Sal DiCiccio: BLM Mural Backpedaling

Phoenix City Councilman released the following statement Thursday evening regarding a response by City Manager Ed Zuercher to BLM activists:

This is Government Speak for: “Public would have handed us our ass if we allowed the BLM mural to happen.”

Never underestimate political self-preservation.

We Win Again!!!

Sal DiCiccio
City of Phoenix
Councilman, District 6

Ducey Wants to Flatten the Curve, Not Shutdown the Great Outdoors

By Calamity June

On Monday, March 30th, Governor Doug Ducey issued an Executive Order suggesting Arizonans “stay home, stay healthy and stay connected.”  Governor Ducey went on to state Arizonans should “limit their time away from home and if they do go out, to ensure social distancing.”  Finally, Arizonans are “staying home because it’s the right thing to do.”  Governor Ducey remarked, “when you use words like shelter in place, that’s what happens during a nuclear attack.”

This means our state’s hiking trails and parks can remain open for people to enjoy and get some exercise as long as we all practice physical distancing.  

During his news conference, Ducey listed off “essential services,” and stressed how the grocery store’s shelves would remain stocked and drug stores would remain open.  Restaurants would still be open for takeout and delivery.  Furthermore, he encouraged people to only purchase a week’s worth of groceries. As President Donald Trump and others have noted, the supply chain is operable and there is no reason to hoard anything.  Don’t be greedy. 

This means our state’s hiking trails and parks can remain open for people to enjoy and get some exercise as long as we all practice physical distancing.  

US Senator Kyrsten Sinema had a phone call earlier in the day on Monday 30th with a lot of the liberal mayors in Arizona pushing them to defy Governor Ducey and issue their own “shelter in place” order. After the mayors’ call, the mayor of Phoenix issued her own directive to close all of Phoenix’s hiking trails.  

Fortunately, Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio embodies the duty to present the calm during COVID-19.  God Bless Councilman DiCiccio for pushing back against Mayor Gallego every time she has pushed to shut down anything in Phoenix.  

Listen to Councilman DiCiccio on Seth Leibsohn’s March 31st radio show.  As you will hear, Councilman DiCiccio remarked how the city isn’t sanitizing the light rail or the buses. Why aren’t they closing public transportation? Why does the mayor want to close our parks and hiking trails?  It doesn’t add up.

On April 1st, City Hall is scheduled to vote on closing the city’s parks, including its hiking trails.  Also, according to the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation’s website, the mayor has decided unilaterally to temporarily close the city’s playgrounds, fitness equipment, basketball and volleyball courts, and sports complexes in its public parks effective Tuesday, March 31st at 5pm until further notice.

Being on a hiking trail in the Phoenix sun is one of the best ways to keep your body healthy.  Practice safe social distancing. Being outdoors is good for one’s health and wellness. It even states as much on Phoenix’s Parks and Recreation Department’s website. Be sure to call City Hall and let them know you want to keep our parks and hiking trails open during COVID-19.

Statement by Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio on Sale of Phoenix Sheraton

Phoenix is closing on the downtown Sheraton sale, remember that the real loss to taxpayers is $200 Million.

This is the final, sad chapter in an orgy of corporate welfare and insider dealing that has cost the citizens of Phoenix far more than anyone at City Hall will admit.

Inept staff who insisted on making this deal are saying the loss is $36 Million. Even using their numbers, anyone in the private sector who did a deal like this would get fired in a heartbeat for such a loss. Yet the politicians and city staff do it, and our public media watchdogs never hold them accountable.

How many cops could $200 million have added to our force?

How many miles of paving?

How many units of low-income housing?

Those are real things our citizens will never get because of this deal.

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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

Rep Warren Petersen: Punish Public Officials Who Abuse Taxpayer Monies

Warren PetersenIn case you missed it, Representative Warren Petersen held a press conference on Monday preempting a bill he plans to introduce that will punish public officials who wrongfully misallocate tax dollars and then try to grab pension, severance pay or other benefits on their way out of public service.

Petersen’s bill comes in response to Phoenix ValleyMetro’s CEO Stephen Banta resigning with an annuity of $265,000 after he was exposed using taxpayer dollars to for lavish expenses.

Representative Petersen released the following statement:

I want to thank you for coming out today.  Recently there has been a lot of coverage about the scandal that has occurred at Valley Metro.  Apparently an employee has misappropriated sacred taxpayer dollars.  While this has received a lot of attention, this is certainly not the first case of this in the state of Arizona.  There have been various incidents over the years of public officials using public funds to enrich themselves rather than serve the public good.  Clearly there is neither a sufficient deterrent nor oversight in place to prevent such malfeasance.  Worse we have learned all too often that those who are caught and terminated, leave with lavish payouts, annuities, pensions and other benefits.  

Termination from a high position in government should not be like winning the lotto.  Rewarding someone for bad behavior can only encourage more of the same.  This is unacceptable and the current way of doing things has change.  It is for this reason that I will be working with council member Dicicio and introduce legislation to prevent this from happening in the future.  What I will be proposing is that any public employee who is caught misappropriating tax dollars shall be ineligible for any severance pay, annuity, pension or other benefit.  Furthermore to add a layer of oversight and accountability I will make sure that any taxpayer will have standing in such an event.  The problem with the oversight of a 30 member board is this.  When 30 people are responsible for something, nobody is responsible.  All too often a watchdog citizen or journalist will do a much better job than a 30 member board.  We believe this will be a strong deterrent for malfeasance and a merited penalty for those who violate the law.  

We only hear about the people who are caught.  There is no doubt that there are many who go unpunished.  If there is no punishment we are just going to have faith that people will do the right thing for the sake of doing what’s right.  And there are plenty of people who are doing the right.  This legislation is not for them nor anything they need to worry.  However those who are engaged in illicit behavior will soon have something to cause them to think twice before they squander taxpayer funds.

Petersen was also joined by Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio during the press conference. DiCiccio has been a longtime reformer fighting and exposing corruption in city government.

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.

Costs and Tax Increase are a Train Wreck for Phoenix Transportation Plan

MBQF

Sticker Shock Drives Phoenicians Opinions Over Proposed Light Rail Expansion – Voters Favor Other Public Priorities

(Phoenix, AZ) — MBQF, a public opinion survey consulting firm, announced today the results of a recent public opinion survey conducted on March 5, 2015.  Although the results from the automated telephonic survey show likely Phoenix City voters give initial grudging support toward a light rail and transportation expansion plan – Phoenix voters quickly reverse course once educated about the potential costs and a tax increase.  Voters appear to remain skeptical over light rail for other priorities.

In the most recent automated telephonic survey of 580 likely Phoenix City voters, the survey calculates a 4.04% theoretical margin of error, plus or minus in percentage points, 95% of the time.  54.4% of respondents were women while 45.6% were men.

Almost two-thirds of respondents believe their tax-money should be prioritized elsewhere when asked,  “NOW, do you feel the city of Phoenix should prioritize transportation and spend $33 Billion dollars over the next 35 years that includes a proposed light rail expansion or do you believe the $33 billion dollars could be best spent in other areas such as education, public safety, police and fire, and health and disability services.”

Press 1 if you believe that the light rail and transportation is the best investment    34.83%

Press 2 if you believe that the money would be best used for other public needs      65.17%

Michael Noble concluded, “When 2/3 of voters agree on a spending issue, policy makers ought to take heed.  They are the type of numbers that are usually followed by a voter initiative.”
For more information about this survey, or a summary of topline data and wording, please contact MBQF Consulting. The margin of error for this survey is +/-4.04%.

Script

Hello, we are doing a brief survey on current issues within the City of Phoenix.  Some elected officials are considering spending tax dollars on transportation and we would like to ask your thoughts on these important issues.  Your name was selected at random and your responses are completely confidential.

1. Are you aware that the City of Phoenix has proposed spending $33 billion dollars over the next 35 years to triple the ridership of the current light rail and expand the transportation system?

Press 1 if you are aware     71.9%
Press 2 if you have never heard of it      22.24%
Press 3 if you are unsure    5.86%

2. Supporters of this potential light rail expansion argue that the plan would also expand bus services and improve or fix the city’s aging street system. Do you agree or disagree with these priorities?

Press 1 if you agree        53.79%
Press 2 if you disagree    46.21%

3. Are you aware that if the proposed light rail transportation expansion is approved it would increase Phoenix sales taxes by 15% and cost $161 Million per mile to build and operate? Would this information make you more likely or less likely to support the transportation expansion?

Press 1 for More Likely                  26.72%
Press 2 for Less Likely                   63.45%
Press 3 if it makes no difference     9.83%

4. NOW, do you feel the city of Phoenix should prioritize transportation and spend $33 Billion dollars over the next 35 years that includes a proposed light rail expansion or do you believe the $33 billion dollars could be best spent in other areas such as education, public safety, police and fire, and health and disability services.

Press 1 if you believe that the light rail and transportation is the best investment    34.83%
Press 2 if you believe that the money would be best used for other public needs    65.17%

5. If you were running the City of Phoenix, please tell me what you personally believe is the most important public priority as a taxpayer.   Would you invest tax dollars in Public Safety, Education, Disability services, expansion of the light rail or improvement of freeways/roads?

Press 1 for Public Safety   18.97%
Press 2 for Education        33.97%
Press 3 for Disability services   4.14%
Press 4 for expansion of the light rail    13.28%
Press 5 for repairing and improving current freeways and roads    19.48%
Press 6 if you are unsure   10.17%

6.  Leading the charge for the light rail transportation expansion is current Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, while the primary opponent of the light rail transportation expansion is Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio. Based on this, whose leadership do you most trust with your tax money?

Press 1 for Greg Stanton      35.17%
Press 2 for Sal DiCiccio        37.59%
Press 3 if you have no opinion at this time      27.24%

7.  Press 1 if you are Male          45.6%
Press 2 if you are Female      54.4%

Thank you for your time.

Sal DiCiccio: How You Got Duped

SalDiCiccio

Vote YES 487/Stop Pension Abuse 

How (fire/police death and disability claims) became the most important issue in the 487 campaign-and how it’s not true. 

I am writing to show you how you were manipulated by the politicians (mayor & council), the opponents of pension reform and by the media covering this important issue. And, mostly because you need this information before you vote.

The issue of death/disability benefits being cut off are just not true and the media knew this was not true when they wrote their stories.

Here is the technique used to dupe you:

History and Technique

During my re-election campaign the unions filed a lawsuit in court against me, they then got the Media to write about the lawsuit. The unions then did mailers and TV to the public on the their lawsuit using the articles in the newspaper as the foundation.  Yes, the unions file their own lawsuit, get the media to write about it, then use the stories written in the paper in mailers and on TV. Even though the judge quickly threw out the case, the stories were written and used as fact in subsequent mailers and on TV.

Fast forward to The Pension reform (487) campaign:

The unions get their friends on the council to change the wording on the ballot description to add the words “Police Officer and Firefighter,” they then create the death and disability connection, then they get the media to write about it and create a story, then they do mailers and TV based on the confusion that they created using the published stories as the foundation. The unions rig the ballot description, get the media to write about it, then use the stories written in the paper in mailers and TV. The media knew this was not true.

The media can claim ignorance the first time, but a second time?

Hats off to the anti-pension reform campaign for being able to successfully use the media to make an issue that was never an issue as the highlight of the campaign.  Unfortunately, it creates confusion and suppresses voter turnout. The unions want to make sure you don’t vote.

And the media? Well, the same people that complain about low turnout are the same ones who knowingly help write the stories depressing turnout.

Fact: Death/disability claims are a LIFE INSURANCE plan and not a pension.  They’re not even close to being part of this initiative. 487 covers only the City of Phoenix pension plan. The police/fire are covered by the state pension plan not by the city plan. Phoenix cannot opt out of that plan. Police and Fire are clearly excluded.

I thought long and hard whether to write this column, but I believe strongly every vote matters.  Any delay in getting out the reality behind the politics would be doing you and disservice. The only way we will win is if the public gets the truth, please pass this on to your email list!

I am sorry that was to done to you, but you are the last ray of hope if we are going to change and reform our pension system.  Our city needs your help and we need you to vote.  Please don’t let them win by not voting.

Vote YES 487

Sal DiCiccio: Pension Reform Matters – Vote YES on 487

MillionaireFirefighter

$1.1 Million: Cash Payout to one Firefighter at Retirement and then STARTED his annual Pension of $149,420-for life. He retired at 54.

$955,000: Cash Payout for another Firefighter. He then started a $130,000 pension for life. He retired at 53.

See the list of Firefighter retirees below:

Average Cash payouts at Retirement: $679,672

Average Yearly Pension: $111,296

Average Age at Retirement: 53

24 Firefighters cashed out over $16 million in retirement and then started their pensions.

Every single city employee (Everyone) gets both a Cash Payout AND a Pension.

Vote YES 487/Stop Pension Abuse

We all love our firefighters and respect them for the hard work they give our city. You’re probably wondering why they’re coming in droves to our neighborhoods handing out misleading information on pension reform? Especially since they’re clearly excluded from the pension reform proposal. Why, because they’re concerned that they may be next for reform.

The numbers from above are from Budget and Research and from the state of Arizona Retirement plan (PSPRS).

Why does pension reform matter? Without reform you will see more:

New and higher taxes: Phoenix passed a new water tax on you to pay for  pension spiking.

Cuts in Service: Phoenix is short over 500 police, cuts were made to seniors, libraries, seniors and children.

The government unions are doing all they can to undermine your vote. They want to keep everything…the way it is. Their union and their spokesman are purposely using strong arm tactics to attack people who support pension reform.

Here are the numbers:

PensionNumbers

What does 487 do?

* It immediately stops pension spiking. This alone would save over $19 million per year
* Fixes the broken pension system saving over $400 million.
* Allows current employees to keep everything they have earned.
* Makes new employees get the same retirement benefits you get. Moving all newemployees to a 401(K).
*Police and Fire are clearly excluded from the proposal.

Vote YES 487

Yes487

My best to you and your family,

Sal DiCiccio
Phoenix City Councilman

Phoenix Earns High Marks From NFIB

City judged one of five best in nation for welcoming small business

In an e-newsletter to its more than 330,000 members nationwide today, including 7,000 in Arizona, the National Federation of Independent Business, America’s voice of small business, ranked Phoenix as one of the top five cities in the country “Opening Their Doors to Small Business.”

“Phoenix’s rebounding economy, favorable climate and entrepreneurial culture attracts many transplanted residents,” said the NFIB article. “Two years ago, the Phoenix City Council implemented reforms that shifted a significant portion of city permitting and inspection functions to the private sector and created 24-hour turnarounds for projects such as city and building permits that used to take four to six months. With quicker turnarounds, doing business in Phoenix has become faster and more convenient.”

Noted Farrell Quinlan, NFIB’s Arizona state director, “The majority of people starting small businesses and prospering here were born somewhere else. That kind of new blood and vitality means opportunities in Phoenix aren’t encumbered by an old-boys network.”

In a news release issued by Mayor Greg Stanton, he said, “This ranking is a testament to the actions we’re taking to lift small and local businesses. We’re moving in a new economic direction – one that creates real opportunity for business owners and entrepreneurs.”

sal diciccio council chambers

Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio

City Councilman Sal DiCiccio added, “This puts Phoenix in a position to compete in the global economy, making us faster, smarter and better than our competitor cities. Getting 24-hour permitting and the ability to submit plans online allows businesses to open today, not months from now. The Mayor and Council recognized that it grows our economy faster when we help businesses take off quickly.”

DiCiccio, a longtime NFIB member, led the 125-member Ad Hoc Development Task Force that produced the reform recommendations for how to streamline the city’s permit process.

Phoenix has also been helped by a better state climate, Quinlan pointed out. “The state has been a leader in low tax rates and regulatory reform. For instance, Arizona simplifies the process state agencies must follow when creating rules and regulations they impose on Arizona businesses. That leadership ensures government serves as a facilitator of economic dynamism rather than a frustrator of job creation.”

Other cities making the top five list were Caspar, Wyoming; Jackson, Mississippi; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Orlando, Florida.

For more than 70 years, the National Federation of Independent Business has been the Voice of Small Business, taking the message from Main Street to the halls of Congress and all 50 state legislatures. NFIB annually surveys its members on state and federal issues vital to their survival as America’s economic engine and biggest creator of jobs. NFIB’s educational mission is to remind policymakers that small businesses are not smaller versions of bigger businesses; they have very different challenges and priorities.