Western Free Press: Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission — Public Comment Session — July 21, 2011

At South Mountain Community College, July 21, 2011, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission sought public comment. The following unedited video was recorded at that session.

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This video is just part 1 of 11 unedited videos. Western Free Press has covered the Independent Redistricting Commission’s actions from the beginning.

Western Free Press is dedicated to generating public dialogue on Arizona’s most important issues and figures. 

Protecting Pinal County’s Property Tax Payers

Over the years, covering multiple Boards of Supervisors andCountyManagers,PinalCountyentered into numerous agreements waiving impact fees. These are fees used to cover the cost of expanding the water supply and other necessary services as required byArizonalaw. The waiving of impact fees literally means property taxpayers must make up the loss of revenue to the County.

 In October 2006, the Pinal County Board of Supervisors passed and adopted Ordinance No. 101806-DF, which established a development fee schedule forPinalCounty. The purpose of the ordinance is to require new developments to pay for their proportionate share of capital costs associated with providing public safety, streets, and parks facilities.

 In November 2000, Pinal County and Johnson Ranch/Centex Homes amended a November 1997 agreement waiving development impact fees for ten years with an option to renew for an additional ten years. The 1997 agreement expired in November 2007. When Johnson Ranch/Centex Homes requested another ten year waiver of development impact fees, the Board of Supervisors denied the request.

 One of the primary reasons the Board of Supervisors denied the extension was based on a vastly different set of facts facing the Board of Supervisors in 2007 versus the Board of Supervisors in 1997. In 1997, the population of San Tan Valley was estimated at 2000 residents. In 2007, the population was estimated at 40,000 residents. Today, the population is over 80,000 residents, a forty fold increase.

 Growth of this magnitude places a draconian strain on County resources, e.g., the Sheriff’s Department, Public Works, and Public Health, to mention a few. IfPinalCountyviewed County government capitulated to developer demands to waive impact development fees, the lost revenue would be made up in property taxes during a recessionary period.

 Johnson Ranch/Centex Homes developed 4,880 lots with 808 lots remaining to be developed at the time. The build out of 4,880 lots outstripped the infrastructure agreed to in the original development agreement. The exponential population growth inPinalCountywas not foreseen in 1997, lending credibility to the idea that theArizonalegislature should redefine a phased development from ten to five years,

 As a result of the County’s denial of extension of waiver of impact development fees, Johnson Ranch/Centex homes decided to litigate the matter. At approximately the same time, an Arizona State Representative, on behalf of an anonymous developer, attempted to sponsor a bill (HB 2578) freezing all development impact fees. Members of the Pinal County Citizens for Excellence in Government, a non-partisan organization, managed to convince the Representative that his bill was not friendly to property tax payers. The bill was withdrawn.

 The importance of this litigation is evidenced in the 21 development impact fee agreements inPinalCounty. The potential for property tax payers to incur $500 million in new taxes is real. Two developers opted for litigation: Johnson Ranch/Centex Homes and Grosvenor Holdings (Entrada del Oro). Centex Homes prevailed in Superior Court.

 The County appealed on the basis of the Arizona Gift Clause, where the State Constitution prohibits the County from giving or loaning its credit in the aid of any individual or corporation by donation, grant, subsidy or others (Article 9, Section7), public policy consideration, changed circumstances unforeseen at the time of the original agreement, and the best interests of the public.

 In December 2010, the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the ruling of the Superior Court finding improper the grant of summary judgment in favor of Centex Homes. The Court of Appeals found ambiguity in the Development Agreement and directed that the matter could not be settled by summary judgment; it had to be heard by the “trier-of-fact.”

 Centex Homes filed a Petition for Review with the Arizona Supreme Court. The Petition for Review was denied in May 2011. In June 2011, the Court of Appeals issued a Mandate commanding the Superior Court to conduct such proceedings as are required to comply with the Appellate Court decision. Centex Homes has yet to initiate any proceeding in Superior Court.

 Pinal County Management and the Board of Supervisors were right in refusing to extend the development impact fee agreement and it is right in defending its decision in court. The case is not yet closed but every Pinal County property tax payer should stand up and cheer the position Pinal County Government has taken in this matter.

 Development impact fees are assessed subject to the doctrine that new growth should pay for its own costs; property tax payers should not subsidize homebuilders and new residents.



Arizona Taxpayer’s Action Committee Announces Initial Endorsements for Phoenix City Council

CONTACT: info@arizonataxpayeraction.com

(Phoenix, AZ) – The Arizona Taxpayer’s Action Committee announced its initial endorsements for Phoenix City Council today setting the stage for voters to make clear decisions in the August 30th Election. Early ballots will be sent out next Thursday, August 4th.

Candidates were asked a variety of questions related to tax rates, types of taxation, city budgeting, unions and the growth of city government. The survey is available online at: http://arizonataxpayeraction.com/documents/surveys/city/ATACCityCandidateSurvey2011.pdf.

This initial round of endorsements includes the following candidates:

Phoenix Mayor – Jennifer Wright
Phoenix Council, District 1 – Eric Frederick
Phoenix Council, District 5 – Charlie Ellis
Phoenix Council, District 7 – Janet Contreras 

Shane Wikfors, Treasurer for the political action committee remarked, “Voters have an obligation to elect the best candidates who will protect the taxpayers of the City of Phoenix.” He added, “We believe these are the best candidates to lead Phoenix government back to fiscal sanity and away from the unhealthy relationship with government unions.”

The PAC is expected to make additional endorsements over the next week including in the race for Phoenix Councils, districts 2 and 3 and, in the mayoral and council races in Tucson.

The Arizona Taxpayer’s Action Committee (ATAC) is the largest taxpayer advocacy political action committee in Arizona. ATAC recently participated in and won a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision eliminating the matching funds provision of Arizona’s “Clean Election” law.

For more information about the Arizona Taxpayer’s Action Committee, please visit www.ArizonaTaxpayerAction.com or email the committee at info@arizonataxpayeraction.com.


Rep. Schweikert Statement on Reid Plan: ‘This Borders on Embarrassing’

CONTACT: Rachel Semmell

Washington, D.C. – Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ), a member of the House Financial Services Committee, made the following statement after he voted against the irresponsible Reid plan:

“While our economy is on the brink of a debt disaster, it is unconscionable that President Obama and the Senate Majority still refuse any plan that will not give the president a blank check.

“The House of Representatives did the heavy lifting and passed a bipartisan plan, yet President Obama’s calls for ‘compromise’ seem to ignore this reality.

“The Reid plan borders on embarrassing. It is full of smoke and mirrors instead of common sense and math. It will have a disastrous impact on our military, does not cut close to the amount it hikes, and advertises $1 trillion in phantom cuts.

“Senator Reid continues to play games and disregard the will of the People’s House. It is clear that President Obama and the Senate Majority just don’t get it.”


Arizona Right to Life PAC Announces Endorsements for Phoenix City Council


(PHOENIX, AZ) AZRTL PAC based the following determinations on the candidate’s answers to the AZRTL PAC questionnaire, their history of pro-life involvement, any history of voting on abortion related legislation, and their chances of defeating pro-abortion candidates.

The AZRTL PAC supports pro-life candidates at all levels of government, even if the pro-life issue may never come before them. We want to ensure that we elect solid pro-life candidates at all levels of government.

AZRTL PAC endorses the following candidates for Phoenix City Council:

District 1: Eric Fredrick

District 2: Jim Waring

District 3: Bill Gates

District 5: Charlie Ellis

District 7: Janet Contreras

The Arizona Right to Life Political Action Committee is Arizona’s oldest, largest, and strongest political pro-life organization. To learn more about Arizona Right to Life, please visit our website at www.azrtl.org


Rep. Schweikert Statement on the Budget Control Act

CONTACT: Rachel Semmel

Washington, D.C. – Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ), a member of the House Financial Services Committee, made the following statement after he voted in support of S.627, The Budget Control Act of 2011:

“I had previously been concerned that the original plan did not go far enough to address the unease of the markets and rating agencies in regards to the projection of our exploding debt.

“I am now pleased to support this legislation after Speaker Boehner took a bold step to ensure a Balanced Budget Amendment must pass the House and be sent to the states before President Obama receives any additional debt ceiling increase.

“When I came to Washington, I made a promise to the people of Arizona’s 5th District that something serious and genuine needed to be done to save our country from an avalanche of debt. This bill is another key step House Republicans have taken in that process.

“I encourage the Senate Majority and the President to not only start participating in solving our debt crisis, but to quickly pass this bill and save our economic future.

“Now is the time for scare tactics, half-measures, and phantom cuts to end.”


F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Great For Arizona Economy

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

This week’s debt ceiling debate, not surprisingly, has us all focused on policing government spending.  And one suggestion that’s been circulated is to slow production of certain defense projects, such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.  That conversation takes place at a time when Arizonans anticipate Luke Air Force Base will be the training home for the aircraft. There are already suppliers and experts in our state working on it, and we need the jobs and economic development that a large squadron multi-role stealth aircraft would bring.
Arizona’s congressional delegation must stand for high-rate production of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The aging F-16 squadron at Luke already shrunk from 185 fighters six years ago to now 138 – with the base’s population slipping down to 7,400 personnel from the original 8,000. That’s fewer jobs, meaning diminished wages and decreased revenue for the state.
We can’t turn this around with more F-16s. They’re outdated and, frankly, enemy technology is fast catching up with them.  We need next-generation technology to keep our men and women safe.
The F-35 project brings nearly $90 million in economic impact from the work of 19 suppliers based here in the state.  So, full production would bring more jobs at Luke, and more jobs throughout Arizona.  And that’s just the tip of it.
Several years ago, an independent study discovered that Luke AFB alone was bringing in $2.2 billion annual revenue for Arizona.  There’s nothing chump about that kind of change. Included is an economic engine from nearly 100,000 retired military personnel living around the base and the many businesses, schools and community institutions in surrounding metropolitan areas that depend on that income for its existence.
So, supporting the F-35 is, in reality, supporting the state and growing jobs. Projections estimate that the initial base construction phase for the F-35s would generate $125 million by itself.  Again: more jobs.
We could talk all day about the F-35 as the most advanced multi-role stealth combat aircraft in the world.  And it doesn’t hurt to mention how much we need it to maintain our global air superiority (would you believe that some of our aircraft are nearly 30 years old??).
But, we really need our representatives in Washington to hear this loud and clear. Simply put, this is all beneficial for Arizona―with the extra-added bonus of protecting our country and people in uniform. We need to get the F-35 here, benefit from the job growth, train the pilots and get this aircraft in full flight.  That’s a no-brainer Arizonans can’t afford to take chances on.

Arizona Republican Party: ‘I Am A Republican’

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Balance the Budget: Now is the Time!

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With Inclusion of Balanced Budget Amendment Requirement, Boehner Bill Cuts, Caps, and Balances

CONTACT: Genevieve Frye Rozansky

Conservatives Insist on Balanced Budget Amendment Requirement

Washington, D.C. – Republican Congressman Jeff Flake, who represents Arizona’s Sixth District, today announced that he will support the Budget Control Act of 2011 after House Leaders agreed to take steps to ensure that it includes a balanced budget amendment requirement.

“With conservatives insisting on the addition of a balanced budget amendment requirement, Speaker Boehner’s bill will now cut, cap, and balance,” said Flake.

“The ball will now be in the Senate’s court. If the Boehner bill is dead-on-arrival, as Senator Reid has said, I hope they’ll send us a plan of their own so that we can make improvements to it.”



Rep. Quayle To Support Budget Control Act

CONTACT: Richard Cullen

WASHINGTON (DC) Congressman Ben Quayle (R-AZ) released the following statement in support of the Budget Control Act of 2011:

“I came to Washington with two main goals in mind: getting the economy going again and reducing the size and scope of government. I will vote for the Budget Control Act because I am committed to these goals. While it’s not perfect, the Budget Control Act is an important first step that puts in place structural spending reforms and cuts, requires passage of a balanced budget amendment, stands firm against tax increases and ensures that America pays its bills.

“Importantly, the Budget Control Act achieves our long-standing demand that spending reductions be greater than any debt ceiling increase. And unlike Senator Harry Reid’s plan, the reductions and caps are real.

“While we wait for this debate to progress, it’s important to remember how much the debate in Washington has shifted over the past few months. Until recently, the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats insisted on a clean debt ceiling increase devoid of any spending reductions. By standing firm, Republicans have forced Congressional Democrats and the White House to abandon that reckless demand. These efforts will ensure the debate over restoring fiscal sanity remains at the forefront.”



John McCain, A Horde or Hobbits & The Tea Party Fallout

I’m going to try to remain as objective as I can in this post. After all, I’m only reporting what happened over the last 24 hours when our good friend, Senator John McCain, went all mavericky on the floor of the Senate by endorsing a Wall Street Journal article ridiculing the Tea party.  Here is the video clip that caused war to break out between Middle Earth and the “City of Satan.”

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McCain’s remarks brought the conservative side of the GOP (isn’t that the majority?) to arms prompting swift responses from the likes of Sean Hannity who called McCain out on his remarks. McCain attempted to explain it away as follows:

From Glenn Beck:

And from former Tea Party Republican Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle:

One man in Washington, who chose Sarah Palin to be his VP running-mate and came to Nevada to campaign for me last year in the Senate race against Harry Reid, is now promoting attacks against Tea Party activists, ordinary American citizens, and fiscally conservative members of Congress — all of whom are adamantly opposed to continuing the deficit-spending strategies proposed by some congressional members and the president.

Ironically, this man campaigned for Tea Party support in his last re-election, but now throws Christine O’Donnell and I into the harbor with Sarah Palin. As in the fable, it is the hobbits who are the heroes and save the land. This Lord of the TARP actually ought to read to the end of the story and join forces with the Tea Party, not criticize it.

Former Tea Party Republican Maryland Senate candidate, Christine O’Donnell, also let loose on our senior Senator when she posted on her Facebook page:

I think that it is inappropriate to insult the judgment of the majority of Republicans in Nevada and Delaware and that the implication that nominating RINOs somehow means we win was irrefutably disproven by McCain’s own presidential candidacy debacle. After that nightmare, McCain had to veer right so fast he almost got whiplash from all his flip-flopping just to keep his Senate seat. It doesn’t help him to attack those conservatives and Tea Partiers who graciously gave him another chance to keep his job.

But perhaps everyone is wanting to know what McCain’s former running mate, Governor Sarah Palin, is thinking about the Senator’s remarks attacking the Tea Party, which is her strongest base.

Without injecting my own opinion – I’m only reading from the news accounts – I’d like to know what our readers are thinking.


Rep. David Schweikert on CNBC with Rep. Yarmuth discussing debt

In case you missed it, Congressman David Schweikert was on CNBC’s Power Lunch with Congressman John Yarmuth discussing the current situation with our national debt crisis.

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Jim Waring Receives Endorsement of Sheriff Paul Babeu & Councilman Bill Gates

CONTACT: Jim Waring

Phoenix, AZ – Jim Waring, Republican Candidate for Phoenix City Council, proudly announced today that his campaign has been endorsed by Sheriff Paul Babeu and Phoenix City Councilman Bill Gates.

“Jim Waring has an unmatched record as a taxpayer watchdog and supporter of tough laws that have reduced drunk driving and domestic violence. As a veteran, I know that we’ve seldom had a better friend in public office than Jim Waring.” said Babeu. “Phoenix is by far the biggest city in Arizona. For our state to work, we desperately need Phoenix to work. I have worked hard to bring transparency and honest government to Pinal County, and wherever good candidates like Waring seek to do the same, they will have my support.”

Councilman Bill Gates had this to say, “Today I announced that I am endorsing Jim Waring for Phoenix City Council District 2. Jim has been a good friend for many years and will be a great ally to have at City Hall.”

“Sheriff Babeu and Councilman Gates are long time friends, and I am pleased to have received their endorsements. Councilman Gates and Sheriff Babeu are working hard to make the City of Phoenix and State of Arizona a better place. I look forward to working closely with Councilman Gates to make sure that we do what is right for the citizens of Phoenix,” said Waring.


Jim Waring is the Republican candidate for Phoenix City Council in District 2. He previously served in the Arizona State Senate from 2003 – 2010, where he was named Champion of the Taxpayer for his efforts to reign in government spending and reduce waste. 

To learn more, visit JimWaring.com.


Jennifer Wright Garners More Endorsements from Leading Conservatives

CONTACT: Michael Marshall


PHOENIX, AZ (July 28) – Mayoral candidate Jennifer Wright is pleased to announce the endorsements of several more conservative leaders, including Arizona State Senator Andy Biggs (R-22); Arizona State Representatives Judy Burges (R-4), Jack Harper (R-4), Carl Seel (R-6), and David Burnell Smith (R-7); John Corey Wentling, Chairman of Arizona Citizens Defense League; and Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, a.k.a. “Joe the Plumber.”

The additional endorsements signals ever-increasing momentum in the Wright campaign. In just a few short months, mayoral candidate Jennifer Wright has gone from virtual unknown to primary contender in the Phoenix Mayor’s race, with leading political pundits predicting Wright is poised to make it to the November run-off election.

At the same time, the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce has opted to exclude Wright from the August 15th televised debate they are hosting on KPHO, citing Wright’s failure to raise $50,000 by May 31. Wright entered the race on May 6, turning in her signatures to qualify for the ballot on May 30, and chose not to begin active fundraising until June, when she qualified for the ballot.

“While I respect the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce’s right as a private organization to select debate participants, I am deeply disappointed in the Chamber’s decision. Phoenix voters deserve to hear from all candidates who have qualified for the ballot in order to make an informed decision regarding the mayoral election,” stated Wright. “Money alone should not be a reason to exclude someone from a debate. This exclusion symbolizes everything that is wrong in politics, and everything society is fighting against on a local and national level.”

Today’s endorsements comes on the heels of the previously announced endorsements of Arizona State Senate President Russell Pearce (R-18), former Congressman J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ), Arizona Senator Linda Gray (R-10) and the support from Arizona Freedom Alliance, a group comprised of 26 Arizona Tea Party organizations.

Campaigning on a platform of creating an environment where jobs and opportunities flourish, communities are safe and secure, and city government is run with fiscal responsibility, Wright has been hailed as the only true conservative in the race for Phoenix mayor.

A lawyer, economist, mother and activist with the Tea Party, Wright is seen by many as the most likely candidate to challenge the field of entrenched political interests running for the office of Mayor.

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Sheriff Babeu to endorse Waring, Gates for Phoenix City Council and Oppose DiCiccio Recall

CONTACT: Chris DeRose

Supports bringing fiscal sanity and transparency to City Hall

Sheriff Paul Babeu announced today that he will endorse Jim Waring in Council District 2 and the re-election of Councilman Bill Gates in Council District 3. “I’ve been privileged to know these two exemplary public officials for years. Bill Gates has been a tireless voice on the council for fiscal sanity and public safety. Jim Waring has an unmatched record as a taxpayer watchdog and supporter of tough laws that have reduced drunk driving and domestic violence. As a veteran, I know that we’ve seldom had a better friend in public office than Jim Waring.”

Sheriff Babeu will also announce his opposition to the recall of Councilman Sal Diciccio. “Nobody has done more than Sal Diciccio to shine a spotlight on the practices at City Hall. He has been targeted for favoring a government of, by, and for the people — not of, by, and for the insiders. All Arizonans have a vested interest in keeping him right where he is — asking the tough questions and demanding the public get answers.”

“Phoenix is by far the biggest city in Arizona. For our state to work, we desperately need Phoenix to work. I have worked hard to bring transparency and honest government to Pinal County, and wherever good candidates like Diciccio, Gates, and Waring seek to do the same, they will have my support.”

The endorsement will take place on Thursday, July 28th, at the Arizona State Capitol at noon. Press and members of the public are welcome.


Western Free Press Interviews Charlie Ellis, Phoenix City Council Candidate, District 5

Western Free Press’ Brad Zinn interviews Charlie Ellis, announced candidate for the Phoenix City Council from District 5.

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Western Free Press is dedicated to generating public dialogue on Arizona’s most important issues and figures.