American Scene: Lawmakers bought cars after state-paid repairs

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CALIFORNIA

SACRAMENTO — At least a dozen California lawmakers repaired or upgraded their state-provided vehicles at taxpayers’ expense in the final weeks before the one-of-its-kind perk was ending, then later bought those vehicles for personal use.

The improvements ranged from cosmetic changes such as fixing dents and replacing wheel covers, to getting tires, multipoint inspections and new parts such as fuel pumps that cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Some had the vehicles they would soon buy inspected at no cost to them, while others had last-minute work done under warranty, according to state maintenance records obtained by The Associated Press through public records requests.

Officials at the state Senate and Assembly said they did not ask lawmakers to have their vehicles repaired or upgraded before the state put them up for sale to independent dealers a year ago.

“Essentially what they did was get all their repairs done on the state’s dime before they bought it,” said Philip Ung, a spokesman for the government watchdog group Common Cause.

ARIZONA

Father: Sick girl safe, being treated in Mexico

PHOENIX — The mystery surrounding the whereabouts of a sick girl with leukemia deepened Wednesday after her father said his 11-year-old daughter is being treated in Mexico, and authorities considered bringing child-neglect charges against the family.

Phoenix police have been looking for Emily since surveillance video one week ago showed the girl’s mother walking her out of Phoenix Children’s Hospital a day before the child was set to be released.

Authorities are searching for the girl in Arizona, California and Mexico, where the family has relatives, as doctors say she could contract a potentially deadly infection if not returned for treatment.

The girl underwent about a month of chemotherapy and had been treated for an infection that forced doctors to amputate an arm, police said. Doctors had inserted a tube through her chest to deliver medications through her heart. Her mother unhooked the tubing from an intravenous unit and left with the girl, leaving her susceptible to infection.

Phoenix police said the parents could face criminal neglect charges if they didn’t return the girl.

ALASKA

Confessed serial killer commits suicide in jail

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