness in the county, according to a yearly attempt to quantify the county's homeless population. A tent city known as "The Zone" sits just southeast of the Capitol building in Phoenix. It garnered national attention as the United States' homeless population grew after pandemic aid dried up. In "The Zone," more than 1,000 people had set up tents. A judge has ordered it to be cleared out by the end of this week, giving those who live there limited time to plan. This week on The Gaggle, a podcast by The Arizona Republic and, hosts Ron Hansen and Mary Jo Pitzl are joined by Republic reporter Helen Rummel. Rummel covers housing insecurity and homelessness, and joins the show to discuss how the encampment became so large, how other cities may look to Phoenix for how to handle their crises, and if the city can achieve its goal on time. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
It's that time of year again. They're standing outside the state fair or tracking you down in parking lots. People with clipboards and quick pitches on why you should sign the petition they're circulating. As it ramps up to an election year, it is citizen initiative season, and interest groups are taking it into their hands to put some big decisions before voters in November 2024. The details of Arizona's reproductive rights laws and changes in how the state conducts elections are hoping to make it to the ballot for voters. Maricopa County voters will get a chance to weigh in on a roads and transit plan and lawmakers might refer even more to the ballot when they meet next year. This week on The Gaggle, a podcast by The Arizona Republic and, hosts Ron Hansen and Mary Jo Pitzl are joined by Arizona Republic state politics reporter Stacey Barchenger to dive into what propositions could make it onto the 2024 ballot. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Tucson is gearing up for a city-wide election on November 7. Incumbent Mayor Regina Romero and many city council members are running again. Do Republicans have a shot in this Democratic stronghold? In this episode, hosts Ron Hansen and Mary Jo Pitzl tease out the possibilities with longtime Tucson resident and reporter Curt Prendergast of the Tucson Agenda.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Kari Lake is tossing her hat into the ring for Senate. Does she have enough appeal to Arizonans to win? The Gaggle hosts Mary Jo Pitzl and Ron Hansen discuss the possibilities. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Most basic acts of government are supposed to be pretty straightforward. But in Arizona, nothing can be that simple, of course. In this state, the act of counting ballots, electing a governor without pushback on the process, and even following City Council regulations have been shrouded in controversy and drama.  The newest seemingly rudimentary task to join the ranks of contentious practices is appointing precinct committeemen when there are openings. These members play key roles in organizing grassroots political efforts.  They are elected officials who help their communities register to vote, canvass for candidates and lead movements to get out the vote. And generally, they are appointed by a county’s Board of Supervisors based on a list of names given to them by the county party’s chairperson. Some legislative district chairs say the Maricopa County Republican Committee is pitching precinct committeemen to county supervisors without their signoff. And it turns out this isn’t the first time, and it's not the only issue. This week on The Gaggle, a podcast by The Arizona Republic and, host Ron Hansen is joined by Arizona Republic county reporter Sasha Hupka to discuss the drama behind these appointments and a new policy to help discern what supervisors legally can do. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Arizona is a key swing state for 2024. And the playing field for president, at present, is wide. With 13 GOP candidates and three Democrats, Arizonans and voters across the U.S. are spoiled for choice. But which presidential candidate is Arizona leaning towards? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
August is usually when things cool down: the temperature drops just a little, members of Congress leave Washington D.C. and the Legislature is still soaking up their summer vacation. But this year, August is when things heated up, specifically for the Peoria City Council. August is when they tried and failed to keep the public out of an outlandish, secretive battle over a sex offender, their vice mayor and figuring out which rules they really needed to follow. This week on The Gaggle, a podcast by The Arizona Republic and, host Ron Hansen, is joined by Arizona Republic reporter Taylor Seely to break down what exactly happened with vice mayor Denette Dunn and why the City of Peoria tried to keep it under wraps. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Kris Mayes has jumped into her role as state attorney general. Mayes has not been shy about taking on major issues, from abortion rights and critiquing the state's water policy to casting a skeptical eye on Arizona's new universal school voucher program. As the first Democrat to hold the seat in more than a decade, Mayes confirmed her office is investigating potential fraud related to efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Arizona played a key role in tipping the election to President Joe Biden. This week on The Gaggle, a podcast by The Arizona Republic and, host Mary Jo Pitzl is joined by Republic state politics reporter Stacey Barchenger. She covers the governor and attorney general's offices. Their exclusive interview with Mayes covers election integrity, how she is prioritizing numerous pressing issues, and her office's fight against the fentanyl epidemic in Arizona.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
If you're thinking Arizona is stuck in a "Groundhog Day"-type situation with the 2020 presidential election and all its fallout, think of Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Clint Hickman. The Republican chairman has had a front-row seat to Arizona's election drama over the past three years and has been personally impacted by it. As a member of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, Hickman tried to reach an agreement with the Arizona House and Senate over a review of the county's 2020 election results. When the Senate moved ahead on its own, Hickman was part of the county's battles with that chamber over the resulting ballot recount. Recently, he watched a man who had personally threatened him with lynching because of this decision get sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison. Hickman was a key stakeholder in the county’s elections administration both in 2020, when the process went well, and in 2022, when it wasn't as smooth. This week on The Gaggle, a podcast by The Arizona Republic and, hosts Ron Hansen and Mary Jo Pitzl are joined by Hickman to talk about elections, the growing legal tab for former Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the Arizona Diamondbacks' stadium wishes. As the recently elected chairman of the five-member board, Hickman discussed issues past and present. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Elections are repetitive things in Arizona: the major parties hold their primaries in the summer, general election voting ends in November and it takes days to count the ballots. And then in recent years, we have at least two years of deniers claiming the elections were stolen. Some might say that the 2022 election has been over for almost a year. But some candidates are still contesting the results in court, while the last legislative session saw a raft of bills that would reconfigure elections. Apart from never-ending election denialism, Arizona is seeing interest from organizations eyeing a third party presence on this battleground state’s ballots.   While there are still months until Arizona’s presidential primary, Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, his staff and county election officials across the state are busy getting ready for what lies ahead.  This week on The Gaggle, a podcast by The Arizona Republic and, hosts Ron Hansen and Mary Jo Pitzl are joined by Secretary of State Adrian Fontes to discuss how his office is preparing for a busy year in 2024, what he's doing to regain the trust in the elections process and how he'll handle President Trump's qualifications for the ballot. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Tom Horne returned to the state school superintendent’s office in January and wasted no time jumping back into his former job. Some viewed his return as jumping back in time, given his outspoken stance on returning to “traditional discipline” in the classroom, his dismissal of contemporary topics such as social-emotional learning and his insistence on a back-to-basics approach on curriculum. But some are pleased with the Republican superintendent's eagerness to decry "critical race theory" and defend a state law that bans transgender students from participating in female sports. Separate from the culture wars, he’s emerged as perhaps the most ardent supporter of Arizona’s universal school voucher program. This week on The Gaggle, a podcast by The Arizona Republic and, hosts Ron Hansen and Mary Jo Pitzl are joined by the Horne for this exclusive interview.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Arizona is hot. No surprise there. But what are the City of Phoenix and Arizona at large doing about it? Listen to find out what needs to happen to keep Arizonans cool. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
The Arizona Legislature this year set records. Not for bills passed or money spent, but for how long it was in session and how many vetoes Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs issued: 204 days spent trying to decide what to do and 143 decisions overruled by Hobbs. Both are signs of the difficult adjustment to divided government at the Capitol, something Arizona has not seen for 14 years. But what actually got done this year, if anything? This week on The Gaggle, a podcast by The Arizona Republic and, hosts Ron Hansen and Mary Jo Pitzl are joined by Arizona Republic reporters Stacey Barchenger and Taylor Seely. Barchenger, who covers the Governor's Office, talked with The Gaggle about how the legislative session shook out and what can be expected next year, when nearly every seat is up for grabs. Seely, who reports on Phoenix city government, joined the show to analyze two major pieces of legislation affecting Arizona cities that were passed this session. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Arizona's empowerment scholarship account, or ESA, is the most extensive in the country. Now, students whose families want to send them to a private school or provide specialized instruction can do so thanks to a taxpayer-funded voucher. The program helps some families, but critics say the program's cost will strain the state budget, and there's no way to gauge the kind of education students are getting or who's making money off of the program because it lacks many guardrails. This year, more than 60,000 students are enrolled in the ESA program, a significant jump from last year's 12,000 students. Issues with administration are also plaguing the program. In this episode of The Gaggle, The Republic's K-12 reporter, Yana Kunichoff joins hosts Mary Jo Pitzl and Ron Hansen. Together they discuss how much this rapidly growing program will cost taxpayers, the data holes in the program, and how Arizona's ESA program can improve to better serve students. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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