Featured Editorials




Target, Harkins BackLot, Safeway, Marshalls, Ross and HomeGoods will anchor the 500,000-square-feet Regional Shopping Center Development in Buckeye, Arizona

Vestar, one of the leading privately held shopping center owners and managers in the United States, in partnership with DMB Associates, announced the notable line up of anchor tenants committed to Verrado Marketplace – marking a significant milestone in the project’s progress. National retailers TargetHarkins BackLotSafewayMarshallsRoss and HomeGoods will open their doors at the open-air retail center in late 2025. Verrado Marketplace will bring Vestar’s signature shopping, dining, and entertainment experience to the heart of Buckeye, providing residents with a premier location to shop, dine and socialize within their community.

“We are thrilled to welcome Target, Harkins BackLot, Safeway, Marshalls, Ross and HomeGoods to Verrado Marketplace. With the addition of these premiere anchor tenants, we are confident that Verrado will become more than just a retail destination, but also a community hub for social interaction and entertainment,” says Jeff Axtell, Executive Vice President of Development.

Entertainment company Harkins BackLot is bringing their newest concept to Verrado Marketplace. In addition to a luxury movie theatre, Harkins BackLot will have a full-service restaurant and bar including a state-of-the-art sports viewing arena, arcade games for all ages, a bowling alley and private areas for parties and events within the 75,000-square-feet space. The Verrado Marketplace location will be their first new build of the “BackLot” concept to open in Arizona.

Major department store, Target, is bringing their newest prototype to Verrado Marketplace, including their various buy online, pick up at store shopping options. With visibility from Interstate 10, Target will occupy 147,000-square-feet on the southeast corner of the development adjacent to Marshalls, Ross and HomeGoods- who will occupy a combined 70,000-square-feet of space.

“With our roster of premier anchor tenants in place, we continue to focus our efforts on bringing a dynamic mix of tenants, including upscale restaurants, local eateries and fast casual dining, specialty stores including apparel and home furnishings as well as neighborhood services,” stated Axtell. Similar to Vestar’s Desert Ridge Marketplace and Tempe Marketplace projects, Verrado Marketplace will offer gathering spaces throughout the development, complete with a central lawn. ‘The District’, designed to provide a versatile space for concerts, community events and social gatherings with the addition of a state-of-the-art performance stage. Vestar hosts hundreds of events at its signature Marketplace properties each year, including live music performances, holiday celebrations, yoga classes and more. Families will delight in the inclusion of a PopJet Splash Pad, providing a playful and refreshing space for children to enjoy outdoor fun. Numerous dining options will further enhance the overall ambiance, making Verrado Marketplace a destination for both shopping and leisure.

Verrado Marketplace will also be bringing Vestar’s signature Sip & Stroll program to the development, allowing customers 21 and older to enjoy alcoholic beverages from participating bars and restaurants while strolling defined pedestrian areas of the property, providing an enhanced and social shopping experience.

As part of its commitment to the community, Vestar will be implementing its leading sustainability program, GreenStar, into the project including energy-efficient building materials, solar power, water harvesting, white “cool” roofs, artificial turf, LED lighting, onsite recycling and composting, drip system landscaping and EV charging stations

Verrado Marketplace will stand at the entrance to DMB Associates’ 8,800-acre master planned community where there are currently more than 6,800 homes. Over the next decade, Verrado Marketplace is expected to bring in more than $50 million in total tax receipts to the city of Buckeye. Additionally, the retailers and restaurants in the shopping center will generate nearly 1,500 permanent jobs. Between construction and operation, the project is estimated to result in economic output of $1.8 billion over a ten-year period.

Verrado Marketplace is one of five new projects Vestar is developing in Arizona. Vineyard Towne Center, Queen Creek Crossing, Laveen Towne Center, and The Shops at Lake Pleasant are also underway.

To learn more about Vestar, visit www.vestar.com.

For more information about Verrado Marketplace, visit atverradomarketplace.com.

Ian Gardeck Joins Arizona’s Most Respected Name In Real Estate 

Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty, Arizona’s leader in the luxury market, is pleased to announce the newest addition to their Camelback Tower office, Ian Gardeck. A former professional baseball player, Gardeck brings his passion, determination, and expertise to the world of real estate after retiring from Major League Baseball.

Gardeck graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in Business Administration and Management, demonstrating his commitment to excellence both on and off the field. He was a standout player, catching the attention of several Major League teams. Gardeck was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 2011, the San Francisco Giants in 2012, and the Tampa Bay Rays in 2018, showcasing his talent and versatility as a pitcher.

In addition to his impressive baseball career, Gardeck comes from an athletic family. His brother Dennis, is a prominent player for the Arizona Cardinals, highlighting his dedication to The Valley.

After facing challenges, including overcoming two Tommy John surgeries, Gardeck made the decision to retire from professional baseball in 2020. His retirement has now led him to embark on a new journey in the real estate industry.

“I am thrilled to be joining Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty,” said Gardeck. “I am looking forward to working with some of the top agents in The Valley and joining Arizona’s leading agency in the luxury market. I am ready to start helping our clients achieve their real estate goals.”

Along with Gardeck’s MLB experience, he has also worked in sales, making him an asset to the Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty team. He is committed to providing exceptional service and leveraging his experience to assist clients in finding their dream homes or making strategic real estate investments.

Lululemon, J. Crew and Rowan Piercing among the 11 new retailers opening at the valley’s ultimate shopping destination

Vestar, one of the leading privately held shopping center owners and managers in the western United States, is pleased to announce 11 new tenants will join the dynamic roster of retailers at Tempe Marketplace, further elevating the shopping experience for residents and visitors alike. Totaling more than 54,000-square-feet of retail and restaurant space, the addition of these tenants brings the center to nearly 100% leased.

Among the new retailers – LululemonNike, LumberjAxesHandel’s Ice Cream and Escapology have opened their doors in time for the upcoming holiday season. Highly anticipated brands including J. CrewRowan PiercingPandora JewelryBox Lunch, and Strange Adventures Comics & Collectibles will join Tempe Marketplace’s robust lineup of retailers in the coming months. Original Tempe Marketplace tenant Hot Topic is relocating to a new space within the property- nearly double the size- to meet the demands of the Tempe customer base. These household names bring a mix of fashion, fitness, and experiential retail to the center, enhancing the diverse offerings available to the Tempe community and beyond.

“We are excited to welcome a new wave of tenants to Tempe Marketplace. These additions underscore our commitment to offering an unparalleled shopping experience for the community,” said Taylor Alvey, Vice President of Leasing at Vestar.

Cutting-edge activewear and yoga-inspired apparel brand Lululemon, opened its doors on November 17th. Known for its innovative designs and high-quality materials, Lululemon will enhance the robust shopping options already available at Tempe Marketplace and will be conveniently located next door to Sephora. With a focus on functional and stylish activewear, Lululemon is a go-to destination for fitness enthusiasts and fashion-forward individuals alike.

Timeless American fashion brand, J. Crew will make its debut at Tempe Marketplace in the Spring 2024. Located near F21, the beloved brand known for its quality and sophisticated designs, will be another exciting addition for fashion-savvy shoppers.

Additionally, Vestar is excited to introduce Rowan Piercing, opening in early 2024 at Tempe Marketplace. Offering a personalized jewelry experience with hypoallergenic products and licensed nurses, Rowan Piercing will be located near Churro Nest and offer a wide selection of services.

Nike, a global leader in athletic footwear and apparel, joined the lineup of exceptional retailers at Tempe Marketplace this June. Located between H&M and Creations Boutique, the Nike store offers a wide range of athletic apparel and footwear for men, women, and kids.

LumberjAxes, the ultimate axe-throwing restaurant and sporting venue, also opened its doors at Tempe Marketplace this past summer near Victoria’s Secret. Spanning an impressive 13,000-square-feet, LumberjAxes offers a thrilling and immersive experience that combines axe throwing, cuisine, and a vibrant atmosphere.

Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream opened November 17th and now makes ice cream fresh every day at Tempe Marketplace, using only the finest ingredients.

Tempe Marketplace is looking forward to the opening of three other new retailers. Comic and collectible retailer Strange Adventures is currently under construction, along with Box Lunch, a community-oriented gift and apparel brand that donates a portion of each purchase to local food banks through their partnership with Feeding America®. Both are expected to open by the end of 2023, while Pandora Jewelry is scheduled to start construction in the Spring of 2024.

Existing retailer Hot Topic, a brand of music-related apparel and accessories is an original tenant of Tempe Marketplace, first opening in 2007, will relocate into a 3,000-square-feet space, set to open by the end of the year.

Tempe Marketplace remains dedicated to providing a curated selection of top-tier retailers as well as fostering an atmosphere that invites customers to gather and socialize.

For more information and updates on all that Tempe Marketplace has to offer, please visit https://tempemarketplace.com/ and for more information on Vestar, please visit www.vestar.com.

Tour Model Homes and Celebrate the Holidays with Festive Events 


Eastmark, Arizona’s premier master-planned community, is gearing up for a day full of holiday festivities this December. Residents are invited to join in the merriment of the season to create lasting memories.

First is the annual Jingle Jog on Saturday, December 16th, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Eastmark Great Park where participants dress in their holiday best, whether it be cozy pajamas, ugly sweaters, or festive costumes. The event promises a fun-filled jog or stroll around Eastmark Great Park, fostering a sense of community and holiday cheer.

Following Jingle Jog, the celebrations will continue with ‘A Very Merry’ Eastmark from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m. at the Eastmark Great Park. Neighbors can gather to enjoy thrilling rides, entertaining games, crafts, and a toy drive.

Additionally, residents and visitors are invited to join ‘The Very Merry Eastmark’ Home Tour, which will anchor the afternoon festivities and runs from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 16th. Tour model homes starting in the low $400’s up to $1million by seven builders plus enjoy buyer incentives and quick-move in specials.

With over 6,000 homes sold and more than $2.3 billion in sales, Eastmark has consistently been ranked among the top 50 master-planned communities in the nation since 2015.

Today, the community boasts over 18,000 residents and under 400 homes remaining, available through seven esteemed builders: Ashton Woods, Capital West, David Weekley, Landsea Homes, New Home Co., William Ryan, and Woodside Homes.

Eastmark offers a diverse range of home designs and floorplans, spanning from 1,338 to 4,611-square-feet. Discover why Eastmark has earned its reputation as Arizona’s best-selling master-planned community.

“We are excited to celebrate the holiday season at Eastmark with these festive signature community events,” said Dea McDonald, president of the Arizona Land and Housing Group at Brookfield Properties. “These events showcase the incredible lifestyle and community spirit that defines Eastmark. Whether you’re in the market for a new home or simply looking for a fun community event, Eastmark has something for everyone.”

In addition to these special events, Eastmark residents and visitors can experience the charm of the Eastmark Farmers Market every Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The market, located at Eastmark Great Park Basketball Court (5100 S Eastmark Pkwy, Mesa, AZ 85212), boasts a diverse array of vendors offering fresh produce, delectable salsa, baked goods, popcorn, handmade candles, arts and crafts, clothing, and more. Food trucks and a coffee truck are also on-site, providing an exceptional experience for attendees.

For more information about the Eastmark Farmers Market, please visit the website: https://eastmarkfarmersmarket.com/.

For more information about Eastmark and their holiday events please visit https://www.eastmark.com/ or contact Eastmark at info@Eastmark.com or (480) 625-3005.

Collections Scheduled For Release November 20th, 2023, and Late Winter/Early Spring 2024

The Arizona Coyotes announced that innovative designer Doni Nahmias will be the club’s new Creative Strategist for the 2023-24 season. Founder and Creative Director for the NAHMIAS brand, a leader in men’s premium fashion, Doni Nahmias’ unique style is a high-grade yet informal mix of skate, sports, surf, and hip-hop codes melded into an ascendant ready-to-wear label.

The COYOTES x Doni NAHMIAS collaboration includes merchandise collections, with the first scheduled for release on November 20th, 2023, when the Coyotes take on the Los Angeles Kings. The merchandise will be available during Coyotes games at Mullett Arena and in select pop-up events. The collaboration’s second collection will be available in late Winter/early Spring 2024. The merchandise is also available online at CommonHype.com/collections/coyotes.

“Doni Nahmias is one of today’s top visionaries when it comes to cutting-edge designs,” said Arizona Coyotes Chief Brand Officer Alex Meruelo Jr. “His styles align perfectly with many of our players who take pride in their fashion.”

Doni Nahmias brings a clean, modern style with refined and elevated pieces that fans can blend into any wardrobe. His collaborations with the Coyotes will offer new options that will appeal to the pro athletes, hockey fans and anyone interested in the newest styles.

“I’m excited by the endless potential this partnership has to pave a new landscape for Arizona Coyotes hockey in the fashion industry,” said Doni Nahmias. “Hockey now becomes a canvas for creative expression where I can use new perspectives to redefine the very essence of style and the sport.”

“We see a parallel in Doni as an emerging designer and the Coyotes as an ascending NHL

team,” Meruelo said. “We want to align the Coyotes organization with the best in class in everything we do, and we believe we have that level of partner in Doni.”

Doni Nahmias’ keen eye for contemporary men’s premium fashion is evident in that his designs are worn by the elite in the world of sports and entertainment. NBA All-Stars, famous rappers and international athletes, like Lewis Hamilton, all wear his clothes. NAHMIAS was founded in 2018.

Featured Editorials

Last year, Scottsdale voters voted in favor of adopting the Scottsdale General Plan 2035 last year, a significant win for Mayor David Ortega (considering that a decade previous, it did not pass), although it came far from a mandate with only a 5 point win. But a win is a win, and soon thereafter the work began to start to implement this guide path towards a better city.

This process is a long and winding one, as any large scale municipal project can be. Another step forward recently happened and will be continuing soon, as the Scottsdale City Council recently reviewed some draft elements of the sustainability aspect of the plan. More specifically, the introduction, air quality and water sections were recently discussed, and draft sections on energy, waste and heat will be addressed in a Council Work Study Session in March 2024.

Some of our more conservative readers may recoil at the mere mention of the word “sustainability” and yearn for a more simple (and Republican) time where sustainability was not a word in our lexicon. But perhaps it’s an unnecessarily politicized word. For instance, water is obviously a critical resource in our area, and air quality is often on the minds of many, as is heat. There is room for conservation to intersect with quality of life concerns that impact everyone.

The Scottsdale Environmental Advisory Commission (SEAC) is a seven member commission that helped build this framework and will be tasked with ensuring that it aligns with the city’s goals and the vision of the 2035 General Plan. All in all, not only is the concept is compliant but ostensibly a positive one. After all, who doesn’t want a cleaner environment?

That said, we have already seen the potential perils of moving too far towards a sustainable utopia. For instance, the “road diet” concept, where driving lanes are stripped away in favor of walking or biking lanes, has already become a hot-button issue, with councilmembers and candidates alike lining up to pan the idea as an example of progressive ideals run amok.

Politicians will always use the available weapons to bludgeon their opponents, but positively and negatively. But it’s crucial for us to see it through a sober lens. Which recommendations will actually benefit our quality of life, and which ones add little value? That remains to be seen.

Here at the Arizona Progress and Gazette, we do our best to engage you on local issues not just for the sake of information, but hopefully to inspire you to become more proactively engaged citizens. Your set of eyes is just as crucial as ours, so we encourage you to follow along on your own and draw your own conclusions. We are all better off with an actively engaged citizenry, after all.

“The Arizona Corporation Commission approved EPCOR’s application to construct a standpipe for water service to the Rio Verde Foothills community today. This is the long-term solution that I worked towards since becoming a member of the Board of Supervisors and serving District 2. I am happy that the good folks in Rio Verde Foothills will have a long-term, reliable water source so that they may continue to live with water security and certainty in their community.

This has been an epic journey with many moving parts, and I fulfilled my promise to do my part to secure the community’s long-term water future. In the summer of 2022, Commissioner Tovar and Commissioner Marquez Peterson opened a Corporation Commission docket at my request to explore solutions to the RVF water issue. I subsequently convinced EPCOR to apply to be the long-term water provider. Happily, over a year later, the ACC rightfully concluded that standpipe service to RVF is reasonable and in the public interest.

I want to thank the Commission for their diligence and hard work on this issue. I appreciate EPCOR’s efforts to step-up in their willingness to serve the community.Finally, I was incredibly impressed with the grit and determination of the residents of RVF who worked tirelessly and together in the face of unnecessary and obstinate obstacles by the City of Scottsdale’s Mayor. Those RVF residents are incredible human beings, and they personify the spirit of the RVF community.”

By Jessica Perez

It comes as no shock that Arizona’s house prices and rents have escalated significantly over the past few years, making the need for affordable housing more apparent than ever. Devco Residential Group is striving to address this need by introducing a multifamily residential complex in West Phoenix with 112 apartments falling under the low-income housing tax credit program. As they pursue city approval, Phoenix council members struggled to balance the wants of their constituents with the need for affordable housing during last week’s city council meeting.

Although this new development sounds ideal, constituents who would live near these apartments were strongly against its development as they feared a rise in crime and road congestion. Councilwoman Betty Guardado from District 5 was opposed despite her progressive views. She understood the need for affordable housing but could not approve of Devco’s plan without the support of those she represents. District 4 councilwoman Laura Pastor and Vice Mayor Yassamin Ansari chose to side with their colleague during their vote as they believed Guardado knew what was best for her district.

These sentiments were not shared with city council members Ann O’Brien (District 1), Debra Stark (District 3) and Kevin Robinson (District 6) as they were strong opponents of Guardado’s justification for voting against a new affordable housing development. They made clear that the housing crisis in our cities is an issue that they believe their colleagues should not shy away from despite constituent’s disapproval.

Their pushback seemed to create strong tensions as Councilwoman Guardado noted that she believed councilmembers had set up a good dialogue when it came to respecting each other’s decisions for their districts. Yet the approval for Devco’s apartment development in District 5 was passed with a vote of 5 in favor and 4 against, demonstrating that other district representatives can have a dramatic impact on districts other than their own.

As more people struggle to find affordable housing, apartments like Devco’s development have the potential to alleviate some strain. While many struggle to accept new neighbors, our increasing population demands growth within the housing market that is affordable and attainable to people of all levels of income. Tough decisions must be made to tackle issues within our city. We hope to see new affordable housing developments approved in the future especially by councilmembers O’Brien, Stark, and Robinson in their own districts too, just as they passionately fought to pass affordable housing developments in a district other than their own.

Photo Credit: AZ Central

In what will almost undoubtedly be one of the most interesting political races in the entire country, Kari Lake will be vying for Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s seat in the US Senate along with Rep. Ruben Gallego. While it’s a long way out, one thing is for absolute certain: that this race will be very, VERY expensive and will draw in tens of millions of dollars from all around the country.

While we have a long time to wait until the fully obnoxious inundation of political ads, when every single commercial break is completely full of ads for this race (as well as mention the presidential race), not all parties are ready to wait until that time comes closer. The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) is already pulling out their weapons and shooting.

With probable enemies on two ends, they recently initiated an ad campaign that takes both Sinema and Gallego to task, and the tactics are already drawing attention. It paints Sinema as being firmly on the side of President Biden, a time-tested tactic against candidates of the party of the president when said president is unpopular. But in an even more eye-opening tactic, they are accusing Gallego of being a “deadbeat dad”.

Gallego’s personal life has long been a topic of murmurs and rumors and local Dems; his divorce from Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego is well known, but also fairly well known is Gallego’s appreciation of a (sometimes too) late night out and hijinks that would usually be associated with someone half his age. But never (at least in our experience) has his fatherhood ability been in question, something that without strong evidence to the contrary comes off as a cheap shot.

As the article alludes to, it actually offers Gallego an opportunity to insert some of his life experience that is both relatable and perhaps admirable. As an Iraq War veteran, he has spoken about having PTSD and that that led to the failure of his marriage with Mayor Gallego. While most people would privately admit that he is far from perfect, perfection as presented in politics is usually a mirage anyway. Voters typically gravitate towards someone who is real and relatable; after all, George W. Bush won the presidency on the back of the appearance that he was someone you’d want to have a beer with. In a three-way race as to who you’d like to have a beer with, Gallego very likely wins that race handily.

Mind you, this is so incredibly far out from the race that it probably doesn’t matter for anything more than something for us in the chattering class to talk about. A year in the political cycle is a decade for everyone else. And almost certainly, the NRSC will perform polling and see just how effective this line of attack is, and will course correct if our instincts end up being correct.

That said, it’s not a great start; painting Sinema as a lefty, in direct opposition to the years of the precisely curated appearance of a political independent that she has carved for herself, and a deeply personal attack against Gallego that is without real evidence. This is why people hate politics.

Over the last few months, Governor Katie Hobbs and AZ Attorney General Kris Mayes have started to realize and actualize the power that they can wield together (you can read up on our coverage on Hobbs here and Mayes here). Most of this exploration has revolved around battles related to legislation, both real and potential, but rarely have they had a specific statewide elected official that is engaging them in a dust-up.

That is until now…in a recent development, both are fighting back against State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne. He filed a lawsuit against them since they will not offer him the legal protection to implement a desired initiative of his: an end to “dual-language” programs in public schools that he believes are both ineffective and illegal.

Education has been a focal point for ideological battles in Arizona for the last few years with school board meetings being the primary battlegrounds. But perhaps the starkest contrast regarding this issue has been with the role of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Horne’s predecessor, Kathy Hoffman, was known for stridently progressive views regarding any and all social issues, including immersion learning. Meanwhile, Horne has never shied away from taking a more hardline stance on all things immigration.

Does his charge have merit? While Horne’s political past as both a previous Superintendent as well as state AG have shown, he has no problem diving straight into the culture wars of the time, including forays into both illegal immigration and “ethnic studies” in his previous stint as Superintendent, this stance may have some more meat on it. He posits that the 50/50 immersion learning (four hours in English and four in Spanish) likely violates Proposition 203, approved by Arizona voters in 2020, but also concedes that two hours in Spanish would be acceptable to him, a more accommodative stance than he has held in the past.

While the Arizona of the year 2000 was a starkly different one than today in a number of different ways, and many prevalent views then would likely be seen as outdated now, the law is the law unless the voters are given a chance to say otherwise. Horne, the former state AG, knows that as well as current AG Kris Mayes. That said, we are far from legal experts insofar as law interpretation goes and will willingly defer to the judicial system, which will have its crack at it.

And just like that, a new front is opened up for the war between the Democrat team of Hobbs and Mayes and the Republican establishment, but this time in the executive branch. Hobbs and Mayes have continued to find their feet and push the boundaries of what they can do as a duo. It’s fair to say that this is likely to be a very interesting legislative session coming up as their collective heels dig in further and the fights become even more rancorous.

When Northern Arizona Healthcare (NAH) sought to move seven miles south to the Fort Tuthill area, they may have expected some pushback but nothing like the avalanche of opposition that forced a public vote that would see more than 70% of Flagstaff voters rejecting the idea no November 7th.

The Flagstaff City Council vote in June to rezone 100 acres for the new hospital was unanimous (Vice Mayor Austin Aslan was absent and did not vote).

The plans had been announced two years prior.

What went wrong? And what additional lessons might now be understood both for the Scottsdale City Council and Banner Health, who like Northern Arizona Healthcare, is facing serious opposition in Scottsdale.

The goodwill in the community wasn’t there. Before and after the vote, opponents insisted there was not enough collaboration with the community as well as a lack of planning. The Planning and Zoning Committee had voted against it.

The opposition group called Flagstaff Community First was able to gather more than 2,600 valid signatures to put the question on the ballot within the 30-day referendum window.

The group’s website had a long list of reasons to vote no such as a giant hospital isn’t needed, increasing healthcare costs, a lack of planning, and the fate of the existing hospital.Read More

Post Malone

You almost certainly know all about the WM Phoenix Open, the iconic golf tournament at TPC Scottsdale. The pro golf tour party of the year…maybe even the party of the year in the city. It needs no other introductions. And yet somehow they are managing to outdo themselves with a recent announcement.

The tournament recently announced easily one of the biggest developments in its long and storied history: that internationally popular hip-hop artist Post Malone will be performing at the iconic 16th hole at this year’s WM Phoenix Open. They also announced that no less than Duran Duran will headline the Bird’s Nest.

Many of our readers are a bit older and maybe have only heard of Post Malone in passing (if at all), or maybe have seen him before and thought of him as that guy with the face tattoos, which is accurate. But such a depiction truly downplays how significant this is, and just how integral and important he has been in the popular music scene over the last six or seven years..

To give some added context, Post Malone has earned three American Music Awards, ten Billboard Music Awards and a MTV Video Music Award. He’s also been nominated for a grand total of ten Grammy’s; while he hasn’t won any (the Buffalo Bills of the Grammy’s, if you will), to get that close so many times is impressive enough. He has had four number 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, highlighted by Circles, which spent three weeks at the top, in addition to 11 Top 10 hits.

That said, those are the metrics of the olden days; his streaming numbers tell the most impressive tale. Post Malone has ten singles that have been streamed over a BILLION times on Spotify, along with seven singles that have been watched over a billion times on YouTube. So while you may not listen to him, your kids and their friends probably do.

We say this only to say…this is an impressive elevation of the WM Phoenix Open. Long known as the best party in golf, there is now nothing else that can come even remotely close. One could make an argument that it is now elevating itself into the A-List of all sporting events in America, not just golf. After all, when you pull in A-List stars, you’re well on your way to being an A-Lister yourself.

Yet again, Scottsdale manages to outdo itself as a premier destination to live, work and play. However, at this point we should expect nothing less.

By Councilwoman Betty Janik

To Our Scottsdale Community,

Thanksgiving is time to reflect on all the things for which we are grateful.  I am grateful for the wonderful staff, hundreds of dedicated volunteers, and our thoughtful citizens. We all work together to make Scottsdale a model of excellence.   It is truly a wonderful place to live, work, raise a family, retire, and/or vacation.  It is through our combined efforts that we have achieved this status.

I want to send a special note of appreciation to our Adaptive Services team.

They provide fun, safe and meaningful social and recreational opportunities for participants with neuro and physical diversities. Adaptive Services hosts engaging activities that promote socialization and life skills. Using art, dance, music, recreation, and sports, the team provides opportunities to grow physically, emotionally, cognitively and socially.

The Special Olympics “Bobcat” Team is the Special Olympics Arizona (SOAZ) Team representing the City of Scottsdale Adaptive Services.  They have dozens of eager participants and continue to add new sports.  Adaptive Services adds to the richness of the tapestry that brings us all together as one.

A shout out also goes to our Police Department and Fire Department.  You keep us safe at great risk to yourself.  I offer a sincere thank you.

May you have a peaceful Thanksgiving celebrating with family and friends.



Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega will be facing what could be a tough re-election campaign next year, with a number of strong known and potential candidates looking to unseat him. However his path towards re-election looks as though it will be a bit easier with a recent announcement.

In a reversal from what was long rumored but ultimately found to be untrue, Councilwoman Tammy Caputi will not be challenging Ortega in the mayoral race, instead choosing to run for re-election to the council. This leaves Ortega in a likely showdown against former councilmember Linda Milhaven andor his run-off competitor in last year’s election, Lisa Borowsky. There have also been rumblings about former Mayor Jim Lane taking a look at the race.

So what prompted this announcement? We haven’t heard directly from her about it so we don’t want to speculate too much. However, there was word of some polling that was conducted recently that had Mayor Ortega with very positive favorability numbers, and while Caputi’s numbers weren’t necessarily bad, she would have had a very long way to go when it came to name identification, a problem Ortega does not have.

Caputi is a very prolific fundraiser, so money would have been no problem. However, there was a larger question: what would her pathway to win be? Borowsky and Milhaven will likely raise a strong amount of funds as well. Milhaven is also very friendly with the developer community, meaning that getting full-throated support from them would have been tough. Both her and Ortega have a past that is left-of-center politically, and demographically, she would be one of three women.

Simply put, it would have been very difficult for her to stand out amongst the crowd as it currently stands. Caputi is no fool, it’s safe to say that her and her kitchen cabinet were able to perform that calculus and came to the correct conclusion.

This was likely the best decision for all involved. All of the existing candidates have one less formidable candidate to worry about, and Caputi should have a relatively easy path to re-election without blemishing her electoral record, although recently announced candidate Jan Dubauskas could be a formidable challenge to Caputi as well as incumbents Tom Durham and Betty Janik, should they opt to run for re-election too. Besides, four years will elapse soon enough, and Caputi may have a much easier path to the Mayor’s seat then.

Regular readers are likely aware of the Banner Health saga here in Scottsdale, but for those who are not…the synopsis is that Banner Health is attempting to build a large hospital complex in North Scottsdale, in an area that is already well serviced by existing hospital facilities. It has little community support for the project and has gotten significant heat for attempting to shove a square peg into a round hole. You can get fully up to date here.

With such a daunting task in front of them, one thing seems evident: Banner Health would be well served to gather as much positive press as it possibly could. And yet, controversy continues to follow them.

The latest example of this comes in the form of the largest medical malpractice award in Arizona history; a Maricopa County jury delivered a unanimous verdict Friday against Banner Health, and more specifically the company, its employees and one specific doctor, and ruled in favor of the plaintiff for a staggering of $31,550,825 in a medical malpractice case for a severely brain-damaged child.

Amongst the details, some of which are difficult to read, notable is that Banner denied responsibility and refused to make any offer to settle the case. Also, it stated that fetal heart monitoring records that the plaintiff wanted to use to make its case were “accidentally lost”. And when you accidentally lose records that could be used against you in a court of law, it’s difficult to see the positive angle for Banner. We all assume that our medical records won’t be lost in a healthcare facility that we trust; that is not something on the radar of anyone with health issues.

This comes with extremely unfortunate timing, as it currently has the daunting challenge of attempting to win over North Scottsdalians for its plans to build its facility there with a currently tepid level of public support. It needs all of the wins it can get, and this revelation certainly doesn’t help as the local citizenry does their own research on whether or not the proposed facility would be a welcome development.

Perhaps Banner would be best served by setting its focus internally; by getting its house in better order before disrupting thousands of households in North Scottsdale with an unnecessary new hospital. Maybe then it would garner support for its plans instead of facing down the specter of significant opposition.

Scottsdale is special. Really special.

It’s why we’ve invested here and built our lives here.

Residents choose to live in Scottsdale because of its unique character and high quality of living. The beauty of the architecture. The culture. The cleanliness. The preserves. The natural beauty. That indescribable Scottsdale feeling.

But we’re all tired of seeing some Council members vote against Scottsdale’s interests. They’re making decisions about our neighborhoods and I don’t like the direction they’re taking us. Scottsdale needs a Council member who listens to the voices of residents.

We need a Council member who will oppose road diets, endless overdevelopment, and expanded public transit.

We need a Council member who fights for reduced traffic and high quality of life.

It’s time for resident-friendly leadership.

I am proud to announce that I am running for Scottsdale City Council.

A great career as an attorney and a corporate executive has prepared me to serve the public and to serve our residents. We cannot allow Scottsdale to go the way of other cities. Scottsdale cannot become Portland, Seattle – or even Phoenix. We have an opportunity right now to turn it around and stop the slide.

I’m running to take our Council back from pro-developer, progressive interests so that we can preserve Scottsdale and protect our quality of life.

Together, we will keep Scottsdale special and make our voices heard.

I hope you will join me. I’m going to need your support – to sign, to give, to volunteer.

Please visit JanforScottsdale.com to learn more and join my team.

For Scottsdale,
Jan Dubauskas

Paradise Valley is a town well known for its stringent development codes, one which has traditionally made it extremely difficult to develop large swathes of land for much more than incredible luxury homes. The town likes its insular nature, but that in itself can be very limiting. 

Perhaps that’s why the development being spearheaded by the Ritz-Carlton is so surprising. The project comes with a $2 billion price tag and has multiple facets: it includes a 215-room resort, over 100 single family homes, a number of townhomes and villas, and over 50,000 square feet of retail establishments and restaurants. For a town the size of Paradise Valley, clearly it is a gigantic undertaking.

The project came to fruition out of a shared understanding of the need for tourism, both external and “staycations”. The town’s General Plan that was approved by the voters in March 2012 “recognizes the importance of resort properties and encourages new resort development that reflects the Town’s needs for fiscal health, economic diversification, and quality of life”.

With this in mind it should come as no surprise that the new Ritz-Carlton project is being called “slow moving”. And perhaps that’s not a bad thing. Originally approved in 2016, it was set for completion in 2018 originally, but as anyone who has knowledge of developments of this scale and size knows, having it completed in time and in budget is a rarity, especially when the pandemic hit relatively soon afterward.

Is a five year delay excessive? Probably. A better job projecting out the timeline would have been ideal. But the scope is staggering. According to the town’s Building Official, “Inspections of various project components average 10 to 16 a day, sometimes more than 20.” There is not just building codes to worry about, the roads, utilities, and a nearly unthinkable amount of infrastructure.

While we prefer fast and efficient, so long as the job is done well, a little extra caution is not necessarily a bad thing. For such a unique and special town, and considering the size of the project, it’s imperative that it is done correctly. If that means that a little extra patience is necessary, that’s nowhere near the end of the world. Perhaps it’s the best possible outcome.

Photo Credit: Kent Nishimura, Getty Images

Last week’s elections were a relatively sleepy one; after all, with no real big name seats up for grabs, it was easy to not see any local results at all. But there were a few very important developments that will impact parents all across the Valley, including in Scottsdale. Specifically, bond overrides.

Bond overrides are a mechanism to increase funding for schools at a local level, and they are typically popular, with them traditionally passing in the Valley within all but the most right-leaning of districts. This year, 61% of Valley bond override elections were successful, which would make a bit of a down year.

That said, there is good news for parents and educators in Scottsdale, as the SUSD override election passed by a wide margin. The override will raise $22.1 million annually for needs such as “maintaining current class size ratios, maintaining full-day kindergarten classes and programs like music, arts, world languages, athletics and co-curricular activities”, along with a raise for teachers for the sake of competitive compensation. Meanwhile, it comes at a cost of 32 cents per $100 of assessed home value, about the same as the one that is expiring.

Meanwhile, the Paradise Valley School District bond override was similarly successful. It was intended to raise $340 million in total at a cost of $48 per $100,000 in assessed value, with about 60% of funds to be allocated to construct, remodel, and improve school district facilities, buildings, and grounds.

Notable was the position of the state GOP, who went to Twitter (errr, X) to ask voters to vote down all overrides. As expected, the heavily Republican districts followed that lead, with override votes in the Deer Valley, Fountain Hills, Gilbert, Queen Creek and Liberty school districts losing by significant margins, and Litchfield and Mesa school districts suffering tighter losses.

Education spending has become a hot button issue at the state legislature, as Democrats consistently push for more and Republicans voice concerns about administrative bloat. But bond override elections allow for a degree of local control that is healthy for everyone involved. Kudos to local voters for seeing the need for a robust public educational system and voting yes on behalf of local students. Whether you voted for or against them, our sincere hope is that you did so after carefully considering the need and the merits of the request, and not because a political party (either one) told you how to vote on it.

By Jaime Roberts and David Voepel

Thirty-six percent of Arizona’s population is seniors – more than 2.5 million residents. Of those
2.5 million, thousands are residents in our long term care facilities. It takes an army of devoted
caregivers to look after our seniors, and their commitment to serve is unmatched.
The long term care profession is at a critical junction. Many of the long-standing challenges that
have faced our sector have been magnified as a result of the pandemic, particularly as it
pertains to our workforce.

In the last three years, health care workers have exited the field en masse, especially in our
nursing homes and assisted living communities. Among all health care sectors, long term care
experienced the worst job loss – and unfortunately, we are a long way from fully recovering.
Record-high inflation has led to skyrocketing costs, while chronic underfunding persists. Despite
nursing homes taking every measure to rebuild their workforce, nearly every facility in the
country says it’s still difficult to recruit new caregivers. When you factor in a national shortage of
nurses that is only going to get worse in the coming years, it’s easy to see why. In fact, Arizona is
projected to be the fifth worst state for nursing shortages by 2030.

Staffing shortages are leading to devastating outcomes. The Wall Street Journal reports that the
number of nursing homes are decreasing. There are 600 fewer nursing homes in the U.S. today
than there were just six years ago – a staggering number when we pause to consider how
thousands of our most vulnerable citizens have been uprooted from their homes and left to
search for new care.

Yet another threat looms large. President Biden’s administration is preparing to set a federal
staffing mandate on nursing homes, which would impose an arbitrary staff-to-resident ratio for
every facility. No matter how well-intentioned, the reality is that this one-size-fits-all regulation
will have significant consequences for Arizona seniors and their access to care.

Most nursing homes are already reducing their census because of labor shortages. Nearly half
of nursing homes have days-long waitlists. Hospitals are calling nursing homes so they can
discharge patients to their care but are told they can’t take them. This will continue under this
proposed mandate. It’s estimated that nearly 450,000 nursing home residents are at risk of
displacement if facilities can’t boost their staffing levels to meet the mandate’s requirement.
As the number of nursing homes dwindle, Americans are living longer. Data from the 2020 U.S.
Census shows that the population age 65 and older grew between 2010 and 2020 at the fastest
rate since 1880 to 1890. Today, one in six people are over the age of 65. This presents a
fundamental question: who is going to be there for our seniors when they eventually need long
term care?

Imposing a broad federal regulation on nursing homes does nothing to solve the baseline cause
of our workforce crisis. If lack of qualified and available candidates is the primary obstacle to
hiring caregivers, then the better approach is developing solutions that will build a stronger
pipeline of skilled workers.

To do that, we need a partnership with policymakers. Working together, we can create
comprehensive solutions to these complex problems. There are plenty of ideas on the table, but
we need lawmakers to put them into action.

Common-sense immigration reform that enables us to bring international nurses to the U.S. to
work quickly is a step in the right direction. There are thousands of nurses overseas who are
willing and eager to bridge our labor gaps. We need to lift the green card freeze, remove the
bureaucratic red tape and get these workers to the states.

We need to reach the next generation of caregivers by going into our high schools and teaching
them about the value and reward of working in long term care. Providing financial incentives to
choose this career path, whether it’s wiping away student loan debt or giving providing tuition
assistance for students who commit to working in long term care, will attract more talent to our

We cannot wait for this situation to get worse before we act. Lawmakers in Washington, D.C.
must prioritize our seniors and the long term care profession. Senators Kelly and Sinema should
be front and center to lead the way.

Jaime Roberts is the incoming CEO of Arizona LeadingAge. David Voepel is the CEO of the Arizona Health Care Association

Readers, typically we are hard at work delivering unique takes on local stories, typically around the Scottsdale and Paradise Valley area but also topics that impact all of us. We very rarely take a minute for a victory lap and thank you for your readership, but sometimes the moment calls for it.

Over the weekend, the Arizona Progress & Gazette hit a monumental milestone: we have had 100,000 unique, individual readers for this year, a milestone that we have never hit before. 98% are American (and we will almost certainly reach 100K American readers by the end of the year), and 75% are Arizonans. All of this without a dollar spent advertising our work.

What started as a small blog with reasonable takes amongst highly partisan sources has grown into something truly significant; one that has had an impact on local politics and has helped sway public sentiment towards better governance. And we have all of you to thank.

You have spent over 1,642 hours reading our content this year. And this speaks more to your engagement in local issues. We take incredible pride in having a readership that cares about what’s going on in the neighborhoods, schools, and in the halls of power. 

Do you wish you’d see more of our stories? Then now would be a great time to make sure that you’re getting access to all of our stories: head to arizonaprogressgazette.com and subscribe at the top of the home page. You can also follow us on Facebook, where our pieces automatically generate a post. Feel free to comment and let us know whether you agree or disagree and why; respectful public discourse makes us all better in the process.

More than anything however, thank you. Thank you for your time, for caring, and for helping this grow into something more significant than we could have imagined. 

By Jaime Roberts and David Voepel

Thirty-six percent of Arizona’s population is seniors – more than 2.5 million residents. Of those 2.5 million, thousands are residents in our long term care facilities. It takes an army of devoted caregivers to look after our seniors, and their commitment to serve is unmatched.

The long term care profession is at a critical junction. Many of the long-standing challenges that have faced our sector have been magnified as a result of the pandemic, particularly as it pertains to our workforce.

In the last three years, health care workers have exited the field en masse, especially in our nursing homes and assisted living communities. Among all health care sectors, long term care experienced the worst job loss – and unfortunately, we are a long way from fully recovering.

Record-high inflation has led to skyrocketing costs, while chronic underfunding persists. Despite nursing homes taking every measure to rebuild their workforce, nearly every facility in the country says it’s still difficult to recruit new caregivers. When you factor in a national shortage of nurses that is only going to get worse in the coming years, it’s easy to see why. In fact, Arizona is projected to be the fifth worst state for nursing shortages by 2030.

Staffing shortages are leading to devastating outcomes. The Wall Street Journal reports that the number of nursing homes are decreasing. There are 600 fewer nursing homes in the U.S. today than there were just six years ago – a staggering number when we pause to consider how thousands of our most vulnerable citizens have been uprooted from their homes and left to search for new care.Read More

Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers

While the Arizona Progress & Gazette tends to focus on issues east of the I-17, we do our best to keep our eyes on intriguing issues across the Valley, and there are few issues more intriguing than a long-term incumbent who is facing serious challenges. That is what brings our attention to Glendale and what may end up one of the most noteworthy mayoral races in the entire county.

Mayor Jerry Weiers is running for his third term but finds himself with probably the strongest resistance of his political career after what has been a colorful few issues.

One of the more respected former members of the Arizona legislature, Paul Boyer, jumped into the race towards the beginning of the year. After witnessing more contention and partisanship in the legislature than he preferred, he decided to not run for re-election there and instead chose to run to represent his home city. His time in the legislature was known for reaching across the aisle, a deeply pragmatic spirit, and a generally affable and likable persona that made him a favorite amongst many in the legislature.

More recently there has been another entrant into the race: Glendale Councilman Jamie Aldama. He can point to his time in the council as well as experience in a number of related boards as good reasons why he is highly qualified for the position, but his priorities are what is really turning heads. In a completely unveiled dig at Weiers, in his announcement, Aldama led off with “When elected, my top priority will be to improve the image of the office of mayor.” Ouch, shots fired.

Typically we like to look at campaign finance reports in order to handicap the odds of various candidates, since those who win the money race are often considered frontrunners. That said, there hasn’t been any necessary reporting regarding contributions and expenditures, so observers are flying blind, but we can look at previous fundraising prowess to extrapolate forward.

Weiers has shown himself to be a prolific fundraiser in the past, raising over $230,000 in his last mayoral campaign. Not to be outdone, Boyer wasn’t a slouch when it comes to fundraising either, raising over $200,000 in his last State Senate campaign. Aldama has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to fundraising chops however, as he raised just over $22,000 in his last election cycle.

From a traditional perspective, it looks as though this is a two-person race, with Weiers and Boyer having the fundraising acumen to compete at a higher level than Aldama. But perhaps the biggest question is whether Weiers’ strong name identification throughout the city is more positive than negative, and if he is able to avoid any more outbursts over the next 12 months. Boyer is clearly a more steady hand and navigated many complex situations at the Capitol with grace. More of the same or something new? What does Glendale want? We will know in one short year.

In front of another huge crowd against the backdrop of the picturesque McDowell Mountains, The 12th Annual Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships: Presented by Talking Stick Resort wrapped up another record year Saturday on numerous fronts including record liquor sales, total ticket revenues, the biggest one-day ticket sales revenue in event history, best food and beverage sales for one-day, and the longest event day in the Scottsdale Polo Party’s history.

“This year’s championships showcased the finest talents and the most exquisite experiences, reflecting the essence of Bentley. It was another fantastic day at the Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships, and we are
looking forward to another extraordinary event next year,” said Beli Merdovic, GM of Bentley Scottsdale. “We couldn’t have asked for a better day to enjoy polo and luxury.”

A new record (12,873) attendees turned out for the most attended polo event in the United States under mostly sunny skies that welcomed teams from Arizona, the United Kingdom, Aspen Valley, Palm Beach, New Orleans and El Paso. The four-action packed polo matches entertained crowds throughout the day, as did the Canine Couture Fashion Show by Lugari Pet Salon and The World’s Longest Catwalk Fashion Show Produced by Phoenix Fashion Week.

The Aspen Valley Polo Team of Marc Ganzi, Grant Ganzi and Nic Roldan won an unprecedented eighth title on the polo field at WestWorld of Scottsdale.

In the day’s featured match, Aspen Valley defeated the Wales Polo Team (Ricky Cooper, Jason Crowder, Pete Webb), 8-5, to capture the coveted Molina Cup. Roldan had a game-high six goals. Marc Ganzi and Grant Ganzi each had one goal.

In the opening match, Pride USA Polo Team (Sterling Jones, Juan Bollini Sr., Ryan Cronin-Prather) defeated Texas Garland Polo Team (Oscar Chacon Hidalgo, Johan Felhaber/Alec Felhaber. Vaughn Miller Jr.), 8-4. Cronin-Prather and Bollini each had three goals and Jones added two.

“Set Jet is proud to have sponsored the 12th Annual Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships this year, supporting one of our hometown’s most treasured community events. It was a joy to see PRIDE USA win their match in Set Jet jerseys – quite a bonus for our first year as a sponsor. Congratulations to the team on their excellent performance and win. We look forward to returning to the Scottsdale Polo Party next year and in the years ahead,” said Set Jet CEO Tom Smith.

In the “Battle of the Sexes” match the USA Women’s Team (Carolyn Likas, Natalie Grancharov, Danielle Travis, Courtney Parker) stunned the Arizona Polo Club (Martin Morey, Greg Holditch, Diego Flores, Andres Camacho), 7-5, with Danielle Travis scoring all the goals for the women.

In the final match of the day – New Orleans Polo Club (Jay Wimberly, Sebastian Koga, Max Secunda) making its first event appearance defeated North Scottsdale Polo Team (Josh Black, Martin Rincon, Abigail Miller), 11-1.

Longtime and marquee sponsors for the event include Title Sponsor Bentley Scottsdale, Presenting Sponsor Talking Stick Resort, Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction, Molina Fine Jewelers, Sanderson Lincoln, Genesis of North Scottsdale, Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty, Mark Taylor Residential, Hensley Beverage Company, Breakthru Beverage Group, Tawkify, Set Jet, Arizona Financial Credit Union, Lamborghini North Scottsdale, Assured Partners, Polestar, Neiman Marcus, Grimaldi’s, Maserati Scottsdale, Lucid and Southeast Valley Urology.

“We were thrilled for the opportunity to elevate the experience at the 12th Annual Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships with a reimagined Bubbles Bar and first Champagne Lane experience, featuring Veuve Clicquot,” says Anna Bauer, Market Director at Moët Hennessy USA. “We’re proud to have innovated the guest experience in a new way.”

Event founder, owner and Scottsdale public relations executive Jason Rose leads a team, including general manager Leslie Owen that endeavors to raise the event’s bar every year since it began in 2011.

“One day we will look back on the amazing Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships and history will show just what a contribution this ownership group and event have made to the world of polo,” said Wales player Ricky Cooper. “It is simply the best polo event in the world, pure unrivaled entertainment, a diverse and compelling social safari that brings together so much action into one day of power-packed polo promotion.”

Among fan favorites at this year’s event were the “Birds Nest” style Sunset AfterParty, led by Grammy nominated Chromeo and organized for the first time by Walter Productions featuring Burning Man favorites Walter the Bus, and Kalliope; an expanded Riot House Polo DayClub; World’s Longest Catwalk Fashion Show; the 10th Anniversary of the Canine Couture by Lugari Pet Salon; preview of the 2024 Barrett-Jackson’s Collector Car Auction; expanded wine tasting and variety of food, drink and music offered throughout the site.

“To set yet another ticket revenue record in these challenging economic conditions showed again the expanse and enthusiasm for this one-of-a-kind event,” Rose said. “We couldn’t be more grateful to the sponsors, fans and players who have helped create a stunningly diverse and different experience in the desert.”

Regular readers know of the saga playing out in Scottsdale with Banner Health; they are attempting to shoehorn in an unnecessary hospital in order to supposedly address a non-existent need in the face of largely non-existent public support. But in what is a gigantic shot across the bow in a similar situation elsewhere in the state, public support seems to be implying a seismic shift away from them.

In a strikingly similar situation, Northern Arizona Healthcare decided that they wanted to build an enormous new hospital facility in the city of Flagstaff and actually garnered tacit initial support from the city council. Residents disagreed however, and didn’t see the need or value of such a project, the arguments for and against to many of those that have been made by Banner Health in Scottsdale. And as would almost certainly be the case in Scottsdale, outrage allowed opponents to gather the necessary referendum signatures to put it to a public vote.

Proposition 480 made it to the ballot, and the citizenry had their say yesterday. The results were overwhelming to say the least; the Flagstaff hospital proposal was defeated by overwhelming and nearly historic proportions. The first count of votes show that 72% of voters voted against this clearly unwanted development. At first count that represents a 44 point loss, an embarrassing defeat.

Kudos must be given to the opposition group, Flagstaff Community First. They raised plenty of salient points that the Yes group apparently had no good answers to, namely the patently unnecessary nature of the project and the impacts to traffic and quality of life without real improvements to healthcare. And did that message ever resonate.

No real improvement to healthcare but with negative impacts to traffic and quality of life…does that sound familiar? It should; it’s the very conversation playing out right now in North Scottsdale regarding Banner Health’s proposed project. It’s a conversation happening in dining rooms, coffee shops, and bars around the proposed site.

So the question that Banner Health should be asking itself is…does it really want to raise the ire of the overwhelming majority of the populace in a similar way? Does it require such a major mobilization of the citizenry before it reads the room and decides to reevaluate its plans? This embarrassment for Northern Arizona Healthcare likely could have been avoided by simply asking the residents and reading the room: will Banner avoid the mistakes of Northern Arizona Healthcare and truly do its due diligence? Because past is prologue and what happened in Flagstaff would be repeated in Scottsdale.

Photo Credit: Tarygin, Getty Images

Arizona may be a great place to live, raise a family, snowbird or vacation to, but rarely is the state seen as a trailblazer. There are a few items that demonstrate how forward-thinking we can be and how we can lead in different ways; the first female Supreme Court justice was born and raised in Arizona and Cesar Chavez led the fight for immigrant workers’ rights from our state, for instance. But the list isn’t incredibly long.

Our state may become a trailblazer in an entirely new way soon however, one which would have been considered entirely outside of the realm of realistic possibilities not much more than a decade ago however: Arizona might soon lead the way when it comes to magical mushroom studies.

Such mushrooms are a Schedule I drug, denoted as such due to allegedly having no medicinal benefits, an antiquated system developed in a time that was light on data and heavy on scare tactics. Its Schedule I and federally illegal status makes it notoriously difficult to study, although the active ingredient within such mushrooms, psilocybin, has been studied at length (thus underscoring the innate silliness of the system as it was constructed).

There has been plenty of anecdotal evidence that such mushrooms can have plenty of positive impacts in the short and long term. Specifically as it comes to PTSD, alternative treatments in the way of currently-illegal drugs have shown incredible promise at times. When it comes to psilocybin, however, the evidence is somewhat mixed, as there has been evidence showing significantly negative side effects. That underscores the need for more studies, however.

So why Arizona? For starters, a bill that made it through the legislature established an advisory council that will be tasked with setting the criteria necessary to qualify for $5 million in grant funding to conduct the studies. Having Republican backers in the state legislature is obviously critical, and Kevin Payne from Peoria seems to have stepped up to the plate in that regard. While the bill was co-sponsored by Democrats Stacey Travers and Jennifer Longdon, since the Republicans have control of both sides of the legislature, Republican support is paramount. And the fact that it has bipartisan support is unquestionably positive.

Our state might not be known as a traditional trailblazer, but it has become a haven for people who wanted to take a risk and make a change in their circumstances, for people who wanted to advance in life and build something new. In this vein, this potential study is on brand. And while magic mushrooms might be bad for a lot of the populace, obtaining data in a controlled environment to confirm or deny this can’t possibly be a bad thing. 

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.”


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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