Join us on Facebook!Follow us on Twitter!

The Conservative's Corner
Featured Editorials
2018 Scrum

By Team Ducey

Friend -
Arizona's been in the national spotlight for educational excellence this month.

This week, five Arizona high schools made the U.S. News & World Report top ten public high schools in the nation -- more than any other state. We know how to educate a child in Arizona, and Governor Ducey is working hard to ensure every student has access to a high-quality public education.

Earlier this month, The Weekly Standard published an article highlighting Governor Ducey’s commitment to school choice.

Here's what they said about Governor Ducey:

“Governor Doug Ducey, already a hero to free-market conservatives for his deregulatory crusade against occupational licensing laws, will sign whatever universal education savings account (ESA) expansion makes it to his desk… In a statement to The Weekly Standard, Ducey lavished praise on the state’s achievements in school choice, saying, ‘Arizona provides a model for the nation of the value in putting parents in the driver’s seat of their kids’ education.’”

Read the full article here and share it with your friends !

Read more

By Sal DiCiccio
Phoenix City Council Member

Councilman Danny Valenzuela calls this a "good deal." I call it INSANE.

This is the same logic some of the same politicians used when they used your money to build the Sheraton losing $145 million of your hard-working taxpayers dollars.

Money that could've gone for more police on our streets.

Please read this article from Laurie Roberts:


Laurie Roberts

Arizona Republic 4-20-17

Last month, Phoenix was sued for allowing a developer to skip paying $8 million in property taxes in return for building a 19-story apartment complex near Roosevelt Row in downtown Phoenix.

The city’s continuing tax giveaways – which leave you and I holding the bag for select developers’ share of funding public schools – have prompted a crackdown at the Arizona Legislature. Our leaders, in one of their rare good moves,recently voted to limit these giveaways beginning later this summer to eight years, down from the current 25.

And the city’s response to the legislation and the lawsuit by the Goldwater Institute?

On Wednesday, the Phoenix City Council voted 7-2 to allow yet another developer to skip paying $9 million in property taxes in return for building three apartment towers near Roosevelt Row. (Councilmen Sal DiCiccio and Jim Waring were the no votes.)

Phoenix wants what the market can't support

A city spokesman says the properties eventually will pay three times the property taxes they’d pay if only a four- or five-story apartment complex was built where these 29-, 25- and 19-story buildings will go in. ($6.9 million over 20 years as opposed to $2.4 million.)

That’s if the schools can wait 20 years, that is.

Five percent of the units will be "affordable" housing.

City leaders say the giveaway – technically called a government property lease excise tax -- allows developers to build the types of projects city leaders envision – the sort the free market doesn't support. (Sort of a like a certain downtown Phoenix hotel.)

“This is going to change the Phoenix skyline now instead of 20 years from now,” Councilman Daniel Valenzuela saidWednesday, in approving the deal.

This is, of course, the same old story we’ve been hearing for decades from Phoenix City Hall as city leaders hand out GPLETs like gumdrops.

Lots of developers got this pass

A fair chunk of downtown Phoenix has been given a pass on paying property taxes -- or anything even close to their fair share of the tab.

The Phelps Dodge building got a GPLET. So did CityScape. Renaissance Square has one (both Tower One and Tower Two). So does the Collier Center. And the Westin and Freeport McMoran and at least five apartment complexes along Roosevelt Row.

Read more
By Team Ducey

Friend ,

Governor Ducey has repeatedly called for an Obamacare replacement that works for Arizonans.Last week, he discussed with The Washington Examiner how Congress should move forward replacing the Affordable Care Act.

Here are a few highlights:

  • "We want flexibility to adapt healthcare regulations that reflect what our states' citizens need."
  • "We want to ensure that the rug isn't pulled out from under people who need help and access to healthcare." That includes people with pre-existing conditions, who need insurance coverage just like everyone else.
  • "And we want to get it right the first time without inflicting all the trauma that came along with Obamacare. Congressional leadership and [Health and Human Services] Secretary [Tom] Price are listening, and that alone is a vast improvement. We have a good framework to continue the conversation and move forward."
  • Ducey says that a fix "won't happen overnight," but he is unwavering on a few points, namely that, "the taxes, mandates and federal control that comprise Obamacare should be repealed as quickly as possible, and the necessary elements of a healthcare plan that puts patients first and ensures the broadest possible access to quality healthcare should replace them."

Read the full interview online 

Read more

Next Wednesday, City Council will be voting on a request to make Phoenix a Sanctuary City. I have and will continue to oppose this.

You hear many politicians make big promises about Phoenix becoming a Sanctuary City, but they are afraid to go on record and vote. That is why I believe this vote should happen.

Instead, I predict City staff will find a way to kill the vote before it takes place, so that those same politicians won’t have to put their money where their mouth is. Well, I’m not afraid of a vote. I will always vote NO to Phoenix becoming a Sanctuary City.

For more updates, click here and “Like” to follow my Facebook page.

Sal DiCiccio
Phoenix City Council
District 6

Read more

By Sal DiCiccio
Phoenix City Council District 6

Phoenix City Council will vote on a request for Sanctuary City status on February 15th at a formal council meeting.

I am firmly opposed to the effort to make Phoenix a Sanctuary City. I don't believe any local government should be able to pick and choose the laws they want to enforce. Additionally, I believe such a move would be illegal and would put our officers in the unethical position of having to ignore their oath to uphold state and federal laws.

Below is the press release from the City of Phoenix regarding today's Sanctuary City developments: Read the Full Release

Read more

Party Chairman, Treasurer, Secretary to be Elected Jan 28th 

PHOENIX -  Chairman Robert Graham announced the list of candidates seeking the Arizona Republican Party's top three elected officer positions. Additional nominations for these positions can be made from the floor at the party's January 28th Organizational Meeting, taking place at the Church for the Nations in Phoenix and starting at 9 am.

Candidates for Chairman: Jonathan Lines, Jim O'Connor, Frank Thorwald

Candidates for Secretary: Gabriela Mercer, Cindy Coleman, Marla Festenese

Candidates for Treasurer: Eric Morgan, William Beard, Wes Harris, Robert Lettieri

Elected Republican State Committeemen from each of Arizona's 15 counties will attend the meeting to vote on these positions and other party business. A formal call letter will be mailed to all state committeemen at least ten days before the meeting.

The state committee will also elect three members-at-large to serve on the state party executive committee, three from each of Arizona's nine congressional districts, with all candidates running from the floor.

Party Chairman Robert Graham appointed Barry Wong to serve as Chairman of the Resolutions Committee, Kathy Petsas to serve as Chairman of the Bylaws Committee, and Sergio Arellano to be Chairman of the Nominations Committee.

The current tentative list of 1,235 state committeemen, including nominees not yet formally elected, is here:

Read more

Whether you like or dislike Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane, and judging from his landslide re-election win in 2016 a lot of people do, it’s hard not to admire the way he leads the city with decency, integrity and class.

The same can’t always be said of the respective camps vying over the fate of the Desert Discovery Center (DDC) in Scottsdale.

We are no fans of the project as we have explained repeatedly.  But we are also no fans of some of the stooges like Mark Stuart who lead the effort.  While we admire the passion of opponents, among the best grassroots opposition groups anywhere in recent memory, they can certainly go too far.  We have written about such times in the past but it bears repeating now as some in the movement attack terrific Scottsdale businesses like the Fairmont Princess because they happen to be supporters of the Desert Discovery Center.  The property is one of the city’s finest hotels, adding to cache and coffers. We do not like their position on the DDC but we readily spend money there anyways.  Long after the DDC is dead and gone the Fairmont Princess will still be doing good for Scottsdale, as it was doing before the debate started.  DDC opponents need not snatch defeat from the jaws of victory with such obnoxious tactics.  

Read more

They are two of the biggest names in the Arizona legal world.  Former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods and Arizona Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick.  Earlier this week Father Bolick likely would have been proud as his son, Evan Bolick, sparred with Woods.  It was in Pinal County Superior Court over a profoundly dishonest effort by Woods to undercut the Apex Motor Club in Maricopa on behalf of his legal patron, Dan Erickson of the Attesa project near Casa Grande.  Erickson’s feels his project so inadequate as to oppose another that he feels is too similarly situated.

We have written about the matter numerous times.
Lost In The Maricopa Woods April 17, 2017
The Worst Public Affairs Campaign Ever April 24, 2017
Smell & Wilmer. The Plot Thickens May 4, 2017
Horsepower Hypocrisy: The Endless Episodes May 18, 2017

In the courtroom exchange highlighted by Bolick justifiably accused Woods’ bogus plaintiff of being paid.  Woods denied the assertion.  We don’t know how he could.  Is Woods seriously contesting that his plaintiff, a paid petition circulator named Bonita Burks, wasn’t paid by Erickson’s effort to gather signatures against the project in Maricopa?  It’s a matter of public record.

We don’t know if Woods watched Pinocchio cartoons as a kid but he has become a cartoon himself during this caper.  He also continues to emulate the character’s worst tendencies.  Kudos to Bolick for having the guts to call Woods out on it.


Read more

*Bone-headed Branding:  With the “Desert Discovery Center” becoming such a pungent name in Scottsdale over the past year plus, proponents sought to rebrand it during their reintroduction in late July with a new name of “Desert Edge.”  Apparently the project’s pied piper didn’t get the memo.  She still lists the Desert Discovery Center in her signature line.  #Communicate

*Showing they can say no to developers, the City of Scottsdale largely sided with the residents of Troon North in their dispute with a real estate speculator to triple density for a timeshare-esque project near the community’s entrance.  It was the right decision and the council appeared near unanimous, if not entirely so, standing up for Troon North. Kudos to Planning Director Randy Grant for wading through an issue that while complex was quite simple at its core.

*The Scottsdale Firefighter’s Association Annual Dinner at Dominick’s Steakhouse has become one of the “it” community and political dinners in Scottsdale.  And this year might be the best one yet with honorees like Mountainside Fitness CEO Tom Hatten, the mother that sparked the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Arizona Coyotes’ legend and Scottsdale resident Shane Doan.  Doan is likely to be introduced by Jerry Colangelo which should make for quite a night indeed.


*The climate for Arizona Republicans in 2018 is going to be very difficult.  And that’s no exception as the GOP races to take on Democratic Congressman Tom O’Halleran.  If there’s anyone who can defy the odds it may be the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, Arizona State Senator Steve Smith.  As Bruce Springsteen might say he was born to run.  Engaging, intelligent, determined.  If not this time for Smith he’s a talent that certainly has more political life to live.

*Look for Governor Ducey to more robustly kick-off re-election activities next month.

*If anyone thinks Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan isn’t steely heading into her 2018 re-election campaign think again.  Despite some early challenges she is resolved and ready to roll.

*What a difference a few years makes.  Phoenix City Councilman Daniel Valenzuela is now the frontrunner to replace Greg Stanton as Mayor of Phoenix.  After kicking the tires of a term-limits loophole former Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon will not be running again.  But in Paradise Valley former Mayor Scott Lemarr has no such problems and is still more likely than not to make another run, making him the prohibitive favorite.  

Read more

In salon terms Scottsdale City Councilman Guy Phillips has spent most of his tenure serving as a make-up artist.  What do we mean?  That Scottsdale’s looks are being degraded by too many apartments, too much height and too much stuff, he has argued.   He is typically joined in such observations by Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield and more recently by Councilman David Smith.

Such opinons can often lead to electoral support for one, two or three councilmembers serving at a time but they have not resulted in a majority for decades.  The city’s well regardedness for its pro-business majority was on full display in 2016 when Mayor Jim Lane throttled former Councilman Bob Littlefield, husband to Kathy.

Scottsdale voters are smart with a majority realizing that though they may not be thrilled with an apartment project here or there, a pro-business, pro-tourism, pro-arts approach in Scottsdale is what leads to the revenues that pay for parks, police and preservation.  It’s hard to do that if too many so no to everything.

This leads us back to Councilman Phillips.

Scottsdale Fashion Square recently asked for new approvals, including height, to solidify its future.  At a time when malls everywhere are struggling the request was understandable, even necessary.  And with the staggering amount of sales tax revenue Scottsdale Fashion Square provides city coffers, the mall’s success is a quite necessary proposition indeed.  

Read more

668 North, LLC recently purchased the mostly vacant former Chinese Cultural Center on 44th Street south of the 202 Freeway in order to establish a new headquarters and campus for approximately 350 of its 12,500 employees and team members. The new corporate headquarters is the latest investment near Phoenix’s light rail line, expected to have a notable economic impact for the city according to Valley economist Jim Rounds, who is currently compiling a detailed report on the move. 

Despite strong Arizona laws governing private property rights, some have objected to the company’s plans in spite of a commitment to revitalize the 170,000 square foot space, preserve major elements on site and relocate others. Many of the state’s private property rights are enshrined in Proposition 207, a statewide, voter-approved measure that was passed by a nearly 2-1 margin over a decade ago. On behalf of 668 North, LLC the law firm of Gammage & Burnham recently communicated to the City of Phoenix the numerous problems with infringing on these and other rights.  668 North, LLC is not seeking any city entitlements or tax incentives as part of its redevelopment. 

The cultural center, built in 1997, has significantly struggled for many years with numerous failed businesses and very low occupancy. Today only six percent (6%) of tenants are Chinese-related and the center overall is only 26% occupied. Over the last 20 years, both historical anchor tenants, a grocery store and large restaurant, went into bankruptcy. They were reopened and run for many years by the landlord at a loss. Additionally, there hasn’t been a Chinese New Year festival held at the site since 2012. As community and financial support for the site continued to decline, the prior owner – a large Chinese company – decided to sell the property. That owner provided assurances that the site has been largely abandoned by the Chinese community and that no restrictions of any kind were being placed on the site which would impede redevelopment.  

While the new owner plans to renovate the building, in the spirit of working with the Chinese Community, it has offered several different options during talks with community leaders over the past few weeks. Despite offering numerous creative solutions, the people interested in preserving the site have been unable to reach any agreement amongst themselves, which has complicated a path forward.  

Read more

Remember the nut jobs, even the streakers, who jump the fence at baseball games to run around the outfield to gain attention?  Years ago most responsible television networks stopped showing the romps so as not to reward the recklessness.

Apparently, the Scottsdale Independent didn’t get the memo.  While we applaud the publication for becoming the unquestionable leader in Northeast Valley news the recent decision to splash Scottsdale City Hall streaker Mark Stuart across its front page (here is a link) was like Fox showing a clothing optional resort during the World Series.

Stuart is a political cross somewhere between Gary Busey and Lindsay Lohan, always seeming like a nudist on the late shift (although that’s a visual about as appealing as one of Stuart’s incoherent screeds).  

Read more

Now that President Trump has relieved Sheriff Joe Arpaio from legal concerns we thought it timely to relay anew a related post we made back on March 9, 2016. If not prescient it may be insightful.

Maybe It’s Trump With The Integrity, Not Romney

As Mitt Romney laid early plans for a 2008 presidential run he was spending a lot of time in Arizona.  To raise money.  And to pin rival John McCain down in his home state more than he would have liked.

Romney sought a key endorsement:  Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.  He got it.  Arizona.  Iowa.  Whatever the Romney campaign needed “America’s Toughest Sheriff” was there.  While Arpaio and McCain have hardly been close over the years going against your state’s U.S. Senator isn’t a political move without consequence.

Romney lost the primary to McCain in 2008, then became buddies with him. Nothing wrong with that.  But there was a few years later when Romney treated Arpaio during his 2012 efforts like a leper, so as not to upset McCain.

The 2012 GOP standard bearer showed little spine and a real lack of integrity (as did his campaign staff) towards someone that stuck their neck out for him previously.

Contrast this with Arizona Governor Doug Ducey whose 2014 primary campaign got a critical spark from Arpaio at one of his lowest tides.  The two maintain by all appearances a very friendly and respectful relationship.  Arpaio is also assisting Ducey’s biggest initiative to date:  Proposition 123.

Contrast Romney with Donald Trump too, who doesn’t just target the Sheriff’s endorsement, he shouts it from the rooftops.  Like last night during his victory speech. Alongside Palin, Christie, etc. there booms proudly The Donald about The Sheriff.  He’s even mentioned the octogenarian’s support during debates too.

Whether Trump wins or loses the ultimate prize one gets the sense he’ll always be grateful to Arpaio, no matter what new friends become him.

So next time Romney waxes and whines about Trump’s integrity ask him who went Bob Marley, and shot the sheriff first.

Read more

But for the affability, tenacity, and standing of Sam Campana, a former Mayor of Scottsdale and early supporter of the city’s spectacular McDowell Sonoran Preserve, the Desert Discovery Center, Desert Edge, or whatever one wants to call it would still be known as the DDC but instead stand for Dead, Dead Center.

Despite the Preserve itself being established by public vote, and DDC advocates seeking to use a huge amount of preserve tax dollars, project proselytizers seem allergic to the notion that they too should be subject to a public vote.

We have commented before that winning a public vote is the best way to lance this community boil and ensure the project can actually gain momentum at some point in the future rather than continue to be a drag on the body politic and city coffers.  

Read more

WestWorld is a funky show on HBO.  It challenges our thinking about the future.  And it’s time to challenge the thinking about another WestWorld, a weird property in Scottsdale.  We opine odd because the site serves as a flood detention basin and is owned by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, but operated by the City of Scottsdale.  Not a lot of constructs like that.

Since it first debuted decades ago as a private, commercial enterprise until today as a local governmental operation, managers have always struggled to make it pencil.

But what if it’s never meant to.  That may have to be the conclusion after many college tries.  And it should be.

Scottsdale City Councilman David Smith started to make private musings about the notion earlier this year, only to seemingly scuttle the thoughts.  He shouldn’t have.  As a former City Treasurer he has the standing to reintroduce and reinvent thinking about WestWorld.

Smith’s too abrupt argument kind of went like this:  WestWorld is effectively a park, a large one that serves special events as does Central Park in New York City but also recreationists from joggers to dog walkers to even a parking lot for the most attended golf tournament in the United States, and one that is losing more parking soon.  

Read more

We have already weighed in on the repackaged Desert Discovery Center now known as Desert Edge.  It calls to mind a name more reminiscent of a bad country band than a worthwhile expenditure of taxpayer dollars.

Our purpose now is not to regurgitate our most recent opinion (here is a link.)  It’s to raise a worthwhile question:  opportunity cost.

Proponents suggest taking tens of millions of tourism AND preserve tax dollars is worthwhile.  They say so because they believe the project can be self-sustaining (it won’t) and a major new tourism draw for the city.

But ask yourself this, who is going to come to Scottsdale just because of a glorified interpretive center, as opposed to that which it seeks to accentuate, and already exists?

Think of it this way, no matter what those on the edge of advocacy for their pet project can cull together it won’t be cooler or more dramatic than El Tovar at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  But people don’t travel to northern Arizona to see something man-made.  They do so because of the natural wonder.  And so will it be in Scottsdale.

The McDowell Sonoran Preserve with its extensive trails, views and majesty already IS a huge tourism draw.

So why not better highlight it, or expand it, rather than divert funds from both of these purposes?

Read more

Few municipal projects have conjured as much controversy and consternation in recent years than the Desert Discovery Center (DDC), proposed as a Valyrian Steel-like Visitor Center at the Gateway of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

Opponents have ransacked the purported rationale, even though form often gets in the way of their substance.

Supporters, largely the inheritors of the idea’s inertia, often tout the grand tourism benefits they think the DDC will mean.  There are also those longing, and hoping, for Scottsdale’s next great thing.

This week proponents unveiled the latest design, touting the changes that had been made and how they listened to the community, as if that is something that shouldn’t have been done all along.

But alterations can’t alter something that is fundamentally flawed, and lesser than that which it seeks to accentuate.  Allow us to invoke football to make our point.  Patrick Peterson is the All-Pro Cornerback for the Arizona Cardinals.  The other person playing that position on defense is always “the guy playing opposite Patrick Peterson.” He’s secondary, just like a man-made attraction pales next to the real thing.

Quite simply, no one is going to come to Scottsdale because of the Desert Discovery Center.  Tourists will and do because of the Preserve itself.  If people want a related man-made attraction Taliesin West is far more compelling and sits on the preserve’s edge just a short throw away.  And it’s a far better location for the DDC too.  

Read more

The former President was many things, including a splicing wordsmith.  During Ken Starr’s inquisition who can forget Clinton’s unforgettable, “It depends what the meaning of is, is.”

And that brings us to today, in Scottsdale.  And former long-time Scottsdale Planning Department staffer, now developer lobbyist, Don Hadder.

Hadder presided over city staff’s review and ultimate recommendation for the Troon North community approvals in the mid-1990s.  That work ultimately led some 1,800 homeowners into one of Scottsdale’s signature communities.  They relied on his work and word to invest in the community.  And rightfully so.

But now Hadder is singing a different tune, as the paid sycophant for an unproven, unknown group seeking to scar Troon North with an unsightly timeshare plan at its entrance.  For months Hadder has been working his former colleagues to find that which he wrote before about what’s allowed at Troon North to not be the case.   

Read more

By Candidate for Governor Steve Farley

To what lengths will Trump go to destroy Arizona?

From the news that broke just a few days ago, apparently much further than we had ever imagined.

The Hill recently reported that President Trump is considering lifting the Obama-era ban on Uranium mining in northern Arizona -- a ban that was put in place to protect one of our state’s and country’s most beautiful and breathtaking regions.

Mining in that fragile area would destroy a significant part of our landscape forever. It would also cause undue risks to our groundwater and soil -- risks that could lead to an unmitigated disaster.

Arizonans have a deep appreciation for our natural treasures like the Grand Canyon but we need to fight to protect it. 

While we haven’t heard much out of the governor’s office on this topic, we can safely assume that Governor Ducey will no doubt fall right in line, just as he did with Graham-Cassidy.

Governor Ducey is much more concerned with political advancement in DC and helping his special interest friends than helping Arizona. The Koch Brothers have attempted for years to fund efforts to remove protections preventing mining in the regions around the Grand Canyon.

Now with Trump AND Ducey at the helm, they might just pull it off.

Arizona deserves a leader who won’t put Arizonans, our natural resources, or the beauty of our state in jeopardy to please their donors. 

Let’s take this fight to Ducey, Trump, and their backward agenda.

Read more

By Scottsdale City Councilman David Smith

Dear Friends...

During the recent Council work study session on the Desert EDGE project, I summarized the history of events that has led to locating a Discovery Center in the preserve, at the Gateway on Thompson Peak Parkway. A few listeners asked me to share that chronology. It's a long history, so hold your seats!

In 1994 - before there was a preserve tax or a preserve! - the McDowell Sonoran Preserve Commission (MSPC) retained a local research firm, Nelson, Robb, Duval and DeMenna to conduct a statistically reliable telephone survey of Scottsdale registered voters to determine whether they supported land preservation.

The poll questions made it clear the City's goals were broader than just acquiring land. Each poll participant was also told, "The following are a list of features that are under study for inclusion in the preserve" and asked to rank the importance of each feature. For "Desert museums and education centers", 69.5% answered "very important" or "somewhat important;" 30.5% answered "not very important" or "don't know."

The poll results guided City Council in structuring the May 23, 1995 Ballot Proposition 400 seeking voter approval of a 0.20% temporary and dedicated preserve sales tax. That proposition was approved almost 2 to 1.

Following the 1995, the MSPC began studying where preserve assets should be built to enhance public entry to and enjoyment of the preserve. By March 1999, they had published their McDowell Sonoran Preserve Access Areas Report identifying several access points.

There should be a single Gateway, they said, as the focal point for educational facilities as well as a a broad array of public amenities - a visitor center, interpretative or educational centers, museum facilities, displays, an amphitheater, concessions and areas to accommodate large user groups. Many of those visions of 20 years ago survive today as features of the proposed Desert EDGE at the Gateway.

About this same time, 1998, homes were being constructed on Bell Road in the McDowell Mountain Ranch community, across from the southern boundary of the proposed Gateway.

In 2004, voters were asked to increase the preserve tax again (this time by 0.15%) and allow the revenues to be used for land "...and improvements thereto."

That vote prompted Council to begin defining potential improvements. City Council's first action was to authorize a "Municipal Use Master Site Plan" (MUMSP, for short) for the Gateway - the city equivalent of a developer's site plan.

In February 2006, staff held an open house to explain Council's future plans for the Gateway. Staff shared a site plan map identifying Phase I as the Gateway Access and Phase II as a Desert Discovery Center, including an interpretive center, support offices, café with outdoor dining terrace and a 400-seat outdoor amphitheater.

On September 18, 2007, based on the 2006 public outreach, Council approved the MUMSP for the Gateway with the site plan unchanged. The accompanying Council Report described a Desert Discovery Center "...that will serve as the primary educational facility [including] a small café in conjunction with the Center...[as well as] outdoor amphitheater as part of the Desert Discovery Center...used in conjunction with educational and support activities for the Center." The description even anticipated "...there will be limited evening activity at the Desert Discovery Center." Mayor Mary Manross and Councilmembers Betty Drake, Wayne Ecton, Jim Lane, Bob Littlefield and Ron McCullagh all voted for the Gateway site plan.

Starting in 2007, homes began to be constructed on the west side of Thompson Peak Parkway, across from the proposed Gateway and Desert Discovery Center.

On October 11, 2011, Council approved the McDowell Sonoran Preserve Areas Report. The 1999 Report had been updated in 2010, but still provided there would only be one Gateway and that its location would be the focal point for educational facilities and programs and include a broad array of public amenities such as a visitor center, interpretative or educational centers, museum facilities, displays, an amphitheater, concessions and areas to accommodate corporate picnics and other large user groups. The Report was adopted unanimously by Mayor Jim Lane and councilmembers Milhaven, Borowsky, Klapp, Bob Littlefield, McCullagh and Robbins.

Before and after 2011, several versions of a Discovery Center were developed, leading to a Council decision in early 2016 to contract for a definitive study of what a Discovery Center should be. For more than twenty years, Scottsdale's elected and appointed representatives had been guided by the wishes of Scottsdale citizens; respecting this history, Council stipulated the design be sited at the already approved site north of the Gateway trailhead.

Still, the contractor, Desert Discovery Center Scottsdale (DDCS), was given latitude to consider alternative sites. They could have recommended another site - at the Gateway, elsewhere in the preserve or out of the preserve altogether - provided an alternative showed promise as a superior location, insuring greater success for the Discovery Center. In fact, an alternative, superior site was identified, just south of the Gateway trailhead. That is the site council is now considering for the Desert EDGE.

Read more

PHOENIX – A brand new tool for monitoring the number of Arizona voters in real-time has been released by Secretary of State Michele Reagan.  The Voter Stats Dashboard displays registration data allowing users to observe trends by party and county from 2007 to the most recent report.

The innovative tool aggregates statistical and demographic data of Arizona’s registered voters by county and forecasts future registration levels of partisan affiliation.  The forecast is made to January 2021 and the time series is adjusted to consider yearly seasonality effects.

“No longer do people have to wait for each quarterly report to better understand the number of voters in Arizona,” said Secretary Reagan.  “The number of active voters changes each day with people registering, moving or when our counties perform routine list maintenance.  With this innovative dashboard people can better see what’s happening with the state’s electorate each day.”

The party forecasting function uses a basic time series algorithm called ARIMA.  Widely available to the public, it is a moving average from quarter to quarter.  Seasonality is a way for the algorithm to take into account patterns that may be found in the data based on outside events. In this case, the forecast takes into account the quarters of an election year which historically see an increase in registrations.

The Voter Stats Dashboard was developed by the Secretary of State’s Election Information Systems team and is hosted on her dedicated elections portal www.Arizona.Vote.

Read more

By Steve Farley for Governor

When we think of the labor movement in Arizona, we are reminded of notable pieces of our past and present.

From the Old Dominion miners in Globe who striked against wage decreases in 1896, to the ironworkers who helped build skyscrapers like Chase Tower in Phoenix – unions have always played a role in everyday life here in Arizona.

We think of AFSCME members who ensure our cities and towns like Peoria operate effectively, and teachers unions like AFT and the NEA who make sure our children have the best possible future.

These men and women from across the state work hard every single day to make sure Arizona is the best state in the nation --– and it is their unions that fight tooth and nail to protect them every step of the way.

Each of us benefits from the labor movement’s accomplishments, whether you are a union member or not.

Weekends, minimum wage, child labor laws, workplace safety -- we sometimes take the work of labor unions for granted.

These benefits were paid for with the blood, sweat and tears of our union Brothers and Sisters that fought in Arizona and in states across the country to protect the American worker.

That’s why on this Labor Day, I want to take a moment to not only thank unions around Arizona for their hard work in the past, but also tell them that I stand with them and their future fights for Arizona’s workers’ rights.

To the men and women of the Arizona AFL-CIO, Ironworkers Union Local 75, AFSCME, Teamsters Local 104, UA Local 469, Carpenters Local 1912, IBEW Local 640, SMART 1081, and the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona, and every union across the state:

Thank you for all your hard work and know that I stand with you. Arizona is what it is because of you.

Keep it up,


Read more

From No DDC

FINAL SURVEY RESULTS -- THANK YOU, SCOTTSDALE. 9,000 of you saw it including 4,000 who saw the Survey on NoDDC and 5,000 who saw the promoted ad. We promoted the survey to all 140,000 Facebook users in Scottsdale to try to get an unbiased and representative sample of voters.

Of those who opened the Survey over 84% completed at least the first 3 answers.

WHAT WE LEARNED: 5.86% want the DDC built on the Gateway Trailhead. That is it. Even after we goaded the DDCSI crowd in to trying to stuff the ballot box they could not get up to 6%.

62% do not want the DDC built on the Preserve under any circumstances. No matter how small and no matter whether voters approve it or not, they say they oppose all versions of the DDC. That answer was nearly 3 times more prevalent than any other answer.

Especially in South Scottsdale, where voters were not so concerned about preservation as they are about Taxes and Budgets. South Scottsdale is an overwhelming NoDDC Voting bloc that does not want an election because as one voter put it "why waste more money on an election when everyone knows we hate it". 78% of South Scottsdale simply said "No. Not under any circumstances". 16% said they would tolerate it if it was moved or there was an election and 5.9% said they approved.

We do not know how you could possibly change these trends. DDCSI just made its best pitch to impress the City and if anything it seems that voters became even more opposed after the big rollout of the relabled Edge project 2 weeks ago.

CHALLENGE TO DDCSI: You will refuse to accept the results of this Survey and insist that it was contrived. It was not. But you deflect all criticism. So why do we not do the next survey together and jointly manage the data? We are confident where this debate is going.

Read more

By Scottsdale Councilmember Virginia Korte

Last week we took the first significant step in solving our city’s infrastructure issues.virginiakorte_bio

Mayor Lane appointed me and Councilmembers Guy Phillips and David Smith to a new Council Capital Improvement Project Subcommittee.  The three us will be officially confirmed at the Council meeting on Tuesday, February 21st.

Recently, the city staff presented more than 40 capital improvement projects for the Council’s consideration.  The total cost of the projects is estimated to be $84 million. That is a lot of money, and, quite candidly, it is going to be a challenge finding the funding for those projects.  And this is the “tip” of the proverbial iceberg with our growing needs for reinvestment in the city’s infrastructure. It will take a combination of several different options to pay for all the projects over time. 

Read more

Arizona Progress & Gazette: Arizona News, Editorials & Debate