“The bus stops here!” Tempe Council’s culture of compliance

By Matthew Papke (Reposted from freeTempe.com)

Monday a transportation crisis was averted in Tempe Arizona.  Throughout the previous week and leading up to the first day back to school many parents were faced with the unease of not knowing how their children would get to class. Could this have been avoided? What led to this near disaster?

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A Bad Deal
In November of 2012 the Tempe City Council voted unanimously and without pubic debate to move Tempe’s bus services management contract from Veolia to Regional Transportation Planning Agency (RTPA). In January the new transit agreement was signed without a minimum bus service requirement. This under sight is the reason for the near devastating Monday so many parents would have been affected by.

Culture of Compliance
Unlike our kitchen tables or work places, the Tempe City Council does not offer much in the way of discussion or debate. Speedily or perhaps hurriedly decisions are often voted on with super majorities in favor of almost every single measure that comes before the council. The RTPA contract was likely not read or fully understood by the Council for if it was it certainly would have had a clause to ensure minimum service requirements for our residents. It would seem they spent millions of your Tempe Tax dollars in minutes without READING THE FINE PRINT.

Council member Joel Navarro has been quoted as saying he was “Livid” at the lack of a minimum service requirement in the Tempe transit contract. “This is killing people,” Tempe City Councilman Joel Navarro said Friday. “We have tons of kids who take the buses to school. It can’t go to Monday.” The article went further on to state. “Navarro is livid that Tempe and Valley Metro Regional Public Transportation Authority officials put out a bid for a transit contract that did not require the company to provide minimum bus service.”

While NAVARRO’s fervor is welcomed, we should remind him that on November 15th, 2012 Council members Navarro along with Robin Arredondo-Savage, Onnie Shekerjian, Shana Ellis and Corey Woods, all voted in favor of moving the management of Tempe’s transit needs from Tempe to a regional resource the Planning (RTPA), this vote occurred without any debate on November 15th, 2012 AND COSTS TEMPE RESIDENTS OVER $10 MILLION A YEAR.

In January Shana Ellis was quoted saying “Tempe’s priority is to provide connectivity to our residents, students and regional visitors while we also protect and enhance our transit network.” I wonder if she knew at the time the transit contract did not contain a minimum service requirement.

The Bus stops here!
Had the council been brave or knowledgeable enough to ask then what they were asking yesterday, in the middle of a crisis, Then perhaps the entire “HOW AM I GOING TO GET MY KIDS TO SCHOOL” fiasco could have been averted.

Matthew Papke is a graduate of Corona del Sol, a Marine and current resident of Tempe Arizona. Matthew is also a filed candidate for Tempe City Council 2014. Please send any questions or comments to Matt@freetempe.com

Maricopa GOP Chair Rallies LD Censures

To all Arizona County and LD Republican Committee Chairmen -
Below is the front page article of the July 15 Arizona Capitol Times. I want to express my appreciation to those courageous and principled County and LD Republican Committees who have already conducted votes of “censure” and/or “no confidence.”
Jan Brewer, the legislators and their crony capitalist friends that support ObamaCare and Medicaid expansion have betrayed Americans, Arizona Republicans and the Republican Party Platform.  Their lack of ethics, integrity and egregious acts are motivated by only two things – greed and the lust for power – at the expense of hard working tax paying Americans.
The law was expected to cost $898 billion over the first decade when the bill was first passed, but this year the Congressional Budget Office revised that estimate to $1.85 trillion.  Money that will have to be borrowed from the Chinese or printed in the backroom of the Federal Reserve.  Latest polls indicate a majority of Americans are opposed to ObamaCare and Medicaid expansion with an overwhelming majority of Republicans in opposition.
During the past six months, we did everything we could to make a solid argument against ObamaCare and Medicaid expansion, we tried to reason with these people and even tried to make them see the light.  Unfortunately, our lobbying efforts fell on deaf ears and without success.
During one of Ronald Reagan’s difficult political battles he said,
               “When you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat.”
I’m asking all the County and LD Republican Committees to make these people feel the heat by passing public censures for their actions.  They are elitists who think what they have done should be forgiven. They are mistaken.  We are not going to be able to defeat all of them, but we can defeat a majority of them in the 2014 Primary Election.
You can go to “MCRC Briefs” and get examples of public censures that have already been passed.  http://briefs.maricopagop.org/  Just type “censure” in the search field on the left.
Warmest regards,
 A. J. LaFaro
Chairman, Maricopa County Republican Committee
P.S.  Please encourage all of your PCs to keep up their daily efforts in getting petition signatures for www.urapc.org  Getting ObamaCare and Medicaid expansion on the November 2014 ballot will be historic for Arizona’s grassroots conservatives.

Arizona sales-tax hike gets shiv on shady iPad contest promoted on Facebook, Twitter

Below is the complaint letter submitted to Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett earlier this week by Tom Jenney of Americans for Prosperity Arizona challenging the legality of initiative petitions turned in by the “Quality Education & Jobs” campaign based on signatures gathered by ‘volunteers’ with the promise of winning an iPad — thereby calling into question any and all of these petitions not disclosing that they were collected by a paid circulator. In the grand scheme of things this complaint likely reveals a small violation that will probably not invalidate enough petitions to drop their signature tally below the number required to earn a spot on November’s ballot.  However, this pattern and practice also reveals another instance where the troubled “Quality Education & Jobs” campaign has played fast-and-loose with the rules regarding gathering signatures… all in service to “The Children”… and government unions and brazen special interests who stand to reap hundreds of millions in government contracts. No wonder it has been thrown off the ballot. Let’s hope an activist judge doesn’t disregard the black-letter of the law and force this massive tax increase onto November’s ballot.  

BONUS: Click here to listen to the initial reaction from top “Quality Education & Jobs” campaign officials (Chairwoman Ann-Eve Petersen, Associated General Contractors honcho David Martin, consultant Joe Yuhas and others) upon learning their campaign’s 290,000 petition signatures are invalid.

June 25, 2012

The Honorable Ken Bennett
Arizona Secretary of State
1700 West Washington Street
Phoenix, Arizona 85007-2888

Dear Secretary Bennett,

On behalf of the 70,000 taxpayers in this state who are members of our organization, the Arizona chapter of Americans for Prosperity wishes to bring to your prompt attention an important matter regarding the potential failure by one or more ballot initiative organizers to fully and properly disclose their use of paid signature petition circulators. 

I-16-2012 has filed for inclusion on the November ballot and signature petitions have been circulated by its initiative supporters for qualification.  This initiative, commonly referred to as “Quality Education and Jobs,” has already submitted petitions to your office for certification.

Based upon the enclosed information, we believe that circulators have been compensated and incentivized with the promise of future compensation for collecting a specific number of signatures on behalf of the initiative.  We believe that repeated solicitations over Facebook and Twitter accounts maintained by initiative organizers, as well as at least one email sent by organizers or on their behalf, clearly demonstrate that the collection of fifteen (15) petition signatures were directly exchanged for “a brand new iPad 3” by at least two individuals.

A.R.S. § 19-118 defines a paid circulator as “…a person who receives monetary or other compensation that is based on the number of signatures obtained on a petition or on the number of petitions circulated that contain signatures.”  Those who satisfy the criteria of paid circulators are required to disclose their paid circulator status by noting the same on the petition.     

Organizers of I-16-2012 have apparently twice awarded an iPad 3, valued at $499, to certain individuals on or about May 11 and June 1.  Although the solicitations characterize the circulators as “volunteers,” the nature of those awards qualifies them as paid circulators by law.

We therefore request that your office immediately investigate this matter to determine whether the actions of the “Quality Education and Jobs” initiative organizers constitute a violation of A.R.S. § 19-118 and to take any and all necessary action. 

Furthermore, please accept this letter as a formal complaint with regard to the possibility that the “Quality Education and Jobs” initiative organizers may have circulated petitions using ballot language that differed from the official initiative language.  Given the discrepancies uncovered by the Arizona Tax Research Association (please refer to the attached article from the June 22, 2012 issue of the Arizona Capitol Times), we believe that the organizers of the “Quality Education and Jobs” initiative acted in violation of A.R.S. § 19-112, which requires that petition signature sheets be attached “at all times during circulation to a full and correct copy of the title and text of the measure or constitutional amendment proposed or referred by the petition.”

Thank you very much for your consideration of these matters, and for taking the time and effort to provide written responses to these complaints.

For Liberty,

Tom Jenney
Arizona Director
Americans for Prosperity

Washington Should Let Highway Dollars Make a U-turn and Head Home to States

By Stephen Slivinski

The U.S. Congress has been deadlocked for about three years over re-authorizing the federal highway program. During that time, they have passed temporary extensions of the program. The ninth extension expires at the end of this month.

While Congress idles and lets the program just roll along, year after year, we miss out on debate over whether the current system is working and what the alternatives are.

What happens now is that state governments collect fuel taxes and send the money to the federal government. Then the feds put all the money into a pot and distribute it, mostly by formula, back to the states. The problem is, due to bureaucratic overhead, pork project earmarks, obsessions with funding projects like high-speed rail, and certain demographic and geographic realities, not all the money that a state sends to Washington may come back to pay for road upkeep and construction. And the dollars that do find their way home often have federal strings attached. (Remember the federal 55-mile-per-hour speed limit?)

Arizona has been on the losing end of this for a while. As a “donor” state, we routinely pay more in fuel taxes than we receive back from the federal government.

Rep. Jeff Flake has introduced a bill to require that all states receive back at least 95 percent of the money they pay into the federal highway trust fund. It’s a good step, and one that should be seen as a move toward fundamental reform of the system. But the best thing to do would be to guarantee that each state gets 100% of the fuel tax revenue it collects. And the only way to do that is to eliminate the federal highway system as we know it and instead let states control their highway programs and set their own tax rates and revenue needs accordingly.

As cars become more fuel efficient, how much fuel a driver purchases is becoming a less reliable way to gauge how much driving someone is doing and, subsequently, how much wear and tear they are inflicting on state roads. States need to be able to freely experiment with innovations like open road tolling, which are a better way of aligning the costs and benefits of road use.

That sort of experimentation is limited as long as Washington controls the money.

Stephen Slivinski is senior economist for the Goldwater Institute.

Learn more:

Stateline: While Congress Stalls, States Worry about Highway Funds

Rep. Jeff Flake: Announcement of Passage of Flake Resolution in House

Cato Institute: Liberating the Roads

Congressman Flake Applauds Passage of Motion to Instruct on the Highway Bill

Flake Motion Insists on Provision in Highway Bill Guaranteeing States Receive a Higher Percentage of their Own Gas Tax Dollars Back From the Federal Government

Washington, D.C. – Republican Congressman Jeff Flake, who represents Arizona’s Sixth District, today offered a motion to instruct conferees on H.R. 4348, the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012, Part II. The motion passed by a vote of 259 – 154.

Many states, like Arizona, are donor states, meaning that they have historically contributed more to the Highway Trust Fund than they received back in the form of federal transportation funding. While non-binding, the motion instructs House conferees to insist on a provision in the final H.R. 4348 conference report guaranteeing all states the minimum rate of return of 95-percent on highway bill funding. Current law sets the rate of return at 92 percent. The language proposed in the motion would not increase the overall cost of H.R. 4348, it would affect only how transportation bill funding is distributed.

“While it would be preferable to give states greater control over their transportation dollars, the least Congress can do is ensure that donor states get a fairer return on the gas tax dollars they send to D.C.,” said Flake.

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Rep. Vic Williams on Cell Phone Usage While Driving

Arizona State Representative Vic Williams spoke with CBS 5 in response to the NTSB’s recommendation to ban all electronic devices while driving. Representative Williams serves as the Chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

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Coalition of Job Creators Launches Statewide Media

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 5, 2011
CONTACT: Colin Shipley

Calls for the Arizona Legislature to Stop Killing Jobs by Raiding the HURF

(PHOENIX, AZ) We Build Arizona, a statewide coalition of job creators, launched a media campaign calling upon the Arizona Legislature to stop killing job creation by raiding the HURF. Over 43,000 jobs in Arizona have been lost due to the legislature’s raiding of these funds.

“A good transportation system is needed to manage future economic growth,” said Ryan Mackey of We Build Arizona. “The politicians in the Arizona Legislature have been raiding the HURF for 11 years and it must stop so we can put Arizonans back to work and keep Arizona families safe on our roads.”

The statewide media campaign includes television, radio, social media, and direct voter contact to educate Arizonans on how the politicians in the Arizona Legislature have cost our state over 43,000 jobs while putting the safety of Arizona driver’s at risk.

“The raiding of the HURF didn’t start because the economy went south,” said Gary Haydon of We Build Arizona. “The politicians in the state legislature have been using the HURF for their own political benefit, not for what it is intended. If they are unwilling to fix their mistakes, then we will take their raiding of funds and killing jobs directly to the voters by placing an initiative on the 2012 ballot.”

We Build Arizona is a statewide coalition of businesses and organizations dedicated to creating jobs by protecting and growing state and local infrastructure funding. The coalition consists of the American Council of Engineering Companies of Arizona, Arizona Builders’ Alliance, Arizona Chapter, Associated General Contractors, Arizona Transit Association, Associated Minority Contractors of America, Friends of Transit, and Tucson Utility Contractors Association.

To view the television ad and listen to the radio ad, please visit www.WeBuildAZ.org.

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Tolling I-15 is a good idea from ADOT

There’s a 29-mile section of Interstate 15 that cuts across Arizona’s northwest corner that’s noteworthy for its limited access — if you live south of the Grand Canyon, the only way you can get to it without crossing into Nevada or Utah is to make a long detour and drive dirt roads.

Completed in 1973, parts of Arizona’s I-15 are well over 40 years old, the expected lifespan of most roads. Part of I-15 was the most expensive section of interstate in the nation until Boston’s Big Dig surpassed it. That’s because it passes through the Virgin River Gorge, an expensive routing the federal government insisted on and ultimately completed by having Utah make some of its federal road funding available to this state.

Now, this expensive highway needs to be rebuilt and Arizonans, few of whom directly benefit from it, will have to pick up something in the neighborhood of 40 percent of the tab.

That’s why the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) is pushing for that section of I-15 to be included as one of three interstate highway toll pilot projects. Those who use that section of highway should be the ones who pay for it.

Come to think of it, if that had been the case all along, maybe the feds would not have insisted it be built along the most expensive possible route in the first place.

ADOT has made a wise move and should be congratulated for it. Now they just need to get moving with a project under the public-private partnership law that is now three years old.

Dr. Byron Schlomach is the director of the Goldwater Institute’s Center for Economic Prosperity.

Learn More:

Goldwater Institute: More Roads to Travel: A Path to Transportation Solutions in Arizona

Arizona Republic: Northern Arizona toll road weighed for Interstate 15

AARoads.com: Interstate 15

On the road with Sonoran Citizens

One of our readers send us this quick note regarding a roadway called Sonoran Boulevard. We’re guessing some of our other readers are familiar with this but since this is a random news item, we thought we’d post it to see where this road takes us…

Are you familiar with the Sonoran Boulevard realignment? This road was located at the Lone Mountain/303 alignmnet for a decade. The recorded plats for the area (Sonoran Foohills) show Sonoran Parkway/Boulevard and 1 mile north Dove Valley Road. The City of Phoenix secretly realigned this major arterial to Dove Valley Road and it now runs through a gated neighborhood, does not connect to I-17 and is one mile north of the 303 interchange. They started construction on the road in November 2010 but didn’t tell the citizens of the area until February 2011. This road will end at North Valley Parkway and traffic will have to go north up 27th Drive to Carefee Highway to access I-17 or the 303. The current portion of the road is $78.2 million dollars and will require a $30 million bridge that is not budgeted to connect to I-17. The funded bridge is at the 303 Loop, so why not build the road at the correct location???

Bryan
www.sonorancitizens.com


High speed rail a losing bet for Arizona

by Byron Schlomach, Ph.D.
Goldwater Institute

The Arizona Department of Transportation has released a draft report on rail transportation, laying out its plans for high speed rail in Arizona. While the department’s plan is a comprehensive document covering all types of rail-based transportation, the sections on high speed rail appear to get the most attention, complete with schematics and maps. The evidence, though, points to high speed rail as a boondoggle waiting to happen.

In 2008, Californians narrowly approved a $10 billion bond issue to help build high-speed rail, with spur lines, between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Costs have already risen 10 percent, even with spur lines eliminated, and the promised $55 ticket price has almost doubled to $105.

Cost overruns and inadequate ridership are all-too-predictable when it comes to passenger rail projects. A project of the Pew Charitable Trusts has estimated Amtrak is subsidized to the tune of $32 per passenger ticket. A study by the Reason Foundation in 2008 predicted much higher costs for the California rail project when it is finished and cited overly optimistic ridership estimates by proponents of the project.

Passenger rail seems to be especially vulnerable to the trifecta of special interest advocacy groups, politicians willing to bet federal taxpayer money, and hungry contractors ready to take that money. Meanwhile, our neglected road system continues to do the lion’s share of the transportation work. People demonstrate daily they are willing to pay for roads with tolls and taxes on fuel, tires, trucks, and autos. Passenger rail, on the other hand, needs subsidies in its every incarnation. Arizona would be wise to let this train pass.

Dr. Bryon Schlomach is director of the Goldwater Institute’s Center for Economic Prosperity.

Learn More:

The San Diego Union-Tribune: California high-speed rail: The next stop is bankruptcy

National Public Radio’s Marketplace: Taxes picking up tab for Amtrak losses

Arizona Department of Transportation: State Rail Plan March 2011

Cato Institute: High Speed Rail is Not “Interstate 2.0”