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Michael Collins is the Mayor of Paradise Valley.  He likes to get things done.  He’s about the destination, not the journey.  So are most of the rest of the people serving on the Paradise Valley Town Council.  It’s a town of the accomplished.  It’s also a town started by the likes of O’Connor, Rehnquist and Goldwater.

With historic names like that it might seem odd to argue the tony town’s end of history.  But it may be at hand.

Consider that Mountain Shadows is rising again.  Indeed, the hotel at its heart will re-open March 7th thanks to the enterprise of locals Scott Lyon and Bill Nassikas, and a very wise Town Council that paved the way for it all, unanimously, just several years ago.

Then there is the large swath of land at Lincoln and Scottsdale Road that’s been the home to dozens of acres of creosote for ages, but soon it will be an economic and luxury engine that is the Ritz-Carlton and associated residences.

Not too far away is a property that used to be a struggling stepchild of Paradise Valley resorts:  The Cottonwoods.  But just a few months ago it was reborn as the Andaz, an emerging hotel brand the world over.  What they did to transform the tired property rivals that taking place at Mountain Shadows.  IMG_4155

Even the town’s Bermuda Triangle, a bedeviling 4 acre parcel along Scottsdale Road north of Cheney Estates, appears ripe for resolution thanks to local residents Geoffrey Edmunds, Rod Cullum and a thoughtful approach by all including the Town of Paradise Valley and the Marriott Corporation.  Underappreciated flood control problems may be resolved as part of the proposal too.

And mobile phone service is getting better as well!

So what’s left to do in Paradise Valley?

Well, it would be nice if the Smoke Tree Resort could smoke the peace pipe with someone, anyone to finally redevelop its chunk of land near AJ’s.  Besides that however the police department has more resources to do a better job (except when it might be favoring certain councilmembers) and the town’s finances are in very good shape.  

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By Virginia Korte

Last week I was officially sworn in to begin my second term on the City Council.  I am looking forward to 2017 – especially working with our new City Manager, Jim Thompson.

In my inaugural remarks, I said, “My one promise to our citizens is not only to work hard, but continue to use my moral compass to put Scottsdale first in any decision I make moving forward.”

My number one priority this year will be to evaluate and advocate addressing some of the city’s deteriorating infrastructure.

During the coming months I will single out what I believe are some of our most necessary needs in order to continue enhancing our quality of life that attracts visitors and new businesses.virginiakorte_bio

Transportation is one of our ‘most necessary needs’ and the city is obligated to tackle transportation issues, including increasing traffic that impacts our ability to travel throughout the city safely and efficiently.   In 2015 voters rejected a bond question that would have improved the intersection of Hayden and Chaparral Roads and the intersections of Highland Avenue at Scottsdale Road and Goldwater Boulevard.  The sidewalks in the downtown area also need to be repaired and some parking issues need to be solved to make downtown shopper-friendly for both our visitors and residents.  

Those are just a few of the many transportation improvements that need to be addressed. But they are good places to start.

I hope you will join me in supporting our need to focus on the city’s infrastructure.  I invite you to give me your thoughts by writing me at Korte@KorteScottsdale.com

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A lot of cities like to talk a lot about “regional cooperation.”  The notion goes that if we all just get a long we’ll all be better for it.

Well, in the case of Scottsdale and the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community let’s take a closer look.

A couple of decades back it’s fair to say relations between the two governments weren’t terribly good.  Pima Road would get shut down by the tribe.  Scottsdale under Herb Drinkwater refused the proposed Loop 101.  Indian gaming was an uncertain challenge to Scottsdale resorts.  Scottsdale-Sign-547x198

So there was this notion that a better relationship would be good for both parties.  Well, it certainly has been for Salt River. But has it been for Scottsdale?

This year the Chapman auto dealerships will leave McDowell Road for a new auto complex on the reservation.  This will cost Scottsdale millions annually in lost city sales tax revenue.  Another tribal development just took the Galleria Corporate Center’s largest tenant, McKesson.  And as this editorial is being written tribal lands are being touted as better alternatives to Scottsdale for giant corporate campuses.  Then there’s the case of Salt River Fields, which has become a direct competitor to WestWorld.  It recently became the new home of Russo & Steele, a pilot fish and pariah to Barrett-Jackson.  Salt River Fields even took the azcentral Food & Wine Festival from Scottsdale Fashion Square.  And what was the city’s response?  To subsidize the relocating event with over $80,000 in tourism tax dollars.

Cooperation, regionally or otherwise, must be a two-way street.  Scottsdale needs to learn this before it’s denuded further.

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How do you know you’re in Scottsdale?

The beautiful view of the McDowell Mountains?  Indian Bend Wash?  A vibrant downtown?  Terrific public art?

They all play a role.

But then there is a little thing.  Like bus stops.  Nowhere else in the Valley is such thought given to their aesthetic.  In Scottsdale they are interesting, even noteworthy.  But in other cities they are simply rudimentary.

That’s why we applaud an interesting “little thing” idea from Paradise Valley Councilwoman Julie Pace, tonight sworn into her first term after an impressive campaign for the office.

In a recent Paradise Valley Independent interview about her upcoming goals and priorities Pace spoke of an idea to shield utility boxes and the like with more ornamental coverings, as was done during the Town’s impressive redevelopment of 56th Street, between McDonald and Lincoln.

Maybe you notice it.  Maybe you don’t.  But what Pace speaks to is the limited urban acne Paradise Valley offers.

Sometimes politicians get caught up planning for the next great thing.  They search for unicorns and elixirs.  But sometimes little things can add up to a very big difference. We hope Pace succeeds in convincing the rest of the Town Council that this is a worthy effort and expenditure.  It is.

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*On January 8th new Scottsdale City Manager Jim Thompson takes over from interim one Brian Biesemeyer.  It’s the best municipal trade since the Phoenix Suns absconded Charles Barkley from the Philadelphia 76ers.  Biesemeyer found bureaucracy to be bucolic.  That Scottsdale continued to succeed despite his management speaks to just how special a place it is.  Thompson has an energy, expertise and appreciation for the position that will surely inject needed oxygen into Scottsdale’s lungs after Biesemeyer depleted it via employee exasperation and his own languishing leadership.

*With talk increasing of Congressman David Schweikert running for Arizona Governor in 2022 successors are already circling.  That will be a year of redistricting so who knows what the safe, Scottsdale-based district looks like then but early, strong contenders include Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Chucri and Phoenix City Councilman Jim Waring.  And never count out the Dirty Bird, Ben Quayle.  He once represented portions of the district before losing to Schweikert when their districts merged.

*With Maria Syms resigning her Paradise Valley Town Council seat now that she has been elected to the Arizona House of Representatives look for recently departed Councilman David Sherf to gain the appointment.  Planning Commissioner Daran Wastchak also deserves consideration as a candidate for the post in 2016.  

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Bt Rachel Sacco

This year marks Experience Scottsdale’s 30th anniversary, and we are kicking off a yearlong celebration hallmarking three decades of promoting travel and tourism in Scottsdale. We wanted to start that celebration with a sincere thank you to our members, partners, stakeholders and supporters.

Thank you for being a part of the Experience Scottsdale story – whether you have just joined our efforts or have been with us from the very beginning. We couldn’t do our jobs without you.3

The first chapter of our story began in 1987, when the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce formed its convention and visitors bureau division. As the pages have turned, we have grown from a four-person team within the Chamber to a standalone organization with a staff of 45.
There have been many chapters in the Experience Scottsdale story over the course of 30 years, with each bringing change and development.

But one thing has remained constant over all these years: Our unwavering commitment to bolster the city’s reputation as a tourism destination.

We have stayed true to our commitment. In each chapter, Experience Scottsdale has positioned Scottsdale as a world-class vacation, meetings and group travel destination. We have helped keep our destination top of mind for all customer segments, from meeting planners to leisure visitors to travel professionals.

And we have done so by sharing your stories.

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By Scottsdale City Councilmember Virginia Korte

As 2016 is winding down and with Christmas less than one week away, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and also a Happy New Year.  I hope you, your family and friends have a safe and peaceful holiday season.

Soon the City Council will return to work -- so I want to let you know about my number one priority for 2017.virginiakorte_bio

It is critical that we begin aggressively investing in improving the city’s infrastructure.  Our current infrastructure needs are estimated to be in excess of $300 million.  If we do not start to seriously address those needs, it will be exceptionally difficult to catch up.

As the costs mount, we cannot afford to ignore maintaining the city’s systems and structures that contribute to our quality of life.  Keeping up with our infrastructure needs is also important in continuing to make our city a destination for visitors and something that attracts new businesses.

I hope you will join me in not only supporting the need to focus on our infrastructure, but also in advocating that we start planning to make the essential investment necessary to keep Scottsdale special and prospering.

I invite you to give me your thoughts on how we can achieve these objectives.  You can write me at Korte@KorteScottsdale.com.

Again, have a safe and happy holiday.

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The songs.  The homecomings.  The Proms.  The friendships.  The cheerleading.  The college pursuits.  The first loves.  The buddies in the locker room.  The playoffs.

There are certain things we never forget about high school.  Yet, in the case of Notre Dame Prep football players were robbed this year of memories that go with playing in the playoffs due to the misdeeds of adults.

When violations by the school’s program became obvious the Arizona Interscholastic Association came down with a harsh punishment.  No playoffs for perennial prep power Notre Dame this year. Parents were enraged and organized efforts to appeal.  It almost worked.  The coach was fired.  Other steps were taken.  But the scalp that many thought would demonstrate sufficient remorsefulness was that of school President Jim Gmelich.  Yet, he refused to resign.  The Diocese and Gmelich placed themselves about the kids.

It wasn’t just self-absorbing.  It was obviously deficient because everyone knew at the time of the appeal that Gmelich was a dead administrator walking.  So why not just do the right thing and resign then so graduating seniors and the rest of the team didn’t have to suffer?  Because the spoiled souls thought they could survive the soiling.

But of course that wasn’t to be.  Just last week Gmelich was gone as the President of Notre Dame Prep.

Some 25 years ago Bon Jovi’s “Never Say Goodbye” was one of those songs all high school Proms played.  It’s too bad Gmelich adopted that slogan at the time of his crisis rather than do right by a football team who still have a prom coming up in the new year but will never be able to get this past season back.

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Well, it certainly took the Scottsdale City Council long enough, but they appear to have found a terrific City Manager.

Former Casa Grande City Manager Jim Thompson is the chosen one, after three rounds and eighteen months of interviews.

The community will soon come to appreciate the erudite Thompson for his energy and purpose. He’s not one to belabor the bureaucratic journey.  He’s a person that wants to get things done.

And you can tell he’s appreciative of being in Scottsdale.  It’s a challenge.  It’s a great city.  It’s the big leagues.

One anecdote after Thompson got the job said it all.  City wordsmithers had crafted a press release announcing his hiring.  In presenting copy to their new boss they posited he could take as much time as needed to look it over and even get back to them the next day.  Thompson’s reply?  Go with it.  Looks good.  You know your job.

After enduring the last 18 months of the interim City Manager under whom morale lagged and the business community furrowed its brow Thompson’s conviction, command and lack of cowardice when it comes to making decisions is refreshing.  The interim City Manager never understood politics.  Thompson does.  He understands democracy involves all different voices from all different walks and that a City Manager’s impact is not just based on being the smartest guy in the room, or a command of issues, but his standing among those whose voices count as much if not more than his or hers.  Indeed, the interim City Manager was so incontinent on matters people and politics he thinks no one notices when he stacks important evaluation committees with acolytes from the one department he actually does know something about – water – or speaks inappropriately to his bosses, the City Council.

Thompson can’t start his post soon enough.  While it officially doesn’t begin until January 8th every Scottsdalian should be appreciative of the holiday gift he represents.

 

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*Bob Littlefield still hasn’t called Jim Lane to congratulate him on the Scottsdale Mayor’s race.  And they’ve been together at events.  #Classless

*Are the Democrats going to produce any sacrificial lamb to run against Doug Ducey in 2018?  Or just pass altogether?

*A big light rail fight could be coming to Chandler, Arizona

*Soon, Cave Creek Mayor Vince Francia will ride off into the political sunset.  How he has ruled over the most ungovernable town in Arizona with decency and distinction for so long is one of the most underappreciated municipal accomplishments of our time.

*Is a new user soon coming to the old Barney’s space at Scottsdale Fashion Square?

*Marijuana legalization will be coming back in 2020 not 2018

*In our opinion the worst and most ethically deficient political consultant in Arizona today is former Arizona legislator Phil Hubbard

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