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2018 Scrum

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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The late and legendary former Mayor of Scottsdale Herb Drinkwater decades ago dreamt what has indeed become true:  the WestWorld of Scottsdale area has become an epicenter for Valley activity.

Drinkwater lured the Phoenix Open to former boondocker country from comfy country club confines, Brewersand then convinced Barrett-Jackson to go north too.

Now, the country’s largest golf tournament, car auction and Arabian horse show all call the area home.  So does the wildly popular Ice Den as well as one of the finest residential communities built in America over the past three decades, DC Ranch.

Indeed, both Barrett-Jackson and the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show are set to move into the new $50 million Tony Nelssen Equestrian Center at WestWorld over the next two months, solidifying their place in the Northeast Valley for the foreseeable future.

Years prior to this pending fulfillment of Drinkwater’s vision Scottsdale was administered by a City Manager named Jan Dolan, best described as a municipal Cruella Deville.

Among her achievements was leading the charge at the height of the real estate market for Scottsdale to pay some $55 million to buy 80 acres from the Arizona State Land Department, at a time when she and council incoherence couldn’t quite figure out what to do with WestWorld.

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The business story of Chandler, Arizona over the past couple of decades is a compelling one.  Big jobs at big (and small) technology companies.

There are many explanations for the city’s success.  But there is one not often discussed.

It’s spelled A-P-S, as in Arizona Public Service. APS_logo_2011

The company’s avaricious attitude toward rooftop solar over the past year has been well understood and documented.  But its poor reputation among big energy users, especially those in high-tech, has not been.

To say these large energy consumers dislike the utility monopoly is an understatement, and a key reason they have concentrated in the utility territory of Salt River Project, where energy prices are lower and the corporate attitude isn’t to treat Arizona businesses merely as a carcass to prey upon.

Enter Chandler.  Benefit Chandler.

The disdain for APS and problems the monopoly presents for economic development efforts was a key reason some of Arizona’s largest employers endorsed efforts by the Arizona Corporation Commission to entertain more energy choice and competition in 2013, before those deliberations were curtailed.  While deregulation was short-circuited, ongoing concerns for what APS is doing to hinder economic development for cities within its territory have not been.

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The Chicago Cubs are unquestionably the crown jewel of the Cactus League, and all that spring training means economically to our state.

But will the Cubs be an asset or liability in the 2014 Republican primary contest for Governor?

A little history first.

Following the 1992 elections then Congressman Jon Kyl opted to run for the United States Senate, creating a highly desirable congressional opportunity for aspiring Arizona politicians.

The clear, early favorite in the race was Jim Bruner, a former Scottsdale City Councilman and Chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

But the unforeseen happened along the way. Former Phoenix Suns’ owner Jerry Colangelo, fresh off an NBA Finals appearance, made a play for a franchise and a stadium that became the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chase Field. To get the franchise, he needed a new stadium funding plan. And that involved a majority of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors calling for a sales tax hike to fund the stadium.

Despite Colangelo’s popularity, the tax itself became wildly unpopular. Nevertheless, Jim Bruner voted for it, understanding what it could mean for Arizona. His political sacrifice was profound, eventually fading in his congressional race from frontrunner status to the bronze medal behind the eventual Congressman John Shadegg, and runner-up Trent Franks.

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So the City of Peoria wants neighboring Glendale to allow a new Indian gaming casino within its boundaries because it will create a lot of new jobs for the area.  But it doesn’t want to allow an aspiring business park, also in Glendale to put up outdoor billboards along the 101, to help do the same? 

This isn’t an opinion about the proposed casino, a subject we are agnostic about, until we are not. 

It is one about a potentially shameful act by Peoria Mayor Bob Barrett, aspiring mayoral replacements on the Peoria City Council and others there utilizing public resources to stymie private development in another city. 

For years competing cities engaged in competition for desirable businesses with tax breaks, offering huge subsidies to car dealers, shopping malls and big retailers.  Whoever gave away the most usually won. 

But thanks to the Goldwater Institute, former Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman, Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane and others like Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio the giveaway game is largely gone. 

Enter Peoria, Arizona. 

They say the city’s opposition to the billboard project in Glendale has nothing to do with anything other than protecting Peoria residents.  Of course there is hardly any impact on said residents and Peoria conspicuously feigns concern for these residents but not the others devastated, just devastated,  by blasted billboards in other parts of the city?  Judging from a recent azcentral.com survey on the matter they seem to be in the decided minority on the subject with only 23% of respondents sharing their opinion. 

Conspicuous indeed is what Peoria seems to be doing.  But thanks to sources within the City of Peoria itself embarrassed by the city’s audacity and the city’s own plans for billboards ACROSS THE STREET from the Glendale ones all becomes clearer. 

 You see, the City of Peoria is planning to use revenues from new billboards it wants to put along the Loop 101 to pay for new parking garages in its entertainment district.  And they believe Glendale’s boards could stymie those efforts.  The plot thickened at a recent Glendale Planning Commission when the West Valley’s Doctor of Dirt, Phil Hubbard, the City of Peoria’s former lobbyist, showed up organizing Peoria residents. 

 So rather than city’s using tax subsidies – which only kick in after a project lands in the city – we have the City of Peoria, Arizona overtly using public resources to stop a private sector development in another city for the sole purpose of squashing competition. 

Peoria is wrongfully opposing the Glendale proposal.  And the things being done by the representatives of the usually up-standing community are the most troubling signs of all, not what’s happening with its neighbor. 

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*Wendy Rogers wins the GOP right to take on Congresswoman Sinema.  General election tighter than expected but the Ironwoman triumphs.  

*Martha McSally defeats Congressman Barber.

*Speaker Tobin narrowly wins a knife fight against upstart Gary Kiehne.  Wins close victory over Kirkpatrick in 2014 but can’t hold it with the presidential turnout in 2016. 

*Hallman’s money and tenacity capture GOP nod for State Treasurer and cruises to General Election win. 

*Corporation Commission:  Field too fluid to call right now. 

*Attorney General:  Stan Barnes, J.D. Hayworth and Barbara Barrett all couldn’t defeat vulnerable GOP incumbents.  Neither will Brnovich defeat Tom Horne despite significant assistance from outside parties.  Rotellini defeats Horne. 

*Secretary of State:  Up by 30 points in the polls right now Cardon’s margin will decrease as Michele Reagan becomes a media darling ala John McCain fighting for campaign finance reform in New Hampshire circa 2000.  Her rise related to rumor (and real?) “dark money” for long-shot candidate Justin Pierce.  But in the end can Cardon chop down Goddard?  Perhaps the most interesting race to watch in 2014. 

*Governor:  Mesa Mayor Smith has an “it” factor that could gain some traction, but without big, promised outside support from DMB not enough oxygen to track down Doug Ducey.  Ken Bennett steady throughout but lacks message and moxy to do much better than Claude Mattox performed as a well qualified candidate in City of Phoenix mayoral race.  Before the primary Vegas oddsmakers put it at 3:1 that Christine Jones’ head will explode with rage, like in the movie Scanners.  Andy Thomas gets the old Bert Tollefson vote.  Democrat Duval runs well but discovers like Cherny before him that Ducey too qualified, decent and likeable.  Governor Ducey. 

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When long-time Scottsdale businesswoman and community advocate Virginia Korte at long last decided to run for the City Council in 2012 her candidacy was rightfully lauded. 

A former Chamber of Commerce President, car dealer on McDowell Road and early champion for the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.  Impressive credentials indeed. 

Korte ran in great part on achieving big things for Scottsdale, perhaps suggesting it was a city no longer capable of so doing.  She won. 

While any person needs time to find their way once governing, we have been surprised by Korte’s policy paucity. 

Where are those “big ideas?”  Her campaign was right.  There is ample opportunity. 

The gallery district struggles but there has been few ideas and no leadership. 

McDowell Road, her old neighborhood?  Nada. 

But surely she would have been a champion for securing Barrett-Jackson and the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show at WestWorld for the long-term, as the new Tony Nelssen Equestrian Center assists?  She opposed it. 

Korte has shown a proclivity to spend more money on other stuff, even bulking up the recent city bond package that was trounced by voters. 

We don’t mean to be discouraging of Korte.  Just the opposite.  It’s like seeing a star player wander a bit in the first quarter of a basketball game.  Like Andrew Wiggins’ first half at Kansas this season, as college basketball fans might observe. 

The good news is that there is still time, a lot of it before she again stands for election. 

In stock terms we’re still bullish on that potential, even as we await those long promised big ideas. 

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We’d like to think he was merely forgetful.

But that would be generous considering how intellectually dishonest Arizona Republic columnist Robert Robb was today (Arizona Republic Dec. 20, 2013: When Glendale Was Boring)  in lampooning Glendale and basically any city striving for something more. It was the kind of audacity that doesn’t invoke anger but more of that chuckle and shake of the head because rarely is anyone quite that audacious.

Look, we can all agree local governments have made some good and bad decisions when it’s come to tax breaks, developments, shopping centers and sports facilities.

But to indict them all, as Robb did, without acknowledging that he once was the pied piper of the public trough is breathtakingly dishonest.

For example, Robb criticized developer Steve Ellman for proposing a hockey arena and retail development on the old Los Arcos Mall site, a vision that eventually landed in Glendale.

Robb failed to mention that on the same day in 1999 Ellman’s project was approved by Scottsdale voters by the largest margin in American history for a sports facility election (63%-37%), Robb was the chief flack for the biggest tax increase in Mesa history. For what you may ask? A boondoggle plan for the Arizona Cardinals new football stadium, a convention center and a few partridges in a pear tree. It was shellacked at the polls.

Yet Robb now peppers all others with criticism?

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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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