Arizona to honor murdered journalist
By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services
PHOENIX -- The state House voted Tuesday to honor slain Arizona Republic reporter Don Bolles the same as the state honors various veterans, pioneer women, the Ten Commandments and Jesuit missionary Father Kino -- but not before one legislator took a slap at the current crop of journalists.
On a 47-9 margin lawmakers agreed to place a memorial to Bolles in Wesley Bolin Plaza. That area, just across the street from the House and Senate, already is home to more than two dozen plaques, statutes and other memorabilia including large guns from the USS Arizona and USS Missouri.
A handful of Republicans voted against the measure. That includes Rep. Jacqueline Parker, R-Mesa, who, when an identical bill was proposed last year, asked, "So, the only thing this guy accomplished is that he was a reporter?''
Also against it at that time was Rep. Alexander Kolodin.
Not so this year. The Scottsdale Republican said he has developed a new appreciation for Bolles who died 11 days after a car bomb exploded after he went to the Clarendon Hotel in Phoenix to meet with a source while he was investigating a shady land deal.
"Don Bolles, as opposed to the current hacks that we have in the liberal media, was actually a newsman,'' Kolodin said.
"I am supportive of putting that memorial into Wes Bolin Plaza so that these current folks who are in our current media might see what it actually means to do real reporting, to take real risk, to uncover things that go against the powerful and to put your life on the line for it, instead of just spouting the DNC narrative and pretending that is objective journalism,'' he told colleagues, referring to the Democratic National Committee.
There already are some memorials to Bolles. That includes one at the hotel which the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists got designated in 2019 as a Historic Site in Journalism.
And what's left of Bolles' 1976 Datsun 710 was on display at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. until it closed.
Bolles' assassination, unusual in a country like the United States, provoked an immediate and unique response within the journalism community. Nearly 40 reporters from newspapers around the country, sponsored by Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc., launched an extensive probe that resulted in a series of stories about organized crime in Arizona.
The series was printed in the Arizona Daily Star and many newspapers around the country, though not by the Arizona Republic where Bolles had worked.
John Harvey Adamson, the person with whom Bolles was supposed to meet, agreed to testify against Max Dunlap as part of a deal to avoid the death penalty. Adamson said Dunlap had ordered Bolled to be killed, with police saying that was because of a story the reporter had written about a friend, liquor magnate Kemper Marley.
Dunap eventually was sentenced to life behind bars after a first conviction was overturned. He died in prison after a clemency plea was rejected.
Adamson and James Robison, a Chandler plumber who was accused of planting and detonating the bomb, also have since died.
Rep. Steve Montenegro, R-Goodyear, also voted for the bill -- but he said for very different reasons.
"In many countries of the world, a journalist for being authentic, for following a vocation of exposing truth, ends up dead the next morning,'' he said. "And I think it's really important for us to point to the virtue of free speech.''
Rep. Marcelino Quinones, D-Phoenix, sought to cut Kolodin's remarks short. He said that House rules preclude lawmakers from impugning anyone's character.
Not true said Rep. Travis Grantham, R-Gilbert, who serves as speaker pro-tem.
"The way the House rules read is we're not allowed to impugn each other,'' he said. "Outside of here, I really don't have any control.''
The measure now goes to the Senate where it faces an uncertain future. Sen. Jake Hoffman, R-Queen Creek, refused to even give a hearing to last year's version.
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