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 —

The city of Phoenix and Mayor Kate Gallego will unveil new ‘giving meters’ in downtown. The giving meters are refashioned parking meters that accept cash and credit card donations to help homeless services.

The move comes as cities around metro Phoenix and the Western U.S. see disconcerting increases in their homeless populations. The Phoenix effort is creative and anything to help raise awareness about homelessness and its root causes (mental health, addiction, poverty) is a step in the right direction.

The problem of homelessness is a serious one in Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and other cities.

The giving meters may be more symbolic. But they do offer an opportunity of Mayor Gallego and Phoenix to start down a path of being a national model in dealing with homelessness. The city previously worked hard to reduce homelessness among veterans.

Gallego is early in her term. Finding creative, constructive and compassionate solutions to homelessness could be a signature issue for the city and Gallego.

It could become an issue where Gallego could work regionally, with businesses and across the political aisle.

The challenge is that growing homeless populations are stressing safety net and social service programs. And, some of existing approaches to wrestling with homelessness need to be refreshed. That includes a greater focus on mental health and expanding housing and employment programs that help our homeless brothers and sisters get and keep jobs.

Mental health was long been a societal stigma as well as underfunded and underserved. That often leaves police officers as frontline social workers.

The surge of homelessness in Los Angeles as swelled transient populations on Skid Row and left a city of great wealth with downtown streets filled with garbage and raised public health concerns. San Francisco and Seattle, home to technology billionaires and soaring real estate prices, are also home to growing homeless camps.

Phoenix has also seen increases in its homeless population. But our city and region have a chance to find creative, caring and effective ways to help our homeless brethren.

Of course, that will take resources and money. That is something for more progressive cities such as Phoenix and Tempe and the more conservative Arizona Legislature to consider along with other budget and tax priorities.

But there is also a chance to address homelessness the same way Arizona and Phoenix want to tout themselves as a growing hub for innovation and entrepreneurs.

Imagine, if we could engage innovators and entrepreneurs to address homelessness and its root causes. Maybe, the profit motive isn’t there. But other motivations, such as compassion, mercy and empathy, can also be great human drivers.

The giving meters are just a step. But maybe it will be just the first step for Mayor Gallego and the city addressing a larger societal problem.

The expansive Ritz-Carlton project in Paradise Valley passed a couple of years ago on the closest of Town Council votes, 4-3.

While the vote of the elected officials was closer than the favorable public opinion that existed for the project there’s no questioning the compelling arguments that existed on both sides.

But that should now be over and those that may not have supported the Ritz should now be rooting for its success.

After all, the project has the chance to expand the notion of luxury in Paradise Valley. And that’s hard to do. It has the chance to generate more tax revenue than all of the other commercial properties in town . . . combined. And it is already resonating with existing town residents as a staggering number of buyers of new Ritz residences hail from the locality itself.

With the hotel’s construction well underway including its rooms, pools and lobby, everyone should be doing everything it can to help the hotel open in Spring, 2020.

No more slow walking inspections. No more bureaucratic delays. No more game playing.

A lesson from Scottsdale can be instructive.

Los Arcos Mall once occupied the corner of Scottsdale and McDowell. Voters approved a new arena for the Arizona Coyotes there, accompanied by a mixed-use project, but the City Council couldn’t get it done. A subsequent proposal involved a Walmart Supercenter. But that too was nixed. So along came ASU and a vision for a technology campus for corporates. It became known as SkySong. A recipient of generous city assistance, unlike the Ritz, the ASU plan was opposed by two councilmembers. One was named Jim Lane, who now is Scottsdale’s Mayor.

Lane understood, and he talks about this periodically, that a council majority had made a decision and later, when he became Mayor, it was his job to make things in his city successful. So that is the approach he adopted with SkySong. And since Lane became Mayor look at its performance. Six office buildings. New residences. New restaurants. Simply put, it’s been a real shot in the arm delivering for his southern city what was contemplated many years ago.

Along the way there have been changes at SkySong. That’s not because they are greedy, evil developers seeking to screw the city. Instead things in business, like life, can change. The marketplace ratifies your original concepts or forces audibles. In general, Scottsdale and SkySong have enjoyed a cordial and collaborative approach benefitting the community. That shoud be the case in Paradise Valley with the Ritz.

Currently a construction site resembling a beehive of activity, the Ritz project will be a success. It’s just a matter of when not if. So we wonder why Paradise Valley wouldn’t prefer this sooner than later?

After all, when the Ritz and its associated elements are up and running it will forever eliminate the talk and need for the first-time imposition of a property tax in the town. And that’s something everyone should get. And applaud.

The For The Best Scottsdale Campaign: Vote Yes on Questions 1, 2, and 3 is reporting strong fundraising totals as it sees support from all across Scottsdale for fixing crumbling infrastructure and investing in senior centers, youth sports fields, parks and public safety.

For The Best Scottsdale has raised more than $75,900 in just two months of fundraising in favor of three bond questions on the November 2019 ballot.

Campaign contributors include the Scottsdale Fire Fighters Association ($10,000), Scottsdale Charros ($8,325), The Thunderbirds ($8,325) and Arizona Quarter Horse Association ($1,000). The groups play important roles in making Scottsdale an outstanding place to live. The Scottsdale Fire Fighters Association is For The Best Scottsdale’s largest campaign donor.

Individual donors supporting the Scottsdale bonds include community advocates Bill Crawford, Jason Alexander and Brian Esterly.

“We are committed to running a transparent and community driven campaign just as Mayor Lane and the City Council did prior to putting this matter on the November ballot. The breadth of support we have seen through endorsements and campaign contributions show how important the three bond questions are for Scottsdale’s quality of life, public safety and future prosperity,” said Andrea Alley, co-chair of the For The Best Scottsdale Campaign.

Scottsdale voters have not approved a major bond program since 2000 leaving infrastructure and public safety facilities needing overdue repairs and upgrades. If approved, the bond projects, spending and contracts will be overseen by the Citizen’s Bond Oversight Committee, a seven-member panel made up of Scottsdale residents.

The bond program expands the Granite Reef and Via Linda senior centers, add trails and facilities at Pinnacle Peak Park and builds 13 new youth sports fields to meet demand needs from youth sports leagues and tournaments. The bond program invests $319 million in 58 projects across all parts of Scottsdale.

The bond projects will help further enhance Scottsdale’s already great quality of life. That is why major employers and community minded businesses such as the Barrett Jackson Auto Auction ($8,325), Derouin Environmental Law ($500), Meritage Homes ($5,000) and the Evening Entertainment Group ($3,000) have donated to the bond campaign.

“Our fundraising is strong. We are seeing support from all parts of Scottsdale as well as from arts, small business, tourism and neighborhood advocates who see the wisdom in investing in our great community’s future,” Alley said.

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.

Scottsdale has not passed a meaningful community improvement package financed by bonds in two decades. Due to bonds now being retired to finance the infrastructure enhancements nearly 20 years ago it is highly likely Scottsdale’s secondary property tax, which funds bonds, will continue to decrease even if voters approve the new bonds, according to the City Treasurer’s Office. In 2000 Scottsdale voters authorized $358 million worth of new infrastructure that was critical to maintaining the city’s high quality of life. This year’s package is $319 million, substantially less than the $450 million city officials say would be the amount that taxpayers would begin to see a slight increase in their secondary property taxes.

Irrespective of the negligible to non-existent impact on effected taxes a deep and diverse group of Scottsdale citizens has organized in support of all 3 questions on the November ballot because they believe it is long last time for the community to invest in these critical improvements. And for the first time in recent memory the Scottsdale City Council is unanimously supporting “yes” votes, following the extensive public outreach and input the city undertook earlier this year.

Here is a list of all the contributions to For The Best Scottsdale for the most recent quarter:

* Scottsdale Fire Fighters Association ($10,000)

* The Thunderbirds ($8,325)

* Scottsdale Charros ($8,325)

* Barrett Jackson Auto Auction ($8,325)

* Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company ($5,000)

* Meritage Homes ($5,000)

* ACT Towing ($5,000)

* Priority Ambulance ($5,000)

* CH Glen at Old Town Communities ($5,000)

* Evening Entertainment Group ($3,000)

* Rose Moser Allyn Public & Online Relations ($2,500)

* Withey Morris PLC ($2,500)

* Rose Law Group ($2,500)

* Arizona Quarter Horse Association ($1,000)

* Michael A. Lieb Ltd. ($1,000)

* Scottsdale Polo Championships ($1,000)

* Davis Design Solutions ($1,000)

* Derouin Environmental Law LLC ($500)

* William Crawford ($500)

* Brian Esterly ($100)

* Jay Hebert ($100)

* Dan Richards ($100)

* Jason Alexander ($100)

* Christy Johnson ($50)

* Stephanie Despins Daly ($25)

* Brian Farling ($25).

In Scottsdale and many other cities of late there is a rising citizen angst about proliferating apartment projects.

We share some of these concerns.  Look around.  While art like architecture is often in the eye of the beholder most can agree what’s interesting and good.  And what is not.

Aesthetics aside this can miss a broader point in parts of the discussion.  What did they replace?  And are they needed?

Scottsdale’s McDowell Road can be instructive with the first question.  Not too long along this critical avenue was populated by abandoned car dealerships.  Left as was justified criticism would have been directed at city officials.  Car dealership carcasses are not exactly political Red Bull.  Instead the Scottsdale City Council largely understood the appropriateness of the multi-family redevelopment proposals that sought to replace them.  And with the abandoned properties on McDowell Road being as narrow as they were, few uses besides multi-family would have worked.  As a result of these decisions, and others, southern Scottsdale is on the move with more shoppers at area businesses, breweries opening and more restaurants too.  Again, what would have been the alternative? The good ought not to be the enemy of the great in this case, though we think otherwise when it comes to the Entrada development at 64th Street and McDowell.  There, at the gateway to Scottsdale’s southern city, municipal leaders should push for something exceptional with the property’s new owners.

Now let’s turn to the second question we posed.  Are more apartments needed?  That’s best a question for Adam Smith but yes seems to be the marketplace’s answer.  That’s not just because of the massive numbers of people moving to the Valley, it also has to do with major changes among seniors and millennials.  Both continue to favor the ease of apartment living to home ownership. Read More

By Recker McDowell —

The city of Scottsdale has continued its battle with the Devil this week. Scottsdale has been in federal court responding to the Satanic Temple’s legal challenge after its effort to give to say a Satanic prayer at a City Council meeting was rebuffed.

The Satanists are upset with Scottsdale for not allowing their ‘prayer’ and for comments opposing their efforts from Mayor Jim Lane and City Council members Suzanne Klapp and Kathy Littlefield.

Legal arguments aside, there is a question of right and wrong, of good and evil and of what a community stands for at the end of the day.

The city, City Council members and Mayor stood up against darkness. No one is telling the Satanic Temple or Satanists they don’t have the right to practice their faith. They still enjoy their First Amendment rights.

But Scottsdale and its residents have rights too. Those include determining which groups and faiths give the invocation before City Council meetings. The city argues those invocations should go to faiths and groups with a community footprint in Scottsdale.

What if a religious group built on anti-Semitism or white supremacy or violence wanted to give the Council invocation? Shouldn’t Scottsdale (and other communities) also have some rights on that front?

But just from a common sense and ‘good versus evil’ perspective we are glad Littlefield, Klapp and Lane keep saying no to the Devil.

By Recker McDowell —

The Scottsdale City Council has approved a new construction contract for repairs at the Drinkwater Bridge over Drinkwater Boulevard.

Drinkwater Boulevard has been closed since last summer after city engineers discovered the bridge at Civic Center Mall was crumbling and needed emergency repairs.

The latest contract is the third phase for the bridge repairs. The Drinkwater Bridge repairs are exactly why voters need to approve the three bond questions on this November’s ballot.

The Scottsdale bonds put money towards more Civic Center Mall repairs and upgrades after the emergency repairs are done. The bonds will help the Civic Center Mall host art, cultural and culinary festivals as well as community events. Without the investments from the bonds it could take the city years and years to improve the plaza.

The same holds true for many of the other 58 projects in the bond program (Questions 1, 2 and 3). A new park and dog park, new and modernized fire and police stations, 13 new youth sports fields and expanding the Via Linda and Granite Reef senior center might have to wait a long time, or might not get done at all, without the bonds.

Scottsdale can’t just keep doing infrastructure repairs piecemeal. The Drinkwater Bridge and the bridge at 68th Street both had to be closed because they were literally crumbling. The southern end of Indian Bend Wash also has lakes, irrigation systems and a small dam that all need repaired. Again, the city has been putting band-aids on some of its infrastructure needs and repairs. The bonds will allow for some long-term structural repairs to get done. The bonds also build new fire stations, install bulletproof glass at police stations and add trails and restrooms at Pinnacle Peak Park.

Those are all important — including fulfilling Scottsdale’s need for long-term infrastructure repairs and solutions.

By Recker McDowell —

Sometimes it feels like Scottsdale ends at McDowell Road. The roadway is southern Scottsdale’s gateway into Papago Park, Phoenix, the south end of the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community and Loop 101 freeway.

But of course, Scottsdale boundary stretches farther south to Tempe. And therein is the opportunity. The corridor between McDowell Road, where the ASU SkySong development has thrived, and the Tempe city line has significant economic potential.

Just think about it.

The north part of Tempe has Arizona State University’s main campus, Mill Avenue and the new developments and job centers on Tempe Town Lake.

Just 2.5 miles is SkySong with all its technology and R&D offices. There are other new developments underway or planned. Those include the redevelopment of Papago Plaza. A bit farther north is Old Town Scottsdale with its art galleries, restaurants, shops and its own set of tech firms (such as Indeed.com, Yelp and Zillow).

The corridor between Old Town and Mill Avenue is and should be one of the top places in the Western United States for innovation, creativity, art, restaurants and entertainment. Read More

The For The Best Scottsdale Political Action Committee, the campaign in support of Questions 1, 2, and 3, on the November 5th ballot in Scottsdale, is one of the first campaigns in the state to commit to recycling its campaign signs and use signs made with recycled plastic.

Initially, the campaign assumed that its corrugated plastic campaign signs would be accepted at traditional municipal or commercial recycling centers. However the campaign learned that most government and private recycling centers no longer accept corrugated plastic. Indeed, the market for some recycled materials has been drastically reduced recently since China stopped accepting most recyclable material from the United States.

The campaign was initially made aware of the recycling challenge by Emily Austin, a Scottsdale businesswoman and environmental advocate. Upon learning that corrugated plastic would not be accepted at most recycling locations, the campaign sought out and located a company that would accept corrugated plastic campaign signs, B & L Polymer Processing in Phoenix. Looks Good Printing will be manufacturing the signs using recycled plastic. At the conclusion of the campaign in November, the signs will be delivered to B and L for recycling. While some additional costs are associated with recycling the signs and using recycled materials, the campaign feels it is worth the investment.

The three bond questions on the November ballot would build new parks and recreation facilities, expand senior centers, upgrade WestWorld, repair infrastructure at Civic Center Plaza and at the far southern end of Indian Bend Wash, build new and renovate existing police and fire stations and modernize the city jail. The bonds invests $319 million in 58 projects in all parts of the community. Scottsdale voters have not approved a major bond program since 2000.

For more information on the bond questions including a list of the projects go to www.TheBestScottsdale.com.Read More

By Recker McDowell —

The Tampa Bay Rays are considering splitting games between St. Petersburg, where the team has struggled with attendance and to get a new ballpark, and Montreal which is looking to bring back Major League Baseball after the Expos left for Washington D.C.

There is plenty of skepticism to making the Tampa Bay / Montreal ‘X-Rays’ work. But the idea has been floated before.

Back during the Phoenix Coyotes ownership saga (and before the team became the Arizona Coyotes) one idea floated in 2009 was to play a few home games Saskatoon.

The concept was a bit the same with the Rays splitting time between Florida and Montreal. Two home fan bases can help bolster attendance.

The Rays have the second lowest home attendance in the MLB (averaging the 15,602 fans per game) despite being one of the best small market teams.

The Coyotes averaged almost 14,000 fans per home game last NHL season at Gila River Arena in Glendale. That was up from previous years. Still, the Yotes had the third lowest home attendance in the National Hockey League.

The Coyotes are also on their third owner in recent years with Alex Meruelo buying a majority stake in the team from Andrew Barroway who bought out the Ice Edge group that once floated the Saskatoon idea.

Meruelo owns casinos in Las Vegas and Reno as well as a television station and radio stations in Los Angeles.

The Coyotes are looking to make the playoffs next season. It would be the first time since 2012 when the NHL owned the team.

But the Coyotes systemic challenges remain. Their Glendale arena home is still a challenge for fans in the East Valley and Scottsdale. The ownership churn and uncertain future in Arizona has chilled sponsorship deals at times.

The Coyotes made it clear they wanted to share a new downtown Phoenix arena with the Suns. The Suns and city of Phoenix are instead renovating Talking Stick Resort Arena.

The positive spin will be that Meruelo will bring his business savvy and his deep real estate and gaming pockets to an up and coming Coyotes team.

The back spin of course will arise to whether Meruelo will look at keeping the Coyotes in Arizona or moving the team with Houston and Rockets Owner Tilman Fertitta interested in snagging an NHL team.

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On behalf of the Coalition of Greater Scottsdale, a collection of mostly slower-growth community leaders, Betty Janik conveyed caution about more height and development in the city, in a thoughtful, recent guest column.  Click here to read.

Agree or disagree with her, Janik’s respected voice is one that enriches discussions in the public square.

But we take exception to Janik’s criticism about the proliferation of bars in Old Town.  That should not be a surprise.  We have opined frequently over the years how the successful Entertainment District on the east side of Scottsdale Road is one of the city’s great success stories.  It has aided tourism and economic development.  People now seek out Scottsdale more because the sidewalks do not roll up at sundown.  The ingenuity of entrepreneurs there is something to celebrate not bemoan.  The Entertainment District has also aided the revitalization of the Galleria from white elephant into thriving tech offices.  Furthermore, momentum begets more momentum.  The energy of the bars has created a surge in restaurants much like the San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter.  That’s a good thing, not a bad one.

However, we do think Janik makes a good point about “arts districts” but offer a response in a somewhat roundabout way.

Main Street is Scottsdale’s pre-eminent arts street.  Any city would be lucky to have something like it.  But once upon a time there were two great arts avenues in the city, and that would have included Marshall Way between Indian School Road and 5th Avenue.  And while still interesting it is no longer in its prime.  But that’s not because of height or bars or inadequate parking or anything other than loser landlords, flight to Phoenix and changing tastes. In other words some bars in and around Marshall Way have actually left the area and there have been no big buildings built nearby.  Yet, it has declined, transitioning to offices, hair salons and other uses.

In the past few months some Main Street area merchants have raised the specter that new development there could hurt the area, just as Janik did.  But this is belied by what was just described about Marshall Way.  In fact, you could make a strong argument that if nothing is done in the Main Street area it will eventually decline just like Marshall Way.  And no one wants that to happen.

So, what is the solution?  We think it is, as Janik alludes, that up-zoning, height and density should only be allowed if there is a greater good or, as she says, “unless there are significant benefits to the city.”

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By Recker McDowell —

Mesa has long looked for the secret sauce for its downtown. It is easy for Mesa to look to other downtowns as the template for its long-desired success for Main Street.

It is easy to look to Old Town Scottsdale, Tempe’s Mill Avenue and Gilbert Heritage District and try to aim for a restaurant, arts and cultural scene.

Mesa has done some of that with the Mesa Arts Center and festival events.

It is also very easy to look at what Arizona State University has done for downtown Phoenix and hope ASU’s planned new center in downtown Mesa will spark Main Street. ASU is locating 3-D printing and design programs at a planned Mesa center.

Bringing ASU and arts events and trying to get a few more restaurants and coffee shops are all good.

What Mesa really needs is to bring more residents to its downtown core. Places can only create so many destinations. And go-to destinations aren’t created overnight or out of thin air. Old Town Scottsdale benefits from resorts, international tourists, high-end shopping and big events including those at WestWorld to the north. ASU’s main campus has long spurred Mill Avenue and it took decades for downtown Phoenix to finally become a place to be.

For Mesa, Main Street needs more new housing and residents to spur on other businesses. That will mean restaurants and coffee shops will be open on Sundays. There will more native downtown residents instead of just East Valley suburbanites who drop in for an arts event or concert at the Mesa Arts Center every blue moon. Main Street needs a sustainable residential base. Then the restaurants, cafes and shops will come. It is not vice versa. Read More

By Recker McDowell —

The office market keeps getting tighter and tighter, especially in Scottsdale, Chandler and Tempe where employers and their workers want to locate.

Simply put, those three are markets as well as downtown Phoenix need more new office space to keep up with demand and to keep bringing quality jobs to the region.

The regional office vacancy rate for Class A space is around 10 percent. And it is even lower in prime areas such as downtown Tempe and Chandler’s Price Road Corridor.

Employers have their eyes on those employment hubs as well as popular areas of Scottsdale. The challenge is just finding them the space they need and having the right space available at the right time. Tenants, especially big national and international tenants, will not wait around for space to be built or to come available.

So, having enough office space to land in is paramount in site selections.

That has been a challenge for downtown / Old Town Scottsdale as well as Chandler’s Price Road Corridor. Some technology and other prime tenants have ended up landing in other places because they couldn’t find the amount of office space they needed in Scottsdale and Chandler.

The result has been some companies landing jobs in Gilbert when they couldn’t find space in Chandler and Tempe and Phoenix when they couldn’t find enough space in Scottsdale.

The real estate sector has taken it slow after Arizona and metro Phoenix got scorched during the Great Recession. Less speculation and going with mixed-used projects have been prudent.

The potential problem is the region — especially its popular spots and employment hubs — might be missing out on site selections, business locates and jobs.

And, some of those companies who couldn’t find space in Scottsdale, Chandler or now Tempe are landing instead in Salt Lake City, Denver, Charlotte or Texas.

Developers, city planners and elected officials need to keep the need for office space in mind as they plot out projects and visions for our communities. That includes downtown Phoenix where apartments and adaptive reuse warehouses have done well but there will also be new office space needs. It also includes Gilbert which is growing into an employment hub and sees the potential for creative office space at its Heritage District restaurant row.

Office space, especially if done right, bring jobs. That means tax revenue but also office workers (including professional, creative and technology ones) who can help surrounding restaurants, shops, coffee shops and happy hour spots thrive. Just look at what the technology and creative companies and workers in Old Town Scottsdale have done to help restaurants and coffee shops.

Being prudent and diversified has helped the region navigate the waters during this economic and lengthy expansion. But the parts of the region should realize there are reasonable growth projections for office space and there are reasonable paths to help supply keep up with demand.

By Jessica Troy —

Those electric scooters that well populate many an American and Arizona city raise concerns. The safety of riders zigging, and zagging and scooters scattered about are challenges.

The critics see the injuries, the reckless riders and the perception that left-behind scooters are like the multiplying Tribbles from ‘Star Trek’.

But for destinations for tourists, millennials and the younger Generation Z the e-scooters make sense.

Check out Old Town Scottsdale.

The electric scooters are popular in Scottsdale’s core. They help connect tourists and younger consumers. to what makes Scottsdale a top international destination.

If you watch the electric scooters with an open mind, they are part of the experience tourists and locals are looking for these days.Read More

By Recker McDowell —

It’s the Fourth of July. That means picnics, parades and fireworks across the country.

July 4th is not as easy to pull off in Arizona where temperatures in metro Phoenix will be 105 today. The heat can put a damper on celebrating America’s birthday here.

The exception is Scottsdale.

Scottsdale’s Fourth of July Celebration has a unique benefit — air conditioning.

Scottsdale’s festivities are held at WestWorld including at its air-conditioned 300,000-square-foot indoor arena and events space. A rodeo, kids’ zone, pony rides, a Fortnite experience and stunt dog show are all part of today’s events. The evening ends with outdoor fireworks.

A recent study ranked Scottsdale as having the best July 4th celebration in Arizona and the 12th best in the entire country.

WestWorld is a huge community and economic advantage for Scottsdale. It hosts equestrian, community and other events all most every day for the year. Those community events include youth sports as well as the July 4th celebration.

WestWorld is an economic driver drawing tourists, consumer spending and tax revenue that help pay for other community needs and our quality of life.

The three bond questions on the November ballot make needed repairs and improvements at WestWorld. Horse barns need repaired. The arena area will me modernized so it can better host existing events and book new ones.Read More

By Recker McDowell —

The 2022 Arizona elections are a million political miles and Trump, AOC and Nike tweets away.

But some palace intrigue and projections have already started about who might run for Arizona governor and other offices after Doug Ducey finishes his second term.

One name coming up with a political future — including potentially running for governor —   is Gilbert Mayor Jenn Daniels.

Daniels has been the Gilbert helm as the East Valley community has grown into a fast-growing restaurant and culinary mecca and has become more of an employment center.

Daniels has taken a middle of the road but generally supportive stance on growth as Gilbert has landed big job announcements from Deloitte & Touche, Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch and added a Culinary Dropout to its already popular restaurant row. With the likes of Barrio Queen, Pomo Pizzeria, Postino and OHSO Brewery, Gilbert is one of the top food destinations in the Southwest.

Daniels is more tepid towards new apartments, a generally politically popular stance around vote-rich metro Phoenix.

Daniels has been Gilbert mayor since 2016. Gilbert does not have term limits. So, Daniels could run for mayor again after 2020.

But she could also look to climb the political ladder. That includes a Republican run for higher office.

Daniels has cultivated a soccer mom role well as Gilbert mayor where politics very much meets suburbia.

But don’t mistake that. She knows policy, growth and economic issues and politics.

The race for Arizona governor, other statewide offices and future tilts for U.S. Senate and the U.S. House have plenty of potential horses.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and others could also be in the mix for higher office. Of course, political visibility on both sides of the aisle is blurred by a sea of AOC and Trump tweets.

But don’t sleep on Daniels and her political future if she wants to go down that path.

By Recker McDowell —

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is trending as much on Twitter, Facebook and Fox News today as U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and more than anti-Trump. U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe.

Ducey took Twitter early Tuesday morning, very early, to criticize Nike over it pulling ‘Betsy Ross’ themed sneakers after it heard objections about the colonial flag from Colin Kaepernick.

Nike had just gained approval from the city of Goodyear for a 505-worker, $184.2 million manufacturing plant in the West Valley. That deal comes with a $2 million incentive from the city.

Ducey jumped on the Nike, Betsy Ross flap saying the state would not be also giving any incentives for the plant.

“Nike has made its decision, and now we’re making ours. I’ve ordered the Arizona Commerce Authority to withdraw all financial incentive dollars under their discretion that the State was providing for the company to locate here,” Ducey said in a tweet sent out around 2 a.m.

Ducey’s Twitter take is fodder for conservative media and other critics of Nike and its ties to Kaepernick and his stances on the U.S. flag and National Anthem.

The timing of Ducey’s Nike takedown (early, early morning Arizona time) shows the Arizona governor is eyeing a more national political profile. The move got him on the morning news shows back east and put Ducey in the national media and social media stream.

Ducey also shows some savvy and confidence. Nike is slated to bring 505 jobs, its international brand and $184 million investment to the state. Many lawmakers (local and up the food chain) wouldn’t necessarily take a bold step out and criticize a big company or brand just as they picked their jurisdiction for jobs and investments.

Ducey has hit on a frustration among conservatives over big companies and multinational brands. Companies such as Nike are very progressive with their politics as evidenced by their alliance with Kaepernick and move to nix sneakers with American flags.Read More

The old saying “you have to spend money to make money” is especially true when it comes to real estate. The City of Scottsdale is learning that lesson and is considering spending wisely to ensure its ability to sell off a $27 million parcel in downtown Scottsdale. Right now the land is unused. It is home to a defunct and abandoned transit station. It is doing taxpayers no good.

If a proposed sale goes through the parcel would be transformed. It will be home to Museum Square.  The project includes new upscale hotels and a new community space and special events area. The developer has also agreed to make improvements to the nearby Stagebrush Theater and provide additional resources for the popular Museum of the West. And the project is hard at work on sufficient parking for the betterment of the area, something local residents want and deserve.

There is a lot to like and we have outlined how this land sale and project would benefit Scottsdale on multiple levels and we have said so multiple times. Here is one example.

In order for these benefits to become a reality, including a $27 million check for the city, there is the issue of removing an outdated restriction. Neither the city nor the developer can make the deal work with this current restriction.

As proposed by city officials, one way to remove this obstacle is for Scottsdale to spend a little less than $3 million to buy and renovate a condo unit in order to provide the Museum of the West with new administrative space. The current office space for the museum is worn out, too small, and would be eliminated anyway to make room for the project. The purchase of the unit has the added benefit of getting a neighboring property owner to drop an objection to the height increase. That increase is no taller than what has already been approved for the nearby Honor Health downtown, or what exists at the Scottsdale Waterfront. Read More

Recker McDowell —

Scottsdale ranks as one of the best places in the entire country for a Fourth of July Celebration for its community events and fireworks at WestWorld.  It shows how important WestWorld and the events it hosts are for Scottsdale.

A report by WalletHub ranks Scottsdale as the best place in Arizona to ring in America’s birthday and the 12th best in the entire U.S. That puts Scottsdale July 4th festivities ahead of the likes of Philadelphia, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Seattle.

Scottsdale’s Independence Day festivities at WestWorld feature indoor family events with Arizona essential air conditioning. Those are followed by outdoor fireworks.

Having an events center such as WestWorld allows Scottsdale to put on the best Fourth of July in the state and one of the best in nation.

The bond measures on the November 2019 ballot make much-needed improvements and repairs at WestWorld. Arena space will be expanded and improved so WestWorld can host more events. Restrooms will be expanded. Audio systems, outdoor lighting and horse barns for equestrian events will be upgraded. The bonds also invest in widening 94th Street to improve access to WestWorld.Read More

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

As Paradise Valley’s Town Council recesses for the summer, I wanted to express my thanks to everyone involved for a great first six months of this Council term.  It has been an absolute privilege and pleasure to serve as your Mayor for the past six months.  Your Council and Town staff, with valuable public input, has done a lot of excellent work to serve you.

We recently unanimously passed a balanced budget that funds all of our Town’s needs in a responsible and disciplined way.  In addition, I am very pleased that the Council unanimously supported an additional significant payment into the Police Pension system before the end of the fiscal year, which will be up to a $3 million contribution toward the pensions of our police officers.

We also unanimously approved the Town’s first ever Strategic Revenue Plan, an initiative that I advanced and worked to develop. The Strategic Plan is not geared at raising revenues.  Rather, it is an important tool that examines possible threats to the Town’s existing revenue streams to guide the financial decision-making of this Council and future Councils, including resisting the temptation to overspend during good economic times, and ensure that we are achieving our mission of limited, efficient, and effective government.  You can find all of these financial documents on the Town’s website:  www.paradisevalleyaz.gov.

There are many other achievements to celebrate in these first six months, but the most significant to me is that a strong majority of this Council has risen to defend the long-standing and unique low-density, residential character and values of our Town. Read More

By Jessica Troy —

It seems oxymoronic to associate summer vacation and travel with Scottsdale.

Arizona is infamous for its heat and in the past that has led to plenty of summer vacation escapes and a seasonal slowdown for tourism and local consumer spending.

That is increasingly a thing of the past.

Just check out Old Town and downtown Scottsdale. There are still tourists, especially in the mornings checking out the Scottsdale Waterfront. Restaurants, bars and shops are seeing customers and visitors especially on weekends and evenings.

Some of the summer activity in Old Town and downtown is born from Scottsdale’s diverse employment base. Technology workers from the likes of Indeed and Yelp are now part of the jobs mix along with artists and creatives. They go to lunch, grab coffee, shop and have happy hours in Old Town now. That includes during June, July and August.

Tourists are also still coming to visit our beautiful city for everything else we have to offer, despite the heat.

‘It’s a dry heat’ repeats consistently through every Arizonans mouth yet it is affirmed through visitors’ experiences here.

Resorts, shopping destinations,  the arts, restaurants and our beautiful and differing nature all increase Scottsdale’s desirability. With the desert landscape prominent in fashion and art around the globe, Arizona has become the new hip place to visit. This trend seems to be confirmed with it being the new holiday spot for all the Kardashians.

We need to be aware that despite the summer heat Scottsdale is still a destination beyond the air conditioning of Scottsdale Fashion Square.Read More

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%.  

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.”

Read More

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
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.

Read More