KNAU's Morning Rundown: Monday, May 31

May 31, 2021

It’s May 31, 2021 and Memorial Day. A database established by the Arizona Republic estimates more than 3,000 Arizonans have died in military duty since 1917

More than 500,000 Arizonans are veterans, and as of 2019, more than 800 of the state’s veterans were experiencing homelessness, according to the Department of Economic Security. 

Gov. Doug Ducey ordered flags to be flown at half-staff in observance of those who died.

Tow Truck Driver Strikes Six Cyclists, Kills Flagstaff Woman

 A California man struck six cyclists Friday evening in downtown Flagstaff. The collision killed a 29-year-old woman and injured others. Police say Normand Cloutier was driving a tow truck — along with a moving truck — through a red light when he struck the individuals at Beaver St. and Butler Ave. 

He’s been charged with causing a death by a moving violation, according to the Flagstaff Police Department.

Flowers and signs mark the area where a driver collided with six cyclists in downtown Flagstaff, killing a 29-year-old woman and injuring others.

Joanna Wheaton was pronounced dead at the scene; four others were hospitalized. Wheaton was a Flagstaff resident and community organizer; she graduated from Northern Arizona University in 2020, where she studied data science.

Community members gathered the following morning outside Flagstaff City Hall and called for safer biking infrastructure. 

“We risk our lives every day on those roads,” Councilmember Adam Shimoni said on Saturday.

GoFundMe pages have circulated in the wake of the event to pay for the cyclists’ medical expenses. Flagstaff restaurant Mama Burger says its sales tomorrow will go to those affected.

Navajo Nation Allocated $1.8 Billion From Federal COVID-19 Relief Funds

The Navajo Nation has received more than 1.8 billion dollars from the federal government’s American Rescue Plan, according to tribal officials. 

The allocation of COVID-19 relief funding is determined by tribal enrollment numbers. Navajo Nation officials say nearly 400,000 individuals are currently enrolled in the Diné tribe — which was recently determined the largest in the country. 

President Jonathan Nez says he’s still working with the Navajo Nation Council and local chapters to solidify specific allocations. 

The funds can be used for public health efforts, financial support for essential workers, and water infrastructure among other purposes.

Ducey Vetoes 22 Bills, Pushes For Budget Plan

Gov. Doug Ducey on Friday vetoed 22 bills from the state legislature in what he says is an effort to instead focus on budgetary plans. 

Ducey is supporting a spending plan that would introduce a flat income tax rate at 2.5% for residents.  The proposal would cut $1.5 billion a year in state revenue. It drew criticism from Democratic and Republican lawmakers, along with former Gov. Jan Brewer

Ducey defended his decision to veto the bills in a statement Friday:

“Some of these pieces of legislation contain good policy,” he said,“but at this time, our priority needs to be passing a budget for Arizona.”

State Sen. Tony Navarrette condemned Ducey for stalling legislation, calling the veto a “temper tantrum.” The bills focused on topics including emergency shelter for seniors, early ballots and adoption policy.

Flagstaff Recreation Facilities To Reopen 

Flagstaff’s recreational facilities are slated to reopen tomorrow at limited capacity. A Parks and Recreation spokesperson told KNAU masks will be strongly recommended indoors. The reopening currently applies to patrons who’ve held accounts within the past two years.

It comes as both Flagstaff and Coconino County lift their mask mandates. Flagstaff’s Downtown Library and East Side Community Library will open at limited capacity on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively; masks will be required.