The Conservative's Corner
June 25, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. — "Let's face it: I've been a thorn in leadership's side," says Arizona Republican Rep. Matt Salmon, sitting at his desk in the Rayburn House Office Building.
Earlier that day, Salmon had just been named by Speaker John Boehner to a special "working group" on the crisis at the southern U.S. border, where tens of thousands of unaccompanied children are streaming into the country with hopes that President Obama will grant them amnesty.
Salmon is the most conservative member of the new group, and his selection by Boehner is surprising, to say the least, given that the Arizonan has been a leading critic of House leadership.
"Probably nobody was more shocked than me, but I was pleasantly surprised," Salmon says.
On the other side of the ledger, the group includes Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a passionate advocate for a comprehensive immigration bill, and Rep. John Carter (R-TX), who negotiated for years with liberal Democrats, including Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), to craft an immigration bill that never saw the light of day.
Leading the new group is Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX). Its other members include House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michal McCaul (R-TX), and Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM).
"They put some independent-minded people on there," Salmon says. "At least they didn't stack it up with a bunch of 'yes people [for Obama or Boehner]'" he adds. "I'm glad to see that."Read more
“Our Cause Is More Important Than Any One Person”
Citing his campaign’s pace in collecting $5 contributions, and certain that Clean Elections funding would not be received in time for the start of early balloting, State Senator Al Melvin has formally withdrawn from the race for Arizona Governor, filing the required documents with the Arizona Secretary of State. His official statement is below:
“I had planned on having more time to decide my campaign’s future, but I was alerted by the Secretary of State’s office that while Maricopa County’s deadline to withdraw was June 27th, the remaining counties had their own early deadline and a decision had to be made by today. So after prayerful consideration with my wife and closest advisers and supporters, I filed the necessary documents with the Secretary of State’s office to formally withdraw from the race.Read more
Why is the Governor, aka The Artist Formerly Known as a Stalwart Conservative, so fixated on raising taxes? It’s a complete mystery. Governor Jan Brewer’s office and her Department of Revenue both responded yesterday to questions of exactly why they want to slam the state’s solar customers with a higher property tax, and their excuses were breathtakingly unconvincing.
The arguments are so lame that we’re forced to assume that she’s not protecting people from the tax because she doesn’t feel like it. Which is cool, after all she doesn’t have solar, and if her party takes a hit this Fall because Arizona’s retirees and homeowners are fundamentally opposed to tax hikes, so what? She’s outta here…. Anyway, let’s take a look at the blather:
1) Excuse: 2014 Governor Brewer can’t stand 2009 Governor Brewer.
“This equipment is being used to generate electricity for sale,” [Dept of Revenue spokesman Sean Laux] said. And that, he said, means they legally are no different for tax purposes than a power plant, solar or otherwise, owned by a utility. – East Valley Tribune, 6/5/14
First, it’s really weird to say a Glendale home with some solar panels and a trampoline out back is anywhere near the same category as a nuclear power plant. I mean, should the radio in my kitchen be subject to the same regulations as a nightclub? They are, as this Dept of Revenue guy would point out, both used to generate music.
Regardless, in 2009 when Jan Brewer had a hunch that solar was the perfect Arizona industry—and turned out to be right-- she said very clearly that rooftop solar was not like these other things, and that regular folks and the nascent solar industry should not pay industrial-level taxes. Small government, pro-business, all that good stuff.
Now her office says they don’t want to “strong arm” her own Department of Revenue to get them to simply abide by Governor Brewer 2009.
That makes no sense.
2) Excuse: We must tax solar customers because… solar panels work when turned on.
Not to delve too deep in the weeds here, but the Department of Revenue’s argument for why solar should pay a property tax is that utilities pay the tax based on the fact that they sell power. Therefore, because solar leasing companies also sell power, they conclude, they too should be taxed.
Except for one thing: solar leasing companies don’t sell power at all—they lease the equipment, and the solar customers receive whatever benefit may come from using that equipment.
It may seem convoluted, but it’s also the law, and the Department of Revenue is pushing an interpretation that has no legal basis.
But the Department of Revenue’s Sean Laux does not care about no stinkin’ law, and insists it is not an equipment lease because….err, the solar equipment works:
“And they guarantee it and will actually pay you if it doesn't” provide those results. “So it sounds to us as if you are paying for a certain number of kilowatts.” – East Valley Tribune, 6/5/14
By this logic, if you sell a TV and guarantee that it will work for three years, you’re not selling a TV, you’re selling time itself.
Cave Creek, Arizona – Republican candidate for Governor, Arizona businessman and education consultant, and former U.S. Congressman Frank Riggs today filed more than 10,400 signatures with the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office to qualify for the ballot.
In less than four months, the Riggs campaign collected almost double the 5660 signatures needed to qualify for the ballot. "No other candidate collected as many signatures in such a short period of time," Riggs' campaign manager Darcie Johnston said. "We thank all of our grassroots volunteers and supporters around the state who made this possible."
Riggs said. “There may be a big field in the Republican primary for governor, but I’m the proven, tested and trusted candidate for Governor. I offer a clear choice and new direction for Arizona. I will stop the 'Obamanization of Arizona' by repealing Common Core and rolling back the unsustainable expansion of Medicaid."Read more
Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) released a statement following the passage of H.R. 4031, the Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act of 2014:
“I am proud to have cosponsored and supported H.R. 4031. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) responsibility is to provide care and support for our nation’s heroes. Sadly, the recent reports and investigations indicate the VA has failed our veterans.” said Schweikert. “VA leadership must be held accountable and I believe this bill is a step in the right direction to restoring faith and trust with our nation’s veterans.”Read more
From The Desk Of Russell Pearce:
You know that bad feeling when November rolls around and you look at your ballot and you realize that while you could never support the Democrat on your ballot, you are going to have to hold your nose to vote for the Republican nominee? Now is the time to do something about that. It is Primary time, when we get to support the best conservative and send a message to our state and our Party that those who champion our beliefs earn our support. That is why I am sending you this email today... To introduce you to State Senator Al Melvin, the proven conservative candidate for Arizona Governor.
For six years Al has been fighting for conservative values and casting real conservative votes: For Constitutional Carry, for SB1070 to fight illegal immigration, for SB1062 to protect religious liberties, for the largest tax cuts in Arizona history, against the ObamaCare Medicaid Expansion, and more. Al was also the author of the bill to stop Common Core here in Arizona. These weren’t easy positions to take, but Al took them on because it was the right thing to do.
In short, Al is the best conservative in the race for Governor, and he is someone you will get to feel good about supporting.Read more
Arizona State University is coming to downtown Mesa, after it already helped revitalize downtown Phoenix.
A big new regional park is coming to Gilbert, following the resurgence of its downtown.
The expansion and enhancement of Margaret Hance Park in Phoenix is impressive.
It begs the question does Scottsdale still need big ideas of its own to move the community forward? There’s a good argument it does not for it already boasts the likes of a massive preserve, recreational wash, renowned special events, the state’s best shopping mecca and a dynamic downtown.
But there are other smart opinions that no community can rest on its laurels because as Ricky Bobby might observe, if you’re not first you’re last.
A coterie of tourism leaders often point to the Desert Discovery Center as one such idea for Scottsdale. We view it more as innate inertia. Just because an idea has been around awhile doesn’t make it good, or novel. We have a Desert Botanical Garden. The McDowell Sonoran Preserve and its trailheads are already amazing. Do we really need people and buildings to preach what nature and wildlife already make obvious? After all, people don’t go to the Grand Canyon for the Hopi House.
To spark a discussion on what could or should be the next big thing in Scottsdale next we proffer several ideas:
*Taliesin West, the winter home of Frank Lloyd Wright, is already one of the great tourist attractions in Scottsdale and indeed, the state. It is currently pursuing designation as a World Heritage Site from the United Nations. Look up the list. To be included with such giants as the Taj Mahal and Pyramids would mean instant additional prestige for the city, as well as significant economic impact. The city should be doing everything it can to assist the process.Read more
He Chuckled Like Jabba The Hut Before He Killed Citizen Rights
Avid Star Wars fans will remember Jabba The Hutt’s laughter at the beginning of Return of the Jedi.
That’s the way many probably feel after reading former Scottsdale City Councilman, defeated State Legislative candidate and current Scottsdale Mayoral candidate Bob Littlefield’s recent tome.
After resembling Grumpy during the early days of his quixotic quest to join his wife on the Scottsdale City Council, Littlefield proffers a sunnier disposition outlining some of the things that are good about Scottsdale before assigning responsibility alone to residents – not businesses – who helped make them happen.
President Obama is in Cuba this week. Littlefield’s reasoning reminds us a bit of Che Guevara. Or Bernie Sanders, who was in Phoenix this week. People good. Business bad. It sounds more like Sweden than Scottsdale.Read more
As soon as Willard “Mitt” Romney was elected Governor of Massachusetts he began running for President. After losing the GOP nomination in 2008 he immediately started running again. After being the nominee in 2012 he lost a winnable general election. Then he started calling upon his inner Adlai Stevenson (a 3-time loser for the Democratic nomination for President) and quietly embarked on plans for a third Oval Office run.
But then the early Jeb Bush juggernaut – to be confused with the later “low energy” WASP -- scared him out.
But that hasn’t stopped the wily Willard, always on the look out for himself. After enthusiastically embracing Donald Trump in 2012 Wily Willy now sees opposition to him as a bank shot to the banks of the Potomac. These efforts continue on the eve of Arizona's presidential primary as well as one in Utah.Read more
By Scottsdale City Councilwoman Suzanne Klapp
There is little about City Council meetings that I cannot tolerate. I support freedom of speech and welcome people to come to the City Kiva and express their opinions about many subjects. My patience is very well established.
Fault me if you want, but enough is enough when a Satanist group, not even based in Scottsdale, wants to disrupt our meetings by giving an invocation to the entire Council meeting audience. And it is certain this will be a disruption.
The group applied to come to the meeting in April, then backed off when the city administration approved the request. It was obvious the group was just testing our response. We had a slight reprieve, until they came back with another request recently and were given July 6 as the date to be at the Council meeting.Read more
By Former Scottsdale City Councilwoman Betty Drake
Scottsdale, the “West’s Most Western Town,” is a place with a long tradition of welcoming and supporting the horse community. From its earliest days, there were horse ranches, horse shows, polo, rodeo, horse communities and horse trainers, many right in the middle of residential areas. Horses are part of Scottsdale’s image and culture.
Today, people lament erosion of the horse community in Scottsdale, as horse ranches leave and equestrian properties are subdivided. Areas of the city where traditionally horse ownership was high and local trails maintained are being eroded, with people moving in who block off the trails, do not own horses and often object to those who do.
The neighborhood where the Najafi Ranch is proposed has been a treasure for horse-lovers. Many people keep horses on their properties. There’s a community horse arena at Mescal Park and remnants of the internal trail system. Throughout the neighborhood, though, horse properties are being replaced with homes you could find anywhere in town. The area is in danger of losing its unique history and identity.
There have been many horse ranch and training facilities located within residential areas of Scottsdale. I have kept horses at some of these and have taken lessons at others over my 45+ years in the Valley, 30 of those years spent in Scottsdale. Look at Flying Fox Farm, Heitel Ranch, Jeffrey Wilms Training, and Camelot Farms. Looking along the Cactus Corridor.
Sandspur, at Cactus and 93rd Street, is a large facility that has been there many years, with arenas right next to single-family non-horsey homes. I boarded there and it was wonderful to be able to drive less than 10 minutes to ride. At one point it was rezoned as a subdivision but a horse-loving individual bought the property so the equine uses could remain. Other properties along Cactus have not been so lucky.
Pretty Penny Ranch was a large boarding and training ranch located in a residential area. When Pretty Penny announced that it was closing so the land could be turned into a subdivision, the horse community was up in arms.
Piece by piece. Property by property. The horses are being squeezed out of Scottsdale.
I’m a life-long horse person who just plain hates to see this happen. I can’t understand why the horse people aren’t storming the public hearings demanding that the Najafi Ranch be approved. Sure, 52 horses sounds like a lot on paper, but go look at a training barn with that many horses. It’s a reasonable number. It’s two barns.
I’ve known Francis Najafi for over 20 years. He’s a guy who does things right. There will be state-of-the-art dust control, fly control, construction and maintenance. As is typical of training ranches, a capable, professional manager will live on-property to assure that the highest standards are maintained. Najafi Ranch will be a magnificent, showcase facility, a considerable investment in our horse community and a statement that the City is committed to preserving Scottsdale’s signature horse culture.
Are all developer requests for rezonings good? Of course not. But nor are they all bad as Scottsdale’s current and former councilmembers Kathy Littlefield, Bob Littlefield and Guy Phillips often wax ineloquent.
Take this article in today’s Scottsdale Republic. The revitalization of McDowell Road has perplexed city planners and authorities for years. But progress is finally at hand. From SkySong to Fate Brewing Company to this new effort at 64th Street and McDowell to transform shuttered car dealerships into a mixed-use project. What an exciting time for the corridor.
The developer behind the Entrada plan and property is one of Arizona’s wealthiest individuals. He’s realizing as others have understood that this parcel, this area, is both blessed and underappreciated.
A quick shot west on McDowell takes you to the Loop 202. A bit further east is the 101. Across the street is Papago Park. And the Desert Botanical Garden. And the Phoenix Zoo. And the Papago Golf Course. Just further south is the old Phoenix Municipal Stadium and the new home of ASU baseball. Mill Avenue is a short drive away as is the energy of downtown Scottsdale. Be in the middle of it all isn’t a marketing slogan, it’s reality.Read more
*The property currently housing The Saguaro Hotel in downtown Scottsdale may be on the market
*His new Mission? Chef extraordinaire Matt Carter is said to be joining forces with Scottsdale restaurant and bar Hall of Famer Mark Drinkwater for a new venture at Scottsdale & Lincoln
*Want to live at the new Ritz-Carlton Paradise Valley? The project’s first advertisements debuted locally last week
*With State Representative Justin Olson’s decision to challenge Senate President Andy Bigg’s run to replace retiring U.S.Congressman Matt Salmon it means Governor Doug Ducey will have all-new legislative leadership to deal with next year as Olson was the presumptive Speaker to be.Read more
By nearly all accounts Arizona State Senator Debbie Lesko is an impressive public servant. She takes on tough issues like pension reform. And she gets results. That’s why her peers are rightfully considering her along with Steve Yarbrough and John Kavanagh to succeed Andy Biggs as the next State Senate President.
She’s conservative without being crazy. All this being said her philosophical inconsistency on one matter is loco, though impressively supple.
Amidst the current legislative session we are glad to see her sponsoring legislation preventing cities from curtailing Airbnb rentals. After all, she argues, people should have the right to choose where they stay and homeowner’s likewise should be able to enjoy sharing economy property rights. Her mooring on the subject is surely related to her affinity for school and health care choice.
Yet, Lesko’s impressive fidelity to conservatively rooted choice breaks down when it comes to energy matters. There she untethers herself from consistency. On this subject she strangely travels to the likes of TEP and Arizona Public Service who have somehow convinced her to pay no attention to the ideological droids she would mostly look for when it comes to solar choice.
How does one argue for all the matters above yet sponsor a strangulation of Arizona solar via new legislation SB1417 as one of her measures does, at the same time she touts Airbnb or a statewide voucher plan?Read more
Every day we go to work to make money or make a difference. Those who work in our national parks, monuments and forests likely fall into the latter category. They are there to be the custodians of God’s creativity and grace. Getting to work at Grand Canyon National Park or the adjoining Kaibab National Forrest is the pinnacle, for many, of such dedication.
There, everyone from rangers to superintendents is reminded of what President Theodore Roosevelt once said about the area:
“In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world. I want to ask you to keep this great wonder of nature as it now is. I hope you will not have a building of any kind, not a summer cottage, a hotel or anything else, to mar the wonderful grandeur, the sublimity, the great loneliness and beauty of the canyon. Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.”Read more
He was so influential and impactful while head of the Scottsdale Cultural Council he was referred to as the “8th councilman.”
And judging by this recent article in the Phoenix New Times, Scottsdale needs someone like Frank Jacobson now. Big time.
We’re not as dour as the New Times. After all, Scottsdale’s public art program remains second to no Valley city. And emerging events like Canal Convergence – or this weekend’s Scottsdale Arts Festival -- remind us of Scottsdale’s artistic soul, and how it can be enriched further.
There’s no doubt Scottsdale remains a great arts city. But there’s also no doubt that online sales, recent economic challenges and even accusations that special events hurt galleries are challenging the city’s private and public cultural scene too.Read more
As Mitt Romney laid early plans for a 2008 presidential run he was spending a lot of time in Arizona. To raise money. And to pin rival John McCain down in his home state more than he would have liked.
Romney sought a key endorsement: Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He got it. Arizona. Iowa. Whatever the Romney campaign needed “America’s Toughest Sheriff” was there. While Arpaio and McCain have hardly been close over the years going against your state’s U.S. Senator isn’t a political move without consequence.
Romney lost the primary to McCain in 2008, then became buddies with him. Nothing wrong with that. But there was a few years later when Romney treated Arpaio during his 2012 efforts like a leper, so as not to upset McCain.Read more
Scottsdale is the “West’s Most Western Town” but some neighbors (hardly all) want to stop that notion west of Scottsdale Road, along Cactus.
As we have written about before there is the place a renowned businessman and his wife hope to build an equestrian paradise on six acres called Rancho Paraiso.
It seems a natural fit for a community that has lost a few Stetsons in recent years. But some neighbors are actually opposing the first-class facility because 50 horses there would create too much “poop.” That’s not a joke. In an area dominated by horse properties that collectively stable hundreds of horses they are actually complaining about steaming nuggets.
That’s a little like someone living in the desert complaining about coyotes. Whoops, we already have one of those neighbors poignantly picked apart by this recent opinion piece in the Arizona Republic. Here is a link. Perhaps Seth Gortler and Todd Eden will oppose the McDowell Sonoran Preserve next.
More equestrian properties in Scottsdale are a good thing. Indeed, a massive horse property on Cactus east of the 101 called Sandspur Ranch is the anchor of that area. It has a whopping 205 horse stalls as opposed to the 52 proposed at “Najafi Ranch.” It’s been there for decades. And guess what? When it sought to expand in 1987 how many complaints were there? Zero. How many complaints are there about the property now? Zero.
How many complaints will there be about a premier equestrian facility like Rancho Paraiso after it opens? Zero. But that’s not what will happen to property values. They will rise. And Scottsdale’s western heritage will be enriched. Just as it has been with Sandspur Ranch.Read more
By Democrats For Education Reform
It’s no secret that Arizona’s public schools are hurting for state support. Over the past eight years, our schools have suffered some of the deepest cuts of any school systems in the nation. It is with this in mind that Democrats for Education Reform supports Proposition 123, which will be on the May special election ballot.
While we are fully supporting Proposition 123, Democrats for Education Reform wants to be very clear about one thing: Proposition 123 is not the solution to Arizona’s school funding woes, it is only the beginning. We agree with the Senate and House Democrats, as well as educational advocates across the state, in that Arizona needs to have a much larger conversation about both adequately funding and improving our public schools.Read more
by State Senator Katie Hobbs
Last Monday, as the legislative session began, the Arizona Legislative Democrats unveiled our priorities for the state. We have a clear vision for improving our state by making strategic investments to strengthen our economy, create jobs, and improve our schools.
First and foremost, we know that restoring the voter-mandated inflation funding with the lawsuit settlement in Prop 123 (to be voted on in a special election in May) is just the start when it comes to re-investing in K12 education. We have to keep good teachers from leaving Arizona, and we propose mentoring and retention incentives for our best teachers. We also need to restore building renewal funds and bring our classrooms up to date with materials and technology.
We must also re-invest in our higher education system for Arizona to remain competitive in the 21st century. We have the ability to restore at least half of the $99 million in cuts to the state universities that were made in year’s budget.Read more
Virginia Korte, life-long Valley resident and career-long advocate for a better Scottsdale, announced today that she will seek another term on the Scottsdale City Council.
“I am proud of what we accomplished during my first term on City Council, but there is so much more that must get done for our community” the veteran leader said.
“Over the past four years, Scottsdale has made significant strides in ensuring that our roads are safe and the necessities that allow our city to be great are nurtured and protected,” Korte says. “At the council’s insistence, city staff reduced staffing levels by 13 percent, or 377 employees, eliminated unnecessary services, consolidated work spaces, and sold unneeded buildings.”
Korte said her goals during a second term are to sustain the qualities that make Scottsdale a great place to do business and create jobs, while ensuring that all residents have an opportunity to benefit from those amenities and participate in creating a great city. Korte also knows education is a critical tool for economic development and to enhance Scottsdale’s future. Korte chaired the 2014 successful “Yes to Children” campaign to renew Scottsdale Unified School District’s budget override and remains an advocate for Scottsdale’s schools.
Korte hails from a family that is tightly woven into the fabric of a city that ranks among the best places to live in the world.Read more
In Arizona having noteworthy names has often led to electoral success. Democrat Paul Newman was elected to the Arizona Corporation Commission, even though he came from a small town in southern Arizona.
Then there was Sandra Kennedy, an African-American and former state legislator who put shamrocks on her campaign signs to suggest she was part of the famous family back east. She won too.
And don’t forget Bob Stump who purportedly altered his name to that of a revered Arizona congressman. It worked. Stump was elected to the legislature and then the Arizona Corporation Commission.
So that brings us to Dan Schweiker, an executive with China Mist Tea Company. He’s running for the Scottsdale City Council. And who is the popular U.S. Congressman for the Scottsdale area? David Schweikert.
Casa Grande, AZ – Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu announced Thursday he raised $306,000 in his congressional campaign’s first three months.
More than 1,500 people across the country donated to Babeu’s campaign for the 1st Congressional District.
"I'm humbled by this strong show of support. Voters want leaders in DC to secure the border, enforce immigration laws, stop overspending, strengthen our military and defeat ISIS,” Babeu said. “My executive leadership experience as an elected Sheriff and retired Army Officer offers voters a proven record of making tough decisions, accountability and competency that is often lacking in government. I will work hard to earn the trust of voters in rural Arizona to be their voice in Congress."
CD1 is one of the most competitive congressional districts in the nation. It is also an open seat that has drawn several candidates on both sides of the aisle.Read more
Arizona Citizens for the Arts is issuing a press release today to announce that our Board of Directors voted recently to join numerous business, community and education groups in endorsing Proposition 123, a ballot initiative that would inject $3.5 billion into Arizona schools.
These dollars will settle a longstanding lawsuit over cuts the Arizona Legislature made during the recession and provide other sustainable funding for education. Most importantly, it will put money back into Arizona classrooms and support Arizona teachers.
We know all too well, that when schools are under financial stress, teachers and resources for arts education are among the first to be cut. For that reason, AzCA has chosen to support Proposition 123 and to encourage arts supporters to go the polls on May 17 to vote for Proposition 123. We wanted you – our valued advocates and supporters – to be among the first to know this.Read more
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