The Conservative's Corner

By State Representative Shawnna LM Bolick

Dear Friend:

I currently serve as the Vice Chair of Ways and Means, a Member of Elections and a Member of the Federal Relations committees. 

The first order of business was ensuring Arizona met the federal government’s January 31st deadline for the intrastate Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) and tax conformity.  The governor signed DCP and vetoed conformity.

We have been very busy these past few weeks! I can assure you I hit the ground running and I am learning the legislative process.  Here’s a compilation of several bills I have been working on with corresponding newspaper articles:

I filed an Empowerment Scholarship Expansion bill called the Lifeline for Student Crime Victims Act. This legislation would provide students who have been victimized on their school’s campus a “lifeline” to transfer to a private school.  The idea for this particular bill derived as a result of my daughter being a victim of a crime on her school’s campus, and I want to make sure it doesn’t happen to other kids.Here are just a few stories written on this particular bill:

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Today the public made it extremely clear: they no longer trust the failed dysfunctional leadership of the City of Phoenix.

Phoenix leaders demanded a whopping $1.5 BILLION water tax increase, one of the largest in city history.  This was voted down on a 5 to 3 vote, with Councilwomen Guevara, Mendoza, and Stark voting for the tax increase but Mayor Williams indicated she plans to bring it back for reconsideration later.

Just weeks ago this same dysfunctional leadership team trashed your cash:

  • Tried to force a $50 Million per year tax on medicine, crying we will lose police if we don’t pass this new tax. Luckily, it did not pass.
  • Wasted $10 million to study garbage.
  • Gave an insider developer $700,000 worth of public property for a mere $50,000 in an insider-deal.
  • Lied to the south Phoenix community about the effect of light rail on their neighborhoods and businesses.
  • Poured millions into membership dues for government staff.

The fact is, Phoenix is experiencing more revenue than it ever has before in its history as a city and still city officials cry that we can’t pay for critical functions of government.  Every time they run out of money to waste, the politicians claim hardship and demand more money.

When everything is labelled a crisis, nothing is a crisis. In fact, the only crisis I see here is a lack of public trust in dysfunctional city leadership.

By Sal DiCiccio

My heart goes out to Laura Pastor and the Pastor family on the passing of her father, Congressman Ed Pastor.

Congressman Pastor served the people of Arizona with dignity and honor throughout his life. Though we disagreed on many things, partisanship stops well short of this point. Congressman Pastor’s accomplishments will carry forward far beyond his lifetime. I only hope the certain knowledge of that legacy and the impact he had on so many people throughout this state and across the country can provide some small comfort to his family in their time of grief.

 

By Sal DiCiccio
City of Phoenix
Councilman, District 6

6 words to sum up yesterday’s election: Establishment and status quo lose big

Republicans made big gains in the Senate, ensuring a lock on judicial appointments and Democrats made gains in the House, ensuring a slowdown of the Republican economic and social agenda. Republicans maintain control of the states in the legislatures and governorships across the country. Democrats have not even begun to regain the 1100 seats they lost during the last administration.

It is clear that the screaming in restaurants, the constant marches, and a billion dollars in political spending has produced very little for Democrats. With massive turn-out and a polarized public, we should have seen a historic drubbing of the Republican Party, that did not happen.Read More

By Syms for Arizona

While others put politics First, Representative Maria Syms did something about it for Education

Representative Maria Syms is the ONLY District 28 House Candidate that:

  • Voted for and passed a 20% raise for public school teachers
  • Voted for and passed a historic $1.5 billion investment in public education
  • Voted for and passed new funding and a $1 billion finance plan for universities
  • Voted for and passed funding for full-day kindergarten, gifted and early childhood programs

Learn more about Maria’s Record on Education

Read More

By State Representative Shawnna LM Bolick

Dear Friend:

I currently serve as the Vice Chair of Ways and Means, a Member of Elections and a Member of the Federal Relations committees. 

The first order of business was ensuring Arizona met the federal government’s January 31st deadline for the intrastate Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) and tax conformity.  The governor signed DCP and vetoed conformity.

We have been very busy these past few weeks! I can assure you I hit the ground running and I am learning the legislative process.  Here’s a compilation of several bills I have been working on with corresponding newspaper articles:

I filed an Empowerment Scholarship Expansion bill called the Lifeline for Student Crime Victims Act. This legislation would provide students who have been victimized on their school’s campus a “lifeline” to transfer to a private school.  The idea for this particular bill derived as a result of my daughter being a victim of a crime on her school’s campus, and I want to make sure it doesn’t happen to other kids.Here are just a few stories written on this particular bill:

Read More

Today the public made it extremely clear: they no longer trust the failed dysfunctional leadership of the City of Phoenix.

Phoenix leaders demanded a whopping $1.5 BILLION water tax increase, one of the largest in city history.  This was voted down on a 5 to 3 vote, with Councilwomen Guevara, Mendoza, and Stark voting for the tax increase but Mayor Williams indicated she plans to bring it back for reconsideration later.

Just weeks ago this same dysfunctional leadership team trashed your cash:

  • Tried to force a $50 Million per year tax on medicine, crying we will lose police if we don’t pass this new tax. Luckily, it did not pass.
  • Wasted $10 million to study garbage.
  • Gave an insider developer $700,000 worth of public property for a mere $50,000 in an insider-deal.
  • Lied to the south Phoenix community about the effect of light rail on their neighborhoods and businesses.
  • Poured millions into membership dues for government staff.

The fact is, Phoenix is experiencing more revenue than it ever has before in its history as a city and still city officials cry that we can’t pay for critical functions of government.  Every time they run out of money to waste, the politicians claim hardship and demand more money.

When everything is labelled a crisis, nothing is a crisis. In fact, the only crisis I see here is a lack of public trust in dysfunctional city leadership.

By Sal DiCiccio

My heart goes out to Laura Pastor and the Pastor family on the passing of her father, Congressman Ed Pastor.

Congressman Pastor served the people of Arizona with dignity and honor throughout his life. Though we disagreed on many things, partisanship stops well short of this point. Congressman Pastor’s accomplishments will carry forward far beyond his lifetime. I only hope the certain knowledge of that legacy and the impact he had on so many people throughout this state and across the country can provide some small comfort to his family in their time of grief.

 

By Sal DiCiccio
City of Phoenix
Councilman, District 6

6 words to sum up yesterday’s election: Establishment and status quo lose big

Republicans made big gains in the Senate, ensuring a lock on judicial appointments and Democrats made gains in the House, ensuring a slowdown of the Republican economic and social agenda. Republicans maintain control of the states in the legislatures and governorships across the country. Democrats have not even begun to regain the 1100 seats they lost during the last administration.

It is clear that the screaming in restaurants, the constant marches, and a billion dollars in political spending has produced very little for Democrats. With massive turn-out and a polarized public, we should have seen a historic drubbing of the Republican Party, that did not happen.Read More

By Syms for Arizona

While others put politics First, Representative Maria Syms did something about it for Education

Representative Maria Syms is the ONLY District 28 House Candidate that:

  • Voted for and passed a 20% raise for public school teachers
  • Voted for and passed a historic $1.5 billion investment in public education
  • Voted for and passed new funding and a $1 billion finance plan for universities
  • Voted for and passed funding for full-day kindergarten, gifted and early childhood programs

Learn more about Maria’s Record on Education

Read More

MORE CONSERVATIVE’S CORNER
Featured Editorials

By Scottsdale Watchman

The preamble on Scottsdale Aquatic Club’s landing page says it all. “We are Scottsdale Aquatic Club. As a TEAM, we develop champions in the pool and in life by creating a positive environment that inspires the dreams of swimmers at all competitive levels.

At last weekend’s Rochester Speedo Sectionals, known as the Central Zone Section 1 Championships, Scottsdale Aquatic Club achieved astounding results. The club won both the women’s and combined competitions and the men’s squad finished third.

Preparing and leading Scottsdale swimmers for victory is nothing new for this local non-profit organization. For 55 years, Scottsdale Aquatic Club has entered into fee agreements annually with Scottsdale which allow it to shepherd and manage aquatic activities across the city. Since 1964, Scottsdale Aquatic Club instructors have coached thousands of Scottsdale swimmers. Several swimmers have competed in the Olympic Games and world championship swim meets.

We’re proud of Scottsdale Aquatic Club’s swimmers and coaches who have successfully tuned out distractions and have focused on winning. It can be hard to concentrate on training when there are outside distractions. A for-profit business entity, Neptune, has stirred up the waters, making all sorts of allegations against the institution that is Scottsdale Aquatic Club. Fortunately for Scottsdale citizens, none of these complaints have held water. Neptune’s “spokespeople” have been swimming against the current. Read here and here.

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By The Happy Wanderer

In 2017, Phoenix District 6 Councilmember Sal DiCiccio sought re-election to the Phoenix City Council. During his campaign, he adopted one of the simplest, yet incredibly effective, slogans we have ever seen: “SAL FOR SOLUTIONS.”

It’s a good thing for Phoenix citizens that Sal is for solutions because the city is in desperate need of a fix when it comes to the issue of its staggering pension debt. It’s currently valued at over $4 billion. In 2018, Phoenix spent nearly $400 million to pay the debt down and this year, it plans to spend $426 million to do so. The city’s financial situation is so dire that the non-profit group Truth in Accounting gave Phoenix’s finances a “D” grade after it analyzed its debt burden.

DiCiccio helped launch a budget initiative aimed at pension reform. Petition gatherers had to submit 20,510 valid signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot. Petition signers blew this requirement out of the water and submitted nearly 50,000. Now that it’s qualified, the Responsible Budget Act goes before Phoenix voters during special elections in late August.

This measure is a multi-faceted attack on pension debt. First, it would require that new spending growth be limited to the increase of population plus inflation and that every dollar above that must be used to pay down the city’s unfunded pension obligations. Next, it requires annual assessments of pension debt based on a 10-year average rate of return on investments of pension systems. Finally, it ends pensions for Phoenix City Council members and requires elected officials to pay out of their own pocket for their pensions.

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By Scottsdale Pinetop

Many are familiar with the political slogan “Peace Dividend.” Popularized by President George H.W. Bush in the 1990’s, the term commonly refers to a state in which a country is no longer at war and its government can afford to reduce defense spending and reallocate it elsewhere.

On a much smaller scale, Arizona’s Fossil Creek is attempting to do the same thing. And while comparing one of Arizona’s tourist attractions to the United State’s defense spending might seem like a stretch, it is worth highlighting. 

While there are a number of amazing and beautiful spots to visit in the Grand Canyon state, few are more spectacular than Fossil Creek. Located in the Coconino National, thousands of Arizonans and visitors make their way to Fossil Creek each year.

But as recreational activities began to increase in 2008, the accumulation of trash, traffic and damage to the forest became problematic for the area. To help combat the growing demand of visitors, the Forest Service implemented a reservation system.

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By Scottsdale Pinetop

For many visitors and residents, Scottsdale appears to be the epicenter of affluence with million-dollar homes, luxurious apartments and five-star resorts and golf courses. Yet, few acknowledge that in the past few years Scottsdale has experienced a rise in homelessness. It is a concern that we cannot ignore. But like so many social issues, there are no easy and fast solutions.

Where are they coming from? For years, both Phoenix and Tempe have been cracking down on its current homelessness predicament. Tempe, which already has ordinances banning aggressive panhandling “urban camping” and other behaviors typically associated with homelessness.

In fact, last October the city of Tempe voted to spend $250,000 to place private patrol guards in all its parks to deal with trash, disorderly conduct and unauthorized camping. Pushing more and more homeless residents out of Tempe, people are moving into areas where laws are less strict – notably Scottsdale. In short, the homeless are moving north out of Tempe, up the Indian Bend Wash and posing new challenges for southern Scottsdale neighborhoods.

While being homeless is not a crime, there are laws and ordinances that impact those who are experiencing homelessness. For instance, Scottsdale city parks are closed to visitors from 10:30pm until sunrise including the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and Civic Center Mall. This forces many homeless people to seek residence under bridges, bus stations and most frequently along the Indian Bend Wash that are less enforced.

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By The Happy Wanderer

Meaghan McCain, the daughter of late U.S. Senator John McCain, has never been afraid to voice her opinions, no matter how controversial.

She made national headlines earlier this week when she told Ricki Lake, her co-host on the television show “The View,” that cannabis treatment could have extended the life of her father. Senator McCain died in August 2018 after losing his battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer.

In 2010, a study published in the Journal of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, discovered that cannabis compounds THC and CBD “may represent an improvement for the treatment of patients with glioblastoma and perhaps additional cancers.”

Sunday Goods has filed a formal application with the City of Scottsdale for a conditional use permit that will allow it to build and operate a medical marijuana dispensary near the Galleria. It would be the first south of the Airpark (four exist in that area) and will redefine what a dispensary looks like, looking like an art gallery. Scottsdale has enacted some of Arizona’s most restrictive zoning regulations for dispensaries. Accordingly, this proposed location is one of the few locales in the area that could become home to one. 

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By Scottsdale Pinetop

“There’s never anywhere to park.” How many times have we heard it?

It’s a traditional critique for any lively city and one that Old Town Scottsdale has been battling for years. As a new wave of people flood to Scottsdale to live, work and play, Scottsdale’s lack of parking spaces has caused headaches for businesses, residents and visitors alike. Solving Scottsdale’s parking predicament is no easy task, but the city is investigating a new way to help alleviate some of these valid concerns.

The parking issue in the Arts District is nothing new. After hearing from a number of displeased gallery owners, city staff is finally looking into the feasibility of adding an above ground parking garage near the Scottsdale Arts District on the city-owned lot on 1st Avenue and Marshall Way. And it’s taken no time for Councilwoman Klapp to express her support.

Many merchants and visitors in Old Town would say we are experiencing a “parking crisis.” While this might be a stretch in some cases, the concerns over parking are never more prevalent than during spring training season. While many galleries and local retail shops rely on the increased traffic to sustain their businesses, baseball fans can easily take up all the on-street parking by mid-morning leaving customers to take their business elsewhere. A parking garage would help alleviate that problem.

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By Scottsdale Watchman

We’ve talked about A.J. Germek and his opinions on Museum Square before. You can read about him and them here.

Let’s give a brief synopsis of who he is: he’s a naysayer who seems to love nitpicking on projects and any sort of development. This guy is so negative, he makes perpetual Scottsdale pessimist John Washington look like Tony Robbins.  

Germek’s latest editorial thesis on Museum Square, entitled “Museum Square, wait there’s more,” is a follow-up to his first. This second editorial makes us mad, laugh and shake our heads in disagreement all at the same time. It’s like a horrendous sequel to an already bad movie. Think Weekend at Bernie’s and Weekend at Bernie’s II. Yeah, it’s that bad.

A lot of the “concerns” he raised in his second editorial would have been alleviated had he read the application more closely and used some common sense. Let’s dissect his arguments piece-by-piece.

Public Park

Museum Square’s open space, called the “Square,” will be something useful for community members to visit and enjoy. This robust landscaped plaza will be inviting and will offer ample shade, water, art and a lawn for all to enjoy.

Additionally, the Square will provide a gathering space and destination for special events, programs, and exhibits further enlivening the Scottsdale Arts District, all while keeping it from becoming a homeless hangout. The developer will maintain and upkeep it at no cost to taxpayers. Doesn’t that sound more appealing than an old and abandoned transit station that provides absolutely no community benefit and which nobody visits, which is what is currently located there?

Open Space

The Square is the most obvious example of open space at Museum Square. It’s approximately 40,000 square feet. What Germek fails to include in his calculation is that the Square is NOT the only open space component of this magnificent project. In numerous places in the Museum Square application, the applicant discusses how pedestrian linkages and pedestrian-oriented trails throughout Museum Square will incorporate open space. The applicant also specifically acknowledges that there will be additional open space areas that will complement the centralized area that is the Square.

It appears as if Mr. Germek hasn’t learned about the “CTRL+F” function on his computer because a simple search reveals 52 different mentions of the words “open space” in the applicant’s submittal. Many of these references discuss ways other than the almost one acre Square in which Museum Square will provide more open space.

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By Scottsdale Pinetop

We are in the final days of the Phoenix mayoral race. With the election right around the corner, both candidates are spending big money to sway any last minute voters – if they haven’t already decided –  bombarding Phoenicians with TV ads, newspaper ads and recorded calls. And with the recent push from “dark money” organizations throwing large sums of cash attacking both Gallego and Valenzuela, the mayoral race has turned into more of a finger-pointing contest than an election.

There’s no doubt that fundraising is a critical component in getting a candidate elected regardless the office. Without a sufficient bank account, a candidate can easily fall short at the polls. This doesn’t mean the candidate who raises and spends the most wins very time, but it is the case more often than not.

Early last week, the 2019 Pre-Election campaign finance reports were released. Political fighter Kate Gallego is still leading the fundraising game with well over $2 million while Daniel Valenzuela trails behind at $1.4 million raised. This is especially surprising as Valenzuela’s campaign has worked tirelessly to secure high-profile donors and endorsements from Phoenix heavyweights such as Jerry Colangelo and former mayors Phil Gordon, Paul Johnson and Skip Rimsza.  While name recognition can be a powerful tool for winning it doesn’t always lead to victory. This is something Daniel Valenzuela is having to learn the hard way.  

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By Scottsdale Watchman

In one lauded episode of the television series Seinfeld, George Costanza uttered a now-iconic phrase when referencing an alleged conspiracy. He said, “This thing is like an onion: the more layers you peel, the more it stinks!”

That’s how we’re feeling right about now as we dig deeper into Museum Square detractor Scott Jarson. We’ve devoted a lot of bandwidth to uncovering the reasons why Mr. Jarson likes to demean Museum Square. Take a look at some of them here and here.

His criticisms just don’t make sense. Furthermore, he’s in the minority on this one because this landmark project has extensive support from groups across the city, including notable Downtown Scottsdale art galleries, the Scottsdale Firefighter’s Association, the Museum of the West, GreasePaint Youth Theatre and HonorHealth.

At an open house for Museum Square held a few weeks ago, one of the things that Jarson latched on to was parking. He kept nodding his head whenever any speaker said that Museum Square didn’t offer enough parking spaces and would exert even more pressure on parking in downtown Scottsdale.  We keep peeling the layers on the onion that is Jarson’s hypocrisy, and we’re truly amazed by how much it really stinks.

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By Scottsdale Pinetop

If we’ve learned anything from the recent election cycle, it’s that our community is becoming more and more involved in matters affecting the city. In the case of the Papago Plaza, the vote was postponed by City Council after the public demanded more community outreach. The recent debate surrounding the city flag is another good example. Since the announcement of the new city flag, there has been a public outcry from many Scottsdale residents advocating to keep it the way it is. Like so many others, we were not shy to voice our opinion on the subject.

And it appears that the message has been received.

Just two weeks after its original decision to approve the new city flag known as “Saguaro Blossom,” the City Council voted 5-2 to rescind the vote. For weeks the city has been inundated with complaints about the switch and support the city’s old design. Most of the backlash is based upon the fear that the new flag replaces the city’s seal which, in a way, replaces Scottsdale’s western roots.

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By The Tempe Tree

No municipality envies what the City of Tempe has gone through the last couple weeks. First, Tempe police arrested four protesters outside of Tempe City Hall. Next let’s not forget the lawsuit filed by the owner of PARC Dispensary against the city for interference with his vested property rights as he seeks to open a previously-entitled medical marijuana dispensary at a retail/medical/office complex in south Tempe. You can read about that here.  

Alas, hold the phone! Last Thursday, Tempe finally received some positive media coverage. At a city council meeting, Tempe’s elected officials unanimously passed an ordinance that bans drivers from handheld phone use. It doesn’t matter whether a driver is texting or talking. Drivers must hang up the cell phone or put off sending that email and actually drive.  

The new ordinance is progressive and well-written. For the first 30 days, officers will issue warnings. After this period, if police catch a driver doing it, the first offense would be $100. A second violation would jump to $250, and subsequent violations within a 24-month period would be $500. Additionally, there are exceptions carved into the law. For instance, drivers can access their phones if they’re stopped at a light or parked on the side of a road. 

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By Scottsdale Pinetop

We’ve said it before and we will say it again – Museum Square is great project for Scottsdale. Museum Square would take the now defunct and vacant Loloma transit station and turn it into a high-end, mixed-use master plan development between the Museum of the West, Stagebrush Theatre and Scottsdale Artist’s School. We’ve written extensively about the community benefits of the project before both here and here.

Reactions to Museum Square have been overwhelmingly positive. People from all parts of Scottsdale are excited for the project. Some of the supporters of Museum Square include the Museum of the West, the Scottsdale Gallery Association, Larsen Gallery, Jason Alexander, Paul Messinger, Legacy Gallery and the Scottsdale Firefighter’s Association.

Now joining the list of supporters of Museum Square is HonorHealth. As the largest employer in the City of Scottsdale with over 11,000 employees and a property owner in Old Town, HonorHealth is a powerful and important voice within the Scottsdale community. And their Osborn Medical Center campus in such close proximity to the Museum Square site, it is even more so. “Ensuring the vibrancy of Scottsdale’s downtown area, with projects like Museum Square, is an important part of keeping our City and attractive place for our employees to live, work and play,” said Michelle Pabis, HonorHealth’s Vice President of Government & Community Affairs in a letter to the City of Scottsdale.

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By The Happy Wanderer

The story of Shanesha Taylor is heartbreaking. You may remember her mugshot which was broadcast on news outlets across the United States. Several years ago, the Phoenix resident had a job interview in Scottsdale. Instead of leaving her two sons, ages 2 years and 6 months at the time, with a babysitter or a daycare facility, she locked the two in her SUV while she went to her interview. Taylor was arrested and charged with two counts of felony child abuse. She defended herself by claiming that she had a difficult time finding someone affordable to care for her children. She was sentenced to 18 years’ probation.

We haven’t found a story as tragic as Shanehsa Taylor’s, but difficulties with finding affordable daycare in Arizona are prevalent. Governor Doug Ducey is taking a stand and doing something about this. In his 2020 budget proposal, he’s included $56 million in additional subsidies for daycare. Fifty percent of these new funds would be allocated towards an increase in the average childcare subsidy rate. As the state pays more in subsidies to daycare centers so that these centers can cover more of a child’s tuition, the amount a family would be paying will decrease and daycare would be more affordable for Arizona families. The other 50 percent of the funding would be used to broaden the number of parents eligible to receive childcare subsidies.

In the announcement for this significant effort, Governor Ducey said, “Helping families stay safe and strong is the right thing to do and will benefit our entire state.” There’s no doubt that his plan for an increase in subsidies will benefit all of Arizona because the current state of affairs is disheartening. In 2014, the Economic Policy Institute published a report finding that Arizona families paid an average daycare cost of nearly $10,000 annually for their children. A Care.com study established that Arizona is one of the five most expensive states in the entire country for a family to hire a nanny or babysitter to take care of young children during the day. Quality daycare is just not affordable for the average Arizonan.

Thanks to Governor Ducey and his efforts, positive change is on the horizon. 

By The Happy Wanderer

When we last discussed how the City of Tempe and its bureaucrats have attempted to stop a property owner from opening a previously-entitled medical marijuana dispensary in a retail/medical/office complex near the intersection of Warner Road and Priest Drive, we wrote that the city “still had time” to prevent a legal debacle.

It now appears as if the shot clock on that possibility has expired. Late last week, PARC Dispensary’s owner filed a legal complaint alleging that the city has interfered with vested property rights. The complaint follows months of attempts to obtain approvals and the city’s continuous denials of granting him a use acceptance letter.

The city’s worst nightmare is now coming into fruition. Tempe city staffers such as Tempe Principal Planner Steve Abrahamson and Tempe Community Development Deputy Director Ryan Levesque, who have played prominent roles in these denials, as well as Board of Adjustment members and Tempe City Council members are going to have their every action scrutinized under a legal microscope.

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By Scottsdale Pinetop

Breathtaking. Stunning. Ginormous. Unfathomable. These are just some of the words many have used to describe one of the seven natural wonders of the world. And as of Tuesday, the Grand Canyon reached 100 years as a designated national park, a major milestone for both the park and the state.

The Grand Canyon is a reminder of two political parties coming together to preserve something unique and precious for generations to come. Starting with a vision from Republican President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903, the Grand Canyon was later made official by Democratic President Woodrow Wilson on February 26, 1919.

On Tuesday, local and state politicians, park employees, students and tourists from around the world came to pay their respects to the crown jewel of Arizona. Today, more people visit the Grand Canyon than any other national park in the West with over 6 million tourists every year. Many Arizonans have fond memories of the Grand Canyon from peering over the jagged cliffs, navigating down the river rapids, hiking or biking down the trails or camping at the bottom staring up at the stars.

The Grand Canyon embodies the best of the American West. We look forward to another 100 great years at the Grand Canyon National Park. And maybe, just maybe, it can be an inspiration to Republicans and Democrats to come together once again.

By Scottsdale Watchman

Neptune is the Roman god of the seas. Recently, we noticed a majestic painting of him for sale in one of Old Town Scottsdale’s poshest art galleries. We saw that in his right hand, he has a strong grasp of a trident, pointing it towards the heavens. The next thing we noticed caught us off guard. With his left hand, he was gesturing toward south Scottsdale, giving it the middle finger.

OK, so maybe we didn’t see a painting of Neptune the Roman god flipping the bird. However, Neptune, a FOR-PROFIT Valley swimming organization, is making this obscene expression to our city AND its southern residents.

In the last several months, this FOR-PROFIT business entity has dispatched various people to Scottsdale City Council meetings to complain about how the city is not fostering competition for contracts to provide aquatic services at city pools. They disparaged the existing arrangement between the city and Scottsdale Aquatic Club, a local non-profit organization which has taught thousands of Scottsdale citizens how to swim, trained several Olympians and has hosted swimming competitions across the city since 1964. Critics, of course, fail to mention how Scottsdale is charging the same amount as other cities.

Too bad the Oscars are over because these Neptune representatives deserve Academy Awards for the way they portrayed the role of victims.  

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By Scottsdale Pinetop

Like in any successful business owner knows, a company only works if you are willing to reinvest and make improvements to it. The city of Scottsdale has largely stopped doing that. As a result our infrastructure is crumbling. The roads need to be repaved, facilities need to be updated and bridges need to be repaired. Thankfully, the Scottsdale City Council is taking the right steps to address these growing issues.

The passage of Question 1 in November was a huge victory for Scottsdale to start addressing its road and transportation concerns. Scottsdale voters agreed to increase the city’s sales tax by 0.1 percent for 10 years to raise an estimated $100 million for transportation needs. Question 1 also provided Scottsdale with access to its regional transportation matching funds of $170 million. But this isn’t enough to address the bigger picture. 

Currently there are 67 critical projects in Scottsdale that are up for debate. The projects include improvements to a number of city parks, updating fire and police facilities, repairs to roads and bridges and potentially build a parking structure in Old Town. To help get more insight, Scottsdale has scheduled five public meetings through mid-March to ask for public review and input.  Click here to see the full list of projects and public meetings.

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By The Happy Wanderer

The word “mall” conjures several things in our minds. The food court. The multi-colored tile floors lining the walkways. The big-box department store with aisles that extend as far as the eye can see. Even the overweight mall cop.

Shopping malls have been a staple of the American consumer experience. Despite their enduring presence, shopping malls across the country are dying. Hundreds of malls have shut down since the start of this century. Many more are projected to close in the next decade. In a 2017 study conducted by Business Insider, data revealed that closures of anchor stores such as Sears and Macy’s in malls will push nearly 30 percent of American malls to closure.  There’s even a Wikipedia page devoted to the topic of “dead malls.”

In the Scottsdale area, we’ve always bucked national trends. Two of our city’s most notable shopping centers are at the forefront of change and are bucking these disheartening projections. Recently, the owner of Scottsdale Fashion Square and Kierland Commons, Macerich, filed impressive fourth quarter earnings documents with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Retail sales at both of those increased dramatically from 2017 to 2018. Fashion Square, which is nearing completion of a multi-year, nearly $150 million renovation and expansion with cool new businesses like Ocean 44, ended 2018 with sales per square foot of $1,159. This is a more than 50 percent increase from 2017. Kierland Commons had a sales per square foot figure of $1,137. That’s a nearly 70 percent increase since the prior year. The results are similar at Vestar’s Desert Ridge Marketplace and Tempe Marketplace, where innovation and resiliency have resulted in success.

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Every community has its dedicated citizens that pay attention more than most to the whats going ons there.  In previous days they would submit frequent letters to the editors of local newspapers.  Now, they tend more towards an ability to mobilize and influence on social media.  

Scottsdale is no exception. Activists like Carla and Jane Rau once upon a time joined names like Drinkwater, Decabooter, Korte, Campana and Manross to forge what became the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.  

And in 2018 we saw the democratic majesty of so many that came together to oppose an unwise idea called the Desert Discovery Center, ultimately prevailing via the initiative process that became known as Proposition 420.  

The success of that grassroots movement, forged by “two guys and a laptop,” led us to think about some of the names that might be in a Scottsdale Activist Hall of Fame.  And we say “activist” with all due respect.  For whether one agrees or not with the frequency or merit of their critiques, there they are providing a fourth-estate like oversight to those in charge.  

And on this Oscars’ weekend the nominees are . . .

*Jason Alexander:  Smart, evolving, energetic and one of the founders of NODDC.  

*Mike Norton:  He helped to not just take down the Desert Discovery Center but revealed trespasses in the Scottsdale Unified School District too.  

*Andrea Alley:  Keep an eye on her, a rising voice from the south.  

*Hannah Goldstein:  She struck fear in developers during the mid and late 1990s, at a time when it was much easier to engineer referenda against projects.  But then things got weird, and her reputation never recovered from getting caught shoplifting Whoppers and Neosporin, quite the combination, at a local grocery store.  

*Howard Myers: Learned.  Thoughtful.  Most of his efforts have focused on slowing growth in north Scottsdale.  It was his idea to pursue a public vote on the Desert Discovery Center matter that ultimately led to the opposition group’s success.  

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By Scottsdale Watchman

Remember the hit 2010 movie “Despicable Me”? In it, the supervillain character Gru hatches a plan for the greatest heist of all times. He figures out a way to shrink and steal the moon. By the end of the movie though, he has a change of heart when three little girls he adopts make him renege on his nefarious ways.

Well, it looks like Paradise Valley resident and real estate agent Scott Jarson may be seeking to replicate Gru’s behavior.  

In the last several months, Jarson has spoken against the important landmark Museum Square development, proposed for the southern edge of downtown Scottsdale. Last Saturday, he allegedly stooped to a new low. At a community open house held at the Museum of the West for what’s proposed with Museum Square, over sixty children who participate in Greasepaint Youtheatre, which operates out of Scottsdale’s venerable Stagebrush Theater, attended. Stagebrush stands to benefit greatly from Museum Square as the developer will seek to improve the existing building and parking lot.

The budding young actors and actresses, as well as their families, were there decked out in “I Love Museum Square” t-shirts telling other attendees why they think this is an extraordinary project. Jarson was also attendance at that meeting. We’d love to tell you that like the three little girls and Gru, the Greasepaint stars pushed him to reverse his shameful ways. But we can’t.

At the meeting, he was raining on the kids’ parade harder than what Scottsdale’s experienced in the last 48 hours. Supposedly, he went up to kids berating and criticizing them and was purportedly telling them that Stagebrush wouldn’t benefit from anything built at Museum Square. So much for little kids warming his heart.

All along, his opposition has left us dumbfounded. We have written about it previously here, here and here.  

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2020 Scrum

By Councilwoman Virginia Korte

There are many things that make our city so special – but few surpass the uniqueness of Old Town. 

One of the things that make it so unique, especially compared to the downtowns of other cities, is the energy it generates. Our Old Town has become a 24-7 destination for residents and visitors alike.

But we need to keep working to sustain its success.

The past three years the city has invested an average of $5.4M a year in the Old Town area.  That has included everything from sidewalk to streetscape improvements to more aggressive advertising and social media marketing campaigns.  During this three-year period, the city has invested more than $3 million alone in special Old Town events like Western Week, Scottsdazzle and the Canal Convergence.

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Media Alert

Reverend Jarrett Maupin issues statement following the scandalous and racist statements of Rep. David Stringer, calls for lawmaker to resign immediately or for House Leadership to remove him in next session for being “ethically bankrupt,” “a premeditated xenophobe,” and for practicing racism in violation of rules of conduct for state house members…

Statement Below:

“Earlier this year, I agreed to host a luncheon between Rep. Stringer and members of the Black community after he made a series of highly insensitive and ignorant remarks about people of color…

“The purpose of that meeting was two fold. First, was for Stringer to apologize and come face to face with the community he insulted. Second, was to give the community an opportunity to try and work proactively with Rep. Stringer on minority legislative priorities and to rehabilitate his views on race and the realities of racism…

“Many in the Black community are Christians and forgiveness is a foundational virtue of our faith. That said, we did as Jesus commands and as so many civil rights leaders before us attempted to do with bigots of their day – that is, to turn the other cheek…

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By Milhaven for Scottsdale

Scottsdale is an amazing city that we can be proud to call home. Citizen surveys reveal that Scottsdale residents are extremely satisfied with the quality of city services. Independent rating agencies give us a AAA bond rating for our financial health. We enjoy some of the lowest sales and property tax rates in the region. We have a beautiful city!

We have a long legacy of leaders who had the vision to reimagine and reinvent Scottsdale over the years. Winfield Scott envisioned citrus farms and built an agricultural community. Leaders that followed realized the value of tourism and we became the West’s Most Western town to attract and entertain visitors.

Recognizing the value of retail to generate sales tax, we built Los Arcos Mall, one of the first indoor malls. The rodeo grounds at Camelback and Scottsdale Road became Goldwater’s Department store which is now Scottsdale Fashion Square, one of the most successful malls in the country.

The Airpark became a key employment center for the entire region. We continually expanded our City to the north by annexing land from the County.

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CITES HIS ABILITY TO BRING ALL ARIZONANS TOGETHER WITH CIVILITY AND BIPARTISANSHIP

By Team Ducey

Cindy McCain today announced her strong endorsement of Doug Ducey for reelection as Arizona Governor. Mrs. McCain, the widow of the late Senator John McCain, serves as co-chair of the Governor’s Council on Human Trafficking and on the McCain Institute’s Human Trafficking Advisory Council. She is committed to reducing human trafficking globally and improving the lives of victims of human trafficking.

“Doug Ducey has been a Governor for all Arizonans, working together in a bipartisan spirit to improve the quality of life for all our citizens,” Mrs. McCain said. “He has been a steadfast supporter of our efforts to stem the tide of human trafficking, and he’s consistently demonstrated a willingness and ability to bring Arizonans together in a civil and productive way. We need more of that kind of attitude in our political discourse. I’m proud to support Governor Ducey, and encourage all Arizonans to join me.”

Governor Ducey said, ”Cindy McCain has devoted her life to making our country and our state a better and safer place to live – as a businesswoman, philanthropist and tireless advocate for victims rights, military families and the health and education of children in our country and across the world. She is an Arizona treasure, and I am grateful to not only call her a friend, but also to have her on our team as we work together to secure Arizona’s future.”

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