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2018 Scrum

The Sanctuary Resort in Paradise Valley is a beautiful property run by respected industry veterans.  Indeed, it’s one of the finest small hotels in Arizona, if not the best.

The one amusing exception seems to be its disregard for Sun Devil fans.  Curiously, bar management shuns ASU football on its televisions for games in Gainesville and the like.  Higher-ups may want to have a chat with staff as come summer time the locals not the Floridians keep the place in business. But we digress . .

The Sanctuary’s class is why ownership and management’s conduct at a recent Paradise Valley Town Council meeting about the proposed Ritz-Carlton resort was a real head scratcher.  Sitting in the back of a packed hearing room, predominantly of supporters, they resembled the kind of people movie theaters have to run ads about before the show, so people can best enjoy the featured presentation.

Snickering, whispering, eye-rolling, their competitive jealousy of the Ritz proposal was disappointing to observe. After all, earlier in the night the General Manager of another Paradise Valley hotel, the Camelback Inn, told Ritz backers he was rooting for them and the good it could do the town.  A recent economic impact report submitted to the town said the Ritz and related development could generate a staggering $5.3 million annually for the town. 

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Last Tuesday, Seattle voters approved of an unprecedented measure that will dramatically overhaul how local candidates running for mayor, city council, and city attorney raise campaign funds.

Under Initiative 122, Seattle became the first city in the United States to try taxpayer-funded “democracy vouchers.” These vouchers work in a relatively straightforward manner. Each registered Seattle voter will receive four $25 vouchers to give to a candidate, or candidates, of their choice. The plan is funded by the city’s real estate taxes as voters authorized a 10-year, $30 million property-tax levy to pay for the vouchers.avote

A candidate can decline to accept vouchers, but if they accept them, they agree to follow certain guidelines. First, the candidate accepting vouchers must take part in at least three public debates. Additionally, the candidate will have to accept lower campaign contributions and to limit campaign spending.

Seattle’s plan could be a new way to approach campaign finance in Arizona following frustrations with the state’s “clean elections” system and its matching funds being struck down by the United States Supreme Court.

During every election cycle, we hear stories of large corporations and wealthy individuals increasingly using their financial resources to dominate Arizona’s political process. Many Arizonans have become complacent with elections, arguing that they feel out of touch with their political candidates. Indeed, Arizona’s 2014 election turnout was anemic.

If a democracy voucher-like plan is adopted in Arizona, democracy could return to the hands of people, and not just the powerful. There is no doubt that democracy vouchers will give every registered Arizona voter more influence over the political process and will give more political voice to Arizonans of modest financial means. The influence of big money may be curbed and the political voices of Arizonans of modest financial means could be amplified.

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It is no secret that the US Department of Veteran’s Affairs has been dealing with a scandal or two. Thanks to whistleblowers like Dr. Katherine Mitchell, the internal issues came to light as well as the shocking knowledge that our veterans are not receiving the proper care they deserve. 50 veterans passed away due to lack of care.

Sen. John McCain has worked tirelessly to improve the Phoenix VA, even to the point where he begged President Barack Obama to come and see the scandalous activity for himself. As a veteran, McCain has made it his mission to clean up the VA and ensure that all veterans receive the care they deserve.Clinton1web_2831249b

Hilary Clinton seems to disagree that the issue at hand is at a scandal level and is more at an uh-oh level. She believes that the whole thing was blown way out of proportion and that it wasn’t as bad as it was made out to be. With the election coming up next year, it is good to know that the lives of veterans are not high on her priority level.

The next question to ask is: How many veterans have to die from lack of proper medical care in order for an issue to be worth her time? 100? 500? 1,000? These are men and women who have risked their lives and lost limbs so that she has the right to say that the scandal was overblown. This must be her way of saying thank you.

Clinton is basing her beliefs on a survey completed by veterans who were actually given care in 2013. The problem with these surveys is that they were given to the veterans who had no issue getting appointments and receiving care.

If she based her beliefs on the survey taken in 2014, she would see that the number declined from an 83 percent satisfaction rating to 55 percent. Also she would see that 70 percent of the VAs nationwide falsified information.

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On October 28th the message below was sent out to businesses in downtown Scottsdale.  There’s probably more than a few alarm bells going off.

After all, what problem would shrinking Scottsdale Road from two lanes to one lane through a vibrant downtown solve?  Are city planners just looking for something to do?  Is there one-lane envy of Mill Avenue in Tempe?

At a time when downtown Scottsdale is bustling with activity we can think of few things to screw it up quicker than this idea.  Maybe the outreach will reveal a compelling vision.  After all, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg once shut cars out of Times Square over a great outcry, only to be rewarded with acknowledgement that the idea might have been good after all once implemented. Scottsdale-Sign-547x198

But where the discussion likely heads are those fearing a new attempt to inject light rail into Scottsdale.  For many years a passionate and influential group of downtown business owners has feared the possibility, and let it be known over their dead bodies.  But two of the ringleaders of that opposition – Mike Fernandez of Pottery Paradise and Tom Silverman of the Chapparal Suites hotel – have sold their properties.  And the Scottsdale City Council now includes at least two passionate advocates for such a system.

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Dierks Bentley’s popular restaurant and bar, Whiskey Row, hopes to join Gilbert’s Heritage District very soon. There are already two other popular locations in the Valley, Scottsdale and Tempe. So why are the residents of Gilbert worried about this establishment?

Noise. That’s right, the residents of Gilbert are worried that Whiskey Row will be too noisy and will not be a good addition to the Heritage District. Gilbert residents are apparently not fans of a good time. They would rather have a quiet boring town than one full of life. Whiskey-Row-01-no-logo1

The Scottsdale and Tempe locations have established reputations for loud music booming from the building into the early hours of the morning as well as attracting party people. Yet this is due to the locations of both buildings.

Old Town Scottsdale as a whole is known as an entertainment district, so the Whiskey Row fits that description. This is the same for Tempe, as that location is known for the college students it attracts.

The Heritage District is known for the family friendly atmosphere and establishments to go along with it. Whiskey Row plans on changing the focus of this location to one that puts the restaurant before the bar. An expanded food menu has already been created for this location and the liquor license purchased is for restaurants specifically.

Apparently the assurances of Riot Hospitality Group, operators of the Scottsdale and Tempe locations, are not enough. Not only have they made clear that they intend to create a family friendly atmosphere, they also intend to follow all city noise ordinances.

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It’s been 33 years since John Rambo took on the world.  It’s been only a week or two since former Phoenix City Councilman Tom Simplot fired the first shots in the 2019 Phoenix Mayor’s race.

Two capable people have made it known they want to replace the term-limited Greg Stanton. Simplot and current Phoenix City Councilman Michael Nowakowski.  Both would be strong candidates and make Phoenix history.  Simplot would be the first openly gay Mayor, Nowakowski the first Latino.

Simplot also serves as the CEO of the Arizona Multihousing Association.  He knows what’s going on in apartment world.

So when Deco Communities and its high-powered lobbyist lost a recent City of Phoenix bid to build a new apartment project on city owned land in downtown Phoenix, Simplot saw an opportunity to sully his potential opponent.

The resulting coverage in the Arizona Republic (click here) reads more like insinuations than a disconcerting investigative report.

Read closely – understand what’s really going on – and it appears there is neither smoke nor fire.  Arizona’s most influential political blogger agrees. (Click here)  

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There are always great stories in any school district.  A wonderful teacher.  An enterprising student.  A feel good sports team.

The Scottsdale Unified School District is no different.

But the problems infecting the one time model of public schooling are a shocking indifference to malaise.  And that’s to put it kindly.

Last year the district again lost some 1,000 students.  Once proud campuses look skeletal.

At the helm presides David Peterson, as he has for years.  He knows how to ask taxpayers for more money.  It’s unclear whether he knows how to do anything else, including reversing losses. 

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Fiesta Mall in Mesa is about dead.  Los Arcos Mall in Scottsdale died years ago.  Metrocenter is trying to reinvent itself as so many other malls are doing across the country.  The changing retail landscape driven by increased online sales demands it.  Look at Biltmore Fashion Park which now seems more a tony food court than mall. scottsdalefashionsquaremall1

That brings us to Scottsdale Fashion Square.  Despite its pre-eminence it is not immune to the altering landscape.

That’s why its pending requests of the City of Scottsdale to allow greater heights and uses at the marquee mall are forward looking and smart.  They will allow potential hotels, residences and other uses to keep the people coming and dollars flowing.

Fashion Square is a golden goose for the city.  Sales tax revenue.  Cache.  Amenity.  Scottsdale leaders previous made bold decisions to help position the property for prosperity.  They need to do so again, even those with frequent aversions to allowing taller buildings for developers.

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It would seem that the Tempe police are more concerned about people’s opinion of them than actually protecting the residents.

The ‘Safe and Sober’ campaign that launched in 2013 after incidents where Arizona State University students were found dead after attending parties where heavy drinking was involved was replaced with a babied version that focuses on education and prevention.

After the program ran for three weekends it vanished due to complaints that it put Tempe into a ‘police state.’ The semester hasn’t even officially started and we are no-where close to the heavy drinking events such as home football games and holidays and already they are backing off.

Tempe police say that they will be bringing back a new version based on education and prevention instead of a call to action. Just like the years before the whole campaign started, which didn’t work out so well for the underage drinking problem.

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Some time ago Bob and Karen Hobbs bought the former home of favorite Arizona son Barry Goldwater.  Located on a hilltop in the heart of Paradise Valley their preservation and updating of the home was and is spectacular.

From time to time they do events there, mainly political ones favoring the Grand Old Party.  But not a once have they sought to commercialize the property with such things as weddings, concerts and wine bars.  They’d get laughed and run out of town by neighbors and town officials if they thought about, let alone submitted plans to actually do it.

The Hobbs’ also never hired publicists to tout how great they were for keeping and restoring the Goldwater home, where they now live.

Contrast this approach with the extraordinary arrogance of Zach Rawlings in Arcadia, who is seeking to do everything the Hobbs’ did not.

Instead of quietly and nobly resurrecting a home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Rawlings has sought to tell the world how great he is for doing it. And while we agree that kudos are in order, his subsequent endeavor to use it as a mean to gain unprecedented commercial rights in Arcadia is anything but a Hobbesian choice.  It’s just wrong.

Indeed the plans submitted to Phoenix allow Rawlings new development rights no other homeowner in Arcadia enjoys.   Consequently, any longer calling it the “Wright House” are woefully insufficient. The more proper name is the Arcadia Event & Wedding Center.  

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We all remember Christine O’Donnell, as we try to forget her?  She was the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Delaware who rode that year’s Tea Party wave to upset the presumed nominee, he of the “establishment.”  In one of the worst political television advertisements ever produced she infamously declared she was “not a witch” as she attempted to retintroduce herself to a general electorate following her surprising nomination. It didn’t work.  She got crushed.

Largely quelled in 2012 and 2014 are we seeing the rise of another Tea Party wave in 2016, with Donald Trump as its titular head?

It appears so, at least for now.  But consider that it ominously (at least for some) appears to go well beyond Trump.

In yesterday’s Meet The Press/Survey Money survey the top 3 candidates – Trump, Cruz & Carson – combined for a whopping 47% of the vote.  They are all from outside the establishment and running as such.  Add in another person running as an outsider now tied for fourth – Carly Fiorina and her 8% -- and a majority vote in the 2016 GOP primary is now occupied by Tea Party-like outsiders. 

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Normally one doesn’t start with boring phrases, words and projects to entice a reader to continue on. But the language below while not sexy is compelling for reasons that will be explained. So, please read on.
“Forty-year old infrastructure” in southern Scottsdale.

“Replace existing chemical treatment systems” with new ones to “provide a safe and consistent disinfectant solution for public pools.”

“Replace again restrooms at four city parks” that “do not meet ADA requirements.”

“Replacing outdated irrigation systems” that will “help reduce costs by lowering water usage and increasing energy efficiency.”
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“Replace outdated and inefficient ballfield lighting” at parks across the city.

Improving accident prone intersections and the safety of certain crosswalks.

Improving certain, heavily trafficked roads now in order to leverage regional funds to lessen the burden on Scottsdale taxpayers.

Fixing “missing” and “crumbling” sidewalks.

Replace “antiquated electrical systems” in city buildings that cost taxpayers more to operate.

“Purchase Disaster Recovery Technology Infrastructure.”

“Replace 140 miles of deteriorated pavement on city streets.”

Design and build fire stations in areas that don’t have them or are operating in “single-wide trailers.”

“Expand and renovate the Civic Center Jail and Police Station” to aid a jail built for a Scottsdale in 1971, not 44 years later that sees frequent “jail overcrowding.”

These are the phrases and language found in city information about the upcoming $96 million bond vote in Scottsdale. If these are not the necessary, limited and basic functions of government we don’t know what are.

Two years ago a larger package of some $212 million was proposed. Scottsdale voters soundly rejected it in November, 2013. A leader of that opposition, Kathy Littlefield, was subsequently elected to the Scottsdale City Council. It shows. Littlefield helped craft a proposal supported by a strong majority of council that focus on the basics and the needs, not the nice to haves. A well known former opponent, Bill Crawford, also supports the new package.

If passed the bonds, which would increase the average Scottsdale homeowner’s property taxes by a whopping ten cents per day, would be the first package passed since 2000!

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By. Dr. Michael Ward

Fellow Conservative,

My wife, Dr. Kelli Ward, is the most extraordinary woman I’ve ever known. Even though I see her every day, she still finds new ways to surprise me.

When we met in medical school, I knew she was something special. It wasn’t just the caring and the empathy she showed for her patients and fellow doctors, though that was remarkable. It was the laser-focus she put into whatever she was doing, and the skill and determination she used to solve problems and achieve her goals.

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by Scottsdale City Council Member Suzanne Klapp

Yesterday in front of supporters, business owners and ASU officials, I announced my decision to pursue a third term on the Scottsdale City Council.  We gathered outside of ATOMdesign, a business located in Skysong, the ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center, along McDowell Road to make the announcement.

 

Six years ago I brought a fresh business perspective to the Scottsdale City Council and prioritized economic growth, the continued development of SkySong, and the revitalization of McDowell Road.  I am particularly excited about this City Council run and intend to focus our Council on better connecting Scottsdale citizens with their government. 

 

It’s been my desire to not only run a business but to be involved in the community.  It causes me to be motivated every day.  There is more to do, more to make happen, and more we as government leaders can do to assist business owners and residents.  We can help them through the red tape, through the regulation, and perhaps live their lives a little easier.

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By Arizona State Senator Katie Hobbs

Today is a day for us to celebrate equality and love. It has prevailed. The Supreme Court ruling handed down today strengthens families and communities all over the country. It provides certainty for couples in Arizona that their marriages will remain legally recognized.
I want to congratulate everyone that has worked for this day, it wouldn’t have happened without your determination. I have been encouraged by your perseverance and strength that when we organize, work together, and stand up for what is right we can make positive change.
We must remember though that the fight for full equality for all Arizonans does not end today. LGBT people can still be fired, evicted, or denied services simply for who they are or who they love. I am committed to changing that. Join me by signing our petition here to end these discriminatory practices.

Now celebrate!

Katie Hobbs
Senate Democratic Leader

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by Carly Fiorina

Fellow Conservative,
Fox News recently announced how they will select participants for the first presidential campaign debate.

I’ll skip straight to the point: I look forward to participating in the Fox News debate. I’ll make it clear that I’m ready to take on Hillary Clinton.
But I need your help to get on that debate stage. In order to secure an invitation, I need to grow my team of supporters. Will you make a donation of $13 today to help me get on that debate stage?

I’m running for President because we need a leader we can actually trust in the White House.
In the business world, we don’t have the luxury of hiding from our problems until they go away, like Hillary does on the campaign trail. We have to actually accomplish something.
When I was hired to be CEO of Hewlett-Packard—the first woman in history to run a business so large—I found myself face-to-face with the biggest tech recession in history, and a market that was dramatically changing.
At HP, I wasn’t afraid to shake up the status quo. My decisions didn’t always make me popular—but they would ultimately prove to be the right ones.

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By Robert Leger

A tale of two mayors and two cities:

SCOTTSDALE:

After Steve Ellman abandoned his efforts to build a professional ice hockey arena in Scottsdale and turned to Glendale, Scottsdale was left was a deteriorating mall at Scottsdale and McDowell Roads. Eventually, the city partnered with ASU to build SkySong, a research and innovation center.

Click here to see the entire editorial

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By Marco Rubio

Last week, our team told you about the New York Times attacking me for receiving four traffic tickets over the last 20 years. Now, today, the Times is out with a story suggesting that I'm not rich enough to be president!

According to the Times, "Rubio entered public life in a deep financial hole of his own making." Sounds pretty bad, doesn't it? But what exactly was this deep financial hole of my own making? My student loans! I didn't have the money for college, so I had to take out loans. And now the Times is attacking me for it.

As I have said many times, I am not poor, but I'm not rich either. It's true, I didn't make over $11 million last year giving speeches to special interests. And we don't have a family foundation that has raised $2 billion from Wall Street and foreign interests.

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