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Puppies Barry and Olympia take the field for Puppy Bowl XIV.

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Flagstaff City Council: 44 hours of water not enough

If a catastrophic power outage hit northern Arizona, the city of Flagstaff would have enough water for approximately 44 hours.

That supply, the Flagstaff City Council agreed Tuesday night, is not enough in the case of a disaster, when it could be possible for the city to lose power for multiple days.

The council directed city staff to research options that would allow the city to have a sustained minimal supply of water in case of an emergency, which could include buying new power that could be hooked up to equipment at Lake Mary to ensure the city has continuous water supply.

In a presentation to the council about the city’s vulnerabilities, Sustainability Manager Nicole Woodman cited natural disasters including fires and floods that have left other cities without power for prolonged periods.

The city’s water system serves 71,656 customers, plus any visitors to the city, Woodman said. On average, people use about 7.6 million gallons per day. On peak usage days in the summer, about 12.1 million gallons of water are used.

Thomas Bolyen, the city’s water production manager said in the case of a 48-hour power outage, fire protection would be exhausted in under two days, and customers would be impacted roughly 24 hours after the outage.

Once the water supply is depleted, Bolyen said, the system will be compromised due to the loss of pressure, and air can get into the system, which can impact the health and safety of the water. The city would then have to issue boil water notices.

It would take the system two days to restore firefighting capacities and could take a week before water is safe to drink without boiling, he said.

It is estimated that the city would need to provide 500,000 bottles of drinking water per day if the city ran out of drinkable water, Boylen said. The bottled water would cost the city about $106,000 daily, and does not include the cost of distributing the water. In addition, the city would lose about $48,000 daily from water sales from the city system.

The city’s available 44 hours of water does not account for a disaster like a fire, which would deplete water resources much faster, or if people panic and begin filling containers of water quickly as soon as they hear of a shortage, which Water Services Director Brad Hill said is common when people hear about a water emergency.

In 2015, the department approached the council asking to buy a generator for the water system, but the council did not approve the purchase.

“It bothered me at the time that the council decided to leave the community vulnerable and deny the purchase of the generator,” Councilwoman Eva Putzova said.

Hill said two generators and the cost to hook them up at the water treatment plant would run between $500,000 and $1 million.

Fire Chief Mark Gaillard said the water system is considered critical infrastructure by all emergency preparedness standards.

“We don’t have a redundant water system, we have one,” he said to the council.

Gaillard said he has a “pessimism” about what would happen in the case of an emergency, and said recent disasters around the country have shown “help’s not coming soon.”

“I certainly would hope for a little more strength in supporting critical infrastructure,” he said.

Hill told the council that the minimum sustained flow that would be created with backup generators would be an “average day” amount, meaning it would be enough for most days but would fall short during peak summer water use.

City staff will research the cost of buying the extra generators, and the item will be introduced through the budget.

Arizona House expels Rep. Don Shooter for sexual harassment

PHOENIX -- Concluding his repeated actions of sexual harassment against lawmakers, lobbyists and others were just too wrong to excuse, the state House voted Thursday afternoon to expel Rep. Don Shooter.

The 56-3 vote occurred despite a last-minute plea by the Yuma Republican to instead punish him with a censure. In fact, until Thursday morning even House Speaker J.D. Mesnard said the lesser penalty was appropriate, given that the investigative report which found credible evidence of harassment included much had occurred before 2017, when Shooter he was in the state Senate.

But Mesnard changed his mind after Shooter sent a letter to his colleagues asking that they delay Thursday's vote action while they consider whether there also are credible charges against Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita. The Scottsdale Republican was the first to level harassment charges against Shooter.

Shooter noted the report of the outside investigator hired by the House also mentions there were "unsolicited, sexually explicit communications," sent by Brian Townsend, a former House staffer, to someone else who was not identified. That is material since Townsend was dating Ugenti-Rita.

Investigator Craig Morgan described these as "egregious and potentially unlawful acts."

But Morgan said that there was no evidence that Ugenti-Rita had been responsible for sending out what are believed to be naked photos.

While Shooter was hoping the letter would lead to at least a delay in action against him, it had the opposite effect on Mesnard.

"Rep. Shooter's letter is nothing more than an effort to use the individual (former staffer) as a pawn, despite repeated requests from the individual's attorney that Rep. Shooter not do anything to jeopardize the individual's anonymity," the speaker explained, saying the Yuma lawmaker is "further victimizing the individual."

And that, said Mesnard, changed everything, leading him to decide that expulsion was the proper penalty.

"Rep. Shooter's letter represents a clear act of retaliation and intimidation, and yet another violation of the House's harassment policy," he said.

Mesnard also said that Shooter did not help himself with his actions prior to the vote, going around the House and making comments like "it's a great day for a hanging."

And the speaker said that while he did not consider Shooter to be a violent person, he personally went to his office and asked him to surrender a gun he kept there. He said Shooter complied.

"I've said stupid things, I've done stupid things," Shooter said in asking colleagues to limit his punishment to a public censure. And Shooter, speaking for less than two minutes, reminded other lawmakers that he apologized earlier this year during a floor session dealing with sexual harassment training.

The investigative report found "credible evidence" Shooter violated anti-harassment policies several times with Ugenti-Rita, including making sexual comments and suggestions and making "unwelcome sexualized comments" about her breasts.

But the investigator also found incidents of harassment and improper conduct or comments involving others, including a lobbyist, a newspaper staffer and the former publisher of the Arizona Republic.

"I can't go back to the past," he said. "But I can change the future if given the opportunity."

Shooter then did a classic "mic drop" and walked out. That left colleagues to talk for more than the next hour about the charges of sexual harassment detailed in the 82-page report by the independent investigator and what punishment was appropriate.

Other than Shooter himself, there were only two dissents.

Rep. Noel Campbell, R-Prescott, said the decision of Shooter's political future should be left to the residents of his legislative district.

Fellow Prescott Republican David Stringer also dissented.

He said that Shooter's actions "should be condemned." But Stringer said he could not support expulsion because of what he saw as a lack of due process.

He pointed out that the investigator, while speaking to all who made allegations against Shooter as well as Shooter himself, put no one under oath. More significant, Stringer said he was being asked to vote based on someone else's conclusions, versus the normal process where these issues are considered in an open session of the House Ethics Committee, where witnesses come and testify.

Mesnard, for his part, defended short-circuiting that process, saying he was concerned about the privacy of the victims, some of whom were not named in the report. And the speaker insisted these charges were different than others in the past.

Yet the last time something like this came up in 2012, the House had open hearings in debating charges against Rep. Daniel Patterson, D-Tucson, who was accused of verbal harassment of colleagues. As it turned out, Patterson quit ahead of an expulsion vote.

Rep. Darrin Mitchell, R-Goodyear, one of the people who the investigator named, defended relying on the report. Mitchell, who the report said was subject to crude remarks, said it was "not a hack job." He said the findings were clearly backed up with facts.

Nor was Mitchell, elected from the same district as Shooter, swayed by arguments that lawmakers should do nothing and wait for voters to decide.

"Our job is to cleanse and take care of ourselves when something like this happens," he said.

"We don't leave it to the voters," Mitchell continued. "When the problem is so egregious and the morality so low, it is our duty to take care of this body and to expel him from it."

And Minority Leader Rebecca Rios said the report showed "a pervasive pattern of inappropriate behavior" by Shooter.

For some, the issue of whether to expel Shooter came down to the larger question of making sure the House can continue to function.

"This individual needs to be removed from our fellowship," said Majority Leader John Allen, R-Scottsdale. "We need to have that seat occupied by someone, hopefully, who understands that this is a place to serve the public and not let the worser angels of their nature rule their activities and their conduct."

Rep. Bob Thorpe, R-Flagstaff, chastised other legislative leaders, past and present, for letting the situation get to this point. He noted the investigative report said allegations against Shooter go back to shortly after he entered the Senate in 2010.

"Silence is action," Thorpe said.

"Over the years, Republican and Democratic leaders in both the House and the Senate have had a blind eye to all kinds of bad behavior and haven't addressed it," he said. "Too often bad behavior is not addressed, which means that the behavior continues unaddressed and unchecked."

Rep. Travis Grantham, R-Gilbert, agreed.

"I find it unfortunate that we're dealing with something that could have been dealt with up to seven, eight years ago," he said.

Others also said that the kind of allegations made against Shooter that led to his ouster are not confined solely to him.

"This, in fact, is a hostile work environment for women," said Rep. Isela Blanc, D-Tempe. "For reasons I believe are gender-based, I have been silenced, diminished and humiliated in committee."

Rep. Becky Nutt, R-Clifton, tearing up, had her own take.

"You guys need to knock it off," she told colleagues. "What we're doing here is important."

Some lawmakers said they had no problem with voting to expel one of their own.

Rep. Regina Cobb, R-Kingman, said Thursday's vote could have been avoided had Shooter, seeing the sentiment of his colleagues, chosen to quit.

"He chose not to," she said.

Thursday's vote sets in place a process where Republican precinct committee workers will meet to nominate three people to take his seat. The final decision will be up to the Yuma County Board of Supervisors.

Mesnard said that Shooter, in his years at the Capitol, has done some good things.

"But he will probably only be remembered for this," he said.

Today's vote marks the first expulsion of a lawmaker since 1991, when the Senate ejected Carolyn Walker, then the Senate majority whip, in the wake of the "AzScam" investigation. She and other lawmakers were caught in an undercover sting operation agreeing to take money in exchange for their votes; all the others resigned.

The last House expulsion came in 1948 when two members were removed following a fistfight.

Rep. Bob Thorpe

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Eva Putzova

Rep. Don Shooter