Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Greater Phoenix Chapter

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Church State Issues

Public records laws don't have any teeth in Arizona

Sep 10, 2014

Arizona Republic

Don't expect any results, but you can always complain about how screwed up government is to one of these Arizona government ombudsman.

On the public records side they are absolutely worthless!!!!

Even if they find that the government refused to obey your request for public records they can do absolutely nothing. Well other then send a letter to the governor's office saying that government agency XYZ refused to honor your request for public records.

Yea, like that will force the XYZ government agency to honor your request for public records.

I suspect the only reason this agency was created was to give you the impression that government works for you. Yea, sure!!!

But anyhow if you have lots of time to waste, and don't mind punishing yourself send one of these bureaucrats an email at:

Arizonans can file state agency complaints to ombudsman

Michelle Ye Hee Lee, The Republic | 10:36 p.m. MST September 9, 2014

Arizona taxpayers have a resource in the state Ombudsman-Citizens' Aide Office, one of five offices in the country that investigate complaints about administrative problems with state agencies, boards and commissions.

In 2013, the office responded to more than 4,800 complaints. The office also helps Arizonans with public-access and public-records issues. The eight-person office reports to the state Legislature.

Meet Dennis Wells, your state ombudsman-citizens' aide.

Question: What is the role of the Ombudsman-Citizens' Aide Office?

Answer: This office is complaint-driven by the citizens of Arizona. When citizens have a problem with a state agency, we offer free, confidential services to them, to listen to their complaint. We're not necessarily an advocate ... but we do get to the facts.

If we do find that the citizen's complaint is valid, we will go to the agency and report to them what our findings are. Oftentimes, though, we'll find the agency has acted in accordance with state statute and rule. But we also find where the agency has made mistakes.

One of the most important things we provide is a place for people to go, to help them navigate state government ... and how state government interfaces with federal, local and other levels of government. A hidden service that we provide the citizens is ... we help to avoid a substantial quantity of litigation that might be coming against the state of Arizona. That, obviously, helps to save taxpayers' dollars for all of us, and make government more efficient.

Q: How did you come to this job in 2012?

A: I began my public career as a county supervisor in Flagstaff, and I served in that capacity for 18 years. ... I came to the job at age 25, and at the time, I was one of the youngest people elected to that job. It was just a real opportunity to learn about solving constituent problems. In those days, a lot of the problems were rural problems: For instance, rural roads in need of repair, and perhaps the road department wasn't moving it up in the priority list. I'd go out in the field and check and try to get something done.

Through my career, I've been able to interface with the citizens many, many, many thousands of times. (Then) I was appointed to the (Arizona State) Land Department as the deputy state land commissioner. That was another opportunity to listen to constituents and help solve their complaints. ... (Then) I was a city manager in Williams for eight years — there I was, in municipal government. ... When I (applied) to become ombudsman, what really helped me to rise to the top was that I had several levels of government experience, all dealing with handling citizens' complaints from various angles: county, state and municipal.

Q: What do you like most about being the state ombudsman?

A: This is by far the most interesting job I have ever had. ... There's such an enormous variety of situations that come across our desk on a daily basis. Department of Child Safety (formerly Child Protective Services) is big chunk of what we do, all the way to ADOT (Arizona Department of Transportation), Department of Health Services, all the state agencies that are out there, and all the boards and commissions — some 1,300 in total. It's such an opportunity to learn about all of state government and to help people at every level.

Q: What is the best way for the public to reach you or your staff?

A: Our preference is by e-mail or phone. Our system is set up to capture e-mail inquiries most efficiently, and people can utilize the website. ... We welcome people's questions and contact with us. We take walk-ins, as well. (Complainants' personal information) is confidential.

How to contact the Arizona Ombudsman-Citizens' Aide:

• Phone —602-277-7292 or 800-872-2879.

• Fax — 602-277-7312.

• E-mail —

• Website —

• Mail — Arizona Ombudsman-Citizens' Aide, 3737 N. Seventh St., Suite 209, Phoenix AZ 85014.