Best Cameo 2020 | Jake Paul at Scottsdale Fashion Square | Megalopolitan Life | Phoenix

Jake Paul has more than 20 million YouTube followers, but he got famous on Vine, so it's perhaps appropriate that a short video could eventually be what sends him to prison. On May 30, at the height of the George Floyd protests, looters descended on Scottsdale Fashion Square, causing millions of dollars of damage in the mall and its surrounding businesses. Social media videos from the incident began to trickle out, and one showed Paul on the scene. Paul, who's known for pranks and internet feuds, said he was there to document the events, and that he hadn't participated in any vandalism. But a few days later, he was charged by Scottsdale police with criminal trespassing and unlawful assembly, both misdemeanors. The Scottsdale charges were eventually dropped — but only, it appears, because the feds got involved. The FBI raided Paul's Los Angeles mansion in August, reportedly looking for evidence related to what happened that night in Scottsdale. A hard lesson for an influencer to swallow: Maybe not everything is worth documenting on Instagram.

Once upon a time, there was a bisexual, Native American anthropology professor at Arizona State University who stood up for the abuse of women in science and died of COVID-19 on July 31. The professor was known to about 2,400 followers on Twitter, including many followers in academia, as @Sciencing_Bi. They retweeted news of the professor's death, which happened at a time of intense debate about ASU's reopening amid the pandemic. People demanded that ASU acknowledge what had happened to @Sciencing_Bi. That's when this tale took a surprise twist. There was no such ASU professor. A former Vanderbilt University neuroscience instructor who had tweeted about the death, BethAnn McLaughlin, was soon outed as the person behind the hoax. McLaughlin's not laughing, though — she was booted from her position on the board of a science journal, and her previously published scientific papers are undergoing new critical review.

ASU officials hoped for a smooth transition after Christopher Callahan, dean of ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, took a job as president of University of the Pacific in California. They got anything but. ASU hired Sonya Forte Duhé from the School of Communication and Design at Loyola University in New Orleans to take his place. Duhé, who was supposed to start on July 1, had worked for years as a well-pedigreed broadcast journalism program director at Loyola, and ASU put out excited news releases in the spring about her imminent arrival. Then, Minnesota cops killed George Floyd, causing uprisings around the country, along with some looting. Duhé tweeted a word in support of the protesters — but also said something about "good" police officers. That caused one of Duhé's former students to go public with accusations that Duhé had said bigoted things to her and seemed unsupportive of her and other Black students. Several other students spoke up to agree. The press went crazy with the story. And suddenly, ASU uninvited Duhé as dean. The university made longtime faculty member Kristin Gilger the interim dean, who would have been a great choice all along. It wasn't that the journalism school had failed to do its research, either: Loyola officials eventually admitted they knew about the complaints filed by students against Duhe and apologized for "not fixing this situation" sooner. Ed. Note: This blurb has been updated to more accurately characterize Loyola's response to the controversy.

Water treatment and sewage disposal are way more complicated from a city infrastructure perspective than simply turning on a tap or flushing a toilet, especially in the bone-dry desert we call home. Describing the intricacies of such a mundane process also tends to be boring as hell, especially for the average tween. Thus, at schools and educational events, the City of Phoenix Department of Water Services has introduced the mascot Wayne Drop, a smiling blue drop of water, to help kids and adults alike digest these turgid facts. The other end of the story had been missing until April, when the city rolled out Wayne's sidekick, Loo Poo, whose swirly brown costume resembles the typical "poop" emoji. In an activity book for kids, you can follow along with Loo Poo's adventures through sewage pipes until he (of course they made him a man) finally emerges again as a "bio-solid" fertilizer on your local farm. He doesn't have a shit-eating grin on his face like Wayne, but instead wears a smirk that seems to say, "How's your 2020 going?"

In his old life, Mark Kelly piloted Navy fighter jets and orbited Earth hundreds of times as a NASA astronaut. Then, about a decade ago, he gave it all up, not long after his wife, U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was shot and nearly killed by an assassin in Tucson. Following Giffords' recovery, the pair built a gun-safety nonprofit that, among other things, backed political candidates that supported safer firearms laws. Now, Kelly himself is one of those candidates. A Democrat, he's challenging Republican Martha McSally in November for the U.S. Senate seat McSally was appointed to following the 2018 death of John McCain. Unlike McSally — who, in loudly and frequently proclaiming her support for President Trump, exudes an aura of combative partisanship — Kelly projects a brand of common-sense centrism that's more in line with previous Arizona senators like McCain and Jeff Flake. The political sands out here in the desert are always shifting, and it's too early to tell whether moderate politics in Arizona are fully a thing of the past. But so far, so good: As of this writing, Kelly's up comfortably in the polls.

No one ever would have known that Arizona Representative Ann Kirkpatrick, a Democrat whose district covers part of southern Arizona, fell off a Metro platform in Washington, D.C., in a drunken stumble. Or that she had a problem with wine, which had turned into a much bigger problem in recent years. Yet in a stunning and ultra-transparent January announcement from her Congressional office, Kirkpatrick said that she was taking six weeks off to recover from the fall — in which she had injured her spine and head — and her alcoholism. Friends and colleagues said they were surprised, having never seen her drunk before. The 70-year-old Congresswoman later emerged from rehab and is expected to beat the Republican challenging her for her seat in November. Good for her.

Walt Blackman of Snowflake is the Arizona GOP's idea of diversity. He's the first Black Republican member of the State Legislature, serving District 6. He sometimes wears a cowboy hat in his Facebook videos. He can say things that would be a problem for white lawmakers. Take his statements in early June, soon after the death of George Floyd under the knee of a police officer sparked national protests: "I DO NOT support George Floyd and I refuse to see him as a martyr. But I hope his family receives justice." He also went on local radio to announce that Black Lives Matter was a "terrorist organization." On the other hand, he's a criminal justice reform advocate who this year submitted a groundbreaking bill (by Arizona standards) that, if it had passed, would have reduced prison sentences for some nonviolent offenders and basically been the biggest set of reforms in more than 25 years. But "moderate" does not describe Blackman, generally. He's a hero to pro-lifers and wants women to face "consequences" if they get an abortion. Blackman's the kind of Arizona lawmaker conservatives wish they could make more of.

It's not easy for a state legislator to get the public's attention, and it usually takes money. But State Senator Martín Quezada of Phoenix's District 29 got everyone in the Valley to stop what they were doing for a minute with a single tweet on May 20: "I just witnessed an armed terrorist with an AR-15 shoot up Westgate. There are multiple victims." The shooter, 20-year-old Armando Hernandez Jr., surrendered to cops after wounding three people. Many local residents first heard of the shooting from Quezada, an eight-year veteran of the Legislature in District 29, and he became a sought-after interview by the news media. Turning a crisis into an opportunity, he told a reporter he's in a position to help create policy to slow gun violence, saying, "I feel that it's my job to make this political." But really, he already had, by co-sponsoring six firearms-related bills earlier in the year when the Legislature was in session. He's no one-issue progressive, either. Quezada, an attorney who has the energy to also serve as a governing board member in a west Phoenix school district, sponsored bills to give voting rights to felons, repeal the last vestiges of SB 1070, limit immigration enforcement, and more. He was proud to receive a near-perfect 95 percent score by Progress Arizona. Following his scary incident in May, watch out for an even more pissed-off lawmaker coming to the State Capitol in 2021.

You may not realize it, but much of the news you hear starts with a PIO. These are the bureaucrats and assistants of elected officials who are paid to try to answer the annoying questions of reporters without pissing off their government bosses, the public, or both. It's a delicate balance that Jennifer Liewer of the Maricopa County Attorney's Office has handled well for many years. Her résumé is a tour of state government, with experience in Phoenix, Glendale, the Arizona Supreme Court, the Department of Education, Tempe Union High School District, and now the MCAO. Liewer seems to genuinely care about keeping the public informed, takes pains to return a message, and can make a reporter feel like she's trying her best when the info spigot shuts off. The latter point is important in her current job in the highly political prosecutor's office, where sooner or later, the bad stuff hits the fan. If Allister Adel survives her challenge in the general election and retains Liewer, the public can be confident they're getting the most information they can from the office.

If you see a state official promoting the Holy Ghost, who you gonna call? The Secular Coalition for Arizona, that's who. This freethinking organization celebrated its 10th anniversary in the state this year, and many Arizonans are glad to have it. The group protects the rights not just of nonbelievers, but of all Arizonans who don't think public money, resources, and messages should be spent pushing religious dogma. Chaired and directed by Zenaido Quintana, and with high-powered hitters like lobbyist and spokesperson Tory Roberg and progressive attorney Dianna Post on the payroll, this is a group that regularly gets attention. Whether it's slamming Governor Doug Ducey for posts about Jesus during Easter, denouncing Bible studies in public schools, or fighting for atheist lawmakers' rights to give the invocation at the State Legislature, the Secular Coalition for Arizona has been the state's voice of rational disbelief.

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