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PHOENIX – Attorney General Brnovich announced today that the Attorney General’s Office awarded nearly $400,000 in grants to community organizations that provide mental health treatment and services to first responders. The organizations will assist firefighters, emergency medical services, and law enforcement across the state.

Four different grants were awarded to organizations, including the United Phoenix Firefighters (two separate grants), EMPACT Suicide Prevention, and Marana Health Center. Over 2,000 first responders and first responder families are expected to be served statewide over the next year through direct treatment, mental health services, and training.Read More

PHOENIX — Governor Doug Ducey announced today $300,000 in funding from the AZ Coronavirus Relief Fund has been allocated to organizations across the state that support senior citizens, the homebound and those who are medically fragile. The funding will support organizations that have provided much needed aid to vulnerable populations impacted by COVID-19, by assisting with grocery shopping, meal deliveries, transportation to medical appointments, emergency errands and social interaction during a time of physical distancing.

“Arizona continues to focus on protecting public health, especially for those most at-risk like seniors and those medically vulnerable,” said Governor Ducey. “Volunteer and community organizations across the state are working day and night to provide support for those in their care through additional food deliveries, transportation and other services — and we’re proud to support their efforts. Thank you to everyone who has donated to the AZ Coronavirus Relief Fund so we can protect at-risk Arizonans, and to everyone who has stepped up to help others.”

Recipients of the funding include:

  • Foundation for Senior Living (statewide)

  • Benevilla

  • Aster Aging

“We are so appreciative of this generous donation,” said Tom Egan, President and CEO of Foundation for Senior Living. “Our team has been working diligently to shift many of our programs to meal and food bag deliveries to seniors and adults with chronic health issues or disabilities. So far, we have seen our expenses increase by 25 percent and we’re anticipating the community will continue to need help throughout the summer. This donation will help offset our expenses and allow us to serve those in need.  We are so grateful to Governor Ducey and the AZ Coronavirus Relief Fund!”

“We believe we are strongest when we work together,” says Joanne Thomson, President and CEO of Benevilla. “The support from the AZ Coronavirus Relief Fund Now will help provide much needed services to the most vulnerable population in our community. Working together we are able to help seniors with grocery shopping, emergency errands and more, we are able to provide support and friendship to caregivers who might feel overwhelmed and alone and continue to support families in our community during this time.”

“The support that Aster Aging has received from the AZ Coronavirus Relief Fund is truly making the difference for vulnerable older adults in the East Valley,” said Deborah Schaus, CEO of Aster Aging. “Requests for Meals on Wheels and our other basic need services have continued to grow as we strive to keep seniors safe during the pandemic.”

The AZ Coronavirus Relief Fund was established by Governor Ducey as part of the Arizona Together Initiative to provide financial support to non-profit organizations serving Arizonans most in need statewide. The AZ Coronavirus Relief Fund has collected more than $8.2 million to date. Arizonans can visit ArizonaTogether.org to learn more, donate and find volunteer opportunities.

PHOENIX — Governor Doug Ducey has announced that following a national search, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has selected Arizona for its new U.S. advanced semiconductor factory. The project will create over 1,600 new high-tech jobs and generate thousands of additional jobs in the state for suppliers and other companies within the semiconductor industry. TSMC’s total spending on this project, including capital expenditure, will be approximately $12 billion from 2021 to 2029.

“We’re incredibly proud that one of the world’s leading technology companies has chosen Arizona for this high-tech project, one with national and global significance,” said Governor Ducey. “TSMC could have picked any place in the world to build this advanced manufacturing factory. They chose Arizona for our unbeatable business climate, already thriving tech sector and ready access to an international supply chain. I’d like to thank TSMC Chairman Dr. Mark Liu for his commitment to Arizona. We are honored to be selected for this project and look forward to building a collaborative long-term relationship with TSMC. I’m very grateful to President Donald Trump for his leadership and tireless efforts to bring more manufacturing back to our shores. I’d also like to thank Secretary Ross, his team at the U.S. Department of Commerce including SelectUSA, and the Trump administration for their partnership.”

Arizona has long been a hub for the advanced manufacturing and semiconductor industries. The state’s skilled workforce, strong supply chain, strategic geographic location, commitment to pro-innovation policies and unmatched quality of life have continued to drive rapid industry growth and economic momentum. This new U.S. facility will enable TSMC to provide enhanced service to customers and partners and increase its ability to attract global talent.

The facility will utilize TSMC’s 5-nanometer technology for semiconductor wafer fabrication and have the capacity to produce 20,000 wafers per month. Construction is planned to begin in 2021 with production targeted to start in 2024. The Arizona facility will be the company’s second manufacturing operation in the United States.

Several sites in the City of Phoenix are still being evaluated for the location of the factory. The Arizona Commerce Authority will continue working with TSMC, the U.S. administration, the City of Phoenix and the Greater Phoenix Economic Council to finalize all aspects of the project.

PHOENIX — With Arizona food banks experiencing a spike in demand, Governor Doug Ducey today announced a $500,000 grant from the AZ Coronavirus Relief Fund for Arizona food banks to help fight hunger. Member organizations that are part of the Association of Arizona Food Banks/Arizona Food Bank, which is receiving the grant, supply a network of nearly 1,000 food pantries and organizations in all 15 counties in Arizona, some of which have experienced a demand up to five times greater than usual due to COVID-19.

“We want to make sure nobody goes hungry as we respond to COVID-19 and get people back to work,” said Governor Ducey. “With these dollars, Arizona food pantries across the state will be able to make more food deliveries and help more families, while implementing new protocols that prioritize public health such as drive-thru pick-ups. This grant is made possible because of the generous donations to the AZ Coronavirus Relief Fund, and my thanks goes out to everyone coming together and pitching in to help Arizonans in need.”

The Association of Arizona Food Banks/Arizona Food Bank Network is comprised of five regional food banks, including:

  • St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance

  • Desert Mission Food Bank

  • United Food Bank

  • Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona

  • Yuma Community Food Bank

The food banks will use the funding to address the spike in demand, including: meeting the needs of individuals with disabilities; acquiring more packaging materials to deliver food; securing additional storage space; implementing further adaptations to promote physical distancing among clients; coordinating convenient drive-through food pick-ups; and more.

“These unprecedented circumstances have created an increased demand for our services to support Arizonans who are struggling to provide the most basic needs for their families,” said Angie Rodgers, President & CEO of the Arizona Food Bank Network. “This gift from the AZ Coronavirus Relief Fund will help to ensure small pantries in local communities stay open and ready for families in need during this time. We’re grateful for the support which will make a difference in our capacity to serve across the state.”

“Our deepest thanks to Governor Ducey and everyone who donated or raised money for the Arizona Coronavirus Relief Fund, making this gift to AzFBN possible. These dollars will help small food pantries statewide as they work to help Arizonans struggling with hunger,” said Michael McDonald, Chair of the Board of Directors, Arizona Food Bank Network, and CEO, Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. “These charities are doing all they can to meet the increasing need, and this financial help for them truly couldn’t have come at a better time.”

The AZ Coronavirus Relief Fund was established by Governor Ducey as part of the Arizona Together Initiative to provide financial support to nonprofit organizations serving Arizonans in need.

The AZ Coronavirus Relief Fund has collected more than $8.2 million to date. In April, the Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation donated $5 million to support the purchase of PPE including 1.1 million N-95 masks. Additional grant announcements will be made as disbursements are finalized.

Individuals and organizations interested in supporting the AZ Coronavirus Relief Fund can learn more about how to contribute at ArizonaTogether.org.

PHOENIX — Governor Doug Ducey today announced that the Stay At Home order in Arizona will be ending on May 15 and replaced by new guidance for the next stage of economic recovery. The new guidance aligns with gating criteria issued by the White House and Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and aims to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 resurgence, protect vulnerable populations, and guide the reopening of businesses with enhanced physical distancing and safety measures in place.

Arizona’s new Executive Order, which takes effect on Saturday, May 16, builds on Arizona’s comprehensive efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect public health, including: ramping up testing availability and frequency; implementing tracking of key health metrics such as reported symptomatic cases and emergency room usage; standing up surge hospital capacity to be used as needed; expanding statewide contact tracing; bolstering supply chains for personal protective equipment for frontline medical workers and emergency responders; implementing enhanced safety protocols to protect those living and working in high-risk facilities such as nursing homes; and providing public health guidance for businesses and individuals to ensure continued physical distancing.

“Since the start of this pandemic, Arizona has taken a calm and steady approach to protecting health and slowing the spread of COVID-19,” said Governor Ducey. “Today, our hospitals have capacity to provide care to those who need it; our businesses are implementing and adapting to new physical distancing measures; and data shows Arizona is headed in the right direction. It is time to move forward with the next steps of Arizona’s economic recovery — while continuing to make health and safety our number one priority. I’m grateful to all Arizonans for their partnership and cooperation during these trying times. By continuing to follow the data and recommendations of public health officials, we can continue to move forward safely and responsibly together.”

Governor Ducey also announced today an accelerated plan to test all staff and residents of long-term care facilities as well as individuals within Arizona’s prisons. As part of this plan, the Arizona Department of Health Services will partner with private-sector labs to expand testing to 147 long-term care facilities and provide antibody tests for correctional officers. Additionally, major league sports can resume limited reopening, without fans, this Saturday, May 16.

The Arizona Department of Health Services also released additional guidance for businesses and customers as more industries resume partial operations. This guidance includes:

  • Pools, with physical distancing and enhanced sanitation – can reopen Wednesday, May 13 (GUIDANCE)

  • Gyms & Fitness Providers, with physical distancing and enhanced sanitation – can reopen Wednesday, May 13 (GUIDANCE)

  • Spas, with physical distancing and enhanced sanitation – can reopen Wednesday, May 13 (GUIDANCE)

While never formally closed, many places of worship opted to temporarily change or suspend services in order to follow physical distancing guidelines. As they resume operations, the Arizona Department of Health Services released GUIDANCE for enhanced physical distancing and safety precautions.

View today’s Executive Order HERE.

View daily Arizona updates HERE.

Featured Editorials

Election season is heating up, and Scottsdale will be electing three Councilmembers to help guide the city. Our elected officials will face numerous critically important issues in their approach to leadership, and as such we were pleased to find that the Scottsdale Independent put all of the candidates on the record regarding their views of some of them. You can find the entire forum here.

For a primer on the candidates, their backgrounds, as well as their viability, we invite you to check out our detailed analysis of the race.

So what are our takeaways? As with any multi-subject forum, the answer is complex. The only consensus seemed to be that short-term rentals are a problem and that the city’s hands are mostly (but not completely) tied; a tone that was consistent with the 2020 election. Also, everyone agrees that bikes are for recreation, not for travel (as such, bike lanes won’t be a priority). Lastly, everyone likes and wants to protect the Preserve, although the question of taxation to expand or maintain it is more contentious.

A few general takeaways on the individual candidates, and we’ll start with the less savory. As we surmised in our first write-up, Pamela Carter doesn’t seem to be a serious candidate as much as someone seeking attention. Additionally, while we appreciate Kathy Littlefield’s long service to the city (even though we have often disagreed with her), we believe in having some new blood. We can’t question her integrity or love for the city, but it’s time for someone new. Lastly, while we appreciate Raoul Zubia’s deep connections and community involvement in our city, he seemed to be able to identify problems but was very short on solutions.

Daniel Ishac took a very economically-reasonable stance that may be attractive to many voters. He brought up his consulting experience related to helping businesses make decisions about where they should relocate. His understanding of how to make the business climate more attractive could be very valuable, and his stance on development was a very good one, even if his delivery sometimes sounded like a 3rd grade teacher.

Barry Graham successfully positioned himself as a true moderate, not in the Republican vs Democrat dynamic, but as a politician in general. His soft tone and anti-bombastic positions make it clear that he would not be picking fights on Council. He is not as pro-growth as we would prefer, but he clearly wouldn’t be a headline risk or otherwise embarrassing for the city.

Solange Whitehead did a good job of representing why she should be considered for re-election. While not jumping off the screen in many ways, she made it very clear what Council could do and what was out of its hands. She came off as a truly sober voice, and someone who wouldn’t make promises that she couldn’t possibly achieve; a politician who isn’t lying to your face.

Lastly, Tim Stratton also did a good job of making his case for election. He had zero problem taking a stridently pro-growth, YIMBY perspective and truly stuck out in that regard, which you know we appreciate. His command of finance and the city’s financial position would position him well to help guide the city past post-Covid funding from the government.

But the candidates with the best ideas don’t always win, and the upcoming campaign finance reports will help illustrate who is positioned to take their ideas to the electorate in a way that may lead to success. While we’re not in a position to make specific endorsements, some candidates clearly made themselves more palatable than others.

Photo Credit: KTAR

In this week’s segment of The Breakdown, we arrive at yet another open seat, and the one that is next-in-line to the Governor’s seat, Secretary of State. And it’s because of the 9th floor that this seat is open, as former Secretary of State Katie Hobbs made the slightly surprising and gutsy (or silly, depending on how it turns out) decision to vacate the seat after one term to run for Governor.

Since the Secretary of State’s primary role isn’t to exist as Arizona’s Vice President of sorts, but instead is the head of our elections here, perhaps there is more to her decision. After plenty of election conspiracies, after needing extra security because of threats on her and her staff, there is a reasonable chance that she was just done with it all. We can’t blame her; we also appreciate the opportunity it gives as a newly open seat.

This is also an interesting race in that it seems genuinely competitive in both primaries, at least on the surface. We will start on the Democratic side with a one-on-one showdown. Former Maricopa County Recorder (i.e. head of elections for the county) Adrian Fontes lost his re-election bid in 2020, but after a brief stint as an Assistant Pima County Recorder (almost certainly to set himself up for a statewide race), he threw his hat into the ring. He will face off against Reginald Bolding, the House Minority Leader with no elections experience but a host of connections in his role.

On its face, it should be a clear decision: the highly experienced and qualified Fontes, a very well known quantity with Dems in the county and with the majority of people in the state, versus a state legislator who is almost unknown amongst the normal voter. That said, Bolding has a significant Cash on Hand (CoH) advantage, $181K to $101K. However  he also has significantly more work to do to even win the primary, so we have to believe that Fontes will be victorious; he’ll almost certainly be broke afterward though.

Now onto the Republican side, it has clearly turned into a two-tiered race as it often does: the haves and the have-nots. The have-nots are two candidates who made grave mistakes in stepping away from the legislature to run. Shawnna Bolick, even with tenure in the legislature and being married to the former head attorney for the Goldwater Institute and current AZ Supreme Court justice Clint Bolick, has been a disappointment from a fundraising perspective, with a mere $64K CoH. Not to be outdone however, the quixotic bid of Michelle Ugenti-Rita, who seems to have expended much of her time on her fights with Kelly Townsend. She shouldn’t have had to learn the hard way not to pick an elections bill fight with a conservative darling if you’re going to run to head up elections, but we guess she did. At only $30K CoH, to call her campaign disappointing would be an understatement.

As for the haves, it comes down to two: former advertising executive Beau Lane and Representative Mark Finchem. Both have had surprising success with fundraising, with both starting to approach $1 million in funds raised and both having retained a majority of it: Lane with $631K CoH and Finchem with $587K. The money is only one part of why this particular showdown is such an interesting one; another is who the candidates are.

Beau Lane’s father started the advertising agency E.B. Lane which Beau started working at in the ‘80’s, and he was its CEO when he managed a merger with a digital marketing firm in 2013. One would think that he would be very well equipped to effectively advertise his campaign better than nearly any candidate. Meanwhile, Finchem has made waves by going to the January 6th “Stop the Steal” rally in DC (but apparently not in the riot…technically). He has been upfront about his desire to overturn the 2020 election results, including introducing a bill to “reclaim the electors”. He has been making every overture possible to appeal to the far-right wing of the party, or as political field organizers would put it, likely primary voters.

Finchem’s victory would be a major cause of alarm for Democrats nationally, which could cause a major flood of money coming in when it otherwise wouldn’t (to the same degree at least). In what should be a GOP-friendly year, it may not matter, but Beau Lane seems to be the best option to ensure a GOP win. Can he win the primary without all of the “conservative” bonafides? To be determined, but considering his background I’d put his odds at slightly better than even. It is thus our prediction that Lane squeaks out a primary win, and soon thereafter becomes our next Secretary of State against a compelling but cash-poor candidate in Adrian Fontes, running for the right role in the wrong year.

In the constant flurry of candidates attempting to grab your attention at the statewide level this year, it’s easy to forget that this year was the implementation of the redrawing of legislative and Congressional districts, as happens every decade after the census. With that comes entirely new maps for those races, and depending on where you live, the specter of being introduced to and having to research candidates (or even elected officials) that you’ve never heard of before.

When it comes to many of our Scottsdale and Paradise Valley readers, the only change was the number of the district. Many of you had David Schweikert as your Congressman in the old Congressional District 6. Well, congratulations, you’re now in Congressional District 1. However, nearly nothing has changed, as the boundaries look quite similar. And the story is not a particularly new one: Schweikert seems vulnerable, and people are lining up to pull the seat out from under him.

So how are things lining up for this race?

First. Let’s take a look at the Republican side. Obviously, Congressman Schweikert is running for re-election, but his position has long been perilous. Campaign finance violations have long hung over his head, although it seems as though he now has some clarity by agreeing to a $125,000 settlement with the FEC. He has never been a prolific fundraiser however, and has never really seemed to find significant protection within the Republican caucus, the sort of protection that is often afforded incumbents. As of the Q1 campaign finance report, he has raised over $1 million for this cycle with $439K cash on hand (CoH). What would be strong numbers for a potential usurper are weak numbers for a long-time Congressional incumbent.

Likely smelling blood in the water, he has a few Republican challengers this time around. Barely warranting mention, Josh Barnett is technically in this race; he recently ran against Ruben Gallego in his south Phoenix district, and seems to have confused bombast and a significant Twitter following with viability; his $3,400 CoH tell a very different story, a story of someone needy for attention.

Elijah Norton is an entirely different story though. A founder of a car insurance company, he is young and looks the part of a dynamic young politician with the funding to see it through: he has loaned his campaign $2.85 million as per the Q1 report. As with most loans, he likely will attempt to spend as little as he needs to to get those funds back, but also has raised an additional $670K from outside donors. That said, some are questioning his methods and practices from his company, and a Super PAC is calling him out as a “robocall king” and a scam artist. How much of the campaign is smoke and mirrors? The Q2 report and pre-primary report will tell us a lot about how much Norton actually will spend in his quest, but he does seem to give off the strong air of legitimacy and a true problem for Schweikert. Schweikert, however, will not be going quietly into the night, and is erecting signs notifying the public of Norton’s drunk-driving arrest from 2018.

Now to the Democratic side, and there are two challengers. Jevin Hodge is a longtime Dem party apparatchnik who recently ran for the County Board of Supervisors in 2020. He is known for having ingratiated himself as much as possible to DC interests, and his fundraising of north of $715K (and CoH north of $270K) demonstrate a degree of success there. His attempted past as a motivational speaker as someone in their early 20’s and resume bolstering as a head of a non-profit are not the makings of a legitimate, serious person however, not for a district full of true professionals and accomplished individuals. He has an honorary degree at Fake It Til You Make It University, and will likely win public office at some point if he keeps trying (see also: Rodney Glassman), but it’s tough to see this being that instance.

Dem challenger Adam Metzendorf provides an interesting alternative. As a Director of Membership Experience for the Phoenix Suns, Mercury, and the Arizona Rattlers, he clearly has made some interesting connections outside of the political arena. But the campaign finance reports don’t reflect that, and unfortunately Hodge likely has enough money to squash him in the primary.

In a Republican leaning district in a Republican leaning year however, it won’t matter. The only question is if Norton can unseat a relatively unpopular incumbent. Few people would say that David Schweikert is a great politician, but he can be quietly effective, and supplanting incumbency is not easy. Norton may need to spend most of his campaign loans to get this done. The Q2 reports coming out soon will give us plenty of insight to that end.

I ran for city council to be a positive, forward-thinking voice for Scottsdale. We need councilmembers who will govern with facts and open minds. Activism has its place, and the council can have disagreement about policy, but we must understand what it means to govern, and base our decisions on facts and data. My job as a councilmember is to promote Scottsdale’s brand- not spread fear and misinformation. Fear may help a candidate get elected, but it’s not a winning strategy for our city.  We need to encourage residents, businesses, and tourists to come to Scottsdale and contribute to our economic development, so we can afford to stay special. 

We’re often told that we only hear from people when they don’t like something. A handful of people complain; most of our 240,000 residents love the city and are happy with our direction. Scottsdale scores highest on almost every metric. We have one of the lowest crime rates of any city in the Valley. We are not being overtaken by “high rise” buildings- there are two 150’ buildings in Scottsdale, appropriately located at Fashion Square. Short term rentals make up approximately 3% of our current housing stock- they are a real problem, but not the cause of our housing shortage. We are not growing “out of control”.  Our population has grown much slower than predicted, resulting in a $2M decrease in state shared revenue. We are not building light rail, removing a lane from Scottsdale Road, or mandating bicycles. These are all boogeymen. Per our General Plan, our projected build out in 2055 is expected to reach 316,700 people residing in 157,034 housing units- about 20,000 more than we have now. We are not “overdeveloping”, we are planning carefully. 

No one on council or running for council supports the idea that all development is good. We are known for our strict codes and guidelines. Projects often take years to move through the rigorous application system and many die long before reaching the finish line. Our job on council is to approve the best projects for our city, not to interfere with or dictate what the free market does. The amount and type of housing proposed is driven by population needs, market conditions, and private industry.   

Leaders should not be repeating extremist talking points. Apartments are not draining our water supply. Our city water department’s vast body of data tells us that multifamily dwellings use 1/2 the water per capita of single-family homes. Statewide, 70% of water use is for agriculture; housing is a small piece. We are experiencing drought conditions, and the city is well positioned to manage this issue. Every development project must show a 100-year water supply and large water users must justify their economic benefit to the city. There are many things we can do to conserve water before calling for the drastic step of shutting down economic development. We shouldn’t solve one problem by creating a bigger one- destroying our local economy. 

This is exactly what extremism amongst our leaders is currently doing. Planning Commission and DRB meetings have been canceled for lack of agenda items. City Council has seen only a handful of projects in the last 18 months. Interest rates and construction costs are rising, recession is looming, and the economic boom is passing Scottsdale by while we push investors and job creators away. We’re heading toward a financial cliff. Successful cities are not run by fear and extremism or shutting down the economy. 

There has been politically manufactured hysteria about “tens of thousands” of apartment units being built.  This is not true. The trend to deny facts and double down on a fake political narrative is one of the biggest problems we are facing at the national level; we must not let it infect our local politics as well. 

According to city staff and Industry data, there are a few thousand apartment units currently under construction. If we look back SIX years, there are another few thousand “prospective” units at various stages of progress- many that will never get built, and about the same amount of “planned” units, with zoning entitlements but no building permits pulled. Many future units included as “planned” haven’t even been submitted to the city for review. Adding up every conceptual project, real and potential, is a false extremist narrative- these projects will take several years to develop, and many will never happen. We need to make decisions based on facts, not fear.

Arguing over what the exact number of apartments is in the “pipeline” is a distraction; the real problem is that vacancy rates are approaching 0% and housing prices are soaring out of control. The fact is we need more housing! Our city is suffering from a lack of housing supply at all income levels along with huge demand, which has pushed prices past the reach of many, and is forcing families, young people, workforce, and long-time residents out of our city. The Housing Element of our General Plan calls for us to “encourage a variety of housing densities in context-appropriate locations throughout Scottsdale to accommodate projected population growth,” and to “support adjustments to the housing mix based on demographic needs and economic changes.” We should be following our plan.

The problem is not developers, it’s lack of supply and massive demand as people move to Maricopa County. This is basic economics. The annual average number of new apartment units delivered across the entire Valley has been 5,600 over the past 22 years.  We are not “overdeveloping” by any stretch of the imagination. Construction projects take many years, and often never get built- there MUST be an adequate pipeline of potential projects to keep our city fiscally sustainable. Project pipelines are our lifeblood; they prevent us from raising taxes or cutting services. 

Scottsdale today is a vibrant city. We can’t unrealistically cling to a past that has changed over 50 years. We have 240,000 residents, 18,000 businesses, the 2nd largest number of corporate headquarters in the Valley, the most startups, and a $2B+ budget. Without thoughtful, continued economic development we will have outdated infrastructure, rundown buildings, homeless camps, unattainable housing, high taxes, less services and amenities, an aging population, and fewer tourists. 

Leaders must not be afraid to embrace the facts, overlook the rhetoric of extremists, make hard decisions, and continue to look ahead while using our voter approved General Plan as a guide.  Successful cities do not stagnate. 

Photo Credit: Raleigh News & Observer

When elected officials seek re-election, or worse yet election to a more prominent position, it will cause them to do all sorts of wild things to get the attention of voters. Sometimes, they are truly detrimental, sometimes they are warranted…but we wonder aloud if this particular instance is both.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich recently filed a lawsuit against the Scottsdale Unified School District with the charge that they limited public comment regarding their previous policies regarding mask mandates. The suit was directed towards former Board President Jann-Michael Greenburg, who was in charge at the time.

This leaves us in a precarious spot: we love SUSD, but Jann-Michael Greenburg? Well…that’s a slightly different story.

It is clear that irrational passions were inflamed during this time period, and that SUSD became a nexus point for those passions to come together in ways that were sometimes inappropriate. But did Greenburg handle it up to the standards we would expect of a world-class school district’s leadership? Hardly. And then the “Greenburg dossier” became public domain, and all hell broke loose.

This does bring up some interesting conflicts between the need for transparency and the need to work through problems privately. SUSD meetings were often hijacked by out-of-towners (including one of the purported voices of Q from QAnon infamy, Ron Watkins). It became a circus, and circuses are not necessarily known for being good venues for getting good work done, so we want to have some degree of leniency considering the difficult situation.

But the more interesting question is…why now? This is some very interesting timing from Brnovich, which any politically-aware person in Arizona knows is currently running for the US Senate. Depending on which poll you look at, he is currently around a statistical tie or losing his primary race, so the need to get some attention is paramount. And taking on the Greenburg’s, well-deserved boogeymen in Scottsdale politics, seems like a wise target.

That said, SUSD has been managed extremely well, even if there were concerns with the then-President which were dealt with. It’s unfortunate that Scottsdale taxpayers will need to foot the bill to defend this, especially now that Greenburg is no longer President. If only Brnovich could go after the Greenburgs instead of the taxpayers, but…that’s not how it works. And…it’s an election year.

By Councilwoman Solange Whitehead

Graphic Credit: Independent Newsmedia

Just last week we talked about how highly Scottsdale was ranked as a place to raise a family. Well life comes at you fast as the saying goes, and this week we came across a new challenge that may damage our status in future related rankings.

According to the Scottsdale Independent, around 30% of SUSD’s staff has left for one reason or another since the beginning of January 2021. While obviously some turnover is natural and expected, this number of departures is obviously distressing on a number of levels and has some experts alarmed.

Some of this shouldn’t be too surprising. After all, it was only four years ago that tens of thousands of educators and allies descended on the state Capitol for days, attempting to make their voices heard about the state of education in Arizona. Per pupil spending is near the bottom of the country in our state, and while recent efforts to raise teacher salaries have been somewhat successful, no one would ever call teaching a lucrative profession in Arizona.

Also a factor that likely plays into this calculus is the cost of living spike here in Arizona. While the increases in pay have been somewhat noteworthy, they have not kept up with home prices and rent costs. If an educator didn’t already own a home, they weren’t likely to be in a position to buy one in the last year or two and would be beholden to the precipitous rent spikes. Clearly other areas that haven’t suffered through these issues to the same degree become more palatable destinations.

So what solutions are available? Nothing will be easy; after all, it certainly appears as though Governor Ducey expended a lot of political capital in order to get those pay raises through the legislature. Is their appetite for more of that? Possible but unlikely. If you regularly read us, you know that we believe in increasing housing supply as a way to drive down prices. While we hope for that, in the meantime rising interest rates and recessionary pressures may push prices down before that.

One thing is for certain though; this trend can’t continue for too long. The livability and future of Scottsdale is at stake, and we hope that Superintendent Menzel and our state’s leadership take this issue seriously and rectify it..

In his Third Year as Founder, 15-Year-Old Logan Rose is Stepping Up to the Plate Once Again at the Spring Training Home of the San Francisco Giants


The Western WIFFLE Ball Classic will make its return to Scottsdale Stadium, the spring training home of the San Francisco Giants, on Saturday, October 29th, 2022. Last year’s 2nd annual tournament saw over 25 teams compete to take home the trophy.

Fifteen-year-old Logan Rose is the visionary behind the Western WIFFLE Ball Classic. Rose, a Valley resident, began his journey in the sport by creating Big League WIFFLE Ball in July of 2019. In less than three years, Rose has grown to 20,000 followers across all social media. In 2020, Rose decided to host a tournament for all ages at the Fenway Park of spring training, Scottsdale Stadium. From former national champions, to families looking to have a good time, this event is for anyone and everyone. Following the success of the last two tournaments, Rose is stepping up to the plate to bring back the Western WIFFLE Ball Classic for a third year.

“These past two years have been amazing, it has been so great to see so many people get involved in the tournament”, said Rose. “As the event grows, I am hoping to be able to implement some more ideas I have and hopefully put our annual Scottsdale WIFFLE Ball Tournament on the map as one of the largest WIFFLE Ball Tournaments in the country.”

The 2022 tournament will allow for up to 42 teams to enjoy a competitive championship tournament. All fields will be set up on Scottsdale Stadium’s main field, home to the San Francisco Giants spring training. The pristine stadium sits among the charm of Scottsdale’s famed and active Old Town.

Teams will be comprised of 3 to 5 players, each team guaranteed to play 3 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.

The Home Run Derby Championship will return to this year’s tournament and will be active for the duration of the tournament. Each participant will have 7 outs to hit as many home runs as they can. The Home Run Derby champion will receive a trophy of their own.

“The Home Run Derby is such a cool experience, we planned it so that participants get to hit from the mound and on the diamond. It’s any Baseball fan’s dream,” said Rose.

The tournament will begin at 9:00am on Saturday, October 29th, 2022, at Scottsdale Stadium.

To register your team for the 3rd Annual Western WIFFLE Ball Classic please visit: https://westernwiffleballclassic2022.eventbrite.com/

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


Photo Credit: glassdoor.com

One common theme in many of these races that we’ve covered and will cover on The Breakdown is the fact that most of these races are open seats, making them more interesting to cover. The first Breakdown of a more top-ticket race, the race for Attorney General, is no different since incumbent Mark Brnovich is vacating the seat for what will likely be a Quixotic and unsuccessful bid for the US Senate (we’ll cover that later though).

First we will look at the Democratic side, and unfortunately, there won’t be many fireworks there. Former Republican member of the Arizona Corporation Commission Kris Mayes announced that she switched parties a few years back, detailing how the party had left moderates like her. With legal experience and a deep rolodex, she announced a run for AG and has shown solid fundraising chops, with nearly $575K raised and the strong majority remaining as cash on hand. Former County Attorney candidate and state legislator Diego Rodriguez had jumped into the race previously, but despite some time in the Capitol his fundraising totals were paltry, and combined with likely some party pressure (probably fueled by some…errr…indiscretions) he wisely bowed out of the race. For previous County Attorney candidate Bob McWhirter, best known in local politics for having used the N-word as a professor, his run for AG was brief and went away as quickly as it appeared  So the pathway for Mayes to head to the general election is a simple and easy one; she will be the only Dem on the ballot.

The real interesting aspect of this race is the burgeoning bloodbath forming in the Republican primary. SIX CANDIDATES have made it through the signature gauntlet and will be on the ballot, some more valid than others. There are two tiers insofar as fundraising is concerned; first, we’ll mention the have-nots. Former Gila County Deputy Attorney Lacy Cooper has a mere $36K cash on hand (CoH), and Tiffany Shedd, best known for a close loss to Tom O’Halleran in her 2020 race for Congress, has a more respectable but still light $123K CoH. Neither is likely to come out of this primary still standing.

Now we will talk about the elephant in the room: career candidate Rodney Glassman. The former Democrat (who actually tried to run to chair the Arizona Democratic Party twice, and switched registration merely weeks after losing the second time), then Independent, then Republican…a candidate for US Senate, Tucson City Council, Arizona Corporation Commission, Maricopa County Assessor, as well as an attempt to be appointed as Maricopa County Attorney….is now running for AZ Attorney General (did we miss any races?). We would LOVE to dismiss this candidacy outright, but being the offspring of a very wealthy family has some serious benefits, apparently including an endless rolodex of wealthy potential donors. His nearly $1.8 million raised and nearly $1.5 million CoH is daunting. Perhaps voters will have memories of past attack ads about him; we assume that he won’t be directing his own campaign videos anymore unfortunately.

Next is Andrew Gould, retired AZ Supreme Court justice, who while diminutive in nature and perhaps short on natural charisma has made up for it with surprisingly strong fundraising, having raised over $1 million with over half a million CoH. He has been taking it upon himself to go after Glassman aggressively, and will have the funds to do so now. Dawn Grove is corporate counsel for the PING golf dynasty (which her family founded), making her perhaps a little closer to Glassman regarding background (sans the addiction to running for office). While her experience is likely a stretch, to go from your family’s corporate counsel to state AG, her numbers of over $1.2 million raised and over $1 million CoH demonstrate viability.

Perhaps the strangest wild card of this race is Abe Hamadeh, a former MCAO prosecutor and US Army Reserves Intelligence Officer. Abe seems to have come out of absolutely nowhere yet recently pulled in the coveted Donald Trump endorsement. We can’t verify his age but doesn’t look to be pushing too hard on 40, yet has managed to raise over $1.25 million and keep over $1 million of it CoH however. We have some questions about how a young first-time candidate was able to raise that kind of money and get such significant support so quickly…truly impressive, yet very strange. That said, he is clearly a major contender

In a six person race, 25% will likely be enough to win. So who gets there? Unfortunately, Glassman has all of the name ID that he has gained in his 41 runs for political office, and to the average voter, most of it isn’t likely negative. Polling still has it as a toss-up, but that was before Trump’s endorsement of Hamadeh. Gould likely has the resume that will appeal to GOP voters, and combined with a strong cash position may be enough, but we feel like this will truly be an incredibly competitive race with three names within a tight range. It is truly too close to call.

If Glassman or Hamadeh make it to the general election, they will still have an ocean of money to spend against Mayes, which bodes well for their chances. Gould will have to build back from nearly zero if he wins, but in a year that is leaning towards Republicans, it is likely that whomever survives the GOP bloodbath will be our next top attorney.

As for next week we will dive into the head of our elections, the person who is a heartbeat away from the 9th floor, and the magnet for conspiracy theories: Secretary of State.

Photo credit: Photography by Jeresa

The Paradise Valley Town Council race is not too far away now, with just over a month before ballots are mailed out, and predictably things are starting to get a little feisty. To the surprise of few, an incumbent with a questionable history got it started, but a political newcomer is showing that she won’t take it sitting down.

Yes, our least favorite cross-stealer with an extremely tenuous relationship with the concept of ethics, Paul Dembow…we have written about him at length already, so we won’t belabor those points (but please read about them here). He is apparently feeling the competition breathing down his neck from realtor, local advocate and political newcomer Christine Labelle.

According to numerous sources, at a local candidate forum Dembow apparently had as strong a grasp on the truth about Labelle as his relationship with ethics, telling numerous half-truths at best about Labelle with her family members there. Granted, this is politics, a well-known bloodsport; half-truths nearly always come with the territory. But for him, we expect them.

A lesser candidate would shy away and grumble quietly, but props to Labelle, who came out swinging back. In this op-ed to the PV Independent she tackles the charges one by one and spells out why they are (at least in her mind, and in most reasonable readers’ minds) dishonest. How many people will read it? How much impact will it have? It’s tough to tell, but we truly appreciate that she was willing to fight back.

Politics is a bloodsport, and not always a kind place for nice people. But the nice people who can throw a metaphorical punch when needed are the sort of people who we need more of in politics. Empathy but toughness; a velvet glove over an iron fist. Labelle has shown some of this in her response.

Clearly Dembow sees her as a clear and present threat to his re-election, so we can’t help but root for her as a result. We suggest you give her a look and some consideration, and perhaps donate a few bucks to her as well. We already know what we have in Dembow, and it’s time for a change.

Photo Credit: Arizona’s Family

Why does it seem that most things involving embattled Paradise Valley Town Councilman Paul Dembow circulate around unethic and sleaze?

Wrongly, even comically, Dembow is seeking a FOURTH term on the Town Council.  That’s a man with an identity crisis.  How else to explain someone wanting a 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th year on an unpaid dais in a community that has a deep bench for replacing him?  Perhaps this is the primary reason Christine Labelle, a competitor of Dembow’s in the upcoming council elections, is calling for term limits.  Scottsdale has them. So does Phoenix.  So do most places. Why not Paradise Valley?

But we digress. Recall Dembow has supported putting one of his political consultants on the taxpayer, errr the Town’s payroll, and even absconded a crucifix at a memorial site within Paradise Valley, itself memorialized on video.  Reacquaint yourself with that despicable act by reading here and watching the video here.

So just went you thought Dembow cold not go low(er), along comes this.  Recently, conspicuously, a “Phyllis Patterson” wrote an opinion piece in the Paradise Valley Independent lauding Dembow and blasting his opponents Christine Labelle and Ellen Andeen.  That kind of stuff happens and is often engineered in campaigns.  No problem there.  But there is when “Phyllis Patterson” doesn’t appear to exist.  No one by that name is registered to vote in Paradise Valley, or has voted there in recent memory.  At the candidate’s forum in question put on by the Eagle Society where Dembow was purportedly impressive and the others not, at least according to “Patterson,” leaders of the organization say they don’t know a Phyllis Patterson either.

So was this a phantom person put up by Dembow? Did he write the piece?  Did an ally? What does he know?  If the Paradise Valley Independent is going to run items from ghosts it has an obligation to now challenge Dembow. From what email did this opinion piece originate? There are so many unanswered questions to yet another ethical issue that now confronts Dembow.

If we are wrong this space will be his or someone else’s to refute. The invitation is open.  Bueller?  Dembow? Somebody? Anybody?

Until then and quite simply, it’s time for Dembow to go.  It’s what often happens to people who serve too long and think the title belongs to them, rather than the people.  Dembow has become an embarrassment to the noble men and women that serve on the Town Council and wholly unnecessary  to the effective operations of Paradise Valley.

Photo Credit: Phoenix Business Journal

You probably know that we haven’t been shy about talking about how NIMBY politics have partly dominated Scottsdale city politics, and how it has a significant impact on the cost of living in these areas. But there is also the concept of opportunity costs; how making a decision and going down one direction has a cost, not just in the physical costs of executing that decision but in what was left behind. What that other branch in the decision tree (the opportunity) had to offer, and what was lost by not going down that path.

Every once in a while we get clarity on that, and it comes from Mesa. We recently received news of intriguing new developments in downtown Mesa, where a new arcade bar and distillery are set to open there next year. These are the sorts of destinations that people will actually drive to, not simply developments for convenience; demand pull, as economists would say. It would seem that the Mesa city council sees the value in revitalization…of growth…of saying YES. And we applaud the hell out of them for that.

We know that most of our readers aren’t from Mesa, though, so to make sure that we don’t lose you, there is a strong Scottsdale twist to this story. As luck would have it, the creators of his fantastic concept are actually based in Scottsdale. And why haven’t they brought such great ideas to Scottsdale? Well about that…

The firm that made this happen was the firm behind Ironwood 92, the brilliant mixed-use development that would have helped to not only increase housing supply (and likely bring down costs) in the area but do so with amenities that would have brought style, that would have been net contributors to the area and society around it. THEY TRIED…and the Council of No in Scottsdale, the epitome of allowing perfect to be the enemy of good, has made their life rather difficult.

There is still hope; the continuance that the Ironwood 92 folks were granted has led to a rebrand and has allowed them to address some perceived issues. But the point is that it didn’t need to be this difficult. Some cities understand demand pull, they understand economic development…and some listen to activists with digital bullhorns.

If Scottsdale doesn’t get its act together and start being collaborative with instead of antagonistic against quality developers, expect this to continue. Scottsdale may have a tourist panache that won’t go away immediately, but when it comes to Valley residents spending money, they now have strong local options other than Scottsdale. As other cities get their act together, they pose a strong threat to take entertainment dollars, and as such tax revenue, away from Scottsdale. 

By Lincoln Shea

Issues such as attainable housing, building density, and crime not only divide Scottsdale residents, they also divide the candidates for Scottsdale City Council.  Growth and related topics dominated a Scottsdale candidates forum held June 14th at United Methodist Church.

Seven candidates are running for three seats on the seven-member council. Incumbents Kathy Littlefield and Solange Whitehead and newcomers Pamela Carter, Barry Graham, Daniel Ishac, Tim Stratton and Raoul Zubia spent 90 minutes fielding questions submitted by the public to the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce.

The no or slow growth camp was represented by Carter, Graham, Littlefield, and Whitehead while Ishac, Stratton, and Zubia represented a more open approach in terms of new development.

Candidates were asked what building height and density should look like in Old Town and Downtown.

Graham was quick to restate his opposition to high rises. “I don’t think we should be going 8, 12, 15 stories… Old Town should be protected as it is. That is a tourist draw.” Looking at Downtown development Graham commented, “There are places where they want to add 10 to 12 stories downtown. You have to think about what that does to traffic, the incremental use of water and public safety.”

Ishac was more pragmatic, “I don’t believe we should be building high density high rises in the old historic part of Downtown, but I do believe there are other areas within the Old Town Area Plan (which includes Downtown Scottsdale) that can support larger buildings….but I am concerned with overdevelopment and density especially in the historic part and we have to make sure we protect our neighborhoods and not create problems where we don’t need them.”

Littlefield said heights and density should be limited in Old Town and in Historic Downtown claiming high rises would ruin the tourist experience.

Stratton acknowledges that tourism is Scottsdale’s lifeblood and he supports preserving Old Town. “As for the rest of Downtown Scottsdale, there are areas where it is more appropriate to have a little bit more height and density.” He also notes that not everyone visits Scottsdale solely for its western charm and it’s important to keep Scottsdale relevant for tourism.

Whitehead said Scottsdale needs development that adds value to Downtown and invests in Downtown. She favors mid rises not high rises and projects that promote more open space.

Zubia says Old Town should be preserved but other areas of Downtown could be built upon such as the old hotels that are not in use, but he says that does not mean high rises.

Carter wants to preserve Scottsdale as a tourist destination and protect the city from high density and over development.Read More

Photo Credit: abc15.com

In this week’s Breakdown, we are going to take a look at the race to be the head of Arizona schools. The State Superintendent of Public Instruction. This race was one of the biggest surprises of the 2018 election cycle, as 31 year old teacher Kathy Hoffman, someone with no political experience before her run, knocked off former State Senate Minority Leader David Schapira in the Democratic primary, and then disposed of perennial candidate and spectacular weightlifting bro Frank Riggs in the general election. While she will have an easier road in the primary, a more difficult road awaits her in the general.

Hoffman’s time in office has been relatively uneventful, at least insofar as press attention goes. Towards the beginning of her term she tallied up a number of socially progressive wins that certainly pleased her followers, but all that has been largely forgotten as education policy has been completely encompassed by Covid through the majority of her term. Some areas that had a much more powerful and activist teacher’s union infrastructure and progressive leadership which led to shuttered schools for entirely too long dealt with subsequent political consequences, such as that seen in Virginia. However, this is Arizona.

Our teacher’s unions (which endorsed Schapira in the primary) are largely toothless and Hoffman’s office had little sway to dictate whether or not schools were open. As such, it seems as though Hoffman has mostly been a side note in Arizona politics for the last few years, which is likely to her benefit. It is not a stretch to believe that she would have listened to the more progressive voices calling for closed schools, which would have certainly led to consequences. She was likely saved by a lack of power.

Unlike 2018, Hoffman faces no primary opponent, so she has the luxury of using her primary funds to get ready to the general; she is a Clean Elections candidate, and she recently received a $110K check “for the primary” as a result, and will receive a check of around $166K for the general. That was enough in 2018, but for 2022? Now we check out the Republican side…

There are a number of Republican challengers, but only two have any significance: Michelle Udall and Tom Horne. Udall is a State Representative with one of the most respected names in regional politics. Normally she would be considered a strong candidate, but with shockingly tepid fundraising and a $125K independent expenditure group poised to defeat her, she has nearly become an also-ran, which brings us to the Big Dog in the race… Tom Horne.

Horne certainly has no shortage of experience, having spent eight years in the role previously, so stepping into the role with competence will be no problem. His more recent political history has been dogged by a somewhat scandal-ridden time as Arizona AG leading to a later primary loss against Mark Brnovich. That said, money talks and nearly everything else walks. Horne has raised a daunting amount of money for his campaign: nearly 2/3rds of a million raised with nearly $400K cash on hand. With an IE doing the dirty work of disposing of his closest competitor, he may bring most of that cash with him to the general, which would lead to a strong cash advantage against Hoffman.

Can Hoffman survive a general election while being outspent? She never had to worry about that in 2018, and as the Red For Ed passion is long gone and public sentiment moving against teachers, it is clearly not the year to be an outspent Democrat in Arizona. Perhaps her only saving grace will be strong turnout for Democrats based on an overturning of Roe vs Wade. Without that, Horne would clearly have an advantage. With that, we call it a Toss Up, and one that should be a truly interesting race to watch in November.

Photo Credit: abc15.com

You may know that State Farm Stadium in Glendale will be hosting the Super Bowl in 2023. You probably didn’t know that Scottsdale will be on the hook to the tune of $2.3 million in taxpayer funds for it. When we saw this, we had questions, as you likely will to. First and foremost is the question: are we subsidizing the NFL? Why aren’t they paying for these improvements?

First of all, what will the funds be used for? $1 million is budgeted for extra police patrols, as Old Town will very likely be one of the centers of nightlife for visiting revelers. An additional million will be budgeted towards “beautifying” Old Town in preparation for those visitors, and an additional $300K as part of a shared contribution from the cities in the Valley to assist in the efforts via a financial sponsorship.

As Mayor Dave Ortega notes, much of the broadcasting will take place in Scottsdale, so an opportunity to make our city look great to a gigantic international audience seems like a very reasonable investment that will likely pay for itself via future tourism dollars. We appreciate the thought of pre-game shows with a backdrop showing our city, perhaps a segment or two wandering through Old Town and highlighting its excellence.

But the question we would have is…why does the Scottsdale taxpayer need to be on the hook for this? The NFL made $15 billion in 2019 (before a revenue-diminished 2020 season) and is on target to make $25 billion a year by 2027. The Super Bowl itself is estimated to bring in nearly half a billion in advertising revenue alone. The NFL is a behemoth that is more-than-capable of helping pay for these cosmetic and security upgrades, why should the average Scottsdalian who had no say in where the game was played shoulder that burden?

As for the merits of the expenses, spending money on overtime for law enforcement is certainly a good sign. To be in an area that is expected to be a nexus point for celebration can only be seen as a positive development along with being a strong economic driver. Additionally, while we remain on the more fiscally conservative end of the spectrum, we understand the power of investing and the importance of putting a great first foot forward when offered such a stage, even if the game won’t be played here. That said, this does have a bit of a “taxation without representation” feel to it.

It’s great that the NFL thinks that Old Town is ready for its close-up, it really is. But we didn’t need the Super Bowl to know that’s the case. We wonder aloud if it is worth it to get saddled with those expenses. The NFL could pay for this and not break a sweat; the taxpayer and the city shouldn’t need to break that sweat.

Photo Credit: abc15.com

As a co-equal branch of government, the Arizona Corporation Commission is an odd, idiosyncratic piece of Arizona governance; like Mine Inspector, but less interesting. That said, their impact on the everyday lives of Arizonans has been traditionally somewhat outsized. The reason is that while most of us who have ever started a business typically know the ACC as the dreary building you need to go down to file your paperwork and pay your fee, one of the more important tasks they have had has been to regulate the utility companies in the state.

The thing about corporations however is that they are typically not a huge fan of regulation, and when given the option to help appoint their own foxes to guard the henhouse, most would consider it a wise line item expense. As such, Corporation Commission races have been dominated by APS spending in order to elect their favored regulators. As such, the race has often turned into Republicans running traditionally-funded races with large financial backing from APS (typically via a 501c4, “dark money” organization) versus the Democrats running as Clean Elections candidates, running against APS and for renewable energy. Usually it worked out for APS and the Republicans.

However, change seems to have come to the ACC. Centrist Republican and APS-skeptic Bob Burns seemed to have led the charge to neuter APS’s influence, first pressuring them to stop their political spending, and perhaps sensing a change in the political winds, the CEO of APS vowed to stop the company’s spending on Corporation Commission races. Perhaps sensing an opportunity, Corporation Commissioners (currently 3 Republicans and 2 Democrats) have pushed forward on plans to have the company’s energy coming entirely from carbon-free sources by 2050. Ambitious, absolutely…realistic, maybe, maybe not. A seismic shift in the tone and tenor of the fourth estate however, especially from a Republican-majority body.

We are not here to discuss the merits of renewable energy mandates however, we are here to simply discuss: where does that leave this race now? It seems possible that the body will become much less of an activist or protectionist body, and more of an administrative body (like it was likely intended). Democrat Sandra Kennedy’s seat is up for re-election, as is Republican Justin Olson’s seat, which will turn into an open seat due to his declining to run for re-election.

For these two seats, the Democrats will have a non-existent primary; two candidates on the ballot for two seats. Along with Kennedy, Tempe City Councilmember and frequent clean energy advocate Lauren Kuby will both make the ballot, both as Clean Elections candidates with the same funding as Kathy Hoffman in her race for State Superintendent (nearly $110K for the primary and $166K for the general election).

On the Republican side, we will have a bit of excitement, as there are three candidates vying to become one of the two who will make the general election ballot. There is Kim Owens, a Trump delegate in 2016 and a member of the SRP Council who was knocked off the ballot for the ACC race in 2020. Kevin Thompson is a Mesa city councilman who will also be on the ballot, and lastly there is Nick Myers, who is a policy advisor to Justin Olson (likely carrying his ideological mantle).

Both Owens and Thompson clearly state that they are not in favor of mandates, and with Myers’s tutelage under Olson, it’s probably not a stretch to believe that he isn’t either. So this race could turn into the battle to keep the zero-carbon mandate versus one to ditch it.

Perhaps the strangest twist is that all three Republicans are running in the Clean Elections system, a near impossibility in Arizona GOP politics. However, none of them have yet qualified for their funding, and the 1,500 $5 donations necessary to qualify is no small feat. Their ability to be successful in the general election (let alone the primary) is dependent on this.

2022 will probably be a good year for Republican candidates in Arizona, but only if they are not vastly outspent. If two Republicans can get fully funded, they will stand up well against the Democrats. This is a big If however, and the future of clean energy mandates is on the line. We call this a Lean Republican race, but If and Only If.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

You must know by now that we love Scottsdale, as we are constantly shouting from the rooftops how great our city is, even if we don’t always agree with its leadership. Along with myriad options for recreation, beautiful scenery and a high standard of living, it’s also a great place to have a family. This is why we love it when we have data that backs up our love for the city.

We are referring to a recent survey by WalletHub that places Scottsdale in 10th place out of the 182 cities it studied when it comes to places to raise a family. The survey used 46 metrics, including housing affordability, the quality of public schools, median income and poverty rate.

Interestingly enough, it ranked 12th in affordability, although we must assume that rent costs weren’t included in those calculations. It also ranked well for education, health and safety and access to family fun. Regular readers have seen us break down all of these (with a special thanks for the strong guidance of the Scottsdale Unified School District) and as such, few strong arguments against their ranking come to mind.

While we don’t want to highlight the negative, we were slightly surprised that Phoenix only came in at #103. With any city livability survey and ranking, there is clearly a major bias towards the particular questions, and a high degree of subjectivity attached, but it would see as though our neighbors have some work to do. However, it’s worth it to mention Gilbert, whose transformation over the last few decades has been enough to bring it to number 13 on the list. They have a pro-growth city council that has learned about the holistic power of pro-economic development policies.

We save our thoughts and prayers for Tucson, which finished last amongst Arizona cities, and will save any Wildcat jokes for any UofA grads who may be reading this.

There is no news here; if you live in Scottsdale, you already know. We are always happy to receive recognition however, in our beautiful little slice of America. Those of us who reside here should thank our lucky stars that we are so fortunate, and we find it fulfilling to periodically spend a little time to reflect on that.


It is undoubtedly one of the English language’s finest speeches and thank you, as today we remember the bravery that freed a continent and saved the soul of liberty.


Photo Credit: yourvalley.net

We are only a handful of weeks away from the 2022 primary election in Arizona, but that represents the main election for the Paradise Valley races for Town Council and Mayor. While there are several issues that the candidates are talking about, development is a common campaign theme amongst the candidates. So the timing is nearly perfect that a Ritz-Carlton Paradise Valley resort is about to open, just in time for the candidates to sound off about it.

That’s why we were particularly interested in this piece where the candidates sound off about the development. What can we glean from it? For starters, you get compelling insight into how each of the candidates think.

Incumbent councilmember Ellen Andeen’s insight into it was the most detailed, certainly when it comes to the financial perspective (appropriate, since her career was until quite recently in finance). She breaks down the economic aspects of it with clear insight, including the potential tax revenue, and segues into the need for an investment manager to prudently manage the funds it will potentially bring in. Clearly this is in her wheelhouse and demonstrates the value she brings to the Council.

Christine Labelle also hints to her professional experience in her response, speaking as a realtor who is used to selling the merits of the town to prospective buyers. She acknowledged not being on Council when it had been discussed previously, and instead focuses on the positive aesthetics and the need to focus on quality for future developments.

Anna Thommason’s response was on the shorter end, but is still positive. She brings up the tax revenue it will bring to the town’s coffers and demonstrates unequivocal support for the project.

Lastly, our old friend Paul Dembow. He’s also in favor of it.

It is a positive sign that unlike in Scottsdale where seemingly any project has a contentious road through City Council, that Paradise Valley’s leadership seems to agree that quality development is a strong asset to their town. Additionally, the candidates’ focus on the positive financial outcomes as well as the positive merits of the project demonstrate that they are dedicated to preserving the fantastic quality of time in Paradise Valley.

Freshman state legislator Joseph Chaplik, who represents the old legislative district 23 (covering most of Scottsdale and Fountain Hills) is no stranger to attention. In fact, it often looks like he actively seeks it out. So when he authored an elections bill into a very friendly hopper, it appeared as though he might have a chance to loudly tout a big victory. After all, Governor Ducey has signed 25 election-related bills since last year, so smooth sailing seemed almost assured.

But not so fast: Chaplik’s election bill was recently vetoed by Governor Ducey, ensuring its quick death in a legislature that is nearly evenly split. On the same day as the veto, Ducey signed two election bills, dealing an extra blow to Chaplik.

The bill would have required that county recorders cancel the voting registration of individuals if they received information that said voter did not have the right to vote, because they are not here legally, moved out of the county, or for any other reason that would make them ineligible to vote there.

The first question that a reasonable person would ask would be, what’s stopping someone from lying? From trumping up purported evidence that someone can’t vote and using it as an attack? It would seem that reliable safeguards to prevent this from happening weren’t considered, and as such Ducey likely saved the state from having to defend (and likely lose) a lawsuit.

Unfortunately, it feels like Chaplik is often more interested in making waves and getting attention than he is legislating. He has made headlines for some unfortunate reasons, such as questioning why masks weren’t used to prevent AIDS, or carrying the mantle on some conversative issues taken to extremes, such as refusing to sign onto school budgets unless they.bring with them anti-mandate mask mandates.

Chaplik will likely head to re-election, and we hope that this smackdown from Ducey gives him some pause and perspective. It would be ideal if he grows into this role and learns some lessons. After all, Scottsdale deserves leaders, not bombast. Tweeting is easy, but leadership is difficult, and we hope that Chaplik starts to learn the difference between the two.

2020 Scrum


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am here to listen to you.

By Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner

Dear Fellow Paradise Valley Resident:

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

Lowry Video

In the video, Ed says the following:

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

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

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

Thank you for the privilege of serving as your mayor.