The Conservative's Corner

by Sal DiCiccio

Friends,

As many of you know, unlike the rest of the world, for governments the year ends on June 30th, and a new year begins July 1st. It’s been a long year, and while our country may be in the midst of the worst internal conflict and strife we’ve seen since the 1960s, here in Phoenix – and especially in District 6 – good things are happening. We are moving forward with quality growth and development, protecting our open spaces, and putting more resources into our parks and preserves. We are also fighting to protect our neighborhoods, ensure we have the basic resources we need to protect public safety, address our growing issues with homelessness and more. And since Sam Stone came onboard last year as my chief-of-staff, we’ve been more effective than ever fighting for our quality of life and protecting neighborhoods. Here are a few of the highlights from this year…

2017-18 Fiscal Year Accomplishments
1. Sober Living Homes Amendment: As you remember, I brought this forward to the Council when we started seeing these facilities flooding our neighborhoods. In response, we created the best model in the nation protecting neighborhoods and patients. Sam Stone in our office led our efforts on this, and every single time the City came back to us and said we couldn’t do something, he figured out a way to get it done.
2. Phoenician Redevelopment: Worked with neighborhood leaders and stakeholders to make sure that the redevelopment of the Phoenician golf courses addressed their concerns about traffic, density, open-spaces and historical preservation. This was one of the most complex land deals in Phoenix’s history, and – in the end – achieved essentially universal support throughout the neighborhood.
3. Relocation of Cholla Trail: Worked with neighbors and community leaders to get a right-of-way included in the Phoenician land deal to relocate Cholla Trail off of Cholla Lane. Now we are working with those same community members on the design and construction for the new trail which will benefit hikers and homeowners alike. Read More

Phoenix is closing on the downtown Sheraton sale, remember that the real loss to taxpayers is $252 Million.

The politicians and government staff who pushed this hotel are now forcing the public to pay for their mistakes. I have submitted a public information request to the city manager demanding the names of each and every person– politicians and government staff alike– who pushed for this hotel originally. It is not fair for the public to continue to pay for the incompetence of people who were hired to serve them.

This is the final, sad chapter in an orgy of corporate welfare and insider dealing that has cost the citizens of Phoenix far more than anyone at City Hall will admit.

Inept staff who insisted on making this deal are claiming the loss is $36 Million, but the true total is much higher.

$350 million– original cost of the hotel
$255 million– sale price of the hotel
$95 million loss

But it gets worse. Taxpayers are also on the hook for:

$47 million– operational losses since hotel was built
$97 million– corporate tax giveaways
$13 million– the hotel fund that was handed over to a large corporation
$157 million in additional losses

Bringing the total loss to taxpayers up to $252 million.Read More

Friends,

This is the letter I just sent to City Manager Ed Zuercher. The continued failure of City Staff to execute their basic responsibility under this City Manager is inexcusable – just look at the complete failure to address the needs of our community in South Phoenix, where City staff is in the process of pushing a bad plan down the throats of residents.

By The Goldwater Institute

Partisan gridlock in Congress is often the rule, but there are the occasional and notable exceptions. In the recent spending bill, lawmakers successfully repealed the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB)—one of the most extreme examples of consolidated, unchecked government power in American history. As the only organization to have challenged IPAB in court, we’re celebrating the elimination of what columnist George Will called “the most anti-constitutional law ever written.”

Enacted eight years ago as part of the Affordable Care Act, IPAB was created as a cost-saving mechanism for the Medicare program for the nation’s elderly, but its authority was far broader. The unelected Board wielded unprecedented power to write healthcare rules that would automatically become law without a vote of Congress, signature of the president, notice to the public, or review by the courts.

Some fiscal conservatives are now lamenting the fact that, by repealing IPAB, Congress has removed important checks on uncontrolled Medicare spending. This is an issue that should not be ignored. True, the Medicare program is in desperate need of modernization and financial overhaul, and IPAB would have been a tool to control those costs. But the costs to our Constitution would have been far greater. Those doubting the dangers that IPAB posed should consider the following:

IPAB’s authority was not limited to Medicare. IPAB had much broader powers to make law governing both government and private healthcare—whatever the Board considered “related to the Medicare program.” IPAB’s toolbox was vast: It could enact price controls and even levy taxes. And those decisions would have been free of any meaningful checks or balances.

IPAB’s power was consolidated in one individual. Some viewed Congress’s repeal of IPAB as premature—after all, neither President Obama nor Trump had appointed any members to the Board, and it had not yet taken any actions. But lack of membership was only more cause for concern. So long as IPAB remained unstaffed, the Secretary of Health and Human Services alone wielded the Board’s vast powers.

IPAB’s decisions were not subject to judicial review. IPAB’s so-called “recommendations” would have automatically become law, without review by Congress or the courts. In other words, the ACA left unaccountable bureaucrats free to make decisions that could affect public and private healthcare for millions of Americans.

IPAB had the power to ration care. Many mistakenly believed that IPAB was prohibited from rationing healthcare. But what constitutes rationing? The ACA never defined “rationing care”—instead, it left the Board to define rationing however it wished, and it prohibited patients and doctors from turning to the courts for protection if the Board stopped them from receiving or delivering care. In other words, IPAB put bureaucrats in charge of deciding what type and how much medical care people should receive. That system would have deprived patients of access to needed care—increasing centralized decision making at the expense of individual healthcare decisions.

The U.S. Constitution gives the lawmaking power to Congress alone because legislators are responsible to their constituents and checked by the other branches of government. No agency can be rendered exempt from democratic processes and the rule of law. That is why Congress should be lauded for repealing the unchecked and unprecedented consolidation of bureaucratic power.
Read More

PHOENIX – State Treasurer Jeff DeWit announced yesterday during the State Board of Investment meeting that the Permanent Land Endowment Trust Fund, also referred to as the Schools’ Trust Fund, has hit a record market value of more than $6 Billion.

Even with increased distributions totaling more than $793 million to Endowment beneficiaries, which is more than three times that of any previous treasurer, the endowment has grown in excess of $1 billion during Treasurer DeWit’s tenure.

“Credit for this achievement goes to the dedicated work of Senior Portfolio Manager Tim White who has managed the fund for nearly 20 years, along with the rest of the investment staff, and the members of the State Board of Investment,” Treasurer DeWit said.

Treasurer DeWit, who is chairman of the State Board of Investment, also noted that the Treasurer’s office reached another milestone in January with the month ending value of all investments at $15.85 Billion, an all-time high for assets under management.Read More

by Sal DiCiccio

Friends,

As many of you know, unlike the rest of the world, for governments the year ends on June 30th, and a new year begins July 1st. It’s been a long year, and while our country may be in the midst of the worst internal conflict and strife we’ve seen since the 1960s, here in Phoenix – and especially in District 6 – good things are happening. We are moving forward with quality growth and development, protecting our open spaces, and putting more resources into our parks and preserves. We are also fighting to protect our neighborhoods, ensure we have the basic resources we need to protect public safety, address our growing issues with homelessness and more. And since Sam Stone came onboard last year as my chief-of-staff, we’ve been more effective than ever fighting for our quality of life and protecting neighborhoods. Here are a few of the highlights from this year…

2017-18 Fiscal Year Accomplishments
1. Sober Living Homes Amendment: As you remember, I brought this forward to the Council when we started seeing these facilities flooding our neighborhoods. In response, we created the best model in the nation protecting neighborhoods and patients. Sam Stone in our office led our efforts on this, and every single time the City came back to us and said we couldn’t do something, he figured out a way to get it done.
2. Phoenician Redevelopment: Worked with neighborhood leaders and stakeholders to make sure that the redevelopment of the Phoenician golf courses addressed their concerns about traffic, density, open-spaces and historical preservation. This was one of the most complex land deals in Phoenix’s history, and – in the end – achieved essentially universal support throughout the neighborhood.
3. Relocation of Cholla Trail: Worked with neighbors and community leaders to get a right-of-way included in the Phoenician land deal to relocate Cholla Trail off of Cholla Lane. Now we are working with those same community members on the design and construction for the new trail which will benefit hikers and homeowners alike. Read More

Phoenix is closing on the downtown Sheraton sale, remember that the real loss to taxpayers is $252 Million.

The politicians and government staff who pushed this hotel are now forcing the public to pay for their mistakes. I have submitted a public information request to the city manager demanding the names of each and every person– politicians and government staff alike– who pushed for this hotel originally. It is not fair for the public to continue to pay for the incompetence of people who were hired to serve them.

This is the final, sad chapter in an orgy of corporate welfare and insider dealing that has cost the citizens of Phoenix far more than anyone at City Hall will admit.

Inept staff who insisted on making this deal are claiming the loss is $36 Million, but the true total is much higher.

$350 million– original cost of the hotel
$255 million– sale price of the hotel
$95 million loss

But it gets worse. Taxpayers are also on the hook for:

$47 million– operational losses since hotel was built
$97 million– corporate tax giveaways
$13 million– the hotel fund that was handed over to a large corporation
$157 million in additional losses

Bringing the total loss to taxpayers up to $252 million.Read More

Friends,

This is the letter I just sent to City Manager Ed Zuercher. The continued failure of City Staff to execute their basic responsibility under this City Manager is inexcusable – just look at the complete failure to address the needs of our community in South Phoenix, where City staff is in the process of pushing a bad plan down the throats of residents.

By The Goldwater Institute

Partisan gridlock in Congress is often the rule, but there are the occasional and notable exceptions. In the recent spending bill, lawmakers successfully repealed the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB)—one of the most extreme examples of consolidated, unchecked government power in American history. As the only organization to have challenged IPAB in court, we’re celebrating the elimination of what columnist George Will called “the most anti-constitutional law ever written.”

Enacted eight years ago as part of the Affordable Care Act, IPAB was created as a cost-saving mechanism for the Medicare program for the nation’s elderly, but its authority was far broader. The unelected Board wielded unprecedented power to write healthcare rules that would automatically become law without a vote of Congress, signature of the president, notice to the public, or review by the courts.

Some fiscal conservatives are now lamenting the fact that, by repealing IPAB, Congress has removed important checks on uncontrolled Medicare spending. This is an issue that should not be ignored. True, the Medicare program is in desperate need of modernization and financial overhaul, and IPAB would have been a tool to control those costs. But the costs to our Constitution would have been far greater. Those doubting the dangers that IPAB posed should consider the following:

IPAB’s authority was not limited to Medicare. IPAB had much broader powers to make law governing both government and private healthcare—whatever the Board considered “related to the Medicare program.” IPAB’s toolbox was vast: It could enact price controls and even levy taxes. And those decisions would have been free of any meaningful checks or balances.

IPAB’s power was consolidated in one individual. Some viewed Congress’s repeal of IPAB as premature—after all, neither President Obama nor Trump had appointed any members to the Board, and it had not yet taken any actions. But lack of membership was only more cause for concern. So long as IPAB remained unstaffed, the Secretary of Health and Human Services alone wielded the Board’s vast powers.

IPAB’s decisions were not subject to judicial review. IPAB’s so-called “recommendations” would have automatically become law, without review by Congress or the courts. In other words, the ACA left unaccountable bureaucrats free to make decisions that could affect public and private healthcare for millions of Americans.

IPAB had the power to ration care. Many mistakenly believed that IPAB was prohibited from rationing healthcare. But what constitutes rationing? The ACA never defined “rationing care”—instead, it left the Board to define rationing however it wished, and it prohibited patients and doctors from turning to the courts for protection if the Board stopped them from receiving or delivering care. In other words, IPAB put bureaucrats in charge of deciding what type and how much medical care people should receive. That system would have deprived patients of access to needed care—increasing centralized decision making at the expense of individual healthcare decisions.

The U.S. Constitution gives the lawmaking power to Congress alone because legislators are responsible to their constituents and checked by the other branches of government. No agency can be rendered exempt from democratic processes and the rule of law. That is why Congress should be lauded for repealing the unchecked and unprecedented consolidation of bureaucratic power.
Read More

PHOENIX – State Treasurer Jeff DeWit announced yesterday during the State Board of Investment meeting that the Permanent Land Endowment Trust Fund, also referred to as the Schools’ Trust Fund, has hit a record market value of more than $6 Billion.

Even with increased distributions totaling more than $793 million to Endowment beneficiaries, which is more than three times that of any previous treasurer, the endowment has grown in excess of $1 billion during Treasurer DeWit’s tenure.

“Credit for this achievement goes to the dedicated work of Senior Portfolio Manager Tim White who has managed the fund for nearly 20 years, along with the rest of the investment staff, and the members of the State Board of Investment,” Treasurer DeWit said.

Treasurer DeWit, who is chairman of the State Board of Investment, also noted that the Treasurer’s office reached another milestone in January with the month ending value of all investments at $15.85 Billion, an all-time high for assets under management.Read More

MORE CONSERVATIVE’S CORNER
Featured Editorials

By Scottsdale Pinetop

The Highs

*Bill Crawford has currently raised $52,558.05 based on his 2nd Quarter campaign finance report for his Scottsdale City Council campaign.

*Coalition for Greater Scottsdale (COGS) announced two endorsements for Scottsdale City Council, Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield and Solange Whitehead.

*On July 9th, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 640 announced their endorsement of Councilwoman Kate Gallego in the Phoenix mayoral campaign.
Read More

Besides God’s work in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve perhaps the two most talked about creations in the city, albeit man made, are Taliesin West and the Indian Bend Wash.

One was the winter home of Frank Lloyd Wright, the other municipal magnificence to create a striking recreational amenity rather than a concrete flood control bin like the Los Angeles River.  Both took extraordinary visions and guts.

But so did a couple of other Scottsdale things we believe history books will rank in a similar class.

The first is next to Fashion Square, Scottsdale’s hanging gardens of Babylon, Optima Camelview.  It’s a project so striking that ESPN even used it as backdrop during the last Super Bowl.

At a time when some in the city are lamenting too many multi-family projects Optima reminds us what design excellence truly means.  Part Blade Runner, part Arcosanti and part Desert Botanical Garden it will surely long stand as one of the finest developments ever approved by a City Council.

The architect of Optima Camelview, ironically, leads us to our second recognition:  Desert Mountain.  You see, that’s where David Hovey decided to call his Scottsdale home.

It’s not hard to understand why.  Found at the northern tip of Scottsdale abutting the Tonto National Forest it was originally envisioned by Lyle Anderson.  It now stands with not one, two, three, four, five but six Jack Nicklaus designed golf courses. It is the best golf club in the world.  And it’s right here in Scottsdale with a final phase called Seven now under construction.  Desert Mountain is an unrivaled mix of summer (or winter) camp combined with life’s finest luxury elements.  Because it has few if any peers on the planet Desert Mountain is the engine and envy of any economic development organization.  It is recruiting the well-heeled from around the world.  As residents.  As members.

Taliesin West.  Indian Bend Wash.  Optima Camelview.  Desert Mountain.

We should probably add DC Ranch and Silverleaf to that list.  But that may be a post for another time.

By Scottsdale Pinetop

It only seems like yesterday when Arizona’s Republican governor, Jan Brewer, signed the state’s notorious anti-immigrant bill, S.B. 1070, into law in 2010. And while most of the law was thrown out by the U.S. Supreme Court in Arizona v. US (2012), it became the foundation of the Republican Party’s stance on immigration.

Fast forward eight years, it seems like déjà vu all over again for Arizonans. The recent chaos of the Trump administration’s handling of immigration on the U.S.-Mexico border underscores the important role immigration will play in the midterms in Arizona.

These past few weeks, Arizonans young and old took to the streets shouting their support to keep families together and reverse President Trump’s “zero policy” towards undocumented immigrants. On the other side of the political spectrum, Trump supporters argue that Trump’s immigration policy is exactly what the country needs.
Read More

By Amy Chua
The Wall Street Journal
July 12, 2018

Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s jurisprudence will appropriately be dissected in the months ahead. I’d like to speak to a less well-known side of the Supreme Court nominee: his role as a mentor for young lawyers, particularly women. The qualities he exhibits with his clerks may provide important evidence about the kind of justice he would be.

_____________________________

Judge Kavanaugh’s clerks are racially and ethnically diverse. Since joining the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 2006, a quarter of his clerks have been members of a minority group. More than half, 25 out of 48, have been women. In 2014, all four were women—a first for any judge on the D.C. Circuit.  

In the past decade, I have helped place 10 Yale Law School students with Judge Kavanaugh, eight of them women. I recently emailed them to ask about their clerkship experiences. They all responded almost instantaneously. They cited his legendary work ethic (“He expected us to work really hard, but there was always one person working harder than us—the Judge”), his commitment to excellence (“he wants every opinion that comes out of his chambers to be perfect; it is not uncommon to go through 30-50 drafts”), his humility (“He can take a great joke just as easily as he can land one”), and his decency (“I’ve never seen him be rude to anyone in the building”).

To a person, they described his extraordinary mentorship. “When I accepted his offer to clerk,” one woman wrote, “I had no idea I was signing up for a lifelong mentor who feels an enduring sense of responsibility for each of his clerks.” Another said: “I can’t imagine making a career decision without his advice.” And another: “He’s been an incredible mentor to me despite the fact that I’m a left-of-center woman. He always takes into account my goals rather than giving generic advice.”

_______________________________

If the judge is confirmed, my daughter will probably be looking for a different clerkship. But for my own daughter, there is no judge I would trust more than Brett Kavanaugh to be, in one former clerk’s words, “a teacher, advocate, and friend.”

 

Click here to read the full OpED

Bob Littlefield meet Kathy Littlefield.

The former served for many years on the Scottsdale City Council before term limits prompted him to run for the Arizona State Legislature.  But he lost in the 2014 Republican primary to Jay Lawrence.  And then Bob decided he wanted to become Mayor, running against popular incumbent Jim Lane while his wife, Kathy, served on the City Council at the same time.  Keeping it a family business, Kathy narrowly captured Bob’s seat only months after he lost his legislative race.

Now, Kathy is facing re-election later this year  Like what happened in 2014 she must do so after her husband got shellacked by Lane in November, 2016.

After Bob’s loss many thought Kathy vulnerable.  And we suppose all candidates are.  But something interesting has happened on the way to her own review by Scottsdale voters.

She learned, from her husband’s flaws and foolhardiness.

Where Bob is the Crazy Uncle who would say impolitic things at the dinner table, Kathy is the Sweet Aunt, personally liked by nearly all.

Read More

By Scottsdale Pinetop

Standing 12 feet high in the middle of the beautiful Scottsdale Civic Center Mall is a memorable work of public art: Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture. The LOVE statue is whimsical, bold, somber and subtle all at once, and it’s an essential part of the local public art scene. The statue stands as a testament to Scottsdale’s long-standing reputation to foster public art.

And now, Scottsdale’s public art is getting the national recognition it deserves.

In 1985, Scottsdale expanded its percent-for-art ordinance to include art as part of private development as a result of the decline in funding for capital projects. The percent-for-art policy requires around 1 percent of construction and renovation costs for private projects be allocated to the purchase of artworks in the surrounding community. And Scottsdale has been a leader of sustaining and improving public art ever since.

Read More

By Scottsdale Pinetop

 

From the Women’s March in January 2017 to the #MeToo movement online, women have become a physical and a digital force to be reckoned with. In the past year, women have felt more empowered than ever to speak up, demand equality, and support each other. That’s why is it so disappointing when women are still too often overlooked for their accomplishments. 

 

Recently, the Scottsdale Fire Department promoted six employees to new positions, including three to captain and three to engineer. Among them was the city’s first female fire captain Kelly Cayner. In a profession that is still overwhelmingly male-dominated, this is a notable event in Scottsdale’s history and for female empowerment. But what should have been a front-page story was pushed to a one-line mention on page 8 of the Scottsdale Republic. 

 

Cayner’s story was never really told and her accomplishment was hardly recognized. That’s unfortunate and another reminder of big media’s waning resources. 

 

Hopefully, we can try to help make it right. 

Read More

It was compromise and gradualism that helped the solar industry and Arizona Public Service reach a truce that preserved rooftop solar for the APS coverage area. After all, strong utilities and strong solar are in Arizona’s best interests. Now, Corporation Commissioner Andy Tobin seems to be a voice of reason that could deliver likewise as Tucson Electric Power seeks an overly aggressive grid access charge that would be among the highest, if not the highest, in the country among investor owned utilities. Tucson deserves better. Nogales deserves better. Kingman deserves better. Lake Havasu City deserves better. These are the four areas being targeted by TEP’s parent company. And Arizona certainly deserves better. After all, if the Corporation Commission is going to approve permanent rate hikes, shouldn’t ratepayers have some remedy to mitigate them? Rooftop solar provides this option for many.  

After listening to hours of testimony from solar advocates during a June 12 Corporation Commission meeting, Tobin said he needed more time to sort out the matter, putting the brakes on options that could have decimated the rooftop solar industry in parts of Arizona by gutting compensation for rooftop solar customers who send power back to the grid in addition to slapping those customers with excessive fees.

The fees amount to a large tax on solar power and as the old saying goes, “If you want less of something, tax it.”

Tobin, a Republican, may have seen the path the TEP was headed. As a former Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, Tobin is perceptive and his decision to take a pause was a smart one. Read More

By Scottsdale Pinetop

Scottsdale is an arts community – from the galleries that line Old Town Scottsdale to the horse statue that welcomes guests into WestWorld. Each community art project is a unique addition to the landscape and a celebration of Scottsdale’s identity.

In a place that embraces innovation and creativity, it is no wonder that Scottsdale’s freeways reflect these same characteristics. So when it became known that the iconic freeway art was in jeopardy, it’s fair to say that Scottsdale residents became upset.

Known as “The Path Most Traveled”, the art instillation along the Loop 101 is a tribute to Arizona’s desert environment. The display was designed in 1996 by Colorado artist Carolyn Braakma. Rather than the standard concrete walls, Scottsdale’s Pima Freeway is adorned with beautiful and complex patterns that feature cacti, desert flora and fauna and abstract Native American inspired art. Some of its most spectacular features include a 40 feet prickly pear cacti and giant lizards 67 feet in length. Over the years, it has become a major attraction to tourists and locals alike.

Read More

By Scottsdale Pinetop

Scottsdale is a beautiful and unique place because its residents and councils in the past have invested in its future. We benefit today because of the good work and tough decisions previously made. But that doesn’t appear to be the case in today’s city affairs. In recent years, Scottsdale leaders and its voters have unquestionably allowed its infrastructure to deteriorate.

Last Wednesday, Scottsdale Community College hosted an “Issues and Experts Forum” that focused on the state of Scottsdale’s infrastructure needs but more importantly how the city intends to pay for the improvements city-wide. The forum included three Scottsdale City Council members: David Smith, Guy Philips and Virginia Korte and was moderated by Scottsdale Independent’s Editor Terrance Thornton.

Currently, city leaders have identified 118 infrastructure projects that are estimated to cost some $800 million. So how does the city intent to pay for it?
Read More

Carla.  Jane Rau.  Nancy Cantor.  Hannah Goldstein.  Bob Mayhew.  Mike Merrill.  Lida Stewart.  Bob Vairo.  Linda Whitehead.  Alan Kaufman.  Sonnie Kirtley.  Mike Norton.  Barbara Espinosa.  Howard Meyers.

Scottsdale has a rich history of civic activism over its many years, ranging from fighting hockey arenas to fighting for what became the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.  Some activists famously impacted noble pursuits in ways that resulted in streets being named after them while others, like Goldstein, were disgraced at their height for shop lifting the rather strange combination of Neosporin and Whoppers.

But in this year, 2018, the very best of Scottsdale activism has been on display.  NODDC/NO Desert Edge started as a quixotic quest against the city’s elite.  Mistakes were made.  Vitriol was too rampant.  They even allowed a clown prince of Scottsdale politics (no, not John Washington) to lead a part of the effort for too long.

But look at the organization now.  It’s on the verge of submitting a stunning 35,000 signatures to force a public vote on the ill conceived Desert Discovery Center project.  That’s incredible.  And it wouldn’t have happened without the indefatigable efforts of Jason Alexander.

Like all who step into the arena Alexander has said and done things over the years we’re sure he wishes he could take back.  But the maturity he has shown and momentum he has generated as the leader of the greatest grassroots movement in Scottsdale history is, well, great.

By singling out Alexander we don’t mean to lessen the contributions of Norton, Nancy Voorhees, Howard Meyers and the incredible group of citizens that is on the verge of doing something few thought possible.

#RedForEd rightfully garnered headlines for what they were able to do turning Republican heads around at the State Capitol this year.  But in its own way the achievement of Alexander and the NODDC group is no less remarkable.  Next time you are driving on Thompson Peak, taking in one of the best views Arizona has to offer, say a little thank you to Jason Alexander, The Great, for what he and legions have done to preserve it.  To save it.  You see, the Desert Discovery Center is dead.  Not six feet under dead.  Seven feet under. Or more.   For even if the two or three remaining people in Scottsdale who actually want the project find a way to knock out the group’s signatures via legal maneuvers a majority of the council is laudably planning to stand for the citizens and not let such shenanigans stand.

Remember all of this when Alexander runs for city council in 2020.  While many may seek the many council seats available that year there’s no doubt Alexander will start as the first among equals.

By Scottsdale Pinetop

Everyone has a story about buying a car. Whether it was the first or the 15th, it’s an experience that’s hard to forget. And while many people buy their cars from dealerships or used-car retailers, a new Tempe dealership is taking car shopping to a whole new level – literally.

Using the power of technology and innovation, the online-only used car dealership Carvana opened its first Arizona “vending machine” dealership in north Tempe.

More than just an eye-catcher, this unusual nine-story-tall, glass-enclosed parking structure with nine electric motors provide new marketing visibility to the thousands of drivers along Loop 202 and Scottsdale Road. Its mission is to change the way people buy cars.

Like a kid in a candy store, customers drop a giant coin into the simulated “vending machine” slot and retrieve their car as it is lowered from a series of bays and platforms. Unlike traditional dealership infrastructures, Carvana seeks to condense the car dealing experience. Typical auto dealerships tend to take up several acres of land and display hundreds of trucks and cars. Through the company’s website, customers can shop from over 12,000 vehicles currently in inventory. Tempe will be the third city this month to incorporate one of these machines and will join 11 other cities across the U.S.

In the “old-days”, people had to hit the streets to find clothes, food, household items and gifts. But in the age of the 21st century, these things can be provided with a simple push of a button that can be delivered to your front door. More and more retailers are finding their way online, thanks to the development of e-commerce. And now, car dealerships are finding their place among online shopping. Carvana is just the start of a whole new car buying experience that fits with the times.

By Scottsdale Pinetop

Since the announcement of President Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy, dozens of activists, elected officials and migrants-rights supporter have gathered in downtown Phoenix to fight to against the policy that has removed nearly 2,000 children from their families at the border. And supporters seem to be gaining by the day.

President Trump’s zero-tolerance policy directs Border Patrol officials to pursue criminal prosecution against all people entering the country illegally, even against immigrants seeking asylum. And while President Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday that ended the policy that separated migrant children from their parents who were detained at the border, the policy sparked a national outcry that shows how far Americans are willing to go in order to secure the border. To no one’s surprise, a majority of Arizona’s leaders have avoided any form of public comments on the policy.

Read More

By Scottsdale Pinetop

In the West’s Most Western Town, we know a thing or two about horses. Scottsdale is home to a number of equestrian centers, the Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships, the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show and the Scottsdale Quarter Horse Show, to name a few. The city even installed a beautiful Ed Mell statue

of a bucking horse with a rider as a centerpiece in Old Town Scottsdale. But like any horse lover knows, sometimes it is important to know when to let go.

The same can be said for the Desert Discovery Center/ Desert Edge project. As best iterated by a prominent Scottsdale leader, “The horse is dead and it is time to bury it.”

Few municipal projects have ever created as much controversy and frustrations than the Desert Discovery Center/ Desert Edge. It has divided council members on a number of important issues and it has created a political division within Scottsdale. For almost a year, thousands of passionate Scottsdale voters from the north and south have unified in a grassroots effort to protect the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. And finally, after a long hard battle, the end is in sight.

Read More

Carolyn Mullany Jackson is setting the bar on what it means to be a good corporate citizen. She has her hands full as the Vice President of Brand Strategy for the Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction. She oversees the company’s image here in Arizona and across the country as it conducts collector car auctions including June 20th in Connecticut and September 27th in Las Vegas.

She has also been tasked with serving as the Chairwoman of the 58th annual Phoenix Heart Ball, which in itself is a full time job.

Scottsdale’s donor class is a point of pride. It is always encouraging to see businesses and individuals willing to donate financially for the greater good.

Jackson takes that a step further by giving her time as well as her money. The Heart Ball is a vital part of the American Heart Association fundraising events both locally and nationally. Serving as Chair is a major commitment in terms of time and effort. Her involvement with the Heart Ball goes back to 2013.

Jackson has always added a dose of innovation to her charitable works. In 2014 and 2015, she co-chaired the “Sound of Speed” that combined racing, cars and music collided to benefit The Phoenix Symphony. Read More

By Scottsdale Pinetop

As Governor Ducey ramps up for his re-election campaign, voters will be presented with three vastly different sides of his time as Arizona’s Governor.

His campaign will depict him as Arizona’s conservative hero who champions for the state. His opponents will depict him as a traitor of the Trump administration. Finally, Democrats will depict him as an uncaring, cold-hearted and out-of-touch with the people of Arizona.

But if there’s one things that’s been consistent about Governor Ducey’s it’s that he’s an in the moment kind of politician.

In his 2014 campaign, he ran as a conservative reformer. His goals included promoting school choice, enforcing wait-lists for high-performance charter schools and cut income taxes to nearly zero. However, after four years none of these have been executed. In fact, in most cases there wasn’t even an attempt. Instead of pursuing the traditional conservative agenda, Ducey has spent most of his term managing situations as they arise.

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By Virginia Korte

At Tuesday evening’s City Council meeting, I told a standing-room-only audience that the request to rezone some State Trust land to accommodate the Crossroads East project was one of the most complicated cases I have ever contemplated.

Based on what several of my fellow councilmembers said during our vigorous discussion, I was not alone.

After four hours of presentations and public testimony, we voted 5-2 to rezone 1,000 acres north and south of the 101 between Scottsdale and Hayden Roads. The vote allows the State Land Department to take the property’s 11 parcels to a public auction.

A spokesperson for Nationwide Realty Investors, an affiliate of the Nationwide insurance company, explained that the organization intends to bid on a 136-acre parcel of the property. If Nationwide wins the bid, the company will move their offices, which are currently located in the Gainey Ranch Corporate Center. The new location, which the company has designated for a mixed-use development, will allow the company to consolidate their subsidiaries and increase the number of its employees. That will be a good thing for Scottsdale’s economy.

Furthermore, Nationwide will “set the bar” for additional mixed-use development on the other parcels for office space to attract employers offering well-paying jobs.Read More

By Scottsdale Pinetop

After decades of tax cuts and underfunding of public education, thousands of teachers descended on the state Capitol in an effort to secure more funding and urging lawmakers to act. And to the surprise of many Arizonans, it worked. While the #RedforEd movement may be over, the debate of where the additional education funding will be coming from rages on.

Looking to piggyback on the #RedforED movement’s success, a small coalition of liberal organizations have launched a ballot initiative that seeks to raise an estimated $690 million for education. The “Invest In Education” initiative is seeking to impose an increase in the income tax rate from 4.54 percent to 9 percent for people earning more than $250,000 or couples earning more than $500,000 annually.

The citizens’ initiative has been described has a “punish-the-rich” measure that would create class hostilities. Others have hailed it as the solution to long-term education funding. One things is for certain, joining the ranks as one of the highest income tax states would be detrimental to Arizona’s economy.

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So many political campaigns are so full of pablum.  Hire a consultant.  Take a poll.  Send out mailers and missives that are the highlights of the poll.  Repeat.

That’s why it’s refreshing when someone, anyone, breaks the mold.  Cue Anna Thomasson, businesswoman and first-time candidate for the Paradise Valley Town Council.

We’re sure her campaign will feature all the typical stuff down the road for a campaign in a small but impressive field, including a vulnerable incumbent.  But that’s not how her’s is starting.  Instead, Thomasson opted to first introduce herself to the community and voters by walking everyone of its streets and neighborhoods, over 100 miles in all.

It’s a novel approach not only for Paradise Valley, but any political candidate.  It’s a tactic not practical everywhere, but one we hope will inspire other candidates to not be so paradigmatic.

By Scottsdale Pinetop

There’s no question that it has been a tough year for the Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD). With the dismissal of Superintendent Birdwell and other school administrators, school protests and rise of the “Red for Ed” movement, it’s easy to dismiss the progress made by SUSD –specifically the recent successes at Coronado High School.

At a time when Arizona public education too closely resembles its desert environment, Coronado High school is blossoming. And at its core is the Coronado Success Initiative.

For years, Coronado High School was considered one of the lowest, if not worst performing school in the Scottsdale Unified School District with low graduation rates and few students taking college-entrance tests. In response, Scottsdale Unified School District enacted the Coronado Success Initiative (CSI) in 2016. Partnering with the Mary Lou Fulton Teacher College at ASU and support from the Scottsdale Charros, the CSI project was established to create a new future for Coronado High School by rebuilding the school, improve education and better prepare its students for college success.
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2018 Scrum

By Governor Doug Ducey
(Originally published in USA Today)

In border communities, law enforcement agencies like ICE aren’t the enemy: they’re a lifeline. For us, border security is national security.

In 2002, following the September 11 terrorist attacks, Democrats and Republicans alike came together to enhance our national security and provide the tools to law enforcement to do everything in their power to prevent such a horrible tragedy from ever occurring again. 

The Homeland Security Act, which included the formation of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, was a rare and refreshing moment of bipartisan unity on a policy issue of significant consequence — earning an overwhelming 90 votes in the United States Senate.

Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, John Kerry, even Chuck Schumer, all voted “yes.”

How far we’ve come.

Politicians are playing games with ICE

Today, collapsing this agency has become an election year rallying cry for opportunistic politicians. And the list signing up for this misguided approach is growing.

Elizabeth Warren. Kirsten Gillibrand. Bill de Blasio. The New York City mayor recently said: “ICE’s time has come and gone… We should abolish ICE.”

As a border state governor who wakes up every day and goes to sleep every night with the safety and security of Arizona citizens at the top of mind, I want to be clear — this call to abolish ICE is not only wrong — it is reckless, and puts the people of my state and others in direct threat.

To know why, you need only spend a day in Cochise County, Arizona.

ICE keeps us all safe

There, this isn’t a political debate — it’s real life. The impact of illegal drug cartels, human trafficking, and child sex trafficking on communities and families is real and raw. In border communities like this, law enforcement isn’t the enemy — they are a lifeline. Sheriffs and police chiefs are crying for help, and unfortunately they are too often ignored by Congress and much of Washington, D.C.

But whether it’s Border Patrol, the National Guard or ICE agents — these brave men and women are making these communities and our country safer.

Last year alone, ICE agents arrested nearly 5,000 members of violent gangs. In one massive and significant 2017 bust, ICE arrested 1,378 individuals across the country — U.S. citizens included — who were engaged in organized and illegal drug trafficking, weapons smuggling, human trafficking, racketeering, and even murder.

Their work has national implications. As our country grapples with the opioid epidemic, ICE agents are on the front lines, seizing 2,370 pounds of fentanyl last year. For context, according to the DEA, as little as two milligrams is a lethal dosage for most people. In total, they kept 315 million hits of heroin off our streets — everywhere from Nogales, Arizona to, yes, New York City.

Just like our police officers, first responders, and members of the Armed Forces, these professionals are regularly putting their lives on the line to protect our country and do their jobs. The last thing we should be doing is launching political attacks at these fine men and women. Instead, we should be thanking them and applauding them for all they do.

For Arizonans, border security is critical. And that’s because, at the end of the day, it’s about national security. That’s something we should all be able to agree on, no matter our party affiliation.

This September will mark 17 years since 9/11. Let us hope our country and our leaders in Washington can channel even just a bit of the unity and bipartisanship that inspired the strengthening of our security and borders, and end these extreme and misguided calls to abolish ICE.

If they don’t, we should all dread the consequences.

Doug Ducey is governor of Arizona. Follow him on Twitter: @dougducey

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By Governor Doug Ducey

Hello,

I came to Arizona over 30 years ago in my Datsun full of hope. I was told Arizona was the place for opportunity – and that’s exactly what I found, as I earned my degree from ASU, built my business, met the love of my life and started a family.

I ran for governor four years ago to make sure everyone in Arizona has access to the opportunity I did – and together, we’ve made incredible progress. But our work is not done. That’s why today I’m announcing the launch of my reelection campaign – so we can keep working to secure a brighter future for all Arizonans.

Watch my announcement address below:

Clich here.

While we have more work to do, we’ve come a long way. After inheriting a $1 billion budget deficit, our budget is balanced. We’ve climbed from the bottom half of states in growth, to the fourth fastest-growing economy in the nation. Barriers that once stood in the way of finding meaningful, good-paying work have been eliminated. And we are making historic investments in Arizona’s biggest priorities, like K-12 public education, our universities, and our students.

Here is just a sample of what we’ve been able to accomplish together:

If you believe in an Arizona that works for everybody and that offers limitless opportunity no matter where you’re from, and that we need to build on the gains we have accomplished, I’m asking you to join our campaign. Our work is not done, and together, we can ensure Arizona’s best days are yet to come. Read More

Hello,

Arizona’s economy is growing and our schools are improving. Right now, Arizona students lead the nation in improvements in math and reading. Another area where Arizona is leading? Civics education.

Governor Ducey campaigned on improving students’ understanding of our system of government. And when he took office, the first bill he signed into law was the American Civics Act – which requires ALL students to pass a basic civics test before graduating from high school. Since then, dozens of states have followed Arizona’s lead to pass a similar requirement for their students.

Governor Ducey spoke with conservative talk radio and TV host Hugh Hewitt recently about Arizona leading to become the first state in the nation to pass the American Civics Act. Watch below:

Governor Ducey also spoke about “growing Arizona’s economic pie” and expanding opportunity for all Arizonans. Just a few years ago, Arizona was only half recovered from the recession and families were struggling. Read More

Former Scottsdale Preserve Commissioner and City Council Candidate, Solange Whitehead, is pleased to announce that former Scottsdale Mayor Mary Manross will serve as her campaign Chairperson. Manross served on the city council from 1992 to 2000 and as Mayor from 2000 to 2009.

Solange entered the City Council race to challenge the City Council support for allowing development inside the McDowell Sonoran Preserve despite the crushing financial burden it would place on the tax payers and because of the Council’s refusal to put this precedent setting project on the ballot.  In qualifying for the ballot, Solange submitted 2,380 nominating signatures from Scottsdale voters topping the nominations received by all other candidates, including the three incumbents.

Solange serves on the board of Protect Our Preserve, and together with Mayor Manross, has been very engaged in the citizen’s initiative to override the City Council decision to not put the Desert Edge/DDC up for a vote.  Since January, the almost all volunteer effort has collected 32,000 signatures from registered voters.  “Mayor Manross and I have knocked on a lot of doors,” said Solange, “and people don’t just sign, I get hugs, heartfelt thanks, and offers of soda, water, and cookies…. In every zip code.”Read More

By Team Ducey

Hello ,

Food Truck Freedom for Arizona is here, and it’s going to be delicious! This week, Governor Ducey signed the Food Truck Freedom bill, which eliminates job-killing red tape and levels the playing field for food truck entrepreneurs.

As a former business leader, Governor Ducey understands the challenges that entrepreneurs face when starting up or expanding. He believes burdensome government regulations shouldn’t be one of them.

This new law empowers food trucks to take their business on the road across Arizona and saves them thousands of dollars in government license fees. KGUN 9 profiled two Tucson food truck owners who say the Food Truck Freedom law could transform their business. Watch the coverage below:

“Now we don’t have to pay thousands of dollars to be able to go to Phoenix and do a music festival, or go to Yuma and do a food truck roundup. It’s going to help us make a lot more money, and bring a lot more great food to great people.” (KGUN, 5/15/18)

Since he took office, Governor Ducey has championed entrepreneurs, innovation, and the sharing economy:

– In 2015, he signed the Arizona Beer Bill to grow the craft brewing industry, which supports more than 20,000 AZ jobs and $600 million in wages, and has contributed more than $1.2 billion to the economy.

– Before the Super Bowl in Arizona, a government bureaucrat wanted to shut down ridesharing drivers in Phoenix. Governor Ducey stopped the regulation and eliminated the agency.

– The governor signed a bill supporting Airbnb home sharing, which generates over $11.5 million a year in tax revenue for Arizona. Over 10,000 Arizonans are Airbnb hosts, and they earned nearly $95 million last year.

– Last year, Governor Ducey eliminated a total of 676 unnecessary regulations, saving taxpayers $50 million.

Photo: Gov. Ducey, the former CEO of Cold Stone Creamery, offers advice to startup founders at the 2018 Phoenix Startup Week.

Thanks to Governor Ducey, Arizona is open for business and ready for innovation. The Food Truck Freedom law is just another example of government moving at the speed of business.

Please help us spread the good news!

Thanks,
Team Ducey

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