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Did Republicans just ignore all of the headlines over the years about disgraced former Congressman Rick Renzi who was found to abuse his position while in office for real estate gains? barney

We ask because of the Arizona Republic headline today raising similar questions about current Maricopa County Board Chairman Denny Barney (Maricopa County chairman in ethics flap). While many Republicans don’t like the Republic, the story reminds us of the import of the fourth estate, especially robust investigative journalism. We digress as we necessarily observe who will be there to shed light on that which was done today if larger media goes away? This blog? Other bloggers? A motley crew on Facebook? Back to our premise.

Barney achieved the near impossible in 2012. Running as a rookie for a coveted seat abandoned by Fulton Brock he ran unopposed. That’s because of the regard the marketplace had for Barney personally, his family and his promise.

Surely his constituents thought the youthful Barney mature enough to avoid the kind of problems described today in which he apparently nudged Maricopa County staff to resolve issues that were costing his development project money.

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As we are about to enter the 2014 campaign season television advertisements and flyers will flood mailboxes and airwaves. They will emphasize many words and messages. But nary a one will tout “wisdom.” They should.

Allow us to explain using the example of Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.bill-montgomery-professional

Readers are surely familiar with former Maricopa County Andy Thomas’ travails. And they may have read Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts (click here) as well as the paper’s editorial (click here). Both questioned the prosecutorial wisdom of current Attorney General Tom Horne and what amounted to rather paltry charges in his office’s pursuit of former Fiesta Bowl lobbyist Gary Husk. Readers are probably familiar with other reasons General Horne’s conduct can be questioned as well. And while many Republicans don’t love yet another former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley, they will still recognize him as a straight shooter. So when he calls Horne’s ethics and conduct into question it is noteworthy.

This all leads us to Andrew Thomas’ successor Bill Montgomery. Although only a practicing lawyer for about a decade he appears to have uncommon wisdom among recent Arizona prosecutors.

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Every community has critics. And that’s a good thing, especially in an age of a declining fourth estate. Their eyes, ears and energy can be just what’s needed to shine a light into some darker places. Scottsdale-Sign-547x198

But in Scottsdale activism has become its own art form, its own sport. While there are certainly problems in one of America’s best cities some of the criticism operates in an existential-like luxury of complaint – kind of like Peter Cook cheating on Christie Brinkley. He was lucky to be married to her before he wasn’t, like Scottsdale residents are fortunate to live where they do, until they don’t.

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On Monday night Florida State defeated Auburn for the national college football championship. They did so on the final drive of the game, arriving in the red zone with just seconds left.  Football winners and losers are often decided by those who score when they get within 20 yards of the end zone, and those who do not.  Florida State did.

We hope the same now happens with efforts relating to Greasewood Flat.  In football terms, circumstance has now put efforts to keep or relocate the beloved bar squarely in the red zone. b6b4bc0fc67644f597c99da8db91d68b

The journey may be a bit involved, but it is looking a whole lot better than it was, and that befell Rawhide before it.

That’s because Greasewood Flat owners have been expressing an interest in relocating to a more authentic, rural location within the city as urban sprawl has closed in around them, infringing on the experience.  So unique is the experience it could likely continue to withstand the encroachment but if other, better alternatives are available why bother?  Why risk it?  After all, the family’s Reata Pass Restaurant was forced to close a couple of years ago, likely because guests no longer felt the authenticity that once was.  Reata Pass never seared the local or tourist conscience like Greasewood Flat or Rawhide.  The family has said it is not coming back and that is no great loss.  But a decade ago losing Rawhide to the Gila River Indian Community was.  And so it would be with Greasewood. Approving a new location for it should be unanimous and enthusiastic, not unlike what occurred for the new Mercedes-Benz of Scottsdale dealership that’s sprung to life across from Scottsdale Fashion Square. 

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As the hand wringing continues about Glendale’s investment in sports facilities there is an untold story of how the first domino in the form of a hockey arena might never have come to be. COG_Logo_Color

It’s a fascinating tale and one that would have taken a slice of Valley history through a different sliding door.

Following not one but two landslide elections in favor of locating an arena at Scottsdale and McDowell Roads voters probably expected their City Council to implement their wishes.  It was not to be with a disrespectful, divided council.

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If the City of Scottsdale was a private company it would have, and should have, sued numerous companies and cities for violating its intellectual property.

Because “Scottsdale” is a notable brand many others have appropriated it.

Consider the concentration of automobile dealers along Scottsdale Road near the Loop 101.  Their edifices even tout “North Scottsdale.”  Yet, that side of the road is actually in the City of Phoenix with car sales accruing revenues to it.

Then there is the Westin Kierland Resort also near Scottsdale Road.  It too brands itself as “Scottsdale.”  But it’s not. It’s Phoenix.

But the most egregious example of all may have been reported just today by the Arizona Republic. Here’s a link.

Its article described an acquisition of the Montelucia Resort and Spa in Paradise Valley, Arizona noting it will be renamed the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia.   Notwithstanding that mouthful the property sits some 3 miles from the closest Scottsdale border.  Three miles. 

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Fallen American solider Lori Piestewa was, is, and will always be a hero.  Period. She deserves to have any mountain named after her in Arizona.

But about a decade ago renaming Phoenix landmark Squaw Peak wasn’t just about honoring Ms. Piestewa.  It was about eliminating the name “squaw,” a derogatory term to most if not all Native Americans.

It became a priority of then Governor Janet Napolitano who owed her 2002 gubernatorial election to the strong get out the vote effort undertaken by the “21 tribes” that spent massively to pass Arizona’s Indian gaming ballot measure that November.

So committed to the name change was the Democratic governor that former strongman staffer Mario Diaz undertook, shall we say, some rather serious political maneuvering to get it done.  Aggressive or not that might have been the last effective political engineering by Diaz, but we digress.  And we are confused.

If the word “Squaw” to recognize a peak was so offensive then, and we still live in an age when there is a growing opposition to an NFL franchise retaining the name “Redskins,” why does Mayor Stanton and the City of Phoenix illuminati still permit “Squaw Peak Drive” in the mountain’s shadow?

There the sign sits, prominent, contradicting Piestewa Peak.

What say you Mayor Greg Stanton?  Councilman Michael Nowakowski?  Councilwoman Kate Gallego?  Councilwoman Laura Pastor?  Councilman Daniel Valenzuela?

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The late and legendary former Mayor of Scottsdale Herb Drinkwater decades ago dreamt what has indeed become true:  the WestWorld of Scottsdale area has become an epicenter for Valley activity.

Drinkwater lured the Phoenix Open to former boondocker country from comfy country club confines, Brewersand then convinced Barrett-Jackson to go north too.

Now, the country’s largest golf tournament, car auction and Arabian horse show all call the area home.  So does the wildly popular Ice Den as well as one of the finest residential communities built in America over the past three decades, DC Ranch.

Indeed, both Barrett-Jackson and the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show are set to move into the new $50 million Tony Nelssen Equestrian Center at WestWorld over the next two months, solidifying their place in the Northeast Valley for the foreseeable future.

Years prior to this pending fulfillment of Drinkwater’s vision Scottsdale was administered by a City Manager named Jan Dolan, best described as a municipal Cruella Deville.

Among her achievements was leading the charge at the height of the real estate market for Scottsdale to pay some $55 million to buy 80 acres from the Arizona State Land Department, at a time when she and council incoherence couldn’t quite figure out what to do with WestWorld.

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The business story of Chandler, Arizona over the past couple of decades is a compelling one.  Big jobs at big (and small) technology companies.

There are many explanations for the city’s success.  But there is one not often discussed.

It’s spelled A-P-S, as in Arizona Public Service. APS_logo_2011

The company’s avaricious attitude toward rooftop solar over the past year has been well understood and documented.  But its poor reputation among big energy users, especially those in high-tech, has not been.

To say these large energy consumers dislike the utility monopoly is an understatement, and a key reason they have concentrated in the utility territory of Salt River Project, where energy prices are lower and the corporate attitude isn’t to treat Arizona businesses merely as a carcass to prey upon.

Enter Chandler.  Benefit Chandler.

The disdain for APS and problems the monopoly presents for economic development efforts was a key reason some of Arizona’s largest employers endorsed efforts by the Arizona Corporation Commission to entertain more energy choice and competition in 2013, before those deliberations were curtailed.  While deregulation was short-circuited, ongoing concerns for what APS is doing to hinder economic development for cities within its territory have not been.

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The Chicago Cubs are unquestionably the crown jewel of the Cactus League, and all that spring training means economically to our state.

But will the Cubs be an asset or liability in the 2014 Republican primary contest for Governor?

A little history first.

Following the 1992 elections then Congressman Jon Kyl opted to run for the United States Senate, creating a highly desirable congressional opportunity for aspiring Arizona politicians.

The clear, early favorite in the race was Jim Bruner, a former Scottsdale City Councilman and Chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

But the unforeseen happened along the way. Former Phoenix Suns’ owner Jerry Colangelo, fresh off an NBA Finals appearance, made a play for a franchise and a stadium that became the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chase Field. To get the franchise, he needed a new stadium funding plan. And that involved a majority of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors calling for a sales tax hike to fund the stadium.

Despite Colangelo’s popularity, the tax itself became wildly unpopular. Nevertheless, Jim Bruner voted for it, understanding what it could mean for Arizona. His political sacrifice was profound, eventually fading in his congressional race from frontrunner status to the bronze medal behind the eventual Congressman John Shadegg, and runner-up Trent Franks.

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