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.

Representative Finchem Applauds AZ Supreme Court Decision Overruling Tucson Gun Law

Mark Finchem

Mark Finchem

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Representative Mark Finchem (R-11) today expressed appreciation for the Arizona Supreme Court’s decision that Tucson’s controversial practice of destroying seized firearms is a violation of state law.

Between 2013 and 2016 the Tucson Police Department destroyed 4,820 guns, some of which were turned in by residents and others seized from crime investigations.

“It is a good thing that the City of Tucson will finally be held accountable for their blatant disregard of state law,” said Representative Finchem.  “Each citizen is expected to live by the law – for city officials to think they are exempt from state law is absurd.”

In 2013, Governor Brewer signed into law HB 2455, a bill that prohibits a city or town from destroying a firearm and requires them to sell any unclaimed firearms in their possession. Subsequently in 2016, Governor Ducey signed into law SB 1487, a bill that directs the Attorney General (AG), upon request of a member of the Legislature, to investigate any alleged violations of the Arizona Constitution or state law by a governing body of a county or municipality.

“The objective was never to punish, but to ensure observance of state law,” said Representative Finchem. “When public property is destroyed, taxpayers are ultimately hurt by the lost revenue.  Today is a victory for taxpayers and the rule of law.”

New Poll: Mesa Residents Overwhelmingly Want Council Member To Resign After Second DUI Charge

Data Orbital

(Phoenix, AZ) – The Public Integrity Alliance recently commissioned two polls, both conducted by Data Orbital that shows Mesa Councilman Ryan Winkle largely favored to resign after second super extreme DUI arrest. Councilman Winkle, in his first time on the Mesa City Council, has faced recent scrutiny after an arrest in Tempe where he allegedly nearly hit pedestrians while swerving.

Data Orbital, a Phoenix based consulting firm, announced today the results of two surveys that asked Mesa residents city wide and specifically residents of Mesa District 3 (the district Mr. Winkle represents) their knowledge of the recent arrest and if the DUI was merit enough for him to be removed or asked to resign by the Mesa City Council.
The poll results, that were taken city wide and specifically in his home district Mesa 3, showed that 70% of people favored his removal/resignation while only 14% thought he should not be removed. Also, a little more than 40% of people were aware that this was his second DUI arrest.

Tyler Montague, President of Public Integrity Alliance had this to say:  “Councilmember Ryan Winkle has argued that he should remain in office in spite of his behavior because ‘his district wants him there’ because they elected him. Clearly that’s no longer the case. Integrity matters, and Winkle has lost the mandate to lead and should listen to the vast majority of Mesa residents who want him to resign.”

 

Data Orbital Poll

George Khalaf, consultant and pollster, issued the following statement: “It is clear that Mesa voters overwhelmingly want Mr. Winkle to step aside and allow the city to move forward in the process. While it is true that people deserve forgiveness, our elected officials are held to a higher standard and that is a standard Council member Winkle has now broken twice.”###

Survey One: IVR poll of 800 registered voters in the city of Mesa has a margin of error at plus or minus 3.5 percent, with a 95 percent confidence interval. Respondents were weighted on a number of different demographic figures based off an Arizona registered voter file and responses were collected from automated landline surveys over three days. City Wide Toplines.

Survey Two: Live & IVR mix poll of 300 registered voters in Mesa City Council District 3 has a margin of error at plus or minus 5.7 percent, with a 95 percent confidence interval. Respondents were weighted on a number of different demographic figures based off an Arizona registered voter file and responses were collected from live cell phone and automated land line surveys over three days. Mesa District 3 Toplines.

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Poll: Nearly Half of Voters Say Mesa Councilman Ryan Winkle Should Stay

OH Predictive

Over half aware of DUI citation, primarily through mass media

Phoenix, AZ (June 22, 2017) –  Arizona is never short of hot political issues or debates, and typically a City Council position gets little to no attention – that is until now. There have been ongoing conversations about whether Mesa City Councilman Ryan Winkle, District 3 should resign from office or remain in his position, following his May arrest on suspicion of DUI. We asked the voters of his district their opinions, and if they believe the Councilman of six months should resign or stay.

Nationally recognized polling firm, OH Predictive Insights, conducted a survey comprised of 304 currently registered Democratic, Republican, Independent and Non-Declared voters registered in Mesa’s 3rd City Council District. The survey was conducted from June 8th to June 19th, with 49% of the sample contacted on their cellular phones, and 51% of the voters reached via landlines.

Among the results:

Ryan Winkle Poll

“While over half of Councilman Winkle’s constituents have heard of his recent DUI citation, he still holds a 2 to 1 positive favorability number to remain in his council seat,” said Mike Noble, managing partner and chief pollster at OH Predictive Insights, a Phoenix-based leading behavioral research polling company. “Nearly half of those polled think the Councilman should remain in office, approximately one-third of his constituents believe he should resign, and 17% did not indicate an opinion either way.”

Noble added, “In the eyes of the voter, Winkle is down, but definitely not out.”

Methodology: This live and automated caller survey was conducted by Phoenix based-OH Predictive Insights from June 8th to June 19th, 2017, from an active registered voter sample in Mesa City Council District 3.  The sample size was 304 completed surveys, with a MoE of +/-5.61%.  49% of surveys were conducted on cell phones and 51% via land lines.

View the press release online.

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Kevin Thompson Announces Re-Election Bid for Mesa City Council

Four years ago I announced my bid to run for Mesa City Council District 6. What a ride it has been!

My passion is serving the community, and I am grateful for the trust the citizens of Southeast Mesa continue to place in me. Without a doubt it is the most challenging and rewarding job I’ve ever had.

Kevin Thompson Family

Today, I proudly announce that I am seeking re-election for another four-year term to represent the voters of District 6.

We’ve accomplished a lot during the past three years, particularly in the areas of economic development. When I first ran for office, I promised to focus on working to bring quality jobs to Mesa. I can’t take credit for all of the growth we’ve experienced, but I continued the vision that was set in place before me, and I’ve challenged the departments within our City to do it better, more efficiently, and more effectively than anyone else. You can’t say you’re open for business if your actions don’t show it. We’ve instilled confidence in the business community and the development community, and our district continues to shine as a model for the entire City.

In just three short years since I’ve entered office, Chandler-Gilbert Community College expanded their campus at Mesa Gateway, Gateway Polytechnic was built at Bella Via, and Eastmark has become the fastest growing community in Arizona. Apple announced their Global Command Center with a $2 billion dollar investment, Dignity Health constructed a new hospital, DuPont Fabros announced plans for a giant data center campus, Niagra Bottling is bringing 50 jobs along with a $76 million dollar investment, and EuroContempo is bringing jobs and a $10 million dollar investment to Ray Road. We’ve also seen incredible growth in our industrial sector including an expansion of CMC Steel, a new facility from Matheson Tri Gas, an expansion from Fuji at their Pecos plant, and a new Metso repair facility. Not to mention we are now home to the largest Fry’s Marketplace in Arizona, a new Courtyard Marriott, and scores of new restaurants.

All of this growth however, does not mean I will serve as a rubber stamp. I continue to ask questions to insure our tax dollars are spent in a fiscally responsible manner and challenge proposals that do not have taxpayers best interests in mind. How much does it cost? Where is the money coming from? Who benefits? Are there alternatives? I will continue to ask these questions because I owe it to you and I owe it to my family. After all, like you, I’m still a resident and taxpayer of Mesa.

Regardless of whether you voted for me before, I’m hopeful that, over the past three years, I’ve instilled your trust and gained your confidence. There’s a lot left that I want us to accomplish as a District and a City, and I would greatly appreciate your support.

Vote “Thompson” for Mesa in 2018.

Sal DiCiccio: $16 Million Wasted In Just One Day By City Of Phoenix

Sal DiCiccio

Last week, I wrote about the structural deficit our city is facing. Our deficit problems will continue until we make public safety our priority and cut spending in non-essential areas. On Tuesday, city staff gave a presentation regarding the budget deficit forecast. The forecast, which did not come as a surprise to me, shows our deficit continuing to grow out of control, even while we collect increased revenue.

The day after the budget deficit presentation, I voted NO on the following expenses, all of which the Phoenix City Council ultimately approved:

  • $3,668,564 to Downtown Phoenix Inc – a group that already taxes private businesses against their will to spend money on the Downtown area
  • $16,000 to National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials – annual membership fee
  • $60,000 to Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 777 to buy promotional and training material for themselves
  • $108,000 to Ballard Spahr LLP- lobbyists (this is on top of the hundreds of thousands of dollars they already spent on lobbyists at the last council meeting)
  • $12,170,000 to change just 4 bus routes
  • $750,000 to join the ASU Global Institute of Sustainability

TOTAL: $16,772,564

Just during a single city council meeting, we could have cut $16 million of unnecessary spending. But instead, we continued to add to the structural deficit problems we face.

As long as we continue to spend in this manner, we will continue to see your taxpayer monies wasted. And city officials will continue to have their hand out, telling you they need to increase your taxes because they are short on revenues. They’re not. They just have a spending problem.

You have my commitment to continue to protect you, your family and your hard earned tax dollars.

My best to you,

Sal DiCiccio
Phoenix City Council
District 6

Gilbert and Chandler Place Well In Annual US City Fiscal Health Rankings

Town of GilbertCongratulations to the Town of Gilbert and City of Chandler for placing high in the annual US City Fiscal Health Index.

The index, prepared by The Fiscal Times, looks at five factors to derive the rankings including: ratio of city general fund balance to expenditures, ratio of long term obligations to total government-wide revenues, ratio of actuarially determined pension contributions to total government-wide revenues, change in local unemployment rate and changes in property values. Data is reported by the cities themselves from 2015. Only cities with populations of 200,000 were evaluated. (Tempe, Peoria, Surprise, Yuma, Avondale and Flagstaff have populations less than 200,000.)

City of ChandlerThe Town of Gilbert placed 17th while the City of Chandler placed 20th.

Other Arizona cities placed lower on the list:

Phoenix – 43
Glendale – 77
Tucson – 81
Scottsdale – 84
Mesa – 85

At the bottom of the list were Chicago and New York City.

To view the full index, click here.

Winkle for Mesa … In Tempe?

You would think that when you’re running for a local office that you would hold your events in the district, right? Apparently, Ryan Winkle who is running for Mesa City Council in District 3 would disagree!

Winkle is hosting an event that he’s calling a “Community Celebration,” in Tempe. Is that a slap in the face to the voters in Mesa’s 3rd District? We think so… That is the equivalent of someone running for the Phoenix City Council who campaigns in San Tan Valley. It just does not make sense!

Maybe he’s confused about what district and city he is actually going to represent?

Winkle, we know you’re young and naive, but if you’re running to represent people then please run in the district you’re aiming to represent. You are not running for Tempe City Council. The people of Mesa deserve better and deserve to know that you care about them and the issues facing the community. Evidently, you do not.

The Jana Jackson Saga Continues

This past week Sonoran Alliance reported that Janifer “Jana” Jackson, a candidate for the Superintendent of Maricopa County schools, has a serious ghost in her closet that voters deserve to know about. Years ago, when she was living in Indiana, she was taken to court over “check deception.” The plot twist? She failed to appear in court and subsequently had a warrant out for her arrest (see case number 53C06-9309-CM-04018).

Today, however, we are ready to divulge that this was actually neither the first nor the last time Jackson was charged with a crime, taken to court, and failed to show up. To be exact, while she was living in Indiana, she failed to appear in court on six other occasions. See the end of the article for the case numbers for further information.  

These cases range from Jackson being taken to court by her former home-county, the Monroe County Bank, the Bloomington Herald Times, all the way to being sued by the State of Indiana. Ladies and gentlemen, this may be the year of the outsider to run for office, but it is not the year of the criminal. We must hold our elected officials to a higher standard, especially those who influence our children, their education, and their subsequent futures. Jana Jackson is absolutely unqualified to be the next Superintendent of Public Instruction for Maricopa County.

 

Case numbers: 53C05-5903-SC-00591, 53C05-9408-CP-00841,  53C01-9405-CP-00556,  53C02-9311-SC-03072, 53C06-9311-CP-01378, and 53C03-9308-CP-00940.