The Conservative's Corner
by Team Ducey
Arizona public schools are helping students make real educational gains.
A recent New York Times article analyzed school districts across the country to determine whose students were learning the most between 3rd and 8th grades. They found three of the top 20 public school districts in the nation are in Arizona.
Students in the Chandler, Peoria, and Washington Elementary School Districts are showing more than 5 years' educational growth between 3rd and 8th grades, with #2 ranked Chandler students gaining nearly six years of learning in 5 years' time.
We're making real, measurable progress in education, closing gaps and bringing students up to grade level.
Want to see how your district stacks up? Read the article.
There's still plenty of work to do improving our Arizona schools, and Governor Ducey is committed to doing it. But things are moving in the right direction for our students, parents, teachers, and principals to ensure that every child has the opportunity for an excellent public education in our state.
If you think people ought to know about the progress we're making, post this story on Facebook, tweet it out, or simply forward this email to a friend.
PHOENIX – State Treasurer Jeff DeWit presented Arizona State Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Yee the 2017 Hero of the Arizona State Treasurer’s Office award for her sponsorship of SB 1448 this past session.
“The changes made in this legislation will lead to many millions more in earnings from the investments in our office,’’ Treasurer DeWit said.
“Majority Leader Yee’s knowledge of the Treasurer’s office from here prior employment here was critical in getting this legislation unanimously approved this year,” DeWit said. “She truly understands the role the State Treasurer of Arizona serves in protecting taxpayers.”
The wording of the award is as follows:
Whereas, SB 1448 was sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Yee during the first regular session of the 53rd Arizona Legislature;
Whereas, SB 1448 was unanimously approved by the Arizona State Senate and the Arizona House of Representatives;
Whereas, SB 1448, was enacted as Chapter 277, Laws 2017, and became law on August 9, 2017;
Whereas, Majority Leader Yee worked tirelessly for the successful passage of this legislation;
Whereas, SB 1448 changes Arizona Law that will benefit the investing of taxpayer funds by the State Treasurer of Arizona;
Whereas, Majority Leader Yee’s knowledge of the Treasurer’s office from her prior employment in the office was critical in the passage of this legislation leading to increased earnings for taxpayers;
Whereas, Majority Leader Yee truly understands the role that the State Treasurer of Arizona serves in protecting taxpayers;
Whereas, those changes will lead to many millions more in earnings from investments by the Treasurer’s Investment Management Division, while maintaining our conservative investing approach;
I hereby declare, in the capacity of Treasurer for the State of Arizona, Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Yee as the 2017 Hero of the State Treasurer’s Office.
Former chief deputy: If Sheriff Paul Penzone was serious about making a safe community, he'd seize more drugs, arrest more people - and actually enforce the law.
By Jerry Sheridan
Paul Penzone’s My Turn (”Where we're taking the sheriff's department after Joe Arpaio,” Aug. 6) was entertaining. His criticism of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, however, is unwarranted.
I don’t have space to explain Arpaio’s defense here. Suffice it to say he is appealing. Police unions throughout the state, representing more than 18,000 police officers, endorsed Arpaio against Penzone in the last two elections.
By Governor Doug Ducey
(Originally published by CNCB)
Things move quickly in Arizona.
In July 2016, when I wrote an op-ed for the 10th anniversary of CNBC's America's Top States for Business series, I talked about how our state is slashing red tape and embracing the new economy.
What a difference a year makes.
Since then, Google began offering Arizonans rides in their own self-driving Waymo vehicles. Airbnb hosts in our state earned more than $50 million throughout the year. And an array of first-class companies — from Vector Space Systems to Orbital ATK and many others — have expanded their presence here.
Three-hundred days of sunshine per year certainly helps, but it's not just the beautiful weather and panoramic mountain views that convince companies to relocate. It's a combination of Arizona's top-shelf quality of life and the pro-growth environment we've fostered over the past few years to make our state a great place to do business.
Just to name three:
A highly trained workforce: We know what it takes to train the future. The newest rankings from U.S. News & World Report found that Arizona is home to the top three public high schools in the country. We're making major investments in our universities, too, including a $1 billion financing package that will allow them to make critical research infrastructure improvements to stay ahead of the competition.
We also announced an initiative last year to equip at least 60 percent of adults in our state with a certificate or degree by the year 2030 so Arizonans they have the tools they need to succeed in our quickly-changing economy. With Arizona State University being ranked the most innovative university in the U.S. for two years in a row now (beating out MIT and Stanford), you know we're on the right track and moving forward fast.
A 21st-century government: Some states have a regulatory system that reacts to innovation; in Arizona, we anticipate and embrace it so that new technologies have to catch up with legislation instead of the other way around. Whether that's an executive order paving the way for research into self-driving technology or a revamp of our revenue system to make home-sharing easier, we're always looking forward so that entrepreneurs can do what they do best without running into an unnecessary bureaucratic speed bump. It also means eliminating burdensome and outdated regulations already on the books, which is why we unveiled "Regulation Rollback" in January with the goal of soliciting input about which regulations to cut and then eliminating 500 by the end of this year.
Strong international relationships: "Trade is not a problem to solve. It's an issue to focus on and expand." That was my closing remark to an audience in Washington, D.C., at a discussion about the U.S.–Mexico relationship. Since taking office, I have made it a priority to strengthen Arizona's relationship with elected officials and business leaders in Mexico, and other countries, in order to bring more jobs, manufacturing, and exporting power to our region.
The relationship put our state over the top when Lucid Motors was deciding where to locate its new $700 million electric vehicle manufacturing facility a few months ago, with Lucid Motors specifically citing our "strong regional supply chain" and "proximity to rail, major interstates, ports, training facilities, [and] utility providers."
Sonora Gov. Claudia Pavlovich and I are also working together with the hope of creating a new cruise-ship port at Puerto Peñasco. International economic activity, and the relationships that foster it, can be a huge boost for businesses looking to expand, and Arizona is helping to make that happen.
You don't need to take my word that our state is the place to be. People are seeing our low-tax, commonsense regulatory environment, and they're voting with their feet.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, our own Maricopa County is the single fastest-growing county in the United States, adding more than 222 people per day in 2016. This year, Phoenix officially reclaimed the title of the fifth-largest city in the country, too.
Companies are doing the same. We've seen a number of major job announcements over the past few months alone, including Constant Aviation in May and Benchmark Electronics, which is relocating its corporate headquarters to Arizona from Texas. In fact, hiring for finance and insurance jobs grew faster in Arizona than in any other state in the country over the 12 months leading to March 2017.
That's no accident.
Arizona has been nationally recognized for its economic competitiveness, including recently in two prominent trade publications. We were given the 2017 Gold Shovel Award in Area Development's list of top states for economic development in the five- to eight-million population category, and we were named the No. 1 most competitive state in the mountain region in Site Selection's 2017 Prosperity Cup.
In other words, when entrepreneurs get sick of being overtaxed and overregulated in places like California, they pack up a U-Haul (another great company based here) and move to ArizonaRead more
By the Goldwater Institute
For seven years, leaders in Washington have promised to repeal Obamacare, but as we saw this week, Congress doesn't seem any closer to real health care reform. The good news is that there’s an opportunity for action in our 50 states.
Take the dental care crisis, for example. Did you know that 18 percent of lower-income Americans say that they or someone in their household has turned to an emergency room for dental pain treatment? And in Arizona alone, 2.4 million of the state's 7 million residents are living in areas with a serious shortage of dentists. That leads to higher costs and poorer health.
But we don't have to rely on Washington to solve this problem.
States can increase access to dental care and reduce costs by licensing dental therapists who carry out routine dental procedures. And it's a solution that has bipartisan support, as The Huffington Post reported this week:
While most media attention has been focused on the lack of consensus on health care in Washington, several conservative organizations and think tanks, like the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute, have joined state-based coalitions now spanning the political spectrum that advocate for a free market approach to addressing the oral health crisis.
The dental establishment has actively resisted this reform and usually cites unfounded concerns over patient safety, even though the safety and quality track record for dental therapists is long and well-documented.
Limiting the supply of providers not only increases the cost of care services; it forces Americans to pay higher prices. To increase dental access and affordability, states can and should allow for dental therapists.
It's a solution that doesn't have to go through Congress. And it's one example of how states can help reform health care while Washington just keeps talking.
By State Treasurer Jeff DeWit
PHOENIX – The Permanent Land Endowment Trust Fund, also referred to the Schools’
Endowment, reached another new milestone under State Treasurer Jeff DeWit growing to $5.57
billion at the end of April 2017.
“The hard work and incredible staff at the State Treasurer’s Office continues to produce great
investment results,” Treasurer Jeff DeWit said. “After beating most university endowments in
2016, the winning streak continues for our schools’ Endowment.”
Last year, the fund’s return beat many of the large public investment funds in the United States
including CalPERS, CalSTERS, Dartmouth, MIT, Stanford and Harvard.
“Managing the investments internally, right here in the Arizona Treasurer’s Office, has been a
huge win for our schools as it allows them to earn more and keep more of their money,” DeWit
said. “These record earnings are on top of the fact the Endowment has paid out nearly $225
million to schools this fiscal year, more than any year in Arizona’s history with two months to
As emerging cases of sexual harassment and sexual assault dominate national and local news, the dialogue is shifting towards victims’ inability to discuss abuse, commonly citing confidentiality agreements as the problem. However, Arizona may hopefully be positioning to change this.
State Representative Maria Syms, a Republican from Paradise Valley, is saying enough is enough.
Last week Syms proposed legislation that would make confidentiality agreements regarding sexual harassment and sexual assault essentially ‘unenforceable’. Confidentiality agreements, also referred to as the ‘sexual predator loophole’, prevent victims from speaking out against their abusers.
By addressing confidentiality agreements, the state is sending a message to sexual predators that officials and institutions can’t buy their way out of criminal responsibility by silencing victims through contracts.Read more
By the Goldwater Institute
Rumor has it two complaining City of Phoenix employees, possibly in the City Attorney’s Office, are to blame for ending one of Arizona’s most spectacular Christmas displays.
They purportedly moved into the Arcadia neighborhood that’s hosted the lights put up by Lee Sepanek for some 30 years, and didn’t like the enthusiasm the public has for those who believe that Christmas time is a celebration of all that is good and right with the world. They apparently don’t realize that for many families this as close as they ever get to the North Pole.
The result? The sad, front-page article in the November 16th Arizona Republic.
This is government at its worst, and its most hypocritical, led by the muted Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. Never known as a leader Stanton’s silence on the issue is notable, even more so because he used to represent the homeowners while a mere mortal on the Phoenix City Council.
Just up the street Stanton doesn’t seem to mind the owners of the Wright House which routinely hold major events not with marsh mellows and cocoa but caviar and booze. And they don’t do so just around the holidays, The Wright House entertains so all year long.
Why the double standard?
To listen to the Sepaneks is like listening to a child let down by Santa Claus.
Let’s hope a reindeer soon shows up to light a better way for a neighborhood and city that should be celebrating Saint Nick, not grinching out to a bunch of not so saintly dicks.
By Scottsdale City Councilman David Smith
Today I am announcing my candidacy for a second term to represent you on the Scottsdale City Council. I am proud of Scottsdale and passionate about participating in our city's future.
When voters elected me in 2014, many only knew me from the years I served as Scottsdale's City Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer. I offered voters proven financial experience, a record of fiscal integrity and a vision that apparently resonated with many of my fellow citizens. I promised, if elected, I would be their voice to...
- Ensure the fiscal sustainability of our city, spending your tax dollars wisely and for your benefit,
- Protect and enhance the financial investment you have in our city by protecting and enhancing our quality of life,
- Preserve our heritage, building on the special place called Scottsdale, and
- Pursue visions for the future as bold as the visions of the past to distinguish us from other cities.
Now I have a record of providing keen financial and business analysis to the issues that come before Council. I've searched for the facts and diligently listened to citizen voices on all sides of the issues.
Consider whether my leadership has represented your interests:
- Ensuring our city's fiscal sustainability is still my most important initiative. As a city, we have "kicked the can down the road" on major liabilities for too many years. Capital reinvestment in our infrastructure continues to be less than depreciation, as it has every year since 2008. As a member of the Council's newly formed Subcommittee on Capital Investments, I am working to develop long-term, sustainable solutions to recommend to the full Council
- Protecting and enhancing your financial investment and quality of life has influenced positions I've taken regarding tourism, economic growth and development. I have championed tourism, arguing for every initiative that promotes this vital industry, as well as arguing against initiatives that threaten to undermine it. As a 35-year resident in different parts of the city, I look for development projects that protect and benefit our community at large.
- Preserving our heritage and building on the special place we call home has guided my views on development, but also influenced my positions on tax reform. I have argued for eliminating our sales tax on groceries. To be known as a special place, with a heritage of caring for our neighbors, we should not be imposing the most unfair tax any city can levy on its citizens.
- Pursuing visions for the future as bold as the visions of the past is an important responsibility of any Council. I picked up where previous Councils left off and voted to authorize the study of an educational, interpretative and research center (referred to at the time as a Desert Discovery Center.) We needed to define what this vision could add to the unique character of our city and what it would cost to build and operate.
The study was completed this summer and now Council is tasked with deciding whether this is a vision we want or can afford. Large groups of citizens are speaking excitedly (for and against) this project, based on its purpose, location, cost to build and cost to operate.
Some of my colleagues propose to immediately refer the question to a public vote. As your elected representative, I accept responsibility to search for solutions that are financially prudent, improve the cachet of our city and support tourism. That's a tall order, but I believe that's what you expect from your Councilmembers.
My first-term votes on Council were often in the minority, but many of you have encouraged me to continue making my voice (our voices!) heard on the issues affecting our community. I commit to provide strong financial leadership and oversight, always mindful that I am spending your money.
If my positions on City Council have aligned with your vision for Scottsdale, I hope you will support my candidacy for another term. To mount a successful campaign, I will need...
- 1,000 petition signatures to qualify for the ballot. The sooner we qualify, the sooner we can focus our attention on issues.
- Supporters willing to declare their position by displaying campaign support signs in their front yards or windows. (In 2014, I pledged not to clutter public rights-of-way with campaign signage and I make that pledge again!)
- Leaders willing to host neighborhood gatherings that give me an opportunity to discuss city issues with a broader audience.
- And, financial support. An early report of strong fund-raising from a broad array of supporters will send a powerful message to the community.
Electing members of City Council is an opportunity for every citizen to select the voices that best represent their vision of our great city. Next fall, you will have the opportunity to vote for three Councilmembers; I would be honored to again receive one of your three votes.
David N. Smith
Scottsdale City Council
2018 Candidate for Re-electionRead more
In years past “ambulance chasers” was a derogatory description that could find its way to certain lawyers or law firms. Here in the Phoenix area the term was often associated with the Goldberg & Osborns of the legal profession. But we appear to have a new gold medalist: The Frutkin Law Firm.
In the great new age of social media there’s no need for the Frutkins of the world to actually go chase the wounded in ambulances and pass out cards at the hospital. Instead, they can just monitor headlines and prey on the gullible, as it appears they are doing with those interested in violating private property rights and “saving” the former Chinese Cultural Center near Sky Harbor Airport.
Look at this GoFundMe campaign they are promoting. https://www.gofundme.com/save-the-chinese-cultural-center. Basically, it’s a beg for up to $300,000 in legal fees for quixotic, long-shot claims that were bounced out of court earlier this month. What’s even sadder than the legal effort is the amount of money raised to date, just over $4,1000.
But perhaps that’s a good thing so it prevents other legal voyeurs from doing likewise. And with behavior like this it makes all the more clear why such a law firm sought to change its name earlier this year from the last name of the principals to something called Radix. That’s a technique tobacco companies and pay day lenders have used. How appropriate as we get closer to Halloween. A law firm and its losing ways that is all trick and no treat for the Chinese community, or for the state’s clear property rights laws.Read more
Once upon a time people named Pettycrew, Carla, Korte, Decabooter, Rau, Drinkwater, Manross, Campana and others sat around a Scottsdale table. They had the audacity to not only dream of a McDowell Sonoran Preserve, but to make it happen.
Today, it stands as the community’s greatest accomplishment.
Paradise Valley is blessed to have similar landscapes. They, like Scottsdale’s, define its very essence. And as in Scottsdale the threat of too much development up high is causing certain Paradise Valley leaders to look more seriously at preserving more.
That’s why we applaud the action of Paradise Valley Town Councilwoman Julie Pace, cited for her leadership on the issue, among others, in this recent Paradise Valley Independent article. http://paradisevalleyindependent.com/news/town-council-has-eyes-for-hillside-preservation-in-paradise-valley/
But as noble as we think these steps we don’t think they go far enough. Reinvigoration of the Mummy Mountain Preserve Trust is a fine thing but it is an entity that relies on private donations to increase the community’s open space. Past is prologue and this, ultimately, would be more pissing in the wind.
What’s called for is a town survey of all properties that might be included in preserve efforts. There may be dozens and they may be pricey. But the total costs for maximum preservation should be understood. From there it can be determined how much of a sales tax increase is necessary, and for how long, to pay to acquire such lots.
No one should be scared of such a discussion because ultimately the question of if and how to fund such an endeavor would be left to voters, as occurred in Scottsdale. And Telluride. And Phoenix. And countless other communities around the state and country that said open space and views were worth the price.
It’s well past time for Arizona’s toniest town to engage this debate. After all, it does welcome all visitors to the community with impressive monument signage showcasing mountaintops, not roof tops.
Kudos to one of the new kids on the PV block for getting this important conversation underway. Now it’s time to quicken the pace.Read more
by Desert EDGE Advocates
The Honorable Paul Messinger
The Seven Wonders of this Great Community
The accomplishments that separate Scottsdale from other Valley cities:
1. Modifying the Indian Bend Wash into a very successful flood control project and great open space and parks project
2. Scottsdale putting its electric utilities underground and requiring fire sprinkler systems in all buildings built shortly after its beginning
3. Our master planning of our community parks, open space and elimination of all billboards
4. WestWorld, with its major world-class and diverse events
5. Scottsdale’s performing arts center, contemporary art museum and Civic Center Mall
6. Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West – a world destination from the start
7. And our biggest City project, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and “desert discovery center” (now known as The Desert EDGE). . .coming soon!
Every project took years to do, as well as great amounts of our community treasure and effort. The McDowell Sonoran Preserve was already voted on by Scottsdale’s citizenry in the early 1990s – just lacking the construction of its desert discovery center – The Desert EDGE.
Ninety percent of the citizens who voted for the Preserve nearly 25 years ago – and who have been paying for it ever since – cannot access it. Only our City’s youth and those who are physically strong – those who hike, ride mountain bikes or who are able to ride the trails on horseback, are able to actually use the Preserve.
The Desert EDGE will serve the majority of Scottsdale’s population socially and educationally, as well as to tell our visitors about our type of desert. Many local families, as well, know very little about this country, which we call “home.”
Paul & Cora Messinger
Lois Drinkwater Thompson
Move Forward with The Desert EDGE
I would ask the mayor and city council proceed with the Desert EDGE project and not refer it for a public vote. My brother, Herb Drinkwater, would never have spent $500,000 on a vote when the project had already been approved. A small group of loud naysayers have tried to derail this project.
They have attacked any supporters including me when I tried to correct their facts. And, they don’t give the facts. They still have posted old information from a project from eight years ago. If these angry people want a vote, they can get public signatures for a referendum. That is how our system works.
Not trying to loudly force the Council into putting it on the ballot for them. The council needs to realize that we are a “silent majority” and want this benefit for the city of Scottsdale.
I know the Desert EDGE can be approved by the council and I would urge them to do so. It would be an incredible world class amenity for the city and would bring global attention to Scottsdale’s long-standing reputation for leadership in environmental sensitivity, sustainability and preservation. Desert EDGE is critical to the success of education in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. And, I say that as a former teacher and coach for over 34 years in the public school district.
Our immediate family has over 100 years of public education in Scottsdale and this would be a value to our school kids and teachers. A public vote is not required and a huge waste of my tax dollars.Read more
We don’t typically commend things Littlefield. After all it’s been some 330 days sense Classless Bob Littlefield has failed to call and congratulate Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane on the latter’s landslide win last November. Humility following political humiliation might have even been cathartic.
But the sins of the husband should not flow to Bob’s wife Kathy, a Scottsdale City Councilmember.
This past week she launched an effective broadside against the Desert Discovery Center, properly pushing it even further to the edge. According to Littlefield’s guest column that ran in the Scottsdale Independent (here is a link) she even spent her own money to commission a public opinion survey on the project. The results were in line with other private polling that’s been done. Bottom line: The Desert Discovery Center is a dead project walking. Interestingly, Littlefield didn’t query whether citizens feel there should be a public vote on the project, a notion that is shared by some 90% of the electorate.
Proponents of the Desert Discovery Center when not ignoring public sentiment resort to their best James Madison suggesting that the rulers of the Scottsdale’s republic know best, and a public vote such a nuisance as to be unnecessary.
But isn’t a public vote how the spectacular McDowell Sonoran Preserve came to be in the first place? Wasn’t its substantial margin of victory critical to solidifying the many difficult steps that were needed to make the vision a reality? Indeed. And a public vote should and must be utilized now as project proponents want to divert tens of millions of dollars from preserve maintenance and land acquisition to the Duplicative Desert (Botanical) Center.Read more
*According to The Phoenix Business Journal U.S. Senator John McCain is working on a plan with Valley leaders to extend the Salt River’s “Rio Salado” experience and environment from Tempe to the West Valley. If true and if successful it sure would be a lasting legacy to Arizona, and the man.
*Uncertainty reigns in the lead-up to Scottsdale City Council elections. While incumbent Linda Milhaven looks like a sure thing to run again, undecided and close to the vest mark the current decision making status of incumbents Kathy Littlefield and David Smith as well as potential challengers Jason Alexander and Bill Crawford.
*Lancing a boil. One of Paradise Valley’s most vexing development parcels, the “Town Triangle” located just off Scottsdale Road got the green light this week from the Planning Commission, a testament to creative planning by renowned local developers Geoffrey Edmunds and Rod Cullum.
*That Daniel Valenzuela, a humble firefighter, has evolved into the frontrunner in the Phoenix Mayor’s race is remarkable.
*It’s one thing to support Scottsdale’s Desert Discovery Center but it’s quite another to oppose a public vote on it, something about 90% of the electorate relays to pollsters they want.
*Marco Rubio is back in town on Monday, supporting a number of candidates including Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich. A long shot who became a big shot after his upset win(s) in 2014 Brnovich has governed with notable sobriety, competence and judgment. And it’s nice to see Rubio stepping up to help someone who helped him in 2016 as his presidential campaign chairman in Arizona.
Phoenix Rising is the name of the Valley’s dynamic new soccer team with major league ambitions. But there’s another rising of note, taking place in Glendale.
Just a few short years ago the city was lying prone, left for dead, on the verge of declaring bankruptcy. Fast forward to just the past few months.
IKEA is coming. So is Top Golf and Drive Shack. Then there’s the city’s biggest master-planned community since Arrowhead Ranch about to become a reality nearby. Approved in June by Mayor Jerry Weiers and a majority of the city council Stonehaven by Pulte Homes and the John F. Long Company promises more bodies for the businesses.
Finally, there was a noteworthy Glendale Star story last month describing how AEG, Gila River Arena’s new operator, has nearly tripled revenues since taking over the from Arizona Coyotes and the dreary days of the LeBlanc regime.
These indeed are better times for the city that sets the pace in the West Valley. The Camelback Ranch spring training complex remains and albatross but these days Glendale is moving once again to that best possible future former Mayor Elaine Scruggs used to wax so eloquent about.Read more
*After the Troon North HOA’s shellacking of a Motel 6 looking, timeshare-like development at its entrance along comes a nursing home proposal for the old Sassi restaurant site near Pinnacle Peak. Good luck with that. Apparently the initial community meeting was a blood bath.
*Keep an eye on Scottsdale Planning Commissioner Christian Serena as a potential city council candidate in 2018, or more likely 2020
*The Scottsdale Firefighter’s Association dinner has become an “it” political event. Sunday night proved no exception as honored guests included Mountainside Fitness CEO Tom Hatten, Arizona Coyotes’ legend (and Scottsdale resident) Shane Doan and Linda Pauling, the mother that sparked Make-A-Wish. But the best sightof all? A row of 5 seats at the Scottsdale Charros table. Scottsdale Area Chamber CEO Mark Hiegel sat in the middle separating Councilwoman Linda Milhaven and former Scottsdale Councilman Dennis Robbins from Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield and former Councilman Bob Littlefield who lost huge to Mayor Jim Lane in 2016. Must have been awkward, but not quite as much as the congregation of NODDC crusader Jason Alexander, Councilwoman Virginia Korte and Barrett-Jackson CEO Craig Jackson at a recent Scottsdale Tourism Development Commission meeting.
*If you haven’t yet read today’s Arizona Republic editorial supporting a public vote on the Desert Discovery Center On Razor’s Edge check it out.Read more
In advance of the Iraq War and facing profound domestic opposition, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair shied away from no one, including his fiercest critic in the media. He stood his ground and defended his position. Whether one agreed with it at the time it showed confidence, command and leadership.
We feel the same way about Scottsdale City Councilwoman Linda Milhaven. While we may disagree with her on support for the Desert Discovery Center, she is Tony Blair on a local level.
Milhaven is pro-business, pro-arts, pro-downtown and pro-preservation. Responsive to all, she seems to relish engagement on the toughest issues. In many ways she is the constitution of what makes Scottsdale great, and where the majority of citizens are, as reflected in the 2016 mayoral election. And Milhaven has a resume to match. Banker. Former head of the Scottsdale Cultural Council. Public service.
A recent Scottsdale Republic article revealed her as the only certain incumbent or potential challenger to run. That’s great news for Scottsdale. Our jury is still out when it comes to the others (Councilman David Smith, Counwilwoman Kathy Littlefield and NO DDC chieftain Jason Alexander). It’s not if Mayor Jim Lane ally Bill Crawford decides to run in 2018, or 2020.
But for now it’s not too early to celebrate, and endorse a class, impressive act named Linda Milhaven.Read more
PHOENIX (November 7, 2017) — A statewide Arizona survey of 500 likely Arizona 2018 General Election voters shows that just under a year out from Election Day, Democrat Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-9) has extended her lead over GOP candidate Dr. Kelli Ward to a 7-point margin, 34-27. The survey, which was conducted immediately after U.S. Senator Jeff Flake announced he would not seek re-election, indicates both candidates have lots of work to do in both defining themselves and their opponent over the coming months.
In an August poll of 400 likely voters, HighGround tested a hypothetical match-up between the same two candidates with a much closer margin of 30.5% for Ward vs. 31.8% for Sinema. Despite Ward receiving an endorsement from former White House advisor Steve Bannon in the time since the August poll was conducted and Senator Flake withdrawing, Ward has not seen a bump and in fact, has lost ground. In both surveys, the plurality of voters had not made their mind up in favor of either candidate.
“Even with Senator Flake announcing his retirement and the whirlwind of media attention around Steve Bannon’s endorsement and visit, Kelli Ward has not seen any improvement in her support,” said Chuck Coughlin, President & CEO of HighGround Public Affairs, which conducted the poll. “The numbers continue to show that Ward is a flawed General Election candidate, and her nomination would likely result in a loss of the seat for Republicans. With the apparent ceiling of support for Ward, there is clearly room for a different Republican candidate to emerge as a credible challenger with a path to victory, such as Congresswoman Martha McSally or Great Hearts founder Jay Heiler.”
The latest survey data also showed that Congresswoman Sinema is still not known by 37% of the electorate in Arizona, whereas Ward is not known by more than 40% of the electorate despite challenging Senator John McCain in 2016.
Coughlin continued, “While many have proclaimed Congresswoman Sinema to be a strong candidate, Arizonans are still unsure of her after a haphazard announcement of her Senate candidacy, with no subsequent statewide tour or messaging to support her campaign. We have yet to see the popularity she enjoys within the left leaning Congressional District 9 translate to rural areas such as Yuma and Yavapai counties – home to some of the larger cities outside Maricopa County, where she needs to be competitive.”
General Election turnout in off-Presidential Cycle races in Arizona shows that Republicans historically have a twelve-point turnout advantage, which steepens the climb for any Democratic contender. Today, not a single Democrat holds statewide office in Arizona.
“Quite frankly, Senator Flake stepping out completely opens up the race for a primary challenger to Ward and a more credible Republican to face off against Sinema in November. Ward no longer has a candidate to beat up on, and Sinema can no longer count on a facing a damaged and resource-depleted Republican in November. There is a great deal of uncertainty in the electorate and I think this data shows that we are in for a wild ride,” concluded Coughlin.
The audience tested in the statewide live caller survey was set to reflect the 2018 General Election in Arizona. The General Election sample of 500 high efficacy general election voters has a margin of error of ±4.36%.Read more
by Scottsdale City Councilwoman Virginia Korte
Great communities like Scottsdale often share qualities that make them special -- including a strong economy, a vibrant downtown, an excelling community college and public school system, engaged citizens and civic and political leaders committed to keeping the city moving in the right direction.
However, one of the few shortcomings of living in the “West’s Most Western Town” is that some folks like to shoot first and ask questions later. These characters like jumping to conclusions without taking the time to learn the facts. Many of those who oppose the Desert Discovery Center, now known as Desert EDGE, are dismissing years of decisions made by multiple City Councils and an overwhelming majority of voters. They are discounting decades of research that shows the project to be a desirable community amenity because of its contribution to our citizens as well as boosting our tourism industry. And they are choosing to ignore the fact that since 1995 the optimum location for the project has been envisioned to be at the Gateway Trailhead on the edge of the Preserve.
The DDC/Desert EDGE has been part of the community conversation for more than 30 years. Many preserve advocates, City Councils and dedicated citizens have supported the concept through its many iterations and designs. It is the culmination of thousands of hours of public outreach, research, creative thought and exhaustive discussion regarding the purpose and vision of the proposed desert center.
Desert EDGE is focused on education.
The project will be a place that people visit to learn more about our desert and better understand how to sustain themselves in an arid environment. This expanded knowledge is expected to lead to greater respect and preservation of our unique land. Additionally, ASU has committed to placing their Global Dryland’s Institute headquarters at the Desert EDGE as an important portal for global research, providing an opportunity for visitors to interact with scientists to enrich their educational experience.
I am a long-time supporter of the Desert Discovery Center/Desert EDGE because I believe it will be an incredible amenity to our city and our McDowell Sonoran Preserve. I am also a long-time advocate of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. I served as chair of the McDowell Mountain Task Force, served two terms on the McDowell Sonoran Preserve Commission and was active in all five “Save Our McDowells” political action committees to educate voters about the value of the Mountain Preserve to our community. I was also the first executive director of the Center for Native and Urban Wildlife at Scottsdale Community College and I am a steward for the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy.
There is funding available to build the Desert EDGE without raising taxes. Citizens have already voted to use the Preserve sales tax to acquire land and make improvements in the Preserve. There are additional funds available through tourism bed tax dollars.
I will not support an amendment to the charter or a resolution. I will, however, support the right of citizens to collect enough signatures to place the issue on an election ballot.Read more
By Candidate for Governor Steve Farley
To what lengths will Trump go to destroy Arizona?
From the news that broke just a few days ago, apparently much further than we had ever imagined.
The Hill recently reported that President Trump is considering lifting the Obama-era ban on Uranium mining in northern Arizona -- a ban that was put in place to protect one of our state’s and country’s most beautiful and breathtaking regions.
Mining in that fragile area would destroy a significant part of our landscape forever. It would also cause undue risks to our groundwater and soil -- risks that could lead to an unmitigated disaster.
Arizonans have a deep appreciation for our natural treasures like the Grand Canyon but we need to fight to protect it.
While we haven’t heard much out of the governor’s office on this topic, we can safely assume that Governor Ducey will no doubt fall right in line, just as he did with Graham-Cassidy.
Governor Ducey is much more concerned with political advancement in DC and helping his special interest friends than helping Arizona. The Koch Brothers have attempted for years to fund efforts to remove protections preventing mining in the regions around the Grand Canyon.
Now with Trump AND Ducey at the helm, they might just pull it off.
Arizona deserves a leader who won’t put Arizonans, our natural resources, or the beauty of our state in jeopardy to please their donors.
Let’s take this fight to Ducey, Trump, and their backward agenda.Read more
By Scottsdale City Councilman David Smith
During the recent Council work study session on the Desert EDGE project, I summarized the history of events that has led to locating a Discovery Center in the preserve, at the Gateway on Thompson Peak Parkway. A few listeners asked me to share that chronology. It's a long history, so hold your seats!
In 1994 - before there was a preserve tax or a preserve! - the McDowell Sonoran Preserve Commission (MSPC) retained a local research firm, Nelson, Robb, Duval and DeMenna to conduct a statistically reliable telephone survey of Scottsdale registered voters to determine whether they supported land preservation.
The poll questions made it clear the City's goals were broader than just acquiring land. Each poll participant was also told, "The following are a list of features that are under study for inclusion in the preserve" and asked to rank the importance of each feature. For "Desert museums and education centers", 69.5% answered "very important" or "somewhat important;" 30.5% answered "not very important" or "don't know."
The poll results guided City Council in structuring the May 23, 1995 Ballot Proposition 400 seeking voter approval of a 0.20% temporary and dedicated preserve sales tax. That proposition was approved almost 2 to 1.
Following the 1995, the MSPC began studying where preserve assets should be built to enhance public entry to and enjoyment of the preserve. By March 1999, they had published their McDowell Sonoran Preserve Access Areas Report identifying several access points.
There should be a single Gateway, they said, as the focal point for educational facilities as well as a a broad array of public amenities - a visitor center, interpretative or educational centers, museum facilities, displays, an amphitheater, concessions and areas to accommodate large user groups. Many of those visions of 20 years ago survive today as features of the proposed Desert EDGE at the Gateway.
About this same time, 1998, homes were being constructed on Bell Road in the McDowell Mountain Ranch community, across from the southern boundary of the proposed Gateway.
In 2004, voters were asked to increase the preserve tax again (this time by 0.15%) and allow the revenues to be used for land "...and improvements thereto."
That vote prompted Council to begin defining potential improvements. City Council's first action was to authorize a "Municipal Use Master Site Plan" (MUMSP, for short) for the Gateway - the city equivalent of a developer's site plan.
In February 2006, staff held an open house to explain Council's future plans for the Gateway. Staff shared a site plan map identifying Phase I as the Gateway Access and Phase II as a Desert Discovery Center, including an interpretive center, support offices, café with outdoor dining terrace and a 400-seat outdoor amphitheater.
On September 18, 2007, based on the 2006 public outreach, Council approved the MUMSP for the Gateway with the site plan unchanged. The accompanying Council Report described a Desert Discovery Center "...that will serve as the primary educational facility [including] a small café in conjunction with the Center...[as well as]...an outdoor amphitheater as part of the Desert Discovery Center...used in conjunction with educational and support activities for the Center." The description even anticipated "...there will be limited evening activity at the Desert Discovery Center." Mayor Mary Manross and Councilmembers Betty Drake, Wayne Ecton, Jim Lane, Bob Littlefield and Ron McCullagh all voted for the Gateway site plan.
Starting in 2007, homes began to be constructed on the west side of Thompson Peak Parkway, across from the proposed Gateway and Desert Discovery Center.
On October 11, 2011, Council approved the McDowell Sonoran Preserve Areas Report. The 1999 Report had been updated in 2010, but still provided there would only be one Gateway and that its location would be the focal point for educational facilities and programs and include a broad array of public amenities such as a visitor center, interpretative or educational centers, museum facilities, displays, an amphitheater, concessions and areas to accommodate corporate picnics and other large user groups. The Report was adopted unanimously by Mayor Jim Lane and councilmembers Milhaven, Borowsky, Klapp, Bob Littlefield, McCullagh and Robbins.
Before and after 2011, several versions of a Discovery Center were developed, leading to a Council decision in early 2016 to contract for a definitive study of what a Discovery Center should be. For more than twenty years, Scottsdale's elected and appointed representatives had been guided by the wishes of Scottsdale citizens; respecting this history, Council stipulated the design be sited at the already approved site north of the Gateway trailhead.
Still, the contractor, Desert Discovery Center Scottsdale (DDCS), was given latitude to consider alternative sites. They could have recommended another site - at the Gateway, elsewhere in the preserve or out of the preserve altogether - provided an alternative showed promise as a superior location, insuring greater success for the Discovery Center. In fact, an alternative, superior site was identified, just south of the Gateway trailhead. That is the site council is now considering for the Desert EDGE.Read more
PHOENIX – A brand new tool for monitoring the number of Arizona voters in real-time has been released by Secretary of State Michele Reagan. The Voter Stats Dashboard displays registration data allowing users to observe trends by party and county from 2007 to the most recent report.
The innovative tool aggregates statistical and demographic data of Arizona’s registered voters by county and forecasts future registration levels of partisan affiliation. The forecast is made to January 2021 and the time series is adjusted to consider yearly seasonality effects.
“No longer do people have to wait for each quarterly report to better understand the number of voters in Arizona,” said Secretary Reagan. “The number of active voters changes each day with people registering, moving or when our counties perform routine list maintenance. With this innovative dashboard people can better see what’s happening with the state’s electorate each day.”
The party forecasting function uses a basic time series algorithm called ARIMA. Widely available to the public, it is a moving average from quarter to quarter. Seasonality is a way for the algorithm to take into account patterns that may be found in the data based on outside events. In this case, the forecast takes into account the quarters of an election year which historically see an increase in registrations.
The Voter Stats Dashboard was developed by the Secretary of State’s Election Information Systems team and is hosted on her dedicated elections portal www.Arizona.Vote.Read more
By Steve Farley for Governor
When we think of the labor movement in Arizona, we are reminded of notable pieces of our past and present.
From the Old Dominion miners in Globe who striked against wage decreases in 1896, to the ironworkers who helped build skyscrapers like Chase Tower in Phoenix – unions have always played a role in everyday life here in Arizona.
We think of AFSCME members who ensure our cities and towns like Peoria operate effectively, and teachers unions like AFT and the NEA who make sure our children have the best possible future.
These men and women from across the state work hard every single day to make sure Arizona is the best state in the nation --– and it is their unions that fight tooth and nail to protect them every step of the way.
Each of us benefits from the labor movement’s accomplishments, whether you are a union member or not.
Weekends, minimum wage, child labor laws, workplace safety -- we sometimes take the work of labor unions for granted.
These benefits were paid for with the blood, sweat and tears of our union Brothers and Sisters that fought in Arizona and in states across the country to protect the American worker.
That’s why on this Labor Day, I want to take a moment to not only thank unions around Arizona for their hard work in the past, but also tell them that I stand with them and their future fights for Arizona’s workers’ rights.
To the men and women of the Arizona AFL-CIO, Ironworkers Union Local 75, AFSCME, Teamsters Local 104, UA Local 469, Carpenters Local 1912, IBEW Local 640, SMART 1081, and the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona, and every union across the state:
Thank you for all your hard work and know that I stand with you. Arizona is what it is because of you.
Keep it up,
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