The Conservative's Corner

By State Representative Shawnna LM Bolick

Dear Friend:

I currently serve as the Vice Chair of Ways and Means, a Member of Elections and a Member of the Federal Relations committees. 

The first order of business was ensuring Arizona met the federal government’s January 31st deadline for the intrastate Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) and tax conformity.  The governor signed DCP and vetoed conformity.

We have been very busy these past few weeks! I can assure you I hit the ground running and I am learning the legislative process.  Here’s a compilation of several bills I have been working on with corresponding newspaper articles:

I filed an Empowerment Scholarship Expansion bill called the Lifeline for Student Crime Victims Act. This legislation would provide students who have been victimized on their school’s campus a “lifeline” to transfer to a private school.  The idea for this particular bill derived as a result of my daughter being a victim of a crime on her school’s campus, and I want to make sure it doesn’t happen to other kids.Here are just a few stories written on this particular bill:

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Today the public made it extremely clear: they no longer trust the failed dysfunctional leadership of the City of Phoenix.

Phoenix leaders demanded a whopping $1.5 BILLION water tax increase, one of the largest in city history.  This was voted down on a 5 to 3 vote, with Councilwomen Guevara, Mendoza, and Stark voting for the tax increase but Mayor Williams indicated she plans to bring it back for reconsideration later.

Just weeks ago this same dysfunctional leadership team trashed your cash:

  • Tried to force a $50 Million per year tax on medicine, crying we will lose police if we don’t pass this new tax. Luckily, it did not pass.
  • Wasted $10 million to study garbage.
  • Gave an insider developer $700,000 worth of public property for a mere $50,000 in an insider-deal.
  • Lied to the south Phoenix community about the effect of light rail on their neighborhoods and businesses.
  • Poured millions into membership dues for government staff.

The fact is, Phoenix is experiencing more revenue than it ever has before in its history as a city and still city officials cry that we can’t pay for critical functions of government.  Every time they run out of money to waste, the politicians claim hardship and demand more money.

When everything is labelled a crisis, nothing is a crisis. In fact, the only crisis I see here is a lack of public trust in dysfunctional city leadership.

By Sal DiCiccio

My heart goes out to Laura Pastor and the Pastor family on the passing of her father, Congressman Ed Pastor.

Congressman Pastor served the people of Arizona with dignity and honor throughout his life. Though we disagreed on many things, partisanship stops well short of this point. Congressman Pastor’s accomplishments will carry forward far beyond his lifetime. I only hope the certain knowledge of that legacy and the impact he had on so many people throughout this state and across the country can provide some small comfort to his family in their time of grief.

 

By Sal DiCiccio
City of Phoenix
Councilman, District 6

6 words to sum up yesterday’s election: Establishment and status quo lose big

Republicans made big gains in the Senate, ensuring a lock on judicial appointments and Democrats made gains in the House, ensuring a slowdown of the Republican economic and social agenda. Republicans maintain control of the states in the legislatures and governorships across the country. Democrats have not even begun to regain the 1100 seats they lost during the last administration.

It is clear that the screaming in restaurants, the constant marches, and a billion dollars in political spending has produced very little for Democrats. With massive turn-out and a polarized public, we should have seen a historic drubbing of the Republican Party, that did not happen.Read More

By Syms for Arizona

While others put politics First, Representative Maria Syms did something about it for Education

Representative Maria Syms is the ONLY District 28 House Candidate that:

  • Voted for and passed a 20% raise for public school teachers
  • Voted for and passed a historic $1.5 billion investment in public education
  • Voted for and passed new funding and a $1 billion finance plan for universities
  • Voted for and passed funding for full-day kindergarten, gifted and early childhood programs

Learn more about Maria’s Record on Education

Read More

By State Representative Shawnna LM Bolick

Dear Friend:

I currently serve as the Vice Chair of Ways and Means, a Member of Elections and a Member of the Federal Relations committees. 

The first order of business was ensuring Arizona met the federal government’s January 31st deadline for the intrastate Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) and tax conformity.  The governor signed DCP and vetoed conformity.

We have been very busy these past few weeks! I can assure you I hit the ground running and I am learning the legislative process.  Here’s a compilation of several bills I have been working on with corresponding newspaper articles:

I filed an Empowerment Scholarship Expansion bill called the Lifeline for Student Crime Victims Act. This legislation would provide students who have been victimized on their school’s campus a “lifeline” to transfer to a private school.  The idea for this particular bill derived as a result of my daughter being a victim of a crime on her school’s campus, and I want to make sure it doesn’t happen to other kids.Here are just a few stories written on this particular bill:

Read More

Today the public made it extremely clear: they no longer trust the failed dysfunctional leadership of the City of Phoenix.

Phoenix leaders demanded a whopping $1.5 BILLION water tax increase, one of the largest in city history.  This was voted down on a 5 to 3 vote, with Councilwomen Guevara, Mendoza, and Stark voting for the tax increase but Mayor Williams indicated she plans to bring it back for reconsideration later.

Just weeks ago this same dysfunctional leadership team trashed your cash:

  • Tried to force a $50 Million per year tax on medicine, crying we will lose police if we don’t pass this new tax. Luckily, it did not pass.
  • Wasted $10 million to study garbage.
  • Gave an insider developer $700,000 worth of public property for a mere $50,000 in an insider-deal.
  • Lied to the south Phoenix community about the effect of light rail on their neighborhoods and businesses.
  • Poured millions into membership dues for government staff.

The fact is, Phoenix is experiencing more revenue than it ever has before in its history as a city and still city officials cry that we can’t pay for critical functions of government.  Every time they run out of money to waste, the politicians claim hardship and demand more money.

When everything is labelled a crisis, nothing is a crisis. In fact, the only crisis I see here is a lack of public trust in dysfunctional city leadership.

By Sal DiCiccio

My heart goes out to Laura Pastor and the Pastor family on the passing of her father, Congressman Ed Pastor.

Congressman Pastor served the people of Arizona with dignity and honor throughout his life. Though we disagreed on many things, partisanship stops well short of this point. Congressman Pastor’s accomplishments will carry forward far beyond his lifetime. I only hope the certain knowledge of that legacy and the impact he had on so many people throughout this state and across the country can provide some small comfort to his family in their time of grief.

 

By Sal DiCiccio
City of Phoenix
Councilman, District 6

6 words to sum up yesterday’s election: Establishment and status quo lose big

Republicans made big gains in the Senate, ensuring a lock on judicial appointments and Democrats made gains in the House, ensuring a slowdown of the Republican economic and social agenda. Republicans maintain control of the states in the legislatures and governorships across the country. Democrats have not even begun to regain the 1100 seats they lost during the last administration.

It is clear that the screaming in restaurants, the constant marches, and a billion dollars in political spending has produced very little for Democrats. With massive turn-out and a polarized public, we should have seen a historic drubbing of the Republican Party, that did not happen.Read More

By Syms for Arizona

While others put politics First, Representative Maria Syms did something about it for Education

Representative Maria Syms is the ONLY District 28 House Candidate that:

  • Voted for and passed a 20% raise for public school teachers
  • Voted for and passed a historic $1.5 billion investment in public education
  • Voted for and passed new funding and a $1 billion finance plan for universities
  • Voted for and passed funding for full-day kindergarten, gifted and early childhood programs

Learn more about Maria’s Record on Education

Read More

MORE CONSERVATIVE’S CORNER
Featured Editorials

At the end of Tuesday night’s Scottsdale City Council discussion referring a solid package of important community improvements to the November 5th ballot there was applause from the good number of people in attendance.  

It was unusual, and refreshing to hear.  It symbolized how various members of the public and council, who often disagree on issues, all came together for Scottsdale’s greater good.  

What preceded this, however, was noteworthy.  

During public comment Jason Alexander discussed the need for the bond but then alluded to potential opposition because a majority of the council was making too many bad land use decisions, in his opinion.   Alexander is, of course, a potential, formidable City Council candidate in 2020 and is now a grassroots organizing Hall of Famer for his noble and ultimately successful crusade against the ill-advised Desert Discovery Center.

Indirectly, Milhaven took Alexander to task later in the meeting discussing the inappropriateness of threatening the bond package because of disagreements elsewhere.  We concur.  Milhaven noted her disappointment, even strongly, with some of the elements in the bond package.  But in the end she was going to support it because of its necessity.  

Over the past number of years Alexander has gone from a bomb thrower to a top-tier candidate for City Council.  Some might even call him a favorite for 2020.  

And that’s happened because Alexander didn’t just prevail on the biggest electoral issue in the city in the past many years, but because the Princeton graduate has been smart and measured, opposing some things, supporting others.  He understands that Scottsdale doesn’t ultimately reward people who say no to everything.  Those people may win battles.  They lose wars.  

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It’s shocking and sad that Scottsdale voters have not backed a meaningful bond measure to fund community infrastructure in two decades, despite public opinion polls showing residents believing the city is headed in the “right direction” rather than the “wrong track” by substantial margins.  

A key reason for failed bond programs past was a house divided.  The City Council was never unanimously in support of a package and opposition resulted.  It was as if nobody on the dais could learn the basics of democracy, compromise and cut deals.  

But so much losing and pronounced community needs produced a different result last night as Mayor Jim Lane and the Scottsdale City Council came together to do right by Scottsdale.  On November 5th Scottsdale voters will be given the chance to ratify a package of compromise and collaboration of some $319 million.  Ironically, since Scottsdale has not passed a bond in so long property taxes will still be going down even if the measures pass because of the retiring bonds funding the projects ratified twenty years ago.

Scottsdale has some turbulent days and elections ahead.  But on Monday night the City Council stood as exemplars, coming together to do what the people expect them to.  

Linda Milhaven.  Kathy Littlefield.  Guy Phillips.  Suzanne Klapp.  Virginia Korte.  Solange Whitehead. Jim Lane.  

On this issue they truly were #ScottsdaleAtItsBest.  

Scottsdale is a very special city and its northern reaches have a lot to do with it.  There, lower densities prevail in an almost rural environment with the McDowell Sonoran Preserve anchoring its distinct character.  

Recent years have seen numerous rezonings and increasing densities come to parts of the area.  That’s not necessarily bad, but does it mean those who want to accentuate larger lots, bigger view sheds and a more sensitive approach to the land should be dispatched?  No.  

Cue Cantabrica Estates.  There, at 118th and Jomax, a part-time Scottsdale resident bought 27 acres for larger lot homes to enjoy the lower density lifestyle and views of Tom’s Thumb, Four Peaks and the best Scottsdale has to offer.  

Falling in love with the land he sought no zoning changes and was intent on investing $35-$40 million to bring to life the existing zoning in a beautiful, sophisticated way.  

Then along came a speculator, on a narrow, ten-acre parcel next door, immediately to the east.  A year ago he introduced plans to triple density from 3 homes allowed on the ten acres, the same density as Cantabrica, to 9 homes.  

Anyone who has walked the land will know how offensive the notion is.  Undulating desert.  Significant boulders. It’s just wrong to pork it up as proposed.  

Fortunately, Scottsdale City Councilmembers when made aware of the request expressed dissatisfaction.  A “three-quarter” vote has been even been filed by adjacent property owners forcing the developer to get a supermajority of five votes.  

But rather than do the right thing as Cantabrica Estates and many other enthusiasts of true “rural neighborhoods” have espoused, this developer has dug in.  His high-profile attorney has told people he feels confident in getting the five votes.  That’s a curiously, bold statement.  

We are not aware of a single supporter of the application, only opposition by numerous, leading north Scottsdale voices.  

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By The Happy Wanderer

Downtown Scottsdale merchants have played an extremely critical role in our city’s economy for decades. The art galleries that line the streets in the Arts District attract tourists from across the world and are embedded in the fabric of Scottsdale’s culture.

Though each gallery and store in the Arts District sells different wares, one thing does unite each merchant: they face an issue with a shortage of adequate parking for their clients.

In an editorial that was published earlier this week in The Scottsdale Progress, French Thompson, the president of the Scottsdale Gallery Association, explains why the parking shortage may be exacerbated if Museum Square, a project that will convert the abandoned Loloma transit station into a magnificent mixed-use master plan development between Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, Stagebrush Theatre and Scottsdale Artist’s School, moves forward.

We’re unabashed supporters of it. Joining us in our support of this groundbreaking project are several of Mr. Thompson’s gallery brethren, including the Larsen Gallery and the Legacy Gallery, and the Scottsdale Gallery Association itself. Macdonald Development Corporation, the company behind Museum Square, recognizes the impact that the project could have on parking in the vicinity.

Instead of ignoring vital voices like Mr. Thompson’s, Macdonald is stepping up, taking the initiative and doing all it can to answer their questions, even though the primary obligation belongs to the City of Scottsdale. Finding a parking spot in downtown can be migraine-inducing. However, Museum Square won’t contribute to drivers’ headaches. In fact, Macdonald Development Corporation, the company behind Museum Square, may even provide the ibuprofen we need by helping to cure the situation. 

Before we get into the parking solutions, we want to reintroduce a phrase of historic significance to help settle everyone’s nerves. That phrase is, “KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON.” This was the same advice the British government imparted upon its citizens after the outbreak of World War II and posters bearing the message could be found everywhere across Great Britain in the early 1940s. This rallying cry played an important role in ensuring that pandemonium did not break out in British cities.

What steps is Macdonald taking to address parking challenges? They truly are extensive.

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Before he proffered idiotic, racial remarks, former Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling was widely considered the worst owner in the history of sports.  He didn’t pay his players.  He wasn’t a winner.  He was cheap.  

Now, we don’t mean to compare the Scottsdale City Council to Donald Sterling. After all, the city is one of the great municipal franchises in America.  And right now it has a point guard in City Manager Jim Thompson widely liked and respected by all factions on the council, and the public at large.  

That’s because, unlike his predecessors, Thompson isn’t afraid to make decisions.  He views his job as getting to policy destinations, not about their journey.  Thompson seems to relish in the complicated while still understanding the big picture.  And while everyone has an ego, Thompson leaves his at the door, rightfully understanding who his bosses are.  The seven people on City Council and those that elect them.  

All of this means Thompson has become a hot commodity in City Manager world.  After stints in Casa Grande and Bullhead City, assuming the same chair in Scottsdale has put him to the bigger leagues.  Unlike others who get to the show Thompson can hit curveballs, and others are noticing.  With a salary and compensation package that is middling to lower middling compared to his peers, Thompson is a prime trade or free agent target for any city.  

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“I voted for the densest project in the history of our community.”

That’s not a refrain you often see municipal elected officials put on re-election brochures.  

Yet, that would be the truth were anyone on the Paradise Valley Town Council to actually vote for the density dog that has become the proposed redevelopment of the SmokeTree Resort near Scottsdale and Lincoln.  

Recently, the Town of Paradise Valley Planning Commission had the foresight to reject the supersized SmokeTree.  That’s because its proposed density far exceeds that deployed to redevelop the old Mountain Shadows and La Posada sites in Paradise Valley, or what the Ritz-Carlton project was able to muster for its large, vacant site.  

And DensityTree’s plans dwarf what was done next door to revitalize the old Cottonwoods Resort into the beautiful Andaz property.  Once upon a time, a former owner of Cottonwoods saw intensities like those now proposed for SmokeScreen.  But councilmembers before said “no” and the benefits to all are now obvious.  

Look, there is a time and place for density.  It can be an important and necessary tool in development.  But if proposed, there should be a greater good.  We just can’t find it when it comes to this plan, especially when it would set a new Paradise Valley record for development per acre.  

Paradise Valley has remained the “best small town in America” without a small property like SmokeTree at full potential.  And it will remain so.  That’s why this absurd plan should be defeated at all costs.  No lipstick is available for swine looking for a developer bailout having overpaid for the land. And inertia ought never be a reason to approve a plan.  Nor inanity.  

By Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

We’re now three months into my term as Mayor, and the experience of serving Paradise Valley residents as Mayor has been both an honor and a pleasure.

I wanted to provide you with an update on some of the issues we’ve been working on, and will do so on a periodic basis going forward with the goal of increasing transparency, communication, and engagement for everyone interested in the great Town of Paradise Valley.

PV Is Safe

I am pleased to share with you that the Town of Paradise Valley was recently recognized as the safest community in the Phoenix area, and the third-safest community in Arizona. Paradise Valley also had the lowest incidence of violent crime among the safest locations. Our Police Department deserves great credit for this, and I’m proud that our Council continues to value and appropriately fund public safety efforts. As our Chief and Police Department regularly remind us, we must also do our part as citizens to keep our community safe: please lock your exterior entrances at all times, and make sure you arm your alarm systems! For more great tips on safety and what you can do to help our community reach #1 in overall safety, please stay engaged with our Police Department – they are here to help!

Budget and Finance

There is an old saying: “if you want to know what people value, look at where they spend their money.” This is true for our Town, too. As your Mayor, I am fully committed to ensuring the Town’s continued financial health and the wise and appropriate use of public funds.  In the coming weeks, the Town Council will be rolling up its sleeves to put together next year’s budget.  I have called a special meeting for April 18, 2019 focused solely on budget and finance so that the Council can develop next year’s budget with our professional staff’s expertise and guidance, and adopt a budget that is responsive to our community’s needs while honoring our established values of limited and effective government.

Strategic Plan for Revenue

As part of our Town’s budgeting process this year, I have asked for and received unanimous Council support for the Town to put together its first ever strategic plan regarding revenue. What does this mean? It means that we will “stress test” the Town’s various sources of revenue, examine the impact of potential revenue shortfalls, and agree on plans to deal with any significant drops in the Town’s revenues. This process will also allow the Council to evaluate any appropriate, proactive actions by the Town to prevent or reduce drops in the Town’s established revenue sources. I believe this planning tool will also help to inform our budgeting process and to curb the spending that can become a temptation during the economic “good times” we are enjoying. 

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By Scottsdale Watchman

Like Michael Jordan at a post-season NBA awards ceremony, Scottsdale keeps raking in the hardware. In just the last two years, Scottsdale has been listed as the number one city in the United States for job seekers. It has been recognized for excellence in economic development. Our city has been acknowledged as North America’s top golf destination. And now, it’s home of the United States’ best public park.

Earlier today, the Engaging Local Government Leaders network announced that the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park has received the 2019 Knope Award as the nation’s top local government place.

Every year, ELGL honors different government places. For example, in 2017, ELGL honored the best city hall buildings. In 2018, it recognized the nation’s best libraries.

This year, ELGL sought to find the United States’ best park or public open space. A winner was tabbed after a tally of both an online vote and Instagram posts using the hashtag #ELGLKnope. Thirty-two parks and open spaces across the United States competed against one another and one champ emerged.

We can’t say that we’re surprised. There aren’t many attractions in the United States that carry a nearly perfect five-star rating on tripadvisor.com after having been reviewed over 1,100 times. This notwithstanding, McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park bucks the trend.

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By The Happy Wanderer

When the Chicago Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series for the franchise’s first championship victory in 108 years, the sentiment expressed by Cubbies fans across the world could be summed up in two words: “F*cking finally!

That’s the reaction we had late last Friday. Almost five years after the 2014 election, APS parent company Pinnacle West fessed up to something everyone suspected had been happening: Pinnacle West admitted that it had contributed nearly $11 million to help get two candidates, Commissioners Tom Forese and Doug Little, elected to the Arizona Corporation Commission in 2014.

Here’s the backstory. In February, as soon as recently-elected Arizona Corporation Commissioner Sandra Kennedy took office, she made it a top priority to get to the bottom of Pinnacle West’s expenditures. Commissioner Kennedy requested a list of information including “to whom the expenditure was made, the amount of the expenditure, and what the expenditure was for.” Additionally, she sought internal memoranda, records and documents that would describe how such expenditures were made. Fellow commissioners Boyd Dunn and Robert Burns also requested the information. Good for them.

Last Friday, Arizona’s largest electric utility complied and submitted hundreds of pages of documents with these divulgements.

Where do we begin?

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By Scottsdale Pinetop

On average, it takes five second to send or read a text message. To put that in perspective, it also takes about five seconds to travel the length of a football field while driving 55 mph. In 2017, Arizona reported 741 distracted driving related accidents according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety. Yet, Arizona is one of only three states that still does not have a state-law against distracted driving or ban on texting while driving. That’s insane.

While the Arizona House continues to debate Senate Bill 1141, also known as the “distracted driving” bill, many other cities are addressing the issue head on. Scottsdale, Phoenix and many other cities throughout the state have taken on the issue, many of which have passed their own ordinances on distracted driving. Last month the Scottsdale City Council, led by Councilwoman Suzanne Klapp, directed the City Manager and staff to look more in depth into the matter.

But Tempe’s actions might be the strictest by far. Last month, as part of Tempe’s Vision Zero, the City Council approved changes to the city’s distracted driving laws. Effective immediately, drivers using their phones while driving in Tempe can be issued a citation and fined up to $500.  Previously, Tempe’s ordinance required a person to be driving erratically in order to be pulled over. This is a major step-forward.

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By Scottsdale Watchman

Just one year ago, Dr. Hiral Tipirneni made quite the impression on the West Valley’s political scene. In last April’s special election in the 8th Congressional District, which consists of Phoenix’s north and western suburbs, she lost to Arizona state senator Debbie Lesko by a mere five points. Hiral was the talk of the town.

Since that time, however, Tipirneni has been tipping in the wrong direction. Seven months after the special election, she lost to Lesko by 11 points in the November general election. This week, the physician and cancer research advocate announced that she will be relaunching her political aspirations many miles to the east in Arizona’s 6th Congressional District, where will seek to unseat Rep. David Schweikert.

We’re perplexed by this decision. We wonder whether Dr. Tipirneni needs a medical checkup to understand what she’s exactly thinking. From what we can tell, she has no ties whatsoever to the 6th Congressional District. According to county records, she lives in Glendale’s Arrowhead Lakes community and her campaign spokesperson even admitted that she still lives in the 8th District. Now, there is no federal law that requires a congressional candidate to live in the district that he or she wishes to represent but give us a break. Can you say “carpetbagging”? We’re pretty confident that Hiral can’t.  

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By The Happy Wanderer

A few weeks before the official start of the 1991 NFL calendar year, New York Football Giants head coach Bill Parcells abruptly resigned. His decision to step away from the game sent shockwaves across the league. During his eight-year run at the team’s helm, he led a once-moribund franchise to 85 wins, five playoff appearances and two Super Bowl victories.

After Parcells’ resignation, a competition commenced over who would replace him. The team’s general manager George Young preferred that veteran offensive coach Ray Handley take over the top spot. Other team leaders preferred that defensive coordinator and wunderkind Bill Belichick succeed the iconic Parcells.

Eventually, the Giants tapped Handley for the job. He was the head coach for only two seasons, however, and the choice to go with Handley set the Giants on a course of mediocrity for nearly two decades. Belichick…well, he’s only gone on to become the most prolific and renowned head coach in the history of professional football.

We’re not writing that the City of Scottsdale and the early 1990s New York Giants are an exact match, but there is one striking similarity: like the head coach who would take over for Parcells, the next mayor of Scottsdale has big shoes to fill. Mayor W.J. “Jim” Lane has adroitly led “the West’s Most Western Town” since 2008. In just over a decade, Scottsdale has gone from teetering on the edge of financial disaster to being named the best city in the United States to find a job.

Mayor Lane is termed out in 2020. His potential successors are now laying the groundwork for their mayoral campaigns. The two legitimate contenders (John Karolzak doesn’t count…his initials, “JK,” are an apt description for his political aspirations) are current Scottsdale councilmembers Virginia Korte and Suzanne Klapp.

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By Scottsdale Watchman

The Scottsdale Airpark is on fire.” Not literally (thankfully), but figuratively speaking. At least that’s what the reporters at national commercial real estate news outlet Globest.com have recently written.

In the last two decades, Scottsdale Airpark has transformed from a non-descript area of the city with a small general aviation facility and generic office parks to a major Scottsdale economic hub. There are several reasons for this.

First, the existing valuable property there is being continuously renovated and the city has not been averse to the mixed-use developments which are breaking ground seemingly by the week. For example, there’s YAM Circle, a 7,800-square-foot shopping center at the corner of Hayden Road and Northsight Boulevard which has replaced the former Harley-Davidson of Scottsdale.

The next reason is that it has been very successful in attracting a variety of new businesses from across the world, which in turn reveals why WalletHub named Scottsdale the best city in the country for a person to find a job. The statistics instill excitement for the city’s future. According to the latest forecast report from Colliers International, 59,132 people work in the Scottsdale Airpark and 3,233 companies operate there, in diverse industries ranging from aerospace to hospitality. It even boasts a vacancy rate of less than 10 percent.

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Resorts are what make Paradise Valley, Arizona particularly special.  They can also be a source of controversy.  

While the redevelopment of the old La Posada Hotel into Montelucia was unanimously approved by Town Council, its construction created public relations challenges.  The Mountain Shadows Resort was closed then resurrected through a unique set of business, legal and political dynamics.  But, ultimately, it too was approved by a unanimous council.  

The Ritz-Carlton hotel and residential community was a different matter.  It introduced new densities in exchange for a great brand and beautiful hotel.  It was a contentious and controversial 4-3 vote to approve.  

More recently the beloved Sanctuary Resort caused a stir pursuing a “party house” on its western flank that barely passed on a 4-3 vote too.  

And that brings us to plans for the SmokeTree Resort property on Lincoln.  Best known as the former site of The Other Place restaurant it has housed twenty something hotel rooms in a tranquil, affordable setting over many years.

But then the property was sold for a lot of money.  And the redeveloper is looking for the Town Council to bail it out with a very large density grab.  

We mentioned 4-3 votes above.  Well, the SmokeTree plan and its exponential increase in density (and that’s a generous description) just went down by that margin before the Paradise Valley Planning Commission.  The Planning Commission’s job is to refine projects and move them along for Town Council’s approval or rejection.  They rarely turn down applications.  But they did here?  Was it just too much?  Good question.  

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By Scottsdale Pinetop

There’s nothing like being in downtown Scottsdale during spring training season. Each March, thousands of fans descend upon Scottsdale in a sea of orange, decorated from head to toe in their team’s colors. Selling out spring training seats at most Cactus League games, Scottsdale Stadium has helped make Scottsdale a leading economic and tourist destination. But, in order to maintain that reputation, it needs a better stadium.

Thankfully, Scottsdale leaders are heeding the call and making it happen. Last week, the Scottsdale City Council , without a single opposition, approved the first phase of the renovations to Scottsdale Stadium of $50.6 million with the San Francisco Giants and Scottsdale Charros contributing to the costs. Needless to say, the stadium is in need of a face-lift. Scottsdale Stadium is the second-oldest ballpark in the Cactus League, opening its doors in 1992. The last time the stadium was updated was in 2005.


Improvements to the stadium include a new clubhouse, additional shaded areas for the Charros Lounge, upgrades to the main entrance and parking lots, expansion of the press box and renovations to the bleachers. All of this is being done to help the facility to become more of a year round asset too.

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By The Happy Wanderer

Last week, we considered Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio and his 2017 campaign slogan “Sal For Solutions,” and how he’s keeping true to it.

Nearly two years after DiCiccio revealed that catchy phrase, an equally-memorable campaign motto surfaced for another Phoenix political candidate. At a get-out-the-vote rally less than a week before the Phoenix mayoral election, now-Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego packed The Churchill in downtown Phoenix with supporters. As she took the stage, the crowd of over 200 started to chant “Kate Will Be Great!” The attendees were so vociferous that they could be heard up and down Roosevelt Row.

After topping her opponent Daniel Valenzuela by approximately 30,000 votes, Gallego was sworn in as Mayor last Thursday. Now that she’s taken office, we have no doubt that Mayor Kate truly will be great. We touched on this before, but it’s definitely worth repeating.

Throughout the campaign at debates, voter outreach events and community gatherings, Gallego showcased her keen intellect and thorough understanding of issues that impact Phoenix. She could confidently and easily discuss Phoenix’s future as a tech and biomedical employment hub, how more affordable housing can be built within city limits and how to ensure an adequate water supply for the city, all within a 10-minute span. There’s no doubt about this: she’s always thinking.

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By Scottsdale Pinetop

Tempe Councilwoman Lauren Kuby has made it her mission to make Tempe’s elections clean. Since taking office in 2015, she, along with a small group of reformers, led a campaign to stop dark money in Tempe’s elections. And last year, Tempe voters passed a ballot measure that would require any group spending over $1,000 towards a local election to be disclosed on campaign finance reports. This transparency measure was supported by 91 percent of the voters – a percentage any elected official would kill to have.

As Yoda might say, a progressive step forward the vote was. But it’s not over yet. Republican Senator Vince Leach now wants Attorney General Mark Brnovich to investigate Tempe’s ordinance. In a complaint to the Attorney General’s office, Leach states that Tempe’s ordinance violates state law because political spending is an issue of free speech and the ordinance violates people’s constitutional rights. What a shame.

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By Scottsdale Watchman

SkySong, officially known as the ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center, has become a Scottsdale landmark in just over 10 years of existence. SkySong’s tent-like canopy is an icon that can be seen for miles driving north along Scottsdale Road from Tempe and driving east towards Scottsdale along McDowell Road from Phoenix. It’s become the gateway to “the West’s Most Western Town.”

Last week, another component was added to this hub of scientific research and ingenuity as ASU and Amazon Web Services partnered to open the Smart City Cloud Innovation Center on the campus. It’s a partnership of the United States’ most innovative university and most innovative company. According to ASU, the center will be a property “where municipalities, faculty, staff, students can come forward with their challenges, and then there’s a group of ASU and Amazon employees that will be there to help them solve these solutions around smart cities.”

The 42-acre SkySong campus is expanding, the architectural accolades and awards are piling up and most importantly, SkySong’s economic impact is blossoming.  

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By Scottsdale Watchman

The preamble on Scottsdale Aquatic Club’s landing page says it all. “We are Scottsdale Aquatic Club. As a TEAM, we develop champions in the pool and in life by creating a positive environment that inspires the dreams of swimmers at all competitive levels.

At last weekend’s Rochester Speedo Sectionals, known as the Central Zone Section 1 Championships, Scottsdale Aquatic Club achieved astounding results. The club won both the women’s and combined competitions and the men’s squad finished third.

Preparing and leading Scottsdale swimmers for victory is nothing new for this local non-profit organization. For 55 years, Scottsdale Aquatic Club has entered into fee agreements annually with Scottsdale which allow it to shepherd and manage aquatic activities across the city. Since 1964, Scottsdale Aquatic Club instructors have coached thousands of Scottsdale swimmers. Several swimmers have competed in the Olympic Games and world championship swim meets.

We’re proud of Scottsdale Aquatic Club’s swimmers and coaches who have successfully tuned out distractions and have focused on winning. It can be hard to concentrate on training when there are outside distractions. A for-profit business entity, Neptune, has stirred up the waters, making all sorts of allegations against the institution that is Scottsdale Aquatic Club. Fortunately for Scottsdale citizens, none of these complaints have held water. Neptune’s “spokespeople” have been swimming against the current. Read here and here.

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By The Happy Wanderer

In 2017, Phoenix District 6 Councilmember Sal DiCiccio sought re-election to the Phoenix City Council. During his campaign, he adopted one of the simplest, yet incredibly effective, slogans we have ever seen: “SAL FOR SOLUTIONS.”

It’s a good thing for Phoenix citizens that Sal is for solutions because the city is in desperate need of a fix when it comes to the issue of its staggering pension debt. It’s currently valued at over $4 billion. In 2018, Phoenix spent nearly $400 million to pay the debt down and this year, it plans to spend $426 million to do so. The city’s financial situation is so dire that the non-profit group Truth in Accounting gave Phoenix’s finances a “D” grade after it analyzed its debt burden.

DiCiccio helped launch a budget initiative aimed at pension reform. Petition gatherers had to submit 20,510 valid signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot. Petition signers blew this requirement out of the water and submitted nearly 50,000. Now that it’s qualified, the Responsible Budget Act goes before Phoenix voters during special elections in late August.

This measure is a multi-faceted attack on pension debt. First, it would require that new spending growth be limited to the increase of population plus inflation and that every dollar above that must be used to pay down the city’s unfunded pension obligations. Next, it requires annual assessments of pension debt based on a 10-year average rate of return on investments of pension systems. Finally, it ends pensions for Phoenix City Council members and requires elected officials to pay out of their own pocket for their pensions.

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2020 Scrum

By Outlaw Dirty Money 2020

Outlaw Dirty Money today announced that two national democracy reform organizations, End Citizens United and Voters’ Right to Know, have endorsed the campaign’s 2020 ballot initiative.  The endorsements come after ODM’s successful launch and a bi-partisan rollout of initial endorsements from current and former elected officials.

“Arizona voters overwhelmingly support our initiative and we’re not surprised that others are taking notice,” said Terry Goddard, Co-Chair of Outlaw Dirty Money. “Whenever Arizonans have the chance to vote in favor of Outlawing Dirty Money, they do.  With the support of thousands of Arizonans and a growing grassroots army of volunteers, we’re confident our movement will be successful.”

“The flood of dark money in politics is drowning out the voices of Arizona families, and it’s skewing policy outcomes to benefit mega-donors and corporate special interests,” said ECU President Tiffany Muller. “The Outlaw Dirty Money amendment will shine a much-needed light on unlimited and undisclosed political spending in Arizona. End Citizens United is proud to endorse the amendment, and we look forward to connecting our Arizona members to the campaign to fight back against the corrupting influence of Big Money.”

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By Councilwoman Virgina Korte

I want to express my deep appreciation to the thousands of citizens who provided their input on the general obligation bonds during the six community meetings and on the city’s website.

Last Tuesday the City Council met for a work-study session on the 59 GO bond projects.  Citizen input factored heavily in our discussion and was extremely useful in helping us decide how to categorize and prioritize the projects.

While the Council hasn’t officially called for an election in November, we expect to do that on Tuesday, April 16th.  Ultimately, the total bond package is expected to be approximately $350 million.

When we met, the expansion of the Via Linda Senior Center to meet the growing users’ demand was not on the list for our discussion.  Because I felt strongly about the importance of the project, I proposed that it be added to the list. All my colleagues agreed.  Now 60 projects are included in the bond package.

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By Councilwoman Virginia Korte

There are many things that make our city so special – but few surpass the uniqueness of Old Town. 

One of the things that make it so unique, especially compared to the downtowns of other cities, is the energy it generates. Our Old Town has become a 24-7 destination for residents and visitors alike.

But we need to keep working to sustain its success.

The past three years the city has invested an average of $5.4M a year in the Old Town area.  That has included everything from sidewalk to streetscape improvements to more aggressive advertising and social media marketing campaigns.  During this three-year period, the city has invested more than $3 million alone in special Old Town events like Western Week, Scottsdazzle and the Canal Convergence.

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Media Alert

Reverend Jarrett Maupin issues statement following the scandalous and racist statements of Rep. David Stringer, calls for lawmaker to resign immediately or for House Leadership to remove him in next session for being “ethically bankrupt,” “a premeditated xenophobe,” and for practicing racism in violation of rules of conduct for state house members…

Statement Below:

“Earlier this year, I agreed to host a luncheon between Rep. Stringer and members of the Black community after he made a series of highly insensitive and ignorant remarks about people of color…

“The purpose of that meeting was two fold. First, was for Stringer to apologize and come face to face with the community he insulted. Second, was to give the community an opportunity to try and work proactively with Rep. Stringer on minority legislative priorities and to rehabilitate his views on race and the realities of racism…

“Many in the Black community are Christians and forgiveness is a foundational virtue of our faith. That said, we did as Jesus commands and as so many civil rights leaders before us attempted to do with bigots of their day – that is, to turn the other cheek…

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Latest News

  • Linda Milhaven Was Right

    Apr 17

    At the end of Tuesday night’s Scottsdale City Council discussion referring a solid package of important community improvements to the November 5th ballot there was applause from the good number of people in attendance.   It was unusual, and refreshing to hear.  It symbolized how various members of the public and council, who often disagree on issues, all came together for Scottsdale’s greater good.   What preceded this, however, was noteworthy.   During public comment +

  • Well Done Scottsdale City Council

    Apr 16

    It’s shocking and sad that Scottsdale voters have not backed a meaningful bond measure to fund community infrastructure in two decades, despite public opinion polls showing residents believing the city is headed in the “right direction” rather than the “wrong track” by substantial margins.   A key reason for failed bond programs past was a house divided.  The City Council was never unanimously in support of a package and opposition resulted.  It was as if +

  • Small Scottsdale Rezoning But Big Symbolism

    Apr 15

    Scottsdale is a very special city and its northern reaches have a lot to do with it.  There, lower densities prevail in an almost rural environment with the McDowell Sonoran Preserve anchoring its distinct character.   Recent years have seen numerous rezonings and increasing densities come to parts of the area.  That’s not necessarily bad, but does it mean those who want to accentuate larger lots, bigger view sheds and a more sensitive approach to +

  • Guest Editorial: Keep Calm and Carry On

    Apr 12

    By The Happy Wanderer Downtown Scottsdale merchants have played an extremely critical role in our city’s economy for decades. The art galleries that line the streets in the Arts District attract tourists from across the world and are embedded in the fabric of Scottsdale’s culture. Though each gallery and store in the Arts District sells different wares, one thing does unite each merchant: they face an issue with a shortage of adequate parking for their +

  • Scottsdale Shouldn’t Do An Impression Of Donald Sterling

    Apr 11

    Before he proffered idiotic, racial remarks, former Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling was widely considered the worst owner in the history of sports.  He didn’t pay his players.  He wasn’t a winner.  He was cheap.   Now, we don’t mean to compare the Scottsdale City Council to Donald Sterling. After all, the city is one of the great municipal franchises in America.  And right now it has a point guard in City Manager Jim +

  • A Pig’s Lipstick

    Apr 9

    “I voted for the densest project in the history of our community.” That’s not a refrain you often see municipal elected officials put on re-election brochures.   Yet, that would be the truth were anyone on the Paradise Valley Town Council to actually vote for the density dog that has become the proposed redevelopment of the SmokeTree Resort near Scottsdale and Lincoln.   Recently, the Town of Paradise Valley Planning Commission had the foresight to +

  • Guest Editorial: Paradise Valley Mayor’s Update – April 2019

    Apr 9

    By Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner Dear Friends and Neighbors: We’re now three months into my term as Mayor, and the experience of serving Paradise Valley residents as Mayor has been both an honor and a pleasure. I wanted to provide you with an update on some of the issues we’ve been working on, and will do so on a periodic basis going forward with the goal of increasing transparency, communication, and engagement for everyone interested in the great Town of +

  • Guest Editorial: How Can Scottsdale Keep Raking in the Awards?

    Apr 8

    By Scottsdale Watchman Like Michael Jordan at a post-season NBA awards ceremony, Scottsdale keeps raking in the hardware. In just the last two years, Scottsdale has been listed as the number one city in the United States for job seekers. It has been recognized for excellence in economic development. Our city has been acknowledged as North America’s top golf destination. And now, it’s home of the United States’ best public park. Earlier today, the Engaging +

  • Guest Editorial: F*cking Finally

    Apr 5

    By The Happy Wanderer When the Chicago Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series for the franchise’s first championship victory in 108 years, the sentiment expressed by Cubbies fans across the world could be summed up in two words: “F*cking finally!” That’s the reaction we had late last Friday. Almost five years after the 2014 election, APS parent company Pinnacle West fessed up to something everyone suspected had been +

  • Guest Editorial: It Can Wait

    Apr 4

    By Scottsdale Pinetop On average, it takes five second to send or read a text message. To put that in perspective, it also takes about five seconds to travel the length of a football field while driving 55 mph. In 2017, Arizona reported 741 distracted driving related accidents according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety. Yet, Arizona is one of only three states that still does not have a state-law against distracted driving or +

  • Guest Editorial: Carpetbagging

    Apr 3

    By Scottsdale Watchman Just one year ago, Dr. Hiral Tipirneni made quite the impression on the West Valley’s political scene. In last April’s special election in the 8th Congressional District, which consists of Phoenix’s north and western suburbs, she lost to Arizona state senator Debbie Lesko by a mere five points. Hiral was the talk of the town. Since that time, however, Tipirneni has been tipping in the wrong direction. Seven months after the special +

  • Guest Editorial: Will Virginia Emerge Victorious or Will Suzanne Be Successful?

    Apr 1

    By The Happy Wanderer A few weeks before the official start of the 1991 NFL calendar year, New York Football Giants head coach Bill Parcells abruptly resigned. His decision to step away from the game sent shockwaves across the league. During his eight-year run at the team’s helm, he led a once-moribund franchise to 85 wins, five playoff appearances and two Super Bowl victories. After Parcells’ resignation, a competition commenced over who would replace him. +

  • Guest Editorial: Development Near Scottsdale Airpark is Taking Off

    Mar 29

    By Scottsdale Watchman “The Scottsdale Airpark is on fire.” Not literally (thankfully), but figuratively speaking. At least that’s what the reporters at national commercial real estate news outlet Globest.com have recently written. In the last two decades, Scottsdale Airpark has transformed from a non-descript area of the city with a small general aviation facility and generic office parks to a major Scottsdale economic hub. There are several reasons for this. First, the existing valuable property +

  • Smoking Something

    Mar 28

    Resorts are what make Paradise Valley, Arizona particularly special.  They can also be a source of controversy.   While the redevelopment of the old La Posada Hotel into Montelucia was unanimously approved by Town Council, its construction created public relations challenges.  The Mountain Shadows Resort was closed then resurrected through a unique set of business, legal and political dynamics.  But, ultimately, it too was approved by a unanimous council.   The Ritz-Carlton hotel and residential +

  • Guest Editorial: Grand Slam For Scottsdale

    Mar 28

    By Scottsdale Pinetop There’s nothing like being in downtown Scottsdale during spring training season. Each March, thousands of fans descend upon Scottsdale in a sea of orange, decorated from head to toe in their team’s colors. Selling out spring training seats at most Cactus League games, Scottsdale Stadium has helped make Scottsdale a leading economic and tourist destination. But, in order to maintain that reputation, it needs a better stadium. Thankfully, Scottsdale leaders are heeding +

  • Kate Will Be Great

    Mar 26

    By The Happy Wanderer Last week, we considered Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio and his 2017 campaign slogan “Sal For Solutions,” and how he’s keeping true to it. Nearly two years after DiCiccio revealed that catchy phrase, an equally-memorable campaign motto surfaced for another Phoenix political candidate. At a get-out-the-vote rally less than a week before the Phoenix mayoral election, now-Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego packed The Churchill in downtown Phoenix with supporters. As she took the +