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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


Since close to the very start of the Covid-19 outbreak, the virus and our collective responses have turned into a political issue. Sides were taken based on how seriously one took the virus, and once vaccines became prevalent, that too took on a left vs. right dynamic. One local restaurant is taking a stance that is bound to inflame passions on both sides however: Scottsdale restaurant FnB is requiring diners to be vaccinated to dine in-person.

Their rationale is sound; their servers and staff are essentially at the front line of the virus, so they want to make sure that they are protected. Certainly this isn’t purely magnanimous, as with a relative labor shortage for service jobs in America, a Covid outbreak even amongst vaccinated staffers would be a significant threat to their business. But it also makes a powerful statement; some of your rights end at the door.

Some conservatives and many vaccine-resistant folks will certainly balk at this. Comparisons to civil rights will almost certainly come up. “What if they put a sign up saying ‘No African-Americans allowed’?” Perhaps the case of the baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple will be brought up, although the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the baker for reasons that were more procedural than one of codification into later discrimination cases and judgments. Regardless, vaccination status is not a protected trait, and while considerations for HIPAA protections may have some degree of merit, any such cases have not worked their way through the courts yet. By the time they do, Covid will likely be in our rear view mirrors anyway.

Naturally, there is also a restaurant that has stated that it will only admit non-vaccinated people. Obviously this is a ridiculous concept, a significant business risk, and makes it a strong possible source of viral spread. Then again, in a sad indictment of our polarization today, it may also be an effective marketing tactic. Time will tell (but we will choose to keep our distance).

We are at the point of mass vaccination that the low hanging fruit has been picked, and now collectively we must incorporate some degree of incentivization to help get us to “herd immunity” vis a vis vaccinations. Lotteries, cash incentives, and prizes have been incorporated around the country with some success, but little has been done so far in the way of negative incentivization. Perhaps this is where corporate America can play a role. It wouldn’t be too surprising to see health insurers raise rates on people who cannot prove that they received a vaccination. Frankly, this makes sense even though it would ruffle many feathers. We don’t see how this is much different than charging smokers higher premiums; they add a cost burden that even those that live a healthy lifestyle have to pay, and that’s not fair.

There are no easy answers. But as the virus continues to rage, with the most significant consequences accrued by the unvaccinated but the cost spread out through vaccinated and non alike, something has to change. Perhaps this is an initial step towards costs and benefits that reward vaccinations and nudge us closer to herd immunity, which we would welcome.

*Good timing and wisdom by the Scottsdale City Council giving its capable City Manager Jim Thompson a raise, right before Phoenix’s City Manager retired.

*Barrett-Jackson’s new acquisitions of ClassicCars.com and other related assets are great news for the Scottsdale brand and its tourism.

*Disgraced Paradise Valley Councilman Paul Dembow is about as popular in his town right now as Giannis Antetokounmpo in Phoenix.

*”Greenbelt 88” is the latest development proposal to create a stir in the city. It has two fundamental problems. First, it wants to essentially replace an entire retail center with apartments.  Second, the property owner.  Rather than have a real builder in town he wants to gain an entitlement in order to auction it off to the entire apartment world.  That may be good for his bottom line but it is not the best approach for specifics and the community.

*The Scottsdale Firefighter Association’s annual charity event, one of the best in the city, returns on September 26th after a one year hiatus. Honorees include former Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane and 2021 AZ Teacher of the Year Sara Wyffels.  It’s good to see new sponsors like Axon and Toll Brothers stepping up.

*Memberships at Scottsdale country clubs from Desert Mountain to Silverleaf have skyrocketed in the past 18 months.

*Scottsdale Planning Comissioner Barry Graham has become the most anti-development Republican in the city since Bob Littlefield.

By Alexander Lomax

Photo Credit: azcentral.com

In a shocking development last week, former Scottsdale Unified Superintendent Denise Birdwell was indicted by the Arizona Attorney General’s office on 18 felony charges related to kickbacks and fraud while in her role. It is alleged that millions of taxpayer dollars were improperly diverted to a construction firm which then rewarded her monetarily.

Perhaps the most damning part is that she retired from her Superintendent role in the Higley School District after investigations there turned up similar misdealings. She was then hired by SUSD about a year later. Did SUSD even reach out to Higley school board members to get more information on why she would retire only to want the same role across the valley a year later?

Those who have been paying close attention to this ordeal will also remember that the school board’s former CFO Laura Smith was indicted on 12 felony counts of similar financial improprieties, a case that was settled at the end of last year with a slap on the wrist.

The question that I repeatedly come back to is…how? Did anyone on the school board perform a single ounce of due diligence? Did they do such but were overruled?

Finding the right SUSD Superintendent is what could be seen as a seller’s market; between a very high salary, a destination locale, and a relative lack of issues, they could have sourced some of the best talent from around the country. What education professional wouldn’t want that role? And yet, the search went no further than 15 miles away, with someone who retired under a cloud of accusations.

This is precisely why we elect school board members; to oversee critical job searches such as this one, and to oversee those hires. Unfortunately, your average voter votes for positions like this based on sweeping proposals and high-level ideological concepts, and often is elected as a result of alignment with a political party. Telling the voters that if elected, you will do heavy due diligence isn’t exactly a winning message. Governance in the public sphere is often a factor of the relationships you wield, not necessarily your experience.

So where do we go from here? How do we prevent this from happening again? I wish I had a good answer. You can almost see the slow-motion car wreck happening now, as conservative school board activists are fixated on the “critical race theory” boogeyman that only exists in certain college curricula, and progressive activists are focused on equity policies designed to play favorites based on the color of one’s skin. Nearly no one will campaign on performing background checks and asking tough wonkish questions of key employees (except maybe in SUSD, and just for the next election).

And so it goes. Perhaps what we all need most is to look at ourselves, and ask if we’re getting distracted by the butterfly of ideology, instead of focusing on what really matters.

by Alexander Lomax


Photo Credit: azcentral.com

In case you missed it, former President Trump came to Phoenix this past weekend in a rally organized by the conservative group Turning Point USA. While Trump speaking isn’t notable by itself, what is notable is that the declared Republican candidates for Governor and Secretary of State were invited to address the crowd. Quite a bit could be gleaned from the crowd of Republican faithfuls and their reactions.

One immediate and clear takeaway: every gubernatorial candidate not named Kari Lake should be very concerned. In this weekend’s event, numerous outlets reported that support was overwhelming for Lake. The crowd busted out in cheers of “Kari! Kari!” several times. She received a standing ovation at the end of her speech. Combined with an extremely well attended kickoff event a month ago, her base of support is clearly significant. In contrast, the speeches from other gubernatorial candidates registered barely a blip in social media. When it comes to grassroots interest and party faithful support, it seems as though Kari Lake is the clear front-runner.

The other most immediate takeaway: Michelle Ugenti-Rita received precisely the opposite reaction from the crowd. A chorus of boos were consistent throughout her speech, embarrassingly forcing her to cut it short. Her ongoing tift with Kelly Townsend and their respective bill-destruction in the legislature is now coming back to bite her. Townsend may have used this opportunity to punch back, as it was speculated that she helped coordinate the cold reception for Ugenti-Rita. If Ugenti-Rita was wise, she would read the room and realize that SoS won’t happen, and she would absorb a hard-learned lesson in the ways of more effective intra-caucus politicking.

Lastly, if this is still the Party of Trump in 2022 and 2024, Doug Ducey should be concerned. During his speech, Trump took aim at Ducey himself, making him sound like a sniveling weenie begging for the former President’s support. Ducey tried to dance with the devil and assumed he wouldn’t get burned. Trump has the ability to significantly impede, if not outright destroy, Ducey’s attempts at higher office, and he seems to be reveling in the opportunity. This bodes extremely poorly for Ducey.

We still have a long way to go until November 2022, and plenty can change until then. But this weekend’s event gave us a very clear snapshot as to where the Arizona Republican Party is right now.

By Alexander Lomax

The city of Scottsdale isn’t exactly known for bold new ideas. The preservation of the past is actually a fairly important part of Scottsdale’s identity. As such, even relatively non-controversial ideas have a fairly tough road to implementation.

Any readers here have almost certainly been to street fairs; events where a road (or several) is blocked off, with vendor tents and foot traffic filling the street. The Temple Festival for the Arts is a prominent and successful example of this. Scottsdale is considering following suit, with initial plans for something similar written into Scottsdale’s general plan. The idea is a once-a-month street fair, not a regular disruption of local businesses.


Tempe Festival of the Arts – Photo credit: Arizona Republic

Why this is controversial, I don’t know. I suppose that for nearly any idea that comes to city councils, there are winners and losers, and as such there will usually be some opposition. However in my opinion the objections raised by Councilwoman Littlefield and a few business owners don’t hold weight.

The shop owners in the Scottsdale Progress article linked above seem to be concerned about a loss of business, but yet that strongly implies that they would have no interest in taking part. This sort of thinking typifies many of the old school, buggy-whip companies of the 21st century: what we’re doing now is working, why change it? And that line of thinking is how companies, cities, and cultures get left behind.

Councilwoman Caputi gets it in this case; something like this would generate a heck of a lot of foot traffic from people who otherwise wouldn’t think to set foot in some of these shops. How on earth is that a bad thing? As we move away from Covid and back to “normal”, it feels like being around lots of people in a fair setting would be quite refreshing. The most introverted of us aside, we could use this as a society.

It’s time that we stop clinging to an antipathy to change and be open to trying something new. A Scottsdale street fair seems like a great step in that direction.

Edit: I have recently learned that it was Councilmember Tom Durham who conceived this idea and brought it forward to council. Accolades and credit are due to him for thinking outside the box and being willing to put forth a new idea. Kudos!

By Alexander Lomax

The parade of new entrants in Arizona political races continued last week, as we have a new candidate looking to unseat Mark Kelly: Blake Masters declared his candidacy for the US Senate.

Who is Blake Masters, you may be asking yourself. Not much is known about Mr. Masters, but what is known is unusual. Most notably, he is the COO for a foundation started by ideological multi-billionaire Peter Thiel. Thiel is known as a strident Libertarian, an incredibly wealthy man who wants as little taxation and as few rules as possible; an Ayn Rand purist. It is safe to say that Masters would take that ideology to the US Senate if elected.

The other most notable thing about him is his age, a ripe young 34 years old. While I don’t think that your average voter is clamoring for more septuagenarians in the halls of power, I have to wonder what skill sets and experience one could accrue by such a young age to be prepared to deal with the host of different issues that a Senator must tackle.

Masters seems like an intelligent guy, I have few doubts about that. But what does he add to the race? When I see someone who is very young and inexperienced for a particular role, I see someone who can easily be molded into someone else’s likeness, someone who could easily be manipulated to do someone else’s bidding. In this case, it is obvious and clear; he will serve as a puppet Senator of sorts for Thiel, who has been attempting to steer American policy towards his whims and to his advantage for years now.

So then why wouldn’t Thiel run for Senator himself? Well then the cover comes off, and you would know exactly what you are voting for; a systematic dismantling of public safety nets and a further funneling of wealth towards the top. With Masters, you get a fresh face serving to mask that policy.

I for one have been happy with Mark Kelly’s performance, or at least not displeased by it. But when I think of who in the Republican primary would best serve the interests of everyday Arizonans, Mark Brnovich has already demonstrated his ability to do this, and would be a significantly better choice in the primary.

 

In our legal system equality is supposed to preside.  Black or white.  Rich or poor.  Powerful or not.  Yet, there is a belief that the elite, including politicians, can be above the law.

We’re about to find out, courtesy of the Scottsdale City Attorney’s Office.  It is apparently deciding whether to charge embattled Paradise Valley Councilman Paul Dembow with a crime, after the Scottsdale Police Department found probable cause for charges, according to the Scottsdale Independent.

For any reader, or person in Paradise Valley, still unaware of Dembow’s decrepit behavior, allow us to remind.  He was caught on video, apparently stealing a cross as part of a memorial established by a Paradise Valley family distraught over the death over their father.  Howard Brown was killed by Dembow’s daughter in a tragic car accident and there have been legal and political fireworks ever since.

Putting aside who is right, and wrong, in the years-long fight, most all would agree that stealing such a memorial for Father’s Day is about as low as it gets.

Rather than admit he was drunk, stupid, angry or something else Dembow chose to deny it was he in the video, something Scottsdale Police are reported to have rejected.

A potential crime and then lying about it to voters and your colleagues.  It doesn’t get much worse.

Dembow is now not just a laughingstock.  He would surely be ranked today as Paradise Valley’s worst person. Despite his demise, the Scottsdale City Attorney’s Office, led by Sherry Scott, should not and cannot send a message that elected officials get to skate when they engage in such behavior.  Failure to back up the Scottsdale Police Department’s investigation would do just that.

Many are watching this sordid chapter.  It’s long past time for Dembow to resign rather than put Paradise Valley through the embarrassment and trauma.  But it can end another way too, courtesy of the Scottsdale City Attorney’s Office.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of the real estate market going bananas here in the Valley along with much of the rest of the country. A mix of Covid incentivizing people to move away from heavily crowded areas along with economic policies and personal financial situations has lead to an influx of home buyers from other states, pushing up our home prices significantly.

It looks as though the steady march of home prices upwards has finally come to an end; a recent report shows that the market is cooling off. Housing inventory has spiked, as have the number of price reductions. As this report details, this does not mean that a price drop is imminent (sorry, prospective home buyers). Instead, the average prices will stabilize throughout the rest of this year, with the precise month depending on what city you’re in.

Photo Credit: The Arizona Republic

Part of this seems like it may be a natural outcrop of the summer heat; if you’re thinking of relocating from the Bay Area or SoCal, a few 110 degree days in a row may get you thinking twice about moving to the Valley of the Sun. However, another aspect may simply be migration running out of steam; if either Covid or high taxes had been a reason to leave, you most likely would have done so already.

A housing market is only as healthy as its accessibility to the middle class, and many middle class wage earners have been priced out of this market unless they want to purchase a condo or move out to the outskirts of the valley. This will not change overnight, but millennials with dreams of home ownership in their heads can perhaps sleep a little easier, knowing that the recent rise in prices won’t continue unimpeded.

For those that are homeowners currently, it’s been a heck of a ride, but they never last forever. But with a home full of new equity, perhaps now is a good time to utilize a cash out refinance to take care of repairs that you’ve been putting off.

With new data coming out about significant increases in wages across the country, perhaps we are entering a golden era where wages actually catch up to housing prices. One can dream, at least.

Maricopa County has been in the news a lot lately.  Some supporters of former President Trump don’t like the outcome of its 2020 election even though it appears to have been smartly and ethically performed by county officials.

Now, there’s something else Maricopa County deserves credit for: updating its billboard ordinance.  Certainly not as controversial or newsworthy as a hotly contested presidential election but the modernization of its code, just as numerous other Valley cities have done, is effective government at work. It couldn’t be any better timed, post-pandemic, for locally owned businesses, small businesses and charities which cannot afford to pay the often huge costs of static billboards. That’s because digital billboards typically rotate among 8 advertisers unlike old billboards which remains in place for at least a month with the same advertiser. This allows billboard companies to charge less for each digital advertiser.

Additionally, digital billboards turn off at night unlike most old, non-digital ones. Due to the ability to change digital ads remotely via a computer, unlike static billboards, digital billboards can be critical resources for public safety and criminal apprehension to get the word out about Amber Alerts, Silver Alerts, public health and other emergencies such as the posting of time sensitive information about local criminals. Even the FBI uses digital billboards to help pursue criminals.

Technology has improved so many facets of life. Billboards are no different. That’s why the numerous other cities mentioned, including Phoenix, have already updated their ordinance. So why wouldn’t Maricopa County?  It would be comparable to it still wanting to listen to 8-track tapes rather than Spotify.

Notably, the proposed, new ordinance would effectively prohibit new digital billboards and only allow the conversion of about 40-50 signs on limited lands governed by Maricopa County, not the Valley’s bevy of cities. Let us repeat: 40-50 signs in a county of 4.4 million people and 5.9 million acres! The primary purpose behind the ordinance change is to allow the conversion of EXISTING traditionally lit signs to digital; NOT to allow a whole bunch of new signs. In fact, the ordinance change would disallow the current practice allowing two arterial street billboards in close proximity to each other on intersecting arterial streets. Read More

Rewind to last spring.  It was thought Scottsdale would be among the most brutally hit Arizona cities by a once-in-a-century pandemic.  Instead, it not only survived but thrived.  Much of that had to do with Scottsdale’s municipal point guard, its City Manager Jim Thompson.  It was not easy to walk the fine line of looking after public health while still being sagacious with the business community.  But Thompson did it.

For that, he was rewarded, as reported by the Scottsdale Progress.

Read the full article to digest Mayor David Ortega’s rationale for Thompson’s salary raise, along with two other charter officers.  It was on the mark.  And Scottsdale is the better for it thanks to Thompson and people like Mayor Ortega who understand that when you have an All-Star at the helm don’t let them get interested in free agency

Can anyone think of a more decrepit thing for a politician to do than to remove a memorial cross to a dead person in the community he represents?

Yet, that is what Paradise Valley Councilman Paul Dembow was recently accused of doing by Judith Brown whose father was killed by Dembow’s daughter in a car accident.

When asked if it was he who stole the memorial Dembow denied it to the Paradise Valley Independent saying, “the unrecognizable figure in the grainy night video was not me.” Click here to read the full story.

But now the Scottsdale Police Department, which is handling the investigation, says it now has probable cause to charge Dembow, contradicting Dembow’s assertion. Click here to read the full article from the Scottsdale Independent.

We have said it before and repeat it again, necessarily. If Dembow not only undertook this disgusting act but then lied about it to the public, media and Paradise Valley voters– as now appears to be the case according to the police — he needs to be removed from office by his peers.  Not censured.  Not allowed a graceful retirement as he nears the last year of his current term.  Removed.  Collegial enabling and tolerance by fellow councilmembers and senior staff – as has occurred in the past — would be nearly as bad as Dembow’s lack of decency and decorum.

Indeed, Dembow doesn’t even have the guts to speak to local reporters after purportedly lying, now ducking instead behind his lawyers. But who needs a lawyer if you didn’t steal a cross? Just say so.

Read More

Scottsdale Independent Police: Probable cause found to charge Paradise Valley councilman with theft. Click here to read the full story.

There are numerous, good arguments for and against term limits for politicians.  The ongoing actions by long-time Paradise Valley Town Councilmember Paul Dembow, real and alleged, make a strong case for the policy.  That’s because when someone has been in office too long they can start doing strange, dumb and even unethical things.  They get too comfortable in the job and start thinking they are above it all, the temptation and logic goes.  It’s about them, not you.

So let’s dive into this a little more as recent events in Arizona’s toniest town are startling.

Years ago there was a tragedy.  Dembow’s daughter, while driving, hit Paradise Valley resident Mr. Howard Brown.  He was killed.  Brown’s surviving family members alleged a cover-up and pursued it mightily through legal means.  They suggested the Paradise Valley Police Department showed favoritism by calling Dembow and allowing him to take his daughter, an adult, away from the scene.  The daughter was apparently not tested for being under the influence despite a purported history of such.  Litigation ensued. Notably, both Dembow and the Town of Paradise Valley prevailed in court.

But that’s not where it ended for the Brown family.  It has engaged in a multi-year effort to embarrass Dembow and remind the public of what took place.  Freeway billboards.  Road signs.  Corner protesters.  Speaking at town council hearings.  The list is long.

Dembow has understandably become frustrated.  He’s won in court.  And he is a father.  And what parent wouldn’t do just about anything to come to the aid of a child?

But, at times, Dembow’s conduct has been as shocking as the Browns.  Lashing out at other councilmembers. Embarrassing the body. Engaging in suspect behavior that has, in part, caused the Town to spend taxpayer money to review council ethics.  Even opening the town up to other potential legal claims not yet prosecuted.

And now, this:  new, shocking allegations by the Browns that he stole a family cross placed at the scene of Howard Brown’s death.  They even have a video, according to media reports and commentators on social media, that proves it.  Here is a link to the video.

Following the incident’s furor, Dembow claimed it was not him according to this article in the Town of Paradise Valley Independent. We’ll let readers decide for themselves if the video shows it’s him or not.

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By Alexander Lomax

The honeymoon of Mayor Dave Ortega’s first year in office has continued, as one of his campaign talking points is now coming to the forefront: the City Council will soon be considering regulations on short-term rentals. Many homeowners know this problem first-hand; out-of-towners renting a home in their neighborhood to get away and enjoy our good weather and amenities, only to let themselves go, party late into the night, and cause a ruckus for those who actually live nearby.

I find this issue to be incredibly interesting for two reasons: one, it is a perfect example of the struggle between local control and more centralized control, and two, it also covers the intersection of tourism and community, one which is particularly salient in Scottsdale.

This is not a new issue for many neighborhoods, but it could easily be considered most relevant for Scottsdale considering its status as the tourism center of Maricopa County. State Representative John Kavanagh had previously sponsored a bill giving more power to local municipalities to provide oversight and regulations (it went nowhere). The evergreen issue with legislators and lawmakers however is that they NEVER want to give up power, as little as they may wield it. Local control is nothing but a buzzword given by politicians in order to get elected and soon to be abandoned when it means that they need to loosen their grip of power on anything.

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By Alexander Lomax

During the 2020 Scottsdale city elections, development was a common theme. The winning candidates, most stridently Mayor Dave Ortega, campaigned strongly against developments that may have been more focused on whether or not they could do such projects instead of whether or not they should. Southbridge 2 was a prime example, and was one of the topics which led Mayor Ortega to victory.

That ethos is currently being tested by the Greenbelt 88 proposal, which was heard in a recent Planning and Zoning Commission hearing. The project’s hearing went on for 4 full hours, something that is quite rare in the typically sleepy world of planning commission meetings.

A four-hour-long planning and zoning meeting typifies the current zeitgeist in Scottsdale: the difficulty of trying to find the right balance between growth and preservation, and the strong feelings on both sides. According to observers, the number of supporters was about the same as the number of detractors at the meeting. Just like a four-hour-long meeting, this is also a rarity; oftentimes you can clearly see which side is better organized and more passionate. In this case, a draw.

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By Scottsdale Pinetop

As many successful political campaigns know, whether it’s a candidate race or ballot measure, it isn’t just about “how to win” but also identifying how you can lose. Campaigns are all about learning from others and understanding accomplishments and mistakes when putting your best foot forward.

In just five short months Scottsdale voters will be asked to decide on the city’s growth for the next 10 years in November’s general election, something that hasn’t been done in over 20 years. Last month, the Scottsdale City Council unanimously approved the plan, known as the Scottsdale General Plan 2035, after spending over a year gathering community input and concerns. This isn’t the first time the city has tried to resolve its outdated general plan. In 2012, Scottsdale voters rejected the city’s proposal by a 2% margin.

Sounding a bit like déjà vu? That’s because it is.

Well, maybe in some respects to the successful 2019 Scottsdale bond election as it was the first major bond program to pass by Scottsdale voters in 19 years. Better known as For The Best Scottsdale campaign, the bond packaged invested in 58 projects throughout Scottsdale and totaling $319 million. The effort was passed by Scottsdale voters with an average of 70% of the vote.

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By Phoenix Fuel

Fifty-eight laps around a pool—a mile to be exact —seems like no easy treck. However, for one 91-year-old it was no problem.

PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVID MOORE

Nancy Moore decided to celebrate her 91st birthday different than most. As a resident at Westminster Village retirement community in Scottsdale, a group of Moore’s friends from the community gathered together to cheer her on with handmade signs and pom-poms in hand. At first, Moore said she would swim just one mile in the pool (a total of 58 laps). With still a bit of energy to give, Moore decided to swim an extra two laps making it an even 60 laps around the pool. Incredible!

This isn’t Moore’s first time pushing her swimming limits. At the age of 71, Moore participated in the 1.8-mile swim across the San Francisco Bay to Alcatraz Island for the Alcatraz “Sharkfest” Swim. Not only did Moore finish the swim, but she even outswam several participants who were much younger than her. If that wasn’t enough, Moore went on to swim across to Alcatraz Island two more times, making her the oldest woman to have completed the Alcatraz “Sharkfest” Swim.

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By Alexander Lomax

I recently wrote about how crowded the race for Governor has become on the Republican side, but perhaps we can say the same about the Democratic side today. This morning (as of writing), Arizona legislator Aaron Lieberman announced that he will be running for Governor, joining Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and former Nogales Mayor Marco Lopez.

Lieberman is relatively new to the political world, currently in his second term representing Arizona’s 28th legislative district, a perennial battleground district covering Paradise Valley and parts of central and east Phoenix. Lieberman is a prolific fundraiser who raised over $250,000 for his first bid for office in 2018, and so he will definitely compete with the other Democratic candidates in that regard. The more salient question, however, is whether or not there is even room for him. In many areas of the Democratic primary voting populace, there isn’t an overwhelming desire for a white man with relatively little experience when there are other palatable (and many would say, superior) options.

So the question that many insiders have been asking over the last few months as the secret was dispersing, and many more are asking today…why? Why would he want to take on what seems like overwhelming odds? To take on both the most popular Democrat in Arizona and a Latino with a compelling story and experience? The answer that everyone keeps coming back to is…redistricting.

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By Laine Alexander

The campaign to give DREAMers in-state tuition has begun again. The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (Dream) Act was introduced in 2001 and has since then, repeatedly failed to pass.

Arizona State Legislature voted earlier this year, to ask voters in November 2022 if they want to partially repeal a 2006 ballot measure that banned immigrants living here illegally, from benefiting from in-state tuition rates. If it is passed by voters, DREAMer who are living in Arizona illegally could pay in-state tuition rates if they graduated from high school and attended school within Arizona.

Some Republican voters and lawmakers have voiced their support in the campaign over the last few months, however, there is still exist a large opposition. “Americans should not have to pay for non-American citizens, illegals, giving them a favored status for their trespass and invasion into America,” said John Fillmore, an Apache Junction Republican, on the House floor on May 10, 2021.

Additionally, the rebuttal from the opposition that is arguably difficult to overlook is the cost effect it will have on taxpayers. Steven Camarota, Director of Research at the Center for Immigration Studies, explained the effect it will have on taxpayers. He stated, “On average, each illegal immigrant who attends a public institution will receive a tuition subsidy from taxpayers of nearly $6,000 for each year he or she attends, for a total cost of $6.2 billion a year, not including other forms of financial assistance they may also receive.”

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By Scottsdale Pinetop

Photo by The Ritz-Carlton Residences Paradise Valley, The Palmeraie

Peace offerings can be a powerful and resourceful political instrument in the international toolbox when helping to bring peace to fractured parts of the world. Just look at the historic 1979 Camp David Accords between Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, with the assist of President Jimmy Carter, that ended the 30-year state of war between the Middle East neighbors.

It can be just as powerful on the local level as well. Earlier this month in an out-of-court settlement, Five Star Development and the Town of Paradise Valley resolved its several yearlong legal disputes involving the Ritz-Carlton luxury master-planned development. A sigh of relief for all parties involved and for the town’s residents.

The rancorous and litigious relationship between the Ritz-Carlton project and the Town of Paradise Valley has long been a painful thorn in the sides of both parties for several years. To be fair, no side has been 100% right in the bickering. But it’s finally time to put the in-fighting to bed.

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2020 Scrum


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.

I have some big news…

Yesterday I announced my campaign for Arizona Secretary of State. We need to secure our elections and make the office work for all Arizonans again.

I’m running for Secretary of State for you, the people. Our elections are not secure, our businesses are not served, and our needs are not served in this politicized office. It’s time to secure our elections once and for all and de-politicize the office of Secretary of State. 51% of voters now believe that cheating likely affected the outcome of the 2020 election. We must get to work immediately restoring trust and fixing the problems that, quite frankly, have been there for some time.

The Secretary of State is supposed to administer the papers and affairs of the state, work with businesses, and manage and certify elections. It requires hard work, focus, dedication, and a commitment to put responsibility ahead of personal or partisan preferences. You have my word that I will work hard, be focused and dedicated, and commit to put responsibility first.

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May 20, 2021

RE: Race For Arizona Secretary Of State

Dear Beau:

We are writing as concerned citizens who hope you will continue your service to our community by running to be Arizona’s next Secretary of State.

We believe that our state, and our nation, are in a crisis. Confidence in our electoral systems is at a historic low. In 2016 and 2020, huge swaths of the electorate refused to accept the results, and this has had a chilling impact on the ability of our elected officials to do their jobs and serve our state. We are on a dangerous path, and we need a leader who can restore faith and confidence in our electoral process.

You have been a leader in our community for over thirty years. You run a large business enterprise and have worked with dozens of Arizona companies and organizations. You understand how to manage people and systems to get everyone working on the same page. You have the kind of real-world experience that our state needs to make sure that all of our citizens have full and complete confidence in our voting systems and our electoral process.

The lack of confidence in our elections is an existential threat to our democracy, and that is why it is so important to have someone of your background, knowledge and experience serving as our next Secretary of State. It is time for real and principled leadership in that office, and we hope that you will answer the challenge and enter the arena.

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Phoenix, AZ (May 24, 2021) – Following the enthusiastic reception to its release of a 2020 Presidential Results Dashboard, Data Orbital is pleased to release its Corporation Commission Results Comparison by precinct in Maricopa county for 2020.

“As a down-ballot, largely partisan race, Corporation Commission results have always provided a unique window into the electorate and given us previews of trends in certain areas year over year,” said Data Orbital President George Khalaf. “After the 2016 election cycle, our corporation commission race analysis predicted the districts that would end up seeing close races and seat flips in the 2018 cycle.”

The interactive and color-coded dashboard allows results to be selected by Maricopa county Legislative District (and voting precinct) along the following breakdowns.

  • Districts where Republicans won the slate
  • Districts where Republicans won the vote total, but split the slate
  • Districts where Democrats won the vote total, but split the slate
  • Districts where Democrats won the slate.

Additionally, the results can be viewed by both Democratic and Republican advantage and Republican gains and losses from 2016 to 2020.

George Khalaf offered the following statement on the results. “It’s clear that the Corporation Commission race remains a good predictor of partisan performance. Suburban districts like Legislative Districts 17, 20, and 28 that showed weak Republican slate performance have largely continued to slide. The most intense case of this is District 17 that encompasses parts of Chandler. It showed significant performance gains for Democrats while not registering any notable gains for Republicans. We will update this dashboard as part of the redistricting process to provide analysis on projected results within newly drawn lines.”

Data analysts, candidates, politicos, and interested citizens can view the dashboard here.