In advance of the Iraq War and facing profound domestic opposition, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair shied away from no one, including his fiercest critic in the media. He stood his ground and defended his position. Whether one agreed with it at the time it showed confidence, command and leadership.
We feel the same way about Scottsdale City Councilwoman Linda Milhaven. While we may disagree with her on support for the Desert Discovery Center, she is Tony Blair on a local level.
Milhaven is pro-business, pro-arts, pro-downtown and pro-preservation. Responsive to all, she seems to relish engagement on the toughest issues. In many ways she is the constitution of what makes Scottsdale great, and where the majority of citizens are, as reflected in the 2016 mayoral election. And Milhaven has a resume to match. Banker. Former head of the Scottsdale Cultural Council. Public service.
A recent Scottsdale Republic article revealed her as the only certain incumbent or potential challenger to run. That’s great news for Scottsdale. Our jury is still out when it comes to the others (Councilman David Smith, Counwilwoman Kathy Littlefield and NO DDC chieftain Jason Alexander). It’s not if Mayor Jim Lane ally Bill Crawford decides to run in 2018, or 2020.
But for now it’s not too early to celebrate, and endorse a class, impressive act named Linda Milhaven.Read more
During the 2006 election season many city officials throughout Arizona, including Phoenix, campaigned against Proposition 207. They warned many things why the “Private Property Rights Protection Act” should be defeated. Chief among them were that providing too much individual protection for homeowners and commercial property owners would hamstring municipal redevelopment and historic preservation efforts. Voters rejected such arguments and Proposition 207 passed with a sizable 65% of the vote.
This is an important history lesson as some want to suspend the law and dictate what the new owner of the twenty-year old Chinese Cultural Center near 44th and Van Buren can do with their property.
But not all.
As a mob rained down on Phoenix City Hall and demanded Mayor Greg Stanton and his fellow politicians lay fetal rather than display fidelity to state law, the city’s Planning Director Alan Stephenson took a more courageous tact, no matter how uncomfortable and inconvenient.
Having laid out in his staff report why Phoenix could not and should not circumvent clear private property rights embedded in Proposition 207, Stephenson’s knees did not get weak even when confronted by a full house of angry Chinese Americans. He didn’t win an award for being the most popular that day but his sobriety on the subject was necessary to avoid groupthink.
Stephenson understood that it would be a nice thing to keep a Chinese Cultural Center even if the Chinese owner and developer of the property abandoned it, and sold it, in 2016. But he also understood that someone needed to be the big boy in the room as politicians kowtowed.
After all, Phoenix has never designated a site for historic preservation against the property owner’s wishes, not even for the David Wright House in Arcadia. It’s never designated a site as such that’s only twenty years old either. And when it comes to Proposition 207’s clear mandate on such things you can work to change it, but you can’t ignore it until then.
This leads us to a few other principles and principals.
When Rawhide left, and left a hole in Scottsdale’s western heritage after a duration similar to the Chinese Cultural Center, residents understood it to be unfortunate but not worthy of upending the rule of law to harm the property owner.
When Monti’s La Casa Vieja in Tempe said that’s a wrap the 100-year old home of Carl Hayden was left untouched, but not even the 50-year old stuff that surrounded it.
When dissidents started this quixotic quest they asked for the garden along 44th Street to be “saved,” which it is now being, along with the preservation of a number of other items both on and off-site, even though the new property owner doesn’t have to. Now that’s not enough.
When people say that other elements besides the garden are irreplaceable are they sure some, if not all of them can’t be procured today on Alibaba.com?
When the Phoenix City Council votes to “study” the matter, a precursor to a Proposition 207 violation, and then accepts private funds from a special interest that is driving the outcome of the study how is that showing integrity the new owner purportedly lacks?
When opposition is being led by a person whose last claim to fame was having her office raided by the FBI for purported development fraud we ask ourselves if the real motivation here is not preservation of a Cultural Center but to use politics to bully an acquisition in order to collect more fees as was controversially done for the Phoenix Mart project in Casa Grande?Read more
Whether you like or dislike Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane, and judging from his landslide re-election win in 2016 a lot of people do, it’s hard not to admire the way he leads the city with decency, integrity and class.
The same can’t always be said of the respective camps vying over the fate of the Desert Discovery Center (DDC) in Scottsdale.
We are no fans of the project as we have explained repeatedly. But we are also no fans of some of the stooges like Mark Stuart who lead the effort. While we admire the passion of opponents, among the best grassroots opposition groups anywhere in recent memory, they can certainly go too far. We have written about such times in the past but it bears repeating now as some in the movement attack terrific Scottsdale businesses like the Fairmont Princess because they happen to be supporters of the Desert Discovery Center. The property is one of the city’s finest hotels, adding to cache and coffers. We do not like their position on the DDC but we readily spend money there anyways. Long after the DDC is dead and gone the Fairmont Princess will still be doing good for Scottsdale, as it was doing before the debate started. DDC opponents need not snatch defeat from the jaws of victory with such obnoxious tactics.Read more
They are two of the biggest names in the Arizona legal world. Former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods and Arizona Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick. Earlier this week Father Bolick likely would have been proud as his son, Evan Bolick, sparred with Woods. It was in Pinal County Superior Court over a profoundly dishonest effort by Woods to undercut the Apex Motor Club in Maricopa on behalf of his legal patron, Dan Erickson of the Attesa project near Casa Grande. Erickson’s feels his project so inadequate as to oppose another that he feels is too similarly situated.
We have written about the matter numerous times.
Lost In The Maricopa Woods April 17, 2017
The Worst Public Affairs Campaign Ever April 24, 2017
Smell & Wilmer. The Plot Thickens May 4, 2017
Horsepower Hypocrisy: The Endless Episodes May 18, 2017
In the courtroom exchange highlighted by inMaricopa.com. Bolick justifiably accused Woods’ bogus plaintiff of being paid. Woods denied the assertion. We don’t know how he could. Is Woods seriously contesting that his plaintiff, a paid petition circulator named Bonita Burks, wasn’t paid by Erickson’s effort to gather signatures against the project in Maricopa? It’s a matter of public record.
We don’t know if Woods watched Pinocchio cartoons as a kid but he has become a cartoon himself during this caper. He also continues to emulate the character’s worst tendencies. Kudos to Bolick for having the guts to call Woods out on it.
*Bone-headed Branding: With the “Desert Discovery Center” becoming such a pungent name in Scottsdale over the past year plus, proponents sought to rebrand it during their reintroduction in late July with a new name of “Desert Edge.” Apparently the project’s pied piper didn’t get the memo. She still lists the Desert Discovery Center in her signature line. #Communicate
*Showing they can say no to developers, the City of Scottsdale largely sided with the residents of Troon North in their dispute with a real estate speculator to triple density for a timeshare-esque project near the community’s entrance. It was the right decision and the council appeared near unanimous, if not entirely so, standing up for Troon North. Kudos to Planning Director Randy Grant for wading through an issue that while complex was quite simple at its core.
*The Scottsdale Firefighter’s Association Annual Dinner at Dominick’s Steakhouse has become one of the “it” community and political dinners in Scottsdale. And this year might be the best one yet with honorees like Mountainside Fitness CEO Tom Hatten, the mother that sparked the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Arizona Coyotes’ legend and Scottsdale resident Shane Doan. Doan is likely to be introduced by Jerry Colangelo which should make for quite a night indeed.
*The climate for Arizona Republicans in 2018 is going to be very difficult. And that’s no exception as the GOP races to take on Democratic Congressman Tom O’Halleran. If there’s anyone who can defy the odds it may be the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, Arizona State Senator Steve Smith. As Bruce Springsteen might say he was born to run. Engaging, intelligent, determined. If not this time for Smith he’s a talent that certainly has more political life to live.
*Look for Governor Ducey to more robustly kick-off re-election activities next month.
*If anyone thinks Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan isn’t steely heading into her 2018 re-election campaign think again. Despite some early challenges she is resolved and ready to roll.
*What a difference a few years makes. Phoenix City Councilman Daniel Valenzuela is now the frontrunner to replace Greg Stanton as Mayor of Phoenix. After kicking the tires of a term-limits loophole former Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon will not be running again. But in Paradise Valley former Mayor Scott Lemarr has no such problems and is still more likely than not to make another run, making him the prohibitive favorite.Read more
PHOENIX – State Treasurer Jeff DeWit presented Arizona State Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Yee the 2017 Hero of the Arizona State Treasurer’s Office award for her sponsorship of SB 1448 this past session.
“The changes made in this legislation will lead to many millions more in earnings from the investments in our office,’’ Treasurer DeWit said.
“Majority Leader Yee’s knowledge of the Treasurer’s office from here prior employment here was critical in getting this legislation unanimously approved this year,” DeWit said. “She truly understands the role the State Treasurer of Arizona serves in protecting taxpayers.”
The wording of the award is as follows:
Whereas, SB 1448 was sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Yee during the first regular session of the 53rd Arizona Legislature;
Whereas, SB 1448 was unanimously approved by the Arizona State Senate and the Arizona House of Representatives;
Whereas, SB 1448, was enacted as Chapter 277, Laws 2017, and became law on August 9, 2017;
Whereas, Majority Leader Yee worked tirelessly for the successful passage of this legislation;
Whereas, SB 1448 changes Arizona Law that will benefit the investing of taxpayer funds by the State Treasurer of Arizona;
Whereas, Majority Leader Yee’s knowledge of the Treasurer’s office from her prior employment in the office was critical in the passage of this legislation leading to increased earnings for taxpayers;
Whereas, Majority Leader Yee truly understands the role that the State Treasurer of Arizona serves in protecting taxpayers;
Whereas, those changes will lead to many millions more in earnings from investments by the Treasurer’s Investment Management Division, while maintaining our conservative investing approach;
I hereby declare, in the capacity of Treasurer for the State of Arizona, Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Yee as the 2017 Hero of the State Treasurer’s Office.
PHOENIX – A brand new tool for monitoring the number of Arizona voters in real-time has been released by Secretary of State Michele Reagan. The Voter Stats Dashboard displays registration data allowing users to observe trends by party and county from 2007 to the most recent report.
The innovative tool aggregates statistical and demographic data of Arizona’s registered voters by county and forecasts future registration levels of partisan affiliation. The forecast is made to January 2021 and the time series is adjusted to consider yearly seasonality effects.
“No longer do people have to wait for each quarterly report to better understand the number of voters in Arizona,” said Secretary Reagan. “The number of active voters changes each day with people registering, moving or when our counties perform routine list maintenance. With this innovative dashboard people can better see what’s happening with the state’s electorate each day.”
The party forecasting function uses a basic time series algorithm called ARIMA. Widely available to the public, it is a moving average from quarter to quarter. Seasonality is a way for the algorithm to take into account patterns that may be found in the data based on outside events. In this case, the forecast takes into account the quarters of an election year which historically see an increase in registrations.
The Voter Stats Dashboard was developed by the Secretary of State’s Election Information Systems team and is hosted on her dedicated elections portal www.Arizona.Vote.Read more
In salon terms Scottsdale City Councilman Guy Phillips has spent most of his tenure serving as a make-up artist. What do we mean? That Scottsdale’s looks are being degraded by too many apartments, too much height and too much stuff, he has argued. He is typically joined in such observations by Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield and more recently by Councilman David Smith.
Such opinons can often lead to electoral support for one, two or three councilmembers serving at a time but they have not resulted in a majority for decades. The city’s well regardedness for its pro-business majority was on full display in 2016 when Mayor Jim Lane throttled former Councilman Bob Littlefield, husband to Kathy.
Scottsdale voters are smart with a majority realizing that though they may not be thrilled with an apartment project here or there, a pro-business, pro-tourism, pro-arts approach in Scottsdale is what leads to the revenues that pay for parks, police and preservation. It’s hard to do that if too many so no to everything.
This leads us back to Councilman Phillips.
Scottsdale Fashion Square recently asked for new approvals, including height, to solidify its future. At a time when malls everywhere are struggling the request was understandable, even necessary. And with the staggering amount of sales tax revenue Scottsdale Fashion Square provides city coffers, the mall’s success is a quite necessary proposition indeed.Read more
668 North, LLC recently purchased the mostly vacant former Chinese Cultural Center on 44th Street south of the 202 Freeway in order to establish a new headquarters and campus for approximately 350 of its 12,500 employees and team members. The new corporate headquarters is the latest investment near Phoenix’s light rail line, expected to have a notable economic impact for the city according to Valley economist Jim Rounds, who is currently compiling a detailed report on the move.
Despite strong Arizona laws governing private property rights, some have objected to the company’s plans in spite of a commitment to revitalize the 170,000 square foot space, preserve major elements on site and relocate others. Many of the state’s private property rights are enshrined in Proposition 207, a statewide, voter-approved measure that was passed by a nearly 2-1 margin over a decade ago. On behalf of 668 North, LLC the law firm of Gammage & Burnham recently communicated to the City of Phoenix the numerous problems with infringing on these and other rights. 668 North, LLC is not seeking any city entitlements or tax incentives as part of its redevelopment.
The cultural center, built in 1997, has significantly struggled for many years with numerous failed businesses and very low occupancy. Today only six percent (6%) of tenants are Chinese-related and the center overall is only 26% occupied. Over the last 20 years, both historical anchor tenants, a grocery store and large restaurant, went into bankruptcy. They were reopened and run for many years by the landlord at a loss. Additionally, there hasn’t been a Chinese New Year festival held at the site since 2012. As community and financial support for the site continued to decline, the prior owner – a large Chinese company – decided to sell the property. That owner provided assurances that the site has been largely abandoned by the Chinese community and that no restrictions of any kind were being placed on the site which would impede redevelopment.
While the new owner plans to renovate the building, in the spirit of working with the Chinese Community, it has offered several different options during talks with community leaders over the past few weeks. Despite offering numerous creative solutions, the people interested in preserving the site have been unable to reach any agreement amongst themselves, which has complicated a path forward.Read more
By Steve Farley for Governor
When we think of the labor movement in Arizona, we are reminded of notable pieces of our past and present.
From the Old Dominion miners in Globe who striked against wage decreases in 1896, to the ironworkers who helped build skyscrapers like Chase Tower in Phoenix – unions have always played a role in everyday life here in Arizona.
We think of AFSCME members who ensure our cities and towns like Peoria operate effectively, and teachers unions like AFT and the NEA who make sure our children have the best possible future.
These men and women from across the state work hard every single day to make sure Arizona is the best state in the nation --– and it is their unions that fight tooth and nail to protect them every step of the way.
Each of us benefits from the labor movement’s accomplishments, whether you are a union member or not.
Weekends, minimum wage, child labor laws, workplace safety -- we sometimes take the work of labor unions for granted.
These benefits were paid for with the blood, sweat and tears of our union Brothers and Sisters that fought in Arizona and in states across the country to protect the American worker.
That’s why on this Labor Day, I want to take a moment to not only thank unions around Arizona for their hard work in the past, but also tell them that I stand with them and their future fights for Arizona’s workers’ rights.
To the men and women of the Arizona AFL-CIO, Ironworkers Union Local 75, AFSCME, Teamsters Local 104, UA Local 469, Carpenters Local 1912, IBEW Local 640, SMART 1081, and the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona, and every union across the state:
Thank you for all your hard work and know that I stand with you. Arizona is what it is because of you.
Keep it up,