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2018 Scrum

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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Every community has critics. And that’s a good thing, especially in an age of a declining fourth estate. Their eyes, ears and energy can be just what’s needed to shine a light into some darker places. Scottsdale-Sign-547x198

But in Scottsdale activism has become its own art form, its own sport. While there are certainly problems in one of America’s best cities some of the criticism operates in an existential-like luxury of complaint – kind of like Peter Cook cheating on Christie Brinkley. He was lucky to be married to her before he wasn’t, like Scottsdale residents are fortunate to live where they do, until they don’t.

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On Monday night Florida State defeated Auburn for the national college football championship. They did so on the final drive of the game, arriving in the red zone with just seconds left.  Football winners and losers are often decided by those who score when they get within 20 yards of the end zone, and those who do not.  Florida State did.

We hope the same now happens with efforts relating to Greasewood Flat.  In football terms, circumstance has now put efforts to keep or relocate the beloved bar squarely in the red zone. b6b4bc0fc67644f597c99da8db91d68b

The journey may be a bit involved, but it is looking a whole lot better than it was, and that befell Rawhide before it.

That’s because Greasewood Flat owners have been expressing an interest in relocating to a more authentic, rural location within the city as urban sprawl has closed in around them, infringing on the experience.  So unique is the experience it could likely continue to withstand the encroachment but if other, better alternatives are available why bother?  Why risk it?  After all, the family’s Reata Pass Restaurant was forced to close a couple of years ago, likely because guests no longer felt the authenticity that once was.  Reata Pass never seared the local or tourist conscience like Greasewood Flat or Rawhide.  The family has said it is not coming back and that is no great loss.  But a decade ago losing Rawhide to the Gila River Indian Community was.  And so it would be with Greasewood. Approving a new location for it should be unanimous and enthusiastic, not unlike what occurred for the new Mercedes-Benz of Scottsdale dealership that’s sprung to life across from Scottsdale Fashion Square. 

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As the hand wringing continues about Glendale’s investment in sports facilities there is an untold story of how the first domino in the form of a hockey arena might never have come to be. COG_Logo_Color

It’s a fascinating tale and one that would have taken a slice of Valley history through a different sliding door.

Following not one but two landslide elections in favor of locating an arena at Scottsdale and McDowell Roads voters probably expected their City Council to implement their wishes.  It was not to be with a disrespectful, divided council.

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If the City of Scottsdale was a private company it would have, and should have, sued numerous companies and cities for violating its intellectual property.

Because “Scottsdale” is a notable brand many others have appropriated it.

Consider the concentration of automobile dealers along Scottsdale Road near the Loop 101.  Their edifices even tout “North Scottsdale.”  Yet, that side of the road is actually in the City of Phoenix with car sales accruing revenues to it.

Then there is the Westin Kierland Resort also near Scottsdale Road.  It too brands itself as “Scottsdale.”  But it’s not. It’s Phoenix.

But the most egregious example of all may have been reported just today by the Arizona Republic. Here’s a link.

Its article described an acquisition of the Montelucia Resort and Spa in Paradise Valley, Arizona noting it will be renamed the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia.   Notwithstanding that mouthful the property sits some 3 miles from the closest Scottsdale border.  Three miles. 

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Fallen American solider Lori Piestewa was, is, and will always be a hero.  Period. She deserves to have any mountain named after her in Arizona.

But about a decade ago renaming Phoenix landmark Squaw Peak wasn’t just about honoring Ms. Piestewa.  It was about eliminating the name “squaw,” a derogatory term to most if not all Native Americans.

It became a priority of then Governor Janet Napolitano who owed her 2002 gubernatorial election to the strong get out the vote effort undertaken by the “21 tribes” that spent massively to pass Arizona’s Indian gaming ballot measure that November.

So committed to the name change was the Democratic governor that former strongman staffer Mario Diaz undertook, shall we say, some rather serious political maneuvering to get it done.  Aggressive or not that might have been the last effective political engineering by Diaz, but we digress.  And we are confused.

If the word “Squaw” to recognize a peak was so offensive then, and we still live in an age when there is a growing opposition to an NFL franchise retaining the name “Redskins,” why does Mayor Stanton and the City of Phoenix illuminati still permit “Squaw Peak Drive” in the mountain’s shadow?

There the sign sits, prominent, contradicting Piestewa Peak.

What say you Mayor Greg Stanton?  Councilman Michael Nowakowski?  Councilwoman Kate Gallego?  Councilwoman Laura Pastor?  Councilman Daniel Valenzuela?

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PHOENIX – Evan Wyloge, an award-winning investigative reporter and new media specialist, is joining the staff of the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting as a senior reporter.

This marks a significant milestone for AZCIR as it works to establish the nonprofit investigative newsroom as a hub for accountability journalism in Arizona.Evan_Wyloge

Wyloge joins the Center from the Arizona Capitol Times where he worked as a watchdog reporter and new media specialist for the last five years. He will continue that same focus for AZCIR as the Center expands its original and collaborative reporting efforts across Arizona.

Evan_Wyloge“Evan represents the future of journalism — particularly among newsrooms dedicated to depth and accountability reporting. Through his knowledge of computer assisted reporting techniques, data analysis and how to integrate that level of technical reporting into compelling, impactful stories, Evan is a perfect fit for our newsroom,” said AZCIR Executive Director Brandon Quester. “We’re thrilled to have Evan join our staff and look forward to having him hit the ground running next Monday.”

Wyloge’s journalism career spans more than a decade, including the last six years with a focus on watchdog reporting. He earned a political science degree from Northern Arizona University in 2005 and a Master’s degree from ASU’s Cronkite School of Journalism in 2010. His accountability reporting has garnered both state and national recognition.

Wyloge was a key component of the joint collaboration between AZCIR and the Arizona Capitol Times for the 2013 Mapping The Vote project, which shed light and better understanding about Arizona’s 2012 election. That project took home one of several state-level awards for public interest reporting in Arizona.

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From the National Journal
by By Andrea Drusch

The conservative groups that brought down Senate incumbents and other modmccainerate Republicans running for office in 2010 and 2012 primaries had relatively little success in 2014. But the next election comes with an opportunity to take a second swing at a big nemesis, one who stands apart from any other Republican senators up for reelection in 2016, according to interviews with conservative strategists.

Click here for the full article.

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Phoenix, AZ – Earlier this week, Secretary of State-elect Michele Reagan announced former Arizona Secretary of State Betsey Bayless as the Chairwoman of her transition team. Michele and Betsey have finalized the transition team that will provide counsel and direction as Michele prepares for the next two months before officially assuming the role of Secretary of State in January.

Transition Team:
Chairwoman Betsey Bayless – Former Arizona Secretary of State
Helen Purcell – Maricopa County Recorder
Leah Landrum Taylor – State Senator
Lydia Hernandez – State Representative
Ted Downing – former State Representative
Glenn Hamer – President & CEO, Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Todd Sanders – President & CEO, Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce
Doug Yonko – Vice President of Communications, Hensley Beverage Company
Joe Kanefield – Elections Attorney Ballard Spahr; former Arizona Elections Director
Bill Beard – Pima County Elections Integrity Commission
“We have a serious amount of work to accomplish over the next two months,” said Reagan. “I am incredibly grateful for the collection of leaders and specialists we have put together and look forward to the input and guidance they will provide. I am excited about the challenge and the opportunity that lay ahead.”

As the transition team prepares to convene in the coming weeks, members weighed in on specific issues they felt were important for Reagan to consider as she moves forward.
“Developing a strong working relationship with the County Recorders is key to having an effective tenure as Secretary of State. Fortunately, Michele has proven during her time in the Legislature that she is willing and able to work constructively with all fifteen County Recorders. I was honored to be invited to join the transition team and help further cultivate those vital relationships,” said Helen Purcell.

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Phoenix, AZ – Today, Arizona Secretary of State-elect Michele Reagan announced Betsey Bayless will chair her transition team. Bayless, who has a public service career spanning forty years in Arizona, served as Arizona’s Secretary of State from 1997 to 2003.

“For many years, I have been a staunch supporter of Michele Reagan and I am proud to support her in this new role as Secretary of State. It is a giant leap from the Legislature to the Executive Branch and, if my past experience can help smooth that transition, I want to help. We will be conducting a statewide search for the best people to surround Michele to allow her to hit the ground running,” said Bayless.

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by Glen Bolger.
In the House, Richard Nixon’s the one. In the Senate, Bill Clinton has not stopped thinking about tomorrow. But both of them are about to be replaced in modern political history* by Barack Obama unless Election Day turns out far differently than projected.

The category, Alex? Recent two-term Presidents who have done the most political damage to their party in their two mid-term elections. Mid-term destruction, in other words.

In the House, Nixon lost a total of 60 seats across his two mid-term elections – 12 in 1970 and 48 in 1974 (Watergate, baby!). The funny thing is, Obama already has Nixon beat in the House. Obama lost 63 House seats in 2010, so unless he somehow gains four House seats on Tuesday, he will simply be adding to his lead as the most destructive President to his own party in the House. chart 1

The least destructive midterm President in the House? Surprisingly, George W. Bush. In 2002, Republicans gained eight House seats, while losing 30 in 2006 (and the majority) for a net loss of 22 House seats in mid-term elections. Reagan had the second smallest impact, losing 31 seats – 26 in 1982, and five in 1986. Clinton lost a monster 52 seats in 1994, but cut his total losses to 47 by gaining five in 1998 despite Newt Gingrich’s master plan.

Now, to be fair, some will argue that Nixon should still be considered the champ, since he lost his 60 seats from the minority in both cases, but, for raw numbers, it looks like Obama will be the winner (well, actually loser).

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By Paul Dembow
Dear Fellow Paradise Valley Resident:

As a Paradise Valley Town Councilman, I know how important strong leadership in government is. And as a father of five children — all of whom went to Scottsdale Unified School District schools — I am a strong believer in the power of quality education.

Both reasons are why I'm supporting Pam Kirby for the SUSD Governing Board — and why I urge you to support her as well.

I had the pleasure of serving with Pam during her time on the Paradise Valley Town Council. She is a conscientious, committed public servant who makes fiscal responsibility and responsive government a top priority.

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