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2018 Scrum

By State Treasurer Jeff DeWit

PHOENIX – The Permanent Land Endowment Trust Fund, also referred to the Schools’
Endowment, reached another new milestone under State Treasurer Jeff DeWit growing to $5.57
billion at the end of April 2017.

“The hard work and incredible staff at the State Treasurer’s Office continues to produce great
investment results,” Treasurer Jeff DeWit said. “After beating most university endowments in
2016, the winning streak continues for our schools’ Endowment.”

Last year, the fund’s return beat many of the large public investment funds in the United States
including CalPERS, CalSTERS, Dartmouth, MIT, Stanford and Harvard.

“Managing the investments internally, right here in the Arizona Treasurer’s Office, has been a
huge win for our schools as it allows them to earn more and keep more of their money,” DeWit
said. “These record earnings are on top of the fact the Endowment has paid out nearly $225
million to schools this fiscal year, more than any year in Arizona’s history with two months to
go.”

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by Andy Biggs

Friend,

The false claim that Trump conspired with Russia to engineer the 2016 election has reached the height of absurdity. The media and Democrats are trying to bamboozle the country by conflating several isolated incidents. I just wrote in the Washington-Examiner that  they have no evidence but have created a story that combines the allegations about the Russians and the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

They have made three false claims against Trump and I have refuted them in my op-ed. You can read it here.

Thank you for your continued support,

Andy Biggs

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By Senator Jeff Flake

Enough is enough. The “9th Circus” madness must end. Arizonans deserve justice from the mountain west, not California. That’s why I’ve sponsored a bill to move Arizona into a new circuit.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is too large to be effective and has been for too long. 20% of our nation’s population lives in the 9th and it houses 40% of our nation’s landmass. They take 15 months to make a decision because they are so backed up in their work.

There’s no reason to protect an overworked and overburdened Court. 
I’ve introduced a bill with John McCain that will split the 9th and create a new, 12th Circuit Court of Appeals because Arizonans and other Western states don’t have the bedrock principle of swift justice found in the rest of our nation.

Justice delayed is justice denied. Join me in fighting for a solution for Arizona.

We need courts that are fair and effective for everyone, not political institutions. Let’s make it happen.


Thank you,

Jeff Flake

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By Sal DiCiccio
6th District, Phoenix City Council

Do you know what modern government corruption looks like? In order to see it, you’ll first need to let go of many of the stereotypes you hold true.

For example, many believe the government helps the poor. The truth, however, is a ruse as old as civilization: Government takes on a worthy cause, like building a school or affordable housing. After the project goes out to bid, the governmental entity selects itself as the developer.

Government staff then hires their family and friends to service the contract. And when all is said and done, the project costs twice as much, is half as good, and creates permanent city staff that now must find a new project to work on to protect their jobs.
Under this model, modern day government takes a noble cause, like helping the poor, and turns it into a corrupt type of “good graft” benefiting the insiders who profit off the good will of the public.

Let me give you a real-life example. In Phoenix, local politicians approved an affordable housing apartment project for the poor on land the city already owned. The housing, which should have cost $150,000 per unit, ended up costing around $281,000 per unit for a simple apartment unit. As a comparison, the median cost of a single-family home in the Phoenix is $195,000.

Around the same time, in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Phoenix, a luxury apartment complex built and owned by the private sector was sold at a price considered the highest ever in the City of Phoenix. It had every high-end finish and amenity. This luxurious apartment complex sold for $277,000 a unit ‒ about the same as the "affordable housing" apartment complex the taxpayers were forced to pay for in the example above.

So what went wrong? The “good graft.”

To start, the City of Phoenix gave itself the ability to self-select. This meant that even though there were multiple bids on the project from the private sector at about half the cost, Phoenix was able to select itself as the developer.

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By Team Ducey

Friend -
Arizona's been in the national spotlight for educational excellence this month.

This week, five Arizona high schools made the U.S. News & World Report top ten public high schools in the nation -- more than any other state. We know how to educate a child in Arizona, and Governor Ducey is working hard to ensure every student has access to a high-quality public education.

Earlier this month, The Weekly Standard published an article highlighting Governor Ducey’s commitment to school choice.

Here's what they said about Governor Ducey:

“Governor Doug Ducey, already a hero to free-market conservatives for his deregulatory crusade against occupational licensing laws, will sign whatever universal education savings account (ESA) expansion makes it to his desk… In a statement to The Weekly Standard, Ducey lavished praise on the state’s achievements in school choice, saying, ‘Arizona provides a model for the nation of the value in putting parents in the driver’s seat of their kids’ education.’”

Read the full article here and share it with your friends !

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By Sal DiCiccio
Phoenix City Council Member

Councilman Danny Valenzuela calls this a "good deal." I call it INSANE.

This is the same logic some of the same politicians used when they used your money to build the Sheraton losing $145 million of your hard-working taxpayers dollars.

Money that could've gone for more police on our streets.

Please read this article from Laurie Roberts:

ANOTHER TAX GIVEAWAY IN PHOENIX

Laurie Roberts

Arizona Republic 4-20-17

Last month, Phoenix was sued for allowing a developer to skip paying $8 million in property taxes in return for building a 19-story apartment complex near Roosevelt Row in downtown Phoenix.

The city’s continuing tax giveaways – which leave you and I holding the bag for select developers’ share of funding public schools – have prompted a crackdown at the Arizona Legislature. Our leaders, in one of their rare good moves,recently voted to limit these giveaways beginning later this summer to eight years, down from the current 25.

And the city’s response to the legislation and the lawsuit by the Goldwater Institute?

On Wednesday, the Phoenix City Council voted 7-2 to allow yet another developer to skip paying $9 million in property taxes in return for building three apartment towers near Roosevelt Row. (Councilmen Sal DiCiccio and Jim Waring were the no votes.)

Phoenix wants what the market can't support

A city spokesman says the properties eventually will pay three times the property taxes they’d pay if only a four- or five-story apartment complex was built where these 29-, 25- and 19-story buildings will go in. ($6.9 million over 20 years as opposed to $2.4 million.)

That’s if the schools can wait 20 years, that is.

Five percent of the units will be "affordable" housing.

City leaders say the giveaway – technically called a government property lease excise tax -- allows developers to build the types of projects city leaders envision – the sort the free market doesn't support. (Sort of a like a certain downtown Phoenix hotel.)

“This is going to change the Phoenix skyline now instead of 20 years from now,” Councilman Daniel Valenzuela saidWednesday, in approving the deal.

This is, of course, the same old story we’ve been hearing for decades from Phoenix City Hall as city leaders hand out GPLETs like gumdrops.

Lots of developers got this pass

A fair chunk of downtown Phoenix has been given a pass on paying property taxes -- or anything even close to their fair share of the tab.

The Phelps Dodge building got a GPLET. So did CityScape. Renaissance Square has one (both Tower One and Tower Two). So does the Collier Center. And the Westin and Freeport McMoran and at least five apartment complexes along Roosevelt Row.

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*According to The Phoenix Business Journal U.S. Senator John McCain is working on a plan with Valley leaders to extend the Salt River’s “Rio Salado” experience and environment from Tempe to the West Valley.  If true and if successful it sure would be a lasting legacy to Arizona, and the man.

*Uncertainty reigns in the lead-up to Scottsdale City Council elections.  While incumbent Linda Milhaven looks like a sure thing to run again, undecided and close to the vest mark the current decision making status of incumbents Kathy Littlefield and David Smith as well as potential challengers Jason Alexander and Bill Crawford.

*Lancing a boil.  One of Paradise Valley’s most vexing development parcels, the “Town Triangle” located just off Scottsdale Road got the green light this week from the Planning Commission, a testament to creative planning by renowned local developers Geoffrey Edmunds and Rod Cullum.

*That Daniel Valenzuela, a humble firefighter, has evolved into the frontrunner in the Phoenix Mayor’s race is remarkable.

*It’s one thing to support Scottsdale’s Desert Discovery Center but it’s quite another to oppose a public vote on it, something about 90% of the electorate relays to pollsters they want.

*Marco Rubio is back in town on Monday, supporting a number of candidates including Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich.  A long shot who became a big shot after his upset win(s) in 2014 Brnovich has governed with notable sobriety, competence and judgment.  And it’s nice to see Rubio stepping up to help someone who helped him in 2016 as his presidential campaign chairman in Arizona.

 

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Phoenix Rising is the name of the Valley’s dynamic new soccer team with major league ambitions.  But there’s another rising of note, taking place in Glendale.

Just a few short years ago the city was lying prone, left for dead, on the verge of declaring bankruptcy.  Fast forward to just the past few months.

IKEA is coming.  So is Top Golf and Drive Shack.  Then there’s the city’s biggest master-planned community since Arrowhead Ranch about to become a reality nearby.  Approved in June by Mayor Jerry Weiers and a majority of the city council Stonehaven by Pulte Homes and the John F. Long Company promises more bodies for the businesses.

Finally, there was a noteworthy Glendale Star story last month describing how AEG, Gila River Arena’s new operator, has nearly tripled revenues since taking over the from Arizona Coyotes and the dreary days of the LeBlanc regime.

These indeed are better times for the city that sets the pace in the West Valley.  The Camelback Ranch spring training complex remains and albatross but these days Glendale is moving once again to that best possible future former Mayor Elaine Scruggs used to wax so eloquent about.

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*After the Troon North HOA’s shellacking of a Motel 6 looking, timeshare-like development at its entrance along comes a nursing home proposal for the old Sassi restaurant site near Pinnacle Peak.  Good luck with that.  Apparently the initial community meeting was a blood bath.

*Keep an eye on Scottsdale Planning Commissioner Christian Serena as a potential city council candidate in 2018, or more likely 2020

*The Scottsdale Firefighter’s Association dinner has become an “it” political event.  Sunday night proved no exception as honored guests included Mountainside Fitness CEO Tom Hatten, Arizona Coyotes’ legend (and Scottsdale resident) Shane Doan and Linda Pauling, the mother that sparked Make-A-Wish.  But the best sightof all? A row of 5 seats at the Scottsdale Charros table.  Scottsdale Area Chamber CEO Mark Hiegel sat in the middle separating Councilwoman Linda Milhaven and former Scottsdale Councilman Dennis Robbins from Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield and former Councilman Bob Littlefield who lost huge to Mayor Jim Lane in 2016.  Must have been awkward, but not quite as much as the congregation of NODDC crusader Jason Alexander, Councilwoman Virginia Korte and Barrett-Jackson CEO Craig Jackson at a recent Scottsdale Tourism Development Commission meeting.

*If you haven’t yet read today’s Arizona Republic editorial supporting a public vote on the Desert Discovery Center On Razor’s Edge check it out.

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In advance of the Iraq War and facing profound domestic opposition, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair shied away from no one, including his fiercest critic in the media.  He stood his ground and defended his position.  Whether one agreed with it at the time it showed confidence, command and leadership.

We feel the same way about Scottsdale City Councilwoman Linda Milhaven.  While we may disagree with her on support for the Desert Discovery Center, she is Tony Blair on a local level.

Milhaven is pro-business, pro-arts, pro-downtown and pro-preservation.  Responsive to all, she seems to relish engagement on the toughest issues.  In many ways she is the constitution of what makes Scottsdale great, and where the majority of citizens are, as reflected in the 2016 mayoral election.  And Milhaven has a resume to match.  Banker.  Former head of the Scottsdale Cultural Council.  Public service.

A recent Scottsdale Republic article revealed her as the only certain incumbent or potential challenger to run.  That’s great news for Scottsdale.  Our jury is still out when it comes to the others (Councilman David Smith, Counwilwoman Kathy Littlefield and NO DDC chieftain Jason Alexander). It’s not if Mayor Jim Lane ally Bill Crawford decides to run in 2018, or 2020.

But for now it’s not too early to celebrate, and endorse a class, impressive act named Linda Milhaven.

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During the 2006 election season many city officials throughout Arizona, including Phoenix, campaigned against Proposition 207.  They warned many things why the “Private Property Rights Protection Act” should be defeated.  Chief among them were that providing too much individual protection for homeowners and commercial property owners would hamstring municipal redevelopment and historic preservation efforts.  Voters rejected such arguments and Proposition 207 passed with a sizable 65% of the vote.

This is an important history lesson as some want to suspend the law and dictate what the new owner of the twenty-year old Chinese Cultural Center near 44th and Van Buren can do with their property.

But not all.

As a mob rained down on Phoenix City Hall and demanded Mayor Greg Stanton and his fellow politicians lay fetal rather than display fidelity to state law, the city’s Planning Director Alan Stephenson took a more courageous tact, no matter how uncomfortable and inconvenient.

Having laid out in his staff report why Phoenix could not and should not circumvent clear private property rights embedded in Proposition 207, Stephenson’s knees did not get weak even when confronted by a full house of angry Chinese Americans.  He didn’t win an award for being the most popular that day but his sobriety on the subject was necessary to avoid groupthink.

Stephenson understood that it would be a nice thing to keep a Chinese Cultural Center even if the Chinese owner and developer of the property abandoned it, and sold it, in 2016.  But he also understood that someone needed to be the big boy in the room as politicians kowtowed.

After all, Phoenix has never designated a site for historic preservation against the property owner’s wishes, not even for the David Wright House in Arcadia.  It’s never designated a site as such that’s only twenty years old either.  And when it comes to Proposition 207’s clear mandate on such things you can work to change it, but you can’t ignore it until then.

This leads us to a few other principles and principals.

When Rawhide left, and left a hole in Scottsdale’s western heritage after a duration similar to the Chinese Cultural Center, residents understood it to be unfortunate but not worthy of upending the rule of law to harm the property owner.

When Monti’s La Casa Vieja in Tempe said that’s a wrap the 100-year old home of Carl Hayden was left untouched, but not even the 50-year old stuff that surrounded it.

When dissidents started this quixotic quest they asked for the garden along 44th Street to be “saved,” which it is now being, along with the preservation of a number of other items both on and off-site, even though the new property owner doesn’t have to.  Now that’s not enough.

When people say that other elements besides the garden are irreplaceable are they sure some, if not all of them can’t be procured today on Alibaba.com?

When the Phoenix City Council votes to “study” the matter, a precursor to a Proposition 207 violation, and then accepts private funds from a special interest that is driving the outcome of the study how is that showing integrity the new owner purportedly lacks?

When opposition is being led by a person whose last claim to fame was having her office raided by the FBI for purported development fraud we ask ourselves if the real motivation here is not preservation of a Cultural Center but to use politics to bully an acquisition in order to collect more fees as was controversially done for the Phoenix Mart project in Casa Grande?

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Whether you like or dislike Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane, and judging from his landslide re-election win in 2016 a lot of people do, it’s hard not to admire the way he leads the city with decency, integrity and class.

The same can’t always be said of the respective camps vying over the fate of the Desert Discovery Center (DDC) in Scottsdale.

We are no fans of the project as we have explained repeatedly.  But we are also no fans of some of the stooges like Mark Stuart who lead the effort.  While we admire the passion of opponents, among the best grassroots opposition groups anywhere in recent memory, they can certainly go too far.  We have written about such times in the past but it bears repeating now as some in the movement attack terrific Scottsdale businesses like the Fairmont Princess because they happen to be supporters of the Desert Discovery Center.  The property is one of the city’s finest hotels, adding to cache and coffers. We do not like their position on the DDC but we readily spend money there anyways.  Long after the DDC is dead and gone the Fairmont Princess will still be doing good for Scottsdale, as it was doing before the debate started.  DDC opponents need not snatch defeat from the jaws of victory with such obnoxious tactics.  

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They are two of the biggest names in the Arizona legal world.  Former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods and Arizona Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick.  Earlier this week Father Bolick likely would have been proud as his son, Evan Bolick, sparred with Woods.  It was in Pinal County Superior Court over a profoundly dishonest effort by Woods to undercut the Apex Motor Club in Maricopa on behalf of his legal patron, Dan Erickson of the Attesa project near Casa Grande.  Erickson’s feels his project so inadequate as to oppose another that he feels is too similarly situated.

We have written about the matter numerous times.
Lost In The Maricopa Woods April 17, 2017
The Worst Public Affairs Campaign Ever April 24, 2017
Smell & Wilmer. The Plot Thickens May 4, 2017
Horsepower Hypocrisy: The Endless Episodes May 18, 2017

In the courtroom exchange highlighted by inMaricopa.com. Bolick justifiably accused Woods’ bogus plaintiff of being paid.  Woods denied the assertion.  We don’t know how he could.  Is Woods seriously contesting that his plaintiff, a paid petition circulator named Bonita Burks, wasn’t paid by Erickson’s effort to gather signatures against the project in Maricopa?  It’s a matter of public record.

We don’t know if Woods watched Pinocchio cartoons as a kid but he has become a cartoon himself during this caper.  He also continues to emulate the character’s worst tendencies.  Kudos to Bolick for having the guts to call Woods out on it.

 

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*Bone-headed Branding:  With the “Desert Discovery Center” becoming such a pungent name in Scottsdale over the past year plus, proponents sought to rebrand it during their reintroduction in late July with a new name of “Desert Edge.”  Apparently the project’s pied piper didn’t get the memo.  She still lists the Desert Discovery Center in her signature line.  #Communicate

*Showing they can say no to developers, the City of Scottsdale largely sided with the residents of Troon North in their dispute with a real estate speculator to triple density for a timeshare-esque project near the community’s entrance.  It was the right decision and the council appeared near unanimous, if not entirely so, standing up for Troon North. Kudos to Planning Director Randy Grant for wading through an issue that while complex was quite simple at its core.

*The Scottsdale Firefighter’s Association Annual Dinner at Dominick’s Steakhouse has become one of the “it” community and political dinners in Scottsdale.  And this year might be the best one yet with honorees like Mountainside Fitness CEO Tom Hatten, the mother that sparked the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Arizona Coyotes’ legend and Scottsdale resident Shane Doan.  Doan is likely to be introduced by Jerry Colangelo which should make for quite a night indeed.

 

*The climate for Arizona Republicans in 2018 is going to be very difficult.  And that’s no exception as the GOP races to take on Democratic Congressman Tom O’Halleran.  If there’s anyone who can defy the odds it may be the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, Arizona State Senator Steve Smith.  As Bruce Springsteen might say he was born to run.  Engaging, intelligent, determined.  If not this time for Smith he’s a talent that certainly has more political life to live.

*Look for Governor Ducey to more robustly kick-off re-election activities next month.

*If anyone thinks Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan isn’t steely heading into her 2018 re-election campaign think again.  Despite some early challenges she is resolved and ready to roll.

*What a difference a few years makes.  Phoenix City Councilman Daniel Valenzuela is now the frontrunner to replace Greg Stanton as Mayor of Phoenix.  After kicking the tires of a term-limits loophole former Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon will not be running again.  But in Paradise Valley former Mayor Scott Lemarr has no such problems and is still more likely than not to make another run, making him the prohibitive favorite.  

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In salon terms Scottsdale City Councilman Guy Phillips has spent most of his tenure serving as a make-up artist.  What do we mean?  That Scottsdale’s looks are being degraded by too many apartments, too much height and too much stuff, he has argued.   He is typically joined in such observations by Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield and more recently by Councilman David Smith.

Such opinons can often lead to electoral support for one, two or three councilmembers serving at a time but they have not resulted in a majority for decades.  The city’s well regardedness for its pro-business majority was on full display in 2016 when Mayor Jim Lane throttled former Councilman Bob Littlefield, husband to Kathy.

Scottsdale voters are smart with a majority realizing that though they may not be thrilled with an apartment project here or there, a pro-business, pro-tourism, pro-arts approach in Scottsdale is what leads to the revenues that pay for parks, police and preservation.  It’s hard to do that if too many so no to everything.

This leads us back to Councilman Phillips.

Scottsdale Fashion Square recently asked for new approvals, including height, to solidify its future.  At a time when malls everywhere are struggling the request was understandable, even necessary.  And with the staggering amount of sales tax revenue Scottsdale Fashion Square provides city coffers, the mall’s success is a quite necessary proposition indeed.  

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668 North, LLC recently purchased the mostly vacant former Chinese Cultural Center on 44th Street south of the 202 Freeway in order to establish a new headquarters and campus for approximately 350 of its 12,500 employees and team members. The new corporate headquarters is the latest investment near Phoenix’s light rail line, expected to have a notable economic impact for the city according to Valley economist Jim Rounds, who is currently compiling a detailed report on the move. 

Despite strong Arizona laws governing private property rights, some have objected to the company’s plans in spite of a commitment to revitalize the 170,000 square foot space, preserve major elements on site and relocate others. Many of the state’s private property rights are enshrined in Proposition 207, a statewide, voter-approved measure that was passed by a nearly 2-1 margin over a decade ago. On behalf of 668 North, LLC the law firm of Gammage & Burnham recently communicated to the City of Phoenix the numerous problems with infringing on these and other rights.  668 North, LLC is not seeking any city entitlements or tax incentives as part of its redevelopment. 

The cultural center, built in 1997, has significantly struggled for many years with numerous failed businesses and very low occupancy. Today only six percent (6%) of tenants are Chinese-related and the center overall is only 26% occupied. Over the last 20 years, both historical anchor tenants, a grocery store and large restaurant, went into bankruptcy. They were reopened and run for many years by the landlord at a loss. Additionally, there hasn’t been a Chinese New Year festival held at the site since 2012. As community and financial support for the site continued to decline, the prior owner – a large Chinese company – decided to sell the property. That owner provided assurances that the site has been largely abandoned by the Chinese community and that no restrictions of any kind were being placed on the site which would impede redevelopment.  

While the new owner plans to renovate the building, in the spirit of working with the Chinese Community, it has offered several different options during talks with community leaders over the past few weeks. Despite offering numerous creative solutions, the people interested in preserving the site have been unable to reach any agreement amongst themselves, which has complicated a path forward.  

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Remember the nut jobs, even the streakers, who jump the fence at baseball games to run around the outfield to gain attention?  Years ago most responsible television networks stopped showing the romps so as not to reward the recklessness.

Apparently, the Scottsdale Independent didn’t get the memo.  While we applaud the publication for becoming the unquestionable leader in Northeast Valley news the recent decision to splash Scottsdale City Hall streaker Mark Stuart across its front page (here is a link) was like Fox showing a clothing optional resort during the World Series.

Stuart is a political cross somewhere between Gary Busey and Lindsay Lohan, always seeming like a nudist on the late shift (although that’s a visual about as appealing as one of Stuart’s incoherent screeds).  

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Now that President Trump has relieved Sheriff Joe Arpaio from legal concerns we thought it timely to relay anew a related post we made back on March 9, 2016. If not prescient it may be insightful.

Maybe It’s Trump With The Integrity, Not Romney

As Mitt Romney laid early plans for a 2008 presidential run he was spending a lot of time in Arizona.  To raise money.  And to pin rival John McCain down in his home state more than he would have liked.

Romney sought a key endorsement:  Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.  He got it.  Arizona.  Iowa.  Whatever the Romney campaign needed “America’s Toughest Sheriff” was there.  While Arpaio and McCain have hardly been close over the years going against your state’s U.S. Senator isn’t a political move without consequence.

Romney lost the primary to McCain in 2008, then became buddies with him. Nothing wrong with that.  But there was a few years later when Romney treated Arpaio during his 2012 efforts like a leper, so as not to upset McCain.

The 2012 GOP standard bearer showed little spine and a real lack of integrity (as did his campaign staff) towards someone that stuck their neck out for him previously.

Contrast this with Arizona Governor Doug Ducey whose 2014 primary campaign got a critical spark from Arpaio at one of his lowest tides.  The two maintain by all appearances a very friendly and respectful relationship.  Arpaio is also assisting Ducey’s biggest initiative to date:  Proposition 123.

Contrast Romney with Donald Trump too, who doesn’t just target the Sheriff’s endorsement, he shouts it from the rooftops.  Like last night during his victory speech. Alongside Palin, Christie, etc. there booms proudly The Donald about The Sheriff.  He’s even mentioned the octogenarian’s support during debates too.

Whether Trump wins or loses the ultimate prize one gets the sense he’ll always be grateful to Arpaio, no matter what new friends become him.

So next time Romney waxes and whines about Trump’s integrity ask him who went Bob Marley, and shot the sheriff first.

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By Candidate for Governor Steve Farley

To what lengths will Trump go to destroy Arizona?

From the news that broke just a few days ago, apparently much further than we had ever imagined.

The Hill recently reported that President Trump is considering lifting the Obama-era ban on Uranium mining in northern Arizona -- a ban that was put in place to protect one of our state’s and country’s most beautiful and breathtaking regions.

Mining in that fragile area would destroy a significant part of our landscape forever. It would also cause undue risks to our groundwater and soil -- risks that could lead to an unmitigated disaster.

Arizonans have a deep appreciation for our natural treasures like the Grand Canyon but we need to fight to protect it. 

While we haven’t heard much out of the governor’s office on this topic, we can safely assume that Governor Ducey will no doubt fall right in line, just as he did with Graham-Cassidy.

Governor Ducey is much more concerned with political advancement in DC and helping his special interest friends than helping Arizona. The Koch Brothers have attempted for years to fund efforts to remove protections preventing mining in the regions around the Grand Canyon.

Now with Trump AND Ducey at the helm, they might just pull it off.

Arizona deserves a leader who won’t put Arizonans, our natural resources, or the beauty of our state in jeopardy to please their donors. 

Let’s take this fight to Ducey, Trump, and their backward agenda.

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By Scottsdale City Councilman David Smith

Dear Friends...

During the recent Council work study session on the Desert EDGE project, I summarized the history of events that has led to locating a Discovery Center in the preserve, at the Gateway on Thompson Peak Parkway. A few listeners asked me to share that chronology. It's a long history, so hold your seats!

In 1994 - before there was a preserve tax or a preserve! - the McDowell Sonoran Preserve Commission (MSPC) retained a local research firm, Nelson, Robb, Duval and DeMenna to conduct a statistically reliable telephone survey of Scottsdale registered voters to determine whether they supported land preservation.

The poll questions made it clear the City's goals were broader than just acquiring land. Each poll participant was also told, "The following are a list of features that are under study for inclusion in the preserve" and asked to rank the importance of each feature. For "Desert museums and education centers", 69.5% answered "very important" or "somewhat important;" 30.5% answered "not very important" or "don't know."

The poll results guided City Council in structuring the May 23, 1995 Ballot Proposition 400 seeking voter approval of a 0.20% temporary and dedicated preserve sales tax. That proposition was approved almost 2 to 1.

Following the 1995, the MSPC began studying where preserve assets should be built to enhance public entry to and enjoyment of the preserve. By March 1999, they had published their McDowell Sonoran Preserve Access Areas Report identifying several access points.

There should be a single Gateway, they said, as the focal point for educational facilities as well as a a broad array of public amenities - a visitor center, interpretative or educational centers, museum facilities, displays, an amphitheater, concessions and areas to accommodate large user groups. Many of those visions of 20 years ago survive today as features of the proposed Desert EDGE at the Gateway.

About this same time, 1998, homes were being constructed on Bell Road in the McDowell Mountain Ranch community, across from the southern boundary of the proposed Gateway.

In 2004, voters were asked to increase the preserve tax again (this time by 0.15%) and allow the revenues to be used for land "...and improvements thereto."

That vote prompted Council to begin defining potential improvements. City Council's first action was to authorize a "Municipal Use Master Site Plan" (MUMSP, for short) for the Gateway - the city equivalent of a developer's site plan.

In February 2006, staff held an open house to explain Council's future plans for the Gateway. Staff shared a site plan map identifying Phase I as the Gateway Access and Phase II as a Desert Discovery Center, including an interpretive center, support offices, café with outdoor dining terrace and a 400-seat outdoor amphitheater.

On September 18, 2007, based on the 2006 public outreach, Council approved the MUMSP for the Gateway with the site plan unchanged. The accompanying Council Report described a Desert Discovery Center "...that will serve as the primary educational facility [including] a small café in conjunction with the Center...[as well as]...an outdoor amphitheater as part of the Desert Discovery Center...used in conjunction with educational and support activities for the Center." The description even anticipated "...there will be limited evening activity at the Desert Discovery Center." Mayor Mary Manross and Councilmembers Betty Drake, Wayne Ecton, Jim Lane, Bob Littlefield and Ron McCullagh all voted for the Gateway site plan.

Starting in 2007, homes began to be constructed on the west side of Thompson Peak Parkway, across from the proposed Gateway and Desert Discovery Center.

On October 11, 2011, Council approved the McDowell Sonoran Preserve Areas Report. The 1999 Report had been updated in 2010, but still provided there would only be one Gateway and that its location would be the focal point for educational facilities and programs and include a broad array of public amenities such as a visitor center, interpretative or educational centers, museum facilities, displays, an amphitheater, concessions and areas to accommodate corporate picnics and other large user groups. The Report was adopted unanimously by Mayor Jim Lane and councilmembers Milhaven, Borowsky, Klapp, Bob Littlefield, McCullagh and Robbins.

Before and after 2011, several versions of a Discovery Center were developed, leading to a Council decision in early 2016 to contract for a definitive study of what a Discovery Center should be. For more than twenty years, Scottsdale's elected and appointed representatives had been guided by the wishes of Scottsdale citizens; respecting this history, Council stipulated the design be sited at the already approved site north of the Gateway trailhead.

Still, the contractor, Desert Discovery Center Scottsdale (DDCS), was given latitude to consider alternative sites. They could have recommended another site - at the Gateway, elsewhere in the preserve or out of the preserve altogether - provided an alternative showed promise as a superior location, insuring greater success for the Discovery Center. In fact, an alternative, superior site was identified, just south of the Gateway trailhead. That is the site council is now considering for the Desert EDGE.

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PHOENIX – A brand new tool for monitoring the number of Arizona voters in real-time has been released by Secretary of State Michele Reagan.  The Voter Stats Dashboard displays registration data allowing users to observe trends by party and county from 2007 to the most recent report.

The innovative tool aggregates statistical and demographic data of Arizona’s registered voters by county and forecasts future registration levels of partisan affiliation.  The forecast is made to January 2021 and the time series is adjusted to consider yearly seasonality effects.

“No longer do people have to wait for each quarterly report to better understand the number of voters in Arizona,” said Secretary Reagan.  “The number of active voters changes each day with people registering, moving or when our counties perform routine list maintenance.  With this innovative dashboard people can better see what’s happening with the state’s electorate each day.”

The party forecasting function uses a basic time series algorithm called ARIMA.  Widely available to the public, it is a moving average from quarter to quarter.  Seasonality is a way for the algorithm to take into account patterns that may be found in the data based on outside events. In this case, the forecast takes into account the quarters of an election year which historically see an increase in registrations.

The Voter Stats Dashboard was developed by the Secretary of State’s Election Information Systems team and is hosted on her dedicated elections portal www.Arizona.Vote.

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By Steve Farley for Governor

When we think of the labor movement in Arizona, we are reminded of notable pieces of our past and present.

From the Old Dominion miners in Globe who striked against wage decreases in 1896, to the ironworkers who helped build skyscrapers like Chase Tower in Phoenix – unions have always played a role in everyday life here in Arizona.

We think of AFSCME members who ensure our cities and towns like Peoria operate effectively, and teachers unions like AFT and the NEA who make sure our children have the best possible future.

These men and women from across the state work hard every single day to make sure Arizona is the best state in the nation --– and it is their unions that fight tooth and nail to protect them every step of the way.

Each of us benefits from the labor movement’s accomplishments, whether you are a union member or not.

Weekends, minimum wage, child labor laws, workplace safety -- we sometimes take the work of labor unions for granted.

These benefits were paid for with the blood, sweat and tears of our union Brothers and Sisters that fought in Arizona and in states across the country to protect the American worker.

That’s why on this Labor Day, I want to take a moment to not only thank unions around Arizona for their hard work in the past, but also tell them that I stand with them and their future fights for Arizona’s workers’ rights.

To the men and women of the Arizona AFL-CIO, Ironworkers Union Local 75, AFSCME, Teamsters Local 104, UA Local 469, Carpenters Local 1912, IBEW Local 640, SMART 1081, and the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona, and every union across the state:

Thank you for all your hard work and know that I stand with you. Arizona is what it is because of you.

Keep it up,

Steve

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From No DDC

FINAL SURVEY RESULTS -- THANK YOU, SCOTTSDALE. 9,000 of you saw it including 4,000 who saw the Survey on NoDDC and 5,000 who saw the promoted ad. We promoted the survey to all 140,000 Facebook users in Scottsdale to try to get an unbiased and representative sample of voters.

Of those who opened the Survey over 84% completed at least the first 3 answers.

WHAT WE LEARNED: 5.86% want the DDC built on the Gateway Trailhead. That is it. Even after we goaded the DDCSI crowd in to trying to stuff the ballot box they could not get up to 6%.

62% do not want the DDC built on the Preserve under any circumstances. No matter how small and no matter whether voters approve it or not, they say they oppose all versions of the DDC. That answer was nearly 3 times more prevalent than any other answer.

Especially in South Scottsdale, where voters were not so concerned about preservation as they are about Taxes and Budgets. South Scottsdale is an overwhelming NoDDC Voting bloc that does not want an election because as one voter put it "why waste more money on an election when everyone knows we hate it". 78% of South Scottsdale simply said "No. Not under any circumstances". 16% said they would tolerate it if it was moved or there was an election and 5.9% said they approved.

We do not know how you could possibly change these trends. DDCSI just made its best pitch to impress the City and if anything it seems that voters became even more opposed after the big rollout of the relabled Edge project 2 weeks ago.

CHALLENGE TO DDCSI: You will refuse to accept the results of this Survey and insist that it was contrived. It was not. But you deflect all criticism. So why do we not do the next survey together and jointly manage the data? We are confident where this debate is going.

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By Scottsdale Councilmember Virginia Korte

Last week we took the first significant step in solving our city’s infrastructure issues.virginiakorte_bio

Mayor Lane appointed me and Councilmembers Guy Phillips and David Smith to a new Council Capital Improvement Project Subcommittee.  The three us will be officially confirmed at the Council meeting on Tuesday, February 21st.

Recently, the city staff presented more than 40 capital improvement projects for the Council’s consideration.  The total cost of the projects is estimated to be $84 million. That is a lot of money, and, quite candidly, it is going to be a challenge finding the funding for those projects.  And this is the “tip” of the proverbial iceberg with our growing needs for reinvestment in the city’s infrastructure. It will take a combination of several different options to pay for all the projects over time. 

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