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2018 Scrum

Recently an article in the Scottsdale Independent queried whether Scottsdale was losing its luster. It cited the election losses of the General Plan, a Scottsdale School District bond and the recent city bond package.

But that’s a little like saying Kate Upton doesn’t like as good in a red bikini as blue. She still looks good. No matter what. kate-upton-poster

So let’s take stock.

The city just debuted an amazing new facility at WestWorld that just hosted the world’s largest car auction called Barrett-Jackson and is hosting the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, the largest in the world.

Just blocks away is the home of the world’s largest golf tournament.

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You don’t see this every day. And that’s the hometown newspaper of a Super Bowl host city harshly criticizing the costs of the event, as well as the local NFL team that makes landing the third largest sporting event in the world (behind the Olympics and World Cup) possible.

But that’s what the Glendale Star, the long-timer paper of record for Glendale, Arizona did in its most weekly editorial. It pulls no punches and makes for fascinating reading, even as we disagree with the premise and support Glendale’s call to be reimbursed for public safety costs associated with the big day in 2015.  Here is a link to the editorial.

 

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School choice advocates are taking dead aim at what’s left of the public school monopoly. In the City of Phoenix.120103022050-school-bus-gi-afp-story-top

Courtesy of a front page article in today’s Arizona Republic (“New Charter School Push In Phoenix Core”) let there be no doubt about what’s taking place. Having pillaged upper income school districts like Scottsdale’s school choicers believe their moment has come to strut proudly and loudly in lower income areas, proving once and for all the superiority of their approach for students, parents . . . and teachers.

Oh, both the Phoenix Union District Superintendent and backers of the multi-charter school initiative said all the right things and played nice.

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Such a case can really be found in 2004. In the form of John Kerry. Not loved but viewed as quite competent Kerry was a weak frontrunner for the 2004 Democratic nomination for President, kind of like Ken Bennett who sits atop most polls for Arizona Governor in 2014 but who most observers think we will toppled due to limited fundraising and a boredom factor.40448a

And Kerry was toppled . . . for a while. By Howard Dean before The Scream went too shrill. And John Edwards almost caught Kerry in Iowa, but didn’t have the juice to challenge in New Hampshire. He was apparently saving that for someone else.

But then the Democrats returned to Kerry having yawned about him in the first place. He waged a tough campaign against George W. Bush, like Bennett undoubtedly would against Fred Duval.

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Our previous editorial focused on the wisdom of reforming tax policy to recruit the ultra-rich to Arizona like Phil Mickelson.2013 U.S. Open

And why shouldn’t the Grand Canyon State? After all, the competition is stiff with no income tax states like Texas and Nevada.

Furthermore, the private sector constantly engages in a never ending quest to land the whales. At casinos. In hotels. Country clubs. Restaurants. New homes. Season tix. Sponsors. So if Adam Smith’s disciples understand the benefit of attracting the biggest wallets why shouldn’t government?

If politics is a concern be as radically appealing to aiding the poor as one might be to recruiting the rich. Just like anti-illegal immigration activists should be the biggest proponents for legal immigration and the ingenuity and entrepreneurs it yields, unless their true colors can be found on a Confederate flag.

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At a time when Paul Ryan and others are smart to be channeling Jack Kemp and re-engineering GOP messages for the lower and middle classes, it is an appeal to the highest crust that could be a good move here in Arizona.Phil-Mickelson-1

This week Phil Mickelson is defending his Waste Management Phoenix Open. A Sun Devil, he is the most beloved golfer in Arizona and recently made waves talking about the onerous tax rates in California.

This prompted a national discussion. The Arizona State Legislature should act.

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Sometimes you just can’t make this stuff up.

The last time Paradise Valley paid much attention to the large, empty real estate between Mockingbird and Scottsdale Road and Lincoln and Indian Bend Roads was November, 2008. Then, Paradise Valley voters were wise to pass by a nearly 2-1 margin a mixed-use plan that had a new Ritz-Carlton at its core.Taco_Puttin_on_the_Ritz

While the entitlement granted by the then Paradise Valley Town Council was aggressive it did not jeopardize the town’s character.

Fast forward to 2014. The developer of the project is now saying its generous entitlement wasn’t, and isn’t enough.

Why? Because what are they to do with a big chunk of their plan now that Scottsdale approved a large new apartment project that will stare into the back of its project? That 4-story project has now been built and opened on the northwest corner of Scottsdale and Lincoln.

Chutzpah.

The attorney and lead lobbyist for that apartment complex was none other than the same one the Ritz developer employs. And did the Ritz ever state any opposition to the apartment plan? Of course not. Why? Because it knew the increased density in Scottsdale could be used to justify absurd new requests of Paradise Valley.

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The cathedrals of Europe tend to be of the religious variety, serving both as cornerstones of faith and tourism.

Here in the United States our cathedrals are the shrines of sport. Wrigley Field. Fenway Park. Augusta. Churchill Downs.

They are magnets for economic impact.

In Arizona we do have a rather Grand, natural cathedral three hours to the north. Closer to home some of the country’s largest municipal preserves located in Scottsdale and Phoenix remind us of the Valley’s special nature.

When it comes to the man made variety we do have a mansion called Wrigley and a remarkable Frank Lloyd Wright winter home. But we don’t have anything that truly captures the bucket list imagination of the tourist besides the general concept of spring training.

The pool at Chase Field was a noble attempt but for the Los Angeles Dodgers pissing a little vinegar in it last year it hasn’t served as much of a discussion point.

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Like any monopoly the public school system has constantly fought change, during the past decade in the form of greater school choice.

And it is losing in higher income areas like the Scottsdale School District where some 9,000 students choose charter or private schools.

This is putting enormous pressure on the system there, populated by bureaucrats who don’t know how to innovate. Monopoly and old school is their mantra. Head sanders they are.

They must be taking particular umbrage this Arizona legislative session with SB 1100. Backed by an impressive cross-section of Republican legislators ranging from Barto, Worsley and Pratt to Montenegro, Farnsworth and Yee it is the ultimate addition of insult to the public school injury.

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Arizona’s NHL franchise avoided a public vote following the Glendale City Council’s split decision to award its new owners a $15 million payment. Such a referendum election would have likely torpedoed the transition to new ownership since it would have delayed ratification of the city agreement until after the season 8lqmtthh0w2wgumr6goswqmkiwas to begin.

The saga that has been hockey ownership in the desert was thought to be over, at least for the next five years. But a movement taking place in Ohio raises new questions for hockey fans. There, a group is seeking to unravel via a citizen’s initiative an agreement for local government to fund the arena for the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets, a structure that may have some parallels to the Glendale situation.

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Did Republicans just ignore all of the headlines over the years about disgraced former Congressman Rick Renzi who was found to abuse his position while in office for real estate gains? barney

We ask because of the Arizona Republic headline today raising similar questions about current Maricopa County Board Chairman Denny Barney (Maricopa County chairman in ethics flap). While many Republicans don’t like the Republic, the story reminds us of the import of the fourth estate, especially robust investigative journalism. We digress as we necessarily observe who will be there to shed light on that which was done today if larger media goes away? This blog? Other bloggers? A motley crew on Facebook? Back to our premise.

Barney achieved the near impossible in 2012. Running as a rookie for a coveted seat abandoned by Fulton Brock he ran unopposed. That’s because of the regard the marketplace had for Barney personally, his family and his promise.

Surely his constituents thought the youthful Barney mature enough to avoid the kind of problems described today in which he apparently nudged Maricopa County staff to resolve issues that were costing his development project money.

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As we are about to enter the 2014 campaign season television advertisements and flyers will flood mailboxes and airwaves. They will emphasize many words and messages. But nary a one will tout “wisdom.” They should.

Allow us to explain using the example of Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.bill-montgomery-professional

Readers are surely familiar with former Maricopa County Andy Thomas’ travails. And they may have read Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts (click here) as well as the paper’s editorial (click here). Both questioned the prosecutorial wisdom of current Attorney General Tom Horne and what amounted to rather paltry charges in his office’s pursuit of former Fiesta Bowl lobbyist Gary Husk. Readers are probably familiar with other reasons General Horne’s conduct can be questioned as well. And while many Republicans don’t love yet another former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley, they will still recognize him as a straight shooter. So when he calls Horne’s ethics and conduct into question it is noteworthy.

This all leads us to Andrew Thomas’ successor Bill Montgomery. Although only a practicing lawyer for about a decade he appears to have uncommon wisdom among recent Arizona prosecutors.

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Over the weekend I was elected Chair of the Arizona Democratic Party.

I am the first woman and first Hispanic Chair the Party has ever elected – and I’m hoping that symbolism will help us move our Party in a new direction that modernizes our approach and wins more elections.

Some of you may know me from my time as campaign manager for Dr. Richard Carmona’s campaign for U.S. Senate, or as chief of staff to Congressman Harry Mitchell. But my connection to the Democratic Party and our progressive values runs much deeper than my experience running campaigns and managing offices.

I come from a small mining town in rural Arizona. Growing up, my dad was a miner and proud member of the union – a union that my family sometimes had to lean on when things got tough.

My mom raised us in proud Catholic traditions, but she also raised three daughters who she wanted to be independent and capable of controlling their own lives and medical decisions. So when my sisters and I reached dating age, my mom drove us right down to Planned Parenthood to make sure we had access to birth control and the health care we needed.

I’m a Democrat because I care deeply about the values that make us all Democrats – and I believe firmly that those values are the right ones to govern our state. That’s why I’ve dedicated my life to winning races for Democrats in Arizona.

I’m going to build a leaner, meaner Arizona Democratic Party – a party that proudly boasts of our progressive values and hammers ideological Republicans when they cut education, block access to women’s health care, discriminate against our LGBT community, vilify unions and sell out our state to the corporations that dump Dark Money on our candidates. 

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PHOENIX -- ProgressNow Arizona has hit for the cycle in January, establishing the year-old organization as the go-to progressive voice holding elected leaders accountable in several television, print and radio interviews on the state’s biggest political stories.

Executive Director Robbie Sherwood has provided commentary in response to Gov. Doug Ducey’s inaugural speech, led a massive press conference and rally pushing common-sense budget solutions ahead of Ducey’s “State of the State” speech, broke down Ducey’s anti-education budget plan and stood up for President Obama’s accomplishments after his State of the Union address. 

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Friend,

Just over three years ago, I was sworn in as Mayor of Phoenix and fully focused on getting to work on moving this city forward -- just as you entrusted me to do.

I grew up here and I love this city. I’ve seen Phoenix grow into a major American city. And yet, Phoenix still has so many unique characteristics that makes it special.

This is a city that rewards hard work and welcomes those from an incredible array of diverse backgrounds. But like any great city, we must always strive to do even better.

Phoenix has dug out of a grueling recession, but our work is not done. We need an inovated, exported based economy that works for everybody, and that starts with supporting our schools and expanding transporation options.

I’ll be reaching out again soon with more details on what lies ahead and how you can continue to support our efforts. For now, I just want you to know that I remain passionate about this city and the things we can accomplish together.

Thank you for your support,

Greg

 

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(Phoenix, AZ) With the new year begins a new era in the Arizona Attorney General's Office. Attorney General-elect Mark Brnovich added three more staff members as he prepares to take office on Monday. brnovich

Zora Manjencich will join the Attorney General's Office as the Assistant Chief of the Child Safety Division. Manjencich spent nine years at the Maricopa County Attorney's Office handling high-profile sex crime cases in the East Valley. She once tried and convicted a child predator who was featured on America's Most Wanted and earned the Crime Victims' Rights Special Award. Manjencich most recently worked as a litigator at a local law firm. Manjencich is actively involved with organizations that advocate for children with both physical and learning disabilities.

"Zora's experience prosecuting child predators demonstrates to me that she is the ideal person to work alongside John Johnson in the Child Safety Division," said Brnovich. "The fact that she devotes her own time to standing up for children in our community proves that her passion for youth goes beyond any job title."

Maria Syms will serve as Legal Policy Advisor. Syms is currently a councilwoman-elect for the Town of Paradise Valley and recently earned a Master's Degree in Public Administration from Harvard University. Syms' impressive resume includes serving as an Assistant United State Attorney in Los Angeles. She both enforced the law and saved taxpayer money by aiding in the dismissal of frivolous lawsuits. She has experience working as a Law Clerk within the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit where she analyzed and researched cases and legal issues presented to the court, drafted opinions and orders, and briefed a federal judge in preparation for oral argument. Syms also practiced law at a private firm in Hawaii, advocating for businesses of varying sizes.
General Brnovich named Jennifer Perkins the Assistant Solicitor General for Attorney General Opinions. Perkins comes to the team from her role as Of Counsel at an appellate law firm in Phoenix. She previously spent five years with the Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct as Disciplinary Counsel and Staff Attorney. In that role she investigated, prosecuted and provided resolutions in all statewide judicial misconduct complaints. She also served as as a staff attorney with the Arizona Chapter of the Institute for Justice for five years.

"Selecting the very best people to serve our state has been an exciting task," Brnovich added. "I become more confident in my team with each new hire."

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(Phoenix, AZ) Attorney General-elect Mark Brnovich’s administration continues to gain momentum as he added three key members to his staff this week. Brnovich will assume office January 5, 2015.

John Johnson joins Brnovich's team as the Division Chief of the Child and Family Protection Division, Leslie Welch will serve as Director of Operations, and Kristen Keogh takes the role of spokesperson.brnovich

"With these additions, the Attorney General's Office has acquired highly accomplished talent, and I am pleased to have them on my team when I take office next month," said Brnovich.

John Johnson, a former Assistant United States Attorney and Deputy Maricopa County Attorney will bring years of experience in the investigation and prosecution of child sexual abuse with him as he leads the Child and Family Protection Division.

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Scottsdale – Arizona’s 20th Secretary of State Michele Reagan has announced the members of her incoming administration. The new leadership team consists of Lee Miller as Deputy Secretary of State, Eric Spencer as State Election Director, Liz Atkinson as CFO and Matt Roberts as Director of Communications.

“It was important to me and my transition team to place highly-regarded and experienced professionals in positions of leadership within my administration,” said Secretary-elect Reagan. “Each one of them has an exceptional skill set that will help implement my vision for improving one of the most important offices in state government.”image001

Lee Miller, tapped as Deputy Secretary of State, will oversee day-to-day operations of the Department of State, the Secretary of State’s office and its numerous divisions, including the State Library, Archive and Public Records Division.

Mr. Miller’s professional career began working as an attorney for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation investigating financial fraud in the banking and savings and loan industries. That work evolved into senior management positions with commercial and residential securities trading firms from coast to coast.

A noted election law attorney, Mr. Miller has provided consultation and analysis for numerous political campaigns and organizations including the Citizens Clean Elections Commission and pro-bono work for the Arizona Republican Party.

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Arizona Progress & Gazette: Arizona News, Editorials & Debate