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2018 Scrum

Imagine this:  A City of Scottsdale employee perhaps not enjoying a request or opinion from a citizen decides to choke them, in public and resulting in a police investigation.

How long do you think City Manager Fritz Behring would keep them around?  The pink slip likely wouldn’t take as much time as the choke.

Yet, if developers asking for special favors in Scottsdale choke those who disagree with them outside of City Hall that’s apparently OK.  At least to some members of the Scottsdale City Council.

This is not a hypothetical.  This actually happened over the last month.

The craziness concluded Tuesday night when four members of the City Council, including Mayor Lane, voted down the choker’s request for the WestWorld area, as they rightfully should have on the merits.

But three did not.  It’s one thing to be pro-business but to put a choke-hold on common sense is a real head scratcher.

Scottsdale has endured some pitched battles over the years on a whole range of issues.  But never has the decorum been as decrepit as this developer’s.

Let’s hope it’s an exception for those who rule in Scottsdale.

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You spoke, and your leaders listened. With the stroke of a pen, Arizona became the latest in a growing list of states to embrace smart ridesharing regulations that support innovation, expand economic opportunity, and put consumer choice and safety first.

We’ve been proud to play a role in strengthening Arizona’s economy while making it easier, safer and more affordable for more people to move around. And we hope you’ll join us in thanking the leaders, including Governor Doug Ducey, who helped make this day possible.

SIGN THE PETITION THANKING AZ LEADERS

Of course, none of this would have been possible without you. Your calls, tweets, and emails made all the difference and prompted elected officials to adopt regulations that work for Arizonans everywhere. Because of you, uberX is here to stay.

We’ll see you on the road.

Uber On,

Team Uber Arizona

 

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We are fans of the Arizona Republic. We also came into being due to their retreat from robust, community-oriented editorial content.  Today, the Arizona Republic’s editorialists awoke from their frequent hibernation on matters local, reminding us how they can be wrong, not Wright.

Essentially, the Republic chastised the Arcadia neighborhood for its substantial opposition to a developer’s plan to commercialize the David Wright House, designed by the famed father for his son. Here is a link to the editorial.

The opposition appears to be based on the not unfounded frustration that what once seemed a noble effort to preserve and restore a house has metastasized into a commercial development ploy that would make even Donald Trump blush.

According to the Phoenix Councilman who represents the area, Sal DiCiccio, the effort to preserve this house now includes an outdoor performance venue, a “wine bar,” weddings and substantial tourist visitation levels.  Just the way Mr. Frank Lloyd designed the house, Wright?  Not exactly. He designed it as a peaceful retreat for his son with no commercial activity, unlike the current owner Zach Rawlings who is using Wright’s renown for an exceptional commercial development parlay.

We do have to give Mr. Rawlings credit for creativity, even if it now means any home of interest in the City of Phoenix can follow his lead for enrichment and disruption.

Maybe the Rawlings’ Austin Powers-like ingenuity is what led to the mancrush in today’s editorial  It was written by a long-time scribe at the Republic well known for being a reliable tributary for Rawlings’ chief lobbyist.

During the love letter we were regaled to Rawlings’ selflessness and ties to the Valley, with neighbors being scolded for describing him as being someone from Las Vegas.  Shame on they the Republic instructed, not realizing itself Rawlings’ has apparently been registered to vote in Nevada since 2007.

While the Republic is misguided at least they are consistent, trespassing on both white-collar neighborhoods like Arcadia, and blue collar ones alike. 

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About a decade ago far north Scottsdale saw Rawhide relocate to the Gila River Indian Community.  The property now houses a Sprouts, strip center and nursing home.

The venerable Scottsdale watering hole Greasewood Flat is set to be replaced this year with houses, as is Pinnacle Peak Patio.

And while its special nature can be questioned The Borgata was certainly an interesting space.  It’s now going to be condominiums.

All of these properties had compelling reasons for evolution but it’s a fair to ask if Scottsdale is the better for it?

Most would say not. So that begs another question.  Should special Scottsdale places receive special treatment to stay as they are?

Yes.  Perhaps. Maybe. We hope so.

For example, if the Coach House and Rusty Spur go away for the non-descript is Scottsdale enriched?  Perhaps financially but not socially, culturally.  That’s why the activists that sought to keep and preserve an old church now city owned on Indian School Road should be applauded.

Republicans, and Scottsdale is a city full of them, typically don’t like “subsidies” where elected officials get to offer goodies for specific companies to come to town.  Well, what about efforts to keep certain ones that help define its personality.

This could take the form of tax breaks, reimbursements, fee waivers and even city marketing assets for certain businesses and properties specifically reviewed and vetted, first by a citizen’s committee then by a council.  

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It would be far more forthright for developer Jerry Ayoub, who wants to build a dense subdivision in Paradise Valley that happens to include a Ritz-Carlton hotel, to level with the good people in town rather than his current silly rhetoric.

It would go like this:  I paid way too much for the large property at Scottsdale and Indian Bend during Arizona’s real estate heights.  I spent too much on lawyers and lawsuits to keep the property.  And now I have to pay whopping interest payments to Bob Parsons for a cash infusion I needed to hold on.  If you want a Ritz in the shortest term I may be able to deliver one.  But you have to bail me out of my quixotic adventure with development rights not tendered in the locale’s history.  Not by a little bit. But by a lot.

We don’t know if this would be successful but it is terribly relevant. Because what Ayoub needs to put on the property to recoup his investment is extraordinary.  Extraordinarly tall, dense and large. town of PV

So do town officials want to violate everything the community stands for just to get a Ritz now?

The citizenry likely won’t after the political con job behind the proposal becomes more well known.  So let’s discuss and revisit.

Ayoub says the 4-story Scottsdale-approved apartment complex at Lincoln and Scottsdale Road is now causing him to go up, in violation of town principles.  Granted, this was approved by Scottsdale not Paradise Valley but Ayoub as an adjoining property owner could have forced a supermajority vote on the matter, likely killing it.  He didn’t by design. For reasons we are hearing now.  Surely it was no coincidence that both projects share the same zoning attorney either.

The Ayoub camp is actually saying another Scottsdale approval, that for a 4-story condominium project on the old Borgata site influences its proposal too.  What?  That’s like half a mile away. 

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Today, Hall of Fame funny man Will Ferrell is creatively making his way around the Cactus League to showcase a great cause.

That he is here at all, able to move so conveniently from one stadium to another, reminds us all of one of the Valley’s most notable achievements.

The economic impact from spring training is staggering.  Just ask most any local business.  It’s like spring break, bachelor parties and Cooperstown all rolled into one. will-ferrell

But that wasn’t always the case.

Some two decades ago Florida’s Grapefruit League was the favored place for the annual birthing of baseball.

But then Scottsdale City Councilman Jim Bruner stepped in, solidifying plans and funding to stop the Cactus League’s bleeding and the migration of more teams east.

Fast forward to November, 2000 when the Bidwill family, now capably led by Michael Bidwill, prevailed in a countywide vote that also included substantial new funds for Valley spring training stadiums.  The inclusion of such funds in a football focused tax was self-serving.  But so what?

We should be grateful to the Bidwills not only for a winning football team of late, or when a Super Bowl is in town, but each spring, for the Cactus League we have today.

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A Philosophy Enshrined In Opposition To Financial, School & Healthcare Choice

Prospective 2016 GOP nominees for President get asked it a lot.  What does your party stand for?  Ronald Reagan Redux.  Freedom.  American exceptionalism.  Liberty.  Those are a few of the familiar refrains.

It’s not quite clear what Hillary Clinton and the Democrats stand for.  But here in Arizona it is this:  continued indentured servitude of their constituencies. state capitol

More school choice to empower parents?  No way.  That would hurt the public school monopoly, teachers union and bloated administrative bureaucracy.  Besides, parents:  You’re too dumb to make such choices.  We know best.

Or how about health care choices?  Nope.  That gets in the way of their goals for universal health care and one size fits all.  Too many people will get snookered if too many choices exist.

And that brings us to something we opined about last week but the justification for responding further reveals itself with each Democratic demagogue since.  Donkey alert.  Payday lending in Arizona is dead.  And that’s a good thing.

And so is financial choice, the heart of HB2611 legislation sponsored by State Representative J.D. Mesnard.  We can’t have it Democrats say because proposed interest rates on unsecured loans are too high, and those who might advantage them will entwine themselves in debt.  In other words you poorer people with few financial opportunities, you’re too dumb to know what you’re getting into.

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Since the closing of Los Arcos Mall some 15 years ago and a number of automobile dealerships more recently, Scottsdale’s primary political sport has been hand wringing about the future of McDowell Road.

An arena for the Phoenix Coyotes, SkySong, large new apartment projects, light rail, a New York City-like “High-Line” trail.  There has been no shortage of ideas big and small to lift the area from perceived decline.

Yet, as took place up the street in downtown Scottsdale something more organic than planned seems to be occurring.  After all, “south Scottsdale” is in the middle of it all.

Five minutes to the south is a thriving ASU.  Just north is the fun and entertainment of downtown Scottsdale.  To the east lies a recreation jewel, the Indian Bend Wash.  The 101 Freeway is just beyond.  Adjoining to the west is Papago Park with the Phoenix Zoo, Desert Botanical Garden and now the new home of ASU Baseball.

Pretty good neighbors indeed.

Sometimes the market is slow to recognize such strengths.  This is changing in south Scottsdale.    And often times the best changes are not prompted by master plans but by the imaginations of entrepreneurs.

Like those at Fate Brewing Company.  It’s interesting.  Most cool bars and restaurants go through an understood progression.  Downtown Scottsdale. Mill Avenue.  Maybe Chandler or Biltmore.  Then North Scottsdale.  But this brewery which started near Scottsdale and Shea is going from north to south.  Unheard of!

And that’s why this is so encouraging.  First movers will benefit from taking a chance on this area.  It would be recognized as the next great neighborhood in the Valley, if it already wasn’t one.  As smart business people are understanding.

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By Scottsdale City Councilman David Smith

Dear Friends...

This Tuesday evening, February 24, the Scottsdale City council will debate the first real tax reform in recent memory.  A workshop has been scheduled to discuss the proposal I made last month to eliminate the sales tax imposed on retail sales of food for home consumption. david smith 2

Scottsdale's food tax collections amount to $11 million a year, borne substantially by Scottsdale's 220,000 citizens. A family of four might pay as much as $200 per year.  More troubling, the burden of this tax weighs most heavily on those least able to afford it.

The Scottsdale Independent ran an editorial I submitted arguing for the elimination of food taxes, available at: http://www.scottsdaleindependent.com/opinions/smith-scottsdale-city-council-debate-real-tax-reform-feb-24/

I hope you'll take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the issues and follow this important debate.  If you have questions to ask or opinions to share, I encourage you to email me. news@councilmandavidsmith.com

David N. Smith

Scottsdale City Council

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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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Jim Lane Files Paperwork To Seek Third Term As Mayor Of Scottsdale
Announcement Follows Eight Years Of Progress And Recovery

(Scottsdale, Ariz.) Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane is seeking a third and final term to ensure Scottsdale continues to move in the right direction.

"I have led our community, with the help of citizens and city council, from trying times to better times. Now and for my last term as Mayor, and with further assistance from those I serve and work with, I want to lead us to the best of times. Our citizens from south to north and every neighborhood in between deserve the best city in America,” said Mayor Lane.

Not too long ago Scottsdale faced the stiffest recession she may ever know; revenues were plummeting; investment was scarce; and there was a sense the city was losing its way.  Not anymore.  Through key reforms and smart leadership Scottsdale is once again a city on the move.  This was accomplished with pragmatic decisions, innovative use of available citizen resources and without increasing the tax burden on citizens.

Lane said, “I ran for re-election for Mayor in 2012 because of the hard work and key reforms that have helped make Scottsdale the best city in America.  The voters responded, providing us with a large margin of victory. I humbly ask for their support again to help keep Scottsdale a remarkable place of reform and results.  Why?  Because even at this early stage I am organizing my 2016 re-election campaign for what would be my last lane logo compressedterm as Scottsdale’s Mayor.”

Over the past four years Scottsdale has received national accolades for its parks system, business environment, quality of life and for being one of the best run cities in the country. At the same time  Scottsdale built, purchased and revitalized its greatest tourism infrastructure assets… the TPC,  West World’s (multi-use) Equestrian Center, Scottsdale’s Museum of the West and moved Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve to near completion. All with the judicious use of existing dedicated tax receipts, dedicated capital reserves, dedicated state dollar-sharing growing smarter grant funds and tourist tax dollars dedicated to tourism related infrastructure.

Mayor Lane added, “I sent a message when I became Mayor.  Scottsdale is open for business.  We will not sacrifice quality but we will work with you if you want to work in Scottsdale.  We are open for business because without a strong economy we would not have the revenues for our public safety, parks, neighborhood services and quality of life our residents deserve and demand.   Businesses small and large are flocking to our city.  That’s a tribute to the community created by those before us, and advanced now in that tradition by those currently here.

Mayor Lane is committed to ensuring that Scottsdale remain a city of robust tourism, dynamic families, impressive public art, amazing preservation, great city employees, beautiful neighborhoods, and terrific parks; a city that is open to business and to all who want to be part of our great community.

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The population of Phoenix is expected to nearly double in the next 30 years. That’s a lot more people on the roads, and a lot more wear and tear on our streets.

MovePHX is an all-of-the-above transportation initiative that will fund fresh coats of asphalt for more than 680 miles of streets. The plan will also add 135 miles of new sidewalks and 2,000 new streetlights.

For just a penny more on a $3 cup of coffee, we can build the comprehensive transportation infrastructure that we need.

In addition to repairing aging roads, MovePHX will expand bus and light rail, and add 1,080 miles of new bike lanes.

“I drive around Phoenix a lot. I know how to avoid traffic on the main streets because I hate it. If MovePHX would alleviate congestion on the roads that would definitely help."

– Mikala Voughn

In 2000, voters approved to create the Citizen Transit Commission to oversee how tax dollars are spent on all transit and traffic improvements. Already we’ve made significant strides to improve our streets. Upgrades have been made to add 330 additional left turn arrows at intersections and 300 bus pullout bays.

Phoenix needs a widespread transportation system to support the city's growth and a better quality of life for its residents.
To improve our city, vote yes on Proposition 104 in August!

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By Senator John McCain
Did you hear the news? Today we took a positive step forward in the fight to secure America's borders.

The Senate Homeland Security & Government Affairs Committee has approved the Arizona Borderlands Protection & Preservation Act, which I introduced earlier this year.

For decades, drug cartels and human smugglers have exploited U.S. land management laws by crossing our border through federal wildlife reserves - where current law strictly limits Border Patrol Officers' movement.

It's deeply frustrating that the very laws in place to protect federal lands can also prevent Border Patrol agents from doing their jobs by making it more difficult to access large swaths of land and respond to threats quickly.

When some Democrats from the East Coast objected to my bill today, I had to give them some straight talk: "I don't give a damn if somebody that lives in Delaware doesn't like my efforts to [secure] our border so that people who live down on our border can live in an environment of peace and security that the people of Delaware can live in."

When it's passed by Congress, my common-sense bill will change that, cutting bureaucratic red tape to provide border agents the access they need to better secure our border.

This is exactly the kind of work that I'm determined to continue as Arizona's Senator.

Sincerely,

John McCain

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By Robbie Sherwood , Executive Director of ProgressNow Arizona

It looks like we touched a nerve.

Recently the Arizona Advocacy Foundation led a coalition of non-partisan groups to produce an in-depth study of our state’s most recent election in the wake of the United States Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act.

The Arizona Shelby Response Project — named for the court case Shelby v. Holder — reached some startling conclusions about whose vote counts in Arizona elections and whose does not. The product of a months-long breakdown of voter data as well as hundreds of in-person interviews with voters at the polls, the comprehensive study showed that thousands of eligible registered Arizona voters had their votes discarded in the last elections. Tens of thousands more have been disenfranchised in previous elections.

There were enough discarded ballots to potentially sway several close races. Caught by a variety of traps set through Arizona’s increasingly antiquated voting laws, the populations impacted shared a disturbing commonality. Young and minority voters — particularly Latino voters — were vastly over-represented among the invalidated votes.

Secretary of State Michele Reagan responded to the report in a defensive and hostile manner. Rather than seizing the opportunity to start a new dialogue to modernize Arizona elections for voters, Reagan instead published an op-ed last week taking issue with the report. Her piece included personal attacks on the report’s lead researcher and on my organization, ProgressNow Arizona, because I served as the report’s editor.

Her accusation that the Shelby Response data was “cherry picked” is ridiculous. We urge the public to read the report for themselves here and urge the media to follow our heavily footnoted footsteps to see what conclusions they reach. The only place where our data came up incomplete is when some election officials — including Reagan — stonewalled us. Those instances are noted in the report and we encourage the press to continue seeking answers.

But we must voice serious concern with Reagan’s when she says: “It is time to dispel the narrative that if a ballot ‘isn’t counted’ it is a bad thing.” This is an astounding statement from any state’s chief elections officer, but particularly one who was elected amid the lowest voter turnout since World War II (when half our country’s fighting-age men were overseas and unable to cast ballots).

Reagan further brags that “since 2006, Arizona has invalidated an average of less than 1.8 percent of the total ballots cast in each election.” Reagan seems to consider this percentage a GOOD thing.

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My campaign staff handed me a stack of new press reports a mile high...

One headline from a Fox News article perfectly sums up everything I'm facing right now:

"UGLY EARLY: PAUL'S ENTRY SETS OFF FIRST ROUND OF ATTACKS."

And that's because the media sees polls showing me as the candidate best positioned to beat Hillary Clinton.

I don't have time to mince words.

The first few days of any campaign are virtually always the most important.

So can I please count on your most generous gift right now to my campaign's Stand With Rand Money Bomb to help us reach our new goal of $1.5 million?

Even if you've already given, but can afford to chip in a little more, please do so.

If you haven't given, please be as generous as you can!

The truth is, taking on the Washington machine isn't going to be easy.

There are plenty of candidates in BOTH parties who want to keep taxing and spending like there's no tomorrow until every last shred of American wealth is wiped out.

They'll do anything to defend the Big Government status quo.

I'm afraid they view you and me as their number-one threat.

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Friends,

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.

It has been a tremendous honor to serve you the last six years and I humbly request your support and confidence for another term.

City Council campaigns can be very competitive with a multitude of candidates vying for limited seats. Any help you can provide in the early stages would be greatly appreciated. Please consider making a contribution or volunteering for my campaign.

Be sure to check out my updated website and “Like” my new Facebook page.

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