Volunteer lawyers answer consumer questions on landlord-tenant issues at the Lawyers on Call public service program, Nov. 11, 2014.

Volunteer lawyers answer consumer questions on landlord-tenant issues at the Lawyers on Call public service program, Nov. 11, 2014.

Today I share some news from my colleague Alberto Rodriguez:

The State Bar of Arizona, 12 News, and azcentral.com hosted the Lawyers on Call public service program on Tuesday, November 11. Volunteers answered viewers’ calls regarding their landlord/tenant issues.

Five volunteer attorneys assisted with the program: Clare Abel (Burch & Cracchiolo PA); Kristen Coyne (CKGH Law); Clint Dunaway (Dunaway Law Group PLC); Mark Heldenbrand (J. Mark Heldenbrand PC); and Nick Wood (Snell & Wilmer).

The lawyers answered 28 calls on landlord/tenant issues. Compared to previous phone banks, there was a substantial decrease in calls.

Sample consumer questions:

  • How can I break my lease? How long of a notice do I have to provide my landlord?
  • I don’t have a lease agreement with my landlord, how do I request one?
  • My landlord won’t fix issues with my unit. What can I do?
  • Fumigation has not fixed the bedbug and roach infestation, what can I do?
  • How do I evict a tenant?

One out of the five attorneys was a first-time volunteer. Returning volunteers were surprised at the low call volume, but were hopeful that consumers are experiencing fewer issues with their landlords/tenants.

Next month, volunteer lawyers will answer consumers’ mental health, disability, and elder law questions on Tuesday, December 2, the final Lawyers on Call public service program of 2014.

Estate Planning wills trusts

I often communicate the results of the State Bar’s Lawyers on Call events after they occur. But as I looked at the topic for tomorrow’s pro bono lawyer event, I thought that many of us may have family or friends who could benefit from calling in. Please feel free to share this with them.

Tomorrow’s topic is estate planning (wills, trusts, more). The number to call is (602) 258-1212 (note: lawyers are only available at that phone number from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the days when Lawyers on Call is featured). Here is Bar news about the upcoming Lawyers on Call.

“If you should pass away unexpectedly, will your children be cared for by someone you love and trust? If you become incapacitated, will your business continue to thrive and grow? Will your family have to deal with bureaucracy during a time of sadness? Ease the stress associated with untimely death or accidents by seeking advice from an estate planning attorney for free on Tuesday, July 1.”

“Volunteer estate planning attorneys will answer your questions on the State Bar of Arizona, 12 News, and azcentral.com’s Lawyers on Call public service program. You can discuss your wills, trust, and estate planning issues with them for free from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 1.”

landlord and tenant rental-agreement

Here is a follow-up to a State Bar event, by my colleague Alberto Rodriguez:

The State Bar of Arizona, azcentral.com and 12 News hosted the Lawyers on Call public service program on Tuesday, June 3.

The following is a recap of the program, which focused on landlord and tenant issues.

The volunteer attorneys were:Clare Abel, Kristin Coyne, Paul Henderson, Richard Klauer, Ellen Lawson, Thomas Leavell, Patricia Premeau and Christopher Walker.

Volunteer attorneys answered 118 calls on landlord and tenant issues. An additional 18 consumers were assisted via social media, which gave us a total of 136 people who were helped.

Here is a sample of consumer questions:

  • I have been living in the rental unit and paying rent but have not signed a lease. What should I do?
  • I am being harassed by other tenants. What can I do?
  • A tree on the property fell on my car. Is the landlord responsible?
  • If my landlord isn’t making improvements, should I withhold rent until they’re made?
  • I have a roach/bed bug problem. Can I break my lease because of the issue?
  • I am renting a two-bedroom unit that is occupied by eight people. Can I evict them?
  • My landlord has not fixed my A/C. What should I do?
  • Is it legal for my landlord to withhold deposits if no issues were found at move out?
  • I have a continued mold problem that my landlord won’t address. What should I do?

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_ColorSocial media continues to be a successful element of Lawyers on Call. Eighteen consumers asked their questions via the 12 News Facebook page, and attorney Patricia Premeau responded with her recommendations/advice.

One of the eight attorneys was a first-time volunteer.

Next month, volunteer lawyers will answer consumers’ estate planning/wills & trusts questions on Tuesday, July 1.

Today is the happy anniversary of a significant legal event: On June 4, 1919, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was enacted. The “suffrage amendment” prohibited voting discrimination based on sex.

It is a coincidence that the remarkable milestone coincides with the release yesterday of important salary data in Arizona. But the two may be related as a view into Americans’ shifting views of gender equity.

 Yesterday, the Arizona Republic released the results of its latest data on the highest-paid executives of Arizona public companies. The paper says that it has compiled these numbers for about the past 15 years.

I don’t know if readers eagerly await the story, though I’d guess it gives the Occupy Movement palpitations. But it is an intriguing view into the corporate world and its ups and downs.

I am one of those increasingly rare folks who get a newspaper subscription, so I was able to read Russ Wiles’ story while sitting at my kitchen table. It was well written and insightful.

But I also am curious about the digital delivery of news, and so last night I surfed over to azcentral.com, home of the Republic and of the local NBC affiliate Channel 12. There, I could see that the delivery left a lot to be desired—even given azcentral’s poor track record.

You may disagree and find azcentral to be all an online newspaper should be. However, I find it a very often unsearchable morass. And this time was no exception. And it got worse than the poor search function.

As in the print newspaper’s strong front-page tease, the salary story got prominent play up top in azcentral (more on that in a minute). The print version followed that up with significant coverage, beginning at D1 and covering almost two more full pages.

Online was more of a slog, though. Clicking the home-page link took you not to Russ’ article, but to a slideshow-type demon that let you click through, one-by-one, all the Arizona executives who earned $4 million or more last year.

Oddly, the slideshow was not broken out between highly paid CEOs and highly paid non-CEOs; they were lumped together (unlike the print paper, which had separate helpful tables).

Nor was the slideshow accessible except in a cumbersome linear way. It began, much to my surprise, with the lowest-paid executive who made $4 million—rather than with the highest-paid executive, who made $82 million.

That’s a generous little gift from the Republic to the one-percent, don’t you think? Online viewers will never take the time to scroll through more than 100 names and bios to find out who is atop the sedan chair (that would be Richard Adkerson, whose mining giant Freeport-McMoRan dished $82 million his way).

Also strange, there is no easy link to Wiles’ actual analysis. Readers curious about what it all means have to search for the story. Of course, they wouldn’t have the benefit print-readers do and know the reporter’s name. Good luck to the nonsubscribers. Here is the story online.

My biggest surprise, though, is one I’ve saved for last.

As I read the Sunday paper, more than one family member looked at the story on D1 and remarked that the biggest salaries went to—surprise—a whole lot of white men. In fact, the paper included 10 small head-shots, and they were as described.

When I got to the azcentral home page, though, a different set of images greeted me: four head-shots, one of whom was a woman.

That page disappeared quickly, so I was sure to save us a screen shot. Here it is.

Because it’s azcentral, there was no helpful photo cutline, so I had to research who the woman was. Fortunately, she’s at the “low end” of the pay scale, so it took me just two clicks to discover that it was Kimberly McWaters, CEO of Universal Technical Institute. She logged in at $4.1 million.

I’m sure the writing and reporting staff have nothing to do with azcentral’s design, but it caused me to wonder: What does the casual web-reader think when they see a story tease about large executive compensation, and 25 percent of the images are of a woman?

That’s misleading, to say the least.

By the Republic’s own data:

  • McWaters was ranked as number 14 out of 52 public company CEOs.
  • She is the only woman CEO in that list of 52 people.
  • And when we include the “highly paid non-CEOs” who earn more than McWaters, she comes in at spot 28 out of 116.
  • By setting the slideshow’s cutoff at $4 million, the online version ensured that there was a woman CEO in the mix.

(To Wiles’ credit, he highlighted the fact that a non-CEO woman—Kathleen Quirk, CFO at Freeport McMoRan—was paid $6.8 million. Her photo did not appear on the home page.)

So you’ve got to wonder: Was the photo of the sole woman CEO cherry-picked by the designers to lend some diversity to a story where there was little? Do standards of accuracy apply online as well as in the print paper?

Given that more and more people are getting their news entirely from digital sources, let’s hope so.