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Saturday, April 30th From 3pm – 10pm at Scottsdale Civic Center (Northeast) Lawn

Enjoy Legendary Jazz Musicians Richard Elliot, Rick Braun and Nayo Jones, to Name a Few 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Courtesy of the expanding Scottsdale Jazz Festival, make plans now to celebrate the 11th Annual International Jazz Day at the Scottsdale Civic Center (Northeast) Lawn from 3pm to 10pm on Saturday, April 30. The Scottsdale Civic Center Lawn is located at 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ, behind city hall.

Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased at www.ScottsdaleJazzFest.org.

Sponsored by Molina Fine Jewelers, enjoy a spectacular lineup of jazz musicians throughout the day and evening including Richard Elliot, Rick Braun and Nayo

Jones, Jaleo Afro Cuban ensemble, along with The Molina 32nd St. All-Star Jazz Band, All-Star Youth Jazz Orchestra, Cold Shott and The Hurricane Horns and world-renowned trumpeter Jesse McGuire.

Celebrated annually on April 30th, International Jazz Day is known for bringing communities from all over the world together to celebrate jazz and learn about its history. Throughout the years, jazz has promoted peace, diversity, and freedom of expression, thus reinforcing the role of today’s youth as active agents of social change.

The International Jazz Day AZ Foundation, founded in 2013, is an Arizona-based non-profit organization led by William ‘Doc’ Jones, a professional jazz musician and music educator. Jones has been working closely with Alfredo J. Molina, a philanthropist and owner of Molina Fine Jewelers, and Arizona state legislators to educate Arizonans and visitors on jazz music’s extraordinary heritage and history.

Since starting in 2013, The International Jazz Day AZ festival has expanded to Scottsdale, Mesa, and an annual “Jazz at Lunch” on the lawn at the Arizona State Capitol.

Jones says the biggest testament to the festival’s growing popularity is the joining of hands by the three mayors from Scottsdale, Tempe, and Paradise Valley for the upcoming celebration to promote tourism across the state.

“Music has the power to unite people across borders, and Jazz has been doing that for years,” said Jones. “The Scottsdale Jazz Festival is a tribute to the 11th Annual International Jazz Day, and this year, the event is supported through a tourism recovery grant from the “Visit Arizona Initiative.”

Proceeds from the festival sponsor music programs for at risk youth in organizations such as Next Student Academy for the Arts, Molina School of Jazz, and the Doc’s summer music program.

“Our mission is to produce concerts and events that bring attention to tourism in the state of Arizona and bring attention to the importance of arts in education. Jazz has the power to transform lives intellectually, emotionally, and socially. We truly believe that Jazz is a language that helps us listen, express, and create. We partner with Charter schools and community organizations in Arizona and develop jazz programs in collaboration with them. Every child has the right to quality music education, and we want to make it a reality,” said Al Molina, chairman of Molina Fine Jewelers.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the mission of the Foundation was expanded to build affordable housing for creative artists.

The Scottsdale Jazz Festival sponsors include the City of Scottsdale, Arizona Office of Tourism, Cresent Crown Distributing, Corona Premier, The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, Molina Fine Jewelers, International Jazz Day AZ Foundation, Arizona Community Foundation, Arizona Commission on the Arts For more information, please visit www.scottsdalejazzfest.org

 

Chicanos Por La Causa Helps Take True Story of ‘Dreamer’ to Global Stage Off-Broadway

PHOENIX (February 17, 2022)¡Americano!, a contemporary musical telling the true story of an Arizona Dreamer and his inspiring fight for societal- and self-acceptance, will make history in March as the first Arizona-birthed musical to open Off-Broadway in New York.

Chicanos Por La Causa (CPLC), a Latino nonprofit community development organization headquartered in Arizona, is helping to produce the play, which tells the true story of Phoenix resident and Dreamer Tony Valdovinos. Indeed, without CPLC’s major investment, the show’s run in New York would not be possible.

¡Americano! will open in New York City beginning with its first preview on March 31st at New World Stages, next to Jersey Boys. The official Opening Night will be Thursday, April 21st. The musical is currently scheduled for a limited 12-week run through June 19.

Inspired to join the Marines after the 9/11 attacks, Valdovinos, a graduate of Phoenix’s Camelback High School, tried to enlist on his 18th birthday, only to find out a secret his parents never told him: He is a ‘Dreamer’ – an undocumented immigrant brought to The United States from Colima, Mexico when he was just two years old.

Due to his immigration status, his enlistment was denied. His dream might have been crushed, but Valdovinos never accepted defeat. He helped inspire a political awakening among Arizona’s rising and young Latino electorate, playing a leading role in electing a Marine to U.S. Congress.

With a unique sound by Ameri-Chicana singer-songwriter Carrie Rodriguez and exuberant choreography by Sergio Mejia, ¡Americano! set box office records for an original musical during its four-week run during The Phoenix Theatre Company’s 100th anniversary season early in 2020, concluding with 10 straight sell-out shows.

The road to New York began in September 2021 when the production’s Tony Award-winning Executive Consultant Ken Davenport learned that the Shubert Organization, one of the world’s most prominent theatre owners and producers, was offering the show a spot next to Jersey Boys in Spring 2022.

Believing ¡Americano! a quintessentially American story that deserves the global exposure and amplification of a New York stage, the show’s Lead Producer, Conceiver and Valley resident Jason Rose, mobilized numerous business and political leaders in Arizona and New York to invest in the show.

A landmark partnership was forged with Chicanos Por La Causa (CPLC), a social justice organization founded in 1969 to confront the oppression facing Latinos in Phoenix as part of the civil rights movement led by Cesar Chavez. CPLC became the show’s leading investor, a strategic decision rooted on the opportunity to bring the story of Dreamers to new audiences and encourage them to take action to bring about long-overdue policy change.

In recent years, CPLC has countered the heightened anti-immigrant rhetoric in Arizona by helping Dreamers pay for their college education after a voter-approved proposition blocked their access to in-state tuition and covering the cost of their DACA applications. In addition, CPLC has advocated in boardrooms, courtrooms, public forums, newsrooms, and alongside local and national strategic partners to seek a legislative solution for Dreamers, who are viewed as assets across the political spectrum and by business leaders alike yet are still denied basic citizen rights and protections.

“CPLC’s investment in ¡Americano! is an extension of that mission for empowered lives,” said David Adame, President and CEO of CPLC, which has programs and operations in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and California.Read More

New Hire at the Scottsdale-Based Law Firm Further Demonstrates Their Ability to Serve a Vast Array of Clients

What do civil litigation, blockchain, and immigrant rights have in common? If you’re like most people, nothing comes to mind, but if you’re Rose Law Group pc you see an incredible opportunity to serve a wide host of clients with one brilliant hire.

The Rose Law Group is pleased to announce the newest member of its team, Brian Cuevas. Brian is a civil litigator who also practices in the firm’s Web3, Metaverse, blockchain and digital assets  departments. Before joining Rose Law Group, Brian focused on civil litigation and has worked with The Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project and the ACLU of Arizona and the Arizona House of Representatives.

The Rose Law Group has long pushed boundaries as the largest woman-owned law firm in the state. From their focus on renewable energy to their cannabis-focused practice, from staking a claim in drone law to their recent push into space law, the firm has long been on the forefront of that which is new and compelling. But with this hire, they also demonstrate that they understand the need for demonstrating flexibility and scope.

The hire of Mr. Cuevas exemplifies just that desire for scope and diversification within their talent pool. He previously served as a writer for the Law Journal for Social Justice and was a member of the Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps, Moot Court, Chicano Latino Law Students Association, and Corporate and Business Law Society. He serves on the Board of Directors of Los Abogados, Arizona’s Hispanic Bar association, where he is co-chair of the Civil Rights Committee. Born in Mexico and raised in Arizona, Brian is fluent in written and oral Spanish, and is an experienced English-to-Spanish/Spanish-to-English interpreter.

As a member of the Civil Rights Committee, Brian is dedicated to identifying and addressing civil rights violations and conflicts affecting the Latino community. He has assisted in presenting a CLE in marijuana expungements and set-aside convictions after the passage of Arizona’s Prop 207. He also helped organize a citizenship fair dedicated to assisting eligible immigrants apply for citizenship in America. His experience and expertise will certainly prove useful within the wide umbrella of legal topics that the Rose Law Group demonstrates leadership in, and he mirrors the growing degree of diversity within Arizona.

Jordan R. Rose, founder and president of Rose Law Group pc, expressed her excitement about the hire of Mr. Cuevas as well as how strong of a fit he is for a firm as topically diverse as Rose Law.

“Brian exemplifies a number of very important ideals of this firm: flexibility, diversity, expertise and ability to think outside-the-box and bring forth unique solutions to complex problems. We are confident that he will be able to add considerable value to our clients across several disciplines, and we are very excited to have him on our team.”

While his career has engaged him in topics as wide-ranging as social justice, blockchain, and cannabis law, Brian is not entirely defined by his work output. Outside the firm, Brian enjoys traveling, golfing, basketball, fantasy football, and appreciating the outdoors. His well-rounded nature will undoubtedly make him an incredible asset for the Rose Law Group pc.

For media inquiries contact Jennifer Parks-Sturgeon at jparks-sturgeon@rosemoserallynpr.com or (480) 495-3806.

For more information on Rose Law Group, visit www.roselawgroup.com

Enrollment for Upcoming Semester Open Now

The new year is already looking bright as Arizona’s Gateway Academy has open enrollment and is eager to welcome new students to the Valley’s top school serving students diagnosed with High Functioning Autism for the upcoming semester beginning Monday, January 3rd.

Gateway Academy is an established leader in educating students with High Functioning Autism for grades 6-12. This haven of learning whose curriculum supports academic, social and emotional development helps students to improve their executive functioning skills while also having opportunities to participate in student councils, multimedia art, world language, science and virtual reality labs, instrumental and digital music and more.

Gateway Academy has the staff that makes them the number one choice for families with children ages 11-19 who have been diagnosed with High Functioning Autism. Here where the students are the focal point of this private institution, they can be immersed in a safe environment with a personalized approach to learning. Our state-certified teachers inspire creativity and dedicate themselves to finding each student’s passion and incorporating that passion into their learning.

“We’ve fostered a specialized school experience where challenges are seen as learning opportunities and students are accepted and celebrated for their differences,” said O. Robin Sweet, Executive Director and CEO of Gateway Academy. “We use an educational approach that’s backed by 35 years of research and best practices tailored to the unique needs of our students.”

Students enrolling in the upcoming semester will never feel like they’re the new kid as Gateway Academy cultivates an all-inclusive, supportive school community that integrates all students and the things that make them unique. Parents can also qualify for free tuition through the Arizona Empowerment Scholarship which is a rolling grant distributed throughout the year.

Always looking ahead to support their students’ future endeavors, Gateway Academy has College and Career Development that ensures security, develops self-confidence, self-esteem and self-reliance to provide a pathway towards independence. Gateway offers dual enrollment with Paradise Valley Community College where students attend a college preparedness class on the Gateway campus and they also attend college tours to gain a better understanding of the college selection and choice process. Students will be reviewing different career fields and prepare for resume submission, job applications and interviewing.

Sweet added, “We have within our walls learners that will go on to change the world, and we encourage those parents, who believe in that same potential for their child, to enroll this upcoming semester and see the facilitation of their magnificent potential take place.”

For more information about enrolling at Gateway Academy, call (480) 998-1071 or visit https://www.gatewayacademy.us/

About Gateway Academy
Gateway Academy was established in 2005, and offers a private education for students, in 6th through 12th grade, with a diagnosis of a Level 1 Autism Spectrum Disorder. The school operates a year-round program from July – May of each year, and enrollments are accepted throughout the year.

Gateway Academy To Honor Astronaut and Arizona’s Largest Locally Owned Fitness Founder

 

(PHOENIX) Gateway Academy, the Valley’s top school serving Twice-Exceptional students (academically capable and diagnosed with a level 1 Autism Spectrum Disorder), is hosting its Inaugural Inspire Awards on Wednesday, January 12th, 2022 at 11:00a.m. Gateway Academy has been serving students on the spectrum since 2005.

For the inaugural Inspire Awards, the school will honor Innovators Dr. Sian Proctor of Space X, who was the first black woman to pilot a spacecraft and Tom Hatten, the owner and founder of Arizona’s biggest and locally owned fitness center, Mountainside Fitness.

Dr. Proctor is a geoscientist, explorer, space artist, and astronaut. She is the mission pilot for the Inspiration4 all-civilian orbital mission to space. She is also one of The Explorer’s Club 50: Fifty People Changing the World. Her motto is called Space2inspire where she encourages people to use their unique, one-of-a-kind strengths, and passion to inspire those within their reach and beyond. She believes that we need to actively strive for a J.E.D.I. space: a just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive space as we advance human spaceflight.

Tom Hatten, is an entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker. In 1991 Hatten, had just $2,000 to his name and a dream to open his own gym. He was just 22-years-old and a student at Arizona State University at the time, but thanks to family and friends and a perseverance to succeed, Hatten would go on to owning and operating Arizona’s biggest fitness empire, Mountainside Fitness. More than 30 years later with and 19 Mountainside Fitness locations, Hatten shares his story in his memoir “Dream On” and details the remarkable journey and what it takes to build a business from the ground up.

Both Dr. Proctor and Hatten will share their inspirational and innovative stories and how they have become two of Arizona’s most influential leaders.
The Inspire Awards 2022 will also honor two Gateway students. Those students include Joseph Salomon, who will be nominated for the Aeronautical Award and Meaghan Mullenax, who will be nominated for the Entrepreneurial Award.Read More

Featured Editorials


Photo Credit: scottsdale.gov

The City of Scottsdale recently released their spending plan, a robust $2.1 billion plan that partly came about as a result of unexpectedly strong revenue. Sales tax revenue is at $46.4 million above what was budgeted for the last two years COMBINED, according to City Treasurer Sonia Andrews, a strong indicator of the major bounceback that we’ve had in tourism, be it international, national and  domestic. .This loaded budget will be setting the path for the investments of the 2022-23 fiscal year and will tell us plenty about priorities for the city. So what does it say?

For starters, it involves a pay raise as well as an increase in the number of city employees, which is certainly a positive and necessary development in the face of significant inflation. It also broaches numerous subjects that we’ve spoken about, such as costs to counter the water crisis, as well as costs to cover the new STR unit at the SPD.

Along with those, inflation is mentioned a few times as expectations and allowances for it within the supply chain played a prominent role; apparently it’s not just a concern for the rest of us. Additionally, a number of city-building renovations and city-centric projects have the funding to move forward. Surely some of them were cleaved off of previous leaner budgets and the significant surplus gives an opportunity to come back to them.

That said, with such a major surplus, there was also an opportunity to incentivize new growth within the area,. Additionally, there was an opportunity to address the rent crisis. Specifically, we would have loved to see incentives for building more and for making apartments more affordable, perhaps with tax credits to balance out below-market rent. This was an opportunity to address a real problem, and perhaps it was a missed opportunity.

Along with it came a vote on the Transportation plan, flying under the radar as the budget took much of the attention away even as it has been well funded by recent minute sales taxes dedicated to transportation upgrades. Kathy Littlefield was the sole dissenting voice: her point about making life more difficult for drivers to the benefit of bikers may not be far off and something that we’ve heard from others before, sometimes it does seem like she lives to be the sole dissenting vote. .

So in summary, the city is in an excellent financial state, for which we should be glad. We do wish the city would see this as an opportunity to address some pressing issues, but if we have this to complain about as opposed to crippling deficits or taxes, we’re not doing too badly.

Photo Credit: yourvalley.net

As you likely know, we will have a contested race for both the Paradise Valley Town Council as well as Mayor. If you read this regularly (or even occasionally) you know that we are not a gigantic fan of Paul Dembow and precisely why. But what else is there to focus on in Paradise Valley? What are we looking for in such a nearly-flawless town as PV?

To be fair, it is pretty difficult to isolate what really needs to be fixed in Paradise Valley, as it involves a lot of splitting hairs, and that is reflected in the answers of the candidates. Ellen Andeen talks about preserving the natural beauty of the town, Christine Labelle speaks to the importance of clamping down on short-term rental “party houses”, and Anna Thomasson brings up keeping the single-family, one-care zoning restrictions of the town as the pre-eminent issues.

All of them are very reasonable primary platform issues yet also highlight how fantastic the town is. Some municipalities have to deal with crime, homelessness or addiction issues. Our priorities revolve around maintaining a very high quality of life. This would be the epitome of what some people would call “first world problems”, and we are thankful that those are our concerns.

Absolutely, we agree that preserving our quality of life is vital. After all, change for the sake of change isn’t positive, or more simply put, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. One additional point of focus is continuing to make sure that we have robust law enforcement to help maintain our fantastic status quo. This is why we agreed with the town’s choice to give our law enforcement officers a raise recently. Unlike our most progressive left-coast American cities, we actually want our law enforcement to protect our town.

That said, we think that Councilmember and now Mayoral candidate Julie Pace had a great idea as well: a town leadership program modeled after the Valley Leadership program that helps groom future local leaders by bringing them into the fold on local issues and showing them how the sausage is made, so to speak. We would like to avoid a situation like the current one where a 3-term councilmember runs for a 4th term. We need new blood and fresh ideas without sacrificing experiential knowledge. We think that this is a great way to accomplish that.

Otherwise, while many local elections have candidates running on change and looking to capitalize on general unhappiness, we are proud to announce that we would prefer “more of the same”. And it’s fantastic to live in an area where we can say that without a hint of irony.

 

By Ronald Sampson

Photo Credit: YourValley.net

I am unapologetically a fan of pro-growth policies. I believe that our communities are better off with elected officials who believe that building is typically preferred to not building, that housing prices are best when they are suppressed by solid supply, and that NIMBYism hurts nearly all of us.

In that spirit, I was very pleased to hear that frequent contributor Larry Kush was honored by the Top 200 Experts in the Construction Industry as a ‘top expert in construction’ 3rd year in a row by Fixr.com in their annual rankings. To be named a top expert in anything once is significant, but three years in a row shows lasting power and true expertise.

Larry served on the Scottsdale Planning Commissioner for a number of years and currently serves as land sales professional. He has been quite vocal about the “Council of No”, the current makeup of the Scottsdale City Council that manages to find ways to turn down reasonable construction projects in the name of “quality growth”.

More overarchingly however, we need leadership that isn’t afraid of the NIMBY mob. Said leadership doesn’t need to be in City Council or in the traditional halls of power all the time. Leadership can be in the form of thought leadership, of penning the occasional op-ed, of lending expertise to a situation. We need subject matter experts who are able to coolly and calmly push back against the inflamed passions of the “No to EVERYTHING” crowd.

Alas, those groups band together and form loud coalitions. Those folks will travel to districts far from their home for the sake of feeling special and demanding that their voice be heard. The nature of the professional is often to be too busy to involve themselves in such a morass, and to speak in full sentences without screaming, which in this day and age often means being drowned out.

I appreciate what Larry Kush does; we only wish that we had a few handfuls of him to go and travel to planning and development meetings across the state to evangelize and spread the gospel of growth as urgently as the NIMBYs do. Maybe then our elected officials would finally hear them. We can dream…

By Councilwoman Betty Janik

Extremism was once considered an ideology, a belief system, outside of the common sense attitudes of society.  Unfortunately, it now seems to be the norm.  With the constant news stream of outrageous commentary, we are tempted to believe what we hear and frequently what we are shown.  Social media has been used effectively to promote extremist positions as fact.  Pictures are altered and data manipulated to show a false narrative, for example, a rooster on ice skates doing figure of 8’s. This one is funny, but others are damaging, degrading, and have resulted in physical confrontations.

Unfortunately, our fair City of Scottsdale is not immune to extreme points of view.  The polarization in Scottsdale revolves around the topic of development.  The pro development advocates consider all development as a benefit to the City and essential to economic survival.  Frequent comments such as “if the City does not grow, it will die” are used to justify the growth position.  For the record, economists have been debating the relationship of growth to economic prosperity for decades with no clear answer. On the other side, the no growth advocates view any new development as the enemy of the city, creating more traffic, using valuable resources, and destroying our way of life.  The pro development group has the advantage of garnering generous donations from the development industry to support their position.  The no growth advocates work harder to get their message out using traditional methods such as handbills and door knocking.  Fortunately, the 2020 City Council campaign showed that the message can be more important than the war chest.

On a personal level, during the 2019 campaign, the pro development extremists tried to portray me as a radical with little regard for the welfare of the City using colorful language to disparage me. I have been in office nearly 17 months and the no growth extremists are now doing the same with name calling, portraying me as a traitor, and accusing me of taking bribes when I vote for a development. My note to extremists is that you are part of the problem, but a lively honest exchange of ideas from opposing factions can lead to a cure.

Recall I ran for office as an advocate for “thoughtful growth.”  I have approved about the same number units as I have rejected. Some projects offer great opportunity for Scottsdale, others offer great profits for the developer with little benefit to the city. There are strict standards for development set by the City and the goal is to meet the City’s needs applying these principles. Compromise by all sides is a given.

Overall, I believe there is an attainable balance between the past and the future.  I will strive to find that sweet spot. It is my firm belief that most of the Scottsdale voters are comfortable with “thoughtful growth” and reject extremism. No matter where you are on this spectrum, please study the candidates and exercise that most precious freedom we enjoy, the freedom to vote.

 

Councilwoman Betty Janik

Scott Menzel. Photo credit: azcentral.com

For it being one of the premier school districts in the state and perhaps the country, the Scottsdale Unified School District has had a rough go of it recently, as we have noted. It has become a hot-button and magnet for far-right activists for reasons which make no logical sense, and has even had the Q-Anon Congressional candidate stop by to speak.

One would assume that activists would have realized that there are better places for them to spend their time, districts that have more pressing concerns. The last few years at SUSD hasn’t been without controversy; Denise Birdwell’s misgivings were worth uncovering, as were Jann-Michael Greenburg’s, but now that those have passed there is not much worth being angry about. Even the Arizona Republic noted it recently; the spirit of misguided activism has persisted.

And yet one person persists even more effectively: Superintendent Scott Menzel. Even though his job is far more difficult than it needs to be as a result of that misguided activism, he has continued to do a fantastic job. And we believe that that is worth noting.

This is why we are overjoyed that the district sees what we do, and extended his contract for an additional three years. This was voted on unanimously in the affirmative after a few clarifying questions, affirming what we had hoped: that district leadership understands how important his steady leadership has been to local schools.

It was disheartening to read the comments from local activists using various silly rationales to voice their objections, but this has unfortunately been common in our district. It seems to have started as a legitimate gripe in many areas; administrators were too busy listening to powerful teachers’ unions and not to parents, and politicians were also not listening to parent voters. It turned into an upset win for the Governor’s race in Virginia, which while it was a shakeup that many areas needed, it is not necessary here. We don’t have a powerful teacher’s union, and we don’t have progressive activist school boards.

Much like the NIMBY movement, there is a movement of school board activists who will huff and puff and blow hot air at anything that allows them to feel meaningful. They are entirely off-base here in Scottsdale. We applaud the great work that Menzel has been doing, and we hope that school board leadership rejects the misguided right-wing voices who are attempting to hijack our educational system much like misguided left-wing voices have done in progressive cities.

 

By Councilwoman Solange Whitehead

Catch the full video here.

By Councilmember Julie Pace

Thank you PV Team to Stop Pacaso

It was a large group effort involving various stakeholders to stop Pacaso, which is a company looking to develop and promote timeshares in Paradise Valley.

Thank you to Town council candidate Christine Labelle for being the first person to inform the community about Pacaso timeshares and for taking the lead and creating a grassroots effort to stop them. Christine coordinated with the California Stop Pacaso group and learned and implemented strategies to stop Pacaso.

Christine’s experience in real estate and connections within the community and with the luxury home realtors led to a successful result to keep our community unique and residential.

A big shout out to thank the luxury home realtors for caring about our special town and brand for them and their clients. Thank you for saying no to Pacaso.

Kathy and Jack Clifford are Town residents who also stepped up. Countless hours were involved with residents stepping up to assist and sending a strong message.

The town manager and town council also stepped up and we were all very aggressive and proactive to prevent these timeshares.

This shows when residents team up and work together with various stakeholders, success is achieved. It is a team approach and that is the best way to win and we should give credit to those who actually led and achieved the success. Be gracious and let’s be leaders and thank those that saved us from commercialization.
Drone Light Show on Mummy Mountain

Drone Light Show on Mummy Mountain

On Tuesday night, there was approximately 100 drones in a light show displayed on Mummy Mountain. It was a gigantic display that appeared to be 100 feet tall or larger. You could see it throughout the community.

There were women’s legs in a dance scenario, a bottle of liquor pouring into a glass, ferris wheel, pinwheel, cactus and mountains, an arch, the words St Kitt and congrats, and many more.

Our Town prohibits lighting or laser shows on the mountains. It appears that a group obtained an FAA license to complete a lighted drone show with Vegas-style approach and performed it over Mummy Mountain and what appear to be over Paradise Valley Mountain Preserve Trust land, as well as private property.

Residents complained to the police. I have asked our Town manager if we can investigate further to determine if we need to add additional provisions or clarifications in it so that we do not have lighted drone shows on the mountains and trust land or in our neighborhoods.

Stay tuned while we try to address yet another attempt at turning our community into a commercial enterprise. We are not Phoenix or Scottsdale and we do not allow hot air balloons, ferris wheels, base jumping, or Laser or light shows on the mountains, and we strive to treat the mountains with respect and quiet. We have to stay vigilant.

By Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner

Dear Fellow Paradise Valley Resident:

Tonight the Town is honored to publicly recognize and thank former Mayor Robert (“Bob”) Plenge, who is “retiring” as a Police Department volunteer after many decades of stellar volunteer service across many areas for our community. Here’s a quote from Bob about public service that stands out in my mind.

“I think everyone on the Council has to remember that they are working for and on behalf of the residents of the Town. Council Members should be politely receptive to anybody who comes in and makes a request, and not be arbitrary on any decisions. But, having said that, I think the Councils need to keep in mind that because we are a residential community — it was designed that way; is that way; and most of us want to keep it that way — they have to continue to resist the pressure.”

— Mayor Robert Plenge, Interview on January 27, 2000

If you have contact with Mayor Plenge, please join me and the Town Council in thanking Bob and his family for his selfless dedication and lasting, positive impacts to our great Town!

With experience — and the privilege of mentorship by many accomplished former Town leaders, including Mayor Plenge — I understand that our Town is at its best when Town leaders listen, work respectfully and productively with citizens and stakeholders, and collaborate effectively as a team for our community’s greater good.

Our successful teamwork at Town Hall continues. We recently became aware that company called Pacaso was interested in entering the Paradise Valley market. Pacaso is a relatively new company that facilitates “owners” using and sharing a single home.

In response, among other efforts, several Town leaders participated in face-to-face meetings with Pacaso to share that timeshare uses are not what Town residents want in our community. This response from a united team (including Vice Mayor Anna Thomasson, Councilmembers Scott Moore and Mark Stanton, Town Manager Jill Keimach, Town Attorney Andrew McGuire, and myself) worked. Pacaso informed us last week in writing that in light of our meetings, it has abandoned its plans in Paradise Valley. All the better, the result was achieved without a highly confrontational or extreme approach.

This is important progress in our efforts to protect and preserve our Town’s character, and our continued fight against the negative impacts of non-traditional home uses. I thank everyone who has taken part in these efforts, including the many residents who have helped. We will continue to keep a watchful eye and act as appropriate on all threats to our quality of life, including from short-rentals.

Photo Credit: KTAR

Homelessness is an issue that has been evergreen around the country, in some areas worse than others. The pandemic has made this issue explode in various areas and has been felt rather acutely in Maricopa County, with an eye-popping 35% increase in people on the streets over the last two years.

We would like to think that our beautiful city is largely immune from those issues, but it is not. A recent tally counted 114 people within the city limits who went under the moniker of homeless or unsheltered. While that is a small fraction of the over 7,000 within the county that are counted in the same category, it has risen in recent years and is still unfortunately high for such a prosperous area. While nowhere near as bad as west-coast cities, Valley residents have very likely noticed tents pitched in public areas in greater numbers than in the past.

In order to help resolve this issue, Mayor David Ortega brought together other East Valley leaders last summer in order to attend to this issue. Arizona Housing Director Tom Simplot, County Supervisor Jack Sellers, Mesa Mayor John Giles and Tempe Mayor Corey Woods were also in attendance. They reportedly were there to discuss their city’s and area’s experiences with this issue as well as possible solutions.

Amongst the solutions that Mayor Ortega brought up was using a “county-island” with wraparound services such as mental health and job services in order to help them get on their feet. This is a model that is used elsewhere in the country with varying degrees of success. Also mentioned is the Scottsdale Works program, which is essentially a work program that helps give the homeless a wage and purpose, which I think that all of us would agree is preferable to welfare payments.

However, one part of the homeless equation that is not spoken about often is one that intertwines with the increase in this issue since the onset of the pandemic: drug abuse. While hard numbers are difficult to find because of the reticence of the homeless to be honest with strangers about their consumption habits, it’s safe to say that a very significant number of homeless are there because of addiction issues. Moreover, anyone who has visited a large west coast city in the last couple years can tell you that they are not necessarily in a hurry to seek treatment and get off the streets, and the pull of fentanyl and methamphetamine addiction is greater than the negative aspects of living on the streets.

Such is the difficult balance of dealing with homelessness: we owe it to society and humanity to help those who truly want to be contributing members of society, but we cannot allow antisocial behavior to become the norm, as has happened on much of the west coast. So far, Maricopa County has done a largely commendable job of this, and we hope that they continue doing so.

Photo Credit: abc15.com

Scottsdale as a haven for technology and innovation? It’s not as far-fetched as it might sound to some, but that is also dependent on the City Council’s ability to green light outside-the-box developments.

Perhaps you’ve seen or been to the CrackerJax amusement park, which featured mini golf, go-karts and batting cages in a complex on Scottsdale Road just south of the 101. Owned by the well-known Herbinger family for 28 years, they recently announced that they have come to terms to sell it to George Kurtz, the billionaire founder of the CrowdStrike security company.

As for what Kurtz plans to do with it, the idea is an intriguing one: he states that he intends to “create a transformational, sustainable mixed-use campus as a catalyst to attract top innovators, technology entrepreneurs, knowledge workers, and venture capitalists to accelerate Scottsdale’s growing technology cluster.” Turning an amusement park into a space for tech incubation…to call it visionary seems to be almost downplaying the far-fetchedness of the idea.

Granted, we have heard this story before, the promises of Scottsdale becoming a tech haven. Over a decade ago it was widely touted, and while it’s safe to say that Scottsdale is not entirely dependent on golf and tourism to power its economy, no one would ever confuse it with the next Silicon Valley, but any attempts to bring high paying jobs and solid talent here can’t be hated on.

That said, we have talked at length about the current City Council and their reticence to pro-growth policies. Are they potentially a roadblock in this process? The biggest question is whether or not there would be any change of the zoning categories, which often demands further hoops to jump through and often makes the process more difficult to navigate. We are not zoning attorneys, so understanding what that process looks like going from an amusement park to a mixed use business park is above our paygrade. Certainly with the current makeup of the Council, nothing is a given.

That said, it certainly seems like a great idea from someone with a history of strong execution. We can only hope that the current Council sees it as such and facilitates its passage, as we could use more outside-the-box thinking in this city.

Photo Credit: yourvalley.net

It has been a difficult climate for law enforcement for the last few years. Since the George Floyd murder and resulting protests across the country and world, there has been a general ethos of categorizing all law enforcement in the same bucket of excess and impropriety from a large portion of the political left. As we know, there are certainly bad eggs in the basket, but the strong majority of law enforcement officers just want to do a decent job and protect their community.

This is why we were happy to see that Paradise Valley made the choice to properly pay their law enforcement officers. This was after studies were done in neighboring cities to gauge what comparable rates were at and adjust accordingly.

While the struggles of PV police officers in our relatively sleepy town aren’t quite as robust and threatening as those in, say, the Maryvale area of Phoenix, they are still dedicating their careers to our safety. And this also segues into another topic that we’ve spoken about at length: ability to live in the neighborhood that they serve.

We have written about the rent crisis in Arizona (and specifically Scottsdale) extensively, and good-faith efforts to try to resolve this and make living affordable for the people who work in and serve those communities have been rebuffed by at least one city council. And that just addresses rent, and doesn’t even touch the skyrocketing cost of owning a home in Scottsdale, as well as nearly everywhere in the Valley. Meanwhile, Paradise Valley is clearly at the hyper-premium side of home prices, let alone rentals (if there are any homes to rent in PV).

Will those incomes make living in PV affordable? Probably not. However, it does make living in neighboring Scottsdale or Arcadia possible, which is a very nice second-best option. And moreover, their pay is reflective of the importance of their work.

As cities like San Francisco, Seattle and Portland are showing the detrimental effects of the left’s fixation on the demonization of police, with cities mired in crime and political pendulums turning back towards the center, it is great to see a town that views law enforcement as a partner and not an enemy. This is yet another indicator of why Paradise Valley is such an incredible place to live and raise a family.

Photo Credit: azcentral.com

It has been an eventful time recently in the local fight against short-term rentals (STRs), with Paradise Valley cracking down on them, followed by calls for investigation and our Attorney General ruling on the case, there has been plenty of motion. Perhaps in response to the AG decision, Scottsdale’s leadership recently decided to move forward with their own activities meant to reign in their excesses.

In what should be seen as a bold yet wise move, the Scottsdale Police Department recently announced that they will be rolling out a short-term rental unit later this year consisting of four officers and one sergeant.This is thanks to the efforts of Councilmembers Betty Janik and Linda Milhaven after what must have been extensive public input asking for help to fix this burgeoning issue. In 2021 the city set up a working group to discuss potential regulations designed to curb problems related to STR, with various rules designed to eliminate loopholes and facilitate enforcement of existing rules. As with any increased enforcement, additional resources are necessary, thus the additional officers.

This follows on the heels of more extensive efforts from the town of Paradise Valley to reign in this issue with more stringent regulations as we spoke about here. Their proposal was considered draconian by some (even though it was likely in the spirit of the desires of the citizenry), and unfortunately AG Brnovich largely agreed; while the PV Town Attorney responded in force to the conflict challenge from STR-owner Sen. Warren Peterson, Brnovich considered much of the law uncompliant.

As it stands, in order to combat this issue we are left to the basics: enforcement of current laws. While we would love to see more ingenuity from our state legislature, with conflicted folks like Sen. Peterson involved in the process and the right generally unwilling to work with the left and vice versa, it doesn’t feel like anything will move forward at the Capitol.

With that in mind, we’re thankful that Scottsdale and Paradise Valley are doing what they can do fix these wrongs. We are big fans of local control, and they are again showing why it is so important; what good is government if it doesn’t listen to the citizenry it is purported to represent, after all?

By Councilmember Solange Whitehead



Photo Credit: paradisevalley.gov

This may not come as the biggest surprise to many of you, but we are not the biggest fans of Paradise Valley Town Councilman Paul Dembow. You can up-to-date on why here…or here…or here…but you get the picture.

So of course we were tickled pink when we saw that the Paradise Valley Independent ran an op-ed of his recently titled, “Experience Matters”. We couldn’t wait to carve into it like we were a steak knife at Mastro’s. Shall we?

He starts out strong with “If you like where you live, I am your candidate”. Definitely not any of the other two incumbents running for Town Council, just him. Certainly no whiff of ego there.

He then goes into the litany of other people that have been in office in the 11 long, LONG years that he has and segues into the five children he’s raised in the town. You’d think that spending that much time in UNPAID public office would be a good catalyst to actually spend more time with your family, and not in the way that scandal-ridden politicians do so, but in an honest and real way. But nope.

That flows nicely into more bragging about PV and his 100% voting record for all the good things. Here’s a pro-tip for you: if someone has been in office for 11 years and says that they have a 100% positive voting record on six different unequivocally positive things, there is a 98% chance that they are playing very fast and loose with the truth (we’d say 100%, but that would be so very Dembow of us).

Then we learned that he is on the board of Experience Scottsdale; we’re glad that he likes Scottsdale resorts, but…cool, we guess? Next we hear that he is the only candidate not asking anyone for money; we’re glad that you hate fundraising and can afford to drop $20K into a town council race, but does that really make you a better person? Your friend the Mayor (who actually is fundraising) would likely disagree.

Lastly, the REAL fun: “I won’t waste resources, mine or yours, on paying someone to spin my work and my values into a pretty picture through paid advertising”. Cool. But you will ALLEGEDLY ask the Town Attorney to do something about mean things said about you online, because ALLEGEDLY using taxpayer resources to protect your own image is definitely better than using willing donor dollars to tell voters about your platform.

Paul Dembow: he never fails to deliver…to those who write for a living that is, he is a perpetual motion machine of golden content. For his constituents however…we hope that you’re growing tired of him.

It was just last week when we went through the candidates who qualified for the ballot for the Scottsdale City Council race later this year, and Tim Stratton was one of those. We noted that he had strong Republican Party credentials and would likely be a player. Well we recently learned how strong those party creds are as we obtained a copy of his campaign kick-off event flyer.

While we have seen larger host committees, sometimes it is not the size of the boat but the motion of the ocean as the saying goes. A few things stick out immediately: having current Scottsdale City Councilmember Linda Milhaven as a host is a coup, and having former Councilmember and Mayoral candidate Suzanne Klapp on there is not far behind. They would certainly be good City Hall guides for him.

Look who we also have there: Mr. Jim Lamon. You have very likely seen his commercials in the past few months; Mr. Lamon has vaulted to or near the top of the GOP primary race for the US Senate this year, depending on which poll you read. He has poured an incredible amount of his own money into winning this race and has used those funds to produce and advertise very interesting, sometimes controversial but always engaging commercials. Strong Republican Party credentials indeed.

Another head-turning addition to this host committee is the presence of zoning attorney Nick Wood. He is representing the Hovey/Optima project at the 101 and Scottsdale Road, a project that would bring an incredible 1,500 new apartment units into the city. With those kind of numbers, it’s safe to say that he would prefer a much more growth-friendly City Council. Perhaps it’s even safe to say that considering the sometimes anti-growth tendencies of the current Council, the near-term future of the project depends on it.

We were confident that Tim Stratton would be a player in this race, and this host committee has confirmed that; he’s got some friends in high places. We anxiously await to see what political bonafides the other candidates can slam down onto the table that can beat that.

Photo Credit: cnbc.com

by Ronald Sampson

Much has been said of social media’s impact on politics and the public discourse, and even its impact on elections. Many see it purely as a cesspool that elevates unnecessary and toxic opinions, an opinion that is often hard to counter. Many often see whatever bias their personal opinions inject, willfully ignorant to the fact that the platform’s algorithms will generally show them what it thinks that the user will engage with.

Since Trump’s successful 2016 election and the rather nefarious ways that foreign actors used the platforms (most notably Facebook) successfully to sow discord amongst the American electorate, those platforms have cracked down on various types of speech in ways both properly useful and line-crossing, including banning the former President with the charge of him fanning the flames of the Capitol riot. Obviously this has led many conservatives to charge those platforms with political bias.

Is there any truth to those charges though? The Arizona Republicans certainly think so with the introduction of House Bill 2280, which allows for an “operator of a social media website may not intentionally delete or censor the social media users’ religious or political speech or use an algorithm to censor the users’ speech”. That said, we should all know by now that free speech will not go as far as yelling “fire” in a crowded theater without consequences, so it’s hard not to see how this bill wouldn’t be seen as blatantly unconstitutional. Again, the AZ GOP seems dead set on providing billable hours to well-connected attorneys.

However, there are good points to be made about the often arbitrary application of protections within those platforms, and those points have been made rather impactfully by a very profound yet unexpected voice recently: Elon Musk. Musk has long been a critic of Twitter’s warnings and protections and recently found a way to force the conversation: by announcing that he had accumulated over 9% of the company’s stock. Conversations soon developed into him having a board seat made available to him and spiraled towards an unsolicited bid for the ENTIRE company. All this done under the guise of how free speech should be better protected.

So do these platforms truly bias against voices that disagree with them? It’s hard to tell. One thing we can say is that we’ve had friends on the left, right or center who have had statements and posts that have been given warnings or removed by platforms. The platforms have put a significantly bigger emphasis on eliminating false COVID-19 statements (probably imperfectly), although those SHOULDN’T go under the guise of political statements. Ultimately, they are publicly traded corporations who are in the business of making money and not falling under the hammers of heavy regulation, so I’m not sure how anyone could blame them for trying, although blaming them for poor execution is fair game.

When in doubt, it’s best just to remember that their job is to make money, and they make it from people of all political stripes; green is more important than red or blue. But many businesses suffer from the same detachment from the needs of their customers and make mistakes similarly; they too often need the threat of their own Elon Musk to set them straight.

The Scottsdale and PV Legislative Districts. Photo Credit: Scottsdale Independent

We love to be a bastion of information for our Scottsdale and Paradise Valley readers specifically, as we are one of you. We have already spoken to who will be on your ballot as it concerns the upcoming Scottsdale City Council elections as well as the Paradise Valley Town Mayor elections. However you will also have legislative seats to vote on, and you may not even know who you can vote for.

That said, in all likelihood your vote for the primary will probably matter most, and unless you live in south Scottsdale, your vote for GOP primary is the one that matters.

There will be three legislative districts that cover these two cities: LDs 3, 4 and 8. We’ll start with the only relatively competitive district of the three, which is LD4. It encompassed much of Scottsdale as well as Paradise Valley. The House race is a competitive one on the GOP side, with former House Rep. and PV Town Councilwoman Maria Syms in the fray along with five other competitors compared to just one for the Democrats as part of their “single shot” strategy to pick off one of the two House seats. The Senate side pins incumbents Christine Marsh against Nancy Barto; while Marsh has proven herself a strong candidate and perhaps more in line with the average voter in-district, in what should be a difficult year for Democrats any advantage has to be given to the GOP.

District 3 includes north Scottsdale in with Cave Creek and Fountain Hills, making it a deep shade of crimson. The only interesting action is in the GOP primary, as former three-term Representative Darin Mitchell is making a comeback and taking on Joseph Chaplik, who won his first term last cycle, as is Alexander Kolodin, attorney for the Cyber Ninja’s (a title that hopefully he aims to hide). The Senate side holds a potentially interesting primary however: longtime stalwart John Kavanagh faces a challenge from Jen Dubauskas, who at the time of writing has already raised nearly $187,000, a full $150,000 more than the incumbent. Perhaps it won’t be interesting, if the money race is any indicator…

As for the new LD8, it is essentially the old LD24, with much of south Scottsdale attached to Tempe in a strong blue district. All three Democratic incumbents (all Tempe-based) are in the new district, leading one to believe that the real race will again be restricted to the primary.

LD4 is the only district with a potentially interesting general election, but even that is held afloat by the Dems’ single-shot strategy as well as Christine Marsh’s strong candidacy and may well be an easy GOP sweep. Everything else should be won and lost in the primaries, and at least in LD3 those provide some potentially good opportunities to pop a bag of popcorn and watch.

scottsdalejazzfest.org

Did you know that April is International Jazz Appreciation Month? It’s part of a global celebration to share this unique part of Americana across the world, led by UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock. And Hancock himself had a role in bringing jazz to Scottsdale.

The International Jazz Day in Arizona outdoor music festival takes place Saturday, April 30 at the Scottsdale Civic Center, 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd., on the northeast lawn of City Hall. It is being organized by William “Doc” Jones, the International Jazz Day AZ Foundation executive director. Herbie Hancock reached out to him to bring International Jazz Appreciation Month to Arizona; high praise indeed.

The International Jazz Day AZ Foundation partners with schools and community organizations in Phoenix and surrounding communities to transform the lives of at-risk youth in Arizona’s underserved schools through music education and foster youth jazz programs. Their mission statement is that every child in Phoenix has the right to high quality music education. They focus on jazz because it is rooted in improvisation which they believe maximizes students’ creativity and self expression. It’s tough not to like that kind of cause.

For those of you who are true jazz junkies or don’t want to drive to Scottsdale, the Foundation is putting on a number of events in celebration of Jazz Appreciation Month. Tempe Jazz Day has already passed, but they will also have Jazz At Lunch on April 20th at the Arizona State Capitol, as well as the After Dark Jazz Fest premiere party at Kierland on the 29th.

Tickets start at $25, although the single VIP seats have already sold out, demonstrating the pent up interest for such a great array of talent in one place. While originally intended to correspond with the renovations of the Civic Center, it looks like those will not be ready yet. That said, the more important aspects are obviously the artists and the music, so we can live with that.

An amazing event right before we get back into the triple digits, all for a fantastic cause. Is there any reason why you haven’t bought tickets yet? If you haven’t, you can find them right here.

Photo Credit: paradisevalley.gov

Paradise Valley politics have often been relatively similar to the nature of the town itself; a bit sleepy, not too much excitement happening (save a cross being stolen), just how its residents prefer. But that may be changing this year, as not only will we have competitive Town Council races, but it also looks like we will have a Mayoral race.

After being on the fence for a bit as to whether or not she wanted to run for Mayor, Councilmember Julie Pace has taken the plunge and recently submitted nearly double the minimum amount of signatures to get on the ballot. Barring extremely unforeseen circumstances, she will be facing off against the incumbent Jerry Bien-Willner.

As far as small town storylines go, there are a few interesting angles to this one. Bien-Willner was actually listed as a supporter of Pace during her last Town Council campaign, but as often goes in politics, today’s friends can become tomorrow’s enemies and vice versa. That good will soured over the last year or so, and in sometimes very public ways.

The disagreements spilled out into the public sphere most prominently during the proposed change to reduce the town’s road setbacks from 20 feet to 10 feet. Pace wrote an op-ed highlighting her opposition to the proposal without mentioning the Mayor by name except to solicit the public to write to him and the rest of the council if they are also in opposition. That was followed by a direct response from Bien-Willner, and any pretense of veiled conflict went out the window.

The two will likely have relatively light differences on policy; when the town is as special as it currently is without many glaring issues, it becomes difficult to truly differentiate from a policy perspective. And that’s a good thing; much better to live in an area with no pressing issues than handfuls of them, leaving it up to candidates to prioritize which ones they think are most important to voters.

It should be a tough race, with Pace demonstrating good fundraising chops and deep connections, tightening a race that would otherwise be difficult; unseating a scandal-free incumbent. That said, regardless of outcome, we are confident that PV will be in good hands and will continue to be a truly unique and exemplary town.

Photo Credit: azcentral.com

The issue of short-term rentals (STRs) is not a new topic here at the Arizona Progress Gazette, and regular readers will note that Paradise Valley’s rules to make business more difficult for STR operators had received a request for investigation from Sen. Warren Peterson (himself the owner of a STR property), which elicited a formal statement from the PV Town Attorney.

Well the official word from the AG Brnovich’s office is in, and…it’s a mixed bag.

The good? In the AG’s opinion, most of the rules implemented by PV do NOT violate state law. Demanding evidence of registration with the Assessor and of a privilege tax license are compliant, as are liability insurance and landline requirements. The STR industry will have less of a laissez-faire ethos going forward, hopefully dissuading new potential entrants.

The bad, at least from the perspective of the average resident of the town? A number of the more extensive requirements that were to be asked of STR operators will be considered in violation of the law if they exceed regulations currently in state law. The more onerous regulations, such as a requirement for the owner to meet with potential renters first and to verbally disclose rules and regulations to the renters, would clearly be in violation, as would some of the less onerous regulations.

The town will need to retract or amend the regulations in a timely manner, and if it doesn’t the Attorney General will refer the case to the State Treasurer, who would then be required to withhold shared tax revenue, obviously an outcome that is not worth sticking to their proverbial guns. What started as regulations that would likely cut the legs out of the STR industry in Paradise Valley turned into mild nuisances with higher costs to operate.

And while we are not attorneys nor legal experts, this seems like a reasonable judgment by the AG’s office, even if it dampens the impact of an ordinance that most residents would likely have desired. While requiring STR operators to meet in person with their renters would have likely had the preferred impact of hurting the industry, it is certainly far above and beyond what nearly every AirBnber or VRBOer has personally encountered. We can’t reasonably expect town ordinances to outrank state law. It was a home run swing that turned into a blooper single.

So while we hoped that the Attorney General would have sided with Paradise Valley and canceled out the concerns of the obviously conflicted AZ Senator, we must acknowledge that it seems like a reasonable judgment. We can still hope that the incremental improvement in regulation will improve the more detrimental aspects that STRs can introduce into neighborhoods, even though it won’t end them.

2022 Scrum


By Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner

Dear Friends,

I wanted to share with you this guest column in the Town of Paradise Valley Independent written by former mayors Scott LeMarr and Vernon Parker. I’m proud to have their support and appreciate their kind words.

By Scott LeMarr and Vernon Parker, former Mayors of Paradise Valley

As former mayors of the Town of Paradise Valley, we know the unique and often difficult challenges faced when entrusted to lead one of the finest communities in the country.

It’s incumbent on the mayor and Town Council to protect the community’s unique residential character. To promote limited but responsive government with no property tax. To ensure the safety of the residents and visitors of our community.

Over the course of the past three years, Jerry Bien-Willner has achieved and defended these priorities time and again as mayor. During the pandemic and other unwelcome events over the past several years, the tests of leadership have been extraordinary. This is a time when other communities have seen higher crime, civic unrest, great division, economic difficulties, and other negative events. Paradise Valley has not, and this is no accident.

The best leaders are the ones who listen, guide their constituents through difficult times, and make their communities better on the other side. Jerry Bien-Willner is doing just that. He has worked hard to drive the town forward on its great path, and he has kept the largest threats and problems out of our town. Jerry truly cares about the people and town he serves. He deserves our thanks for his service as a volunteer mayor — and he deserves our support for another two-year term.

During Jerry’s time as mayor, he has not only addressed every challenge that has come the town’s way, he has made our quality of life better in a number of important ways. Some examples include leading the fight against disruptive short-term rentals, and collaboratively fostering solutions to the issues facing the town with creativity, skill, and little fanfare — all while avoiding the town getting pulled into needless, divisive politics.

Jerry has ensured that new development in our community will be complimentary to our unique residential character, and he has resolved key issues with developments under construction that will allow them to proceed and benefit the entire community.

These are just a few, broad examples of Jerry’s positive impact on our town, but there are many more. We’re not completely past the hurdles of the pandemic, we never can let up on our commitment to public safety, and we know that preserving the outstanding quality of life in Paradise Valley requires ongoing commitment and great skill. There’s clearly more work to be done. We have great confidence in Jerry’s leadership, and his vision and values.

We need another two years of strong, steady leadership that works to protect Paradise Valley’s citizens and our quality of life. We are grateful to have had that leadership from Jerry, and we will be fortunate to have it for two more with the re-election of Jerry Bien-Willner as Mayor of Paradise Valley.

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Thank you to Mayor LeMarr and Mayor Parker for their guidance, kind words and support, as well as the other esteemed leaders who have shown their support of my campaign. I would be honored to have your support as well in the August 2 election.  

Thank you for the privilege of serving as your Mayor.

Dear Friends,

Last week, the Paradise Valley Town Council took a key step in the fight against the negative impacts of short-term rentals. I wanted to share with you the Town’s press release regarding these important new measures.

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The Paradise Valley Town Council has unanimously passed a series of amendments to the Town’s code to better protect the health and safety of the community from disruptions caused by short-term rental properties (STRs).

The amendments fall into three general areas:

Minimize nuisance complaints for all residents
Protect the public health and safety
Prohibit the use of STRs for inappropriate purposes
“Our citizens have spoken. The most pressing issue facing our residents is the disruption caused by short-term rentals in our neighborhoods. They also disproportionately burden and expose to risk our police and other first responders,” Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner said. “We have now taken additional steps to make our community safer for our residents, first responders, and renters in these STRs.”

Nuisance complaints

The majority of nuisance complaints received by the police and the Town come from STRs. Under the new amendments, it is a violation to make noises from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. — or 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. in the summer — that are above the vibration perception threshold of two or more reasonable people in separate residences or an officer across a real property boundary; or plainly audible from within two or more enclosed residences or the cabin of a police vehicle situated on a public right-of-way.

Police are authorized to enforce nuisance noise provisions regardless of whether complaints are citizen-reported or reported by police or other designated Town employees

Public health and safety

Town will require and make publicly available all of the following:

Owner’s name/contact information.
STR’s physical address and phone number.
Local contact’s and emergency contact’s name/address/contact information.
Booking Information — to be shared with the Town:

STR’s online advertisement/listing
Booking dates
Compliance with operating standards, health and safety requirements
Failure to Register with Town or County Assessor will result in a $150 per day fee for renting or accepting a fee for booking an unregistered STR.

Prohibit the use of STRs for inappropriate purposes

Arizona statutes allow for the Town to prohibit the use of these properties from housing sex offenders, and selling illegal drugs, and other adult-oriented businesses.

To ensure the STR is compliant, all STR owners must now perform background checks on all renters to ensure that there are no registered sex offenders at the property.

The Town also requires additional health, safety, and sanitation standards for STRs including:

Liability insurance
Smoke and CO detection and notification system.
Fire extinguisher
Fire Safety and Emergency Evacuation Map
Air Filters
Local phone service
Cleaning between bookings following CDC guidelines
Pest Control

“After a great deal of input from the public, our Council has clearly stated that the status quo is not acceptable — and that action was needed to put in place health and safety measures to protect our community,” Paradise Valley Town Councilmember Mark Stanton said. “These amendments restore some balance between the rights of the STRs and the rights of the community.”

“Some bad actors in the STR industry are destroying the quality of life in our neighborhoods. These new amendments are an important, first step toward making our community safer, but we still need comprehensive, statewide reform to fix the huge problems with rogue STRs in Arizona,” Paradise Valley resident Bill Hunter said.

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Since I first took office, I have been working diligently to lead the fight against the problems caused by short-term rentals in our community. And this hard work has gotten the industry’s attention. I am honored to lead the charge and collaborate effectively to ensure the best possible quality of life for Paradise Valley residents.

As always, thank you for the privilege of serving as your Mayor.

Sincerely,

Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner

Dear Friends,

Earlier today, I made final arguments for the Town at the Arizona Corporation Commission hearing on proposed rate increases for EPCOR water customers in Paradise Valley. I am very pleased to report that for the second time during my service as Mayor, the Town has achieved the excellent result of avoiding huge, sudden increases in water rates.  More details to be released soon, including on the savings to Town EPCOR customers and the Town.

I am thankful to the elected members of the Arizona Corporation Commission, who ultimately voted 5-0 in favor of a proposal to keep the Town’s rates separate from other water districts, despite many recommendations for them to have Paradise Valley ratepayers subsidize others.  Several years ago, EPCOR had taken its own path in proposing higher rates.  This time, EPCOR worked closely with me and our senior staff to narrow the issues and support keeping Paradise Valley in its own district, which is very much appreciated.

I am very proud of the strategic planning, work, and advocacy as your Mayor to achieve this superb outcome.  Foremost, though, I want to express sincere thanks to each and every one of our citizens who spoke up when requested by the Town.  Your time, efforts, and remarks made a big difference.

In addition, I am grateful to the Town’s Resort Community, who worked closely with the Town to keep rates low for everyone, and spent their own time and money to do that for our community.

As we have come to expect, the Town’s legal and staff teams did a phenomenal job staying on top of this evolving and complex matter and in executing our strategy to perfection, with community buy-in and outreach.

Last but not least, I am very grateful to the Town Council for its hard work and engagement on this issue – every single Council Member contributed and helped in these efforts.

I hope all Town EPCOR customers can rest easier tonight (I am told by our lawyers that the rate order is subject to final appeal, but that this is unlikely given the 5-0 vote).

Rest assured, we will not rest on our laurels, and instead I will keep focused on avoiding unwelcome spikes in utility bills for PV citizens.

Thank you for the privilege of serving as your Mayor.

Sincerely,

Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner