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Republicans are evil.  Single handedly they are responsible for squeezing the middle class.  This is the constant Democratic Party refrain.

Except in Arizona, apparently.

Here, the donkeys are skewering the middle class via their opposition to HB 2611.  On this issue they are being led by nanny state sycophant Debbie McCune Davis. vaccine

Once upon a time she led a proper fight against pay day loans in Arizona.  And voters agreed with her.

Congratulations Debbie, you won.

But the opposition by her and other Democrats to HB2611 is like the head coach who gets upset at the quarterback for calling a successful audible.  Like the Republicans are now doing as it relates to the financial circumstances for so many that have changed in recent years.  Banks won’t make post Great Recession small loans to lower credit individuals.  Enter the wisdom of state legislation posed by Arizona State Representative J.D. Mesnard. He proposes so called “flex loans,” which are unsecured ones for people with lower credit scores.  The interest rate is capped at 36%.  But that’s not where opponents get riled.  It’s the additional fees.

You mean like Wells Fargo just added?  Going from $5 to $10 per month for low balance accounts?  Or banks charging as much as $35 for a bounced check no matter how much the amount?

Opponents say this is “predatory lending” even though they don’t criticize credit card companies for luring millions of college students into high interest programs with minimum payments.  Nor do they have an answer when people properly ask what their solution is to providing unsecured loans to people with low credit scores.  There is a need after all.  Go find a family member or friend they say.  Right.  Or Larry The Loan Shark. 

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An analysis of Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service (ARMLS) residential sales data for the
past six months show that homes with solar actually sell faster and at much higher prices than
homes without solar.

solar chart
Through the end of 2014, homes with either owned or leased solar systems outpaced sales of
non-solar homes significantly. Contrary to what proponents of APS-backed SB1465 would like
the public to believe, solar leased homes sold the fastest of any home and at a higher price.

"This data proves what we have known all along; solar is a benefit to Arizona consumers and
makes homes more attractive to prospective buyers whether systems are leased or owned by
the original homeowner" said Mark Holohan, President of the Arizona Solar Energy Industries
Association (AriSEIA). "We ask that legislators take notice of this information the next time a
utility lobbyist sits in their office making baseless claims that solar makes it harder to sell a
home or doesn't add value for homeowners."

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Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio once did a campaign television commercial where he threw copies of the Arizona Republic in the trash.  While a congressional candidate over a decade ago current Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio ripped the Valley’s paper of record similarly in direct mail.  Others, most notably conservative blogs, cheer daily its hoped for demise. Don’t count us as one of them. There’s no doubt the Republic’s editorial page can be frustrating to Republicans, conservatives in particular.

Sheriff Arpaio can do no right.  SB 1070 was wrong, notwithstanding the deaths of police officers and other community problems associated with massive illegal immigration.  Fox News it is not.

But the Republic’s editorial page also endorsed popular Republican Governor Doug Ducey – in the primary and the general.  Former U.S. Senator Jon Kyl received similar treatment.  And just today they termed Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton a “political liberal.”  But arguing for their editorial page is not our key point. That has to do with their investigative reporting.

Government, business and society always have had and always will have actors operating in the shadows.  What’s different now is the disturbing confluence of a decline of the fourth estate with the privileges granted corporations to wield more influence in elections. Who is left to point out the concerns?  Who is left to peek in the darker corners and shine a light?  

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A good man used to say “all politics is local.” Whether true or not there’s no doubt it’s cyclical.

Today, Arizona Public Service (APS) is feeling pretty good about itself.  Attempting to foil innovation and more energy choice is its new way of doing business.  After all, the company effectively owned, in the political sense that is, immediate past Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce. APS_logo_2011

And after its recent, robust election activity it thinks it owns at least two others.  Whether that’s right or not remains to be seen.

APS’ largesse wasn’t about regard.  It was about their bottom line.  And they will squeeze whoever they have to, most especially their acquired allies, to beat stock expectations or qualify for bonuses.

No matter the issue – rates, solar, regulation, power lines – they will inevitably go too far.  Power can’t help itself.  Neither can arrogance or the demands of Wall Street. 

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Scottsdale is a wonderful place and has rightfully been recognized by many for effective city government.

But several years back there was a movement to import personnel from Phoenix, led by long-time Phoenix Planning David Richert who later became Scottsdale City Manager.

Richert was and is a fine man, but some of his hires well, not so much.

Some of these experiments, led by Paul Katsenses, were never culture fits.  Unlike Scottsdale’s history they always seemed to be more interested in the journey rather than the destination.  Talking takes precedence over performance, except when fighting for one’s own bureaucratic existence.

When a new city manager came to be in Scottsdale the highly-compensated Katsenes was properly demoted from his Assistant City Manager position. Scottsdale-Sign-547x198

That’s the thing about city employees.  They rarely get fired.  They get reassigned, keeping their big salaries and pensions.

Most cities farm such personnel out to a water services department, or other such innocuous do little harm part of the jurisdiction.

Unfortunately, Katsenes was spun off to WestWorld where he is essentially the General General Manager, a real head scratcher because the current General Manager Brian Dygert is well regarded, even commanding a letter several years back from the property’s biggest users, stating their regard.

Rather than somehow aid the promise of WestWorld Katsenses has become its laughingstock, routinely wasting users time when he is not wasting the Scottsdale taxpayer’s money.

Fortunately, the relatively new City Manager has a stiff spine and seems without constitution to suffer fools gladly.

Let’s hope so.

Taxpayers win more when there is greater accountability for government workers, and a greater chance they can be fired, not simply farmed out.

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Editorials are usually 500 words of trope and tripe about this and that. But to this all we have to say is what very good news it is to have Tom Horne back in the private sector.  And out of government.  Where he was a walking embarrassment and shameless scoundrel.

 

MY FIRST DAY AS A PRIVATE CITIZEN

I want to thank everyone for your friendship and support during my time as your Attorney General.

I am now practicing law, which I did for 30 years,  with the firm of Slaton and Sannes, which is now Horne, Slaton and Sannes.  I expect to be trying cases and arguing appeals, and experiencing the satisfaction of winning for my clients, as I did for the state of Arizona as its Attorney General. I am located at 6720 N Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, suite 285, my phone number is 480-483-2178, and I am at your disposal.

Again, thank you for your support and your friendship.

Sincerely,

Tom Horne

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Pundits are always lauding vision. Where is it? Who has it? Why isn’t there more of it.

Scottsdale is fortunate. Leadership and vision have led to impressive achievements like the Indian Bend Wash, McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Scottsdale Center for the Arts and Civic Center and the Waterfront Canal, to name just a few points of pride. Scottsdale-Sign-547x198

In its own way the achievement of Shawn Yari and Tri-Yar Development is a spectacular vision realized. Whether one likes what has been achieved in Scottsdale’s “Entertainment District” south of Camelback and east of Scottsdale Road – and we do – it is a stunning statement.

Some 20 years ago who could imagine let alone bring to life what is there now?

Yari was a well liked nightclub owner of Empire at 24th Street and Camelback. Les Corieri’s Jetz & Stix bar and club was on the west side of Scottsdale Road, near where Culinary Dropout now sits.

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There exist three and a half noteworthy downtowns in the Valley. Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe, with the half going to Glendale. Mesa’s doesn’t count as it is a beautiful performing arts venue surrounded by Fallujah. Chandler is making a move thanks to San Tan Brewing Company but still has quite a ways to go.

That brings us to Tempe, which is clearly separating itself from the others. The amount of development velocity underway is remarkable, a perspective that should be appreciated but a bigger picture that can be lost among the almost daily announcement about new stuff.
tempe
John Graham’s SunBelth Holdings and Marina Heights.

An attractive redevelopment of the Monti’s restaurant site.

A compelling new development vision for the Hayden Flour Mill.

The whirling dervish that is Arizona State University.

Even the Chinese are purportedly looking to get in on the action on the other side of Rural Road along Town Lake.

Some of these projects importantly offer quality new hotels which the area lacks in near embarrassing fashion.

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According to insightful reporting at the Paradise Valley Independent , the denizens of density behind the proposed Ritz-Carlton hotel and townhouse development in Paradise Valley are back.

This time the “We’re Baaack” is likely to be a noisier poltergeist for residents than the last time around.
Paradise-VAlley-RED-Senior-Living
So why are they returning to the political theater now?

A couple of reasons.

First, after viciously, and unsuccessfully attacking Mayor Scott Lemarr, his term is coming to an end. As a son of Paradise Valley Lemarr has long been a skeptic of the Ritz plans, that are actually being curated by Five Star Development – a company unrelated to the Ritz. Lemarr’s departure alone aids those seeking to pioneer more liberal development allowances in town.

Second, those who laughed at recent Ritz-Carlton/Five Star Development attempts to turn that which voters approved in 2008 into something reminiscent of Tempe have left or are leaving office come January.

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Northeast Valley residents saw change after the recent elections.

The Town of Paradise Valley will see the most after movings, goings and retirements.

And Scottsdale will incur some too as those more cautious about the city’s growth trajectory were narrowly favored.

While others could certainly be noted, one victor in each municipality exemplifies the marketplace filling that which they constantly request in more candidates: talent and regard.

Take Councilman-elect Mark Stanton in the 85253. Frequent smile. Good humor. Looks you in the eyes. And has served in the private and public sector with distinction. First as an accomplished public relations executive, then as the as the Deputy Director for the Arizona Office of Tourism.

With more gray hair across the border is Scottsdale’s David Smith. He can be prickly, but whether one is in agreement with him there is little doubting his brain cells and financial acumen. People like him are needed to check government largesse and inefficiency.

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