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The business story of Chandler, Arizona over the past couple of decades is a compelling one.  Big jobs at big (and small) technology companies.

There are many explanations for the city’s success.  But there is one not often discussed.

It’s spelled A-P-S, as in Arizona Public Service. APS_logo_2011

The company’s avaricious attitude toward rooftop solar over the past year has been well understood and documented.  But its poor reputation among big energy users, especially those in high-tech, has not been.

To say these large energy consumers dislike the utility monopoly is an understatement, and a key reason they have concentrated in the utility territory of Salt River Project, where energy prices are lower and the corporate attitude isn’t to treat Arizona businesses merely as a carcass to prey upon.

Enter Chandler.  Benefit Chandler.

The disdain for APS and problems the monopoly presents for economic development efforts was a key reason some of Arizona’s largest employers endorsed efforts by the Arizona Corporation Commission to entertain more energy choice and competition in 2013, before those deliberations were curtailed.  While deregulation was short-circuited, ongoing concerns for what APS is doing to hinder economic development for cities within its territory have not been.

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In fact, the Republican Primary for Attorney General may be the ugliest race of any election year in Arizona history. And we are basing that solely on how ugly it already is here in 2013. Familiar faces, familiar tactics, hypocrisy by the boatload, and two candidates who are likely to get lost in all of the mud. Oh yes, and a Democrat nominee hoping all of this comes to pass.

The offending group is the ironically named Arizona Public Integrity Alliance. Don’t bother trying to find out who is paying for their work because their donors are secret. Their Vice President and spokesperson is Tyler Montague who, when we last saw him, was working with liberal bomb-thrower and racial demagogue Randy Parraz to recall conservative Republican Russell Pearce and replace him with Jerry Lewis.

Their target is Republican Attorney General Tom Horne. Their tactic is smear. They want you to know that Tom Horne has been accused of having an affair, was accused of giving jobs to “cronies”, was investigated by the FBI, and took campaign contributions from law firms who do business with the AG’s office.

They are spending a lot of money on ads and mailers designed to soften up Horne before the Republican primary and, to avoid campaign finance laws, they are disguising their attacks as issue ads in support of a newfound agenda to pass two reforms to the AG’s office. One of their early ads has already had to be pulled and redone because it was proven factually inaccurate.

What isn’t clear is if they simply hate Horne, they want to elect his Republican challenger Mark Brnovich, or they want to elect the Democrat candidate Felicia Rotellini. Because AZPIA’s donors are secret, we can’t know where their money is coming from. But Montague’s history of working with Democrats to elect more liberal candidates is well established, and the AZPIA’s attacks are basically rehashes of the Democrat Party’s talking points about Horne.

Republicans across Arizona are rightfully worried about Horne losing the general election to Rotellini in 2014. But they are ignoring that Horne has a largely solid record as AG and that Arizona remains a solidly red state. Rotellini and her allies outspent Horne and his allies in 2010 and he won anyway. It is quite probable that a united Republican Party would be able to defend Horne’s office in 2014. But smear campaigns fronted by Republicans and funded by dark money a year before the election promises to muddy both Republican candidates to the point where neither can recover. Then Arizonans will get to see what Chicago style politics really look like with Rotellini in charge.

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The Chicago Cubs are unquestionably the crown jewel of the Cactus League, and all that spring training means economically to our state.

But will the Cubs be an asset or liability in the 2014 Republican primary contest for Governor?

A little history first.

Following the 1992 elections then Congressman Jon Kyl opted to run for the United States Senate, creating a highly desirable congressional opportunity for aspiring Arizona politicians.

The clear, early favorite in the race was Jim Bruner, a former Scottsdale City Councilman and Chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

But the unforeseen happened along the way. Former Phoenix Suns’ owner Jerry Colangelo, fresh off an NBA Finals appearance, made a play for a franchise and a stadium that became the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chase Field. To get the franchise, he needed a new stadium funding plan. And that involved a majority of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors calling for a sales tax hike to fund the stadium.

Despite Colangelo’s popularity, the tax itself became wildly unpopular. Nevertheless, Jim Bruner voted for it, understanding what it could mean for Arizona. His political sacrifice was profound, eventually fading in his congressional race from frontrunner status to the bronze medal behind the eventual Congressman John Shadegg, and runner-up Trent Franks.

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So the City of Peoria wants neighboring Glendale to allow a new Indian gaming casino within its boundaries because it will create a lot of new jobs for the area.  But it doesn’t want to allow an aspiring business park, also in Glendale to put up outdoor billboards along the 101, to help do the same? 

This isn’t an opinion about the proposed casino, a subject we are agnostic about, until we are not. 

It is one about a potentially shameful act by Peoria Mayor Bob Barrett, aspiring mayoral replacements on the Peoria City Council and others there utilizing public resources to stymie private development in another city. 

For years competing cities engaged in competition for desirable businesses with tax breaks, offering huge subsidies to car dealers, shopping malls and big retailers.  Whoever gave away the most usually won. 

But thanks to the Goldwater Institute, former Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman, Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane and others like Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio the giveaway game is largely gone. 

Enter Peoria, Arizona. 

They say the city’s opposition to the billboard project in Glendale has nothing to do with anything other than protecting Peoria residents.  Of course there is hardly any impact on said residents and Peoria conspicuously feigns concern for these residents but not the others devastated, just devastated,  by blasted billboards in other parts of the city?  Judging from a recent azcentral.com survey on the matter they seem to be in the decided minority on the subject with only 23% of respondents sharing their opinion. 

Conspicuous indeed is what Peoria seems to be doing.  But thanks to sources within the City of Peoria itself embarrassed by the city’s audacity and the city’s own plans for billboards ACROSS THE STREET from the Glendale ones all becomes clearer. 

 You see, the City of Peoria is planning to use revenues from new billboards it wants to put along the Loop 101 to pay for new parking garages in its entertainment district.  And they believe Glendale’s boards could stymie those efforts.  The plot thickened at a recent Glendale Planning Commission when the West Valley’s Doctor of Dirt, Phil Hubbard, the City of Peoria’s former lobbyist, showed up organizing Peoria residents. 

 So rather than city’s using tax subsidies – which only kick in after a project lands in the city – we have the City of Peoria, Arizona overtly using public resources to stop a private sector development in another city for the sole purpose of squashing competition. 

Peoria is wrongfully opposing the Glendale proposal.  And the things being done by the representatives of the usually up-standing community are the most troubling signs of all, not what’s happening with its neighbor. 

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By George Cavalliere

As some of your readers may know we are the family that serves as the custodians of the Greasewood Flat and Reata Pass restaurant properties in the northern part of Scottsdale. Indeed, some of our family lives right on-site, too. What a privilege it’s been, welcoming tourists and local residents to our special place, just as my dad did for more than 90 years until his passing in 2009.

However, since the death of our family patriarch, and due to federal tax laws covering inheritances we have been facing substantial financial pressures, so much so that these matters had to be resolved in court. But recently they were resolved, we are pleased to report.

A local company, Taylor Morrison, was the winning bidder on the property. Why is this good news?

First, we have been very impressed by the company’s sincere commitment to our land. They care. They get what’s at stake and what’s the opportunity before them.

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*Wendy Rogers wins the GOP right to take on Congresswoman Sinema.  General election tighter than expected but the Ironwoman triumphs.  

*Martha McSally defeats Congressman Barber.

*Speaker Tobin narrowly wins a knife fight against upstart Gary Kiehne.  Wins close victory over Kirkpatrick in 2014 but can’t hold it with the presidential turnout in 2016. 

*Hallman’s money and tenacity capture GOP nod for State Treasurer and cruises to General Election win. 

*Corporation Commission:  Field too fluid to call right now. 

*Attorney General:  Stan Barnes, J.D. Hayworth and Barbara Barrett all couldn’t defeat vulnerable GOP incumbents.  Neither will Brnovich defeat Tom Horne despite significant assistance from outside parties.  Rotellini defeats Horne. 

*Secretary of State:  Up by 30 points in the polls right now Cardon’s margin will decrease as Michele Reagan becomes a media darling ala John McCain fighting for campaign finance reform in New Hampshire circa 2000.  Her rise related to rumor (and real?) “dark money” for long-shot candidate Justin Pierce.  But in the end can Cardon chop down Goddard?  Perhaps the most interesting race to watch in 2014. 

*Governor:  Mesa Mayor Smith has an “it” factor that could gain some traction, but without big, promised outside support from DMB not enough oxygen to track down Doug Ducey.  Ken Bennett steady throughout but lacks message and moxy to do much better than Claude Mattox performed as a well qualified candidate in City of Phoenix mayoral race.  Before the primary Vegas oddsmakers put it at 3:1 that Christine Jones’ head will explode with rage, like in the movie Scanners.  Andy Thomas gets the old Bert Tollefson vote.  Democrat Duval runs well but discovers like Cherny before him that Ducey too qualified, decent and likeable.  Governor Ducey. 

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When long-time Scottsdale businesswoman and community advocate Virginia Korte at long last decided to run for the City Council in 2012 her candidacy was rightfully lauded. 

A former Chamber of Commerce President, car dealer on McDowell Road and early champion for the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.  Impressive credentials indeed. 

Korte ran in great part on achieving big things for Scottsdale, perhaps suggesting it was a city no longer capable of so doing.  She won. 

While any person needs time to find their way once governing, we have been surprised by Korte’s policy paucity. 

Where are those “big ideas?”  Her campaign was right.  There is ample opportunity. 

The gallery district struggles but there has been few ideas and no leadership. 

McDowell Road, her old neighborhood?  Nada. 

But surely she would have been a champion for securing Barrett-Jackson and the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show at WestWorld for the long-term, as the new Tony Nelssen Equestrian Center assists?  She opposed it. 

Korte has shown a proclivity to spend more money on other stuff, even bulking up the recent city bond package that was trounced by voters. 

We don’t mean to be discouraging of Korte.  Just the opposite.  It’s like seeing a star player wander a bit in the first quarter of a basketball game.  Like Andrew Wiggins’ first half at Kansas this season, as college basketball fans might observe. 

The good news is that there is still time, a lot of it before she again stands for election. 

In stock terms we’re still bullish on that potential, even as we await those long promised big ideas. 

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We’d like to think he was merely forgetful.

But that would be generous considering how intellectually dishonest Arizona Republic columnist Robert Robb was today (Arizona Republic Dec. 20, 2013: When Glendale Was Boring)  in lampooning Glendale and basically any city striving for something more. It was the kind of audacity that doesn’t invoke anger but more of that chuckle and shake of the head because rarely is anyone quite that audacious.

Look, we can all agree local governments have made some good and bad decisions when it’s come to tax breaks, developments, shopping centers and sports facilities.

But to indict them all, as Robb did, without acknowledging that he once was the pied piper of the public trough is breathtakingly dishonest.

For example, Robb criticized developer Steve Ellman for proposing a hockey arena and retail development on the old Los Arcos Mall site, a vision that eventually landed in Glendale.

Robb failed to mention that on the same day in 1999 Ellman’s project was approved by Scottsdale voters by the largest margin in American history for a sports facility election (63%-37%), Robb was the chief flack for the biggest tax increase in Mesa history. For what you may ask? A boondoggle plan for the Arizona Cardinals new football stadium, a convention center and a few partridges in a pear tree. It was shellacked at the polls.

Yet Robb now peppers all others with criticism?

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He's Back.

Ron Burgundy's cousin, Jim, gives us his take on all things political in Arizona. Check out his video.

 

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When did suburbia become a dirty word? It must have been some time ago because people have been bashing the suburbs and the people who live there for decades. It’s fashionable to sneer, snicker, and sanctimoniously prattle on about how the suburbs lack diversity and culture; how they cause sprawl; and how they are bad for the environment.

I’ve had enough. A few weeks ago some snarky professor from Columbia University was on NPR saying that suburbs are not sustainable and he proposed ending the mortgage tax credit claiming it was subsidizing the suburban lifestyle. He also claimed millennials are rejecting the suburbs in favor of city life because they know better than their parents and prefer not to own cars or a home in the suburbs.

This clichéd diatribe sent me over the edge. Here’s a simple concept: people move to the suburbs because it’s pleasant. Because for many people owning a quarter acre of land, a 25 hundred square foot home, and a two car garage beats the hell out a cramped apartment in the middle of the city where parking is a privilege, silence is scarce, and the nearest cactus is at a botanical garden or a public park. Historic neighborhoods have their charm, but so do sparkly new neighborhoods with their own little parks, manicured landscaping, and brand new shopping centers.

We don’t all live downtown because we all don’t want to live downtown.

Downtown Phoenix is a great place to visit, but on a hot summer day I prefer not to be greeted by the smell of diesel fumes and dumpsters.

Is it really wrong to crave a backyard, a pool, and a few cacti? Am I a war criminal because I prefer to drive to work? Am I a Neanderthal because the only way I can afford vaulted ceilings and a tile entry is to live in tract housing?

As for subsidizing the suburbs, how many projects get a helping hand from the government because of ‘urban renewal.’ How about that light rail system that makes it easier to travel around downtown? How about the endless government buildings that are constructed, expanded or renovated downtown? How about ASU’s Downtown Campus?

And when our professor friend points out that millennials don’t live in the suburbs, maybe it’s because they’re broke because of this lousy economy; or perhaps they’re paying off student loans so that universities can afford to employ sanctimonious professors, or build lavish downtown campuses.

I love downtown Phoenix. I just don’t want to live there. And I’m tired of taking heat for it. I have nothing against people who live downtown. But doing so doesn’t make you more moral, or superior, or Mother Theresa. It just means you like to live in the city. Good for you.

So forgive me as I shop at JC Penny’s, eat at TGI Fridays, cut my lawn, clean my pool, and keep my car running. It’s a pretty good lifestyle, and if any of you ‘proud urban dwellers’ have a problem with that then you can kiss my suburban ass.

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