[ {"id":"94c27be1-61ae-582c-9180-81da4d14cbd8","type":"article","starttime":"1490558400","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-26T13:00:00-07:00","priority":30,"sections":[{"watchdog":"news/local/watchdog"},{"health-med-fit":"news/science/health-med-fit"}],"flags":{"top_story":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Deadline to comment on proposed AHCCCS changes is Wednesday","url":"http://tucson.com/news/local/watchdog/article_94c27be1-61ae-582c-9180-81da4d14cbd8.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/news/local/watchdog/deadline-to-comment-on-proposed-ahcccs-changes-is-wednesday/article_94c27be1-61ae-582c-9180-81da4d14cbd8.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/news/local/watchdog/deadline-to-comment-on-proposed-ahcccs-changes-is-wednesday/article_94c27be1-61ae-582c-9180-81da4d14cbd8.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Stephanie Innes\nArizona Daily Star","prologue":"Proposal includes a work requirement","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":[],"internalKeywords":["#latest","#watchdog"],"customProperties":{"arm_id":"75167"},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"bc30a3d4-11ed-5883-a9ab-98b5e15b6668","description":"AHCCCS currently enrolls more than a quarter of Arizona\u2019s population. Wednesday is the deadline to comment on changes to the program.","byline":"Purestock","hireswidth":1195,"hiresheight":1732,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/b/c3/bc30a3d4-11ed-5883-a9ab-98b5e15b6668/58d59e76c02e3.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"524","height":"760","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/b/c3/bc30a3d4-11ed-5883-a9ab-98b5e15b6668/58d59e76be8de.image.jpg?resize=524%2C760"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"56","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/b/c3/bc30a3d4-11ed-5883-a9ab-98b5e15b6668/58d59e76be8de.image.jpg?crop=1195%2C672%2C0%2C653&resize=100%2C56&order=crop%2Cresize"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"169","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/b/c3/bc30a3d4-11ed-5883-a9ab-98b5e15b6668/58d59e76be8de.image.jpg?crop=1195%2C672%2C0%2C653&resize=300%2C169&order=crop%2Cresize"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"576","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/b/c3/bc30a3d4-11ed-5883-a9ab-98b5e15b6668/58d59e76be8de.image.jpg?crop=1195%2C672%2C0%2C653&resize=1024%2C576&order=crop%2Cresize"}}}],"revision":6,"commentID":"94c27be1-61ae-582c-9180-81da4d14cbd8","body":"

The public still has time to give input on a state proposal to put work requirements and lifetime limits on Arizonans enrolled in Medicaid.

The proposal has been rejected once, but under the Trump administration appears to have a higher chance for approval.

The comment deadline is Wednesday, March 29 \u2014\u00a0an extension from the prior deadline of Feb. 28. Medicaid is a government insurance program for low income people. In Arizona the program is called the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS).

Arizona must re-apply to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to make the changes by March 30.

Able-bodied

The proposed changes were spelled out in a state law \u2014 Senate Bill 1092 \u2014 that passed in 2015. Among those changes is putting a five-year limit on enrollment for \"able-bodied\" Arizonans, and also imposing a requirement that would able-bodied people enrolled in AHCCCS be employed, looking for work, in school or in job training.

\"Able-bodied\" in SB 1092 is broadly defined as anyone over the age of 19 who is mentally and physically capable of working. There are exceptions, including anyone over the age of 19 who is still in high school; sole caregivers of children under age 6; and anyone receiving long-term disability.

The legislation also allows AHCCCS officials to ban enrollees for a year if they knowingly failed to report a change in family income or made false statements about their compliance with work requirements.

In 2016, the federal government rejected SB 1092's lifetime limit and work requirement proposals on the grounds that those requests could undermine access to care. But SB 1092 says AHCCCS must reapply by March 30 each year.

And the federal government could have a different reaction this time.

Letter to governors

A March 14 letter to the nation's governors co-written by new secretary of U.S. Health and Human Services director Dr. Tom Price and new U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator Seema Varma says the federal government wants to give states more freedom to run their Medicaid programs.

\u201cToday, we commit to ushering in a new era for the federal and state Medicaid partnership where states have more freedom to design programs that meet the spectrum of diverse needs of their Medicaid population,\u201d the letter from Price and Varma says.

\u201cStates, as administrators of the program, are in the best position to assess the unique needs of their respective Medicaid-eligible populations and to drive reforms that result in better health outcomes.\u201d

The letter also says that expanding Medicaid to non-disabled, working age adults without dependent children, \u201cwas a clear departure from the core, historical mission of the program.\u201d

Arizona restored Medicaid (AHCCCS) to childless adults in 2014 at the same time it expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

To date, CMS has not approved any state\u2019s request to require that Medicaid beneficiaries work as a condition of eligibility. Four states to date have applied for waivers allowing for them \u2014 Arizona, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Kentucky, a Kaiser Family Foundation issue brief says.

The proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA), which had been scheduled for a vote in Congress last week, includes a state option to make Medicaid eligibility for nondisabled, nonelderly, non-pregnant adults conditional upon satisfaction of a work requirement. A vote was called off at the last minute on Friday.

Critics

A Jan. 27 Tucson public hearing about the proposed changes in Arizona yielded an overwhelmingly negative reaction from the approximately 90 people in attendance.

Among populations that could be shut out of health care if the restrictions were to be put in place are adults who are caregivers for disabled children or elderly relatives; people with felonies who have trouble finding jobs; and people living in rural areas, state officials were told.

Kicking people off of Medicaid because of the lifetime limit or work requirement will result in more uninsured people seeking care in emergency rooms, the critics said. Ultimately it would end up denying health care to some of Arizona\u2019s poorest residents, they argued.

AHCCCS currently enrolls more than a quarter of Arizona\u2019s population, or 1.9 million people, including nearly 300,000 residents of Pima County, the agency\u2019s March enrollment numbers show.

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He was a veteran, lifelong skydiver and volunteer at the Pima Animal Care Center.","byline":"Courtesy of Christy Hollinger","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"539","height":"428","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/da/1da1b95f-56d0-50d2-bd8e-baf625f74fde/58d5939c36586.image.jpg?resize=539%2C428"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"79","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/da/1da1b95f-56d0-50d2-bd8e-baf625f74fde/58d5939c36586.image.jpg?resize=100%2C79"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"238","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/da/1da1b95f-56d0-50d2-bd8e-baf625f74fde/58d5939c36586.image.jpg?resize=300%2C238"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"813","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/da/1da1b95f-56d0-50d2-bd8e-baf625f74fde/58d5939c36586.image.jpg"}}},{"id":"6cb74630-7fda-58ae-9a46-10cbca9d8459","description":"Ramon C. 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At 73 years old, David Meyer was more active than many people half his age.

A lifelong skydiver, Meyer rode his bicycle to the Pima Animal Care Center three days a week \u2014 regardless of the weather \u2014 to walk dogs, always volunteering to take on the most-spirited or behaviorally challenged ones.

Shortly after 7 a.m. Jan. 21, Meyer was riding to PACC when he was struck by a vehicle. The driver fled but returned a short time later.

Meyer was taken to the hospital with a fractured vertebrae, two collapsed lungs and a serious head injury. He succumbed to his injuries and died Feb. 17.

The driver, Ramon Caro, had a \u201cstrong odor of intoxicants emanating from him,\u201d watery red eyes and shards of glass from the car\u2019s broken windshield on his clothing when Pima County sheriff\u2019s deputies encountered him at the scene. His blood-alcohol content was 0.216, about three times the legal limit, and a mouthwash bottle containing alcohol was found in his car, according to sheriff\u2019s reports.

Caro, 63, was indicted in Pima County Superior Court on Jan. 30 on felony counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and aggravated assault causing serious injury, as well as charges of DUI and extreme DUI, court documents show.

On Thursday, Caro was indicted on a separate charge of felony manslaughter.

While the upgraded charge has brought some relief, friends say the loss of Meyer is immeasurable.

\u201cI think Dave\u2019s quiet influence came from being a genuinely big-hearted person who was not quick to judge,\u201d said friend and fellow PACC volunteer Sandra Holland. \u201cIf the guy who hit him did community service for the rest of his life, he would still have a hard time filling the space left by Dave.\u201d

Holland met Meyer years ago when he was working as an employee at the Marana Skydiving Center.

\u201cHe literally taught me to pack my parachute,\u201d she said. \u201cAt the dropzone he was an unassuming guy, but always willing to help and give advice when asked, with a thirst for learning and a smile for everyone.\u201d

Meyer was a Navy veteran and ham radio operator and began volunteering at PACC about five years ago.

Three days a week, rain or shine, he used to take the bus with his bike and ride the rest of the way to PACC, before moving closer to the shelter on North Silverbell Road, said volunteer Christy Hollinger, who said Meyer was one of the first people she met when she started as a volunteer.

\u201dHe was quiet, patient and watchful from a distance, never criticizing me for my inexperience and mistakes, but letting me figure it out and gently stepping in to offer help and advice only when he could see I was really about to take a dive,\u201d she wrote in a tribute to Meyer on Facebook.

Hollinger described him as \u201cthe kindest man you have ever met in your life.\u201d

Meyer could always be relied on to show up for his dog-walking shifts at PACC and although he was quiet, he was very friendly, Holland said.

\u201cThe gap that has been left will be hard to make up \u2014 not just in terms of man hours, but in terms of caring,\u201d she said.

\u201cHe made a difference, to pets and people because he was always willing to take the time.\u201d

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A Tucson woman has pleaded guilty to an \u201copen-ended\u201d offense for her involvement in a prostitution business that ensnared local police employees, records show.

Miranda Gomez was identified by the Tucson Police Department as the \u201cbooker\u201d for Daisy\u2019s Delights, an illicit massage parlor that operated for about two years until it was raided in January 2015, according to police documents.

Gomez, 32, took the appointments and communicated with clients of the business, which included public safety employees, the documents said.

On March 13, Gomez pleaded guilty to attempting to receive the earnings of a prostitute, which is considered an open-ended or undesignated offense, meaning it will be treated as a felony until the court \u201centers an order designating the offense as a misdemeanor,\u201d according to the plea agreement filed in Pima County Superior Court.

Her conviction carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison, three years of probation and up to $150,000 in fines, the agreement says. She will be sentenced by Pima County Superior Court Judge Paul Tang on April 17.

Gomez was initially charged with illegal control of an enterprise and receiving the earnings of a prostitute, both felonies.

Daisy\u2019s Delights was an offshoot of the long-running illegal massage parlor, By Spanish that police began investigating in November of 2011. Their investigation revealed that a former employee of By Spanish, Stephanie Garcia, started a competing business, police documents show.

During the investigation into the businesses, investigators discovered that 10 Tucson police employees had knowledge of or were customers of the businesses.

Garcia, who is facing eight felony charges, including illegal control of an enterprise, money laundering, maintaining a house of prostitution and receiving the earnings of a prostitute, has a case management hearing scheduled in Pima County Superior Court on April 10.

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The family of a Tucson man shot and killed during a struggle with a Pima County sheriff\u2019s deputy last summer has filed a $7.5 million wrongful-death claim against the county.

Claudia Gastelum and Wilberto Llanes Sr. are each asking for a $3.75 million settlement in the wrongful death of their son, Marcos Gastelum, who died last August, according to a preliminary claim filed in Pima County Superior Court last month.

Shortly before 7:30 p.m., Deputy Koby Knodle, who is named as a defendant in the claim, responded to reports of a man taking photographs of children and trying to lure them toward his vehicle, said Deputy Ryan Inglett, a sheriff\u2019s department spokesman.

Knodle identified the suspects vehicle and followed it into a driveway near South San Joaquin and West Bopp Road. Both men got out of their cars and Gastelum, 24, \u201cbecame physically aggressive\u201d and began fighting with Knodle, Inglett said.

The pair ended up on the ground and Knodle shot Gastelum, who was airlifted to a hospital where he was later pronounced dead, Inglett said.

The claim says that Knodle acted negligently and Gastelum died as a result.

Chief Deputy Attorney Amelia Cramer has previously told the Star that the Pima County Attorney\u2019s Office does not comment on pending civil cases.

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One of eight women who accused Pima Community College\u2019s former chancellor of sexual harassment has won a federal court ruling against the school\u2019s current chancellor for violating her civil rights.

It\u2019s the second time in eight months that a judge has found Chancellor Lee Lambert personally liable for terminating a college employee without providing a hearing or due process.

The college itself also is liable for Lambert\u2019s actions, the ruling said.

U.S. District Court Judge Raner C. Collins ruled March 1 that Lambert wrongly deprived ex-administrator Imelda Cuyugan of an annual contract for the 2015 school year.

\u201cChancellor Lambert deprived Plaintiff of a (contract) without any due process and is liable in his personal capacity,\u201d Collins, chief judge of the federal court in Tucson, said in his written decision.

Cuyugan\u2019s lawsuit is ongoing, and the judge\u2019s ruling only settles the specific question of wrongful termination.

Still to be determined is whether she was let go for the reasons she claims: due to gender discrimination and in retaliation for her sexual harassment complaint against former PCC Chancellor Roy Flores.

PCC officials \u201care disappointed by and disagree with\u201d Raner\u2019s recent ruling, said PCC spokeswoman Libby Howell. \u201cHowever, the college remains confident in the final outcome once the evidence is presented to a jury,\u201d she said.

But a jury may never hear the case. Lawyers for both sides agreed on March 9 to start mediation talks in hopes of reaching an out-of-court settlement, court records show.

The $137,000-a-year job Cuyugan lost \u2014 that of assistant vice chancellor for state government relations \u2014 is one she secured in a 2012 out-of-court settlement after filing a federal complaint against Flores, the former chancellor, court records show.

She said Flores propositioned her repeatedly during out-of-town business trips, and bypassed her for an executive job after she spurned his advances.

In the current case, PCC\u2019s lawyers argued unsuccessfully that Cuyugan wasn\u2019t terminated from the position she obtained in the 2012 settlement. Rather, they said, her position was eliminated in a departmental reorganization that saved the college nearly $100,000 a year.

The judge said Lambert violated PCC policy in his handling of the Cuyugan case. The policy requires college administrators to be notified by Feb. 15 if they will not be offered contracts for the following school year, but Cuyugan wasn\u2019t notified until four months past the cutoff date, the judge said.

A different federal judge made a similar ruling against Lambert last summer.

U.S. District Court Judge Cindy K. Jorgenson ruled in July that Lambert violated the civil rights of former chemistry instructor David A. Katz by terminating Katz without giving him with a hearing or an opportunity to defend himself. PCC recently settled out of court with Katz for $150,000.

Lambert, an attorney with a decade of experience in civil rights and employment law, did not respond to requests for comment on the recent ruling.

Most Governing Board members remain confident in Lambert\u2019s leadership, board chair Mark Hanna said in an interview.

\u201cWe continue to have full confidence in him, especially in light of the recent lifting of all sanctions\u201d by the school\u2019s accreditor, Hanna said. The lifting of sanctions was \u201cin a large part due to his leadership and vision.\u201d

But Luis Gonzales, the board\u2019s newest member, said he is concerned about Lambert\u2019s violations of employees\u2019 civil rights. \u201cThe board should be holding him accountable,\u201d he said in an interview.

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A former South Tucson police officer was stripped of his state peace officer\u2019s certification Wednesday, following his conviction on two felonies he committed on the job, officials said.

Frank S. Moreno, a 23-year veteran of law enforcement, pleaded guilty in January 2016 to mail theft and counterfeiting a money order, according to U.S. District Court records.

On Wednesday, the Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training Board voted to approve the mandatory revocation of Moreno\u2019s certification, said Sandy Sierra, a board spokeswoman.

In October, Moreno was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay a $17,000 fine and $8,950 in restitution to the U.S. Postal Service for the incidents that took place in December 2014, court records show.

During Moreno\u2019s sentencing, he told the court that while he was employed as a K-9 handler with South Tucson police, he also worked with the U.S. Marshal\u2019s Service, aiding the Postal Service in \u201cidentifying and interdicting\u201d packages containing possible drug proceeds sent to locations in and around Southern Arizona, according to the records.

Moreno said that between March 2014 and January 2015, the \u201ctotal value of all the financial instruments\u201d he took in post office-issued money orders totaled $26,050, the records show.

The charges he pleaded guilty to related to a Dec. 27, 2014, incident when Moreno took a $950 money order from the post office and changed the name so that it was payable to himself. A week later, he cashed the money order.

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Banner Health is losing money in Tucson, but company officials say the negative cash flow will be offset by future progress, including an updated and expanded local hospital.

The company\u2019s Tucson operations lost $89 million in 2016, and officials expect to lose $45 million this year. Banner employs about 6,000 people in the Tucson area.

Losses among Banner\u2019s Tucson operations have resulted in an initiative called the Tucson Performance Improvement Plan. The plan includes breaking even by 2018.

In addition, Banner has been belt-tightening system-wide, including restructuring and eliminating positions in an effort to cut $65 million from its corporate services departments this year. Company officials have been making regular announcements to employees about new cost-saving efforts and \u201creinvention initiatives.\u201d

The not-for-profit, Phoenix-based company has also enlisted the help of consultants from McKinsey & Co. to look at other possible performance improvements.

\u201cAny big company, especially in health care, has got to be flexible and change with the times. They (Banner) are a big ship and it takes a while to turn it,\u201d said Jim Hammond, publisher of The Hertel Report, an Arizona health-care newsletter.

Hammond said uncertainty over the future of the Affordable Care Act is a concern for any health organization right now and that re-evaluating finances is a logical reaction.

\u201cWhen you combine potential Medicaid cuts with the infrastructure requirements of MACRA (federal provider payment reform), all organizations really need to take a look at themselves and see where the are investing and where they might be able to tighten their belts,\u201d Hammond said.

\u201cThere are a number of external forces that would make an organization make decisions like this.\u201d

Indeed, Banner officials, like other U.S. hospitals, are concerned that a possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act, including changes to Medicaid, could negatively affect future revenue. Prior to the ACA, between 12 percent and 16 percent of Banner patients were uninsured. Now it\u2019s about 6 percent.

About 31 percent of the patients who use Banner\u2019s two Tucson hospitals are covered by Medicaid, which is a government insurance program for low-income people.

New acquisitions

Banner Health owns, leases or manages 28 acute-care hospitals in six states, as well as home health agencies, primary care clinics, urgent care facilities and home medical equipment supply services.

It owns Banner-University Medical Center Tucson, 1501 N. Campbell Ave., and also operates Banner-University Medical Center South, 2800 E. Ajo Way, through a lease agreement with Pima County.

Banner, which is the largest private employer in Arizona, acquired the University of Arizona Health Network in 2015, in addition to purchasing other properties such as the Casa Grande Regional Medical Center and Payson Regional Medical Center. A 2016 bond offering shows those purchases contributed to a below-target company operating margin of 1.8 percent that year, down from the 4.9 percent operating margin of 2014.

The two Tucson hospitals operated by Banner contributed to that dip. Each had negative operating margins in 2015 \u2014 well below the company target of positive 4 percent, and below the statewide average hospital operating margin, which was 1.9 percent for the 12-month period ending in November 2015, data from the Arizona Healthcare and Hospital Association shows.

The average hospital operating margin in Arizona for the first 11 months of 2016 was 3.7 percent, the association says.

Banner Health\u2019s Tucson hospital operating margins for 2016 are due to be reported to the Arizona Department of Health Services in May.

\u201cFortunately we are in a strong cash and strong investment position. We can weather storms,\u201d said Kathy Bollinger, executive vice president of Banner-University Medicine.

\u201cBanner was fully aware of the financial performance of the health network at the time of the acquisition. However, losses have been greater than expected given the substantial investments needed to stabilize the organization.\u201d

Construction

Banner has been putting money into its new acquisitions and into expanding its market share in Tucson and Phoenix.

The Tucson construction projects:

Those investments and others are necessary to keep pace within a fast-changing health-care environment, Bollinger said.

\u201cYou are not going to get better sitting and waiting,\u201d she said.

Among other investments, the company in the last year acquired 39 new urgent care sites in Phoenix and Tucson \u2014 part of a strategy of providing extended-hours care to patients when their doctor\u2019s office is closed.

The latest additions in Pima County are a Banner Urgent Care at 6021 N. Oracle Road and another at 7089 N. Thornydale Road. There are now a total of five Banner Urgent Cares in Tucson.

\u201cIt\u2019s a service that\u2019s obviously needed in both markets,\u201d Banner Urgent Care CEO Dr. Rob Rohatsch said in a prepared statement.

\u201cWe\u2019re fairly new to the urgent care business, but not to the health care business, so we\u2019re striving to provide our communities with the best in care from a trusted, well-known health network.\u201d

Biggest conversion

Another investment locally will be $30 million into converting the electronic health records at Banner Health\u2019s Tucson facilities. The University of Arizona Health Network put $115 million into converting the health system\u2019s paper files into electronic medical records through the company Epic. That conversion went live in 2013.

But since all of Banner\u2019s hospitals are on a different system called Cerner, they\u2019ll be converting to that system this year.

Having all of its health providers on one system will allow for larger amounts of data collection to conduct outcomes research, Bollinger said.

At the same time, the company, known for its financial discipline, is taking a hard look at where to cut costs. Recently, three executive positions with Banner\u2019s Tucson faculty practice plan were eliminated and the company\u2019s longtime top public relations executive in Phoenix was let go.

Also, about 30 Phoenix-based nurse case manager positions were eliminated from the company\u2019s insurance division, company officials confirmed. And a small number of physicians were notified that their positions would be eliminated due to changes at clinics in Sun City, Peoria and Casa Grande, the Phoenix Business Journal recently reported.

\u201cThere\u2019s no dangerous trend here. These kinds of things are going on at Abrazo, Tenet, Dignity. It\u2019s just probably not making as much noise,\u201d Hammond said.

\u201cIt\u2019s a constant process that all of these large systems are dealing with. ... This is the natural ebb and flow of a company meeting the needs of its community.\u201d

Bollinger said it\u2019s difficult to put a number on how many employees will lose jobs, since many of them will get other positions within the company and have been encouraged to apply for them.

\u201cWe are trying to do this in a very transparent and strategic way. All responsible health-care systems are engaged in this work,\u201d she said. \u201cWe\u2019ve managed a lot of change in the last two years.\u201d

Among positive changes Bollinger cites are reducing the annual nursing staff turnover in Tucson from 20 percent annually to between 4 percent and 6 percent.

\u201cBanner has a very significant impact on Arizona. They have a model that really looks to standardize care across their hospitals, and they are interesting because of that,\u201d said Eugene Schneller, a professor in the department of supply chain management at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

\u201cBanner has always had a strong focus on quality through adopting best practices, and that is what you are seeing,\u201d he said.

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The sight of her father\u2019s unopened heart medication still makes Oro Valley resident Laurie Moore feel sick to her stomach.

For 30 days while Moore traveled last summer, she says, her 80-year-old father, Larry Foreman, did not get any of his two 5 milligram daily doses of Eliquis, a blood thinner prescribed by his heart doctor.

Her father, who lived with Moore but stayed at an Oro Valley assisted-living center during her trip, was hospitalized three times after he left the facility, and died on Oct. 29. She attributes his decline to the month when he didn\u2019t get the medication he needed.

All but one of Moore\u2019s complaints to four different state entities was dismissed. The one she filed with the State Board ofNursing is pending.

The news of the dismissals left Moore feeling like she\u2019d been punched in the gut.

But her situation is not unusual. The agency that handles reports about mistreatment of vulnerable adults in Arizona rarely affirms the complaints it receives.

Last fiscal year, the state\u2019s Adult Protective Services (APS) investigated and closed out 21,602 allegations of neglect, abuse and exploitation of vulnerable adults. Just 167 of those allegations \u2014 less than 1 percent \u2014 were substantiated.

At APS, substantiated means evidence exists to support the allegations, and one or more perpetrators were identified. Last year, 170 names were added to Arizona\u2019s public registry of known perpetrators against vulnerable adults.

The state data shows not one of the 2,419 allegations of neglect APS investigated and closed out in Pima County last year was substantiated, though 21 percent were \u201cverified.\u201d

\u201cVerified\u201d means evidence exists to support the allegations, but the case can\u2019t be substantiated because the alleged perpetrator is a vulnerable adult or is unknown.

The vast majority of mistreatment allegations APS investigated and closed last year in Pima County and statewide were neither verified nor substantiated.

Roadblocks

Officials with the Arizona Department of Economic Security, which oversees APS, say part of the problem with its data is that there are numerous roadblocks to investigating abuse of vulnerable (usually elderly) adults.

The burden of proof to substantiate an APS case of abuse, neglect or exploitation is \u201cpreponderance of the evidence,\u201d which can be difficult to meet based on a variety of factors.

Although most complaints aren\u2019t getting substantiated, there\u2019s no question elder abuse exists. A 2017 study published last month in The Lancet Global Health estimated the global prevalence of elder abuse at 15.7 percent, meaning that about 1 in 6 older adults worldwide experience abuse.

Elders make up a growing proportion of the U.S. population. The problem is, elder abuse is not always detected, investigated or tracked.

Older people can be unreliable witnesses because of health issues like dementia, and in some cases, there\u2019s no one except for an older and sometimes sick adult who saw what happened. Other times, the situation comes down to \u201che said, she said.\u201d

Excluding self-neglect, 46 percent of alleged perpetrators investigated by Arizona\u2019s APS last year were family members.

In those cases, the investigations may reveal that the family member was not trying to mistreat or harm the vulnerable adult but was providing the level of care they were able to with the resources available to them, state APS officials wrote in an emailed statement.

\u201cFurther, in cases of neglect by another individual, a clear and definite pattern of neglect needs to be established for substantiation, which may not be evident in the information collected during the investigation,\u201d according to the statement.

And the data are affected by the fact that nearly 40 percent of the reported cases of neglect are self-neglect, which means that they can\u2019t be substantiated since there is no perpetrator.

Such cases can be particularly difficult for investigators. Unlike children, vulnerable adults can live their lives as they see fit, unless they have been adjudicated incompetent in a court of law.

Also, resources to conduct the investigations are stretched \u2014 the nearly 22,000 communications to APS entered into its computer system last year comprise a 62 percent jump over 2012 numbers, and while the average caseload per investigator has declined, it continues to exceed targeted levels.

The agency prioritizes cases where vulnerable adults are in immediate risk of harm. In Moore\u2019s case, for example, by the time Adult Protective Services was contacted, the situation she was complaining about had passed.

But Moore thinks her father\u2019s situation fits the agency\u2019s definition of neglect, which is \u201ca pattern of conduct without the person\u2019s informed consent resulting in deprivation of food, water, medicine, medical services, shelter, cooling, heating or other services necessary to maintain minimum physical or mental health.\u201d

\u201cMy father had no voice and no choice,\u201d Moore said. \u201cHe did not know he wasn\u2019t being taken care of for 30 days.\u201d

National problem

Measuring Arizona\u2019s low substantiation rate against other states is not an apples-to-apples comparison.

Part of the problem is that states have differing definitions of abuse, neglect and exploitation, elder advocates say \u2014 an issue the federal government is trying to rectify with a National Adult Maltreatment Reporting System.

The system is on track to begin producing uniform data in a few months, and officials with APS in Arizona say they are preparing to submit data to the national system.

The system was created because numerous entities, including the Government Accountability Office, have said a lack of data is a significant barrier to improving APS programs nationwide.

Adults with disabilities and older people who are victims of crime and abuse receive no designated support from the federal government.

Federal money for APS comes to state programs through federal Social Services Block Grants which each state decides how to use, leaving the programs historically underfunded and underdeveloped across the country, said Andrew Capehart, assistant director of the National Adult Protective Services Association.

Legal action

Phoenix-based elder abuse attorney Melanie Bossie of the law firm Wilkes & McHugh says she finds the latest substantiation rates for APS cases in Arizona extremely low, but at the same time, she understands the agency has limited time and resources.

If investigators don\u2019t take the extra step of talking to multiple people and asking for employee files, they can miss crucial information, Bossie said. Employee files can reveal disciplinary action against workers that will provide evidence of mistreatment, she said.

\u201cWe do commonly have people frustrated with administrative remedies and many times, we\u2019ve been able to pursue a resolution when a case has been unsubstantiated with APS or ADHS (the Arizona Department of Health Services),\u201d Bossie said. \u201cI am not trying to be critical \u2014 we are just going to do a deeper investigation.\u201d

Bossie stressed she has also encountered cases where state agencies do substantiate complaints of abuse, neglect or financial exploitation, but families still want to pursue legal action.

Bossie and her Tucson-based colleague Mary Ellen Spiece say they\u2019ve seen facilities improve their policies because of litigation, particularly when there\u2019s a pattern. If facilities are being looked at and watched more closely, they generally will attempt to do better, Spiece said.

\u201cOur clients as a whole are not litigious,\u201d Spiece said. \u201cThey are just so upset about what happened.\u201d

Confusion

APS has a hotline for reporting abuse, neglect and financial exploitation; and the ADHS has a process where people can file complaints about licensing violations in state-licensed facilities like nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.

Complaints filed with the health department have a low rate of substantiation, too, though it is higher than the APS rates.

\u201cOur substantiation process is done through observation, documentation and/or interviews,\u201d department spokeswoman Holly Ward wrote in an email. \u201cSo, unless a case is observed, well documented or the employees are available to interview, we could run into challenges.\u201d

Last year, 20 percent of 2,155 allegations reported by the public about residential facilities to ADHS were substantiated, state records show. Residential facilities include both behavioral health residential and assisted-living facilities.

In Arizona nursing homes, 7 percent of 1,064 allegations reported last year in 1,287 complaints were substantiated, state figures show.

There are examples where the state health department has taken action against facilities where medication errors occurred.

In one case that\u2019s pending in Pima County Superior Court, the family of Eugene Johannes, who was an insulin-dependent diabetic, is suing BeeHive Homes of Green Valley, saying the facility did not give Johannes his insulin for 19 days in March 2015, resulting in his death. In court filings, the facility has denied wrongdoing.

State health department records show BeeHive was fined in May 2015 for failing to ensure two of three insulin dependent diabetic residents \u2014 including one who was there in March 2015 \u2014 received their insulin as prescribed.

Officials with the Pima Council on Aging say their office is usually the best place for people to start when they have a concern about elder mistreatment. In many cases, that\u2019s going to be all it takes to solve a problem \u2014 they can mediate issues in long term-care facilities at the local level, for example.

\u201cPeople often don\u2019t know about all the wonderful resources in the community. It is nice to be able to give someone hope,\u201d said Rae Vermeal, who is the Pima Council on Aging\u2019s elder rights and benefits coordinator.

Heartbreak

When Moore picked her father up from the Mountain View Retirement Village\u2019s assisted-living facility in Oro Valley on July 15 and saw his unopened medication, she was heartbroken. Then, the home health care company she\u2019d hired to do rehabilitation work with her father while he was at Mountain View showed her a documented decline in his health while he was there.

\u201cHell\u2019s bells. I panicked,\u201d said Moore, who had paid $4,150 for her dad\u2019s one- month stay, including $450 for a special level of care to include medication management.

\u201cMy dad seemed exhausted, frail and weaker. I left them with three sealed boxes of Eliquis samples, and three closed bottles. None had been opened.\u201d

Her father, a former high school homecoming king who worked in construction in Maryland until the age of 70, was affable and trusting. Moore could not bear the thought that his health had suffered because of the mistake. She wanted an acknowledgment that her dad mattered.

She started with the Oro Valley assisted living facility, which is owned by The Ensign Group, a California-based, for-profit company that is one of the country\u2019s largest senior-care providers. Moore\u2019s father had stayed there once before and liked it.

Moore said when she dropped her father off at the beginning of his stay in June, she provided the facility with two medication lists \u2014 one from his primary care doctor and the other from his heart doctor. The primary care list included 10 different medications that her father needed daily. The list from the heart doctor was a repeat of the first list with one exception \u2014 it included the Eliquis.

In an Aug. 25 email from Mountain View executive director Tim Nelson, which Moore shared with the Star, the facility said it never received the heart doctor\u2019s list.

The email included an offer of a $500 refund. But Moore said it wasn\u2019t satisfactory. She insists the facility did receive the heart doctor\u2019s list and in any case should have called her or her father\u2019s doctor to ask what to do with all the Eliquis she gave them, if they weren\u2019t sure.

Lack of evidence

Nelson told the Star that because of privacy regulations, the assisted-living facility would not comment on medications or \u201cany aspect of the health care related to former or current residents of Mountain View.\u201d

He wrote in an email that Mountain View routinely trains its staff on various aspects of resident care, \u201cincluding the facility procedure for handling medications when they are brought into the facility by family members.\u201d

Moore ended up complaining to four state entities and also got advice from the Pima Council on Aging.

The Arizona Board of Examiners of Nursing Care Institution Administrators and Assisted Living Facility Managers dismissed her complaint against Mountain View\u2019s executive director at a meeting on Oct. 17 for lack of evidence, the meeting\u2019s minutes say.

After her dad died later that month, Moore paid $2,000 for an autopsy, which showed the cause of death was heart failure.

She later got letters from APS and the health department to tell her that her complaints had not been substantiated with them, either. She is now considering legal action.

"}, {"id":"b7444b3a-700c-5265-9292-4d980c483726","type":"article","starttime":"1489860000","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-18T11:00:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1490365206","priority":43,"sections":[{"border":"news/local/border"}],"flags":{"enterprise":"true","top_story":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Arrest by ICE at Tucson courthouse concerns judge","url":"http://tucson.com/news/local/border/article_b7444b3a-700c-5265-9292-4d980c483726.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/news/local/border/arrest-by-ice-at-tucson-courthouse-concerns-judge/article_b7444b3a-700c-5265-9292-4d980c483726.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/news/local/border/arrest-by-ice-at-tucson-courthouse-concerns-judge/article_b7444b3a-700c-5265-9292-4d980c483726.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By Curt Prendergast\nArizona Daily Star","prologue":"Agency said enforcement there is normal, but lawyer says timing was unusual.","supportsComments":false,"keywords":[],"internalKeywords":["#latest","#watchdog","#top5","#topread"],"customProperties":{"arm_id":"74891"},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"089e935c-2dfa-5950-a41b-01b568255b4e","description":"Margo Cowan","byline":"Rigoberto H. Valencia","hireswidth":864,"hiresheight":1175,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/0/89/089e935c-2dfa-5950-a41b-01b568255b4e/58cc959fab614.hires.jpg","presentation":"mugshot","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"456","height":"620","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/0/89/089e935c-2dfa-5950-a41b-01b568255b4e/58cc959fac756.image.jpg?resize=456%2C620"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"136","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/0/89/089e935c-2dfa-5950-a41b-01b568255b4e/58cc959fac756.image.jpg?resize=100%2C136"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"407","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/0/89/089e935c-2dfa-5950-a41b-01b568255b4e/58cc959fbb4d4.preview-300.jpg"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"1392","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/0/89/089e935c-2dfa-5950-a41b-01b568255b4e/58cc959fac756.image.jpg"}}}],"revision":13,"commentID":"b7444b3a-700c-5265-9292-4d980c483726","body":"

To the \u201cgreat consternation\u201d of a Pima County Superior Court judge, federal immigration agents arrested a Mexican man at the county courthouse before he could be sentenced for a minor drug crime.

The arrest by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents is part of a \u201csea change\u201d in how agents operate in the courthouse since the presidential election, public defender Margo Cowan said.

The Feb. 24 arrest of Jose Salome Zazueta Medina was \u201cnot acceptable,\u201d Cowan said, because it \u201cinterrupted the judicial process.\u201d

But ICE said in a statement it has not changed how it makes arrests at the Pima County Courthouse, which the agency has done for years. Instead, what has changed is the news media\u2019s scrutiny of those arrests in recent months.

Arrests by ICE agents at courthouses in Texas, Oregon and California have prompted headlines since January.

Judge Michael Butler said at a March 10 hearing he is \u201cready to hear what the story is\u201d from ICE. So far, Butler said ICE\u2019s story is that agents arrested Zazueta Medina because he exited the courthouse elevators and they thought he was trying to flee.

The arrest caused Zazueta Medina, who is being held at a federal detention center in Eloy, to miss a sentencing hearing the day of his arrest by ICE and another sentencing hearing March 10.

ICE did not inform Cowan that her client was going to be arrested, she said. Under the previous administration, that action would have been taken after a \u201ccompletely civil discussion\u201d with ICE agents.

Katie Daubert works with Cowan on a team of public defenders that handles local cases of noncitizens charged with serious crimes.

Daubert said ICE agents wait for her clients to plead guilty and then take them into custody, which is \u201csomething that didn\u2019t happen a few months ago.\u201d

Cowan stressed courthouses must remain \u201csafe spaces\u201d for people who are in the country without legal status, especially those who are witnesses or victims of crimes.

ICE agents frequently make arrests in the county courthouse, but it was unusual that agents made an arrest prior to a sentencing hearing, said Deputy County Attorney Kellie Johnson, who responded to questions from the Star but did not handle Zazueta Medina\u2019s case.

The County Attorney\u2019s Office is working with ICE to make sure Zazueta Medina attends his sentencing hearing, Johnson said.

Zazueta Medina\u2019s third sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 7.

Deportation officers with ICE\u2019s Enforcement and Removal Operations arrested Zazueta Medina at the courthouse after he pleaded guilty to a felony, ICE spokeswoman Yasmeen Pitts O\u2019Keefe said in an emailed response to questions from the Star. He will remain in ICE custody until an immigration judge reviews his removal case.

In general, decisions about where and how to make arrests are based on the arrestee\u2019s criminal history, safety considerations and \u201cany sensitivities involving the arrest location,\u201d Pitts-O\u2019Keefe said.

Many of the people ICE arrests at courthouses are foreign nationals with prior criminal convictions, the agency said in an emailed statement.

\u201cIn years past, most of these individuals would have been turned over to ICE by local authorities upon their release from jail based on ICE detainers,\u201d the agency said.

Jails and prisons are considered safe locations to make arrests, according to the statement, as are courthouses, where visitors are searched for weapons at entrances.

When the address or place of employment of someone they plan to arrest is not known, \u201ca courthouse may afford the most likely opportunity to locate a target and take him or her into custody,\u201d ICE said.

When making an arrest at a courthouse, \u201cevery effort is made to take the person into custody in a secure area, out of public view, but this is not always possible,\u201d the agency said.

Zazueta Medina is a 47-year-old physical education teacher at a high school in Hermosillo, Mexico, Cowan said. He has had a visa to visit the United States since he was a boy.

He had no intention of remaining in the United States, Cowan said, noting he has a job in Mexico.

He was in Tucson visiting friends at the time of his initial arrest, she said. He was not feeling well and went to a hospital, where he was told to empty his pockets, which revealed a plastic baggie with cocaine residue.

Tucson police took him to the county jail Sept. 27 and he was released shortly thereafter, court records indicate.

He pleaded guilty Jan. 24 to a Class 6 undesignated offense \u2014 meaning it could be downgraded from a felony to a misdemeanor if he satisfies the conditions of his plea agreement \u2014 of solicitation to unlawfully possess cocaine.

"}, {"id":"68edc024-7ee8-553a-9ad9-616d2ead51b8","type":"article","starttime":"1489791600","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-17T16:00:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1490391187","priority":20,"sections":[{"watchdog":"news/local/watchdog"}],"flags":{"watchdog":"true","top_story":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"No state sanctions for ex-Tucson cop involved in prostitution probe","url":"http://tucson.com/news/local/watchdog/article_68edc024-7ee8-553a-9ad9-616d2ead51b8.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/news/local/watchdog/no-state-sanctions-for-ex-tucson-cop-involved-in-prostitution/article_68edc024-7ee8-553a-9ad9-616d2ead51b8.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/news/local/watchdog/no-state-sanctions-for-ex-tucson-cop-involved-in-prostitution/article_68edc024-7ee8-553a-9ad9-616d2ead51b8.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By Caitlin Schmidt\nArizona Daily Star","prologue":"State certification agency voted to initiate proceedings against a second former Tucson police officer.","supportsComments":false,"keywords":[],"internalKeywords":["#latest","#watchdog"],"customProperties":{"arm_id":"74437"},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"63f65c9d-dbcd-5668-9258-c41fbb772f2d","description":"Nathaniel Luttrell","byline":"Courtesy TPD","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"mugshot","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"600","height":"750","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/3f/63f65c9d-dbcd-5668-9258-c41fbb772f2d/58cc4b89aaca8.image.jpg?resize=600%2C750"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"125","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/3f/63f65c9d-dbcd-5668-9258-c41fbb772f2d/55af028ed92d6.preview-100.jpg"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"169","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/3f/63f65c9d-dbcd-5668-9258-c41fbb772f2d/58cc4b89aaca8.image.jpg?crop=600%2C337%2C0%2C71&resize=300%2C169&order=crop%2Cresize"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"575","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/3f/63f65c9d-dbcd-5668-9258-c41fbb772f2d/58cc4b89aaca8.image.jpg?crop=600%2C337%2C0%2C71"}}}],"revision":20,"commentID":"68edc024-7ee8-553a-9ad9-616d2ead51b8","body":"

A former Tucson police officer who resigned in the wake of a scandal involving a long-running prostitution ring will keep his state certification for police work, officials said.

Nathaniel Luttrell, 34, was fired from the Tucson Police Department in July 2015, but entered into a settlement agreement with the city of Tucson to change his status to \u201cresigned in lieu of termination,\u201d according to Arizona Daily Star archives.

In March 2016, the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board voted to initiate proceedings to take his peace-officer certification, which would bar him from police work in the state, according to AZPOST documents.

In September, the board rejected a consent agreement for a one-year suspension on his certification and one of the members requested the board reconsider its initial decision to initiate proceedings, the documents show.

In February, the state asked AZPOST to reconsider the action and close the issue with no action at a future agency\u2019s discretion, according to the documents.

In Wednesday\u2019s meeting, the board accepted the motion and closed the matter, said Sandy Sierra, an AZPOST spokeswoman.

filing against former detective

The board also voted to initiate proceedings against former Tucson police Detective Rudy Rodriguez, 36, who was fired last August for failing to conduct thorough investigations and submitting inaccurate paperwork, AZPOST documents show.

Two of the cases involved alleged child abuse, and Rodriguez, a 13-year veteran of the department, admitted to police investigators that his false statement in one of the cases could make it more difficult to prosecute.

A formal complaint will be mailed to Rodriguez, who will have the opportunity for an AZPOST hearing, Sierra said.

"}, {"id":"5e7d87eb-4229-5c49-99da-a24b1d4c08d2","type":"article","starttime":"1489420800","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-13T09:00:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1490313009","priority":44,"sections":[{"watchdog":"news/local/watchdog"},{"local":"news/local"},{"health-med-fit":"news/science/health-med-fit"}],"flags":{"watchdog":"true","top_story":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Northwest-UnitedHealthcare dispute could leave Tucson-area patients scrambling","url":"http://tucson.com/news/local/watchdog/article_5e7d87eb-4229-5c49-99da-a24b1d4c08d2.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/news/local/watchdog/northwest-unitedhealthcare-dispute-could-leave-tucson-area-patients-scrambling/article_5e7d87eb-4229-5c49-99da-a24b1d4c08d2.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/news/local/watchdog/northwest-unitedhealthcare-dispute-could-leave-tucson-area-patients-scrambling/article_5e7d87eb-4229-5c49-99da-a24b1d4c08d2.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By Stephanie Innes\nArizona Daily Star","prologue":"Contract set to end May 1, but negotiations continue.\u00a0","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":[],"internalKeywords":["#latest","#watchdog"],"customProperties":{"arm_id":"74698"},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"236673a4-b534-5319-b588-7729856a0590","description":"Northwest Medical Center is at odds with UnitedHealthcare.","byline":"Courtesy of Northwest Medical Center 2016","hireswidth":640,"hiresheight":425,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/2/36/236673a4-b534-5319-b588-7729856a0590/543725edab2da.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"620","height":"411","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/2/36/236673a4-b534-5319-b588-7729856a0590/58c3508c783aa.image.jpg?resize=620%2C411"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"66","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/2/36/236673a4-b534-5319-b588-7729856a0590/543725edb8739.preview-100.jpg"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"199","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/2/36/236673a4-b534-5319-b588-7729856a0590/543725edb904d.preview-300.jpg"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"575","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/2/36/236673a4-b534-5319-b588-7729856a0590/58c3508c783aa.image.jpg?crop=620%2C348%2C0%2C49"}}}],"revision":24,"commentID":"5e7d87eb-4229-5c49-99da-a24b1d4c08d2","body":"

A contract dispute means Tucson residents with UnitedHealthcare may soon be unable to access a large system of northwest-side health providers.

Northwest Healthcare, which is owned by Tennesee-based, for-profit Community Health Systems, sent a letter on March 2 to patients saying the company would stop accepting UnitedHealthcare insurance on May 1.

However, both sides in the dispute say negotiations are ongoing.

Northwest Healthcare includes, in addition to numerous clinics and primary-care providers, two hospitals: Northwest Medical Center and Oro Valley Hospital.

\u201cNorthwest Healthcare is seeking significant rate increases of more than 25 percent over the course of three years without any commitment to improving the health of our members,\u201d UnitedHealthcare officials said in an emailed statement Friday afternoon.

\u201cWe are asking Northwest Healthcare to join other hospitals in our Arizona network and commit to a performance-based relationship that focuses financial incentives on quality and patient outcomes.\u201d

Officials with UnitedHealthcare in Arizona say the dispute stems from Northwest Healthcare\u2019s refusal to join other Arizona health systems in belonging to a value-based health-care model.

\u201cWe want a relationship with Northwest,\u201d said Lisa Contreras, regional communications director for UnitedHealthcare\u2019s Western Region.

In an email, Northwest Healthcare spokeswoman Kimberly Chimene said Northwest continues to negotiate with United and disputed the way the insurer was characterizing the dispute.

\u201cUHC is seeking an immediate decrease of 25 percent in reimbursement rates to Northwest Medical Center and Oro Valley Hospital,\u201d she wrote.

\u201cAdditionally, we have asked UHC to enter into quality and cost incentive contracts, but have been refused. Northwest Healthcare participates in quality-based in incentives with all other major insurance companies in Tucson.\u201d

She added that Northwest Healthcare has agreements in place with all other major health plans in the area.

\u201cThe May 1 date is the effective date should we NOT be able to come to terms. All patients with United Healthcare are covered until that date,\u201d she wrote.

Northwest officials did not provide an estimate of how many people would be affected.

The insurance company estimates about 27,500 UnitedHealthcare members accessed a Northwest Healthcare facility in the past 12 to 18 months, and 18,600 members received care from a Northwest Healthcare physician.

Contreras emphasized that exact numbers are difficult to pinpoint as there\u2019s likely redundancy and crossover among those member visits.

A contract termination would affect UnitedHealthcare\u2019s Medicaid, Medicare Advantage and commercial plans, the letter from Northwest Healthcare CEO Kevin Stockton said.

\u201cI\u2019ll have to find another primary care physician and there aren\u2019t many around,\u201d said Sun City Oro Valley resident Chris Clark, a retired tax lawyer who is covered by UnitedHealthcare through his wife via the Arizona State Retirement System.

\u201cIt\u2019s an hour to get into Tucson from here.\u201d

Marana resident Michael Browning received two of the letters last week \u2014 one from Desert Cardiology and another from his personal physician.

\u201cIt\u2019s going to be a real problem out here if this happens,\u201d Browning said. \u201cThey\u2019ve kind of got a lock on things in this area. It is big, not just from the hospital standpoint, but from all the specialists and urgent-care providers.\u201d

The letter Clark and others received says anyone with UnitedHealthcare insurance would be unable to use their insurance at the following places:

The exceptions would be patients needing emergency care, since any emergency patients can always access emergency rooms at in-network benefit rates regardless of network status, Northwest officials said.

Certain patients may also be eligible for continuation of care benefits through United, Stockton wrote in the March 2 letter. That includes patients receiving ongoing treatment for special conditions, or women in their third trimester of pregnancy.

United members who think they may qualify should call the number on the back of their insurance card, officials said.

\u201cWe understand this will be challenging for you if the contract reaches termination,\u201d Stockton\u2019s letter says. \u201cPlease consider expressing your dissatisfaction with United\u2019s decision by contacting them directly at 1-800-985-2356.\u201d

As of Monday, United said they did not want people to call the number Northwest Healthcare printed in its letter. Rather, they want people to call the number on the back of their insurance card.

A public contract dispute between Carondelet and BlueCross BlueShield of Arizona in 2015 was resolved at the 11th hour.

In that case, both claimed the other party was making unreasonable demands and putting patients\u2019 access to care at risk.

BlueCross said Carondelet was demanding 40 percent increases in their reimbursement rates, while Carondelet executives countered that BlueCross had long reimbursed the hospital less than other Tucson hospitals, contributing to years of operating losses for Carondelet.

Ultimately, the two sides reached a compromise.

"}, {"id":"9712a558-69fc-5db9-85ff-e066dbf26c94","type":"article","starttime":"1489273200","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-11T16:00:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1489802764","priority":30,"sections":[{"watchdog":"news/local/watchdog"}],"flags":{"watchdog":"true","top_story":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"88 commissioned sheriff's employees disciplined in 2016","url":"http://tucson.com/news/local/watchdog/article_9712a558-69fc-5db9-85ff-e066dbf26c94.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/news/local/watchdog/commissioned-sheriff-s-employees-disciplined-in/article_9712a558-69fc-5db9-85ff-e066dbf26c94.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/news/local/watchdog/commissioned-sheriff-s-employees-disciplined-in/article_9712a558-69fc-5db9-85ff-e066dbf26c94.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By Caitlin Schmidt\nArizona Daily Star","prologue":"The majority of the disciplinary actions were considered informal.","supportsComments":false,"keywords":[],"internalKeywords":["#latest","#watchdog"],"customProperties":{"arm_id":"73697"},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"fe19e319-fc74-5cce-a0a0-b0fe3cb6967a","description":"","byline":"Courtesy of Tucson Police Department","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"640","height":"360","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/e1/fe19e319-fc74-5cce-a0a0-b0fe3cb6967a/583c4aac5ff5c.image.jpg?resize=640%2C360"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"56","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/e1/fe19e319-fc74-5cce-a0a0-b0fe3cb6967a/583c4aac5ff5c.image.jpg?resize=100%2C56"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"169","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/e1/fe19e319-fc74-5cce-a0a0-b0fe3cb6967a/583c4aac5ff5c.image.jpg?resize=300%2C169"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"576","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/e1/fe19e319-fc74-5cce-a0a0-b0fe3cb6967a/583c4aac5ff5c.image.jpg"}}}],"revision":15,"commentID":"9712a558-69fc-5db9-85ff-e066dbf26c94","body":"

Eighty-eight commissioned members of the Sheriff\u2019s Department were disciplined in 2016, the overwhelming majority of which are considered informal sanctions, records show.

There are roughly 500 commissioned employees in the Sheriff\u2019s Department, meaning they are considered law enforcement officers and carry a firearm on duty, ranging in ranks from deputies to the command staff and sheriff.

Not all of the 106 disciplinary actions were taken against deputies, but also sergeants and a lieutenant.

Several members were disciplined more than once last year, often relating to the same incident, and three deputies were suspended without pay last year, according to Pima County Sheriff\u2019s Department records obtained through a public-records request.

There are several steps in the disciplinary process leading up to a suspension, including pre-action meetings, notice of suspension and the suspension.

The three suspensions resulted from a poor investigation, misuse of computer access and an off-duty DUI arrest, according to the records. There were 65 letters of counseling issued and four letters of reprimand. Thirty-one employees received \u201cacknowledgments of verbal counseling.\u201d The other two actions included a notice of pre-action meeting and two notices of suspension for deputies who were subsequently suspended without pay, the records show.

Eighteen of the complaints were initiated by someone outside of the department, and the rest were internal, according to the records.

The most common violation was preventable accident with property damage, which department supervisor Sgt. Christy Anderson said is usually a car accident.

Other types of violations included inappropriate off-duty behavior, sleeping on duty, accidental discharge of a firearm, poor appearance, insubordination, profanity, neglect of duty, reckless driving, erroneous release, improper arrest and failure to follow policies and procedures, and several others.

Several employees disciplined for inappropriate off-duty behavior were involved in an email chain regarding the campaign for sheriff, which violates the policy of not using work emails for personal or political reasons, according to disciplinary records.

The lowest form of discipline is an acknowledgment of verbal counseling, followed by a letter of counseling. Both are considered informal discipline and employees cannot file a grievance or appeal the decision, Anderson said.

Letters of reprimand and suspensions with or without pay are both formal disciplinary actions.

\u201cA letter of reprimand is the only form of discipline that can be grieved, and suspensions can be appealed,\u201d Anderson said.

Sheriff\u2019s Department employees can file a grievance based on \u201cmisinterpretation, misapplication or unequal enforcement of Law Enforcement Merit System Rules, Personnel Policies or Administrative Procedures,\u201d according to the department handbook.

It\u2019s unclear if the 106 disciplinary actions were comparable to annual totals for previous years.

\u201cWe don\u2019t have any control over what\u2019s issued or not issued, or what\u2019s looked at or not,\u201d she said. \u201cSometimes we do end up having a lot more car accidents than we do in previous years, so there\u2019s going to be discipline for those.\u201d

"}, {"id":"90818b32-8479-5773-aacb-20cd87d6bc3c","type":"article","starttime":"1489266000","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-11T14:00:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1490397022","sections":[{"local":"news/local"},{"college":"news/local/education/college"}],"flags":{"watchdog":"true","enterprise":"true","top_story":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Neighborhood concerned about multistory University of Arizona student complex north of Speedway","url":"http://tucson.com/news/local/article_90818b32-8479-5773-aacb-20cd87d6bc3c.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/news/local/neighborhood-concerned-about-multistory-university-of-arizona-student-complex-north/article_90818b32-8479-5773-aacb-20cd87d6bc3c.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/news/local/neighborhood-concerned-about-multistory-university-of-arizona-student-complex-north/article_90818b32-8479-5773-aacb-20cd87d6bc3c.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":2,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By Joe Ferguson\nArizona Daily Star","prologue":"Preliminary plans call for several buildings, including a four- to six-story dorm to house up to 1,000 beds.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["university of arizona honors college","ua housing","student housing"],"internalKeywords":["#latest","#watchdog","#top5"],"customProperties":{"arm_id":"74617"},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"50d11b39-a6d7-5e2f-afaa-e3492dc9f0db","description":"A student walks across an empty lot near North Fremont Ave. and Drachman Street on Friday March 10, 2017. There are preliminary plans for two four story buildings to be built in the area that will be a honors college dorm.","byline":"Mamta Popat / Arizona Daily Star","hireswidth":1828,"hiresheight":1133,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/5/0d/50d11b39-a6d7-5e2f-afaa-e3492dc9f0db/58d5c52848a1c.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1170","height":"725","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/5/0d/50d11b39-a6d7-5e2f-afaa-e3492dc9f0db/58c6e0b88b214.image.jpg?resize=1170%2C725"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"62","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/5/0d/50d11b39-a6d7-5e2f-afaa-e3492dc9f0db/58c6e0b88b214.image.jpg?resize=100%2C62"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"186","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/5/0d/50d11b39-a6d7-5e2f-afaa-e3492dc9f0db/58c6e0b88b214.image.jpg?resize=300%2C186"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"635","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/5/0d/50d11b39-a6d7-5e2f-afaa-e3492dc9f0db/58c6e0b88b214.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C635"}}},{"id":"cace4d41-f7db-5b70-aac3-da118b9ecfb7","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":620,"hiresheight":1633,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/ac/cace4d41-f7db-5b70-aac3-da118b9ecfb7/58c4bf535fd09.hires.gif","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/gif","width":"289","height":"760","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/ac/cace4d41-f7db-5b70-aac3-da118b9ecfb7/58c4bf535cebe.image.gif"},"100": {"type":"image/gif","width":"100","height":"263","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/ac/cace4d41-f7db-5b70-aac3-da118b9ecfb7/58c4bf535cebe.image.gif?resize=100%2C263"},"300": {"type":"image/gif","width":"300","height":"790","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/ac/cace4d41-f7db-5b70-aac3-da118b9ecfb7/58c4bf535cebe.image.gif?resize=300%2C790"},"1024":{"type":"image/gif","width":"1024","height":"2697","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/c/ac/cace4d41-f7db-5b70-aac3-da118b9ecfb7/58c4bf535cebe.image.gif"}}}],"revision":20,"commentID":"90818b32-8479-5773-aacb-20cd87d6bc3c","body":"

Residents of a neighborhood just north of the University of Arizona main campus are upset about plans to build a multistory 1,000-bed dorm and classroom complex for students attending the UA Honors College.

Many residents say they are concerned they haven\u2019t been consulted about the proposal and that the property, owned partially by the UA and the privately owned American Campus Communities, is outside the official campus boundaries.

ACC, based near Austin, Texas, is one of the nation\u2019s largest developers of student housing communities in the country. It owns Entrada Real student apartments with 98 units and more than 350 beds near the UA, according to its website.

The proposal includes a dorm that would span an entire city block between East Drachman and Mabel streets and North Fremont and Santa Rita avenues, just north of East Speedway, and could be four to six stories tall. Other plans include classrooms, office space, a recreation center and a four-story parking garage to be built on the adjacent block between North Park and Fremont avenues.

The university is also considering demolishing several buildings along Park Avenue between Drachman and Adams streets, and putting in surface lots to offer additional parking.

The neighborhood now consists of homes, apartments catering to students, university parking lots and vacant land.

Many neighbors say they feel powerless, noting that as part of the state, the university does not have to abide by city zoning codes, including when it comes to building height, density and parking requirements.

For example, the height limitation for the surrounding neighborhood is 25 feet, or roughly two stories tall.

University officials have confirmed they are in the planning stages of the project and have begun preliminary discussions with some neighborhood residents as well as with ACC about a potential partnership in developing the property.

\u201cWe\u2019ve been looking for a bigger, better home for honors for at least two years,\u201d said Robert Smith, UA vice president for university planning, design and operations.

\u201cThe goal is to move our Honors College program to the next level by having all of the faculty, classrooms, beds and the students and everything together. Being spread out is not efficient.\u201d

Currently, many UA students who are part of the Honors College live in residence halls close to Euclid Avenue and Sixth Street. The UA says there are more than 4,000 students enrolled in the Honors College.

UA officials said they\u2019ve already made some changes to be better neighbors, including decreasing the number of floors of the dorm facing the neighborhood from six to four, and placing the entrance to the college on the south side to reduce noise and traffic generated by students.

\u201cOne of the things that is important is to lower the impact to the neighborhoods,\u201d said Tannya Gaxiola, an assistant vice president for community relations at the UA. \u201cBeing really good neighbors is really important as we were talking through what the project would look like.\u201d

Diana Lett, the neighborhood preservation committee chair for the Feldman\u2019s Neighborhood Association, said she feels the university\u2019s plans so far demonstrate a lack of transparency and little respect for the desires of the surrounding communities.

\u201cRather than compromise with the public and build a project we could live with, ACC and our public university chose to do an end-run around the city of Tucson \u2014 rezoning that would be required if the parcel remained privately owned,\u201d Lett said.

The university is supposed to build within planning boundaries, she notes, as part of its adopted Comprehensive Campus Plan and the proposed Honors College is outside the UA\u2019s northern planning boundaries.

Several residents who spoke to the Arizona Daily Star about the project echoed similar concerns.

The campus plan is a formal planning document outlining the university\u2019s physical development of its land and construction projects, and mapping out its long-range plans to meet the educational needs of a growing student body.

Smith said he expects the new master plan will be released next year, and won\u2019t comment on whether the boundaries \u2014 set in 2009 \u2014 will change.

While the 2009 plan showed the boundary to be just south of this proposed project, it included a reference to this area and stated that a \u201cuniversity partnership housing project on UA property located north of the planning boundary\u201d is possible.

Smith said ACC has always had plans to develop the properties it owns in the neighborhood into some type of student housing.

Running his hand over a map, Smith motioned to the run-down properties the UA owns along Park Avenue between Mabel and Adams streets, mostly aging apartments.

\u201cI personally think this is pretty unattractive here, but I don\u2019t presume to know what the neighbors think,\u201d Smith said.

City Councilman Steve Kozachik, a UA employee, said his hands are tied in terms of the city stepping in to help ease the resident\u2019s concerns.

He said the university\u2019s plans for a new dorm may be following proper legal channels, but are hurting its reputation with surrounding neighborhoods.

\u201cSometimes there\u2019s what\u2019s legal and expeditious, and sometimes there\u2019s what you can get away with but it destroys your credibility. In this case, the UA is doing both,\u201d Kozachik said. \u201cMore importantly is the UA losing trust. Once that\u2019s gone, you\u2019ve lost everything going forward.\u201d

Kozachik has requested a joint meeting to include UA representatives, ACC officials, the city attorney and surrounding neighborhoods, but no date has been set.

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A state audit report is telling the Arizona Department of Economic Security to start spending smarter on job training for people with disabilities.

During a January performance review, the Arizona Auditor General\u2019s Office found that the state\u2019s Vocational Rehabilitation Services program was outspending its national peers, with fewer of its clients finding employment after rehabilitation.

The state Vocational Rehabilitation Services program, run by DES and financed primarily by federal grants, is designed to help people with mental or physical disabilities obtain and keep jobs.

The program spent an average of $16,200 on clients who successfully found employment in fiscal year 2015, compared with the national average of $6,300, the report said. Fifty-one percent of Arizona\u2019s clients successfully held a job for 90 days, while at comparable programs across the U.S., 57 percent of clients found lasting employment.

The audit recommended greater accountability for the DES staff that authorizes program spending and clearer guidelines on how money should be spent.

\u201cWe recommend that they analyze their data and come up with some reasonable time limits\u201d for spending on certain services, said Dot Reinhard, performance audit manager.

Program counselors, who develop custom employment and rehab plans for clients, are authorized to approve up to $25,000 per client. Those funds can go towards a number of services, including tuition, training materials, assistive technologies like captioned videos and amplified telephones, and corrective surgery, dentistry and prosthetics.

In many cases, clients receive tuition from the DES rehab program to attend four-year colleges, or vocational or technical schools. Some receive help with transportation, such as getting a bike or bus pass.

The report recommended the program require counselors to speak to a supervisor before authorizing spending on vocational training and ensure that when an individual is receiving money for vocational training, the progress of that client is monitored, Reinhard said.

Michael Wisehart, assistant director of the DES Division of Employment and Rehabilitation, said via email the department has begun to implement the changes suggested in the report.

The rehab program \u201chas some uniqueness in its approach to serving our clients, making it somewhat challenging to compare us to the work coming out of other states,\u201d he wrote.

A Tucson-based nonprofit health-care provider said it refers its members to the Arizona Rehabilitation Services Administration and has seen them benefit greatly.

Laura Santa Cruz, a program director at COPE Community Services Inc., said she remembered one client received money from the program to fix his teeth, which had been damaged through drug addiction, so that he could be successful on job interviews.

The rehabilitation services \u201creally eliminate any of the barriers\u201d that keep members from finding work, Santa Cruz said.

A DES spokeswoman said Arizona\u2019s rehab program provides high-cost services that comparable programs across the U.S. may not offer, making comparisons difficult. Those services include rehabilitation for people with visual impairments and traumatic brain injuries.

But Reinhard of the Auditor General\u2019s Office said the comparison took that into account: The audit team used federal data to compare Arizona\u2019s program to other programs listed as combined agencies, meaning they serve individuals with visual impairments as well as other impairments.

The California Department of Rehabilitation, for example, is listed as a comparable agency, and it, too, serves people with visual impairments and traumatic brain injuries.

Former clients said they had positive experiences with the DES vocational rehabilitation program.

Jenny Wendt, 33, a Tucson web designer, went through the program from 2001 to 2006 as a recent high school graduate. Diagnosed with osteosarcoma at 14, Wendt had her right leg amputated above the knee to save her life while she was in high school.

Upon graduation, Wendt decided she wanted to become a graphic designer and went to Arizona\u2019s rehab program to receive counseling and support. Wendt said her counselor helped her settle on a career option and choose a school that would give her the education she needed.

She attended the Southwest University of Visual Arts, a small private college in Tucson, where she graduated with two degrees. Arizona\u2019s rehab program provided Wendt with tuition support throughout her time in school. Wendt said she was grateful to not feel alone throughout the process.

\u201cMy counselor was always so good at checking in on me and being supportive of what I was doing,\u201d Wendt said.

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The Pima County Sheriff\u2019s Department has released details into the jail assault of a Tucson woman accused of intentionally scalding her 5-year-old daughter.

Samantha Osteraas was booked into the Pima County jail Jan. 5 on two charges of felony child abuse charges after the girl she adopted last year with her husband suffered third-degree burns over 80 percent of her body. The child remains hospitalized.

On Jan. 11, Osteraas was assaulted in her dorm area by several inmates after her case was shown on the news, according to the Pima County Sheriff\u2019s Department investigative report into the incident.

Although Osteraas declined to press charges against any of the suspects, the following six people received citations on their inmate records:

Shannon Kay Kern, 39; Esther Diaz Brito, 22; Monica Cruz Rivera, 29; Brook Jean Obermeier, 26; Laura Rocio Perez, 34; and Travis Ryan Kirksey, 30.

The report identifies Rivera, Obermeier and Brito as the suspects in the assault, but all six inmates were cited for their involvement.

At the time of the assault, Rivera was being held in jail on one charge of robbery and one charge of attempted robbery. Brito had been booked on two counts of armed robbery with a firearm, four counts of aggravated robbery, attempted armed robbery and driving without a license. Obermeier was being held on charges of shoplifting and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to the incident report.

The morning of the incident, Osteraas told corrections officers she was being threatened by other inmates because of the child-abuse charges filed against her, the report said.

Osteraas was asked if she wanted to move to a different housing unit, but declined, despite the fact one of the guards told her it would be better for her, the report said.

Shortly before 10 p.m., Osteraas was on the top bunk in her cell when four women entered the room and simultaneously assaulted her, according to her statements to corrections officers.

Osteraas said one of the women held her arms while another woman pulled her hair.

\u201cShe also said one of the women punched her in the face multiple times ... and another woman was attempting to grab her feet to pull her off the top bunk,\u201d the incident report said.

A jail sergeant broke up the altercation and put the unit on lockdown.

Osteraas told guards that while the assault was taking place, Kirksey, who was being held in jail on child abuse charges, told Osteraas that she was going to kill her.

Osteraas was able to identify all of the suspects involved, but on Jan. 17, she told a jail detective that she wanted the investigation closed and would not prosecute.

She was kept in protective custody until she was bailed out Jan. 26.

"}, {"id":"979ed945-1cb2-52a7-91ef-9740e475d001","type":"article","starttime":"1488817800","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-06T09:30:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1489275966","priority":44,"sections":[{"watchdog":"news/local/watchdog"},{"local":"news/local"}],"flags":{"watchdog":"true","top_story":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"200 Tucson cops, firefighters were paid more than $100,000 in 2016","url":"http://tucson.com/news/local/watchdog/article_979ed945-1cb2-52a7-91ef-9740e475d001.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/news/local/watchdog/tucson-cops-firefighters-were-paid-more-than-in/article_979ed945-1cb2-52a7-91ef-9740e475d001.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/news/local/watchdog/tucson-cops-firefighters-were-paid-more-than-in/article_979ed945-1cb2-52a7-91ef-9740e475d001.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By Caitlin Schmidt\nArizona Daily Star","prologue":"Most earned extra income from OT, special duty pay and other sources.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":[],"internalKeywords":["#latest","#watchdog"],"customProperties":{"arm_id":"73913"},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"f586113a-7228-5e32-8ae8-cd57970814d6","description":"Tucson Police Department investigators and officers work at Pima Street and Van Buren Avenue, where at least two TPD officers were involved in a shooting. Officers responded to calls from neighbors who reported an \u201caggressive\u201d man carrying a knife.","byline":"Mamta Popat / Arizona Daily Star","hireswidth":3000,"hiresheight":1216,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/58/f586113a-7228-5e32-8ae8-cd57970814d6/56e89ca7c8001.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1170","height":"474","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/58/f586113a-7228-5e32-8ae8-cd57970814d6/58bb4be057337.image.jpg?resize=1170%2C474"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"40","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/58/f586113a-7228-5e32-8ae8-cd57970814d6/56e89ca7c94e7.preview-100.jpg"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"169","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/58/f586113a-7228-5e32-8ae8-cd57970814d6/58bb4be057337.image.jpg?crop=1080%2C608%2C209%2C0&resize=300%2C169&order=crop%2Cresize"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"576","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/58/f586113a-7228-5e32-8ae8-cd57970814d6/58bb4be057337.image.jpg?crop=1080%2C608%2C209%2C0&resize=1024%2C576&order=crop%2Cresize"}}}],"revision":27,"commentID":"979ed945-1cb2-52a7-91ef-9740e475d001","body":"

More than 200 Tucson police and fire employees were paid over $100,000 in 2016, a good portion of which came from sources of pay other than their base salaries, such as overtime and special-duty, city records show.

The Tucson Police Department paid its employees more than $84 million last year, of which $60 million was base salaries. The Fire Department paid out nearly $53 million, and $38 million of that was base pay.

Out of 1,317 Tucson Police Department employees, 148 were paid above $100,000, but only 19 made more than that amount in base pay. The other 129 crossed the threshold with other pay categories and cash benefits, of which there are dozens of different types, including overtime, military pay, vehicle allowance and sick-leave buyback.

Six of the 148 police employees were civilians, working in areas like communications, forensics and the air unit, but the other 142 were commissioned officers, which included 57 sergeants, 17 detectives, 19 officers and 49 members that ranked lieutenant or above.

All of the police employees with base salaries of more than $100,000 were commissioned officers ranking at lieutenant or above.

The median base salary for all commissioned and civilian police employees was $45,558. For all Tucson Fire Department employees, the median base salary was $51,191. With special pay, the median salary for police rose to $63,257 and for firefighters, $67,926.

In 2008, 141 police employees took home more than $100,000, with 35 of those employees making more than $100,000 in base pay.

The highest paid department employee last year was police Capt. Fabian Pacheco, who received $202,000 in pay, $100,000 of which came from his base salary, the rest through a deferred retirement payment and unused sick and vacation time paid when he retired. Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus was paid roughly $189,000 last year, with a base salary of nearly $174,000.

A good portion of the extra pay for Tucson police officers came from overtime, which Joyce Garland, the city\u2019s chief financial officer and assistant city manager, said is to be expected.

\u201cWhen you have an officer who is getting to the end of their shift and they\u2019re working on some type of crime, they\u2019re not just going to leave,\u201d she said. \u201cThey\u2019re going to continue to work on whatever case they\u2019re on.\u201d

The Police Department also receives federal grant money, some from the Department of Homeland Security, that helps pay for the overtime. \u201cThere are some times that the officer will work his or her regular shift and then go do the grant work on overtime, and the grant will cover that pay,\u201d Garland said.

Despite the 2016 salaries, Tucson police officers are still paid below fair market value, said Tucson Police Officer Association President Roland Gutierrez.

\u201cI believe we\u2019ve only received one raise in eight years, so the situation is stagnant,\u201d he said. \u201cEspecially as officers become more experience and get more training.\u201d

The department is losing an average of six officers a month, recently to Marana, Oro Valley, Phoenix and Sahuarita.

\u201cThe data from surrounding municipalities show that they receive fewer calls and have higher pay than TPD,\u201d he said. \u201cAll we want is fair market value.\u201d

The opportunities for officers to earn overtime and special assignment pay also aren\u2019t readily available to everyone, since many of the federal grants to pay overtime are directed at a specific unit, such as DUI enforcement.

\u201cFor patrol officers, the majority of overtime comes from call-outs, extra duty and if the officer works a night shift, going to court,\u201d Gutierrez said.

Special assignment opportunities have also decreased, since the department\u2019s reorganization at the end of the last fiscal year, he said, adding that many of the assignments are now gone.

In December, the Tucson City Council approved a measure to add a half-cent city sales tax to the May ballot, of which the revenue would be used to improve roads and purchase equipment for the police and fire departments. In January, the departments asked the council to approve nearly $150 million in new vehicles, equipment and facilities, to be paid for if the sales tax measure passes.

In recent weeks, TPOA members have been visiting neighborhoods and talking to community members about the proposed sales-tax increase. Several residents have asked why it won\u2019t be used for salaries or to provide raises, Gutierrez said.

Fire Department

Of the 816 employees of the Tucson Fire Department, 55 employees were paid more than $100,000 last year. Three earned that money through base salaries and the other 52 increased their earnings through other types of pay. Many of the higher-paid employees were chiefs or battalion chiefs, but a number of employees assigned to the hazardous materials or other specialty areas were also paid higher base wages.

One of the pay categories, referred to as extra time, is paid to firefighters who work\u00a024 shifts, Garland says.

That schedule consists of 24 hours on followed by 24 hours off for a period of 10 days. After that, the employee will be off for the next six days, Garland says.

\u201cAccording to the Fair Labor Standards Act, we have to pay them overtime for those hours, and we put those into the extra time,\u201d she said.

Those employees work a total of 56 hours per week.

Because the Fire Department is operating on a full-staffing model, the opportunity is there for firefighters to pick up overtime if they want. If someone calls in sick, there\u2019s a list of employees willing to work overtime and someone will be called in, Garland said.

Fire department employees can also earn overtime through training academies, of which there is a set staff.

Lead training captains are eligible for 10 hours of overtime each week during an academy, and paramedics can earn overtime for some required medical classes, which are completed on the employee's day off in order to not reduce staffing, Garland said.\u00a0

\"There are firefighters who are specifically trained and certified as peer trainers with specific knowledge and exercises designed for firefighters and focusing on injury prevention while getting properly fit for the job,\" Garland said. \"Again, the firefighter trainer provides classes that consists of a few hours a week which requires bringing the firefighters in on overtime.\u00a0 This prevents having to pull them from the field for the duration of the class.\"

When classes are too large and require more trainers than the core staff, firefighters, paramedics and engineers can be pulled to the training academy and overtime can be used to fill those vacancies in the field, she said.

The Fire Department also offers payouts for unused sick leave, and when an employee leaves or retires they also get a vacation payout, Garland says.

In terms of military pay for both departments, Garland said that when a police or fire employee has orders to be gone, the city makes up the difference between what the federal government pays and what the employee would be earning for the city.

The 2016 salary information doesn\u2019t include health and pension benefits, which can add 20 percent or more to an employee\u2019s take-home pay.

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Highly anticipated flights from Tucson to Guaymas/San Carlos, Sonora, have not materialized more than a year after they were announced, and some customers are mulling legal action for advanced travel vouchers that have not been refunded.

Six months ago, the owner of Paradise Air, which was coordinating the air service with a California carrier, told the Star the delay was due to adding code-sharing agreements with other U.S. airlines. Now, the Paradise Air office has closed and the staff has been laid off.

More than 20 people told the Star that they gave Paradise Air between $500 and $2,500 for travel vouchers and have been trying to get their money back for months.

Owner Frank Jackson said he accepts full responsibility for the situation, but said he did not swindle anyone.

He said the money from the vouchers was placed in the same account as the flight-guarantee money and he didn\u2019t have access to it. Once his Canadian investors give him promised money, he can reimburse everyone, he said.

He sold $70,000 worth of vouchers.

\u201cI\u2019m not trying to shirk responsibility,\u201d Jackson said. \u201cI made two errors in judgment: doing the voucher program without having started the flights and putting the money in the same account as the flight-guarantee pot.\u201d

On Friday, Jackson said his Canadian investors had come through with the funds and he was in the process of issuing refunds.

One woman confirmed that she had received a refund.

Meanwhile, the status of the flights is still in flux

\u201cWe haven\u2019t heard anything at all that indicates that anything is progressing,\u201d said David Hatfield, a Tucson International Airport spokesman. \u201cIt just never moved along.\u201d

A company visited Tucson in the fall, on behalf of Paradise Air, but there\u2019s been no communication since, he said.

\u201cGET IN THE REFUND LINE\u201d

Some customers who bought tickets feel they\u2019ve been had, while others are still hopeful the flights will happen.

Adrian and Carolyn Skinner, of Castle Rock, Colorado, have a home in San Carlos and were looking forward to the convenience of the flights.

The couple bought eight vouchers for $2,000 from Paradise Air.

\u201cLike others, we have been attempting to recover our funds for a couple of months,\u201d the couple wrote via email. \u201cWe have been led on and promised funds would be wired into an account if we provided an account number and routing number. We did so.

\u201cWe even received an attachment, showing the request for a wire, but no confirmation of any such wire has followed, nor have any funds been deposited.\u201d

Ron and Irene Igo, from Gillette, Wyoming, also bought eight tickets for $2,000 hoping to facilitate a visit from their children and grandchildren to their home in San Carlos.

\u201cWorking folks with budgets and limited vacation times are nearly prohibited from driving or flying down,\u201d Ron Igo said. \u201cWe are still hoping for the service and have demanded nothing from Frank, as you can see, but maybe it\u2019s time for us to get in the refund line as it is a lot of money to us.\u201d

When Bob Sternfels heard about the flights last year, he figured the 18-hour round-trip drive from his home in San Carlos to Scottsdale for chemotherapy treatments would soon be a thing of the past.

He deposited $2,000 in a trust account that he was told would be applied toward ticket purchases at a discounted price.

\u201cWe were repeatedly assured by Frank that they would be flying \u2018soon,\u2019 however, the time for starting service came and went time after time,\u201d Sternfels said.

\u201cWe requested a refund of our deposit (and) received numerous promises from Frank that our refunds will be sent to us, \u2018Monday, then next Monday, then tomorrow.\u2019

\u201cHe never denied that he was obligated to return them to us,\u201d he said. \u201cAll he does now is give us excuse after excuse as to why he is not returning our funds.\u201d

Assured that the flights would start in November, Joe Carnevale of Indianapolis bought $2,500 worth of travel vouchers and flew family members to Phoenix to catch the flight south.

The day before the flight, he received a message from Paradise Air that the flight would not be happening and that he should make other travel arrangements and would be reimbursed.

Carnevale ended up booking his family on another flight from Phoenix to Hermosillo, driving to San Carlos, then driving them back to Phoenix after the holidays to catch a flight home.

\u201cWe have made multiple attempts to recover the promised reimbursements along with trying to collect refunds on the vouchers we purchased, and all we have received is excuses,\u201d Carnevale said.

San Carlos concert promoter Leslie Sahlen puts on music festivals on the beach and was one of many people awaiting the flights to begin in order to get visitors from Tucson to the events.

\u201cThe last official word from Paradise Air is that he expects to be in the air April 2017,\u201d she said. \u201cThere are a lot of us here in San Carlos rooting for that to happen. It was heartbreaking when he did not get airborne in November.\u201d

Working with the former Paradise Air staff, Sahlen got to work on a Plan B.

For her February music festival, guests from Tucson were booked on a flight to Hermosillo and then transported to San Carlos on a bus with complimentary margaritas and beer.

\u201cThe plane was almost full and a lot of folks drove down,\u201d Sahlen said.

She and many of her neighbors continue to be hopeful that flights between Tucson and Guaymas will still happen .

Canadian visitor Cheryl Howell has spent five years wintering in San Carlos and was thrilled to hear about the flights. She bought two vouchers for $500.

Attempts to get her money back had been futile until this past week, when Jackson did reimburse her. Two others who had bought vouchers told the Star Friday afternoon that they had received partial refunds.

MOVING FORWARD

Jackson said the flights will still happen and that he wants to be involved with the airline.

\u201cObviously my reputation is tainted,\u201d he said. \u201cI\u2019ll still be involved in it, but behind the scenes.

\u201cThe mess-up with the voucher program is on me. \u2026 I don\u2019t know how you spin that.\u201d

He said less than half of the people who bought vouchers have requested a refund.

\u201cThe rest still want to fly,\u201d Jackson said.

Asked why he took the risk of selling vouchers before the flights started, he said it was his way to thank San Carlos regulars.

\u201cWhen an airline opens, typical you give discounts for, say, a month,\u201d Jackson said.

\u201cMy thinking was to give the discount to the people in San Carlos who had supported it. I never guessed that we wouldn\u2019t fly in November.\u201d

On Thursday, he said if the Canadian partners did not come through with the funds, he would close the flight-guarantee account and give everyone their money back and start from scratch.

On Friday, he said the partners had sent him the money and he had begun issuing refunds.

\u201cEveryone will be paid back,\u201d Jackson said. \u201cAnd, eventually there\u2019s going to be air service.\u201d

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New details have been released in the February death of a 6-month-old girl, and now three people are facing felony child abuse charges in connection with the case.

Kaylie Gossett, 22, was arrested Wednesday and is facing one count of felony child abuse, said Deputy Cody Gress, Pima County Sherriff\u2019s Department spokesman.

Gossett is being held in the Pima County jail on a $10,000 bond, according to online records.

On Monday, police arrested the child\u2019s mother, 19-year-old Kylie Brewer, and Brewer\u2019s boyfriend, Jon-Paul Bogdanowich Jr., 19, and both are also facing felony charges of child abuse.

Gossett is the couple\u2019s friend who often cared for the child, Wyllow Brewer.

On Feb. 19, police went to a home in the 2900 block of West Katapa Trail for reports that a child was not breathing.

When deputies arrived, they noticed the baby was blue in color and had blood in her nose and mouth, according to a search warrant return filed Wednesday in Pima County Superior Court.

Wyllow was taken to Banner-University Medical Center where she was pronounced dead.

Doctors told sheriff\u2019s department investigators the baby\u2019s injuries included a bruise on her head and fractures on both her arms and legs, including a right arm that was \u201cgrossly displaced,\u201d the return said.

A search of the residence turned up hypodermic needles and other evidence of drug use, and although the couple told deputies the baby had been in the crib when she was found unresponsive, the crib appeared undisturbed.

Bogdanowich and Brewer both told detectives that they\u2019d used methamphetamine five days prior to the child\u2019s death.

Brewer was admitted to a hospital three days before the incident to be treated for pneumonia. She asked Gossett and another friend to stay and watch Wyllow while she was in the hospital, according to her statement to detectives.

During Brewer\u2019s stay, Gossett sent her a message on Facebook saying the baby had developed a cold.

When Brewer returned home from the hospital Feb. 18, she had to go to work and when she got home shortly before 10 p.m., Gossett and the friend went home.

Brewer and Bogdanowich told detectives they saw bruises on the baby\u2019s head and bite marks on the baby\u2019s legs after the friends had left her, and also saw a two-inch laceration near the baby\u2019s genital area, the document said.

The child\u2019s autopsy revealed bruises all over her body, including her head, torso arms and legs, although there was no evidence of bite marks, according to one of the detectives who observed the procedure.

\u201cThe pathologist did tell me that the baby (had) a fractured humerus and that she had a severe infection on her arm,\u201d the warrant return said. \u201cI was told that the baby would have been in a lot of pain due to the trauma.\u201d

Bogdanowich told detectives Brewer called him Feb. 14 to come home, saying the baby\u2019s shoulder had been dislocated after getting caught in the crib, and he needed to \u201cpop\u201d it back into place.

The couple also said that they previously saw Gossett \u201csmother the baby onto her chest by holding the back of the baby\u2019s head\u201d so she would stop crying.

Brewer said Gossett watched the baby for the couple five or six days out of the week, and often refused to let Brewer see the child, threatening to tell the police and DCS that she was abusing her daughter and using drugs.

Gossett and the other friend, who has not been arrested, denied hurting the child.

"}, {"id":"19423954-fec1-11e6-ab1f-fbf906d9ddb2","type":"article","starttime":"1488539700","starttime_iso8601":"2017-03-03T04:15:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1489286318","priority":39,"sections":[{"crime":"news/local/crime"},{"watchdog":"news/local/watchdog"}],"flags":{"watchdog":"true","top_story":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Tucson couple arrested in baby's death","url":"http://tucson.com/news/local/crime/article_19423954-fec1-11e6-ab1f-fbf906d9ddb2.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/news/local/crime/tucson-couple-arrested-in-baby-s-death/article_19423954-fec1-11e6-ab1f-fbf906d9ddb2.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/news/local/crime/tucson-couple-arrested-in-baby-s-death/article_19423954-fec1-11e6-ab1f-fbf906d9ddb2.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Caitlin Schmidt\nArizona Daily Star","prologue":"Six-month-old died on Feb. 19.","supportsComments":false,"keywords":[],"internalKeywords":["#latest","#watchdog","#bestof"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"4761512e-ff54-11e6-80fb-efe6cef0b900","description":"Kylie Brewer, Jon-Paul Bogdanowich Jr.","byline":"Courtesy of Pima County Sheriff's Department","hireswidth":2000,"hiresheight":1000,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/76/4761512e-ff54-11e6-80fb-efe6cef0b900/58b82c7fa0264.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1170","height":"585","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/76/4761512e-ff54-11e6-80fb-efe6cef0b900/58b82c7f9e505.image.jpg?resize=1170%2C585"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"56","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/76/4761512e-ff54-11e6-80fb-efe6cef0b900/58b82c7f9e505.image.jpg?crop=1777%2C1000%2C93%2C0&resize=100%2C56&order=crop%2Cresize"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"169","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/76/4761512e-ff54-11e6-80fb-efe6cef0b900/58b82c7f9e505.image.jpg?crop=1777%2C1000%2C93%2C0&resize=300%2C169&order=crop%2Cresize"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"576","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/76/4761512e-ff54-11e6-80fb-efe6cef0b900/58b82c7f9e505.image.jpg?crop=1777%2C1000%2C93%2C0&resize=1024%2C576&order=crop%2Cresize"}}}],"revision":30,"commentID":"19423954-fec1-11e6-ab1f-fbf906d9ddb2","body":"

A Tucson couple has been arrested on felony child abuse charges, in connection with the February death of the woman's 6-month-old daughter, authorities said.

Kylie Brewer, 19, and Jon-Paul Bogdanowich Jr., 19, were booked into the Pima County jail Tuesday, each on one count of felony child abuse, said Deputy Cody Gress, a sheriff's department spokesman.

Shortly before noon on Feb. 19, deputies went to a home in the 2900 block of West Katapa Trail after reports that a child was not breathing. The baby was taken to Banner-University Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead, according to a sheriff's department news release.

Doctors told sheriff's department investigators that the child's injuries included a bruise on her head, blood in her nose and mouth, a \"deformed\" and possibly fractured bone in her arm and skin that was beginning to \"marble\" in appearance, according to a search warrant return filed in Pima County Superior Court.

Homicide detectives took over the investigation, and learned that earlier in the week, the child's biological father called the department to perform a welfare check after Brewer had posted on social media that she injected drugs. During the welfare check, Brewer denied using drugs and the baby was found to be clean and \"appeared in good health,\" the warrant return said.

When Brewer was interviewed after he daughter was taken to the hospital, she told detectives that she injected methamphetamine the previous Tuesday and authorities found a box of hypodermic needles in the bedroom.

The couple told detectives that friends had watched the baby the night before while they were at work, and that Bogdanowich called 911 after finding her unresponsive in her crib. However, detectives noted in the warrant return that the crib was \"undisturbed.\"

Items taken from the house included cell phones, a wooden pipe, several needles with an unknown substance and a digital scale. A red substance was found inside of the crib and swabs were taken back to the lab to analyze, and another deputy noted seeing a child's article of clothing with blood on it on the couch, the warrant return said.

Bogdanowich is being held in the Pima County jail on a $30,000 bond, according to Pima County jail records.

The investigation is ongoing.

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Sanchez will be paid $200,000 to leave superintendent's job","url":"http://tucson.com/news/local/education/article_a9ea110a-4a01-5787-b387-98c9cb021d30.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/news/local/education/tucson-unified-school-district-s-h-t-sanchez-will-be/article_a9ea110a-4a01-5787-b387-98c9cb021d30.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/news/local/education/tucson-unified-school-district-s-h-t-sanchez-will-be/article_a9ea110a-4a01-5787-b387-98c9cb021d30.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":4,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By Yoohyun Jung\nArizona Daily Star","prologue":"The district's Governing Board voted Tuesday to accept his resignation on a 3-2 vote.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["tucson unified school district","h.t. sanchez","superintendent","tusd","michael hicks","mark stegeman","rachael sedgwick","adelita grijalva","kristel foster"],"internalKeywords":["#top5","#latest","#watchdog","#topstory","#ultima","#breaking","#bestof"],"customProperties":{"arm_id":"74294"},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"24b0654d-ed08-58d5-a000-a809c3572459","description":"Superintendent H.T. 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The leader of Tucson\u2019s largest school district will be paid $200,000 to leave immediately, more than a year before his contract was scheduled to end.

After more than two weeks of deliberations behind closed doors and public discussions being tabled twice, the Tucson Unified School District\u2019s Governing Board voted Tuesday to accept Superintendent H.T. Sanchez\u2019s resignation in a 3-2 vote.

\"H.T.

TUSD board member Rachael Sedgwick, left, tries to make a point of order while Kristel Ann Foster is reading a statement during a meeting at Duffy Community Center where superintendent H.T. Sanchez was removed from his job, Tuesday, February 28, 2017, Tucson, Ariz.\u00a0

Rachael Sedgwick, a new board member who started the discussion by asking to review Sanchez\u2019s employment at the Feb. 14 meeting, voted in favor, along with board President Michael Hicks and board Clerk Mark Stegeman.

Sanchez\u2019s resignation is effective immediately. His seat at the board table was vacant Tuesday night. He was paid through Tuesday and an additional sum of $200,000, according to his separation agreement.

The agreement also contains a non-disparagement clause for board members to \u201crefrain from making derogatory statements about the other.\u201d

Sanchez, who is the eighth superintendent to leave the district in the past 20 years, was first hired in 2013, from a district in Odessa, Texas, to oversee 86 schools in Tucson. His contract had been scheduled to end June 30, 2018, and he was paid an annual base salary of $270,000, not including performance bonuses and vacation payouts.

Stefanie Boe, a district spokeswoman, previously said a new superintendent search would cost about $60,000.

\"H.T.

H.T. Sanchez at the board meeting on Feb. 21, 2017.

Sanchez said Tuesday in a letter to district employees:

\u201cRegardless of the outcome of tonight\u2019s meeting, I wanted to share a few thoughts with you. Let me begin by simply saying \u2014 You are amazing. You embody the best of Tucson. It has been an honor to serve as superintendent of TUSD. You go above and beyond to do great work for our students and their families. I will not forget the many of you who sat down with me or stopped me in a hallway to share your ideas, concerns or aspirations. I have enjoyed the classroom visits, the opportunities to read to our students, and the lessons I learned from our conversations. The Tucson community is truly blessed by you, and I know that, personally, as you have positively touched the lives of my entire family.\u201d

Board members Adelita Grijalva and Kristel Foster, both of whom have maintained their support for Sanchez, gave impassioned speeches in support of Sanchez before the vote. \u201cIn my opinion, it has been a witch hunt after our superintendent,\u201d Grijalva said during the meeting, alleging that Hicks, Stegeman and Sedgwick conspired to get Sanchez out.

\"TUSD

TUSD board member Mark Stegeman, right, tries to get Michael Hicks to recognize his attempt to introduce a motion during a meeting at Duffy Community Center, Tuesday, February 28, 2017, Tucson, Ariz. Kelly Presnell / Arizona Daily Star

Hicks previously told the Star that Sanchez had done some good and bad things during his time at TUSD. For example, Sanchez brought the Steps to Success program, which partners with local public figures to get students to return to school. However, \u201cI don\u2019t think we\u2019ve really focused on student achievement. I don\u2019t think we focused on curriculum rigor. There\u2019s a lot of things we didn\u2019t focus on.\u201d

Stegeman had pointed out high administrative costs and declining enrollment in the district, among other issues. Sedgwick previously said she initially wanted to see about putting Sanchez on a performance plan when she requested to review his employment. Her concerns about Sanchez included teacher recruitment and retention, she said.

Much of the discussion surrounding Sanchez\u2019s future with the district happened behind closed doors in executive sessions and private meetings between a lawyer and the three board members who voted in favor of Sanchez\u2019s resignation.

The lawyer, Bill Brammer, met with the three members separately before he was officially appointed through a vote during the Feb. 21 meeting.

The Governing Board room at Duffy Community Center, 5145 E. Fifth St., was packed with community members for the third week in a row Tuesday night to speak in support or opposition for Sanchez\u2019s resignation. However, the public comment portion of the meeting happened after the vote.

The teachers\u2019 union is in the beginning stages of negotiating teacher contracts, said Jason Freed, president of the Tucson Education Association. \u201cWe\u2019re not quite sure what the direction will be\u201d with nobody in the superintendent seat, he added.

The weekslong process regarding Sanchez\u2019s exit has been \u201cfrustrating,\u201d he said. \u201cWe\u2019ve been focusing on this instead of our kids\u2019 education.\u201d

"} ]