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When long-time Scottsdale businesswoman and community advocate Virginia Korte at long last decided to run for the City Council in 2012 her candidacy was rightfully lauded. 

A former Chamber of Commerce President, car dealer on McDowell Road and early champion for the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.  Impressive credentials indeed. 

Korte ran in great part on achieving big things for Scottsdale, perhaps suggesting it was a city no longer capable of so doing.  She won. 

While any person needs time to find their way once governing, we have been surprised by Korte’s policy paucity. 

Where are those “big ideas?”  Her campaign was right.  There is ample opportunity. 

The gallery district struggles but there has been few ideas and no leadership. 

McDowell Road, her old neighborhood?  Nada. 

But surely she would have been a champion for securing Barrett-Jackson and the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show at WestWorld for the long-term, as the new Tony Nelssen Equestrian Center assists?  She opposed it. 

Korte has shown a proclivity to spend more money on other stuff, even bulking up the recent city bond package that was trounced by voters. 

We don’t mean to be discouraging of Korte.  Just the opposite.  It’s like seeing a star player wander a bit in the first quarter of a basketball game.  Like Andrew Wiggins’ first half at Kansas this season, as college basketball fans might observe. 

The good news is that there is still time, a lot of it before she again stands for election. 

In stock terms we’re still bullish on that potential, even as we await those long promised big ideas. 

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We’d like to think he was merely forgetful.

But that would be generous considering how intellectually dishonest Arizona Republic columnist Robert Robb was today (Arizona Republic Dec. 20, 2013: When Glendale Was Boring)  in lampooning Glendale and basically any city striving for something more. It was the kind of audacity that doesn’t invoke anger but more of that chuckle and shake of the head because rarely is anyone quite that audacious.

Look, we can all agree local governments have made some good and bad decisions when it’s come to tax breaks, developments, shopping centers and sports facilities.

But to indict them all, as Robb did, without acknowledging that he once was the pied piper of the public trough is breathtakingly dishonest.

For example, Robb criticized developer Steve Ellman for proposing a hockey arena and retail development on the old Los Arcos Mall site, a vision that eventually landed in Glendale.

Robb failed to mention that on the same day in 1999 Ellman’s project was approved by Scottsdale voters by the largest margin in American history for a sports facility election (63%-37%), Robb was the chief flack for the biggest tax increase in Mesa history. For what you may ask? A boondoggle plan for the Arizona Cardinals new football stadium, a convention center and a few partridges in a pear tree. It was shellacked at the polls.

Yet Robb now peppers all others with criticism?

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He's Back.

Ron Burgundy's cousin, Jim, gives us his take on all things political in Arizona. Check out his video.

 

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There may be no better road house – cowboy centric or otherwise – than the watering hole in north Scottsdale known as Greasewood Flat. 

And after “losing” Rawhide, as well as a public relations battle with the spunky Town of Cave Creek about which community is more chaps than chatter, the thought of a sunset for the most western bar in the “West’s Most Western Town” is downright depressing. 

But just as sunsets always yield to sunrises so too may be the case for the beloved Greasewood. 

No matter who came up with the idea of expanding the McDowell Sonoran Preserve in such a way that enriches Scottsdale’s greatest achievement along with providing breathing room for a family that was forced to sell Greasewood Flat in order to pay estate taxes, it’s worth a “cheers” or three. 

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What is this?

You’re not alone if confused.  It’s a proposed design for a new Chinese restaurant in north Scottsdale.  The photo has not been manipulated.  It is not a joke. 

south elevation

Actual design submitted to City of Scottsdale

On November 21st the Scottsdale Design Review Board will decide whether this type of exotic, foreign design is appropriate for the area, or as it has at previous meetings tell the authors of the absurd to keep trying. 

Some perspective.  Thanks to the dogged efforts of many over the past two decades in the northern part of Scottsdale the area is uniquely somewhere.  A celebration of the desert with notable design standards. 

By what logic does this design advance such an achievement?  It disrespects it.  If the Design Review Board does not do what it should the Scottsdale City Council should intervene. 

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Upton Sinclair once wrote a captivating American novel called The Jungle.  Far more recently others have written about the municipal jungle known in Paradise Valley as Mountain Shadows.

It seemed to be to this community’s Los Arcos, a property always top of mind but without solution.  But just as Scottsdale eventually lanced its boil, Paradise Valley may have more elegantly done so.

We have already written of the extraordinary challenge, followed by the extraordinary redevelopment approval engineered by the Town, property owner and neighbors, albeit the latter mostly kicking and screaming.

But now we learn this local jungle may have a neighborly new Lyon. As in the co-owner of the award-winning Sanctuary Resort, just across the street from Mountain Shadows, as well as the Valley Ho in the southern part of Scottsdale.

We could dwell on the interesting design and reputed operations of both properties.  But in this case the most important ethic they offer is creating superb resorts within or adjacent to active neighborhoods. This is particularly encouraging for neighbors who have waited a very long time for good news. 

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Political malpractice.  That’s a kind term to describe the decision to place both a City of Scottsdale bond package on the ballot as the same time as more money for the school district.  At a time when the stock market is high but the economy is not.

Dueling taxing propositions was an effort needing to defy the gods.  Rare are those able to do so.  The City of Tempe did it in 2010 when they enacted a city sales tax increase on the same ballot as Governor Brewer’s successful push to increase the state sales tax.

But Scottsdale wasn’t so successful last night.

So which way Scottsdale now?

Do something Washington never seems to do.  Talk to opponents.  They won.  Big.  So go smaller.  Don’t let ego get in the way.  They are local patriots too.

Discuss what their priorities are.  Find common ground.  Then proceed as a team for the city, or its schools.  In November, 2014.  As was pointed out by proponents many parts of Scottsdale do need a tune up. And maybe next time get more Republicans involved with an effort whose inner circle was all Democratic.  Scottsdale is overwhelmingly Republican after all.

A more successful effort can be achieved.  John Boehner, Harry Reid and Barack Obama might even learn a thing or two from you along the way.

 

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As the joint Phoenix-Paradise Valley improvements impressively conclude soon at Camelback Mountain’s Echo Canyon it sparks a new idea:  hiking access to Paradise Valley’s Mummy Mountain.

Scottsdale is opening trailheads in its spectacular McDowell Sonoran Preserve daily, it seems.  Demand for hikes in and around Paradise Valley at Piestewa Peak, Cholla Trail and Echo Canyon aren't subsiding any time soon.

So why not think of ways to create public access to another town landmark?  Clearly, such an endeavor would need to avoid the negative impacts other trailheads have and can cause for neighborhoods.  But the small trailhead along Tatum heading north into Phoenix accessing that mountain preserve has never been a problem.  And with Paradise Valley officials having already thought through creative solutions in dealing with Echo Canyon demand, such as shuttling from Town Hall, perhaps such an initiative could be non-intrusive.  Perhaps.  Or not.  But it’s a notion worth looking at.

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Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio certainly contradicts the notion in this headline.  And he has been an exceptionally important voice railing against many excesses in Phoenix city government.  But ultimately is a city best off with five, seven or nine Sal's?

Pardon the detour.

It would seem a consistent conservative message would go something like this.  The federal government is furthest away from the individual, the neighborhood, the need and therefore should spend the least.  And defer to the state.  The state then likewise should defer to counties, cities and towns as those governments are the ones closest to the people.  And it is there people want money spent.  On roads.  On the arts.  On kids programs.  On parks.  On police and fire. 

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A beautiful evening on the patio at Camelback Back Inn’s restaurant called Rita’s. The views at Sanctuary. The charm of The Hermosa Inn. The social conscience of the Scottsdale Plaza Resort. The increasing charm of Montelucia.

When one thinks of and experiences Paradise Valley’s grand resorts The Cottonwoods’ hotel property along Scottsdale Road doesn’t come to mind. Most don’t even know it’s in Paradise Valley. And based on its blandness, it shouldn’t be.

Yet, its owners are now seeking significant new densities. But for what, besides themselves?

The recent approvals for Mountain Shadows were necessary to ensure the open space of a golf course, a quality new neighbor for adjacent neighbors who have experienced Beirut for far too long, and to remove legal vulnerabilities

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