Featured Editorials

The Conservative’s Corner


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

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Featured Editorials

By Recker McDowell —

Scottsdale ranks second in the U.S. for summer jobs, according to a new study.

The Wallet Hub study ranked cities on summer job opportunities, pay for those jobs, affordability and things to do for younger workers.

Scottsdale ranked first on the same list in 2018. Orlando was first this year.

Scottsdale’s ranking shows its diversity of job opportunities. Scottsdale is not just home to retail, restaurant and bar jobs.

The Old Town area has technology companies with younger workforces such as Indeed.com and Yelp. The ASU Sky Song center in southern Scottsdale is home to Oracle and a new Cloud venture between Arizona State University and Amazon.com.

Those types of employers seek out and are attractive to younger workers.

Scottsdale might be expensive compared to other parts of metro Phoenix. But its apartment rents still compare favorably to California, the Pacific Northwest and East Coast. Affordability is still an important factor for workers (including younger ones) and many employers.

The Wallet Hub ranks Scottsdale with the highest median income for summer workers along with Overland Park, Kansas. That shows something about the jobs here. The next Valley city to make the list was Chandler at number 53.

Other top cities on the summer jobs list include Denver, Dover and Wilmington, Delaware, Portland, Maine, Las Vegas and Austin.

Denver, Austin, Vegas and Orlando are some pretty good job markets.

Scottsdale’s strong ranking should also be a fresh reminder to employers, policy makers and other businesses of how important younger workers are for the city’s economy and economic development. They should be a priority.

The Scottsdale Area Association of REALTORS (SAAR) has endorsed three Scottsdale bond measures on the November 2019 ballot joining a diverse coalition of community backers. SAAR has more than 9,000 active members and affiliates. It is the largest trade organization in the Northeast Valley.

The Scottsdale Area Association of REALTORS supports Question 1, 2 and 3. Those three measures ask Scottsdale voters to invest in 58 projects totaling $319 million across the city. The bonds make important and overdue infrastructure repairs, invest in public safety improvements and build new parks and recreation facilities.

The For The Best Scottsdale Campaign: Vote Yes on Questions 1, 2 and 3 welcomes the endorsement and support for the bonds from the Scottsdale Area Association of REALTORS. SAAR and its members are important leaders in the Scottsdale community.

SAAR joins a community wide coalition backing all three bond measures including the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce, Scottsdale Fire Fighters Association, the Police Officers Association of Scottsdale (POSA), The Thunderbirds and Scottsdale Charros.

Scottsdale voters have not approved a major bond package since 2000. The list of projects in the 2019 bond measures were determined through an extensive public input process and numerous public meetings. The bonds were put on the November 2019 ballot by a unanimous Mayor and Scottsdale City Council. Mayor Jim Lane and the entire Scottsdale City Council also support the bonds. The measures include expanding senior centers, installing bulletproof glass at police stations and needed improvements at Civic Center Plaza.

Recker McDowell —

First it was the renderings. Now it is a potential architect.

These are but the first of many twists and turns for the Arizona Diamondbacks, their future at Chase Field or potentially a new ballpark.

The latest has the D-backs hiring architecture firm HKS to do designs on a possible new ballpark. HKS designed Salt River Fields at Talking Stick for the D-backs and Colorado Rockies as well as the renovations at Maryvale Baseball Park for the Milwaukee Brewers. The firm has also designed new stadiums for the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings. HKS is also the architect for that little $5 billion stadium in Los Angeles for the Rams and Chargers.

The Diamondbacks potentially picking an architect to draw up new stadium blueprints comes after another prominent sports designer, MEIS Architects, briefly posted some renderings of a potential new Arizona ballpark.

These are the first two scenes in what could be a much longer storyline for the D-backs and their future home.

Chase Field was built in 1998. It’s capacity, just under 48,700, is too big by today’s baseball and sports fan standards. The Diamondbacks are averaging crowds of 26,250 at games this season.

Many of those same architects who have been pitching the D-backs ballpark designs contend many new and future baseball stadiums should seat 30,000 to 35,000. That could put a premium on tickets and outfit a ballpark with more social and standing areas fans like.

Stadiums and arenas are increasingly viewing themselves at entertainment destinations. That means having food, drinks and social areas for millennials and other younger consumers. The D-backs have also started booking more non-baseball events at Chase Field including concerts, WWE wrestling and a drone league competition. A new or renovated ballpark could be seen as more event and millennial friendly.

A new ballpark would also allow the D-backs to offer new and improve premium areas, concessions and bars. Those all help propel revenue. If you check around the country, ballparks, arenas and football stadiums aren’t sticking around for that long unless you are at Fenway Park, Lambeau Field or Wrigley Field.

New or renovated ballpark machinations also mean plenty of political twists and turns. Chase Field does not have an emotional hold on the region. But its downtown Phoenix location brings the 21-year-old ballpark plenty of supporters. The stadium and adjacent Talking Stick Resort Arena have been part of downtown Phoenix’s growth over the years.

The Diamondbacks can look at a big renovation (and downsizing) of Chase Field. Whether that is operationally and financially feasible is another question.Read More

By Recker McDowell —

The border, immigration and President Donald Trump will be front and center in the U.S. Senate race next year between Republican Martha McSally and Democrat Mark Kelly.

But the race — like McSally’s narrow loss to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema last year for Arizona’s other U.S. Senate seat — will be decided in vote-rich metro Phoenix

That presents a challenge for both McSally — who was appointed to the late John McCain’s Senate seat by Gov. Doug Ducey after her loss to Sinema — and Kelly, a former astronaut and husband of former congresswoman Gabby Giffords.

Both Kelly and McSally are from Tucson. Both will win or lose their 2020 race in the sprawl of Phoenix. That is where Sinema bested McSally doing well in usually Republican Maricopa County. McSally and Kelly will need to find a stronghold in the Valley beyond TV ads and the 2020 presidential race.

McSally and Sinema blanketed the Phoenix media market with negative ads against each other. Democrats ads hitting McSally and other Republicans on health care and pre-existing conditions were effective in the midterm elections.

Immigration and of course the presidential race will be important but so will the economy and health care.

McSally will need to deepen her personal footprint in metro Phoenix in 2020. She has a great life story serving as a combat pilot in the U.S. Air Force. More voters in Maricopa and Pinal counties need to know that story and get beyond what they see in TV spots and Trump rallies.

McSally’s friendly political relationship with Trump complicates her Arizona fortunes. Trump has plenty of populist support in Arizona. But there are also plenty of ‘never Trumpers’ who might usually vote Republican but don’t like his very personal spats with the late John McCain and Jeff Flake.

The Trump dynamic cut both ways for McSally against Sinema. It could cut even more with Trump on the ballot against Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris or Bernie Sanders.

As for Kelly, he also has a story to tell. He served as a Space Shuttle Commander and his identical twin brother, Scott Kelly, is also an astronaut.

Mark Kelly also has a national profile thanks to his NASA experience and advocating for gun control along with Giffords after she was shot and severely wounded in a mass shooting in 2011.

But Kelly is also more of political grassroots unknown in metro Phoenix which accounts for 66 percent of Arizona’s population and was far from solid Republican in 2018.

Sinema, who is from the Valley, benefited from her local ties against McSally as well as her very disciplined message which avoided focusing too much on Donald Trump.

Kelly will look to replicate Sinema’s playbook. But the 2020 dynamic will be different with Trump at the top of every ticket, newscast and Twitter feed.

What won’t change is how voters in metro Phoenix will decide the outcomes.

The Police Officers of Scottsdale Association (POSA) — which represents Scottsdale Police sworn officers and civilian employees— has endorsed three bond measures on the November 2019 ballot. POSA will also donate to the For The Best Scottsdale Campaign: Yes on Questions 1, 2 and 3. POSA President Damien Mendoza will also serve on the bond campaign’s Steering Committee joining a diverse group of community leaders from all parts of the city.

“The Scottsdale bond measures make important investments in public safety including key projects that will make our community and our police officers safer. We strongly endorse all three bond questions on the November 2019 ballot,” said Mendoza. POSA has approximately 337 members.

The November bond measures include numerous police and public safety projects. Voters can fund installations of bulletproof glass at Scottsdale Police stations, expansions and renovations of the City Jail and downtown police facilities, replace outdated 911 systems, renovate the Via Linda Police Station and modernize training facilities for police officers and fire fighters.

“These projects are all important to keeping Scottsdale safe and maintaining our great quality of life,” Mendoza said.

Larry Kush, an Old Town resident, business leader and member of the Scottsdale Planning Commission, has also joined For The Best Scottsdale’s Steering Committee.

The POSA joins a diverse group of organizations and community leaders backing the three Scottsdale bond measures. The Scottsdale Fire Fighters Association and Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce, Scottsdale Charros and The Thunderbirds have also endorsed Question 1, 2 and 3. A unanimous Scottsdale City Council and Mayor Jim Lane also support the bonds.

Scottsdale voters have not approved a major bond package since 2000. The new bond measures also include funding for senior centers, parks and recreation and making overdue infrastructure repairs.

“Our police officers are on the frontlines of keeping Scottsdale safe and part of the fabric of what makes Scottsdale a great community. The bond measures recognize the importance of public safety and the work of our police officers and firefighters. We are honored to have support from the POSA,” said Andrea Alley, Dana Close, Mike Norton, Dennis Robbins and Paula Sturgeon, co-chairs of the For The Best Scottsdale campaign.

By Recker McDowell —

National doughnut day was last Friday. Alien Donuts in Old Town Scottsdale sold out of their inventory that morning.

And that is important to Old Town and the experiences it offers to visitors.

Alien Donuts opened on Fifth Avenue late last year. It’s become a popular weekend and weekday haunt.

Old Town and downtown Scottsdale is known for its shopping, galleries, bars and events. But it is essential Old Town (and other areas of the Valley looking to draw visitors) to have an eclectic mix of experiences.

Alien Donuts may just be a small start up food business. But it is an important part of what Old Town Scottsdale needs. Tourists and local want to have cool, fun and varied experiences. A quirky donut shop showing old Star Trek episodes fits into the buffet of experience options consumers are seeking.

So, do cool restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries and wine bars that add to Scottsdale’s experience mix.

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By Sandy Schenkat —

Very few people who live in Scottsdale are natives, so my question to you is – Why did you move here?

I chose to move to Scottsdale because of its world class arts and culture and because it is more sophisticated in many respects than other cities.  We all paid for that cache when we purchased our homes.  Property values in Scottsdale are higher than other communities and I believe in the old sayings: ‘You get what you pay for’ and ‘There is no free lunch in this world ‘.

In order to maintain our special quality of life and protect property values, we are being asked to vote on a $319 million bond package in November. It’s time for Scottsdale citizens to come together and vote YES.

The bond projects are available for all to see on the city web site. After attending most of the 2018 Capital Improvement Project budget meetings, I came to the realization that we need to reinvest in our infrastructure.  It is no different than owning a car.  You cannot keep driving it without investing in the maintenance – oil changes, mechanical work, etc.  Scottsdale has been driving for many years without doing necessary maintenance nor have we kept up improvements for the future needs of our rapidly growing city for optimal performance.

My emphasis is on Question #2 – Community Spaces and Infrastructure.  Those bond projects will help improve our tourism business.  Tourists bring a lot of money into Scottsdale.  They enjoy our Old Town, arts district, exploring, hiking, entertainment and dining.  They generate sales taxes for our General Fund.  If our city is not improved tourism will suffer.

We need to vote for a bond package to fix much needed infrastructure and improve our tourism venues so that Scottsdale will shine again.  Our luster has been diminishing for years so it’s time to take pride in what we have and why we moved here. It’s time to improve the city to make it the best that it can be.

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The campaign in favor of three Scottsdale bond measures on the November 2019 ballot has named additional co-chairs and Steering Committee members as the effort in favor of Questions 1, 2 and 3 continues to draw diverse and deep community support.

Andrea Alley, Dana Close and Dennis Robbins are joining as additional co-chairs of For The Best Scottsdale: Vote Yes on Questions One, Two and Three. Paul Messinger, a longtime Scottsdale business owner and community leader, will serve as an honorary co-chair of the bond campaign. Messinger is the first honorary co-chair for the bond campaign and will be joined soon by other honorary chairs.

Additional Steering Committee members include community advocates Barry Graham and Jon Ryder as well as Gerd Wuestemann, president and CEO of Scottsdale Arts. They follow Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mark Stanton and Matthew Benson, chair of the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce’s public policy committee, also recently joining the bond campaign’s diverse Steering Committee.

The co-chairs and Steering Committee members all have significant and longstanding community ties in Scottsdale. They join current co-chairs Paula Sturgeon and Mike Norton in leading the bond campaign which repairs crumbling Scottsdale infrastructure, builds new parks and fire stations and improves police stations, senior centers and recreation facilities.

“I am humbled to serve as a co-chair to help pass the first bond in Scottsdale in 19 years. Investing in our quality of life, especially via the proposed parks and recreation projects, will help our city uphold its status as one of the healthiest and happiest cities in the nation.,” said Alley, a leading advocate in the southern part of the city.

Close has also been a leader in southern Scottsdale. “The bonds make community investments across our city that will benefit neighborhoods and residents,” Close said.

The bond measures fund a new 17-acre park, build a new dog park, make improvements at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park and make overdue repairs to leaking lakes and irrigation systems at Vista del Camino Park in the southern area of the Indian Bend Wash. They also expand two senior centers.

“The bonds are important to maintaining and enhancing our quality of life now and for generations to come. They are important for public safety as well as helping our important small business and tourism sectors,” said Robbins, a former Scottsdale City Councilman who now serves as executive director of the Scottsdale Charros.

The November bond package modernizes police and fire stations, replaces an outdated 911 system and makes infrastructure investments and pedestrian enhancements in Old Town Scottsdale important to tourism, galleries and small businesses whose sales tax revenue fuel our community’s quality of life.

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By Recker McDowell

Scottsdale is already pretty bike friendly. The city has 174 miles of bike lanes and another 129 miles of paths cyclists can use.

Scottsdale has Gold status from the League of American Bicyclists as does Tempe, Tucson, Oro Valley and Arizona three public universities (ASU, NAU and UofA).

No jurisdiction or entity in Arizona has the platinum status from the national cycling group.

Scottsdale wants to turn its gold status into platinum and so should other cities and places in Arizona.

Scottsdale has had the gold status since 2011 and is looking to get upgraded. Bicycling is increasingly showing its benefits to tourism and economic development.

Just check out Old Town Scottsdale where you will see tourists using bikes and exploring the area. Other ‘bikers’ enjoy hiking and mountain trails.

Tourism (and weekend outing for locals) are about experience. Being as bicycle friendly as possible helps build those experiences. Cities such as Scottsdale and universities know it is important. But it doesn’t hurt to encourage them to be even more bicycle and pedestrian friendly.

That means making sure zoning, land-use and other government policies are as friendly as they can be towards bikes and pedestrians.

There are also potential economic development payoffs for being as bike friendly as possible. More and more workers (and not just millennials) want flexibility in where they work and how they get to work.

Being a bike friendly place can be another attribute to tout to employers and their workers, especially the kind we want to attract more of in Arizona.

By Sonnie Kirtley

How and where Scottsdale has grown has been a longstanding concern for residents and neighborhoods. Scottsdale voters will have an opportunity this November to chart the best possible course for our community’s future with long-term and unifying support.

The opportunity comes on the November 2019 ballot through Questions 1, 2 and 3. The three bond measures invest in long-overdue infrastructure repairs and community projects across our city that will support and improve our quality of life.

Scottsdale’s residents and neighborhoods will see and feel the benefits from the bonds in both the short and long-term. Citywide support is surfacing from diverse neighborhoods. I attended 90% plus of the early morning city council Capital Improvement Subcommittee public meetings for more than a year where they carefully deliberated ALL of the projects submitted by every department in the city. The final 58 projects in the $319 million bond that represent the public open house and internet responses from the community were approved 7-0 by the city council to be on the ballot. You can review the details of this list on the city website at https://www.scottsdaleaz.gov/elections/bond-2019-project-list

So, what does it include? The bond package includes renovating hiking trails and expanding parking at Pinnacle Peak Park, expanding the Via Linda and Granite Reef senior centers and renovating police and fire stations that serve our neighborhoods. The McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park will also see improvements. A new 17-acre park will be built in the Whisper Rock area and a new dog park added at Thompson Peak Park. Lakes will be repaired in the far southern areas of Indian Bend Wash where they now leak –wasting water supplies. These are developments we can all support.

The three bonds also make needed and essential infrastructure repairs throughout Scottsdale. Some of those repairs are needed immediately because of budget cuts during the last recession. The bond package replaces aging infrastructure inside the downtown Civic Center as well as builds new infrastructure which helps our critical tourism and small business communities.

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By Recker McDowell —

Phoenix is again the fastest growing city in the U.S. adding more than 25,000 new residents last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Warm weather, jobs and a less expensive cost of living offers lots of opportunities.

Phoenix’s growth is also an opportunity for Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego who took office in March.

Gallego has a chance to not only chart a national brand for Phoenix but for herself as the mayor of a big city and as a Democrat.

Arizona is still a red state, a Trump state. But Kyrsten Sinema’s U.S. Senate win last year and wins by Democrats for other state offices shows Arizona might be changing its hue.

Gallego has a chance to be at the forefront of a newer image for metro Phoenix and Arizona.

And it doesn’t have to be the escalating progressive stances taken by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or presidential candidates such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Gallego can show a path for Phoenix (and her own brand) that is reasonable and balances her progressive side without chasing away jobs and economic development.

That has not been easy for other big U.S. cities with the Democratic or progressive mayors. Just ask New York, Seattle, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Gallego and Sinema also can balance out Arizona’s image to technology, creative and multinational businesses much like Austin is able to tout its more progressive side in low-tax Texas.

Like it or not, the types of companies with the types of jobs metro Phoenix wants to attract aren’t always as comfortable with Arizona’s more conservative and Trump sides.

Gallego has a chance to strike a balance that could be good for the regional economy and her own brand.

With one or two exceptions, Scottsdale has a coterie of often well-meaning watchdogs. You see their comments on this blog, on social media, and at the end of hundreds of online articles.

Sometimes they alert us to real problems, as with the DDC.  But sometimes they bark at shadows, as a couple are doing with the Scottsdale bond questions.

If voters say yes to Questions 1, 2, and 3, a long list of infrastructure, senior citizen, and public safety projects get done. According to a recent poll, the public is behind the measures, big time because a unanimous Scottsdale City Council did a great job crafting the package. The price tag is $319 million paid for by bonds funded through Scottsdale’s secondary property tax. That secondary property tax will continue to go down if voters say yes because payments are phased in, as payments for the 2000 bond packages are phased out. Increasing Scottsdale property valuations also help this dynamic. .

Notably, the City Council did what governments rarely do. Resist the temptation to tax more. In this case, the bond package could have been increased to $450 million for reasons described above. But they proposed even less. Kudos. The structure of these bonds leads most people to reasonably conclude that taxes will still go down and Scottsdale’s quality of life will go up if the voters say yes on Questions 1, 2, and 3.  And that’s the gist of one, but hardly the only slogan, embraced by the Bond Committee.

Enter the watchdogs. A few are complaining because in theory other taxes not related to the secondary property tax may go up. Sure, the state could hike the sales tax. School taxes could increase.  Maricopa County could raise property taxes. Scottsdale could increase the primary tax rate. Water rates could go up. But these have nothing to do with Scottsdale’s secondary property tax, or Questions 1,2, and 3. Arguing over the infinite possibilities of unrelated taxes is not only irrelevant, it is a profound waste of time.  Being a watchdog does not entitle one to their own version of the truth and conflating tax issues, as some are trying to do. It is unfair and dare we say, dishonest.  Some folks can spend days arguing over minutia, like the shape of the lights at Indian School Park, the fonts used on the signs at Stillman Railroad Park, or Jim Lane’s beard. Read More

By Scottsdale City Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield

Dear Friends:

On November 5, 2019 Scottsdale Voters will be asked to approve three bond questions totaling $319M to fund capital projects in Scottsdale. Because I am a member of the Council Capital Improvement Plan Subcommittee (along with Councilmembers Klapp and Philips), I have been getting many questions about how this package was put together and what it really means to Scottsdale’s citizens. So, first let’s look at the history.

When the Council Capital Improvement Plan Subcommittee first began considering the bond package on January 10, 2019, the original proposal was for one $730M question with no public input during the development phase of the package. With the help of Councilmember Klapp, I fought for and won the following changes:

  • City staff conducted six open house meetings throughout the entire city where the public could review and comment on all of the potential projects. We also opened a city website where citizens could leave the comments and ideas.
  • Instead of one question, the bond request would be broken into several questions, thus giving citizens more choice about which projects they want to fund with their property taxes. As a committee we favored three questions and that number was later approved by the Council as a whole.
  • The total amount of the bond request was cut from $730M to $319M, leaving only those projects that are most vital to the city as a whole, for which there is no other funding source available, and which will most improve the quality of life of Scottsdale’s citizens. These are also the projects for which the outreach surveys showed the highest approvals by citizens. (There was only one exception to that: one project was added due to an incomplete and somewhat erroneous description during the outreach process. That error has since been rectified.)

The full City Council voted unanimously at our April 15th Council meeting to send the bond request to the November ballot for citizen consideration. The finalized format for the bonds was decided by Council as three questions. They are: Public Safety, Parks and Recreation, and Infrastructure. The total bond request stayed at $319M. So, let’s look at some key facts about the bond questions and the election, itself.

  • This will be an all-mail-in ballot election: every registered voter in Scottsdale will be mailed a ballot, and every household with a voter residing there will receive a copy of the information pamphlet. PLEASE DO NOT THROW OUT THE PAMPHLET. It contains the information on the projects in each of the questions. Ballots are to be mailed back to Maricopa County after completion. Postage in included on the envelope.

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By Sasha Weller —

The Scottsdale Fire Fighters Association’s support for Scottsdale’s $319 million bond package is based on far more than the much needed items that directly address public safety. That’s because most if not all of the spending plan will benefit public safety either directly or indirectly. And that’s why I am voting yes in November and it’s why the Association was an early endorser and financial supporter.

Question 3 allocates $94 million to build and upgrade police and fire stations and training facilities. It modernizes resources and equipment. It gives first responders the tools we need to keep our city safe. The public safety benefits are obvious.

Sasha Weller

I would argue Questions 1 and 2 also benefit public safety, significantly. For example, needed upgrades to the WestWorld city facility as well as Improving the streets and roads in and around it ensures its ability to serve as a signature facility attracting events and tourists from all over the country.

This keeps Scottsdale on the map as a premier tourist destination and strengthens a reliable revenue stream that funds the everyday needs of police and fire, as well as other critical programs, services, and facilities in the city. Our tourism revenue stream pays salaries. It covers routine costs. What good is a new fire station if there is nobody there to staff it? Events at WestWorld contribute hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity to Scottsdale. Updating basic items like bathrooms, parking and the like isn’t just long overdue, it’s good for business.

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By Recker McDowell —

Papago Plaza isn’t completely going away.

The shopping center is being demolished and will be redeveloped. But its name is going to ring on at Scottsdale and McDowell roads.

That’s a positive. Papago Plaza has seen its better days. But it is part of Scottsdale’s history and having the retro name live on gives the redevelopment some good branding.

Lee Mashburn, principal with Pivot Development which is redeveloping the center told the Valley Partnership real estate group that Papago Plaza will keep its name.

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By Don Henninger

You may know it as the story of a junior high school teacher who assigns his class to come up with an idea to change the world and then go do it. One of his students creates a way of “paying forward” favors that helps a single mother. But more. It creates a wave of human kindness that turns into a national trend.

That’s the way I look at Scottsdale’s bond package.

City, civic and community leaders are working on a plan to “pay it forward” to bring some much-needed changes to Scottsdale, not so much for us right now as for those who will follow. It’s an investment in our city for the next generation and beyond.

Like “paying it forward,” the bond proposal has created a wave of unity, if not kindness, among the city, including bringing people to the table to work together who less than a year ago were fighting like cats and dogs. Unlike previous bond packages, it won unanimous support from City Council, which several months ago couldn’t even agree on what a new city flag should look like. That work was the result of the three council members on the Capital Improvement Projects committee who led the way: Suzanne Klapp, Guy Phillips and Kathy Littlefield.

The steering committee for the bond campaign, “For the Best Scottsdale,” is made up of neighborhood advocates, business and community leaders and is chaired by two people who were on opposite sides of the Proposition 420 issue last November. (Disclosure: I am a member, too.)

If we’re lucky, this spirit of unity could turn into a sustainable trend for the city: people working together for the community good, building a better future for others to enjoy. The lesson: It’s OK to yell if you also are willing to listen.

What a nice change of pace since the last election cycle six months ago.

Scottsdale residents will be asked to approve a bond package in November that takes care of work that is long overdue, work that is vital if Scottsdale is to remain the shining jewel of Arizona for decades to come.

In the package are proposals to finance 58 projects totaling $319 million. They are projects that serve all areas of the city, from McDowell Road to the McDowell Mountains and points in between, grouped in three questions. One for parks, recreation and senior services; another for community spaces and critical infrastructure needs; and the other for public safety and technology.

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The conservative Arizona Supreme Court just sent a resounding message on medical marijuana — listen to the will of voters and let patients determine what’s best for their own health.

The ruling shouldn’t be lost in Scottsdale as the city looks at a proposal for the first and only medical marijuana dispensary between Via de Ventura and Tempe.

The Arizona Supreme Court ruled 7-0 that cannabis extracts are legal under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act approved by voters in 2010.

All but one of the seven justices were appointed by Gov. Doug Ducey and his predecessor and fellow Republican Jan Brewer.

The ruling shot down efforts by medical marijuana prohibitionists led by Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk to restrict the voter approved measure.

The state’s high court unanimously agreed to protect patients’ ability to use medical marijuana in foods, drinks, topicals and vape-pens.

Public opinion polls in Scottsdale and nationwide also show deep support for medical marijuana to help with chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Crohn’s disease and terminal illnesses.

A national poll in March showed 93 percent of U.S. voters support medical marijuana with a prescription from a doctor. Just 5 percent oppose. The Quinnipiac University poll showed 86 percent of Republicans and 96 percent of Independents and Democrats support medical marijuana.

That level of support should also be noted by Scottsdale planners and elected officials as they consider a plan by Sunday Goods LLC for a new dispensary downtown next to the Scottsdale Galleria.

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By Recker McDowell —

Urban Axes — a bar concept that combines socializing with axe throwing — is opening a new location in downtown Phoenix’s Warehouse District.

The business model is a somewhat akin to Top Golf just substitute axe throwing for hitting golf balls.

Urban Axes already has locations in Austin, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Houston, Cincinnati and Durham, North Carolina. The Phoenix location is scheduled to open next month.

The concept’s opening in the Warehouse District on South First Street near Central Avenue shows how far the area south of Talking Stick Resort Arena and Chase Field has come.

The Warehouse District has seen its gritty collection of older buildings that date back to World War II and the early 20th Century attract some creative businesses and adaptive reuse projects.

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By Jessica Troy —

Instagram is full of millions of selfies.

It’s what is behind those selfies and Instagram posts that is becoming more and more important to tourism, economic development and the experiences of visitors and locals.

An abstract mural or unique sculpture or desert visuals in Scottsdale or other parts of metro Phoenix can be economic and tourism drivers through Instagram and Facebook posts and likes. Instagram has more than 1 billion active users. Drawing the right attention from the right influencer can have more economic and image impact than conventional advertising and public relations.

There is no better place showing the economic and tourism impact of Instagram than Old Town Scottsdale. There you find groups of people looking for the perfect backdrop for their photos and posts at the ‘Love’ sign or along the Scottsdale Waterfront.

“My friends and I love to dress up and go to Scottsdale’s Art District because it has some great backgrounds for an Instagram picture,” said Jillian Verlade, a student who lives in Scottsdale. “I would say that public art has become more sought out since it became a trend on social media.”

Public art as well as Instagram worthy backdrops can draw even more millennials and tourists including some who might otherwise think to visit Scottsdale or metro Phoenix or even explore their own backyards.

“Instagram has definitely made me love art and scenic views,” said Lexi Fitzgerald. “I never cared to go out of my way to see art until I would look on social media and see these beautiful photos of places just 20 minutes away from me.”

‘Instagram-able’ places can also show creatives, techies and professionals another side of Arizona they might not know from media coverage and politics. They can help keep more young people here if they feel the region is creative, diverse and welcoming. Art also does that for Phoenix’s Roosevelt Row and the Mesa Arts Center.

Social media can further show cool desert visuals at Taliesin West or Gilbert’s Riparian Preserve. How many local have never visited those unique venues let alone tourists and those who might not otherwise consider Phoenix for a trip or job search?

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By Recker McDowell —

Those opposed to ‘school choice’ try to frame the issue around Betsy DeVos or the Koch Brothers trying to benefit private and charter schools at the expense of public schools and public school teachers.

The term ‘school choice’ itself is a rallying cry for progressives, #Red4Ed activists and the media pushing for better teacher pay and increased public school funding.

That narrative is not as easy or convenient when the school choice issue involves Navajo kids using Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts.

The ESAs allow Native Americans as well as active-duty military families, foster kids and kids with disabilities to use state funds to pay for private schools.

Both sides of the school choice issue in Arizona are wrestling with seven Navajo Nation kids who have used ESAs to attend a Christian school just across the Arizona-New Mexico line. The Arizona Department of Education was going to deny the Navajo’s ESA applications because the school was in New Mexico. The sovereign Navajo Nation cuts across state lines and the Navajos were there long before Arizona and New Mexico were states.

A school choice group called the American Federation for Children highlighted the situation prompting a bill at the Arizona Legislature this session to hold the Navajo families harmless for current tuition at the Hilltop Christian School.

A YouTube video from the AFC group on the Navajos ESA situation brought the issue to the forefront.

That measure itself has been cast as a slippery slope to allow ESAs to be used out-of-state even though the Hilltop focused bill is just for within two miles of the state border.

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2020 Scrum

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%.  

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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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