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The new Scottsdale Polo Academy opens as polo interest surges in Arizona

With the polo season ramping up and the Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships returning to WestWorld of Scottsdale on Saturday, November 5th, the Arizona Polo Club is proud to announce the brand-new Scottsdale Polo Academy. Offering an opportunity to all ages, the academy will be servicing the Valley of the Sun providing professional polo instructors who can teach and help advance the sport of polo in Arizona.

The Scottsdale Polo Academy will be held in Cactus equestrian corridor at SandSpur Ranch located at 12302 N 93rd St. Scottsdale, AZ 85260. Additional locations may open with the growing demand. The mission of the academy will give those interested in the sport a chance to learn polo in a safe and enjoyable environment.

Instructors with the Scottsdale Polo Academy will represent the Arizona Club Polo when it takes on the Women’s All-Star Polo Team at Scottsdale’s Polo Party on Saturday, November 5th. Polo enthusiasts are also encouraged to attend the event to see the club’s biggest stars Andres Camacho, Diego Florez, Martin Rincon and Natalie Camacho in action.

“Being a life-long horse enthusiast, I am thrilled to be a part of this dynamic new group that is championing the exciting, international sport of polo in our area. I am looking forward to participating in my first season of polo this fall,” said Janet Salas, a member of the Scottsdale Polo Academy.

The Scottsdale Polo Academy will officially kick off the fall season starting Thursday, September 29th at 5:30pm and every Thursday thereafter. There will be an initial horseback riding evaluation to gauge the rider’s skill level. No experience is necessary and riders do not have to bring their own horse.

The goal of the academy is for students to learn safety, key riding and polo skills, all while having fun at the same time.

“This is an incredible opportunity to get good practical, hands-on polo instruction right here in Scottsdale. We promise to make it fun, easy and enjoyable for those who have always wanted to learn how to play,” said Martin Rincon, Polo Instructor at Scottsdale Polo Academy.

The Scottsdale Polo Academy joins an impressive list of other academies throughout teaching polo to aspiring players. Space is limited.

For more information on The Scottsdale Polo Academy visit: www.scottsdalepolo.com or to reserve your spot for Scottsdale Polo Academy by calling Diego Florez at (480) 201-4530.

To get tickets and tables to the upcoming Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships visit www.ThePoloParty.com.

Purchased for $23 Million in 2013, TriGate Capital Brought the Center Back to Life and Introduced New Uses Including Multi-Family Development to the Key Property

TriGate Capital is proud to announce Canyon Trails Towne Center, a 90-acre shopping center located at the current terminus of the new southbound Loop 303 Freeway, on the NEC Yuma Road and Cotton Lane in Goodyear has sold for $41 million to Santa Cruz Seaside Company.

Anchored by Super Target, Ross, Petsmart, and Pottery Barn Outlet, and with construction starting in just two weeks on a new multi-family project, the mixed-use shopping center is one of the greatest West Valley come-back stories of the last decade.

Developed by Vestar, Canyon Trails Towne Center opened in 2008 just as the Great Recession was peaking. As a result, two key retailers, Home Depot and Kohl’s decided not to move forward with their stores, then Sports Authority vacated leaving massive holes in the shopping center and its future uncertain.

In 2013, TriGate Capital took a chance and purchased the center for $23 million, It wasn’t until 2019, when market conditions shifted did the center’s trajectory start to change. During the next 3 years of ownership and under the guidance of Lead Consultant David Malin a plan was formed to redevelop the project, create mixed use, and lease the balance of the center.

“The first step was to identify a viable multi-family developer, Embrey out of San Antonio, TX to re-zone the former Home Depot site which includes 284 units. The site was re-zoned in 2021 and purchased by Embrey in 2022 making this a true mixed-use destination,” said David Malin, lead consultant for TriGate Capital. “The momentum created by securing the multi-family component changed the narrative for the center and allowed us to ramp up our leasing efforts. By the middle of 2022, with the help of SRS we achieved 100% occupancy in the ‘shops district’ and signed transactions with nine (9) new pad users.”

Some of those new shops include Pedego Electric Bikes, Wingstop, Apex Physical Therapy, Clean Your Dirty Face, Tropical Smoothie Café, and My Dr. Now. The new pad users include Starbucks, Chipolte, Freddy’s Steakburgers, Eegee’s, Ono Hawaiian BBQ, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Cobblestone Carwash, Christian Brothers and Denny’s.

Santa Cruz Seaside Company plans to keep the entire development consultant team lead by David Malin in place in order to complete the redevelopment and stabilize this shopping center. The center has over 200,000 sf of available building area with expectations of adding a specialty grocer, large format retailers, more restaurants and a hotel.

“The Santa Cruz Seaside Company is thrilled to invest in the Canyon Trails Towne Center and the City of Goodyear,” said Santa Cruz Seaside Company president Karl Rice. “This community is thriving, and we look forward to building upon the success of the TriGate Capital team.”

Founded in 1915 and located in Santa Cruz, California, the Santa Cruz Seaside Company has been family owned and operated for four generations. Known primarily for the world-famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk seaside amusement park, the Santa Cruz Seaside Company also owns and operates a variety of other visitor serving enterprises including hotels, sailing charters, and entertainment and event centers, as well as a portfolio of commercial and residential real estate.

Malin says by the end of the year, there will be several new buildings going vertical, as well as more tenant announcements to make. “The last piece of the puzzle is to fill in the missing holes in our big box area, which is happening now. We are negotiating letters of intent with multiple national retail brands.”

Trigate Capital was represented in the sale by the Newmark, Inc. brokerage team of Steve Julius, Jesse Goldsmith, and Chase Dorsett and there several offers from both local developers and out-of-state investors.

“Canyon Trails Towne Center was a complex and exciting assignment. With the great anchors, shops, and pads, yet so much room for new development and ways to attract new users to the center, the property received a high amount of interest from investors and developers. The new owners and their team will continue to ride the momentum of the growth of Goodyear,” said Broker Steve Julius of Newmark, Inc.

The buyer, Santa Cruz Seaside Company was represented by Erik Barbic and Nick Torres of SBA Commercial.

Valley-based Greenlight Communities has made it their mission to become the first privately funded real estate developer to focus solely on providing attainable rental housing to communities across Arizona. Greenlight believes everyone deserves housing they can afford and feel proud to live in. 

As part of an ongoing effort to give back to the neighborhoods it serves, Greenlight Communities is proud to announce two new charity partnerships for this month with the Arizona Builders Alliance and Kids in Focus for its next Greenlight Gives Initiative.

The organizations are two of many that have felt the helping hand of Greenlight Communities, which will be donating $6,200 combined to the organizations this month.

The Arizona Builder Alliance, continuing its Annual Backpack Drive, is providing children access to both backpacks and various essential school supplies. Greenlight Communities is proud to donate $1,200 which will provide 200 backpacks for Valley school children.

“The Arizona Builder Alliance is doing something critical,” said Patricia Watts, Co-Founder and Partner at Greenlight Communities. “School supplies are an essential part of receiving an education. No child should be deprived of that and Greenlight is proud to support the ABA in this effort.”

Greenlight Communities is continuing its neighborhood outreach by also partnering with Kids in Focus for their annual Noche Para Los Niños event, which will be held in November.

Kids in Focus is dedicated to empowering at-risk youth to reach their potential using photography, to ignite their imagination, and enable children to gain a new perspective on themselves and their environment. Proceeds will fund photography mentoring programs for Phoenix’s most vulnerable children to help them build resilience, self-confidence, trust, and hope. 

“Greenlight Communities became aware of Kids in Focus earlier this year and knew we had to step up and participate,” said Watts. “This initiative gives children the ability to channel their artistic expression into something beautiful and empowering. The moment we became aware of this opportunity, it was a no brainer to jump in and support.”

Greenlight’s charitable endeavors are part of its Greenlight Gives Initiative which has already assisted several Arizona based organizations over the past year including Maricopa County Animal Care and Control, Save the Family, Central Arizona Shelter Services, American Red Cross, and more. Greenlight Gives focus is primarily on providing housing, education and support to those most in need throughout the Valley.

For more information on Greenlight Communities or its Greenlight Gives initiative please visit LiveGreenlight.com or call (480) 609-6779.

About Greenlight Communities

Greenlight Communities believes that everyone deserves to live in a home they can afford in a community that they love. By disrupting the traditional apartment model, Greenlight is able to develop attainable rental housing that meets that needs of today’s budget-conscious renter. Combining modern design with technological advancements in construction and operations, Greenlight’s Cabana apartment brand will provide studio, one and two-bedroom units in well-located communities through metro Phoenix. More than 3,000 units are currently under construction or in planning and development.

North Scottsdale Property Among Best Locations in the Valley 

DMB Associates, Inc., the developers behind highly acclaimed DC Ranch and numerous other communities across the Phoenix metropolitan area, announced that construction has started, and activity is thriving on the next phases of One Scottsdale, comprised of 75 acres just north of Loop 101 on Scottsdale Road.   

The 21-acre portion of the property located between Thompson Peak Parkway and Legacy Boulevard currently consists of a Hilton Home2Suites hotel along with several retail/dining shops and medical offices.  There are several other users looking at the site for additional uses that are currently in negotiations and would take a majority of the remaining land.

Company officials said completion of the infrastructure to support the first phase hotel and retail deals, which closed on the property in 2021 is expected by the end of this month.   The Hotel will be the first building to be completed in this phase and is projecting an opening in October 2022.  The first retail building is expected to commence construction this summer with an opening in 2023.   

South of Legacy Boulevard is another 54 acres of One Scottsdale that DMB is planning for as a mixed-use “village”.  It is currently anchored by several for rent and for sale residential projects, a potential resort hotel and a mixed-use restaurant/office project consisting of approximately 200,000 sf.  DMB began initiating this phase of development in 2020 and just closed on the first, class-A multi-family parcel with StreetLights Residential earlier this month. 

“North Scottsdale has evolved into an incredibly, dynamic area.  We were honored to play a role in that with DC Ranch and now with One Scottsdale.  Because of our proximity to vibrant neighborhoods like Grayhawk, new corporate headquarters along the 101 and thriving luxury hotels, car dealerships and shopping to our south we’re pleased that our next phases will largely add some additional opportunities to support what is already developed around us,” said Michael Burke, DMB Senior Vice President of Commercial Development. 

All told it will likely take about 7-10 years for the full build-out of One Scottsdale’s 75 acres depending on the market. 

America’s Most Awarded Polo Event — Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships Hits the Field at WestWorld of Scottsdale on Saturday, November 5th
*More than 13,000 people attended 2021 event*

(SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.) America’s Greatest Polo Party – The Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships: Presented by Talking Stick Resort, returns on Saturday, November 5th to WestWorld of Scottsdale for another blockbuster day of polo matches, events within the event and new experiences to wet your whistle! More than 13,000 fans turned out in 2021 for the one-day event.

Brand new for 2022 – Prosecco and Popcorn by Harkins TheatersGrimaldi’s Pizza & Beer Disco, an expanded Scottsdale Charro Lounge, Arizona’s top Saxophonist, the return of The Riot House DayClub and much more! This year’s event is also likely to feature the polo debut of a former National Hockey League star (but Shhh more details to come!).

Top U.S. polo Star Nic Roldan returns as well to play alongside the first family of American polo Marc and Melissa Ganzi, who are the event’s defending champions and own the prestigious Aspen Valley Polo Club.

Among the polo teams for 2022 the United Kingdoms’ Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club and Wales Polo Team, Aspen Valley Polo Club, USA Women’s Team, Switzerland, and the Arizona Polo Club.

As part of the 2022 festivities – retired NFL Star AC Caswell will once again bring his Million Dollar Mingle charity experience to the event.

Guests seeking the ultimate VIP experience can get reserved seating and tables in The Molina Fine Jewelers Drivers and Players VIP Lounge, the Barrett-Jackson Champagne and Jazz Lounge, and Prime: A Luxury Tent Experience by Steak 44, Neiman Marcus, Barrett-Jackson, and Bentley Scottsdale. There is also premier and sideline parking options available for those who want to park fieldside.

Besides the polo action – fans can also enjoy The Polo Party’s signature events within the event like the Canine Couture Dog Fashion Show presented by Lugari Pet Salon, the World’s Longest Catwalk Fashion Show produced by Phoenix  Fashion Week, a preview of Barrett-Jackson’s 2023 Scottsdale Auction and halftime performances by the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, plus much more!

“We are so excited to bring Arizona and the Valley of the Sun yet another exciting year for The Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships,” said Beli Merdovic of Bentley Scottsdale. “As the event goes into its 11th year and we (Bentley Scottsdale) go into our 8th year as the Title sponsor we are thrilled to kick-off an incredible lineup of events, polo matches and cars on November 5th. We are equally as elated to show off and give everyone a sneak preview to our new Bentleys for 2023.”

Gates will open at 10:00am on November 5th.

“Last year was our biggest year ever with a quarter mile of tents. We maxed out the site and expect to again this year with an experience unlike anything in this American sport of luxury,” said the event owner, Jason Rose.

General Admission tickets start at $40 and includes field-side experiences like the Sanderson Lincoln Black Label Lounge and several other DJ-infused party tents including the Grimaldi’s Pizza & Beer Disco, Prosecco & Popcorn, and the Riot House DayClub – the “bird’s nest” of American polo.

“The beauty of this event is that it sits at the intersection of so many senses, creating a unique atmosphere that can’t be replicated,” said The Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships General Manager, Leslie Owen.

Tickets and tables are now on sale. For tickets, tables and sponsorships please visit www.ThePoloParty.com. Corporate sky box sponsorship opportunities, group sales and private polo tents are currently also available for sponsorship. There are also spectacular vendor opportunities to be showcased on Vendor Row alongside dozens of vendors.

Those seeking sponsorship for calendar year 2022 or 2023 should contact info@ThePoloParty.com or call (480) 423-1414.

Featured Editorials


Photo Credit: AZ Central

We are not afraid to confront the short-term rental (STR) crisis here in Arizona. After the industry lobbied the state government heavily, the legislature essentially took away any local control and left municipalities toothless in their ability to fight back, After extensive public outcry, a partial reversal of those laws passed this past legislative session, which then prompted both Scottsdale and Paradise Valley to capitalize off of the opportunity and fight back.

We have typically positioned this subject as a major nuisance to neighborhoods and families as opposed to a legitimate safety risk. However, a recent tragedy seems to imply that we might be keeping the scope of our criticisms too narrow.

Recently, a woman staying at an Airbnb in south Scottsdale was shot after an altercation with two men whom she invited back from a local bar. After bringing two men back, one of them dunked her head in the pool, leading to a dispute regarding the amount of money she spent on her hair and demanding reimbursement. After initially doing so, the man came back in anger, demanded money back, and shot her when she refused.

This unfortunate incident brings us to another problem with STRs; that in Scottsdale they are almost exclusively used in conjunction with serious imbibing in alcohol. People use them as a base of operations to party in places like Old Town and come back to continue the party, sometimes bringing more unsavory elements and bad actors. And sometimes tragedy strikes as a result.

Since they are also inextricably linked to our tourism sector, with one feeding into the other, it makes for a difficult situation. While completely outlawing STRs would almost certainly have a strongly negative impact on tourism in Scottsdale, this story perfectly illustrates the consequences of a completely unregulated industry.

It may take a while for Arizona and its cities to find the right balance between an STR wild west and entirely destroying the STR industry, but this story is one amongst many illustrating that we have a way to go before finding that right balance.

Photo Credit: Arizona State University

The nearly absurd rise in housing prices which has led nearly directly to a rental crisis in Arizona is a major pressing issue that we have been on top of here at the Arizona Progress Gazette. Recent interest rate increases from the Federal Reserve have served the purpose of pumping the brakes on the economy, raising interest rates, and halting the precipitous increase in housing prices. But a recent story demonstrates that all is not well in the local rental market, and more still needs to be done.

This fantastic article by Catherine Reagor at the Arizona Republic puts some more precise numbers to where we are at when it comes to our housing crisis. Essentially, rents have ticked down, but not materially. And while there is a good amount of housing projects in the pipeline in the city of Phoenix at least, it does not seem to be enough.

After all, the Phoenix metro area ranked 5th in the nation when it came to attracting 20-34 year olds from elsewhere. A robust job market and nice weather are likely the main catalysts, and these are precisely the people who we 1) want to attract, 2) are in the market for apartments, and 3) our housing policies don’t seem to consider.

Also worth considering is the typical demographic of steadfast NIMBYs, especially the most vocal ones. Many are in retirement or close to it, those with too much time on their hands. While it is important to have a good neighborhood to retire in, it would be economic folly to place their concerns on a pedestal while completely ignoring the needs of up-and-coming wage earners. After all, they are the ones who are most responsible for economic growth and value added.

While this is a problem that is felt around the state, it is felt most acutely in Scottsdale as many recent studies show. So considering that there is a large unmet need in a high-demand area that is most attractive to younger wage earners, as well as an iffy pipeline of projects that still need to go through the regulatory process, a potential perfect storm still awaits.

As we have said repeatedly and will continue to say, the best way to address this issue is to build, build, build. It is imperative that we listen to the lessons learned in Economic 101: that the best way to reduce prices is to increase supply. While we don’t expect our elected leaders to be Economics PhDs, this is a common sense approach that our city would be well served by adopting.

By Alexander Lomax

In her third run for elected office in the last four years, while Julie Gunnigle is now inching towards perennial candidate status, not unlike Rodney Glassman (sans party flipping), she has shown promise at times. Bold, well spoken and physically attractive (which unfortunately matters), she has positioned herself as someone worth watching in the Democratic political world.

However, the ability to get attention and become a darling on social media often does not translate to the ability to lead, and more specifically lead a large and nuanced department. Gunnigle’s 2nd run for County Attorney is now making that brutally obvious through the hire and continued employment of her campaign manager, a man named Bruce Franks Jr.

Who is Bruce Franks Jr.? Hailing from the St. Louis area, he originally gained some attention as a battle rapper, and then gained further prominence after winning a Missouri legislative seat in 2017. His stint was short-lived however, after he resigned to work on his “mental health” at the end of 2019, not soon after reports came out about an egregious misuse of campaign funds for everything from vet bills to a trip to a casino to simply checks written out to himself. He was fined nearly $15K by the state of Missouri which he is still (presumably) paying off. Nearly anyone who has spent a minute in politics knows that “mental health” was almost certainly a way to attempt to save face and to avoid being forcibly pushed out.

And what does any good grifter do when they know that the gig is up in their current locale? They find a new locale chock full of fresh suckers, and this is where the perfect storm aligned for Franks: a move to Arizona combined with the George Floyd murder.

Franks spent little time attempting to move to the top of the local protest scene soon thereafter, getting himself arrested after allegedly bum-rushing Phoenix police during a protest. While the scandal-plagued MCAO later dropped charges against him, that was after he attempted to sue them for $2.4 million. I’m sure you’re shocked by the fact that someone who used campaign donations for a trip to the casino would look for a big legal payday, but perhaps the even more important grift lay ahead.

Franks rode the Black Lives Matter and anti-MCAO wave into a role as the campaign manager for Gunnigle. As of the last campaign finance report (which is now dated), Franks has been the highest paid “consultant” for the campaign, pocketing $24K, and has directed all campaign printing services to his own print shop. To complicate things even further, he reportedly proposed to the Executive Director of the Maricopa County Democratic Party (and she reportedly accepted), sinking his talons deeper into the political scene and making ousting him even more complicated and ugly.

If the campaign was moving forward on all cylinders, that would be one thing. But Franks has been entirely too busy on Twitter reliving his battle rap days against all sorts of Democrats, including literally tagging and saying to Secretary of State candidate Adrian Fontes and former County Democratic chairman Steven Slugocki, “F*** him”. I would be hard pressed to insert more obvious red flags into a purely fictional story if I tried.


So Gunnigle is paying an incredible amount of money to someone with nearly no experience in our unique state, someone who was shoved out of office for bilking campaign funds, and who thinks it appropriate to pick fights with other Democrats publicly for no discernible reason. At some point you have to wonder how inappropriate Gunnigle would be to lead a large department when she chose such a walking nuclear dumpster fire to be the best paid and most important person in her campaign.

My sources now tell me that statewide Democratic candidates for office as well as Democrats running for the legislature in contested seats have been instructed not to appear in pictures with her. What started as a compelling, exciting campaign is now a cast-off, one being derided by neutral news sources, and one that is toxic to the touch. One choice completely derailed her campaign and has destroyed any chance of winning a difficult race.

So why did this happen? Likely because the activist community won out over rational and sober minds. That the desire for Twitter clout beat out any common sense and political orthodoxy. And as a result, Gunnigle has shown herself to be the wrong person to lead much of anything, and may find herself in the same space as Franks in 2 years: looking for the next state to attempt to fool with rhetoric entirely devoid of actual leadership capacity.

Photo Credit: AP News

Arizona’s gubernatorial office, located on the 9th floor of the Executive Office downtown, has been constantly occupied by Republicans since the time of Janet Napolitano. This year, Katie Hobbs offers the best possibility for Dems to retake the 9th floor since Napolitano’s last term which ended in 2009.

So can she follow that same template to victory?

To be fair, there are a few striking similarities. For instance, both had the luxury of initially running for an open seat after a term-limited opponent. Also, both ran for the seat directly from a statewide office: Napolitano was previously Attorney General and Hobbs is currently Secretary of State. Also, both have never been known to be part of the political left wing; some might say that Hobbs’ time representing heavily-Democratic district 24 showed a stronger leftward tilt than Napolitano, she still never matched some of the more hard progressive inclinations of others in her party.

While it’s tough to glean too much from her 2002 campaign since not much has been archived from original campaign resources, one notable difference is that she went through the Clean Elections system for both of her successful gubernatorial campaigns. While now eschewed for most statewide races, it provided her a total of $2.3 million in campaign funding in ‘02, which seems relatively piddly now but was significant then. Hobbs has already raised $4.4 million, but nowadays it’s hard to even make campaign finance comparisons; that was a different time, and like the Cold War, the weaponry has only increased over time..

There is a bit of a difference though: temperament.  While Napolitano had a few high profile moments, including speaking at the 2000 Democratic National Convention as well as being involved in high profile legal cases, such as defending Anita Hill and prosecuting one of the accused conspirators with the Oklahoma City bombing, she was known for being relatively centrist and not a bomb-thrower. While Hobbs in-person is relatively mild-mannered, like many other politicians she has used Twitter as a way to gain notoriety, such as tweeting “F*** the patriarchy” (without the asterisks) after Roe vs. Wade. While certainly red meat to her followers, this was not Napolitano’s style.

That said, the similarities and differences may be completely undone with one decision: Hobbs’s choice not to participate in a debate with Kari Lake. While many defenders have come to her defense, it seems evident that her political counsel has decided that it is best to not expose her to conflict, something that will almost certainly be used against her in hard-hitting political ads, and something that Napolitano didn’t need to avoid, as she had honed related skills throughout her career previously. Arizona is not a state to reward weakness, and yet her “handlers” chose that route.

So while Hobbs is in some ways charting a similar path, one of being a relative centrist using a statewide platform to take the next step, it may be completely undone with one decision. We wish that Napolitano would have gotten in her ear and guided her more towards her own path.

It may not be a stretch to say that Arizona is as divided as it ever has been. Many statewide races will likely go down to the wire and be very close to a 50/50 split, and rhetoric has heated up on both sides of the political aisle. But one subject is overwhelmingly popular, regardless of which side of the aisle you’re on: the desire to rid our politics of “dark money”.

For those who are unaware, “dark money” is spending from organizations looking to impact elections. They are considered “dark” because organizations under the 501(c)4 classification do not need to declare who is contributing to that organization, leaving the door open for individuals or businesses to tip the scales in their own favor without anyone being able to find out. However, the Terry Goddard-spreadheaded Right To Know Act (which will be on the ballot as Proposition 211), will fix this issue if it receives over 50% of the public vote in the November election.

A recent poll by David Binder Research of 800 likely Arizona voters showed an unprecedented degree of support: 87% of those polled expressed support after the initial question, with only 7% against it. Perhaps even more telling, when those voters were provided aggressive critiques of the proposition, 83% still voiced support.

Maybe the most impressive fact is that it seems as though this is the only issue to bring together all sides of the political spectrum. While 97% of Democrats supported it, a truly incredible number in its own right, so did 78% of Republicans and 86% of Independents. It also received over 80% support in every single Arizonan Congressional district, demonstrating not just cross-party support, but also support that bridges the urban-rural divide.

As for other impressive findings in this polling, 81% of voters agree that Proposition 211 will increase transparency in Arizona elections, 70% agree that it will decrease the influence of out-of-state secret spending in our elections, and 61% agree that it will reduce the amount of money and corruption in politics.

Sometimes it seems like the political right and left live in different worlds. Sometimes it seems like they would not agree on the color of the sky or what 1+1 equals. But regardless of your political stripes, it is now completely evident: we collectively agree that Dark Money has no place in our politics, that we will be better off without it, and that the Right To Know Act, or Proposition 211, is without question the best way to move our state forward.

Photo by Arianna Grainey

Many of us Arizonans have looked at the chaos, lawlessness and crime that has at times enveloped cities like San Francisco, Portland and Seattle over the last few years with a degree of derision, and for good reason. While instances of those issues are certainly trumped up by conservative media, there is certainly a strong degree of truth to them.

Outside of the truly unfortunate looting of Scottsdale Fashion Square in 2020, Scottsdale has essentially entirely avoided these issues? Why is that? This story offers one solid reason.

The Scottsdale Police Department recently announced a significant pay bump for its officers. Salary bumps, when annualized and not counting overtime, will calculate out to around $3,500 per year. As inflation has been an ever-present problem throughout the country, this is obviously welcome relief, and it is even more welcome that it did not turn into a point of contention in our city council.

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, their council actively defunded the police before reversing course as their city became plagued by crime and drug addiction. A very similar situation played out in Portland as the city encountered similar issues. And wouldn’t you know, Seattle did the same thing.

If you’re sensing a pattern, it’s not just you: while one should be cautious extrapolating too far with three data points, it is hard not to draw the conclusion that defunding and disrespecting law enforcement directly leads to an increase in crime and societal issues. It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, yet many on the political left still seem to view police as an enemy as opposed to the apparatus that prevents society from descending into chaos, which is what has happened at times in these “left coast” cities.

So to a degree, those cities have earned the derision that many Arizonans, and more specifically Scottsdalians, give to them. While those cities have plenty of positives, the negatives are enough to make sober-thinking non-idealogues realize that they’re going down the incorrect route. Scottsdale is a paradise in comparison, partly because of our collective respect of law enforcement.

Will blue America learn? Considering that these “defund the police” actions have largely been reversed, it’s probably safe to say that they already are learning. But it’s unfortunate that it took unforced errors and chaotic streets to learn this. It’s an unforced error that we should be thankful that Scottsdale never had to learn first-hand. 

Photo Credit: AZCentral.com

There will be quite a few important choices on your ballot this fall. I’m sure that I don’t have to tell you that between a US Senate race, all of the statewide races and control of the legislature, quite a few important things hang in the balance. That said, for one group of people, even more hangs in the balance.

This year, along with all of the candidate choices you have, you will have the option to vote for Proposition 308. Prop 308 would allow Dreamers, or non-citizen students except those considered to be nonresident aliens under federal law, to receive in-state college tuition when a student (a) attended school in Arizona for at least two years and (b) graduated from a public school, private school, or homeschool in Arizona.

So why is this the right choice? Let’s start with a general fairness doctrine. Nearly all of us would agree that children should not be punished for the sins of their parents; this is not North Korea, we don’t jail entire families because one person in the family attempts to leave. The fact that their parents brought them to this country as young children, something that they had zero say over, should not be a reason to treat them differently, all else held equal.

It should be acknowledged that while some people decry preferences given to others who look different than them, this is not preference. This is simply treating these students the exact same way as their documented counterparts. Quite literally, the only difference is that these students don’t have an American birth certificate. They check all of the other boxes.

Additionally, immigration is incredibly important to our country. Yes, it is always preferable to go about it the correct way, but that is not an easy endeavor. Between bureaucracy and a lack of resources, the waitlist is incredibly long, and it can often take a decade to move through the byzantine maze that is gaining citizenship, especially when one is not considered to have a valuable, technical skill set.

That said, we want a country populated by people willing to work hard, and regardless of how you feel about illegal immigration, nearly everyone will acknowledge that those immigrants are wlling to work incredibly hard. So what about their children? Isn’t it safe to assume that they will have gleaned some of that drive and will take it forward with them in education and their future careers? Those are the sorts of people we need.

Yes, immigration is a hot-button topic that inflames many on both political sides. But this topic shouldn’t. This is the right thing to do, not just for those students but for the future of our area. Proposition 308 deserves your Yes vote.

It is not news that the Arizona Coyotes time in Glendale didn’t work out as well as originally intended. However Glendale’s loss appears to be Tempe’s gain, not just in the temporary placement of the team there but in the spectacular infrastructure and entertainment options that are currently in the works in order to make the ‘Yotes a permanent part of Tempe life.

The centerpiece of this is the proposal for a $2.1 billion dollar sports and entertainment district on 46-acres of what is currently a city dump; it is the literal manifestation of the saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Included in this is 3.4 million square feet of new development at a projected value of $1.9 billion.

Nearly every reader is aware of the Westgate Entertainment Plaza and the promises for economic development that were to be produced from that development; while many of us have enjoyed Westgate on occasion, it is safe to say that Glendale didn’t reap sufficient rewards from it to make it worth it to try to hang on to the team. While heading across the Valley once a week for Cardinals games is not a huge imposition, doing the same for a Tuesday evening hockey game (and likely hitting rush hour traffic on the way there) is a very different proposition, and the performance of the entire entertainment ecosphere suffered as a result.

So how will this be different? Well the obvious answer is the most important word in real estate: location, location, location. With its location right on Tempe Town Lake, it is a short drive from downtown and east Phoenix, Scottsdale, and much of Mesa (along with obviously Tempe). This also means that as a general entertainment district, it is much more likely to fill up even when games aren’t going on, as now Tempe residents who are a little too old for Mill Ave. will have a new option, as will folks who feel like they have grown out of Old Town a bit. It is right in the middle of a larger (and often more affluent) population base, well positioning it for success even outside of gameday.

Another competitive advantage? Light rail. One of the biggest knocks on Westgate was the lack of a light rail route that went there; not only does light rail allow you to avoid traffic, but it helps take out the risk of over-imbibing and having to worry about driving back. However, light rail goes right near Tempe Town Lake, allowing revelers from Mesa to central (and soon, north) Phoenix to have a low risk way to party and pump money into the Tempe economy.

So cheers to Tempe, Glendale’s loss will almost certainly be Tempe’s massive gain, not just because of hockey but because of a potential entertainment superplex that just makes sense…a lot of sense. So long as it gets green-lit by the Tempe City Council (and they would be insane not to), this will be one of the biggest win-win-wins imaginable, and the team, the businesses that inhabit the complex, and the city’s coffers will be laughing all the way to the bank.

Production Adds 1989 Student Protest Leader To Creative Team

In what promises to be one of the most important new American musicals to premiere in 2023 and just ahead of an upcoming industry-staged reading September 20th, 2022 in New York City, the producers of Tiananmen, a brave and necessary new musical announced the New York cast on Thursday, as well as a major addition to its creative team.

The cast for the reading of Tiananmen100% Asian American and Pacific Islander, includes Cáitlín Burke (The Sound of Music), Kai An Chee (Miss Saigon), Grace Choi (Avenue Q), Karl Josef Co (Pacific Overtures, Classic Stage Revival), Troy Iwata (Be More Chill), Austin Ku (2021 Grammy Nominee for Soft Power), Kelvin Moon Loh (Beetlejuice), Jason Ma (Miss Saigon), Sami Ma (Vietgone), Rommel Pierre O’Choa (My Fair Lady), Gen Parton-Shin (Next To Normal), Sam Tanabe (Allegiance), Elena Wang (Allegiance)and Paulina Yeung (The King and I)

Wu’er Kaixi, who helped lead the protests in China’s Tiananmen Square in 1989 and now lives in Taiwan as an activist for democracy, has joined the production as conceiver and creative consultant. 

“It would be as if Lin-Manuel Miranda had Alexander Hamilton alongside as he created Hamilton,” Tiananmen author Scott Elmegreen said of Kaixi’s first involvement. “He has made our script better, more authentic and more powerful since we presented Tiananmen in New York last September and as we get ready for our World Premiere at The Phoenix Theatre Company.” 

Phoenix is where Tiananmen’s Lead Producer, Quixote Productions, which is owned by Scottsdale, Arizona public relations executive and entrepreneur, Jason Rose, also debuted ¡Americano!  It recently completed its Off-Broadway run at New World Stages as scheduled, with a total of 86 performances.  The musical’s composer Carrie Rodriguez was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music and the set was used by President Obama to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of his Executive Order to protect “DREAMers” living in the United States.  

Darren Lee (Mr. Holland’s Opus) will serve as the Director for Tiananmen, both for the reading and in Phoenix, where he will as double as the Choreographer.  Music Direction is by Steven Cuevas (Kinky Boots), and the Casting Director is Melanie Tojio Lockyer, the Stage Manager is Kathleen Rose Gallardo, and the Assistant Stage Manager is Lara Sato. They join Elmegreen on the creative team with Drew Fornarola who is contributing the music and lyrics. 

Elmegreen is a Lecturer at the University of Chicago, and Fornarola is best known as a composer for DreamWorks. They were most recently represented in New York by their play Straight, a New York Times Critics’ Pick now in development as a major motion picture. Lee has directed and choreographed numerous productions around the country and internationally. He has performed in 11 Broadway shows and in addition to Tiananmen has recently developed the world premieres of Mr. Holland’s Opus, The Gifted PrinceBrain. Storm., and Disney Wishes for Disney Cruise Line. (www.darrenlee.com

“In light of the ongoing debate, indeed fight between authoritarianism and democracy Tiananmen is a brave and necessary work to remind us all of the hinge of world history that happened in Tiananmen Square at a time when China is trying to erase all that happened there from memory,” said Lee, a Chinese-American.  

For more information about Tiananmen, please contact Visceral Entertainment’s Michael Chase Gosselin at contact@visceral-entertainment.com. Industry members interested in attending the staged reading can request seats at TiananmenTickets@gmail.com.

By Alexander Lomax

I certainly understand the strategy; be as loud as you can, take risks with specious allegations, and attempt to become a darling of your political party. Joseph Chaplik has gone all in on this approach during his young political career as a two-term state Representative, and could prove to be even more successful if his ambition to become Speaker of the House comes to fruition. It’s just a shame that it’s so inherently embarrassing.

The most recent example of this came on Twitter last week (because of course it happened on the world’s collective cesspool). Chaplik posted a picture of a man sitting in the shade near a grocery store. In this innocuous-appearing picture, Chaplik 1) implies that it is evidence of a growing homeless problem, 2) states that Scottsdale Mayor Dave Ortega gave the police a “stand down” order regarding homelessness, and 3) states that as a result, he doesn’t care about you, the taxpayer.

So much to pick apart in this political Rorschach. Pretty much any sane non-sociopath would see a guy (perhaps down on his luck, perhaps not that much) trying to get out of the sun for a little while…you know, because it’s August in Arizona. But not Chaplik, he has to attempt to make some political hit job from the most benign of situations. Strong sociopath vibes.

And what did it get him? Well, it got a response tweet directly from the Scottsdale PD, saying that there was no such “stand down” order at all. As a Republican you have to work pretty hard to get the police to publicly clap back at you, but Chaplik is a certain kind of special.


Additionally, what came next was either the strongest and fastest rapid response I’ve ever seen, an ace in the hole quickly deployed, or perfect coincidence. Just about an hour later, this op-ed from Mayor Ortega was released, calling for a full funding of the Scottsdale PD. Lucky, good, or both, the timing couldn’t have possibly been more perfect.

The last few years have caused a chasm between the political parties regarding their views on law enforcement, with Republicans being strongly pro-law enforcement and Democrats ranging from guarded and cautious in their views all the way to hostile towards law enforcement. But here is potentially the next Speaker of the House in Arizona who seems dead set on reversing that and putting a ball on the tee for former Democrat Ortega for him to knock it out of the park.

Hopefully the AZ GOP will quickly realize that Chaplik is far too foolish, impetuous, and craven for attention to be anything but a back-bench legislator. In the meantime, they should hope that he takes his shots much more carefully.

Photo Credit: Howie Fischer, Capitol Media Services

It would be easy to question the motives of people who continue in politics are repeated losses or other disappointments. When it comes to candidates, it’s easy to look at figures like Rodney Glassman and think it a joke. But when it comes to causes, it is hard to see anything other than good motives mixed with a whole lot of determination in the face of long odds like the attempt to stop “dark money” in Arizona.

Leading the way from the very start has been Terry Goddard, who likely needs no introduction for most of our readers. For those who are less aware however, Goddard was the youngest Mayor in Phoenix’s history in the 1980’s and served two terms as the state Attorney General at the start of the millennium before unsuccessful runs for Governor in 2010 and Secretary of State in 2014, both of which were very negative years for Democrats in Arizona (as well as much of the country).

However his legacy is no longer defined by those two losses but instead his dogged determination to mount initiatives to demand further transparency in elections spending, more specifically for the donors to independent expenditure groups that are able to dodge being uncovered by campaign finance laws. In both 2018 and 2020, Goddard’s Outlaw Dirty Money initiatives faced the buzzsaws of first the Ducey-packed Supreme Court (they tossed it off the ballot) and then COVID (they weren’t able to secure enough signatures).

Undeterred from such obstacles, Goddard tried again this year, with the benefit of two recent attempts and everything that was learning. The results was the Voters’ Right to Know Act, and Goddard must have learned some important lessons, but another significant addition to the cause was highly successful and respected Arizona businessman David Tedesco, whose seal of approval added extra gravitas and credentials. As a result, this time around they successfully navigated the gauntlet. The initiative gathered enough signatures, pacified the state Supreme Court, and will be put to the voters this fall.

Many people have dogged determination in politics when it will positively impact them. Lobbying to get laws changed, focusing on getting politicians they are financially friendly with elected, or purely the pursuit of power paired with an outsized ego. Not Goddard though, it is essentially impossible to see any monetary benefit for Goddard. He is the sort of public servant who actually attempts to do the right thing, sometimes a long gone concept.

Mind you, getting an initiative on the ballot is one hell of an undertaking. It needs hundreds of thousands of valid signatures from voters, orders of magnitude more than candidates. That takes an army of volunteers, $7 figures of cash in the account, or both. This is not running for a school board race, this is an incredible amount of time and effort. To have now done in the face of the power structures of this state three times is meaningful…it is courage.

And Goddard is now within months of perhaps his most meaningful work potentially coming to fruition. The third time was the charm when it came to getting it to the voters, and now the voters will finally be able to decide. Polling for these sorts of issues demonstrate support, so its outlook is rosy. We’re on the precipice of real, positive change, and we will owe it all to one man who simply wouldn’t accept failure and who wouldn’t give up.

As any regular readers on this blog or any civically engaged people in the Scottsdale area know, short-term rentals have been a persistent problem across much of the Valley. Due to very short-sighted legislation seemingly designed to benefit AirBnb and VRBO, the hands of local leaders were tied when it came to dealing with this issue. Indeed, the same politicians who have often touted the importance of local control took it away from local leaders.

However, the outcry was consistent and loud, and the legislature took notice. This session’s Senate Bill 1138 sought to address that and allow for more robust regulations at the municipal level. Our municipal leaders have naturally noticed and have started implementing their own controls to keep the excesses of STRs at bay.

Paradise Valley had already attempted to take a strong stance against STRs before Senate Bill 1138, and attempted to crush the STR industry within the town. They levied such onerous regulations and restrictions that in theory would have made it so difficult to be profitable in town that ostensibly, nearly no one would try. Attorney General Brnovich struck down just about all of those regulations, thus rendering the law essentially toothless.

Now Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner has come back with a recent op-ed, seemingly energized by SB1138 and the options that are newly open to STR regulation. They will now have the ability to license STRs in their municipality, to revoke those licenses as deemed necessary, and levy fines for non-compliance. While not perfect and not anywhere near as onerous as the original PV restrictions, Mayor Bien-Willner agrees that it’s a good start.

While Scottsdale similarly attempted to fight the STR industry pre-SB1153, there does not seem to be renewed guidance or statements from city leadership about what they will do now. However, with an STR conference coming to Scottsdale in just about a week, some perhaps seem to still think it a ripe market. If it was January or February we could presume that they are having a conference here purely for the good weather, but September makes that harder to believe.

It’s unfortunate that it even had to come to this. Had a few lawmakers not decided to do the bidding of the lobbyists of a particular industry, local leaders could have done what they needed to to protect their municipalities, but better late than never. And a special shout-out is due to not just the local leaders who understood the problem and dared speak truth to a higher power, but also the numerous local activists who made their opinions known loudly and forcefully. Only with strong local pushes could this error have been reversed.

Doan Will Play For the Arizona Polo Club and Spend the Fall Months Learning and Training
Get Tickets Now at ThePoloParty.com

 

In its 11-year-history The Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships: Presented by Talking Stick Resort, has seen some of the world’s greatest polo players take to the field at WestWorld of Scottsdale to play in front of huge crowds.  Among those polo greats are Nic Roldan, Nacho Figueras, Sunny Hale, Julio Arellano, Jason Crowder, and Jeff Hall, to name a few.

Brand new in 2022 and for first time in Scottsdale’s Polo Party history, a former National Hockey League star will saddle up and hit the grass to play polo and what is often called “Hockey on Horseback.”  Former Arizona Coyotes Captain and legend #19 Shane Doan, the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, will turn in his skates for riding boots, hockey stick for a mallet, and the puck for a polo ball to try his hand at polo. Doan has represented Team Canada numerous times in international play, and has won five medals (two gold, three silver) at the World Championships. He helped Canada win the World Cup championship in 2004 and was also a member of Canada’s 2006 Winter Olympic team. In 2022, Doan was also General Manager of Team Canada’s Olympic Hockey Team at the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

A longtime equestrian enthusiast, Doan will spend the fall months (September and October) training and learning how to play the beautiful sport under the guidance of Andres Camacho, Diego Florez and Natalie Camacho of the Arizona Polo Club so that Doan can represent and join the local club on the field when America’s Greatest Polo Party returns November 5th.

“I’ve been riding horses my entire life and even had a horse ranch for many years.  I have always been fascinated by the fast paced, action packed game of polo and now that I’m retired I feel like it’s a good time in my life to try the sport and see if I can put some of my hockey skills to good use and play polo.   I don’t know how good I’m going to be but I’m excited to give it try and make my polo playing debut here at the Scottsdale Polo Party,” said Shane Doan.

Doan was introduced to the event last year when he was honored with the day’s “First Drop” to start the match.  This is similar to the first pitch in baseball.  Last year more than 13,000 fans turned out for the one-day event.

Doan will be one of several new players and elements for this year. Among the polo teams confirmed to play in 2022 – the United Kingdoms’ Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club and Wales Polo Team, Aspen Valley Polo Club, USA Women’s Team, Switzerland, The El Paso-Naranjo Polo Club and Arizona Polo Club.

Top U.S. polo Star Nic Roldan returns as well to play alongside the first family of American polo Marc and Melissa Ganzi, who are the event’s defending champions and own the prestigious Aspen Valley Polo Club.

As always – fans can expect to see four thrilling and action-packed polo matches, plus a full day of events within the event, and newly enhanced and elegant VIP experiences.  Guests seeking the ultimate VIP experience can get reserved seating and tables in The Molina Fine Jewelers Drivers and Players VIP Lounge, the Barrett-Jackson Champagne and Jazz Lounge, and Prime: A Luxury Tent Experience by Steak 44, Neiman Marcus, Barrett-Jackson, and Bentley Scottsdale. There is also premier and sideline parking options available for those who want to park fieldside.

Besides the polo action – fans can also enjoy The Polo Party’s signature events within the event like the Canine Couture Dog Fashion Show presented by Lugari Pet Salon, The Cintron World’s Longest Catwalk Fashion Show produced by Phoenix Fashion Week, a preview of Barrett-Jackson’s 2023 Scottsdale Auction and halftime performances by the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, plus much more!

Brand new for 2022 — Prosecco and Popcorn by Harkins Theaters, Grimaldi’s Pizza Disco, an expanded Scottsdale Charro Lounge, Arizona’s top Saxophonist, the return of The Riot House DayClub and much more!

General Admission tickets are $45 and includes field-side experiences like the Sanderson Lincoln Black Label Lounge and several other DJ-infused party tents including the Grimaldi’s Pizza Disco, Prosecco & Popcorn, and the Riot House DayClub – the “bird’s nest” of American polo.

Tickets and tables including the best locations are now on sale at ThePoloParty.com.  In some of the VIP tents – guests will also have the option of purchasing 4 seat tables as well as the standard 8-top versions.

Gates will open at 10:00am on November 5th.

Those seeking sponsorship for calendar year 2022 or 2023 should contact info@ThePoloParty.com or call (480) 423-1414.

It was a new story but precious few are aware of the import. The upscale Hermes brand will be opening a new store at Scottsdale Fashion Square.

What’s the big deal?

Well, Scottsdale Fashion Square has been engaged in a silent war for years to prevent momentum for the long-planned but long languishing Palmeraie shopping complex envisioned next to the Ritz-Carlton in Paradise Valley.

Since the onset of ambitions The Palmeraie has touted Hermes among the tenants that would be a part of its high-end heaven.

That’s no longer the case.  Is it an isolated sign of impatience and frustration by a signature retailer or a bigger domino that has fallen?

For a project, inclusive of its hotel, that will miss yet another milestone with the Super Bowl arriving in the Valley next February, they are surely hoping (while fearing?) it’s not the latter.

Tiananmen:  A New Musical To Debut October 6th, 2023 At The Phoenix Theatre Company After Upcoming Staged Reading September 20th In New York City; Production Adds 1989 Student Protest Leader To Creative Team 

In what promises to be one of the most important new American musicals to premiere in 2023, the producers behind Tiananmen announced today an upcoming industry-staged reading September 20th, 2022 in New York as well as a major addition to its creative team.

Wu’er Kaixi, who helped lead the protests in China’s Tiananmen Square in 1989 and now lives in Taiwan as an activist for democracy, has joined the production as conceiver and creative consultant.

“It would be as if Lin-Manuel Miranda had Alexander Hamilton alongside as he created Hamilton,” Tiananmen author Scott Elmegreen said of Kaixi’s first involvement. “He has made our script better, more authentic and more powerful since we presented Tiananmen in New York last September and as we get ready for our World Premiere at The Phoenix Theatre Company.”

Phoenix is where Tiananmen’s Lead Producer, Quixote Productions, which is owned by Scottsdale, Arizona public relations executive and entrepreneur, Jason Rose, also debuted ¡Americano!  It recently completed its Off-Broadway run at New World Stages as scheduled, with a total of 86 performances.  The musical’s composer Carrie Rodriguez was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music and the set was used by President Obama to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of his Executive Order to protect “DREAMers” living in the United States.

Darren Lee (Mr. Holland’s Opus) will serve as the Director for Tiananmen, both for the reading and in Phoenix, where he will as double as the Choreographer.  Music Direction is by Steven Cuevas (Kinky Boots), and the Casting Director is Melanie Tojio Lockyer. They join Elmegreen on the creative team with Drew Fornarola who is contributing the music and lyrics.

Elmegreen is a Lecturer at the University of Chicago, and Fornarola is best known as a composer for DreamWorks. They were most recently represented in New York by their play Straight, a New York Times Critics’ Pick now in development as a major motion picture. Lee has directed and choreographed numerous productions around the country and internationally. He has performed in 11 Broadway shows and in addition to Tiananmen has recently developed the world premieres of Mr. Holland’s Opus, The Gifted PrinceBrain. Storm., and Disney Wishes for Disney Cruise Line. (www.darrenlee.com)

“In light of the ongoing debate, indeed fight between authoritarianism and democracy Tiananmen is a brave and necessary work to remind us all of the hinge of world history that happened in Tiananmen Square at a time when China is trying to erase all that happened there from memory,” said Lee, a Chinese-American.

For more information about Tiananmen, please contact Visceral Entertainment’s Michael Chase Gosselin at contact@visceral-entertainment.com. Industry members interested in attending the staged reading can request seats at TiananmenTickets@gmail.com.

To arrange interviews with any of the principals involved with Tiananmen please contact Jennifer Parks-Sturgeon at the information above.

 

A bi-partisan coalition of Arizonans from all walks of life is speaking out against Governor Ducey’s attempts to convince the Arizona Supreme Court to invalidate hundreds of thousands of petition signatures which are in support of the anti-dark money initiative on the November ballot. Five of the seven judges on the Arizona Supreme Court are Ducey appointees.

The current situation and especially the attempt by the Governor to deprive Arizona voters of their constitutional rights because petition circulators follow a procedure that the Governor himself approved should concern Arizonans from all political parties and all walks of life.

And it does.

Among those expressing their anger at an August 23rd news conference were former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard (D), former Paradise Valley Mayor and congressional candidate Vernon Parker (R), former GOP Corporation Commissioner and State Senator Bob Burns (R), former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson (I), Arizona business leader David Tedesco, and other supporters of the Voters’ Right to Know Act.

Goddard, who is leading the anti-Dark Money (Voters’ Right to Know Act) effort believes the Governor’s interference sets a new low in cynical, hypocritical efforts to deprive Arizona voters of their constitutional rights.

“I am a strong supporter of our judicial system, but these optics are troubling. Equally troubling is the fact that Governor Ducey in his brief is attacking petitioner affidavits, claiming the very rules he signed off on should not have been followed. He is changing the rules of game after the buzzer has sounded,” said Goddard.

Former Governor Fife Symington, who ran against Terry Goddard in 1990, is backing his former rival in this fight. He submitted a ballot statement in support of the initiative that reads in part:

“Arizonan’s have the right to know who is participating in our elections. Today undisclosed contributions could be coming from out of state, out of country, organized crime groups, drug cartels or even foreign governments. We must put an end to this. We must return the power to the voters, to the people of our great State and demand that contributions be disclosed.”

The stop Dark Money initiative has over 85% support among Arizona voters according to recent polling. Goddard insists Ducey and other opponents will try anything to keep Arizonans from voting on the measure.

Indeed, Governor Ducey and his allies have used Dark Money to influence tax policy, limit education spending, and get like-minded politicians elected. Ducey was elected governor in 2014 with the help of millions spent by outside groups both supporting his election and running commercials attacking his opponent.

A broad group of Arizona business leaders, including supporters of Governor Ducey, is supporting the Arizona Right To Know Act including Outlier Founder and CEO David Tedesco who said, “This is crazy.  Neither the Governor nor the Plaintiffs are disputing the legitimacy of these signatures or the desire of Arizonians to see this initiative on the ballot.  The opposition actually calls the initiative “admirable” but then asks the court to toss aside the signatures over a manufactured technical complaint that makes no practical difference and conflicts with the Arizona Secretary of State’s website and procedures manual.”

In response to the Governor’s brief, the Voters Right to Know committee said:

“This is not a case of mere confusion, but a literal impossibility for the circulators to submit multiple affidavits. If the Court determines § 19- 118 requires multiple affidavits, it should not punish the Committee and hundreds of thousands of Arizona voters for utilizing a system approved by multiple officials across multiple branches of government. Otherwise, this Court will be endorsing a trap set only to inhibit the exercise of the peoples’ initiative power.”

Dark Money is defined as spending on Arizona election advertising by undisclosed donors. Current Arizona law allows anonymous donors to spend unlimited amounts of money to sway the vote. It has been used for years to launder political contributions to keep voters from knowing who is spending money and why. For more information go to www.StopDarkMoney.com.

On August 2nd Paradise Valley voters said adios to long-time Paradise Valley Councilman Paul Dembow. Long a skinny dipper in the cesspool, Dembow’s demise is both reason for celebration and opportunity to make reforms due to his abuses and abhorrence.

The first is term limits. The new Town Council should take the notion up as one of its initial orders of business, passing a referral to voters in 2024 limiting council and mayoral terms to two or three. Right now, there are no limits. There is no better example of the problems that accrue when someone is in power too long than Dembow. Politicians start to believe it is their seat rather than the people’s. That they are above norms, ethics and the laws. Fortunately, voters decisively said no to his fourth term. But that doesn’t mean that like Scottsdale, Phoenix and the State of Arizona term limits shouldn’t be a part of good governance in Paradise Valley. If it undertakes this policy change, town leaders should also ask voters to extend the mayoral term from 2 to 4 years.

The second reform that should result from the Dembow debacle is a better Ethics Committee, Commission or process to evaluate transgressions. Perhaps this should consist of community leaders, like other commissions, or be a rotating subset of the Town Council. But either way there needs to be more teeth and better processes because Dembow got away with far too much, far too long.

Even with bad councilmembers good can come from them. These are just two examples how Paradise Valley can do so after enduring, then dismissing, Dembow.

Photo from Shady Park Twitter account

It’s funny how poor zoning decisions can lead to unexpected conclusions, like a truncated Butterfly Effect. For instance, when a retirement community inexplicably sets up shot right next the Arizona State campus and it leads to added nightlife and tax revenue for Scottsdale.

We are talking about the Mirabella/Shady Park fiasco in Tempe. For those who are unaware, Mirabella is a retirement community that started moving senior residents into it in 2020 during the beginning of the pandemic. It happened to be built right near Shady Park, a very popular nightlife venue well known for live shows (often EDM shows) in an uncovered area. Since at that time there were no live shows, it would have been easy to overlook, but once live music started again the elderly residents started complaining and filed a lawsuit.

The first question many would ask would be, why is a retirement community setting up shop just off one of the rowdiest colleges in the country? We have no good answer for that, and neither did the Tempe city council, which unanimously showed their support for Shady Park, having been much longer tenured. It was not enough however, as the judge favored Mirabella’s argument and sided with them.

What does that have to do with Scottsdale? Relentless Beats is the leading dance and EDM music promoter in Arizona and has thrown many events in Shady Park. On April 13th they were forced to cancel all shows at Shady Park, and since the party must go on, they chose a backup venue: Maya Day and Nightclub in Old Town.

Relentless Beats quietly shifted many of their upcoming events to Maya and turned them into pool parties in the process. This has and will continue to bring more people towards Old Town and represents a strong partnership with Riot House Entertainment, the owners of Maya. While this represents a significant loss for the city of Tempe and an inconvenience for all EDM fans in Tempe, it is a big win for Scottsdale and a furthering of Scottsdale’s reputation as the King of Nightlife in Arizona.

So we thank you, Tempe. You probably should have known better than to even allow a retirement community so close to campus in the first place, as these sorts of issues could have easily been anticipated. But Tempe’s lack of foresight became Scottsdale’s gain. We will happily take the additional tax revenue at the expense of our neighbor!

Photo Credit: City of Phoenix


Let’s be honest: in the midst of worsening climate change, Maricopa County might not be the ideal place to be.
We have spoken at length about the worsening water crisis perpetuated by the current megadrought; combine that with the fact that 110 degree days in the summer are already difficult enough, and it starts to turn into an existential crisis of livability in the area. Thankfully, Scottsdale is not waiting until things get worse before taking action.

The city (as well as the city of Phoenix) partnered with Arizona State University to perform a study regarding how to cool temperatures via light colored asphalt. They had three desired outcomes and nearly 30 specific strategies that they are considering to help hit those goals. The initial results have been incredibly positive, with a 10 to 15 degree reduction in average temperatures.

While the strategies to be employed include other tactics such as increasing tree canopies and shade, the lighter color has been employed elsewhere with positive benefits. Dark colors (such as that of traditional asphalt) absorb the sun’s radiation, which not only leads to increased heat during the day, but a drawn out process of the release of that heat through the evening. Light colors reflect that heat.

There are drawbacks to this strategy, specifically in drivable pavement. After all, as long as tires are black, hard braking will eventually turn a light colored road dark with dark tire residue. However, for walkable areas, done in conjunction with increased shading via canopy trees can help not just preserve Scottsdale’s walkability and livability, but even improve it in the face of climate change.

If this seems like a complete moon shot out of nowhere, we assure you that it is not. It has been tried by numerous other municipalities, including our best sister to the west, Los Angeles. They started doing this in 2015, so we have a reasonable template to work from and lessons that we can learn from them, instead of the hard way.

With declining water supplies and a warming state, we fear that the best days of Scottsdale may be behind us in a way that we can’t truly reverse. However, with ingenuity and creativity, we can at least extend these good days for much longer, and it will take ideas like this to get it done. This feels like a great step in the right direction, and we applaud it.

 

Photo Credit: John Locher, Associated Press

Regular readers know that the Arizona Progress Gazette has been screaming about the incoming water crisis from the rooftops. It began as volunteer requests for water reduction, which were not insignificant in impact, but nowhere near enough. As the Colorado River suffers another light year of melted snowpack, the crisis has recently escalated.

In a recent blockbuster announcement with significant ramifications, the state of Arizona will lose 21% of its normal allocation of water from Lake Mead/the Colorado River starting next year. The 21% represents by far the largest loss of water compared to any other state and Arizona. California will not see any reduction whatsoever as a result of the original agreement formed that placed Arizona in a subordinate role in the chain of preference.

These cuts are not just necessary because of the traditional need of water for drinking, bathing, farming etc, but also for the Hoover Dam and any hydroelectric power production. The water level is veering towards a “dead pool” status, where power production for much of Las Vegas and Arizona will be negatively impacted (if not effectively killed completely) due to the absence of enough water to get the turbines moving.

So what does it mean for Arizonans? At this point, thankfully it shouldn’t be a big impact for most of us. It currently impacts those who receive water from the Central Arizona Project. Unfortunately for Scottsdale, two-thirds of our water comes from CAP While there haven’t been specific directives as of the time of writing, clearly there will need to be some difficult decisions.

For instance, golf courses are a significant use of water resources in the city of Scottsdale, and while much of that water comes from groundwater sources, that makes up less than half of water usage for golf courses statewide. As the conversation begins to intensify on where cuts happen, there may be significant public pressure to reduce usage on what may be seen as a luxury. It is a “luxury” that Scottsdale is dependent on for tourism however, as a national destination spot for golf.

Ultimately, if the drought reverses and we have several good years of snowpack and rain, these cuts could be reversed. But the federal government has already signaled that this could be the beginning and that more cuts may be forthcoming if the drought persists. If that is the case, it provides an extremely uncertain future for not just the city of Scottsdale, but also all of Arizona.

2022 Scrum


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

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

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

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

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This poll of 550 likely primary election voters was conducted through a combination of live survey and text to web that collected 32.4% of the results from live caller landlines, 34.2% from live caller cell phones, and 33.4% from text to web. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.26% with a 95% confidence interval. Respondents were weighted on a number of different demographic figures based on prior primary election voter turnout figures. The poll was conducted from July 18 – July 20, 2022. All non-released questions would not reasonably be expected to influence responses to all released questions. The questions released are verbatim from the survey provided to respondents. Toplines and demographic data can be found here. Crosstabs for this survey can be found here.

 

The election for Scottsdale City Council is underway, and, as a candidate, I am committed to keeping Scottsdale prosperous and one of the lowest-taxed cities in the valley. 

I want this for you and for my own family. While collecting signatures to place my name on the ballot, the message I heard from residents became clear.  Voters love the amenities and quality of life in Scottsdale and they want a City Council that will encourage a vibrant city economy that pays for all the wonderful city services they enjoy.  With increasing inflation rates today, assuring that our city finances are healthy is more important than ever before.

I am a government finance professional; and, as a public finance and municipal lawyer representing cities and towns in Arizona and other states, I help them make deals that increase economic prosperity for their residents.  Additionally, since I served over ten years on the city’s Board of Zoning Adjustment and the Scottsdale Industrial Development Authority, I have put my knowledge and experience to work already for the economic benefit of the city. I’ve also served as a Pro Tem Judge in Maricopa County Superior Court.

I am running to keep your city taxes low, your property values high, and to reduce city debt while ensuring Scottsdale continues to have the best in class amenities and municipal services we have come to expect.  I will make long-term decisions to ensure the health of our magnificent desert preserve and parks, our outstanding police and fire services, our tourism industry, and our world-class dining, commercial and retail services.

We live in tough times. We are coming out of a major global pandemic, but now we are facing runaway inflation and rising interest rates.  Now more than ever we need someone on the City Council with my municipal finance experience and focus. We cannot turn to short-sighted and costly thinking that results in economic decline. There is no goal more resident-friendly than shifting the Council’s focus to keeping local property and sales taxes low and property values high.

The inflation we are facing will impact senior citizens and those on fixed incomes the most, and we must work hard to assure that our most vulnerable city residents can prosper as well.  We can do this by making sure we continue to foster increased economic activity that generates city revenues, working to assure that we have an adequate housing supply, spending taxpayer dollars wisely, and maintaining a fiscally conservative city budget.

I look forward to sharing my goals for my work as a councilman and thoughts on a wide array of issues over the coming weeks. Please contact me on my website at strattonforscottsdale.com.

I am here to listen to you.

By Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner

Dear Fellow Paradise Valley Resident:

I’m pleased to have the support of all the past Mayors of Paradise Valley who are active in Town affairs. Today, I am honored to share a recent video in support of my re-election from our dear friends and long-time Paradise Valley residents and public servants, former Paradise Valley Mayor Ed Lowry and former Paradise Valley First Lady Patsy Lowry:

Lowry Video

In the video, Ed says the following:

“I think Mayor Jerry has done a fabulous job of coalescing a lot of different ideas, people and personalities into a team that works well together. It doesn’t mean that everyone has to agree with each other. It does mean though that everyone has to listen to each other, respect each other and work together for the betterment of the town.”

I would like to thank Ed and Patsy for their kind words, as well as former Paradise Valley mayors LeMarr, Winkler, Parker, Clarke, Wick and others for supporting my campaign.

I hope you will join them and many other former Town leaders and residents in voting to re-elect Jerry Bien-Willner as Mayor in the August 2 election.

Thank you for the privilege of serving as your mayor.

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