Featured Editorials




Scottsdale Based and Family-Owned National Steak and Seafood Restaurants Team Up with the American Heart Association for Heart Month to Launch Round-Up Check Campaign Starting Feb. 1st
Announcing the month-long national campaign to support the American Heart Association to raise funds for American Heart Awareness month

(PHOENIX & SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.) – From the Valley of the Sun, to Philadelphia, to Houston and The Windy City, the nation’s top steak and seafood restaurants will come together to support the American Heart Association during American Heart Awareness month this February.

Starting Monday, February 1st, 2021 Dominick’s Steakhouse, Steak 44, Ocean 44 and Steak 48|Houston, Steak 48|Chicago,Steak 48|Philadelphia, and Steak 48|Charlotte will encourage guests dining at their top restaurants to round up their checks to support the American Heart Association. The month-long check roundup will run from February 1st through Sunday, February 28th, 2021. Any monetary donation can be made and 100-percent of the amount raised will go to the American Heart Association.

“Charities, including the American Heart Association, have been hit hard. No one understands this better than the restaurant industry. That is why we want to do our part to help support the American Heart Association that is continuing to fight heart disease, educate the public and save lives,” said Jeff Mastro, CEO and co-founder of Steak 48, Ocean 44, Steak 44 and Dominick’s Steakhouse. “We are hoping that everyone visiting our restaurants this February, both locally and nationwide, can do what they can and round up their checks, whether it’s just a few dollars or bigger donations.”

Guest are also welcome to bring a check made out directly to the American Heart Association, which the restaurant will collect and deliver together with their donation. Donations are also being accepted for take-out orders.

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(SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.)— Award-Winning Scottsdale-based Cullum Homes, the Valley’s leading luxury custom home builder, is pleased to unveil a new high-end community located on the lower eastern slope of the iconic Camelback Mountain. Ascent at The Phoenician® will feature 51 hillside detached homes adjacent to the world-renowned luxury resort, The Phoenician®, starting at 3,000 square-feet and up.

Just minutes from the Phoenix and Scottsdale airports, these elevated homesites offer stunning 180-degree views of the Valley. There are six curated one, two and three-level floor plans to choose from, all reflecting a timeless modern design.

Options for buyers include ready-to-build plans, customized plans, or Cullum’s in-house architecture team can design a one-of-a-kind estate home tailored for you. Those looking to create their own custom home may design and build on a single or double lot.
Ascent at The Phoenician® holds the rare combination of being in-town, with a Camelback Mountain location adjacent to the world-renowned resort at 6000 E. Camelback Road. Reservations are now being taken for Cullum’s unique luxury community with 15 homesites already committed. Prices for the homes start in the mid $2 million range.

21 homes will be located on the ninth fairway of the new Phoenician® Golf Club and will be in proximity to the new Phoenician® Tavern Restaurant and Golf Clubhouse.

Homeowners will be invited for a limited time to join an optional The Phoenician® Amenity Access Program which will include discounts and access to the hotel property’s redesigned amenities such as their spa, tennis and sport courts, and golf.

Rod Cullum, founder and president of Scottsdale-based Cullum Homes, bought the 51 improved and finished lots from Replay Destinations, the master developer of the project, with the plan to develop the $350 million community. Read More

GiGi’s Playhouse is the Sixth Valley-Based Nonprofit to Receive a $5,000 Donation

(SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.) Mercedes-Benz of Scottsdale is proud to announce GiGi’s Playhouse as the sixth Valley charity to receive a $5,000 donation, as a part of their D.R.I.V.E. initiative. This donation marks the halfway point of the D.R.I.VE initiative and $30,000 donated to Valley charities.

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on charities by decimating crucial fundraising efforts and economic downturn. In response to COVID-19, the Scottsdale dealership reintroduced D.R.IV.E., which stands for Donations for Recovery & Investment that are Very Essential. Already having donated to five other Valley charities, Mercedes-Benz of Scottsdale is providing much-needed funds to charities that provide critical services across the Valley.

GiGi’s Playhouse is a unique achievement center for individuals with Down Syndrome, their families and the community. They provide crucial programs that aid the community such as free therapeutic and educational programs that advance literacy, math skills, and motor skills. Gigi’s Playhouse’s programs serve all ages from prenatal to adult.

“These funds come at a critical time for over 700 families that utilize our services. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, infants, children and young adults have missed out on education, important therapies and socialization, which is vital to their success,” said Robin Lea-Amos, executive director of GiGi’s Playhouse. “We are very concerned about the degree of regression these children are experiencing due to closures of schools and loss of services. GiGi’s Playhouse Phoenix is working hard to meet our families’ needs during this time by continuing to offer programs, therapies, tutoring, and socialization online.”

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(PHOENIX)  Having recently developed more than three million square feet of local industrial square footage spanning seven projects, Phoenix-based Merit Partners has been ranked the Phoenix area’s top commercial developer by the Phoenix Business Journal. The recently released rankings reflect 2019 statistics. Merit expects to exceed last year’s numbers as 2020 concludes.

From 2015 to 2018 Merit Partners has also been ranked as the Valley’s number one industrial developer by the Phoenix Business Journal.

Current notable projects for Merit include the 570 acre Camelback 303 development which envisions more than nine million square feet of industrial space in Glendale, and PV|303 in Goodyear which Merit has already developed over five million square feet with ability to develop an additional four million square feet.

Merit Partners is also developing Tolleson Corporate Park on 164 acres near 75th Avenue and Interstate 10 as well as Phoenix Logistics Center (“PLC”) 755,000 square feet in two buildings on 48 acres located on 91st Avenue and Buckeye.Read More

(TEMPE, Ariz.) – The inside of Pollack Tempe Cinemas may be dark right now due to the current pandemic, but outside the theater and across the shopping center at McClintock and Elliot it’s beginning to look a lot like the holiday season has returned.

Valley Real Estate Entrepreneur Michael Pollack continued his yearly tradition of decorating the center in thousands of holiday lights, even more than the 500,000 lights he usually puts up. Pollack’s crews started hanging the lights two months ago.

“While we were very sad to cancel our FREE movie night and won’t have Santa Clause coming this year, we are happy to report that the center has been decorated with more than 650,000 lights this year and we are still proud to offer everyone a festive atmosphere. Whether you just want to drive by or get out and visit one of the stores in the center, we wanted to bring a little bit of holiday cheer to everyone this year,” said Pollack.

Pollack said he decided to err on the side of caution and not hold any kind of formal event this year. His theater has been closed since the end of March and he did not re-open when other theaters were given the green light.

“We had to make some tough choices for the theater on whether we would reopen but really it was an easy choice in the end. We decided until there is a vaccine and wide distribution of it, Pollack Tempe Cinemas would remain closed and we will only re-open when it’s safe to do so,” said Pollack.

This year there will also be no parades for Pollack or the usual carolers that come out every year on the free movie night but Pollack promises the lights will stay on until Tuesday, Jan. 5th, 2020 and he promises the shows will return when it’s safe to do so. Read More

Featured Editorials

Staff Report – 

A recap of the top three stories on Arizona Progress & Gazette from the past week.

  1. Guest Editorial: From Tim Mooney, Arizona GOP Political Consultant via Facebook

I have dedicated my professional life to trying to make America “a more perfect union.” I’ve worked in elections in almost every state. Been part of electing nearly 100 members of Congress and the US Senate. Changed state constitutions 18 times in a dozen states. Helped pass legislation in three dozen states. But this is an incredibly sad day, and I want to say our President’s actions and those of some who dare call themselves “patriots” are just plain WRONG. Read full article here.

  1. Wishes & Thoughts For Each Of The 2021 Scottsdale City Councilmembers

*Mayor Ortega:  Finesse.  Many remain surprised inside and outside Scottsdale that he won.  No matter.  He did.  Credit and respect are due.  Ortega deserves room to prove himself, despite his awkward ways.  But he needs to remember he is one of 7 that govern Scottsdale’s future. Read full article here.

  1. Guest Editorial: Where Does Arizona’s GOP Go From Here?

What is the future of Arizona’s Grand Old Party? That’s what many Arizona voters are asking themselves today as we watch the aftermath of yesterday’s attacks on Capitol Hill. Read full article here.

By Don Henninger, The SCOTT Perspective

We don’t need any reminders about how valuable steady, sustainable, sensible leadership is in our country, from the national to the local levels. In Scottsdale, we’re fortunate to have a good leader in city manager Jim Thompson.

I caught up with him just a few days before the city’s new mayor and three councilors were sworn into office to get his take on where the city is as 2021 unfolds with its rookie slate of leaders now on board.

The council will be holding a retreat in February to identify issues and strategies for the year ahead. That will set the direction for what they think is important and the tone on how they intend to work together to get things done.

Leading up to that retreat, here are a few notes from my conversation with Thompson and his view from the city manager’s office:

–Until the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us, everything is up in the air; as he says, it’s a huge impediment that affects everything. Any economic recovery – particularly in the city’s tourism sector – will be stalled until more people are vaccinated. It doesn’t help that Arizona continues to post the highest infection rates in the country. That image discourages the desire for people to visit here and dims hopes for a meaningful tourism rebound. And that means a large segment of the city’s small businesses, many of which rely on the hospitality industry, will continue to struggle.

–Surprisingly, perhaps, the city’s financial picture is a bit brighter. The assumption was that the tourism slump would leave a huge hole in the city’s revenue stream. Not the case, he says. Led by strong car sales and high housing values, city revenues are $17 million ahead of a budget that was significantly cut back due to the virus. It also would be only $2 million behind the original budget that was created before those reductions.

–The General Plan will be one of the most important issues in the year ahead, and already is getting a lot of attention. Thompson’s hope is that the progress made by the Citizens Review Committee over the past year continues and citizens make time to weigh in with their input during the public hearing process. He offers a reminder that the plan is a visioning document, not a regulatory one, which is the purpose of zoning laws.

We offer this suggestion, as well. With all the citizen input already gathered and with the public hearings to come in the months ahead as part of the review process, the city should not create another layer of bureaucracy, as it now is considering. It’s redundant, likely will add nothing to the feedback already received and yet to come. The council will vote Jan. 19 on adding a task force for more review. We hope they vote no.

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By Scottsdale Pinetop

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any uglier for Arizona’s Republican Party. The battle for the party’s soul rages on – a Republican Civil War.

The events that occurred on January 6th on the US Capitol Steps isn’t just a significant moment in our history. It’s a distinct line in the sand for Republicans between the far-right and moderate conservative factions.

Photo by Arizona Republic

And the division between Arizona’s Republicans couldn’t be more distinct. This comes at a time when members of Arizona’s GOP should be calling for unity, compassion and accountability. Instead, it has decided to attack three of Arizona’s highest-profile Republicans – sitting Governor Doug Ducey, former U.S. Senator Jeff Flake and the widow of the party’s former presidential nominee and national icon Cindy McCain.

On January 23rd, the Arizona Republic Party will vote on a “Censure McCain” resolution. A vote of disapproval for a woman who dared to speak against President Trump. In 2014, her husband and former Senator McCain was censured by Arizona’s GOP for what they characterized as a liberal voting record that was “disastrous and harmful to the state.”  And while the censure is largely symbolic with no serious ramifications, the message is crystal clear. The days of the traditional Republican Party are over with State Chair Kelli Ward at the helm.

But why? What does it hope to gain by doing so?

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The most learned member about hotel issues on either the Town of Paradise Valley’s Planning Commission or Town Council calls the proposed supersizing of the old SmokeTree Resort property “motel-style.”

The respected Planning Commission rejected the developer’s requests.

The plan appears to be the densest ever proposed in the community’s history.

It appears to violate Paradise Valley’s popular General Plan.

The political albatross it is remains an almost comical entitlement subsidy for a hotel developer that simply paid too much for the land and needs too much on it to make it work financially.

The developer has unseemly relations with at least one member of Town Council.

A new year hasn’t changed the old problems with the dubious development plan for the SmokeTree.  It’s long past time for the Paradise Valley Town Council to put this proposal out of its misery when it evaluates it, again, later this month. The quicker it does so the quicker the property owner and potential developers will understand the Andaz and Hermosa Inn are much more acceptable reincarnations than the community’s first motel.

By Scottsdale Pinetop

There’s something magical and heartwarming about the tradition of cheering on your local high school teams and watching students who play purely for the love of the sport. It bonds communities together and creates a unique comradery amongst strangers. For high school athletes, it teaches teamwork, humility after a devastating loss, winning graciously and accountability – all crucial student development assets.

But for high school athletes last year, these important memories, milestones and student activities were stripped away from them. We felt for the Class of 2020. How could you not? And now as many high school students continue to navigate the ever-changing environment of remote learning and canceled school functions – they’ve now been stripped of the ability to play sports this coming season.

This terrible decision was made last Friday as the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) Executive Board voted to cancel the winter season impacting boys and girls soccer, basketball and wrestling for high schools across the state. For thousands of athletes, from big cities to rural neighborhoods, this was a devastating and unfair blow.

There are few things harder than telling a kid they have to sit on the sidelines because of something out of their control. Few understand the emotional and mental impact of having such an important part of their identities ripped away from them by outside forces.

The AIA’s decision to cancel the winter season comes after a recent dramatic surge in COVID cases statewide. However, Arizona residents are still able to abide by guidelines and regulations that accommodate outdoor and indoor dining, casino gambling, shopping at malls or numerous other collective activities. How is that fair to them?

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Over the weekend the Scottsdale Republic prominently featured incoming Mayor Dave Ortega and his initial goals when he takes the city’s helm tomorrow.

Ortega emphasized two priorities:  a non-discrimination ordinance and an effort to reform Scottsdale into districts, a notion that would be sent to voters for consideration in 2022.

As long-time supporters of both notions, we applaud Mayor Ortega for moving them closer towards a finish line.

A non-discrimination ordinance should have been passed by previous councils. It wasn’t from a lack of effort by outgoing Councilwoman Virginia Korte, who has been an indefatigable voice for respect, progress and tolerance.  Now, with more socially conservative councilmembers being replaced tomorrow, the hopes have never been higher to achieve Korte’s long-time objective and those of many in Scottsdale.

Ortega also deserves credit for putting new energy behind a potential plan to give southern Scottsdale a greater say on the City Council.  With so few people from the area having been elected in recent decades – and because of Ortega’s sizable electoral support in the south – he is the right leader and this is the right time for re-energizing this reform.

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By Shea Lincoln

Voters in Phoenix’s District Three are witnessing an unusual, if not lopsided race for City Council. Nicole Garcia continues to campaign as if she’s running in a dark red district. District Three these days is a bluish shade of purple. Incumbent Deb Stark, who recently voted against a controversial police reform ordinance, understands how to walk and talk like a moderate. She also understands that Garcia had enough support to force a runoff.

Garcia is thoroughly in the Trump camp and has even taken on some Republican lawmakers who aren’t siding with Trump’s unproven campaign claims.

She does have her supporters, notably conservative District 6 City Councilman Sal DiCiccio. But District 3 is not District 6 and Garcia’s candidacy remains a very long shot come March. The last campaign finance reports show her with $8,000 in total contributions compared to about $150,000 for Stark. And the events of the last few days certainly won’t help Garcia.

The Republic has editorialized strongly against Garcia, which isn’t a surprise since Garcia effectively told the paper to pound sand after she refused to answer questions for a routine candidate’s profile.

There is at least one silver lining for conservatives in District Three. Raised conservative voices, even in a post Trump era, will likely keep people like Deb Stark walking a moderate path, even if the competition is currently wandering in the wilderness.

After the District Three race, Garcia may resurface. Perhaps a legislative run. But if she wants to get beyond a primary, she may want to consider a change of address.

By Scottsdale Pinetop

What is the future of Arizona’s Grand Old Party? That’s what many Arizona voters are asking themselves today as we watch the aftermath of yesterday’s attacks on Capitol Hill.

According to the Arizona Republican Party – the days of leaders like former Senator John McCain, who once stood as the pillar of the Republican Party, are behind us. In a Tweet on January 1st, the AZ Republican Party stated:

“As the sun sets on 2020, remember that we’re never going back to the party of Romney, Flake, and McCain. The Republican Party is now, and forever will be, one for the working man and woman! God bless.”

This mentality didn’t just appear overnight. It has been building and building for years amongst Arizona’s Republic Party as they seek to redefine themselves in a post-Trump era.

On November 3rd, Arizona voters played a key role in the presidential election, giving 11 electoral votes to President-Elect Joe Biden – something that hasn’t occurred in generations. This came at the dissent of various officials and voters alike, not to mention President Trump himself. There is little doubt that the results of the 2020 elections have shaken some members of the Republican Party to their core as Arizona was once guaranteed as a Republican stronghold.

For months, Arizona elected officials, such as Arizona GOP Chair Kelli Ward and U.S. Representative Paul Gosar, have been hard at work to overturn the state’s election results citing reports of fraud and lack of integrity within their own state. Regardless of the fact that both political parties in all 15 Arizona counties certified the results as accurate after conducting all required tests. Regardless that Governor Ducey, a strong supporter of President Trump, declared the election results “fair and accurate.”

And even after the disruption and chaos that ensued on the Capitol Steps, six Senators and 121 Representatives objected to the certification of Arizona’s election results. Among those who opposed Arizona’s Electoral College votes were U.S. Representatives Paul Gosar, Debbie Lesko and Andy Biggs. Just to emphasize – they voted against their own state.

Are Arizonans not to trust its own election process?

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Mr. President, this is your fault.

I have dedicated my professional life to trying to make America “a more perfect union.” I’ve worked in elections in almost every state. Been part of electing nearly 100 members of Congress and the US Senate. Changed state constitutions 18 times in a dozen states. Helped pass legislation in three dozen states.

For more than 30 years, I’ve gotten up each day with the quest to win in the political arena to leave this country better for my children and grandchildren.

But this is an incredibly sad day, and I want to say our President’s actions and those of some who dare call themselves “patriots” are just plain WRONG.

This President is showing himself unworthy of the office as he violates the oath “…preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” And some…not all…not most…not even 10%, but some…MAGA supporters have reduced themselves to the moral equivalency of ANTIFA. For what? For who?

In 2016, we helped Mr. Trump win in the critical primary states of Pennsylvania, Indiana, and West Virginia. And without our efforts, President Trump would not have won Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania in the general election. And again this year, we worked for his victory in a half-dozen states.

But Donald J. Trump lost. As was his right, Mr. Trump asked for recounts…and lost. As was his right, Mr. Trump appealed to state courts…and lost. As was his right, he appealed to the US Supreme Court…and lost.

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*Mayor Ortega:  Finesse.  Many remain surprised inside and outside Scottsdale that he won.  No matter.  He did.  Credit and respect are due.  Ortega deserves room to prove himself, despite his awkward ways.  But he needs to remember he is one of 7 that govern Scottsdale’s future.  Emperor, he is not.  Ideas like his to fire all of the volunteers serving on the Planning Commission and Design Review Board are ones he needs to avoid, especially if he wants to clamp down on the many rumblings that he will be a one-term mayor.  Fortunately, he will be serving with others that may provide important counsel and comparisons as we observe below.

*Councilwoman Betty Janik:  Keep doing what you are doing.  We were always bullish on her as a candidate.  We are again as she assumes the dais.  Janik understands winning coalitions having served important roles to enshrine Proposition 420 by popular vote in 2018, the bond campaign in 2019 and then her own council campaign in 2020.  She’s on a roll with her political hat trick. Janik does her homework and is the kind of person that even in disagreement is not disagreeable.  We hope her winning streak now continues, on behalf of Scottsdale.

*Councilman Tom Durham:  Be artful.  Smart.  Fond of the desert.  Appreciator of the arts.  That’s a great start for someone to serve Scottsdale.  But Durham is also relatively new to the city.  Despite being a quick study we hope he will listen as he leads, especially to the wise men and women that preceded him, and who have a lot to offer about what makes Scottsdale special.  Becoming a staunch supporter of the arts, joining Councilwoman Milhaven among others, would be a compelling, immediate boost for one of the defining elements of the city.

*Councilwoman Tammy Caputi:  Be big for small.  A new public servant with a smile.  That’s refreshing to see.  Caputi loved electioneering.  She is also the youngest person on the council now and the only one with young kids.  This gives her an important, different perspective.  As does her standing as a successful small business owner.  Scottsdale’s business community desperately needs councilmembers who understand the beating they have taken in the past year, especially those in the Arts District.

*Councilwoman Solange Whitehead:  Stay true.  There’s a reason she has become the conscience of the council.  Many predicted she would govern from the extreme left.  Instead, Whitehead has done so with principled practicalism.  Like Caputi, she seems to relish the interaction with people and the true essence of public service.  And it is why she will be heavily favored to win re-election, should she so choose in 2022.

*Councilwoman Linda Milhaven: Stay steely.  Milhaven now finds herself with a much different council than when she first elected, then re-elected.  We don’t think it will change her much though.  Milhaven will likely play a critical role in reminding her colleagues that one can be for thoughtful growth, but also pro-business too.  And Scottsdale will need that voice as other Valley cities continue to seize some of what has distinguished Scottsdale in the past, as well as to help the local economy recover from the pandemic’s turmoil.

*Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield:  Keep On With Keen Common Sense.  Littlefield needs no help on likability questions.  She loves Scottsdale, being on the council, and it shows.  Like Whitehead, she is extremely well-positioned for re-election in 2022 assuming Scottsdale doesn’t seek to become weirdly autarkic in the short term.  Littlefield has grown into her role as a councilwoman in a way Ortega may want to emulate as Mayor.  She is accessible and typically exhibits a coherent, positive common sense when arriving at her positions.  Littlefield has proven that she can’t be pigeonholed despite the distinct political profile of her husband, and similar concerns when she assumed office.  She may vote against numerous development proposals but she is not afraid to support them either when she sees merit.  Or to stand up for new Scottsdale infrastructure when some in her constituency oppose such expenditures.

Next week a notable new City Council takes charge.  We wish them all well as stewards of one of the best cities in America.

By Scottsdale Pinetop

Almost one year ago, basketball fans from around the world were shaken to their core after the passing of legendary basketball superstar Kobe Bryant in a tragic helicopter crash on January 26. And as we eagerly look forward towards a new year, we start by saying goodbye to yet another basketball Hall of Famer.

Paul Westphal, former Phoenix Suns basketball star and Hall of Famer, passed away in Scottsdale this week at age 70 after his battle with brain cancer after he was diagnosed last August.

Westphal’s dedication and service to the game will be cemented in Arizona’s basketball playbook and his legacy will be remembered by sports fans alike.

Courtesy of The Phoenix Suns

In 1974, Westphal joined the Phoenix Suns after being traded by the Celtics. It’s here that Westphal helped the Suns to reach their first-ever NBA Finals appearance against his former team, the Celtics, in 1976. In Game 5 of the series, dubbed “the greatest game ever played in NBA history” by sports critics, he completed several critical plays that almost led to their victory. Westphal completed his professional playing career with the Phoenix Suns in 1984.

Westphal’s hustle wasn’t just on the court, but also on the sidelines.

At the local level, Westphal’s college coaching career began at Southwestern Baptist Bible College, now known as Arizona Christian University, in 1985 where he led them to the NAIA national title in 1988. He went on to coach at Grand Canyon College and Pepperdine.

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Staff Report –

2020 – the longest year. Faced with the unprecedented challenges of a global pandemic, the events of 2020 brought new obstacles no one was prepared for including an arduous political season, social injustices and an uncertain economic environment to name a few. 2020 also changed the way we live, work and how we connect with each other.

But in the midst of chaos, there was also community. It was a year filled with creativity, ingenuity, courage, giving, innovation, resilience and hope from everyday heroes. From our frontline healthcare workers battling COVID-19 to local leaders stepping up to support local charity organizations in need to looking out for our fellow neighbors struggling to make ends meet.

As we close the chapter on 2020 and head into the promise of 2021, we are taking a look back at the top ten stories from Arizona Progress and Gazette in a year like no other.

  1. Guest Editorial: Don’t Let Scottsdale Become Palm Springs Says Community Leader by Jim Derouin
  2. Disqualifying David Ortega For Mayor
  3. Well This Would Shake Up Scottsdale’s 2020 City Council Races
  4. A Republican Guy?
  5. Andrea Alley – Next Generation Leader in Scottsdale
  6. Closing Golf Courses Can be Bogeys For Neighborhoods: But One Ahwatukee Community May Show A Compelling Way Forward
  7. Guest Editorial: Another Victory For Scottsdale Activist Mike Norton
  8. First Takes On Scottsdale’s First Mayoral Debate
  9. Gloves Are Off In Scottsdale
  10. Arizona Court Sides with Mountainside Fitness, Governor Ducey Must Give Health Clubs Avenue to Re-Open

By Lincoln Shea

The wrecking ball will be hitting large sections of Paradise Valley Mall at Cactus and Tatum in Phoenix. Built in 1979, the mall is long past its heyday as it continues to lose business to online sales and more up to date shopping centers such as Desert Ridge.

The mall’s owner, Macerich and Red Development gave the public a sneak peek at what to expect as the center is redeveloped. They held a Zoom meeting December 17th and appeared to get little if any push back on plans to remove large portions of retail space and replace it with what the developer described as “Market Rate” apartments.  There could be as many as 2, 500 units.

It’s an ambitious undertaking, if it gets built. Plans call for up to 3.25 million square feet of non-residential uses and 3.25 million square feet of residential uses, for a total of up to 6.5 million square feet of occupied building area. The non-residential uses are not exclusively retail. A mini storage facility is part of the plan, as well as office space, and restaurants.

Building heights at the core of the project are not expected to top 120 feet.  Costco will remain. Macy’s and JC Penny’s, which are independently owned, have not expressed plans to move out.

New plans do call for retail as well as a new grocery store.  Similar to City North, some of the residential will be built on top of the retail and the grocery component.

The December 17th Q and A was moderated by attorney Ed Bull. While residents expressed disappointment about losing some retail shops, they generally expressed modest support. The major concerns centered on traffic and multifamily housing.

The developer has created a website with details and renderings. Here is a link. http://paradisevalleymall-zoning.com/

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Water and affordable housing issues are likely to challenge and confound Arizona policymakers over the coming years. Here is a compelling piece on the latter in today’s Arizona Republic. Affordable or “attainable” housing is becoming a bigger issue in Scottsdale and nearby communities. It will be interesting to see its posture as a new city council is set to take the reins on January 12th.

By Scottsdale Pinetop

Carpe Diem – seize the day – is one of the oldest philosophical mottos in western history. First uttered by the Roman poet Horace more than 2,000 years ago, the phrase has stood the test of time and struck a special chord with adventure enthusiasts anxiously waiting to conquer the next experience.

Photo By Wickenburg Sun

And that’s exactly what one fearless Wickenburg Ranch resident did. Rather than celebrating the traditional birthday festivities, Lorraine Van Eaton decided to bring in her 80th birthday thousands of feet about the ground. She decided to go skydiving.

Skydiving is almost synonymous with bucket lists. And for Lorraine, it was at the top of her list. Growing up in New York, Lorraine’s father was an Army pilot and she often recalls the numerous flying trip she would take with her father and siblings. “My dad always wanted me to jump. I never did. Skydiving was on my bucket list. If my dad were alive, he’d be happy.”

But Lorraine isn’t just defying the odds high in the sky. She previously competed as a long-distance runner with a record of 75 miles completed in 24 hours, non-stop. At age 68, Lorraine began roping competitively and she is a fiercely competitive pickleball player. Lorraine is also fearless in every day, battling Parkinson’s disease for the past 16 years.

Lorraine truly embodies what it means to “seize the day” and every day. And while not all of us may have the stomach to jump out of an airplane, it’s a reminder to make the little moments count rather than aiming to make it through. Thank you for the inspiration, Lorraine!

By Scottsdale Pinetop

2021 is just a few days away to the pleasure of many ready to put 2020 in the rear-view mirror. And with the start of a new year also brings the start of some new Arizona laws, most notably Arizona’s distracted driving law which will go into effect on January 1st.

For us, this is a no-brainer. We’ve written previously about our support for such action and legislation. And we are happy to finally see it come to fruition.

Up until 2019, Arizona was one of the only states in the U.S. without a distracted driving law. That’s insane.

The Arizona law was originally passed last year shortly after the death of Salt River-Pima Maricopa officer Clayton Townsend who was killed by a distracted driver on Loop 101. However, the law included an 18-month “grace period” which officers were only permitted to issue warnings. That period ends this coming Friday.

It would be natural to think that common sense alone should be enough – like fastening a seatbelt before putting the car in drive. But unfortunately, that’s not the case as it requires legal enforcement.

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By Scottsdale Pinetop

For so many in the entertainment and event business, the cancellation or adaptation of hosting large-scale events is a recurring challenge as they navigate the uncharted waters of the pandemic. In any other normal year, the winter months would be the Valley’s peak tourism season. The social calendar filled with activities such as art walks, the Arabian Horse Show, Barrett-Jackson Car Auction and most notably the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

And while Barrett-Jackson recently made the decision to move its Scottsdale Auction from January to March, the Phoenix Open has decided to charge ahead in early February with public safety at the forefront. And we couldn’t be more supportive.

The Waste Management Phoenix Open is one of the Valley’s signature events and puts Scottsdale in an international spotlight as a top tourism and economic driver. Let’s not jeopardize that.

Like so many things in the pandemic, the Phoenix Open will look drastically different. With attendances normally over 200,000 in a single day, this year’s tournament will be scaled back by as much as 96 percent.

To re-enforce its commitment to safety, The Thunderbirds have also scaled back their famous 16th hole experience. The hole will now feature a single-story, open-air venue rather than its traditional indoor setting that surrounds the hole.

Just the 192-acre layout of TPC Scottsdale alone really puts the distance in social distancing. That’s four times the size of Scottsdale’s Fashion Square.

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*Scottsdale Councilman-Elect Tom Durham will become an influential new voice for Scottsdale arts

*The likely 2022 race to be Paradise Valley’s new mayor will become livelier than it already is

*The number of people interested in running for Scottsdale Mayor in 2024 will grow to more than the current three

*Scottsdale Mayor-Elect Dave Ortega will re-institute the city’s mask requirement after being sworn in January 12th

*The most popular newcomer in the Northeast Valley will be the new Ritz-Carlton Resort

*At least two of the following potential candidates for Scottsdale City Council in 2022 will get very serious:  Barry Graham, Christian Serena, Guy Phillips or Becca Linnig

*With very little rain this summer or winter water will become a big policy issue affecting every Valley city

*As the recreational sale of marijuana goes online in the spring, Harvest Scottsdale in the Airpark will become a state model

*A major political controversy happens in the Town of Paradise Valley

*Spring training doesn’t happen until mid-April in yet another blow to local tourism

*The Valley housing market cools if Arizona’s tax-hiking Proposition 208 is not overturned by the courts Read More

By Scottsdale Pinetop

The cancellation or adaptation of community events seems to be a recurring theme this year as we continue to live through the pandemic. No matter how much preparation and effort goes into planning an event – sometimes things just take a wrong turn. Such was almost the case for the small town of Pinetop-Lakeside and its annual Christmas celebration.

On November 30th, as the town was making their final preparations at the Jack Barker Memorial Park, they received the unfortunate news that the remaining lights needed to complete the Christmas display were not coming.

With no luck finding alternative options, the town began to consider canceling the event altogether. But thanks to the quick actions and support of one community leader, the residents of Pinetop-Lakeside will once again enjoy a little piece of holiday spirit.

ACE Hardware of the White Mountains, owned and operated by local residents Bryon and Kim Brown, jumped at the opportunity to do their part in securing all the remaining lights needs to keep the celebration afloat. Only postponing the event by one week, the park opened its “Nights of Lights” on December 12th welcoming all, big or small.

“Nights of Light” will be open to the public until January 31st.

Finding smart and safe ways for communities to enjoy the holidays take a lot of creativity, flexibility and dedication. Sometimes they go wrong and sometimes they go right. And while a simple lights celebration may seem like a small endeavor, celebrations like these are important to the morale and joy that so many of us are looking for this holiday season during a never-ending pandemic nightmare.


2020 Scrum

Phoenix, AZ (January 4, 2021) Arizona-based Data Orbital has consistently been one of the most accurate election pollsters, and the 2020 cycle has solidified that. Given an A/B rating (one of the industry highest) by political data website FiveThirtyEight and a member of the American Association of Public Opinion Researchers Transparency Initiative, Data Orbital has long prided itself on its industry-leading work.

With a laser focus on the Presidential and U.S. Senate races this year, we are proud that our final Presidential survey was accurate within 0.29% and our U.S. Senate survey within 1.25%.

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(PHOENIX) – Americano! – a record-setting musical production based on the life of a DREAMer – has reached out to the incoming Biden Administration via a letter sent December 2, 2020 to propose a special performance at The White House.
It would help celebrate President-Elect Joe Biden’s pending reversal of President Donald Trump’s policies and follow in the footsteps of productions like Hamilton which performed for the Obama Administration.

During his first 100 days in office, President-Elect Biden has pledged to rescind President Trump’s 2017 Executive Order that sought to end the DACA program. Biden’s administration also plans to produce legislation that would provide a pathway to citizenship for over 1 million DREAMers.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court decided on a temporary reprieve on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program with a solution ultimately being required by Congress.

Americano! is the true-life story of Antonio Valdovinos who learned of his DREAMer status on his 18th birthday when he tried to enlist in the U.S. Marines after graduating from Camelback High School in Phoenix.
Americano! completed its record setting 27-show run earlier this year on February 23rd at The Phoenix Theatre Company, breaking all-time for an original musical production. Besides the box office record, 9,048 people saw Americano! with a string of 10 sold-out performances.
The production has also garnered positive reviews from both sides of the political aisle.

“I saw ¡Americano! The Musical at The Phoenix Theatre Company. It’s the inspiring story of my friend and DREAMer, Tony Valdovinos. Great music with an important message to Arizona,” said U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton (D-Arizona) who saw the show the same night as U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Arizona). Rep. Gallego played an important role throughout Biden’s presidential campaign. Other notable attendees have included Gov. Doug Ducey (R-Arizona), newly elected U.S. Senator Mark Kelly (D-Arizona) and Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego.Read More

(SCOTTSDALE, AZ.) Litigation has been filed challenging the largest income tax hike in Arizona history. The lawsuit was filed by Scottsdale’s Rose Law Group on behalf of Ann Siner, CEO and Founder of My Sister’s Closet, and retired Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Buttrick.

The litigation was filed after the vote was canvassed. The lawsuit does not challenge the election but rather the legality of Proposition 208. The Arizona Constitution says the power to tax and spend state funds rests with the Legislature. Prop 208 bypasses Arizona’s elected leaders and gives the power to spend the funds to unelected bureaucrats with no oversight.

In addition to violating the rights of Arizona taxpayers, the tax hike puts the state’s economy in jeopardy.

Siner said. “Business owners are already suffering greatly because of COVID. Many are closing. Prop 208 will simply cause more businesses and their owners to leave Arizona. In the long run that’s bad for the economy and bad for school funding. I am all for getting more money to schools. But 208 is not the cure. It’s bad medicine that will shrink our economy and hurt school funding in the long run.”

Judge Buttrick said, “The Arizona Constitution was written to prevent the sort of overreach demonstrated by Prop 208.  It fundamentally upends the way Arizonans are taxed and sets a dangerous precedent for the future.”Read More

The final results of the general election are now complete, and I am thrilled with the results; I have solidly won a seat on city council! We never let up after the primary, working even harder to win this race. I moved ahead with my positive, forward-thinking message and it was all worth it. I couldn’t have done it without the help of my volunteers, friends, campaign staff and supporters- it truly takes a great and committed team.

Thank you all so much for your work and dedication and your belief in our mission. It’s been a year of full-time commitment that got us here. I’m grateful to everyone in my community who has supported me through votes, donations, volunteer hours, putting up signs, sharing your thoughts and ideas, and listening to mine. You’ve all worked hard with me every single day of this campaign. We truly “left it all on the field.”

I want to give a special shout out to my beloved husband and daughters, who haven’t had much of my time this last year, even though we’ve all been stuck at home together.

Getting elected is just the beginning. I will continue to work as hard as I can for all our residents and businesses to be a positive, forward-thinking member of our city council. Thanks again to everyone. Let’s keep the positive momentum going- this is just the beginning of our journey together- see you at the Kiva!

While there are numerous examples of ticket-splitting between Presidential preference and Congressional preference, our election night poll shows that fully 91% of voters voted a straight ticket.

That’s the highest percent in at least twenty years.

Why is that important? Considering the fact that President Trump ran significantly better than most observers expected, the straight-ticket voting resulted in the President having coattails – helping GOP’ers running under him.  The results: Senate Republicans bucked dire predictions to hold onto at least a tie in the Senate.  House Republicans not only picked up a half-dozen or more seats when they were expected to lose double-digits, but they didn’t lose a single incumbent in the general election, and Republicans didn’t lose control of any state legislative body across the country.

Click here for a brief slide deck on understanding Ticket-Splitters.