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By Scottsdale City Councilmember Virginia Korte

As 2016 is winding down and with Christmas less than one week away, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and also a Happy New Year.  I hope you, your family and friends have a safe and peaceful holiday season.

Soon the City Council will return to work -- so I want to let you know about my number one priority for 2017.virginiakorte_bio

It is critical that we begin aggressively investing in improving the city’s infrastructure.  Our current infrastructure needs are estimated to be in excess of $300 million.  If we do not start to seriously address those needs, it will be exceptionally difficult to catch up.

As the costs mount, we cannot afford to ignore maintaining the city’s systems and structures that contribute to our quality of life.  Keeping up with our infrastructure needs is also important in continuing to make our city a destination for visitors and something that attracts new businesses.

I hope you will join me in not only supporting the need to focus on our infrastructure, but also in advocating that we start planning to make the essential investment necessary to keep Scottsdale special and prospering.

I invite you to give me your thoughts on how we can achieve these objectives.  You can write me at Korte@KorteScottsdale.com.

Again, have a safe and happy holiday.

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The songs.  The homecomings.  The Proms.  The friendships.  The cheerleading.  The college pursuits.  The first loves.  The buddies in the locker room.  The playoffs.

There are certain things we never forget about high school.  Yet, in the case of Notre Dame Prep football players were robbed this year of memories that go with playing in the playoffs due to the misdeeds of adults.

When violations by the school’s program became obvious the Arizona Interscholastic Association came down with a harsh punishment.  No playoffs for perennial prep power Notre Dame this year. Parents were enraged and organized efforts to appeal.  It almost worked.  The coach was fired.  Other steps were taken.  But the scalp that many thought would demonstrate sufficient remorsefulness was that of school President Jim Gmelich.  Yet, he refused to resign.  The Diocese and Gmelich placed themselves about the kids.

It wasn’t just self-absorbing.  It was obviously deficient because everyone knew at the time of the appeal that Gmelich was a dead administrator walking.  So why not just do the right thing and resign then so graduating seniors and the rest of the team didn’t have to suffer?  Because the spoiled souls thought they could survive the soiling.

But of course that wasn’t to be.  Just last week Gmelich was gone as the President of Notre Dame Prep.

Some 25 years ago Bon Jovi’s “Never Say Goodbye” was one of those songs all high school Proms played.  It’s too bad Gmelich adopted that slogan at the time of his crisis rather than do right by a football team who still have a prom coming up in the new year but will never be able to get this past season back.

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Well, it certainly took the Scottsdale City Council long enough, but they appear to have found a terrific City Manager.

Former Casa Grande City Manager Jim Thompson is the chosen one, after three rounds and eighteen months of interviews.

The community will soon come to appreciate the erudite Thompson for his energy and purpose. He’s not one to belabor the bureaucratic journey.  He’s a person that wants to get things done.

And you can tell he’s appreciative of being in Scottsdale.  It’s a challenge.  It’s a great city.  It’s the big leagues.

One anecdote after Thompson got the job said it all.  City wordsmithers had crafted a press release announcing his hiring.  In presenting copy to their new boss they posited he could take as much time as needed to look it over and even get back to them the next day.  Thompson’s reply?  Go with it.  Looks good.  You know your job.

After enduring the last 18 months of the interim City Manager under whom morale lagged and the business community furrowed its brow Thompson’s conviction, command and lack of cowardice when it comes to making decisions is refreshing.  The interim City Manager never understood politics.  Thompson does.  He understands democracy involves all different voices from all different walks and that a City Manager’s impact is not just based on being the smartest guy in the room, or a command of issues, but his standing among those whose voices count as much if not more than his or hers.  Indeed, the interim City Manager was so incontinent on matters people and politics he thinks no one notices when he stacks important evaluation committees with acolytes from the one department he actually does know something about – water – or speaks inappropriately to his bosses, the City Council.

Thompson can’t start his post soon enough.  While it officially doesn’t begin until January 8th every Scottsdalian should be appreciative of the holiday gift he represents.

 

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*Bob Littlefield still hasn’t called Jim Lane to congratulate him on the Scottsdale Mayor’s race.  And they’ve been together at events.  #Classless

*Are the Democrats going to produce any sacrificial lamb to run against Doug Ducey in 2018?  Or just pass altogether?

*A big light rail fight could be coming to Chandler, Arizona

*Soon, Cave Creek Mayor Vince Francia will ride off into the political sunset.  How he has ruled over the most ungovernable town in Arizona with decency and distinction for so long is one of the most underappreciated municipal accomplishments of our time.

*Is a new user soon coming to the old Barney’s space at Scottsdale Fashion Square?

*Marijuana legalization will be coming back in 2020 not 2018

*In our opinion the worst and most ethically deficient political consultant in Arizona today is former Arizona legislator Phil Hubbard

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PHOENIX – As 2016 comes to a close, the Permanent Land Endowment Trust Fund has beat industry benchmarks by a wider margin than in previous years.

“This is recognition of the hard work and incredible staff at the State Treasurer’s office,” Treasurer DeWit said.
The fund beat many of the large public investment funds in the United States including CalPERS, CalSTERS, Dartmouth, MIT, Stanford and Harvard.

“Our conservative, America first portfolio of 1,500 stocks and 405 bonds show that keeping our own staff and not outsourcing the management of Arizona’s money to Wall Street not only saves the state tens of millions in fees but also has produced better results,” DeWit said.

The $5.3 billion Endowment returned 3.32% in the last fiscal year ending June 30, 2016. This compares to the median one-year return of negative -0.74% for all endowments, according to results published by Wilshire Associates and reported by Bloomberg, LLC. By these metrics, in the first full fiscal year under Treasurer DeWit Arizona’s endowment outperformed Wall Street’s average by over 4%. This outperformance has continued through the end of November, to soon be reported at the upcoming December Arizona Board of Investment meeting.

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alex-3Their monkey wrench gang vitriol and antics are almost enough to get even us to reverse our opposition to the Desert Discovery Center.  Almost.  

But what can’t be denied is how swiftly the “NO DDC” group’s political stock has fallen since November 8th.  

They went all in for Bob Littlefield in his challenge to Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane.  He got trounced.  

The group sought the defeat of Councilmembers Suzanne Klapp and Virginia Korte.  They finished first and second in the voting.  Their chosen candidate, Guy Phillips, barely survived, narrowly beating back a challenge from Scottsdale newcomer Dan Schweiker.  

Then it was revealed here how deficient NO DDC’s self-professed leader Jason Alexander truly is.

But the resonant revelations about the group’s increasing impotency can best be found in an analysis of Scottsdale’s November 8th precinct tallies.  As Lane, for example, ran up more than 70% of the vote in some areas of the city he won narrowly in the two precincts where the Desert Discovery Center was an obvious concern.  Littlefield actually bested Lane by some 20 votes in DC Ranch but lost by 200 in the WestWorld precinct.  This is where it gets interesting.  Lane clobbered Littlefield in all other northern Scottsdale precincts.  Desert Highlands, Grayhawk, Granite Mountain.  Littlefield discovered scant votes in those and other desert centers.  

What’s that tell us?  

Beyond these two, proximate areas of the city voters just don’t care about the Desert Discovery Center.  And that’s a problem for the project’s opponents moving forward.  

Indeed, we can’t understand why congressional Democrats kept Nancy Pelosi around after so much failure.  And we don’t understand why the understandable opposition to this McDowell Sonoran Preserve imposition would cede itself to a gang that can’t shoot straight.  At a minimum they should get away from personal attacks and the belief they know how to operate like Axelrod or Carville.   The merits of the argument are, and should be sufficient.  It better be, because their standing as a political force looks more like a penny stock.  

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