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Conservative's Corner

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

Peoria Mayor Jason Beck

In this blog we often talk about Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Phoenix, and sometimes a few other cities on occasion when they make moves that impress us. One city we don’t often talk about is Peoria, but a recent development indicates that they are pushing themselves into that conversation.

The Peoria City Council recently voted in favor of a couple new projects; one is a new location of an easy valley-based BBQ joint, but the other more noteworthy one is Jefferson House, a west valley version of The Churchill, a vibrant and engaging complex near downtown Phoenix devoted to independent food and drink vendors along with retail. Anyone who has been at The Churchill knows how cool of a concept it is, and how it is highly likely to become a destination for many in the west valley.

Also, pairing with this is news that an airport in Peoria is moving forward, and it’s now quite evident that something special is happening over there. So not only are world-class entertainment options starting to populate the city, but now you won’t even have to drive all the way across the valley after flying in.

So why Peoria? Becoming a destination spot starts and ends with good leadership at the municipal level, and few are better than Mayor Jason Beck. He is a man who understands the importance of not standing in the way of good projects, of making bold moves and working collaboratively. It helps to have a city council that is largely on the same page, but the leadership clearly resonates from the top.

Also, it simply makes sense…population growth in the west valley has been amongst the most robust in the country. Much of the rest of the area may be going through an affordability crisis, but much of the west still offers an attainable American Dream. Few want to drive from there to Scottsdale or Tempe on a Friday night to partake in some fun, so it is logical that one city rise up and provide commensurate entertainment options. Peoria’s leadership had the foresight to take that bull by the horns.

We must give credit to Mayor Beck and the rest of the council for making great moves and acting decisively to put their city on a pedestal. They are proving themselves to be forward-thinking and in tune with the desires of their constituency, and will no doubt reap the rewards.

You almost certainly have heard about the bombshell event that is making news all around the country (and putting our state in a decidedly negative light): the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that a territorial-era abortion law from 1864 will soon become the prevailing law of the state. This now will make performing an abortion a felony except to save the life of a woman, punishable by a minimum of two years in prison.

The reactions have come in swift and heavy from all corners of the political sphere, nearly all of them varying degrees of negative. Democrats were expectedly angered, but the response from Republicans has not at all been in line with the traditional pro-life stance of the party, likely because all reasonable people understand how egregiously draconian it is and how far out of line it is with mainstream views on the subject.

The PR response from Republicans was significant, with Trump weighing in saying that it went too far and calling on Republicans to fix it, and former Governor Doug Ducey expressing his displeasure with it. There is a degree of irony to these statements, as Trump’s Supreme Court nominees ushered in the overturning of Roe vs. Wade, and Ducey’s infamous expanding and stacking of the Arizona Supreme Court and his subsequent nominees voted for it. Certainly they didn’t expect things to go in this direction, but unintended consequences have a way of being unintended.

Republicans understand that if this goes on until November, it will be nuclear for their party; it will give energized and angry Democrats and moderate Republicans incentive to vote en masse for Democrats, and may be the turning point for the Presidential race (which Trump clearly understands). So last week turned into an intense scramble of attempting to fix it, but not without politicking, because of course.

Democrats attempted to pass legislation to protect the right to choose, but being the minority party has its downfalls. While they were able to get Republican Matt Gress on their side, the fact that the Democratic caucus is down two Representatives due to the myriad resignations and lag time before appointees take their seats, it was doomed from the start. Combined with the fact that Republicans would rather create their own solution rather than give a win to the opposition party, it was shot down.

So what happens next? The GOP (with probable pressure from former President Trump) will need to push a solution through the legislature, probably something close to the 15-month ban that had been the law of the land previously. But with a one vote margin in both the House and the Senate, there is absolutely no margin for defectors or anti-abortion hardliners. Meanwhile, the initiative to codify abortion rights up to eight months of pregnancy is almost certain to be on the ballot, and if your average Arizonan has the choice between one or the other, one would assume that they will vote yes on the initiative, and an energized voting base is likely to flip the House, Senate, or both, and Trump’s election chances are seriously imperiled.

There will be some seriously intense conversations in the Republican caucus over the next few weeks. Arms will be twisted,,,hard, The fate of the majority is at risk.

Remind us if you’ve heard this story before: a Democrat legislator in Arizona leaves their seat, thus providing an opening for someone else to take their place and further upending the caucus. If it sounds common, it’s because it had happened a stunning five times already in this legislative session. Now it’s six, as Representative Marcelino Quinonez announced his resignation recently.

Quinonez represented the Democrat stronghold of south Phoenix and Laveen, and is rumored to be interested in the Phoenix City Council seat that Yassamin Ansari is vacating for her run for Congress in the seat that Ruben Gallego is vacating in his run for the US Senate.

Underscoring the chaos inherent in the Dem caucus this year, this news almost immediately followed the announcement of Deborah Nardozzi being appointed to the legislature in the 8th legislative district to replace Jevin Hodge after his resignation. If you’re unaware of the Hodge scandal, we recommend you get up to speed with our coverage of it here.

Whenever there is an exit from such a high-level “safe” seat like a Congressional seat in a heavily partisan district, it has a domino effect, as numerous people exit their posts in order to run for a seat that they could easily keep for decades in all likelihood, as was the case here. That domino effect has secondary effects, and in this case it’s a Phoenix City Councilmember (Ansari) offering a vacancy in another significant elected position.

Another interesting dynamic that serves as an intriguing sidenote: according to sources, Quinonez had been dating Sarah Ligouri, a beneficiary of the litany of resignations, having been appointed to the legislature twice, most recently to fill the seat of Jennifer Longdon in Arizona’s 5th legislative district. Always such a small and weird world, politics is.

With such incredible turnover, things will likely be difficult for the Democratic caucus. New faces will have to come up to speed, there will be a learning curve, and newbies will make mistakes. New people will have to learn how to effectively work with each other, and the caucus is likely weakened as a result. But perhaps the new batch of fresh blood will end up being more effective legislators. Only time will tell.

Photo Credit: Arianna Grainey

April 1st was the deadline for political candidates to submit their nominating petitions full of signatures in order to qualify to be on the ballot. As such, that day provided clarity as to the interesting face-offs that will await us in the upcoming election. And a very interesting showdown is lining up in the race to be the next mayor of Paradise Valley.

We had already spoken about the entrance of Mark Stanton in the race, but he now finds himself with two additional and very formidable opponents in this race, as Mary Hamway and Anna Thomasson will now be on the ballot for the July 30th primary.

We have already spoken about Stanton’s credentials (you can read our coverage here). For those who are not familiar with the town’s politics, Thomasson is a current town councilmember and has been for the last eight years, alongside having been a resident since 1994. Meanwhile Hamway has been a mainstay in PV politics for nearly the entire millennium, having first been a town councilmember back in 2004.

Each candidate has their own very distinct advantages, making this race particularly intriguing. Stanton has entrenched himself strongly with the business community, Thomasson has burnished a reputation of being a ground warrior, willing to knock on every door and talk to every vote, and Hamway has very strong name identification, having been such a mainstay in the town for ages.

As for the issues, there are few major distinctions between the candidates. A push for added transparency is a concern for both Hamway and Stanton, and quality of life concerns are mentioned by all three. Strong relationships with the police department are considered a concern for both Hamway and Thomasson. Perhaps the one biggest distinction is Stanton’s focus on increasing tourism as part of his platform.

That said, for a town such as Paradise Valley that is already considered a crown jewel of the state with very few glaring issues, the winner of this race will be stepping into a relatively comfortable position of maintaining the status of the town, not trying to fix myriad issues thanks to the effective leadership of outgoing Mayor Jerry-Bien Willner. Paradise Valley is fortunate to not just be in this situation, but also to have three highly qualified and exemplary candidates running to lead it.

County Recorder Stephen Richer walked a strange and fine line in his successful effort to oust former Recorder Adrian Fontes; he sometimes found himself flirting with election conspiracies, but his time in the office itself has largely been spent confirming the fidelity of our elections.

One could say that his shift was political expediency, one could say that the newfound insider information shifted his views, but either way there have been consequences for not consistently towing that line that helped vault him to the position in the first place.

As many know, he drew the ire of Kari Lake, which ended up extremely poorly for Lake; Richer filed a defamation suit, and Lake wouldn’t even defend her side of that suit, apparently preferring to pay up rather than to be on the record saying something that might anger her base. But while Richer deftly defeated that challenger, perhaps his biggest battles are in front of him in the form of a primary challenge.

Richer now finds himself embroiled in a three-way primary with state legislator Justin Heap and IT professional Don Hiatt. Both offer an intriguing potential challenge to Richer.

Heap’s website at the time of writing is as barebones as possible, simply showing buttons to sign his petition and donate, but his X profile shows the clear intent to tap into the base’s belief of nefarious activities at the Recorder’s office, touting a desire to implement transparency and an endorsement from Kari Lake. Hiatt’s bid is clearly more of a long-shot as a newcomer to politics. However, his website talks about his experience in IT architecture, probably something that would come in handy to improve historically antiquated government databases.

That said, in a three-way race where 34% of the primary vote could hypothetically be enough,the name identification that Richer possesses may be enough to carry the day. While suspicion of the voting process remains considerable amongst Republican voters, the establishment’s recent unhappiness with Kari Lake cuts into the gravitas of that endorsement for Heap.

The winner of this primary will go on to face Democrat Tim Stringham in the general election, which is certain to not be a cakewalk either. Recorder Richer has his work cut out for him over the next seven months.

Photo by Arianna Grainey

You heard it here, how the country’s laissez faire approach to immigration enforcement may have led to a ring of burglaries in the area (read the story here). Also, the issue of short-term rental (STR) “party houses” has long been a hot-button issue in the city. Now both of these issues are coming to a head and getting the attention they deserve.

Police Chief Jeff Walther is now bringing both of these issues to the forefront. He notes that the theft rings are indeed a nationwide issue, but the culprits in this case were found swiftly. Will this bring an end to it? Probably not; but unlike some municipalities, where theft is treated with a slap on the wrist, it is safe to say that our area is not the most consequence-free for the culprits, and as such is a less enticing destination.

That said, considering the wealth in our area, the prizes will always be significant, so it’s difficult to believe that we will not face this same issue in the future.

STRs are a much stickier topic however, and one that may come to a head in the next week as the Final Four descends on the Valley (for those who are unaware, the Final Four constitutes the last three games of the “March Madness” college basketball tournament). Tens of thousands of fans will descend onto the area from the rest of the country, a potential perfect storm of loud parties and irritated residents.

While enforcing crime is much more cut and dry, enforcing the worst excesses of STRs is significantly more nebulous, since the state legislature essentially tied the hands of municipalities to create their own rules back in 2017. After a public outcry they eased these stipulations recently, but as Paradise Valley recently found out when trying to implement draconian rules meant to squash the industry in the town, municipalities are still somewhat limited.

Scottsdale is wisely seeking public input for potential regulations in the face of an uptick in problems. After all, who better to be able to comment than the people who are directly affected? What the residents want will likely not be viable from a legislative perspective however.

Ultimately, being an attractive potential target for burglars and for people who want to party is not a bad sign; after all, being a wealthy city that’s an attractive vacation destination is unequivocally positive. But all of these issues are coming in a vital year, an election year, and Mayor Ortega and the rest of city council would be well served to be as strict as they can in solving these problems.

by Tim Dickman

I have been privileged to have lived in Paradise Valley for the past 14 years with my wife.  Since serving on the Planning Commission and my announced candidacy for Town Council, I am frequently asked what I believe are the biggest risks to our Town.  As a retired health care CEO and leader of our short-term rental work group,  I thought it might be helpful to share some of my thoughts on those risks and what lessons we have learned.

The “Really Big” Problem

I believe that the biggest threat to our town of Paradise Valley is the constant push  from the State of Arizona to restrict, limit or eliminate altogether the Town’s ability to pass and enforce local zoning.   A number of recent examples are illustrative.  And these are just a few of recent examples.

Four years ago, the State passed the original Short-Term-Rental bill that eliminated the ability of any city or town to regulate Short-Term-Rentals at all!

Every year the Arizona House and Senate attempt to pass a law that would prohibit local towns and cities from having photo radar and that would also ban the license plate readers that are located at the entrances and exits to most of the Town’s roadways.  The Town does not have radar for the purpose of collecting revenue from ticketing.  Rather the purpose is to allow our world class police department to focus on other activities such as patrolling neighborhoods or responding to calls. The license plate readers allow the Town to more easily solve crimes through monitoring.  In short, we would need to hire many more police without the technology deployed.  It simply makes our community safer. Read More

Fountain Hills has generally flown under the radar recently; the quiet, wealthy enclave doesn’t make waves (except when a famous former sheriff decides that he wants to run for mayor), but a recent development is showing some serious cracks in the facade in the town.

Town councilmember Allen Skillicorn has found himself in some hot water, being officially censured by the rest of the council. And the story leads to more questions than answers.

Skillicorn is a recent transplant to the area, having moved to Fountain Hills in December 2020 and was previously a member of the Illinois state legislature, where he found himself in hot water for listing himself as present for votes where he was not in the area at the time. After losing his re-election big in 2020, he nearly immediately crossed the state and restarted a political career in Fountain Hills.

The recent issues came as a result of him following a law enforcement officer for taking his street sign, which reportedly was in violation of codes. However, in an extremely unusual tactic, Skillicorn had had tracking capabilities onto his sign, alluding to the fact that many had been taken already and he was sick of it. Berating a law enforcement officer is never recommended, but one has to wonder what brought him to that place in the first place.

Additional context is provided in that Skillicorn had asked some pointed questions about other councilmembers and their communications with a developer in advance of a vote. While it seems as though he violated typical decorum, it is certainly possible that he had touched upon cozy relationships and was asking hard questions that many didn’t want answered.

If those are all the case, then it is possible that he made too many waves and flew too close to the sun, to the point where levers of power were pulled against him. While his statements lend themselves to someone who is either unskilled in politics or is doing his best to gain attention, and as such diminish credibility, it wouldn’t be insane to think that forces were out to take him down.

That said, the final vote on censure is telling: four in favor, one against and one abstaining. While he may have rightful intentions, he is clearly poor at coalition building, a necessary skill in order to govern.

Again, there are more questions than answers. But Fountain Hill now arises from a deafening quiet and oasis of calm, and now finds itself embroiled in chaos, and we have to imagine that Joe Arpaio is plotting and planning on how to use this to become mayor.

Many city council meetings are full of boring minutiae: zoning issues, liquor licenses, talking through budgets and small changes, things of that nature. But every once in a while, a conversation happens that is truly critical to the future of a city, and this Tuesday represented one of them.

The Protect and Preserve Scottsdale Task Force was assigned the job of figuring out what to do with the expiring sales tax that has helped keep Scottsdale a world class city: a 0.2% sales tax to manage the upkeep of the parks and recreational areas in the city as well as upkeep for the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

The Task Force has come to a very positive conclusion: that it could actually reduce this tax to 0.15% and maintain all of the services that we have come to enjoy and take advantage of. This new reduced tax would be in place for an additional 30 years, at which point before its expiration it would be reviewed again to see if it is still necessary in its current state.

A small portion of these tax revenues (less than a quarter) can be used for debt service for debt accrued while making improvements to parks and recreation services. After that, about half of the revenue would go to park improvement needs with an emphasis on older parks, and the rest split between Preserve maintenance and protection, citywide park maintenance needs, fire fuel mitigation and rescue, and the police park ranger unit. No slush funds or nebulous spending, all of it spelled out with relative precision in the task force’s report.

This Tuesday the larger City Council reviewed and discussed the recommendations from the task force; after discussion, the motion to move forward with the task force’s recommendations passed with a 5-2 vote. Voting against it were Councilmembers Barry Graham and Kathy Littlefield. Littlefield seemed more to object to the mechanics of funding it, whereas Graham objected to a study group not being formed as per his wishes, as well as somewhat vague talk about questioning the need for the spending in the future.

We should consider ourselves thankful to be in a city such as Scottsdale. Many municipalities look for reasons to raise taxes in order to utilize the revenue for their own pet projects, vanity projects, or to satisfy special interests. Here we look for ways to reduce taxes without negatively impacting services, which is precisely how governance should act. I find myself disappointed that Littlefield and Graham felt the need to object for reasons that seemed more reactionary than policy-based, but am thankful that it passed easily nonetheless.

By Ronald Sampson

All of the stars are aligning for the Republicans this year, especially in Arizona. The border is a major national issue, almost entirely because of failures by Democrats. The very top of the ticket is a Democrat President with a 33% approval rating and is running for re-election at the ripe young age of 81. This should be a red wave election, and yet Arizona Republicans seem bound and determined to stop that from happening.

The newest evidence? Their attempt to stop early voting, and perhaps even more so, the attempt to bring it to a public vote in the November elections.

Nevermind that 95% of Arizonans vote early, and that it has been a hallmark of Arizona politics for decades. Nevermind that it offers the sort of flexibility that we all appreciate and allows all people that have the right to vote the ability to vote. Nevermind that attacks on it are based on sour grapes entirely devoid of any facts (remember the Cyber Ninjas fiasco? Remember how we were embarrassed on a national stage as a result?).

So who do we have to thank for this? None other than Senator Wendy Rogers, the legislator who has rarely seen any conspiracy theory wacky enough that she wouldn’t jump on, so long as it was in support of the whims of former President Trump. And her hard-right base in rural Arizona, in a district that stretches into some of the odder stretches of our state’s electorate, seems to appreciate it.

But any reasonable voter, liberal or conservative, should be turned off by it. Moreover, when our state had moved away from the bad press days of Sheriff Arpaio, when our state’s reputation nationally had improved, then came the election denialism. And now comes the GOP shooting all of us in the foot and trying to bring attention to this tragic act of violence.

However, attacking something that is used by 95% of voters is a new echelon of stupidity, and attempting to bring it to a public vote to showcase how stupid they are is…something else. Meanwhile, sane conservatives are waiting for the old GOP that wasn’t mired in the lowest common denominator to come back. Any day now…

If Republicans are so stupid so as to attack that which is universally appreciated, then they deserve what they will get, which will be snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

On Friday, March 29, Scottsdale City Council candidate Jan Dubauskas submitted 1,956 petition signatures at City Hall – almost double the required number.

“Many thanks to the thousands of Scottsdale residents who came together to put me on the ballot,” said Dubauskas. “We love Scottsdale and recognize how important it is to have another member on Council who will put residents first, lead with integrity, and oppose the overdevelopment, road diets and special interest-driven decisions that are changing Scottsdale’s unique charm and way of life. I look forward to taking the voices of these residents with me to Council. Let’s go!”

Dubuaskas has emerged as a frontrunner in the crowded, and hotly contested race, with a message of integrity, “residents first” and keeping Scottsdale special. She is an attorney, Christian, wife, mother, and ASU alum. She has lived in Arizona since 1998 and raised her family in Scottsdale for the past 10 years.

Learn more about Jan Dubauskas at JanforScottsdale.com.

It is our belief that more housing options are needed and that development is a critical aspect in keeping the cost of living reasonable for our residents. Also, the concept of “cultural appropriation” has often gotten out-of-control, pushed to absurdity by the excesses of political leftists. But every once in a while these two items intersect, and in this case it leaves a poor taste in our mouths.

DPC Cos, a Denver-based company, is working through the process approval for an apartment complex at the intersection of Shea and Scottsdale. The complex is named “Cosanti Commons”, which strikes at the heart of the problem.

Perhaps you’ve heard the word “Cosanti”, or more likely “Arcosanti” before. They both refer back to the same source; a man named Paolo Soleri. Soleri was a legend in architectural circles; born in Italy in 1919, he came to the United States to work with Frank Lloyd Wright in 1946. After a brief stint back in Italy he came to Arizona for good in 1956, where he built the renowned “urban laboratory” Arcosanti and became a distinguished guest lecturer at Arizona State University.

Soleri, while not known by too many in the area and certainly not as well known as his colleague Frank Lloyd Wright, was a true icon. Additionally, his time spent in the area (from 1956 until his death in Paradise Valley in 2013) represent a considerable dedication to an area often known as a transient stop in life. While he was far from perfect (notably accusations of sexual abuse), his works had great weight, and come with names that should be valued and preserved.

Enter DPC, using this term with no local ties. An out-of-state company helicoptering in with plans for an apartment complex and co-opting a significant local brand without any attachment to it, without having put in the time and effort to honor, respect, and do justice to the gravitas of the brand.

It amounts to a cheap ploy to appeal to an audience without putting the work in. It amounts to stealing the glory of others for your own personal benefit. Soleri would certainly be rolling in his grave if he knew about it, but since he doesn’t, the onus is on us to reject these sorts of tactics. For those of us who respect our area and the history and culture inherent in it, we deserve better.

Jan Dubauskas, candidate for Scottsdale City Council, is honored to announce endorsements from Councilwoman Kathy Littlefield and Councilman Barry Graham. The endorsements were first announced at an event for Dubauskas on March 21st.

Councilwoman Littlefield says she is “confident that Jan will join me on the Council as a clear voice for the residents of Scottsdale. She has a track record of engaging in Scottsdale as a citizen and amplifying the concerns of the community. As a Councilmember, I believe Jan will continue to put the welfare of our citizens first and work to keep Scottsdale the beautiful city we all love. I am proud to endorse Jan Dubauskas.”

Councilman Graham stated he is “proud to endorse Jan Dubauskas for City Council. Jan has a proven record of service to Scottsdale and will be a strong fiscal conservative for taxpayers. To protect Scottsdale’s unique character and quality of life, we must elect another Councilmember who will stand-up for residents and oppose ideas that don’t make sense for our city.”

“It is a true honor to have the endorsements of these outstanding members of our Council,” said Dubauskas. “Councilwoman Littlefield and Councilman Graham listen to the voice of residents. They have offered strong and much needed opposition to overdevelopment, road diets, and other proposals that don’t serve Scottsdale’s best interests. I am grateful for their trust and confidence; and look forward to serving with them on Council.”

Jan Dubauskas has emerged as a frontrunner in the crowded, and hotly contested race, with a message of integrity, “residents first” and keeping Scottsdale special. She is an attorney, wife, mother, and ASU law alumni. She has lived in Arizona since 1998 and has raised her family in Scottsdale for the past 10 years.

Learn more about Jan Dubauskas at JanforScottsdale.com.

Photo Credit: Ross D. Franklin, AP

Nearly everyone in the Scottsdale area now knows what could easily be called the “The Phoenix Open Debacle of 2024”, when the regularly ribaldrous affair went a few steps too far with the debauchery. Fights, overt drunkenness, and even someone falling off of a balcony were the result (read our coverage here).

Details have slipped in regarding how potentially problematic this iteration of the event was, but a recent story truly showed its messy nature.

According to coverage from Arizona Republic, police officers were called to circumstances at the event an average of every three minutes at the peak of its problems. The majority of calls came from the 16th hole, the epicenter of the rowdiness. Amongst other lowlights? This year set the event record for the most arrests, it included 48 medical emergencies (presumably many including alcohol), and had 127 service calls to law enforcement on Saturday alone.

Adding to the chaos was the gate-keeping. At one point in the tournament, the ticket checkers were unable to keep up with the masses of people attempting to enter and just started letting people in. Overcrowding from a crowd that was clearly less interested in golf as they were the party, alcohol, and a damaged reputation of an event known for being a party was certain to be a toxic brew.

While we know that often golf is secondary (or tertiary) in the minds of many attendees, one must also consider the brand damage that this year’s event has for golfers. What world-class golfers would want to be associated with something like this? At some point it seems like that prospect is akin to U2 playing at a dive bar in Apache Junction: it’s not a good look and may not reflect well on them.

It is clear that a real reset is needed. Can the event still hold onto the semblance of being the most fun golf event of the year without tipping towards a well-dressed frat party? That would be ideal…that is what sets the event apart, after all. But it is clear that serious changes are necessary, and if those changes end up making the event more boring, maybe that’s not the worst outcome.

As you likely know, the presidential preference primaries happened last week. Yes, there are no real cliffhangers regarding the results; Donald Trump won on the Republican side and Joe Biden won on the Democrat side. But even while the high-level results were not a surprise, that’s not to say that there weren’t any tea leaves to read from the results.

At the time of writing, there are still votes to be counted, as to be expected, but a couple general themes show up. First, there is a reason to be cautious about Trump’s ability to coalesce the Republican base. He pulled in 79% of the vote, which obviously is a resounding victory, but considering that he is the only current candidate (with Nikki Haley having withdrawn), that is a slight reason for concern.

Haley received over 110,000 votes, which is more than enough to sway any relatively tight statewide election in Arizona. How many of those are “Never Trumpers”, it’s impossible to tell, but it’s not unreasonable to think that a good number of them are.

On the Democrat side, Biden pulled in nearly 90% of the vote; no huge surprise as his only “serious” opposition was Marianne Williamson, who earned about 16,000 votes. There was no strong “anyone but Biden” option on the left; a testament to the ability of the DNC to coalesce around those currently in power and push out anyone who might usurp it. However, this strength may be their biggest weakness this year, as many believe that a younger candidate would have a better chance of taking on Trump.

Probably the most damning aspect of the uphill battle that Democrats face however is seen in the raw vote total. At the time of writing, Biden has earned around 374,000 votes, while Trump has earned around 490,000. With both races having similar uncompetitive dynamics, Republicans flexed their voter registration advantage and faithful voting practices. As referenced before regarding Nikki Haley, 116,000 votes is a huge difference for a tight statewide race.

So again, as it often does in this state, it comes down to the biggest party in the state: those who choose no party…registered Independents. They can certainly overcome this deficit and push Biden to victory like they did in 2020, but after everything they’ve seen from the first four years, will they? It’s a fool’s errand to predict so far out, but at this point, it’s not looking probable.

Photo Credit: Patrick Breen, Arizona Republic

As the saying goes, the faster the rise the bigger the fall. And while the rise of Jevin Hodge as an Arizonan political figure wasn’t necessarily fast in the political sense, he is a 30-year old who managed to get the attention of much of the local Democratic establishment by a young age. Now the attention he has is of a negative variety.

For those who are unaware, Hodge had worked his way up the Democratic political establishment to become a party-supported candidate, first running for the Board of Supervisors and losing by a razor-thin margin in 2020, then running against David Schweikert for the U.S. Congress and losing by a tight margin. He parlayed his charisma and non-offensive, largely bland policy positions into an appointment to the Arizona legislature.

And just like that, his past came roaring back; where he was booted out of and banned from the George Washington college campus after sexual improprieties came to light. You can read the details for yourself, but suffice it to say that they flew directly in the face of his squeaky-clean public image, as did his attempt to sue the victim for daring to besmirch his reputation by speaking the truth. That simply will not fly in today’s Democratic party; if it was something decades in the past, perhaps it would be more forgivable, but four years after these events he was running for office.

Democrats should have listened to us. Less than two years ago we wrote, “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.”

The writing was on the wall. Serious people don’t throw their hat in the ring for three very different political seats in three years. You know who does that? Egomaniacs who are obsessed with power and glory. Serious people in their late 20’s understand that they have a ways to go before they’re in a position to be effective leaders in society. You know who doesn’t? Narcissists. And you know who fancies themselves motivational speakers in their early 20’s? Egomaniacal narcissists to an incredible degree. And it’s shocking that so few people apparently saw through this.

This is a good time for reflection. Democrats have been chasing the charisma of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama over experience and effectiveness for too long. We deserve people with practical leadership experience, good judgment, and enough years lived to have perspective, not a ring chaser. Those are the leaders we need, not good speech-givers.

Photo Credit: AZCentral.com

Five years ago, fentanyl was still on the relative fringes of society. Stories of this end-of-life painkiller being abused existed, but it hadn’t yet exploded into the national consciousness. And then Covid hit, and the entire world dealt with isolation and emotional health issues in various ways. This combined with a massive increase of production and importation created the perfect storm for the second pandemic: fentanyl addiction.

While anyone who has spent time in west coast downtown areas recently has likely seen, the problem is not evenly distributed, and Arizona has been spared the worst of it. That is, until now, as the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office is ringing the alarm bells and announcing a 5,000% increase in deaths from the drug over the last decade.

It should be noted that percentage increases can be unreliable measures in some capacity; after all, if the starting number is small the ending number may still not be huge. And deaths from fentanyl a decade ago were nearly non-existent. But how do we stack up?

For starters, precise statistics are notoriously difficult to gather. The CDC has rankings of overall overdose deaths by state, but it lumps all drugs together and the most recent year with full data is 2021, where we rank 17th (1st is the most overdoses). A fentanyl-focused group, Families Against Fentanyl, has done some heavy lifting regarding pouring through the specifics. Their research puts Arizona slightly below the national average when it comes to the increase in fentanyl deaths compared to the national average. Seen through this prism, County Attorney Mitchell’s alarm is in sync with a national alarm, signifying that this is a nationwide problem.

Regardless of how we stack against other states and regions, one thing is clear: fentanyl is perhaps the single most destructive drug of our lifetimes. It’s only saving grace, that it is so cheap that it does not necessitate committing crimes to fuel an addiction like heroin or meth has, is also one of its most destructive elements, that it’s accessible and cheap.

So how do we fix this crisis? There are no easy answers: solving the border crisis will help, but traffickers will be creative when there is money to be made. Increasing treatment options and compelling treatment is important. And draconian consequences for anyone selling it may help thwart supply. But much of the onus falls on parents, to do everything in their power to ensure that their children understand the death sentence that is fentanyl.

The Scottsdale Unified School District has had a good run recently. From largely avoiding the controversies that befell it a few years back to operating schools at levels that are gaining national recognition (read our full coverage here), it has been relatively smooth sailing recently…until now. A recent story potentially demonstrates an unforced error and a significant bump in the road, but a more cynical look implies that perhaps it may be subterfuge from within.

A local attorney recently filed suit alleging that SUSD violated open meeting laws by not putting the details of a retreat onto the public record. This same attorney brought suit over violations of open meeting laws several years ago: the rule that whenever there are official meetings, the agenda must be made public. That lawsuit was successful: AG Kris Mayes agreed with the merits of the suit.

This particular instance doesn’t pertain to a regular meeting, but instead a retreat. While there did seem to be education-related workshops to it, it does not seem to have been focused around official district happenings; where the line is drawn insofar as open meetings law is probably not so precisely settled, so one could see both sides: why it wouldn’t be necessary and why it would be prudent.

However, the notable aspect is the two members who spoke up about these omissions: newcomers, staunch conservatives and sometimes bomb-thrower board members Amy Carney and Carine Werner. These two had shown sometimes embarrassingly little understanding of the rules of the board, and so to have them now taking the lead on a potential procedural mistake seems a bit…odd.

Also notable is that the same attorney filed suit during open meeting violations at the height of Covid-era insanity, a time when both Carney and Werner cut their teeth as activists that were heavily critical of SUSD. Is it possible that they prompted that attorney to file suit originally and are now doing the same now? Is it possible that he is their tool to attempt to demonstrate dysfunction at SUSD for their own benefit? It’s tough to believe that the agenda of a retreat is vital information for the public, even if it does violate the letter of the law, but it does make for good talking points and an opportunity to look like heroes.

All of this is entirely speculation and may have no relation whatsoever. But it seems odd that the people who had no issues throwing bombs and ignoring procedure are now so very concerned about procedure when it allows them the opportunity to stand out positively. It makes you wonder.

By Ronald Sampson

DEI, or Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, has been one of the biggest buzzwords in America for the last few years. It has gone from a vague talking point amongst political progressives to a fundamental credo in much of corporate America in the last decade. Generally speaking, it is the pursuit of diversity in your workforce and groups, equity of outcomes, and inclusion of all marginalized communities.

To the political left, it is a vital aspect of the prism through which they see society. To the political right, it is a symptom of political correctness run amok. To the head of HR at your company, it is either something they strongly believe in or boxes they feel they need to check.

Generally, it is seen as more of a tangential aspect of corporate America, but a new op-ed in The Hill brings up some disturbing news related to DEI and the CHIPS Act, one of President Biden’s hallmark pieces of legislation. In essence, it says that stringent DEI requirements tucked into the CHIPS Act is having major multinational companies reconsider their planned expansions in America and is truly imperiling its potential efficacy.

Noted in the op-ed is that TSMC, the major semiconductor producer that has made major plans to invest tens of billions of dollars in Arizona to increase its production footprint here, is rethinking those plans. The Taiwanese company had planned on bringing over 500 specialists from Taiwan to help create their chips here, but that may not happen now due to requirements for added diversity and inclusion of traditionally marginalized groups in its hiring.

In this particular case, these 3- and 4-nanometer chips are the most high tech in the world, and that research is currently taking place in Taiwan. It is completely logical that they would want to bring their own people to make them here; they are the ones who have the expertise. These are an order of magnitude more complex than what Intel is doing in their Chandler fabrication plant. It is highly specialized to a degree that we have yet to tackle here in the States.

Yes, having a diverse workforce is a noble and positive goal. Yes, it does create a better, more balanced environment that can better relate to a diverse world. But we are not talking about making widgets, or customer service, or hospitality. This is a discipline that only a tiny number of people in the world understand. This noble goal is now not just getting in the way of pragmatism, it’s getting in the way of national security.

The FAA got a lot of heat for the patent absurdity and recklessness of pushing the hiring of people with “severe intellectual disabilities”, and for good reason. But this shouldn’t be ignored, as the ramifications will be especially far-reaching for Arizona’s future. The federal government should strip these requirements immediately. The stakes are too high.

The Cactus League gives us all a chance to get out in the sun before it gets too warm, to have a few brews and check out some baseball with friends and family. Every once in a while it also offers a few surprises, such as an opportunity to recognize a local icon and his contributions to the area.

The Cactus League recently announced new entrants to its Hall of Fame, and Don Carson made it in this year. The name might not immediately jump out at you, but you have probably had your life impacted by his accomplishments, especially if you have been in Scottsdale for a long time.

Carson came here from Chicago and quickly made a major imprint in the city. He soon opened up his famous trio of restaurants, the Pink Pony, Don and Charlie’s, and the Italian Grotto. While all three became mainstays for Cactus League tourists and Scottsdalians alike, it was Don and Charlie’s, which Carson purchased in 1981, that turned into one of the most iconic institutions in Scottsdale’s history.

Anyone who has been to Don and Charlie’s knows precisely why it is so intrinsically tied to baseball: because Carson is a huge baseball aficionado, and the walls were lined with memorabilia. It was in and of itself a bit of a baseball museum. It was so stuffed with baseball history that it became a target: sadly, thieves stole an estimated $600,000 in signed baseball from Major League Baseball’s biggest names in 2019, an event that the restaurant never seemed to truly rebound from.

The same year, Don and Charlie’s closed up shop for good, and Carson sold the land. The building has since been repurposed into a boutique hotel, exemplifying both the beautiful ghosts of Scottsdale’s past as well as the constant need for that which is fresh and new.

Carson remains active in Scottsdale life, and is currently a member of the Scottsdale Charros. And even though the restaurant is gone, Carson’s dedication and passion for the game, as well as providing a venue that was beloved by players, coaches, fans and media alike, is finally properly recognized and very well deserved.

2020 Scrum

Photo Credit: The Hill

Here are the Arizona Progress and Gazette, we love to cover the weird world that is Arizona politics. Not many states are pure swing states, which brings with it an incredible amount of attention. And perhaps no race other than the Presidential race will be more watched than the specter of a three-person cage match to represent Arizona in the US Senate alongside Sen. Mark Kelly.

Campaign viability is almost always tied to fundraising, and with that in mind we received some clarity as to where the candidates stand in the way of their 2023 Q4 financial statements. And so far, it’s Advantage Gallego.

According to those Q4 reports, Rep. Ruben Gallego brought in $3.3 million and sat with $6.5 in cash at the end of the year. Compare this with Kari Lake, who brought in $2,1 million but with no cash-on-hand numbers available at the time of writing. Incumbent Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s numbers were not available at the time of writing.

Perhaps most notable with the fact that 99% of Gallego’s contributions were under $200. That means that he has been able to build an incredible breadth and scope of donors nationally, ones that he will be able to go back to time and time again until the election, as opposed to max donors who are tapped out until after the primary election.

All of this is a relative pittance in what is certain to be one of the most important races in the country however, especially considering the extremely tight lead that Democrats have in the Senate. For context, a stunning $236 million was spent in the 2022 US Senate election; in all fairness, over half of that was spent by outside groups, but regardless, the bar of competitiveness for a US Senate race starts around $30 million or so, so the early numbers matter but are not critical.

While Gallego’s strength is obvious, a big question will be Kari Lake’s ability to fundraise. During her run for Governor, she eschewed the necessity of traditional fundraising, relying instead on earned media and a strong social media presence. As a result, she was soundly defeated by Katie Hobbs in the fundraising race. While the national Republican party will likely come to her support unless Sheriff Mark Lamb makes it a competitive primary, she must demonstrate that she has learned a lesson from her failure in her gubernatorial race.

But of course, the big elephant in the room is whether or not Sinema will vie for another term in the face of low favorability ratings. But until then, she is certain to utilize her influence and power to raise huge chunks of money to assist her in whatever her next step is.

Connect Maricopa, the official campaign in support of the Proposition 400 renewal, formally launched today with a coalition of business, community, and public sector leaders advocating for the extension of the transportation funding measure. The effort is led by Pam Kehaly, CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona; Mesa Mayor John Giles; Maricopa County Supervisor Jack Sellers; Mike Hoover, CEO of Sundt Construction; and Jim Kenny, CEO of El Dorado Holdings.

In 1985, Maricopa County voters overwhelmingly passed a 20-year half-cent sales tax dedicated to transportation infrastructure. It was renewed in 2004 with the passage of Proposition 400 which invested in highways, streets, and transit. The funding is set to expire December 31, 2025, without renewal. The extension of Proposition 400 was referred to Maricopa County voters by the Arizona Legislature and will be on the November 2024 ballot.

“The renewal of Proposition 400 is an integral part of Maricopa County’s continued economic growth and the overall success of the region,” said Pam Kehaly, CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. “Investing in critical transportation infrastructure will allow the region to appropriately plan for future growth so residents can travel with ease and not experience the burden of long commute times. I am proud of the coalition of business and community associations that are actively supporting this effort and we look forward to sharing our message with Maricopa County voters.”

“Since the passage of Proposition 400, Arizona has become one of the top 6 states for economic momentum,” said Mesa Mayor John Giles. “The regional half cent sales tax has allowed the county to grow responsibly and build a comprehensive transportation network to support Maricopa County residents. This continued investment is critical for future economic development and ensuring Maricopa County residents have access to a variety of transportation options that best meet their needs.

”The Connect Maricopa Executive Committee consists of key business, economic development, and community organizations that understand the importance of investing in the Valley’s critical infrastructure:

  • American Council of Engineering Companies of Arizona
  • Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Arizona Chapter of the Associated General Contractors
  • Arizona Multihousing Association
  • Arizona Realtors Association
  • Arizona Rock Products Association
  • Arizona Trucking Association
  • Greater Phoenix Chamber
  • Greater Phoenix Economic Council
  • Greater Phoenix Leadership
  • Home Builders Association of Central Arizona
  • NAIOP Arizona
  • Valley Partnership

Ne’Lexia Galloway

Students of history (or older readers) will remember the Saturday Night Massacre: it was the last gasp of the Nixon administration and its attempt to cover up the Watergate scandal. In it, Nixon ordered his Justice Department officials to fire the Special Prosecutor in charge of Watergate, which led to a string of resignations as a result.

The Maricopa County Democratic Party seems to have had its own version of the Saturday Night Massacre in what seems to be embattled Executive Director Ne’Lexia Galloway’s attempt to protect her own job in the midst of underperformance, internal dissatisfaction, and a potential financial scandal. As a reminder, Galloway is engaged to be married to Bruce Franks Jr., the disgraced former Missouri State Rep/battle rapper/campaign grifter who played a significant role in tanking Julie Gunnigle’s campaign for County Attorney (get up to date on him here).

In a bombshell recent action, we’ve learned that Galloway personally fired every member of the staff except for one older, part-time employee nearing retirement (i.e. someone not deemed a threat). Their last day was at the end of February. The positions that were eliminated were organizing director (the person in charge of reaching out to potential voters), political director, and campaign director. While short term jobs are not renewed immediately after an election, to have such critical roles eliminated in a battleground county with all countywide seats up for election next year is unprecedented.

Some might say that money is a significant issue, and they are indeed light on cash, with only $16K available at the end of February. However, insiders say that part of this cash crunch is a result of gross mismanagement of funds, including a large allocation of cash sent out for what was supposed to be for mailers; but those mailers never went out. Insiders say that Galloway pushed for this vendor because the pricing was so cheap, but the pricing was so cheap because it didn’t account for the large majority of the costs: postage. A true rookie mistake. Now the party is attempting to claw back those funds, and numerous district chairs are extremely displeased.

Adding to that awkwardness? The fact that one of Galloway’s first actions after becoming the ED of the county Democratic Party was a highly public attempt to attack her former boss Ruben Gallego. Galloway spent several days hyping up a major announcement she was going to drop, only for it to be this statement, amounting to little more than a Gen Z’er who is amazed to learn that their boss won’t fawn over every single idea that a new college graduate has. This is much, MUCH more awkward of a dynamic now that Gallego is the presumed Democratic candidate for the US Senate race in 2024.

Additionally, the friend’s list seems to be narrowing, as the county party became an official sponsor of an event that Galloway’s fiance Franks Jr. put on which neglected to invite the Kesha Hodge Washington, a Democrat and favored candidate of Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. Attempting to purposely alienate the most powerful Democratic elected official of a local seat is…highly risky.

So in summary, it has been bad decisions compounded by bad performance followed by bad financial management that has led to this place: where threats were all around and where money was tight, so Galloway decided to solve both issues at once. And now they will be hamstrung regarding organizing for the future, and their brand has taken a real hit. Her hire has turned into a one-person disaster.

Good governance depends on at least two strong parties that are led competently and have compelling messages. We have seen parts of the Republican party in Arizona devolve into conspiracy theories, and now we are seeing the local Democratic party devolve into power struggles designed to paper over incompetence and underperformance. Much like the Saturday Night Massacre, it’s a sad state of affairs. We can only hope that much like that event, it leads to a wholesale change in leadership and an entirely new direction.

By Alexander Lomax

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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