The Conservative's Corner
There’s a phrase about anyone noticing a tree if it falls in the forest. Perhaps yes, perhaps no.
But in Scottsdale, Arizona these days it’s hard to miss trees not when they fall in a forest, but as they obstruct the signage of prominent businesses.
For years a city installed tree has obstructed grandfathered signage for the venerable Coach House Tavern. Maybe the owners are too buzzed to notice, or it’s revenge for the efforts of customers to stop the city from condemning the property over a decade ago.
A more contemporary and comical example impacts famed collector car auction Barrett-Jackson.
Apparently, the company is readying a revitalization of its southern Scottsdale property near Scottsdale and Thomas Roads. A grander showroom with more collector and exotic car sales is in the works.
If you can find it.
Enter another tree.
Many years ago Scottsdale voters approved a Scottsdale Road beautification project. A good idea.
Yet some city botanist in their infinite wisdom decide to plant a large Palo Verde tree right in front of the Barrett-Jackson sign.Read more
Why don’t elected officials tackle the big issues more? It’s a constant refrain one hears about elected officials whether its foreign policy or Social Security in the nation’s Capitol Hill or Scottsdale visionaries lamenting the lack of a next great thing.
From Michael Bidwill and rich gaming tribes to transient new owners of the Phoenix Coyotes and a spring training complex with the worst mathematics in baseball there is no escape from tough votes and issues in the capital of the West Valley.
Enter first-term Councilman Gary Sherwood.
Last summer he led the charge for an annual $15 million subsidy allowing the now Arizona Coyotes to stay in town. But for his championing and vote the franchise would have skated away, as it likely will anyways several years from now.
And in the heavyweight title bout surrounding a new Glendale casino and involving the largesse of a Tucson gaming tribe and one right here in the Valley Sherwood flipped his vote to favor the new casino.Read more
There has been considerable chatter about the Rasmussen Poll that shows Democrat Fred Duval and Doug Ducey in a dead heat for Arizona Governor.
Keep in mind that Rasmussen has been trying very hard to make up for its gaffe in predicting a Romney win over Obama. Perhaps Rasmussen has been trying too hard.
According to this article in the Guardian, Rasmussen is trying to correct past sins by leaning a bit too far to the left. For example the article notes that “Obama's average net approval in Rasmussen's polling since re-election is +10.6pt, which is nearly 4pt higher than the other pollsters' results.”
Rasmussen is also using past exit polls to weigh its surveys. The article continues, “The exit polls, though, had Democrats with a 6pt party identification advantage. Sure enough, Rasmussen now weights its polling to 38% Democratic and 32% Republican – the same exact spread as the exit polls gave.”
Some more interesting facts on the Rasmussen poll.
In 2010, voters under 40 made up approximately 20 percent of the Arizona electorate; yet, in today's Rasmussen poll, they have the age bracket at 25 percent.
Arizona voters over 65 made up nearly 30 percent of the midterm electorate in 2010, and in Rasmussen's sample, they make up only 26 percent.Read more
In 2007 a relative unknown named Michael Nowakowski decided to take on Congressman Pastor’s influence for the race to replace former Phoenix City Councilman Doug Lingner.
Undoubtedly an intriguing candidate, few gave Nowakowski a chance against Laura Pastor, the Congressman’s daughter.
He fared OK in the first round of voting, but finished well behind Pastor. Surely there wasn’t enough in the runoff election to make up that much ground. But he did. And his campaign manager for the upset? Ruben Gallego.
That should have told us something. Because its engineering was one of the more impressive Arizona political upsets in recent memory.
Gallego has since gone on to capture a seat in the Arizona House of Representatives, and assisted his wife Kate’s successful run against a Phoenix legend, First Institutional Baptist Church Pastor Warren Stewart.
And last Tuesday he sleighed a Democratic legend (at least in her own mind), the ethically short cutting Mary Rose Wilcox.
By any stretch this is one of the more accomplished and meteoric rises, ever, in Arizona politics.Read more
Is there a Democrat in Arizona today that doesn’t embrace just about any call for a fee or tax hike to aid a pet interest?
Our television screens this week suggest Fred Duval falls right in line. While serving on the Arizona Board of Regents, the group that governs Arizona’s universities, Duval supported increasing tuition on the backs of students a whopping 99%.
His excuse? Legislative Republicans dealing with the Great Recession made him do it.
C’mon Fred. Even using your own math that university budgets were cut in half by the State Legislature, your tuition hikes were double this amount.
Is Duval actually suggesting spending cuts shouldn’t have been made to universities which were among the most extreme beneficiaries of former Governor Napolitano’s largesse?
And it was a REPUBLICAN Governor, Jan Brewer, who led the fight for the largest tax increase in state history to mitigate the Great Recession on state government.
No, Duval was just acting as a classic liberal in raising tuition beyond any reasonable level, beyond any cuts to higher education at a time when state government had to whittle away. And Duval will suffer for it as the political commercials continue, ultimately ending his hopes for Governor.
So what does this have to do with Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton? A lot.
As a Phoenix City Councilman and as a candidate for Mayor Stanton felt more like a Bill Clinton Democrat than a Nancy Pelosi one. Yet, since running an impressive campaign for Mayor, Stanton has towed party orthodoxy. Perhaps his aspirations fear a more difficult primary for higher office in the future if he is not an liberal adherent. After all, former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith and former Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman showed the challenges of winning a primary having once served as Mayors, as Paul Johnson did before him.
But this makes for bad policy and relegates taxpayers as mere subjects to advance oneself in the political game.
Having already flip-flopped on the City of Phoenix food tax, he was opposed to it as a candidate before embracing it as Mayor, Stanton is now strangely quiet on charging new fees for those using City of Phoenix parks like Squaw Peak and Echo Canyon.
This is real simple Mayor. It’s a terrible idea. Just because you can tax doesn’t mean you should.Read more
No rest for weary voters. The Republican Governor’s Association is already up with attack ads against Arizona Democratic nominee for Governor Fred Duval. While the primary messaging focuses on Duval’s obscene support for huge tuition hikes on Arizona students, the word “lobbyist” to describe him is used several times. As sagacious political operative Matt Benson opined earlier this week via Twitter that will be Duval’s first name by the time this campaign is over. It has long been his trade after all.
But Republicans looking to advance the lobbyist line need not rely solely on their own party. In fact, their best spokesperson may come in the form of Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, a Democrat.
During his run-off election in 2011 Stanton faced Republican Wes Gullett, a “lobbyist.” And Stanton was never shy about laying wood to Gullett’s profession.
Indeed, there is a treasure trove of quotes, assertions and really an arching philosophical narrative from Stanton as to how and why a lobbyist would be inappropriate as the Mayor of Phoenix.Read more
So new technology is perplexing some National Park Service officials as they wrestle with how to manage the use of photography drones at its natural cathedrals.
Here in Arizona, the Grand Canyon State, the policy for our natural wonder shouldn’t be complicated at all. A resounding no to their use ought to be the answer.
Imagine going into the Sistine Chapel and being subjected to the irritating buzz of drones. Well, the Grand Canyon is God’s Chapel. And when one visits there an inherent right to irritate and endanger with whiz bang technology does not come with the entrance fee.
Some years ago the National Park Service was wise to restrict air tours to certain corridors so visiting and hiking the canyon didn’t have to resemble a trip to Sky Harbor Airport.
Tourism has been enriched. Access to these travel options has been maintained.Read more
Through all the fights, all the criticism, all the lawsuits, they still come. A parade really. Especially this year, when many thought the Sheriff of Maricopa County was on the decline.
All of the 2014 candidates for Arizona governor wanted his endorsement. Doug Ducey got it. And is showcasing the Sheriff on television. By himself. And with Jon Kyl.
Embattled Attorney General Tom Horne is doing likewise. His thinking? If anyone can save me, it’s Arpaio.
Even State Treasurer candidate Randy Pullen has the crime fighter doing radio ads for him, even though his nexus to the office is remote to say the least.
So how and why does Arpaio maintain such an aura?Read more
By Hugh Hallman
Dear Fellow Arizona Resident:
The mailer is ridiculous, but the motives behind it are not. And the Secretary of State's Office announced yesterday that there is "reasonable cause" to believe the group who sent the mailer is breaking the law.
Here's what Republican Corporation Commissioner Susan Bitter Smith had to say about this mailer:
"Hugh Hallman has been involved in proceedings in front of the Arizona Corporation Commission on the highly publicized issue of net metering and advocated for a resolution that resulted in eliminating subsidies and protecting taxpayers. Any suggestion to the contrary is simply not accurate. I have known Hugh Hallman for over 30 years and he continues to be my choice for Arizona's next Treasurer."
The attack itself refers to work I did defending Arizona residents against utility rate increases by Arizona Public Service, or APS. I fought APS' efforts to raise rates on Arizona residents.
But now, a mailer with anonymous funding sources is hitting mailboxes attacking me for protecting the pocketbooks of Arizona residents. And "coincidentally," it comes just a few days after APS was saved from facing reductions in its government-protected guaranteed profits and exposing the hidden subsidies it supplies to favorite customers — truly the worst of "crony capitalism."
This "dark money" effort cost more than $80,000. Clearly, someone with deep pockets doesn't want me in the State Treasurer's Office taking on their cronies and defending taxpayers.Read more
We may be a young city, but we have a rich history – and it’s our responsibility to preserve that history for future generations.
When I learned that the Arizona Exposition and Fair Board planned to tear down the historic 1938 WPA building, we took action. The City issued a stop work order to call off the wrecking crew, and joined Preserve Phoenix’s lawsuit to stop the demolition.
I asked the Phoenix Historic Preservation Commission to convene a special meeting, and commissioners voted unanimously to designate the grounds historic. We all owe them a thanks for stepping up and doing the right thing.
State officials agreed and I’m grateful that they scrapped their plans to demolish the building.Read more
In early 2008 Barack Obama sat down with the editorial board of the Reno Gazette-Journal and attempted to wax eloquent on a variety of different topics. But it was the future President’s compliments about Ronald Reagan that captured the attention of Democratic primary voters for a time. Why? Because it was videotaped by the editorial board for the interested to see. Obama in his own words.
We don’t know why the Arizona Republic’s own editorial board interviewing the Republican candidates for Governor was not likewise videotaped. If a smaller paper can do so for a leading presidential candidate it would seem appropriate for state aspirants that have already been videotaped thoroughly to date.
Whatever reason it is to be respected as the members of the Arizona Republic are among the most passionate advocates for a better Arizona, and fair even to those they disagree with, contrary to many right wing assertions.
But we can lament that decision because of the apparent performance of Christine “I Am Always The Smartest Person In The Room” Jones. Asiding that particular issue if Bob Robb was present, our regret is that a video did not capture Jones’ apparent meltdown when challenged on her plans to stop illegal immigration and “send Obama the bill.”
You see, beyond a shocking lack of experience to actually be Governor -- being a lawyer without running really anything doesn’t qualify -- Jones’ temper is ill-suited to the job too. Her performance at the editorial board would have been just the evidence for more voters to see that insiders are already familiar with.Read more
It’s typical for opinionists to relay who should be entrusted with your vote. There is some of that below. But in some races we take the unusual step of telling you why others should be rejected.
Ultimately, it’s your decision. But at least we can provide some compelling menu items for consideration.
Governor: Doug Ducey.
Jon Kyl served Arizona with considerable decency and a keen intellect. Perhaps that’s why he never lost an election. He was a precision of conservative and common sense. And even in Republicans darkest days, such as 2006, Kyl’s conservatism was always understood but never too much to win a statewide race. He prevailed that year in a tough race versus well-funded Democrat Jim Pederson. Ducey leads in the same style as Kyl. But with a bit more range, even tapping into well known Tea Party leaders to, as he says, offer the broadest range of Republican support among all the contenders. From Jane Hull to Mike Lee. Ducey has grown in the campaign too. Watch a debate and his command of issues and appropriate temperament is on display. Republicans want a conservative. But one who can win too. Like Jon Kyl before. And Doug Ducey now. As for the other major contender at present Christine Jones is running a clichéd, poll driven campaign calling to mind Sally across from Billy Crystal not a Governor with a core or conviction.
Secretary of State: Do NOT vote for Justin Pierce.
Pierce, Cardon and Michele Reagan all represent a next generation for GOP voters. But the issues surrounding Justin Pierce are profoundly disturbing. It is believed Arizona Public Service, a regulated utility monopoly, is routing funds through “dark money” organizations to prop up the trailing Pierce. Why? Because Pierce’s dad did the company a bunch of favors and carried their water on the Arizona Corporation Commission. And now it’s payback time. Read what one Arizona Republic columnist had to say about the situation here. Only the future will tell if such an arrangement evolves from distasteful to something more. But for now and with all of these questions there is absolutely no reason to support Pierce with better choices for Republicans.
Attorney General: Mark Brnovich
The embattled incumbent Tom Horne has become a laughingstock in Arizona and a national embarrassment to our state. Yet, he remains on the ballot. Supported now by about three Republicans. Unfortunately, popular Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is one of them. Horne is betting upcoming Arpaio commercials and advocacy will pull him out of a tailspin. It will help. But be far too little too late. Besides, as voters get to know Mark Brnovich they like him. One of the best speakers on the 2014 stump, Brnovich is a devout conservative that no one can put out to pasture, as has been done with Scott Smith in the gubernatorial campaign. Any thinking Republican wanting to keep this seat for the GOP should vote Brnovich on August 26th.
Treasurer: Hugh Hallman.
When you hire someone to look after your money do you ask if they are a Democrat, Republican or Indepdent? Not typically. Not even the great Republican Jack Londen probably operated so. As such, it’s doubtful anyone looking blindly at the qualifications of the three contenders - Jeff DeWitt, Hugh Hallman and Randy Pullen – would hire anyone but Hallman to care for their money. As it should be for the person Republicans and the State of Arizona hire to look after billions. All candidates at any level have issues. But it is hard to argue that Tempe under Hallman was not capably and ethically led. Indeed, Hallman doesn’t accept gifts or tickets from lobbyists and even refused his designated parking space at Tempe City Hall. Meanwhile, a video produced several years ago and other records about Pullen raise troubling questions for a State Treasurer candidate. Being sued for not paying spousal support? Leaving the Arizona Republican Party in debt? A campaign that is currently in debt? Serving as a “consultant” for the biggest sports taxing boondoggle ever proposed – the 1999 massive Mesa tax hike rejected by voters for a new Arizona Cardinals football stadium? And Dewitt. He boasts of being a stock trader. And a day trader at that. That’s comforting. Gordan Gecko needs to remain fictiously on Wall Street not arriving in downtown Phoenix come January as our next State Treasurer.
Arizona Corporation Commission: Vernon Parker and Lucy Mason.
A race that undoubtedly qualifies as the most disturbing of the year. For the first time that is known a regulated monopoly, Arizona Public Service, is spending lavishly to elect its chosen slate of Tom Forese and Doug Little. Anyone wonder why? They need reliable votes to knock down energy choice via rooftop solar or any discussion of deregulation so everyone doesn’t have to rely on them? Or to raise rates to meet their earnings forecast on Wall Street. Using ratepayer funds to engineer the election of those that will do your bidding is a relative to the State of Arizona using taxpayer money to do the same in races that matter to it. It’s wrong. And so is the position of Forese and Little, agreeing with a new property tax on rooftop solar equipment that has tens of thousands of seniors, schools, churches and citizens enraged. But APS wants it. So they do. So the money can flow into “independent” efforts to elect them. Forese has also been recognized by the Arizona Republic as the greatest grabber of lobbyist goodies at the State Capitol. This is not encouraging. Fortunately, former Paradise Valley Mayor, George H.W. Bush Undersecretary and 2012 Republican Congressional nominee Vernon Park, as well as former State Representative and House Energy Chairperson Lucy Mason offer good, conservative alternatives. APS’ attempt to call them Obama lovers is comical. The only thing Parker has in common with Obama is skin color. And Mason? Well, she has an “A” in her name like Barack. The issue really comes down to this: If you want APS to use your money to elect candidates so it can raise your rates go with Little and Forese. If you don’t go with the more independent minded Parker and Mason.Read more
By Sal DiCiccio
4551 new teachers for Phoenix… that is how many NEW teachers we could hire for the cost of just one new mile of rail.
Mayor Stanton and others are pushing a new $30 billion tax and spend proposal for transit costing $209 million per mile to build and operate.
Make no mistake about it, every penny taken from our citizens and wasted on these boondoggles and government waste is one less dollar our hardworking taxpayers can use for critical services we really need. Now is not the time and place for us to waste money on ideas meant to benefit city insiders who will benefit from this money.
As a city and as a state we need to do a better job of prioritizing limited dollars. We must do better and we must start to make choices based on things that matter.
Our families must be protected first and be the priority.
From my family to yours,
Phoenix City Council
District 6Read more
For those of you who are concerned about Scottsdale’s future and the direction it has been moving (or not moving) over the last few years, I offer you a way to keep in touch and up-to-date on what is going on in Scottsdale. For you Clint Eastwood fans, discover “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.”
Please take a moment to read the following letter, inviting you to join COGS, a group of other concerned citizens like yourself. You can also read about COGS and what it does on their website www.cogsaz.net. Remember: The future of Scottsdale depends on her citizens. This is a way to help you stay informed and let your voice be heard!
Councilwoman Kathy LittlefieldRead more
By Scottsdale City Councilman David Smith
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.
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. email@example.com
David N. Smith
Scottsdale City CouncilRead more
Two Year Adjustment Announced for Upcoming Elections
PHOENIX – Secretary of State Michele Reagan has unveiled the funding amounts available for qualifying Clean Election candidates in the 2016 election cycle. State law provides for these funding levels to be adjusted by the Secretary of State every two years.
The Citizens Clean Elections Act, passed as an initiative by the voters in 1998 provides public funding to qualified statewide and legislative candidates.
The 2016 election cycle will be the ninth time candidates in Arizona will be permitted to take part in the Clean Elections system as participating candidates. The choice is strictly voluntary, although public funding is available only to participating candidates who qualify for funding. To qualify, participating candidates are required to gather $5 qualifying contributions from eligible voters and adhere to spending and contribution limits.
According to Secretary Reagan, the numbers released today establish the new Clean Elections spending limits for the 2016 election cycle and take into account recent inflation figures as well as the percent increase in state resident income tax returns as required by law.
Secretary Reagan revealed the new figures in a letter to the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission and a copy of the 2016 Clean Elections Biennial Adjustments chart is included with this press release. Copies are also available at the Secretary of State’s office on the 7th floor of the State Capitol, by calling the Elections Services Division at 602-542-8683 or 1-877-THE-VOTE or www.azsos.gov.Read more
PHOENIX – Arizona’s $5 billion Permanent Endowment Fund will pay a record distribution of $93.7 million to endowment beneficiaries in FY 2016, said State Treasurer Jeff DeWit. That is a 14.7% increase from this year’s $81.7 million distributions.
“This emphasizes the great work of previous Treasurer Doug Ducey and our top-notch staff,” Treasurer Jeff DeWit said. “I’m proud to continue this legacy, and to further protect and grow the Endowment.”
K-12 schools are the largest beneficiary of the Endowment and will receive $87.2 million in distributions starting in July 2015, $11.2 million more than this year, as approved by the State Board of Investment during its monthly meeting this week.
“This increase is excellent news for teachers and students, and for the hardworking taxpayers of Arizona,” DeWit said. “This record distribution of funds shows the value of voters approving Proposition 118 in the 2012 election. The distributions have shown constant, continued growth since that time. I commend former Treasurer, and now Governor Doug Ducey, for his tireless efforts on Prop 118. He showed how good public policy can result when the Legislature, schools, and voters all come together.”
Proposition 118 simplified the distribution of revenues from the Endowment to 2.5% of the average market value of the Endowment for the previous 5 calendar years. The result has been an average increase of 13% each year in distributions.Read more
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