The Phoenix New Times champions itself as an advocate for the oppressed. It turns out the paper also has a history of oppression, or at least making money from it. At least according to prosecutors in California and a congressional investigation. The story is finally being told. It just took a while.
Until recently, it was an underreported fact that New Times founders Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin launched the now infamous Backpage as a section of the New Times. Indeed, when the New Times was in its heyday gunning after mostly conservative targets, it was making some serious coin from the Backpage.
It has never been a secret that the Backpage made a substantial amount of money advertising “Adult Services.” It has been consistently alleged that some of the ads tragically involved pimps and underage girls. That, one could say, would be the ultimate oppression.
In 2011, the parent company for the New Times and the Backpage started taking heat for this practice, which led to this article in the Village Voice called “Real Men Get Their Facts Straight.” The article criticized a campaign to deal with sex trafficking by disputing figures and making sport of its spokesman Ashton Kutcher.
Lacy and Larkin would later sell their journalistic enterprises and retain Backpage. Its current ownership is the subject of debate but Lacey and Larkin’s ties to it must be strong enough that criminal charges and congressional investigations have been brought against the duo. The criminal charges were later dropped but Backpage suspended its adult section in January. And when Lacey and Larkin recently found themselves in the legal crosshairs, their former employee, New Times Columnist Steve Lemons dutifully wrote in their defense.
But something unexpected has happened. Traditional media outlets and Arizona reporters started covering this story. Richard Ruelas’ recent article didn’t pull any punches. Here is a link.
And then some student journalists from Cronkite News covered political contributions Lacey and Larkin have been making. Here is a link.
Lemons has left the New Times to work for the Southern Poverty Law Center. His victory lap following Joe Arpaio’s loss in the polls was anything but humble. But Mr. Lemons should be humbled by his consistent support for his former bosses who made millions operating Backpage. Sure it’s a free speech issue; but how could Lemons not have been troubled by the allegation that Backpage was used to pimp women and underage girls.Read more
By Team Ducey
Arizona's been in the national spotlight for educational excellence this month.
This week, five Arizona high schools made the U.S. News & World Report top ten public high schools in the nation -- more than any other state. We know how to educate a child in Arizona, and Governor Ducey is working hard to ensure every student has access to a high-quality public education.
Earlier this month, The Weekly Standard published an article highlighting Governor Ducey’s commitment to school choice.
Here's what they said about Governor Ducey:
“Governor Doug Ducey, already a hero to free-market conservatives for his deregulatory crusade against occupational licensing laws, will sign whatever universal education savings account (ESA) expansion makes it to his desk… In a statement to The Weekly Standard, Ducey lavished praise on the state’s achievements in school choice, saying, ‘Arizona provides a model for the nation of the value in putting parents in the driver’s seat of their kids’ education.’”
Read the full article here and share it with your friends !Read more
So Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton wants to be Arizona Secretary of State. Or Governor.
It sure sounded that way earlier this week during his State of the City address when and where he lambasted all leaders Republican for, in his opinion, abandoning public education.
We didn’t hear such tones during less ambitious times last year as he was supporting Governor Ducey’s landmark proposal to boost public schools without a tax hike via Proposition 123. Indeed, at Stanton’s insistence his political consultants were even hired by the campaign.
Now he’s singing a different tune, hoping no one bothers to check his record. Granted, it’s a record we’re glad he has, no matter his hypocrisy.
Just two years ago Stanton led the charge for a massive charter school expansion in central Phoenix. He even championed the use of some $150 million in Industrial Development Commission bonds to aid the invasion. Here is a link to the story that ran on AZCentral in 2015.
Charter schools are public schools, except to those on the left. To them, they are foreign ideas undermining the traditional public school systems like vouchers or education savings account. To them, it doesn't matter that an enterprising charter school like BASIS Scottsdale just put the state on the education map after being ranked #1 in the country by U.S. News & World Report.
So, to the constituency Stanton now panders to, the question can be fairly asked: who has played a major role to upend Arizona’s public education system? Stanton’s alter-ego, thank goodness.
BASIS Scottsdale’s recognition by U.S. News & World Reports as the #1 high school in America should be reason for all in Arizona to applaud the achievement. Instead, we actually hear criticism, especially from the Arizona Republic and liberal special interest groups.
An acute observer on Facebook labeled this cartel the “Yeah, But” crowd. And he’s right. They have diarrhea of the mouth, seeking to undermine the accomplishment, Governor Ducey and how it’s a disruptive to Arizona public schools. They constitute the Lament Lobby and its too bad Pepto Bismol can’t be used to constipate their mouths rather than troubled butts.
They have too many Asians! They have too many whites!
Notwithstanding the reverse racism proffered by these critiques any school, anywhere, that becomes number one at anything is likely doing something right we can all learn from.
And that’s exactly what the Lament Lobby needs to do. After all think how spectacular their failure has been versus charter schools, organizations that actually get less money per student than traditional public schools.
Rather than whine and simply ask for more money the Lamenters should reform and recognize the incredible advantages they have to compete for students and results.Read more
A hashtag noting the city’s excellence was a hallmark of Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane’s landslide re-election win in November.
Lane was right to recognize the community’s best in class from Barrett-Jackson, Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, Waste Management Phoenix Open and downtown restaurant and bar scene to teachers, social services and high school athletics.
Now, Lane and all of Scottsdale have another best in class to boast about: U.S. News & World Report just ranked BASIS Scottsdale the #1 high school in the nation. The import to economic development and overall community prestige cannot be overstated.
And it reminds us that some things are worth fighting for.
Once upon a time, circa 1997, there was an uproar from no-growth activists and McDowell Mountain Ranch residents opposing the Ice Den. It was a fight that went all the way to the Arizona Supreme Court. Thank goodness it did, and won, because as the premier ice facility in Arizona it also is #ScottsdaleAtItsBest.
Fast forward to 2016 and the Ice Den-like fight that took place over BASIS’ expansion and relocation plans on Shea Boulevard. Mayor Lane, Councilwoman Suzanne Klapp and Councilwoman Linda Milhaven were always staunch supporters. But the opposition fueled by well-heeled neighbors caused Councilmembers Littlefield, Smith and Korte to wobble weak in the knees. Councilman Phillips was downright opposed. Like the Ice Den it was a fight that went all the way to the top. But instead of the Arizona Supreme Court it was Governor Doug Ducey and Attorney General Mark Brnovich weighing in. Korte, Smith and Littlefield eventually came around in the face of input from them and massive community support.
Thank goodness they did. A year later the decision was unquestionably sagacious as Scottsdale ensured its place as the home to the best high school in America.Read more
Rotten Tomatoes is a popular television and movie ratings site. Millions of people participate and rely upon it when considering their entertainment choices. It’s a good thing it doesn’t rate former Arizona Attorneys General, consultants and public affairs efforts in Maricopa, Arizona. The review wouldn’t arise a rotten green tomato or tipped over popcorn bucket. It would most likely transform the ratings service into a scratch and sniff variety in order to properly capture the stench.
But first, let’s remind readers of the issue. It’s in Maricopa, a pleasant community south of the Phoenix metropolitan area in Pinal County, where a group of successful entrepreneurs has proposed a private motorsports park. Think of it like a golf country club, but for cars. Proposed for a plot of land well outside the city’s core not a single person had expressed opposition for the better part of its year-long application. In fact, the opposite was true. Community and business leaders expressed support and excitement about the use because it meant economic diversification and more tourism.
Then, one day, former Attorney General Grant Woods showed up spinning tales of how bad the project known as the Apex Motor Club would be for Maricopa. He did so at the Planning Commission which summarily rejected him by a unanimous vote. As did Mayor Christian Price and the entire City Council thereafter. Woods would never say, despite repeated questions, who was paying him to be there. It is widely believed to be a rival project.
Contemporaneous to the Woods’ tripe anonymous advertisements started to appear online on local cable channels. A Facebook page appeared too, all attempting to recruit what they clearly thought would be mindless Maricopans. One of the ads even invoked the possibility of “heart attacks” if the Club were allowed to proceed. That’s not a typo. Some consultant actually got paid to suggest that people would die if the proposal were approved. Other posts include citations of new companies and jobs being announced elsewhere in Arizona, asking why can’t Maricopa do such things rather automotive country clubs. As if they are mutually exclusive? As if that is not happening? It seems everyone can walk and chew gum except the gadflies and goofs of the opposition. A new level of hyperbole these items would represent if not for Woods’ hot air.Read more
Scottsdale voters wisely increased its tourism tax on hotel rooms in 2010. The increased revenues have been used to further showcase the city across the world, and also provided money to aid events big and small. Sometimes those investments have paid off, and sometimes they haven’t. Funding decisions are an inexact science.
But one big one made recently by the Scottsdale Tourism Development Commission seems to be a sure bet.
That’s because Canal Convergence, which dramatically animates the Arizona Canal as it winds through the Scottsdale Waterfront, holds substantial promise as the community’s next Barrett-Jackson or Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show.
And that it happens in Scottsdale’s downtown emphasizing one of the community’s raison d’etre makes it even more worthy.
We applaud the group’s recent recommendation and encourage the City Council to soon vote likewise.Read more
By Sal DiCiccio
Phoenix City Council Member
Councilman Danny Valenzuela calls this a "good deal." I call it INSANE.
This is the same logic some of the same politicians used when they used your money to build the Sheraton losing $145 million of your hard-working taxpayers dollars.
Money that could've gone for more police on our streets.
Please read this article from Laurie Roberts:
ANOTHER TAX GIVEAWAY IN PHOENIX
Arizona Republic 4-20-17
Last month, Phoenix was sued for allowing a developer to skip paying $8 million in property taxes in return for building a 19-story apartment complex near Roosevelt Row in downtown Phoenix.
The city’s continuing tax giveaways – which leave you and I holding the bag for select developers’ share of funding public schools – have prompted a crackdown at the Arizona Legislature. Our leaders, in one of their rare good moves,recently voted to limit these giveaways beginning later this summer to eight years, down from the current 25.
And the city’s response to the legislation and the lawsuit by the Goldwater Institute?
On Wednesday, the Phoenix City Council voted 7-2 to allow yet another developer to skip paying $9 million in property taxes in return for building three apartment towers near Roosevelt Row. (Councilmen Sal DiCiccio and Jim Waring were the no votes.)
Phoenix wants what the market can't support
A city spokesman says the properties eventually will pay three times the property taxes they’d pay if only a four- or five-story apartment complex was built where these 29-, 25- and 19-story buildings will go in. ($6.9 million over 20 years as opposed to $2.4 million.)
That’s if the schools can wait 20 years, that is.
Five percent of the units will be "affordable" housing.
City leaders say the giveaway – technically called a government property lease excise tax -- allows developers to build the types of projects city leaders envision – the sort the free market doesn't support. (Sort of a like a certain downtown Phoenix hotel.)
“This is going to change the Phoenix skyline now instead of 20 years from now,” Councilman Daniel Valenzuela saidWednesday, in approving the deal.
This is, of course, the same old story we’ve been hearing for decades from Phoenix City Hall as city leaders hand out GPLETs like gumdrops.
Lots of developers got this pass
A fair chunk of downtown Phoenix has been given a pass on paying property taxes -- or anything even close to their fair share of the tab.
The Phelps Dodge building got a GPLET. So did CityScape. Renaissance Square has one (both Tower One and Tower Two). So does the Collier Center. And the Westin and Freeport McMoran and at least five apartment complexes along Roosevelt Row.Read more
Since it’s never too early to pontificate and prognosticate about politics, we thought we’d get a jump on a way too early look at possible successors to popular Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane. Due to the city’s three term limit for mayors Lane, who won in a landslide over Bob Littlefield in November, 2016, is ineligible to run again.
The odds proffered for each person are a combination of the likelihood of a run, and ultimate victory.
Virginia Korte (2:1): She’s been running for Mayor in her own way since about the time Goldwater was nominated for President. Korte wants the job badly and almost ran in 2012 and 2016 but wisely deferred to Lane. There’s no question she can raise the funds necessary having raised over $200,000 for her 2016 council re-election. And much of the Scottsdale “establishment” will be behind her. But her re-elect numbers were sluggish. Yes, she won but many had thought after a sterling 2012 performance the final tallies would have been better. Perhaps that has something to do with bouts of alienation. Korte is not one to shy away from taking a stand, whether it’s an ardent supporter of the Desert Discovery Center in the face of withering opposition or supporting a property tax increase for Scottsdale schools. In many ways she’s like this year’s Cleveland Cavaliers: a proven winner and Hall of Famer but whose second half (or term) underperformed, but not so much so to underestimate them come playoff time.
Suzanne Klapp (3:1): By topping Korte in the 2016 council races in money raised and total votes Klapp showed significant political chops. She is not saying no to a potential run but does she really want it beyond the flattery? Klapp would be 70 plus by the time of the next race but she makes that age look like the new 50. On the political spectrum she also occupies space right of Korte which would be helpful in a primary election coinciding with the GOP primary, though less so in a November run-off election. Unlike the Lane-Littlefield mash-up where there were clear fault lines, Klapp and Korte occupy much of the same space on business and other matters, which means any potential race between the two would challenge loyalties and households.
Guy Phillips (6:1): Never underestimate a guy who can get so many votes with so little in his campaign coffers. And that would be Phillips’ challenge in a mayoral race. Can he raise real money in a race where competitors will be able to? Lane eclipsed $400,000 in 2016. In Scottsdale the top two finishers, if they don’t get over 50%, advance to the General Election. With Phillips originally emanating from the Tea Party and still loved by many in the GOP Phillips could and likely would be a strong candidate in the primary’s top two, for many of the same reasons Klapp would. His greater challenge would be communicating with so many people in the General election, with so few dollars.Read more
Muhammad Ali was a great boxer. But like many, he didn’t know when it was time to do something else. A case in point was his 1980 bout against heavyweight champion Larry Holmes. It was just sad, so much so that Holmes actually took it easy on Ali, not wanting to further impugn a legend.
Former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods and Phoenix resident is no Ali. But he has been a competent, even commendable fighter at times, on behalf of various causes and interests. But like most high profilers the time comes when influence wanes and the fastball doesn’t have the velocity it once did.
Woods’ foray into Pinal County’s City of Maricopa is a case in point. It’s more Ali v. Holmes than a Thrilla’ in Manila.
A couple of weeks back Woods unexpectedly rolled into Maricopa warning the Planning Commission about an upscale project called Apex, which would be a new, private automobile country club on the community’s outskirts, in an industrial area, and adjoining a highway and rail line.
Woods, who has probably never been to Maricopa previously, warned the Commission about all the rich people who would somehow harm the city, notwithstanding he’s quite rich himself.
The Planning Commission ignored Woods and promptly passed the project unanimously. But what’s most curious about Woods’ sudden interest in things Maricopa is that he would not disclose who he really represents. Or who was paying him.
But is there really much doubt?
Just weeks prior the kind of rich person Woods warned Maricopa about, the backer of a similar project just outside Casa Grande called Attesa, purportedly told Apex backers that if they moved forward that he would have to “kill” their project. Shortly after the likely deployment of Woods social media and even cable commercials started to appear in Maricopa, warning that Apex would be the end of days.
It will create too much noise notwithstanding noise from the nearby rail line is and will be a lot louder. There will be more traffic notwithstanding it is a private facility not open to public races like the Casa Grande facility would be, for example.
The approach is comical, especially if judging by the failure of the scare tactics. After so much money spent the Facebook page (as of this writing) has but 35 likes. A pro-Apex Facebook page spending but a fraction of what the anti-competitive forces have done, and after they did so, has some five times that amount.
That’s because when a backwoods message is deployed about and towards an impressive, aspiring community like Maricopa it will fail. Maricopa residents understand economic development, tourism and certainly when outsiders are being the ultimate hypocrites, and are just trying to keep their community down.Read more