Andy Biggs’ Special Fire District Still Burned In My Memory

By East Valley Evan

They say an elephant never forgets. This Republican certainly doesn’t but sometimes it takes an incident to help recall.

The massive fire in Gilbert recently stoked my memory about one of our local politicians who tried to take advantage of a serious public safety threat.

Andy BiggsBack in 2005, Rural Metro notified the Town of Gilbert that they were ceasing operations in Gilbert because it was becoming too expensive to service the town due to the numerous county islands. That provoked a political fight between Gilbert and the county islanders.

In early 2006, county islander and State Representative Andy Biggs jumped feet first into the fight by sponsoring legislation allowing his fellow islanders to form a special fire district that would also pay back the Town of Gilbert for use of their municipal fire service. There was only one problem. The town of Gilbert was not going to recover the full cost of providing that service – an additional $5 million! Gilbert taxpayers like me would have had to pay the difference and subsidize all the folks in the county islands who were receiving Town of Gilbert services.

To add insult to injury, we would have had to pay the start up costs for a year and a half for Biggs’ special district before we even saw any reimbursement for our up front costs.

The Town of Gilbert decided to sue based on the grounds that Biggs’ law was specially catered for his county islanders.

After Gilbert filed the suit, Andy Biggs snuck in another special amendment that would force Gilbert residents to pay the legal fees in lawsuits against the formation of his special fire district. It was written specifically to apply to the Town of Gilbert.

In the first round of legal battles, a judge saw through the special legislation and shot down Biggs’ special law. Unfortunately that the same judge made us pay for the legal costs in stopping Biggs’ unconstitutional law. It ended up costing us over $292 thousand.

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, under Don Stapley’s lead, filed an appeal against the lower court’s decision but that case also ended up losing in court. In it’s decision, the Arizona Court of Appeals stated that Andy Biggs’ law failed to be written in a constitutional manner.

This battle over Biggs’ expensive unconstitutional fire district became so heated that it spilled over as an issue in the 2006 elections. Biggs was challenged by a Gilbert resident but ended up winning reelection because most voters thought the issue was settled and other issues dominated. But not this voter.

Fast forward to 2016 and Andy Biggs is now running for Congress in my district. Ten years may have passed and the memories of some voters may have faded but I won’t be voting for Andy Biggs. He’s proven himself time and time again to be the ultimate career politician who’s only interested in one thing – what’s best for Andy Biggs.

It might seem like an eternity in politics but this Gilbert Republican won’t easily forget what’s been seared into memory of how another politician divided a community to serve his own personal interests.

Flagstaff Mayor Jerry Nabours Announces Re-Election Bid

Jerry Nabours(Flagstaff, AZ) – Flagstaff Mayor Jerry Nabours has drawn petitions to run for re-election in 2016. Mayor Nabours was first elected in 2012 and again in 2014. The mayor’s term is two years.

Nabours says, “The last four years I have worked full time to represent Flagstaff with professionalism and integrity. My underlying goal is always to enhance the quality of life for Flagstaff residents.” Pointing to past successes, Nabours says, “Through my relationships with state officials the City has been able to secure a future water source, get substantial funding for forest thinning and start the process for a Veteran’s assisted living facility. During the last four years I have learned a lot and made many friends, always looking out for Flagstaff.”

Among the most challenging issues now facing Flagstaff, Nabours cites traffic and housing. He says “NAU has grown by thousands of students in the past four years and the Board of Regents is projecting more. That is our reality. The more we ignore the situation the less housing is available for non-student residents. We need creative solutions to solve both housing and traffic and I am working on both.”

Nabours serves on the executive committee of the League of Arizona Cities and Towns and is Vice-chair of the Greater Arizona Mayor’s Association. He is a retired lawyer and has lived in Flagstaff for 40 years. He is married and raised two children in Flagstaff.

The city election will be held in conjunction with county, state and federal offices on November 8th. City elections have no party designation. Nabours is a registered independent. The mayor is paid $36,000 per year.

Warren Petersen, Jim Waring to Push for Pension Abuse Prohibitions

Recently, Phoenix City Councilman Jim Waring and State Representative Warren Petersen appeared on AZFamily’s Politics Unplugged with Dennis Welch to discuss the problems associated with Valley Metro.

In January, Rep. Petersen will introduce a bill to prevent civil servants who engage in misconduct from receiving any taxpayer-funded benefits.

Legislation like this is needed after Valley Metro CEO Steven Banta misappropriated funds during the course of his job before leaving with his pension.

Here is the video from that appearance:

azfamily.com 3TV | Phoenix Breaking News, Weather, Sport

Rep Warren Petersen: Punish Public Officials Who Abuse Taxpayer Monies

Warren PetersenIn case you missed it, Representative Warren Petersen held a press conference on Monday preempting a bill he plans to introduce that will punish public officials who wrongfully misallocate tax dollars and then try to grab pension, severance pay or other benefits on their way out of public service.

Petersen’s bill comes in response to Phoenix ValleyMetro’s CEO Stephen Banta resigning with an annuity of $265,000 after he was exposed using taxpayer dollars to for lavish expenses.

Representative Petersen released the following statement:

I want to thank you for coming out today.  Recently there has been a lot of coverage about the scandal that has occurred at Valley Metro.  Apparently an employee has misappropriated sacred taxpayer dollars.  While this has received a lot of attention, this is certainly not the first case of this in the state of Arizona.  There have been various incidents over the years of public officials using public funds to enrich themselves rather than serve the public good.  Clearly there is neither a sufficient deterrent nor oversight in place to prevent such malfeasance.  Worse we have learned all too often that those who are caught and terminated, leave with lavish payouts, annuities, pensions and other benefits.  

Termination from a high position in government should not be like winning the lotto.  Rewarding someone for bad behavior can only encourage more of the same.  This is unacceptable and the current way of doing things has change.  It is for this reason that I will be working with council member Dicicio and introduce legislation to prevent this from happening in the future.  What I will be proposing is that any public employee who is caught misappropriating tax dollars shall be ineligible for any severance pay, annuity, pension or other benefit.  Furthermore to add a layer of oversight and accountability I will make sure that any taxpayer will have standing in such an event.  The problem with the oversight of a 30 member board is this.  When 30 people are responsible for something, nobody is responsible.  All too often a watchdog citizen or journalist will do a much better job than a 30 member board.  We believe this will be a strong deterrent for malfeasance and a merited penalty for those who violate the law.  

We only hear about the people who are caught.  There is no doubt that there are many who go unpunished.  If there is no punishment we are just going to have faith that people will do the right thing for the sake of doing what’s right.  And there are plenty of people who are doing the right.  This legislation is not for them nor anything they need to worry.  However those who are engaged in illicit behavior will soon have something to cause them to think twice before they squander taxpayer funds.

Petersen was also joined by Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio during the press conference. DiCiccio has been a longtime reformer fighting and exposing corruption in city government.

Tim Steller Verdict Is In: Billboards Are True

ChangeTucson1

The facts are the facts. Shirley Scott, Regina Romero, and Paul Cunningham are tearing our city down. Due to the recent lawsuit filed by Liberal extremist Barbara Tellman, claiming the Revitalize billboards are ‘misleading’, Tim Stellar, reporter at the Arizona Daily Star decided to take a look at whether the Revitalize Tucson billboards are truthful or partisan.

TOO much Crime -TOO many families in Poverty – TOO many Potholes – TOO LONG IN OFFICE!

A recent survey of highly likely voters, mostly Democrats and Independents, has 60% saying Shirley Scott, Regina Romero, and Paul Cunningham are doing a poor job. Now the far left media can no longer ignore the facts and joins Revitalize Tucson to complete the bi-partisan consensus: it is bad and it is time to CHANGE TUCSON.

Revitalize Tucson hopes that Mr. Stellar shares his findings with Barbara Tellman and Vince Rabago.

ChangeTucson4From Tim Stellars article from October 4, 2015. (The article has been edited with the final opinion highlighted for purposes of this article. The complete article can be found here. )

So let’s go sign-by-sign and see if Revitalize Tucson is telling the truth or just being partisan …

Billboard 1: “Who made Tucson the 5th poorest city in the US? Ask Shirley Scott, Paul Cunningham and Regina Romero”
There’s no doubt Tucson is a poor city, so arguing over exactly how poor might be seen as pointless quibbling.

ChangeTucson3Steller Verdict: TRUE

Billboard 2: “Who let a few radicals hold downtown hostage? Ask Shirley Scott, Paul Cunningham and Regina Romero”
Tim Steller: ” … To that extent, you could say the council “let” them take over part of downtown… ”

Steller Verdict: TRUE

Billboard 3: “Who gets $1.36 billion and won’t fix the potholes? Ask Shirley Scott, Paul Cunningham and Regina Romero”
Tim Steller: ” … A study that came out this year showed Tucson’s road conditions were the worst among 11 western cities.
(Aside: I must comment on Steller’s comments: Steller joins the Tucson City Councilmen in blabbing on and on about all the work they are doing to fix the roads. You really need to be replaced in office if you are going to run on Tucson road conditions… ” )

ChangeTucson2Steller Verdict: TRUE

Billboard 4: “Why are we Arizona’s most dangerous city? Ask Shirley Scott, Paul Cunningham and Regina Romero”
Tim Steller: ” … Can’t argue with this one… ”

Steller Verdict: TRUE

Billboard 5: “Who raises water rates four years in a row? Ask Shirley Scott, Paul Cunningham and Regina Romero”
Tim Steller: ” … the City Council has … indeed repeatedly raised rates…”

Steller Verdict: TRUE

Billboard 6: “Who is paying $40 million for empty Sun Tran buses? Ask Shirley Scott, Paul Cunningham and Regina Romero”
Tim Steller: ” … So, to an extent, the “empty” buses are the council’s fault… ”

Steller Verdict: TRUE

( Note: In the original article Steller questions the $40.4 million dollar amount. This can be found as a subsidy for transit on page 76 of the most recent CAFR. https://www.tucsonaz.gov/files/finance/2014_CAFR_Book_CD.pdf . )

Billboard 7: “Who still can’t find the $230 million from Rio Nuevo? Ask Shirley Scott, Paul Cunningham and Regina Romero”
Stellar agrees (though it pains him greatly): ” … the fact is, nobody can “find the $230 million …”

Steller Verdict: TRUE

(Aside: Mr. Stellar tries to make the point that no one is looking for the money anymore. That fact does not take away from the fact that Shirley Scott, Regina Romero, and Paul Cunninghman lost $230 million.
Steller also points out that the State Legislature removed control of Rio Nuevo in 2010 from the Tucson City Council. What he does not point out is that Shirley Scott, Regina Romero, and Paul Cunninghman are now campaigning that they have restored the downtown. This is far more than a cheap tactic, this is an outright lie. )

Billboard 8: “Who lost jobs at McDonald’s and Grand Canyon U? Ask Shirley Scott, Paul Cunningham and Regina Romero”
Tim Steller: ” … The short answer to this would be: Nobody…”

Steller Verdict: NOT TRUE

(Aside: Steller’s comments miss the basis of the question. Unemployment is high in Tucson and the jobs that exist are low paying jobs. Like it or not the McDonalds on 22nd street/Alvernon has become a symbol of much that is wrong in Tucson. A man has a dream and works hard and spends money to realize the dream just to have it squashed by the Tucson City Council. Business owner after business owner relates and understands the frustration and aggravation of trying to do business in Tucson. The Councils treatment of this businessman is the proverbial straw that has broken the back of the Tucson business community. )

Prop 104: Phoenix Doubles Budget!

By Tom Kouts

Original reasons given in support of the light rail:

  • pollution reduction
  • traffic congestion reduction
  • vehicles will be removed from the road

An environmental impact study, conducted by the city of Phoenix as a requirement by the Federal Transit Administration to receive more funding, revealed that light rail increased pollution and increased traffic congestion. It did remove one car in 2,500, which was more than offset by the reduction in lane-miles available. Light rail tracks remove one lane of traffic in each direction. The 2,499 cars remaining had to squeeze into fewer lanes.

Reasons now given for new Light Rail construction:

  • It provides jobs. Only if you work for one of the construction companies that are liked by city hall.
  • It returns $7 for every $1 invested. This is partly true for developers that buy land before the rail is built. These numbers come from taking credit for any company that changes its location in order to build along the tracks. No company is going to start up just to be next to a rail line.

Prop-104 is also being promoted because it will increase funding for pot holes and buses. They must be some fancy buses and pot hole repairs because Prop-104 will more than double the city budget.

The original reason for public transit is to help those people who do not have private cars. LR does not help them, at most, removes them from a bus and places them in a light rail.

The budget explodes next year and only gets worse in future years. We need to start marshalling our limited resources now in order to protect city buses and other services vital to our city.

NO on Prop-104.

Prop 104 Is WRONG

By Wm. T. (Sparky) Smith ’64

WRONG DIRECTION – WRONG TAX – WRONG BOND PACKAGE

I am an appointed volunteer of the INNOVATION AND EFFICIENCY TASK FORCE. The I&E TF consists of volunteers and City employees. We spend hours and hours studying Phoenix departments, their operations and budgets looking for ways to cut expenses, to balance Phoenix’s budget, to keep taxes affordable.

Wrong Direction: WHY GO BACKWARDS?

More Light Rail will add MILLIONS to PHOENIX’S OPERATING BUDGET, undoing the $98 million in savings found by the I&E TF. This ever-increasing BUDGET HOLE leads TOWARD PHOENIX’S BANKRUPTCY!

This $30,000,000,000.00, yes “Billion” dollar Tax Package, the Mayor and the City Council, have BETRAYED the Taxpayers of Phoenix.

Wrong Tax: SALES TAX

By increasing by 70% the city sales tax portion that goes to support public transportation, city merchants will find competing more difficult; people will just buy in cheaper cities! The City recognized this: they exempted purchases of over $10,000 to keep from killing car sales in PHOENIX, “buying off” the wealthy car dealers at our expense!

Wrong Bond Package: LIGHT RAIL

Facing multi- million dollar budget deficits for the fore-seeable future because of UNION PENSIONS, why would PHOENIX triple the size of the “TAX DOLLAR BLACK HOLE”, light rail system?.” We have gone from Transit Busses that required a 35% tax subsidy to Light Rail that requires a 95% with no more riders. There is not one LR system in the country that is sustainable without massive local taxpayer subsidies; costing $MILLIONS & $MILLIONS, year after year!

“WHEN YOU FIND YOURSELF IN A HOLE, STOP DIGGING!”

Phoenix VOTERS, WE CAN STILL STOP THIS BETRAYAL!

VOTE NO! on PROP 104 !

A Very Concerned member of Phoenix’s INNOVATION and EFFICIENCY TASK FORCE

Prop 104: Phoenix Light Rail Continues to Operate At A Loss

By Tom Jenney

The Prop 104 tax increase would fund a gigantic $31 BILLION boondoggle – the largest tax-and-spend plan in Phoenix history. The proposal is light on real transportation, spending only a small fraction of revenues on street improvements. But the plan is heavy on light rail.

According to the Arizona chapter of Americans for Prosperity (www.afpaz.com), light rail transit is far and away the most expensive and inefficient transportation option available to Phoenix commuters. As Valley Metro admitted in projections submitted to the federal government, light rail removes only about one car in 1,000 from traffic, doing nothing to improve traffic congestion. In fact, by blocking traffic flow in Phoenix, light rail actually makes traffic congestion and commuter pollution worse.

Fewer than one percent of Phoenix commuters use light rail. Most light rail riders are people who would otherwise ride buses. In the decade before light rail, Phoenix bus ridership increased by an average of five percent per year. Since the opening of light rail, bus ridership has fallen by ten percent. We need a transportation plan to help the 99 percent, not the one percent!

According to Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio, who opposes the proposal, the plan would spend over $161 MILLION per mile of track. That money could be much better used almost anywhere else. In government, that money would be better spent on road repairs, bus transit, education or police and fire services. In the private sector, that money could be used to start businesses and create jobs. Also, according to the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, Phoenix light rail has operating losses exceeding $10 million a year.

Please vote NO on Prop 104 to protect taxpayers and to improve transportation in Phoenix!

Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio: Vote NO on Prop 104!

By Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio

If you support education, please vote NO on Proposition 104.

According to Phoenix staff, light rail will cost $161 Million per mile. The $31.5 Billion tax will take needed monies from education and other higher priorities.

The same politicians and insiders who brought you the failed Sheraton and pension fiasco are now bringing you this rushed train tax increase.

The Sheraton has lost over $130 Million in value and pensions are draining millions from our police and fire services every single year.

Mayor Stanton rushed the tax increase and exempted big business, forcing small business to pay the full tax. According to a City of Phoenix staff report, exempting big business from the tax increase will cost you $300 Million more in interest expense. Big business is now pouring millions into the campaign to pass this tax increase.

Education is the highest priority in our city. This tax increase will take money away from education. One mile of rail could pay the salaries of over 2,900 teachers.

Phoenix must first get its financial house in order and restore fiscal responsibility and accountability.

This election is about the future of our great city. Phoenix can either choose a path like other bankrupt cities, or, you can send a message to leadership to get its financial house in order.

  • $31.5 Billion in new taxes
  • $161 Million – cost per mile to build rail
  • $300 Million in more interest expense by exempting big business
  • 2900 NEW teachers for the cost of just one mile of rail

I strongly urge you to vote NO on Proposition 104.

Four Reasons to Vote NO on Prop 104

By Bill Haynes

The people of Phoenix should vote “No” on Proposition 104 for many reasons. Consider these four.

First, the price tag is beyond huge, imposing a $31 billion tax burden on Phoenicians. Such a tax burden could be a direct assault on property values as future city councils seek funds to pay debt by considering property taxes.

Definitely, Proposition 104 is an assault on the paychecks as it calls for still another increase in the city’s sales tax, which would put it near the highest rate in the US for major cities.

Second, while proponents of light rail gleefully point to business development after construction is completed, they never discuss the number of businesses that were destroyed during construction and the businesses that suffer reduced traffic because of now being less accessible.

Third, light rail proponents like to say that is reduces air pollution by taking autos off the streets. Fact is, less than one in a thousand (0.1%) is the auto reduction because of light rail in Phoenix. Further, advocates ignore that because of light rail it sometimes takes 3-1/2 minutes to make a left turn on Central Avenue, a development that adds to air pollution.

Finally, Prop 104, regardless of what proponents say, is not about “expanded transportation options for the people of Phoenix,” but is about massive contracts for companies in the light rail construction industry, which are the primary funders of the Pro-104 movement.

Phoenicians need to recognize that they are being taken for a ride with Prop 104. By voting it down, they will safeguard their pocketbooks and their property values.