Prop 104: Wrong For Phoenix

By Shawnna L.M. Bolick
A Concerned Taxpayer with Children

Phoenix will be headed the way of Detroit if Phoenix voters aren’t prudent with our taxpayer dollars.

In August 2015, Phoenicians face a $31 BILLION DOLLAR TAX INCREASE if this behemoth of a proposition passes.

This proposal establishes light rail in suburban areas that won’t ever support such expansions and disrupt major arteries while they are laying track.

If there is something to learn from previous light rail construction, many small businesses went bankrupt or closed because they couldn’t sustain the road closures surrounding their businesses.

This proposed light rail project wildly benefits the fat cats of the City of Phoenix, not you and me. Even more devastating, small businesses would shoulder the brunt of this massive tax, not profitable corporations that might be able to afford $161 MILLION PER MILE to lay new track.

I think we can all agree that fiscal sanity needs to be restored at City Hall. Yet, these same politicians know from past experience that the timing of this August ballot measure is ripe to ask for a very large tax increase because a majority of registered voters either skip the off-year municipal election or have no idea an election is even taking place.

Do you want the city telling you or your grandchildren how to redirect your disposal income?

In order to keep Phoenix a world-class city, we need to ensure Proposition 104 fails at the ballot box.

Please join me in defeating this ill conceived tax scheme that further hampers our ability to invest resources where we deem fit.

Please make sure to vote NO on Proposition 104 (a.k.a. the train tax) this August.

 

Prop 104: A $31,500,000,000 Tax

By Matthew Kenney
Chairman, Taken for a Ride – No on Prop 104

The Taken for a Ride – No on Prop 104 committee was created to inform voters of the proposed $31,500,000,000 sales tax (Transaction Privilege Tax). The sales tax (Prop 104), if passed, is calculated to give Phoenix, Arizona one of the highest sales tax rates in the United States. If Prop 104 passes you would be paying almost the same sales tax rate as the billionaires in New York City.

I am a United States Army Veteran and when I returned from the battlefields in the Middle East, my hometown of Phoenix led the country in kidnapping and poverty. At a time when my commute times are below the national average, Phoenix’s murder, robbery, assault and overall crime rates were on the rise (latest 2012 statistics). Phoenix leaders have lost their focus – it’s about badges not buses – they are getting it wrong.

Prop 104 Train Wreck

The ballot language is deceptive in that it only shows a percentage of what the tax would increase to. It fails to show that the
government has stuck the taxpayers with these small percentages so regularly that the city has one of the largest taxes in the country.

The truth is that this will cost everyday Phoenicians $31.5 billion dollars.

Worst of all, while everyday Phoenicians and small business owners shoulder the 31.5 billion dollar tax burden, the mayor cut a deal with big business excluding all purchases above $10,000. Is that fair, it is just or is it just wrong?

I urge you to vote NO on Prop 104 for the sake of generations to come.

Prop 104: Money-Losing Rail Transit Won’t Stimulate Economy

By William O Sumner

Proponents of the proposed $31.5 billion transportation tax increase contend that it will more than pay for itself by stimulating economic growth. Figures as high as $7 gained for every dollar spent have been touted.

This is utter nonsense.

The $31.5 billion in taxes will be taken away from profitable uses in order to spend it on profitless transit. This will add an extra deadweight burden on the local economy.

It will lower standards of living below what could have been achieved if the money hadn’t been taxed away from its rightful owners.

It will decrease the number of job opportunities, as growing businesses lose resources they could have put into expanding and employing more workers.

Rather than pumping money into the economy, light rail will siphon tens of millions of dollars per year out of our economy in order to prop up deficit-ridden rail operations.

Sure, some people will get rich from this income transfer scheme. Construction firms that build the light rail will make money. Banks that float the loans to finance the upfront costs will earn millions in fees and interest. Real estate owners prescient enough to be located near rail stations will see a windfall return on their investment.

The big losers will be taxpayers who each will have to make do with less in order to fill the pockets of the fortunate minority who will benefit from this boondoggle.

Don’t fall for well-financed, slick arguments of the scam artists.

Vote NO.

Prop 104: Adding More Light Rail Will Worsen Traffic Congestion & Air Pollution

By Martha Moneypenney

The proponents of building more light rail portray it as a means of reducing traffic congestion and air pollution. A superficial assertion that every person riding the light rail is a person not driving a car implies that light rail must be reducing congestion.

This assertion is misleading. Granted, a person riding the light rail is not adding a car to the traffic mix. However, adding the light rail trains to the street traffic mix more than offsets the subtraction of automobiles.

Light rail tracks eliminate two lanes that autos might have used. Squeezing six lanes of traffic into four lanes inevitably slows traffic.

Light rail tracks block autos from turning left into businesses on the other side of the street. Complex maneuvers involving driving further down the street and executing a U-turn also slow down traffic.

The Central Phoenix/East Valley Light Rail Project: Final Environmental Impact Statement prepared by Valley Metro ran computer simulations of traffic with and without light rail. Their finding was that adding light rail increased traffic congestion by almost 1%.

Now, increasing congestion by less than 1% isn’t much, but should we really spend billions to make congestion even a little bit worse?

The Valley Metro study also projected a small increase in air pollution from adding light rail to the transportation system. Again, this is a small impact, but do we really want to spend billions to make air pollution a little bit worse?

Time is our most precious resource. We shouldn’t be burdening taxpayers in order to build a rail system that will consume more of our time in traffic congestion. Neither should we be burdening taxpayers in order to build a system that will degrade our air.

Vote No on Prop 104.

Prop 104: Light Rail Reduces Transit Effectiveness

By: Howard Sprague

The notion that light rail makes a worthwhile contribution to the mobility of persons who depend on public transportation is erroneous. Light rail merely steals bus riders already using transit.

For the 10 years prior to the opening of rail service, bus ridership grew at an average rate of 5.6% per year. In 1997, there were 34.1 million passenger trips. In 2008, there were 61.9 million.

Since rail opened for business in 2009, total transit ridership growth has slowed to an average of 0.3% per year. In 2014, there were 72.1 million passenger trips on buses and trains combined. If previous rates of growth in bus travel had prevailed, there would have been 85.8 million passenger trips in 2014.

What happened? Well, the extraordinarily high cost of building light rail necessitated a reduction in funds available for bus service. Fewer buses could be supported.

Compared to buses, light rail serves a much smaller segment of transportation need. Buses can cover every corner of the city. Rail can cover only a few dozen miles in narrowly circumscribed corridors. Think of that.

Now it is touted that light rail will attract the white collar riders—the downtown crowd of bankers, lawyers, and corporate executives who won’t ride buses. This may be true, but why should the average taxpayer be forced to subsidize the rides of people who can easily afford their own transportation?

Does it make sense for people who depend on buses to have to walk further and wait longer in the burning sun just so the City can provide expensive rides for a few privileged individuals?

Vote No on Prop. 104.

Prop 104: Rail Transit Won’t Revitalize the Urban Core

By Juan Saldana

The biggest pipe dream advanced by the proponents of this $31 billion tax increase is that building more light rail tracks is an effective way of achieving urban “in-fill.” The notion that all prospective land owners are waiting for a few more miles of expensive and slowmoving trains before they upgrade their properties is ludicrous.

Aside from some limited improvements to structures near the train stops, the vast majority of the real estate near the first 20 miles of light rail track remains rundown. If the first 20 miles couldn’t rescue these eyesores, why should we expect the next 20 miles to do the trick?

Rehabilitating urban property requires money. Unfortunately, light rail doesn’t generate income for most property owners. Quite the contrary. During the construction the streets in front of businesses will be torn up for a lengthy period, making it hard for customers to get in to buy anything.

Some businesses won’t survive the construction phase. Those that do will mostly see fewer customers return, since the tracks will prevent left turns into the businesses. The loss of lanes for automobiles will add to traffic congestion—further deterring customers.

If the City were serious about revitalizing the urban core, it would opt for a more efficient means of accomplishing this—like giving small businesses in the core area a tax holiday. This would allow them to keep more of the money they earn. Businesses already in the area would be more likely to thrive. Others would be drawn to the area by the improved net income they could obtain.

If we really want to revitalize the urban core we should reject hiking taxes to fund a lame railroad and pursue sounder methods.

Vote NO.

Proposition 104 Benefits Insiders and Special Interests at Taxpayers Expense

By Scot Mussi

If you only listened to supporters of Proposition 104, it would be difficult to know what the 30 billion dollar transit tax initiative is really about. Even the ballot language written by the city tries to hide the fact that Prop 104 nearly DOUBLES the transit sales tax over the next 35 years, a multibillion dollar tax hike to fund light rail expansion that Phoenix residents can ill afford.

But the massive tax hike is only one of the reasons why Prop 104 should be rejected by Phoenix voters. As written, Prop 104 is a blank check for City Hall that allows insiders and politically connected special interests to cash in on the new transit tax. In fact, the dirty secret about this initiative is that they are not required to build any of the projects they are promising in the transit plan.

For example, the city could decide after its passage to cancel all new road projects and use the money to construct more light rail. Or City Council could approve a costly new trolley or train system that leaves the road you take to work under construction for the next five years. Entire sections of the city could lose out on transit funding to politically connected insiders at City Hall. How the money is spent will be up to the politicians to decide, not you.

The lack of transparency and accountability tied to this tax increase was by design. They could have included protections on how the money was spent or oversight to prevent waste, fraud and abuse. They chose not to, because the City wants your money but with no corresponding strings attached.

Phoenix residents should oppose this giveaway and vote NO on Prop 104.

Reason TV and Prop 104: Phoenix Light Rail Fail

Meet the Thighmaster of urban public policy: Streetcars.

Municipal politicians all across the country have convinced themselves that this costly, clunky hardware can revitalize their flabby downtown economies.

That includes the fearless leaders of America’s capital city. The DC government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars over the last decade trying to erect a streetcar line in the up-and-coming neighborhood of H Street. The project has been an epic disaster, perfectly demonstrating how ill-suited streetcars are to modern urban life.

Video Produced by Rob Montz, who also hosts. Camera by Todd Krainin. Graphics by Jason Keisling and Meredith Bragg.

Thanks to ReasonTV.

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Facts about Phoenix Prop 104:

  • $31.5 BILLION Proposal
  • Tax will last 35 YEARS
  • $6.66 BILLION for Light Rail
  • 41.2 Miles of new rail
  • $161 MILLION per mile of light rail
  • Entire proposal could purchase 2.2 MILLION SmartCars
  • Will shrink available funds that could be used for education, hiring or teachers
  • Mayor and Council created a $10,000 exemption to appease big business from paying full tax rate
  • Majority of Pro-Prop 104 money is from construction and developers who will benefit from contracts to build light rail corridors.
  • Current light rail is losing 53% on farebox recovery
  • Valley Metro places emphasis on increasing ridership by backing off and not enforcing payment
  • Less than 1% of Phoenix population rides light rail
  • Vast majority of riders are students, government employees, homeless, destitute or under the influence (subsidized or non-paying riders).

Jeff Dial – Still Serving, Despite the IED’s of Politics

An Important Message from Jon C. Altmann, Military Retiree

Politics has gotten ugly.  It used to be a calling for decent folks who wanted to serve their community, run for office and try to serve.  They were not looking to get rich, gain further office – they only wish to serve.  State Senator Jeff Dial is one dedicated to serve.

Members of the Arizona Legislature serve for $24,000 annually.  The position takes a lot of hours when the Legislature in session.  One has to either be independently wealthy, be self-employed or have a very, very understanding employer who will tolerate the absences from work.

Taking cheap pot-shots at those who are serving has become more commonplace.  It drives the question – why would someone want to take on the onslaught of nasty commentary, a lot of it often urban legends or simply made-up, put their spouse and children in the spotlight, and take on the task of representing us?

Along comes Jeff Dial.  He works hard as a businessman and for a period in his life, served in the Army Reserve.  He is part of the less than 1% in our nation that has volunteered to serve.  He passed boot camp.  Members of the National Guard and Reserve have two lives – their civilian life with a civilian boss/employer and their military life.  Often times, the military life interferes with the civilian life.&nnbsp; A lot of folks say they support the military, but the experience of more than two decades of service has taught me more of those employers and bosses simply say the word “support” – they don’t give it.

Jeff Dial has a lot in common with another great Arizonan who, decades before, volunteered to serve, served for a short period, and like Jeff, never went to war – the late John Driggs, former Phoenix Mayor and someone who kept working hard at making Arizona better after serving America for the short period he was in uniform.  John Driggs enlisted in the Navy near the end of World War II and just as he was graduating boot camp, the war ended.  John came home, used his G.I. Bill to get an education and buy a home.   John Driggs I know well, I presented his burial flag to his widow this past year – he was buried as a veteran.  He honorably served.  Jeff Dial has worked hard in public policy to bring folks together – like John Driggs.  Both humbly served.

Jeff, like many members of the National Guard and Reserve, had problems with the military’s height/weight standards.  I have been one of those myself.  Guard and Reserve must train on their own – yet are expected to maintain the same physical standards – including physical agility testing – as the active duty. When an active duty member fails one part of the process, they are given work time every day to “train” to overcome the failure.  Guard and Reserve have to steal more time from their civilian life.

Let me clarify – you can pass all the runs, push-ups and other exercises and make the times or better – but if your body fat measurement is too high, you fail the test.  On the other hand, you can be in great body fat measurement zone, pass all the test except you are slow on a 1.5 mile run, you fail.  The standards have become more rigid coincidental to force reductions.  It is hard work for reservists, who are generally older than most of those serving on active duty, to keep pace.  It means taking more time away from civilian employer and family.

If a military member is out of standard, they can be barred from reserve duty for medical reasons.  And the term “satisfactory participation” varies by service branch, and can be put on a military member for failure to pass the physical standards.  I challenge any other American to meet the same standards daily.  A Reserve or Guard member must effectively work at it each day – on their own time.  Active duty members get to do it on “company time.”

In politics there are winners and losers.  I’ve been on the losing side twice.  I did not go away – in fact, I continued to work my passion to help others and have many times gone to our Legislature to advocate for veterans, military families, public safety and public education.  I work with those who defeated me and work with those who supported me.  Sour grapes has not been in my diet.

Jeff Dial has a few political enemies – and those of us in the veterans community know those few – who have sour grapes  because they have lost to Jeff in past elections.  They have been saying Jeff has lied about his military service and recently got The Arizona Republic to pick apart the issue.  They found that Jeff did what he said – that he simply served in the Army Reserve and has an honorable discharge.  I’ve known Jeff politically for several years.  I have never known him to brag anything about his military service, except to say he served.

Where’s the issue?

Important for veterans, Reserve, National Guard and military families – including those families of Reserve and Guard members – Jeff Dial has been a consistent vote for meaningful, thoughtful legislation that helps veterans and military families.   He has had enough service to understand the issues and be thoughtful on bills – and he has voted for bills that some of his Tea Party Republican caucus mates have turned down.  Some of those bills that the “Tea Party” folks declined are ones that help veterans.

I am in an unique position – years ago I was a news reporter for The Phoenix Gazette and later a manager in the circulation department of the Republic and Gazette.  During my many years of service at the newspaper, I was serving in the Navy Reserve.  I came to work one day to learn that our publisher, Darrow “Duke” Tully had falsified an entire career as an Air Force officer.  He wore uniforms to military events, he bragged about his service and put out that he had even earned the rank of a senior Air Force officer before retiring form the Air Force Reserve.  But a political opponent went digging and found no service at all.

As a loyal employee of the paper, I was hurt.  Mr. Tully resigned and left town.

Jeff Dial earned his uniform and has not lied.  Yet, The Arizona Republic senses some story that he over-played his role in the Army Reserve, yet offers nothing concrete.  They readily state by one of their columnists that Jeff Dial has been a moderate Republican – something the editorial pages of The Republic seem to extol.  Yet they ran a story that has a questionable news value.  They fail to mention who brought them this “story.”  Now a group of Republican party precinct committeemen who say they are veterans are protesting.  I’m a Republican, too.  I left the ranks of being a “PC” some years back because I find that too many of the PCs are extreme in their views and generally don’t well represent the broader based views held by voters.  It is no secret that most GOP precinct meetings are dominated by the Tea Party emotions and don’t seem to want to get along.  President Gerald Ford said that we can disagree without being disagreeable.  I simply got tired of the many of the latter.  Now they are soap-boxing.

When I was reporter, my City Editor wanted me to be forthright in my sources and justify them before the paper ran one drop of ink.  I was brought up that the paper had to be beyond politics and reproach.  The lives and reputations of people could serious damaged by less than stellar research.

I am no novice to veterans issues.  I hold an elected national office, sit on two government commissions/advisory groups, one local and one Federal and have worked hard to get legislation passed and signed by the governor.  No easy task.  The cannon fodder being pointed at Jeff Dial are barrels of junk information attempting to besmirch the good efforts of State Senator Dial.  The slimy part of this is the fact that those firing the cannons could be termed “sore losers.” The perpetrators are in the shadows – and what do they have to say for their military records and why some of them are no longer serving?

I must question two things in this quest by some against Stat Senator Dial – why is the paper chasing this non-story and making attacks an office holder that generally meets the editorial positions the paper has taken?  More so, as someone who has been a career journalist and published writer, why didn’t the paper do a more careful due-diligence on who brought them the story and why?  The newspaper should not allow itself to be use for the sour grapes soap boxing of others, especially when the man involved had done nothing but tried to serve and did so honorably.

I spent 22 years serving active and reserve in national intelligence.  I have been a senior enlisted leader three times.  I can’t name all my commanding officers and I can’t recall all the junior enlisted leaders who worked under me.  I doubt seriously asking Jeff Dial, who was a private who tried serving diligently, asking Jeff about service 16 years ago is a worthy question.  Jeff is not alone in service members, active and reserve, we sent home for failing the rigorous physical standards.  We sent each of those folks home with honorable discharges because the military has at least the decorum to say they met the bar in being honorable.

If a hard-working veterans’ community advocate like myself knows the details easily and readily, why didn’t the paper’s news team?  Jeff Dial deserves an apology.  From me, a retired senior enlisted leader, Jeff Dial gets my thanks for showing up and trying to serve our nation.  Only 17% of all us who serve, active or reserve, stay for 20 more years as a career.  Jeff Dial was among the 83% who came, gave his country some time – and now as an elected official – continues to help veterans and all Arizonans.  We cannot defend America without the 83% that Jeff Dial is part of.

Jeff has done more than 99% of everyone else (because only 1% of Americans today have served) – and he continues to serve, despite bush league shots at this character.  This grateful veterans advocate thanks Jeff not only for his service in uniform, but the continued service to veterans he has done as a legislator.

About Jon Altmann

 Jon Altmann is a retired U.S. Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer, having served active and reserve service for 22 years.  He currently serves as an elected national officer of one veterans organization, along with serving on two public bodies, one national the other local, concerned with veterans and military retirees.  He is a former newspaper reporter who went onto working more than two decades in the public safety field, mostly as a top end manager or executive.  He is a graduate of Arizona State University and additional course work through the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Office of Naval Intelligence.  His last four assignments were as a senior enlisted leader in major intelligence community commands. Comments and opinions expressed by Jon C. Altmann are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Defense, the U.S. Navy, or any of the organizations he volunteers his time in helping others.

Sal DiCiccio: Phoenix Light Rail Will Take Money Away From Education

Recently, I appeared in an interview by the Legal Broadcast Network in which I discuss the Phoenix light rail fiasco. I’d like to share a portion of that interview so Phoenicians can understand what’s at stake in the August election and the enormity of this boondoggle.

The cost to build one mile of freeway is about $56 Million. Compare that to the cost to build one mile of light rail. As staff revealed, Phoenix taxpayers would spend $161 MILLION per mile for this monstrosity. That is almost three times the cost to move far fewer people than what a freeway moves.

And if you look at the number of users who actually use light rail, it’s about one half of one percent of our population. Putting that in perspective, its equivalent to the amount of people who drive down the street in front of your home.

For this $31.5 BILLION proposal, the City of Phoenix could buy 2.2 Million Smart Cars! That is every man, woman and child who could use one of these eco-friendly cars.

Remember, the same people who brought us the downtown Sheraton Hotel at a total loss of $130 Million, now want us to pay for another massive taxpayer $31.5 BILLION boondoggle.

At a time when we need more money going into our education system this takes money away from that priority. Every dollar going into this $161 Million/mile train system is a dollar not going to our children’s education.