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All-ages and teams welcome with more than 20 spaces still available for more teams! 

Local Peoria Man Jim Balian is more excited than ever for this year’s Western WIFFLE Ball Classic tournament which returns to Scottsdale Stadium on Saturday, October 16th.  After winning last year’s tournament with the help of his son Andrew “Moose” and a good friend Mike Cross, the returning champion says he is going to switch up his team for the 2021 event by adding a father and son combo of Jim and Randy Dalbey. 

And now there’s a good chance the champion WiffleZilla will end up going head-to-head with Balian’s 15-year-old for what could be another epic tournament.  

How it works – teams will be comprised of 3 to 5 players. Each team is guaranteed to play 4 games each. Games will last 35 minutes or 4 innings, whichever comes first. Then, 16 teams will advance to a single-elimination tournament. All ages are welcome and encouraged to participate in the tournament. The winner and runner-up will be awarded the Western WIFFLE Ball Classic trophy.

“This is an afternoon with a tremendous amount of fun with a wide variety in the ages of the competitors,” Balian said. “The tournament is co-ed and has players of all ages. There is a lot of variety in the competition, and at the end of the day it is anyone’s game. I just hope if I play against my son Andrew, he doesn’t hit a clutch moonshot homerun off me to win the game like he always does in our backyard games,” Balian laughed.

Making it to that championship round is nothing new for Balian.  The owner of a local software development company, Balian has his own make-shift Wiffle ball field in his Peoria backyard and is also the 2002 and 2003 National WIFFLE Ball Champion, a title is that is only named to one team on the national scale every year.   

This is serious stuff. At the national level Balian says the pitches can go as fast as 80 miles an hour but even at this tournament it’s not uncommon to see the pitches around 60-70 MPH.  

This Wiffle ball champion says it’s been in his blood since he was a kid.  Growing up he played all the time with his friends in the backyard as many other people do.  

“As a kid, we all started out the same way, we played hours and hours of WIFFLE ball,” Balian said. “Then I got older and grew up through the local tournaments where we really learned how big WIFFLE ball was across the state and country. I have been fortunate to play WIFFLE ball in many different unique locations and settings across the United States.” 

As the former National Wiffle Ball Champion, Balian says it doesn’t get much better than playing in Spring Training home of the San Francisco Giants.  “Scottsdale Stadium is one of the best venues around and it’s a great location.  It’s really hard to say no to playing here every October.” 

But what Balian loves the most about the tournament, however, has nothing to do with Wiffle ball. 

“My main focus at this type of tournament is on having fun with my friends and family,” Balian said. “The memories you build by playing in a tournament like this one with friends and family will last a lifetime.” 

His son Andrew is now hoping to create some new memories of his own.  The 15-year-old has already assembled his own team named Caged Heat and they are practicing every chance they get for the October 16th tournament at Scottsdale Stadium.  His teammates are his baseball friends from Sunrise Mountain and Sandra Day O’Connor High School. Connor Mayer, Jake Sanko, Caiden Camuti and Beau Crabtree may be young, but their determined to beat WiffleZilla and the other 41 teams competing. 

There is still space for another 20 teams to enter.  The tournament will begin at 9 am on Saturday, October 16, 2021, at Scottsdale Stadium

To register your team for the 2nd Annual Western WIFFLE Ball Classic please visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/western-wiffle-ball-classic-presented-by-big-league-wiffle-ball-registration-159197252267 

To learn more about Big League Wiffleball please visit: https://www.blwwiffleball.com

For sponsorship opportunities or tournament questions please contact Leslie Owen at Lowen@RoseMoserAllynpr.com or call (480) 423-1414.  

For media inquiries or to schedule an interview with Jim or Andrew Balian please contact Jennifer Parks-Sturgeon at JParks-Sturgeon@RoseMoserAllynPR.com or at (480) 495-3806

**New Cocktails Alert**
Scottsdale’s FRANCINE Restaurant Unveils 5 of Its Coolest New Crafty Cocktails This Summer

The French Inspired Mediterranean Restaurant Incorporates Creativity and Only the Freshest and Highest Quality Products in the New Cocktails 

(SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.) FRANCINE the highly acclaimed French-inspired Mediterranean cuisine restaurant in the luxury wing of Scottsdale Fashion Square is proud to present a new lineup of crafty cocktails just in time for a summer soiree.

The 5 new creative cocktail recipes were each crafted by Francine’s top bartenders and are available during brunch, lunch and dinner.

The new drinks are currently on the cocktail menu this summer and will remain there through the fall and winter months.

Topping the list is The French Connection, an infused rum and St. Germain cocktail with rosa liquor, including hints of citrus and basil. This perfect pallet refresher for a summer day was created by FRANCINE Bartender Gage Myette. The drink pairs delightfully with the Chocolate Pot De Crème offered on Francine’s dessert menu.

Next on the French inspired new cocktail list is Summer Thyme, a Silencio Mezcal base with peach liquor, pink peppercorn syrup, grapefruit, and lemon juice – shaken not stirred. The cocktail is served in a wine glass, topped with prosecco, hand crushed pink peppercorns, peach slices and a thyme knot. Summer Thyme is a crisp and aesthetic cocktail created by FRANCINE Bartender Frank Soldano. Summer Thyme is beautifully accompanied by the Dungeness Crab and Shrimp Salad offered on Francine’s lunch Menu.

FRANCINE Cocktail Aficionado Trevyn StClair is responsible for the beautiful elevation of gin in his new creation. Le Jardin combines citadelle gin, yellow chartreuse, and yuzu liquor. Finishing the cocktail off with lime juice and honey, giving it a sweet and sour essence. After assembling the ingredients in shaker, it is double strained over ice in a small rocks glass and garnished with half a cucumber peel and mint sprig. The sweetness of Le Jardin is complimented when paired with the herbs and spices in the Cote De Boeuf offered on Francine’s lunch and dinner menu.

Mix sweet vermouth, Italian bitters, and spirits of elderflower to create the next enchanting cocktail. San Remo is a premium whisky-based cocktail, combined with lime and orange juice, then strained into a double rocks glass and garnished with an orange wheel and rosemary sprig. This refreshing French cocktail recipe is also provided by Trevyn StClair. The Francine appetizers that serve as the perfectly balanced flavor profile for the San Remo are the Eggplant Mezza and Warm Olives.

Completing the list of FRANCINE’s new cocktails is Archies Nightcap. Starting with Botanist Gin, Averna Amaro, Bruto Americano, and Campari; this concoction offers sweet, bitter, and spicy flavors to please any pallet. The ingredients are stirred, strained over a big cube in a small rocks glass, and finally garnished with an orange paddle. Archies Nightcap is a collaboration recipe provided by Frank Soldano and Executive Chef Brian Archibald of Francine Restaurant. Archies Nightcap is well paired with the sea salted crust Whole Branzino, a dish offered on Francine’s lunch and dinner menu.

“Collaborating with Chef Brian on this was such a fun and creative process,” said Frank Soldano, bartender at FRANCINE. “We tasted so many variations and really enjoyed exploring different combinations. The best part was when we would try something so out of left field, and it would work on multiple levels. With the unique blends, original names and highest quality ingredients they offer I think people are going to love them.”

For more photos, courtesy of Stephanie Kelly, click here.

For more details about FRANCINE and its new cocktails visit their website at francinerestaurant.com.

FRANCINE Restaurant is located in the luxury wing at Scottsdale Fashion Square at 4710 N Goldwater Boulevard Scottsdale, AZ 85251.  For reservations please call (480) 690-6180 or visit francinerestaurant.com.

For media inquiries please contact Jennifer Parks-Sturgeon at Jparks-Sturgeon@RoseMoserAllynPR.com or call (480) 495-3806.

 

About FRANCINE

Every meal is a celebration at FRANCINE. Guests gather for an expertly crafted French Mediterranean menu that honors ingredients and serves it in the sophisticated warmth of the plant-filled 5,000 square-foot space. The grand dining room features floor-to-ceiling windows, unique artwork, a rustic fireplace, and a marble bar.

As a well-known and respected restauranteur, Halasz also brings a wealth of culinary knowledge to the Valley restaurant scene and FRANCINE is Halasz’s most personal project to date.

Halasz, who was raised in the South of France amidst the bounty of simple and soulful cuisine draws inspiration from his birthplace.  FRANCINE is a spirited and loving homage to days spent in the sun and amongst gatherings around beautiful meals hosted by his mother Francine Halasz.

“Everything on my mother’s table was fresh, seasonal, and full of flavor, and that is exactly what FRANCINE will offer our guests,” says Halasz. “We are so excited to finally open our doors and bring our new take on classic French Mediterranean cuisine to Scottsdale this summer.”

 

** Warhol Meets Chanel **

The Summer Progressive Sale Arrives at My Sister’s Closet and
Well Suited August 14th-26th With 20% – 70% Savings

Then Get Cozy at the Fall Unveiling on Saturday, August 28th Starting at 8:00 a.m.

(PHOENIX & SAN DIEGO)- Get in on the huge stylish summer savings at America’s favorite family of designer consignment shops. Join My Sister’s Closet and Well Suited for Warhol Meets Chanel at the Summer Progressive Sale happening August 14th-26th.

For 13 days only, enjoy 20-70% off high-end designer clothing, handbags, shoes, accessories, and more at all locations of My Sister’s Closet and Well Suited in Scottsdale, Phoenix, San Diego, and Encinitas.

The 13-day Summer Progressive sale at My Sister’s Closet and Well Suited offers these exclusive discounts:

20% off everything- August 14th – August 15th
30% off everything- August 16th – August 18th
40% off everything- August 19th – August 20th
50% off everything- August 21st – August 22nd
60% off everything- August 23rd – August 24th
70% off everything- August 25th – August 26th

 

My Sister’s Attic will follow this markdown schedule with selected Red Dot items.

The Summer Progressive sale ends on Thursday, August 26th at close of business. All My Sister’s Closet and Well Suited locations will be closed all day on August 27th in preparation for the fall unveiling.

Then, get ready for the much-anticipated Fall Unveiling happening the following day, on Saturday, August 28th. The doors will open at 8:00 a.m. at My Sister’s Closet and Well Suited locations for the Fall Unveiling where shoppers will get their first opportunity to purchase thousands of designer clothing, handbags, jewelry and more. During the Warhol Meets Chanel themed unveiling enjoy vibrant colors, new looks for fall and luxurious brands.

“The Summer Progressive Sale and Fall Unveiling is always an exciting time for us but this year it is particularly special because we just opened a new store at the Biltmore Fashion Park and we are celebrating our 30th anniversary of being in business.  We hope everyone can stop by and see the new store or enjoy some of our one-of-a-kind finds, at the other stores,” said Ann Siner, CEO and Founder of My Sister’s Closet, My Sister’s Attic, Well Suited, and My Sisters’ Charities Thrift Store. “Whether you are looking for the best prices in town or the piece that no one else has, come check us out!”

For media inquiries please contact Jennifer Parks-Sturgeon at (480) 495.3806 or by email at jparks-sturgeon@rosemoserallynpr.com.

Like My Sister’s Closet, My Sister’s Attic and Well Suited on Facebook and sign-up to get email updates on the hot ticket items on www.mysisterscloset.com.

My Sister’s Closet Locations (Well Suited located next door):

Biltmore Fashion Park (no Well Suited)
2502 E. Camelback Rd. Phoenix, AZ 85016. Ste. 175
Phone: 602-954-6080
Text/Face Time: 602-620-0619
Mon-Sat: 9am-6pm
Sun: 12pm-5pm

Desert Village at Pinnacle Peak
23269 N. Pima Rd. Scottsdale, AZ 85255
Phone: 480-419-6242
Mon-Fri: 9am-6pm
Sat: 9am-6pm
Sun: 9am-6pm

Lincoln Village in Scottsdale
6204 N. Scottsdale Rd. Scottsdale, AZ 85253
Phone: 480-443-4575
Mon-Fri: 9am-6pm
Sat: 9am-6pm
Sun: 9am-6pm

My Sister’s Attic locations
Desert Village at Pinnacle Peak

23435 N. Pima Rd. Scottsdale, AZ 85255
Phone: 480-515-9708
Mon-Fri: 9am-6pm
Sat: 9am-6pm
Sun: 9am-6pm

Lincoln Village in Scottsdale
6208 N. Scottsdale Rd. Scottsdale, AZ 85253
Phone: 480-607-4303
Mon-Fri: 9am-6pm
Sat: 9am-6pm
Sun: 9am-6pm

Raintree Ranch Center
2915 W. Ray Rd.
Chandler, AZ 85224
Phone: 480-722-1823
Text/FaceTime: 480-489-8133
Mon-Fri: 9am-6pm
Sat: 9am-6pm
Sun: 9am-6pm

California Locations

My Sister’s Closet
8610 Genesee Ave., Ste. 200
San Diego, CA 92122
858-455-0045

Mon-Fri: 9am-6pm
Sat: 9am-6pm
Sun: 9am-6pm

My Sister’s Closet
133 N. El Camino Real
Encinitas, CA 92024
Phone: 760-436-3600
Text/FaceTime: 760-670-8302
Mon-Fri: 9am-6pm
Sat: 9am-6pm
Sun: 9am-6pm

My Sister’s Attic
133 N. El Camino Real Encinitas, CA 92024
Phone: 760-230-1250
Mon-Fri: 9am-6pm
Sat: 9am-6pm
Sun: 9am-6pm

About My Sister’s Closet and Eco-Chic Consignment:
Eco-Chic Consignments, Inc. is a family of three high-end designer consignment concepts—My Sister’s Closet (women), My Sister’s Attic (home furnishings), and Well Suited (men). Each store sells consigned items at 60 – 90% below retail value. Founded more than 30 years ago, Eco-Chic Consignments, Inc. has since grown into a $30+ million business with 12 locations in some of the nicest neighborhoods of Arizona and California. The company ranked no. 2,896 on the Inc. 5000 list. To learn more about Eco-Chic Consignments, Inc. and its resale brands, visit mysisterscloset.com.

Interest Surging For the Larsen Art Auction Featuring Alice Cooper’s Warhol

 

Cooper found the hidden gem in his storage unit. Now it is expected to sell for several million dollars and has generated unprecedented interest in the Fall Larsen Art Auction from bidders and consigners throughout the country.

Photo Courtesy: Chris Loomis/© 2021 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

(SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.) – In the wake of the announcement from Scottsdale, Arizona’s Larsen Gallery that they will be auctioning off an Andy Warhol original acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas owned by rock legend Alice Cooper, interest in Larsen’s annual fall auction has surged. Consignments are up significantly due to the combined star power of both the art icon and the rock star, and as a result up to eight additional Warhol works will also be auctioned off at the event.

The 2021 Fall Larsen Art Auction, to be held on October 23rd, 2021, has earned enough buzz that owners of other original Andy Warhol works have contacted the gallery about future auctions.  They were impressed by the Larsen Gallery’s personal attention to the work and the PR efforts focused on the Warhol. Buyers from around the country have expressed interest and will soon be descending on Arizona to participate in the auction live and in person.

The 1964/65 acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas is from Andy Warhol’s Death and Disasters Series, which is considered one of his most important series. It is based on a press photo from the 1950s of the death chambers at Sing Sing prison, where Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed for spying on behalf of Soviet Russia.

Emma Amos (African-American, 1937-2020)
Time Will Tell 1998
Acrylic and fabric collage on canvas
68” x 85”

Alice Cooper famously re-discovered the work several years ago in his storage unit after a conversation with Dennis Hopper. It had been given to him by a former girlfriend during the early 70’s. Much to the surprise of the art world and the rocker himself, the work was worth far more than he ever expected.

“This work was given to me during some crazy years, and I had completely forgotten I even owned it,” said Cooper, who by luck found the painting perfectly preserved. The finding of Cooper’s Warhol has since made national and international news and has resulted in numerous collectors contacting the Larsen Gallery to consign artworks from their collections. 

“Not only are we hearing from potential buyers who are interested in the ‘Little Electric Chair’, but we are also hearing from various collectors throughout the country who see the potential for Alice’s Warhol and now they are considering consigning their Warhol and other valuable art,” said Scott Larsen, owner of Larsen Gallery.

Also confirmed for Larsen’s fall auction is a major collection of artwork from prominent Black artists from the Stanley and Mikki Weithorn collection. The collector has donated a good portion of the collection to museums and has entrusted Larsen with helping sell the rest, due to Larsen’s impeccable reputation and ability to bring together buyers and sellers. All together Larsen will be auctioning more than 400 works of art in the fall auction.

Willie Birch (African-American, b. 1942)
Laughing to Keep from Crying 1980
Mixed media (sculpture)
26.5” x 20.25” x 20.25”
(Note:  a social justice work of art depicting issues in 1980 that are still relevant today)

The Larsen Art Auctions have historically sold greater than 90% of lots offered with registered bidders from most every state and more than 40 different countries. The gallery will be donating a portion of its commission from “Little Electric Chair” to Cooper’s non-profit Solid Rock Foundation, which offers support and community to local teenagers.

For the schedule of events, auction information, or to register to bid for the 2021 Larsen Art Auction please visit the auction’s website at larsenartauction.com or contact the gallery at 480-941-0900.

For media inquiries about the Little Electric Chair, contact Jennifer Parks-Sturgeon at Jparks-sturgeon@rosemoserallynpr.com or by phone at 480-495-3806.

(PHOENIX) –Phoenix-based Merit Partners, Arizona’s number one industrial real estate developer with projects all over the Valley representing a combined investment in excess of $2 billion, is proud to announce Jack Czerwinski as Managing Director.

Jack Czerwinski

Czerwinski brings a wide breadth of knowledge to Merit Partners. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Law and a master’s degree in Real Estate Development, both from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

Czerwinski began his career as an analyst at Cole Real Estate Investments, now known as Vereit. Following that, Czerwinski worked as a real estate representative for Minneapolis-based developer, The Opus Group. He then joined Majestic Realty Co. in December of 2017. Czerwinski was recruited to open and run its Phoenix office, first as a development associate and then as vice president. He was responsible for initiating and growing all development efforts in the Phoenix Metro area.

“I am excited to begin my journey at Merit Partners. The experience I have garnered thus far in my career will help me bring a unique perspective to Merit,” said Czerwinski. “The team at Merit Partners is strong and I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds.”

Additionally, Czerwinski is active in and gives back to the community. He is a member of Executive Council 70 – an organization of local professionals dedicated to helping youth in the Valley. He is also a founding member of the PCH50, an organization of 50 driven community leaders who support the Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

“Merit Partners is proud and excited to bring Jack on board,” said Kevin Czerwinski, President and CEO of Merit Partners. “He is a dedicated, hard worker with fantastic relationships that will help Merit Partners achieve all its future goals. Jack has gained extensive knowledge in this space and will be a great addition to the company.”

 

For media inquiries please contact Jennifer Parks-Sturgeon at 480.495.3806 or jparks-sturgeon@rosemoserallynpr.com.

 

About Merit Partners

Phoenix based Merit Partners is Arizona’s largest industrial real estate developer with projects all over the Valley representing a combined investment in excess of $2 billion.

Featured Editorials


By Representative Lorenzo Sierra

Today’s political landscape is filled with partisan opportunists, if not outright conspiracy theorists, and they have unfortunately gained traction in our daily dialogue. From the likes of Arizona’s own Congressman Paul Gosar to Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Greene, extremists continue to push unfounded claims about the results of our election and promote dangerous rhetoric. More recently, we’ve seen the far-right continue their bizarre and retaliatory attacks against digital platforms for supposedly “censoring” conservative voices. 

The unhinged nature of this conversation around tech issues, and its growing national traction, got so out of control that it caught the attention of President Biden, who revoked a Trump executive order that sought to reduce legal protections for online platforms. 

And there was good reason to do so: this Republican-driven rhetoric has nothing to do with protecting freedom of speech. It’s simply a coordinated attack to chip away at the foundations of our democracy and unfortunately draw attention away from the continued GOP assault on people’s free and secure access to voting. Not coincidentally, these GOP-led attacks will disproportionately put up obstacles to vote for minorities and lower-income families.  These efforts at voter suppression go against everything this country stands for, and the continued attacks on tech companies are part of the overall game plan. 

When Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz makes comments about people “taking up arms” against technology companies, it isn’t by accident. The accessibility and openness that technology has given to people from all walks of life scares the right-wing extremists who are now trying to disenfranchise those who disagree with them. For those who are trying to make it harder for people to vote, reliable access to authoritative information provided by technology is one of the scariest possibilities out there. So, they will go to great lengths to drum up any argument they can use as an excuse to shut down that access and disconnect communities. 

We all know there have been some problems with some of the digital platforms. To say otherwise would be disingenuous. But I hope that as we look to the future, my colleagues will avoid fanning the flames of a partisan-driven movement surrounding technology policy. These are critically important issues that deserve discussion, and a measured approach is needed. For example: while I do not believe we should rush to the defense of Facebook, the immediate and politically charged Republican backlash following the Oversight Board’s ruling against President Trump revealed the true motivation behind their anti-tech agenda.

The last thing Arizona’s leaders should do is support policies that will only play into the partisan-backed goal of demonizing and targeting technology companies because they had the fortitude to stand up to Donald Trump and the Big Lie. Ultimately, that will be bad for our economy and our democracy. And with the recent Supreme Court ruling that upheld our state’s restrictive voting laws, the need for our state’s more level-headed political leadership – from Phoenix to Washington – to focus on the most pressing issues facing our democracy today could not be clearer. Let’s work on common sense policies around technology issues and avoid joining the “witch hunt” led by ideologues and extremists. 

Photo Credit: eaie.org

Coordinations between city governments can be rare and difficult to come by. Politics are fraught with fragile egos and the desire to go for wins instead of true collaboration. For our local communities, we should consider ourselves lucky that we have mature adults at the helm.

Recently Scottsdale and Paradise Valley came together to forge an agreement, dictating that Scottsdale will take on the obligation of shuttling PV crime suspects to MCSO jail in Phoenix. PV has allocated approximately $10,000 a year towards this endeavor, at the cost of $220 per prisoner.

PV has such a low number of criminal suspects (around one per week on average), but with a total transport and booking time of 3-5 hours, PV officers can often be taken away from their patrols and leaving the rest of the department understaffed. This agreement pays Scottsdale and their larger police force to avoid the burden of being away from patrol, thus allowing them to keep PV streets safer.

This is slated for the consent agenda in January, a typically easy approval process, thus implying that the hard work has already been done, and the vote for it is likely simply a formality. Paradise Valley was recently ranked as the safest city or town in Arizona, and this agreement will further cement that.

This is yet another example of how fortunate we are to live where we do. Both Scottsdale and PV are led by adults who are more concerned with functional government than petty squabbles and one-upmanship. All of us benefit with collaborative government sharing resources to keep us safe, and our leaders deserve recognition when they do just that.

By Alexander Lomax

Photo Credit: India Today

It was only a matter of time, but that time has finally come: the primary fights have finally begun in earnest.

Matt Salmon must have read our previous op-ed about the probable fruitlessness of his campaign and has reacted in-kind. A PAC supporting him recently launched a 6-figure ad buy going after Kari Lake for previous support of President Obama. The questions they raise are valid and based in truth; Lake did donate to Obama’s campaign. How conservative can she really be?

There’s one big problem with that line of thinking: remember candidate Donald Trump? Remember how he used to be a Democrat and used to say very positive things about Democratic politicians before he decided he wanted to run for political office? Republican voters had no problem looking past that, so why should we assume that they won’t in this case? Especially when, much like Trump, Lake is hurling all the red meat she can in a very effective manner.

On the GOP side for Secretary of State, some relatively unsurprising but important news happened recently when former President Trump announced his support for Mark Finchem. While few were shocked, this may have the effect of keeping Kelly Townsend out of the race in what seems to be her unrelenting desire to humiliate Michelle Ugenti-Rita at every possible turn. The bad news continues for Ugenti-Rita, who must be wondering if she has any real future in Republican politics.

The spiciness is not relegated to one side of the aisle however; Adrian Fontes simply won’t be upstaged! When his primary opponent for Secretary of State Reginald Bolding presumptuously tweeted out that Trump endorsed his opponent, Fontes told him to pump the brakes, saying “I’m your opponent, you haven’t won anything”. While that’s a fair statement, albeit a little more agro than is necessary, he also sent out the below fundraising email on the same day:

Stones, meet glass house. Fontes has a reputation of battling in public, and many have grown tired of it, and as a result he has made unnecessary enemies. Chalk this up as an unforced error and unnecessary embarrassment.

I may have to start buying popcorn in bulk to make it through this election season.

By Ronald Sampson

Photo Credit: phoenix.gov

Economics is a complex subject, but some aspects of it are incredibly simple. For instance, supply and demand; when supply is low and demand is high, prices will move higher. Alternatively, when you increase supply, prices drop. And with housing prices surging to incredible highs in the Valley, it seems fairly common-sense that one good way to counter this is to increase supply, i.e. build more housing.

However, whenever the conversation goes towards building more multi-family housing, the conversation is often dominated by NIMBYs who will say no to most any project, reasonable or not. Change isn’t always easy, so sometimes the path of least resistance is a simple, across-the-board “No!”. That is absolutely the wrong approach however.

That’s why I found this recent interview with Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin to be an incredibly good read; the story of a leader who confronted previous bans on multi-family housing (implemented primarily with racist intent). A leader who understood that pervasive issues such as homelessness demanded a different approach and a questioning of priors. 

Is Scottsdale City Council listening? Can someone send them that interview?

NIMBYs are forces in city council meetings across the country; well-organized, willing to pick through the details of any project, and amplify the message that growth is an unnecessary evil. What we need is a countering YIMBY force, as loud and well-organized as the NIMBYs, willing to demand an increasing housing supply, lower prices and better availability.

I have seen many Millennials rightly grousing about the unaffordability in the housing market, but it rarely seems to go past that; simply complaining. If they banded together and understood the power of their collective voice, they could make their voices heard in city council meetings across the Valley, and give our leaders a degree of cover against the well-organized NIMBY crowd.

Millennials need to make their voices heard, and it starts with pushing city councils to embrace more multi-family homes in their neighborhoods. We would be well served by no longer erring on the side of the NIMBY crowd, and instead err on the side of providing more availability in the way of pro-growth development policies. And city councils around the country need to start being less afraid of NIMBYs and more afraid of the homelessness issues that their shrill demands contribute to.

 

Photo Credit: Patch.com

Widespread yet misplaced conservative backlash has again reached Scottsdale schools, as public records show that recall paperwork has been filed against 4 out of the 5 current Scottsdale Unified School Board members. The only member to be spared is Zach Lindsay, who was also the only member of the SUSD board to vote against the recent mask mandate for schools, providing extremely strong circumstantial evidence that these actions are a direct result of the vote for masks in schools.

The mebers who now may have a recall election on their hands are President Jann-Michael Greenburg, Vice President Julie Cieniawski, Patty Beckman and Dr. Libby Hart-Wells. Petitioners will have to gather nearly 21,000 signatures for each board member from registered Scottsdale voters, and they have about 3 months to accomplish this. Without strong financial backing, this is closer to a poorly thought out pipe dream than reality.

As of the time of writing this, the delta variant of the COVID-19 Coronavirus is still raging through Arizona, with a 7-day average of nearly 3,000 new cases per day. Since face coverings have been widely acknowledged by scientists and epidemiologists as a reasonable and effective way to reduce transmission of the virus, a temporary mask mandate seems like a common-sense, proactive approach to help us move past this outbreak; indeed, mask mandates in schools currently have strong support in Arizona.

That said, many conservatives made the mistake of downplaying the virus from the start, and in the sake of fairness, many liberals made the mistake of embracing the most restrictive of policies regardless of scientific or economic reality. We have learned quite a bit about the virus in the last year and a half however. When this pandemic has killed nearly 2/3rds of a million Americans, to become so triggered over such an easy way to reduce risk to our entire community is bad politics and risks harming the conservative brand further, leaving aside the obvious health risks.

This has been an unusually active year for conservative school board activism, as board meetings across the country have been interrupted routinely; protesting the mostly non-existent teaching of “critical race theory” had been the cause of protests around the country. This may indicate a new “cause célèbre” of conservative activism throughout the country however.

We believe that school board members should be elected or rejected based on their thoughts and priorities for education policy in our schools. Trying to penalize school board members for following public health guidelines does a disservice for all the children, teachers, and administrators in the district.

Allister Adel. Photo Credit: Arizona Capitol Times

In the latest iteration of difficulties that have beset Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel since she was appointed to her current role in 2019, she announced last week that she would be entering treatment for personal issues, including an eating disorder and alcohol usage.

Details are scarce, but statements from her Twitter account imply in-patient treatment, as she states that she will be in daily contact with her team as they manage the department.

Regular readers will remember that Adel was hospitalized after a fall on election night; it was determined that she had bleeding between her brain and skull. Since then, she has also faced a lawsuit from a former attorney in the department, alleging that she was unfairly scapegoated and let go from the department, as well as a relationship with the Phoenix Police Department that is under investigation from the federal Department of Justice.

We applaud Adel for having the bravery to acknowledge her problems and taking the steps to rectify them. All of Maricopa County is well served by a County Attorney’s office that is led with a sound mind and few distractions, so we wish Adel well in her journey to recovery and self-improvement so she can effectively lead during the remaining 3 ½ years of her term.

All of that said, we all want to believe that the people we elect are the very best that our areas have to offer for that particular role. Elections are not just a contest of ideas, but a statement about the suitability of a person for a role. It is hard to believe that someone who has had so many issues in a short time in office was the right person for that job. Considering the critical nature of her role, how could she be the best person to fulfill her duties when she has such significant personal demons to deal with at the same time?

Perhaps the best move for Allister Adel, as well as all of Maricopa County, would be for her to step aside. Not all people are right for public office, and that’s ok.

Photo Credit: azcentral.com

 

 

 

 

While Scottsdale has always had an engaged electorate, what happened in 2018 supercharged it.  The ramifications are now becoming clearer, importantly and insightfully.

Three years ago about this time the “Desert Discovery Center” proposed for the Gateway in the city’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve was on its way to a landslide defeat at the ballot box.  Years of wrangling in the making, it was a band of brothers and sisters, most of whom had never been active in Scottsdale politics before, that formed a movement to stop the ill-conceived project.

The effort’s alumni association is remarkable.  Count among it Councilman Tom Durham, Councilwoman Betty Janik and Councilwoman Solange Whitehead.  And don’t forget the effort’s pioneers like Jason Alexander and Mike Norton who continue to influence policy and politics in the city.

This group, especially the first three, now have a profound impact on Scottsdale present and future.

While some say Scottsdale has become too difficult a place to do business this group would likely say we are simply trying to raise the bar.  While some may be fearful of getting to the finish line, they tend to say if you come in the spirit of compromise and collaboration we can achieve win-wins.

In other words say both yes, and no.

We are now seeing this play out in a series of multi-family projects headed for the council’s consideration . The extremists on either side of the growth debate say no, or yes, almost immediately to these or any proposals  But that’s not what this group, born of activism, is all about.  And that’s not where the broader Scottsdale electorate is at either.  Instead, the new mantra suggests if your project has a greater good or is supported by most of the area residents then you may see a green light on your journey.  If not, there will be plenty of off-ramps.

Of late, Councilwoman Whitehead has become the most engaged attempting to forge consensus when merit is obvious.  Indeed, she might best be described as this City Council’s Kyrsten Sinema.  That’s critical because it says to both residents and the business community alike that Scottsdale is a place of both commerce and conscience.

Over the next month we will see this dynamic play out. Three of the four apartment projects coming before the City Council have substantial merit (some more than others).  They serve a public good, enhance important retail sales tax nearby and are supported (mostly) by those closest to their sites.

In other words, three of the four are good examples of meeting Scottsdale’s elevated bar and the affect of activism.

Following the 2020 elections the business community had acute concerns about what may lie ahead for Scottsdale’s economy.  That’s rarely a good place for a city or town to be.  Now, some of those concerns are being alleviated . . . thanks to activists.

By Alexander Lomax

Photo Credit: Arianna Grainey

 

 

 

 

 

One of the first real battles of David Ortega’s time as Mayor has now come, and to the surprise of few, it comes in the form of development disagreements.

Ortega campaigned strongly on the message of quality growth, a message that numerous city council candidates also pursued in their successful campaigns. Recently Ortega pushed forward on these promises, looking to review the Old Town Scottsdale Character Area Plan for the first time since 2018. More specifically, Ortega is looking to implement three changes designed to restrict development: updating parking requirements, updating a land-use document, and amending zoning ordinances.

Ortega currently has majority support within the council for such moves; Betty Janik put out an op-ed in strong support, and Ortega can also count on Councilors Tom Durham, Solange Whitehead, and Kathy Littlefield in general support for the plan. Like in the past, Linda Milhaven has been in staunch opposition to nearly everything that Ortega proposes, and Tammy Caputi is in agreement with some but not all items proposed.

This is an important conversation to have; we’re talking about the future of Old Town here. The area has an incredibly unique flavor to it; it is a destination, one that is a primary reason why many people come here, and an incentive to stay for a while and spend more money in our shops. It is special enough that it shouldn’t be disrupted heavily in the pursuit of greater population density and higher profits. But at the same time, one-size-fits-all dictates are not always helpful either. Some projects may add value to the area, even if they rise above a predetermined height limit. 

As with everything else involving municipal politics and plans, the devils are in the details, the boring minutiae that few people other than city staffers, lobbyists and developers care much about. But those details will carry with them the future dynamics of this vibrant area.

While I certainly don’t want to see Old Town turned into a haven for soulless high-rises, I also hope that Council has the flexibility to see exceptional projects for what they are, and to not judge the merits of a project based solely on height, density, and parking. While those are certainly important factors, real value added to the area should be of utmost importance, and can’t always be measured with sets of numbers.

Photo Credit: Puttshack

 

 

 

 

 

“Upscale” and “mini golf” are typically not words that you would find in the same sentence, but if you were to put them together, doing so in Scottsdale would make all the sense in the world. Now we won’t have to wait much longer for this to come to reality.

Puttshack, the world’s first self-described upscale mini golf experience, has announced that it will begin work on a 25,000 square foot, two-story space in the Scottsdale Quarter. The project is scheduled to be completed in Fall 2022. 

The London-based company began its operations in the United States with a complex in Atlanta this April. Similar location announcements have also been made for Chicago, Miami, Boston, Houston and Nashville since then and before the Scottsdale announcement. The company referenced breathtaking landscaping, highly sought retailers, unique dining, and top-of-the-line beauty services at Scottsdale Quarter as reasons for choosing the location, along with a robust population of their target demographic, the under 35 crowd.

The Scottsdale Quarter  location will have two floors and will contain four custom-made courses with technology that will keep score for players, as well as a full cocktail bar and dining menu. Additionally, there will also be multiple private event spaces with both indoor and outdoor patio spaces.

It’s not news to tell you that the delta variant has thrown a significant monkey wrench into our collective plans for 2021. As we move past the delta variant and look forward to 2022, Scottsdale is extremely well-positioned with a wide variety of different entertainment options to enjoy as our world slowly goes back to normal. 

Like is now occurring in many parts of Arizona, Scottsdale is having a discussion about apartments.  How many is too many?  Where should they be?  How can they help address the rising cost of housing for workers and just about everyone?  Should preference be given to projects near shopping centers that account for the sales tax revenue that funds city services?

The marketplace is clearly suggesting a need in the city.  But should city governance try to combat this economic dynamic or celebrate it?

Some of the discussion has gotten a little silly.  Some of it is serious, however. Often times, it’s hard to decipher the good from the bad and the meritorious from the meritless.

All sides should be able to relent when new information arises, no matter what side of the issue one may be on.  Note here we are channeling our inner Betty Janik, a councilwoman who often counsels such.

One of the current apartment proposals currently under scrutiny is the 92 Ironwood project across the street from Honor Health’s North Scottsdale hospital campus.  This is a project separate from the “Kaplan” apartment project that is now before the City Council. 92 Ironwood is also next door to an important North Scottsdale shopping center best known for its Chompie’s restaurant.  The proposed site is dominated by an office building that has been vacant for 12 years and which has had a host of drainage and homeless issues.  Contrary to some observations it is hardly an appealing part of the landscape, and any interested person would be well served visiting the site themself to see.

 

Importantly, Honor Health – Scottsdale’s largest employer — is supporting the project because of the desperate need for nurse and health care housing in the area.  And consider this:  there hasn’t been a multi-family project built within 5 miles of this site in 20 years.  That’s not a typo. So, the need certainly appears to be real.Read More


Photo Credit: YourValley.net

Due to a recent uptick in violent and gun-related crime in Old Town Scottsdale, the Scottsdale Police Department recently released new proposed rules aimed at attempting to reverse this crime increase.

The problem stems from past attempts to tackle crime inside of and around nightclubs after the 2013 stabbing death of an Old Town bouncer. Attempts to reduce issues then involved having a certain number of identifiable security guards per patron at the establishment. While these efforts were successful, an unintended consequence was that fighting patrons would then spill out onto the streets and continue their fight in public.

Scottsdale Police Chief Jeff Walther announced the suggestions, which included better-maintained lines leading up to the establishment, more easily identifiable security guards, and streamlining the process with which security video can be obtained and reviewed. 

Councilmember Tammy Caputi has been a strong and vocal proponent of such changes, referencing her ride-along in Old Town with Scottsdale Police as an eye-opening experience that informed her of tangible issues within the entertainment district. Councilmember Tom Durham joined her, referencing 15 gun-related and violent incidents in Old Town from Feb. 4 to July 12.

While incidence of violent crime in Scottsdale is far below the statewide average, property crime is nearly at the national and statewide median, and the overall crime rate is actually higher on a per square mile basis than the statewide average.

That said, Old Town is a destination for many; often the central aspect of a visit to the area. The importance of their ability to generate more tourism spending, to keep people here and get them pumping more money into the local economy, can’t be overstated. Problems here can have ripple effects that may have negative economic consequences down the road for the city.

As the delta variant still stubbornly lingers inside the United States, our safety is front-of-mind, and while public health dominates the conversation we applaud the SPD and City Council for being mindful of other safety needs. We are thankful that due to proactive measures, we don’t have to worry about a breakdown in public safety that has befallen other cities such as Portland and Seattle. These are growing pains, but are pains incurred by a city that has the political strength to tackle them.

Jasmine Orona-Hardee. Photo Credit: abc15.com

When some people experience traumatic events, they internalize them. Some people seek therapy, and some people drown them out with unhealthy coping mechanisms. For Jasmine Orona-Hardee, she used it as a reason to help others.

In 2015 the PV woman was T-boned at an intersection in Phoenix, causing massive internal injuries and a Traumatic Brain Injury, both of which put her in critical condition. As a result, she was in the hospital or in in-patient rehabilitation services for four months of recovery, followed by a year and a half of out-patient therapy. Such a horrific event could have easily sent her spiraling downwards, but she decided to use it as a catalyst to help improve the lives of others who had suffered from similar incidents.

Orona-Hardee partnered with the Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona to provide free kits for people who have endured Traumatic Brain Injuries. Since the effects of TBIs can vary widely and can lead to confusion, sensitivity to stimuli, and depression, the items in the kits vary similarly. They include information about TBIs, ear plugs and a sleep mask, a gun lock to lessen easy access to guns, and even Naloxone (an opioid-blocker used for counter overdoses) in case their TBI manifests itself into addiction. 

It is estimated that 1.5 million Americans suffer a TBI every year. Car accidents are the leading cause of TBIs in the United States, with falls and violence also being major causes. Around 50,000 Americans die each year from these injuries, with the financial impact estimated at nearly $38 billion annually. But outside of mortal injuries and hospital stays, there are incalculable lifelong impacts to those with TBIs, with memory, cognition issues, and depression often being lifelong effects that aren’t easily measured in dollars and cents.

If you would like to volunteer and get involved with the Arizona Brain Injury Alliance, you can do so here

 

Photo Credit: YourValley.net

In a unanimous 7-0 vote last week, the Scottsdale City Council voted down the application by liquor store owner and operator Samir Yono in his attempt to bring a liquor store to Old Town. This follows the defeated attempt to bring a marijuana dispensary to Old Town, further cementing the preservation of Old Town as a place to play, not but to bring the party home.

Mr. Yono operates several liquor stores around the valley, and in comments by Council it was made clear that the issue wasn’t with him, but with concerns about how a liquor store may alter the identity and lifestyle of the surrounding area. Councilwoman Tammy Caputi was most vocal in her opposition, citing a recent ride-along with Scottsdale Police in the area and referencing the proliferation of alcohol-related disturbances she witnessed.

The Riot Hospitality Group, owners of numerous Old Town bars and clubs, offered up around half of the public comments against the proposal. CEO Ryan Hibbert voiced concerns that slushy alcoholic drinks would be served in a “high end” area, implying that Old Town would turn into a southwestern version of the French Quarter in New Orleans. It is worth noting that their opposition isn’t so much a principled, magnanimous stand; if someone could buy liquor to-go locally, they’ll likely be less inclined to purchase beverages at one of their establishments.

Hibbert also cites the increased crime and myriad issues that typically arise in the close general vicinity of liquor stores. Studies have shown that there is merit to this charge, although what is less well known is how much of that is correlation rather than causation. In other words, there tend to be more liquor stores in higher crime areas, but that is not to say that the liquor stores are the source of the crime, but rather a symptom of existing crime.

This was considered a non-binding, advisory vote. The state liquor board is not obligated to follow this vote, and could overrule it and allow the store to go forward. However, this is relatively rare, and overturning a unanimous vote from an influential area like Scottsdale would be a bold and contentious move that would likely not be worth the hassle it might create. 

By Tammy Caputi

Last week I requested that Case 38-LL-2021 (Old Town Scottsdale Liquor License) be moved off of the Consent Agenda and placed on the Regular Agenda for discussion and a motion. I have no issue with the applicant or the building use, I have a problem with the location for this use.

A retail liquor store in this location is not in the best interest of our community. This is right in the center of our entertainment district. We’re already experiencing an increase in violent crime in this area and easier access to alcohol will not help the problem. I spent some time over the summer in the “U” of the entertainment district with the Scottsdale Police Department, and it’s a pretty wild scene. Adding more alcohol outlets will be detrimental to our public safety issues downtown.

As the Scottsdale Police Department has pointed out, the possibility of purchase and consumption of alcohol immediately prior to or after venue attendance is a concern, as well as consuming alcohol on the street. These factors increase the potential for disturbances and altercations surrounding the establishment. Our Police Department already has its hands full on weekend nights in this location.

We want to make our downtown a safe, desirable, thriving location for residents and tourists, and I don’t think this application accomplishes the goal. I made the following motion:

“I move that the City Council forward to the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control a recommendation to disapprove the applicant’s request to transfer a liquor license to this location because the public convenience and the best interests of the community will not be served by a retail liquor license at this location when considering factors 1, 6, 8, 9, 11 and 12 of the State’s applicable Administrative Regulation R19-1-702 and the evidence presented and contained in the hearing record tonight.”

Council voted unanimously to disapprove the license transfer. It’s now in the hands of the State Liquor Board.

By Larry Kush

Photo Credit: YourValley.net

In an article published by the Wall Street Journal less than two months ago, the WSJ said that the United States is millions of housing units behind current demand. In Arizona, this translates to a pre-pandemic need of 230,000 new units – roughly 50,600 in Scottsdale alone.
When a spokesman for the Arizona Multihousing Association presented this startling news at the last City Council meeting, Mayor Ortega became outraged and railed against the presenter prompting one council person to apologize to that person for the mayor’s rude behavior.

Scottsdale must face the fact that there is insufficient housing in our community and that the result of this shortage is increased rents. Apartments are a solution because not only do they add significantly to our housing stock they are also economically positive for the city and it’s residents.

For example, according to this same study, a 250-unit multifamily development’s construction generates $1,219,800 for the City of Scottsdale, with an estimated additional $415,410 in ongoing annual revenues. This means that if all 50,600 new units were built, the city would stand to gain approximately $247 million in construction revenues, equaling an additional $84 million in ongoing annual revenue by 2030. And remember, redevelopment and economic activity is how we pay for all the things we love about Scottsdale, and how we keep it special (preserve, parks, police and fire, amenities, open spaces…) and how we keep our property taxes low (and property values high) Furthermore, a recent NYU study1 found that “for every 10% increase in the housing stock, rents decrease 1% and a similar study out of San Francisco identified that “rents fall by 2%. Renters’ risk of displacement to a lower-income neighborhood falls by 17%.”

In response to anti housing actions (such as those being taken by or proposed by the city council of Scottsdale) as well as existing zoning regulations that have added to the cost of housing construction over the years and have contributed to Scottdale’s more recent housing affordability issues, the Arizona Senate, in May of this year, passed Senate Bill 1409 which states that before adopting any zoning ordinance or zoning ordinance text amendment of general applicability, the legislative body of a municipality (such as the Scottsdale City Council) shall consider the probable impact of the proposed zoning ordinance or text amendment on the cost to construct housing for sale or rent. SB1409 serves as a reminder that the state is now actively examining barriers to housing development and is prepared to take action against any municipality which continues to place unreasonable roadblocks in front of new housing submissions.

If this State action is not warning enough to discourage anti housing policies, one only needs to look to California where its state legislature just passed by a vote of 45-19, legislation allowing property owners to subdivide their lots allowing two units per parcel thus increasing density to as many as four units on a single-family plot. One housing authority said “this law makes it easier for property owners to develop backyard cottages that they can rent to tenants or family, and allows small condominium and apartment buildings in single-family house neighborhoods where they’ve historically been outlawed.

It’s just not California that is taking these measures, Cities including Charlotte, N.C.; Minneapolis; and Portland, Ore. have moved to allow multifamily buildings on lots previously limited to single-family houses.

Last but certainly not least, in his proposed $2 Trillion infrastructure bill President Biden wants cities to build more apartment buildings and multifamily units, to include such actions as converted garages, in areas traditionally zoned for single-family housing. As part of his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan, cities would allow for smaller lots and for apartment buildings with fewer than six units to be built next to a traditional house. Eliminating exclusionary zoning as a way to build more climate-resilient multifamily housing can help address both the quality of life and the utility costs of low income residents, said Richard Lamondin, CEO of Ecosystems, an energy conservation company that retrofits bathroom fixtures to cut water usage by 40%. His company has projects in over 30 states, many of them affordable housing units. “It’s a no-brainer to continue to push this,” Lamondin said.

Biden’s plan is being debated at a time when the country’s affordable housing stock is far below the level of need. COVID-19 has made that need worse, triggering a buying spree (such as the one we are currently witnessing in Scottsdale) as prospective homeowners seek to take advantage of low mortgage interest rates. At the same time, millions of out of work or underemployed Americans are struggling to keep a roof over their heads, and others have become homeless.

In all, nearly 40 million people are under threat of eviction and median listing prices for homes skyrocket, in Scottsdale alone have risen in July by 25% compared to last year. The key challenge in the housing market is a lack of supply, explained Tendayi Kapfidze, chief economist at Lending Tree.

In Scottsdale, recent submissions for apartment projects in both North and South Scottdale have been met with virulent opposition. Complaints about height; density and increased traffic fuel the anti growth mantra of neighbors trying to “preserve” their way of life while failing to realize that this is not the 1960‘s. We need to make room for our fellow citizens and we need do it ourselves before the state or federal government steps in and does it for us.

Larry Kush is a 45 year Scottsdale resident; former 6 year Scottsdale planning commissioner and lifelong advocate for fair and affordable housing.

By Alexander Lomax

Photo Credit: gilariverarena.com

In what could easily be seen as one of the biggest in a long line of mistakes from the city of Glendale, it was recently announced that the Phoenix Coyotes couldn’t come to an agreement with the city of Glendale, and as such will be playing elsewhere in the Valley after this upcoming year.

While I don’t live in Glendale, I can’t help but feel bad for the citizens and taxpayers of the city, and the foolhardiness of the city, as well as the businesses that inhabit the Westgate District. It brings to mind the travails of malls in the 21st century in the face of a mortal business threat like Amazon. Many malls have had a large anchor business such as a JC Penney’s or Neiman Marcus. When those anchor stores went bankrupt or left for any reason, I’m sure that many mall operators wishingly thought to themselves, it’s ok. We’ll find someone else.

Spoiler alert: they rarely do.

Now the city says that since concerts bring in more revenue, it’s no problem, we’ll just have more concerts there. So now they just need to find dozens more very big name acts annually (on top of their baseline amount of shows at the venue) to replace that extremely steady revenue of 41 regular season matches (plus preseason, plus playoffs) and not make their decision look bad.

Are there a shortage of musical venues in the Valley? Or are there a large number of major musical acts that for whatever reason had bypassed the now-5th largest metro area in the country in the past but now all of a sudden want to come here? Supply has to meet demand, and I see no catalyst for that to happen here, unless it involves major concessions (and either lost revenue or additional costs for the city).

I won’t pretend to have been a fly on the wall during those conversations, and there is plenty I don’t know. But due to the contention in the past between the city and the team, as well as the relative mismanagement of the city by its leadership, it is easy to assume that the problem wasn’t the team. Especially considering the past issues, and that this was a city-commissioned study (i.e. it was more likely to find the outcome they wanted to find), it feels like the decision was mostly already made…frail egos inherent to politics were challenged, and the frail egos lashed back with emotion, not logic.

As always, the taxpayers of Glendale will suffer most, and that’s deeply unfortunate.

Photo Credit: KJZZ

Proposition 208, the significant tax increase narrowly approved by voters in 2020, is now on the ropes due to a recent decision by the Arizona Supreme Court. In a 6-1 vote, the court declared that if the funds raised by the new tax exceed the amount to be spent on education in a given year as per constitutional dictate, the proposition is obligated to be nullified.

The proposition involves a very significant tax increase on high earners in Arizona. Single filers earning over $250,000 a year and married filers earning over $500,000 would have seen their state income taxes rise from 4.5% to 8% per year. It was supported by educational organizations such as Invest In Ed, known for their organization of the Red for Ed rallies of two years ago. It was opposed by most business groups in the state, including the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, as well as Republicans at the legislature.

Ironically enough, the constitutional mandate comes from the voters themselves, as in 1980 Arizona voted to have education funding tied to inflation and student enrollment. In 2000, voters approved a 10% increase in funding via a dedicated sales tax, and two years later voted to exempt that sales tax from the cap to avert the issue that faces 208 right now. Ironically enough, if the tax increase had been via sales tax, it would have fallen under the purview of that proposition, and would not have faced the same legal challenge.

It is worth noting that based on the projections from Invest In Ed, the revenue would exceed that cap, thus bringing this ruling into play. However, those are simply projections, and as such this is a theoretical exercise at the moment. If revenue falls below projections, the proposition should still be considered law.

As our readers probably know Governor Ducey and the Republicans in the legislature passed legislation to bypass Prop 208 and to help ensure that overall tax rates don’t increase for high earners. The bill calls for a combined tax rate capped at 4.5%, seemingly taking into account the possibility of it being stricken down. As with most tax bills in the Arizona legislature, the votes were down party lines, with all Republicans in favor and all Democrats in opposition. The Invest In Ed coalition is currently pursuing legal options to challenge that legislation.

As is often the case with complex tax legislation, there are plenty of additional unknowns and questions, with some legal wrangling left to go. But at this moment, it seems like the small business owners, executives, and high earners of Arizona have won a very significant battle.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

In a significant win for Scottsdale, the Pac-12 collegiate conference announced that it would form a baseball tournament to decide the conference winner, and it will host this new tournament in Scottsdale.

The first tournament will take place in May 2022, featuring the top 8 teams of the conference at Scottsdale Stadium, spring training home of the San Francisco Giants. Scottsdale Stadium has undergone several upgrades and renovations in recent years, positioning it well for such a high profile event. The tournament will run in partnership with Experience Scottsdale, Scottsdale’s tourism partner, and the Pac-12 has agreed to promote Scottsdale as a vacation destination as part of the deal.

With eight full baseball teams traveling to Scottsdale and presumably needing to stay at our local hotels, eat at our restaurants, etc. this represents a strong future economic stimulus directly into the city and its businesses. Scottsdale Stadium is directly in the heart of Old Town, meaning that the myriad small businesses in the area will see a strong direct benefit. Additionally, this announcement helps cement Scottsdale as one of the premier tourist destinations in the country.

Pac-12 baseball has been a college powerhouse for quite some time, with six teams having multiple national championships, with Pac-12 college USC having more championships than any other school. Last year, six Pac-12 teams made the NCAA Tournament, second-most in league history. Arizona State is also a Pac-12 school, and is 2nd in the conference and 4th place in all of college baseball with five championships.

This is a huge win for Scottsdale, and Mayor Dave Ortega deserves kudos for helping get this done, along with the rest of council for realizing the potential value of this deal. Additionally, Experience Scottsdale and its CEO Rachel Sacco deserve credit for helping push Scottsdale as a first-class destination and sealing the deal. Lastly, we want to recognize Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff for acknowledging what we have known for years: Scottsdale is a great place to both live and play. 

By James Derouin

Mayor Ortega wraps himself in virtue when speaking about Scottsdale’s downtown. His motives, interests and alliances, however, need to be understood.

Read more here –> https://www.yourvalley.net/stories/derouin-lets-make-downtown-scottsdale-great-again,254664

Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit. Photo Credit: abc15.com

A frequent knock on the Valley is that its cultural scene is much like its climate: a desert. In another example of how this dated cliche is showing its age once again, Scottsdalians will be privy to a rare treat starting August 26th: a fully immersive exhibit of post-impressionist legend Vincent Van Gogh.

This exhibit will attempt to draw you into the turbulent and dark life of the painter, including photos projected on all walls in 360 degrees, and an animated video guiding the attendee through the points of his life and career that helped forge his abilities and build his legend. The painter was known for his distinctive brushstrokes and bright colors, with paintings such as “Starry Night” typifying this and taking on a life of their own long past the artist’s death.

The exhibit will begin at the Lighthouse Artspace on August 26th, after runs in several cities across the US and Canada. For those of you unfamiliar with the Lighthouse Artspace, it’s not just you; this space at the corner of Scottsdale Rd and Fifth Ave in Old Town was previously used as an office space. This exhibit is this space’s first use in an artistic capacity.

We for one applaud the transition of office space for use in the arts, especially in Old Town. Long known as a place for golf, great dining, and sunshine, it is clear that Scottsdale’s leaders have started to understand the value in diversifying their recreational offerings, as we have spoken about previously.. Between an added artistic presence in the area and kicking that off with a unique experience with one of history’s most lauded artists, this is yet another example of how Scottsdale and Arizona in general are growing into themselves and their legitimacy as well-rounded world-class vacation destinations.

It appears as though Scottsdale is in a special part of its growth cycle: it has long since figured out how to draw people in from around the world, but now it is learning to offer culture and help those who live here year-round to grow. It is giving people more reason to stay in Scottsdale. We applaud that wholeheartedly.

Tickets start at $39.99 and can be found here.

2022 Scrum


GENERIC CONGRESSIONAL BALLOT IS TIED FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 2015.

• The generic congressional ballot is tied at 42% among a sample of N=800 registered voters in a survey conducted September 1st-September 8th with a margin of error of +3.46%.
• The last time the generic congressional ballot was tied was back in October 2015, also at 42%.
• The last time this question was asked was in April 2020 where voters favored the Democratic candidate by 6 points (41% GOP Candidate/47% Dem Candidate).

• The GOP lead has moved a net 13 points with men, while women remain unchanged.

• In 2020, the generic Democrat led among three age groups. Now they only lead among one, 18-34 year olds. Given that the youngest age cohort usually drops off the most in turnout, this is shaping up to be a real challenge for Democrats.

• The difficulty for the Democratic Party can be seen in the movement of the following subgroups:
o The Republican lead among white voters has doubled since April 2020.
o Independents have moved a net nine points, and college grads have moved a net 11 points towards the Republican Party.
o Significant gains have also been made among suburban and rural voters who have each moved in favor of the Republican party by 5 & 6 points, respectively.
o Women 45+ is an important subgroup to pay attention to, they are tied at 43%.

From Public Opinion Strategies

Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

 

 

 

 

BIDEN’S DISAPPROVAL RATING RISES TO 50%; VOTERS CITE BIDEN’S HANDLING OF AFGHANISTAN AS THEIR BIGGEST CONCERN ABOUT HIM.
• President Biden’s job approval slipped to 48% approve, 50% disapprove among a sample of N=800 registered voters in a survey conducted September 1st-September 8th with a margin of error of +3.46%.
• President Biden becomes only the second president with a majority disapproval rating this early in their administration along with President Trump. The Biden and Trump intensity numbers are quite parallel at this point in their presidencies.

Total Approve Total Disapprove Net Difference
Trump – Sept 2017 44% 52% -8%
Biden – Sept 2021 48% 50% -2%

Strongly Approve Strongly Disapprove Net Difference
Trump – Sept 2017 27% 42% -15%
Biden – Sept 2021 23% 42% -19%

• Biden’s current approval numbers are essentially the same as Trump’s were in October 2018, just before Republicans lost 41 congressional seats and seven Gubernatorial seats in the mid-term elections. In October 2018, Trump had a 47% approve, 49% disapprove rating. His intensity was 30% strongly approve and 43% strongly disapprove. Biden’s current overall and intensity numbers essentially match Trump’s numbers in mid-October 2018.

• President Biden has a majority net negative rating among many important swing subgroups, including:

Ranked by % Net Difference Total Approve Total Disapprove Net Difference

Congressional Ballot: Undecided 43% 52% -9%
Independents 43% 51% -8%
Midwest Region 45% 52% -7%
White Women 47% 52% -5%
Suburban Voters 46% 51% -5%

September 2021 Omni Page 2
• Voters express clear concerns about President Biden and his Administration.

Which one of the following, if any, raises the most hesitation and concern about President Biden and his administration? Would it be his…

Ranked by % Hesitation

Registered
Voters
% Hesitation
Handling of the situation in Afghanistan 42%
Handling of the border with Mexico 27%
Support for almost six trillion dollars in new federal spending 23%
Handling of COVID 19%
None of these raise hesitations or concerns 23%

• The difficulty for the president and the Democratic Party can be seen as a majority (52%) of those undecided on the generic congressional ballot express their concerns about the president’s handling of Afghanistan.
• As well, a near majority (47%) of active duty service members express concern about the president’s handling of Afghanistan.
• The concern about Afghanistan crosses traditional political boundaries as even 27% of Democrats and 26% of Biden’s 2020 voters express concern about his handling of Afghanistan.
• The one subgroup more concerned about the president’s handling of the border with Mexico are those over 65 years old (40% border with Mexico/37% Afghanistan). The border issue also scores especially high among those Republicans who self-describe themselves as identifying more with Trump than with the Republican Party (56% concerned about Biden’s handling of the border with Mexico).

By Shawnna Bolick

Good Morning,

Like many of Arizona’s voters, election integrity is on the front of many of our minds. You want voting processes that are secure, inspire confidence, ensure anonymity, and are robust and defensible against fraudulent attacks. With so much on the line in every election, criminals are motivated. Only a couple hundred of fraudulent votes can sway many local elections.

In Arizona, the Secretary of State is the chief election official, responsible for overseeing campaign finance, ballot measures like propositions and candidate petitions, and verifying the official outcomes. As a State Representative for Phoenix’s 20th Legislative District, I have been fighting to restore confidence in our elections and defending your elections. I am running for this Arizona Secretary of State because it’s high time that our elections are secure, our citizens are confident, and our Secretary of State drops the politics.

Late last week, Mayor Kevin Hartke of Chandler authorized a Mobile Voting pilot program to test cell-phone voting in future elections. I am strongly opposed to Chandler authorizing this program for future elections. Though Mayor Hartke’s proposal pushes “innovation” and making voting “more accessible”, I believe our right to vote needs to be taken more seriously. In good faith and conscience, I cannot support this latest move by one of our municipalities. Voting is a serious matter. Utilizing technology to cast a vote means we need to ensure additional security measures are enabled. But without adequate back-up systems, voting relies on the good intentions of the user. Voting by phone may be easy, but how can we ensure only voter is voting with that system. It is quite possible one-time use passwords will be thwarted. Right now, public distrust in the current system is likely at an all-time high. If those who distrust the system stop voting, that puts the results of the election in the hands of those that trust the folks running the system. I want a secure voting system that represents the citizens. At this time, voting by phone is not foolproof. We don’t want to become tomorrow’s fools who have been hacked by DefCon’s attendees.

Another example is Maricopa County Officials rebuffing Arizona Senators subpoena to audit the integrity of our 2020 presidential election. I fully support Senator Borelli’s call for Attorney General Brnovich to investigate the subpoena and bring Maricopa County Officials in line.

I support this move and strongly oppose Chandler’s cell-phone voting program for the same reason.

Both undermine the fundamental tenets of good elections.

We want elections that are:

  • Resilient to Fraud
  • Reliably and Easily Audited
  • Easily Understood by Voters and Trustworthy
  • Front- and Back-End Anonymous

E-voting, ballot harvesting, out-of-precinct voting, and resisting audits all undermine American principles of voting. Many Democrats are willing to manipulate the vote with such ideas to politically redesign a system better suited to keep them in office longer. But beyond this being deplorable, I would remind everyone that our nation’s common enemies can just as well exploit a weakness designed for Democrats—more effectively, too, as we witnessed during 2016 and the rise of the misinformation campaigns stirred up by the Chinese and Russians.

I spent some time in Yuma earlier this week to meet with small business owners and farmers to discuss the importance of water. This coming week I was invited to attend a cyber security briefing for state leaders. I take these elevated attacks and threats to our election system seriously. And our future leaders, especially our next Secretary of State in Arizona, needs to be on the cutting edge of election integrity, able to confidently navigate the present challenges. I am fighting each day to build a system which you can be confident in, and together I know we can achieve that vision for Arizona.

Finally, we have two events this week.  I hope to see you there!

September 8, 2021
5:00-7:00pm
RSVP to ben@theresolute.group

 

September 9, 2021
11:30am-12:30pm
RSVP to ben@theresolute.group

PHOENIX, AZ – In a show of strength today, Kimberly Yee for Governor announces 32 county, city and town endorsements representing local governments, including mayors and law enforcement officials across Arizona.

“Kimberly Yee stands with law enforcement and that’s why I am proud to support a proven conservative fighter like Kimberly for Governor,” Graham County Attorney Scott Bennett said. “Kimberly is the ‘Law and Order’ candidate in this race and has a proven record of working with law enforcement. She will ensure our communities are safe, will fight crime and will support our police as they protect and serve.’

“Kimberly is the leader we need to represent Arizona. She is a fighter who will make sure our communities are safer and stands firmly to protect our 2nd Amendment rights,” Prescott Valley Mayor Kell Palguta said. “I trust her leadership when it comes to making decisions on behalf of Arizona. That’s why I am proud to support Kimberly Yee in the race for Governor.”

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PHOENIX, Arizona – The Kari Lake for Governor Campaign has surpassed the amount of signatures needed to qualify her for the ballot in 2022, based on current projections. With over 8,400 signatures collected online in just over 3 weeks, the campaign expects to have one of the highest signature turn-ins ever by next March. This is also believed to be the fastest in terms of days spent collecting and the earliest on the calendar that a candidate has reached the threshold.

“I am overwhelmed and humbled by the grassroots support that I am getting from all over the state of Arizona including 3,840 people who have signed up to volunteer since June 4th,” Lake said. “Arizonans are clearly looking for a new voices, a new direction – which is why they’re coming out in droves to support my candidacy.”

The campaign has set a goal of collecting the most signatures ever by statewide candidate and encourages registered Republicans and Independents to follow the instructions at KariLake.com/petition to add their name to the rapidly growing list.