Doug Murphy; AFN staff writer, opinion page editor

I've been with the Ahwatukee Foothills News since May 1997, reporting on everything from education, to government, to cops and courts. On the Beat gives me a chance to write about the fun, odd, or interesting things I see that would, in many cases, never make it into the paper itself.

Find my most recent blog postings below, or click here for a complete archive. Need an easy-to-remember shortcut to Doug's blog: just point your browser to this link: For's 10 most recently updated staff and community blogs (all authors) click here.



When victims become people

Posted 7/17/2009 8:33 AM MST

It happens in every murder trial when the dead person becomes a real person. It's usually about the time the medical examiner takes the stand to discuss the wounds, but it can happen earlier, or later. And suddenly, instead of speaking analytically about the 'victim' the testimony shifts to a real person's last moments on ... Read More  »


San Francisco or Mesa -- no contest

Posted 6/17/2009 9:44 AM MST

Mesa police chief George Gascon is leaving the East Valley for Baghdad  by the Bay, where he will be the top cop. He said in a newspaper story that he was 'conflicted' about leaving Mesa for San Francisco. Conflicted? No offense to the Mesa Chamber of Commerce, but there is no comparison, no conflict, no contest. ... Read More  »


Observational skills

Posted 6/11/2009 10:05 AM MST

So there I was, standing around on 36 th Street as the natural gas hissed out of a broken 2 inch pipe, surrounded by three fire engines, a HazMat truck, what firefighters calls a ladder tender full of equipment and the ubiquitous tricked-out pickup truck of a battalion chief. The road was closed, but that didn't ... Read More  »


 What is an activist court?

Posted 6/1/2009 11:33 AM MST

All the hoopla over Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's comments about hoping a wise Latina would make better decisions due to her experiences makes me wonder about how Supreme Court decisions are made. Whenever I think of the process of a high court decision I look back at the landmark 1954 Brown v Board of Education ... Read More  »


Mom's are tougher than they look

Posted 5/6/2009 11:34 AM MST

It's easy to get wrapped up in Swine Flu, the economy and the day-to day-turmoil of life in the 21st Century, and poo-poo Mother's Day as simply a contrived, minor ‘holiday' to honor moms. But if you think you have problems, just imagine what they went through, not just raising you but the tough ... Read More  »


Chico State rocks!

Posted 4/20/2009 1:21 PM MST

Some of you know that I graduated form California State University, Chico back in the gold old days. At the time I was proud for two reasons: One was that Bidwell Park in Chico, California, was the location for filming of the 1930 something classic Robin Hood, staring Errol Flynn. The other is that in 1975 or 76 Chico State ... Read More  » 


A different Easter

Posted 4/10/2009 8:38 AM MST

Sunday will be a different kind of Easter for a friend of mine and her family. After 20 years in their home, they are giving it back to the bank and moving to an apartment. She's been out of work for a year and admittedly they have refinanced several times, drawing money out of the place each time. Now the ... Read More  »





I have a sense of humor, but...

Posted 4/2/2009 7:26 AM MST

I'm the funniest guy I know. Just ask anyone. Actually don't ask my wife because for some strange reason she seems to less amused by my rapier sharp wit then she was 25 years ago. But back to my point.  I know a good joke when I see one and the April Fool's Day gag by a local radio station that 350 speed cameras would ... Read More  »


Mommy kissing Santa Claus: The gift that keeps on giving

Posted 3/30/2009 2:41 PM MST

Thanks Gayle. Some of you may remember my blog about the passing away of Jimmy Boyd, author of the classic 'I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus.' Anyway, someone named Gayle (I think) went to the trouble to find the album (for kids that would be a CD but bigger) and sent it too me. One staffer offered to try ... Read More  »


Staying alive isn't always easy, or polite

Posted 3/23/2009 9:30 AM MST on

Expect police to be less than friendly for the next few months when they pull you over for speeding or a traffic violation or because your tags are expired. That's because what happened in Oakland is a chilling reminder for cops that there is no such thing as a 'routine' traffic stop. In Oakland three officer are dead and ... Read More  »


Ever wonder what happens when a train breakes down?

Posted 3/20/2009 10:51 AM MST on

Trains go one of two ways...forward or reverse. There is no steering wheel. So when a light rail train brakes down all the other trains behind it are stuck, or so I thought. The other day, returning to my car from court (for work, not a personal appearance) I was on the light rail when it stopped in the middle of a ... Read More  »


















Pianka trial could hinge on one question

Posted 3/17/2009 8:11 AM MST on

I've never seen a trial where one question could end up making the difference between conviction and acquittal.



I saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

Posted 3/11/2009 6:31 AM MST on

I didn't know his name until yesterday  Jimmy Boyd, that's the guy who wrote the 1952 Christmas classic, 'I saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.' At one point in my life I sold Christmas trees for several years. And at the lot, my boss had a giant reel-to-reel tape player that would play 2 or 3 hours of pre-recorded ... Read More  »


The victim was more than a victim

Posted 3/3/2009 8:44 AM MST on

  I have been remiss in my coverage of the second degree murder trial of Grace Pianka. In all the reporting of if she killed her husband or if the woman he was having an affair with did the shooting I've forgotten an important element of the case...that the victim, Adam Kostewicz, was more than just evidence ... Read More  »


It's not my fault

Posted 2/24/2009 12:47 PM MST on

Judge Warren Granville told a jury today that an hour delay was due to 'Murphy's law.' Not true.  I didn't do a thing. But it is true that around 8:30 a.m. an inmate on the same floor as Granville's had an apparent heart attack, which caused the fire department to respond, courtrooms ... Read More  »


Justice faster than elevators

Posted 2/24/2009 7:23 AM MST on

The wheels of justice may not be fast, but they keep on rolling, which is more than I can say for the elevators in the Central Court Building in downtown Phoenix. Last week, during the post lunch rush to get jurors, staff, attorneys and me up to the 60 or 70 courtroom in the building, four out of six public ... Read More  »


On the job, it's never easy

Posted 2/18/2009 7:59 AM MST on

Being a reporter is a glamorous job, but no one ever said it would be easy. On Tuesday my courthouse contact let me know that jury selection for Grace Pianka's second degree murder trial would probably wrap up between 2-3 p.m. with opening statements to immediately follow. I left the office after 1, ... Read More  »

I'll take the tax cut

Posted 2/12/2009 11:45 AM MST on

A lot of people have poo-pooed the tax cuts in the new stimulus package as being insignificant.Maybe for them it is, but for me, an extra $13 a week is real money.  It's a tank of gas and a couple cups of coffee every two weeks.So maybe for some it's just chump change, not worth bothering with, but for a ... Read More  »



Sal's Army

Posted 2/10/2009 1:49 PM MST on

The Phoenix City Council will begin deliberations around 2 p.m. to select a replacement to fill the District 6 council seat vacated by Greg Stanton. The Council interviewed 20 applicants this morning and as one council member said, there are a handful who would do an excellent job if appointed. ... Read More  »



Things I've seen riding light rail

Posted 2/10/2009 11:16 AM MST on

Today I passed Kiltmart at 4426 North Central Avenue.  According to the sign, they carry bagpipes and more.  The more, I assume, includes kilts, hence the name and the web address: Who knew you could get a kilt, or bagpipes in Phoenix? ... Read More  »



Now it's 22

Posted 2/9/2009 1:45 PM MST on

If all goes according to plan, the Phoenixcity council will have just under four hours of interviews on Tuesday before deciding which of the 22 people who have applied will be appointed to fill out Greg Stanton's term on the city council representing District 6 which includes all of Ahwatukee Foothills and the ... Read More  »



21 apply to replace Stanton

Posted 2/6/2009 10:06 AM MST on

I was at Phoenix city hall Thursday until 5:30 looking through the pile of resumes dropped off by people hoping to be appointed and fill the council seat vacated by Greg Stanton. Seven of the 21 are from Ahwatukee Foothills, with the rest from the northern end of the barbell shaped council district. Six are ... Read More  »



Council says thanks and adios to Stanton

Posted 2/4/2009 10:11 AM MST on

Councilman Greg Stanton couldn't escape his last official meeting before moving to the AG's office without a little ribbing by his fellow councilmember's Tuesday. "There's a rumor that your office is being TP'ed even as we speak, and I'm really sorry about that," said ... Read More  »


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