Featured Editorials

Marketplace

Scrum

Marketplace


All-ages and teams welcome with more than 20 spaces still available for more teams! 

Local Peoria Man Jim Balian is more excited than ever for this year’s Western WIFFLE Ball Classic tournament which returns to Scottsdale Stadium on Saturday, October 16th.  After winning last year’s tournament with the help of his son Andrew “Moose” and a good friend Mike Cross, the returning champion says he is going to switch up his team for the 2021 event by adding a father and son combo of Jim and Randy Dalbey. 

And now there’s a good chance the champion WiffleZilla will end up going head-to-head with Balian’s 15-year-old for what could be another epic tournament.  

How it works – teams will be comprised of 3 to 5 players. Each team is guaranteed to play 4 games each. Games will last 35 minutes or 4 innings, whichever comes first. Then, 16 teams will advance to a single-elimination tournament. All ages are welcome and encouraged to participate in the tournament. The winner and runner-up will be awarded the Western WIFFLE Ball Classic trophy.

“This is an afternoon with a tremendous amount of fun with a wide variety in the ages of the competitors,” Balian said. “The tournament is co-ed and has players of all ages. There is a lot of variety in the competition, and at the end of the day it is anyone’s game. I just hope if I play against my son Andrew, he doesn’t hit a clutch moonshot homerun off me to win the game like he always does in our backyard games,” Balian laughed.

Making it to that championship round is nothing new for Balian.  The owner of a local software development company, Balian has his own make-shift Wiffle ball field in his Peoria backyard and is also the 2002 and 2003 National WIFFLE Ball Champion, a title is that is only named to one team on the national scale every year.   

This is serious stuff. At the national level Balian says the pitches can go as fast as 80 miles an hour but even at this tournament it’s not uncommon to see the pitches around 60-70 MPH.  

This Wiffle ball champion says it’s been in his blood since he was a kid.  Growing up he played all the time with his friends in the backyard as many other people do.  

“As a kid, we all started out the same way, we played hours and hours of WIFFLE ball,” Balian said. “Then I got older and grew up through the local tournaments where we really learned how big WIFFLE ball was across the state and country. I have been fortunate to play WIFFLE ball in many different unique locations and settings across the United States.” 

As the former National Wiffle Ball Champion, Balian says it doesn’t get much better than playing in Spring Training home of the San Francisco Giants.  “Scottsdale Stadium is one of the best venues around and it’s a great location.  It’s really hard to say no to playing here every October.” 

But what Balian loves the most about the tournament, however, has nothing to do with Wiffle ball. 

“My main focus at this type of tournament is on having fun with my friends and family,” Balian said. “The memories you build by playing in a tournament like this one with friends and family will last a lifetime.” 

His son Andrew is now hoping to create some new memories of his own.  The 15-year-old has already assembled his own team named Caged Heat and they are practicing every chance they get for the October 16th tournament at Scottsdale Stadium.  His teammates are his baseball friends from Sunrise Mountain and Sandra Day O’Connor High School. Connor Mayer, Jake Sanko, Caiden Camuti and Beau Crabtree may be young, but their determined to beat WiffleZilla and the other 41 teams competing. 

There is still space for another 20 teams to enter.  The tournament will begin at 9 am on Saturday, October 16, 2021, at Scottsdale Stadium

To register your team for the 2nd Annual Western WIFFLE Ball Classic please visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/western-wiffle-ball-classic-presented-by-big-league-wiffle-ball-registration-159197252267 

To learn more about Big League Wiffleball please visit: https://www.blwwiffleball.com

For sponsorship opportunities or tournament questions please contact Leslie Owen at Lowen@RoseMoserAllynpr.com or call (480) 423-1414.  

For media inquiries or to schedule an interview with Jim or Andrew Balian please contact Jennifer Parks-Sturgeon at JParks-Sturgeon@RoseMoserAllynPR.com or at (480) 495-3806

**New Cocktails Alert**
Scottsdale’s FRANCINE Restaurant Unveils 5 of Its Coolest New Crafty Cocktails This Summer

The French Inspired Mediterranean Restaurant Incorporates Creativity and Only the Freshest and Highest Quality Products in the New Cocktails 

(SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.) FRANCINE the highly acclaimed French-inspired Mediterranean cuisine restaurant in the luxury wing of Scottsdale Fashion Square is proud to present a new lineup of crafty cocktails just in time for a summer soiree.

The 5 new creative cocktail recipes were each crafted by Francine’s top bartenders and are available during brunch, lunch and dinner.

The new drinks are currently on the cocktail menu this summer and will remain there through the fall and winter months.

Topping the list is The French Connection, an infused rum and St. Germain cocktail with rosa liquor, including hints of citrus and basil. This perfect pallet refresher for a summer day was created by FRANCINE Bartender Gage Myette. The drink pairs delightfully with the Chocolate Pot De Crème offered on Francine’s dessert menu.

Next on the French inspired new cocktail list is Summer Thyme, a Silencio Mezcal base with peach liquor, pink peppercorn syrup, grapefruit, and lemon juice – shaken not stirred. The cocktail is served in a wine glass, topped with prosecco, hand crushed pink peppercorns, peach slices and a thyme knot. Summer Thyme is a crisp and aesthetic cocktail created by FRANCINE Bartender Frank Soldano. Summer Thyme is beautifully accompanied by the Dungeness Crab and Shrimp Salad offered on Francine’s lunch Menu.

FRANCINE Cocktail Aficionado Trevyn StClair is responsible for the beautiful elevation of gin in his new creation. Le Jardin combines citadelle gin, yellow chartreuse, and yuzu liquor. Finishing the cocktail off with lime juice and honey, giving it a sweet and sour essence. After assembling the ingredients in shaker, it is double strained over ice in a small rocks glass and garnished with half a cucumber peel and mint sprig. The sweetness of Le Jardin is complimented when paired with the herbs and spices in the Cote De Boeuf offered on Francine’s lunch and dinner menu.

Mix sweet vermouth, Italian bitters, and spirits of elderflower to create the next enchanting cocktail. San Remo is a premium whisky-based cocktail, combined with lime and orange juice, then strained into a double rocks glass and garnished with an orange wheel and rosemary sprig. This refreshing French cocktail recipe is also provided by Trevyn StClair. The Francine appetizers that serve as the perfectly balanced flavor profile for the San Remo are the Eggplant Mezza and Warm Olives.

Completing the list of FRANCINE’s new cocktails is Archies Nightcap. Starting with Botanist Gin, Averna Amaro, Bruto Americano, and Campari; this concoction offers sweet, bitter, and spicy flavors to please any pallet. The ingredients are stirred, strained over a big cube in a small rocks glass, and finally garnished with an orange paddle. Archies Nightcap is a collaboration recipe provided by Frank Soldano and Executive Chef Brian Archibald of Francine Restaurant. Archies Nightcap is well paired with the sea salted crust Whole Branzino, a dish offered on Francine’s lunch and dinner menu.

“Collaborating with Chef Brian on this was such a fun and creative process,” said Frank Soldano, bartender at FRANCINE. “We tasted so many variations and really enjoyed exploring different combinations. The best part was when we would try something so out of left field, and it would work on multiple levels. With the unique blends, original names and highest quality ingredients they offer I think people are going to love them.”

For more photos, courtesy of Stephanie Kelly, click here.

For more details about FRANCINE and its new cocktails visit their website at francinerestaurant.com.

FRANCINE Restaurant is located in the luxury wing at Scottsdale Fashion Square at 4710 N Goldwater Boulevard Scottsdale, AZ 85251.  For reservations please call (480) 690-6180 or visit francinerestaurant.com.

For media inquiries please contact Jennifer Parks-Sturgeon at Jparks-Sturgeon@RoseMoserAllynPR.com or call (480) 495-3806.

 

About FRANCINE

Every meal is a celebration at FRANCINE. Guests gather for an expertly crafted French Mediterranean menu that honors ingredients and serves it in the sophisticated warmth of the plant-filled 5,000 square-foot space. The grand dining room features floor-to-ceiling windows, unique artwork, a rustic fireplace, and a marble bar.

As a well-known and respected restauranteur, Halasz also brings a wealth of culinary knowledge to the Valley restaurant scene and FRANCINE is Halasz’s most personal project to date.

Halasz, who was raised in the South of France amidst the bounty of simple and soulful cuisine draws inspiration from his birthplace.  FRANCINE is a spirited and loving homage to days spent in the sun and amongst gatherings around beautiful meals hosted by his mother Francine Halasz.

“Everything on my mother’s table was fresh, seasonal, and full of flavor, and that is exactly what FRANCINE will offer our guests,” says Halasz. “We are so excited to finally open our doors and bring our new take on classic French Mediterranean cuisine to Scottsdale this summer.”

 

** Warhol Meets Chanel **

The Summer Progressive Sale Arrives at My Sister’s Closet and
Well Suited August 14th-26th With 20% – 70% Savings

Then Get Cozy at the Fall Unveiling on Saturday, August 28th Starting at 8:00 a.m.

(PHOENIX & SAN DIEGO)- Get in on the huge stylish summer savings at America’s favorite family of designer consignment shops. Join My Sister’s Closet and Well Suited for Warhol Meets Chanel at the Summer Progressive Sale happening August 14th-26th.

For 13 days only, enjoy 20-70% off high-end designer clothing, handbags, shoes, accessories, and more at all locations of My Sister’s Closet and Well Suited in Scottsdale, Phoenix, San Diego, and Encinitas.

The 13-day Summer Progressive sale at My Sister’s Closet and Well Suited offers these exclusive discounts:

20% off everything- August 14th – August 15th
30% off everything- August 16th – August 18th
40% off everything- August 19th – August 20th
50% off everything- August 21st – August 22nd
60% off everything- August 23rd – August 24th
70% off everything- August 25th – August 26th

 

My Sister’s Attic will follow this markdown schedule with selected Red Dot items.

The Summer Progressive sale ends on Thursday, August 26th at close of business. All My Sister’s Closet and Well Suited locations will be closed all day on August 27th in preparation for the fall unveiling.

Then, get ready for the much-anticipated Fall Unveiling happening the following day, on Saturday, August 28th. The doors will open at 8:00 a.m. at My Sister’s Closet and Well Suited locations for the Fall Unveiling where shoppers will get their first opportunity to purchase thousands of designer clothing, handbags, jewelry and more. During the Warhol Meets Chanel themed unveiling enjoy vibrant colors, new looks for fall and luxurious brands.

“The Summer Progressive Sale and Fall Unveiling is always an exciting time for us but this year it is particularly special because we just opened a new store at the Biltmore Fashion Park and we are celebrating our 30th anniversary of being in business.  We hope everyone can stop by and see the new store or enjoy some of our one-of-a-kind finds, at the other stores,” said Ann Siner, CEO and Founder of My Sister’s Closet, My Sister’s Attic, Well Suited, and My Sisters’ Charities Thrift Store. “Whether you are looking for the best prices in town or the piece that no one else has, come check us out!”

For media inquiries please contact Jennifer Parks-Sturgeon at (480) 495.3806 or by email at jparks-sturgeon@rosemoserallynpr.com.

Like My Sister’s Closet, My Sister’s Attic and Well Suited on Facebook and sign-up to get email updates on the hot ticket items on www.mysisterscloset.com.

My Sister’s Closet Locations (Well Suited located next door):

Biltmore Fashion Park (no Well Suited)
2502 E. Camelback Rd. Phoenix, AZ 85016. Ste. 175
Phone: 602-954-6080
Text/Face Time: 602-620-0619
Mon-Sat: 9am-6pm
Sun: 12pm-5pm

Desert Village at Pinnacle Peak
23269 N. Pima Rd. Scottsdale, AZ 85255
Phone: 480-419-6242
Mon-Fri: 9am-6pm
Sat: 9am-6pm
Sun: 9am-6pm

Lincoln Village in Scottsdale
6204 N. Scottsdale Rd. Scottsdale, AZ 85253
Phone: 480-443-4575
Mon-Fri: 9am-6pm
Sat: 9am-6pm
Sun: 9am-6pm

My Sister’s Attic locations
Desert Village at Pinnacle Peak

23435 N. Pima Rd. Scottsdale, AZ 85255
Phone: 480-515-9708
Mon-Fri: 9am-6pm
Sat: 9am-6pm
Sun: 9am-6pm

Lincoln Village in Scottsdale
6208 N. Scottsdale Rd. Scottsdale, AZ 85253
Phone: 480-607-4303
Mon-Fri: 9am-6pm
Sat: 9am-6pm
Sun: 9am-6pm

Raintree Ranch Center
2915 W. Ray Rd.
Chandler, AZ 85224
Phone: 480-722-1823
Text/FaceTime: 480-489-8133
Mon-Fri: 9am-6pm
Sat: 9am-6pm
Sun: 9am-6pm

California Locations

My Sister’s Closet
8610 Genesee Ave., Ste. 200
San Diego, CA 92122
858-455-0045

Mon-Fri: 9am-6pm
Sat: 9am-6pm
Sun: 9am-6pm

My Sister’s Closet
133 N. El Camino Real
Encinitas, CA 92024
Phone: 760-436-3600
Text/FaceTime: 760-670-8302
Mon-Fri: 9am-6pm
Sat: 9am-6pm
Sun: 9am-6pm

My Sister’s Attic
133 N. El Camino Real Encinitas, CA 92024
Phone: 760-230-1250
Mon-Fri: 9am-6pm
Sat: 9am-6pm
Sun: 9am-6pm

About My Sister’s Closet and Eco-Chic Consignment:
Eco-Chic Consignments, Inc. is a family of three high-end designer consignment concepts—My Sister’s Closet (women), My Sister’s Attic (home furnishings), and Well Suited (men). Each store sells consigned items at 60 – 90% below retail value. Founded more than 30 years ago, Eco-Chic Consignments, Inc. has since grown into a $30+ million business with 12 locations in some of the nicest neighborhoods of Arizona and California. The company ranked no. 2,896 on the Inc. 5000 list. To learn more about Eco-Chic Consignments, Inc. and its resale brands, visit mysisterscloset.com.

Interest Surging For the Larsen Art Auction Featuring Alice Cooper’s Warhol

 

Cooper found the hidden gem in his storage unit. Now it is expected to sell for several million dollars and has generated unprecedented interest in the Fall Larsen Art Auction from bidders and consigners throughout the country.

Photo Courtesy: Chris Loomis/© 2021 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

(SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.) – In the wake of the announcement from Scottsdale, Arizona’s Larsen Gallery that they will be auctioning off an Andy Warhol original acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas owned by rock legend Alice Cooper, interest in Larsen’s annual fall auction has surged. Consignments are up significantly due to the combined star power of both the art icon and the rock star, and as a result up to eight additional Warhol works will also be auctioned off at the event.

The 2021 Fall Larsen Art Auction, to be held on October 23rd, 2021, has earned enough buzz that owners of other original Andy Warhol works have contacted the gallery about future auctions.  They were impressed by the Larsen Gallery’s personal attention to the work and the PR efforts focused on the Warhol. Buyers from around the country have expressed interest and will soon be descending on Arizona to participate in the auction live and in person.

The 1964/65 acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas is from Andy Warhol’s Death and Disasters Series, which is considered one of his most important series. It is based on a press photo from the 1950s of the death chambers at Sing Sing prison, where Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed for spying on behalf of Soviet Russia.

Emma Amos (African-American, 1937-2020)
Time Will Tell 1998
Acrylic and fabric collage on canvas
68” x 85”

Alice Cooper famously re-discovered the work several years ago in his storage unit after a conversation with Dennis Hopper. It had been given to him by a former girlfriend during the early 70’s. Much to the surprise of the art world and the rocker himself, the work was worth far more than he ever expected.

“This work was given to me during some crazy years, and I had completely forgotten I even owned it,” said Cooper, who by luck found the painting perfectly preserved. The finding of Cooper’s Warhol has since made national and international news and has resulted in numerous collectors contacting the Larsen Gallery to consign artworks from their collections. 

“Not only are we hearing from potential buyers who are interested in the ‘Little Electric Chair’, but we are also hearing from various collectors throughout the country who see the potential for Alice’s Warhol and now they are considering consigning their Warhol and other valuable art,” said Scott Larsen, owner of Larsen Gallery.

Also confirmed for Larsen’s fall auction is a major collection of artwork from prominent Black artists from the Stanley and Mikki Weithorn collection. The collector has donated a good portion of the collection to museums and has entrusted Larsen with helping sell the rest, due to Larsen’s impeccable reputation and ability to bring together buyers and sellers. All together Larsen will be auctioning more than 400 works of art in the fall auction.

Willie Birch (African-American, b. 1942)
Laughing to Keep from Crying 1980
Mixed media (sculpture)
26.5” x 20.25” x 20.25”
(Note:  a social justice work of art depicting issues in 1980 that are still relevant today)

The Larsen Art Auctions have historically sold greater than 90% of lots offered with registered bidders from most every state and more than 40 different countries. The gallery will be donating a portion of its commission from “Little Electric Chair” to Cooper’s non-profit Solid Rock Foundation, which offers support and community to local teenagers.

For the schedule of events, auction information, or to register to bid for the 2021 Larsen Art Auction please visit the auction’s website at larsenartauction.com or contact the gallery at 480-941-0900.

For media inquiries about the Little Electric Chair, contact Jennifer Parks-Sturgeon at Jparks-sturgeon@rosemoserallynpr.com or by phone at 480-495-3806.

(PHOENIX) –Phoenix-based Merit Partners, Arizona’s number one industrial real estate developer with projects all over the Valley representing a combined investment in excess of $2 billion, is proud to announce Jack Czerwinski as Managing Director.

Jack Czerwinski

Czerwinski brings a wide breadth of knowledge to Merit Partners. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Law and a master’s degree in Real Estate Development, both from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

Czerwinski began his career as an analyst at Cole Real Estate Investments, now known as Vereit. Following that, Czerwinski worked as a real estate representative for Minneapolis-based developer, The Opus Group. He then joined Majestic Realty Co. in December of 2017. Czerwinski was recruited to open and run its Phoenix office, first as a development associate and then as vice president. He was responsible for initiating and growing all development efforts in the Phoenix Metro area.

“I am excited to begin my journey at Merit Partners. The experience I have garnered thus far in my career will help me bring a unique perspective to Merit,” said Czerwinski. “The team at Merit Partners is strong and I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds.”

Additionally, Czerwinski is active in and gives back to the community. He is a member of Executive Council 70 – an organization of local professionals dedicated to helping youth in the Valley. He is also a founding member of the PCH50, an organization of 50 driven community leaders who support the Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

“Merit Partners is proud and excited to bring Jack on board,” said Kevin Czerwinski, President and CEO of Merit Partners. “He is a dedicated, hard worker with fantastic relationships that will help Merit Partners achieve all its future goals. Jack has gained extensive knowledge in this space and will be a great addition to the company.”

 

For media inquiries please contact Jennifer Parks-Sturgeon at 480.495.3806 or jparks-sturgeon@rosemoserallynpr.com.

 

About Merit Partners

Phoenix based Merit Partners is Arizona’s largest industrial real estate developer with projects all over the Valley representing a combined investment in excess of $2 billion.

Featured Editorials


By Alexander Lomax

You used to know if you were getting old if you had to tell kids to get off of your lawn. Perhaps now, the proper indicator of getting old is telling kids to get off that TikTok.

You are very likely aware of the TikTok app, one focused on short video content that has taken off with “Zoomers” (the generation after Millennials) and teenagers. Many “TikTok trends” have gone viral; many of them are harmless and silly dances, but some of them have been destructive. Amongst the destructive ones has been the recent trend of stealing or damaging school property, a viral trend called “Devious Licks” (sidenote: we have no idea why it is called that, and would rather not kill brain cells in the quest to find out why). According to Scottsdale Police Sergeant Kevin Quon, this troubling trend has reached Scottsdale schools with damage to restrooms and other school property, and with several police reports filed.

Some social media trends seem to be more designed to get clicks from concerned older people but are not widely adopted, such as the “tide pod challenge”. Indeed, many purported threats to civilized society are indeed designed to scare the Baby Boomer crowd who didn’t grow up with the internet and don’t have the refined nose to sniff out bad clickbait (i.e. no one is giving their marijuana edibles to your kids for Halloween. Absolutely no one). But a quick Google search demonstrates that this is a national trend with a pretty widespread and significant degree of both damage caused and self-inflicted problems for the delinquents dumb enough to show the world how they’re breaking the law.

Indeed, the Information Age has allowed for the best and brightest to excel and take technology to parabolic heights previously unconsidered or deemed science fantasy. On the flip side, it has given EVERYONE a potential voice to use, and some people would do the world a favor by keeping that voice tucked far, far away from civilized society.

So yes, social media is egging on and making viral the destruction of school property, even in our wonderful slice of desert heaven. Perhaps that instead of warning our kids and grandkids about the dangers of drugs, we should remind them about how incredibly stupid it is to break the law and put it on the internet. We can’t help but let out a big, loud sigh and say, “Kids these days…”.

By Betty Janik

Please cast your vote and return by mail. Ballot must be received by November 2 at 7 pm.
1. The General Plan 2035 is the result of a strenuous public review process. Members of Council considered hundreds of comments submitted by citizens and citizen groups. Changes were made to the GP 2035 based on these comments. It is the voice of the Citizens.

2. GP 2035 protects our treasured open space by adding 3 new categories of Major Amendments that require a supermajority (5 council votes, not 4) for zoning changes to higher density. New developments will now be required to provide open space.

3. GP 2035 REQUIRES neighborhood input on development projects, previously input was only “encouraged.”

4. Removes the infill incentive district used by developers to build taller with lower standards for design. Additionally, developers are now expected to pay their fair share of costs, not pass them on to taxpayers.

5. Guides us into the next decade with a blueprint for sustainability, reduction of the urban heat island, and smart water usage while protecting our western heritage in the Old Town Historic District.

Contrary to what our opponents are posting, General Plan 2035 absolutely does not raise taxes.

To see a side by side comparison of 2001 and 2035 Plans
https://www.scottsdaleaz.gov/Assets/ScottsdaleAZ/General+Plan/2035/2035_CityCouncil_FinalLegislative.pdf

For voting information visit www.scottsdaleaz.gov/elections

The General Plan 2035 has been endorsed by COGS ( Coalition of Greater Scottsdale.

Scottsdale Councilwoman Betty Janik

The Valley’s business community has been paying close attention to the turn Scottsdale’s 2020 elections have meant for one of the state and country’s more outstanding cities.  Would major investments still be rewarded or reviled by the new, slower-growth governing majority?

Last night, Scottsdale’s City Council, including Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield, showed a sagacious balance of the anti-everything inmates trying to run the asylum and the more mature and sober approach needed to lead a sophisticated city.  That’s because on a 6-1 vote, the Council approved a solid plan by Toll Brothers to replace an old bar with 149 nicely designed apartments near Camelback and Miller, including a pioneering attainable housing element.  Mayor David Ortega was the lone dissenter, offering a weird critique of the plan that sounded more jibberish than justified.

This was good news because while Scottsdale’s enviable environs are still attracting healthy investments, others are bypassing the community altogether because some businesses don’t want to deal with the current politics.  Indeed, some of the city’s most notable legacy businesses are grumbling about how difficult city staff has become because they want to better ingratiate themselves with the slower growth sentiment.

The negative side of being anti-business will not be felt for years, but it will be felt.  Just like the inanity over new “apartments” across from Honor Health’s North Scottsdale campus are doing.  Anyone who has walked that site, seen what’s there and understands there is no opposition coming from anyone in the area, only support, understands the total insanity of such opposition.  As a reminder, there haven’t been any apartments built within 5 miles of the site in decades.  Decades. Whether one (more likely) or both of those projects move forward, they are of the type that would normally be on a consent agenda not the subject of any type of consternation.  Business leaders are closely watching that ridiculous saga too.

But Tuesday night was an opportunity to applaud a sound decision for a sound plan, by sound policymakers that evening, inspiring hope that balance and not more political bile will be the rule and not the exception over the coming years in a most wonderful city.

By Ronald Sampson

If you’ve been politically aware for any period of time, you have become well accustomed to political hit jobs. We all know that political attacks work (as much as we may dislike it), and that negative campaigning has an impact. That said, there is typically a limit as to what you can say, that it must have some degree of believability. If you tell voters that a certain candidate or proposition is going to make your children contract the bubonic plague and turn into murderous zombies, that ad will probably be counterproductive because a reasonable person won’t take it seriously.

There is a middle ground that is nefarious but sometimes effective though: where you prey on the voters’ ignorance and unlikelihood of doing adequate research on a subject. With that, you can fill that vacuum of knowledge with nearly any absurdity you like, and few will be too turned off by it because few voters do adequate due diligence on relatively arcane subjects (we’re all busy people with lives, after all).

Enter this mailer which was paid for by the Market Freedom Alliance, a relatively little known PAC run by a Scottsdale man named Chuck Schmidt, and seems to have gone out throughout Scottsdale this past weekend. The PAC’s website still has a petition intended to go out to President Obama, so it is safe to say that they are not a traditional player in this space.

Let’s talk about the subject of Proposition 463, the Scottsdale General Plan 2035. I invite you to take a look for yourself at what it says right here. It is a non-binding plan meant to guide growth and development plan with such controversial bullet points as “Advance Innovation and Prosperity” and “Collaborate and Engage”. This document is about as controversial as pictures with puppies. Extremely few people would disagree with the bulk of it.

What does Proposition 463 address? Well, it doesn’t address anything that this mailer says it does. It doesn’t talk about taxes, property rights, nor public safety spending. It has nothing to do with those subjects at all, and as for the other bullet point, “Lower property values”, the justification could be made that it would be beneficial for property values due to guidance for higher development standards.

So why does this mailer say those things? The betting theme is quite ironic, because what they are doing is betting on your ignorance. They are betting that you couldn’t be bothered to do an ounce of homework, and are pulling out all of the traditional boogeyman political tropes. I’m slightly surprised they didn’t talk about Antifa rioting through your town if you vote Yes.

This group is a “dark money” group, so we can’t know for certain who paid for this. It shouldn’t matter. Here is the general plan right here…give it a read, or at least a skim-through, and if you think it sounds reasonable, vote Yes. It’s that simple. Don’t be one of those ignorant voters that this group is betting on.

By Solange Whitehead

Councilmember Solange Whitehead

Scottsdale’s allure was built on exceptional design standards, world-class amenities, and an expansive amount of protected open space.  However, Scottsdale’s current general plan is decades old and is no longer protecting us.  General Plan 2035 was written with input from hundreds of residents and tackles today’s issues.  On development, General Plan 2035 creates a “Scottsdale premium” that favors the highest quality projects and protects Scottsdale’s character and quality of life.

For these reasons, Scottsdale’s staunchest resident advocates and the Coalition of Greater Scottsdale (COGS) have strongly endorsed a YES Vote on General Plan 2035. But an outside group has descended on Scottsdale in an effort to undermine our community and defeat General Plan 2035.

Don’t be fooled by this outside group’s misinformation campaign.  General Plan 2035 does not raise taxes or take away property rights. General Plan 2035 does raise the bar on development by:

  • Removing a developer incentive that provided developers with discounts and allowed build taller buildings, lower design standards, and expedited approvals.
  • Requiring public input on development which today is only encouraged.
  • Establishing 3 new Major General Amendment Plan categories requiring a super majority (five votes) of Council to approve zoning applications for these land use categories. Today, those same land use changes only require 4 Council votes
  • Development will be required to provide public open space
  • Adding a new goal “require development to pay its share”

General Plan 2035 also is focused on reversing urbanization and heights in Scottsdale’s Old Town by:

  • Explicitly excluding light “rail” and “modern streetcars” as future multimodal options
  • Adding a new goal to protect “the heritage and western character of the historic Old Town District.”

Beyond development, General Plan 2035 sets priorities for taking care of all of our city’s residents. Please join me and vote to protect Scottsdale with a YES vote on General Plan 2035, Prop 463.

Solange Whitehead is a Scottsdale City Councilmember

By Larry Kush

Photo Credit: YourValley.net

During my many years of service on the Scottsdale Planning Commission, there were several meetings where city staff updated us on the progress of the revised general plan and asked us for our comments.  City Planning Staff put in untold hours of work on this plan, holding several meetings with stake holders (citizens) to explain the plan and receive input.  Eventually, the commission approved the plan, as written and passed it onto the new city council members., To a person, the city council approved the plan and sent it on to the voters.  In fact, several of them (to include councilwoman Whitehead and Mayor Ortega) have written articles on the plan encouraging the public to vote YES this November.

The new plan clearly outlines areas of the city designated as “growth areas” where mixed use projects are encouraged.  One of these areas is along the Shea corridor in North Scottsdale.  Recently, two multifamily developers have proposed new, badly needed, apartments in this area.  Councilwoman Whitehead initially supported these plans, that is, until the local NIMBY (Not in my backyard) crowd, who do not even live near the planned project, flooded the council woman with protest emails and other social media condemnations making it clear to her that she was forgetting that opposing growth is why they had elected her in the first place.  Well, you guessed it!   Whitehead immediately caved and withdrew her support of these planned communities and for good measure withdrew her previous support for the redevelopment of a failed shopping center on Osborne and Hayden Roads.  The very same project that she highly praised when it was presented at the Development Review Board meeting of which she was the chair.

The developers have all cried foul and accused the councilwoman of perfidy.  Each of them having spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to please councilwoman Whitehead and the surrounding community, only to be abandoned by Whitehead at the last minute. As of this writing, each of these projects have postponed their planned city council hearings, not wishing to throw good money after bad as well as not knowing who in City leadership they can trust.

During my six-year stint in the Army during the Vietnam war, one thing that I learned about leadership was that you cannot serve two masters. If you do, you will eventually alienate both of them and lose all credibility of those you are tasked to lead.  This stated abandonment, by Whitehead, of these critically needed apartment homes is a good example of failed leadership.  The development community has learned that she is not to be trusted and the NIMBY community is angry that she supported these projects in the first place.  Ms. Whitehead is running for re-election, hopefully she will not prevail, as our city needs leadership upon which they can count.

Solange’s actions are why I will not support the new general plan (and encourage others to join me) for what is the point of supporting the plan which our mayor and several city council members (lead by Whitehead) all support while at the same time showing through their actions that they will not support the development guidelines laid out that very plan?  I, for one, cannot bring myself to join in their hypocrisy.

 

Larry Kush is a six year member of the Scottsdale Planning Commissioner, 40+ year Scottsdale resident and lifelong advocate of fair housing

By Ronald Sampson

Photo Credit: Arizona Republic

It’s the time honored trope in politics: you move out to the wing for the primary election, and pivot towards the middle for the general election. However, the danger is in going too far to one side to win a primary, only to make yourself unpalatable to general election voters as a result. This is the delicate balance that Kari Lake now finds herself encountering.

Thus far, she has embraced the hard-right approach, but with a grace that Kelli Ward completely lacks. Touting her Trump endorsement is a given, although her recent touting of an endorsement by pillow guy and noted conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell, as well as disgraced former NSA head Michael Flynn are questionable at best. However, the real test of that balance came last week at an “election integrity” and “medical freedom” (i.e. anti-vax and anti-mask) rally put on by the fringe right-wing group the Patriot Party of Arizona

The group, whose founder was arrested for trespassing in a Chandler school just a few months ago, is no doubt dubious in tactics and intention. They do have some sway with the reddest of Republicans however; they were able to nab Kelly Townsend as their keynote speaker for their rally after all. But the real issue was that they had asked candidates to sign a pledge to support them before speaking. Lake didn’t sign, saying that she hadn’t had a chance to read it beforehand, which led to heckling and booing from the audience. Yes, a completely reasonable assertion that she didn’t want to sign anything before reading it was met by boos.

Herein lies the danger of placating extremists on either side: it will push you towards unpalatable extremes. After all, anything you say or do while campaigning can and will be used against you in the court of voter opinion.

Even through her popularity and clear front-runner status, Lake has made a few questionable decisions which will give cannon fodder for her general election opponent (if she makes it that far). Touting endorsements from Lindell and Flynn are among them, as is even giving a fringe group the time of day when she doesn’t need them. Lake may be well served to avoid them going forward however; if you lie with pigs, you’ll get covered in feces, and that smell may not go away soon enough. Lake doesn’t need to out-flank everyone to their right, she just needs to stay in a reasonable lane and stay disciplined in this marathon.

Photo Credit: Arizona Mirror

Many of our readers are aware of the redistricting process going on currently; the Independent Redistricting Committee, a 5 person appointed body, is currently redrawing the congressional and legislative lines in the state of Arizona, as they do every decade after the census. Every decade there is conversation about what populations go into what districts, as well as the political consequences therein.

Well the first draft of the proposed lines came out recently, and it could be seen as a middle finger to the town of Paradise Valley. The proposed map cuts PV into four different legislative districts.

That’s right…they’re proposing cutting the town of 14,000 people, one of the wealthiest areas in the state, into four districts.

This would create a confusing nightmare for both candidates and voters alike. For candidates, targeting the right voters would be unnecessarily complicated, especially with any method not as precise as direct mail. For voters, imagine trying to find out what district you’re in and who you can vote for, especially since they would very likely get errant advertisements from candidates out-of-district. As Councilmember Julie Pace wisely noted, “Four is too many, it doesn’t work. For campaigning, signage, communications, reaching out, it really is complicated”.

So how did this happen? It’s tough to say, but obviously there is a lack of PV representation in the Independent Redistricting Commission. And with PV resident Aaron Lieberman gone from the legislature, and Steve Chucri gone from the County Board of Supervisors, we have to wonder, where else is PV underrepresented.

We tend to believe that this is pure oversight, and hopefully with effective lobbying (as seems to be in place now) it will be rectified. It does make one wonder if PV is getting hurt in other ways by its current lack of representation. With as much wealth as resides in the town, it should have more of a seat at various tables.

By Alexander Lomax

In a political world where money talks and the average person can feel unheard, the right to organize and protest is critically important. We may disagree with the reasons as to why people are protesting, but the importance of it is encoded in our Bill of Rights. However, there is a good way and a bad way to do it; a productive way and a counterproductive way.

The contrast couldn’t have been much starker this weekend. As millions of women assembled peacefully across the country for the national Women’s March, largely in response to Texas’s hyper-restrictive abortion law, progressive immigration “activists” from the group LUCHA followed Senator Kyrsten Sinema into an ASU bathroom, badgering her with questions about her immigration policies as she was taking care of nature’s business.

What were they trying to accomplish, you may be asking yourself. Certainly they didn’t expect to have a productive conversation outside of a commode. Of course not, that wasn’t the point. The objective was what it seems to be so often these days, especially with more progressive and younger groups: social media clout. Shares and retweets. Attention.

Of course, the more civil of us feel largely negatively about it. I would say that perhaps it even turns Sen. Sinema into more of a sympathetic figure for those on the fence about her (and perhaps those who aren’t fans as well). And numerous left-end political candidates have clamored to defend the move, which won’t be a good look for a general election.

More overarchingly, this seems like part of a troubling trend of the social media version of Gonzo Journalism, just without the acerbic wit of Hunter S. Thompson. Twitter (and other social media platforms, to a lesser degree) has given an outsized importance to these sorts of tactics, with the dopamine hits of engagement egging them on. To be fair, this is not a phenomenon purely relegated to the political left; the right is certainly not immune. But regardless of the side, it still has the temperament of a toddler begging for its parents attention as it performs some ridiculous, silly stunt; self assured in its self importance, but clearly seen as the actions of a child by the adults in the room.

There are many gripes to be made about the corrosive impacts of social media on our society. From ingrained narcissism to political division, from body dysmorphia issues to lack of genuine interaction. But what it has turned “activism” into ranks among them. Poor, uncivil behavior without any real impact is rewarded with dopamine and self importance, real change is rendered less important than digital clout, and our society sinks further in the mud as a result.

Representative Joseph Chaplik

We think that we can safely say that you are sick of COVID. Everyone is. We all just want to be done with this, to not hear about friends and family falling ill, and for life to return back to a healthier normal. The quest towards this end has repeatedly led to both winners and losers, but we have unusually well defined instances of both in Scottsdale this past week.

First, we must commend Scottsdale Unified yet again for their recent action to extend their mask requirement until at least after fall break.While it’s proper to hope for the best, the delta variant has vanquished those hopes, so to act as if the virus has materially gone away would be foolhardy. Superintendent Scott Menzel and the entire board have walked the proper line of cautiousness throughout much of this pandemic, even as loud, angry hordes have done their best to make their unpaid jobs more difficult.

Speaking of those angry hordes, we find the organized, widespread resistance to children wearing masks to be particularly foolish. No one would ever consider children to be paragons of cleanliness. They have frequently been known as germ factories in normal times, so the fact that so many supposed conservatives are comfortable with kids bringing home a sometimes deadly but often debilitating virus boggles the mind. It just goes to show the depth that the entire pandemic has been politicized.

And that segues into who has been responding poorly to Covid, and for that we must bring up Joseph Chaplik, first term State Representative from Scottsdale’s own District 23. While Chaplik has touted himself as an economic conservative, which we applaud, it seems as though his biggest and loudest efforts have gone towards proliferating the spread of Covid and being particularly proud about it. From opining as to why people don’t wear masks to stop the spread of AIDS to authoring a bill allowing businesses to ignore mask mandates (and being exceedingly loud about the subject on Twitter), we have to wonder why he relishes being on the side of the pandemic.

It is unfortunate that politics got wrapped up with our response to Covid in the first place, although in our polarized, algorithm-driven society, we suppose it was inevitable. But some elected leaders have chosen to take a data-driven, sober approach (SUSD) and some have decided to damage the conservative brand and make Republicans look like fools (Chaplik). We wish more Republicans would take SUSD’s lead.

By Tim Stratton

Ballots will soon arrive seeking approval of the 2035 General Plan. People are asking me, “Why should I support something I have heard so little about?” That’s a great question. Why haven’t voters heard more on the 2035 General Plan? What is hiding in this 296 page document that most people will never read? Maybe the answer is that there is little in the 2035 General Plan worthy of your support. Is this the best Scottsdale can do? I hope not.

The 2035 General Plan is not an improvement over the existing plan, and is full of platitudes and empty words. In order to get the plan approved by Council it has been watered down and neutered to the point of lacking a coherent vision. Worse yet, it places the City adrift as it relates to comprehensive land use planning and invites bad decision making on zoning, will result in potential tax increases, and will lead to diminishing property values.

After much analysis I have come to the conclusion that the 2035 General Plan doesn’t warrant support. This plan focuses more on secondary issues and less on vision and action. It fails to respect and uphold individual property rights, diminishing our property values. It does not protect small businesses and promotes further government regulation and overreach. Irrespective of which side of the development debate you are on, it leaves much to be desired. Most notably, an acknowledgement of the diverse character of our community is absent by the fact that the plan fails to establish a western area overlay district. Even Phoenix recognizes the importance of maintaining a rural character in certain parts of the city. What does our plan have to say about that? Nothing. It fails to respect our diverse character.

The plan doesn’t go far enough to safeguard your property rights. All it does is create more confusion and uncertainty—two things Scottsdale can do without. The plan also pays lip-service to our older residents who wish to remain in Scottsdale. The plan mentions aging in place for seniors, but provides no action or mechanism to make this happen. Our seniors deserve better.

With all this bad land use policy comes bad fiscal policy too. Good land use preserves and protects our community and allows us to maximize property tax revenues, make smart budgeting decisions, and enhance our underlying tourism and retail base. This plan does none of these things. It fails to protect our critical tourism industry and it says nothing about the short-term vacation rental crisis that is ruining Scottsdale neighborhoods and stealing tax revenues from our legitimate hotels and resorts. It also fails to address the issue of housing availability.

Scottsdale is known for its bold leadership and has historically set the trend in Arizona. The 2035 General Plan does not reflect the high standards of our community. Vote NO on the 2035 General Plan. We need leaders with vision on City Council who are committed to developing a general plan for Scottsdale that is fiscally responsible and sets the right tone for responsible and balanced growth. Vote NO on Proposition 463.

Tim Stratton is a candidate for Scottsdale City Council

By Councilmember Solange Whitehead

Scottsdale, let’s get this job done!  On October 6th, ballots for Scottsdale’s General Plan (GP) will be mailed to voters.  I am enthusiastically endorsing a YES vote to ratify General Plan 2035 and protect all that we love about Scottsdale.  

Scottsdale’s General Plan 2035 has been a collaboration between the City and the residents. Working side-by-side with residents, has made Scottsdale’s greatest achievements possible and ratifying the GP 2035 will be no exception.  GP 2035 is a forward-looking plan that is based on and will protect the founding values and priorities that make Scottsdale an international standout.    

As residents, we know that Scottsdale is much more than a luxury destination.  It is also a great place to live.  This is not by chance and the General Plan 2035 is written to ensure Scottsdale continues to enjoy the highest standard of living in our beautiful desert environment.  The GP 2035 re-affirms a long-standing resident priority to acquire and protect acres in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and emphasizes the need to expand natural open spaces and wildlife corridors on public and private land.  It places emphasis on higher design standards for development and the need to balance growth with public benefit.  New character area plans strengthen protections for Scottsdale’s distinct neighborhoods and there is emphasis on public safety, transportation, and services for vulnerable populations.  The GP 2035 includes new sections on education and tourism recognizing that the success of each is crucial to our City’s future. The GP 2035 sets broad and ambitious sustainability goals that will protect people, the planet, and the City’s budget.  

After earning the unanimous support of the City Council, the General Plan 2035 is now in your hands.  Join me in support of a healthy and prosperous future for Scottsdale and Vote YES on General Plan 2035, Proposition 463.    

As always, I am available to answer any questions about the General Plan or any other Scottsdale issue.  

Thank you, Scottsdale Voters!

 

Solange Whitehead
Scottsdale City Councilmember

By Scottsdale Vice Mayor Betty Janik

Your Ballot to approve Scottsdale General Plan 2035 will arrive in the mail the first week of October. It represents the Scottsdale Vision, your vision, to guide our city for the next decade. It serves to direct the physical development of our City and acts as a blueprint to achieve community goals. The Plan is a collaboration of citizens, civic organizations, local businesses, and council members. Outreach included rigorous public citywide meetings, presentations to boards and commissions, hours of City Council work study sessions, and the review and adoption of hundreds of citizen proposed edits. On June 8, 2021, General Plan 2035 received unanimous approval from City Council to forward the document to the citizens for a vote.

The Plan is 291 pages divided into 3 sections: Preface, Chapters (8 in all), and an Appendix. I suggest you read the Preface which contains the all-important Vision Statement. It was rewritten at least a dozen times before Council agreed on the final version. It is an inspiring statement.

Section 2 contains eight Chapters covering an array of pertinent topics. Returning (brought back by popular demand) from the 2001 plan are the community created elements of Character and Design (Chapter 1) Community Involvement (Chapter 3),and Economic Vitality (Chapter 7). The two new community elements, Tourism and Education, appear in Chapter 7. Tourism was added to recognize the significant role tourism plays as a leading economic engine and a key to sustaining the Scottsdale image. Education was incorporated to showcase the lifelong learning options available for all ages and abilities. These community created elements are not required by the state statute but rather represent citizens’ aspirations for our great city.

New to the Plan are state mandated elements: Chapter 2 Energy and Chapter 6 Neighborhood Preservation and Revitalization. The need for an energy element is obvious with the evolving landscape of renewable energy balanced with efficiency. Many of our established neighborhoods will be in need of a facelift balancing the preservation of cherished neighborhoods and a need for revitalization. I suggest you read both new elements.Read More

By Alexander Lomax

Photo Credit: The Hill

It should be no surprise to anyone who follows American politics that Arizona’s technically-Democrat Senator Kyrsten Sinema has made some enemies, many of them left-of-center. Her dedication to her independent, “mavericky” branding has been something that has vaulted her to national prominence, but sometimes with the love and adoration of a wrestling heel.

The progressive left has long been critical of her opposition to larger minimum wages and her obstinance regarding eliminating the filibuster. Those are subjects that are a benefit to many in the center and the right, but are things that while they may annoy mainstream Democrats, wouldn’t represent a tipping point in their tenuous support of her.

And then, for the first time as Senator, prescription drug prices came to the forefront. Her opposition to a Democratically-led initiative to decrease prescription drug prices was paired with the substantial donations she has received from that industry. And it would seem that that is the final Rubicon for her to cross.

In a simultaneously shocking and unshocking development, the Arizona Democratic Party held a vote at their regularly scheduled State Committee meeting last weekend, and with OVER 80 PERCENT of the vote, gave her a vote of no confidence. While these sorts of votes are not too uncommon in politics (John McCain faced at least one), to have such a one-sided vote to condemn a sitting Senator from your own party is…something.

And let’s be clear: Kyrsten Sinema doesn’t care. She routinely has distanced herself from the party, and seems to believe their support to be somewhat toxic. But at the same time, if you want to win a primary, it’s usually not wise to tick off all of the party members. It’s tough to win a primary when 80% of your most energized voters don’t like you.

So where does she go from here? Her re-election is still 3 years away, and a lot can happen. But at this point, any halfway competent primary challenger with a good digital game could raise 7-figures in a national campaign just by virtue of running to unseat her; she is that hated amongst the progressive left nationally. Outside of putting “sham candidates” on the ballot to dilute opposition vote, what is her best option going forward?

I’d say it’s to truly embrace being an Independent, and run as an Independent.

After all, I have to believe that she would have a better chance winning a plurality of Arizona voters in a tight 3-way race, then trying to get over 50% in a primary with an electorate that really, really doesn’t like her.  She has routinely made it clear that she doesn’t need or want the party; this would be the final step in her metamorphosis, and would allow Dems to move on to someone they don’t hate.

Projects whether they be new, or redevelopments can go on odd journeys when being evaluated in Scottsdale.  That’s because of the independent nature of each of the councilmembers, and an engaged citizenry.

But in an era when Scottsdale’s council majority has tilted more to a slower growth nature, it’s still a head scratcher what’s taking place with a project called 92 Ironwood across from Honor Health’s North Scottsdale hospital.

There, a weird office building empty for 12 years sits.  That’s not a typo.

There, current zoning allows up to 48 feet in height.  There, a plan soon coming before the City Council would redevelop the site and actually LOWER allowed heights.

There the project enjoys overwhelming support from those closest to the site – an adjacent shopping center, its small businesses, Honor Health, the two closest HOAs and even the Arizona Nurse’s Association. Opponents, decrying apartments in general but really nothing about 92 Ironwood specifically, live miles and miles away.

There, densities would be the lowest of any apartment project in North Scottsdale in 5 years.  And this would be the first such one within five miles of 92 Ironwood in 20-31 years, depending on who you are talking to.  Read More

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

We have previously covered LD28 Representative Aaron Lieberman’s announcement of his run for Arizona Governor. As a result of Arizona’s “resign-to-run” laws, his time as Representative was thusly coming to an end soon regardless, and as such Lieberman recently announced his resignation from this seat.

Legislative District 28 covers Paradise Valley as well as parts of central and east Phoenix, including the Arcadia and Biltmore neighborhoods. It has been a hotly contested “swing district” since its creation after the last redistricting process in 2012, and 2020 was the first election in which the Democrats won all three legislative seats (2 Representative and 1 Senate seats) in the same race, with Kelli Butler and Liebermann winning re-election to the House, and Christine Porter Marsh winning the Senate seat.

The process to replace him is currently underway, as the Democratic Precinct Committeepersons (local level party officials) in LD28 will convene this Thursday to submit three names to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, who will then choose who will take over Lieberman’s seat for the rest of the term. After that, LD28 will cease to exist in its current form, as the to-be-determined redistricting borders will then be in play for the 2022 election.

Why does this matter? In some ways, it really doesn’t. The person chosen will caucus with the Democrats, meaning no net loss or gain of votes. Considering that the boundaries will be gone by the end of that term, there is not a clear path to running for re-election for whomever is chosen.

However, whomever is chosen can then start making contacts with various interest groups, lobbies, and well-heeled individuals which that individual can then take forward with them to either run for re-election or run for a different seat. Also, where that individual lives within the current district matters significantly. Since Rep. Butler has since moved to the Sunnyslope district in Phoenix, choosing a replacement from that area could create a crowded 2022 primary depending on the redistricted borders. Someone from the Biltmore or Arcadia neighborhoods or Paradise Valley could find themselves with a less impeded path through a primary in 2022, but a much tougher general election in a more Republican district.

Meanwhile, the Republican-led Board of Supervisors certainly has some incentive to choose someone who will have little chance to utilize that seat to turn into a fundraising juggernaut. Frictions and acrimony between the BoS and much of the AZ GOP caucus are already at an elevated level due to the recent “audit”, and they won’t be getting Christmas cards from Kelli Ward if they end up choosing the next star of the AZ Democratic Party.

Perhaps however, they’re willing to sacrifice Christmas cards for a final shot in their internal war.

 

Photo Credit: Brian Hancock

While Scottsdale governance has generally been befitting of our world class status, one way that it has fallen below expectations is their lack of ratification of a general plan in the recent past. These plans, which are supposed to be updated and ratified by the voters every 10 years, had not been updated in two decades. That will change with the recent approval of a 2035 plan by City Council; now it will be up to voters.

So why should you vote yes? First, let’s talk about what it even is.

The general plan is a set of guidelines that are meant to guide the future growth of the city; according to the city website, it “defines the community’s goals for growth, development, character, mobility and a variety of other community aspects”.

Mayor David Ortega said about it “Back in January when the new Council started the (General Plan 2035) process, I said ‘We are the body-of-the-whole to craft the final version’”. He was the only current voting member who was on the Scottsdale City Council during the crafting of the last successfully ratified plan.

The approval of the general plan will go on the ballot under the designation of Proposition 463 in a simple Yes or No vote. At this point there will be no other items on the ballot, although this is subject to change; but let’s focus on this proposition.

We are incredibly fortunate that this current council understands the value of competent planning and can largely leave aside bickering to help move the city forward. This current council makeup, as imperfect as it may be, is not led by ideologues; it is led by experienced folks with a wide variety of experiences and mild differences of opinion.

This iteration of the general plan delicately balances the needs and desires of Scottsdalians for a robust economy while preserving the beautiful backdrop of our city. For growth without disrupting the greatness of our city. It’s an excellent balance, and we should consider ourselves lucky to be led by leaders who could actually get this done.

There aren’t always easy Yes votes on your ballot, but Proposition 463 will be one of those. And we are fortunate to have the opportunity to vote Yes.

As others have observed, not all residential project proposals are made equal. Year after year, overly ambitious developers attempt to cajole planning commissions and city councils all over the country, including in Scottsdale, trying to convince them of the sometimes dubious merits of the projects they’re championing. On the flip side of that, many developers do the right thing. And have the right recipe.

So what is the correct approach? As a more overarching statement, we’d say projects that add value to the area around them. Ones that are championed by the nearby residents and businesses. Ones that the people around the proposed site are actually enthusiastic about because of the existence of the need of the project, the value-adding benefits to the area around it, and good planning.

The Scottsdale Planning Commission has had myriad positive and negative projects come in front of them, ones that encapsulate how things can be done the right way, as well as value-destroying projects forced down their throats. Very recently however, they heard two more positive examples of multifamily projects showing how it should be done: The Miller project proposed by Toll Brothers on the outskirts of Old Town and the 92 Ironwood project proposed by Jim Riggs near Honor Health’s North Scottsdale hospital.

Both of these projects have the hallmarks of quality development: heavy buy-in from local stakeholders,  inclusion of said stakeholders in the conversation, and building specs that are cognizant of the desires of those neighborhoods.

The 92 Ironwood project fills a clear and compelling need; housing for our healthcare workers, considering the large Honor Health office right nearby. This is why local stakeholders such as the Arizona Nurse’s Association came out in support, as have local businesses that would be positively affected by this. Additionally The Miller project (and Toll Brothers more overarchingly) have helped build a robust model of public support, by getting full-throated buy-in from local police and fire as well as the denizens of the shopping center adjacent to the site.

That said, there will always be noise, not the noise of construction but the noise of activism. There are plenty of people who only seem to feel alive if they are protesting something; people who don’t even live in the neighborhood but feel compelled to try to badger their city council to reject a project even if it won’t impact them in the slightest. The noise is unavoidable, but ignorable. NIMBYs are well known, but the force of NIYBYE’s (Not In Your Back Yard Either) must be acknowledged before being ignored.

We applaud the Planning Commissioners who ignored the chatter from the NIYBYE, and beseech them to continue to do so for the sake of our entire city. And in a City Council whose makeup is partially composed of councilors who got there by protesting poor growth, we ask them to take a moment to judge a project on the value they provide to actual neighborhood stakeholders. Projects like The Miller and 92 Ironwood are the template which more developers should follow going forward. They exemplify there is such a thing as good growth too.

By Scottsdale Vice Mayor Betty Janik

The citizens of Scottsdale will be asked to vote on a new General Plan this November.  It is a mail-in only vote. Ballots will be sent out in early October to registered voters.

The goal of the General Plan (GP) is to guide the development of Scottsdale over the next decade to realize the Citizens’ Vision for their City. The State of Arizona requires that the GP be updated every 10 years. We are currently operating under the 2001 voter ratified GP. The past 2 attempts to approve a GP (2011 and 2015) were unsuccessful. The draft GP 2035 was designated as the baseline for the current effort. It was created by a 25-member, council appointed, Task Force that hosted numerous public meetings and workshops, between 2014 and 2016. A sizable amount of content in General Plan 2035 was retained from the 2001 plan. There is general agreement that our community has changed over the past two decades and a detailed review and update of the 2001 GP is in order.

The update process began in 2019 with data collection and analysis by staff that included a review of relevant studies, policies, and current conditions. This phase was completed in November 2019. Next up was a review by the Technical Advisory Committee, an interdepartmental city staff team, with suggestions for content update. Upon completion, GP 2035 was passed on to a newly formed CRC –Citizen Review Committee. The thirteen CRC members were appointed by the City Manager, with City Council approval, and tasked with reviewing the full draft GP. The CRC group consisted of one representative from each of the city boards and commissions with related content in the GP. The CRC, with guidance from staff, reviewed edits submitted by members of our community. Those judged appropriate were included in the GP. In December 2020, the CRC concluded its work and was disbanded. This ushered in step 4, the public hearing process as mandated by state statute. It included public outreach and presentation to relevant Boards and Commissions. Note that City Council (CC) has the final authority in sending the document to the citizens for ratification. In the interest of transparency, members of Council reviewed the document in great detail and considered hundreds of additions, deletions and/or edits submitted by citizen, citizen groups, and fellow council members. These changes were presented during open CC meetings (boring but necessary) and accepted by vote of Council members. Staff was outstanding at tracking and collating modifications. The final draft was approved by City Council unanimously at the June 22 Council meeting calling for a special election by mail for November 2.

Step 5 is now in your hands, ratification of “Scottsdale General Plan 2035.”

For more information:
https://www.scottsdaleaz.gov/general-plan/general-plan-updates

By Representative Lorenzo Sierra

Today’s political landscape is filled with partisan opportunists, if not outright conspiracy theorists, and they have unfortunately gained traction in our daily dialogue. From the likes of Arizona’s own Congressman Paul Gosar to Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Greene, extremists continue to push unfounded claims about the results of our election and promote dangerous rhetoric. More recently, we’ve seen the far-right continue their bizarre and retaliatory attacks against digital platforms for supposedly “censoring” conservative voices. 

The unhinged nature of this conversation around tech issues, and its growing national traction, got so out of control that it caught the attention of President Biden, who revoked a Trump executive order that sought to reduce legal protections for online platforms. 

And there was good reason to do so: this Republican-driven rhetoric has nothing to do with protecting freedom of speech. It’s simply a coordinated attack to chip away at the foundations of our democracy and unfortunately draw attention away from the continued GOP assault on people’s free and secure access to voting. Not coincidentally, these GOP-led attacks will disproportionately put up obstacles to vote for minorities and lower-income families.  These efforts at voter suppression go against everything this country stands for, and the continued attacks on tech companies are part of the overall game plan. 

When Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz makes comments about people “taking up arms” against technology companies, it isn’t by accident. The accessibility and openness that technology has given to people from all walks of life scares the right-wing extremists who are now trying to disenfranchise those who disagree with them. For those who are trying to make it harder for people to vote, reliable access to authoritative information provided by technology is one of the scariest possibilities out there. So, they will go to great lengths to drum up any argument they can use as an excuse to shut down that access and disconnect communities. 

We all know there have been some problems with some of the digital platforms. To say otherwise would be disingenuous. But I hope that as we look to the future, my colleagues will avoid fanning the flames of a partisan-driven movement surrounding technology policy. These are critically important issues that deserve discussion, and a measured approach is needed. For example: while I do not believe we should rush to the defense of Facebook, the immediate and politically charged Republican backlash following the Oversight Board’s ruling against President Trump revealed the true motivation behind their anti-tech agenda.

The last thing Arizona’s leaders should do is support policies that will only play into the partisan-backed goal of demonizing and targeting technology companies because they had the fortitude to stand up to Donald Trump and the Big Lie. Ultimately, that will be bad for our economy and our democracy. And with the recent Supreme Court ruling that upheld our state’s restrictive voting laws, the need for our state’s more level-headed political leadership – from Phoenix to Washington – to focus on the most pressing issues facing our democracy today could not be clearer. Let’s work on common sense policies around technology issues and avoid joining the “witch hunt” led by ideologues and extremists. 

2022 Scrum


From Data Orbital

Data Orbital is pleased to announce the results of its latest statewide, live-caller survey of registered voters. The survey was conducted from September 30th to October 1st.

The survey focused on voters’ views of the proposed $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill and sought to gauge their position on the overall size of the spending package.

The $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill does not reach majority support with Arizona voters. Overall, less than half (45.6%) of all voters expressed support for the spending bill. Independents, in particular, do not support the bill, with only 22% of Independents strongly supporting it and 18% having no opinion.

However, voters expressed that they may be open to some form of the bill, but only with a smaller price tag. A majority of Democrats (54%) as well as sizeable portions of Independents (46%) and Republicans (34%) said they would be more likely to support the bill if it came at a lower cost. In addition, of those who either “somewhat support” or “somewhat oppose” the bill as it stands, almost 60% would be more likely to support the bill if it was less than the current price tag of $3.5 trillion.

Pollster George Khalaf said, “These results clearly show why Senator Sinema is holding out against pressure from the progressive left. She is listening to the constituency of voters that elected her in 2018 – moderate suburban voters. It is clear Arizona voters are hesitant about the reconciliation package at its full $3.5 trillion price.”

This poll of 550 registered voters was conducted through a live survey that collected 60% of the results from landlines and 40% from cell phones. It has a margin of error at plus or minus 4.18% with a 95% confidence interval. Respondents were weighted on a number of different demographic figures based on registration data from the Arizona Secretary of State. The poll was conducted from September 30 – October 1, 2021. All non-released questions would not reasonably be expected to influence responses to all released questions. The questions released are verbatim from the survey provided to respondents. Toplines and demographic data can be found here. Crosstabs for this survey can be found here.

By Arizona Representative Shawnna Bolick

Today, after nine months of waiting for the report on the Arizona Senate’s audit of Maricopa County, Arizona voters got answers – and more questions.

One thing was clear from the report. There are gaps and loopholes in Arizona’s election laws. These gaps must be filled and Arizona’s election laws must be brought to an unimpeachable standard of integrity.

As a member of the Arizona House of Representatives, I introduced multiple pieces of legislation in the last session that would have addressed the missing accountability and oversight identified in the report. When I proposed these bold bills, I took a lot of flak from the left. The report now makes it clear – we need those changes, and more.

I sponsored a bill establishing a chain of custody and implementing robust oversight measures, including public reporting of duplicated ballots and a county’s reasoning of a voter’s intent, electronic display of ballots being counted, and live video feed of counting centers with heavy penalties for disruption of the feed. The bill must be re-introduced. I sponsored another bill limiting the use of emergency voting centers, a tool frequently abused by Recorder Fontes. This bill must be re-introduced. I attended multiple cyber security briefings before and after the 2020 election and have frequently said that machines that can be connected to the internet should not be used in the voting context. By nature, they are susceptible to manipulation, as the report makes clear.

Secretary Hobbs behaved in a way unfitting for the office. As your Secretary of State, I commit to interpreting our laws in a way that strengthens the security of our voter registration and election processes rather than exploiting weaknesses in the law to favor my political agenda. Election integrity starts at the top.

Finally, the patchwork of laws and processes across counties likely resulted in additional irregularities. I call on the Arizona Senate to finish the job it started and complete an audit of the entire state. We need a full picture.

The work to put our elections above reproach has just begun and I will continue to lead the charge.

GENERIC CONGRESSIONAL BALLOT IS TIED FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 2015.

• The generic congressional ballot is tied at 42% among a sample of N=800 registered voters in a survey conducted September 1st-September 8th with a margin of error of +3.46%.
• The last time the generic congressional ballot was tied was back in October 2015, also at 42%.
• The last time this question was asked was in April 2020 where voters favored the Democratic candidate by 6 points (41% GOP Candidate/47% Dem Candidate).

• The GOP lead has moved a net 13 points with men, while women remain unchanged.

• In 2020, the generic Democrat led among three age groups. Now they only lead among one, 18-34 year olds. Given that the youngest age cohort usually drops off the most in turnout, this is shaping up to be a real challenge for Democrats.

• The difficulty for the Democratic Party can be seen in the movement of the following subgroups:
o The Republican lead among white voters has doubled since April 2020.
o Independents have moved a net nine points, and college grads have moved a net 11 points towards the Republican Party.
o Significant gains have also been made among suburban and rural voters who have each moved in favor of the Republican party by 5 & 6 points, respectively.
o Women 45+ is an important subgroup to pay attention to, they are tied at 43%.

From Public Opinion Strategies

Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

 

 

 

 

BIDEN’S DISAPPROVAL RATING RISES TO 50%; VOTERS CITE BIDEN’S HANDLING OF AFGHANISTAN AS THEIR BIGGEST CONCERN ABOUT HIM.
• President Biden’s job approval slipped to 48% approve, 50% disapprove among a sample of N=800 registered voters in a survey conducted September 1st-September 8th with a margin of error of +3.46%.
• President Biden becomes only the second president with a majority disapproval rating this early in their administration along with President Trump. The Biden and Trump intensity numbers are quite parallel at this point in their presidencies.

Total Approve Total Disapprove Net Difference
Trump – Sept 2017 44% 52% -8%
Biden – Sept 2021 48% 50% -2%

Strongly Approve Strongly Disapprove Net Difference
Trump – Sept 2017 27% 42% -15%
Biden – Sept 2021 23% 42% -19%

• Biden’s current approval numbers are essentially the same as Trump’s were in October 2018, just before Republicans lost 41 congressional seats and seven Gubernatorial seats in the mid-term elections. In October 2018, Trump had a 47% approve, 49% disapprove rating. His intensity was 30% strongly approve and 43% strongly disapprove. Biden’s current overall and intensity numbers essentially match Trump’s numbers in mid-October 2018.

• President Biden has a majority net negative rating among many important swing subgroups, including:

Ranked by % Net Difference Total Approve Total Disapprove Net Difference

Congressional Ballot: Undecided 43% 52% -9%
Independents 43% 51% -8%
Midwest Region 45% 52% -7%
White Women 47% 52% -5%
Suburban Voters 46% 51% -5%

September 2021 Omni Page 2
• Voters express clear concerns about President Biden and his Administration.

Which one of the following, if any, raises the most hesitation and concern about President Biden and his administration? Would it be his…

Ranked by % Hesitation

Registered
Voters
% Hesitation
Handling of the situation in Afghanistan 42%
Handling of the border with Mexico 27%
Support for almost six trillion dollars in new federal spending 23%
Handling of COVID 19%
None of these raise hesitations or concerns 23%

• The difficulty for the president and the Democratic Party can be seen as a majority (52%) of those undecided on the generic congressional ballot express their concerns about the president’s handling of Afghanistan.
• As well, a near majority (47%) of active duty service members express concern about the president’s handling of Afghanistan.
• The concern about Afghanistan crosses traditional political boundaries as even 27% of Democrats and 26% of Biden’s 2020 voters express concern about his handling of Afghanistan.
• The one subgroup more concerned about the president’s handling of the border with Mexico are those over 65 years old (40% border with Mexico/37% Afghanistan). The border issue also scores especially high among those Republicans who self-describe themselves as identifying more with Trump than with the Republican Party (56% concerned about Biden’s handling of the border with Mexico).

By Shawnna Bolick

Good Morning,

Like many of Arizona’s voters, election integrity is on the front of many of our minds. You want voting processes that are secure, inspire confidence, ensure anonymity, and are robust and defensible against fraudulent attacks. With so much on the line in every election, criminals are motivated. Only a couple hundred of fraudulent votes can sway many local elections.

In Arizona, the Secretary of State is the chief election official, responsible for overseeing campaign finance, ballot measures like propositions and candidate petitions, and verifying the official outcomes. As a State Representative for Phoenix’s 20th Legislative District, I have been fighting to restore confidence in our elections and defending your elections. I am running for this Arizona Secretary of State because it’s high time that our elections are secure, our citizens are confident, and our Secretary of State drops the politics.

Late last week, Mayor Kevin Hartke of Chandler authorized a Mobile Voting pilot program to test cell-phone voting in future elections. I am strongly opposed to Chandler authorizing this program for future elections. Though Mayor Hartke’s proposal pushes “innovation” and making voting “more accessible”, I believe our right to vote needs to be taken more seriously. In good faith and conscience, I cannot support this latest move by one of our municipalities. Voting is a serious matter. Utilizing technology to cast a vote means we need to ensure additional security measures are enabled. But without adequate back-up systems, voting relies on the good intentions of the user. Voting by phone may be easy, but how can we ensure only voter is voting with that system. It is quite possible one-time use passwords will be thwarted. Right now, public distrust in the current system is likely at an all-time high. If those who distrust the system stop voting, that puts the results of the election in the hands of those that trust the folks running the system. I want a secure voting system that represents the citizens. At this time, voting by phone is not foolproof. We don’t want to become tomorrow’s fools who have been hacked by DefCon’s attendees.

Another example is Maricopa County Officials rebuffing Arizona Senators subpoena to audit the integrity of our 2020 presidential election. I fully support Senator Borelli’s call for Attorney General Brnovich to investigate the subpoena and bring Maricopa County Officials in line.

I support this move and strongly oppose Chandler’s cell-phone voting program for the same reason.

Both undermine the fundamental tenets of good elections.

We want elections that are:

  • Resilient to Fraud
  • Reliably and Easily Audited
  • Easily Understood by Voters and Trustworthy
  • Front- and Back-End Anonymous

E-voting, ballot harvesting, out-of-precinct voting, and resisting audits all undermine American principles of voting. Many Democrats are willing to manipulate the vote with such ideas to politically redesign a system better suited to keep them in office longer. But beyond this being deplorable, I would remind everyone that our nation’s common enemies can just as well exploit a weakness designed for Democrats—more effectively, too, as we witnessed during 2016 and the rise of the misinformation campaigns stirred up by the Chinese and Russians.

I spent some time in Yuma earlier this week to meet with small business owners and farmers to discuss the importance of water. This coming week I was invited to attend a cyber security briefing for state leaders. I take these elevated attacks and threats to our election system seriously. And our future leaders, especially our next Secretary of State in Arizona, needs to be on the cutting edge of election integrity, able to confidently navigate the present challenges. I am fighting each day to build a system which you can be confident in, and together I know we can achieve that vision for Arizona.

Finally, we have two events this week.  I hope to see you there!

September 8, 2021
5:00-7:00pm
RSVP to ben@theresolute.group

 

September 9, 2021
11:30am-12:30pm
RSVP to ben@theresolute.group