Best Twitter 2018 | Imraan Siddiqi | Megalopolitan Life | Phoenix

When he's not busy fighting for the civil rights of Arizona's growing Muslim population, CAIR-Arizona president Imraan Siddiqi is dunking on conservatives on Twitter, where he excels at deploying sarcastic one-liners and finding the perfect GIF for any situation. With over 38,000 followers, he's one of the loudest voices in the state when it comes to speaking up against all forms of discrimination. He's used his platform to raise money for a vandalized Jewish cemetery, and to fight for the prosecution of two women who filmed themselves mocking Muslims and stealing Korans from a Tempe mosque. But he's also just plain funny. "E-coli will be a great time, after I finish my stint in the hospital for salmonella," he cracked in response to a conservative commentator's claim that Nikki Haley would make a great first female president after Trump's first term.

Bob Stump spent 26 years representing Arizona in Congress before he died in 2003. Then, in late 2017, Bob Stump announced that he'd be running for the seat vacated by Representative Trent Franks, possibly to the confusion of elderly voters in the 8th Congressional District. No, Bob Stump hadn't risen from the dead — this was Christopher Robert Stump, a Hawaii-born Harvard graduate who conveniently started going by "Bob" right around the time that he got involved in Arizona politics. After Bob Stump's widow accused the younger Bob Stump of misleading voters, his mother jumped into the fray, insisting that he had every right to use the name. Their feud ended after the Republican primary, when Stump received less than 6 percent of the vote. Name recognition only gets you so far.

"We Need a Mom to Clean Up the House." That's the tagline that Milena "Millie" Bucci, a Democratic candidate for the Arizona House of Representatives, chose for her campaign to replace Representative Don Shooter, who had been accused of sexual harassment by numerous women. While the play on words was undeniably clever, the slogan also smacked of gender essentialism — after all, in 2018, do we really want to assume that only women and mothers are capable of doing basic household tasks? Before she could land a spot on the ballot, though, Bucci dropped out of the race. And Shooter ended up getting ousted from the House after Speaker J.D. Mesnard called for his expulsion — proving that men, too, are capable of rolling up their sleeves and dealing with a mess.

Arizona's departing junior senator has a weird knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time — or the right place at the right time, depending on how you look at it. First, there was the baseball game in Alexandria, Virginia, where a lone gunman opened fire and shot Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise. Flake immediately rushed over and applied pressure to the wound until paramedics arrived, then called Scalise's wife so that she wouldn't find out about the shooting through the news. Then, in January, Flake was on his way to a GOP retreat in Virginia with other Republican lawmakers when their train collided with a garbage truck. Unscathed, he immediately began helping to treat the injured passengers. What's next for Flake after his retirement from the Senate is unclear, but we're guessing that it might mean some volunteer stints as an EMT.

Smack-dab in the middle of the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and general male asshole-ism, Republican Congressman Trent Franks got caught in a sexual misconduct scandal and resigned. Steve Montenegro and nine other GOP candidates decided to run for his seat, and for a while, Montenegro was the leader. He'd had a short but successful career in the Arizona Legislature, with a stint as Republican Majority Leader of the Senate. If you think a holier-than-thou politician who works part-time as a preacher has something to hide, you'd be right. The family man was sharing bawdy text messages with the Senate's social media coordinator, who used her skills to send Montenegro at least one topless photo on Snapchat. Montenegro looked like the biggest boob in town for a week or so after someone leaked the texts to the media. Who leaked it and why? The answer proved elusive. But the damage was done when the story hit the papers, and Montenegro's star fell. Voters elected Debbie Lesko to Congress. Hint to other high-profile Don Juans: Just because you put your sex fantasies on Snapchat doesn't mean they'll disappear. But your political aspirations just might.

Sixty years of newspapering under the moniker Scottsdale Progress came to a screeching halt 10 years ago when, in October 2008, the parent company of the local East Valley Tribune announced devastating changes to the local journalism scene. Besides laying off half the staff, the Trib dropped coverage of Scottsdale and Tempe, though it had carried the banner of the old Scottsdale Progress and Tempe Daily News. In a surprise announcement this year, Steve Strickbine of Times Media Group, the new publisher and owner of the East Valley Tribune, said he planned to bring back the Scottsdale Progress, with new editions hitting the racks starting on September 16. Now, will the new Progress be like the one where Pulitzer Prize winners Ryan Gabrielson and Paul Giblin worked in the mid-2000s? No, at least not at first. Instead of a daily newspaper, it'll be a weekly freebie on Sunday. Strickbine as yet has been focused on selling ads and keeping his newspaper-acquisition operation alive, with editorial that hasn't tried to set the world on fire. Still, if anyone tells you that print's dead, show them a copy of the resurrected Scottsdale Progress.

Arizona has had several #MeToo issues by this time. But the case of Don Shooter helped set the bar at proper Arizona depth. Shooter had a good run in the state Legislature, but only because Harvey Weinstein had not yet happened. Shooter was known to be a serious horndog and lech — a guy who never let an emotion come between him and a crass wisecrack, especially if the target was a woman. As former Arizona Republic publisher Mi-Ai Parrish later related, when he met her, he quipped that his one regret in life was failing to nail "Asian twins." But she didn't say anything. It wasn't until well after Weinstein, but just before Matt Lauer, that women, starting with state Representative Michelle Ugenti-Rita, finally came forward publicly to out Shooter as the harasser he was. The Legislature commissioned an investigation that released a damning report in January that concluded Shooter had created a hostile work environment at the state Capitol. House Speaker J.D. Mesnard asked Shooter to resign, but, true to form, Shooter stood his ground and tried to play the part of a political victim. The House voted 56-3 to oust him, forcing Shooter to take his disgraced nameplate back to Yuma. One problem: The law didn't prevent Shooter from running for office again, which he did. Voters chose the clear solution and sent him packing in the August primary election.

Kevin DeMenna is one of those longtime fixtures in the Arizona Legislature, a lobbyist who's outlasted many of the once-famous newsmakers he wined and dined. DeMenna Public Affairs started in 1998. He ran into trouble a few years ago, though, and was found with pot and opiates in his car. He'd let his addiction to pills get the best of him — he said he got hooked while trying to cope with the pain of an old rodeo injury. But he came back after his sons, Joe and Ryan, formed a new company in 2017. The trio handle all sorts of clients, but they're best known for representing the Arizona Dispensary Association, a group of politics-minded medical-marijuana store operators. In April, the DeMenna family created a buzz in the cannabis industry with a photo tweeted by Governor Doug Ducey's office showing them and dispensary representatives around a large table with the famously anti-cannabis governor. The DeMennas say they want to help the dispensaries work with the Republican-leaning government to make changes to the 2010 medical-marijuana law that many see as overdue, such as a lower patient card fee and testing for contaminants. The family that sways (opinion) together, stays together.

Former revenge-porn operator Craig Brittain — a conspiracy theorist and fringe Arizona Senate candidate — has experienced many low points. There was the time when he was forced to settle with the Federal Trade Commission after operating a website that extorted women in exchange for deleting nude photos of them posted online. Then there was his unsuccessful 2018 bid for Senator Jeff Flake's seat, when Brittain failed to obtain the required number of signatures to get on the ballot. ("This is a rigged sham and cannot even be considered an election at this point," Brittain told Phoenix New Times in a text message.) But perhaps the greatest blow to Brittain was when his favorite social network, Twitter, deleted his account (for the second time) in March. Twitter is often criticized for a hands-off approach when it comes to bigots and trolls, but it seems like the network has had enough of Brittain. Shortly before Twitter deep-sixed his account, Brittain was tweeting vile conspiracy theories about the teenage survivors of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Good riddance, Craig.

Arizona charter schools are supposed to be open to everyone. They can't discriminate against prospective students on the basis of gender, ethnicity, disability, or language proficiency. But as it turns out, some charter schools were ignoring state law. In a December 2017 report titled "Schools Choosing Students," the Arizona chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union revealed that a shocking number of charter schools use exclusionary enrollment policies. Families attempting to enroll their child in charter schools faced essays, interviews, requests for a birth certificate or Social Security number, and fees. Some schools asked whether the prospective student had a disability or special education needs, and others asked about the primary language spoken at home. The ACLU argued that these hurdles are unacceptable, and last spring advocates showed up to lobby the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools. Apparently, the board was listening. In June, officials reviewed enrollment policies and mandated changes at almost 100 charter schools. The ACLU says that more oversight is needed. Nevertheless, the campaign achieved an impressive outcome: a fairly quick response from a board that has been criticized for a laissez-faire approach to charter schools.

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