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So Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton wants to be Arizona Secretary of State.  Or Governor.10_6-Stanton

It sure sounded that way earlier this week during his State of the City address when and where he lambasted all leaders Republican for, in his opinion, abandoning public education.

We didn’t hear such tones during less ambitious times last year as he was supporting Governor Ducey’s landmark proposal to boost public schools without a tax hike via Proposition 123.  Indeed, at Stanton’s insistence his political consultants were even hired by the campaign.

Now he’s singing a different tune, hoping no one bothers to check his record.  Granted, it’s a record we’re glad he has, no matter his hypocrisy.

Just two years ago Stanton led the charge for a massive charter school expansion in central Phoenix.  He even championed the use of some $150 million in Industrial Development Commission bonds to aid the invasion. Here is a link to the story that ran on AZCentral in 2015.

Charter schools are public schools, except to those on the left.  To them, they are foreign ideas undermining the traditional public school systems like vouchers or education savings account. To them, it doesn't matter that an enterprising charter school like BASIS Scottsdale just put the state on the education map after being ranked #1 in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

So, to the constituency Stanton now panders to, the question can be fairly asked:  who has played a major role to upend Arizona’s public education system? Stanton’s alter-ego, thank goodness.

 

 

 

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BASIS Scottsdale’s recognition by U.S. News & World Reports as the #1 high school in America should be reason for all in Arizona to applaud the achievement.  Instead, we actually hear criticism, especially from the Arizona Republic and liberal special interest groups.

An acute observer on Facebook labeled this cartel the “Yeah, But” crowd.  And he’s right.  They have diarrhea of the mouth, seeking to undermine the accomplishment, Governor Ducey and how it’s a disruptive to Arizona public schools.  They constitute the Lament Lobby and its too bad Pepto Bismol can’t be used to constipate their mouths rather than troubled butts.

They have too many Asians! They have too many whites!

Notwithstanding the reverse racism proffered by these critiques any school, anywhere, that becomes number one at anything is likely doing something right we can all learn from.

And that’s exactly what the Lament Lobby needs to do.  After all think how spectacular their failure has been versus charter schools, organizations that actually get less money per student than traditional public schools.

Rather than whine and simply ask for more money the Lamenters should reform and recognize the incredible advantages they have to compete for students and results.  

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A hashtag noting the city’s excellence was a hallmark of Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane’s landslide re-election win in November.

Lane was right to recognize the community’s best in class from Barrett-Jackson, Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, Waste Management Phoenix Open and downtown restaurant and bar scene to teachers, social services and high school athletics.

Now, Lane and all of Scottsdale have another best in class to boast about:  U.S. News & World Report just ranked BASIS Scottsdale the #1 high school in the nation.  The import to economic development and overall community prestige cannot be overstated.

And it reminds us that some things are worth fighting for.

Once upon a time, circa 1997, there was an uproar from no-growth activists and McDowell Mountain Ranch residents opposing the Ice Den.  It was a fight that went all the way to the Arizona Supreme Court.  Thank goodness it did, and won, because as the premier ice facility in Arizona it also is #ScottsdaleAtItsBest.

Fast forward to 2016 and the Ice Den-like fight that took place over BASIS’ expansion and relocation plans on Shea Boulevard.  Mayor Lane, Councilwoman Suzanne Klapp and Councilwoman Linda Milhaven were always staunch supporters.  But the opposition fueled by well-heeled neighbors caused Councilmembers Littlefield, Smith and Korte to wobble weak in the knees.  Councilman Phillips was downright opposed.  Like the Ice Den it was a fight that went all the way to the top.  But instead of the Arizona Supreme Court it was Governor Doug Ducey and Attorney General Mark Brnovich weighing in.  Korte, Smith and Littlefield eventually came around in the face of input from them and massive community support.

Thank goodness they did.  A year later the decision was unquestionably sagacious as Scottsdale ensured its place as the home to the best high school in America.

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Rotten Tomatoes is a popular television and movie ratings site.  Millions of people participate and rely upon it when considering their entertainment choices.  It’s a good thing it doesn’t rate former Arizona Attorneys General, consultants and public affairs efforts in Maricopa, Arizona.  The review wouldn’t arise a rotten green tomato or tipped over popcorn bucket.  It would most likely transform the ratings service into a scratch and sniff variety in order to properly capture the stench.

But first, let’s remind readers of the issue.  It’s in Maricopa, a pleasant community south of the Phoenix metropolitan area in Pinal County, where a group of successful entrepreneurs has proposed a private motorsports park.  Think of it like a golf country club, but for cars.  Proposed for a plot of land well outside the city’s core not a single person had expressed opposition for the better part of its year-long application.  In fact, the opposite was true.  Community and business leaders expressed support and excitement about the use because it meant economic diversification and more tourism.

Then, one day, former Attorney General Grant Woods showed up spinning tales of how bad the project known as the Apex Motor Club would be for Maricopa.  He did so at the Planning Commission which summarily rejected him by a unanimous vote.  As did Mayor Christian Price and the entire City Council thereafter.   Woods would never say, despite repeated questions, who was paying him to be there. It is widely believed to be a rival project.

Contemporaneous to the Woods’ tripe anonymous advertisements started to appear online on local cable channels.  A Facebook page appeared too, all attempting to recruit what they clearly thought would be mindless Maricopans.  One of the ads even invoked the possibility of “heart attacks” if the Club were allowed to proceed.  That’s not a typo.  Some consultant actually got paid to suggest that people would die if the proposal were approved.  Other posts include citations of new companies and jobs being announced elsewhere in Arizona, asking why can’t Maricopa do such things rather automotive country clubs.  As if they are mutually exclusive?  As if that is not happening?  It seems everyone can walk and chew gum except the gadflies and goofs of the opposition.  A new level of hyperbole these items would represent if not for Woods’ hot air.  

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Scottsdale voters wisely increased its tourism tax on hotel rooms in 2010.  The increased revenues have been used to further showcase the city across the world, and also provided money to aid events big and small.  Sometimes those investments have paid off, and sometimes they haven’t.  Funding decisions are an inexact science.

But one big one made recently by the Scottsdale Tourism Development Commission seems to be a sure bet.

That’s because Canal Convergence, which dramatically animates the Arizona Canal as it winds through the Scottsdale Waterfront, holds substantial promise as the community’s next Barrett-Jackson or Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show.

And that it happens in Scottsdale’s downtown emphasizing one of the community’s raison d’etre makes it even more worthy.

We applaud the group’s recent recommendation and encourage the City Council to soon vote likewise.

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Since it’s never too early to pontificate and prognosticate about politics, we thought we’d get a jump on a way too early look at possible successors to popular Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane.  Due to the city’s three term limit for mayors Lane, who won in a landslide over Bob Littlefield in November, 2016, is ineligible to run again.

The odds proffered for each person are a combination of the likelihood of a run, and ultimate victory.

Virginia Korte (2:1):  She’s been running for Mayor in her own way since about the time Goldwater was nominated for President.  Korte wants the job badly and almost ran in 2012 and 2016 but wisely deferred to Lane.  There’s no question she can raise the funds necessary having raised over $200,000 for her 2016 council re-election.  And much of the Scottsdale “establishment” will be behind her.  But her re-elect numbers were sluggish.  Yes, she won but many had thought after a sterling 2012 performance the final tallies would have been better.  Perhaps that has something to do with bouts of alienation.  Korte is not one to shy away from taking a stand, whether it’s an ardent supporter of the Desert Discovery Center in the face of withering opposition or supporting a property tax increase for Scottsdale schools.  In many ways she’s like this year’s Cleveland Cavaliers:  a proven winner and Hall of Famer but whose second half (or term) underperformed, but not so much so to underestimate them come playoff time.

Suzanne Klapp (3:1):  By topping Korte in the 2016 council races in money raised and total votes Klapp showed significant political chops.  She is not saying no to a potential run but does she really want it beyond the flattery?  Klapp would be 70 plus by the time of the next race but she makes that age look like the new 50.  On the political spectrum she also occupies space right of Korte which would be helpful in a primary election coinciding with the GOP primary, though less so in a November run-off election.  Unlike the Lane-Littlefield mash-up where there were clear fault lines, Klapp and Korte occupy much of the same space on business and other matters, which means any potential race between the two would challenge loyalties and households.

Guy Phillips (6:1):  Never underestimate a guy who can get so many votes with so little in his campaign coffers.  And that would be Phillips’ challenge in a mayoral race.  Can he raise real money in a race where competitors will be able to?  Lane eclipsed $400,000 in 2016.  In Scottsdale the top two finishers, if they don’t get over 50%, advance to the General Election.  With Phillips originally emanating from the Tea Party and still loved by many in the GOP Phillips could and likely would be a strong candidate in the primary’s top two, for many of the same reasons Klapp would.  His greater challenge would be communicating with so many people in the General election, with so few dollars.

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Muhammad Ali was a great boxer.  But like many, he didn’t know when it was time to do something else.  A case in point was his 1980 bout against heavyweight champion Larry Holmes.  It was just sad, so much so that Holmes actually took it easy on Ali, not wanting to further impugn a legend.

Former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods and Phoenix resident is no Ali.  But he has been a competent, even commendable fighter at times, on behalf of various causes and interests.  But like most high profilers the time comes when influence wanes and the fastball doesn’t have the velocity it once did.

Woods’ foray into Pinal County’s City of Maricopa is a case in point.  It’s more Ali v. Holmes than a Thrilla’ in Manila.

A couple of weeks back Woods unexpectedly rolled into Maricopa warning the Planning Commission about an upscale project called Apex, which would be a new, private automobile country club on the community’s outskirts, in an industrial area, and adjoining a highway and rail line.

Woods, who has probably never been to Maricopa previously, warned the Commission about all the rich people who would somehow harm the city, notwithstanding he’s quite rich himself.

The Planning Commission ignored Woods and promptly passed the project unanimously.  But what’s most curious about Woods’ sudden interest in things Maricopa is that he would not disclose who he really represents.  Or who was paying him.

But is there really much doubt?

Just weeks prior the kind of rich person Woods warned Maricopa about, the backer of a similar project just outside Casa Grande called Attesa, purportedly told Apex backers that if they moved forward that he would have to “kill” their project.  Shortly after the likely deployment of Woods social media and even cable commercials started to appear in Maricopa, warning that Apex would be the end of days.

It will create too much noise notwithstanding noise from the nearby rail line is and will be a lot louder.  There will be more traffic notwithstanding it is a private facility not open to public races like the Casa Grande facility would be, for example.

The approach is comical, especially if judging by the failure of the scare tactics.  After so much money spent the Facebook page (as of this writing) has but 35 likes.  A pro-Apex Facebook page spending but a fraction of what the anti-competitive forces have done, and after they did so, has some five times that amount.

That’s because when a backwoods message is deployed about and towards an impressive, aspiring community like Maricopa it will fail.  Maricopa residents understand economic development, tourism and certainly when outsiders are being the ultimate hypocrites, and are just trying to keep their community down.  

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One of those is honored at Tatum & Lincoln.  There proudly and rightfully stands a statue of former U.S. Senator and 1964 Republican Presidential nominee Barry Goldwater.  The Town of Paradise Valley’s wise decision to transform a challenging one-acre parcel at its busiest intersection into Goldwater Park will stand for all time as among its wisest decisions.

But why stop at Goldwater, especially when the town boasts alumni worthy of similar recognition?

We suggest two more, Sandra Day O’Connor and William Rehnquist. IMG_4158

O’Connor as most know was the first female U.S. Supreme Court Justice.  Her and her husband were proud Paradise Valley residents, active around town and there when Goldwater Park was dedicated.

The former Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Rehnquist’s ties to Paradise Valley run deep too.  He served as Paradise Valley’s town attorney when the community first incorporated.

With town finances in such good shape we can think of few greater ways to enhance Paradise Valley’s public art.  Locations could include the Mountain Shadows “park” on the southeast corner of 56th Street and Lincoln.  Or Town Hall.  Or the Town’s relatively new court complex.  Perhaps there are other appropriate locations too.

But the primary notion in a community that honors its views and recognizes the significance of its resorts is to honor two more people who enhanced all that is Paradise Valley.

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When first elected to the Scottsdale City Council in 2012, Guy Phillips did so as a Tea Party, pissing vinegar, rage against City Hall voice.

And throughout much of his first term he did little to dissuade the notion, twice leading opposition to the city’s bond requests for community infrastructure improvements and routinely voting against business and developers.

There were notable exceptions.  Phillips is a surprisingly strong voice for the tourism industry, often standing tall when others come up short. GuyPhillips_bio

Yet, he still supported Bob Littlefield in the 2016 mayoral race, grossly misjudging the electorate in a way that also jeopardized his own path to city council re-election, which was narrow.

Perhaps those election results have had an effect on Phillips.  Or, is he eyeing a future run for Mayor or another office?

That’s because Phillips seems to be evolving.  And that’s a good thing.  He’s no longer a sure fire rejectionist for any development proposal and has even crafted innovative proposals to advance WestWorld.

In many ways, Phillips might be following the path of Jim Lane.  When first elected to City Council Lane was an ally of Littlefield before maturing and understanding that to govern Scottsdale is to be pro-preservation, pro-arts, pro-tourism and pro-business.  

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The old saying that politics makes strange bedfellows is becoming less relevant these days as conflict replaces consensus. There is a notable exception in Scottsdale.

Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane’s call for a hybrid district system has found an unlikely ally in John Greco, a frequent Lane critic.

For months Lane has been advocating for reform in the way Scottsdale elects council members. His proposed hybrid district system would see three council members elected from newly created districts in the northern, central and southern city while the mayor and three council members would continue to be elected at large. The reasoning is simple, there has not been a resident of South Scottsdale elected to the council in more than a decade.

Greco outlined his rationale for the reform in a recent letter to the editor in the April 1st section of the Scottsdale Republic. The letter states in part:

“I applaud the mayor's suggestion as a step in the right direction. It offers an opportunity for more representation and is at least worth a try.”

Anyone who reads letters to the editor in the Republic or Scottsdale Independent would be familiar with Greco. He is a frequent contributor who has delivered forceful yet thoughtful letters on LGBT ordinances, the Desert Discovery Center, the Scottsdale Entertainment District, and a long list of other issues. Often, he has been critical of Mayor Jim Lane’s handling of these issues.

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