The Conservative's Corner
As the 2014 election cycle gets underway there may be no easier endorsement, even at this early date, than current Vice Mayor Michael Collins to assume the top position.
With Mayor Scott LeMarr leaving on top after more than two decades of public service to the town, Collins offers the compelling combination of continuation, experience and talent.
He chaired the town’s General Plan efforts passed by a whopping 80 percent of voters.
He voted for the Mountain Shadows redevelopment plan that has already resulted in the removal of rat infested buildings at 56th Street and Lincoln.
He leads not only in the Town but a business with 45 employees that does land use planning for the U.S. military. He is a veteran of the U.S. Navy, father and husband.Read more
If there were a Mount Rushmore in Paradise Valley, Arizona – or more appropriately a Mount Camelback, current Mayor Scott Lemarr would be on it. Only six decades old Lemarr has served the town in a variety of capacities for over a third of that time on a variety of citizen commissions and currently as the first directly elected mayor in the town’s history.
He’s not only seen it all he’s done it all. And Paradise Valley is a better place for it.
A tidy recovering from the Great Recession.
An improved police department and reduced crime.
Improved fire service.
Leading what no council before him could – an approval for the redevelopment of the old Mountain Shadows Resort. The rat infested relic has even been scraped away, readying the property for a better future.
As a son of the community Lemarr has understood that a community already the envy of Arizona doesn’t need a lot more, certainly density. It just needs a little TLC from time to time, the Mayor’s job unlike in other cities largely constituting a do no harm approach.
Lemarr has succeeded in that regard and then some. He likes to attend a lot of Diamondbacks’ games. While they aren’t winning a lot this year that’s not the case for Lemarr’s 22 years of impressive public service.Read more
In 1992 one-time GOP presidential nominee Barry Goldwater shocked many by crossing party lines to endorse Democratic congressional candidate Karan English over Republican standard-bearer Doug Wead. A former Amway salesman and political slickster, Wead had spent about 5 minutes in Arizona before entering the fray for Arizona’s new congressional seat.
Goldwater put the state above party. There’s a lesson there as it relates to Tom Horne’s upcoming race for Attorney General.
He believes this week was a good one for him because an administrative law judge decided there wasn’t enough evidence to continue the case of alleged campaign finance law violations against him. But we all know what happened. Voters get it.Read more
Although it won’t be for almost a year we regret Paradise Valley Town Manager Jim Bacon is stepping down. He has served with humor and effectiveness.
Arriving in Paradise Valley at just about the hour of the day of the year when the economy cliff-dived we can envision few better captains in stormy seas.
At ease with his extensive experience and with a quick wit always at hand Bacon inspired confidence because he has pretty much seen it all in municipal government. Comfortable in his own skin there is no discomfort coming from anyone wondering if town government is operating with integrity and achievement.
He proved himself to be a critical deal-maker too. We question whether someone without Bacon’s talent, patience and standing could have negotiated the deal that has become the old Mountain Shadows resort revitalization in progress.
The accomplished town manager deserves the more relaxed times coming to him. And while he will be missed at Paradise Valley Town Hall we know he will enjoy more times watching his beloved sporting events, knowing his was a job well done.
Next door in Scottsdale we hope the activists win. They have it right. As we lament the loss of a consummate public servant like Bacon, Scottsdale’s political vocalists don’t want to lose an interestingly designed church in downtown, on Indian School Road. It has served as a city office and meeting place for some years. City Manager Fritz Behring is rightfully looking at ways to raise additional revenue through the sale of non-essential buildings. But the Community Design Studio, as it is now known, should not be sold. As Councilwoman Milhaven has opined, Scottsdale has relatively few older, appreciated buildings so why not maintain this one, since it can?
And the city should. With a twist.Read more
What will history decide in 2014?
Back in 1994 a vulnerable Governor Fife Symington overcame a spirited primary challenge from the impressive Barbara Barrett and then came from behind to defeat the formidable Eddie Basha, God rest his soul.
But in 1992 the Arizona GOP was not so lucky. Then, incumbent Congressman Jay Rhodes eeked by a number of primary challengers,only to lose the general election to Democrat Sam Coppersmith.
The stakes for the Arizona Republican Party as it relates to the similarly challenged and embattled Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne in 2014 are higher.
The set of circumstances surrounding Horne have grown so profoundly negative, and in some cases downright comical, that the torrent of television commercials soon to come threaten other statewide officials.
It’s that bad.Read more
Unlike most elephant snorting blogs we don’t have posters of Art Bell on our walls and advance the latest conspiracy theories. We believe in the best of people’s opinions, even when it is wrong and left-wing induced.
But the cases of former U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke and former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, both of which made appearances before the State Bar of Arizona have us rethinking such an approach.
While chasing mercurial malfeasance in Maricopa County government hindsight and the record now shows abuses and bad judgment by Thomas. Was some type of disciplinary action by the State Bar warranted? Yes. But discipline turned to vengeance and Thomas lost his ability to make a living. They gave him the death penalty. No license to practice.
Compare this to the recent “punishment” of Burke, someone who wasn’t just misguided on the notion of specific corruption. He was actually involved in the political cover-up of death. Involving a U.S. Border Patrol agent named Brian Terry. In the sickening scandal that became known as “Fast and Furious.”Read more
As Scottsdale voters were preparing to vote on city council candidates during the 2012 election the Arizona Republic rightfully called businesswoman and preservationist Virginia Korte one of the finest, most qualified people to seek the job. Korte is now the Vice Mayor of Scottsdale.
Such plaudits are appropriate for her friend, just across a town boundary, Paradise Valley Town Councilman Dan Schweiker.
It is major loss for the tony town, because he is a person that has helped achieve so many wins for it.
Years ago he cut through the acrimony that led to both beautification and flood control on Doubletree.
He has always been a strong supporter of photo radar.
He cast the deciding vote making Ed Winkler the Mayor, demonstrating his belief that no one should sit in that chair too long, as it belongs to the citizenry not the entrenched.
In between council stints he chaired the political campaign committee in support of a new Ritz-Carlton, not that his tourism bona fides ever needed to be burnished. On the council there has been no one more emphatic about the need for robust Paradise Valley resorts than Schweiker. He knows they not only provide great amenities for local residents, but revenues from them mean Paradise Valley remains one of the few municipalities in the state without a property tax.Read more
Most Democrats have yet to realize this. They are exemplified by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, the blunt instrument of unions always seeking self-interest over student achievement. Data, parents and charter school students be damned, he governs.
Across the country a different big-city mayor is taking a difference approach. That’s Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. When well-known school choice advocates announced plans to proliferate charter schools throughout the core of Phoenix Stanton embraced the idea, unlike de Blasio.Read more
A new type of urban warfare among Valley cities is upon us. And it is taking place in the West Valley. There, the City of Peoria has announced plans to greatly expand its commercial core around the Peoria Sports Complex, with the unquestioned intent of seizing spending from the current entertainment epicenter just down the 101 at Westgate.
If successful, the Peoria gambit would cost the City of Glendale, Mayor Weiers and the Glendale City Council millions of dollars at a time when it can least afford it.
Peoria officials are trying to play their counterparts in Glendale for fools. The Peoria plan, not unlike Westgate’s, relies on a proliferation of new billboards to help pay for parking garages and other infrastructure to get the project going.
The only problem? A local business—Becker Boards—isn’t a part of anyone’s grand plan. They just want to build a couple of billboards in a commerce park, at a depressed site, next to the freeway.Read more
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.
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.Read more
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.
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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,
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."Read more
(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.
"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.Read more
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.”
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.Read more
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