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Did Republicans just ignore all of the headlines over the years about disgraced former Congressman Rick Renzi who was found to abuse his position while in office for real estate gains? barney

We ask because of the Arizona Republic headline today raising similar questions about current Maricopa County Board Chairman Denny Barney (Maricopa County chairman in ethics flap). While many Republicans don’t like the Republic, the story reminds us of the import of the fourth estate, especially robust investigative journalism. We digress as we necessarily observe who will be there to shed light on that which was done today if larger media goes away? This blog? Other bloggers? A motley crew on Facebook? Back to our premise.

Barney achieved the near impossible in 2012. Running as a rookie for a coveted seat abandoned by Fulton Brock he ran unopposed. That’s because of the regard the marketplace had for Barney personally, his family and his promise.

Surely his constituents thought the youthful Barney mature enough to avoid the kind of problems described today in which he apparently nudged Maricopa County staff to resolve issues that were costing his development project money.

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As we are about to enter the 2014 campaign season television advertisements and flyers will flood mailboxes and airwaves. They will emphasize many words and messages. But nary a one will tout “wisdom.” They should.

Allow us to explain using the example of Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.bill-montgomery-professional

Readers are surely familiar with former Maricopa County Andy Thomas’ travails. And they may have read Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts (click here) as well as the paper’s editorial (click here). Both questioned the prosecutorial wisdom of current Attorney General Tom Horne and what amounted to rather paltry charges in his office’s pursuit of former Fiesta Bowl lobbyist Gary Husk. Readers are probably familiar with other reasons General Horne’s conduct can be questioned as well. And while many Republicans don’t love yet another former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley, they will still recognize him as a straight shooter. So when he calls Horne’s ethics and conduct into question it is noteworthy.

This all leads us to Andrew Thomas’ successor Bill Montgomery. Although only a practicing lawyer for about a decade he appears to have uncommon wisdom among recent Arizona prosecutors.

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Some politicians just want it too badly. They are just too obvious. Everyone who sees what they are doing knows what they are doing. Yet these same politicians seem to have no idea that they aren’t fooling anyone.

Exhibit A for today is Arizona Secretary of State wannabe Michele Reagan.

For years she has wanted to be elected to statewide office, especially Secretary of State. Facing a daunting primary challenge just to retain her State Senate seat, Reagan decided that 2014 was the perfect time to run for it. The only problem is that after more than a decade in the legislature, she really didn’t have much of a record to run on as related to the SOS office, and what record she was known for was left of center on a host of issues.

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Every community has critics. And that’s a good thing, especially in an age of a declining fourth estate. Their eyes, ears and energy can be just what’s needed to shine a light into some darker places. Scottsdale-Sign-547x198

But in Scottsdale activism has become its own art form, its own sport. While there are certainly problems in one of America’s best cities some of the criticism operates in an existential-like luxury of complaint – kind of like Peter Cook cheating on Christie Brinkley. He was lucky to be married to her before he wasn’t, like Scottsdale residents are fortunate to live where they do, until they don’t.

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From the Arizona Republic

A meme spreading across Facebook proclaims “My favorite part of winter ... is watching it on TV from Arizona.”
This has been a good week to watch winter from afar, as the polar vortex dropped harsh cold as far south as Mobile, Ala. The good people at the Arizona Tourism Authority were absolutely gleeful putting up a warehouse-tall advertisement showing a bikini-clad woman enjoying our state’s winter.
But it’s more than good weather. It’s the good the weather brings.

That begins Sunday, when the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction begins its annual run in Scottsdale with a trio of firsts. The auction moves into a permanent building, though it will still use the massive tent this year. It gets two hours of prime Saturday afternoon broadcast network coverage, on top of an extensive cable schedule. And it adds a bull riding event.
Credit auction owner Craig Jackson for keeping the auction fresh, giving people reason to come back year after year. Five other Valley auctions will sell fine cars throughout the week, to small audiences of strictly car enthusiasts. But you don’t have to know a Bugati from a Baracuda to enjoy Jackson’s auction. It’s an event, a celebration that attracted 300,000 people last year. With good weather, Jackson says he could hit 325,000 this year.

Some will go to see what a rare 1967 Corvette L88 sells for. (Jackson predicts between $3.5 million and $5 million.) Others will relive their childhoods getting a close look at the Hot Wheels “Snake” and “Mongoose” funny cars, being auctioned in a single lot with their haulers. (What will they sell for? Jackson shrugs. “It just takes two people,” he says.)

Still others will go for the fashion show, for the bull-riding event, for the chance to see celebrities auction cars for charity, for the expo that offers ultra sound systems, $6,000 bicycles and $2,000 cowboy boots.

The important thing is they choose to come to Arizona. Florida, Southern California, Hawaii, Costa Rica are just as pleasant this time of the year. So why come here?

To see something you cannot see anywhere else.
Jackson has expanded his auction to three other cities, and other companies stage auctions around the world. None tops the extravagance and the spectacle the Scottsdale auction offers.

The PGA hosts a golf tournament every winter weekend in a warm weather location. But no other boasts anything like the Phoenix Open’s 16th hole.

Half of Major League Baseball trains in Florida, where teams ask fans to drive three to five hours for road games. In Arizona, all the teams are less than an hour’s drive apart.

Those are powerful reasons for our frozen fellow citizens to choose Arizona for their winter escape. They fill our hotel rooms, our restaurants, our golf courses. They spend their money, keeping Arizonans employed and topping off city, county and state government treasuries. They allow us to get better services for lower taxes than we would without them.
So we’ll cheer when the bids on an Italian sportscar or American classic zips past $1 million, $2 million, $3 million.

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On Monday night Florida State defeated Auburn for the national college football championship. They did so on the final drive of the game, arriving in the red zone with just seconds left.  Football winners and losers are often decided by those who score when they get within 20 yards of the end zone, and those who do not.  Florida State did.

We hope the same now happens with efforts relating to Greasewood Flat.  In football terms, circumstance has now put efforts to keep or relocate the beloved bar squarely in the red zone. b6b4bc0fc67644f597c99da8db91d68b

The journey may be a bit involved, but it is looking a whole lot better than it was, and that befell Rawhide before it.

That’s because Greasewood Flat owners have been expressing an interest in relocating to a more authentic, rural location within the city as urban sprawl has closed in around them, infringing on the experience.  So unique is the experience it could likely continue to withstand the encroachment but if other, better alternatives are available why bother?  Why risk it?  After all, the family’s Reata Pass Restaurant was forced to close a couple of years ago, likely because guests no longer felt the authenticity that once was.  Reata Pass never seared the local or tourist conscience like Greasewood Flat or Rawhide.  The family has said it is not coming back and that is no great loss.  But a decade ago losing Rawhide to the Gila River Indian Community was.  And so it would be with Greasewood. Approving a new location for it should be unanimous and enthusiastic, not unlike what occurred for the new Mercedes-Benz of Scottsdale dealership that’s sprung to life across from Scottsdale Fashion Square. 

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As the hand wringing continues about Glendale’s investment in sports facilities there is an untold story of how the first domino in the form of a hockey arena might never have come to be. COG_Logo_Color

It’s a fascinating tale and one that would have taken a slice of Valley history through a different sliding door.

Following not one but two landslide elections in favor of locating an arena at Scottsdale and McDowell Roads voters probably expected their City Council to implement their wishes.  It was not to be with a disrespectful, divided council.

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If the City of Scottsdale was a private company it would have, and should have, sued numerous companies and cities for violating its intellectual property.

Because “Scottsdale” is a notable brand many others have appropriated it.

Consider the concentration of automobile dealers along Scottsdale Road near the Loop 101.  Their edifices even tout “North Scottsdale.”  Yet, that side of the road is actually in the City of Phoenix with car sales accruing revenues to it.

Then there is the Westin Kierland Resort also near Scottsdale Road.  It too brands itself as “Scottsdale.”  But it’s not. It’s Phoenix.

But the most egregious example of all may have been reported just today by the Arizona Republic. Here’s a link.

Its article described an acquisition of the Montelucia Resort and Spa in Paradise Valley, Arizona noting it will be renamed the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia.   Notwithstanding that mouthful the property sits some 3 miles from the closest Scottsdale border.  Three miles. 

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Fallen American solider Lori Piestewa was, is, and will always be a hero.  Period. She deserves to have any mountain named after her in Arizona.

But about a decade ago renaming Phoenix landmark Squaw Peak wasn’t just about honoring Ms. Piestewa.  It was about eliminating the name “squaw,” a derogatory term to most if not all Native Americans.

It became a priority of then Governor Janet Napolitano who owed her 2002 gubernatorial election to the strong get out the vote effort undertaken by the “21 tribes” that spent massively to pass Arizona’s Indian gaming ballot measure that November.

So committed to the name change was the Democratic governor that former strongman staffer Mario Diaz undertook, shall we say, some rather serious political maneuvering to get it done.  Aggressive or not that might have been the last effective political engineering by Diaz, but we digress.  And we are confused.

If the word “Squaw” to recognize a peak was so offensive then, and we still live in an age when there is a growing opposition to an NFL franchise retaining the name “Redskins,” why does Mayor Stanton and the City of Phoenix illuminati still permit “Squaw Peak Drive” in the mountain’s shadow?

There the sign sits, prominent, contradicting Piestewa Peak.

What say you Mayor Greg Stanton?  Councilman Michael Nowakowski?  Councilwoman Kate Gallego?  Councilwoman Laura Pastor?  Councilman Daniel Valenzuela?

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The late and legendary former Mayor of Scottsdale Herb Drinkwater decades ago dreamt what has indeed become true:  the WestWorld of Scottsdale area has become an epicenter for Valley activity.

Drinkwater lured the Phoenix Open to former boondocker country from comfy country club confines, Brewersand then convinced Barrett-Jackson to go north too.

Now, the country’s largest golf tournament, car auction and Arabian horse show all call the area home.  So does the wildly popular Ice Den as well as one of the finest residential communities built in America over the past three decades, DC Ranch.

Indeed, both Barrett-Jackson and the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show are set to move into the new $50 million Tony Nelssen Equestrian Center at WestWorld over the next two months, solidifying their place in the Northeast Valley for the foreseeable future.

Years prior to this pending fulfillment of Drinkwater’s vision Scottsdale was administered by a City Manager named Jan Dolan, best described as a municipal Cruella Deville.

Among her achievements was leading the charge at the height of the real estate market for Scottsdale to pay some $55 million to buy 80 acres from the Arizona State Land Department, at a time when she and council incoherence couldn’t quite figure out what to do with WestWorld.

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