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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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By: Virginia Korte

The city of Scottsdale and our nonprofit partner, Desert Discovery Center Scottsdale, Inc., invite you to a public workshop regarding the proposed concept for the Desert Discovery Center. Please join us as we introduce you to our experience designer - Thinc Design - and architect - Swaback Partners. They will be leading you through a workshop that will highlight the new Desert Discovery Center concept.

The Desert Discovery Center concept is envisioned as an interpretive education and research center focused on understanding the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and what it can teach current and future generations regarding conserving, living in and adapting to desert environments.

This workshop is an important step in the current process of determining what the DDC concept would cost to build and operate. This planning phase will be complete in August 2017. With this information in hand, the Scottsdale City Council can determine if they want to move forward with the project.

A community workshop will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 30. Registration is required and a number of time slots are available from 3 to 7 p.m. To register, please select the time that works best for you and plan on actively participating for about 1 ½ hours. Please note: One registration per person. Those who register should be prepared to participate in the planning process for the proposed Desert Discovery Center at the Gateway to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve (located at the Preserve perimeter -- Thompson Peak/Bell Road). The Scottsdale City Council has directed further study of the DDC concept at this location.

Project Update

Desert Discovery Center Scottsdale has hired Thinc Design as its experience designer for the Desert Discovery Center concept. Thinc Design has developed world-class projects of national and international significance -- most notably the National September 11 Memorial Museum. The firm's focus is on history, natural history, culture and the environment.

The Thinc Design team will be sharing more information about the developing concept at the Nov. 30 community workshop. To-date, they have provided a Summary of Outcomes (PDF) that gives a glimpse into the aspirations guiding the Desert Discovery Center's experience design:

  • The DDC should inspire future generations to preserve and protect - the story of the Preserve is an invitation to see the potential and value of local preservation, at all scales, and it will inspire local pride and ownership that will grow stewardship in current and future generations
  • The DDC should educate - alignments with STEM and STEAM frameworks will inform the design concepts and exhibits, supporting the educational mandate of the Center
  • The DDC should build anticipation for exploration - an experience that stirs people's imagination, curiosity and sense of discovery ... for many, it will be their first exposure to the real desert
  • The DDC should show people the "world of the desert" - the desert cannot be seen in a day or on a single hike ... there are things happening below the surface and inside plants that most of us cannot see, as well as off-trail locations where species are known to congregate or ancient sites with petroglyphs that must stay undisturbed
  • The DDC should support tourism - many people seek experiences that connect them with the "real place": authentic knowledge, cultural practices and activities ... the Center is ideally placed to align with the strategy of the Scottsdale Tourism Advisory Task Force's long-term plan for interpretation on the climate and ecology of the desert
  • The DDC should be inclusive - design planning will address accessibility for all visitors, including experiences that can replicate some of how the desert "feels" for those who cannot have a direct encounter
  • The DDC should be a model of sustainable design and practice - in its architecture and exhibit design, the Center should be sensitive to the landscape and create the least amount of visual interruptions and impact on the environment ... the eventual size of the Center has been of particular concern and we should aim to define its size in terms of what is needed to achieve the mission and economic and environmental viability ... in its operations, the Center should follow practices for sustainable cohabitation with neighboring residents, including traffic and parking management

For additional information on the proposed Desert Discovery Center Concept please visit the website.

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*Dan Schweiker may take another run for the Scottsdale City Council in 2018.  All three incumbents – Linda Milhaven, David Smith and Kathy Littlefield – are suggesting they will run too.

*As the Scottsdale City Manager saga turns . . .  it appears that new candidates will be interviewed in early December with a decision possible December 8th.

jim-norton*If lobbyist Jim Norton can find a way to get a massive tax break for a new Arizona Coyotes arena through the Arizona State Legislature Trump should immediately send him to the West Bank to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

*In an interview this week with John Gambadoro, the biggest radio voice in Arizona sports, Coyotes’ Minority Owner Anthony LeBlanc said he didn’t want a public vote.  Gee, wonder why?

*Phoenix City Councilman Daniel Valenzuela is not shying away from rumored mayoral aspirations and could assemble an interesting campaign coalition.

*Speaking of mayoral aspirations count Mary Hamway, Paul Dembow and Mark Stanton among the leading contenders to succeed current Paradise Valley Mayor Michael Collins in 2018.

brnovich*Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich has put together a very impressive host committee list for his first major fundraiser toward his 2018 re-election campaign.

 

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lane portraitIn Scottsdale even winners apparently whine too.

After the Scottsdale Mayor’s “Laneslide” victory Tuesday night and subject council election results the Arizona Republic and Parker Leavitt properly interviewed candidates for a story.
Expectedly Bob Littlefield didn’t congratulate Lane on a race well run. Indeed, he still to this day hasn’t had the class to call with congratulations.  Littlefield carped about not having the resources to compete with Lane even though he had had them to win all of his other races in Scottsdale.  Maybe it had to do with calling the city’s business leaders “scumbags” and warning all in the business community “you should fear me.”  Littlefield even included a missive on one of his mailers talking about all the “dark money” Lane was receiving in the race.  That was a lie.  Lane didn’t benefit from a dime of such support.  That Littlefield couldn’t raise sufficient money speaks to his own deficiencies. After all, Hugh Hallman ran for Mayor of Tempe in 2004 without taking a single contribution with those having interests before the City Council and won in an upset over the establishment candidate.  Sound familiar? Littlefield just couldn’t get it done.

littlefield at deskSimilarly, council victor Guy Phillips also lamented “dark money” in his race – it was limited – confusing what the Realtors Association did in support of his opponents.  Their support was fully transparent, listing the source of the money used on their mail pieces.

Note to Littlefield and Phillips:  dark money is anonymous.  Get your facts and terms straight before casting aspersions.  In the case of Littlefield it’s par for the course but in the case of Phillips it undermines his impressive re-election accomplishment.  Be a guy who’s a grateful winner not a whiner.

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Part I:  City Manager Search

A key rule in life and business is when something isn’t working don’t keep doing the same thing.  Change course.  That’s certainly in order now that the Scottsdale City Council has again failed to reach consensus on a new City Manager, which is long overdue.

It’s confounding that the apparent direction from council is to go back to the same process and outside consultants that have failed before.  Will the third time really be the charm?  We think not.

So here are some people and procedures that should be considered so this embarrassing saga for Scottsdale doesn’t continue.  The city’s leaders need to remember this is Scottsdale not Buckeye and act accordingly.  If you don’t like the people you’re being fed go recruit talent across Arizona and the country that can easily be identified to you.  Baseball teams don’t outsource General Manager searches to human resources.  Their owners and presidents identify and recruit.  The same should be done now by a subcommittee of the council that has yet to coalesce around one candidate.  This search committee might be made up of Mayor Lane, Councilwoman Korte and Councilman Phillips, each members of the conflicting caucuses.  Fritz Behring was a City Manager hired by acclimation.  It shouldn’t be this difficult.

Absent this new process go back to people that have well served the city in the past, or who could in the future.  People like Lisa Collins, Dan Worth, Dick Bowers or Topeka, Kansas City Manager Jim Colson who was passed over previously.

The city is badly in need of a permanent City Manager.  And badly in need of changing the way it’s going about it.


Part II:  Special Event Funding

In 2010 Scottsdale voters wisely chose to slightly increase hotel taxes to better fund Scottsdale tourism.  Part of those funds are dedicated to assisting new events become the next Barrett-Jackson, Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show or Waste Management Phoenix Open.  Results have been mixed, as can be expected of any new program.

But one recent approval should be repulsive to all.

Upon a recommendation from the Tourism Development Commission the Scottsdale City Council approved $82,500 for the azcentral Food & Wine Festival.  Notwithstanding there are 9,000 such festivals around Arizona (and this one is owned by USA Today & Arizona Republic who hardly need promotional help) the event was held in 2015 at Scottsdale Fashion Square.  But for its 2016 event held last weekend it decided to move to Salt River Fields.  The audacity to ask for Scottsdale monies as it exited the community is almost impressive if it weren’t infuriating. Unbelievably, a commission and council indulged.  Furthermore, the event was taking place on the exact same weekend the same groups decided to apporppriate $60,000 for the “Grand Prix” in downtown Scottsdale.  Notwithstanding the paucity of that event why would any Scottsdale leader subsidize an event outside of Scottsdale to compete with one it was contemporaneously funding in downtown?

Scottsdale has been duly recognized for being an effective run government.  This is an exception to the rule and should not happen again.

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alex-3Who is Jason Alexander? No, not the actor who played the neurotic yet lovable George Constanza on the hit sitcom Seinfeld. Who exactly is the man who has burst onto the local political scene, leading the charge against the Desert Discovery Center in North Scottsdale? He just makes it so difficult to join his crusade, even though we were staunch opponents of the DDC long before he was.

By all appearances, he appears to be a regular Scottsdale dude. He’s a “Senior QA Architect with 20 years of experience in software development and quality assurance for agile development teams.”

He also seems like a good father who’s also an outdoor enthusiast who enjoys biking, hiking and partaking in outdoor activities all across Arizona, but specifically in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. As someone who presents himself as a lover and defender of Scottsdale and the Preserve, it’s no wonder that he’s become the leader of NO DDC.

Further examination, however, reveals a hypocritical individual who may not really care for Scottsdale residents and the community he lives in. Since 2007, Alexander has kept a pretty active blog with vignettes of parenting and day-to-day life. In addition to these funny stories though, readers get a glimpse into why he’s full of contradictions.

In numerous posts throughout the years, Alexander refers to the city of Scottsdale as “Snottsdale," here, here and here.  A Princeton-educated computer engineer who is no doubt familiar with a keyboard, Alexander’s denigration of the city’s name can’t be anything but intentional due to the fact that the “C” key and “N” key are not very close to one another.

His dislike of the city isn’t limited to altering the name of the city in his posts. In other blog posts, Alexander also insults city employees and staff. In one, Alexander compares the lifeguards at the McDowell Mountain Ranch Aquatic & Fitness Center to “Hitler youth” because they enforce rules that ensure everyone, including Alexander’s two children, enjoys the pool safely. In another post, Scottsdale land managers are called asshats” and “eveeeil because while doing their jobs, they bulldozed a small hill on Gateway Loop, which Alexander liked to use for biking.

On top of this dislike for all things Scottsdale, Alexander appears to dislike Scottsdale residents, including the very same people who most likely form the basis of support for his NO DDC group. While writing on the problems of biking and distracted drivers, Alexander calls Scottsdale drivers dumbass egocentric North Snottsdale trash. In another post on his love of being active and outside, Alexander pokes fun at Scottsdale retirees who aren’t as active as he and writes that these retirees have mostly gotten here by indoor jobs . Showing disdain for those who enjoy the trails in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Alexander writes about a particularly intense bike ride and why he enjoyed it so much. Looks like he loved this bike ride due to the fact that there were “No nimby HOAs, no dodging herds of slack-jawed hikers around Sunrise and Lost Dog…”. In recent months, these residents, slack-jawed hikers, and retirees who are the object of his derision have become his allies. Maybe they’d resist doubling down on supporting his cause if they knew what he really thinks of them?

Alexander, who according to his blog, used to live in Legislative District 19, also demonstrates an apparent dislike for Mormons and members of Arizona’s active LDS community. In a post deriding Arizona’s stringent DUI laws, which are meant to keep the community safe from impaired drivers, Alexander describes writing to Mesa legislators State Senator Chuck Gray and Representatives Kirk Adams and Rich Crandall about why Arizona’s DUI laws are too stringent. When he fails to get a response from them, he posts that the letters won’t do any good when “all 3 legislators are Mormon, very very overtly Mormon”. He goes on to write that he believes that these legislators are “using political offices to promote a morality” and quips that due to their actions, he had to “seriously think about moving to Colorado, or at least Scottsdale.” Finally, he writes, “I will not vote for a Mormon legislator again, period.  I haven’t in years based legitimately on different politics, but this is now my single-issue.”.

Most quizzical of all is Alexander’s own political endorsements and views, which don’t jive with who he supports now. On explaining why he campaigned in support of Effie Carlson for her state legislative bid in 2014, Alexander writes that he and his wife were a part of “the last band of sane people in AZ LD23, standing against the Armies of Whiteness,” and writes that residents of Fountain Hills are “a bunch of scared white people, responding to a wingnut who sprouts teabaggery”. We can only assume that the “wingnut” he’s referring to is Jay Lawrence, but guess who else could be that individual? You guessed it: none other than Alexander’s supposed Preserve savior, Bob Littlefield, who was also running for that seat in 2014.

Not only does Alexander offend members of Arizona’s active Latter Day Saints community, but he also uses one of the English language’s most derogative terms in a joking and “comical” manner in numerous posts. That’s rarely wise for an Anglo. In one post while describing his reaction to an occasion when his wife spilled soda in his vehicle, he writes, “…I only yelled once when my wife spilled cherry soda all over the car. Cherry m*thafuggin soda IN.THE.CAR! Give a n*gga a break!!”. In another blog post where he criticizes Arizona’s inconsistent distracted driver laws, he writes, “N*ggaz was ready ta loot, bust caps off in dumbass egocentric North Snottsdale trash…”.  In a final post, Alexander criticizes in-car breathalyzers and again refers to himself with this vile term: I wanted to to yank the damn thing out of the car, but that anger lasted about 10 seconds til i forced the numbness back over me. Much better than looking at the calender and chafing. this is how n*ggaz do hard time.”

So who really is Jason Alexander? We may never know, but it seems that he may not really love Scottsdale after all. To form this contradictory viewpoint of how he loves and embraces his community, Scottsdale’s Alexander may have just adopted a mantra from Seinfeld’s Alexander, who playing the role of George Costanza once said, “Jerry. Just remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it.”

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