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The Conservative's Corner
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2018 Scrum

During a heated 2012 campaign between Scott Lemarr and Maria Syms to be Paradise Valley’s Mayor a well-known couple was murdered in the province. It shocked the Valley. Around that time too were a rash of burglaries in the northern part of the community. While Mayor Lemarr won re-election there was undoubtedly nervousness in the town. Paradise-VAlley-RED-Senior-Living

But he acted. And the town acted. Led by Town Councilman Michael Collins, the Paradise Valley Public Safety Task Force involved numerous stakeholders committed to improvement and reform.

The results are starting to speak for themselves. While any crime is one too many Chief Bennett’s latest monthly report shows a 50% drop in crime from this February, compared to last year.

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Sure, a Super Bowl is coming and Spring Training is underway but that probably just reminds Glendale that they need to get their bill through the legislature seeking public safety reimbursements for the big game, and that Camelback Ranch is an enduring financial migraine.

And today the Arizona Republic reported the City of Glendale’s bond ratings were downgraded, again. Taxpayers will be hurt as the cost of borrowing money now goes up.

Climbing out of its money hole will not be easy. Things little, medium and big need to be undertaken. It is a city that must be relentlessly pro-business, in so many ways.

The city’s recent, unanimous decision to invest a little to attract a big-selling furniture store was a smart move. It sent a message to the market that Glendale is open for business. There’s a smaller project being debated in the community that could do likewise.

Putting two outdoor billboards at the 101 and Bell, in a commerce park, would seem like a matter for the consent agenda, not contention. After all, it will mean some revenue to the city, but more importantly allow more Glendale businesses to advertise effectively and prominently. According to industry reports some 70% of billboard advertisers are local and in this case Becker Boards is incentivizing that further with a 20% discount for local businesses.COG_Logo_Color

And even though there has been a lot of support from the business community, including from the owner of the commerce park who sees the investment as a way to jumpstart his development, there has been opposition. From two curious quarters.

The first is from the City of Peoria across the street. Why? Because they want to put up their own billboards to help pay for Peoria Sports Complex improvements that will compete directly with Westgate. And take sales tax revenue away from it. Why the financially-strapped Glendale City Council would want to hurt its community by enabling Peoria is a good question.

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Think back to 2010. U.S. Congressman John Shadegg announced his retirement. A coveted seat, largely populated by Anglos, was open. A mad scramble ensued. But during the course of the candidate positioning can one imagine if there were an orchestrated effort – and one actually signed by political leaders – to keep the seat for whites? Vernon Parker, the then African-American Mayor of Paradise Valley who later became a candidate to replace Shadegg: No votes for you. Or Paulina Morris, a Latina, sorry you shouldn’t be considered because of your skin color. Thankfully that didn’t happen and in that Republican primary there was rich diversity.

Compare that situation four years ago to what’s occurring now in Arizona’s Congressional District 7, after Ed Pastor announced his retirement.

There, Arizona’s chief race-baiter and biggest political loser, Mario Diaz, has organized Latinos to discourage not only white Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema from switching districts, but to declare this a seat for Latinos only.

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Arizona Republic columnist Robert Robb often displays an independent streak in his writing.  Except when it comes to Arizona Public Service, the state’s largest utility monopoly. They provide talking points.  He fetches. 

Like his column today.

While again criticizing renewable energy initiatives – demonstrating anew how extraordinarily out of step he is with Republican likely voter public opinion – Robb makes no critique of his corporate inspiration – one of the great subsidy sucking machines in state history.

Nor does he make mention as we have here before (Click here) of his previous job as Chief Subsidy Shiller for sports franchises and corporate interests.  

 The true “faux conservatives” are not those that see the philosophical consistency with supporting school choice, health care choice AND energy choice through options like rooftop solar.  They are those who Robb the title with archaic utility speak.  

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Whenever someone talks about a renewed commitment to impressive vision in Scottsdale the proposed Desert Discovery Center for the McDowell Sonoran Preserve usually comes up.Scottsdale-Sign-547x198

As envisioned it would further enlighten preserve visitors and hikers, and aid Scottsdale tourism efforts.

There is such a thing as an idea whose time has come. There are also those ideas whose time has passed. This may be one of them.

Putting aside the potential cost to taxpayers – the project once ballooned to $100 million but has since been put on a diet – there are two other reasons why the project may escape further enthusiasm.

First, anyone who has visited Scottsdale’s relatively new trailheads will experience their exceptional design and utility. How would bigger buildings improve on them, or what God has created adjacent?

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Other titans of Arizona’s illegal immigration wars have fallen. Andrew Thomas. Russell Pearce. Even Sheriff Arpaio’s last election was close. And although lesser known the smart, affable State Rep. John Kavanagh is likely next on the target list.

Word is that determined moderate Republican and former Scottsdale Planning Commissioner Jeff Schwartz is set to challenge the House Appropriations Chairman as he seeks a seat in the State Senate. And due to some unluck and unforced errors by Kavanagh it could be close.KAVANAGH

It didn’t have to be. After all Kavanagh won his 2012 election handily. That’s because while undoubtedly conservative he’s been an advocate for the district, stepping up for the district’s land preservation efforts and tourism industry. Such constituent service has been important since simply labeling oneself a “conservative” even in primaries isn’t a routine recipe for success.

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He was one of the brightest Republican stars in Arizona history before the Phoenix New Times unveiled his whole new meaning of “Jose, Can You See?”

He is Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu. Once the darling of Fox News and Arizona Republican Party voters alike. Just several years ago most anything was politically possible for Babeu.Sheriff_Paul_Babeu

Then came the troubles. And while many concluded he was a dead politician walking Babeu had other plans. He focused on his base in Pinal County. He won re-election handily in 2012, his coattails even bringing along a Republican County Attorney. Like Michael Sam being gay wasn’t his identity. Sam is a football player who happens to be gay. Babeu is a tireless public servant, who also happens to be gay, as was learned in rather dramatic fashion.

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Amazing. Just amazing.

Following the Paradise Valley Planning Commission’s rejection of a plan to supersize the unremarkable Cottonwoods Hotel in town, backers are now saying they can magically reduce the rejected plan’s proposed density by thirty five percent.Paradise-VAlley-RED-Senior-Living

It’s amazing what can happen when you just say no. We opined about the flawed Cottonwoods proposal back in October. Here is a link.

And it makes you wonder, a lot, about the need and premise of the proposal in the first place. There’s little doubt the property needs a little lipstick. But that’s not what this proposal was about. It was nothing more than a denizens of density enrichment plan that would have been good for one pocket book but not good for the character of a town that needs protection more than enhancement.

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The 1988 Democratic nominee for President Michael Dukakis talked a lot about the “Massachusetts Miracle,” touting his perceived Bay State successes.

But by the time the campaign ended voters weren’t looking so kindly on such claims.ScottSmith

It’s a lesson that could play out this year in the 2014 Arizona gubernatorial campaign, either by Mesa Mayor Scott Smith’s GOP opponents, or presumptive Democratic nominee Fred DuVal.

Smith likes to espouse his achievements, and there are no doubt some, but there are also very big problems.

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Proximity to Sky Harbor, freeways, a great downtown, the Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix Zoo, the Indian Bend Wash.

“South Scottsdale” should be a prideful label, not a derogatory one.

Maybe the two strip clubs in the area advance the negative connotation. Or the automobile dealer departures along McDowell Road.Scottsdale-Sign-547x198

Or maybe the big talk but little action from both public and private sectors that has yielded an ASU office facility, but one without urban coattails.

Politically, there is no reason to keep doing the same thing. It hasn’t worked since the demise of Los Arcos Mall and the failure to realize the voter-approved arena district. Countless task forces and master plans aren’t getting it done.

What might?

Light rail has been put on the table as an area addition by a contingent on the council. Another idea is to connect the Indian Bend Wash and Papago Park via an elevated trail down the middle of McDowell Road.

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With the exception of Bill de Blasio’s New York City where the mayor there is declaring war on charter schools, educational choice is gaining more acceptance across the country to the constant displeasure of teacher’s unions. They can block for a time but not forever the tide of history. This is the lesson of all civil rights, of which school choice can rightly be called one. CMAlvarez_Bevel

Here in Phoenix a new group, despite protestations of cooperation to the contrary, are taking dead aim at many of the dead end schools in the core of Phoenix with an insurgence of new charter schools there.

But it’s in Glendale, Arizona where we gain another reminder of how far school choice has come, and why it ultimately will be the norm, as we see in higher education.

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As the narrative goes Mesa Mayor Scott Smith single-handedly willed a backward East Valley behemoth into America’s most progressive city.

That’s a slight exaggeration and there’s no doubt Mayor Smith has done a commendable job getting results. Additionally, he is an engaging fellow that’s got a little Chris Christie without bridges while being a tad more cherubic.Mayor-John-Lewis

But if the justification for the GOP nomination for Governor in 2014 is the best performing East Valley Mayor doesn’t Smith get the silver medal to Gilbert Mayor John Lewis?

Smith’s results in Mesa resemble Sammy Sosa. The former slugger used steroids. Smith used subsidies. A lot of them.

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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.

Read and watch what the Phoenix Business Journal and Channel 10 FOX News had to say about this massive boondoggle coming to voters this August.

Follow me on  FacebookTwitter  and now  Instagram .

 

From my family to yours,

 

Sal DiCiccio

Phoenix City Council

District 6

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Dear Friends:

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!

Thank you.

Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield

www.kathylittlefield.com

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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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Over $209 million per mile to build and operate. Yes, that's the cost to build and operate one mile of the new train system being proposed to the Mayor and Council.

I'm guessing you didn't know this was being pushed forward by the bureaucrats and politicians.

This is being proposed for the Phoenix ballot this year and will be sold to you as a "new direction" for our city.

Don't believe the politicians when they try to take more of your hard-earned monies. This is money from you and your family to pay insiders this outrageous sum.

You will be asked to pay for their costly idea with a huge tax increase with overall spending of over $30 billion! You tell me if you think it's fiscally-responsible and makes sense to spend $6.5 Billion building just 31 new miles for a new train system.

I urge you to send this notification to everyone on your personal list including Facebook and Twitter.

They will have all the big beneficiaries pour millions of dollars into their campaign to convince you to give them your hard-earned money.

You have my commitment to keep you informed as a counter to their plans - plans designed to protect big-government insiders.

 

Follow me on Facebook, Twitter and now Instagram.

From my family to yours,

 

Sal DiCiccio
Phoenix City Council
District 6

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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. michele-reagan-027

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.

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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. 

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