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The Conservative's Corner
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2018 Scrum

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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A good man used to say “all politics is local.” Whether true or not there’s no doubt it’s cyclical.

Today, Arizona Public Service (APS) is feeling pretty good about itself.  Attempting to foil innovation and more energy choice is its new way of doing business.  After all, the company effectively owned, in the political sense that is, immediate past Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce. APS_logo_2011

And after its recent, robust election activity it thinks it owns at least two others.  Whether that’s right or not remains to be seen.

APS’ largesse wasn’t about regard.  It was about their bottom line.  And they will squeeze whoever they have to, most especially their acquired allies, to beat stock expectations or qualify for bonuses.

No matter the issue – rates, solar, regulation, power lines – they will inevitably go too far.  Power can’t help itself.  Neither can arrogance or the demands of Wall Street. 

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Scottsdale is a wonderful place and has rightfully been recognized by many for effective city government.

But several years back there was a movement to import personnel from Phoenix, led by long-time Phoenix Planning David Richert who later became Scottsdale City Manager.

Richert was and is a fine man, but some of his hires well, not so much.

Some of these experiments, led by Paul Katsenses, were never culture fits.  Unlike Scottsdale’s history they always seemed to be more interested in the journey rather than the destination.  Talking takes precedence over performance, except when fighting for one’s own bureaucratic existence.

When a new city manager came to be in Scottsdale the highly-compensated Katsenes was properly demoted from his Assistant City Manager position. Scottsdale-Sign-547x198

That’s the thing about city employees.  They rarely get fired.  They get reassigned, keeping their big salaries and pensions.

Most cities farm such personnel out to a water services department, or other such innocuous do little harm part of the jurisdiction.

Unfortunately, Katsenes was spun off to WestWorld where he is essentially the General General Manager, a real head scratcher because the current General Manager Brian Dygert is well regarded, even commanding a letter several years back from the property’s biggest users, stating their regard.

Rather than somehow aid the promise of WestWorld Katsenses has become its laughingstock, routinely wasting users time when he is not wasting the Scottsdale taxpayer’s money.

Fortunately, the relatively new City Manager has a stiff spine and seems without constitution to suffer fools gladly.

Let’s hope so.

Taxpayers win more when there is greater accountability for government workers, and a greater chance they can be fired, not simply farmed out.

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Editorials are usually 500 words of trope and tripe about this and that. But to this all we have to say is what very good news it is to have Tom Horne back in the private sector.  And out of government.  Where he was a walking embarrassment and shameless scoundrel.

 

MY FIRST DAY AS A PRIVATE CITIZEN

I want to thank everyone for your friendship and support during my time as your Attorney General.

I am now practicing law, which I did for 30 years,  with the firm of Slaton and Sannes, which is now Horne, Slaton and Sannes.  I expect to be trying cases and arguing appeals, and experiencing the satisfaction of winning for my clients, as I did for the state of Arizona as its Attorney General. I am located at 6720 N Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, suite 285, my phone number is 480-483-2178, and I am at your disposal.

Again, thank you for your support and your friendship.

Sincerely,

Tom Horne

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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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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

A nationwide search resulted in over eighty applicants for the Town of Paradise Valley's Police Chief. It is now narrowed down to five candidates after twelve interviews were conducted on March 13 and 16. The Town Manager, Kevin Burke, will decide on the top candidate to replace Interim Public Safety Director Larry Ratcliff who was appointed in September 2014 after former Chief John Bennett retired after serving for seven years.

Three of the top five candidates — Larry Wingert, Nancy Gardner and Blake McClelland — are currently employed by Arizona agencies and two — Rodney Covey and Brian Kozak — have prior Arizona connections, and are currently employed by agencies out of state.

The five candidates are:

Rodney Covey
Covey is currently Deputy Chief for the Port of Seattle, Washington. He was with the Arizona Department of Public Safety for 32 years and worked his way up through the ranks to Assistant Director over three different bureaus: Patrol, Operations and Agency Support. Prior to moving to the Port of Seattle, Covey created and served as the Executive Director for the Center for Leadership Excellence for the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board (AZ POST). He also assisted with the creation of the Arizona Regional Community Policing Institute, serving as Chairman of the Board and later as Director. Covey has facilitated team building for over 50 governmental agencies in Arizona and the U.S.

Covey holds a master's degree in educational leadership from Northern Arizona State University and a bachelor's degree in management from University of Phoenix.

Nancy Gardner
Gardner has over 25 years of law enforcement experience and is currently the Police Chief (Town Marshal) of Camp Verde, Arizona. She previously served as a Division Commander and SWAT Commander in the Avondale, AZ Police Department and a Division Commander in the Gilbert, AZ Police Department. Among her many accomplishments, Gardner implemented a regional dispatching center to include Camp Verde, Clarkdale, Yavapai Apache Tribe, and Jerome to increase revenues and stimulate proficiency through strategically partnering with the other agencies. Since her time in Camp Verde, she has secured grant funding in excess of $300,000 for various programs and equipment for interoperability among law enforcement agencies.

Gardner earned a master's degree in education in counseling and human resources from Northern Arizona State University and a bachelor's degree in business management from the University of Phoenix.

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Just the other day, I filed with the Federal Election Commission the necessary paperwork to formally consider a run for President of the United States in 2016.

Let me tell you why I’ve taken this step, and how you can help.

For many years, I have traveled the country closely studying our politics. I believe we are on the verge of robbing our children of the American Dream.

We are racking up a virtually insurmountable debt, stifling our economic potential and placing our children’s future at risk.

At home and abroad, we are silencing honest debate about our challenges, our differences and our culture, all in the name of political correctness.

We are ceding more and more power to Washington bureaucrats at the expense of our personal liberty, ignoring the wisdom of our founders who risked their lives to form “a more perfect union.”

Too many of our children are trapped in failing schools and find themselves thrust into a deadly cycle of crime, dependence and despair.

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