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By Scottsdale Pinetop

A war hero, an Arizona Senator and a presidential candidate. The legacy and political career of Senator John McCain has become a staple of Arizona’s pioneering identity. Diagnosed with brain cancer last summer, the Senator has been in and out of hospital treatments for the past year. With the future of McCain’s health uncertain, so is the future of the Arizona Republican Party.

The narrative of McCain’s political career has been a point of controversy since his presidential campaign in 2008. He has been praised for his self-styled nonconformist reputation while also being criticized as one of President Trump’s loudest opponents from his own party. Regardless of opinion, McCain remains one of Arizona’s most powerful political figures and many lawmakers are fearful of losing his influence.

With growing concern of McCain’s poor health, Republican lawmakers are taking steps to ensure his Senate seat remains in house.

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Once again, the ill-conceived Desert Discovery Center/Desert Edge (DDC) is dividing and hurting Scottsdale.

That’s the only clear takeaway after last night’s Scottsdale City Council hearing.

To explain what happened allow us to provide a little history.

Scottsdale Stadium has been an integral part of downtown for decades.  It’s there that legions of baseball fans from San Francisco and the country over descend to spend money and enjoy spring training.

Recently, there’s been talk of upgrades to Scottsdale Stadium that would come from a variety of public and private sources, including the team, with taxpayer contributions coming from the city’s tourism tax revenues.  Tourism taxes for a proven tourism generator that is a public facility.  Seems to make a lot of sense.

There’s only one problem.  The more tourism tax monies get used for Scottsdale Stadium the less there might be for the Big Bombastic Boondoogle (er DDC) in the desert.  Actually, we don’t view that as a problem.  We view that as a secondary benefit to the primary one of up-keeping a community crown jewel.

But three councilmembers didn’t share our opinion Tuesday night. Instead, Councilmembers Milhaven, Korte and Smith sought to transfer upgrades to Scottsdale Stadium from tourism tax rolls onto those for property taxes that would fund all the improvements called for in the community bond.

How unnecessary.  How unfortunate.  How unwise.  Seeing the shell game at hand, the balance of the council rejected the notion and said no to referring the bond plan at all in 2018.

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By Scottsdale Pinetop

What a shame.

Across the state, thousands of Arizona public college DACA students are reeling from Monday’s news. Recently, the Arizona Supreme Court unanimously ruled that in order for DACA recipients to attend any of the state’s three universities or community colleges they’re going to have to pay a higher tuition.

Unfortunately for many of these Arizona residents, that’s just not possible. They now face having food on the table versus a better future with more education.

Arizona, somewhat understandably, has had a long-standing reputation for its strong stance on illegal immigration and securing the border. However, this court ruling punishes young people through no fault of their own. It would be like a 14-year old son of a shoplifter being named as a co-conspirator.

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Over the past two plus decades in Scottsdale there have been two epic campaign contests for Mayor.  In 1996 Diana Smith (wife of former Councilman David Smith) spent a major chunk of her own change to almost upset the presumptive frontrunner, Sam Campana.  Almost.  And then in 2008 then Councilman Jim Lane challenged a vulnerable Mayor Mary Manross, very narrowly prevailing.  Back in 2016 we thought Lane v. Littlefield might have made the list but after the latter fared worse than the Phoenix Suns on opening night it’s not even worth an honorable mention.  And speaking of honor it’s been how many hundreds of days since the Bobcat has failed to call Mayor Lane to congratulate him?! We hear Dear Abbey may be writing a column about the Lilliputian’s bad manners, but we digress . . .

While Scottsdale has important council elections later in 2018 it’s the 2020 campaign, most especially that for Mayor, stirring the most speculation and discussion.

Much of the attention has been driven by the aplomb, agog and athirst of Councilwoman Virginia Korte.  She’s always wanted to be Mayor, and is perhaps the most qualified to seek the post in the city’s history.  By announcing for the post about the time JFK was talking about sending someone to the moon, she’s setting a pace that has been both productive, and counterproductive.

Interestingly, it hasn’t seemed to unsettle fellow Councilwoman Suzanne Klapp who, according to rumors, whispers and dais display is exhibiting an almost Phil Jackson, Zen-like vibe to the prospect of challenging Korte.  She’ll get to it when she’s get to it could be her campaign slogan now, showing little preoccupation that Korte in Kentucky Derby speak is out of the gate so quickly.

But there’s an increasing sense that Klapp will enter the 2020 race, so much so that popular Councilman Guy Phillips is said to be exploring other options, including a run for statewide office.

Klapp versus Korte. Two people who, as candidates in 2016, raised about $250,000 per person.  What a race it would be.  But we’ll save further analysis until another time.

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By Scottsdale Pinetop

When it comes to charter schools people either celebrate them as an alternative to underachieving public schools or accuse them as a flawed outcome in failed education reform. Regardless of opinion, it’s hard to discredit charter schools’ growth throughout the U.S.

Leading the way is the BASIS Curriculum Schools network, regarded as the best charter school system in the country. BASIS Schools continue to excel against any standard – high Advanced Placement results, consistent national rankings and high college admission rates. Currently, BASIS serves over twenty thousand students and its influence only continues to grow.

Coming this fall, BASIS will be opening its doors to its third open-enrollment, tuition free public charter school in Scottsdale. Located in northern Scottsdale, BASIS Scottsdale Primary – West Campus will be serving over 350 student in kindergarten through 4th grade. BASIS Scottsdale Primary will be the network’s 21st charter campus in Arizona.

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By Scottsdale Pinetop

The recent events of local high school robotics teams is a classic Cinderella story.

Against the odds, three of Scottsdale’s high school robotics teams advanced to the FIRST® Championships, an international robotics tournament held in Houston, Texas. But their celebration was short lived after discovering that teams from Chaparral, Desert Mountain and Saugaro might not be able to attend the competition.

In just 10 days, these student engineers need to raise at least $20,000 to compete. With such a short deadline, it’s nice to have local supporters to ensure their success.

Becoming SUSD’s new fairy godmothers, Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) Governing Board Member Pam Kirby and the Scottsdale Charros are lending their financial support to these robotics teams – committing $5,000 each to the three teams.

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By Virginia Korte

I believe the City Council does an exceptional job of representing citizens, no matter where you live. I feel I can speak for everyone on the Council when I say we work hard to treat everyone and every issue the same: thoughtfully and thoroughly.

But as I have conversations with people throughout our community, some ask what I think about creating districts from which we would elect the six councilpersons. That topic comes up particularly in some of the southern areas of our city.

While I believe our current system of electing councilpersons “at large” is working pretty darn well, I am open to considering a district representation system if enough people feel we should move in that direction.

I am aware of and respect what some citizens say are the benefits of establishing a district system.

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Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane has always been more concerned with getting things done than getting attention.

That may be his motivation behind forming a Political Action Committee called “At Our Best.” Records show it is being organized to raise money to assist political candidates.lane portrait

Scottsdale, or Arizona for that matter, has no shortage of critics. But it may have a shortage of innovative leaders with fresh ideas and the will to implement them. Lane’s PAC could provide support for innovators so they can withstand the slings and arrows of naysayers.

And while some could argue that the “Scottsdale Edge” political blog occasionally falls into the naysayer category, we’ll just say its recent post on Lane’s PAC misses the mark. 

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The Phoenix Suns have had many great players over the years but Paul Westphal was right up there with the best of them.  Twisting, turning, shooting and scoring like few others is why he’s in the team’s Ring of Honor.  His jersey number was 44.  It was fitting and looked good to all who saw him play.

Compare that with another 44 in a different part of the Valley, Paradise Valley.  It’s purportedly the top height being requested for a new hotel and condominium redevelopment of the Smoketree Resort along Lincoln, near Scottsdale Road.  Unlike Westphal, it doesn’t look so good.

We can all agree that a refurbishment of the Smoketree site is desirable.  The old restaurant that fronts the property, The Other Place, has been vacant for years.  While not quite an eyesore it is a community blemish.  Removing it with a nice new project would be desirable.

The Phoenix Business Journal reported on the possibility earlier today.  LINK HERE

But with a purported top height of 44 feet, the ends don’t justify the means.  When it comes to resort revitalization 36 feet has become an important line, or height, not to cross.  Should new Smoketree efforts gain additional latitude than that given Mountain Shadows, Montelucia, Sanctuary or The Hermosa Inn?

No.  Because to say yes is to lace up the skates and start down a very slippery slope from which it’s difficult to regain one’s footing.  Forty four becomes 54 then 64 then that which makes Paradise Valley so distinct isn’t so.

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By Scottsdale Pinetop

If there is one-thing critics and supporters of the Trump administration can agree on is that President Trump is leaving a lasting mark on U.S. foreign policy. Weakening traditional alliances, threatening military action and dissolving trade agreements, the fate of the U.S. foreign relations remains murky.

This can leave local leaders to step into the vacuum and exercise their own form of soft power – starting with Scottsdale’s own Mayor Jim Lane.

Last month, at the invitation of Marrakech Mayor Mohamed Larbi Belcaid, Mayor Lane led a small group of local leaders to Marrakech, Morocco. Marrakech has been a sister city to Scottsdale since 2011, but the two leaders had yet to meet face to face.

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