The Conservative's Corner

By State Representative Shawnna LM Bolick

Dear Friend:

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

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

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

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

Read More

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Sal DiCiccio

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

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

 

By Sal DiCiccio
City of Phoenix
Councilman, District 6

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

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

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

By Syms for Arizona

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

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

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

Learn more about Maria’s Record on Education

Read More

By State Representative Shawnna LM Bolick

Dear Friend:

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

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

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

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

Read More

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Sal DiCiccio

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

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

 

By Sal DiCiccio
City of Phoenix
Councilman, District 6

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

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

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

By Syms for Arizona

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

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

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

Learn more about Maria’s Record on Education

Read More

MORE CONSERVATIVE’S CORNER
Featured Editorials

Many of our posts can be verbose.  Not this one.  The concept is simple.  

Scottsdale is a great city.  And many people and companies ask a lot of it.  In their times of needs, wants or complaints their hand is out and requests not inconsequential.  

Now Scottsdale has needs.  After 19 years since the last comprehensive bond package where community infrastructure got fixed and repaired, parts of the city are falling apart, literally.  Just ask the neighborhoods near 68th and Camelback who had to endure traffic nightmares due to a 15-month repair to a deteriorating bridge.  We could go on at some length but promised not to be loquacious.  

So as the community prepares to vote on a smart, conservative package on November 5th, put forth by a unanimous city council, it will be interesting to see who steps up and contributes to the bond campaign to aid its package, and who does not?  

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By Recker McDowell —

Texas is taking a turn in the battle over ‘religious freedom’ and LGBTQ rights.

That rings familiar in Arizona where Senate Bill 1062 prompted religious liberties versus discrimination debates in 2014.

Arizona often competes with Texas for technology, manufacturing and other jobs. Business, technology and tourism interests oppose two Texas religious freedom bills proposed in Austin this year.

If the bills pass (or keep popping up in Texas), the economic development and tourism impact could cut into the number of companies and meetings landing in Austin, Dallas, San Antonio and Houston.

That could benefit Arizona locations (especially in metro Phoenix and Pinal County) competing for high-wage jobs and business site selections.

In Texas, one fight is over a bill that would allow host of licensed occupations and service providers (such as pharmacists, doctors, real estate agents, nurses and contractors) refuse service based on religious grounds.

The other is a conservative reaction to the San Antonio City Council’s rejection of a Chick-fil-A restaurants at the San Antonio International Airport. It would restrict local governments from taking adverse actions over a group’s religious stances and donations. The San Antonio council doesn’t like Chick-fil-A’s support for social conservative causes.

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The owners of the reopening Arizona Downs outside Prescott and their pay-for-play, dark money backers at the “Public Integrity Alliance” are asking the Arizona Legislature to take an unprecedented leap into a private, contractual dispute. A last-minute striker to House Bill 2547 would tell private businesses who they are forced to work and transact with. Arizona Downs and its unsavory tactics are pushing this legislation because of their own failures to broker a key agreement in the horse racing world like other operators have done. Why create special laws for spurious reasons and questionable operators?

The notion of the government compelling business deals is un-American and goes against Arizona’s long-standing support for free enterprise. Their request would upend a decades-long regulatory structure over horse racing in Arizona, hurting or closing tracks in Pima County and Phoenix for the sake of an upstart in Yavapai County?

Arizona legislators and policymakers should also know more about Arizona Downs, its owners, a checkered record in the horse racing industry as well as some of the owners’ campaign donations to disgraced former Arizona lawmaker David Stringer. Here are the facts:

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Losing a city council election, as David Smith did in November, did not infringe on his admirable service to Scottsdale. Ironically, it only reinforced it.  Running for office takes guts and displays a passion for community unmatched by few.  

Smith has served the community he has called home for decades as City Treasurer and as a Councilman, having won a seat in 2014.  His wife Diana only adds to the household’s hall of fame status, having served as the long-time Publisher of the Scottsdale Airpark News and was once a candidate for office herself, running unsuccessfully for Mayor in 1996.  

But if losing didn’t impugn Smith’s Scottsdale legacy, what he did Friday sure might.  He filed a pedantic campaign finance complaint against anti-Desert Discovery Center leader Jason Alexander.  It reads more silly than serious and little more than revenge for the person Smith likely believes is to blame for his council loss.  You see, Smith was all over the place on the Desert Discovery Center issue that dominated Scottsdale politics in 2017 and 2018.  But he ended up alienating a giant grassroots majority that led to landslide victories for Councilwomen Littlefield and Whitehead.  And unlike Councilwoman Milhaven who impressively stood her ground in support of the unpopular project, Smith’s approach was too cute by half.  

We understand losing is no fun.  But to file a specious complaint six months after the loss is kind of sad.  We expect more of Smith.  He has always been a class act.  It is out of character for him to try and damage someone’s future political run, as seems his obvious intent with Alexander. Unbelievably, the Smith complaint raises questions about Alexander expenses, some of which Smith himself undertook during his two council campaigns.   This all begs the question if Smith is really paying the attorney who filed the complaint, or is someone else?  If that’s the case Smith would be far more guilty of transparency transgressions than the allegations against Alexander.  The hypocrisy would be pronounced too for someone like Smith who railed against “dark money” at the local level.  

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By Recker McDowell —

First quarter numbers from mall owner Macerich (NYSE: MAC) show the strength of the Scottsdale market — even as retailers and shopping centers grapple with the age of Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN).

Macerich owns close to 50 malls across the U.S.

Kierland Commons, which sits in Phoenix but has a Scottsdale address, and Scottsdale Fashion Square were two of Macerich’s top performing malls in the first quarter.

Kierland was Macerich’s fifth best performing mall and Scottsdale Fashion Square sixth best.

Kierland had sales of $1,281 per square foot in the Q1 2019 and Fashion Square had sales of $1,226 per foot.

Kierland’s sales were up 78 percent in the first quarter from a year ago. Fashion Square’s sales per foot were up almost 22 percent year-over-year.

That puts the duo in company with top performing malls in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York.

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Staff Report — Arlene Chin has been picked to replace Kolby Granville on the Tempe City Council.

Chin will finish out Granville’s term that ends in 2020. Chin has indicated she’s not intending on running for reelection in 2020.

It is important to get to know Chin, her background and what dynamic she will add to the Tempe City Council as it grapples with growth, traffic and development especially at Tempe Town Lake and near Arizona State University.

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By all indications, Virginia Korte and Suzanne Klapp are both running for Scottsdale mayor next year.

But the two councilors are putting that likely rivalry aside and are both strong backers of three Scottsdale bond measures on this year’s November ballot.

Klapp and Korte are putting community before politics in backing the bonds which fund public safety, senior centers, parks and recreation and important infrastructure projects.

They both recognize how important the bond measures are for Scottsdale, its quality of life and economy.

The mayoral candidates join current Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane, the rest of the Scottsdale City Council and a broad and diverse coalition of neighborhoods advocates and business leaders in backing the bonds.

In some ways, Korte and Klapp coming together on the bond campaign is a Scottsdale version of when Barack Obama and John McCain unified to help deal with the Wall Street and banking crisis during the 2008 presidential election.

McCain and Obama put country over partisanship and politics.

Korte and Klapp are doing this service for the city they love. How refreshing.

City voters have not approved a major bond package since 2000. Scottsdale has also deferred important projects since the Great Recession.


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By Recker McDowell

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s Twitter video showing off his mad nunchakus skills and celebrating the state lifting its ban on the martial arts gear has gone a bit viral.

“Clearly, my years of martial arts training paid off. Pulled my old nunchaku out of storage … like riding a bike #WayofTheDragon,” said @GeneralBrnovich accompanied by a video of him whipping around the nunchucks Bruce Lee and ‘Big Trouble in Little China’ style.

Brnovich isn’t a typical politician — and that serves him well in the social media age of viral videos, @RealDonaldTrump, @PeteButtigieg and @AOC.

Those three all have an organic appeal like it or not.

Brnovich — a Republican who is a Grateful Dead fan who joked about battling the notorious Skynet computer systems from ‘The Terminator’ movies — doesn’t take himself too seriously.

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By Councilman Guy Phillips, Councilwoman Suzanne Klapp, Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield

The City Council recently came to unanimous agreement to call a general obligation bond election on November 5, 2019 on three questions, with 58 capital projects totaling $319 million.

The three of us served earlier this year on the Council’s Capital Improvement Projects subcommittee with the goal to bring a list of projects to the Council for a potential bond election.  We each had pledged in May of 2018 to work to accomplish a bond election in 2019, and we were good for our word.

We are pleased with the efficient process of our subcommittee as well as with the outcome.  After five subcommittee meetings from January through March and seven citizen outreach meetings all over Scottsdale, we whittled down an initial $730 million project list and brought a package of three questions with projects totaling about $350 million to the Council for review and discussion. This package eliminated projects that had other potential funding sources, i.e. General Fund revenues, Transportation sales taxes, storm water fees, and other sources.

The amount of citizen input prior to our Council deliberation was very gratifying and helpful in settling on the right mix of projects for a bond election. Hundreds of citizens attended the outreach presentation meeting on all the proposed projects, and thousands responded online.

After two meetings, the Council agreement came about by building consensus on the most important projects to take to the voters, by considering all the input received in citizen outreach discussions, and by assuring that any bond package would not increase secondary property taxes.  For those who might think the bond package can still be changed, please know that the 58 projects will remain as agreed, the Council votes were cast, and the election has been called.

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By Recker McDowell

Maricopa County could be the national bellwether for the 2020 elections and whether Democrats can deny President Donald Trump a second term.

That could make the metro Phoenix the 2020 equivalent of previous bellwethers such as Florida’s Interstate 4 corridor between Tampa and Orlando and Macomb County, Michigan near Detroit.

Those regions have been key indicators to the state of presidential campaigns and the national political mood.

Now, it could be the bellwether turn for Phoenix and its suburbs.

Democrats see hope in turning Arizona against Trump in 2020. Trump carried the state over Hillary Clinton by 3.6 percentage points in 2016.

Kyrsten Sinema edged Martha McSally in the race for Jeff Flake’s U.S. Senate seat last year.  Democrats Sandra Kennedy, Katie Hobbs and Kathy Hoffman won statewide race for an Arizona Corporation Commission seat, Secretary of State of Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Strong performances in Maricopa County propelled Sinema and the other Democrats, all women, to their narrow wins.

Red state Arizona isn’t so red — and neither is Maricopa County where Democrats govern Phoenix and Tempe.

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By Recker McDowell

Get ready to drink the Kool-Aid or start grinding your gears.

Fox News is bringing its Fox Nation streaming service to Scottsdale for its ‘Inaugural Summit’ on Tuesday. The March 14 event is at the W Hotel. Doors open at 5 p.m. for the 7 p.m. event.

Fox Nation features conservative and pro-Trump voices such as Tomi Lahren, David Webb, Bill Bennett and Pete Hegseth as well as social media stars ‘Diamond & Silk’.

The Scottsdale venue shows the important place Arizona still holds for conservatives and President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign chances. Trump carried Arizona 2016 and has used the state as a top venue for his hard-nosed immigration pushes.

But Red State Arizona turned a more than a bit blue in 2018 with Kyrsten Sinema’s win in the U.S. Senate race and wins by Katie Hobbs and Kathy Hoffman in the contests for Secretary of State and Superintendent of Public Instruction. Democrats will look to Arizona as part of their electoral math in 2020.

The Scottsdale event should have plenty of rhetoric backing Trump and jabs at Democrats from U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., to presidential candidates Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris. We are guessing the Fox News and Fox Nation crowd will know who ‘Alfred E. Neuman’ is. That is Trump’s nickname for Buttigieg.

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A politically and geographically diverse group of Scottsdale leaders came together Wednesday, May 8th, for the first meeting of a unified campaign in favor of new bond measures for public safety, parks and key infrastructure improvements.

For The Best Scottsdale: Vote Yes On Questions One, Two and Three has named its initial steering committee for the campaign in favor of three 2019 bond measures. The steering committee includes neighborhood advocates as well prominent business and community leaders. Committee members and backers come from all parts of Scottsdale and from a variety of political perspectives in favor of the bonds. And, they come from both sides of last year’s contentious vote over Proposition 420.

At the meeting, the Scottsdale Firefighters Association (SFA) donated $10,000 to the campaign.

Craig Jackson — chairman and CEO of the Barrett-Jackson Auction Company which is based in Scottsdale — hosted the May 8th meeting at his company’s headquarters.

Scottsdale residents Paula Sturgeon and Mike Norton are co-chairing the 2019 campaign in favor of the bonds. “We have brought together a very diverse but very unified coalition of leaders from all parts of Scottsdale and from various political corners and backgrounds. We all know how important these investments are for Scottsdale’s present and future,” Sturgeon and Norton said.

The steering committee includes:

  • Sasha Weller
  • Craig Jackson
  • Sonnie Kirtley
  • Andrea Alley
  • Copper Phillips
  • Don Henninger
  • Scott Jenkins
  • Sandy Schenkat
  • Brian Esterly
  • Michelle Pabis
  • Dennis Robbins
  • Betty Janik
  • Alex McLaren
  • Les Conklin
  • John Bridger
  • Jim Derouin

Scottsdale voters have not approved a major bond program since 2000. The 2019 bond measures, authorized by a unanimous Scottsdale City Council, would finance 58 projects spent throughout the city totaling $319 million. They range from improving senior centers and building new parks to improved fire stations and installing new bullet-proof glass in reception areas at police stations. Scottsdale property taxes will still go down with passage of the bonds this November due to the retirement of the bonds from the last bond package passed two decades ago and the increase in property values in Scottsdale since then.

“We are committed to a transparent campaign that shows voters the benefits of the Scottsdale bonds and how they invest in public safety, important infrastructure and community recreation projects all while property taxes will go down. Our steering committee and campaign show the breadth of community support,” Norton and Sturgeon said.

“We are grateful that Scottsdale voters often support public safety improvements. But we also want to encourage the passage of all Questions because without improved infrastructure in our downtown, at WestWorld and throughout the city businesses can’t continue to produce the amount of sales tax we need to sustain public safety and maintain quality of life in Scottsdale,” said Scottsdale Firefighters Association President Sasha Weller.

Norton and Sturgeon welcomed the Scottsdale community to join the campaign.

“Our tent has no doors. Everyone is welcome to join in any form they believe that they can contribute — as a donor, a member of the Speaking Tour, an endorsing community member or someone who wants to be part our group. We have wide open arms – we want everyone to climb on,” Norton and Sturgeon said.

Sturgeon and Norton can be reached at paulasturgeon@me.com and xway.mike.norton@gmail.com for those interested in being part of the Scottsdale campaign.

The campaign said to expect additional announcements in the coming weeks and months expanding the steering committee and including major endorsements.

By Recker McDowell

Charleen Badman is a bad-ass chef.  She also shows how legit the food scene is in Old Town and downtown Scottsdale.

The heart of Scottsdale is not just about the bar district, clubs and expensive shops and galleries.

Badman just won the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Southwest for her work at FnB Restaurant (7125 East Fifth Avenue).

The James Beard Awards are the Oscars for restaurants and foodies.

Badman’s achievement shows downtown Scottsdale is a serious foodie hub and destination that hits on various tastes and price points.

Downtown Scottsdale’s culinary options and appeal cuts across age groups, demographics and tastes.

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There’s no shortage of things to do or places to shop in southern Scottsdale. A quite a lot of ink (or pixels) have been spilled opining about the pluses and minuses of the situation.

For residents of southern Scottsdale, there is a void. A big one. South Scottsdale has no medical marijuana dispensaries. Not one. North Scottsdale has four. It’s strange and unfair that residents of south Scottsdale have second class status in terms of access to legal medicine.

The dispensary disparity creates hardships for patients forced to make the drive to north Scottsdale or Tempe to get medical marijuana. The benefits of medical marijuana continue to be proven as cancer patients, and pain suffers will attest. Medicinal marijuana provides a viable and natural alternative to addictive opioids.

Scottsdale City Hall is considering a proposed dispensary that would right this wrong. Click here for more information.

Sunday Goods wants to open a dispensary at 4255 North Winfield Scott Plaza. This dispensary would replace a large tattoo parlor.

While we have nothing against tattoo parlors, this dispensary would be an upgrade in terms of neighborhood improvements. We’re not alone in that opinion.

Proposed dispensary

A survey shows sixty-six percent of Scottsdale voters supporting the idea. Sixty-nine percent of those living closest to the site support it.

A petition was just launched seeking support as well. Here is a link.

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By Recker McDowell

Vaping is the new smoking — in more ways than one.

Public health advocates and behavioral ‘normalists’ have vaping and e-cigarettes in their sights.

In a political and social culture where left and right hold dear to and fight over liberties ranging from guns to abortion, they seem to come together when it comes to restricting vaping.

Arizona State University has banned vaping adding it to its campus tobacco ban. ASU joins the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona in the restriction.

There has also been a push and pull over vaping at the Arizona Legislature this session including a measure pushed by industry and another by a top watchdog.

The debate has centered on whether to raise the legal vaping age to 21 or keep it at 18, whether to include vaping in the voter approved Smoke-Free Arizona Act which restricts smoking in public places and what kind of regulatory power sits with cities and counties.

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By Recker McDowell

No one is denying Facebook and Twitter have the legal rights to their recent bans and restrictions on controversial voices such as Paul Joseph Watson, Laura Loomer, Louis Farrakhan and James Woods.

Their social media platforms are their property. We know all about property rights here in Arizona.

The question is whether the social media giants along with Google-owned YouTube should be restricting radical or offensive speech.

They shouldn’t.

While instances vary, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram are our public square. They are increasingly our media. And they should side with free speech. That includes speech that is uncomfortable, conspiratorial and yes sometimes offensive.

Think about it in local and regional terms.

Social media is where activists on the right and left can voice their concerns about immigration, about a border wall and Dreamers, about utility rates and campaign spending, about the dynamics between religious freedom and LGBTQ rights.

Sometimes those voices are contentious. Sometimes they are offensive. Sometimes they spout conspiracy theories.

There is an argument for letting the public square hear those voices, hear those arguments including whether they are radical or outside the norm.

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By Recker McDowell

Gilbert — already the East Valley’s ‘cool kid’ — just got a bit cooler with Sam Fox’s Culinary Dropout at The Yard opening in the Heritage District.

‘Downtown Gilbert’ is already a walkable home to other popular restaurants and bars in the middle of suburbia.

The new 25,000-square-foot Culinary Dropout location is both a testament and a test to Gilbert’s restaurant row and how the farming community turned bedroom suburbia has become a foodie hub.

Culinary Dropout is another addition to the Gilbert restaurant row mix. Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row, Grubstak, Barrio Queen, Postino’s, Oregano’s, Pomo Pizzeria, Snooze and other concepts (including Sam Fox’s Zinburger) are already there.

OHSO Brewery opened there last year.

Gilbert’s restaurant hub hasn’t seen concepts falter. The locations have routinely been top performers for their operators. But the new Culinary is larger than many of the existing eateries and is drawing plenty of attention. The restaurant had wait of 45 minutes to an hour for dinner during the work week.

It could test other restaurants and bars competitive mettle. 

What it is not testing is how Gilbert grew its non-descript ‘downtown’ into a walkable foodie and happy hour destination with a farmers’ markets and arts events.

And it wasn’t the unbridled marketplace and private property rights that spurred the growth. The town government has controlled most of the properties and development in the Heritage District.

That might sound like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) style socialism to some on the right but it allowed the town to pick and choose who it wanted to land on its Gilbert Road strip.

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By Recker McDowell

Billionaire media mogul and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg doesn’t like soda.

But Bloomberg likes Scottsdale.

Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charitable arm of the former mayor, has put Scottsdale on its 2019 list of What Works Cities for its use of data and technology.

Data and technology have their privacy drawbacks for the private sector and employers. But they can also be strong tools for governments to increase transparency and policy making.

Bloomberg’s group cited Scottsdale’s use of predictive analysis including for water conservation for its inclusion on this year’s list.

Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane credited the city’s professional staff and executive leadership for moving the data needle for the city.

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By Recker McDowell

The clock is ticking on Sean Miller’s tenure in Tucson as head basketball coach at the University of Arizona and the political and image pressure is on the school and the Arizona Board of Regents.

ABOR and the UofA have stuck with Miller throughout a federal investigation into alleged bribes and payments to star recruits involving big college basketball programs and shoe company executives.

The latest shoe to drop in the college basketball bribery investigation landed hard on Miller and Arizona.

FBI wiretaps played this week in federal court in New York catch former Arizona assistant Book Richardson telling aspiring sports agent Christian Dawkins that Miller was paying star center Deandre Ayton $10,000 per month during his one season in Tucson.

The allegation again puts Miller’s tenure in jeopardy.  University administration and ABOR will have to again decide whether they will circle the wagons around the coach.

They did that last year when an ESPN story alleged a federal wiretap caught Miller talking about paying recruits. Miller strongly denied that charge and was backed up by UA President Robert Robbins and the Regents.

The Regents are appointed by the governor. They usual have to earn their political keep over tuition increases and battles with Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Republican legislators over university real estate deals and state funding.

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By Recker McDowell

That religious Easter Facebook post from Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey keeps on getting resurrected.

And that is to the Republican governor’s political benefit, especially as he eyes a political future beyond his current office.

Ducey posted scripture from John 11: 25 on Easter Sunday commemorating the Christian holiday.  “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die’,” the verse reads.

Ducey titled the Facebook post from his official page “He is risen!”.

That has triggered criticism from a group called Secular Communities of Arizona which argues Ducey crossed the church and state separation line. They contend the post goes beyond just recognizing the holiday since it was from Ducey’s social media account as governor.

Kudos to you if you have heard of Secular Communities of Arizona.

The criticism sparked media reports, including from the Arizona Republic and Fox News.

The Arizona Republic followed up most recently with a story April 30 citing First Amendment ‘experts’ who also say Ducey’s post from his official social media account crosses the line of the Establishment Clause.

For anyone counting, Easter was on April 21.

The Easter issue is political currency for Ducey, in a state where Evangelicals, Catholics and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are key voting blocs and political constituencies.

Those groups also like Easter and the resurrection of Christ just a bit.

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2020 Scrum

By Outlaw Dirty Money 2020

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

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

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

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By Councilwoman Virgina Korte

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

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

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

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

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By Councilwoman Virginia Korte

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

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

But we need to keep working to sustain its success.

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

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Media Alert

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

Statement Below:

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

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

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

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