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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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Once upon a time people named Pettycrew, Carla, Korte, Decabooter, Rau, Drinkwater, Manross, Campana and others sat around a Scottsdale table.  They had the audacity to not only dream of a McDowell Sonoran Preserve, but to make it happen.

Today, it stands as the community’s greatest accomplishment.

Paradise Valley is blessed to have similar landscapes.  They, like Scottsdale’s, define its very essence.  And as in Scottsdale the threat of too much development up high is causing certain Paradise Valley leaders to look more seriously at preserving more.

That’s why we applaud the action of Paradise Valley Town Councilwoman Julie Pace, cited for her leadership on the issue, among others, in this recent Paradise Valley Independent article. http://paradisevalleyindependent.com/news/town-council-has-eyes-for-hillside-preservation-in-paradise-valley/

But as noble as we think these steps we don’t think they go far enough. Reinvigoration of the Mummy Mountain Preserve Trust is a fine thing but it is an entity that relies on private donations to increase the community’s open space.  Past is prologue and this, ultimately, would be more pissing in the wind.

 

What’s called for is a town survey of all properties that might be included in preserve efforts.  There may be dozens and they may be pricey.  But the total costs for maximum preservation should be understood.  From there it can be determined how much of a sales tax increase is necessary, and for how long, to pay to acquire such lots.

 

No one should be scared of such a discussion because ultimately the question of if and how to fund such an endeavor would be left to voters, as occurred in Scottsdale.  And Telluride.  And Phoenix.  And countless other communities around the state and country that said open space and views were worth the price.

 

It’s well past time for Arizona’s toniest town to engage this debate.  After all, it does welcome all visitors to the community with impressive monument signage showcasing mountaintops, not roof tops.

 

Kudos to one of the new kids on the PV block for getting this important conversation underway.  Now it’s time to quicken the pace.

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by Desert EDGE Advocates

The Honorable Paul Messinger
The Seven Wonders of this Great Community
The accomplishments that separate Scottsdale from other Valley cities:
1. Modifying the Indian Bend Wash into a very successful flood control project and great open space and parks project
2. Scottsdale putting its electric utilities underground and requiring fire sprinkler systems in all buildings built shortly after its beginning
3. Our master planning of our community parks, open space and elimination of all billboards
4. WestWorld, with its major world-class and diverse events
5. Scottsdale’s performing arts center, contemporary art museum and Civic Center Mall
6. Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West – a world destination from the start
7. And our biggest City project, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and “desert discovery center” (now known as The Desert EDGE). . .coming soon!
Every project took years to do, as well as great amounts of our community treasure and effort. The McDowell Sonoran Preserve was already voted on by Scottsdale’s citizenry in the early 1990s – just lacking the construction of its desert discovery center – The Desert EDGE.

Ninety percent of the citizens who voted for the Preserve nearly 25 years ago – and who have been paying for it ever since – cannot access it. Only our City’s youth and those who are physically strong – those who hike, ride mountain bikes or who are able to ride the trails on horseback, are able to actually use the Preserve.

The Desert EDGE will serve the majority of Scottsdale’s population socially and educationally, as well as to tell our visitors about our type of desert. Many local families, as well, know very little about this country, which we call “home.”

Paul & Cora Messinger

Lois Drinkwater Thompson

Move Forward with The Desert EDGE
I would ask the mayor and city council proceed with the Desert EDGE project and not refer it for a public vote. My brother, Herb Drinkwater, would never have spent $500,000 on a vote when the project had already been approved. A small group of loud naysayers have tried to derail this project.

They have attacked any supporters including me when I tried to correct their facts. And, they don’t give the facts. They still have posted old information from a project from eight years ago. If these angry people want a vote, they can get public signatures for a referendum. That is how our system works.

Not trying to loudly force the Council into putting it on the ballot for them. The council needs to realize that we are a “silent majority” and want this benefit for the city of Scottsdale.

I know the Desert EDGE can be approved by the council and I would urge them to do so. It would be an incredible world class amenity for the city and would bring global attention to Scottsdale’s long-standing reputation for leadership in environmental sensitivity, sustainability and preservation. Desert EDGE is critical to the success of education in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. And, I say that as a former teacher and coach for over 34 years in the public school district.

Our immediate family has over 100 years of public education in Scottsdale and this would be a value to our school kids and teachers. A public vote is not required and a huge waste of my tax dollars.

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We don’t typically commend things Littlefield.  After all it’s been some 330 days sense Classless Bob Littlefield has failed to call and congratulate Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane on the latter’s landslide win last November.  Humility following political humiliation might have even been cathartic.

But the sins of the husband should not flow to Bob’s wife Kathy, a Scottsdale City Councilmember.

This past week she launched an effective broadside against the Desert Discovery Center, properly pushing it even further to the edge.  According to Littlefield’s guest column that ran in the Scottsdale Independent (here is a link) she even spent her own money to commission a public opinion survey on the project.  The results were in line with other private polling that’s been done.  Bottom line:  The Desert Discovery Center is a dead project walking.  Interestingly, Littlefield didn’t query whether citizens feel there should be a public vote on the project, a notion that is shared by some 90% of the electorate.

Proponents of the Desert Discovery Center when not ignoring public sentiment resort to their best James Madison suggesting that the rulers of the Scottsdale’s republic know best, and a public vote such a nuisance as to be unnecessary.

But isn’t a public vote how the spectacular McDowell Sonoran Preserve came to be in the first place?  Wasn’t its substantial margin of victory critical to solidifying the many difficult steps that were needed to make the vision a reality?  Indeed.  And a public vote should and must be utilized now as project proponents want to divert tens of millions of dollars from preserve maintenance and land acquisition to the Duplicative Desert (Botanical) Center.  

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*According to The Phoenix Business Journal U.S. Senator John McCain is working on a plan with Valley leaders to extend the Salt River’s “Rio Salado” experience and environment from Tempe to the West Valley.  If true and if successful it sure would be a lasting legacy to Arizona, and the man.

*Uncertainty reigns in the lead-up to Scottsdale City Council elections.  While incumbent Linda Milhaven looks like a sure thing to run again, undecided and close to the vest mark the current decision making status of incumbents Kathy Littlefield and David Smith as well as potential challengers Jason Alexander and Bill Crawford.

*Lancing a boil.  One of Paradise Valley’s most vexing development parcels, the “Town Triangle” located just off Scottsdale Road got the green light this week from the Planning Commission, a testament to creative planning by renowned local developers Geoffrey Edmunds and Rod Cullum.

*That Daniel Valenzuela, a humble firefighter, has evolved into the frontrunner in the Phoenix Mayor’s race is remarkable.

*It’s one thing to support Scottsdale’s Desert Discovery Center but it’s quite another to oppose a public vote on it, something about 90% of the electorate relays to pollsters they want.

*Marco Rubio is back in town on Monday, supporting a number of candidates including Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich.  A long shot who became a big shot after his upset win(s) in 2014 Brnovich has governed with notable sobriety, competence and judgment.  And it’s nice to see Rubio stepping up to help someone who helped him in 2016 as his presidential campaign chairman in Arizona.

 

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Phoenix Rising is the name of the Valley’s dynamic new soccer team with major league ambitions.  But there’s another rising of note, taking place in Glendale.

Just a few short years ago the city was lying prone, left for dead, on the verge of declaring bankruptcy.  Fast forward to just the past few months.

IKEA is coming.  So is Top Golf and Drive Shack.  Then there’s the city’s biggest master-planned community since Arrowhead Ranch about to become a reality nearby.  Approved in June by Mayor Jerry Weiers and a majority of the city council Stonehaven by Pulte Homes and the John F. Long Company promises more bodies for the businesses.

Finally, there was a noteworthy Glendale Star story last month describing how AEG, Gila River Arena’s new operator, has nearly tripled revenues since taking over the from Arizona Coyotes and the dreary days of the LeBlanc regime.

These indeed are better times for the city that sets the pace in the West Valley.  The Camelback Ranch spring training complex remains and albatross but these days Glendale is moving once again to that best possible future former Mayor Elaine Scruggs used to wax so eloquent about.

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