Featured Editorials

The Conservative’s Corner


Conservative's Corner

By Sal DiCiccio —

Individual police officers are about to get screwed by city management! No politician’s career is more valuable than our police officers. They are not disposable for political reasons. The police should not have to bend to political pressure, they are the police. They are required to do the right thing.

To that end, I have requested, and our police have agreed to document all conversations with management and politicians regarding these recent cases.

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

Featured Editorials

By Recker McDowell —

Mayor Jim Lane and the Scottsdale City Council Jim Lane will hold an Economic Development Breakfast next month.

Economic development, as in attracting jobs and getting businesses to locate in Scottsdale, should not be lost as the city navigates its growth and new development plans.

Scottsdale is a very desirable landing spot for businesses and their employees. Health care, technology and creative companies (including some escaping the higher costs of California and the Pacific Northwest) would love to land operations in Scottsdale.

But Scottsdale hasn’t had the inventory of available and at the ready Class A office space to land some of those site selections.

That has led some companies to locate jobs and offices on the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community or in Tempe, Chandler or Phoenix.

Scottsdale-based Harkins Theatres, for example, is building a new headquarters on Salt River land.

Scottsdale is facing some intersections on how and where it wants to grow as a city. Economic development, available office space and jobs should not be lost as the city charts its course.

The economic development breakfast is September 19.

By Andrea Alley
For The Best Scottsdale

Scottsdale voters have a unique opportunity in November to invest in public safety, infrastructure repairs and senior centers through Questions 1, 2 and 3.

They can also help Scottsdale’s teachers and students by Voting Yes on the Scottsdale Unified School District’s override election.

In a way, we can all be heroes for our community and our kids.

As a southern Scottsdale resident, a mom and a graduate of SUSD, I believe that voters from every corner of our city should come together and approve Questions 1, 2 and 3 and the school override.

We all know that a great community must have great public schools. The SUSD override helps do that by maintaining funding for arts, athletics, world languages and technology programs as well as other extra-curricular activities important to students and their education. It was activities such as these that formed who I became and what I enjoy as an adult and that I watch shape my children and their peers into their fullest potential.

The School Override will also keep teacher pay competitive, keep class sizes down and bring updated technology to classrooms.

Those are the types of basic investments our children and teachers deserve.Read More

(SCOTTSDALE) —  Community support has been deep and wide for the three Scottsdale bond measures on this November’s ballot.

That strong support has shown itself again with a wave of backers submitting ballot statements to the city of Scottsdale advocating for Questions 1, 2 and 3.

Supporters of the Scottsdale bonds have submitted 59 ballot statements in favor of the three questions.

“Neighborhood advocates, former and current Scottsdale City Council members and mayors, coaches, business leaders and dedicated community leaders have all stepped forward to voice support for the bonds,” said Paula Sturgeon, co-chair of the For The Best Scottsdale Campaign: Vote Yes on Questions 1, 2 and 3.

The Scottsdale City Clerk received just two ballot statements opposing the bonds.

The bonds will build new parks, youth sports fields and fire stations. They will also install bullet proof glass at police stations, make improvements at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park and the Paiute Neighborhood Center.

“The volume of ballot statements in favor of Questions 1, 2 and 3 speak volumes. We are thrilled by the level of support for all three bond measures. The community sees how important the bonds investments in infrastructure repairs and our neighborhoods are for Scottsdale’s quality of life,” Sturgeon said.

The Scottsdale bonds are supported by Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane and the entire Scottsdale City Council, former mayor Mary Manross and numerous former City Council members, the Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors, Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce, Scottsdale Fire Fighters Association, the Arizona Quarter Horse Association, Arabian Horse Association of Arizona and scores of community and neighborhood advocates. Every member of the Scottsdale City Council submitted a statement in favor of the three questions on the November ballot.

Here is a rundown of the community leaders and neighborhood advocates who submitted ballot statements in favor of Questions 1, 2 and 3.

Question 1  “FOR”

Mayor W.J. “Jim” Lane
Alex McLaren  — Community leader
Sonnie KirtleyCommunity advocate, long-time Scottsdale resident
Paul MessingerBusiness owner, former Scottsdale City Councilmember, former Arizona lawmaker, civic leader
Wayne Ecton Former Scottsdale City Councilman
Jim Derouin — Lawyer who has lived in Scottsdale since 1985, proposed the adoption of the City’s ethics code and served on the City’s Charter Review Committee, the City’s districting task force and as President of the Scottsdale Ranch Community Association.
Lisa BorowskyFormer Scottsdale City Councilmember
Sandy SchenkatCitizen advocate and member of the For The Best Scottsdale Steering Committee
Les Conklin —  Scottsdale resident, magazine editor
Larry Kush  — Planning and Zoning Commission member, Scottsdale resident since 1976
HonorHealth — Scottsdale’s largest employer and health care provider
Matthew Benson — Vice Chairman, Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce
Vernon B. ParkerScottsdale resident, former mayor of Paradise Valley
Dana ClosePresident, Close Community Concepts
Dennis RobbinsCo-Chair, For the Best Scottsdale
Scottsdale City Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield
Coalition of Greater Scottsdale (COGS) — Community group
Scottsdale City Councilman Guy Phillips
For The Best Scottsdale PAC
Tom SilvermanFormer Scottsdale Councilmember
Scottsdale City Councilwoman Solange Whitehead
Scottsdale City Councilwoman Linda Milhaven
Scottsdale City Councilwoman Suzanne Klapp
James Burke M.D. — Physician, Former Scottsdale City Councilmember
Scottsdale Area Association of REALTORS
Scottsdale City Councilwoman Virginia Korte
Brian Esterly  — Scottsdale Resident and parent of three youth athletes
Dena Roady  — Scottsdale tourism advocate
Ken McKenzieScottsdale resident for 45 years, Saguaro High School graduate (1968)
David N. Smith —  Scottsdale City Treasurer (2009-13), Scottsdale City Councilman (2015-19)
Sam Campana  — Former Scottsdale Mayor and Scottsdale City Councilmember
Van M Robinson —  Board of Directors of Phoenix Rising FC Youth Soccer (PRFCYS)
Mario Diaz/Brad ClementGoverning board members of a Scottsdale based youth soccer club
Mary TurnerScottsdale Resident Campaign Manager and Treasurer, For The Best Scottsdale 

Question 2 “FOR”

Jim Derouin
Barry GrahamScottsdale resident, CPA, Transportation Commission Chair, Steering Committee, For the Best Scottsdale
Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce

Mary ManrossFormer Mayor of Scottsdale, Scottsdale resident
Susan Bitter SmithScottsdale resident. Business owner. Former Councilmember and Vice Mayor
Paula Sturgeon55-year resident of Scottsdale; graduate of Pima Elementary and Scottsdale High School, Chairman For The Best Scottsdale
Andrea AlleyFounder, South Scottsdale Project
Doug HulsCEO, Arizona Quarter Horse Association
Scottsdale Polo Championships
Dr. Gerd WuestemannPresident and CEO, Scottsdale Arts
Macerich / Scottsdale Fashion Square
Bob PejmanOwner of Pejman Gallery, Scottsdale resident
Craig JacksonPresident, CEO of Barrett-Jackson Auction Company
The Thunderbirds
Christian SerenaScottsdale resident, Member, Scottsdale Arts Board of Trustees
Kathy WillsNative Scottsdale resident, Chairwoman of the Board of Trustees for Scottsdale Arts
Mike O’ HearnPresident, Ice Den Scottsdale

Question 3  “FOR”

Jim Derouin
Police Officers of Scottsdale Arizona
Bill Crawford  — Neighborhood advocate, business owner
Scottsdale Fire Fighters Association
Mike Norton —  25-year resident, SUSD Bond Oversight Committee, Former SUSD Budget Committee, Former Cheyenne Traditional School Site Council
Suzanne Lansford — Scottsdale Resident, owner of Scottsdale electrical engineering company, Saguaro High School graduate
Jason AlexanderResident Advocate, Founder of NoDDC in favor of Prop 420
Jim BrunerFormer Scottsdale City Councilmember, 50-year Scottsdale Resident

“PS” in this case stands for post script but also Pejman’s Siren. Or Prescient Statement.

See what Scottsdale gallery owner Bob Pejman wrote to city leaders following a 2016 Phoenix New Times article even more disconcerting than the one we wrote about a couple of days ago.

Simply put, it was time to do something then.  It’s more than time to do something now. Part of Scottsdale’s heart and soul is at stake. Fortunately, there are solutions.  There is a will and a way, as we wrote about yesterday. Here is a link

March 03, 2016

To City Council,

I am sure that many of you have read yesterday’s extensive article in the Phoenix New Times titled “Scottsdale Art is Dead….”. This is the 2nd article from this publication on the serious subject of the crumbling downtown art galleries district.


We are hoping that reading this article will open the eyes of some of the Council members….in that, the recent outcry for help is NOT one that is coming from a handful of angry gallery owners who Mayor Lane describes as business operators who are responsible for their own fate….but rather a symptom of a serious issue for Scottsdale’s identity as an Arts & Culture draw.

The quote that sticks out from the article “Instead of a city of arts and culture, we are a city of entertainment, Udinotti says. It’s a party city now” describes one of the problems with the direction of downtown Scottsdale under the direction of the current Council. This quote is followed by the writer’s note: “An array of factors contributed to the downfall. High rent forced galleries to shutter or move. Instead of coping with vacancies, the city allowed Old Town to morph into a nightlife destination for dining and drinking.” And then there’s this one: “Now, the Scottsdale Gallery Association lists just 33 galleries on its website. By comparison, Scottsdale’s tourism website (experiencescottsdale.com) lists 100 nightclubs, bars, and restaurants.” Thus the gradual transformation of the Art District to “Eternal Spring Break” (that’s my quote).

It is not too late to stop the carnage and improve the art district: We understand that there are many factors such as the state of the economy, the retirement of the boomers, and the Internet, etc…that are negatively affecting our businesses. But if all of that is true (and it is), then shouldn’t the City be more proactive in protecting us rather than permitting (and in some cases subsidizing) even more events that “undercut” established galleries and brick & mortar businesses in downtown, leading to the destruction and decay of the Scottsdale Art District? And shouldn’t the new events ordinance place serious limitations on permitting of NEW Art Related Events, which we have asked Council to include in the Special Events Ordinance rewrite? In my recent meeting with Council member Korte, even she suggested this to be a reasonable option to protect the galleries.

All merchants’ and gallery owners’ eyes are on the New Special Events Ordinance that is due to be released tomorrow and voted on during the March 15 Council session.

Thank you for your anticipated support,

Bob Pejman
Pejman Gallery LLC

There’s a movie out right now getting rave reviews. It’s called Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.  And once upon a time in Scottsdale the city used to get rave reviews for its art scene.  It had no Valley peer. Two great streets, and others, populated by galleries. A cozy center for performing arts. Even a cultural campus of sorts.

But then other cities awoke.  Tempe built a sparkling arts center.  As did Mesa. Downtown Phoenix organically started to sprout galleries.  Chandler has made headway too.

Simply put Scottsdale’s pre-eminent position is no more.  And while we don’t often cite the Phoenix New Times, notorious purveyors of pimps, a recent article is illustrative.

A Guide to the 10 Best Art Galleries in Metro Phoenix by Lynn Trimble

Of their “Top 10” art galleries in the Valley only one hails from Scottsdale, Art One on Marshall Way.  We disagree profoundly with the omission of several stellar galleries on Scottsdale’s Main Street but the point remains, and is disconcerting.  Others no longer view Scottsdale as the hotbed of artistic haute.  This should be unacceptable to the community and its leaders.  For the arts and Scottsdale have long been synonymous, adding to the city’s cache, tourism reach and quality of life.

Fortunately, there are at least two opportunities on the horizon to arrest the atrophy.

First, city voters will go to the polls on November 5th to approve or reject three different questions covering 58 infrastructure projects throughout the city.  Among them are various improvements to Scottsdale’s cultural facilities at the Civic Center Mall, including the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.  The biggest project calls for updates and upgrades to the cultural campus’ beloved open space which hosts many festivals throughout the year.  Last year a chunk of the area was shut down for emergency repairs due to the decades-old infrastructure.  The work harmed the Scottsdale Culinary Festival and other special events and left the lovely grounds, in the words of city staffers, more Spartan than before.  The official believes the public will be shocked when they see the impact of what needed to be done to repair the areas, and that it will take years to slowly recapture the magic without passage of the assistance provided for in the upcoming election.

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We are critics of former Scottsdale City Councilman David Smith’s legal broadside against Jason Alexander, the Scottsdale citizen perhaps single-handedly most responsible for the delightful deconstruction of the Desert Discovery Center last year.

Yet, we were gratified to see Smith and Alexander working together, albeit indirectly, as they both submitted ballot arguments for Scottsdale’s upcoming vote to improve its infrastructure.

Here are the poignant words of Smith and Alexander encouraging Yes votes on Questions 1, 2 & 3 on the November ballot:

David Smith:

I support passage of all three Bond 2019 questions.  Together, they are an important way for citizens to protect the value of their own real estate investments.  City assets like roads, parks, libraries and public safety facilities comprise our collective “front yard.” As such, it is in our self-interest to manage and maintain them as responsibly as we would our own homes.

• The cost is minimal!  Compared to the property values protected, the annual tax impact will be modest; just 28.8 cents per $100 of assessed valuation or $8.99 a month for the average Scottsdale homeowner.  Moreover, it is unlikely Scottsdale homeowners will see any increase in their secondary property tax, since new bonds would be issued to coincide with the retirement of old bonds.

• The burden will be shared!  Almost half the debt service for new bonds will be borne by the business community and non-resident Scottsdale property owners.  For several projects, matching grant monies will add to the purchasing power of the city’s investments.

• The time is now!  It’s been 20 years since voters last approved a major General Obligation Bond election to finance new and replacement infrastructure.  That’s almost a generation ago; our city was smaller then and our assets were newer. Now is the time to restore what was lost, rebuild what is used and worn, and revitalize what makes Scottsdale unique.

Scottsdale’s coveted AAA bond rating reflects more than just reasonable debt levels.  This highestpossible rating also recognizes our citizens’ responsible approach to managing their City assets.  I urge you to join me in support of our AAA rated community by voting YES on all three questions.  Approval of these important investments will ensure Scottsdale remains a “Most Livable City.”

David N. Smith Scottsdale City Treasurer (2009-13) Scottsdale City Councilman (2015-19)

Jason Alexander: 

I am voting Yes for Questions 1, 2 and 3. I am proud of the inclusive process that shaped the list of projects. Kathy Littlefield and Council provided leadership. Citizens had a seat at the table and their opinions were richly incorporated into the proposal. The projects provide so much to the residents, and also help the business and tourism communities. YES on 1, 2 and 3 is a well-crafted compromise that benefits the diverse interests in Scottsdale.

Taxes will not be significantly affected. I think the benefits to our quality of life are worth the tax investment. I know the citizen-led Bond Oversight Committee will watch over the expenditures, and ensure they are spent efficiently.

I share with many people a deep frustration over how the City Council is growing Scottsdale – too tall, too dense, too transient. However, Questions 1, 2 & 3 are a separate topic and should be taken as a separate decision. Whatever growth brings us, the residents will want to have our parks, public safety and infrastructure.  If you want to change Scottsdale’s trajectory, get involved in the 2020 election. Elect resident-focused candidates who stand for slow, healthy growth. Four of the seven City Council positions are up for election in 2020.

Please vote Yes for Questions 1, 2 and 3.

Jason Alexander, Resident Advocate, Founder of NoDDC in favor of Prop 420

Mayor Lane coined the phrase #ScottsdaleAtItsBest. Smith and Alexander’s unknown collaboration truly is. Now, if that spirit could apply to matters beyond the bond we might really be onto something.

By Recker McDowell —

The U.S. Senate has confirmed attorney Mike Liburdi to the U.S. District Court for Arizona.

Liburdi is a conservative attorney who previously served as general counsel to Republican Gov. Doug Ducey.

Liburdi was confirmed by a 53 to 37 vote in the very divided U.S. Senate.

But both of Arizona’s U.S. Senators Martha McSally, a Republican and Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat, voted for Liburdi’s confirmation.

Only two other Senate Democrats (Doug Jones of Alabama and Joe Manchin of West Virginia) voter Liburdi, who was nominated by President Donald Trump.

Sinema has taken a distinctly moderate path since taking office earlier this year. She has been bipartisan and centrist in political climate where both parties and many politicians have run to ideological corners.

Sinema has shown herself thoughtful on votes including the judicial nomination.

“As Arizona’s senior Senator, I will evaluate every nominee based on whether he or she is professionally qualified, believes in the role of an independent judiciary, and can be trusted to faithfully interpret and uphold the rule of law. After knowing him for many years, meeting with him, and carefully considering his nomination, I believe Mike Liburdi meets those high standards and I support his nomination to the Federal Judiciary,” Sinema said in a statement.

Let’s hope Sinema and McSally can work together on more issues after their tough and tight 2018 campaign.

Sinema won the Arizona U.S. Senate last year because she took the middle and tempered road in the age of Donald Trump, AOC and seemingly constant fights and outrage on social media and in the 24/7 news cycle.

Sinema’s path isn’t pleasing the vocal, activist and progressive wing of the Democratic Party. But it fits with the temperament of many Arizona voters.

Her votes, including on this one, shows she’s ‘governing’ as she campaigned.

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company L.L.C. is excited to announce the expansion of its Arizona presence with the expected summer 2020 opening of The Ritz-Carlton, Paradise Valley.

Set in the coveted resort town of Paradise Valley, Ariz., within the heart of vibrant Scottsdale, construction on The Ritz-Carlton, Paradise Valley is well underway for the luxury property that will span over 20 acres and boast 215 guest accommodations.

“We are thrilled to expand our resort portfolio with The Ritz-Carlton, Paradise Valley and look forward to bringing our legendary service to Scottsdale, a destination that has long been alluring to luxury travelers,” said Lisa Holladay, Global Brand Leader for The Ritz-Carlton.

The simple yet elegant design of the resort creates relaxed and comfortable spaces that allow the natural beauty of the resort’s location to shine. The stunning grand lobby, situated above the rest of the hotel overlooking the iconic Camelback Mountain, will greet guests with a water feature that cascades down through the property to a world-class spa. The resort’s 215 guest rooms include spacious suites with superior amenities and design, in addition to a number of oversized suites, detached casitas and bungalows that will make The Ritz-Carlton, Paradise Valley an ideal destination for those seeking a private oasis.

Guest accommodations will be connected by quiet, lush courtyard gardens and shaded walkways that evokes the sense of a village. Large windows with deep overhangs will promote the resort’s indoor/outdoor living ethos, along with unobstructed views of Arizona’s idyllic sunsets. The main pool, spanning nearly 400 feet, will be one of the longest resort pools in North America.

A specialty dining concept will harvest seasonal produce from the resort’s anticipated herb garden and 400-tree citrus orchard, incorporating ingredients into the daily menus. The resort will offer a 16,000 square-foot spa, with both indoor and outdoor treatment rooms. Spa guests will have exclusive access to a private pool with a circuit of various jetted treatments along with a whirlpool, Vichy shower, rainwalk and cabanas. The resort will also feature a 2,500 square-foot state-of-the-art health and fitness center, various indoor/outdoor meeting and event spaces like the amphitheater and secret garden, and a grand lawn with stunning views of the iconic Camelback, Mummy and McDowell mountains.

The Ritz-Carlton, Paradise Valley is the centerpiece of the $2 billion, 122-acre master-planned community of The Palmeraie. The resort is surrounded by 81 single-level Ritz-Carlton Residences Villas, ranging in size from 1,700 to 4,800 square feet, and 39 single-family Ritz-Carlton Residences Estate Homes, from 5,500 to 12,000 square feet. The Villas and Estate Homes will be whole-ownership and Ritz-Carlton branded, serviced and managed.

Residence owners will experience a “resort within a resort” as they will have their own Clubhouse that will encompass a spectacular common lounge area along with a junior Olympic sized-pool; fitness facilities; private, beautifully landscaped grounds; a dedicated director of residences; concierge; priority access to hotel amenities, and a host of a la carte services such as in-residence dining, housekeeping and engineering services.

For more information on the resort, please visit RitzCarlton.com. For more information on The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Paradise Valley, visit RCPVLuxury.com or call 866-779-7489.

By The Arizona Criminal Justice Commission

Nearly $15 Million in Federal and State Funding Directed Towards Ensuring Accurate & Complete Criminal History Database/Keeping Guns Out of the Hands of Individuals with Mental Health Adjudications

 Phoenix, AZ, Tuesday, August 6, 2019 – Over the weekend our nation witnessed two more mass shootings—the first in El Paso, Texas and the second in Dayton, Ohio.

“The Members and staff of the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission (ACJC) join with our fellow Arizonans and all Americans in extending our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones impacted by these appalling acts of violence,” said Yavapai County Attorney and ACJC Chairperson Sheila Polk. “Arizona is no stranger to this kind of tragedy, but the work that we have done as a state since 2011 is making a difference in creating safer communities for all of our state’s residents.”


On January 8, 2011, a horrific act of gun violence impacted Tucson, Arizona, when a gunman with known mental health and substance abuse issues opened fire at a public event held by U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, killing six people and injuring 14 others. As a result of this tragic event, the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission (ACJC) formally established a NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) Task Force.

Read More

By Dana Close and Alex McLaren
For the Best Scottsdale

Scottsdale voters are informed, sophisticated and always want to see transparency in their city government and community institutions.

Transparency is a top priority for the three bond questions on the November ballot.

The 58 bond projects in Questions 1, 2 and 3 were determined through an extensive public process. Multiple public meetings were held, and a unanimous Scottsdale City Council put the $319 million bond program on the ballot.

Even after all the public participation, one of the concerns we hear about most often is trust. Scottsdale voters want to know that when they vote for something, it is not going to be changed or manipulated in some way after the fact. That is where the Citizens Bond Oversight Committee comes in and plays a key role in keeping voters and residents informed on the progress of bond projects.

The city provides regular progress reports on bond projects to the Oversight Committee.

The citizens committee makes sure the city follows the will of voters with the bond projects that are approved in November. That includes making sure the procurement and construction processes are being followed.

We have both been members of the Citizens Bond Oversight Committee which is made up seven Scottsdale residents. They make sure city bond projects, contracts and spending are progressing properly. The committee is a citizens’ watchdog on the city’s bond programs.

You can check out information on the oversight panel and its meetings here: https://www.scottsdaleaz.gov/boards/citizens-bond-oversight-committee.

The bonds on the November ballot make overdue infrastructure repairs, build new fire stations, expand senior centers and make improvements at community assets such as Pinnacle Peak Park, Cactus Pool and McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. Scottsdale voters have not approved a major bond program since 2000.

The For The Best Scottsdale Campaign in favor of the bonds has disclosed all our supporters and campaign contributors. That not only shows the transparency of the campaign in favor of the bonds but also the widespread community support for all three questions.

The Scottsdale Fire Fighters Association, Police Officers of Scottsdale Association, Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce, Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors, Scottsdale Charros and advocates from both sides of the Proposition 420 debate all back this year’s bonds.

The city and the bond campaign have been committed to the ultimate transparency in determining the bond projects. We will follow through on that throughout the campaign. We believe in what the bonds will do for Scottsdale’s quality of life and future prosperity. We are proud to share that message.

Scottsdale voters expect nothing less.

All the projects can be seen here: https://www.scottsdaleaz.gov/elections/bond-2019-project-list.

Dana Close and Alex McLaren are both Scottsdale residents. Close serves as a Co-Chair of the For The Best Scottsdale Bond Campaign. McLaren serves on the Campaign’s Steering Committee.

On behalf of the DC Ranch community-at-large, the DC Ranch Community Council announced its support of the three bond measures that will be on Scottsdale’s November ballot. DC Ranch is a master-planned community composed of nearly 7,000 residents in north Scottsdale.
The bonds will fund 58 projects which are spread throughout the entire city and address a variety of areas to include public safety, parks and recreation, technology and senior services. Two of the projects have been top priorities for DC Ranch residents for many years: the expansion of Thompson Peak Bridge to four lanes and a nearby dog park.
“If passed by Scottsdale voters, the 2019 City of Scottsdale General Obligation Bonds will have many positive outcomes for DC Ranch and Scottsdale, the city we call home,” states Ron Belmont, DC Ranch Community Council board president.
“The bonds are a much-needed investment in our city’s infrastructure and add amenities for our residents to enjoy,” adds Chris Irish, DC Ranch director of public affairs. “Many of the projects have a direct connection to one of DC Ranch’s eight Community Values.”
If the bonds are approved in November, DC Ranch staff will monitor and participate in the planning process for the bridge and dog park along with the improvements at Westworld and the lighted ballfields proposed on the north side of Bell Road and 94th Street.

By Recker McDowell —

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich has evolved when it comes to marijuana.

Technology start up ALTA is now part of Brnovich’s Fintech Sandbox program. The Arizona effort allows innovative companies to start operating and test out their business models as they gain state licenses.

ALTA’s innovation is that it offers digital payment solutions to medical marijuana dispensaries and legal cannabis businesses. Many of those businesses cannot get traditional bank accounts now because of federal laws that still make marijuana illegal.

ALTA is launching in Arizona where there is a $350 million cash economy for medical marijuana and legal cannabis. It hopes to take its technology and business model to other states.

Brnovich has also said he favors the Arizona Legislature legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

Arizona is poised to join the growing number of U.S. states who have legalized cannabis. Brnovich wants the Legislature to take that leap before an expected legalization initiative in 2020.

Brnovich is smart enough to know public opinion and the wider culture have evolved on marijuana.

Public opinion polls show support for legalized marijuana growing. A new Marist Poll for NPR and PBS shows 63 percent of Americans support a national legalization of cannabis. Seventy-eight percent of voters under 45 back legal marijuana, according to the survey.

Public support of medical marijuana is even higher.

Brnovich has shown himself to be nimble during this tenure as Arizona Attorney General. That hasn’t always been a strong suit for other prosecutors. Brnovich is showing that again when it comes to marijuana.


By Recker McDowell —

Harkins Theatres is moving its headquarters to a new mixed-use development on the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community.

Harkins will keep its Scottsdale address with the move. But it will be moving from its current home in the city of Scottsdale to the Salt River Community. Harkins expects to move 260 employees into the new space, according to reports.

The movie chain is the latest tenant who has moved to space on Salt River land or to other cities such as Tempe or Chandler. Some of those moves happened because top office tenants cannot find new or enough Class A space in Scottsdale.

Harkins new headquarters will be 65,000 square feet, a significant expansion to its existing Scottsdale space.

Scottsdale is a desirable destination for employers. But it is not alone as more Silicon Valley and other companies look at metro Phoenix for jobs and offices. Scottsdale has not had the inventory of Class A office space available for sought after tenants. Some of those tenants would love to land in Scottsdale but cannot find the space.

The Salt River Community continues to be open to potential new developments. It’s already landed a large McKesson office that relocated from the Scottsdale Galleria along with Kahala Brands (i.e. Cold Stone Creamery) offices. The Salt River has some newer developments and more in the pipeline as well as prime access with the Loop 101 freeway.

Other technology and creative tenants have landed in Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert and other submarkets because there has been available and new space.

Coveted tenants, whether they are technology firms or well-known brands such as Harkins, like Scottsdale’s amenities, demographics and attractiveness for their workers.

The Scottsdale Galleria which is home to Yelp, Indeed and Zillow and the ASU SkySong development which continues to expand show Scottsdale is a prime landing spot.

It’s just Scottsdale does not have enough of that space currently or in the pipeline.

That’s helped Tempe land high-profile and desirable tenants. Gilbert, downtown Phoenix and the Biltmore have also been looking to grab more high-profile and creative tenants. Those are the types of tenants that should be landing in Scottsdale.

Harkins is one of Arizona’s most recognizable business brands. It will also still have its Scottsdale address after its headquarters move. It just will be on Salt River land.

That is a market dynamic worth noting.

By Recker McDowell —

The campaign in favor of three Scottsdale bond questions on the November ballot is seeing diverse support.

That support is manifesting itself in different ways from different supporters.

The For The Best Scottsdale Campaign: Vote Yes on Questions 1, 2 and 3 has picked up public safety endorsements. The Scottsdale Fire Fighters Association and Police Officers of Scottsdale Association (POSA) back the bond questions.

All the Scottsdale City Council (including Mayor Jim Lane) support the bonds and their investments in public safety, expanding senior centers and building new fire stations and parks. Scottsdale City Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield has been a strong advocate for the bonds and why they are needed.

Scottsdale City Councilwoman Solange Whitehead and Andrea Alley, a co-chair for the For The Best Scottsdale campaign, have been talking to residents in the southern part of the city about the investments the bonds make in infrastructure repairs including fixing lakes and the Vista Del Camino dam at the southern end of Indian Bend Wash.

Bonds will also help finish repairs and upgrades at Civic Center Plaza after part of the space and Drinkwater Boulevard were closed for emergency repairs. Some of Scottsdale’s infrastructure is crumbling, literally.

Bond Campaign Co-Chair Dana Close and Steering Committee Members Alex McLaren, Sandy Schenkat and Jon Ryder have been talking about the transparency with the bond package. That includes informing voters about Scottsdale’s Bond Oversight Committee, a seven-member panel of residents who track how the city is spending money and handling contracts related to bond projects.

The 58 projects in the $319 million were put on the ballot by a unanimous Scottsdale City Council after numerous public meetings helped craft the program. Scottsdale voters have not approved a major bond package since 2000.

Community and business leaders are also supporting Questions 1, 2 and 3. The Scottsdale Charros, the Thunderbirds, Scottsdale Area Chamber or Commerce and Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors have all endorsed the bonds. They see what the investments can do not only for Scottsdale’s economic vitality but also for the community’s overall quality of life.

The bonds will build new trails at Pinnacle Peak Park, new pools and facilities at the Cactus Pool and will make Old Town Scottsdale more pedestrian friendly.

Campaign Co-Chairs Dennis Robbins and Paula Sturgeon and Steering Committee Members Gerd Wuestermann , Jim Derouin and Don Henninger have been reaching out to various audiences and constituencies including the arts community and neighborhood leaders on the importance of the bonds.

Former Mayor Mary Manross and former City Council members Ned O’Hearn, Betty Drake, Paul Messinger and Robert Pettycrew are also endorsing Questions 1, 2 and 3. The For The Best Scottsdale Bond Campaign worked with community activist Emily Austin to make sure all its signs are made of recycled materials and all those signs will be recycled.

The bond projects will benefit all parts of Scottsdale. That is drawing support from all parts the city and from all types of backers.

By Recker McDowell —

The Arizona Cardinals are hiding 100 official NFL footballs around the state as part of a promotion for the start of training camp and the 2019 season and the NFL’s 100th anniversary.

There is some excitement and even national attention for the Cardinals this season with Heisman Trophy winner and overall first pick Kyler Murray at quarterback and new head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

The pair are putting the Cardinals on the NFL map and raised interest in the team after a woeful 2018 season.

Kingsbury’s offense and Murray’s elusiveness could make the Cardinals entertaining and give the fan base something to root for.

Of course, winning will be the name of the game. The Cardinals had solid runs in the Kurt Warner days and then under Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer. The constant during both of those tenures was Larry Fitzgerald who is back for another season.

Like other sports fans, NFL fans aren’t that interested in lengthy rebuilding processes. The success of Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City and Dak Prescott in Dallas shows quarterbacks can have immediate positive impacts.

The Cardinals are also challenged by our region’s transient nature. For every Cards fan, there is a Cowboys, Packers, Bears, Steelers and even Browns fans ready to pledge allegiance to their former home. The Suns know about all this with Lakers fans and Diamondbacks with Dodgers, Giants and Cubs fans.

That has always been a tough nut to crack for the Cardinals in the franchise’s leaner seasons.

But winning is the ultimate elixir. The Cardinals went from NFC East also-rans to the most popular team in the state during Kurt Warner’s Super Bowl run.

Some wins by the new quarterback and coach will put plenty of fans back on the bandwagon even if they are still also watching the Cowboys, Packers or Browns.



By Recker McDowell —

Elizabeth Warren will be in Tempe for a Thursday ‘town hall’ at the Marquee Theater. It will be first of what could be an ample amount of Democratic presidential candidates landing in Arizona as they look to turn the state blue and against Donald Trump in 2020.

Democrats, of course, look to Kyrsten Sinema’s win over Martha McSally in the 2016 U.S. Senate race and statewide wins by Democrats Katie Hobbs (Secretary of State), Kathy Hoffman (Superintendent of Public Instruction) and Sandra Kennedy (Arizona Corporation Commission).

They see red-state Arizona in play against Trump in 2020 and perhaps following the now blue tint of Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico. Sinema’s narrow win over McSally was aided in part to ‘never-Trump’ Republicans who don’t like Trump’s fights with late Arizona Sen. John McCain.

Trump carried Arizona with 48.1 percent of the vote versus 44.6 percent for Hillary Clinton. Democrats hope not to be saddled with Clinton’s negatives this cycle. They also hope swing voters will be fatigued with Trump’s Twitter and other storms.

But Trump has his own cards to play in swing states such as Arizona, Florida and the Rust Belt. The economy continues to perform well at a macro level both via job numbers and the stock market.

There are concerns for consumers such as health care costs and student loan debts. Democrats did well with pressing on health care costs and coverage for pre-existing conditions in the 2018 midterms.

But overall, the economy, for now, is a bright spot for Trump.

Trump will also paint Democrats as progressive socialists hoping that message will play well for him in states like Arizona.

The problems at the border likely cut both ways for Trump and his Democratic rival. The detention camps and family separations energize Trump critics and Latino voters. Democrats hope they also turn more women voters against Trump. White women were key to Trump’s upset of Hillary Clinton in key swing states.

But Trump’s tough stance on the border and his tough rhetorical fights appeal to his older, white and Fox News loving base.

Read More

Dutch Bros Coffee will be opening a new location on Scottsdale Road in between Thomas and McDowell Roads.

The location will succeed Dutch Bros very popular location at Papago Plaza. The old shopping center at McDowell and Scottsdale roads is being redeveloped.

Dutch Bros is being built in an existing parking lot. Those type of parking lot infill projects are popping up in Mesa, Phoenix and other cities. They are wise uses of space if they don’t hurt overall parking for other tenants.

As for Dutch Bros in southern Scottsdale, the popular coffee chain does not take its site selections lightly. The move to build a new location shows the attractiveness of southern Scottsdale.

A city and area can be judged by the coffee company it keeps. An ample amount of Starbucks, Dutch Bros and local coffee shops is a pretty good indicator of where an area is at economically and where it is headed.

Coffee shops and cafes usually follow professional and office jobs as well as creatives, college students and innovators.

Just think about all the coffee options in Old Town Scottsdale. Now, think about the growing number of such places in the southern part of the city. There are downtowns and corridors in other parts of metro Phoenix that have long sought a Starbucks or viable local coffee shops.

The ASU SkySong development has attracted not only tech firms and other tenants but has also sprouted restaurants. There are more culinary and coffee places in the southern part of Scottsdale and more coming.

That shows something about the area and where it is headed.

By Recker McDowell —

WestWorld of Scottsdale has been named the only U.S. venue among 10 worldwide locations being considered to host parts of the Federation Equestre Internationale World Championships in 2022.

FEI is the international governing body for equestrian events.

WestWorld is competing with equestrian and sports venues in the Netherlands, Denmark, United Arab Emirates, Italy, Ireland and other countries to host World Championship events.

WestWorld making it on the short list shows the stature the venue and Scottsdale have in the equestrian world. WestWorld already hosts some major equestrian events.

If WestWorld is going to land the World Championships and other major events, it is going to need some repairs and continued upgrades.

The three bond questions on the November ballot include some needed improvement and repairs at WestWorld so it can keep hosting and attracting major equestrian and community events. Through the bonds, horse barns will be repaired. WestWorld’s arena area will be improved to accommodate more events. The city run facility is also slated to get improved restrooms, street access, audio systems and lighting through bond program.

WestWorld is one of Scottsdale’ big tourism and major events drivers. The bonds are essential to keeping the venue in the competitive mix for events like the Equestrian World Championships.

By Recker McDowell —

Downtown Chandler is looking to make its mark by becoming the region’s next culinary destination.

That follows on the success of the restaurants and bars at Gilbert’s Heritage District and the popular food and entertainment scene in Old Town Scottsdale.

Chandler’s downtown is at Arizona Avenue and Boston Street. It already features some restaurants and has been trying to host more events such as farmers markets and yoga. The city hopes to attract more restaurants and businesses to the area. The Original ChopShop and SanTan Brewery have already landed there.

Such efforts take patience, good timing and some forward-thinking advocates that can show others the path and business model viability.

That is what happened in Gilbert where the town owned much of the land and buildings that turned into its restaurant row. The town has been selective in which restauranteurs and developers it has worked with. It also helped that Joe Johnston pioneered the area with Liberty Market and Joe’s BBQ.

Chandler certainly has the economic base to support a more vibrant downtown and restaurant scene. The Price Road Corridor is home to Intel, Google’s self-driving car division Waymo and other technology companies.

There are plenty of restaurants clustered around Chandler Fashion Center, but the Chandler’s downtown area has a plaza area and has some walkability to it.

Walkability is an important appeal in Old Town Scottsdale, on Tempe’s Mill Avenue and in Gilbert.

Offering a chance for diners and others to stroll around helps in place making in suburban and car-oriented metro Phoenix.

Chandler is not alone in its efforts to grow a more vibrant downtown and attract more restaurants. Mesa, Glendale, Avondale, Goodyear, Surprise and other cities have also been trying to bring increased life to their downtowns and attract more cool restaurants.

Of course, landing restaurants and cool coffee shops and bars depends on nearby consumer demographics and population.

Timing also helps. Many of the restaurants that sprouted along Seventh Street in Phoenix and other parts of the Valley were able to take advantage of lower real estate prices and availability of properties during the last economic slowdown.

Chandler has some ingredients to grow its downtown core. It might just take some patience and finding the right concepts and partners.

2020 Scrum

FLORENCE – Pinal County Supervisor Anthony Smith announces that he will not run for re-election representing District #4. Smith said, “In 2008 when I was elected into my first public office, I had no idea I would have the pleasure of serving the people for twelve years. As I examine where I am in my life and what opportunities I might have waiting behind the next door, I know it is time for me to head in a different direction. That said, I announce today that l will not run for re-election as County Supervisor.”

Reflecting on the progress Pinal County has made in the last few years, Anthony Smith said, “The County is very different from when I started my county service in 2013. In 2013, we were still feeling the impact of the Great Recession. The unemployment rate had soared to 13 percent with hundreds of jobs lost in the housing, agriculture and retail businesses. Sadly, families were being disrupted and economic growth was basically non-existent.”

Smith added, “Today, Pinal County’s unemployment rate is around 4 percent. In fact, Pinal County was the first Arizona County to regain all jobs lost to the recession. New job opportunities abound. Our economy is being diversified with thousands of new high-tech jobs in industries such as green energy, automotive, aerospace, tourism and many others. Read More

By W.D. McInturff, Partner
Public Opinion Strategies

Republican friends:

We wanted to share some important trends we are seeing in regards to 2020 turnout, improving numbers for the Republican party’s image, new work we are doing about political ideology, as well as highlight some of the challenges facing Republican candidates this cycle. We also focus on some elements of President Trump’s strengths and signs of vulnerability among his Democratic challengers. To review the slide deck, please click here: What Republicans Need to Know as We Move Toward the 2020 Election

By Solange Whitehead
Solange for Scottsdale

Bond Basics

In November, voters will consider approving three bond questions containing 58 projects:

1.            Parks, Recreation, and Senior Services
2.            Community Spaces and Infrastructure
3.            Public Safety and Technology

Citizen input helped finalize the list of projects and City Council unanimously voted for the bond package.  More details on the projects online and in future newsletters. Some bond basics are below.

What is a GO Bond? 
A Government Obligation (GO) Bond is like a home equity line of credit.  It establishes a maximum loan amount that the City can borrow. The City is not required to borrow any or all of the approved money.  The City can only use the funds for the voter approved projects.  And while a home equity line is secured by the equity in the borrower’s home, a GO bond is secured with property tax revenue. 

GO bonds require voter approval.

What is the Cost?
There is no cost to taxpayers if the bonds are passed.  (Aside from the election cost which is about $2.50 per voter).  Interest and fees only kick in when the City taps the approved funds to start a project.  GO Bonds are preferred because this form of debt has the lowest interest rate.  In today’s market, the interest would be around 4%.  

Read More

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.

Read More