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Many of us remember Bob Schuster as an editor for the East Valley Tribune. Bob is retired, but he is offering some sage advice to the current generation of writers and editors at the Arizona Republic. In a letter to the editor, Bob takes the Republic to task for the way it is covering the school choice issue and an apparent bias in favor of school choice opponents.

Here is that letter as it appears in the Republic:

The media are showing their biases again in schools debate

By Bob Schuster, Mesa

Could we please get more even-handed coverage of Proposition 305, the school voucher referendum on the November ballot?

If the editorial board opposes the expansion of school choice to parents who prefer a private education for their children – including at religious-based schools – then please keep those opinions where they belong: on your Editorial pages.

Instead, we’re greeted by regular diatribes on page 3 – a “news” page – by Laurie Roberts decrying “dark money bazillionaires” wanting to rob public schools of badly needed dollars to help fat cats send their kids to fat cat private schools.

Then on another “news” page, reporter Yvonne Wingett Sanchez tells us that Save Our Schools, which is trying hard to kill Prop. 305, is a “grassroots” group.

Sounds like David versus Goliath.

Actually, there are several Goliaths on each side, just as there are lots of “grassroots” regular folks on each side.

Gov. Ducey long has advocated expanding school choice in Arizona, and it’s not surprising he has close ties with the Koch brothers, who also back school choice and have the deep pockets that help sell the school-choice message.

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There is a fascinating debate occurring in Paradise Valley.  It’s the ultimate trash talk.  In other words, should the tony town move to a single provider of trash or continue with the existing system of some 5 providers?

As Mayor Michael Collins has observed things must be pretty good when this is the subject de jour.

Interestingly, it’s an argument that’s largely been settled across  America and Arizona.  About 90% of cities and town use a single provider because the economies of scale result in lower rates, fewer trucks,  less pollution, less noise and overall a more coherent approach to sanitation.

Yet, Paradise Valley has never adopted such a reform largely in the name of “limited government.”

So, as commentators of “Smart Opinion. Mostly Right,” let’s look at that philosophical approach a bit more.

First, HOAs in Paradise Valley, including those lived in by Councilman Paul Dembow and others, most often use one trash company because by pooling their homeowners they have greater buying power.  And besides a lower rate they can negotiate they also get less truck impact on their community.

So why is it OK for HOAs to have this ability but the other 80% of individual homeowners cannot?  Why can’t and shouldn’t they be able to pool together, like HOAs, to create maximum buying power for lower rates and a better overally environmental impact?  Right now there’s no way to do that in Paradise Valley.  Under the proposed change they would.

Pooling is at the heart of the Republican approach to health care. The more companies and individuals can join together the more ability they have to negotiate better packages, including across state lines.

So when it comes to limited government Republicans in our nation’s capitol adopt the approach Paradise Valley is considering when it comes to health care.  So why not trash PV GOP?

Opponents of a single-hauler system also talk a lot about choice.  That is, homeowners should be able to choose any provider they want when it comes to trash service.  We get and appreciate that point of view.  But people don’t get such a selection when it comes to ambulance service, photo radar, towing or police and fire service.  That train has already left the station.  But when it comes to the current proposal what choice is really lacking?  Residents can still get once or twice a week trash, multiple cans and recycling.  In fact, town staff has even negotiated MORE choices with the future service to also provide things like Christmas tree disposal, household hazardous waste and shredding that aren’t currently available for most.  So the issue really isn’t “choice?” It’s whose name is on the truck.  Let us repeat that.  It’s whose name is on the truck.  This is a key point that has been made by former Councilwoman Jini Simpson.  And in the end, is the name on the truck a philosophical mooring more important than lower costs, fewer trucks and all the other quality of life benefits a reformed system would provide? Do any of us really care who made the school bus or who operates it so long as children get safely to school?

This leads us to former Paradise Valley Town Councilman Dan Schweiker.  At a town event earlier this week he stunned the audience by announcing his support for the change.  In stints previous on council Schweiker was single hauler’s biggest opponent. But he now believes town staff has injected sufficient and substantial choice into service.  Schweiker’s opinion culiminated an event where some 90% of those in attendance also stated support for single-hauler.  But it was Schweiker, along with former Mayor Ed Winkler’s support, that became the exclamation mark on the topic.  Going into the meeting one could have waged a better bet that Donald Trump would give up Twitter than Schweiker his opposition to single-hauler.

And that leads us to another Great Scott! moment.  In his 2016 campaign for Paradise Valley Town Council Scott Moore had this to say in the Paradise Valley Independent about a possible change away from the town’s trashy approach to a single hauler.

“This solution keeps us out of the trash business and helps reduce daily noise, reduces safety concerns and helps minimize our annual asphalt and street maintenance costs by having less trucks on a daily basis. Residents are expected to see a reduction in fees based on the size of the contract with the town.All  of this could be accomplished without creating more overhead or government.”

 

But after receiving a few emails generated by a special interest garbage hauler that didn’t even bother to bid on the contract Moore seems to be singing a different tune. JFK wrote a book called “Profiles in Courage.” Moore should read it lest he wants moore cost, moore pollution, moore noise, moore accidents, moore wear and tear on the roads and moore failure on this topic to be his legacy with it.

Arizona, and Paradise Valley, are great places because one can pretty much wear flip flops all year long. But that doesn't mean they can't be a fashion faux paus in the winter, especially now for Moore, as they are so politically unbecoming.

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There’s a member of the Town Council in Paradise Valley named David Sherf.  A successful hotel consultant he’s the kind of person who exudes ethics when you meet him. The kind of person any community from Buckeye to Arizona’s toniest town would want to have on its governing body.

Sherf didn’t find politics.  It found him.  Originally appointed to the Town Council he went outside his comfort zone to run and win election to the post to which he was appointed.

He didn’t long to stay, instead deciding not to seek re-election.  But then Maria Syms resigned her council spot after an impressive run for the Arizona House of Representatives.  Sherf became a logical replacement, even though a well-known politician named Andy Kunasek wanted the gig.  But we’ll get to that relevancy later on.

Sherf again offered himself for service, gaining the appointment over Kunasek.

Not bound by the standard calculus of a politician, Sherf set off on an emancipated path, including solving, finally solving, the only thing Paradise Valley doesn’t organize real well:  trash service.

Anyone would and should feel grateful to live in 85253, until one has to experience the orgy of trucks and trash that flail away at the community’s quality of life, day in day out, morning after morning.

It’s not just a comedy of errors. It’s an erratic and highly unusual approach to local governance not shared by the vast majority of communities in Arizona, or America.

Noise.  Pollution.  Higher costs.  Ripped up roads.  More accidents.  Libertarians love it in much the same way they argue for lackadaisical anything.

But not Sherf.  He, and other councilmembers, have brought forth a proposal to end the mayhem with a semblance of community order.

But vested special interests don’t like it.  The companies and beneficiaries of the chaos have engaged in a deceitful campaign designed to spook Sherf and others from abandoning their interest in bringing some order to the galaxy. Fortunately, Sherf has stood tall and stood on the side of the taxpayer and quality of life.  He’s stood on the side of a proposal that would see the Road Warrior-like system of gas guzzling vehicles in town reduced to a single provider.  A single provider the town negotiated with through a competitively bid process to ensure that the vast majority of residents see their rates drop from an average of about $50 per year, with some even seeing rate cuts of 50% of more.  And few if any would see rates increases including HOAs or individuals as the winning bidder has pledged to honor existing rates or better deals for the life of its contract with the Town.   Additionally, ates are set for seven years with only a 3.5% annual increase.  So much for the monopoly means higher rates argument.

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Nothing beats sitting at a ballpark on a sunny day, watching your favorite team with a hot dog and ice cold beer in hand. This has become a symbolic scene in American culture and a tradition Peoria Sports Complex celebrates as it kicks off its 25th year.

In 1994, Peoria Sports Complex became the first dual-team spring training facility in the country and with it an economic surge for the West Valley.

According to recent statistics, 67% of tourists stated spring training as their primary reason for visiting Arizona, according to a study conducted by the Cactus League Baseball Association. Arizona welcomed over 1.7 million fans last year alone. And, the economic impact to Arizona in 2015 alone was $809 million. 

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While U.S. Rep Martha McSally has not formally announced her campaign for the Senate seat, being vacated by Jeff Flake, another strong indication of her pending candidacy came last Thursday when a fellow Republican announced she is launching a campaign for The Congressional District 2 House seat.

Lea Marquez-Peterson’s long speculated campaign for Congress is a go. And that’s a great thing for the Arizona GOP.

Since redistricting, District 2 has been a top target for both Republicans and Democrats. In the past two decades, being a moderate has been the key to winning in McSally’s district, often flipping back and forth between the two major parties.

Marquez-Peterson is the next formidable candidate to shake up the 2018 election.

She’s called southern Arizona home for about 40 years and she’s been a Republican all of her adult life.

She has a high profile in the Latino community serving as CEO and President of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

She offers a combination of conservative ideals while giving a voice to minority communities. That combination will play well in District 2, and is a direction we hope the Republican Party will head more in general as opposed to the nationalist tilt of late.

Over the years, Marquez-Peterson has become a close ally of Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and some speculate she’ll have support from GOP power players such as car dealer Jim Click.

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As emerging cases of sexual harassment and sexual assault dominate national and local news, the dialogue is shifting towards victims’ inability to discuss abuse, commonly citing confidentiality agreements as the problem. However, Arizona may hopefully be positioning to change this.

State Representative Maria Syms, a Republican from Paradise Valley, is saying enough is enough.

Last week Syms proposed legislation that would make confidentiality agreements regarding sexual harassment and sexual assault essentially ‘unenforceable’. Confidentiality agreements, also referred to as the ‘sexual predator loophole’, prevent victims from speaking out against their abusers.

By addressing confidentiality agreements, the state is sending a message to sexual predators that officials and institutions can’t buy their way out of criminal responsibility by silencing victims through contracts.  

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By the Goldwater Institute

How the Bureaucrats Stole Christmas
November 25, 2017

Every year, Lee Sepanek’s Christmas display brings joy to Phoenicians, who visit to enjoy the glistening decorations and sip the hot chocolate he serves them.

But not this year. Thanks to Phoenix bureaucrats, Lee has been forced to cancel the show.

The trouble started this summer, when the city warned him he was in violation of its Mobile Food Vending Ordinance, even though he isn’t operating any kind of “mobile” facility. He doesn’t even charge for the cocoa — he just asks for donations. But the city says its rules are broad enough to prohibit even giving away cocoa — made from hot water and powdered mix — from your driveway.

Officials told Lee he “would need to find a licensed commissary kitchen as a ‘base’ to store, clean and prep any open food,” and that he would have to get a “special event/seasonal permit,” requiring fees and “inspections onsite.” They also complained that Lee was selling Christmas ornaments, arguing that violates Phoenix’s rules against having a “home occupation.”

After local news exposed Lee’s story, the city indicated it might budge, but it’s too late. Even if city officials changed their minds, Lee couldn’t get the lights up in time for Christmas. The Goldwater Institute has stepped in to represent Lee and help get his legendary lights get turned back on.

We’re also working on an even larger problem. Across Arizona, local governments are trying to shut down home-based businesses, violating private property rights and harming economic opportunity. The Goldwater Institute is joining with the Free Enterprise Club to urge state lawmakers to broaden protections for home-based businesses.

In Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” Ebenezer Scrooge questions the Ghost of Christmas Present about laws that forced Londoners to close their stores on holidays — which, Scrooge says, essentially deprived them of income. Why, Scrooge asks, should the Ghost “cramp these people’s opportunities of innocent enjoyment?”

Shocked, the Ghost says he did no such thing — that was done by people who act “in our name” but who don’t really get the Christmas spirit. It’s sad to think Phoenix officials have a poorer understanding of the holidays than Scrooge.

Liberty in the News

  • Watch your inbox on Giving Tuesday, November 28! It’s the day when millions of Americans give back in a variety of ways—with their time, their talents, and their money—in a truly heartening nationwide display of voluntarism. The Goldwater Institute’s president and CEO Victor Riches will have a special message about how you can double the impact of your giving to the Goldwater Institute.
  • Putting four children through college would be a challenge for most families. But there’s a new policy working its way through Washington that just might help. The Goldwater Institute’s Jonathan Butcher explains how Congress is considering expansion of 529 college savings plans to allow parents to save for a child’s K-12 education, as well as college expenses.
  • More than five million Americans are now living with Alzheimer’s disease, and that number is expected to skyrocket. But there's something Congress can do right now to help, and it won’t cost a dime. Read about how Right to Try can give patients a path to seek promising treatment.
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Rumor has it two complaining City of Phoenix employees, possibly in the City Attorney’s Office, are to blame for ending one of Arizona’s most spectacular Christmas displays.

(Here is a link a recent story on AZ Central. )

They purportedly moved into the Arcadia neighborhood that’s hosted the lights put up by  Lee Sepanek for some 30 years, and didn’t like the enthusiasm the public has for those who believe that Christmas time is a celebration of all that is good and right with the world.  They apparently don’t realize that for many families this as close as they ever get to the North Pole.

The result? The sad, front-page article in the November 16th Arizona Republic.

This is government at its worst, and its most hypocritical, led by the muted Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton.  Never known as a leader Stanton’s silence on the issue is notable, even more so because he used to represent the homeowners while a mere mortal on the Phoenix City Council.

Just up the street Stanton doesn’t seem to mind the owners of the Wright House which routinely hold major events not with marsh mellows and cocoa but caviar and booze.  And they don’t do so just around the holidays, The Wright House entertains so all year long.

Why the double standard?

To listen to the Sepaneks is like listening to a child let down by Santa Claus.

Let’s hope a reindeer soon shows up to light a better way for a neighborhood and city that should be celebrating Saint Nick, not grinching out to a bunch of not so saintly dicks.

 

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By Scottsdale City Councilman David Smith

Today I am announcing my candidacy for a second term to represent you on the Scottsdale City Council.  I am proud of Scottsdale and passionate about participating in our city's future.

When voters elected me in 2014, many only knew me from the years I served as Scottsdale's City Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer.  I offered voters proven financial experience, a record of fiscal integrity and a vision that apparently resonated with many of my fellow citizens.  I promised, if elected, I would be their voice to...

  • Ensure the fiscal sustainability of our city, spending your tax dollars wisely and for your benefit,
  • Protect and enhance the financial investment you have in our city by protecting and enhancing our quality of life,
  • Preserve our heritage, building on the special place called Scottsdale, and
  • Pursue visions for the future as bold as the visions of the past to distinguish us from other cities.

Now I have a record of providing keen financial and business analysis to the issues that come before Council.  I've searched for the facts and diligently listened to citizen voices on all sides of the issues.

Consider whether my leadership has represented your interests:

  • Ensuring our city's fiscal sustainability is still my most important initiative.  As a city, we have "kicked the can down the road" on major liabilities for too many years.  Capital reinvestment in our infrastructure continues to be less than depreciation, as it has every year since 2008.  As a member of the Council's newly formed Subcommittee on Capital Investments, I am working to develop long-term, sustainable solutions to recommend to the full Council
  • Protecting and enhancing your financial investment and quality of life has influenced positions I've taken regarding tourism, economic growth and development.  I have championed tourism, arguing for every initiative that promotes this vital industry, as well as arguing against initiatives that threaten to undermine it.  As a 35-year resident in different parts of the city, I look for development projects that protect and benefit our community at large.
  • Preserving our heritage and building on the special place we call home has guided my views on development, but also influenced my positions on tax reform.  I have argued for eliminating our sales tax on groceries.  To be known as a special place, with a heritage of caring for our neighbors, we should not be imposing the most unfair tax any city can levy on its citizens.
  • Pursuing visions for the future as bold as the visions of the past is an important responsibility of any Council.  I picked up where previous Councils left off and voted to authorize the study of an educational, interpretative and research center (referred to at the time as a Desert Discovery Center.)  We needed to define what this vision could add to the unique character of our city and what it would cost to build and operate.

The study was completed this summer and now Council is tasked with deciding whether this is a vision we want or can afford.  Large groups of citizens are speaking excitedly (for and against) this project, based on its purpose, location, cost to build and cost to operate.

Some of my colleagues propose to immediately refer the question to a public vote.  As your elected representative, I accept responsibility to search for solutions that are financially prudent, improve the cachet of our city and support tourism.  That's a tall order, but I believe that's what you expect from your Councilmembers.

My first-term votes on Council were often in the minority, but many of you have encouraged me to continue making my voice (our voices!) heard on the issues affecting our community.  I commit to provide strong financial leadership and oversight, always mindful that I am spending your money.

If my positions on City Council have aligned with your vision for Scottsdale, I hope you will support my candidacy for another term.  To mount a successful campaign, I will need...

  • 1,000 petition signatures to qualify for the ballot.  The sooner we qualify, the sooner we can focus our attention on issues.
  • Supporters willing to declare their position by displaying campaign support signs in their front yards or windows.  (In 2014, I pledged not to clutter public rights-of-way with campaign signage and I make that pledge again!) 
  • Leaders willing to host neighborhood gatherings that give me an opportunity to discuss city issues with a broader audience.
  • And, financial support.  An early report of strong fund-raising from a broad array of supporters will send a powerful message to the community.

Electing members of City Council is an opportunity for every citizen to select the voices that best represent their vision of our great city.  Next fall, you will have the opportunity to vote for three Councilmembers; I would be honored to again receive one of your three votes.

David N. Smith

Scottsdale City Council

2018 Candidate for Re-election

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In years past “ambulance chasers” was a derogatory description that could find its way to certain lawyers or law firms.  Here in the Phoenix area the term was often associated with the Goldberg & Osborns of the legal profession.  But we appear to have a new gold medalist:  The Frutkin Law Firm.

In the great new age of social media there’s no need for the Frutkins of the world to actually go chase the wounded in ambulances and pass out cards at the hospital.  Instead, they can just monitor headlines and prey on the gullible, as it appears they are doing with those interested in violating private property rights and “saving” the former Chinese Cultural Center near Sky Harbor Airport.

Look at this GoFundMe campaign they are promoting.  https://www.gofundme.com/save-the-chinese-cultural-center.  Basically, it’s a beg for up to $300,000 in legal fees for  quixotic, long-shot claims that were bounced out of court earlier this month.  What’s even sadder than the legal effort is the amount of money raised to date, just over $4,1000.

But perhaps that’s a good thing so it prevents other legal voyeurs from doing likewise.  And with behavior like this it makes all the more clear why such a law firm sought to change its name earlier this year from the last name of the principals to something called Radix.  That’s a technique tobacco companies and pay day lenders have used. How appropriate as we get closer to Halloween.  A law firm and its losing ways that is all trick and no treat for the Chinese community, or for the state’s clear property rights laws.

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