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Rumor has it two complaining City of Phoenix employees, possibly in the City Attorney’s Office, are to blame for ending one of Arizona’s most spectacular Christmas displays.

(Here is a link a recent story on AZ Central. )

They purportedly moved into the Arcadia neighborhood that’s hosted the lights put up by  Lee Sepanek for some 30 years, and didn’t like the enthusiasm the public has for those who believe that Christmas time is a celebration of all that is good and right with the world.  They apparently don’t realize that for many families this as close as they ever get to the North Pole.

The result? The sad, front-page article in the November 16th Arizona Republic.

This is government at its worst, and its most hypocritical, led by the muted Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton.  Never known as a leader Stanton’s silence on the issue is notable, even more so because he used to represent the homeowners while a mere mortal on the Phoenix City Council.

Just up the street Stanton doesn’t seem to mind the owners of the Wright House which routinely hold major events not with marsh mellows and cocoa but caviar and booze.  And they don’t do so just around the holidays, The Wright House entertains so all year long.

Why the double standard?

To listen to the Sepaneks is like listening to a child let down by Santa Claus.

Let’s hope a reindeer soon shows up to light a better way for a neighborhood and city that should be celebrating Saint Nick, not grinching out to a bunch of not so saintly dicks.

 

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By Scottsdale City Councilman David Smith

Today I am announcing my candidacy for a second term to represent you on the Scottsdale City Council.  I am proud of Scottsdale and passionate about participating in our city's future.

When voters elected me in 2014, many only knew me from the years I served as Scottsdale's City Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer.  I offered voters proven financial experience, a record of fiscal integrity and a vision that apparently resonated with many of my fellow citizens.  I promised, if elected, I would be their voice to...

  • Ensure the fiscal sustainability of our city, spending your tax dollars wisely and for your benefit,
  • Protect and enhance the financial investment you have in our city by protecting and enhancing our quality of life,
  • Preserve our heritage, building on the special place called Scottsdale, and
  • Pursue visions for the future as bold as the visions of the past to distinguish us from other cities.

Now I have a record of providing keen financial and business analysis to the issues that come before Council.  I've searched for the facts and diligently listened to citizen voices on all sides of the issues.

Consider whether my leadership has represented your interests:

  • Ensuring our city's fiscal sustainability is still my most important initiative.  As a city, we have "kicked the can down the road" on major liabilities for too many years.  Capital reinvestment in our infrastructure continues to be less than depreciation, as it has every year since 2008.  As a member of the Council's newly formed Subcommittee on Capital Investments, I am working to develop long-term, sustainable solutions to recommend to the full Council
  • Protecting and enhancing your financial investment and quality of life has influenced positions I've taken regarding tourism, economic growth and development.  I have championed tourism, arguing for every initiative that promotes this vital industry, as well as arguing against initiatives that threaten to undermine it.  As a 35-year resident in different parts of the city, I look for development projects that protect and benefit our community at large.
  • Preserving our heritage and building on the special place we call home has guided my views on development, but also influenced my positions on tax reform.  I have argued for eliminating our sales tax on groceries.  To be known as a special place, with a heritage of caring for our neighbors, we should not be imposing the most unfair tax any city can levy on its citizens.
  • Pursuing visions for the future as bold as the visions of the past is an important responsibility of any Council.  I picked up where previous Councils left off and voted to authorize the study of an educational, interpretative and research center (referred to at the time as a Desert Discovery Center.)  We needed to define what this vision could add to the unique character of our city and what it would cost to build and operate.

The study was completed this summer and now Council is tasked with deciding whether this is a vision we want or can afford.  Large groups of citizens are speaking excitedly (for and against) this project, based on its purpose, location, cost to build and cost to operate.

Some of my colleagues propose to immediately refer the question to a public vote.  As your elected representative, I accept responsibility to search for solutions that are financially prudent, improve the cachet of our city and support tourism.  That's a tall order, but I believe that's what you expect from your Councilmembers.

My first-term votes on Council were often in the minority, but many of you have encouraged me to continue making my voice (our voices!) heard on the issues affecting our community.  I commit to provide strong financial leadership and oversight, always mindful that I am spending your money.

If my positions on City Council have aligned with your vision for Scottsdale, I hope you will support my candidacy for another term.  To mount a successful campaign, I will need...

  • 1,000 petition signatures to qualify for the ballot.  The sooner we qualify, the sooner we can focus our attention on issues.
  • Supporters willing to declare their position by displaying campaign support signs in their front yards or windows.  (In 2014, I pledged not to clutter public rights-of-way with campaign signage and I make that pledge again!) 
  • Leaders willing to host neighborhood gatherings that give me an opportunity to discuss city issues with a broader audience.
  • And, financial support.  An early report of strong fund-raising from a broad array of supporters will send a powerful message to the community.

Electing members of City Council is an opportunity for every citizen to select the voices that best represent their vision of our great city.  Next fall, you will have the opportunity to vote for three Councilmembers; I would be honored to again receive one of your three votes.

David N. Smith

Scottsdale City Council

2018 Candidate for Re-election

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PHOENIX (November 7, 2017) — A statewide Arizona survey of 500 likely Arizona 2018 General Election voters shows that just under a year out from Election Day, Democrat Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-9) has extended her lead over GOP candidate Dr. Kelli Ward to a 7-point margin, 34-27. The survey, which was conducted immediately after U.S. Senator Jeff Flake announced he would not seek re-election, indicates both candidates have lots of work to do in both defining themselves and their opponent over the coming months.

In an August poll of 400 likely voters, HighGround tested a hypothetical match-up between the same two candidates with a much closer margin of 30.5% for Ward vs. 31.8% for Sinema. Despite Ward receiving an endorsement from former White House advisor Steve Bannon in the time since the August poll was conducted and Senator Flake withdrawing, Ward has not seen a bump and in fact, has lost ground.  In both surveys, the plurality of voters had not made their mind up in favor of either candidate.

“Even with Senator Flake announcing his retirement and the whirlwind of media attention around Steve Bannon’s endorsement and visit, Kelli Ward has not seen any improvement in her support,” said Chuck Coughlin, President & CEO of HighGround Public Affairs, which conducted the poll. “The numbers continue to show that Ward is a flawed General Election candidate, and her nomination would likely result in a loss of the seat for Republicans.  With the apparent ceiling of support for Ward, there is clearly room for a different Republican candidate to emerge as a credible challenger with a path to victory, such as Congresswoman Martha McSally or Great Hearts founder Jay Heiler.”

The latest survey data also showed that Congresswoman Sinema is still not known by 37% of the electorate in Arizona, whereas Ward is not known by more than 40% of the electorate despite challenging Senator John McCain in 2016.

Coughlin continued, “While many have proclaimed Congresswoman Sinema to be a strong candidate, Arizonans are still unsure of her after a haphazard announcement of her Senate candidacy, with no subsequent statewide tour or messaging to support her campaign. We have yet to see the popularity she enjoys within the left leaning Congressional District 9 translate to rural areas such as Yuma and Yavapai counties – home to some of the larger cities outside Maricopa County, where she needs to be competitive.”

General Election turnout in off-Presidential Cycle races in Arizona shows that Republicans historically have a twelve-point turnout advantage, which steepens the climb for any Democratic contender. Today, not a single Democrat holds statewide office in Arizona.

“Quite frankly, Senator Flake stepping out completely opens up the race for a primary challenger to Ward and a more credible Republican to face off against Sinema in November.  Ward no longer has a candidate to beat up on, and Sinema can no longer count on a facing a damaged and resource-depleted Republican in November. There is a great deal of uncertainty in the electorate and I think this data shows that we are in for a wild ride,” concluded Coughlin.

The audience tested in the statewide live caller survey was set to reflect the 2018 General Election in Arizona.  The General Election sample of 500 high efficacy general election voters has a margin of error of ±4.36%.

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by Scottsdale City Councilwoman Virginia Korte

Great communities like Scottsdale often share qualities that make them special -- including a strong economy, a vibrant downtown, an excelling community college and public school system, engaged citizens and civic and political leaders committed to keeping the city moving in the right direction.

However, one of the few shortcomings of living in the “West’s Most Western Town” is that some folks like to shoot first and ask questions later.  These characters like jumping to conclusions without taking the time to learn the facts.  Many of those who oppose the Desert Discovery Center, now known as Desert EDGE, are dismissing years of decisions made by multiple City Councils and an overwhelming majority of voters.  They are discounting decades of research that shows the project to be a desirable community amenity because of its contribution to our citizens as well as boosting our tourism industry.  And they are choosing to ignore the fact that since 1995 the optimum location for the project has been envisioned to be at the Gateway Trailhead on the edge of the Preserve.

The DDC/Desert EDGE has been part of the community conversation for more than 30 years.  Many preserve advocates, City Councils and dedicated citizens have supported the concept through its many iterations and designs.  It is the culmination of thousands of hours of public outreach, research, creative thought and exhaustive discussion regarding the purpose and vision of the proposed desert center.

Desert EDGE is focused on education.

The project will be a place that people visit to learn more about our desert and better understand how to sustain themselves in an arid environment.  This expanded knowledge is expected to lead to greater respect and preservation of our unique land. Additionally, ASU has committed to placing their Global Dryland’s Institute headquarters at the Desert EDGE as an important portal for global research, providing an opportunity for visitors to interact with scientists to enrich their educational experience.

I am a long-time supporter of the Desert Discovery Center/Desert EDGE because I believe it will be an incredible amenity to our city and our McDowell Sonoran Preserve. I am also a long-time advocate of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. I served as chair of the McDowell Mountain Task Force, served two terms on the McDowell Sonoran Preserve Commission and was active in all five “Save Our McDowells” political action committees to educate voters about the value of the Mountain Preserve to our community.  I was also the first executive director of the Center for Native and Urban Wildlife at Scottsdale Community College and I am a steward for the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy.

There is funding available to build the Desert EDGE without raising taxes. Citizens have already voted to use the Preserve sales tax to acquire land and make improvements in the Preserve.  There are additional funds available through tourism bed tax dollars.

I will not support an amendment to the charter or a resolution.  I will, however, support the right of citizens to collect enough signatures to place the issue on an election ballot.

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By Candidate for Governor Steve Farley

To what lengths will Trump go to destroy Arizona?

From the news that broke just a few days ago, apparently much further than we had ever imagined.

The Hill recently reported that President Trump is considering lifting the Obama-era ban on Uranium mining in northern Arizona -- a ban that was put in place to protect one of our state’s and country’s most beautiful and breathtaking regions.

Mining in that fragile area would destroy a significant part of our landscape forever. It would also cause undue risks to our groundwater and soil -- risks that could lead to an unmitigated disaster.

Arizonans have a deep appreciation for our natural treasures like the Grand Canyon but we need to fight to protect it. 

While we haven’t heard much out of the governor’s office on this topic, we can safely assume that Governor Ducey will no doubt fall right in line, just as he did with Graham-Cassidy.

Governor Ducey is much more concerned with political advancement in DC and helping his special interest friends than helping Arizona. The Koch Brothers have attempted for years to fund efforts to remove protections preventing mining in the regions around the Grand Canyon.

Now with Trump AND Ducey at the helm, they might just pull it off.

Arizona deserves a leader who won’t put Arizonans, our natural resources, or the beauty of our state in jeopardy to please their donors. 

Let’s take this fight to Ducey, Trump, and their backward agenda.

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In years past “ambulance chasers” was a derogatory description that could find its way to certain lawyers or law firms.  Here in the Phoenix area the term was often associated with the Goldberg & Osborns of the legal profession.  But we appear to have a new gold medalist:  The Frutkin Law Firm.

In the great new age of social media there’s no need for the Frutkins of the world to actually go chase the wounded in ambulances and pass out cards at the hospital.  Instead, they can just monitor headlines and prey on the gullible, as it appears they are doing with those interested in violating private property rights and “saving” the former Chinese Cultural Center near Sky Harbor Airport.

Look at this GoFundMe campaign they are promoting.  https://www.gofundme.com/save-the-chinese-cultural-center.  Basically, it’s a beg for up to $300,000 in legal fees for  quixotic, long-shot claims that were bounced out of court earlier this month.  What’s even sadder than the legal effort is the amount of money raised to date, just over $4,1000.

But perhaps that’s a good thing so it prevents other legal voyeurs from doing likewise.  And with behavior like this it makes all the more clear why such a law firm sought to change its name earlier this year from the last name of the principals to something called Radix.  That’s a technique tobacco companies and pay day lenders have used. How appropriate as we get closer to Halloween.  A law firm and its losing ways that is all trick and no treat for the Chinese community, or for the state’s clear property rights laws.

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Once upon a time people named Pettycrew, Carla, Korte, Decabooter, Rau, Drinkwater, Manross, Campana and others sat around a Scottsdale table.  They had the audacity to not only dream of a McDowell Sonoran Preserve, but to make it happen.

Today, it stands as the community’s greatest accomplishment.

Paradise Valley is blessed to have similar landscapes.  They, like Scottsdale’s, define its very essence.  And as in Scottsdale the threat of too much development up high is causing certain Paradise Valley leaders to look more seriously at preserving more.

That’s why we applaud the action of Paradise Valley Town Councilwoman Julie Pace, cited for her leadership on the issue, among others, in this recent Paradise Valley Independent article. http://paradisevalleyindependent.com/news/town-council-has-eyes-for-hillside-preservation-in-paradise-valley/

But as noble as we think these steps we don’t think they go far enough. Reinvigoration of the Mummy Mountain Preserve Trust is a fine thing but it is an entity that relies on private donations to increase the community’s open space.  Past is prologue and this, ultimately, would be more pissing in the wind.

 

What’s called for is a town survey of all properties that might be included in preserve efforts.  There may be dozens and they may be pricey.  But the total costs for maximum preservation should be understood.  From there it can be determined how much of a sales tax increase is necessary, and for how long, to pay to acquire such lots.

 

No one should be scared of such a discussion because ultimately the question of if and how to fund such an endeavor would be left to voters, as occurred in Scottsdale.  And Telluride.  And Phoenix.  And countless other communities around the state and country that said open space and views were worth the price.

 

It’s well past time for Arizona’s toniest town to engage this debate.  After all, it does welcome all visitors to the community with impressive monument signage showcasing mountaintops, not roof tops.

 

Kudos to one of the new kids on the PV block for getting this important conversation underway.  Now it’s time to quicken the pace.

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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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