Phoenix taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for the Suns’ arena

By Boaz Witbeck 

The Phoenix City Council is considering whether to spend $150 million in taxpayer money on a plan to renovate the Phoenix Suns’ Talking Stick Resort arena.

At a recent public meeting, supporters of the plan argued that it’s worth $150 million to keep the team downtown.

Wanting to keep our beloved Suns in Phoenix is understandable, especially with the owner at one point threatening to move the team out of the city. But a taxpayer handout isn’t the way to do it. We would all do well to listen to Phoenix resident Greta Rogers, who told the City Council last December, “We [Phoenix residents] are not in the business of paying taxes to support private enterprise.”

Ms. Rogers is right. Government should not be picking and choosing winners in the private sector. In her words, “They can support themselves or fail on their own lack of diligence.” In that spirit, we urge the City Council to reject the plan when they vote Jan. 23.

Since 2006, politicians across North America have spent $11 billion in taxpayer funds on 54 ballparks, arenas, and stadiums.

Taxpayers forked over $430 million for the Orlando Magic’s Amway Center. They paid $305 million for the Brooklyn Nets’ Barclays Center. And they’re on the hook for $250 million for the Milwaukee Bucks’ new arena. The list goes on.

Most of this spending – $9.3 billion worth – occurred without any taxpayer approval.  The people footing the bill had the opportunity to vote on funding for just 15 facilities. Only eight won voter approval.

Politicians like to claim that using taxpayer funds to build or renovate arenas will stimulate the local economy. The facts, however, say otherwise. 

One study unambiguously concluded, “there is no statistically significant positive correlation between sports facility construction and economic development.”

On the contrary, economics professors from the College of Holy Cross note that teams and stadiums propped up by taxpayer funding can actually choke off local economic activity. People spending money to go to games might have less money to spend at the local theater or might be deterred to go to eat out because of all the traffic from a sporting event.

Funding for stadiums can also crowd out expenditures for important public services and bust municipal budgets. Sometimes that money is wasted on arenas that sit empty. Houston’s Astrodome, which was built with $31 million in public funds and left the county millions of dollars in debt after being condemned for code violations. Despite all of this, last year Harris County approved another $105 million in taxpayer funds for renovations. The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis sits empty, leaving the taxpayers of Missouri paying $144 million in debt and upkeep costs until 2021 – in part because Los Angeles is subsidizing a new stadium for the NFL’s Rams, the team that left St. Louis.

In an ideal world, owners wouldn’t threaten to leave cities unless they get a taxpayer handout and politicians wouldn’t cave to their demands. Local officials need to always remember they’re supposed to look out for our interests.

Spending our hard-earned money on bad investments is not in our interest.

We Americans love our sports teams. But we shouldn’t allow politicians to use those attachments to benefit the well-connected at our expense.    

Boaz Witbeck is deputy state director of Americans for Prosperity-Arizona

Removal of Pancho Villa Statue Denied

A conservative watchdog group’s attempt to have a downtown Tucson statue removed was denied after a unanimous vote last week by the Public Art and Community Design Committee.

The 14-foot bronze statue of Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa on a horse stands in Veinte de Agosto Park. The statue was a gift to the state of Arizona from the Mexican government and a Mexico press group.

The removal request was submitted by Washington, D.C. based Judicial Watch as the group received complaints from multiple residents. City records do not indicate that a public hearing was held to hear complaints prior to the statue having been unveiled in 1981.

Mark Spencer, the Phoenix-based coordinator of Judicial Watch’s Southwest Projects, said the statue “needs to go” because “Pancho Villa did great harm to people.”

After the vote concluded, Spender said he would consult with his legal team to ensure that the panel adhered to city policies.

In charge of managing the city’s public art collection, the committee said the request did not meet any of the 10 criteria used to consider removing public art, such as damage or a request from the artist.

During the meeting, a dozen residents gave statements defending the statue, pointing to its aesthetic value and role in celebrating local Mexican-American culture.

“We don’t want to forget that history, that history that is grounded in Mexican-ness,” said Lydia Otero, a professor of Mexican-American studies at the University of Arizona. “Each person that walks up to the statue has to ask questions about why this statue is here, right downtown. And they have to come up with their own answers. You know why? Because we are Tucson and it is complicated.”

Reposted from All About Arizona News.

Voters Deserve Opportunity to Decide if More Light Rail is Right for Phoenix

Building A Better Phoenix

It has been almost a month since our grassroots group—Building a Better Phoenix—turned in 40,000 signatures to give voters an opportunity to stop the disastrous $7 Billion dollar expansion of light rail in the city of Phoenix. 

Gathering twice the number of signatures required to qualify for the ballot in under 8 weeks was an extremely difficult task and would not have been accomplished without the hard work of concerned residents and small business owners throughout the city. The overwhelming support from the public has humbled us and shows how people from all different backgrounds can come together to help save a community.

We have also learned that our battle against the endless amounts of misleading information being published about our group and the alleged benefits of light rail has only begun.

Contrary to lies being told by politicians and rich special interests, we are not being led by the Koch Brothers or any other group. Building a Better Phoenix decided early on that we would not accept funding from any outside group to pay for the signatures needed to qualify for the ballot. This is a promise that we have kept. Unlike the opponents to our ballot measure that won’t disclose who is funding their misinformation campaign, we have been transparent throughout our signature gathering efforts.

It is also evident that the backers of light rail are now trying to sell the project on its fabricated economic benefits. If light rail is as good as they claim, then why were we kept in the dark about the South Phoenix extension reducing Central Avenue from four lanes to two? Why weren’t we told about the increase levels of crime light rail would bring? Why weren’t we notified that the traffic restrictions along the light rail line would cripple small businesses and make it extremely difficult for emergency vehicles to access our neighborhoods?

All we are trying to do is save our community from a stagnant permanent fixture that will increase crime, traffic congestion and bankrupt countless small businesses, many of which have been around for decades. It’s not that we are afraid of change. Change is great as long as it is a positive change. 

Seeing that most residents agree with our concerns, it appears that Valley Metro and Phoenix politicians are now preparing to ignore the will of the voters and move forward with the construction of the South Phoenix light rail line early next year. The message is clear: they don’t care what the public thinks or if the project is rejected at the ballot box, they intend to build it anyways. 

Their position is unbelievably arrogant and would put our transportation tax dollars at risk. It only makes sense that all planned light rail projects are postponed until after the vote. We hope that Phoenix and Valley Metro reconsider their reckless position and listen to the voters.

Our goal from the beginning was to give the residents of Phoenix an opportunity to cast an informative vote on either spending billions more on light rail or instead use those funds on other much needed transportation projects. We are proud that we have made it this far, and look forward to engaging in an honest, factual debate on the issue.   

Susan Gudino is treasurer for Building a Better Phoenix and is a South Phoenix resident. For more information on Building a Better Phoenix, please visit www.buildingabetterphx.com

Statement by Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio on Sale of Phoenix Sheraton

Phoenix is closing on the downtown Sheraton sale, remember that the real loss to taxpayers is $200 Million.

This is the final, sad chapter in an orgy of corporate welfare and insider dealing that has cost the citizens of Phoenix far more than anyone at City Hall will admit.

Inept staff who insisted on making this deal are saying the loss is $36 Million. Even using their numbers, anyone in the private sector who did a deal like this would get fired in a heartbeat for such a loss. Yet the politicians and city staff do it, and our public media watchdogs never hold them accountable.

How many cops could $200 million have added to our force?

How many miles of paving?

How many units of low-income housing?

Those are real things our citizens will never get because of this deal.

Follow the story on Facebook.

Tempe’s Prop 404 – What You Need To Know

Tempe Cash

Tempe’s Prop 404 isn’t an increase by $30,000,000! It’s actually an increase by $156,591,369!

Arizona Auditor General Report dated December 5, 2017.

“Permanent Base Adjustment Summary Analysis:

Pursuant to the Arizona State Constitution, the City of Tempe (City) seeks voter approval to permanently adjust the expenditure base of the City as determined by the Economic Estimates Commission. If approved by the voters, the City’s base expenditure limitation will be increased by $30,000,000, adjusted each future year for population and inflation growth since 1979-80.

With voter approval, in 2018-19, the City’s expenditure limitation will increase by $156,591,369, from $342,305,491 to $498,896,860. The City will utilize the additional expenditure authority for any local budgetary purposes including public safety (police and fire/medical rescue) expenditures; community services, parks and youth programs; community development projects; transit operations and maintenance; and pay-as-you-go capital
financing.

If approved, the additional authorized expenditures will be funded from state and local sources.”
Just one more example of the progressive socialist Tempe City Council misleading us so they can continue to increase our outrageous taxes and fees!

About the bill:

Proposition 404: Permanent base expenditure adjustment

A strong economy has grown Tempe’s revenues over the last several years, but a state-imposed ceiling puts a cap on the amount municipalities can spend on their services, facilities and amenities. For the third time since the Arizona Legislature put the ceiling in place in 1980, Tempe must ask voters to raise the limit so the city can spend the revenue it brings in. Base adjustments do not raise sales or property tax rates. All annual expenditures still go through a public process and City Council approval.

The General/Special Election is March 13. This is the first Tempe election that will be Ballot by Mail, which means that every registered voter will get a ballot in the mail. Ballots will be mailed Feb. 14. Voters who need a replacement ballot can request one through the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office until March 5; after March 5, replacement ballots are available at either of the two ballot centers in Tempe or at the Recorder’s Office. Voters can also drop off their voted ballots or vote at a ballot center. Ballots must be received by the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office or dropped off at a ballot center by 7 p.m. March 13. Maricopa County recommends that ballots be placed in the mail on or before March 7. Additional information is at http://www.tempe.gov/city- hall/city-clerk-s-office/ election-information/ballot- by-mail-elections

Any information about the election, from voter registration to finding the results, can be found at http://www.tempe.gov/city- hall/city-clerk-s-office/ election-information or by calling 480-350-4311.

By Tempe Republican Women

Mesa Councilman David Luna Needs To Hear From You!

Since this is my blog, once in a blue moon I’ll ask a point of personal privilege. On this occasion, I’m posting on a specific neighborhood issue in Mesa.

Would you rather have warehouses, restaurants, apartments or homes?

I’ve held off making this post until I’ve had some information and facts on the issue. It’s time to spread the word and take some action.

The City of Mesa stands ready to approve or reject a plan to develop single-family homes on the southwest corner of Thomas and Recker Roads. The developer, Desert Troon and Wendell Beck, have already received approval from the Mesa Planning and Zoning Board to rezone the land from multi-use to residential but the Mayor and Council must sign off on the P&Z Board’s final recommendation. That meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 5th.

Typically, when the Council hears a planning and zoning item, the council defers to the councilperson who represents the area of the proposed item. In this case, that would be Councilman David Luna.

Last week (Tuesday, February 13), I reached out to Councilman Luna’s office requesting his position on the plan to develop the Thomas and Recker parcel. I asked for his thoughts and how he intends to vote on P&Z’s recommendation. One week later, I have not heard back from Councilman Luna.

I also asked my contact at the Red Mountain Social Club if a recent visit by Councilman Luna revealed anything about his position on the property. At their meeting on February 8th, Luna said that he opposed the rezoning and prefers to see the land kept multi-use with light commercial and restaurants on the property.

During the Planning and Zoning meeting, City of Mesa’s Economic Development Director, William Jabjiniak, pushed for the area to become class A offices and warehouses. He even disclosed that he is pushing for the construction of warehousing of up to 150,000 square feet so that Mesa can attract more industry to northeast Mesa. Jabjiniak believes the Planning and Zoning Board erred in its decision to rezone the parcel to single-family residential.

I also spoke with a neighbor in Red Mountain Ranch that also confirmed Luna’s position on the rezoning and what should be built on the land.

Those opposed to rezoning the land for homes fall into two camps. A small handful of Red Mountain Ranch residents want the land to remain vacant. the City of Mesa wants to build more offices, warehouses and light industrial on the land. Multi-use also means that high-density apartments could also be built on the land. You don’t have to look far to see what happened on the southwest area of Las Sendas where townhomes, a long-term care facility and a charter school are being built.

Because the owner of the property has sat patiently for twelve years, it’s highly doubtful that the land will remain vacant. Something will be built.

I’ve spoken with the owner and confirmed that other developers have approached him about building apartments. He told me that his goal is to build single-family homes in a secure gated community. Those plans are solid and even have a name – The Villas at Red Mountain.

Villas Red Mountain

I recognize the fact that the land will be developed and there are really only two choices – multi-use or residential.

If David Luna gets his way, the southwest corner of Thomas and Recker Roads will be turned into offices, restaurants, light industrial and maybe even apartments. Like many of my neighbors in Red Mountain Ranch, I believe this is the wrong place to build out more office space and warehouses. That area remains south of the 202 as part of the Longbow plan. Incidentally, during the P&Z meeting, Jabjiniak revealed that the large concrete building across from Boeing on Higley has no tenants or prospective tenants.

The choice is clear, the Mayor and Council should approve the final recommendation of the Planning and Zoning Board. The southwest corner of Thomas and Recker Roads should be developed as a quality single-family residential community. The Mayor and Council should sign off on the development of The Villas at Red Mountain.

Now it’s your turn.

Please call, email, write or visit Councilman David Luna’s office and ask him to approve the plan to rezone the land for single-family residential. Tell Councilman Luna that you don’t want to see or hear tractor trailers and fast food squawk boxes across the street at all hours. This area is right for only one type of development and that’s a quiet high-quality community.

I’d also ask you to contact Mayor John Giles and ask him to support our quiet residential community of Red Mountain Ranch.

Again, the Mayor and Council meet on Monday, March 5th at 5:45 to hear the rezoning case. The Planning and Zoning Board made the right decision when they approved request to rezone.

Please call Councilman Luna and Mayor Giles and ask them to support the plan to rezone. Then plan on attending the council meeting at 57 E 1st Street (map) at 5:45 on Monday, March 5th.

You have less than two weeks to make your voice heard!

Councilman David Luna
(480) 644-3771
district5@mesaaz.gov

Mayor John Giles
(480) 644-2388
mayor@mesaaz.gov

For information about the plans for The Villas at Red Mountain, visit their website at VillasAtRedMountain.com.

Michael Lafferty Political Contributions Question Candidacy

 

Michael Lafferty

Michael Lafferty

Friday, a new candidate announced his entry into the Phoenix mayoral race drawing questions about his political motivations among the politically astute.

Michael Lafferty, a Phoenix businessman and developer, entered the race asserting his affiliation as an independent candidate although he is currently registered as a Republican according to Maricopa County voter records.

The Arizona Republic noted that Lafferty’s company owns a 1,500 unit apartment complex near 12th Street and the light rail station. The Republic also stated that Lafferty has been involved in Phoenix business for 34 years.

In his statement, Lafferty said, “I don’t believe that the mayor’s office is a Democratic or Republican office.”

Sonoran Alliance researched his political contributions specifically related to Phoenix candidates and what we found draws into question his motive for seeking the top seat at the City of Phoenix.

As a Republican, Lafferty gave to Democrat candidates and to 2015’s Proposition 104 – a massive tax hike of $31.5 Billion on Phoenix voters over the next 27 years. According to the City of Phoenix Clerk’s office Lafferty gave the following donations:

  • $1,000 on June 30, 2017 to Kate Gallego in her city council race
  • $2,000 on June 23, 2015 to MovePHX in Support of Prop 104
  • $700 on May 8, 2014 to Greg Stanton in his mayoral race
  • $250 on March 9, 2014 to kate Gallego in her city council race
  • $500 on November 12, 2013 to Greg Stanton in his mayoral race
  • $225 on September 3, 2013 to Kate Gallego in her city council race
  • $450 on August 7, 2013 to Warren Stewart in his city council race

Michael Lafferty Phoenix Donations

At no time over the last few years has Lafferty contributed to the campaigns of Republicans Sal DiCiccio, Jim Waring, Bill Gates (when he was on council) or Thelda Williams.

This blog has to ask the question why would a candidate who acknowledges his political registration as Republican and transitioning to Independent, jump into the mayoral race when he has a history of supporting Phoenix Democrats? Why not run as a Democrat? And, as a Republican, why didn’t Lafferty support any of the Republican candidates running for city council?

Political speculators are already arguing that Lafferty is strategically running to eliminate the only Republican, Moses Sanchez, from winning the seat or a slot in a primary runoff contest. In our opinion, Michael Lafferty should re-register as a Democrat.

We’d like to hear your take on this important race for Phoenix Mayor.

Political Ad: Moses Sanchez for Phoenix Mayor Changing The Status Quo

Moses Sanchez

If you haven’t been paying attention to Phoenix politics, you should know there’s a conservative Republican running for the office of Mayor of the 5th largest US city.

Moses Sanchez launched his campaign for Mayor of Phoenix on January 16th with the theme of changing the status quo by challenging the two incumbent Democrats seeking the seat when Greg Stanton resigns to run for Congress.

An Ahwatukee resident, Sanchez migrated to the US with his family from the Republic of Panama when he was a child. He is an active reservist with the United States Navy having served for 21 years including a tour of Afghanistan.

Sanchez possesses both a B.S. in Business Management and an MBA. He is Director of Operations for Nonnah’s Marketing an Arizona-based digital marketing company that assists local businesses in their growth strategy through targeted digital media campaigns.

Previously, he was elected and served on the Tempe Union High School Governing Board. Over the last ten years, he has also taught economics in the Maricopa County Community College District at South Mountain Community College.

Moses and his wife, Maria Manriquez M.D., have three adult children and three grandchildren. All three children graduated from Desert Vista High School and continued their education at Arizona State University.

On January 29th, the Sanchez campaign released its first political ad entitled, “Changing The Status Quo.” The ad is available here.

Follow Moses Sanchez on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for campaign news and events.

 

TJ Shope, Frank Pratt Named 2017 Legislative Champions by League of Arizona Cities and Towns

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Speaker Pro Tempore T.J. Shope (R-8) and Senator Frank Pratt (R-8) last week were named 2017 Legislative Champions by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns.

The Legislative Champions award is given to legislators to honor their outstanding public service and dedication to local governance.

“I am honored to be named a 2017 Legislative Champion by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns,” said Speaker Pro Tempore Shope. “Our work together ensures that communities across the state continue to grow into better places to live, work, and play.

“I am thrilled to be honored by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns,” said Senator Pratt. “Their dedication to support city and local leadership at the legislature is an asset to our state.

The League of Arizona Cities and Towns is a membership-based organization comprised of municipalities throughout Arizona and provides a bridge from local cities and towns to the state legislature.

Shope Pratt

TJ Shope & Frank Pratt

A Civil War Era Monument That Was Never Built

By Dick Foreman

I’ve written this blog about 14 times. Seriously.

And each time it goes to the cutting room floor. My analysis of Empowerment Scholarship Accounts has been set aside by a recall issue. School Funding is a critical discussion turning into the flavor of the day but at least ideas are emerging and competing. And then Charlottesville happened and the focus lurched into a new discussion. Shall we bulldoze Confederate monuments or not? Sweet mercy sakes, I thought we had some tough challenges with public education issues, and now Confederate monuments are bumping our schools’ needs off the radar. One of my keenest advisors and observers of the Arizona political and policy scene said this to me, “I am annoyed at everything.”

Yes. I am annoyed, too. But not at everything. In fact, as I think about it, I am far more grateful for the opportunity to support the over 1 million Arizona children who have started school again this month. And, with due gratitude to Dr. Ruth Ann Marston and Phoenix Elementary School District Superintendent Larry Weeks for tipping me off, I now have a keenly refreshed perspective on this point. Perhaps you might appreciate it, too. Read on.

It is a sacred opportunity to define the mission in public education. It’s as American as our American Founding Fathers, who unequivocally endorsed it. So, understanding our roots might help, like learning the real pioneer history of public education in Arizona. What are we doing this for? Who is our “Education Founding Father?” Do we have one?

Yes, indeed we do. And he’s an incredible role model and inspiration as well.

Don Estevan Ochoa

Don Estevan Ochoa

So, I’d like to reflect on Don Estevan Ochoa, born in Chihuahua, Mexico in 1831. Senor Ochoa is Arizona’s Education Founding Father. To me, this is not a debate. It is an irrefutable truth.

In a nutshell, Ochoa was a Tucson merchant who, during the Civil War, refused to shift his loyalties from the United States Government to the Confederacy in deference to the demands of the commander of the marauding army from the south. When he told them “no,” they confiscated all his worldly goods (which was a lot as he was one of the most successful merchants in Tucson at the time) and ordered him out of the Territory. Forcibly put outside the protective Tucson Presidio, he vowed to return to drive the Confederates from Arizona. And he did! Ochoa made his way through hostile Indian lands to fetch a Union battalion at the Rio Grande that returned with him, successfully restoring Arizona to the Union. He was a bonafide war hero and American patriot. And this curious fact remains true to this day; in 1875, he was elected Tucson’s first and last Mexican American Mayor.

As accomplished a career as this was, it was still not enough for Ochoa. He was also president of the school board where he upstaged the Arizona territorial legislature and a domineering Catholic bishop to single-handedly raise the funds and donate the land to build the town’s main public school. He accomplished this as a follow up to his efforts three years earlier, as chairman of the territory’s Committee on Public Education, to establish Arizona’s first public school system in Tucson.

Author Jeff Biggers wrote about Ochoa in an online piece A Mexican Immigrant’s Act of Honor for the New York Times (See A Mexican Immigrant’s Act of Honor, by Jeff Biggers, The New York Times, February 14, 2012):

In the spring of 1876, the Arizona Citizen declared: “Ochoa is constantly doing good for the public,” and concluded, “Ochoa is the true and useful friend of the worthy poor, of the oppressed, and of good government.” With the school completed in 1877, the same newspaper raved: “The zeal and energy Mr. Ochoa has given to public education, should give him a high place on the roll of honor and endear him more closely than ever to his countrymen. He has done much to assist in preparing the youth for the battle of life.”

Wow. This reads like a very sensationalized western novel. But it’s not a novel, it’s Arizona’s pioneer heritage. Maybe it’s time to finally desegregate our opinions and integrate our collective hopes.

For many, our respective engagements in public education seem hopelessly mired in what I do not affectionately refer to as political “flotsam and jetsam.” I’ll say this as positively as I can, our vision for Arizona’s educational future remains a critical thinking opportunity.

In my more pessimistic moments, it seems we’re bent on ignoring our past to get to a future that we collectively refuse to envision through consensus building. That’s a problem. What is NOT a problem is where we started. Don Estevan Ochoa was Mexican by birth, American by choice and a hero by deed. He gave up his fortune to fight the Confederate marauders. He got into politics, bless his soul. But most importantly from my perspective, he created the Arizona public education system. He started it all.

Perhaps we should build another Civil War inspired monument – to Don Estevan Ochoa. Senor Ochoa was a real Arizona Civil War hero, an immigrant, a businessman, a true patriot, a rugged pioneer, a proud Republican, and the founder of Arizona’s public education system.

Now isn’t that a heritage all Arizonans can be proud of?

NOTE: Dick Foreman is president & CEO of ABEC.