Bill Richardson: Much is at stake in the Tempe City Council race

By Bill Richardson

The signs are up and the campaign to get elected to the Tempe City Council is on.

For those of us who live in Tempe and had hoped for a giant breath of fresh air to arrive after the ex-mayor Hugh Hallman left city hall two-years ago, we’re still waiting. Real change has yet to arrive: High crime, high taxes and reduced city services are still the Tempe way.

Mayor Mark Mitchell squeaked out a win over the Hallman candidate by only a couple hundred votes; not what you would call an overwhelming victory. A win is a win but not having a wealth of popular support in a city dominated by career politician Hallman and his henchmen for nearly a decade has made reform still a distant dream.

Hallman and company, including his loyal followers on the city council, gave Tempe higher taxes, fewer services and a crime problem that has escaped remedies by the current police leadership team brought on during the Hallman years. Tempe is still struggling with the extra crime rate that according to the 2013 FBI Uniform Crime Reports is double Scottsdale’s and 50-percent higher than Mesa’s.

Tempe continues to blame Arizona State University for its serious crime woes even though ASU has its own police force and university crime problems are recorded separately from ASU’s by the feds.

Beyond high taxes and high crime, there’s still a cloud of question hovering over city hall from a long list of shenanigans and the FBI undercover investigation that netted longtime council member turned convicted felon Ben Arredondo.

City council members Robin Arredondo-Savage, Joel Navarro and Corey Woods were mentioned as being present during one of the meetings with Arredondo and the FBI undercover agents posing as crooks. Arredondo, who moved from the city council to the state legislature, reportedly told the FBI agents wanting to do business in Tempe, “You guys will ask, you guys will have. I don’t know how else to say it. We’ll be just fine because not only [are we] covered at the city, we’re covered now at the state.” (link)

Arredondo-Savage, Navarro and Woods were never charged with a crime.

With three city council seats open in the next election maybe change will finally come? Then again, maybe it won’t if there isn’t a change in the face of the city council.

The two incumbents who were part of the Hallman council hope to keep their seats of power and influence.

Shana Ellis a two-term member wants to stay, as does one termer Arredondo-Savage. Onnie Shekerjian is not running for re-election. Wanting to replace Arredondo-Savage and Ellis and fill the one open seat are Lauren Kuby, Matt Papke, Ernesto Fonseca, David Schapira and Dick Foreman.

For the first time in a long time Tempe voters have a real choice about the future of the city. Without term limits and a flood of fresh blood, the Tempe City Council has become more like private clique catering to special interests than an elected body of innovative and inspiring leadership residents and business owners can believe and trust.

So will voters stick with the incumbents that have helped take Tempe to where it is? Or will they elect new members to the council who can help take Tempe in a new direction to wipe out the failures of the past and restore trust in local elected officials that has been stolen from voters thanks to scandal and an array of and cozy deals generated out of Tempe’s “tax and spend” city hall?

Retired Mesa master police officer Bill Richardson lives in the East Valley and can be reached at bill[dot]richardson[at]cox[dot]net.

BREAKING! Phoenix Police Release Report on Mark Mitchell Investigation

Phoenix Police have released the following report regarding Mark Mitchell. For several weeks, Sonoran Alliance has provided a forum for one of our writers to demand that this report be made public.  One would expect the police investigation to lead to charges being filed. Here is that report.

Mark Mitchell

Mark Mitchell police investigation report still not released to the public

Voting for the next mayor of the City of Tempe continues at a frenzied pace as election day rapidly approaches on May 15th. One thing that is clearly not moving fast is the release of the report by City of Phoenix Police investigators regarding alleged behaviors by the Democrat candidate in the race, Mark Mitchell.

Meanwhile, Tempe Police who supposedly handed the investigation over to Phoenix investigators to avoid a conflict of interest, have come out in support of Mitchell. Signs started appearing last week courtesy of the political action committee, “Public Safety for Better Government – E.V.”

One would expect that law enforcement officials would reserve any form of advocacy for a candidate – especially one who has been accused of despicable acts – until any police investigation report is released to the public. That doesn’t seem to be the case in Tempe.

This all goes back to our earlier request in which we urged the Mayor of Phoenix, Greg Stanton, to release any report surrounding his endorsee, Mark Mitchell, so the voters would have the opportunity to make up their own minds regarding the allegations.

Mark Mitchell

Mark Mitchell

Strangely enough, “Arizona Police Officers” have already made up their collective mind and appear to be protecting their investment despite  any potentially damaging revelations being stonewalled by mayoral leadership.

Tempe voters deserve to know as they head to the polls. The simple solution is to disclose the findings and come clean and let the voters decide based on the facts.

BREAKING: Mark Mitchell Distorts The Truth About Arrest Record In Arizona Republic Questionnaire

(Tempe, Arizona) Plenty of Tempeans would admit to having a few drinks during their college days and maybe getting into a little bit of trouble at a bar. It’s a different matter when someone running for Mayor distorts the truth when asked about his criminal record by the Arizona Republic.

In February of this year this question to Mark Mitchell and Mitchell’s response was published by the Arizona Republic:

Have you ever been charged with a crime or been part of a matter in civil court? If so, what was the outcome? At age 23, upon my graduation from ASU, I was detained during a nightclub altercation in Tempe. I completed an adult diversion program and no charges were filed.

That’s not exactly how it happened. Mark Mitchell was arrested and booked into jail accused of “Delaying and Obstructing a Police Investigation.” There is a big difference between being detained and being arrested.

Mark Mitchell Mugshot

The Tempe Police report claims a then 24 year-old Mitchell tried to intervene to keep a friend from getting arrested during a bar fight. At the time Mark Mitchell’s father was still the Mayor of Tempe.

Mark’s attempts at using his influence to keep a friend from getting arrested backfired and Mitchell was booked into jail.

There is nothing to indicate the officer was hurt or that this was more than a problem resulting from a bar fight. Mitchell’s actions as a young man are not the issue. Everyone makes mistakes. As a grown man, and as someone seeking elected office, you’re expected to disclose those mistakes, be truthful about them, and not distort the truth when filling out a questionnaire that will be printed in the state’s largest newspaper. If he is not willing to be honest about this, what else is he not being honest about?

Business owner and candidate for Tempe Mayor Michael Monti stated, “When I filled out my Republic questionaire, I played by the rules and disclosed everything because I think someone casting a vote should know everything about a candidate. It’s too bad Mark Mitchell decided the rules didn’t apply to him. No one is expected to be perfect. In fact if getting into a bit of trouble in your 20’s kept people from being elected, there would be a lot of empty chairs in state and local government. The issue here is truthfulness. If someone distorts the truth when filling out a newspaper questionnaire, what does that say about their honesty in dealing with voters?”

Michael Monti, owner of Tempe’s historic Monti’s La Casa Vieja, co-founded Local First, Arizona. He is also active in the Tempe Diablos Charities, and is the youngest inductee in the Arizona Restaurant Association’s Hall of Fame.

To make a campaign donation on line click here or mail a check to

Monti4Mayor
P.O. Box 24476
Tempe, AZ 85285

His campaign is based on bringing private sector ideas to government, fiscal responsibility, civic involvement, economic opportunity, and innovation. His proposals include:

  • Financial incentives for city workers who save rather than spend tax dollars
  • The creation of the Tempe Community Corps to increase volunteerism, and aid Tempe neighborhoods and services
  • Partnerships with ASU and the business community to bring more jobs to Tempe
  • The creation of a public swimming beach at Tempe Town Lake, paid for by the private sector
  • Partnerships with the ASU College of Nursing to aid Tempe seniors
  • Encouraging businesses to embrace eco-friendly projects such as the Blink Car Charging Stations at Monti’s La Casa Vieja
  • A ban on texting while driving in Tempe
  • A gift ban and stricter reporting requirements for Tempe elected officials
  • An eight year term limit for the mayor’s office

Arizona leaders and organizations that have endorsed Michael Monti include:

  • Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman
  • Former Tempe Council Member and mayoral candidate Linda Spears
  • Tempe Council Member Onnie Shekerjian
  • Tempe Democrat and Former Council Member Barbara Sherman
  • Tempe’s first elected Mayor, Rudy Campbell
  • The Tempe Chamber of Commerce
  • Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne
  • Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery
  • Congressman David Schweikert
  • Former Tempe City Council Member ‘Hut’ Hutson
  • Former State Rep. Laura Knaperek
  • Tempe Democrat Carl Hayden
  • Former Tempe Council Member Joseph Lewis
  • Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane
  • Former Congressman Barry Goldwater Jr.
  • Former State Senator and Tempe Council Member Bev Hermon
  • Former Tempe Council Candidate Angie Taylor Thornton
  • Arizona State Treasurer Doug Ducey
  • Former State Senator Gary Richardson

To visit the Monti4 Mayor Website click here or log on to www.monti4mayor.com (@monti4mayor).

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It’s Time for Mark Mitchell and Greg Stanton to Come Clean

With the Tempe runoff election rapidly approaching, talk amongst Tempe’s political insiders is that Democrat mayoral candidate Mark Mitchell has lawyered up pretty heavily. Mitchell’s dive into a legal bunker may very well have something to do with what’s actually not happening in Tempe’s western neighbor, the City of Phoenix.

Recently elected Mayor of Phoenix, Greg Stanton, an endorser and high dollar fundraiser for Mitchell, may be stalling on the release of a report revealing a police investigation of the mayoral aspirant that was triggered by an anonymous victim’s email to the entire Tempe Council. The report is rumored to contain damning allegations that junior engaged in behavior so vile and disgusting that it would likely end his political career if not result in legal action. That investigation was handed over to Stanton’s top law enforcer in order to avoid a conflict of interest.

Early voting is already underway in Tempe. One would expect local media would be hot on the trail of any police investigation especially one that involves a mayoral candidate. Or better yet, that the candidate himself would feel obligated to disclose to the voters whether or not he is under any type of investigation.

And what does this say about the character and political motivations of Phoenix Mayor Stanton who appears to be dragging his political feet on an investigation of his political peer and ally?

Something has to give. We just hope it’s not the trust and confidence of Tempe and Phoenix residents who deserve better from their candidates and elected officials.

Both Mark Mitchell and Greg Stanton should stop this political game of avoidance and obfuscation and make an effort to show some real leadership. Mayor Stanton should step aside and allow Phoenix detectives to acknowledge and even release any findings. But even more important, if there really is no there there, Mark Mitchell owes it to his fellow Tempeans to publicly denounce any such allegations if he truly wants to exonerate his name.

Tempe Mayoral Candidate, Mark Mitchell: Hypocrite

Reposted from Citizens for a Better Tempe

You have probably seen the hit piece put out by the Mitchell campaign, claiming that the historic Monti’s La Casa Vieja “was sued multiple times by vendors for failure to pay bills.”

And you know what, it’s true. Monti’s, like a lot of small businesses, have endured tough times in this economy, and have had to make hard choices to keep their doors open and avoid laying people off.

A lot of businesses like … Mark Mitchell’s company.

Did he leave that part out? That’s odd.

Mark MitchellAnyway, Mitchell’s company – Tempe Decorator Center – was sued multiple times in just the past two years, owing hundreds of thousands of dollars to paint companies and other contractors, according to Maricopa County court records. The business was sued for millions by M&I Bank, and even stiffed the Phoenix Suns on Suite tickets. The company also had state and city tax liens filed against it, including one filed by the City of Tucson just last year.

By the way, if you are confused by the fact that Mitchell says he serves as Vice President of a company called Arizona Flooring & Interiors, and not Tempe Decorator Center (TDC) its because TDC shut down in 2010 and re-opened at around the same time under a different name. I’ll leave it to you to guess why. Here’s a copy of Mitchell’s financial disclosure forms showing both names from 2010.

But wait, it gets better.

Four separate employees of Mark Mitchell had to file complaints with the Arizona Department of Labor over unpaid wages – just last year. The Labor Department then went to court on their behalf to try and get a judgment against Mitchell’s company to pay the wages rightfully owed to them – which the government eventually did.

Even better, while his employees were trying to figure out how to get by without the paychecks they were counting on, Mark Mitchell went on vaca …oh excuse me… to conferences in Washington DC, Denver and Charlotte, stayed at hotels costing upwards of $300 a night, and stuck taxpayers with the bill.

There is a larger point here. That both Monti and Mitchell have seen their businesses struggle in a rough economy isn’t really the issue. We have all felt the effects of the financial crisis. The more important issue is that Mark Mitchell is the type of politician that would demonize someone for struggling, even though his own business had gone through the same thing but worse. And unlike Mitchell, Michael Monti always made sure his employees were taken care of.

We have to do better than Mark Mitchell. It obviously hasn’t occured to Mitchell that the experience of navigating a restaurant through tough times and tight budgets is exactly what we need in Tempe’s next Mayor. Not someone who demagogues them for political gain, and certainly not someone who is a hypocrite for doing so.

Michael Monti: Mark Mitchell’s Pet Project Would Waste Millions of Taxpayer Dollars

Michael Monti says taxpayers would be left holding the bag for Mark Mitchell’s boondoggle

(Tempe, Arizona) Mark Mitchell has recently been touting his ‘plan’ for a Tempe Conference Center, but he has failed to say who will pay for it. That’s because it’s the Tempe taxpayers who would be on the hook for millions.

Businessman and candidate for Tempe Mayor Michael Monti points out that Mitchell has done little to outline specifics of his conference center plans and has been unable for over a decade to get ASU on board, “Any plan must include ASU, the leading State agency in Tempe, which could contribute a significant amount to such a project merely by agreeing to book all of its guests into such a hotel and conference facility. Mark Mitchell has been on the Tempe Council for 12 years, has talked about a Tempe Conference Center his entire 12 years, and has never been able to get ASU to the table in such a proposal.”

Michael Monti has delivered detailed proposals and even held community forums for a plan to bring a public swimming beach to the Tempe Town Lake, without taxpayer funding. Meanwhile the centerpiece for the Mitchell campaign, his proposed hotel/conference center, is scarce on details. What we do know is that such projects, like those in Phoenix, can cost taxpayers dearly. The Phoenix Convention Center? $600 Million. But where will the funds for a Tempe version come from at a time of budget cuts and tax increases?

In addition, the Valley has a number of conference centers. If Tempe were to build one, it would be competing regionally in an already saturated market.

Monti is well aware that he might derive a financial benefit from a downtown Tempe Conference Center, but he still feels the idea is out-of-step and misplaced, “As a Mill Avenue business owner I realize such a project may be good for my business, but I think it would be a bad idea for the city. Secondly, I think it’s time we start looking to south Tempe for civic projects. The Mill Avenue corridor is blessed with a host of amenities. It’s time south Tempe had a bigger say in these decisions.”

Monti is calling for Mitchell to lay out a detailed budget of this project as well a plan to make certain taxpayers won’t be left with the bill.

Monti said, “I am all for bringing more tourists to Tempe. My personal livelihood depends on it. But I am not willing to soak the taxpayers for such a project. The Tempe city budget cannot survive a spending spree by Mark Mitchell merely to satisfy an insatiable need to spend taxpayer money. If built with public money, this project would only serve as another monument to a politician. We should learn from missteps made by other communities (City North in Phoenix) with regard to developer incentives and taxpayer subsidies. If the private sector could cover the entire cost, that would be great. If not, then we need to take a pass on this given the fragile state of our city budget.”

Michael Monti, owner of Tempe’s historic Monti’s La Casa Vieja, co-founded Local First, Arizona. He is also active in the Tempe Diablos Charities, and is the youngest inductee in the Arizona Restaurant Association’s Hall of Fame.

To make a campaign donation on line click here here or mail a check to

Monti4Mayor
P.O. Box 24476
Tempe, AZ 85285

His campaign is based on bringing private sector ideas to government, fiscal responsibility, civic involvement, economic opportunity, and innovation. His proposals include:

Financial incentives for city workers who save tax dollars
The creation of the Tempe Community Corps to increase volunteerism, and aid Tempe neighborhoods
Partnerships with ASU and the business community to bring more jobs to Tempe
The creation of a public swimming beach at Tempe Town Lake, paid for by the private sector
Partnerships with the ASU College of Nursing to aid Tempe seniors
Encouraging businesses to embrace eco-friendly projects such as the Blink Car Charging Stations at Monti’s La Casa Vieja
A ban on texting while driving in Tempe
A gift ban and stricter reporting requirements for Tempe elected officials
An eight year term limit for the mayor’s office

Arizona leaders and organizations that have endorsed Michael Monti include:

Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman
Tempe Council Member Onnie Shekerjian
Tempe Democrat and Former Council Member Barbara Sherman
Tempe’s first elected Mayor, Rudy Campbell
The Tempe Chamber of Commerce
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery
Congressman David Schweikert
Former Tempe City Council Member ‘Hut’ Hutson
Former State Rep. Laura Knaperek Tempe Democrat Carl Hayden
Former Tempe Councilman Joseph Lewis
Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane
Barry Goldwater Jr.
Former State Senator and Tempe Councilwoman Bev Hermon
Former Tempe Council Candidate Angie Taylor Thornton

To visit the Monti4 Mayor Website click here or log on to www.monti4mayor.com (@monti4mayor).

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