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Just a couple of months back Scottsdale almost had a lot more than proverbial egg on its face.  It almost had a whole carton making its mug unrecognizable.

That’s when some on the Scottsdale City Council were actually considering not allowing the BASIS charter school to relocate and expand its presence on Shea Boulevard.  Fortunately, Mayor Lane, Suzanne Klapp and Linda Milhaven led the charge, and with assists from Governor Ducey and Attorney General Brnovich everyone else but Councilman Guy Phillips came along for the ride.

Imagine if the right decision wouldn’t have been made by Scottsdale and then these national school rankings by U.S. News & World Report came out? http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/blog/business/2016/04/basis-charter-schools-take-top-spots-on-us-news.html 

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It’s always good to invoke Star Trek, especially when it comes to Bob Littlefield.  Because his campaign for Scottsdale Mayor seems to be from outer space.  And his campaign, in the unlikely event it is successful, would boldly take he and wife where no man has gone before:  a husband and wife team on the Scottsdale City Council.

We’re sure, no positive, absolutely certain that the Arizona Attorney General would NEVER, ever, never ever, come knocking at Scottsdale’s door because of open meeting laws violations.
littlefield at desk

But that’s not why we opine now.  It’s to reveal the game Bob Littlefield plays with south Scottsdale, and how he preys on their disenfranchisement only to stab them in the back to serve himself.

Take for example his ambulance chasing opposition to Entrada, the most important project proposed in south Scottsdale in years.  It would transform the ghost town of car dealerships on the northeast corner of 64th Street and McDowell into a terrific new gateway for the area with mixed-use development.  It’s the private sector finally responding, without government subsidy, to what many of us have been saying all along. South Scottsdale is a hidden jewel and the next neighborhoods in the Valley to go through a revitalizing “it” moment.  But that doesn’t serve Bob’s purpose.  He wants people to stay angry at the city because  it’s the only way he gains votes.  He certainly can’t win a contest of ideas or congeniality.  Indeed, he was the city councilperson when serving to refuse to sign a civility pledge. 

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By Let's Vote Yes for Arizona Schools

More than 20 school districts are waiting on approval of Prop 123

PHOENIX – For Arizona teachers, many of whom have not received a pay raise since before the Great Recession, passage of Proposition 123 means a needed and necessary pay raise this year.

So far, more than 20 Arizona school districts have released or passed provisional budgets that include pay raises for teachers. But those raises will evaporate in most communities without the guaranteed dollars that Proposition 123 provides.

“School boards across the state are struggling to attract and retain good, quality teachers,” said Tim Ogle, executive director of the Arizona School Boards Association. “School board members around Arizona have indicated that if Proposition 123 passes, teacher raises will be the first line item in their budgets and the first item on their agendas to pass. But, without the dollars that Proposition 123 brings, teachers will continue to receive unacceptably low pay for the work they’re doing to educate our kids and we will continue to see teachers flee Arizona for other states. At the end of the day, the only way to improve education in Arizona is with a high-quality teacher in the classroom.”

“Teacher pay in Arizona is embarrassingly low,” said Andrew Morrill, president of the Arizona Education Association. “Many, if not most, teachers in Arizona have gone six or seven years without even a nominal increase in their pay, hence our teacher shortage crisis. If Proposition 123 doesn’t pass, it’ll send a message to our teachers that we don’t appreciate or respect the work they’re doing to educate our kids, and they’ll continue leaving Arizona for higher paying teaching positions in other states or leaving the profession altogether. Prop 123 is the first step to get teachers in nearly all districts a raise this year, and keeping them in Arizona.”

“Arizona teachers have gone too long without getting the compensation they deserve,” said Sharon Harper, chairwoman of the Let’s Vote Yes for Arizona Schools, in support of Prop 123 campaign. “Let’s pass Proposition 123 so we can stem the tide of teachers leaving our schools and our state. The infusion of these dollars will get money in the classroom this year. If we do nothing, this will be the equivalent of a pay cut to teachers in Arizona.”

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By State Treasurer of Arizona Jeff DeWit

Proposition 123 is LESS money for schools and RAISES PROPERTY TAXES

I wish I could support Proposition 123.  I wish it was in the best interest of our schools, teachers, and taxpayers.  I wish it lived up to the claim of being “more money for schools without raising taxes.”  Unfortunately it is none of these things.

Anytime politicians tell you they have found a way to spend money without raising taxes, they are either raising debt or raiding a trust fund.  It is why our federal government owes $19 Trillion and our Social Security Trust Fund is depleted.  Our federal government has made false promises, and Arizona is now following suit.

Proposition 123 is a raid on the Schools’ Permanent Endowment Trust Fund which was established by Congress at Arizona’s statehood.  It is a pool of money intended to grow for the benefit of educating Arizona schoolchildren forever.  We can spend interest, but we are never to spend principle, as this plan does in a BIG way.  Proposition 123 violates this Congressional requirement, and if passed, a new multi-year lawsuit will likely begin, further delaying funding for our schools.

The politicians are saying that this Trust is “underperforming our schools.”  This is incorrect.  The amount we spend on schools from the Trust is now the highest in Arizona history, roughly $100 million a year, and should double about every seven years.  Voting NO on Proposition 123 keeps this money for its intended purpose, benefiting our schools forever.  Saying yes cuts the trust fund by over a third, costs our schools (and ultimately our taxpayers) Billions of dollars, keeps teacher pay at 50th in the country, raises property taxes, and creates a huge fiscal cliff in ten years that will hit hardworking taxpayers.

Let me say part of that again.  Right now Arizona is 50th in the country in teacher pay.  If Prop 123 passes, and the trust fund is raided, and when property taxes increase, we will still be 50th in the country in teacher pay!  As the Arizona Republic has pointed out, this is merely a "scam" on the voters to make them think that this is free money, when in reality it comes at a very high price to our children, teachers, and taxpayers.  Read here: http://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/ej-montini/2016/04/18/montini-gov-doug-ducey-league-of-women-voters-proposition-123-arizona-legislature-state-land-trust/83157214/ 

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Transforming the 32-acre Margaret Hance Park in central Phoenix to something more akin to Central Park is the best planning idea in the Valley today.  Read about it here. 

We hope the “Hance Park Conservancy” is one day regarded like the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy in Scottsdale.  There, volunteers and fundraisers alike act as stewards for one of the great preserves any city in America has created.

Both are in the spirit of the great Robert Moses who over decades let New York breathe a little easier with his expanse of recreational amenities and planning imagination.

We hope someone like him will emerge in Phoenix now to see that a great idea doesn’t sit on a drawing table.  It has happened before.  Not too long ago it was believed Indian School Park would emerge as that great, good Phoenix place.  But it certainly hasn’t evolved so. 

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Fred DuVal, the 2014 Democratic nominee for Governor, just endorsed Proposition 123.

Read his statement, here.

He is standing shoulder to shoulder with Governor Ducey and thousands of parents and educators to put our kids and teachers first. And we've got an new TV ad to prove it. Watch the video here.

Mr. DuVal and Governor Ducey don't always agree but they agree Prop 123 is a necessary first step towards improving Arizona's public schools.

Prop 123 is a perfect example of what Arizonans can accomplish when we work together.

They recognize just how important it is for us to inject $3.5 billion into public K-12 schools over the next 10 years without raising taxes.

We are proud that Democrats and Republicans are putting partisan politics aside and working together to get our schools the resources they need.

Join us, Fred DuVal, Governor Doug Ducey and countless others in supporting Proposition 123, and lend a hand to ensure this passes on May 17.

Thanks,

Team Prop 123

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There used to be a popular soap opera called As The World Turns.  The same title could apply to the prologue unfolding for the 2019 Mayor’s race in the City of Phoenix.

Due to term limits popular incumbent Greg Stanton will not be able to seek re-election.  But former City Councilman Tom Simplot has made it known he wants the job, as does embattled current Councilman Michael Nowakowski.

Last year Simplot sympathizers sought to damage Nowakowski over questions involving a downtown Phoenix land deal.  They viewed him as their greatest threat.  And while Nowakowski has recovered somewhat with news of downtown Phoenix’s grocery store unicorn finally landing, there’s no doubt his future prospects have been wounded.  But Simplot’s camp may regret his struggles. 

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By Dan Schweiker

Transportation has always been near and dear to my heart. I first experienced the valley's roads in 1978 when I arrived in Arizona in my un-air conditioned 1976 Honda Civic. A lot has changed since then, but one thing remains the same – we need an interconnected transportation system that moves people, goods, and services.

There is no doubt that our valley has grown. The number of freeways, streets, and transit options have increased and improved over time as well. I remember when the I-10 tunnel was completed with much fanfare and when the Loop 101 finally came to Scottsdale.

It was my honor to serve on the Maricopa Association of Governments Regional Transportation Committee in 2003 and 2004 as we worked on the Regional Transportation Plan and the extension of the 1985 half cent sales tax that built our transportation system. One of the things we realized early on is that we must take a multi-modal approach to transportation planning.

We realized that we must take into account the cost, available land, traffic patterns, growth, and interconnectivity into our planning. We learned that different areas had different needs and an interconnected plan could not be a "one size fits all" approach. We also adopted fundraising firewalls and audit measures to ensure fiscal responsibility. The result was the passage of Proposition 400 in 2004 which is still improving transportation across the region.

In Scottsdale, the Transportation Commission has released a draft of their Transportation Master Plan. It is a comprehensive proposal that will help strengthen our city's transportation policies and improve connectivity for our future. The Scottsdale City Council is meeting on April 12 in a study session to review the plan. 

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Former Scottsdale City Councilman Bob Littlefield and failed Republican candidate for the Arizona House of Representatives thinks Scottsdale is a terrible place to live and be.  Just listen to him.  When he’s not sounding Area 51 he makes Scottsdale sound like Blythe.  If you think our community Hades Bob is your guy.

Now he’s running for Mayor.  We’re sorry to spend so much time of late on Littlefield but we’re a little like comedians blessed by Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. The content is just so rich, so long, so hypocritical.

Take for example Littlefield’s raison d’etre.  It’s that the little guy can’t get a break in Scottsdale, notwithstanding that the city was just recognized as a great place to start a business. But for Bob’s magnificence the struggling would never have a voice.  You’d think he had even started Vista del Camino, although like many things that run contrary to his narrative he had nothing to do with it.  You’d think he’d be embarrassed carrying on his message after having participated in the most outrageous evisceration of Scottsdale citizen rights in the past two decades; that being when he enacted an “emergency clause” to stop a public vote on the densest project in city history at the Scottsdale Waterfront.

Scottsdale has some great historians within its midst that often take the time to write about our history, and its application to our future.

But it doesn’t take a historian to remember when Littlefield’s hypocrisy was on full display yet again.

Let us take you back to late 2005 and early 2006.  Facing his first re-election test Littlefield engaged in political skullduggery to deep six a citizen activist from challenging him.  His deceit (and that of others) became the topic of a stinging Scottsdale Republic editorial critique that can be reviewed HERE.

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*Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu is showing a lot of resilience as he tries to become the Republican nominee in Arizona’s First Congressional District.  That’s according to a new poll out this week albeit by his own pollster.  In boxing terms we’re going to find out what kind of chin Babeu has when the pointed attacks about his private life get leveled this year.  But what’s underappreciated is what kind of outside help Babeu may get in return from socially liberal Republicans looking to install the first openly gay Republican in Congress.

*Speaking of Congress, former Maricopa County Supervisor Don Stapley announced a run for seat of retiring Congressman Matt Salmon.  If Stapley won he might have the distinction of having the best (or worst) toupee in DC.

*Bob Littlefield is a bad bet for Mayor of Scottsdale.  Guy Phillips is a better bet for City Council.  Guy would be wise to be his own guy and not side-saddle with Littlefield whose collapse during his 2014 race for the Arizona House of Representatives is now part of local legend.

*Tom Simplot is amassing a formidable armada for his expected run for Phoenix Mayor in 2019.

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