WestWorld is a funky show on HBO. It challenges our thinking about the future. And it’s time to challenge the thinking about another WestWorld, a weird property in Scottsdale. We opine odd because the site serves as a flood detention basin and is owned by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, but operated by the City of Scottsdale. Not a lot of constructs like that.
Since it first debuted decades ago as a private, commercial enterprise until today as a local governmental operation, managers have always struggled to make it pencil.
But what if it’s never meant to. That may have to be the conclusion after many college tries. And it should be.
Scottsdale City Councilman David Smith started to make private musings about the notion earlier this year, only to seemingly scuttle the thoughts. He shouldn’t have. As a former City Treasurer he has the standing to reintroduce and reinvent thinking about WestWorld.
Smith’s too abrupt argument kind of went like this: WestWorld is effectively a park, a large one that serves special events as does Central Park in New York City but also recreationists from joggers to dog walkers to even a parking lot for the most attended golf tournament in the United States, and one that is losing more parking soon.Read more
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.
We have already weighed in on the repackaged Desert Discovery Center now known as Desert Edge. It calls to mind a name more reminiscent of a bad country band than a worthwhile expenditure of taxpayer dollars.
Our purpose now is not to regurgitate our most recent opinion (here is a link.) It’s to raise a worthwhile question: opportunity cost.
Proponents suggest taking tens of millions of tourism AND preserve tax dollars is worthwhile. They say so because they believe the project can be self-sustaining (it won’t) and a major new tourism draw for the city.
But ask yourself this, who is going to come to Scottsdale just because of a glorified interpretive center, as opposed to that which it seeks to accentuate, and already exists?
Think of it this way, no matter what those on the edge of advocacy for their pet project can cull together it won’t be cooler or more dramatic than El Tovar at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. But people don’t travel to northern Arizona to see something man-made. They do so because of the natural wonder. And so will it be in Scottsdale.
The McDowell Sonoran Preserve with its extensive trails, views and majesty already IS a huge tourism draw.
So why not better highlight it, or expand it, rather than divert funds from both of these purposes?Read more
Few municipal projects have conjured as much controversy and consternation in recent years than the Desert Discovery Center (DDC), proposed as a Valyrian Steel-like Visitor Center at the Gateway of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.
Opponents have ransacked the purported rationale, even though form often gets in the way of their substance.
Supporters, largely the inheritors of the idea’s inertia, often tout the grand tourism benefits they think the DDC will mean. There are also those longing, and hoping, for Scottsdale’s next great thing.
This week proponents unveiled the latest design, touting the changes that had been made and how they listened to the community, as if that is something that shouldn’t have been done all along.
But alterations can’t alter something that is fundamentally flawed, and lesser than that which it seeks to accentuate. Allow us to invoke football to make our point. Patrick Peterson is the All-Pro Cornerback for the Arizona Cardinals. The other person playing that position on defense is always “the guy playing opposite Patrick Peterson.” He’s secondary, just like a man-made attraction pales next to the real thing.
Quite simply, no one is going to come to Scottsdale because of the Desert Discovery Center. Tourists will and do because of the Preserve itself. If people want a related man-made attraction Taliesin West is far more compelling and sits on the preserve’s edge just a short throw away. And it’s a far better location for the DDC too.Read more
The former President was many things, including a splicing wordsmith. During Ken Starr’s inquisition who can forget Clinton’s unforgettable, “It depends what the meaning of is, is.”
And that brings us to today, in Scottsdale. And former long-time Scottsdale Planning Department staffer, now developer lobbyist, Don Hadder.
Hadder presided over city staff’s review and ultimate recommendation for the Troon North community approvals in the mid-1990s. That work ultimately led some 1,800 homeowners into one of Scottsdale’s signature communities. They relied on his work and word to invest in the community. And rightfully so.
But now Hadder is singing a different tune, as the paid sycophant for an unproven, unknown group seeking to scar Troon North with an unsightly timeshare plan at its entrance. For months Hadder has been working his former colleagues to find that which he wrote before about what’s allowed at Troon North to not be the case.Read more
When a beautiful young woman does this to her hair it’s a shame. And disturbing.
The same goes for misfitting projects like this at Troon North in Scottsdale. We have previously opined how wrong it would be for a speculative timeshare developer to be allowed to triple density adjoining the clubhouse of one of the finest public golf courses in the United States, Troon North. Here is a link.
But we never thought it would or could look this bad. Impolitically correct, The Tripling of Timeshares at the entrance of Troon North looks more like the barracks in another part of Arizona. In Parker. Thate’s where the United States infamously interned Japanese-Americans in World War II. While we certainly don’t mean to imply moral equivalency we certainly don’t mind making the architectural comparison, though the ones still standing in Parker might actually be more attractive, as hard as that is to believe.One of Britney Spears’ biggest hits was called “Toxic.” And that’s what the notion of this absurd plan would be for Troon North’s 1800 homeowners, Scottsdale and one of its grandest tourism trophies.
Developer lobbyist and former Scottsdale Planning Department official Don Hadder should be ashamed to be shilling for such specious speculators. Hopefully, Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane and the Scottsdale City Council will see through the nonsense in favor of one of the city's signature neighborhoods.Read more
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 ArizonaRead more
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.
People like John McCain are supposed to ride off into the sunset. They deserve it.
That’s why news of the Senator’s diagnosis came as such a gut punch. Love him or not any clear thinking person respects McCain.
The announcement called to mind a similar circumstance of another legend, former Scottsdale Mayor Herb Drinkwater.
With no equal for constituent service and the broadest smile in the American West Drinkwater was beloved. But in the 1990s he decided over a decade was time enough as Mayor of the “West’s Most Western Town.” Ride off into the sunset he planned. But then cancer called. Drinkwater died far too soon.
And who was there to eulogize him? John McCain. He waxed appropriate and eloquent not just about a man who had endorsed him early on during his Arizona quests, but for the first among equals Drinkwater was as a personality and leader.
That Arizona was denied the full life of one of these men is punishment enough. Drinkwater surely wishes his friend to join him in the heavens, though we know he won’t mind if that’s not what John McCain has in mind just yet.
Legal beagles say lots of things to tout projects in front of city councils. But there may be no greater Houdini of Hot Air than Snell/Smell & Wilmer’s Nick Wood. Currently, he’s espousing the merits of Attesa outside Casa Grande in Pinal County. It’s a proposed combination of racetrack, automobile country club and other things motorsports. To listen to Wood talk of the project is to think it’s a cure for cancer. And it must be with the sly attorney’s sleight of hand trying to pass new Pinal County ordinances that will allow his client to get into the pockets of taxpayers for his client’s private business. But hasn’t Wood taken us here before? And weren’t taxpayers devastated?
Readers may recall that Wood similarly touted what may be the most infamous city subsidy during the past two decades in Arizona. Here is a link to a recent Glendale Star article. Not too long ago he stood before the Glendale City Council and talked of a “Main Street Commons” to surround the Camelback Ranch spring training facility for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox. Its shops and sales tax revenues were supposed to pay for the initial city contribution to the complex. It didn’t work out that way and Glendale taxpayers are still suffocating from the approximate $200 million taxpayer contribution towards one month of baseball each year.Read more