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2018 Scrum

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.

 

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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.

Read entire guest editorial here

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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 Arizona

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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.

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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
go.”

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by Andy Biggs

Friend,

The false claim that Trump conspired with Russia to engineer the 2016 election has reached the height of absurdity. The media and Democrats are trying to bamboozle the country by conflating several isolated incidents. I just wrote in the Washington-Examiner that  they have no evidence but have created a story that combines the allegations about the Russians and the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

They have made three false claims against Trump and I have refuted them in my op-ed. You can read it here.

Thank you for your continued support,

Andy Biggs

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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.

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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.  

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*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.

 

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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.

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*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.

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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.

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During the 2006 election season many city officials throughout Arizona, including Phoenix, campaigned against Proposition 207.  They warned many things why the “Private Property Rights Protection Act” should be defeated.  Chief among them were that providing too much individual protection for homeowners and commercial property owners would hamstring municipal redevelopment and historic preservation efforts.  Voters rejected such arguments and Proposition 207 passed with a sizable 65% of the vote.

This is an important history lesson as some want to suspend the law and dictate what the new owner of the twenty-year old Chinese Cultural Center near 44th and Van Buren can do with their property.

But not all.

As a mob rained down on Phoenix City Hall and demanded Mayor Greg Stanton and his fellow politicians lay fetal rather than display fidelity to state law, the city’s Planning Director Alan Stephenson took a more courageous tact, no matter how uncomfortable and inconvenient.

Having laid out in his staff report why Phoenix could not and should not circumvent clear private property rights embedded in Proposition 207, Stephenson’s knees did not get weak even when confronted by a full house of angry Chinese Americans.  He didn’t win an award for being the most popular that day but his sobriety on the subject was necessary to avoid groupthink.

Stephenson understood that it would be a nice thing to keep a Chinese Cultural Center even if the Chinese owner and developer of the property abandoned it, and sold it, in 2016.  But he also understood that someone needed to be the big boy in the room as politicians kowtowed.

After all, Phoenix has never designated a site for historic preservation against the property owner’s wishes, not even for the David Wright House in Arcadia.  It’s never designated a site as such that’s only twenty years old either.  And when it comes to Proposition 207’s clear mandate on such things you can work to change it, but you can’t ignore it until then.

This leads us to a few other principles and principals.

When Rawhide left, and left a hole in Scottsdale’s western heritage after a duration similar to the Chinese Cultural Center, residents understood it to be unfortunate but not worthy of upending the rule of law to harm the property owner.

When Monti’s La Casa Vieja in Tempe said that’s a wrap the 100-year old home of Carl Hayden was left untouched, but not even the 50-year old stuff that surrounded it.

When dissidents started this quixotic quest they asked for the garden along 44th Street to be “saved,” which it is now being, along with the preservation of a number of other items both on and off-site, even though the new property owner doesn’t have to.  Now that’s not enough.

When people say that other elements besides the garden are irreplaceable are they sure some, if not all of them can’t be procured today on Alibaba.com?

When the Phoenix City Council votes to “study” the matter, a precursor to a Proposition 207 violation, and then accepts private funds from a special interest that is driving the outcome of the study how is that showing integrity the new owner purportedly lacks?

When opposition is being led by a person whose last claim to fame was having her office raided by the FBI for purported development fraud we ask ourselves if the real motivation here is not preservation of a Cultural Center but to use politics to bully an acquisition in order to collect more fees as was controversially done for the Phoenix Mart project in Casa Grande?

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Whether you like or dislike Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane, and judging from his landslide re-election win in 2016 a lot of people do, it’s hard not to admire the way he leads the city with decency, integrity and class.

The same can’t always be said of the respective camps vying over the fate of the Desert Discovery Center (DDC) in Scottsdale.

We are no fans of the project as we have explained repeatedly.  But we are also no fans of some of the stooges like Mark Stuart who lead the effort.  While we admire the passion of opponents, among the best grassroots opposition groups anywhere in recent memory, they can certainly go too far.  We have written about such times in the past but it bears repeating now as some in the movement attack terrific Scottsdale businesses like the Fairmont Princess because they happen to be supporters of the Desert Discovery Center.  The property is one of the city’s finest hotels, adding to cache and coffers. We do not like their position on the DDC but we readily spend money there anyways.  Long after the DDC is dead and gone the Fairmont Princess will still be doing good for Scottsdale, as it was doing before the debate started.  DDC opponents need not snatch defeat from the jaws of victory with such obnoxious tactics.  

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They are two of the biggest names in the Arizona legal world.  Former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods and Arizona Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick.  Earlier this week Father Bolick likely would have been proud as his son, Evan Bolick, sparred with Woods.  It was in Pinal County Superior Court over a profoundly dishonest effort by Woods to undercut the Apex Motor Club in Maricopa on behalf of his legal patron, Dan Erickson of the Attesa project near Casa Grande.  Erickson’s feels his project so inadequate as to oppose another that he feels is too similarly situated.

We have written about the matter numerous times.
Lost In The Maricopa Woods April 17, 2017
The Worst Public Affairs Campaign Ever April 24, 2017
Smell & Wilmer. The Plot Thickens May 4, 2017
Horsepower Hypocrisy: The Endless Episodes May 18, 2017

In the courtroom exchange highlighted by inMaricopa.com. Bolick justifiably accused Woods’ bogus plaintiff of being paid.  Woods denied the assertion.  We don’t know how he could.  Is Woods seriously contesting that his plaintiff, a paid petition circulator named Bonita Burks, wasn’t paid by Erickson’s effort to gather signatures against the project in Maricopa?  It’s a matter of public record.

We don’t know if Woods watched Pinocchio cartoons as a kid but he has become a cartoon himself during this caper.  He also continues to emulate the character’s worst tendencies.  Kudos to Bolick for having the guts to call Woods out on it.

 

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*Bone-headed Branding:  With the “Desert Discovery Center” becoming such a pungent name in Scottsdale over the past year plus, proponents sought to rebrand it during their reintroduction in late July with a new name of “Desert Edge.”  Apparently the project’s pied piper didn’t get the memo.  She still lists the Desert Discovery Center in her signature line.  #Communicate

*Showing they can say no to developers, the City of Scottsdale largely sided with the residents of Troon North in their dispute with a real estate speculator to triple density for a timeshare-esque project near the community’s entrance.  It was the right decision and the council appeared near unanimous, if not entirely so, standing up for Troon North. Kudos to Planning Director Randy Grant for wading through an issue that while complex was quite simple at its core.

*The Scottsdale Firefighter’s Association Annual Dinner at Dominick’s Steakhouse has become one of the “it” community and political dinners in Scottsdale.  And this year might be the best one yet with honorees like Mountainside Fitness CEO Tom Hatten, the mother that sparked the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Arizona Coyotes’ legend and Scottsdale resident Shane Doan.  Doan is likely to be introduced by Jerry Colangelo which should make for quite a night indeed.

 

*The climate for Arizona Republicans in 2018 is going to be very difficult.  And that’s no exception as the GOP races to take on Democratic Congressman Tom O’Halleran.  If there’s anyone who can defy the odds it may be the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, Arizona State Senator Steve Smith.  As Bruce Springsteen might say he was born to run.  Engaging, intelligent, determined.  If not this time for Smith he’s a talent that certainly has more political life to live.

*Look for Governor Ducey to more robustly kick-off re-election activities next month.

*If anyone thinks Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan isn’t steely heading into her 2018 re-election campaign think again.  Despite some early challenges she is resolved and ready to roll.

*What a difference a few years makes.  Phoenix City Councilman Daniel Valenzuela is now the frontrunner to replace Greg Stanton as Mayor of Phoenix.  After kicking the tires of a term-limits loophole former Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon will not be running again.  But in Paradise Valley former Mayor Scott Lemarr has no such problems and is still more likely than not to make another run, making him the prohibitive favorite.  

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In salon terms Scottsdale City Councilman Guy Phillips has spent most of his tenure serving as a make-up artist.  What do we mean?  That Scottsdale’s looks are being degraded by too many apartments, too much height and too much stuff, he has argued.   He is typically joined in such observations by Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield and more recently by Councilman David Smith.

Such opinons can often lead to electoral support for one, two or three councilmembers serving at a time but they have not resulted in a majority for decades.  The city’s well regardedness for its pro-business majority was on full display in 2016 when Mayor Jim Lane throttled former Councilman Bob Littlefield, husband to Kathy.

Scottsdale voters are smart with a majority realizing that though they may not be thrilled with an apartment project here or there, a pro-business, pro-tourism, pro-arts approach in Scottsdale is what leads to the revenues that pay for parks, police and preservation.  It’s hard to do that if too many so no to everything.

This leads us back to Councilman Phillips.

Scottsdale Fashion Square recently asked for new approvals, including height, to solidify its future.  At a time when malls everywhere are struggling the request was understandable, even necessary.  And with the staggering amount of sales tax revenue Scottsdale Fashion Square provides city coffers, the mall’s success is a quite necessary proposition indeed.  

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668 North, LLC recently purchased the mostly vacant former Chinese Cultural Center on 44th Street south of the 202 Freeway in order to establish a new headquarters and campus for approximately 350 of its 12,500 employees and team members. The new corporate headquarters is the latest investment near Phoenix’s light rail line, expected to have a notable economic impact for the city according to Valley economist Jim Rounds, who is currently compiling a detailed report on the move. 

Despite strong Arizona laws governing private property rights, some have objected to the company’s plans in spite of a commitment to revitalize the 170,000 square foot space, preserve major elements on site and relocate others. Many of the state’s private property rights are enshrined in Proposition 207, a statewide, voter-approved measure that was passed by a nearly 2-1 margin over a decade ago. On behalf of 668 North, LLC the law firm of Gammage & Burnham recently communicated to the City of Phoenix the numerous problems with infringing on these and other rights.  668 North, LLC is not seeking any city entitlements or tax incentives as part of its redevelopment. 

The cultural center, built in 1997, has significantly struggled for many years with numerous failed businesses and very low occupancy. Today only six percent (6%) of tenants are Chinese-related and the center overall is only 26% occupied. Over the last 20 years, both historical anchor tenants, a grocery store and large restaurant, went into bankruptcy. They were reopened and run for many years by the landlord at a loss. Additionally, there hasn’t been a Chinese New Year festival held at the site since 2012. As community and financial support for the site continued to decline, the prior owner – a large Chinese company – decided to sell the property. That owner provided assurances that the site has been largely abandoned by the Chinese community and that no restrictions of any kind were being placed on the site which would impede redevelopment.  

While the new owner plans to renovate the building, in the spirit of working with the Chinese Community, it has offered several different options during talks with community leaders over the past few weeks. Despite offering numerous creative solutions, the people interested in preserving the site have been unable to reach any agreement amongst themselves, which has complicated a path forward.  

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By Scottsdale City Councilman David Smith

Dear Friends...

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.

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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.

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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,

Steve

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From No DDC

FINAL SURVEY RESULTS -- THANK YOU, SCOTTSDALE. 9,000 of you saw it including 4,000 who saw the Survey on NoDDC and 5,000 who saw the promoted ad. We promoted the survey to all 140,000 Facebook users in Scottsdale to try to get an unbiased and representative sample of voters.

Of those who opened the Survey over 84% completed at least the first 3 answers.

WHAT WE LEARNED: 5.86% want the DDC built on the Gateway Trailhead. That is it. Even after we goaded the DDCSI crowd in to trying to stuff the ballot box they could not get up to 6%.

62% do not want the DDC built on the Preserve under any circumstances. No matter how small and no matter whether voters approve it or not, they say they oppose all versions of the DDC. That answer was nearly 3 times more prevalent than any other answer.

Especially in South Scottsdale, where voters were not so concerned about preservation as they are about Taxes and Budgets. South Scottsdale is an overwhelming NoDDC Voting bloc that does not want an election because as one voter put it "why waste more money on an election when everyone knows we hate it". 78% of South Scottsdale simply said "No. Not under any circumstances". 16% said they would tolerate it if it was moved or there was an election and 5.9% said they approved.

We do not know how you could possibly change these trends. DDCSI just made its best pitch to impress the City and if anything it seems that voters became even more opposed after the big rollout of the relabled Edge project 2 weeks ago.

CHALLENGE TO DDCSI: You will refuse to accept the results of this Survey and insist that it was contrived. It was not. But you deflect all criticism. So why do we not do the next survey together and jointly manage the data? We are confident where this debate is going.

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By Scottsdale Councilmember Virginia Korte

Last week we took the first significant step in solving our city’s infrastructure issues.virginiakorte_bio

Mayor Lane appointed me and Councilmembers Guy Phillips and David Smith to a new Council Capital Improvement Project Subcommittee.  The three us will be officially confirmed at the Council meeting on Tuesday, February 21st.

Recently, the city staff presented more than 40 capital improvement projects for the Council’s consideration.  The total cost of the projects is estimated to be $84 million. That is a lot of money, and, quite candidly, it is going to be a challenge finding the funding for those projects.  And this is the “tip” of the proverbial iceberg with our growing needs for reinvestment in the city’s infrastructure. It will take a combination of several different options to pay for all the projects over time. 

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By: Virginia Korte

The city of Scottsdale and our nonprofit partner, Desert Discovery Center Scottsdale, Inc., invite you to a public workshop regarding the proposed concept for the Desert Discovery Center. Please join us as we introduce you to our experience designer - Thinc Design - and architect - Swaback Partners. They will be leading you through a workshop that will highlight the new Desert Discovery Center concept.

The Desert Discovery Center concept is envisioned as an interpretive education and research center focused on understanding the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and what it can teach current and future generations regarding conserving, living in and adapting to desert environments.

This workshop is an important step in the current process of determining what the DDC concept would cost to build and operate. This planning phase will be complete in August 2017. With this information in hand, the Scottsdale City Council can determine if they want to move forward with the project.

A community workshop will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 30. Registration is required and a number of time slots are available from 3 to 7 p.m. To register, please select the time that works best for you and plan on actively participating for about 1 ½ hours. Please note: One registration per person. Those who register should be prepared to participate in the planning process for the proposed Desert Discovery Center at the Gateway to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve (located at the Preserve perimeter -- Thompson Peak/Bell Road). The Scottsdale City Council has directed further study of the DDC concept at this location.

Project Update

Desert Discovery Center Scottsdale has hired Thinc Design as its experience designer for the Desert Discovery Center concept. Thinc Design has developed world-class projects of national and international significance -- most notably the National September 11 Memorial Museum. The firm's focus is on history, natural history, culture and the environment.

The Thinc Design team will be sharing more information about the developing concept at the Nov. 30 community workshop. To-date, they have provided a Summary of Outcomes (PDF) that gives a glimpse into the aspirations guiding the Desert Discovery Center's experience design:

  • The DDC should inspire future generations to preserve and protect - the story of the Preserve is an invitation to see the potential and value of local preservation, at all scales, and it will inspire local pride and ownership that will grow stewardship in current and future generations
  • The DDC should educate - alignments with STEM and STEAM frameworks will inform the design concepts and exhibits, supporting the educational mandate of the Center
  • The DDC should build anticipation for exploration - an experience that stirs people's imagination, curiosity and sense of discovery ... for many, it will be their first exposure to the real desert
  • The DDC should show people the "world of the desert" - the desert cannot be seen in a day or on a single hike ... there are things happening below the surface and inside plants that most of us cannot see, as well as off-trail locations where species are known to congregate or ancient sites with petroglyphs that must stay undisturbed
  • The DDC should support tourism - many people seek experiences that connect them with the "real place": authentic knowledge, cultural practices and activities ... the Center is ideally placed to align with the strategy of the Scottsdale Tourism Advisory Task Force's long-term plan for interpretation on the climate and ecology of the desert
  • The DDC should be inclusive - design planning will address accessibility for all visitors, including experiences that can replicate some of how the desert "feels" for those who cannot have a direct encounter
  • The DDC should be a model of sustainable design and practice - in its architecture and exhibit design, the Center should be sensitive to the landscape and create the least amount of visual interruptions and impact on the environment ... the eventual size of the Center has been of particular concern and we should aim to define its size in terms of what is needed to achieve the mission and economic and environmental viability ... in its operations, the Center should follow practices for sustainable cohabitation with neighboring residents, including traffic and parking management

For additional information on the proposed Desert Discovery Center Concept please visit the website.

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Arizona Progress & Gazette: Arizona News, Editorials & Debate