Tempe’s Private Little Fiscal Cliff

By Michael Gibbs

Lemmings

What Tempe Council believes

I can’t think of the right adjective to use. Discouraged? Shocked? Appalled? Dismayed? Incredulous? That’s how this week’s Tempe City Council candidate forum left me feeling.

At one point candidate Matt Papke responded to a question by expressing concern about the city’s finances. Several current members of the council dismissed the issue by telling the audience that, by law, the budget has to be balanced. The attitude went beyond nonchalant–they implied that the city’s debt is a GOOD thing.

When Papke showed that in the last ten years alone Tempe’s debt has increased three-fold to nearly three quarters of a billion dollars his opponents made fun of him and one even asked if he had a mortgage on his house. Another stated flatly that you cannot run a city without incurring debt.

It’s this kind of thinking that has driven the entire nation to a $17 trillion dollar deficit, the only difference being that Tempe doesn’t have a printing press in the basement to make more dollars! No wonder Tempe is digging an ever deeper hole despite having the highest property taxes in the valley–it’s run by a bunch of profligates with no regard for their fiscal responsibilities. The spendthrifts in Detroit must be very proud to have Tempe following in their footsteps.

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.

Tempe Council Candidate Matthew Papke Leads The Pack In Cash On Hand

On the verge of the deadline to file for Tempe City Council tomorrow – Wednesday, May 28th – the number of candidates who have qualified for the ballot (pending any challenges) has increased to four. The list now includes left-wing activist Lauren Kuby, current council member, Robin Arredondo-Savage, Ernesto Fonseca and independent conservative activist, Matthew Papke. Both Kuby and Papke qualified for the ballot early in the process.

While Kuby may be the current favorite among liberal political circles, her latest campaign finance report reveals she is running third place when it comes to cash on hand. Slightly ahead of her is Arredondo-Savage who is seeking re-election and obviously holds an incumbent advantage.

But what is most surprising is the fundraising capacity of Matthew Papke who dwarfs his rivals with cash on hand. The non-establishment political newcomer has apparently caught lightning in a bottle raising a total of $65,742 since entering the race from a widespread base of support. According to his latest finance report, he currently has nearly $50,000 cash on hand.

What’s even more interesting is that this former US Marine is flying below the radar of both local reporters and the Republican establishment – probably because all eyes are focused on the ninth congressional district, statewide races and the multitude of legislative races.

Papke, who recently became a new father, is well-invested in the community having grown up in Tempe and now working among fellow Tempeans. His platform includes reducing the level of crime in Tempe – currently, the highest in the east valley; balancing the city budget and eliminating the tax on food (Mesa is the only east valley community with no tax on food).

Other candidates seeking the three available seats include current council member Shana Ellis, former legislator David Schapira, Republican Dick Foreman and Ernesto Fonseca.

Here are the current cash on hand tallies in the City of Tempe Council race:

Matthew Papke:    $49,034
Robin Arredondo-Savage:    $31,350
Lauren Kuby:    $30,030
Shana Ellis:    $25,124
David Schapira:    $7,232
Dick Foreman:    $3,441
Ernesto Fonseca:    $550

Matt Papke Secures Endorsement of Former Tempe Police Chief Ralph Tranter

Matt Papke Banner

Great news for Tempe City Council candidate Matt Papke who just received the endorsement of retired Tempe Police Chief, Ralph Tranter. During the campaign, Papke has emphasized his commitment to reducing crime in Tempe which has the highest rate of violent and property crime in the east valley. Tranter’s endorsement reaffirms Papke’s commitment.

As Tranter commented:

“Matt Papke understands the need for a local focus on combating criminal activity. Matt’s dad spent thirty years with me as a Tempe Police Officer and I endorse Matt fully in his pursuit of a Tempe City Council seat. When it comes to Public Safety, Matt Papke will not let budget concerns get in the way of our Police and Fire needs. Matt will place a sharp focus on local crime and work to secure our streets for the families of Tempe. Remember to vote for Matt Papke on election day. “

Please support Matt Papke in his campaign for the Tempe Council. He is the one candidate who has emphasized the fundamental importance of preserving life, liberty and property.

Visit Matt’s website at FreeTempe.com

 

Tempe: Your Money to Burn

money_on_fire_op_449x6001-2

Tempe leads the East Valley in crime, taxes and city costs, except for Mesa’s water and solid waste disposal charges.  In those two cases Tempe places second in costs behind Mesa.  Tempe  has a serious crime rate that is considerably higher than the rest of the East Valley.

Tempe officials continually blame Arizona State University for city woes, but I find it hard to believe the 35,000 or so students that attend classes at the Tempe campus are the culprits for all of Tempe’s fiscal and crime problems.

In the May, 2011 East Valley Tribune column, Tempe should spend less, cut more before raising taxes, it said “If Tempe spent per resident what Mesa spends on policing, they’d save taxpayers over $14 million a year.”  Those savings would pay for the new dam in two and a half years.  Even with reduced spending, Mesa continues to have a significantly lower crime rate than Tempe.

Average Amount a Residential Household Pays in Sales Tax
Chandler $481
Gilbert $423
Mesa $417
Tempe $555
City Property Taxes
Chandler $174
Gilbert $165
Mesa $51
Tempe $267
Water and Wastewater
Chandler $555
Gilbert $574
Mesa $820
Tempe $622
2013 Annual Rate for Solid Waste Pick-up Costs
Chandler $181
Gilbert $208
Mesa $287
Tempe $240
Source: City of Tempe
 2011 FBI Crime Rate per 100,000 Residents
             Violent Crime Property Crime
Chandler 284.4 3,096.90
Gilbert 84.2 1,823
Mesa 412.8 3,395.10
Tempe 479.9 5,446.70
Source: FBI Uniform Crime Reports
http://www.bjs.gov/ucrdata/Search/Crime/Local/OneYearofData.cfm
Policing Costs per Resident
Chandler $350
Gilbert $176
Mesa $321
Tempe $410
City Employees per 1,000 Residents
Chandler 6.6
Gilbert 5.7
Mesa 8.2
Tempe 9.9
Source: East Valley Tribune, May 25, 2011
http://eastvalleytribune.com/opinion/columnists/article_

Until the residents step up and demand accountability and transparency the Tempe leadership will continue to act like it has money to burn, your money to burn that is.

Matthew Papke is graduate of Corona del Sol and a Marine. He is running for Tempe city Council in 2014 on a platform of fiscal responsibility and civic duty. Matthew’s website is freetempe.com

“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?

7_28_08_school_bus

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