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The Story of Glenfair Plaza

It was the beginning of the new millennium. The year was 2000 when Arizona Redeveloper and Entrepreneur Michael Pollack purchased Glenfair Plaza at the NW corner of 59th Avenue and Bethany Home Road in Glendale.

At the time of purchase Glenfair Plaza had become an eyesore with recent tenant departures leaving a high vacancy rate. The shopping center was in need of an aggressive redevelopment when along came Pollack.

“When we bought the shopping center it was neglected and antiquated and needed a complete renovation, not just a splash of paint. I knew I could turn the property around with a facelift and a complete revitalization plan,” Pollack said.

It didn’t take long for Pollack to get started. In his typical re-developing fashion he immediately started renovating the 83,510-square-foot eyesore, bringing new life to the center and bringing it up to nearly 95-percent occupancy. Fast forward 22-years and it was time for more work on the center and this time on an even bigger scale.

“Redevelopment of older properties are one of the single most powerful ways to revitalize a community, drive up the economy and increase pride back into a neighborhood,” said Pollack. “Sometimes it can be a small renovation but in the case of our Glenfair Plaza this would be another substantial renovation for us.”

Pollack started the work this past summer again putting a new face on the property and making everything new again including the stonework, stucco, paint, tile roof, exterior lighting, parking lot, landscaping, and new glass store fronts, to name a few of the additions. The total cost of the renovations would be in the mid six figure range. Anchored by a 35,650-square-foot Food City, the newly renovated center now boasts a new Humana Healthcare Center and several other national tenants including McDonalds, K-Momo Fashion, and Super 99 Cent Center, among other tenants.

Growth in the West Valley and especially the high traffic intersection of 59th Avenue and Bethany Home Road has steadily outpaced the majority of other major metropolitan markets within the United States.

Glenfair Plaza in particular is located in a very dense trade area with an estimated 165,093 households and population of over 530,966 within a 5-mile radius of the property.

“As a young boy, I remember coming to the Smitty’s in this location with my mother,” said Glendale Mayor Jerry P. Weiers. “The transformation of this property is great for bringing back Glendale neighborhoods. Redevelopment projects breathe new life into the community. In this particular space, it provides a fresh start to small businesses, while adding jobs and increasing the value for surrounding properties as well. We are grateful for Mr. Pollack’s commitment to our community and know that it will inspire others to follow suit.”

Michael Pollack’s 50 years as a redeveloper, as well as his philanthropy have not gone unnoticed. Former Governor Doug Ducey took the time to issue a special commendation in recognition of Pollack’s citing “Many years of service involved in the development or redevelopment of more than 10 million square feet of real estate projects in the last 50 years” before he left office.

“I go into a renovation thinking we are going to make a positive difference to the surrounding neighborhood. Glenfair Plaza is once again a shopping center that the entire community can be proud of,” said Pollack. “It looks like it was built yesterday. It has an updated modern look to it, and almost has a village like feel. I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished and it shows you can make a difference in a community one project at a time.”

 

WHAT: Republic Services Garden Reveal

WHEN: Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

WHERE: Margaret T. Hance Park, 67 W. Culver Street

WHO: Mayor Kate Gallego, Vice Mayor Yassamin Ansari, Republic Services President and CEO Jon Vander Ark, Parks and Recreation Board Chair Kelly Dalton, Downtown Phoenix, Inc. President and CEO Devney Majerle, Phoenix Community Alliance, Hance Park Conservatory

Fans of Super Bowl LVII, visitors and Phoenix residents will soon be seeing a greener downtown as the City’s one-of-a-kind garden is revealed to the public, the latest component of the Hance Park Revitalization Project.

In spring of 2022, the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department partnered with Republic Services and Phoenix Community Alliance to announce the building of a sustainable garden at Margaret T. Hance Park. Republic Services’ $2 million sponsorship helped build the one-acre sustainable oasis featuring native desert plants and shaded walking and seating areas.

The Republic Services Garden at Margaret T. Hance Park will feature 33 native desert plants chosen for their ability to thrive in the Phoenix heat and their low water usage requirements. This garden is sure to be a main attraction to residents and anyone attending the Super Bowl Experience Presented by Lowe’s at Hance Park.

Phoenix is the fifth largest city in the country, and consistently ranks as one of the fastest growing large cities. The 32-acre Hance Park is in the middle of important cultural, arts, educational and community institutions, and serves as a unique intersection between several neighborhoods in the heart of downtown Phoenix. The $2 million sponsorship is one of the largest contributions ever made to the first phase of the $45 million Hance Park revitalization efforts.

Read more about the Hance Park Revitalization Project.

Media is invited to the reveal event and interviews will be available.

Please email Jennifer Parks-Sturgeon to confirm attendance Jparks-sturgeon@roseallynpr.com or call (480) 495-3806.

First Major Musical Act Announced With Stunt Shows, Scenic Charity Rides, Contests, Camping, and More Concerts On Tap!

Start revving your engines – one of the country’s largest bike rallies, Arizona Bike Week returns to WestWorld of Scottsdale starting Wednesday, March 29th through Sunday, April 2nd, 2023.

Reservations have already started for camping.  Book your RV or tent campsite today and start planning your trip to Arizona Bike Week 2023.

With an expected attendance of 75,000 people, AZ Bike Week is officially one of the country’s top biker rallies.

Just announced legendary rock band STAIND will take to the stage in the RockYard on Saturday, April 1st, 2023. More big acts and national bands will be announced in the coming weeks. Single Concert and All Concert Passes are on sale now for the four-night music festival in the RockYard. The tremendous concert lineup Arizona Bike Week offers each year has played a big role in making the rally an annual excursion for riders from all across the country. But music fans arriving on four wheels are welcomed warmly by the biker community as well.

“We are so excited to bring back Arizona Bike Week 2023.  This is our 26th year and it just gets bigger and bigger every year.  Scottsdale has it all from amazing riding to great bands and the best venue at WestWorld. Whether you are a beginner or experienced biker or not a rider at all, there is something for everyone with exciting rides, events, concerts, contests and great things to see and do every day,” said Lisa Cyr of Arizona Bike Week.

There are also several charity components to Arizona Bike Week.

The Arizona Bike Week Charities Group runs the registrations for charity rides, as well as a number of other duties at the event.  They use the funds they raise working at the event for a variety of community service functions, including sponsoring hundreds of Christmas gifts for families in need.  More information can be found here http://abwcg.org/.

Tickets are just $15 for the entire week of rally admission. Concert tickets are sold separately.

Other elements leading up to and at the event include the T-Bar Trail Ride, Dry Heat Run, Happy Hour Parties, After Hours Parties, Stunt Shows, Campground Contests, Bike Shows, Factory Demo Rides, National Bands performing nightly in the RockYard and all of the best bands from the local music scene performing day and night in the PowerYard.

More RockYard concert announcements and PowerYard events are coming soon.

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

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

Billy Idol Joins Other Big Acts Performing at AZ Bike Week. Plus Daily Stunt Shows, Scenic Charity Rides, Contests, On-Site Camping, and More!  

For forty-five years, Billy Idol has been one of biggest faces and voices of rock’n’roll, so it was with a great honor that Arizona Bike Week 2023 announces Idol will headline one of the RockYard Concert Series nights when Arizona Bike Week returns to WestWorld of Scottsdale Wednesday, March 29th through Sunday, April 2nd, 2023.

The Hard Rock Superstar commands the stage Thursday, March 30th starting at 8:30pm.

As the camera-ready front man for Generation X, between 1977 and 1981 Idol emerged with three albums that made positivity, emotional depth, and high pop synonymous with punk rock. In 1982, he embarked on a remarkable transatlantic/transgenre solo career that integrated clubland throb, wide-screen depth and drama, rockabilly desperation, the bold and simple lines of punk, and rock’n’roll decadence. Today he still makes gliding, thumping, cinematic songs about sin, redemption and the love of rock’n’roll.

AZ Bike Week concert goers can also expect to hear some of his new work from The Roadside and The Cage, his latest two four-song EPs released in 2021 and 2022.

AZ Bike Week recently announced legendary rock band STAIND will also hit the stage at The RockYard on Saturday, April 1st, 2023.

Single Concert and All Concert Passes are on sale now for the four-night music festival in the RockYard. Visit www.AZBikeWeek.com for tickets.

With an expected attendance of 75,000 people, AZ Bike Week is officially in the top 3 for the country’s top biker rallies.  Arizona Bike Week’s tremendous concert lineup has played a big role in making the rally an annual excursion for riders from all across the country. But music fans arriving on four wheels are welcomed warmly by the biker community as well.

“We have some big performers hitting the stage at Arizona Bike Week this year.  In addition to Billy Idol and STAIND, we also have MEGADETH and Texas Hippie Coalition,” said Lisa Cyr of Arizona Bike Week. “2023 is already shaping up to be one of our biggest years yet.  Whether you are coming by motorcycle or car, there is something for everyone with exciting rides, events, concerts, contests and great things to see and do every day”.

MEGADETH takes the stage on Friday, April 1st and Texas Hippie Coalition performs on Wednesday, 29th, 2023. The RockYard gates open each night at 6pm with a support band starting at 6:30. The Headliner all perform at 8:30pm.

You can come early to check out the rest of the rally festivities in the PowerYard where gates open Wednesday and Thursday at noon and 10am Friday through Sunday. Tickets are just $15 for the entire week of PowerYard admission. Concert tickets are sold separately and include complimentary PowerYard admission.

For those who want to camp, there are RV and tent campsites available as well.

Other fan favorites to check out at AZ Bike Week, the T-Bar Trail Ride, Dry Heat Run, Happy Hour Parties, After Hours Parties, Stunt Shows, Campground Contests, Bike Shows, Factory Demo Rides, plus bands from the local music scene performing day and night in the PowerYard.

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

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

The Renowned, Star-Studded Party Will Honor NBA Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo and Feature Special Performance by Singer-Songwriter Gavin DeGraw, and Additional Announcements Coming in the Next Few Weeks

The Giving Back Fund is proud to announce recently retired NFL Star J.J. Watt, the man considered to be one of the greatest defensive linemen of all time and the 2017 Sports Illustrated and Walter Payton Man of the Year will co-host Big Game Big Give. The star-studded charity party returns to the Valley of the Sun the night before the big game on Saturday, February 11th, 2023 at 6:00 p.m.

“I am honored that The Giving Back Fund has chosen the Justin J. Watt Foundation as one of the beneficiaries for this great event,” said J.J. Watt. “While I am very much looking forward to the evening, I’m even more excited about the way we’re going to utilize these funds to help kids in under-funded areas all across the country.”

Watt played 12 seasons in the NFL setting franchise records for sacks and forced fumbles and is undoubtedly a future Hall of Famer. He will be joined by other celebrities, athletes, and philanthropists when he hosts the 12th Annual Big Game Big Give.

A portion of proceeds raised at the event will benefit the Justin J. Watt Foundation, whose mission is to provide after-school opportunities for middle-school aged children in the community to become involved in athletics, so that they may learn the character traits of accountability, teamwork, leadership, work ethic, and perseverance, while in a safe and supervised environment with their peers.

Former Phoenix Suns and LA Lakers player Cedric Ceballos will serve as the event emcee and DJ the party which will be held on 5-acre private estate of Dr. Pablo Prichard in Paradise Valley, Arizona.

As part of the festivities, Grammy nominated Singer-Songwriter Gavin DeGraw known for his chart topping, multi-platinum hits “I Don’t Want to Be“, “Chariot” and “Follow Through” will give a special performance that evening.

“I’m excited to go back to Arizona for the Big Game Big Give event to perform,” said Singer-Songwriter Gavin DeGraw. “The Giving Back Fund and Vincere Foundation support two things close to my heart, cancer research and helping firefighters. This is a good cause. Let’s raise some money!”

The Vincere Foundation will be honored for its life saving work in the prevention, early detection, and treatment of cancer in Firefighters and First Responders. Arizona’s firefighters will also be recognized at the event, and to commemorate those firefighters, a special Fire and Elements theme will be incorporated into the evening.

Executive produced by 10 Fold Entertainment, the evening will also honor the extraordinary philanthropic record of the legendary humanitarian and NBA Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo. He will receive The Giving Back Fund’s Award for Extraordinary Philanthropic Achievement, which from that night forward will be renamed in his honor and will be presented by Ray Lewis. Mutombo is currently undergoing treatment for a brain tumor. Shaquille O’Neal has been invited to accept the award on his behalf.

Among the other special experiences for guests that night – live auction with once-in-a-lifetime experiences, unique silent auction, food stations, cocktail bars, tea experience, salt healing room, crystal art by Gaea Rare, Shiralign sound bowls, underwater art experience by Christy Lee Rogers, flaming metal art sculptures by Sean T French, fashion show honoring AZ firefighters curated by ArtxShanna, and more!

More confirmed celebrity and athlete announcements will be made in the coming weeks.

The Giving Back Fund is celebrating its 25th year. In 2015, The Giving Back Fund raised more than $1.5 million in the Valley of the Sun when Big Game Big Give was held at former MLB All-Star Matt and (Erika) Williams’ private home and hosted by Mark Wahlberg and Michael Bay.

Sponsors include Icon at Silverleaf, Tequila Komos, Modern Luxury Magazines, Casino Arizona, Spinato’s Pizzeria and Family Kitchen, Los Sombreros, One Hope, Four Peaks Brewing Company, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Yanikeke Foods, Girl About Town, Fairytale Brownies, and Sprinkles Cupcakes.

Guest parking for event will be provided and details will be emailed to attendees in advance.

For more information about the event visit www.givingback.org/bgbg2023. To inquire about tickets please contact info@10foldentertainment.com.

Featured Editorials


Ruben Gallego. Photo Credit: Vox

Senator Kyrsten Sinema has been quite the magnet for attention. She has relished her position as a swing Senator, one of the very few of the 100 senators that is a genuine question mark on many votes. She seems to enjoy the spotlight, with her fashion and mannerisms often getting the press’s attention. But one very clear point of attention has been from Arizona Democrats, and how her votes have often not pleased them.

Perhaps seeing the writing on the wall regarding a likely loss in a 2024 Democratic primary, Sinema made the move to an Independent political status. That created a clear power vacuum on the Democratic side, and since power doesn’t like vacuums it was filled quickly. In what was one of the worst held secrets in local politics, Congressman Ruben Gallego announced that he will run for that US Senate seat in 2024.

So what does that mean for the 2024 race? In short…chaos. Maybe.

Since Sinema is now Independent, on its face this move paves the way for a three way race, the sort of scenario that both political observers and political consultants salivate over. A scenario such as this would easily be one of the most interesting political litmus tests in modern history: after all, voter registration is quite balanced in our state, with Republicans at 35%, “Others” at 34% and Democrats at 31%.

Sinema has positioned herself at the ultimate independent for quite some time, able to pull votes from each bucket of voters. While she has alienated many, she likely has a floor of at least 35%, which in a pure three-way race could be enough to win…IF she wants to run. Speculation amongst many on the Democratic side put that in doubt, and many assume that she will instead move to the private side. After all, she could make plenty of money as a lobbyist.

When it comes to Gallego, his positioning is an interesting one. He’s a former Marine with a populist streak and quite a bit of bombast; he’s not shy about using expletives against other legislators. He has a strong populist path, and leaving aside obvious demographic similarities is very similar to the one that Mayor David Ortega rode towards a win in Scottsdale. The difference will be that Ortega didn’t have a D beside his name on the ballot though.

Also, the TBD question is who will make it through the Republican primary. Will the GOP learn their lessons from the last few election seasons and NOT nominate a Trump acolyte? Will they choose someone who has a chance of pulling independent votes, or will the rumors of Kari Lake being interested in the race come to fruition and GOP voters nominate her?

There are very many questions to be answered, but one thing that is likely is that Ruben Gallego has a relatively narrow path towards a general election victory. But if Sinema chooses not to run and the Republicans nominate someone like Lake, it’s certainly not impossible. But one thing is for certain: Gallego would need more than purely Democratic voters considering the registration disadvantage of the Democrats. He will need to tap into the type of populism that Trump did, and at least a few stars will need to align.

By Ronald Sampson

Scott Menzel. Photo credit: azcentral.com

Have you ever felt like someone you knew was living a lie? That you would talk them up but then you realized that you had made a mistake?

I am now starting to feel that way about Scottsdale Unified School District superintendent Scott Menzel.

This blog has covered Menzel quite a bit, and frankly, mostly in a positive way. Indeed, I tended to agree that he had handled some very difficult situations in a deft and utilitarian manner. So this recent Fox News article had my head spinning.

To summarize, a recent interview from his time in his previous role as a superintendent in a Michigan school came to light recently. And while many on the political left talk about how Critical Race Theory is not anything that is seen in public education, his words during this interview seem to come straight from a CRT textbook.

In it he goes through a checklist of progressive racial talking points: he states that white people should feel uncomfortable. He said that the meritocracy of our country is a lie. He touts a book titled “White Fragility”. In one interview, he espouses all of the ideologies that we are told don’t exist in our schools.

While there is a strong possibility that this Michigan school district has far more people of color than Scottsdale (which if we’re to be honest, wouldn’t be too difficult), and that he was simply preaching to the choir, I have to wonder how much he suppressed his real views in order to get his current job. Why he even wanted this job if his views were so far outside of the mainstream here. Was he looking for something cushy, or was he attempting to turn our education system into a progressive wonderland?

After all, going to a city that is truly built on meritocracy more than nearly any in this country when you’re dead set on internalizing their own supposed fragility? I would have to believe that he lied his butt off in his interview process.

This blog has defended him against charges from the hard right wing in the past; I have defended him from the same. But now I can’t help but feel that the wool was pulled over our eyes. And Mr. Menzel has a whole lot of questions to answer.

Photo Credit: azcentral.com

Water is the most critical issue in our area, as nearly everyone knows (you can get up to speed on our perspectives about it here). To that end, we had some good news recently, but it also comes with concern and potentially even dread at what is to come.

We found out recently that the city of Scottsdale cut its municipal water usage by 38 million gallons last year, which exceeded its goal by more than 6 million gallons. This resulted in a 6% decrease in water usage year over year. As such, Scottsdale has taken a leadership role in drought minimization, and that should be applauded. It is indeed a positive development for the Ortega administration. So why do we have pause?

One controversial aspect of future water savings was derived from Scottsdale’s decision to cut water off from the Rio Verde Foothills, a decision that we have spoken about at length. That decision is estimated to potentially save 53 million gallons of water. While it will certainly help Scottsdale’s progress against a goal, it comes at a cost, both a societal and a political cost, and that doesn’t even mention the inherent lack of compassion.

Additionally, we know that this is just the start. Barring a significant reversal in rainfall patterns (i.e. things that are completely out of our control), the drought is likely to worsen. We are very likely only on the front end of water cuts. While it is great to be a leader in conservation efforts, the pain of what is very likely to come down the pipeline hasn’t yet been seen.

We applaud the fact that our city is leading from up front. We can only hope that this spirit of leadership rubs off and other cities get the message, that they make difficult decisions and bring their water usage in line. After all, it will take much more than just Scottsdale to get us out of our current crisis.

But we also need to recognize that we are very likely to be on the front end of this crisis, that there will be much more difficult decisions to be made. Scottsdale hasn’t felt the full brunt yet, but if we are told that we can’t water our lawns? That golf courses will be on rationed water (and what they will do to tourism)? That we will need to meter our personal usage? We cannot celebrate and rest on our laurels.

Photo Credit: AZCentral.com

This past weekend was the culmination of the post-election festivities in Arizona: the state party reorganization meetings. They serve as a referendum on the performance of the party and provide insight into where the parties might go for the next few years.

We outlined the candidates for party leadership in a recent article that you can read here. So how did things actually turn out and what will it mean?

Perhaps it was our precise and accurate reading of the tea leaves, or perhaps it was simply a highly predictable outcome for those in the know, but the races for Chair were blowouts on each side: Jeff DeWit will be the Chair of the AZ GOP, and Yoli Bejarano will be the Chair of the Arizona Democrats. Both won with over 70% of the vote on the first vote, results that would be considered as having a mandate attached to them if they were elections for elected office.

So what can we glean from this? What will change?

From a philosophical perspective, probably not very much. DeWit was a member of the Trump administration so no one will reasonably consider him a RINO. It is unlikely that he will carry over the sort of combative, napalm-fueled attention-seeking of his predecessor Kelli Ward however, which bodes well. 

The fact that Ward openly spoke to the fact that they were no longer able to obtain insurance and as such had to switch to an LLC format for the organization was meant to be another “us against the libs” salvo, but instead exemplified how incredibly toxic her brand of politics had become. There is little doubt that the executive leadership experience of DeWit bodes very well for the performance and functionality of the party. Indeed, he has proven himself a very adept political operative and elected official over the years in Arizona.

Then again, one other very telling item was that Wendy Rogers joined him on stage during the reorganization meeting, and Kari Lake proudly endorsed him. While he certainly does have supporters in the more moderate wing of the party, he will clearly be friendly to the fringe right. Can he bridge both wings? If anyone can, it’s DeWit.

By Tim Peeler

Anyone who has lived in the Valley long enough has probably seen our beloved NHL team’s namesake prowling around streets, parks, or even in their own neighborhoods. Coyotes are one of the most adaptable mammals on the planet, evidenced by their large-scale residency in many major North American metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles, Chicago, and many others. It should come as no surprise that Phoenix also finds itself on the list of major metro areas with a sizable coyote population. With its plentiful undeveloped, wide-open spaces, and plethora of city parks even in the most urban areas, Phoenix is a coyote’s paradise.

I moved down to Phoenix a few years ago, and as a wildlife enthusiast, I was pleasantly surprised by how frequently I saw the versatile canids. But I understand that not all residents share my same enthusiasm for the animal.

Not too long ago, a coyote jumped a fence and snatched a dog from a backyard just a few blocks from my home. The dog’s owners were able to scare the coyote off, but not before the beloved pup sustained injuries that proved to be fatal. In this case and other ones like it, people’s first reactions often included complaining to wildlife officials that the coyotes need to go. Whether it be by relocation or extermination, they just know that they want the critters gone.

 As a dog owner, I’m sympathetic to their situation, but I think we as a society need to change the way we think about our relationship to nature, and specifically wild animals. Humans as a whole have never been as disconnected from the natural world as we are today, and I don’t see that trend changing direction anytime soon. Couple this with urban/suburban sprawl, and the result is a situation where people are often living close to potentially dangerous animals that they don’t understand or respect.

Wild animals are opportunistic and when our roads, homes, and businesses encroach on them and their food sources; why does it surprise us that they then turn to human-sourced food such as garbage or pets? Blaming wildlife for being opportunistic makes about as much sense as blaming water for being wet. There’s an easy solution if you happen to live a quarter of a mile or more away from any occupied resident or building and have a hunting license: you can just shoot ‘em. Coyotes in Arizona can be hunted year-round with no limit. But if you’re like most of us and have neighbors, then you’ll have to seek out other solutions.

As I mentioned earlier, many coyote objectionists think that having wildlife officials relocate or exterminate the animals would be a good solution. Let’s compare these proposed solutions to my proposed solution. Relocation and extermination both require taxpayer dollars and aren’t reliable solutions by any means. Taxpayer dollars + an unreliable solution = a waste of money. The issue with relocation is that the problem then just gets passed to another neighborhood, and nothing is stopping the same pack or a new pack from moving back into the original area they were removed from. The issue with extermination is that coyotes’ litter size fluctuates based on population density (as well as food abundance, etc.). As the state kills more coyotes, the coyotes that are left will begin to produce larger litters, resulting in little change to the overall coyote population.

My solution costs taxpayers absolutely nothing, and effectively combats any real issues that coyotes might present. Here it is… if you have small children or small dogs, take your lazy ass outside and supervise them. It really is that simple. As I referenced earlier, it’s this disconnect between people and the natural world that makes them irrationally think that they have the right, or deserve to live in a place with zero wildlife interaction. Unfortunately for them, that’s not the case. Whether you’re an animal lover, or just plain practical, my solution is the clear winner.

Photo Credit: AZCentral.com

Regular readers are well aware of the water crisis that’s been unfolding in the Rio Verde Foothills on the outskirts of Scottsdale; if you have not kept up you can get up-to-date here. Now that the water cut-off deadline has come and gone the situation has gotten ever more tense in the unincorporated municipality, with the desperation of the citizenry being truly palpable.

A recent development has escalated the stakes considerably; the people of the Rio Verde Foothills have recently filed lawsuits against both Maricopa County for nixing the idea of a special water district, as well as the city of Scottsdale for stopping the temporary water arrangement that they had.

It would be easy to purely side with the people here, as the need for water is fundamentally understood. That said, it is worth mentioning that infighting between the residents seemed to be the reason why Maricopa County declined (unanimously) to not adopt a new water district, and the residents had a full year of warning from the city in order to find a new solution.

But the government is in the pole position when it comes to facilitating arrangements, and their role (or lack thereof) should be scrutinized.

When it comes to the county, this feels like it is more understandable. Establishing a new water district does appear to come with added complexity. It is not simply making a phone call or two, it is truly an undertaking. Considering the relatively small size of the community and their intense discord, it is understandable that they did not want to do so.

The reaction of the city is a bit more perplexing though. It would not have cost the city of Scottsdale any more to simply facilitate and extend a previously-established relationship; in actuality, considering that they were willing to pay above-market rates, it would have been a financial benefit. The decision seems to be one based on the concept of moral hazard, popularized during the Great Recession; essentially, if we bail out one bank we need to bail them all out, which would be morally unacceptable.

Mayor David Ortega has seemed to stake out the position of the Federal Reserve as Lehman Brothers was failing, and that they must be left to fail. That didn’t work out so well. And what is the outcome? The city will need to defend a lawsuit; views will be aired, money will be spent, and no one will be any better as a result except the attorneys, and perhaps (but unlikely) the citizens. Meanwhile, “compassion” has apparently become a dirty word in Scottsdale.

It feels like Mayor Ortega could have truly been a leader and built a compromise with benchmarks and timelines. It would have been a financial benefit for the city with the additional benefit of looking compassionate, decent, and truly the adult in the room. Instead, he chose to look like he was willing to rub their noses in the excrement, which is unfortunate. Great leaders rise to difficult moments, and that is not what is happening at the moment.

Photo Credit: Arianna Grainey

Any political observer is well accustomed to State of the Union addresses from presidents, and many observers are also aware of State of the State addresses from governors. But we also recently had a State of the City address from Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega, and since it is the first such address since the most recent city council elections, this one is of note. So how notable was it?

You can find the entire transcript here, and like most such addresses, it is full of self-accolades and accomplishment-touting. From the business climate to our bond rating, to the Super Bowl to the (admittedly surprising) degree of dog-friendliness in the city, it has all the hallmarks of appreciation of accomplishments.

From there Mayor Ortega went into the Civic Center upgrades which are about completed and should help turn the area into a significant cultural draw. He then makes a point of mentioning the state land trust near the 101 as a potential hub for business, one which could very possibly be a very significant development for the city if done correctly.

He did speak about water at length; specifically the city’s efforts to curb water usage, while admitting that they fell short of their goals. Very notable however is that he didn’t bring up the Rio Verde Foothills crisis. That’s likely because it has become a political pain in the you-know-what with the city’s intransigence raising the surprise & ire of many.

He spoke to the Old Town Character Plan, and as a small dig at his predecessors mentioned that it was hastily changed in 2018. In what would be considered very much “on brand”, he reiterated that even five story buildings are problematic, and shaded walkways should be mandatory. While shade is certainly important in the desert, a five story line-in-the-sand seems somewhat draconian. Short term rentals were mentioned, as was the unanimous desire to keep them in check. In a slightly contentious council dais, that does seem to be a commonality that everyone can rally around.

He finished his address (after offering a video with statements from other members of council) with the real forward-looking directives. One sentence condenses a lot, “Reckless short-term rentals and unlimited dense apartments are so wrong for Scottsdale.” He also comes back to water with a wink-nudge reference to Rio Verde by saying “we don’t take kindly to anyone trying to muscle into our water works”. Mayor Ortega shows his cards when he says “As to county areas outside of the Scottsdale city limits – they have water—bulk sales are available in their vicinity”.

Lastly, he speaks to another future potential battleground: our parks. He mentioned the Protect and Preserve Task Force, the group that “will identify and quantify unfunded needs for protecting, preserving, and maintaining all public open spaces—including 44 city parks, the Indian Bend Wash, and certainly, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. We must ensure that all community investments are sustainable.”

So in summary, this State of the City was much like many other “State” addresses: braggadocious. But it also highlighted his intentions for the near future: that low-height development and battling STRs will be front and center, that the Rio Verde Foothills will have to figure out water policy on their own, and that supporting parks will be front and center. Something for everyone to agree with and disagree with. In other words, on brand for Mayor David Ortega, who is setting a big, clear stage for his re-election effort in 2024.

The political election cycle is a standard and predictable one: first there are primaries, then there are generals. Then there is either celebration or disappointment, followed by co-opting of credit or the pointing of fingers. And then…re-organization. Where the parties signal their level of satisfaction or anger with the direction of their party and choose their leadership accordingly.

As is tradition, the county parties here in the Kingdom of Maricopa go first, followed by the state parties. Both county parties are traditionally more to the respective flanks of each state party, which can lead to some interesting results. And both county parties had their reorganizations recently. So what did we learn?

Starting with the GOP, partially because it is BY FAR the spicier of the two, the county GOP is neck deep in election conspiracies. They had arguments about whether to have their internal votes counted by machine or by hand (a mirroring of the argument that they attempted to wage at a statewide level), which is rather ironic seeing as how their credentials hand count didn’t match the machine count of votes…and it appears that the machine count was correct.

They also had proposals to support recalls of Republican Board of Supervisors members as well as County Recorder Stephen Richer. It is not rare to have party faithful unhappy with elected officials on their own side (AZ Democrats’ unhappiness with Kyrsten Sinema is one good example), but to consider recalling them because of the belief that they are all in on a conspiracy to elect candidates from the other party is an impressive divorce from reality.

When it came to the candidates, there were two slates: one supported by Kelli Ward and Andy Biggs and one supported by Kari Lake and Mark Finchem. In essence, choices were between different flavors of hard right wing. Lake and Finchem’s choices for Chair and 1st Vice Chair, Craig Berland and Shelby Busch respectively, ended up claiming victory.

Switching to the Democratic side, there were not anywhere near the amount of fireworks involved.The Chair and 1st Vice Chair, Nancy Schriber and Patti O’Neal were re-elected; with big wins at the state level no one was pulling out their metaphorical pitchforks. With the very sizable underperformance of the county’s marquee candidate Julie Gunnigle in the race for County Attorney however, one person seemed to feel a bit of pressure.

We have noted before that the county party Executive Director Ne’Lexia Galloway is in a romantic relationship with Gunnigle’s former Campaign Manager/Battle Rapper/Disgraced Former Legislator/Tweeting Tire Fire Bruce Franks Jr. (get up to date on this saga here and here). It certainly seems like that historic underperformance weighed heavy on Galloway, who is said to have both recruited candidates and whipped HARD for votes amongst PCs. Her efforts seem to have contributed to a new 2nd Vice Chair and Secretary, under the likely premise that the more friends on the board, the better the job security. Will having two additional lower-level board members be enough to account for those conflicts of interest and underperformance however?

So going into an election year where all county seats will be up for grabs, what do these elections tell us about the future? While the county voted in a rather moderate fashion one the whole in ‘22, the County Republican Party would be considered hard right wing relatively speaking, and fears would be that it would continue on with the Trump/Lake failures in the state going forward. Meanwhile, while the County Democratic Party hasn’t taken as much of a hard left turn, it does seem steeped in some internal politics and turf wars that may make rational decision-making ever more difficult.

So yet again, it seems as though politics is picking between the lesser of two evils.

By Councilwoman Solange Whitehead

Now that the 2020 elections are out of the way, the political world directs its focus to party reorganization battles: where fingers are pointed, successes are co-opted, and political party leadership is set for the next two years. We recently covered the Arizona Democratic race for Chair, where a much cleaner and simpler race between two people in the wake of real victories is currently underway.

But what happens when things don’t go your way? When the top four races in the state went to the opponents? When there is clearly a need for a new direction? We’re about to find out on the Republican side, as the candidates to replace Kelli Ward as the AZ GOP Chair seem to be set..

The race got a little extra clarity when conservative darling Pam Kirby stepped aside from running for Chair and decided to instead run for Treasurer. Perhaps she saw writing on the wall, perhaps she was pressured, but if anyone knows why this took place please respond in the comments section!

Easily the biggest story in this race is the Prodigal Son, Jeff DeWit, returning from DC. The only person in this list to have electoral success, our readers hopefully remember his stint as State Treasurer, and after one term he was tapped to be the head of NASA by the Trump campaign. He then followed that up as the COO for Trump’s national campaign. While his leadership role with Jim Lamon’s Senate campaign was unsuccessful, it should not disadvantage the talented DeWit. His run seems to represent a desire to move away from the pure bombast of Ward towards operationally efficiency, fundraising capability and less drama.

Speaking of drama, Steve Daniels is also running for Chair. As the chair of the “Patriot Party of Arizona”, he is best known for being arrested on suspicion of criminal trespassing into a Chandler Unified school district meeting as a form of protest. It appears that we also led the charge to get rid of machine counting of ballots in the recent County Republican reorganization meeting.

Not to be outdone insofar as being an agent of chaos is concerned, enter candidate Dan Farley. He is the self-proclaimed head of the Tea Party in the area (like you, I was unaware that that was still a thing) and seems to have made waves by shoving a fellow Committeeman in a meeting; you can find the video here.

Now that we’ve got those two out of the way, rounding out the bunch are two more serious candidates. Sheila Muehling is also running for Chair; she is well known in Scottsdale circles and is currently the Treasurer for the state party. As the only person from the current AZ GOP executive circle running for Chair, a strong understanding of how things currently operate and what should be improved is an advantage.

Lastly, former state legislative candidate Vera Gebran is running. She placed 3rd in the primary for the LD4 House; the district covers Paradise Valley and parts of both north Phoenix and north Scottsdale. She finished behind Matt Gress and Maria Syms, with Gress and Democrat Laura Terech ultimately being elected. Her campaign platform seems to focus less on conspiracy and more on the nuts and bolts of an effective party.

Now…who will win? We have to give the strong advantage to DeWit. Between being a former elected official, a generally rational actor AND one with strong ties to Trump, it seems as though he will have enough juice to pull together the various wings of the party. But the big question is, after his probable election will he have the ability to reject the conspiracies touted by his former boss and parroted by many in the caucus and focus on building a party that the more moderate right will consider as a viable option.

The Scottsdale City Council held its inauguration and swearing-in event last week, with two members (Kathy Littlefield and Solange Whitehead) being re-elected to a second term and one (Barry Graham) being new to the council dais. Each of the members was given an opportunity to speak, and as such gave an opportunity to peer in and speculate as to how things might go.

Kathy Littlefield gave her remarks first, and they were extremely short. She gave thanks to her husband Bob for putting in the work; based on her statements, it seems as though Bob essentially was her entire campaign except for volunteers. 

Solange Whitehead was next, and along with congratulations to the other two victors, she expressed gratitude. She talked about arriving four years ago with an “energetic to-do list”. She emphasized the We, with governance being a team sport: ideas are vetted through staff, voted on, and worked on with the citizenry. She expressed positivity about accomplishments, and came off as truly collaborative.

Lastly for the newly elected was Barry Graham, who was there with his entire family and held up one of his toddlers while taking the oath. He gave thanks to “unseen and unsung help”: campaign, volunteers, donors, supporters and voters. He gave a very heartfelt thanks to wife about the demanding nature of the process and ended that with a “thanks babe”. He also encouraged people to have more say in the direction of the city.

The rest of the council was allowed to offer their thoughts as well, and there were a few differences in style and approach. For instance, Tom Durham was rather informal, calling the new members by their first names, and Betty Janik stated that she was “happy to have the return of my two buddies”. Standing in contrast was Tammy Caputi, who referred to members in more formal ways and talked about the “markedly different experiences and viewpoints” of the various members. She then stated the number of Scottsdalians, businesses and students as a way of demonstrating the scope of the city and ended with “let’s get to work”.

Lastly was Mayor David Ortega, who said he believes “local government is the most direct and responsible government we have”. He applauded the charter officers, and agreed with Barry Graham on the necessity of communication. Finally, he talked about the importance of working with federal elected officials who have the power to approve bigger projects, and spoke to the need to be a bridge to state government.

While there were no major bombshells or any viral moments, it did offer a peek into the personalities and styles of these officials, and may give some insight as to how this upcoming session will play out. It seems as though this was a brief kumbaya moment until the 2024 battle lines and furthered even more.

Photo Credit: Avalara

The fight for reasonable regulation of short-term rentals (STRs) has seemed to ebb and flow. First the state squashed local control, and then after serious backlash they relented some. While cities and towns started to implement regulations, the Arizona League of Cities and Towns seemed to side with the STR industry (you can follow the entire back and forth here).

While reasonable regulations are good, they only matter if they are enforced, so what’s been happening in Scottsdale recently is a bit concerning. 

As we see in this recent story, less than 20% of STR listings in Scottsdale have gotten a license, one of the requirements in Scottsdale’s recent push to tamp down on the industry. While some of it may be a factor of out-of-state homeowners being late to respond, it does have the feeling of an expectation of little enforcement.

After all, the penalty is at least $1,000 per month for non-compliance with this rule. Meanwhile, there are STRs that list for over $1,000 per DAY as their rental price. While it would be in their best interest to be compliant, it clearly will be relatively low priority in the absence of strong sanctions for non-compliance, especially as preparations for the Super Bowl begin.

In all fairness, the STR operators are at least giving lip service to these new requirements and are sending letters to the property owners reminding them of that necessity. That said, it’s unrealistic to expect them to consistently hound them to do so, and direct financial consequences against them for non-compliance of the property owners seems as though they would be litigated into oblivion.

The next few months will be crucial with regards to how the city reacts. If there is little more than bills stacking up with no more teeth to it, perhaps the lesson will never be learned. That said, if those unpaid bills turn into something similar to unpaid property taxes where a lien could be put on the property, that would be something truly consequential.

We can’t be sure how the city will respond, but we hope that they are not passive about it. If an example or two needs to be made, the time to do so will be over the next few months.

Photo Credit: AZCentral.com

For the first time in 16 years, a Democrat is the Governor of Arizona. The transition into such an office is complicated, with many appointments to make and many departments to fill. This is not something that one person can reasonably do, so the transition team of any new Governor plays a very significant role in preparing them to step into the job as well as making recommendations for the various departments.

You can glean a lot from a new leader’s transition team. So what can we learn from Governor Hobbs’s team?

One, off the bat we can see that the bench of Democrats who have had experience in the 9th floor is very light; Mike Haener, who served on Janet Napolitano’s staff, was one of the two people tasked with putting the transition team together (along with CEO of the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Monica Villalobos). Having to head back 16 years for that sort of experiential wisdom can be a challenge.

The next thing that pops out about the transition team members (the full list of whom can be found here) is that it is unusually balanced between left and right. While there are a few Democratic legislators, several other Democratic elected officials, and heads of left-leaning organizations like Chicanos por la Causa there, there are also a number of Republicans such as John Giles, Bob Worsley and Andy Kunasek.

It should be noted that the Republicans included are very much of the moderate variety, as expected. While the intent was clearly a big tent, it was not designed to be big enough to include election denial, Trump fealty, or extreme nativism.

Also, while there is significant representation from labor unions within this group, there is also representation from those with serious wealth who are not typically considered supporters of Democrats; John Graham and Sharon Harper stick out amongst those. This may lead one to believe that economically speaking, Hobbs will lead from the center-left and likely will not be in a hurry to bow to the hard left in her party on this issue.

But the biggest takeaway? That this is truly a balanced transition team that has a number of different voices without a strong, singular ideological tilt. This is a pragmatic transition team, which gives us significant hope to those of us from the center-left to the center-right that governance will be prudent and reasonable. The wings of each party will not be happy, but I’m not sure that that’s a bad thing.

By Councilwoman Julie Pace

The beginning of the New Year is the time for both reflection and goal-setting. In Paradise Valley, we are so fortunate to live in a unique community that preserves our special quality of life, committed to public safety, operates in a fiscally responsible manner and has gorgeous iconic mountains to protect and enjoy.

There are challenges ahead because of the pressure of development and commercial businesses encroaching in neighborhoods, but together we continue fostering the benefits of achieving improvements in responsiveness to residents, transparency and accountability in Town governance. Stormwater management, preserving open space and mountain views, safeguarding our low density, one-house-per-acre residential character continue to be high priorities.

I am optimistic about the new year. I am very sorry to not be in person for the January 12 celebration and installation of new Councilmember Christine Labelle, whom PV overwhelming elected last year. Our Council welcomes Christine.

We wanted to take a moment to give our thanks to you, our readers, and let you know just how productive of a year it was for our growth.

Last year nearly 82,000 people visited arizonaprogressgazette.com with views topping 269,000. Over 1,526 hours were cumulatively spent reading our content and unlike some sites that puff up their numbers with cheap foreign clicks and views, 97.8% of our users were in the United States with over 70% in Arizona

Not bad at all for a humble little blog born in Scottsdale and expanded to cities and places beyond, thanks to you!

And we begin 2023, we have a few small requests and suggestions:

1) Are you subscribed to get real-time updates when we have new content? If not, please head to arizonaprogressgazette.com and click on the Subscribe button
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5) Keep commenting. We believe in free speech with debate in the comments section often times being the best part of reading us.

And lastly…
6) Have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2023!

My ohhh my, what a change only a handful of years can make. It wasn’t too long ago that a Jim Lane-led Scottsdale embraced development and growth. It would seem that the pendulum has swung and swung hard in the other direction.

In a 6-1 vote, the Scottsdale city council recently voted to adopt a series of international green building codes related to energy conservation and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. These codes include better insulation for buildings as well as connectivity for electric vehicles. Councilwoman Tammy Caputi was the one dissenting vote, citing the increased costs and red tape of mandates.

And just like that, Scottsdale becomes the location of a new battle between best practices and government mandates. While probably all of us could agree that better insulation which leads to lower energy usage is a positive thing, and connectivity for electric vehicles isn’t necessarily a bad thing, should these things be mandated? This is what we would expect out of the Tempe city council, with an electorate that is unequivocally in favor of those items and is more comfortable with government mandates.

However, with this we also get some clues as to what will define the 2024 election, and more precisely the election for Scottsdale Mayor.

Tammy Caputi, widely known to be interested in running for Mayor, managed to be the sole vote against yet did so in a way that was exceptionally reasonable. Mayor David Ortega objected directly to her comments (a frequently common event over the last two years) with a telling statement of “It is our job to look at public benefit”. The battle lines are being drawn even more strongly between a pro-business Caputi vs a pro-government Ortega. Additionally, outgoing Councilwoman Linda Milhaven is also expected to run; she has stridently been pro-business in the past, which may lead to some interesting jockeying for position with Caputi.

That said, the pro-mandate crowd seemed to have some powerful supporters, including the Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors. We would generally assume that such an interest group would be less in favor of such mandates, perhaps indicating more of a momentum swing than would be assumed at first glance, and also perhaps implying that Caputi is on a smaller island that we would have assumed a few years ago.

I have been surprised by the NIMBYist anti-growth shift in the winds in Scottsdale recently. Perhaps that is more indicative of a larger pro-government shift. If so, moves like this represent a fundamental change in Scottsdale; if not, we tend to believe that the voters will let us know in 2024.

By Councilwoman Betty Janik

The new year brings with it a sense of renewal and a belief that we will continue to improve as individuals and as members of a community. The City of Scottsdale is no exception. Building on regulations passed in 2022, we will strive to implement these new rules in 2023.

Near the end of last year, we saw the passage of two significant pieces of legislation: mandatory licensing of ShortTerm Rentals and adoption of mandatory “Green Building Codes.”

-With the support of the State, Scottsdale now requires licensing of all Short Term Rentals. This will provide valuable emergency contact information for quick responses to nuisance parties, emergencies, and provide additional needed funding for police, especially the STR response team. Deadline for licensing is Jan 8, 2023 and we encourage operators to comply or face stiff fines. The response has been muted, but we will continue to press forward thru 2023.

-COS adopted the 2021 edition of the International Energy Conservation Code (IeCC) and the International Green Construction Code (IgCC) effective 2023. These codes will reduce water use and energy consumption in new builds. They provide the pathway to a sustainable Scottsdale. Scottsdale is the first municipality in the State to adopt these codes as mandatory. It is anticipated that other cities will soon follow our lead.
Membership in the Protect and Preserve Task Force has been established (Dec 6, 2022). The nine-member team, under the expert direction of our City Treasurer Sonia Andrews, “shall develop a recommendation to Council on a financial strategy to Protect and Preserve Scottsdale open space and quality of life through identifying and quantifying the unfunded needs for the protection, preservation, and perpetual maintenance of the City’s open spaces, public safety, and other needs.”

Old Town Scottsdale Character Plan (OTSCAP) has been gathering input from citizens and businesses for months. You are invited to attend one of six 6 in-person open house events on Jan 10 and 12 and add your voice to the discussion. Direction is to initiate a non- major General Plan Amendment to update the OTSCAP and a text amendment to the zoning ordinance for Downtown. This promises to be a robust debate.

Water will be a major topic of discussion in 2023. Conservation is the key to sustainability and resilience. COS WaterSmart website offers a variety of tips on how to save water. New ideas that reach into the next decade include a desalination project and raising Bartlett Dam. Be confident that our water supply is in good hands with Scottsdale Water at the helm.

Super Season is upon us. Welcome our visitors and enjoy the celebration.
I wish you good health and much happiness in 2023.

Arizona Treasurer Kimberly Yee announced that total assets under management have increased by 100.7% to over $30.87 billion since taking office in January 2019.

“I am proud of the accomplishments we have achieved during the first term of my administration. We have seen record earnings, growth in investments, and increased distributions to schools, state agencies, and local governments, even during an unpredictable global pandemic,” said Arizona Treasurer Kimberly Yee. “I am thankful that the people of Arizona have entrusted me to serve as State Treasurer for four more years.”

Since Treasurer Yee took office in January 2019, voluntary deposits into the Local Government Investment Pool (LGIP) increased by 76.8%. Treasurer Yee visited local leaders in all 15 Arizona counties during her first year in office. LGIP assets hit a record high of $5.98 billion in December 2022. The Permanent Land Endowment Trust Fund has also hit record highs under Treasurer Yee’s leadership. More than $1.54 billion has been distributed to PLETF beneficiaries over the past four years, the largest beneficiary being K-12 education.

In her first year in office, Treasurer Yee advocated for S.B. 1184, a law which now requires all Arizona students to take a semester of financial education before graduating from high school. She also appointed the first-ever statewide Financial Literacy Task Force, which works to ensure all Arizonans can attain proficiency in basic money management. Treasurer Yee met with and spoke to all Arizonans from across the state about financial literacy, such as students, senior citizens, professional associations and more.

Treasurer Yee advocated for the state-sponsored AZ529 Plan to be transferred to the Office of the Arizona State Treasurer, which was accomplished in October 2020. Since then, AZ529 accounts have increased by 23,561 accounts, with assets up 12.6% in that same time frame to $1.83 billion as of November 30, 2022. Treasurer Yee prioritized re-branding the AZ529 to emphasize educational opportunities to include career and technical training, in addition to college.

As Arizona’s chief banking and investment officer, Treasurer Yee is a statewide constitutional officer. Treasurer Yee safeguards approximately $30.87 billion in assets and stewards the cash management of Arizona’s $63.28 billion state budget and related payments to state agencies, local governments, and public schools. Treasurer Yee is also the Administrator of the AZ529 Education Savings Plan.

Please see below for the report of Treasurer Kimberly Yee’s accomplishments for the past four years as Arizona’s State Treasurer. The report is also available here.

 

Photo Credit: azcentral.com

The potential consequences of water security in a high growth area that also happens to be in a desert have been looming over the valley for quite some time, and Ground Zero for that looming crisis has been the Rio Verde Foothills on the outskirts of Scottsdale. We have written about this crisis previously, and while the question was up in the air then, that question has been effectively answered: the Rio Verde Foothills will not get any help from Scottsdale.

We learned recently that Scottsdale city manager Jim Thompson effectively closed the door on any possibility of a short-term water deal. In a significant back and forth with outgoing Councilwoman Linda Milhaven, Thompson effectively says that it is not the obligation of the city to broker such a deal, and that a short term deal would likely turn into a long term deal, which would not be in the best interest of the city.

Milhaven made a strong retort that the city of Phoenix entered into a similar short term deal with the Anthem community, which has worked out for all parties involved. Milhaven bravely called out what seemed to be multiple inconsistencies in Thompson’s reasoning; perhaps being an outgoing councilmember is an emboldening catalyst to be honest and forthright in a way that one wouldn’t otherwise be.

So where does the community stand now in its search for water? They still have one potential avenue for government assistance: the state Supreme Court. The court could potentially compel the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to reconsider their previous vote and to work out a solution; they had previously declined to do so. However, this has the feeling of a hail mary attempt almost definitely relegated to failure. The community will in all likelihood need to have water trucked in from further away at a significant cost.

The very reasonable argument could be made that personal and corporate responsibility should take place. After all, the developers seemed to circumvent rules in order to work around the 100 year water supply rule that is needed to be satisfied in order to build. And something could also be said about personal responsibility for individual home purchasers, that they should have made better decisions about purchasing a new home in an area that was unsustainable by its very nature. That said, in all likelihood the balance of pain will almost certainly be shouldered by the homeowners and not the developers, which is unfortunate.

So except for a last gasp attempt, the matter is likely settled. Perhaps we are seeing a new phase in the water crisis, one of nativism and “municipal nationalism”, where each city or town looks out for themselves first and is more willing to give a cold shoulder to others in the wake of dwindling water supplies. If water supplies from the Colorado River continue to dwindle, we can probably expect similar battles to play out throughout the state.

By Councilwoman Tammy Caputi

Councilwoman Caputi here, wishing everyone a Happy New Year. Here’s a look back at 2022 accomplishments:

Most importantly, we’ve managed our finances exceptionally well in the midst of an historically high level of economic uncertainty. Despite record high inflation, a crisis in the supply chain, and labor shortages, Scottsdale has improved our balance sheet by increasing cash reserves and paying down public safety pension liabilities.

We funded a police pay step system for all sworn personnel, which helps us attract and retain the best employees for this critical department. We also gave raises to all city employees, which ensures that we take care of those who serve our community.

Problems with Short Term Rentals have disrupted our neighborhoods, and as soon as the State Legislature allowed it, we passed new rules to manage them. We have more to do, but it’s a good start.

We updated our council rules of procedure, to make sure everyone on the dais has an equal voice on all decisions. We’re a Golden Rule City, and council should model the behavior we’d like to see in the rest of our community.

We updated our Drought Management Plan and created a Sustainability Plan and a Heat Mitigation Plan, which will have far-reaching impacts on our community’s health, infrastructure, and economic well-being. Every drop of water is precious in the desert and Scottsdale has been preparing for drought conditions for decades.

We unanimously agreed to adopt the latest updated building codes which puts us at the cutting edge of most cities in the country. Scottsdale is a leader in sustainability and adopting the updated codes means we’ll remain out in front.

We are continuing to work on our Capital Improvement Program, so we can build, maintain, and improve our infrastructure to serve our community and remain the gold standard in the Valley.

We approved a few quality projects, like the Artisan, The Miller, and High Street Residential, that bring community benefits such as affordable housing units, investments in neighborhood schools, water conservation, and open space. The few projects we approved are bringing much needed housing and revitalization to currently blighted or empty lots.

We need a diversity of housing to remain a successful world class city that continues to attract residents, businesses, and tourists. If we want to have a meaningful impact on climate and affordable housing, we need to be looking at projects that use resources most efficiently.

Our job on council is to create policies that improve the lives of our residents and business owners, not to overreach into the private sector. We have a free market, capitalist economy, and government should not be micromanaging private businesses and individual choices.

In 2023, let’s make sure our actions match our words. Let’s balance preserving our neighborhoods with maintaining our robust economy. This is what allows us to have the high amenities and open space, strong property values and low property taxes that Scottsdale is famous for.

Successful, sustainable cities do not stagnate.

2022 Scrum


By Alexander Lomax

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

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