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Arizona Voters Will have The Opportunity to Directly Support Arizona First Responders During the November Election

This November, voters will decide on a ballot measure designed to support Arizona first responders. The measure, known as the Back the Blue Act, strengthens criminal penalties for assaulting a first responder and increases survivor benefits to the families of first responders who are killed in the line of duty. The proposition was referred to the ballot by the Arizona State Legislature last year with strong bipartisan support.

“This is an important first step towards solving a big problem in our community,” said Tom Hatten, CEO of Mountainside Fitness and chairman of the Back the Blue campaign. “First responders, the people who keep us all safe, are under attack. This ballot measure gives us all a chance to show our support for first responders.”

The measure would levy a $20 fee on criminal convictions in the state, which would be directed towards a fund that would pay $250,000 to the families of fallen first responders within 30 days of a line of duty death. It also increases the severity of charges for violent assaults on first responders.

Supporters of the measure note that the protections in the proposition would be offered for all first responders – including police officers, firefighters, and paramedics. They say that rising rates of crime in the state and national stories of assaults on first responders have made the measure critically important in 2024.

“Most importantly, this changes the narrative to say ‘we stand with the cops, not the criminals,’” Hatten stated. “We are asking everyone to come together and show their support of the people who protect our state.”

For more information or to find out how they can support local first responders, voters can head to www.BackTheBlue.vote.

Signature Jazz Event Takes Center Stage in Scottsdale with New Orleans Themed Event

It’s the ultimate combination.  Cool jazz and blues come together to create a red-hot music festival. The Molina Fine Jewelers Scottsdale Jazz Festival Blues & Brews Presented by Mercedes-Benz of Scottsdale returns to the Scottsdale Civic Center in Old Town on April 27th. This year the event takes place at the Civic Center’s brand-new East Bowl, its largest amphitheater in a beautiful setting.

This year’s headline act is Grammy award-winning contemporary Jazz/R&B superstar Norman Brown. Other artists include internationally known New Orleans jazz saxophonist Donald Harrison, renown vocalist Nayo Jones, Carlos Rivas & Mexsal, Arizona based jazz great Neaman Lyles, Kiara Jayne, Kings of Soul,  and more.

Tickets are on sale now at www.ScottsdaleJazzFest.org.

In addition to a captivating array of sounds and sights, food showcasing the flavors of New Orleans will be on hand.

This year the Molina Fine Jewelers Scottsdale Jazz Festival Blues & Brews Presented by Mercedes- Benz of Scottsdale is partnering with the Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships, America’s most attended polo event, to add an extra level of polo style luxury and excitement to the jazz event, as well as helping introduce new elements to the event just as it has to for years with the Scottsdale Polo Party. thousands of polo fans to the emerging Scottsdale jazz scene.

New this year is the Brew Garden Beer Tasting featuring a selection of craft beers in our signature beer garden. A beer cicerone (someone who specializes in the service and knowledge of beer) will be on hand to guide you and answer any questions. Beer tasting tickets are sold separately and do not include entry into the event. Prices, if purchased in advance, are $16.50 for five beer tastings and $33 for ten beer tastings.

There are a variety of ticketing options and price levels. General Admission is $35 before March 1st, $45 after March 1st, and $55 at the door. Reserved table seating, including seating on the stage itself,  is also available from $775 to $3,050 per table. All access passes are also available for $555 if purchased before March 1st. For a complete list of options go to www.ScottsdaleJazzFest.org.

Gates to the event open at 3pm with the acts beginning at 4pm and scheduled to conclude at 11:00pm.

“This is not only a signature event for jazz fans, but also a great opportunity for anyone who wants to enjoy a great day of music, food, and fun in Scottsdale’s new East Bowl at the Civic Center,” said Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega.

The Molina Fine Jewelers Scottsdale Jazz Festival Blues & Brews Presented by Mercedes-Benz of Scottsdale is part of International Jazz Day which has been recognized as a UNESCO Global event. It was founded by noted local jazz musician Doc Jones, a professional musician, educator, and recording artist for more than 40 years.

“Prepare to be mesmerized by an exceptional lineup of renowned artists who will take you on a musical journey like no other,” said Jones. “Whether you are a long-time jazz fan or new to this music, this festival will transport you straight to the heart of jazz and blues culture in a spectacular setting in the heart of Scottsdale.”

“I am thrilled to help bring jazz to a broader audience as well assisting helping young people discover and appreciate this distinct art form,” said Molina Fine Jewelers President and CEO Al Molina.

“We are proud to be a part of this signature Scottsdale event for the first time which introduces more fans to jazz and more visitors to our great city,” said Mercedes-Benz of Scottsdale General Manager Vern Foutz.

Proceeds from the festival benefit the International Jazz Day AZ Foundation which funds music programs for at-risk youth such as Next Student Academy for the Arts, Molina’s School of Jazz, and the Doc Jones’ summer music program.

For more information or to purchase tickets go to www.ScottsdaleJazzFest.org.

All Taking the Stage Wednesday, April 3rd – Sunday, April 7th During AZ Bike Week at WestWorld of Scottsdale

The Southwest’s largest motorcycle rally, Arizona Bike Week returns bigger, better and badder for its 27th annual year to WestWorld of Scottsdale starting Wednesday, April 3rd through Sunday, April 7th, 2024. 

Kicking off the four-night music festival in Arizona Bike Week’s RockYard is Southern Rock Rapper Yelawolf, who hits the stage Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. Known for bringing a hip and young demographic to events, Yelawolf’s notable hits include “Pop the Trunk,” “Let’s Roll,” “and Best Friend.”

Then, on Thursday night, saddle up for Country Rock Singer Brantley Gilbert, who will take the stage with all his favorite songs, including “Bottoms Up,” “Kick it in the Sticks,” and “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do.”

Friday night is a double headline evening. Kicking the night off will be one of the leading alternative rock bands to emerge from the ’90s — Everclear, with hits such as “Santa Monica,” “Father of Mine,” and “I Will Buy You a New Life.” Then, the iconic blues rock superstar George Thorogood and the Destroyers will take the stage with hits like “Bad to the Bone” and “I Drink Alone.” Arizona Bike Week is a stop on their 50 Years of Rock world tour. Everclear will go on at 7 p.m.,

And finally, on Saturday — legendary alternative metal band GODSMACK will rock the RockYard with hits like “I Stand Alone,” “Awake,” and “Voodoo,” which are certified anthems in hard rock history.

Secure your tickets now for these must-see concerts and all the entertainment and excitement that is Arizona Bike Week!

You can stay on-site at WestWorld in one of the RV or tent campsites. Get your reservation now, before they’re sold out at AZBikeWeek.com and get your Rally Pass to Arizona Bike Week 2024.

The Rally Passes are just $119 and will grant you access to WestWorld for all the days of Arizona Bike Week. This includes vendors, stunt shows, bull-riding competition, bike shows, non-stop entertainment and all five concerts! Single-day passes are also available.

WestWorld of Scottsdale is located at 16601 North Pima Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85260.

For more information on Arizona Bike Week call (480) 644-8191 or visit www.Azbikeweek.com.

Arizona’s Only Track-Side Derby Party Offers Two Exciting Experiences At Turf Paradise

It’s the only Kentucky Derby party in Arizona where you can watch and wager on a live simulcast of the Kentucky Derby while also enjoying and betting on live local horseracing just a few feet away. Tickets are on sale now for The Stella Artois Derby DayClub presented by Sanderson Lincoln. Follow the link to purchase tables and tickets.

The Stella Artois Derby DayClub returns to Phoenix’s Turf Paradise, at 19th Ave. and Bell Road, with live racing and betting on Saturday, May 4th. In addition to heart-stopping horseracing, the day also features live DJ’s, dancing, over the top fashions, and a Derby party experience found nowhere else in Arizona.

The event is organized and produced by The Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships, America’s most attended and dynamic polo event, combining the fun and excitement of the polo event with the tradition and history of the Kentucky Derby. 

There are two track-side VIP experiences. Guests can choose between The Sanderson Lincoln Black Label Lounge or The Nütrl Vodka Seltzer Pavilion.

Follow this link for tickets and tables.

“It’s our distinct pleasure to be sponsoring and helping to host an event that brings four-legged horsepower to Arizona as we celebrate the fastest two minutes in sports, the Kentucky Derby,” said Patrick Heigl, Brand Manager of Sanderson Lincoln. “It’s a day of red hot horseracing, cool drinks, beautiful fashion, and fun.”

The Sanderson Lincoln Black Label Lounge offers reserved tables on the grass in a track-side tent near the finish line. Enjoy views of the horse racing plus convenient access to betting terminals, no-host bars inside the tent for Mint Juleps, champagne, cocktails and close proximity to food trucks for additional refreshments and 65” TVs to watch the Kentucky Derby and live horse racing at Turf Paradise. Space is limited. Table options include a complimentary bottle of champagne. Table prices range from $550 to $1,400.

The Nütrl Vodka Seltzer Pavilion includes reserved tables in an open-air tent that includes a complimentary bucket of Nütrl Vodka Seltzer. The Nütrl Vodka Seltzer Pavilion is near the finish line but further off the backstretch than the Black Label Lounge but is still conveniently located to betting terminals, 65” TVs to watch the Kentucky Derby and live horse racing, no-host bar inside the tent for mint juleps, champagne, cocktails and close proximity to food trucks for additional refreshments. Pricing for tables in The Nütrl Vodka Seltzer Pavilion range from $375 to $525.

Individual tickets are also available. General admission is $45 when purchased before March 31st or $50 between April 1st and May 3rd. General admission includes entry to Turf Paradise, betting terminals, no-host bars including Mint Juleps, beer, wine and cocktails, DJ and 65” TVs to watch the Kentucky Derby and live horse racing at Turf Paradise. General admission tickets do not include a reserved seat. General admission tickets are $55 at the door on the day of the event.

In addition to an exciting day of partying and horseracing, guests can also enjoy great food and onsite shopping, and a display of several of Sanderson Lincoln’s top luxury vehicles for 2024.  

The Stella Artois Derby DayClub Presented by Sanderson Lincoln opens at 10:45 a.m. with live thoroughbred racing at Turf Paradise in North Phoenix beginning at 11:30amAttendees can bet on local races as well as the Kentucky Derby itself. The Derby will be broadcast live at approximately 3:25p.m. Arizona time throughout the Derby DayClub’s tent experiences. On-site horse races will continue into the late afternoon.

The event has sold out in all previous years and is likely to sell out quickly this year. Tickets are on sale. Follow the link. Or call (480) 423-1414.

Signature Jazz Event Takes Center Stage in Scottsdale with New Orleans Themed Event

It’s the ultimate combination. Cool jazz and blues come together to create a red-hot music festival. The Molina Fine Jewelers Scottsdale Jazz Festival Blues & Brews Presented by Mercedes-Benz of Scottsdale returns to the Scottsdale Civic Center in Old Town on Saturday, April 27th. This year the event takes place at the Civic Center’s brand-new East Bowl, its largest amphitheater in a beautiful setting.

This year’s headline act is Grammy award-winning contemporary Jazz/R&B superstar Norman Brown. Other artists include internationally known New Orleans jazz saxophonist Donald Harrison, renown vocalist Nayo JonesCarlos Rivas & Mexsal, Arizona based jazz great Neaman LylesKiara Jayne, Kings of Soul, and more.

Tickets are on sale now at www.ScottsdaleJazzFest.org.

In addition to a captivating array of sounds and sights, food showcasing the flavors of New Orleans will be on hand.

This year the Molina Fine Jewelers Scottsdale Jazz Festival Blues & Brews Presented by Mercedes- Benz of Scottsdale is partnering with the Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships, America’s most attended polo event, to add an extra level of polo style luxury and excitement to the jazz event, as well as helping introduce new elements to the event just as it has to for years with the Scottsdale Polo Party. thousands of polo fans to the emerging Scottsdale jazz scene.

New this year is the Brew Garden Beer Tasting featuring a selection of craft beers in our signature beer garden. A beer cicerone (someone who specializes in the service and knowledge of beer) will be on hand to guide you and answer any questions. Beer tasting tickets are sold separately and do not include entry into the event. Prices, if purchased in advance, are $16.50 for five beer tastings and $33 for ten beer tastings.

There are a variety of ticketing options and price levels. General Admission is $35 before March 1st, $45 after March 1st, and $55 at the door. Reserved table seating, including some seating on the stage itself, is also available from $775 to $3,050 per table. All access passes are also available for $555 if purchased before March 1st. For a complete list of options go to www.ScottsdaleJazzFest.org.

Gates to the event open at 3pm with the acts beginning at 4pm and scheduled to conclude at 10:30pm.

“Scottsdale Jazz festival brings amazing artists jamming at the new East Bowl, which seats nearly 2,800 fans,” said Scottsdale Mayor David D. Ortega, enthusiastically. “The cool lawn, savory food, and every style of cool jazz make the newest venue in Arizona special.”

The Molina Fine Jewelers Scottsdale Jazz Festival Blues & Brews Presented by Mercedes-Benz of Scottsdale is part of International Jazz Day which has been recognized as a UNESCO Global event. It was founded by noted local jazz musician Doc Jones, a professional musician, educator, and recording artist for more than 40 years.

“Prepare to be mesmerized by an exceptional lineup of renowned artists who will take you on a musical journey like no other,” said Jones. “Whether you are a long-time jazz fan or new to this music, this festival will transport you straight to the heart of jazz and blues culture in a spectacular setting in the heart of Scottsdale.”

“I am thrilled to help bring jazz to a broader audience as well assisting helping young people discover and appreciate this distinct art form,” said Molina Fine Jewelers President and CEO Al Molina.

“We are proud to be a part of this signature Scottsdale event for the first time which introduces more fans to jazz and more visitors to our great city,” said Mercedes-Benz of Scottsdale General Manager Vern Foutz.

Proceeds from the festival benefit the International Jazz Day AZ Foundation which funds music programs for at-risk youth such as Next Student Academy for the Arts, Molina’s School of Jazz, and the Doc Jones’ summer music program.

For more information or to purchase tickets go to www.ScottsdaleJazzFest.org.

Featured Editorials


By Cambria Schwartz

Within the past year Scottsdale, and other cities across the Valley, have been plagued by a slew of burglaries. Who’s the culprit? You may think that it’s local troubled teens or some of the many homeless people trying to steal goods to make ends meet. In actuality, these thieves are part of a South American organized crime ring which has also been causing trouble in other big cities like Los Angeles and New York. So what are they doing here in Arizona?

Border security is likely our trojan horse. With thousands of people trying to cross into the United States every day we are stretching our resources thin, making it harder for border security to do their job safely. Near the border migrants are either being placed in short term/ temporary shelters or are being bussed to larger cities like Tucson and Phoenix. Sometimes unsheltered street release is the only option border patrol has due to these limited resources. Border patrol, as well as smaller organizations, have tried to help with the growing immigration problems, but their call for more funds falls on deaf ears.

Deputy Director of Health and Human Services for Santa Cruz county Jose Arriola says, “Being a small community, our resources are stretched kind of thin. We’re making it work with what we have. This is a federal problem and unfortunately, it’s falling on us.” Arriola pleads with the federal government for some type of assistance or relief. So how does this directly relate to the ongoing burglary investigations in Scottsdale?

Since October 2023 police throughout Arizona have worked together to identify a total of 35 cases related to these burglaries, all having the same MO. Police have pieced together an idea of their process when breaking into houses. The burglars wait until dark before smashing windows of houses to gain entry. They specifically target homes that back-up to marshes or golf courses for easy access. They then bypass living rooms, kitchens, and other areas to quickly make their way to the master bedroom. It’s been reported that they ransack the bedroom and closet in search of small, high-value items such as cash, jewelry, and designer purses. These break-ins usually last about eight minutes, demonstrating their skill as thieves. Police officials encourage residents in these target areas to hide their valuables in a safe and to keep outside lights on as a precaution.

At least two cases have resulted in arrests. A total of seven people, all of Chilean descent. Despite their expertise these people had no previous criminal records in the United States. Scottsdale police chief Jeff Walther says in an update to citizens, “This criminal trend has been a continuous and escalating problem. It is not one group or ring responsible for this crime series. This is transnational organized crime.” With many police departments in the Valley working together, hopefully it is only a matter of time before a large part of this organization is brought to justice.

Scottsdale resident Barbara Espinosa recently passed away at the age of 86. That name may not mean anything to some readers, but her impact was a significant one. She left an imprint that you absolutely have seen, even if the name doesn’t ring any bells.

Espinosa was an icon in local GOP politics: a disruptor, a thought leader, and an organizer. But her full story was a much more intriguing one than simply one of a political apparatchik. Her full story is almost too surreal to be true, yet it is.

Originally from Texas, she began a life of networking with power players and being in the middle of major events at an early age  befriending local icons such as the gambling magnate Benny Binion. She was right in the middle of the course of events surrounding the JFK assassination, having witnessed it firsthand, having frequented the nightclub owned by Jack Ruby (who assassinated JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald), and was propositioned by Oswald, who attempted to sell her a watch from the inside of his coat. She knew LBJ well and even crossed paths with Elvis Presley.

In the 1970s, she made her move to Arizona where she got to know Joe Bannano, boss of the Bannano crime family. She had an incredible knack for being in the orbit of power, something that would serve her well in Arizona’s political scene.

After settling in Scottsdale, she started making waves in the political scene nearly immediately. She worked on the campaigns of Sen. John McCain and the presidential campaigns of both Bushes. She successfully spearheaded the 1999 campaign to defeat an initiative to set up a series of canals in Scottsdale despite facing down a severe financial disadvantage. She became a presence, beloved and feared…her work and that of others forever changed Old Town

While many who get into politics go along to get alone, afraid to make waves and imperil their current seat at the table, Espinosa had no issues making waves when she felt like it was the right thing to do. Notable was her opposition to former Governor Ducey, to the point where she supported the Democrat running against him in 2012. While most party people will simply get in line after a primary, she stuck to her guns. You were NOT going to tell Barbara Espinosa what to do, that was for damn sure.

Outspoken, charismatic, irascible, and unforgettable. Espinosa was an irreplaceable Scottsdalian who lived the equivalent of ten lifetimes insofar as what she had seen and experienced. She will be missed in the public arena and otherwise.

Maricopa County, you have a new head Sheriff. And as far as successions go, this one is a bit more controversial than most.

In a surprise move, Democrat Paul Penzone announced that he was stepping down to take a community relations job with Blue Cross Blue Shield. Cleaning up after the myriad federal restrictions in the wake of former Sheriff Arpaio seemed to handcuff him considerably in the role, and the salary is a limiting one. But the next move was a surprising one.

His Chief Deputy Russ Skinner changed his party registration from Republican to Democrat only one day after the resignation in a very clear move to lay the groundwork for the next step. Since successors of elected officials post-resignation need to be of the same political party of the official who resigned, Skinner had to become a Democrat to be considered.

Clearly he had already laid the necessary groundwork with the County Board of Supervisors, who then voted to appoint him to the role of County Sheriff for the remainder of the term. Only the single Democrat on the board voted against it, likely bristling at his party being co-opted purely for opportunity.

Skinner hasn’t said whether or not he will be running for this seat in November, but if he chooses to do so, his path might not be as easy as it would be for an incumbent. Will Democrats coalesce around someone who is in the truest sense of the word a DINO? Someone who quite literally changed parties for the sake of political expediency? Currently there is one Democrat who has declared for the office, Tyler Kamp, who counts Phoenix City Councilmember Kevin Robinson as his campaign chair; probably not someone to disregard.

And that’s just the Democratic primary. Former Arpaio staffer Jerry Sheridan is amongst several who are running on the Republican side. While Penzone did a great job at crossing over and appealing to more moderate Republican voters, does that mean that the Democratic brand is appealing to those same voters in a way that would help out Skinner? Unlikely. It stands to reason that a generic Republican would likely perform better in this election in 2024, especially as immigration is a hot-button issue again.

And perhaps the biggest question of all: now that Arpaio is (hopefully) in retirement and the position is no longer one of grandiosity but instead of prudent administration…do many people even care about this role? Does it even matter?

Rick Smith. Photo Credit: Jim Poulin, Phoenix Business Journal

You are probably aware of the complete mess that Axon put itself in recently with its outrageous plan to dramatically alter zoning laws in order to put up some 2,000 apartments in an area that doesn’t want them and can’t support them (get up to date here). While on its face this attempt is bad enough, a recent bombshell report demonstrates how locals should be even more skeptical of Axon’s plans, if that’s even possible.

So what is the real Axon? According to this report by Reuters, we just don’t know. Reuters alleges a consistent pattern of questionable remarks coming from Axon CEO Rick Smith, starting with the very story of its founding. The origin story of the firm may have been invented according to its report, purportedly erroneously invoking a tragedy as the reason for the firm’s founding, stating that he was very close to those who died when in reality he seemed to have known them in passing, at best. It caused a family member of one of the dead to say, “He’s making money off of being a great liar.” Ouch.

But it does not stop there, far from it. The firm repeatedly told the public that its executive compensation would be near its corporate peers, but a digging by Reuters showed that it handsomely rewarded its corporate officers in a way that would put it near the top of corporate America regarding compensation. Instead, Smith was one of the highest paid corporate officers in all of America in 2018.

This is in addition to luxury cars, platters of cash, and the hiring of relatives, none of which were reported to the SEC, but all of which should have according to Reuters. In a blatant and egregious example of questionable practices, the compensation committee for the company seems to be stacked with Smith’s fraternity brothers.

The most clear takeaway from this bombshell report is an apparent consistent history of misleading statements, lack of disclosure, and obfuscation.

It begs the question: can we believe any positive promises that Axon makes with regards to its absurd housing plans in the city? It is clear that it may say whatever it takes to win in the moment. We don’t need that attitude, nor its 2,000 apartments.

While we love our city and it has an incredible amount of things going for it, I don’t think we would necessarily call it perfect. No place is perfect, after all…close but not quite there. And we are not completely exempt from crime, but typically we associate Scottsdale crime with drunken Old Town hijinks. A new development shows that that’s not quite the case.

In a disturbing story, 158 were recently arrested in and around Scottsdale as a result of a human trafficking sting, with 37 of them charged with felonies. However, some of the more interesting details come from the nature of the arrests and how they came about.

Even though the details center around the term “human trafficking” and it was conducted by the Scottsdale Police Human Exploitation and Trafficking Unit, it was actually a sting against “johns”: those who attempt to solicit prostitutes. No actual human traffickers nor actual prostitutes were involved, simply decoys. While the specifics aren’t provided, since child exploitation was amongst some of the charges, at least some and maybe most of the decoys were playing the part of minors.

We should start with the obvious: 158 people is a big number. Clearly there is a whole lot of demand for illicit services. And if a significant amount of the decoys were pretending to be underaged, it is undoubtedly a disturbing factor. There is a reasonable conversation to be had about legalizing and regulating prostitution and whether or not it is a better approach for everyone involved, but wherein minors are involved? Full stop.

One thing that is worth considering is that, like it or not, Scottsdale will likely be a place where the sins of the flesh are pursued. Most vacation destinations are to some degree, save ones that are strongly family-focused. Without knowing the percentage of “johns” who were actively pursuing the underaged, it’s difficult to tell how much of this problem is uniquely and unequivocally problematic, but an area where people will go to escape from the problems of everyday life is bound to be a haven for related pursuits.

Most of you probably agree that sexual traffickers should be eliminated from our society where possible. This move was obviously one to dissuade demand, presumably under the guise that if there is no demand, there will be no supply. Not necessarily unreasonable, but one has to wonder if resources could have been used more effectively to catch and prosecute actual traffickers. All reasonable people understand that they’re a more significant problem than the person trying to buy a sexual encounter, but perhaps the latter is lower hanging fruit to pick.

It’s almost the bodily version of law enforcement focusing on heavy-handed prosecution of street-level drug dealers without even trying to flip them in order to get to the high-level traffickers.

Especially considering that Scottsdale has an abundance of well-off people (both those who live here and those who visit) who want to have a good time, the pursuit of paid sex is probably unavoidable. Additionally, the pursuit of those who are there against their will or underaged should be quashed where possible. But it’s difficult to see this as progress towards solving a real problem, one that very likely exists in some capacity in the city and in its orbit.

By Mary Hamway

Twenty years ago I began my journey in public service by running for Town Council. Today, I announce my candidacy for Paradise Valley Mayor.
In 2011, as part of Paradise Valley’s 50th birthday celebration, I was honored to co-chair a visioning exercise where we learned about our past so that we could help guide our future. We held many public meetings and focus groups and I co-wrote the Visioning Statement that is still in use today. I share this paragraph as a reminder of what we value.

Recognizing a proper balance between the powers of local government
and individual property rights, our future will be defined by the continuation of our characteristic low-density, residential housing while understanding and appreciating the role of local government in providing quality public safety and other limited services, preserving natural open space and mountain views and ensuring neighborhood-compatible land use decisions throughout the Town.

Being landlocked between Phoenix and Scottsdale, our population doesn’t change much from year-to-year, but our demographics do. In a recent Business Insider article Paradise Valley is called the “Beverly Hills” of Arizona, because of the high number of people moving here from California. We welcome anyone who makes Paradise Valley their home, and we have a rich history to
share. Our resorts are world-class and our limited government model has kept us in good stead. But to continue to maintain the high-quality of living that residents have come to expect requires constant community-building and finding ways to engage with our residents, both new and old.

During my time on council, I was involved in many community-building projects, such as being a member of the Public Safety Task Force, chairperson for the Town Water Committee, leading the completion of under-grounding overhead utilities, raising awareness of stormwater management, serving on the Board for Experience Scottsdale and renovating Kiva Elementary’s sports field. I helped shepherd the Town through the 2008 financial crisis as well
as negotiate the intergovernmental agreement with Phoenix for fire service. I also have been involved with many of our resort development projects and renovations.

I served 11 years on Town Council between 2004 and 2017. For the last 8 years, I served on a statewide committee for the utility industry, siting extra-high voltage transmission lines needed for the state’s transition to renewable energy. I am running for mayor because I have the experience, and also a fresh eye to lead us forward. As mayor, I will work to keep our Town safe by supporting our police force and make local government accessible by providing transparency and offering opportunities for resident engagement.

Following Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner’s 6 years of excellent leadership will be a big job for the next mayor and council. It would be my honor to serve as your next mayor, and I hope you will vote for me, Mary Hamway, on July 30, in the state primary. If you would like to connect and learn more, please email me at mhamway@cox.net.

Photo Credit: Ross D. Franklin, AP

You almost certainly have heard the news; heck, it made international headlines…our shining crown jewel of a golf tournament, the PGA “party of the year”, got out of hand this year. A woman fell out of the bleachers, numerous fights broke out in the stands, people rushing in without tickets; in short, it was messy.

The Party of the Year got out of hand and was a stain on the long history of the tournament. An event that typically walked a fine line between sports and debauchery drunkenly flopped onto the side of debauchery, and it did not go unnoticed.

Indeed, now elected officials are jumping into the fray and are being forced to make comments. For one, Mayor David Ortega stated his support of the event but seemed to put a not-insignificant amount of pressure on the Thunderbirds, the group that operates the Open, to make necessary changes. The tournament seems to have officially flown too close to the sun, metaphorically speaking.

First, we should state unequivocally that the tournament is important and special. It counted about 700,000 spectators this year and is a massive boon for the city of Scottsdale and the local economy. It is a festive opportunity for white collars to both network and let loose. It is a See And Be Seen affair, about as quintessentially Scottsdale as the Cowboy sign in Old Town

The thing about good things is that too much of them isn’t so good however. And the thing about pendulums is that they have the reputation for swinging too far in one direction.

Should the Open be a “normal” golf tournament, with polite golf claps and minimized chatting? Hell no. But this does feel like a moment where the pendulum has officially swung too far in one direction. For the sake of longer term viability and lasting brand reputation? Perhaps.

Thankfully, those of us in the chattering class aren’t tasked with coming up with actual solutions to problems, we just get to point them out, and hopefully enough of you find it to be a good enough read to justify bringing up the problem. But suffice it to say, a good party doesn’t need to devolve into a frat party. The best of Scottsdale isn’t stupid drunkenness and brutish, dumb behavior. Bacchanalia can coexist with classiness and dignity. It is very much possible.

The Thunderbirds have their work cut out for them: to cut the BS and preserve the uniqueness of the event. Two things are clear, however: the pendulum has swung too far, and that it doesn’t need to be an out-of-control mess to be a special event. We hope they are able to course-correct in a way that makes the event even more special.

We don’t often talk about religion on this blog, because our political views are often divisive enough so why toss gasoline on that fire? But every once in a while, a religious topic comes up that is so absurdly amusing that we must talk about it.

Apparently, according to the “Freedom Caucus” at the state legislature, Satan is a clear and present threat to our wonderful state and must be eradicated.

Has there been a rash of Satanic altars put up on state property recently, so much so that it warranted a legislative response? Of course not. But it wouldn’t be the first time that politicians have invented a problem in order to deliver a solution.

In this case, the brainiac who is delivering this critical bill to the good people of Arizona is none other than Senator Jake Hoffman. For those who are unaware, Hoffman got a lot of heat for operating “troll farms”, operations where he hired scores of teenagers to post misinformation, to pose as people other than themselves, and set up all sorts of fake accounts and groups in order to muddy the waters of the collective conversation and mislead potential voters. While some social media platforms used questionable bans to limit speech they disagreed with, in this case Hoffman’s subsequent bans from all major social media platforms was well-earned.

The Satan Problem has actually been one that we covered on this blog: as you can see in our coverage, Scottsdale came perilously close to falling into the evil clutches of Satan and becoming the Dark Capital of Hades. If your definition of “perilously close” is a couple dozen 20-somethings wearing black, selling Tarot cards, and listening to Norwegian death metal that is. So perhaps we should thank Hoffman for delivering us from this mortal threat.

Hopefully the sarcasm comes through on that last paragraph. There doesn’t seem to be any case of Satanism getting a significant foothold in modern society across the entire first world. It is another example of the time-honored tradition of politicians not taking the difficult route of bringing together stakeholders to build real solutions to real problems, but instead using taxpayer resources to cravenly cater to a special interest group with no actual benefit to society.

While this wouldn’t be the first case of a solution inventing a problem, it’s easily one of the more amusing ones. That said, the fact that we can laugh at this doesn’t make it less absurd and less of an indicator of a feckless politician desperately looking to get attention (especially considering that he can’t use social media to do so). We deserve serious leaders doing serious work, and this ain’t it.

Many local folks are aware that there are two prominent Ortegas in the city of Scottsdale: not just the mayor (and former architect) Dave Ortega, but also art gallery owner Gilbert Ortega Jr.. It is hard to miss if you’ve spent any time in the shops in Old Town, as the name of the latter (technically, his late father Gilbert Ortega) is on a gigantic sign beckoning to shoppers. It’s a good way to build a brand, except when your name is attached to actions which truly harm the brand.

That was precisely the case when Gilbert Ortega earned headlines a year ago for all the wrong reasons: for a bizarre, likely alcohol-fueled tirade mocking Native Americans during the Super Bowl festivities in Old Town. While not related to the mayor, there was concern that perhaps the bad press might bleed over and impact the Good Ortega.

We have some new closure in this case, almost perfectly just in time for this year’s Super Bowl: Gilbert Ortega will not be charged with any crime. According to the City Attorney’s office, there was a low probability of conviction for any crime.

So what are we to think about this? First, regardless of how we view the lack of charges, hopefully we can all agree that his actions were unacceptable; many adjectives can be used to describe them, ranging from racist to immature to stupid. Considering the massive amount of Native American art in Old Town (much of which is presumably in his gallery), it seems counterproductive at best to mock the culture you are benefiting from. 

That said, free speech matters. The right to be an idiot should be protected, so long as you are not causing material loss to anyone other than yourself, and I don’t think one could reasonably make that case. While cancel culture has gotten out of hand on the whole, the quick proliferation of news stories often has the benefit of informing consumers where they shouldn’t spend their money. While he won’t face legal charges, he faces self-imposed ramifications: hurting his own brand, and that should be sufficient. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences.

Thankfully for the Good Ortega, the Scottsdale Mayor Dave Ortega is still popular and does not seem to be hurt by this, nor should he be. The idiocy of one person deserves to be attached to only one person, which seems to be the case.

As this year’s legislative session kicks into full swing, one issue is front and center this year: education. And in a strange twist, Republicans and Democrats are actually somewhat united on this issue…for now. But as the fight for control of the legislature, which leans ever so perilously on the side of the Republicans, heats up this year these agreements will likely turn into battles (read our full coverage on education here).

But for now, the one thing that everyone can agree with: Prop 123 has been a positive for teachers. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle agree that it needs to be extended, a welcome change for a proposition that passed by a thin margin back in 2016. The brainchild of former Governor Ducey was designed to boost pay for the state’s teachers, as Arizona’s pay to teachers had repeatedly been near the bottom of the nation’s rankings. 

That is where the agreement ends, however. The conversation during the legislative session has now shifted to a few different disagreements: the distribution rate from the state’s trust fund as well as the role of educators in charter schools and how much paycheck protection they get.

The state land trust fund is devoted wholly to education spending in Arizona, and Democrats want to increase the distribution rate to 8.9% of the fund, while Republicans want to keep it at 6.9%. One must consider long-term viability of the fund in this case: the fund isn’t likely to return 8.9% in an average year, thus leading to a dip into principal which may imperil it in the long-term.

Regarding charter school educators, legislators are trying to pass Senate Concurrent Resolution 1034, which will ensure that educators in eligible charter schools will have the same pay protections from Prop 123 as do public school teachers. While it is something that Democrats should ostensibly be in favor of, it segues to another sore spot in Arizona politics.

For added context on this issue, the conversation about education in Arizona in 2024 is now inextricably intertwined with the debate about vouchers, or Education Scholarship Accounts (ESAs). School choice advocates have lauded the freedom that ESAs have provided in allowing for more options and to not be tied down to the public schools in their districts. Democrats have criticized not only the shift of resources away from public schools, but also the degree to which ESAs have been universally adopted (and not just for special cases) and the burden they have put on the state’s budget.

While strong disagreements remain, if nothing else the Overton Window (the range of acceptable and normalized conversation) has shifted in Arizona on this subject. We have a kumbaya moment: it is widely accepted that teachers are important to the growth of our state and deserve a reasonable paycheck. That alone is significant progress compared to a decade prior and is a positive development, even if the two sides may disagree on the particulars. 

By Jan Dubauskas

You may have heard about the proposed Axon development, the largest apartment project ever proposed in the history of Scottsdale. The company’s CEO describes it as a live, work, and play campus.

We’re proud to have Scottsdale’s own Rick Smith headquartering Axon here with their incredible safety and defense technology. In addition to 1,975 apartments, he’s proposing an updated headquarters and a 425-room hotel for their conventions. I support the headquarters upgrade and hotel. But the proposed apartments are the wrong fit and a bad deal for Scottsdale.

Why? These massive live and work tech campuses aren’t Scottsdale’s style, and there are larger concerns. Axon purchased the land from the state land trust at a significant discount while similar apartment developers were buying multifamily land at a higher price. While I am not in favor of 2,000 new apartments, any conversation about zoning should start with making the schools whole. Arizona schools are in dire straits and should not in any way subsidize any apartment projects.

In addition, the project didn’t sufficiently account for water usage or airport noise. It would cause congestion on nearby roads and could diminish the property values and quality of life for nearby communities in North Scottsdale. And the new apartments aren’t necessary to meet Axon’s housing needs, as ~15,000 new apartments have already been approved and many are under construction nearby in Scottsdale. Thousands of these apartments will be in the immediate area of the proposed development including 1,300 new Optima apartments, and the Parque, which was recently approved to build over 1,100 apartments.

At the end of the day, this Axon project just doesn’t meet the bar for Scottsdale development.

Finally, in the interest of the integrity of Council’s decisions, I am calling on Councilmembers who have accepted campaign donations from Axon, its employees, representatives, or any entity which may reasonably have business before the Council to return those donations, recuse themselves from any business those entities may have before the Council, and decline any such campaign donations moving forward.

 

Our area is a growing one, and while there is always some turnover in the hospitality industry we have largely had the pleasure of having many new and exciting options for eating and drinking. Every once in a while a fantastic and promising option that seems like it’s bound to stay fails however, and it leads us to scratch our heads and wonder what happened. This was just the case in Phoenix recently.

The Pemberton was one of the better additions to Roosevelt Row: an outdoor venue that was a collection of different food trucks and alcohol-serving vendors with quirky and fun lighting and seating. It also served as a centerpiece to the area’s First Friday festivities. But soon it will be no more.

Restaurants and bars come and go and we rarely bat an eye at it. It is the nature of a fast-growing area to have massive turnover in this industry. This one felt different however; it felt like an idea that was so well-executed on that it was bound to work.

So what happened? Since the owners didn’t comment further it’s tough to tell. But many Roosevelt Row locations have had a rough go at it recently: recent occurrences can be found herehere, and here. Clearly there is a serious trend here, one that is of a higher frequency than other areas.

We are prompted to consider two possible reasons why: one, perhaps food traffic is down far enough that revenue is not keeping up with projections, or two, lease payments are so exorbitant that businesses are not able to keep up. Perhaps both. Setting up shop in Roosevelt Row has been an expensive endeavor for a while; considering the massive amount of turnover, one would think that landlords would adjust rent appropriately and help foster new businesses. After all, looking for new tenants regularly isn’t ideal for them either.

But perhaps it’s a revenue problem. After all, Roosevelt Row is no longer the only game in town when it comes to funky artisanal vibes. As long as First Fridays is there, one day a month will always be a great evening for revenue, but that can only go so far.

It seems as though it is a Come To Jesus Moment for both the landlords in the area as well as businesses thinking that they’re the ones who can make it work. It’s not working. The degree of turnover in the district isn’t healthy for anyone. Perhaps it’s time for businesses to look elsewhere unless landlords are willing to give massive concessions.

Over the last three years, I’ve heard from hundreds of Scottsdale residents concerned that poor decision making by our Mayor and Council is putting our quality of life at risk. After much deliberation and consultation with friends and family, I announce my run for Mayor of Scottsdale.

As a lifelong Scottsdale resident, I have a deep appreciation for our past and a vision for protecting our future. I’ve spent my professional career representing homeowners, obtaining multi-million dollar recoveries for the shoddy work of developers. I will bring this same tenacity to representing and protecting our community.

The Council continues to approve more high-density apartments instead of prioritizing
high-quality housing. Traffic congestion is worse than ever. Roundabouts, promised as traffic solutions, have only made things worse, costing millions over budget and taking years longer than scheduled. Our streets, parks and public spaces, in which we take such pride, have become
home to a growing population of transients and illegal immigrants, with hardworking taxpayers shouldering the costs. New development must respect Scottsdale’s tradition of excellence; projects which add to our community, not overrun and degrade it. Scottsdale deserves better, we must place a premium on vision and leadership. It’s time to demand the quality we need by electing a city government that will listen to our citizens, create thoughtful plans and serve
as real leaders.

It would be an honor to serve our amazing community as your Mayor.

By Liam Benninger

Photo Credit: Barrett-Jackson

The success of the Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale Auction is no secret. The event is responsible for $1,640,400 in primary revenue for the City of Scottsdale and generates nearly $168 million annually for the State of Arizona as a whole. After 53 years of experience starting in its hometown of Scottsdale, Arizona and having flourished to a worldwide audience, Barrett-Jackson has decided that some more love should be brought home to celebrate its passion for cars with its first ever Fall Scottsdale car auction.

The benefits of this significant accomplishment do not stop for just the collectors and businessmen, but also reach out to blue collar workers that put these events together and allow them to run smoothly; after all, Barrett-Jackson creates 1,437 direct and indirect jobs in a variety of fields. With the current economy and a pressing need for tradesmen a second event as massive as this could help bolster needed income for both new and experienced men and women in trades.

The Fall auction will cover four days, from October 10th – 13th, and along with the new season comes new entertainment and lifestyle elements. Barrett-Jackson seeks to elevate the guest experience; lofty words for some but with their experience and reputation I am sure they are up for the challenge.

One big pull for this Fall’s auction is already in place with Sammy Hagar’s LaFerrari, which has become the centerpiece of the auction. Originally planned for the January auction, the 2015 supercar was moved to the Fall auction as Hagar decided to replace the supercar’s battery as it was nearing the end of its lifespan. He is looking to auction off the car for $5 million which is a steep climb above its original $1.5 million price tag. Thanks to its uniqueness, history, and name it will be no surprise to see such a car reach this or even surpass this goal price.

The additional event serves as an indicator of healthy growth for this auction, Scottsdale, and Arizona as a whole. With it, Barrett-Jackson continues its charity support, and potentially helps offset WestWorld’s debt from 2016 – 2017 renovations and expansions. This world class car auction continues to support the growth of Scottsdale and establish itself as an economic hub for Arizona. Keep the roar of those engines coming.

By Kiana Conant

Photo Credit: Arianna Grainey

Officials are facing a difficult task as they balance Old Town Scottsdale’s noise ordinance rules with a growing number of resident complaints in the area. On any given night, Old Town Scottsdale is a lively district filled with hundreds of restaurants, bars, shops, and nightclubs. Often seen as a premier destination for Arizona locals and tourists alike, the hustle and bustle of Old Town is what makes it so attractive.

In the residential areas surrounding Old Town, there is currently a noise ordinance rule for buildings in which sound cannot exceed 68 decibels when sound is measured from 100 feet away. However, in multi-use areas this is more difficult to measure. With many bars being right next to one another, officers find it difficult to locate where the noise originates. In turn, they then are unable to cite a specific building for breaking the noise rule. This is just one of the many challenges they face with the noise ordinance rules in Old Town.

The sound policy was put into effect in 2010 and since then, this sector of the city has grown significantly. Changing the policy runs the risk of a detrimental effect on the $3.2 billion economic impact of Old Town. In addition, businesses would be tasked with finding creative solutions to a problem that would usually make their business great. People come to Old Town for a fun, lively night, but they would be deterred by a major change in noise level. The city must ask themselves if fighting this battle would be worth potential revenue losses.

Officials have their work cut out for them as they come up with proposals to satisfy both sides. However, McKellips District station commander Jeromie O’Meara and Scottsdale Assistant City Manager Brent Stockwell are working hard to come up with a way to make it all work. In an interview with AZ Times, they addressed some of the concerns of residents as well as some ideas for their proposal. These ideas include setting noise limits for mixed-use areas and special events, researching ways to allow police officers to pinpoint the source of noise in a busy area, working with businesses to find solutions rather than fining them for disobedience, and creating time specific sound limits such as time, day of the week, holidays, etc.,

Hopefully there is a solution they can work out from their ideas. Stockwell is hopeful to meet with other cities that have experienced this same issue to discuss how they handled the situation. It is expected that City Council will vote this summer on what to do about Old Town Scottsdale’s noise ordinance rules. Both voters and local business owners (and sometimes campaign contributors) will undoubtedly be watching.

Photo Credit: AZCentral.com

By Cambria Schwartz

Recently we discussed the “Gilbert Goons” problem (get up to date here) and spoke about an upcoming meeting to discuss ways to resolve it. During the January 23rd committee meeting, many people aired their concerns not only on the topic of increased teen violence in Gilbert, but also the competence of the town council and how they are handling recent situations.

A few members of the council did attend the teen violence subcommittee meeting, but a key person was missing: Mayor Bridgette Peterson. Most took this as a lack of concern for the community’s pressing issues but was later addressed and proved to be in the best interest of the town in order to follow open meeting laws.

Once the council opened the floor to allow community members to speak, former Mayor Steve Berman took to the podium to offer his opinion on the issues the council faced. He advised members to dissolve the Office of Digital Government (ODG) because of their misuse of funds and reallocate the money (an estimated $1.1 million) to fund the salaries of 15 new police officers. Berman’s idea shows all of Gilbert why he once held this position: his eye towards pragmatic and prudent solutions. His hope is that the additional police would help keep the people of Gilbert safe during these unpredictable times.

Council member Chuck Bongiovanni suggested to the council they should partner with schools and conduct a student survey. The survey would allow students to share their thoughts and experiences surrounding teen violence. Mr. Bongiovanni continued to argue how students’ voices are most important because this issue directly affects them. Council member Yung Koprowski even suggested the use of the Bark app. This app would be on teens phones and would alert parents to specific words used on the teens phone. This can be anything referencing drugs or violence. The app would allow parents to give their teen privacy but also monitor their activity from a distance.

The Gilbert Police Department believes they can also make a difference by being more transparent with the public. They plan to achieve this by releasing videos every Thursday on their YouTube channel. These videos will debunk false information and keep the community informed of police efforts.

Can these ideas truly be the solution to teen violence? Council members seem to think so, but only with the help of parents and schools. Without a joint effort between parents, students, and schools Gilbert will not break free from this cycle of violence.

By Councilmember and former Vice-Mayor Julie Pace

I fight for quality of life. I am proud of the accomplishments and decisions I have made to make a difference and preserve PV. That is why I am proud to announce that I am running for re-election to the Town Council because I love Paradise Valley and will continue to stand up for the community that we all love.

Everyone knows me as a doer, and I have a long reputation for being a very hard worker for the Town. I have more to do with my peers to protect the scenic beauty and mountain vistas unique to our Town.

I have 30 years of experience as an employment and construction lawyer for companies, and I have experience writing, advocating, and successfully getting legislation adopted or bills modified or killed at the Legislature and that knowledge will help preserve our unique Town. I believe in bringing stakeholders together to find solutions.

Consistent track records and experience count, not words. Our Town’s future looks bright, let’s keep it that way!

My actions and voting record strongly support the strength I bring to the Town Council and our residents. During my time on Council, I have worked to:

  1. Stop party houses.
  2. Stop and limit short-term rentals and time shares.
  3. Successfully led residents to stop the 64-food high structure that was proposed to be built high up on Camelback Mountain. The project would have changed forever the view of Camelback Mountain.
  4. Keep our Town unique with its one-house-per-acre zoning, low density, no commercial business, and no property tax.
  5. Stop a three-story hotel from building outdoor balconies overlooking single-family one-acre residences.
  6. Stop the elimination of landscaped medians and middle turn lane on McDonald.
  7. Stop opioids from being sold at the entry to the Town.
  8. Stop legislation that adversely impacts our Town’s quality of life.
  9. Support a buffer between single-family residents and resorts.
  10. Support responsible development to preserve views of our mountain and the unique residential character of our Town.
  11. Restrict dynamiting on our mountains that earned me the name of “No Blast Julie.”
  12. Support the undergrounding of utilities and oppose efforts to destroy the beautiful vistas we all enjoy with unsightly vertical infrastructure.
  13. Support safety in all its forms in our Town: in your home, in your vehicle, on your bike, and on the street.
  14. Strong support for our concierge police department.
  15. Foster community education outreach to stop crime in neighborhoods.
  16. Develop a construction security checklist.
  17. Assist with the development of the House of Worship Committee when I served as Chair of ACOPS.
  18. Develop the Hillside Safety Improvement Measures and Process Manual to address drainage and boulder safety.
  19. Develop a Hillside Construction Staging Plan Checklist.
  20. Support drainage and stormwater infrastructure and improvements.
  21. Support fiscal conservatism and good financial stewardship.
  22. Support paying down pension fund to save money for our residents.
  23. Worked with the Historical Committee to plan and implement the Town’s 60th Anniversary Celebration.
  24. Support residents working together to solve issues.
  25. Develop and build the PV community in numerous ways.

It has been one of my greatest honors to support and assist the trustees of the Paradise Valley Mountain Preservation Trust. We have worked together to rebrand with a newly expanded name and website to include all the mountains and develop the “first ever” recognition event for the town donors who gave over 235 acres to the PVMPT Trust so residents could enjoy mountain vistas in their natural state.

We have worked to foster the development of a children’s book called “The Story of Camelback Mountain” written by Pam Hait and Estelle Cohen and illustrations by Sebastien Millon. One hundred percent of the proceeds benefit PVMPT Trust.

I have successfully led many grassroots efforts to preserve Paradise Valley. I have and will continue to work collaboratively with residents, staff, and my peers on Council to address quality of life issues, including traffic congestion, public safety, density, and preserving our Town’s unique residential character.

This is a 100% volunteer position so please support the Town you love by voting for Julie Pace on Aug. 6.

Please feel free to contact me at paceforpv@gmail.com or visit www.paceforpv.com. Thank you for your support and the opportunity to serve you.

 

Our Town, like others, is seeing an increase in a series of burglaries and crimes involving an organized crime group called South American Theft Groups (SATG). Our police department is actively collaborating with neighboring agencies to find and arrest the bad guys. Surveillance and other investigative tools are being used by police departments to catch them.

 

There has been a rise in dinner time (3 to 7 pm) burglaries. Approximately 20 incidents have happened in PV. They are breaking windows in Master bedrooms and master bathrooms to get in and quickly steal valuable items.

 

Burglars are targeting homes on golf courses and with washes, but can target homes anywhere in our community.

 

What can you do?

  1. See something, say something. Call the police department when you see suspicious activity. Police non-emergency line is 480.948.7410. Call 911 immediately if a crime is in progress.
  2. Watch your neighborhood and be aware of suspicious activity.
  3. Watch out for people leaving newspapers or business cards on you or your neighbors’ driveways. Burglars are trying to see if the home is vacant so they can come back and break in. Pick up this trash to avoid inviting burglars.
  4. Turn on ring cameras as they are very helpful to watch the backdoors and back windows of your home.
  5. Set a special alarm on your phone so that you hear a certain sound to check the camera for any intruders in your backyard and windows.
  6. Install glass break window sensors that set off your alarm when someone breaks or tries to break the window or glass sliding door.
  7. Install tint on windows that does not allow for easy breakage.
  8. Set your alarm to stay when you are watching a movie, in the shower, going to bed, etc.
  9. Set alarm to exit home every time you leave your home. Habits are key to preventing crime and keeping the bad guys away from your neighborhood.
  10. Keep your garage door closed.
  11. Set an alarm on your phone to tell you if you left a garage door open.
  12. Check that all of your doors are locked at all times, even when you are home.
  13. Lock doors on any vehicles that are outside a locked garage.
  14. Consider moving valuables (jewelry, wallets and purses) out of master bedroom and bathrooms to a different location in home.
  15. Install motion sensor lights.
  16. Use your chime button on your alarm so you hear a chime when exterior doors are opened.
Let’s not make it easy for this organized crime ring to be in Paradise Valley. Lock doors, use alarms, and be vigilant.

Photo Credit: NBC News

Last week we spoke at length about the chaos that has descended onto the Arizona GOP by way of Hurricane Kari and her undercover recordings/blackmail attempts. Unsurprisingly, many people have since lost faith in her; while the party has strayed very, very far from its Reagan-era principles, the commandment that “thou shall not talk bad about a fellow Republican” is one that is still sacrosanct for many, and it was blown to smithereens by Lake.

We have also spoken about how this helps Ruben Gallego and gives him a significant opportunity to rise above the madness. But what if we had it wrong all along?

What if the advantage actually goes to Kyrsten Sinema? Because that actually makes some sense.

First, there is the elephant in the room: Joe Biden. While the race between Biden and Trump will likely be close in Arizona, Biden won’t keep it competitive with a sky-high favorability rating, but purely because of a strong degree of disdain for Trump. The Democratic brand is highly likely to be a drag on candidates, and while most voters will be inundated enough with campaign marketing to form some opinion on Gallego (or Lake) independent of their party, the D by the name won’t help.

Perhaps the most pressing item will be the reemergence of illegal immigration to the forefront of the national political conversation as Democratic areas far away from the border are now forced to acknowledge the burden that it has put on their areas. It has turned into likely the biggest failure to date of the Biden administration, one that is not felt more acutely in any state except Texas. It is now a subject that even most reasonable and informed Democrats would admit is an issue.

To his credit, Gallego has been proactive on this subject and is much pragmatic than idealistic with the topic. But he is a Democrat with an otherwise rather progressive voting record. And let’s be honest: for a portion of the voting public simply having a Latino name will imply (consciously or not) that he will be more accommodative towards immigration and thus on the wrong side of history.

Sinema has none of these issues. She has left the Democratic party long enough for most laymen and women to largely forget. She is unencumbered by the disdain for the two political parties. She gets to play the part of a non-partisan problem solver.

We’d like to take credit for seeing this ahead of time, but apparently we aren’t alone: conservatives are seeing her stealing their spotlight on this issue and are fighting back accordingly.

It was easy to see how this would be Sinema’s Swan Song; perhaps not even losing the election, but not even running in the first place. The recent news and party dissatisfaction may give added life to Sinema. She shouldn’t be counted out just yet.

In a time of the year when the headlines coming out of the legislature typically revolve around bills being proposed, this year’s headlines (in the less-read political publications at least) are often around who is leaving the legislature. Between running for higher office, being kicked out, and simply being done with the legislature, there has been (and will be) quite a few openings on the Democratic side of the AZ House, enough so that it may partially reshape the dynamics of the caucus.

First, we will cover legislative district 8, which covers southern Scottsdale along with parts of Tempe, Mesa and Phoenix. Chronically absent Democratic legislator/keyboard warrior Athena Salman decided that she would rather make more money elsewhere, taking an executive director gig with an abortion rights organization. In this case, the Board of Supervisors have already made their choice.

They had three candidates to choose from: former party apparatchik Deborah Nardozzi, reportedly anti-Semitic rapper Jacob Raiford (paging Bruce Franks Jr.), and former “millennial life coach” and frequent candidate Jevin Hodge. Hodge has skillfully avoided offending anyone by being as charismatically vague and milquetoast as humanly possible, which made him the perfect choice. Congrats to Hodge, his relentless milquetoasticity finally earned him a seat at the table.

In district 5, one that covers much of central Phoenix, both legislators are stepping down. Dr. Amish Shah is stepping down in order to attempt to take on David Schweikert in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District, and Jennifer Longdon is resigning to work with a healthcare non-profit. The Board of Supervisors has yet to make their decisions on this, and as of the time of writing the District 5 Democrats have yet to submit three names to choose from (made slightly more complicated with two seats to fill).

Sarah Ligouri placed in third during the last primary and is widely expected to be one of the options and a safe choice for the Board. Assuming that’s the case, that leaves a free for all for the 2nd position. 3rd and 4th place finishers Brianna Westbrook and Aaron Marquez are expected to vie for it; common wisdom would imply that the Republican-led Board would prefer more moderate former veteran Marquez over the progressive-borderline-communist trans-activist and bullhorn-enthusiast Westbrook…unless they wanted to make the Democrats look badly in the legislature, that is.

And lastly that brings us to Leezah Sun in district 22. Ohhhh, Leezah…it’s not often that we can call a politician a psychopath without one iota of hyperbole, but the shoe absolutely seems to fit in her case. The official reports only scratch the surface; the personal anecdotes range from bizarre to truly evil. The Dems took care of business and gave her the boot, thus leading to another opening. This one is a relatively new development, so it’s tough to find solid speculation as to who may jump in, but there’s some speculation that the sole Dem on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, Steve Gallardo, may be interested.

These are all strong Democratic footholds, so it will not change the balance of power at the Capitol. However it will certainly change the dynamics of the Democratic caucus in a big way, and help foster the next iteration of leadership on that side of the aisle.

We recently announced that Paradise Valley Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner decided not to run for a fourth term, thus leaving an open seat. It didn’t take long for that vacuum to be filled, and in this case a very strong candidate is filling that void.

Paradise Valley Vice Mayor Mark Stanton recently announced his candidacy. He has a long history of public service in the town, starting with his first term in office back in 2014. His public service goes back further than that however; he formerly served as Chief of Staff for a Supervisor from the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and Deputy Director for the Arizona Office of Tourism, and played a key role in planning the 2012 Presidential Primary Debate in Arizona.

Today he serves as the President and CEO of the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce, an intelligent strategic move where he undoubtedly is routinely in touch with both residents of PV as well as potential donors; from a fundraising perspective, that will be undoubtedly powerful. While there’s only so much money you can spend on a campaign in such a small town, more contributions never hurt anyone (and potentially may allow him to spread the wealth and influence).

As far as political seats go, the role of mayor of Paradise Valley flies fairly far under the radar. It is an unpaid position (like its city council seats) and doesn’t typically have much of a seat at the table for conversations about larger issues in the state, like the mayors of Phoenix or even Scottsdale do. On the plus side, it’s a small jurisdiction with relatively little stress and it’s already an excellent place to live, so as long as the new mayor doesn’t screw it up, then the electorate won’t dig up their torches and pitchforks.

Will there be more candidates? Will councilmember Julie Pace utilize what she learned when she fell short in ‘22 and come back stronger? Will a new entrant make a push to be mayor? Certainly possible, but it may be difficult to find someone who has both the civic experience and the business pedigree like Stanton does.

Unlike in many other races, there is not likely to be truly bombastic and odious candidates who will turn off a good portion of the populace. Any race will likely be a question of whose version of Paradise is better. It’s an unquestionably positive position to be in as a town, and residents should be thankful that their town is very likely in good hands, no matter who wins.

2022 Scrum


Connect Maricopa, the official campaign in support of the Proposition 400 renewal, formally launched today with a coalition of business, community, and public sector leaders advocating for the extension of the transportation funding measure. The effort is led by Pam Kehaly, CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona; Mesa Mayor John Giles; Maricopa County Supervisor Jack Sellers; Mike Hoover, CEO of Sundt Construction; and Jim Kenny, CEO of El Dorado Holdings.

In 1985, Maricopa County voters overwhelmingly passed a 20-year half-cent sales tax dedicated to transportation infrastructure. It was renewed in 2004 with the passage of Proposition 400 which invested in highways, streets, and transit. The funding is set to expire December 31, 2025, without renewal. The extension of Proposition 400 was referred to Maricopa County voters by the Arizona Legislature and will be on the November 2024 ballot.

“The renewal of Proposition 400 is an integral part of Maricopa County’s continued economic growth and the overall success of the region,” said Pam Kehaly, CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. “Investing in critical transportation infrastructure will allow the region to appropriately plan for future growth so residents can travel with ease and not experience the burden of long commute times. I am proud of the coalition of business and community associations that are actively supporting this effort and we look forward to sharing our message with Maricopa County voters.”

“Since the passage of Proposition 400, Arizona has become one of the top 6 states for economic momentum,” said Mesa Mayor John Giles. “The regional half cent sales tax has allowed the county to grow responsibly and build a comprehensive transportation network to support Maricopa County residents. This continued investment is critical for future economic development and ensuring Maricopa County residents have access to a variety of transportation options that best meet their needs.

”The Connect Maricopa Executive Committee consists of key business, economic development, and community organizations that understand the importance of investing in the Valley’s critical infrastructure:

  • American Council of Engineering Companies of Arizona
  • Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Arizona Chapter of the Associated General Contractors
  • Arizona Multihousing Association
  • Arizona Realtors Association
  • Arizona Rock Products Association
  • Arizona Trucking Association
  • Greater Phoenix Chamber
  • Greater Phoenix Economic Council
  • Greater Phoenix Leadership
  • Home Builders Association of Central Arizona
  • NAIOP Arizona
  • Valley Partnership

Ne’Lexia Galloway

Students of history (or older readers) will remember the Saturday Night Massacre: it was the last gasp of the Nixon administration and its attempt to cover up the Watergate scandal. In it, Nixon ordered his Justice Department officials to fire the Special Prosecutor in charge of Watergate, which led to a string of resignations as a result.

The Maricopa County Democratic Party seems to have had its own version of the Saturday Night Massacre in what seems to be embattled Executive Director Ne’Lexia Galloway’s attempt to protect her own job in the midst of underperformance, internal dissatisfaction, and a potential financial scandal. As a reminder, Galloway is engaged to be married to Bruce Franks Jr., the disgraced former Missouri State Rep/battle rapper/campaign grifter who played a significant role in tanking Julie Gunnigle’s campaign for County Attorney (get up to date on him here).

In a bombshell recent action, we’ve learned that Galloway personally fired every member of the staff except for one older, part-time employee nearing retirement (i.e. someone not deemed a threat). Their last day was at the end of February. The positions that were eliminated were organizing director (the person in charge of reaching out to potential voters), political director, and campaign director. While short term jobs are not renewed immediately after an election, to have such critical roles eliminated in a battleground county with all countywide seats up for election next year is unprecedented.

Some might say that money is a significant issue, and they are indeed light on cash, with only $16K available at the end of February. However, insiders say that part of this cash crunch is a result of gross mismanagement of funds, including a large allocation of cash sent out for what was supposed to be for mailers; but those mailers never went out. Insiders say that Galloway pushed for this vendor because the pricing was so cheap, but the pricing was so cheap because it didn’t account for the large majority of the costs: postage. A true rookie mistake. Now the party is attempting to claw back those funds, and numerous district chairs are extremely displeased.

Adding to that awkwardness? The fact that one of Galloway’s first actions after becoming the ED of the county Democratic Party was a highly public attempt to attack her former boss Ruben Gallego. Galloway spent several days hyping up a major announcement she was going to drop, only for it to be this statement, amounting to little more than a Gen Z’er who is amazed to learn that their boss won’t fawn over every single idea that a new college graduate has. This is much, MUCH more awkward of a dynamic now that Gallego is the presumed Democratic candidate for the US Senate race in 2024.

Additionally, the friend’s list seems to be narrowing, as the county party became an official sponsor of an event that Galloway’s fiance Franks Jr. put on which neglected to invite the Kesha Hodge Washington, a Democrat and favored candidate of Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. Attempting to purposely alienate the most powerful Democratic elected official of a local seat is…highly risky.


So in summary, it has been bad decisions compounded by bad performance followed by bad financial management that has led to this place: where threats were all around and where money was tight, so Galloway decided to solve both issues at once. And now they will be hamstrung regarding organizing for the future, and their brand has taken a real hit. Her hire has turned into a one-person disaster.

Good governance depends on at least two strong parties that are led competently and have compelling messages. We have seen parts of the Republican party in Arizona devolve into conspiracy theories, and now we are seeing the local Democratic party devolve into power struggles designed to paper over incompetence and underperformance. Much like the Saturday Night Massacre, it’s a sad state of affairs. We can only hope that much like that event, it leads to a wholesale change in leadership and an entirely new direction.

By Alexander Lomax

Now that midterm elections are out of the way, next comes the tradition of political parties having their “reorganization” meetings. What this entails is all of the dedicated party apparatchiks coming together to vote on who should be in their party’s leadership. At the county level, Precinct Committeepeople (PCs) come together to vote on county party leadership. PCs also vote to see who will be on the State Committee, the members of which then vote for state party leadership.

Often, these events are dry and long, full of procedural votes on their party platform, or votes for such boring and generally meaningless positions as 2nd Vice Chair of the county party or the like. Often, leadership will run for re-election, and unless they are particularly unpopular, any opposition will be token opposition. There often aren’t a ton of surprises. However, the chair of the Arizona Democratic Party, Raquel Teran, is not seeking re-election, which means a power vacuum. And with any power vacuum, it won’t go unfilled for too long.

Even more interesting and impactful is the fact that the Dems have had big wins, winning the US Senate seat, the Governor’s race, Secretary of State, and (pending recount) the AG’s office. There is actual power to be had in roles like this. So when those newly electeds all coalesced behind candidates quickly, our ears were perked.

Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo threw his hat in the ring; as the only Democrat of the five member board for several election cycles, he has not had much impact on local politics or policy, and while he has been a mainstay in the local Dem scene he hasn’t been too influential. Therefore it was intriguing to see Governor-elect Katie Hobbs giving her endorsement to him. While his other support seems to have been lackluster, having Hobbs on his side is not to be trifled with. Along with that is a member of her transition team stating that it is her right to anoint the next Chair, which…received pushback.

The next Chair shall not be anointed, however: longtime local union organizer Yolanda Bejarano has stated her intention to run. While many people announce an intention to run, hers is followed by a who’s who of local Democrats backing her: Senator Mark Kelly, Secretary of State-elect Adrian Fontes, presumptive Attorney General-elect Kris Mayes and Congressmen Greg Stanton and Ruben Gallego have all announced their support.

Quite the intriguing development, where Arizona’s incoming Governor is nearly alone in her support of the party’s next Chair. It seems as though Bejarano, an organizer by trade, organized around Gallardo/Hobbs and consolidated support extremely deftly. Meanwhile Gallardo, a candidate in a safe blue seat with no primary challenges for ages, didn’t understand the game that he was playing and assumed that being friendly with one person was enough.

While the votes still need to be tallied, it certainly looks like Bejarano is in the driver’s seat, and with that a deep understanding of organizing and less of the social justice dedication that Teran (or at least gave lip service to).

And now, we wait to see the glorious show that the race for the AZ GOP Chair shall undoubtedly provide! 

Data Orbital is pleased to announce the results of its latest statewide, mixed mode survey of likely Republican primary election voters. The survey was conducted from July 18th to July 20th.

The survey tested all Republican candidates whose names will appear on the ballot for Governor in the upcoming August 2nd Republican primary.

With mail-in ballots already being returned, Kari Lake shows a commanding 11-point lead over Karrin Taylor Robson. Lake is pulling away from the field as a poll conducted by Data Orbital earlier in July showed Lake only 4 points ahead of Taylor Robson.

Pollster George Khalaf had this to say about the latest results, “With nearly 250,000 Republican ballots returned, it is clear Kari Lake has maintained – and grown – her lead in the Gubernatorial race. We have seen the Undecided rate steadily drop from 28% in late June to 12%, with a little more than a week until Election Day. With what we are seeing in our polling, and every other public poll released on the Governor’s race, one thing is clear: Kari Lake is on her way to securing the Republican nomination.”

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This poll of 550 likely primary election voters was conducted through a combination of live survey and text to web that collected 32.4% of the results from live caller landlines, 34.2% from live caller cell phones, and 33.4% from text to web. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.26% with a 95% confidence interval. Respondents were weighted on a number of different demographic figures based on prior primary election voter turnout figures. The poll was conducted from July 18 – July 20, 2022. 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.

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